Archive for December, 2010

In the News: We Got Wood

Friday, December 17th, 2010

This week I have a whole bunch of stuff for you. I’m not really sure what order it should be in, so we’ll just say it’s in a “special” order.

  • Minor League Free Agent Leader boards – I meant to post this one a week or so ago, but Baseball Reference has a cool little feature that lists minor league free agents and lets you sort them by last year’s stats. Most of the time these guys aren’t anything special, but sometimes it’s fun to look over and sort them by your stat of choice to see if anyone strikes your fancy. Take a look and let me know if there is anyone that peaks your interest.
  • 2011 Top Prospect List – John Sickels of has posted his preliminary list of the Cubs 20 best prospects in the system. I’m surprised which of the catchers he ranked higher. I’ve been meaning to take some time to go through and come up with my list, but it probably won’t be until closer to spring training.
  • Andrew Cashner may start in 2011 – Carrie Muskat answered a question in a recent issue of her mailbag on the topic of the possibility of Cash getting a spot in the rotation this year. I go back and forth on my feelings for this. I’ve been torn since we drafted him and still haven’t fully decided where I want to see the Cubs go with this kid. He’s got incredible stuff, so to not try to capitalize on that by using him as a starter seems wrong. At the same time, I just don’t know if I believe in his ability to consistently pitch deep in the game, which is what you want to see from your top of the rotation guys. I think for now, let him compete for a spot. You can always move him to the pen.
  • Non-Roster Spring Training Invitations – So far the Cubs have invited Bryan LaHair, Brad Snyder, Angel Guzman, Scott Rice, Scott Moore, Bobby Scales and Jim Adduci to compete for a roster spot out of spring training. I could actually see LaHair, Guzman (assuming he’s healthy), or Rice making the team.
  • So Long…Farewell – The Arizona Diamondbacks have signed Xavier Nady and Henry Blanco. I hadn’t even realized that Blanco was still playing. Good luck to him. I’m interested in the Cubs bringing him back to be a member of the coaching staff or a manager in the organization when he retires.
  • We Got WOOD – Not much to say. He’s my favorite player and I’m thrilled to have him back. A one year deal seems to be Jim Hendry’s theme this year. That tells me that this regime is fine with trying to compete, but they’re really buying time till these bad deals come off the books.
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Name That Ballplayer

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

Name That Ballplayer

As always, what follows below are three clues to consider when guessing the mystery ballplayer. See how many clues it takes before you can correctly guess. Start with clue # 1 and work your way through. Good luck. If you’re interested in more of these, they can be found in the book, Name that Ballplayer by Wayne Stewart

Clue # 1 – This man’s career was fleeting; he won the American League Rookie of the Year Award in 1980, and just 70 games later, played over a two year span, he was through.

Clue # 2 – He was widely known for his many wild antics, such as opening beer bottles with his eye sockets.

Clue # 3 – He was a Cleveland outfielder and his initials are “J.C.”

Click here for the Answer

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The Winner of the Cliff Lee Sweepstakes

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

The wait is over: on Monday night, Cliff Lee agreed to a five-year contract with the Yankees Rangers Phillies. There’s good reason Lee was so highly coveted this offseason, as his 2010 season was one of the most masterful seasons in baseball history. In 212 innings, Lee struck out 185 batters while unintentionally walking just 18. From the Bill James Handbook 2011:

American League SO/BB Ratio Leaderboard (2010)
Pitcher SO/BB
Cliff Lee 10.28
Jered Weaver 4.31
Shaun Marcum 3.84
James Shields 3.67
Francisco Liriano 3.47

Not only was Lee’s 10.28 ratio miles ahead of every other pitcher in baseball last year, but that figure also rates as the second-best season in baseball history.

Best Single Season SO/BB Ratio
Pitcher Season Strikeouts Walks Ratio
Bret Saberhagen 1994 143 13 11.0
Cliff Lee 2010 185 18 10.3
Curt Schilling 2002 316 33 9.6
Pedro Martinez 2000 284 32 8.9
Greg Maddux 1997 177 20 8.8

Note: since 1900, minimum one inning pitched per team game

Additionally, Cliff Lee joins a Phillies’ rotation which already features Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, and Cole Hamels, making the Phillies the popular favorites in the National League. Here are our projections for the Philly aces from the 2011 Handbook:

Phillies’ Pitcher Projections for 2011
Pitcher ERA Wins Losses Innings Walks Strikeouts
Roy Halladay 3.16 18 9 245 38 190
Roy Oswalt 3.38 16 9 221 52 176
Cole Hamels 3.45 15 9 219 58 209
Cliff Lee 3.50 14 10 216 49 169

Used with permission from John Dewan’s Stat of the Week®,

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Chet’s Corner: Let’s Just Hope……

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

So Cliff Lee signed……with the Phillies!

I have to say, I didn’t see that coming, which is shocking because I thought I had all of the social/news media outlets covered.  I mean, between the internet and it’s vast array of  blogs and sports websites, twitter, and television stations like ESPN, FOX, MLB Network……you know where I am going with this.

It’s amazing that anything has the ability to happen anymore without a picture/video/twitter montage of it taking place.  I am thanking my lucky stars they didn’t have all this technology readily available when I was in college.  The house I lived in throughout my days in Kalamazoo,MI  had a rule; if you got skunked or shut out in any sort of competition (i.e. Darts, Video Games, Foosball, Pool, Euchre, the list goes on) you ran naked to the neighbors mailbox and back.  Let’s just say my Favre dangled in the wind more then I would like to say!

