Archive for January, 2012

Cubs Convention Tweet Roundup

Saturday, January 14th, 2012

Who needs to go to the Convention when you have Twitter to recap in real time? This morning, Theo, Jed, and numerous others took to the discussion panels and below is a recap from various sources. Highlights include Theo saying they want to be #1 in OBP and that walks are a symptom of a team with a good approach at the plate. Weird, I know…

BruceMiles2112 Bruce Miles
Standing O for Theo at fireside chat. He and Len settle into easy chairs. #Cubs

BruceMiles2112 Bruce Miles
Theo says he will remember Kerry Wood moment for the rest of his life. #Cubs

espnchijon jon greenberg
Len is doing some major tap dancing about the Sean Marshall trade.

BruceMiles2112 Bruce Miles
Theo said if #Cubs could fill clubhouse w 25 Sean Marshalls they’d be going places. I’ve seen Sean play LF but SS might pose problem

espnchijon jon greenberg
Len just asked Theo if Anthony Rizzo could be “next Prince Fielder” to set up Cubs’ forward thinking ways. Theo doesn’t bite there.

BruceMiles2112 Bruce Miles
Theo said #Cubs not old-school or new-school but thorough and inclusive

espnchijon jon greenberg
Len deftly mixes in Bloomberg’s new deal with Cubs. Bloomberg is sponsoring this talk, name’s on the backdrop.

BruceMiles2112 Bruce Miles
Theo said #Cubs info mgmt systems were a little behind the times. Really?

espnchijon jon greenberg
Theo gets applause for saying every player will run as hard as they can to first. Why didn’t he hire Shawon Dunston then?

BruceMiles2112 Bruce Miles
Ah, Theo goes for easy applause saying every player will run hard. #Cubs

PWSullivan Paul Sullivan
Theo sez he wanted a mgr like Sveum who deals w/ players “without enabling them or coddling them.” Amen.

BruceMiles2112 Bruce Miles
Theo insists new CBA compensation rules don’t put #Cubs at disadvantage

BruceMiles2112 Bruce Miles
Theo talks about hitters seeing a lot of pitches. Am I covering the #Cubs?

BruceMiles2112 Bruce Miles
Theo says he wants #Cubs to be first in OBP, not last. I’m callin’ Dusty

BleacherNation Brett Taylor
Theo: Walks are a symptom of a team with a good approach at the plate.

espnchijon jon greenberg
Theo’s all for increased steroid testing, except for 2004 Red Sox team.

BruceMiles2112 Bruce Miles
Theo says if Castro was 27, not 21, OBP would be a concern

BleacherNation Brett Taylor
Farm system was much deeper than Theo thought. But, yeah, not much impact talent close to the bigs.

BruceMiles2112 Bruce Miles
Theo: #Cubs have more talent than given credit for

BruceMiles2112 Bruce Miles
Theo says #Cubs don’t want to fluke into division title and be out of it the next year. That’s never happened around here

espnchijon jon greenberg
Sorry had to erase last tweet. Theo said Cubs DON’T have enough talent or young players, guys earning their $$$. Not terrible, but not enuf.

BleacherNation Brett Taylor
Theo is a big Jeff Beliveau fan. I’d say you can set aside a bullpen spot for him.

BleacherNation Brett Taylor
First question for Sveum: about Tony Campana.

BleacherNation Brett Taylor
Dale Sveum is all about aggressiveness, which squares with his Boston rep as a “waiving” third base coach. #CubsCon

BleacherNation Brett Taylor
Jed says Cubs scouted Cespedes and Soler “very hard” and says, generically, Cubs will be in on most young free agents. #CubsCon

cst_cubs cst_cubs
Sveum: “we’re not rebuilding. We’re just building.”

BleacherNation Brett Taylor
Sveum is asked about Brewers players “annoying antics” last year. Sveum deftly notes sometimes it’s good to irritate other team. #CubsCon

BleacherNation Brett Taylor
Player development panel with Fleita, Castillo, Samardzija and Kenney. #CubsCon pic.twitter.com/hxxepoDC

BleacherNation Brett Taylor
Crane talking about the development of the Cubs’ DR facilities. Very important. #CubsCon

cst_cubs cst_cubs
Sveum: “we have plenty of guys who can have productive years.”

