Archive for December, 2011

Who Am I?

Monday, December 26th, 2011

Who Am I? is a feature here at VFTB designed to give some of the focus back to those who make the site a success: YOU! We’ll tell you a bit about one of our regular commenters and you guess who it is. We’ll be back later in the day with the answer.

(Would you like to be included? Let me know at … the more the merrier!)

Who Am I?

  • I’ve been around VFTB for about a year (Lizzie thinks it’s a little bit longer!)
  • I’ve been a Cubs fan since age 21, thanks to my wife. Previously I was a Braves fan.
  • I’ve been to Wrigley about 75 times.
  • I’m pro-Carlos Pena, I was pro-Jim Hendry, and when asked whether I cared that Aramis Ramirez signed elsewhere, I responded “Eh”.
  • If I was dining with Seymour I’d order a nice dry-aged ribeye, a 10-year old Syrah, and Creme Brulee. Unless we’re in New Orleans when I prefer Gumbo, Drumfish and Bread Pudding.
  • I favor stats over gut, and when Jedi and Norm go to town I side with Norm.
  • I’m married with four young children. I’m a die-hard liberal, very tall, and have been accused of being Buddy.

Who Am I?

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A Look At The Sean Marshall for Travis Wood Deal

Monday, December 26th, 2011


Reaction to the Sean Marshall Trade – Because of when the deal happened, we really didn’t say much about it. In case you missed it, Sean Marshall is now a Red in exchange for Travis Wood and well as minor league prospects, Dave Sappelt and Ronald Torreyes. The thought process was that while Marshall was perhaps the most dominant lefty out of the pen in baseball last year, he was dangerously close to free agency that probably would not have netted any sort of meaningful compensation under the new CBA and has been turned into three players under team control for five years. There has been a lot of reaction about the trade, and from a Cubs standpoint, I feel like most of it has been positive.

Keith Law of had this to say “The Cubs made out well, giving up a good reliever who is a year from free agency and getting back a big league starter and two mid-level prospects who will have major league value.

Sappelt looks like a very good extra outfielder. He has a simple swing, short to the ball with good use of his lower half, but he can’t handle center field except on an emergency basis, and his size and swing aren’t going to produce the power to profile every day in left. He makes a lot of contact, however, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him hit .300 — but without the OBP or power to make him a regular.

Torreyes is a tiny second baseman — Baseball-Reference has him at 5-foot-9, 140 pounds, and I would bet he’s shorter than that — but he has two above-average tools: hitting and running, with good bat speed and a simple swing for high contact rates. He could end up an average regular at second, but he is probably three full years away from the majors. Wood alone justifies this deal for the Cubs, but the chance that Torreyes becomes an everyday guy turns it into a potential big win.” (Source)

I like the trade a lot, despite the fact that Marshall was one of my favorite Cubs. People have clamored that he should have gotten the chance to move back to the rotation, but it just wasn’t going to happen. Look at the comparison between time as a starter vs. time as a reliever.

Split          ERA    IP HR  WHIP SO/9 SO/BB
as Starter    4.86 311.0 45 1.434  6.1  1.79
as Reliever   2.67 219.0 11 1.183  9.4  3.12

Instead we pick up rotation depth with high upside as well as adding depth to the farm system in exchange for a bullpen arm.


  • Manny Corpas been added to the bullpen, signing a one year deal. Corpas spent the entire 2011 season rehabbing from Tommy John surgery.
  • Yorvit Torrealba busted an umpire in the chops last week in winter ball. (Video). If you’re MLB, how do you deal with this? Is there a suspension for conduct that casts a poor light on the game?
  • Myron Logan of The Harball Times took a look at the Jed Hoyer tenure as San Diego Padres GM. Among the moves evaluated is the signing of a certain catcher who likes to hit umpires.
  • Theo has poached from the Red Sox, signing Matt Dorey and Kyle Evans as part of the scouting team. Dorey will serve as the national cross checker, which is a position that follows up nationally on the reports that the area scouts submit on local prospects.
  • Take a look at the worst pitcher contracts in history. Thankfully, the Cubs have no one on the list. (Source)
  • Got an iPod? Wanna move music off of it, but don’t know how? Use Sharepod? I used it yesterday and copied my entire iPod library and backed it up on my external hard drive. Merry Christmas to me. (LifeHacker)



