Archive for March, 2011

Chet’s Corner: Was it relief or was it the runs?

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

2010 was difficult to watch in many ways.  Check that, the first half of 2010 was difficult to watch.

Every game seemed to be tight.  Every game had the same theme…..the Cubs put up a run or two, the opposition puts up a run or two, and then we hit the late innings.  We insert the relievers and it was similar to watching a wooden dam in a cartoon take on water and start to buckle.  We watched and waited, aid (offense) never showed up,  and then finally the dam exploded and the water came crashing through into another loss. 

Some of the time it was an instant crash.  Insert reliever, watch reliever lose game over the course of five pitches, go to bed mad.  And some of the time it was Chinese water torture.  Drip, drip, drip…….AHHHHHHHH.  At first, my instinct was to blame the pitcher who finally ended up walking half the opposing lineup and then served the dinger.  Then it turned into hating the bullpen because it seemed to happen to just about every reliever we strolled out there.  Then, rational thought takes over, and we realize only  a marginal amount of the blame should hit the pitchers.

What we needed was insurance.  We needed more runs!!!!

My goal was to find a more logical way to assign blame.  How many runs is enough runs?  How many runs is too many to give up? In the end it was simple……

Four runs is the threshold.  If the pitching staff as a whole keeps the opposing team to less then four runs…..they did their job.  If the offense scores more then four runs then they did their job.  The number four is no man’s land.  If your losing games 3-2, 3-1,3-0 then the offense did not do enough.  If you are losing games 7-5, 8-6, 9-4 then the pitching staff is at fault.  If you win a game 9-3 …..then guess what, everybody did their job!

*the above theory has no sound or fundemental basis other then 4 runs seems like a nice place to put a point of fail.

Now, I know this sounds rather elementary and may not make any sense.  This is how I keep my sanity while watching the games.  My booze intake went up in 2010 and I blame it on the Cubs.  You see, I need to assign blame.  I need to know where the problem is, and when it’s the Cubs, it’s usually a myriad of areas and not just one.  So I have my system and you probably have yours.  If you don’t you can adopt mine and call it your own with your friends.  You have every right to think my four run theory is hogwash, which it probably is to many, and make up your own if you need it.  Some don’t need it, some are fine saying, “they just suck, I need to move on.”

On to 2011…….

All things being equal, our relief staff should have improved year over year.  It is really to early to start judging as we are only one week into spring training.  As you can see above, we didn’t have a bad staff last year, I feel they were not in positions to pitch without pressure.  After a while that wears on a staff.

We added Kerry Wood, which in my book is never a bad thing.  Adding him gives us a solid guy who can float between middle reliever, setup guy, and closer in a pinch if needed.  He won’t go very long but he can do two innings, which is nice.

The Cubs have invited 30 pitchers to spring training.  I have grouped the spring pitching staff into three categories right out of the gate…..

Category A:  We know we have a spot on the big club and we know what that role entails.

Zambrano, Garza, Dempster,Wells,Wood, Marmol,Marshall, Silva*, Grabow*

Category B:  We MIGHT get a spot on the big club but where we are not sure.

Cashner, Russell, Samardzija, Diamond, Coleman

Category C:  We may never pitch in the Majors and I am pitching for my baseball life.

Everybody else

A few notes…….

-Grabow and Silva make this team because of the money owed.  If they don’t break camp with the big boys it will be the disabled list.  Yes, they have both been horrible so far this spring….it’s early, it’s early.

-Sad but true, Samardzija is pitching for his baseball life this camp.  If he does not break with the team he is out of options.

-Esmailin Caridad (a member of Category C) has pitched in three games already this spring and has yet to allow a run or a hit over 2.2 innings.  Keep an eye on him as the spring wears on, he could snag a spot in the pen if guys like Berg and Russell keep blowing up.  Caridad has the stuff, and was supposed to be there last year, but did not last long in his major league call up.

and now for your thoughts………..

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Fighting For the Good of the Team

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

While we learned in grade school that fighting never solved anything, it is said that a good dugout donnybrook can actually be a positive for team morale. Sometimes we get past the ability to use words and our fists take over. The result can be the catalyst that sparks a team to the World Series.

