Archive for October, 2010

Morning Cup O’ Joe: Geocaching

Monday, October 11th, 2010

Lately I’ve been getting into the hobby of Geocaching. If you’re not familiar with the concept, it’s actually quite simple. People all around the world hide containers of various shapes and sizes and post the GPS coordinates for people to use to find said item. There isn’t really a point to it other than to log that you’ve found it and see how many you can find. So far we’ve found 9, which may sound like a lot until you see some of the folks that are registered with the site. It’s absolutely mind boggling how people have found over 10,000 of these things, because the majority of them are not that easy. That leads me to my question of the day?

Q: Have you gone Geocaching before? If not, do you think it sounds cool or really really lame?

In the News

Theeeeee Yankees Win – Ho hum….who cares? What surprises me is how easily the Twins have been beaten in the playoffs. In the last five trips to post-season play they have a record of 2-15. That’s just plain absurd. Granted it hurt to not have Justin Morneau, but I don’t know that he would have been enough to make a difference this year.

Highlights from the Ricketts’ Letter to Season Ticket Holders – In case you missed it, Tom Ricketts sent out a letter to season ticket holders which can be read in it’s entirety here. Some of the highlights:

“It is my strong belief that, in the end, it is organizations with strong farm systems that win championships and I am convinced that our organization is making progress.”

“we are committed to winning the right way—with our farm system”

“We need to stabilize our defense and cut down on errors. We need to improve our offense and become more efficient in both moving runners and hitting with players in scoring position.”

“What I can tell you is that our overall baseball budget (scouting, player development and payroll) will be about the same in 2011 as it was in 2010. Continued long term success will come through superior scouting and player development, and we are committed to improving that facet of the organization. As a result, this likely means a shift of some of our resources from the major league payroll toward scouting and player development.

“we will continue the policy of keeping many of our tickets in the sub $10 range–in fact, we will offer a substantial increase in sub-$10 tickets next year compared to 2010.”

Larry Rothschild may not return – Carrie Muskat mentioned this little nugget that I hadn’t heard anywhere else. Rothschild has until today to decide if he will exercise his option to return in 2011. I’d like to see him return, but I think amongst fans, I’m in the minority on that one.

Great Moments in Save History

As I was watching the Yankees game with my friend Shaun, he asked me about what it takes to qualify for a save. I went though the qualifications and when I mentioned the fact that you could get a save even if your team had a 50 run lead provided that he pitches at least three innings to close out the game. That prompted me to look up some of the longer saves in ML history and I was amazed at three in particular. Take a look at three guys who got 8 inning saves:

Player Date Tm Opp Rslt IP H R ER BB SO
Dick Hall 1961-06-18 BAL CLE W 8-5 8.0 2 0 0 0 6
Guy Morton 1920-09-01 CLE WSH W 9-5 8.0 5 2 1 3 4
Jim Shaw 1920-05-18 WSH SLB W 17-8 8.0 16 5 5 0 2
Like what you see here? Never miss new content. Follow Us:

2010 Cubs Report Card: Third Base

Friday, October 8th, 2010

Here are the Third Base Report Cards for your 2010 Chicago Cubs. The four players I was asked to evaluate (Aramis Ramirez, Chad Tracy, Darwin Barney & Bobby Scales) were a mixed bag at third base this year. Darwin Barney is listed as a shortstop & Bobby Scales is listed as a second baseman. Both were late season callups. Chad Tracy played for the Cubs during April and June only. Aramis Ramirez was a major league third baseman in name (and paycheck) only during 2010.

Let me explain my grading system and grading criteria.

First of all, I grade based upon the entire season. Not one great play, or one great inning, or one good month, or an improved second half. For a player to receive a grade of “A”, he must exhibit SUSTAINED superior performance over the entire season.

Secondly, I do not grade on a curve. A guy making 17 million dollars a year is held to a much higher standard than a AAA replacement player.

In justifying my letter grades I am guided by two rules of thumb:
1. Accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative.
2. If you can’t dazzle ‘em with brilliance, baffle ‘em with (statistical) bull$h!#.

OK, here we go.

Aramis Ramirez was paid 16.75 million dollars for the 2010 season (as per and played 118 games at 3B. I remember in April and May he was batting about .158 as the Cubs’ cleanup hitter. His fielding was poor. His baserunning was laughable. He looked hung over all the time. He ended the season batting .241.