Got the latest CD by NeedToBreathe for Christmas and this is the first single off of it. If you’ve never head of them, give them a listen. They’re a great band with a sound that kind of reminds me of a cross between U2, Train, and Tom Petty. I’d love to hear what you think of them.

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GO: Christmas!

Saturday, December 24th, 2011

It’s become a tradition in our house to make absolutely NO plans for Christmas Day. So, it’s a day to do whatever we want, and we absolutely love it after the running around and general chaos of the days preceding. I’ll cook our traditional Christmas Day meal of sweet and sour meatloaf with scalloped potatoes and broccoli (though I’m not sure how that has become a tradition). And, finally, we’ll open presents and watch the Bears lose to the Packers. If I lust after  Aaron Rodgers a bit in the process, so be it.

How about you? Merry Christmas!

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Diamondbacks Sign Kubel – I Don’t Get It

Saturday, December 24th, 2011

by John Dewan

Maybe they have some other plans, but it sure seems to me the Arizona Diamondbacks just threw $15 million out the window.  Why sign a 30-year-old outfielder coming off a season cut short by injury to come in and take the place of a 25-year-old outfielder who just won a Gold Glove?

The D’Backs’ signing of Jason Kubel a couple of days ago to a reported two-year $15 million contract is a puzzler.  Yes, he hit 20+ homers three years in a row before last year, but that’s about all you can say that he has over the man he is rumored to be replacing, Gerardo Parra, as the everyday left fielder for Arizona.

Last year Kubel, a lefty, hit .273 with 12 homers and a .766 OPS in about 400 plate appearances.  Parra, also a lefty, hit .292 with 8 homers and a .784 OPS in just under 500 plate appearances.  Parra created 71 runs to 59 for Kubel.  Given the fewer plate appearances for Kubel, you can say offensively the two players were pretty even.  But it’s defense that made Parra a much better player than Kubel in 2011.  Parra saved an estimated 12 runs for Arizona last year. He won a Gold Glove in recognition for his superlative play in the field.  Kubel cost his team about 3 runs defensively.  That 15-run difference is huge.

Not to mention that Parra is five years younger (Kubel turns 30 and Parra turns 25 in May).

Let’s give Kubel the benefit of the doubt and think of 2011 as simply a down year.  The best way to assess these players going forward is to look at their projections for 2012.  The projections from The Bill James Handbook 2012 take into account the entire career of each player to this point to estimate what they’ll do in 2012.  Here’s what the projections show:



















The most interesting number is the projected Runs Created, the Bill James statistic that measures total offensive contribution.  Kubel has 77 projected runs created while Parra has 78.  Parra has a few more at-bats, but I think you can easily say that these two players are pretty close offensively.

But not defensively.  In the last three seasons Parra has saved 33 runs defensively while Kubel has cost his team a total of 3.  That’s 36 runs better for Parra, and it makes him a better overall player than Kubel.  Factoring offense and defense, you can estimate that with similar regular playing time, Parra will produce about 85-90 runs when you add in his defense compared to 75-80 runs for Kubel.

Not to mention that Parra is five years younger.  (Did I mention that yet?)

It’s possible that the Diamondbacks know something that we don’t know.  Maybe they have another deal in the works.  Maybe there’s something wrong with Parra.  Maybe they can project players better than we can.  But whatever it is, I don’t get it.

Happy Holidays!