BleacherNation Brett Taylor
Cubs unveil plans for new Dominican facility. Goal is March 2013. #CubsCon pic.twitter.com/lxvW1L0n

cst_cubs cst_cubs
For those who haven’t been listening: “(Signing Fielder’s) just not going to happen,” says sveum.

BleacherNation Brett Taylor
The reiterated goal for new Spring Training facilities is Spring 2014. #CubsCon

BleacherNation Brett Taylor
Camp Bussy (formerly Colvin) attendees include Samardzija, Ryan Dempster, Matt Cerda and Tony Campana among many others.

BleacherNation Brett Taylor
Fleita corrects himself in Camp Bussy attendees – Matt Szczur, not Cerda.

LenKasper Len Kasper
What an enlightening hour with Theo Epstein at the Convention today. I feel smarter just having listened to him talk about the game. #Cubs

BleacherNation Brett Taylor
Crane certainly likes to control his panel. He’s left about zero time for questions. #CubsCon

BleacherNation Brett Taylor
This was the panel, by the way, that Starlin Castro was supposed to be on. #CubsCon
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BruceMiles2112Bruce Miles
Jed Hoyer says he hopes #Cubs are team that finds next statistical breakthrough. Man, I’m in a parallel universe.
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And this covers a little more than 2 hours of this mornings panel…if anything else interesting pops up, I may add an update or two.
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GO: Sitcoms

Saturday, January 14th, 2012

What are your favorite half-hour TV sitcoms? Past, present, or both!

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The Carlos Zambrano Owner’s Manual

Friday, January 13th, 2012

Congratulations, you’ve purchased or traded for your very own Carlos Zambrano.  Your Zambrano possesses unparallelled physical tools and athletic ability for a pitcher, but he is not a toy.  He’s a volatile, fragile, highly sensitive machine–one that requires constant supervision and care.  With that in mind, here are some warnings and guidelines as you prepare to activate your Carlos Zambrano.

Do not, under any circumstances, start your Carlos Zambrano on Opening Day.  Studies have shown that the pomp and excitement surrounding Opening Day almost always combine to overwhelm a Zambrano’s circuits, causing him to meltdown in spectacular fashion.  Some Zambranos have been known to completely lose sight of the strike zone on Opening Day–others have downshifted into “Batting Practice” mode, surrendering insurmountable leads to their opponents.  The severity of the damage an Opening Day start can do to your Zambrano should not be underestimated–in a few cases, it took several weeks to fully recalibrate the Zambranos, resulting in several wasted starts.

Refrain from using words like “ace” or phrases like “anchor of our staff” around your Carlos Zambrano.  The makers of the Carlos Zambrano built him with the largest possible ego already in place–any such talk within earshot of your Zambrano will cause an expansion of that ego and lead to malfunctions on the field.  To ensure your Zambrano stays in proper working order, it’s best to keep your public expectations for him modest.  While Zambranos can occasionally perform well under pressure, it’s best not to tamper with the delicate mental inner-workings of your Zambrano by letting on how important he might be to the overall success of your team.

Your Carlos Zambrano lacks the basic instincts for self-maintenance–you will need to compensate for this by caring for him much like a small child.  For example, your Zambrano won’t see a problem staying up all night chatting online with friends in South America, even though he knows that much typing leads to forearm cramps (one of the recurring weaknesses with this model).  He will further exacerbate his inclination to cramping by drinking too much soda and not enough water before hot and humid day game.  It will be infuriating when he breaks down mid-summer, but rest assured he will, probably in the midst of a playoff run or some other key situation.

In addition to the cramping, your Zambrano will sometimes do inadvertent damage to himself during the course of a normal start.  Zambranos are built with no shortage of youthful exuberance for the game of baseball, which, if left unchecked, can lead to any number of freak accidents and bizarre injuries.   Throwing and swinging too hard, stretching singles into doubles, attempting to leg out impossible infield hits, and scrambling for fly balls well out of his reach have all been known to cause injury and even missed service time for Carlos Zambranos, and should be avoided whenever possible.  Your Zambrano is capable of astounding athletic achievement, but the fact that he knows it is a programming flaw we have so far been unable to correct.  For best results, don’t encourage your Carlos Zambrano after stunning plays–he’ll be less likely to try to top himself.