Now, Aramis claims he was injured this year. Jim Hendry counters that HE was unaware of any injury issue. Hendry simply allows that Aramis “played poorly” in 2010. Somebody’s full of it.

I give Aramis an “F” for the 2010 season.

Chad Tracy was tearing up the pitching in AAA. I was one of the people who wanted him to be called up when Aramis was DL’d. Eventually the Cubs brought him back up, but he was not equal to the challenge. I don’t know what caused the vast difference in performance at the two levels. But he was thoroughly underwhelming at the Major League Level.

Mr. Tracy was paid a lot less than Aramis, however, so I hold him to a less stringent standard. I give Chad Tracy a “D+” and thank him for helping the Iowa Cubs this season.

Darwin Barney was playing shortstop for the Iowa Cubs when the Big Cubs called him up on August 12. To date he has played in 31 games for the Chicago Cubs: 10 at 2B, 10 at SS, and 6 at 3B (also 5 games as a pinch hitter). I think any attempt at statistical analysis will be overruled by the “small sample size” argument.

Nevertheless, I like what I see in Darwin Barney, so I’m giving him an “A*” (that’s an “A” with an asterisk – for small sample size).

Bobby Scales is a 32 y/o second baseman for the Iowa Cubs, called up by the Chicago Cubs on September 7. To date he has played in 10 games: 7 at 3B, 3 as a pinch hitter. Bobby Scales has a great attitude and he’s a great guy, but, like me, he’s old and in the way. I’ll give him an “A” for effort, an “A” for attitude, and an “A” for enthusiasm, but he gets an overall “C” for his performance at the big league level.

Just to complete the third base storyline, I hereby award Casey McGehee the grade of “A” for the 2010 season. He received $427,500.00 for his efforts in Milwaukee this year.

Final 2010 Cubs Stats

Aramis Ramirez 32 124 507 61 112 21 1 25 83 0 0 34 90 .241 .294 .452 .745 92
Darwin Barney 24 30 85 12 19 4 0 0 2 0 0 6 12 .241 .294 .291 .585 54
Chad Tracy* 30 28 49 6 11 2 0 0 5 0 0 5 15 .250 .327 .295 .622 65
Bobby Scales# 32 10 20 4 4 0 0 0 2 1 0 7 5 .308 .550 .308 .858 133
Like what you see here? Never miss new content. Follow Us:

Morning Cup O’ Joe: Love Me Some E-Bay

Friday, October 8th, 2010

Yesterday I had to run to the bank to deposit a couple of checks and some cash from a return at Radio Shack. The event led to a few things I’d like to rant about.

First, the fact that I had to go to the bank to deposit cash is just silly. Why can’t merchants just refund your card when you pay with a debit card? If I enter my pin number to give them permission to take the cash out, why can said pin also authorize a refund. It just seems silly. If anything, the debit pin should be more secure and legit than a stupid credit card signature. It’s just silly.

The reason I needed to do the return in the first place was because I went to the Shack to get a USB cord for my external hard drive. I think I left mine in Chicago when we went to visit my parents this fall. I fully expected the cord to cost somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 bucks, considering the drive as a whole only ran me about $80. Instead I was greeted with a price of almost $27. Outrageous, but I needed the cord right then. When I asked the guy why the cord was so expensive, he said those cords are expensive to make. We all know that’s just an outright cover up for lack of knowledge. Nothing is expensive to make anymore. Let’s be honest with ourselves on that one. I went home, pulled up E-Bay and found the same cord in an auction ending in 5 minutes with a current bid of $0.09 and free shipping. I put my $0.17 bid in and promptly won that sucker. 17 cents vs. 27 dollars. Hmmmmmm. Which leads us back to the bank.

I’m pretty anal when it comes to things with money and numbers. I want them to be perfect. As a result, I’m the guy that has my deposit slip perfectly filled out, my currency properly faced and organized by denomination. I put my deposit in a ziplock back to assure that the coin didn’t go jumping around in the magic tube in the drive thru and sent it away. The goober behind the counter proceeds to ask me if I want to deposit all this. Isn’t that the whole purpose of the little slip of paper that says “Deposit Slip”? Once the transaction was complete, he proceeds to give me someone else’s receipt.

