Archive for November, 2011

Morning News: Football, Arbitration, and Prospects

Friday, November 25th, 2011

Boy, it doesn’t feel like Friday. I hope everyone’s day yesterday went well. At our house we spent the day with my father in law and my brother in law and his not really girlfriend and their newborn. It was a fairly low key day. I spent the morning helping the in law outside assembling a massive wooden play set and then proceeded to watch 10.5 quarters of football. I tried to watch all the games, but just couldn’t stay up past mid-3rd quarter of the Ravens game.

The Headline

I don’t know that you can talk about sports on the day after Thanksgiving and not discuss the games. Seeing as this is a baseball themed blog, we’ll keep it short.

Green Bay 27, Detroit 15 – This one was, for the most part, a laugher and not only because of the score. I made a trade right before the trade deadline in fantasy football to deal Eli Manning and, newly acquired via waivers, Kevin Smith to a team for Tom Brady and Earl Bennet. Kevin Smith, as he always does, proceeded to injure himself and I’m laughing all the way to the bank. Only other note I saw from this game is that Ndamukong Suh is a bad man. It’s almost like he budgets for the fines he knows are coming because he continues to act like a bonehead and play completely balls to the wall and out of control. That whole team could use some discipline.

Dallas 20, Miami 19 – This was a really good game that I felt like the Dolphins might win. I picked the Cowboys to cover, but didn’t feel good about it because of how the fish have been playing. Fantasy implications for me in this one as well as Laurent Robinson grabbed a nice pair of TD’s (get your mind out of the gutter).

Ravens 16, 49ers 9 – You had to think the Niner’s luck would run out at some point when it came to going from west coast to east coast. They had pulled it off four times this year, but couldn’t make it five despite the Ravens playing without Ray Lewis for the second straight week. Fantasy implications for me involved Ray Rice’s below average production and a good effort from Billy Cundiff.

The Back Page

  • I never got a chance to mention this when it came out, but John Sickels of MinorLeagueBall.com came out with his Tampa Bay Rays prospect list. You care, why? Well because it involves a few names we dealt in the Matt Garza deal last off-season. Here were his thoughts: 2) Hak-Ju Lee, SS, Grade B+: Excellent defense and took a step forward with the hitting this year, should provide batting average, speed, solid OBP. I’m not worried about his bad month in Double-A., 7) Brandon Guyer, OF, Grade B-: Borderline B. Also has across-the-board skills. Doesn’t draw many walks, but has some power, will swipe bases, hits for average, and strong defense. Older prospect at age 26., 11) Chris Archer, RHP, Grade B-: Not fond of the command slippage and he may end up in the bullpen, but his ceiling remains impressive. Needs a good dose of Triple-A. (Source)
  • The Cubs have offered arbitration the free agents, Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Pena, which caused one Twitter follower of mine to worry. The move is simply a formality to allow the Cubs to receive a compensatory pick at the end of the 1st round of the draft when they leave. This is pretty important in the rebuilding process. While it does come with the risk that either or both would accept the offer and return next season, it’s not likely. Ramirez has this last chance to maximize his money on the free agent market and he’s not going to simply accept a one year deal via arbitration to a team he’s already burned a bridge with. Pena should have enough offers to at least get a two year deal.
  • An interesting nugget I found in the Bruce Levine blog reporting on Ramirez and Pena was “Defensively Pena was ranked the best defensive first baseman in baseball using a system devised by ESPN Stats & Info. The system showed that he converted 50 errant throws into put-outs.” (Source)

Song to Help You Kick the Friday Turkey Coma in the Crotch

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Giving Thanks

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

Before a small army descends upon our happy home for food and football, I wanted to share a few random thoughts of Cub-fan appreciation. I’m sure my list will warm your heart like a Hallmark Channel made-for-TV movie starring some actress you’ve never heard of. Enjoy!

  • I’m thankful that the Cubs turned to intelligent, creative leaders in the front office. Of course Theo and the Theo-ettes won’t be perfect with their personnel decisions, but I look for them to seriously upgrade the Cubs dismal roster in the very near future. I’m not Jimmy the Greek, but I will predict that there will be many more hits than misses with this group calling the shots.
  • I’m thankful for the Cubs managerial change. I never like watching somebody lose his job, but Mike Quade was not cut out to manage a big-league ballclub. The Quade hire was yet another case of square peg, round hole. I’m not sure what to make of Dale Sveum at this point, but I trust the new Cubs brain trust to push the right buttons.
  • I’m thankful for Starlin Castro. Say what you want about his defense and lack of plate discipline, but this kid is going to be a star (barring injury of course). Middle infielders with his collection of skills don’t come along every day.
  • I’m thankful for Matt Garza. Some fans are still yearning for Hak-Ju Lee and Chris Archer, but I’d much rather have a young, durable, talented, productive starting pitcher than prospects.
  • I’m thankful for Sean Marshall. Where would the Cubs bullpen have been without this over-achieving lefty? Now the big question is, “should he start?”
  • I’m thankful for last year’s draft. The Cubs racked up a nice haul of talent in 2011. Nice work, for a change!
  • I’m thankful for MLB Network. I never miss an episode of “Hot Stove” or “Clubhouse Confidential.”  If they would just cut down on the Harold Reynolds segments.
  • I’m thankful for Tony LaRussa’s retirement. The Cardinals have to take a step back without him, right?
  • I’m thankful for Wrigley Field. Yes it has problems, but it’s still the best place on Earth to watch a ballgame.
  • I’m thankful that Buck Martinez doesn’t announce Cubs games. As you know, I’m not a fan of Len Kasper and Bob Brenly, but they’re Harry and Steve compared to Mr. Martinez. He makes my ears bleed!
  • I’m thankful for VFTB. Good, and good for you! Maybe Jedi and Norm will sign a truce to celebrate the season? OK, maybe not.