The first week of spring training saw yet another dugout meltdown by a Cubs pitcher. This time the feud involved two players in their contract year, Carlos Silva and Aramis Ramirez. In the first inning against the Brewers on Wednesday, Silva managed to serve up a pair of dingers as his fielders yakked up three errors. Following the inning, frustration reared its ugly head, comments were made and a fight started in the dugout.

Quoted in a recent Chicago Sun-Times article, Todd Hollandsworth, who played for eight teams in his 12 year career, had this to say about intra-team fighting…..

“I can’t think of a team it didn’t happen to, if it didn’t happen, that team probably didn’t care very much. If it didn’t happen, that, to me, was a show of no team. They show up, put in the time and just get out of there.”
“Guys typically care. It’s virtually impossible to spend 16 hours a day, seven days a week for eight months without there being conflict. These things happen. It’s just that the media is not privy to most of it.’’

So, as a tribute to the Carlos Silva meltdown (and an effort at keeping hope alive for Cubs fans), here is a look back at a few of the more prominent dugout skirmishes resulting in a success for the team.
1977 – Reggie Jackson vs. Billy Martin

This wasn’t the first or last time Billy Martin engaged himself in a disagreement with one of his players. This is, however, the most famous, likely because it involved the team’s star player, Reggie Jackson. It didn’t help that the game was on national television against the rival Red Sox at Fenway. Apparently, Billy got the feeling that Jackson was dogging it a little in the outfield. Martin benched Jackson, who immediately took exception to it, and the fracas began. After standing nose to nose no punches were thrown and it ended with Martin being held back by a few of the players.

Result: The Yankees won 100 games en route to a World Series Championship over the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-2.

2002 – Jeff Kent vs. Barry Bonds

This one had been brewing for some time. Apparently David Bell was in the process of being verbally assaulted by Jeff Kent regarding a play that took place the previous inning. Barry Bonds stepped up in defense of Bell, inserting himself between the two, and the shoving began. Kent, who was quoted a year before as saying Bonds was a selfish player, said this was nothing and it basically happened all the time between the two of them. Sounds like great clubhouse chemistry, huh?

Result: 95 wins and finished 2nd in the NL West. They faced the Angels in the World Series and lost 4-3.

2007 – Michael Barrett vs. Carlos Zambrano

Similar to Mike Quade and his situation, this was Lou Piniella’s first year as manager for the Cubs. What a better way to welcome a manager to an organization then a fight in the dugout!
The Cubs were in the midst of a five game slide in late May and the booing began at Wrigley early in the year. Zambrano was doing his typical implosion job on the mound and runs were crossing the plate in abundance for Atlanta. After an inning featuring five runs on five hits and a play where the catcher, Michael Barrett, was charged with a pass ball and a throwing error, the top blew off in the dugout. While Zambrano was able to land what looked like a few punches on Barrett, the real scrap supposedly happened in the club house. Barrett suffered a cut lip and ended up in the hospital. The best part? It happened to be Carlos Zambrano’s 26th birthday.

Result: Michael Barrett was traded to the Padres about two weeks after the fight. The Cubs finished 1st in the NL Central with 85 wins. They quickly lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Arizona Diamondbacks 3-0.
(Yes, it is sad that this is considered a positive outcome, but when the team hasn’t won a World Series in over 100 years, the post-season is a feat all its own.)

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GirlieView (03/07/2011)

Monday, March 7th, 2011

Good afternoon! As promised, in preparation for the Lizzie game (which will begin when the real season starts) may I offer six tips toward increasing your LLP (Likely Lizzie Percentage). Really whether you’re playing the game or not, you should know at least some of the criteria … maybe disrobe some of my subjectivity.

  1. Be funny. Humor is your fastest path to the Lizzie list. Saying something which mirrors my opinion works just as well too, but that’s not as easy since you won’t always know where I stand. Heck sometimes I don’t even know where I stand! So that part is a crap shoot. :-)
  2. Don’t insult. You can express your distaste for someone’s level of play (or your fellow commenters’ points of view) without using derogatory names or insults about their ethnicity, sexual orientation, weight, mother, etc. (Once you find yourself on my sh*t list for this, you’ll probably remain there for quite some time.)
  3. Don’t be too foul. Trust me, I swear like a sailor and thoroughly enjoy your off-color comments. But even if I laugh out loud at what you write, I won’t award it if it crosses that invisible line from funny to filth.
  4. Politics will get you nowhere. I encourage all types of discussions and sometimes even take part (when civil). But political commentary will never end up in the Lizzie list. Neither will conversations about religion, private bodily functions, or any combination thereof.
  5. Don’t try too hard. If you’re fishing and I can tell, I won’t bite.
  6. My very favorite type of conversation is when we actually talk to each other. It’s fine for us to bring up a topic and everyone drops by and lists their opinion as if no one else is here. But if you flip back through past Lizzies you’ll see how fond I am of friendly back-and-forth conversation among people who are essentially strangers but can chat and joke with each other just because we happened to come together around our favorite team. Even when our opinions differ!