On the topic of hitting, there are a few more things to be aware of.  No matter what kind of at-bat the game situation calls for, your Carlos Zambrano will always swing for the fences on every pitch within his over-sized strike zone.  While it does create some exciting and even entertaining at-bats, the results won’t live up to the boundless self-assurance of your Zambrano.  And regardless of the outcome, it’s important to occasionally use your Zambrano as a pinch-hitter.  This will keep him somewhat mentally engaged on his off days, and will help regulate his sensitive morale levels.

In the event your Carlos Zambrano does hit a home run, it’s important to remove him from the game as soon as possible.  The excitement of hitting the home run and running the bases almost always proves to be too much for the Zambrano, and he can’t settle back down in time to pitch in the next half of the inning.  Keeping his delicate morale in mind, it’s better for him to exit the game on a high note than to return to the mound for what is almost sure to be a letdown inning.

Owners of a Carlos Zambrano need to pay special attention to team chemistry and makeup.  Surrounding your Zambrano with high-character players will help guard against occasional meltdowns, and help stabilize his mercurial nature.  That’s not to say there won’t be problems–a Zambrano can and will make waves in even the calmest of clubhouses.  He will occasionally throw tantrums on the mound, in the dugout, and in the clubhouse because of missed defensive plays in the field.  At any given time, regardless of the score or impact of the play, he will show up any player on your roster, including veterans with multiple Gold Gloves, if he think a play wasn’t made.  A steady veteran core to you roster will help limit the damage your Zambrano can do, but it cannot curtail it altogether.  If you don’t mind the inherent risks, your Carlos Zambrano might benefit from limited exposure to an even more volatile model, like a Milton Bradley.  While there’s no guarantee that your Zambrano’s behavior will improve, he’s sure to look good by comparison.

Another fundamental flaw in the Carlos Zambrano is the complete inability to win over the media.  You will find that your Zambrano is prone to exaggerated statements, confusing sarcasm, vague accusations, and the uncanny ability to deflect and redirect blame to teammates, coaching staff, and even the fans.  Don’t be surprised by sudden announcements about retirement, stunningly unfunny jokes about which teams he’d rather play for, and shockingly brazen predictions about his future accomplishments in the coming season.  Few if any of these statements will be based in reality, and most can be ignored out of hand.  Whenever possible, it’s best to keep your Zambrano out of range of any microphones or beat reporters.

It’s important to remember that as he adapts to your specific team situation, your Carlos Zambrano will find many unique opportunities for success and for failure that we cannot predict at this time.  Don’t be surprised when your Zambrano lets you down in some unforeseen way–the Carlos Zambrano is capable of blazing new trails to futility at any time.  Part of the excitement of owning and operating a Zambrano is the unexpected highs and the inopportune lows.

Enjoy owning your own Carlos Zambrano.  And please remember, NO REFUNDS.

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Morning News: Advisory Panel

Friday, January 13th, 2012

This morning’s news is short and sweet, but very much needed and appreciated. As we head into the season in just a few months, my mind is always working with ideas on how we can improve the reader experience. I like to get feedback on my thoughts to help weed out the many dumb ones and mine for the few good ideas I have. That’s where you come in. I want to get your feedback when I have thoughts. If tyou’re willing to be included in an advisory committee for the site, I want to hear from you. It would be a list of people I’d send an e-mail to asking for opinions, suggestions and overall feedback on things related to the site. If that’s something that interests you, please send an e-mail to joe@viewfromthebleachers.com with your VFTB name and I’ll add you to the list.

Thanks for reading and for being the reason why we all enjoy doing this year in and year out. For me, this will be season number nine writing about Cubs baseball. It’s been a long journey.

WHAT’S ON JOE’S IPOD?

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GirlieView (01/12/2012)

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

Well, I’m back. I just couldn’t stay away any longer. I want to thank Rachel Wisinski for keeping the GirlieView tradition going for the whole second half of 2011 while I pursued my bucket list. I’ve done some fun stuff and I’m not near finished but I’ll admit it, I missed you guys. Please give props to Rachel for a job well done!

I’m honored to alternate Thursdays with Jedi Johnson’s Northside Archives. Between the two of us we hope you’ll find something to make your Thursday afternoons interesting!

While a few of you may be happy to see me, I’m sure there are also some groans in the crowd right now. Why? Because when Rachel picked her Wizzies, she (rightly) rewarded actual baseball knowledge, coherent quotes, thoughtful contributions. Me? I’m more for humor and snark. And people who agree with me. Or disagree politely. You’ll catch on very quickly, I’m sure. Meanwhile, here’s the inaugural batch of 2012 Lizzies! Enjoy!!