Enough ranting, here’s some news:

Matt Murton Watch – We mentioned it a few days ago, but Matt Murton did end up breaking Ichiro’s record for single season hits on Tuesday. He did do it in a good amount more games than Ichiro had, but it still counts. Ichiro is such a great player that I wish he would have played in the Major Leagues for his entire career because I think he’d have a legit shot at Rose.

Draft Order Update – In case you were wondering, the Cubs will select 9th in the upcoming June draft. That pick will be protected in the event the Cubs make a splash and sign a type A free agent this off season (Cough Adam Cough Dunn). Arizona has two selections in the top 7 this year. One because they sucked this year and one because they sucked last year and didn’t sign their guy from last year.

Talk Amongst Yourselves

We’ve seen two days worth of playoffs so far and are already close to a sweep in two of the four series. That leads us to the discussion question for today.

Q: Based on what you’ve seen so far, which two teams will be in the World Series? Why?

Great Moments in Sleep Technology

The Alarm Clock Pillow

No more annoying buzzer that you just snooze out anyway. This pillow gently vibrates you awake. I don’t know if I’d like this or not. It’s probably scrare the mess out of me when it went off, but I’d be willing to give it a try. Incidentally, there was a guy on my floor in college that really could have used this. He would snooze his alarm or get up before it went off and forget that he set it. Incidentally, this thing would buzz for hours while that idiot was in class. It was so loud that you could hear it through his door and down the hall. Moron. Now that I think about it, maybe he’s the goober that made my deposit the other day.

Like what you see here? Never miss new content. Follow Us:

2010 Cubs Report Card: Shortstop

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

Overall grade = B-

Yes, there actually was a silver lining to the Cubs dreadful 2010 season and it came in the form of youth.

While many Cub prospects made their MLB debut this season, one stands out above the rest.

Starlin Castro – B

Castro, hailing from Monty Cristy, D.R., is all of 20 years old.  In his debut at bat with the big club he hit a three run homer to right center at Great American Ballpark.  He followed that up with a bases loaded triple to left center.  Six RBI’s in his first game had Cub nation making room on the left field foul pole for his number 13.

He can’t drink a beer legally, but he sure can hit.  Starlin ended his first major league season with a .300 BA and contended for the NL batting title down the stretch.  He showed few holes in his swing, not to mention a strong desire to swing in general.   This probably attributes to his lackluster walks/K’s ratio of  29-71, which we will watch in 2011 as an area of needed improvement.

While his bat might get an A or A- his fielding gets a C or C+.  On occasion Castro had the ability to make the difficult look pedestrian.  However, with the blink of an eye he could send the easiest throw over to first three rows deep in the Club Box seats or botch a routine grounder.  27 errors were the final tally for young Castro this year.  Physically the tools are there with the strong throwing arm and acrobatic ability, only time will tell on the mental side of the defensive game.

Ryan Theriot – C+

Let me say this first…..Theriot was my favorite Cub before Castro came on the scene.

This past year was a tough one on Ryan.  In the 29 games he played at shortstop he committed three errors.  Not a bad number but nothing great either.

Ryan also managed to get out of the gates hitting.  When he made the move to 2nd base on May 7th his BA was a robust .341.  He did run into some trouble of sorts however.  His keen eye at the plate took a dive in 2009 and continued into 2010.  He cobbled together a total of 41 walks but had 74 K’s this season.

Theriot was traded to the Dodgers just before the deadline along with teammate Ted Lilly.  As a Dodger his batting average dropped to .242.

Ryan had his moments in a Cub uniform and will be remembered as a scrappy middle infielder.  While he was somewhat consistent with his play he will be thought of as average by most.

The Minors – B

Take this grade worth a grain of salt.  I am basing most of this off stats as I rarely take in a minor league game.

Darwin Barney – C+

I am basing this grade solely on what I saw in the majors from Darwin. A small sampling at that.

Darwin got off to a slow start at the plate but beefed his average up to a modest .241 by the end of his 30 game taste.

At times he seemed ready for the big leagues and at others he floundered.

With Castro at short it will be interesting to see where Barney fits in the future.