See, it’s way more scientific than you thought isn’t it? Good luck! Remember, this has nothing to do with what you can and cannot say or do here at VFTB overall. You can talk about anything you want. This is just clarifying how I pick the Lizzies! And, speaking of Lizzies:

Lizzies

  • I’m not sure what is better, that I’m starting the week with a Lizzie and the Lizard…or that I’m getting married on Saturday!
  • Could be a nice little afternoon in the cube…
  • Nothing like that sweet smell of spring, and the hope that this year is finally the year.
  • Way more fun + Way less work = Way Happier Lizzie
  • Broad- not a commentary, just my anti-spam word.
  • Old Man Signings … Grade: Who Cares?
  • I saw Gorz as a backup suit. I only have need for one suit, but I kind of wish I had an extra one, so that I could have something to reject to feel better about the suit I did choose. And if my one suit gets blood all over it (you know, from all the spy stuff I’d do in my suit), I’d still have a suit to wear. We traded him for some serviceable socks. I’ve got plenty of socks. So that’s a “C.”
  • There was no slam-dunk lopsided deal and there was no head-scratchingly bad deal either.
  • The 2011 Cubs should, at worst, be at least slightly better than the 2010 Cubs and this was accomplished without screwing up 2012.
  • With all due respect to Lizzie, my anti-spam word is broad.
  • You can’t be Brian Cashman when you’re flashing Billy Beane’s American Express card.
  • You owe it to yourself to be optimistic at this time of the year.
  • Go with a solid B and be happy about it. It’s hard to envision a scenario that would have been better this off-season. You can’t trade players without a willing partner, so don’t dream up lopsided trades that could have happened.
  • If I squint real hard I can see the Cubs taking the division because the division has no dominant team.
  • To sum up, I give Hendry a smiley face sticker and and extra cookie after dinner.
  • The best thing Hendry did is maintain flexibility for next year.
  • i give hendry a “c” because his direction goes in two different directions .
  • Can two bat crap crazy pitchers be able to get along in the same rotation? Only Felix Unger and Oscar Madison know.
  • He doesn’t beat his wife. He doesn’t have run ins with the law. He never seemed like a young ungrateful superstar punk like so many are today. And most important I have never seen him talk to his ‘digital me’ while mumbling about his beard having magic in it. That all adds up to ‘good guy’ in my book.
  • i’m betting the central race will be the tightest in baseball .
  • I’m willing to bet you that Carlos Pena finishes with a better OPS when all is said and done this year compared with Adam Dunn.
  • The only real surprise is the last name of the Carlos in the fracas.
  • We’ll see pretty quickly if Quade is the guy for this job.
  • My first thought was, “Hopefully Aramis Ramirez didn’t break has hand on Silva’s face.”
  • Poor fundamentals is a hallmark of Cubs baseball, why would the first week of spring training be any different.
  • It’s not realistic to think that a new manager somehow makes veteran baseball players better at defense.
  • I think it will be one of two extremes. [Zambrano] will either completely melt down or he will be great. I see no middle ground.
  • Does the recurring headline “Carlos in Dugout Scuffle With Corner Infielder” mean that Pena will get into a fight with himself?
  • Maybe Marmol and Vitters will knuckle-up today.
  • flayers (faker + player= flayer). Not to be confused with jayer, (jaker + player=jayer)
  • I want to believe that Blake Dewitt can be the guy.
  • it’s nice to see the increase in comments
  • I always wanted to get into a “here’s the pizza, and here’s the peperoni ” situation, but that didn’t happen either. Better luck to you.

Lizard

  • There is some sort of cryptic message underneath it all…something about an Ikea microwave. I’m not sure how the broad fits into the picture.