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

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Keeping Matt Garza

Friday, December 23rd, 2011

Aside from Starlin Castro, there’s no one in the Cubs organization with higher potential trade value than Matt Garza.  That’s why his name seems to pop up virtually every other day in some trade rumor.  And while the hypothetical haul we could get for him might be tantalizing–especially for a team with so many needs and too little in-house talent to fill them–I think we should hold onto him.  Here’s why:

  • Age  Garza is twenty-eight year old.  While that’s not necessarily young in baseball years, it’s also not old.  Now would be the time to invest in him–lock him up into his early thirties, and make him the anchor of a pitching staff that may look radically different a year from now.  With Dempster and Zambrano playing for new contracts, the serial underperfomance of Wells, and the Mr. Mystery Guest-nature of our fifth starter spot (Travis Wood might be penciled in for now, but anything can between now and Opening Day), our pitching staff could be four-fifths different this time next year.  Keeping Garza doesn’t help secure any of those other spots, but it does mean we’ll have at least one reliable starter to build around.
  • Stuff  We can argue about whether or not Garza is an “ace” some other time.  What’s clear is that he was the best starter the Cubs had this season, and barring injury he probably will be again this season.  Trading away Garza might mean welcoming the Rodrigo Lopez’s and Casey Coleman’s of the world back into our starting rotation.  Maybe we could get some MLB-viable pitching in return, but it’s hard to imagine getting back a pitcher or pitchers who can replace the quality we’d sacrifice in a deal for Garza.
  • Intangibles  Don’t worry–I’m not going to use words like “grit” or “heart.”  But one thing that stood out about Garza this year was how much he pulls for his teammates.  You can’t miss him on his off days, perched behind the dugout fence on his makeshift seat, hopping up and down like an insane cheerleader every time someone crosses the plate.  Obviously I don’t know what he’s like off the field, but from what I’ve seen, he appears to be the kind of guy you want in your clubhouse.  As the Cubs get younger over the next few seasons, it will be important to have some kind of leadership in place–Kerry Wood won’t be around forever.  Garza’s appears to be the kind of guy who can help maintain some clubhouse consistency while Epstein and Hoyer rebuild the roster.
  • Price  Garza made just a hair under $6M last season.  He’s probably due for a raise this year, and who knows what he’ll be able to demand by the time he hits the free agent market.  And while there’s no guarantee he’d take it, maybe offer him something in the neighborhood of 4 years/$48M and see if he bites.  With all the money that’s coming off the books, that won’t make a huge payroll dent.  In fact, maybe Hoyer could do the anti-Jim Hendry thing and front-load the contract a bit to make him more tradeable on the back end of his deal.  I have no idea if that would be enough to lock him up for a few years–the point is the Cubs won’t know either until they try.  And looking around the current roster, where else would you like them to spend money?  Garza’s one of the few guys on the team right now you could reasonably invest in.

From where I sit, Garza is a keeper.  He’s young enough to build on, and might be cheap enough to invest in.  He’s got the measurable and unmeasurable qualities I’m looking for, and it seems to me at least that so far he’s enjoyed his time as a Cub, and would like to stick around for a while.

Of course, all that goes out the window if someone makes us a Godfather-esque offer we can’t refuse (do horse heads in beds constitute tampering in the MLB?).  But barring some blowout deal that brings back several of the missing pieces from this particular Cubs puzzle, I think we ought to keep Matt Garza.


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Morning News: Beltran, The Colts, and College Football

Friday, December 23rd, 2011

Beltran – The Cardinals signed Carlos Beltran to 2 years, $26 million with a no trade clause, and it’s considered a steal for the Cards. And he’ll probably turn out to be pretty good, considering what happened to Lance Berkman – it seemed like he had seen his glory days, but he got to St. Louis and it turned out that he still had a little chicken left on that bone. That seems to be a trend in St. Louis. It must be something in the water.

Colts – The Colts beat Houston, 19-16. They scored on a 1-yard touchdown pass to Reggie Wayne with 25 seconds left in the game. As a result of this win, Indianapolis is in a 3-way tie with St. Louis and Minnesota; they all have two wins. Their chances of getting the first-round pick in next year’s draft have been reduced significantly. Was it worth the win, or should Wayne have “accidentally” dropped the pass to stay in the running for Luck?

Matt Barkley – USC’s Golden Boy has decided to stay in SoCal for his senior season. He was projected to go second or third depending on who took Robert Griffin. He must have been feeling the Christmas spirit, and generously gave up his favorable projection to Griffin. Either way, he still is a college football quarterback, and it is possible that he’ll end up like Mark Sanchize or Sam “alwaysinjured” Bradford.

Christmas – It seems like people these days are 1 of two types of people: either they get their Christmas shopping done 5 months ahead of time, or they wait until two days before the big day and frantically get all their gifts bought, wrapped, and delivered just in time. Is there even a middle ground? After going to the mall to do some Christmas shopping, I would say that there really isn’t a middle ground.

A Look Into Katie’s iPod:
Christmas is only a few days away, and I absolutely love Christmas music. There are so many different variations of the classic Christmas songs, but Darius Rucker has an original tune that is catchy but still holds the secret of every good Christmas song: Santa!

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Gifts I Want From Theo

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

Sometimes kids wish for unreasonable and far-fetched things, and sometimes adults do the same. Keeping that in mind, let’s take a look at Katie’sWishlist for the Cubs’ Front Office:

  • David Wright – We are in need of a guy to man the hot corner. It would be nice to have Wright at third for obvious reasons, not to mention that he’s a pretty good ballplayer as well. While last season wasn’t his best, his career BA and OBP are decent, and his numbers from ’07-’09 are fantastic. He could bounce back.
  • Curtis Granderson – When I see this name, three words pop up in my mind: speed, surprising power, and humility. Granderson had a phenomenal 2011 with 41 home runs and 119 RBIs. His BA was a mere .262, but if he could continue to put up numbers anywhere near his HR and RBI stats, I’d be glad to have him. What’s better than an Anderson? A Granderson.
  • Matt Kemp – A .324 batting average, 39 home runs, 126 RBIs, a .399 on base percentage, and no PEDs? Sign him up! Having Matt on the team would appeal to a few audiences: the men who are all about statistics and the ladies who are dragged to games by their significant others. It would be a win-win for everyone. Not to mention, he’s also a pretty good ball player.
  • Justin Upton – Prince Fielder passed up adding this guy to his team for the Home Run Derby this summer, and the fans in Arizona were not very happy about it. It’s easy to see why they would be upset: this past season the younger Upton hit .289 with 31 HRs, 88 ribbies, and had a .369 OBP. Despite the fact that B.J. personally tossed me a game ball in Tampa, having Justin on the team would be more beneficial because of his age.
  • Justin Verlander – AL Cy Young. AL MVP. Need I say more? This man should be at the top of the list of every team (except Philadelphia). He has 1,215 career strikeouts, and he’s been in the league for 6 years. If he can avoid injuries, he will be good for a long time. He may even be able to put up Randy Johnson-esque numbers. If he and Garza were the only good pitchers on our team, I would be a happy Cubs fan. Theo… errrr, Santa, take note.
  • Matt Garza – Rumors have been circulating that Garza may be on the auction block; that would be a dagger to the heart. Garza was our only consistent pitcher; the only thing he lacked was run support. The Lord knows our biggest weakness is our pitching department, and saying adios to Garza would be completely self-defeating. Unless, of course, we could manage to get another a decent pitcher in place of him, but that is unlikely. So, it would seem logical to keep him, no?
  • A winning season – Most of the requests on this list may seem a bit far-reaching, so here is one semi-feasible request: a record above .500. Even if it is only one game above .500, it would be OK. Just as long as our players play to their best potential and our coaches make wise coaching decisions, it should be doable.

Disclaimer: this is a wishlist. There is little hope that the wishes will come true. But it was worth a shot.

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Morning News; Marshall is traded, Johnson is re-signed, Bulls & Lakers, plus a terrible gift idea

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011


Sean Marshall to the Reds – in return the Cubs get Travis Wood a young No. 4/5 starter. Wood is an upgrade from Casey Coleman or Rodrigo Lopez; and a decent year might even put him ahead of Randy Wells. While I like Sean Marshall, the Cubs weren’t going to make him a starter again (rightly so, he’d had several chances and was never terribly impressive as a starter) and he will be a free agent at the end of 2012. Marshall would’ve been trade bait at the deadline in July anyway, instead the Cubs dealt him now for a starter who is under their control until 2016; basically the Cubs traded a reliever who was about to hit the open market for a guy who instantly fights with Randy Wells for the title of best young Cubs starter. I like the deal, and I think it’s better than anything the new regime has done yet – by a long shot. The Reds have shown a willingness to overpay to acquire their missing pieces via trade, I’m glad we took advantage of that. Perhaps they’re missing a left-fielder who hops when he catches a ball, has significantly lied about his age, and swings wildly at anything that might be mistaken by a blind person as a strike – because we’ve got one of those too!

Cubs sign right-handed David DeJesusReed Johnson returns to the Cubs in 2012. Reed bounced back from a sub-par 2010 (with the Dodgers) to be quite a productive fourth outfielder next year. Anything more I could say would just instigate a fight with all the DeJesus lovers; moving on…

Bulls v. Lakers – the highly anticipated Christmas Day game between these NBA juggernauts just got a lot less interesting. Kobe who is battling torn ligaments and a dissolving marriage will probably see a lot less action in the near future (on the court; not off). Meanwhile the Bulls have locked up superstar Derrick Rose virtually guaranteeing their relevance for the foreseeable future. No word if Rose had someone sign his contract for him.

Last minute shopping guide – in case you still haven’t figured out what to get that hard-to-buy-for relative, consider this suggestion from across the pond. Because honesty is the gift that can’t be returned for store credit.

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Crystal Ball II – The Wrath Of Buddy

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

The New Year is right around the corner, which means Spring Training can’t be far behind. With that in mind, it’s time to do a bit of forecasting for 2012. I promise to get it right this year!

  • Ian Stewart will be a useful hitter vs. RHP, but will struggle against southpaws. Fortunately, new Cubs manager Dale Sveum will limit his at bats against LHP, which is something Mike Quade wouldn’t have figured out.
  • David DeJesus will become a fan favorite and lead the team in on-base percentage.
  • Matt Garza will continue to pitch well, but this year he’ll actually receive some run support. As a result, his win total will increase, but uninformed fans will think he’s a much better pitcher, even when his other numbers stay basically the same as 2011.
  • Starlin Castro will hit the 20-homer mark for the first time in his career.
  • Geo Soto will bounce back from a disappointing 2011.
  • Darwin Barney and Marlon Byrd will continue to make outs at an alarming rate.
  • Alfonso Soriano…Nevermind. I just can’t talk about this guy anymore.
  • Carlos Zambrano will be traded to Miami for 10,000 copies of Don Johnson’s 1986 album “Heartbeat.”
  • Carlos Marmol will torment me for yet another season.
  • The Cubs will draw 3 million+ again, but for some reason many fans will still talk about “attendance problems” at Wrigley.
  • Bob Brenly will say lots of annoying things.
  • Len Kasper will say lots of annoying things.
  • Buddy’s head will start hurting during Len & Bob’s first 2012 broadcast, and it will continue to hurt through their last 2012 broadcast.
  • Prince Fielder will sign with the Rangers.
  • Prince the artist will continue to make crappy music.
  • The Milwaukee Brewers will survive the loss of Fielder and win the N.L. Central.
  • The Cubs will finish with 80 wins and trim some serious dead weight from the roster along the way.
  • Justin Upton will win the N.L. MVP award. Miguel Cabrera will bring home A.L. honors.
  • The Angels will win the A.L. Wild Card and go on to become World Series champs. The sports media universe will give the credit to Tim Tebow.
  • VFTB users will finally stop posting political comments. Forget that one. It doesn’t have a shot in hell of coming true!
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