Now if that doesn’t make your soul sing, nothing will. In all seriousness, I wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving, even Mike Quade, Bob Brenly, Koyie Hill, Marlon Byrd, and Lil’ Darwin Barney! Who says miracles don’t happen during the holidays?

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Morning News: Talkin’ Turkey Day

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

Thanksgiving – the most American of holidays. We eat, watch football, nap, eat, watch football, eat, pass out. Freedom! Then we wake up from our food coma and spend the rest of the weekend prepping for the next holiday. U-S-A, U-S-A, U-S-A!

Mascot For The Day – read about this lady if you dare, but it might be helpful in steering you away from seconds.

Tradition – typically on Thanksgiving Day, my Dad makes deep dish pizza. Nothing says eat until you’re sick like fantastic Chicago-style pizza on Thanksgiving Day. Anyone else care to fill us in on their familial traditions?

Thankful – enough tomfoolery. Tell me one thing you’re thankful for; only let’s have no repeating answers, so if someone says what you intended to say, dig deeper, pick something else – we all have so much to be thankful this shouldn’t be hard. I’ll get us started – I’m very thankful for my wonderful wife.

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Chet’s Corner: A Daily Double

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

Before I head off to gorge myself on turkey and trimmings, I thought it would be best to cover a few things that have stumbled by the corner as of late……

The Interesting Trials and Tribulations of Ryne Sandberg 

I am going to anger a few of you, but I am not surprised to see Ryno without a Major League managing job.

Somewhere along the line, the Cubs former brass made Ryne (and the Cubs fan base), feel as if managing the big league club was but a mere jump from the minors away.

“Hey Ryne, do the minor league circuit successfully and all will fall into place.”

This actually reminds me of the simplistic idiocy of the former regime.  It’s never that easy.

Ryne has had some trouble finding that MLB manager spot.  He has interviewed for a handful of gigs over the past two seasons and been shut down in every attempt.   I would speculate that he needs some experience coaching at the big league level before any serious consideration is given to him managing.  It seems to be the way of the walk for most first time managers.

I have to believe he has been offered a job coaching at some level, be it a base coach or bench coach.  The path may open a bit if he can get a job doing either.  However, for the time being it looks as though he will man the helm with the Iron Pigs for yet another season.

What are your thoughts as to why Ryno has yet to find that elusive managerial job?

Thanks god we aren’t the NBA!

Believe it or not, the most recent labor struggles of the NFL and NBA,  pale in comparison to the MLB strike and subsequent lockout of 1994.    Yes, the one that cancelled the Post – Season and  World Series for the first time since 1904 (The ’04 World Series was cancelled because the Pirates refused to play.)

The 1994 strike and lockout should have been a learning tool for all other professional sports leagues.  Instead, at least in the NBA’s case, they are repeating past failures.  Would anyone like to make a wager regarding how much the NBA fan base will thin out when the dust settles?

This past week baseball showed how much it has learned by silently and rather effortlessly negotiating a new CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement).  A good breakdown of the agreement is here.

In general it may hurt small market teams down the road, with the new fines for exceeding a certain amount on draft bonuses.  small market teams are known for doling out higher draft bonuses to get the best young, but relatively cheap talent.  Not totally sure it will be the stink some are making of it.

I am for the increase in playoff teams.  While I don’t want to see 20 teams duking it out for the World Series, baseball is one sport that can afford to add a few more.  A 162 game regular season is a long marathon and a few more teams (not too mention fans) should be rewarded for a long season of work.

Mostly, I like seeing the increased testing for HGH and reduction in tobacco use.  The ladder is nice, but the former shows that the players in general want a more level playing field for all.

What stands out in the new CBA to you as a fan?

 

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Morning News: The CBA, Garza, Braun, and Homeless Houseguests

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

Strike One:  The MLB released the terms of the new CBA Tuesday.  Jonah Keri wrote an article at Grantland breaking down some of the repercussions the new deal will have for new players entering the league, and how teams that put most of heir money into the draft may need a new plan.  In light of the issues Keri raises, how important to you is parity in baseball?  Check back here Friday for Noah’s analysis of the new CBA.

Strike Two:  Tuesday morning the Tribune’s Phil Rogers put some thought into the rumors that the Cubs are listening to offers for Matt Garza.  To project what kind of haul the Cubs might receive in return for Garza, he looks at the players the Brewers gave up for Zach Grienke, and the handful of players the Cubs surrendered this time last year to bring Garza to Chicago.  Do you want to dangle Garza as trade bait?  Or do you want to add more pitchers without giving up the best one we currently have?

Foul Tip:  White Sox GM Ken Williams’ home was broken into and lived-in, Goldilocks-style, by a homeless man.  The suspect made a substantial mess throughout the house, and borrowed Williams’ clothes, keys, and even his World Series ring to go out on the town.  No one wants to come home to find their home invaded and trashed, but considering Williams’ consistently antagonistic attitude toward the Cubs, I think the story is far more funny than tragic.

Strike Three:  Ryan Braun won the National League MVP over Matt Kemp.  One of the deciding factors appears to have been the success of the Brewers versus the futility of the Dodgers.  How heavily should the team’s success weigh in individual awards like MVP?

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