Monday Afternoon Discussion Question

The other day Joe mentioned Kerry Wood is his favorite Cub, and Carlos Zambrano is one of his least favorite. That got me to wondering. Who is your favorite? And who’s you’re least favorite? I’ll start:

Favorite: Geovany Soto. Most of you already knew this, and most of you also know why. :-)
Least Favorite: Carlos Zambrano (upstaging Alfonso Soriano who held this spot for me ever since Jason Marquis was traded. I’m counting on Carlos to recognize the benefit of staying in my good graces thereby keeping his antics in check this year.)

Let’s hear your choices!


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Reflections on Week 1 of Camp Quade

Sunday, March 6th, 2011

Week one of spring training is in the books, and that means it’s time to take a look at where we stand after a few games.

Catcher

There are six catchers in camp, four of which are on the forty man roster. Of those four, only Geovany Soto is a lock to make the team out of spring training. This is one of the few position battles this spring, despite the fact that many people think Koyie Hill is the backup catcher. As of right now, he’s done absolutely nothing at the plate, going 0-f0r-13 so far in five spring games. He adds the veteran leadership to the staff and to Geo, but I don’t know that I’m willing to put up with a catcher that hits close to .200 in exchange for his ability to call a game and mentor. I need a guy to backup that can actually get a hit, should he be called upon. At this point, I want to see what Wellington Castillo and Max Ramirez can do. Give these guys some extra at bats, and let them try to earn a spot. Castillo probably still needs some seasoning, but Ramirez is worth a chance if he can hit enough to warrant the spot over Hill.

First Base

Carlos Pena is set in stone as the starter, but I’m curious how Quade will handle backup duties. It seems irresponsible to throw that responsibility on a guy like Tyler Colvin, but that appears to be the only plan of action right now considering there isn’t another natural first baseman on the 40 man roster. The only other person in camp with any legit amount of experience at the position is Bryan LaHair. It amazes me how little depth we have at this position, and it scares me to think about what would happen if Pena were to go down for any length of time, including a small four or five day stint with an ankle tweak.

Second Base

One of the other battles in camp this spring is at second. Blake DeWitt seems to be the favorite right now, but Jeff Baker should give him enough of a run to at least make a run at a platoon spot. Baker hit lefties really well last year, but got crushed by righties. DeWitt sucked equally against both. To be honest, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to see a kid like Darwin Barney out play both of them and take the job over. It’s a position that has to be looked at seriously if we’re in contention come trade deadline. Perhaps a run at Kelly Johnson of the Diamondbacks should they be out of it. He’s a free agent after the season and would be an upgrade, especially in the power department.

Shortstop

STARlin Castro has been on fire to start the spring. He’s 9-for-19 with a double, triple, and a home run. He’s driven in four runs and stolen a base. Barney will probably win the spot to backup unless he tanks it and somehow Augie Ojeda plays out of his shoes and wins the spot. To me, that would be a waste. Ojeda’s 36 years old and not even on the roster right now. It would mean making a spot for him. I’ll take my chances with Barney’s development in an effort to play the higher ceiling guy.

Third Base

I mentioned the other day that I felt Aramis Ramirez was going to be back in a big way in 2011. He’s been OK so far this spring, but hasn’t shown the power yet. I’m not worried about it, and neither should you. Aside from getting in a fight with Carlos Silva, the other piece of news is that apparently he’s ready to start stealing:

#Cubs Aramis Ramirez asked Quade if he can run more. Says Ramy: “I can steal 5 or 10.” He has 15 SB in his career, none last year ~ Twitter

I don’t know about all that, but I like the idea of the Cubs stealing more bases as long as they can do so effectively. If they’re going to do it just to do it, then forget it.

Beyond Ramirez, the name that is starting to get me excited is Marquez Smith. Two years ago, I would have said Josh Vitters was the heir apparent at the hot corner, but I’m starting to lose faith in Vitters in a hurry and I’m beginning to wonder if he’s headed toward first, with Smith taking over as soon as next year for Ramirez. Smith’s numbers in the minors clearly show he has power and can hold his own from an average stand point. I’m excited for his future and look for big things from him this year. If Vitters wants my respect, he’ll need to earn it. Here are Smith’s stats in his stint so far in the minors.