Lizzies

  • Is it me?
  • Quick note on Disney etiquette…Do not refer to a crazy person as “f*cking goofy”. That has an entirely different meaning there. (Bleeps courtesy of Lizzie.)
  • Might this be the beginning of the end for Manning and the Colts?
  • And Sam Hurd…what pro franchise doesn’t have a felon or 2 on their roster.
  • More times than not, many more times, the rumors are not true.
  • I have often harped about the poor status of most local Chicago baseball writers. Bruce Miles is one of the exceptions
  • Nice interview Norm. I still think our VFTB staffers put out better quality than most of the beat guys on the team-level.
  • Just like when Rex Ryan told a radio show host that he’d take Mark Sanchez over Peyton Manning. What else is he going to say to the media? “My guy sucks and I wish we had somebody else.” Not likely.
  • The annual change from Jets everyday cap and phone wallpaper to Cubs happened Monday. Wonder when the change back will be in 2012?
  • Work out more and eat/drink less (dare to dream)
  • Eat/drink more and work out less (I’ve changed my mind!)
  • (“Good morning, Mr. Smith. I really hustled to finish that report you wanted. With a little grit and moxie, I think my clutch recommendations will improve our office chemistry!”)
  • Dale Svowell
  • I can’t wait for him to quit on Ozzie. He might be tougher to quit than D-Lee, Q, Michael Barrett’s face, and the Gatorade cooler were.
  • Ozzie vs. Zambrano would be fun to watch. However, I don’t know who I would root for. Maybe the ref?
  • If Johnson were to ever move closer to the plate he’d be standing on it.
  • Seymour is dining with his Ron Santo bobble head jswanson.
  • To the surprise of almost no one, Big Z will be joining Ozzie Guillen and his band of merry malcontents in Miami.
  • LaFirstbaseman
  • With Z gone, I’m hoping Rich Hill can finally get his chance to earn a rotation spot…
  • The part of me that is a little baffled by the trade terms for Zambrano is entirely over-ruled by the part of me that is cheering loudly that we’re done with Z’s antics!
  • I don’t think getting amped up for this team will be an issue this year. As currently composed, they stink on ice.
  • As bad as the Cubs could be, there are still the Astros, Pirates and Mets.
  • I’d put good money on the Pirates being better than the Cubs this year.
  • And thankfully we won’t have to have a 2012 Pena debate it would seem! Everyone wins.
  • Stories like this make me glad that I have been married for a long time. I don’t think I can even begin to remember how to date anymore.
  • these athletes need bedroom cameras, release forms, and a chaperon in modern times. I suppose a moral compass might help, but that’s not likely either (sad).
  • I’d eagerly swap places with Cubs’s shortstop Alex Gonzalez right around the time Moises Alou was throwing a fit in foul territory in Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS, and I’d make darn sure I didn’t mishandle the routine double-play ball that was about to come my way (you know, the one that’s really to blame for the Marlins’ rally that night).
  • if Alou doesn’t act like a 4 year old after the play, all is probably forgotten.
  • It also looks like we have enough pitchers to avoid a rotation with Doug Davis
  • I think LaHair will be at best Babe Ruth and at worst Buddy.
  • I think the Marlins have a very good chance of being an expensive (and high-profile) train wreck.
  • A wise man once said, “Even the worst pizza I ever had was pretty good.”
  • It’s hard to talk about him in real life and say things like “Colvin was traded because we have Brett Jackson, and also this Matt Scissors guy who could be good..”
  • Had to turn it down due to the excessive number of egomanaical fruit bat, cabbage eating cardio-thoracic surgeons in that area.
  • You should all enjoy the updates in a couple weeks after Butts, (ahem)Raker, myself, and a few other jagoffs exit cyber-baseball for a weekend and actually run around on grass for a weekend in Phoenix.

Lizard

Standings (1 point for each Lizzie, 3 points for the Lizard)

  • Buddy – 7
  • jswanson – 7
  • Seymour Butts – 4
  • cap’n Obvious – 2
  • Chuck – 2
  • Doc Raker – 2
  • Dustin Godsey – 2
  • Jeremiah Johnson – 2
  • Eleven Others have 1 point each

Shout Outs

Congrats to the following folks who got their very first 2012 Lizzie this week (duh, everyone, since this is the first week. But it won’t be everyone in weeks to come!)