Marwin Gonzales – C

Marwin got the promotion to AA this year from Daytona.  Along with his .246 average he made 24 errors.

Hak-Ju Lee – C+

Hak-Ju sported a .282 average in Peoria this year. I actually got to see him play at the Chiefs/Cougars Wrigley game.  He has a way to go before he fits into the equation but has some promise.

One thing that stuck out in regards to Lee were his 34 errors.  Something that definitely needs to be cleaned up before he enters the conversation.


Aside from Darwin Barney, the error count for the shortstop position, system wide, was unusually high this past year. I believe this is a product of youth.

The upside of Castro, who has the shortstop spot locked up on the big club for the foreseeable future and beyond, has no ceiling at this point.  In my eyes he could be the next Hanley Ramirez, or Derek Jeter.

It will be interesting to see what the Cubs plan to do with the talent below Castro.  Will they trade it, or can they find a use elsewhere for Barney and Co.?

One could say there is at least a ray of light shining on the left center portion of the diamond at Wrigley.

So we’ve got that going for us.

Final 2010 Stats

Ryan Theriot 30 96 412 45 110 10 2 1 21 16 6 19 46 .284 .320 .327 .647 70
Starlin Castro 20 125 506 53 139 31 5 3 41 10 8 29 71 .300 .347 .408 .755 97
Barney, Darwin 24 AAA,MAJ 144 595 84 162 28 4 2 51 11 3 .290 .327 .366 .693
Gonzalez, Marwin# 21 AA,H-A 109 426 31 98 14 3 4 46 13 5 .251 .295 .333 .628
Lee, Hak-Ju* 19 L-A 122 551 85 137 22 4 1 40 32 7 .282 .354 .351 .704
Like what you see here? Never miss new content. Follow Us:

Morning Cup O’ Mark

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

Many of you have seen Phil Rogers’ article which seems to indicate that Hendry has all but chosen Joe Girardi to be the next Cubs manager and is quietly playing a waiting game and holding all of the other candidates pending a Girardi right of refusal. How many of you out there think that’s what’s going on? I seriously doubt it – the only reason the Cubs are currently in Girardi’s plans are to use them to bid up his new contract with the Yankees (and the Steinbrenners will pay.) Anybody here think that Tom Ricketts will outbid the Yanks for Joe Girardi’s services? I doubt that’s the direction this team is going – if anything the Ricketts family will want lower salary costs and more bang for their buck. And who can blame them after this year…

I was also amused to see that former Cubs pitcher Rich Harden has been designated for assignment by the Rangers. Should the Cubs take a flyer on this guy? Given this year’s question marks in the rotation it might make sense. Harden was not a good buy after last year but he might be after this year. Were I the GM I’d give him a chance if the price was right.

In other news Bob Brenly is again being mentioned prominently with regard to the opening in Milwaukee. Brewers GM Doug Melvin denies that anything is imminent with respect to Brenly moving north but I think that this move makes sense for both Brenly and the Brew Crew. Milwaukee has not gotten as much out of their team as they should be getting and Brenly might be the best man to take them to the next level. But who would give up a sure fire $900K a year job for another chance at glory…as much as I’d hate to see it I think Brenly just might want another shot in the dugout and Milwaukee would be a good match. Recently Brenly withdrew his name from consideration insofar as the Cubs job was concerned, my opinion was that there wasn’t the right kind of mojo between Brenly and Cubs GM Jim Hendry. But things might be quite different with Doug Melvin and the Brew Crew has a solid nucleus to build around. It’s also driving distance from Chicago which might be advantageous to Bob. And who knows? He might be a perfect replacement for Bob Uecker when the day comes for that legend to retire.

Finally former Cub Davey Martinez indicated his interest in the upcoming Cubs’ managerial vacancy. Martinez has spent the last few years as a bench coach for Tampa Bay; there have been claims that Martinez left the Cubs years ago amidst some personal issues with Cubs’ Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg. Without going into details I think the chances are very low that the Cubs will ever renew their association with Davey and certainly not under Sandberg’s tutelage. If anything Ryno probably owes him a knuckle sandwich for his loyalty as a teammate. Stay in Florida Davey, that’s where you belong.