Year   Age    Lev   G  PA  AB  R 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS
2007    22   A--A  72 308 257 50 14  1  8  55 44 48 .280 .380 .436 .816
2008    23   A-A+ 122 506 446 71 27  5 17  66 47 94 .278 .354 .475 .830
2009    24  AA-A+ 128 505 460 65 35  1 15  67 38 95 .278 .337 .457 .794
2010    25 AAA-AA 107 392 347 68 28  1 20  58 36 83 .297 .371 .556 .927

Outfield

We know that Alfonso Soriano, Marlon Byrd, Kosuke Fukudome, and Colvin will all make this team. The only battle left is for the 5th spot and it appears to be between Reed Johnson and Fernando Perez. For some reason, after one week, it’s not been a very fair competition. Johnson has seen 15 at bats with Perez getting just four. It makes me wonder a little given Perez’s age and speed. I’m curious to know if Quade feels like Johnson has the job unless he plays himself out of it. My heart wants him to be the guy, but I can’t help but wonder if Perez would bring more to the table. Johnson would require a spot be opened to make room for him on the 40 man if he were to win the job over Perez, and Perez does have an option year left. I’m curious to see what this week brings in terms of clarity for this battle.

Starting Rotation

We know Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, and Matt Garza are locks for the rotation, so don’t expect too much discussion on them going forward unless they do something to warrant it. For example, Zambrano has been really good so far this spring despite getting in trouble the other day for trying to hit the ball 500 feet. He also complained about some soreness. Garza got hit by a line drive, but was OK. Dempster pitched the longest outing among the starters on Sunday and has looked good.

The battle is between Andrew Cashner, Randy Wells, and Silva, with guys like Todd Wellemeyer and Braden Looper looming as very dark horse candidates. I’ve all but dismissed Looper and Cashner. Looper because he’s bad and Cashner because he seems to be better served to be used in the back end of the bullpen to make it very dangerous mix of guys to close out games. That leaves Wells, Silva, and Wellemeyer. Silva has a hefty contract and, if we remember, was the best pitcher on the staff in the early part of last year. Wells was frustrating at times last year and has option years left. Wells has made one start and it was a good one. Silva? He started a fight and gave up two home runs in that inning. Wellemeyer turned in a quiet start, but made an impact. I’d give the edge to Wells and Silva right now, but Wellemeyer could make a run.

Normally the last section would be the pen, but I hate bullpens. They’re a crap shoot. We’ll get what we get and have to be happy with it.


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Answering My Own Questions

Friday, March 4th, 2011

1. Will Aramis Ramirez production return to normal in 2011?

A lot of people asked me to define “normal”. I guess what I meant by that is that we’ll be back to seeing an upper echelon offensive third baseman. I’m a big believer in the theory that the bulk of the reason for Ramirez struggles last year was due to the injury. I think he played with it and it affected his performance. In turn, I think those struggles hurt his confidence and we saw a broken and beaten hitter for part of the year.

Look at the numbers for July and August, once he started to get healthy, and you’ll see a return to the kind of hitter we paid for. Factor that in with this being a contract year and I think you’ve got a recipe for a nice year from Ramirez.

Split G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BA OBP SLG OPS
April/March 23 102 92 7 14 3 0 3 13 .152 .216 .283 .498
May 20 83 75 8 13 3 0 1 7 .173 .241 .253 .494
June 10 38 34 4 9 1 0 2 3 .265 .342 .471 .813
July 24 103 96 19 30 5 1 9 25 .313 .340 .667 1.006
August 26 101 93 14 28 4 0 5 21 .301 .356 .505 .862
Sept/Oct 21 80 75 9 18 5 0 5 14 .240 .288 .507 .794

2. Does Carlos Silva win a spot in the rotation, and if he doesn’t, is he still on this team come May?

When I wrote these questions, the fight in the dugout hadn’t happened yet. All I was basing my question on was the fact that he had said he felt he had a guaranteed spot in the rotation based on what he accomplished last year. If we base it on last year’s stats pre-injury I’d have to agree. Unfortunately you have to look at the big picture and that includes post-injury performance as well as contract. Carlos Silva is one of my favorite Cubs. I have no idea why other than the fact that I enjoy a starter that knows how to throw strikes and I have a thing for fat pitchers. Something about them screams overpowering bull on the mound. It’s a weird issue I’m working on. Be patient. If I had to guess, I’d think Silva WILL win a spot in the rotation and will go back to throwing strikes. Then again, that may just be my weird Silva love creeping in.