  • Bruce Miles
  • Buddy
  • cap’n Obvious
  • chris in illinois
  • Chuck
  • Danny B
  • Doc Raker
  • Doug S.
  • Dustin Godsey
  • Jedi Johnson
  • Jeremiah Johnson
  • Jeremy The Kid Johnson
  • john
  • jswanson
  • Kris
  • MJ
  • Noah
  • randy
  • Seymour Butts

Lizzie’s Kitchen

I’m sure the George Winston and David Lanz piano music on my iPod will excite no one. Likewise for what’s on my Kindle. But everyone eats, so here’s a look into my kitchen. For the next few weeks we’ll go with SuperBowl-type food. This feeds a huge crowd with a side bonus of keeping Seymour in business. Enjoy!

Chit Chat

Since we’re on the topic of football, there are four games on tap this weekend for your NFL enjoyment. Pick your winners! I’ll keep track and report back.

  • New Orleans @ San Francisco
  • Denver @ New England
  • Houston @ Baltimore
  • New York (Giants) @ Green Bay

 

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Cubs Get All Stat Geeky

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

The Cubs media relations department sent this release about an exciting new partnership between the Cubs and Bloomberg Sports to develop some interesting technology.

CHICAGO The Chicago Cubs and Bloomberg Sports, one of the world’s leaders in sports analytic technology, today announced a new partnership to design a state-of-the-art player evaluation system for the Cubs Baseball Operations Department.

This new partnership is the latest step in player analytic technology for Bloomberg Sports, which has been creating solutions for MLB teams, players and fans for the past four years.  The Cubs new system will combine video with extensive data on all professional players, as well as customized and enhanced technology to assist the evaluation process.  The platform is being created with both laptop and mobile capability, and the two parties will begin implementation and development of the new system immediately.

“We are excited to partner with Bloomberg Sports and benefit from their world-renowned expertise in Analytics and Information Management” said President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein.  “The management and analysis of data, whether it be scouting reports, statistics, medical information or video, is a critical component of our operation.  We look forward to developing a customized program that utilizes the most advanced and efficient technology available in the marketplace today to facilitate quicker, easier and more accurate access to all the sources of information we use to make baseball decisions.”

“Over the past few years we have helped set the standard for excellence and efficiency in advanced analytics, whether it has been for MLB teams with our comprehensive, integrated systems, players with our tablet product or fans with our fantasy tools, and this partnership is the next step in that evolution,” said Bill Squadron, head of Bloomberg Sports. “Bloomberg as a company has always been about innovation, and we are very excited to partner with Theo and the Cubs organization.” 

Named as one of the Ten Most Innovative Companies in Sports in 2011 by Fast Company Magazine, Bloomberg Sports has quickly become one of the industry leaders in providing cutting edge analytic products for fans, MLB teams and professional players. Their fantasy baseball product, “MLB Front Office,” is the fastest growing and most in-depth tool for both the casual and the die-hard baseball fan.  The professional analytic tools are now being used by 21 Major League clubs for player evaluation, and their tablet products are being used by over 200 MLB players to evaluate performance almost in real time.

 About BLOOMBERG SPORTSTM products

Launched in 2010, BLOOMBERG SPORTS BASEBALL is taking the tools developed by Bloomberg, the leading global provider in data and analytics, and applying them to the vast data analysis opportunities in sports.  BLOOMBERG SPORTS fantasy baseball products, in conjunction with MLB.COM, provide both a “draft kit” and “in-season tools” that give fans the most powerful resources to prepare and conduct their fantasy draft and make replacements, trades and other key decisions for their fantasy teams. The season update tool provides the casual fan with the ability to explore added features and insights about all their favorite players and teams. Additionally, the BLOOMBERG SPORTS professional product provides Major League Baseball clubs with a secure, virtually unlimited set of analytical functions that can assist them in personnel evaluation and performance matchups.  Their tablet product for players was launched in 2011 and provides individual players with the most advanced evaluation tools as well.  For more details, please visit http://www.bloombergsports.com.

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The Good (Wood & Garza), The Bad (Castro), and the Ugly (Madson)

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

The Good #1: A day after I sat through reports on Philadelphia sportscasts earlier in the week declaring the Phillies’ interest in signing Kerry Wood, sources are reporting that Wood and the Cubs are are the verge of completing a deal that would keep the 34 year old reliever in Chicago for another year (and possibly two).  I think the “good clubhouse guy” and “heart and soul of the team” labels have a tendency to get thrown around too much in sports, but in the case of Wood I think they’re warranted. It was painful to see him leave the team once and, sentimentally, I don’t want to see it happen again.

The Good #2: While being sure not to deny having talked to teams about dealing Matt Garza, The Theo explained today in the run-up to Cubs Convention ’12 that the Cubs’ best pitcher is not “on the block”. Assuming he has truly been as transparent with Garza’s people during the off-season as he claims and that the team was simply doing it’s due diligence in weighing all options, I can’t imagine this will be a story that lingers into Spring Training. Of course, it’s totally conceivable that Garza will be traded tomorrow…which would be bad, but for now this is good news.

The Bad: The next piece of the Starlin Castro sexual assault puzzle will move into place this week, as the Chicago Police Department are expecting to speak with the Cubs’ shortstop when he returns to the U.S. from the Dominican Republic. Manager Dave Sveum and The Theo predictably deflected questions about the situation, but I get the sense from their quotes that neither of them expect much to anything to come from the situation, but it’s always a bad thing when allegations of sexual assault are involved.

The Ugly: Former Phillies reliever Ryan Madson signed a one year, $8.5 million contract with the Reds on Tuesday. Good for him, right? I’d certainly wouldn’t complain about an $8.5 million contract…unless of course I thought I was getting a $44 million payday just two months prior. Living in Philly, this has been a crazy story to follow since November when Madson was reported to be on the verge of signing a 4-year deal to remain with the Phillies. Just two days later, Jonathan Papelbon came to town (at a higher salary) and suddenly Madson was no longer a part of the Phillies’ future. Today, agent Scott Boras and GM Ruben Amaro Jr. took turns “not debating” each other in public by calling each other liars, with Boras accusing Amaro of pulling an agreement off the table and Amaro claiming that there was no truth to Boras’ assertion that there was a deal in place. Either way, if I’m Ryan Madson, I’m looking for new representation.

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Chet’s Corner: The Curious Case of Matt Murton

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

What if I told you, in the summer of 2006, the Cubs had a left fielder who was all of 24 years old and hit .297 with an .809 OPS in 144 games.  In 508 plate appearances he hit 13 HR’s and managed 62 RBI’s.   Oh, and by the way, he only committed 3 errors along the way.  Mind you, this is his first full big league season.

What if I told you, that in 2010, while playing with the Hanshin Tigers, this same player would break a Japanese League single season hits record held by Ichiro set in 1994.

What if I told you that player was none other than Matt Murton?

Murton came to the Cubs via the Boston Red Sox.  To be more specific, he was the “throw in” player included with Nomar Garciaparra in a huge four team/seven player deal.  He was a first round draft pick by the Red Sox in 2003 after his college days at Georgia Tech.

In 2005 he made his debut with the Cubs.  In 51 games and 160 plates appearances he hit .321 and knocked 7 dingers.  He had a .908 OPS in that short period of time.

One thing I will remember about Murton, besides his red hair, was his eye at the plate.  He never seemed to swing at a bad pitch, and he worked counts and usually made contact.  His walk and strikeout numbers are nothing to write home about but nothing to scoff at either..  He walked 10 percent of the time and struck out 10 percent of the time.

In  2006,  Murton’s WAR was 2.1 ….third highest on the team behind Juan Pierre and Aramis Ramirez.  The difference is Juan Pierre was making close to 6 million and Aramis Ramirez was pulling down almost 11 million, while Matt Murton was paid $337,000.

Matt was in the Cubs top 4 in almost every offensive category for the 2006 season.  He was second in Batting Average and OBP!!!!

Then came 2007 and Alfonso Soriano…..

In a blink Matt Murton was relegated to utility/part-time outfielder and even sent down to AAA Iowa a few times.  Over the course of 92 major league games and about half the plate appearances as 2006, Murton bounced between left field, right field, and center field in spot duty roles.  His average stayed strong at .281 and his OBP nudged down slightly to .352. Even his batting average at Iowa in 172 plate appearances was .324.

In 2008, with only 42 plate appearances under his belt for the Cubs,  he was traded to the Oakland Athletics.  Packaged with three other prospects (Eric Patterson, Sean Gallagher, and Josh Donaldson) in a trade that brought the fragile Rich Harden and the under achieving reliever Chad Gaudin.

Murton saw very little action with the A’s.  After a handful of plate appearances and a stint with the A’s AAA affiliate, the end of 2008 came and he was traded off to Colorado for a minor leaguer in the off-season.  Colorado was a similar experience.

The real crux of the situation came after the 2009 season as he ran out of options and was arbitration eligible.  With a hefty raise coming there were no teams that wanted to invest in a 27 year old outfielder who hit for contact with average power.  His only option at playing everyday at a higher* level then the minors was Japan.

* Murton has even been quoted as saying Japan is like AAAA ball.  The big difference from AAA being 55,000 screaming fans vs. a couple thousand.          

While many would say Matt Murton was just a casualty of the Soriano signing and a crowded outfield, or maybe they feel he just wasn’t that good and all those stats are misleading, I feel there was more at work here.

In this humble writer’s opinion, an investment in Matt Murton was lacking.  As a matter of fact, the only people who ever really invested in Matt Murton were the Red Sox, drafting him with a first round pick.  However, the Red Sox had bigger fish to fry when they found the need to part ways with Nomar Garciaparra, who had worn out his welcome in Beantown.  Murton was merely the prospect that evened out the deal for the Cubs at the time, and allowed the Red Sox to rake in four new prospects and rid themselves of a bad situation with Nomar. 

If Corey Patterson, Felix Pie, or even Tyler Colvin had a season as productive as Murton’s rookie year, Jim Hendry would  have raised a banner in tribute the following season over the Wrigley Marquee.  However, there was no previous financial investment made for Murton, other then a league minimum salary.  There was no first round pick to hang the scouting departments hat on.  He was just a “throw in” to a bigger deal.  A kicker to make the sting of a handful of prospects in exchange for an aging veteran shortstop go away. 

The minor leagues are littered with guys who could be playing at the major league level and succeeding.  However, unless they have astronomic numbers, without a commitment and some investment from their organization, they may never see the big league club.  This holds true to a greater extent when they are blocked by somebody, either through a larger monetary investment or just time in the organization,  even if that somebody has shown less production. 

It is situations like Murton’s that make me scratch my head.  How do the Aaron Miles and Koyie Hill’s survive in the league and Murton can’t even get a fair shake….or he gets one and proves himself, yet is forgotten???!!!   

I firmly believe that if Murton was one of Jim’s guys, drafted in the first round and given a size-able signing bonus, touted by the big league club as somebody to watch and brought up through the system, he would still be playing in a Cub uniform today.

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Koyie Signed, RG3, and Courtside Seats

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

Koyie Hill’s New Gig - The St. Louis Cardinals have signed Koyie Hill to a AAA deal (It’s a good thing, too, because the Cubs were only a AAA team last year.). Hill will compete with Bryan Anderson and Tony Cruz for a backup spot behind Yadier Molina. Hill had a less than average 2011, batting .194 with a .268 OBP and he only threw out 28% of base-stealers.  Looking at Bryan Anderson and Tony Cruz‘s numbers, Koyie doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance in Hades. He’ll probably end up like Theriot and be a drifter until he fades off into the sunset of below-average numbers and forgettable starting gigs.

Some Luck for Indianapolis? - Robert Griffin III is going pro. Tony Dungy was interviewed by Dan Patrick last week, and Dungy stated that he would rather have Griffin than Luck. Dungy said,“I like those mobile guys,” saying he thinks they supply an “extra dimension….they are intriguing to me…I like Robert Griffin.” However, Tony Dungy most likely will not be coaching in Indianapolis around draft time, so Colts fans need not worry about losing their Luck. Either way, I don’t think there would be too much complaining in Indianapolis.

Tebowing in Pittsburgh – The mayor of Pittsburgh lost a bet on Sunday, resulting in this image popping up on the web. If the wager would have gone the other way, the mayor of Denver would have had to wear Steelers gear and wave a “Terrible Towel” in public.

Want to Get a Courtside Experience at An NBA Game? Just do what these two guys did at a Mavs game last night. They acted like they’ve been there before. That’s the way to do it. 

A Look Into Katie’s iPod:

Today’s song is “Hurt” by Johnny Cash. This song is actually a cover of the Nine Inch Nails song, but Johnny does it better. It was his last recording before he passed away in 2003. Even when he was old, the man could put together a song that got people’s attention.

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