Like what you see here? Never miss new content. Follow Us:

2010 Cubs Report Card: Second Base

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

Here are the Second Base Report Cards for your 2010 Chicago Cubs. The three players I was asked to evaluate (Blake DeWitt, Mike Fontenot & Jeff Baker) played other positions in addition to second base this year (Jeff Baker played more games at third base than at second base), but they are being listed here for administrative purposes.

Let me explain my grading system and grading criteria.

First of all, I grade based upon the entire season. Not one great play, or one great inning, or one good month, or an improved second half. For a player to receive a grade of “A”, he must exhibit SUSTAINED superior performance over the entire season.

Secondly, I do not grade on a curve. A guy making 17 million dollars a year is held to a much higher standard than a AAA replacement player.

In justifying my letter grades I am guided by two rules of thumb:
1. Accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative.
2. If you can’t dazzle ‘em with brilliance, baffle ‘em with (statistical) bull$h!#.

OK, here we go.

Blake DeWitt was paid $410,000 during 2010. He has fielded well and hit well for the Cubs since he got here, playing mostly at 2B. For extra credit consideration, he was included in the trade which caused Ryan Theriot to go away. For that combination of contributions above and beyond the call of duty, I give Mr. DeWitt an “A+”.

Mike Fontenot’s fate was to replace both Mark DeRosa and Aaron Miles at 2B, and he also filled in for Aramis Ramirez at 3B. He hit well on occasion, and fielded at a replacement player level. But he was payed much more ($1,000,000 in 2010) than a replacement player, so the expectations were higher. I’ll give him a “Gentleman’s C” because I’m in a good mood and because he’s not here to defend himself.

Jeff Baker (earning $975,000) was adequate at 2B (26 games), 3B (33 games), 1B (4 games) & RF (4 games). Although Mr. Baker hit .350 vs LHP (very good), he hit .272 overall (passable), but only .106 against righties (an utter failure). I therefore award Jeff Baker a combination “Pass/Fail” for the 2010 season.

I miss Andres Blanco at 2B. He was the best fielding 2B the Cubs had until 27 March 2010. He’s hitting .277 with the Texas Rangers this season (.220/.539 vs. LHP; .302/.739 vs. RHP). He was paid $510,000 in 2010. I’ll give Andy an “A”.

Final 2010 Stats with the Cubs

Jeff Baker 29 79 224 29 56 13 2 4 21 1 0 16 50 .272 .326 .413 .739 92
Blake DeWitt* 24 53 204 18 46 9 1 4 22 1 0 17 37 .250 .314 .375 .689 79
Mike Fontenot* 30 75 185 14 48 11 3 1 20 1 2 10 28 .284 .332 .402 .734 91
Like what you see here? Never miss new content. Follow Us:

Morning Cup O’ Joe: True or False

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

Here’s a new game that’s sweeping the nation. Not really, I actually stole the idea from Mike and Mike, but if you ain’t stealing then you ain’t trying. Incidentally, my spell check didn’t flag the word ain’t. What’s happened to our world? Without further delay, here are your five true / false questions to answer and discuss.

1. True / False – Carlos Zambrano will win 15+ game next year

2. True / False – Sammy Sosa’s corked bat, which is currently up for auction, will sell for more than $10,000.

3. True / False – Dusty Baker will be named the NL Manager of the Year

4. True / False – The fact that Germany just now paid off on a war debt from WWI (92 years ago) is frickin’ awesome.

5. True / False – You as the reader have taken part in answering the questions in our survey. (If this answer is false, what the heck are you waiting for? Take a minute right now and do the survey.)

Great Moments in Fair Food History

Before I moved from Chicago to North Carolina, we never went to the state fair. In fact, I don’t even know where the Illinois state fare is held. Now that we live here, my wife really enjoys going to the fair. As for me? I hate it. I won’t get on the fair rides and there are only so many prized cattle to see before it gets boring. The only thing that draws me in is the food. Over the next few days I present to you a few delicacies from around the nation’s fairs. Today’s item comes from the Texas state fair. I bring you….Chicken Fried Bacon

Like what you see here? Never miss new content. Follow Us:

2010 Cubs Report Card: First Base

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

Derrek Lee (GRADE: C-) – It’s hard to believe that D-Lee slugged 35 homers just a season ago. The player who impersonated him in 2010 sure wasn’t very good at baseball.