3. Does Kerry Wood stay healthy for the entire year?

I mentioned that Silva was one of my favorites. Woody is my absolute favorite Cub. I can’t explain how thrilled I was to see him come back to Chicago. I think he’s learned how to pitch out the bullpen effectively and it’s saved his career from being a total bust. I see him playing a vital role in a number of capacities for this 2011 team. He’s going to provide more stability in the late innings, with the availability and experience to close if Marmol is unavailable. He’ll provide instant veteran leadership for the young pitchers as well as the rest of the team, and he owns Chicago.

4. Will we see improved defensive play from this team considering Mike Quade’s increased emphasis on the importance of defense?

I don’t think we will. It’s not like these guys haven’t worked on defensive drills in the past. It’s basically the same crew on the field as last year. How can we really improve?

5. Which Carlos Zambrano will we get in 2011?

I shouldn’t even need to answer this one. If you don’t know by now how I feel about Zambrano, what’s wrong with you? He’s my least favorite pitcher on the staff and I think we’ll see the same thing we’ve seen for the past 10 years. He’s an above average starter that thinks he’s an Ace. Nothing more, nothing less. 12 wins and an ERA between 3.50 and 4.00

6. Will Kosuke Fukudome be traded before the deadline to make room for Tyler Colvin?

I don’t see much of a market for him unless someone suffers a big injury early and needs to acquire an OF to remain in the mix for their division. Fukudome tends to go into a bit of a slump during the time he most needs to hit to make himself marketable for trades. If we can make the deadline in April, his value will be great because he’ll be fresh off another early season tear at the plate. I think Fukudome rides out the year with the Cubs and then they part ways. Personally, I’d shop him to be able to get something in return, though I’m curious if he’d be considered a type-B free agent that would at least get us something in return.

7. How will the second base position shake out?

I want to believe that Blake Dewitt can be the guy. I really do. Unfortunately it’s not a very promising position in the immediate future for the Cubs. I don’t see any other candidates with a decent ceiling other than DeWitt right now. I used to be a believer in Ryan Flaherty, but he was a bust last year. If we’re in the mix this year, this is the spot that needs an upgrade.

8. Will Starlin Castro go through a sophomore slump?

I don’t think he will. I think this kid is the real deal. He’s gonna be an All Star this year. Mark it down now.

9. How will the pitching staff respond to new pitching coach, Mark Riggins?

I hope they respond well. I was a fan of Larry Rosthchild. The truth is, I don’t know how to answer this one. I think some guys will gel with him and some won’t. We’ll just have to wait to see how it shakes out.

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Top 9 Questions Facing the Cubs in 2011

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011
  1. Will Aramis Ramirez production return to normal in 2011?
  2. Does Carlos Silva win a spot in the rotation, and if he doesn’t, is he still on this team come May?
  3. Does Kerry Wood stay healthy for the entire year?
  4. Will we see improved defensive play from this team considering Mike Quade’s increased emphasis on the importance of defense?
  5. Which Carlos Zambrano will we get in 2011?
  6. Will Kosuke Fukudome be traded before the deadline to make room for Tyler Colvin?
  7. How will the second base position shake out?
  8. Will Starlin Castro go through a sophomore slump?
  9. How will the pitching staff respond to new pitching coach, Mark Riggins?

Answer all or just some of the questions above. I’ll be back tomorrow to talk about where I stand on the issues.

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Chet’s Corner: Pujols a Cub? I’ll Pass

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

Yes,  Albert Pujols is easily one of the best, if not the best,  player of the past decade.

Yes, Albert Pujols is one of the best hitters of all time.

No, I do not want to see Albert Pujols in a Cubs uniform in 2012.  I’ll re-phrase that, I don’t want to see Albert in a Cubs uniform at his current asking price.  I don’t want to see Albert in a Cubs uniform at his asking price OR for the duration of his desired contract.

I don’t think I am alone on this, at least I shouldn’t be.  You see, Albert is looking to “get even” for the relatively low dollar amount he has played for over the past eight seasons.  He is looking to get paid for what he has done in the past, not what he will do in the future.  It’s how the process works,  many times teams end up paying for what they hope to get based on a past performance.  It just sucks for Albert (or at least sucks as bad as it can suck when you are a millionaire multiple times over) that he is not 28 or 27 and in this situation.  Pujols turns 32 in 10 months and he is looking for 10 years worth of contract at an astounding $30 Mill/year.  That means you are paying him $90 million over the course of his 40th, 41st, and 42nd years of age .  Whoever signs him may even rework that contract so it is backloaded.  In 10 years that will still be a chunk of change regardless of how you slice and dice it.

If I thought Albert Pujols was going to put out like he did the past 10 years, I might be more intrigued. The problem?  He’s had at least two concerning ailments over the course of his career that could very well slow him down or even stop his play altogether.  Both injuries have popped up in the last three years.  One nagging injury was his elbow and the other is his back.  The elbow, was at one time, a possible Tommy John surgery candidate.   Now, I understand a series of surgeries supposedly took care of that, but who’s to say he isn’t gutting it out until he gets that last big payday?  The back issue scares me more.  Bad backs don’t get better with age, they get worse.  This is the type of injury that can sideline a player for extended periods.

All of this adds up to a massive gamble and one that I really don’t think the current Cubs ownership is likely to take.  Yes, it is possible that I am the only one thinking the team that wins the Pujols sweepstakes will be the sucker in the end.  Yes, it is possible that Albert will give a few good years to said team.  There is also a reason the Cardinals are not tripping over themselves to re-sign the lifeblood of their franchise for the past 10 years.  Think about it……

In case you haven’t heard…….

-Matt Garza had an adventurous first outing of the spring with his new team.

-Mark Prior and Larry Rothschild have reunited (I just threw up at the thought of him possibly being great for the Yankees some day)

-Apparently Miguel Cabrera Sheen, Austin Kearns, and Adam Kennedy all handled their DUI’s differently.

-Looks like Bartolo Colon has some serious competition for that fifth starter spot in New York.  Here I was thinking the Yankees traded away all their good prospects, they must grow on trees in their farm system.

-Kerry Wood is taking Andrew Cashner under his wing.

-The first round of cuts will be made for Cubs on March 16.

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Grading Jim Hendry’s Off-Season

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

It’s safe to say that the 0ff-season player movement has basically stopped. Sure, there are still potential pickups that may be tossed to the scrap heap, but generally those aren’t impact type guys. That being said, let’s grade out Jim’s off-season and see how he fared.

  • Xavier Nady Elects Free Agency – It’s not really a move that Hendry did, but rather what he didn’t do. It takes balls to let Nady go when you essentially have no heir apparent to play first base in the fold, but Hendry had a plan with this. Nady wanted a starting spot and got that with the Diamondbacks. - Grade: B
  • Carlos Pena Signed via Free Agency – Not only does Pena get the chance to be the leader in the clubhouse when it comes to befriending and modeling for guys like Soriano and Castro, but the deal is for one year. If he stinks, then the Cubs make a run at someone like Pujols or Fielder. If he’s great, then you have the chance to either trade him before the deadline if you’re out of contention or re-sign him. No risk, high reward. – Grade: A
  • Kerry Wood Signed via Free Agency – The bullpen was a mess last year. Wood brings leadership and skill to the pen, combined with the fact that he’s beloved here in Chicago, all for a bargain basement price. The deal Wood signed is microscopic. The fact that Hendry was able to do it is spectacular. – Grade: A
  • Matt Garza Trade – Garza and Perez come to Chicago in exchange for prospects. The Cubs needed to make a move to answer the moves by Milwaukee and Hendry answered in a big way. I shared my feelings on the deal a while back. I like it a lot. Garza will lead this starting staff in most pitching numbers. – Grade: B
  • Tom Gorzelanny Trade – Gorzo hasn’t really ever earned respect where he’s gone and was just one of many names involved in the competition for the last two spots in the rotation. Instead the Cubs get a few prospects in return and clear up some of the mystery with the rotation. The only thing I don’t like about the deal is that Gorzelanny was a lefty. – Grade: C
  • Old Man Signings – Todd Wellemeyer, Braden Looper and Augie Ojeda are all brought in to compete for a job. do with that what you will. -  Grade: Who Cares?

Overall, considering what he had to work with, I think Hendry had a pretty nice off-season. Thoughts?

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