So, that being said, I shared the Cliff Lee signing shock with everybody else.  Then of course, was subjected to eighty different baseball writers breaking down his contract like it is the national deficit or something.  Here is what you need to know; he took less money to go to the Phillies.  End of Story….oh and he got paid a lot.

With that being said lets compare the Phillies and Cubs projected rotations……


Cliff Lee

Roy Halladay

Roy Oswalt

Cole Hamels

Joe Blanton or whoever else they really want to throw in if he gets traded…….


Carlos Zamrano

Ryan Dempster

The Bee Gees

Eat Me

I don’t care……..

Yah, we sort of have an issue.  Past Dempster we are amazingly bland, unproven, and up in the air.

The more I think of this, the more I am bothered.  Find me one big market team that has a starting rotation with so many holes.  The scary thing, the REAL scary thing is that we don’t know what to expect on a year to year basis from Z and Dempster……and they are the only guys I can think of with a guaranteed spot in the rotation!

Here is where my frustration starts……I have been watching Philly, New York, DC, Boston, Texas, and LA at least attempt to make some big moves and succeed in many areas, yet nothing from us.  Sure, we overpaid for a guy with a “big stick” to play first base for one year but after further diagnosis what did we get? A guy whose overall 9 year career has seen two good years and they are in the rear-view mirror by a couple of miles!

Here is my point, I know the whole big market/small market gripe is old.  I know spending isn’t everything.  Player chemistry and timing probably means  more in the grand scheme of things, but when you have the glaring holes that the Cubs have, how can you stand by and basically say 2011 will be better then 2010?  How can you hope to keep your loyal and large fan base happy by raising ticket prices year over year and saying you need to curtail spending……all the while your counterparts are out throwing money at good players to become even better then they were?

Unfortunately, as Cubs fans, I feel we have nothing to look forward to in 2011.  My initial intent was to write about the five things I was looking forward to in 2011 as a Cub fan…….I couldn’t get past the introductory sentence so I cried in my beer and wrote this.

Something good is bound to happen to this team in the future, I just hope I get to witness it.  In the meantime maybe twitter hasn’t uncovered all the gems, maybe there is one left for us Cub fans.

Speaking of gems, last night I was looking through some old photo’s and memorabilia from my youth and came across something cool.  An Ernie Banks autograph on loose leaf paper that my grandmother acquired for me in person at the Duke Childrens Classic in 1984.  It reads….

To Chet

Ernie Banks



Hope……. there’s that damn word again.

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Carlos Pena: A Closer Look

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

The Texas Rangers selected Carlos Pena in the first round of the 1998 amateur draft. After three solid seasons in the minors, Pena made his big-league debut in September of 2001. That year he hit three home runs in 62 at bats and compiled a .361 on-base percentage. He was 23 years old.

During the offseason he was dealt to the A’s in a deal that included Ryan Ludwick, Gerald Laird, Jason Hart, and Mario Ramos. Half way through 2002, Pena was sent packing once again, this time to the Tigers in a three-way trade with the A’s and Yankees. The mega-deal involved some interesting names: Jeff Weaver, Ted Lilly, Jeremy Bonderman, Jason Arnold, and the great John-Ford Griffin.

Though he changed teams twice, Pena saw plenty of playing time in 2002, racking up decent numbers in 397 at bats: .242/.316/.448.  His walk rate was respectable at one every 10 plate appearances.

Pena spent the next three seasons in Detroit and showed steady improvement, particularly when it came to free passes.  In 1,372 plate appearances he drew 154 walks. Contact was an issue but his power was steady, as Pena swatted 63 homers over the same period.

Pena struggled in the batting average department in 2005. His .235 mark was a career low as an everyday player. Apparently that performance was enough to discourage the Tigers, who released Pena on March 26, 2006.

Stops in Boston and New York were disappointing and brief, but Pena found new life after signing with Tampa Bay in 2007.  The former first-round pick exploded that season:

.287/.411/.627, 46 home runs, 103 BB

The 28-year-old slugger had finally fulfilled his potential (the dreaded P word).

The next two seasons were productive, but not spectacular:

  • .247/.377/.494, 31 home runs, 96 BB
  • .227/.356/.537, 39 home runs, 87 BB

The Rays were winning, and Pena played a key role. In 2010, he took a major step backward. The power and plate discipline were still there (28 home runs and 87 BB), but the batting average plummeted to an embarrassing .196.  After filing for free agency, Pena was signed to a one-year, $10-million experiment by the Chicago Cubs.

So what does 2011 hold for Carlos Pena? Supporters predict something close to his productive years in Tampa Bay. Detractors are concerned about his sinking batting average and high strike-out rate.

Considering the options at 1B, I think the Cubs did quite well. Is $10 million too much for a player who hit under .200? Perhaps. However, batting average only means so much for a hitter with tremendous power and a knack for drawing walks. In addition, the Cubs desperately needed a LH power bat. Throw in a solid glove, and Pena should help the Northsiders in 2011.

Worst-case scenario, Pena falls on his face in the National League and the Cubs move on very quickly. I don’t think that will happen, but I also thought Milton Bradley would hit. Hopefully I’m right for a change.

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