The former Cubs star was dealt to the Braves on August 18th. At age 35, the end of the road appears to be right around the corner. All in all, Lee’s time as a Cub was successful, especially considering that Jim Hendry gave up nothing to get him. Even though he was dreadful this year, I still find myself rooting for D-Lee. Maybe he and the Braves will have a nice postseason run.

34 148 626 80 142 35 0 19 80 1 3 73 134 .260 .347 .428 .774 103

Xavier Nady (GRADE: D) – Coming off an injury in 2009, Nady was slated for a backup OF role in Chicago. Instead, he ended up with more than 300 at bats and 50 games at first base. The results were less than productive:

The Nady experiment has been a bust. Even LHP have baffled him, which is surprising based on his career numbers. Here’s hoping Nady has a new home in 2011. And now for a semi-interesting side note…Did you know that Nady was once traded for former Sox closer Roberto Hernandez? Color me surprised.

31 119 347 33 81 13 0 6 33 0 0 17 85 .256 .306 .353 .660 72

Micah Hoffpauir (GRADE: F) – Great name, bad hitter. At age 30, Hoffpauir is light years away from being a prospect. At this point, he’s nothing more than roster dead weight:

Every time I watch Hoffpauir bat, I can’t help but think of former big leaguer Lee Stevens (in case you forgot, he was awful too). I’m sure he’s a nice guy, a good teammate, a proud American, a dog lover, an excellent dancer,  but I’ve never understood why the Cubs have kept him around. The minors are littered with players who have more upside. Let’s move on to one of them next year, shall we?

30 24 57 5 9 3 0 0 5 0 0 5 15 .173 .246 .231 .476 26

Obviously, 1B should be at the top of the priority list this offseason. Potential free agents include Adam Dunn, Paul Konerko, Lance Berkman, Carlos Pena, and Lyle Overbay. Any of those players would be an upgrade for the Cubs.

Proposed internal solutions have included moving either Tyler Colvin or Alfonso Soriano to 1B in 2011. Both suggestions are bad ideas. Colvin’s athleticism translates well to CF or RF, so the infield would be a waste of his skills. Plus I don’t think he’ll ever hit enough to play 1B. As for Soriano, I can’t even imagine how poorly another position change would go at this point in his career. Trust me, it needs to be LF or nothing.

Hang in there Cubs fans. Next year has to be a better year at 1B. It definitely can’t get any worse.

Like what you see here? Never miss new content. Follow Us:

Morning Cup O’ Joe: Mike Quade for President?

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

In case you hadn’t noticed, there is a lot of Mike Quade love going around lately.

”He’s done an amazing job, he really has…He’s been great to all of us.” ~ Ryan Dempster

“I don’t know how much better anybody could do than what he did” ~ Aramis Ramirez

‘I don’t think it’s a secret that everybody in the clubhouse, speaking on behalf of the rest of the team, would like to see Quade get the job” ~ Koyie Hill

‘It surprised me,” Soriano said. ”I’ve seen him as a third-base coach and an outfield coach, but never as manager, and he did a very good job. I hope they keep him for next year. But I’m just the left fielder.” ~ Alfonso Soriano

Yes Alfonso, all you are is the left fielder, which means you need to shut up and play baseball. You don’t make this decision and neither does Dempster, Ramirez or Koyie ‘freakin’ Hill. The other day Mark tossed his support Quade’s way. It’s almost like Q has the magic touch that he can whisper into someone’s ear and make them speak praise. As for me? I’m not buying. To go with Quade over someone like Joe Girardi is a farce. You can get excited about a hot finish to the year, but I’m not going to get on that bandwagon. I’m going to thank Quade for the job he did in a difficult situation and offer him the opportunity to remain on the current staff or return to Iowa to manage the AAA team. We know Sandberg is going somewhere so that job will be open.

In other news, Jim Hendry has stated that Carlos Zambrano will be staying put this off-season. If he’s really this stupid to believe that we’ve suddenly got a new Carlos on his hands, then I’m going to get off the Hendry bandwagon as well. Ugh, maybe I’m just in a bad mood, but these two stories just pissed me off today.

Finally, we end with an odd product I found. The only thing I can think is that this is fake. It has to be….right?

Like what you see here? Never miss new content. Follow Us: