Archive for December, 2012

Morning News: Rumors, Slander, and Murderous Plots

Friday, December 14th, 2012

Already/Not Yet  Yet again, the Cubs find themselves caught up in the offseason rumor mill, this time regarding a deal for free agent starter Anibal Sanchez. Thursday afternoon, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale tweeted that the Cubs had signed Sanchez to a 5-year $75M contract. However, it soon became clear that the deal was not yet final, and that Sanchez and his agents were still waiting for an offer from Detroit. Read between the lines and it seems that Nightengale might just be a pawn in the hands of Sanchez’s agents, helping to accelerate the final stage of negotiations (you can see how the whole story unfolded here). It won’t be great if the Cubs whiff on another nearly-done deal, but by the time you read this Friday morning, the waiting game might be over. Regardless of how it turns out, a potential rotation made up of some combination of Garza, Sanchez, The Dread Pirate Samardzija, Wood, Baker, and Feldman would be a significant upgrade over the broken-down journeymen and unskilled apprentices the Cubs trotted out to the mound last season. (Check back throughout the day for any updates.) UPDATE: And to no one’s surprise, the deal fell apart.

Every Last Dime  Earlier this week, I told you Ryan Dempster had turned down a 2-year, $25M offer from the Red Sox and a $26M offer from the Royals. Speculation at the time was that he believed a third year was out there somewhere, and I said I thought he was getting bad advice. I stand corrected, as he and the Red Sox announced an agreement for a 2-year, $26.5M deal Thursday. And you know what? Good for Dempster–hats off to him for capitalizing on one of the best years of his career, and holding out for the maximum in what is most likely his last pro contract. I wish him all the best, unless he happens to take the mound against the Cubs this season.

Bat Collecting  It seems Angels’ owner Arte Moreno has a thing for aging power hitters. He added another one Thursday with the signing of Josh Hamilton. Stealing the slugger away from the rival Rangers with a 5-year, $125M deal should help the Angels re-establish their dominance in the AL West, adding another big bat to an already formidable lineup. And in an offseason when they’ve already missed on James Shields and Zach Greinke, things are quickly getting desperate for the Rangers.

Give It Away, Give It Away, Give It Away Now  Andy Reid’s farewell tour with the Eagles made another stop in Philadelphia Thursday night against the Bengals. The Eagles turned the ball over five times in the 34-13 rout. Like most of you I’m sure, I didn’t watch a second of this game–another in a stretch of forgettable Thursday night games.

A Few (Race) Cards Short Of A Deck  Another very stupid thing was said on ESPN’s First Take Thursday morning. I’m starting to wonder if these guys prep for the show with a combination of sleep deprivation, moonshine, and that bat-spin party game that no one really likes to play.

Lousy Ways To Go  A Fort Worth man died after the garbage can he was sleeping in was dumped into a trash compactor–but not immediately. In Chicago, a man died after climbing to the roof of the of the Intercontinental Hotel on Michigan Avenue to take some pictures. He fell into the chimney and descended some twenty feet down before he was wedged in a bend in the chimney, suffering severe burns. It took several hours for firefighters to extricate him, and he was able to call and text his girlfriend during the ordeal before he finally asphyxiated.

You Can’t Make This Stuff Up  A man already serving consecutive life sentences devised and put into motion a plan to kidnap, castrate, and murder Justin Bieber. Yup, you read that right.

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GirlieView (12/13/2012)

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

Well here we are smack dab in the middle of December. By the time I post the next GirlieView, Christmas will be overwith. Can you believe it? Let’s get right to it because everyone’s busy. :-)

GirlieView Definitions

  • Lizzie = A funny, timely quote made on the VFTB site by our writers or commenters.
  • Lizard = The best Lizzie.
  • MVL = Most Valuable Lizzie’er: The person with the most Lizzies in the period under review (usually the past two weeks)
  • Top 10 of 2012 = The folks with the most aggregate Lizzie points YTD (1 point for every Lizzie, 3 points for every Lizard)

As you already know, this is all completely subjective and according to my whims. Let’s go!

Lizzies

  • this would indicate to me that the Cubs are at least talking to Stewart about bringing him back at a discounted rate. If that’s the case, I’m sure there will be much gnashing of teeth across the internet.
  • Is $500 million enough to buy the Cubs and call the shots?
  • Word has it that Fyu was seen at the local Wrigleyville Subway dinning on turkey and pepper jack cheese triangles.
  • third base is a Mendoza line abyss at Wrigley Field.
  • Not using pseudonyms could lead to a higher ranking, but it’s part of the amusement.
  • So I guess Seymour’s thankful my ‘thankful’ piece didn’t run on a little longer…
  • Exactly what I think
  • Chuck get Lizzies.  Chuck happy now.
  • I predict that the Cubs will sign some very average players to very average contracts.
  • As for the Lizzies, I expect the rest of the year to closely parallel the plot of Rocky 3. I’ve gotten soft in the last several weeks–too comfortable on top and not as focused as I was during the season. I’ve lost my edge; my killer instinct. Jswanson comes out firing like Clubber Lang and completely overwhelms me, seizing the top spot and sending me off in disgrace. That’s when I drop everything and head down to my old foe Raker’s compound to regain the “Eye of the Tiger.” We set aside our rivalry, admit we’ve begrudgingly respected each other all along, and launch into intense training sessions–complete with the tiny gym shorts, wind sprints on the beach, and slow-motion hugs in the surf. Then I come back in the last few days of the year to shock Jswanson with some new moves and regain the throne. Next year a communist (obviously a Cardinals fan) kills Raker, and I have to grow a beard and go to St. Louis to avenge his death.
  • Beard, Holliday jersey, and…you guessed it…jorts.
  • He’s also twenty-five years old, which is equal parts impressive and frustrating.
  • If I can fit 10 balls in my cargo shorts, I’m good for the first few holes.
  • Exactly why cargo shorts should be required on golf courses.  That way those of us who hit the ball into lake michigan on the first hole of the waveland course do not cause people to wait.
  • As one with a fair knowledge of physics, I’m guessing you realize that a corked bat will result in slightly shorter fly balls.
  • If you had any knowledge of hitting you would know that Sosa used the cork in order to get around on the fastball.
  • If you had any knowledge of cork, you would realize it fits nicely in your pie hole
  • As much as I’d like to explain the conservation of momentum to you, I’m not going to.
  • Carlos Marmol might not want to book tee times in Mesa just yet.
  • I guess they missed the part where their former teammate MURDERED THE MOTHER OF HIS CHILD!!!
  • I love this time of year and it goes by so very fast; especially if you have children (as I do). I am, however, not excited about the commercial aspect of Christmas and the removal of the actual reason for Christmas (celebration of the Lord’s birth).
  • As so long as he doesn’t rely upon the tactic of walking a guy or two before throwing a strike, I’ll likely be a Fuji fan.
  • here’s hoping he’s not a fan of puns or lengthy digressions about obscure prog-rock bands
  • I think it was the right decision for both the Cubs and Ramirez, even though we knew when the decision was made that 3B in baseball right now is a barren wasteland behind the top tier.
  • there’s no need to be a .450 team instead of a .400 team.
  • I think having a malcontent on a bad team where the reported saving grace is that the clubhouse gets along really well is probably a really bad idea.
  • Just snapped back to reality briefly and realized that Fuji is younger than I am.  I guess if the Cubs gig doesn’t work out, the Bozeman Black Sox could bring a whole bunch of lukewarm beer and as-many-innings-until-you-can-throw-until-your-elbow-is-jacked to the bargaining table.
  • I will buy you a steak dinner at Gibson’s if Soriano is Cubs third baseman in 2013.
  • My best friends sisters boyfriends brothers girlfriend heard from this guy who knows this kid who’s going with a girl that saw Svuem, Theo, Jed, and obviously Hendry at the 31 flavors trying to work a deal for Bryce Harper and Mike Trout in exchange for Jurrgens and prospects. Svuem looked like he’d been shot.
  • even Scott Baio or Scott Peterson if we really wanted to think outside the box.
  • Reed Johnson played hard enough to get another deal with the Braves.
  • And long enough…
  • Ian Stewart on the cheap is better than wasting more money/years on some slightly better crap.
  • Tom Brady has been begging for the cuddle rule for years now.
  • Wrigley had better look like the god damn Taj Mahal when this is over or we have been hoodwinked.
  • For the record, giant golden trough urinals are pricey.
  • But they are magnificent.
  • Yes, but still just pissing the team away.
  • Hold on and watch the growth.
  • Rizzo, a cancer survivor and insufferable ingrate reportedly didn’t sign any autographs, donated none of his own money, and openly mocked those ‘too weak to beat cancer.’
  • And if you have to say, “I’m not a thug,” you’re losing the PR battle by a sizable margin.
  • I ordered my Rosetta Stone for jive so maybe I can figure it out later.
  • Wake me midway through Spring Training to worry about the 25-man.
  • One of the great things in baseball, and life in general, is that something can be seen in different ways depending on your perspective.
  • Surely the Cubs can find a less expensive Harry Caray impersonator.
  • Surely we don’t need a Harry Caray impersonator.
  • Work on your knuckleball and you stand a reasonable chance…Garza, Shark, Wood, Homza, Baker.  They’ll call you the poor man’s R.A. Dickey.
  • Poor man’s dickey with a knuckleball. Sounds painful.

Lizard

  • Good read, Jedi, but you forgot the Costa’s half time quote of Jason Whitlock: “One thing we know for sure, if it wasn’t for cars, Jerry Brown would be alive today.”

MVL

  • Congratulations to Jedi Johnson, the Most Valuable Lizzie’er this time around!

Shout Outs

  • A big shout out to Bones for winning his first 2012 Lizzie! Thanks for joining us, we love having you here!

2012 Top Ten YTD

1. jswanson
2. Jeremiah Johnson
3. Doc Raker
4. Seymour Butts
5. Jedi Johnson
6. cap’n Obvious
7. Buddy
8. Joe Aiello
9. Chuck
10. Eddie Von White

Chit Chat

  • Are you done with your Christmas shopping? Have you started your Christmas shopping? Do you do any Christmas shopping?
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Morning News: The Cubs are Cornering the Asian Relief Pitcher Market

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

Just a couple of weeks ago the Cubs added elite Japanese relief pitcher Kyuji Fujikawa to the team via a 2 year, $9.5 million free agent contract. The Cubs, however, were not done raiding the NPB for relief pitching help. This time the Cubs signed Chang-Yong Lim, 36, to a split contract, where the Major League component is $5 million. However, under a split contract, Lim is under a minor league contract unless the Cubs promote him. If they do promote Lim, then he gets the $5 million contract.

The good news about Lim, who is Korean, is that his pedigree as an NPB reliever is essentially equivalent to Fujikawa’s. The bad news about Lim, and the reason why he settled for a minor league deal, is that he’s coming off his second Tommy John surgery. But by keeping it a split contract, the Cubs essentially take no risk on this move.

The biggest news in baseball this week, though, was the three team trade between the Reds, Indians and D-Backs.  For the big pieces that moved in the deal, the Reds received OF Shin-soo Choo from the Indians, the Indians received SP Trevor Bauer from the D-Backs and OF Drew Stubbs from the Reds, and the D-Backs received SS prospect Didi Gregorious from the Reds.

Choo is in his last year of arbitration, and the Reds have made clear they have no intent on re-signing him after this season. However, Choo will fix their biggest problem from 2012, which is that they were awful out of the leadoff spot. They’ll give up a fair amount on defense switching from Stubs in center to Choo, but should more than make it up on the offensive side.

The Indians are the big winner in the trade to me, though. Stubbs is a complete upside play. He strikes out WAY too much, but he has speed, good raw power for the position and is a great defensive center fielder. But the big prize is Bauer, who is one of the top 10 prospects in baseball. He apparently has been difficult to get along with and needs to throw more strikes, but has top of the rotation potential.

I really don’t get this trade from the D-Backs perspective, though. While a player that can be a defensive whiz at shortstop can be a value despite providing no offensive value, is it worth someone like Trevor Bauer? Based on reports, Bauer has some clear maturity issues, both on the mound and in the clubhouse. But that doesn’t make him the equivalent of a fringe starter, even at a premium defensive position.

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Morning News: Soriano to the Phillies

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

It’s Wednesday, which means you’re halfway through your work week. If that makes you so excited that you can’t sleep, find a new job. We’ve got some Cubs “news” to talk about today.

The Cubs announced the Minor League managers on Monday. Here was the press release:

Marty Pevey will manage the Iowa Cubs in his fifth year with the Cubs organization after serving as Chicago’s catching coordinator for the last three seasons. Pevey served as the Peoria Chiefs manager in 2009, his first season with the organization. Pevey has a combined 29 years of professional experience (13 years as player and 16 years as manager, coach or coordinator) and was named the 2009 Midwest League co-Manager of the Year after leading Peoria to the Western Division semifinals with an 81-57 record. Mike Mason returns for his sixth season as Iowa’s pitching coach. Brian Harper will make his debut as Iowa’s hitting coach after spending the last two campaigns managing Double-A Tennessee (in 2011) and Single-A Daytona (in 2012). In his first season with the Cubs organization, Harper led the Smokies to the 2011 Southern League Championship Series. Nick Frangella will begin his 10th season with the organization, and his second year as Iowa’s athletic trainer, while Ed Kohl serves as the strength coach.

Buddy Bailey begins his second season as Tennessee’s manager after guiding the Smokies to a 72-68 record last year. Bailey spent three years as Daytona’s skipper prior to joining the Smokies, compiling a 215-196 (.523) record, including a 2011 Florida State League Championship. Next season will mark Bailey’s 25th year as a manager and his eighth year with the organization. Jeff Fassero returns for his second season as Tennessee’s pitching coach after handling the same duties with Single-A Peoria in 2011 and Single-A Boise in 2010. Fassero went 121-124 with a 4.11 ERA in 16 big league seasons (1991-2006). Desi Wilson, entering his sixth season with the organization, will serve as the hitting coach after handling the same duties last season at Single-A Daytona. Scott Barringer will make his Tennessee debut as the athletic trainer, while Ryan Clausen takes over strength coach duties.

Dave Keller takes over managerial duties at Daytona after serving as Iowa’s hitting coach in 2012. Entering his 10th season with the organization, Keller was an assistant on the major league coaching staff in 2011. Joining Keller at Daytona will be newly hired pitching coach Storm Davis, who spent the last two seasons in the Texas organization as Single-A Hickory’s pitching coach. Davis spent time as a coach for The Bolles Academy in Jacksonville, Fla., winning the Class 3A Florida State Championship in both 2009 and 2010. The former major league righthander went 113-96 with a 4.02 ERA during a 13-year major league career. Mariano Duncan begins his first season as Daytona’s hitting coach after serving the last two campaigns as Tennessee’s hitting coach. The 12-year major league veteran (1985-87, 1989-97) joined the Cubs in 2011 after spending the previous five seasons (2006-10) as the Los Angeles Dodgers major league first base coach. Peter Fagan returns to Daytona as the athletic trainer.

Mark Johnson will manage the Kane County Cougars after spending the past two seasons as Boise’s skipper. Johnson led the Hawks to the playoffs in each of the last two seasons after enjoying a 17-year professional playing career that included 332 major league games with the White Sox (1998-2002), Athletics (2003), Brewers (2004) and Cardinals (2008). Ron Villone begins his second season with the organization and will handle pitching coach duties. Tom Beyers, who has been with the Cubs for 13 years, will take over as hitting coach. He previously served as the short-season hitting coordinator for Single-A Boise, Rookie-League Mesa and the Cubs Dominican clubs in 2012. Shane Nelson rounds out the staff as the team’s athletic trainer after working with Peoria last season.

Gary Van Tol enters his first season as Boise’s skipper, and brings 20 years of coaching experience. He assisted the Hawks as a volunteer coach the previous five seasons, and served as an associate scout for the organization. A veteran of the collegiate ranks, Van Tol was a coach for Gonzaga University (1991-93 and 2006-08) and the University of Portland (2003-05). He also managed at Centralia (Wash.) Community College in 1994 and at Treasure Valley Community College from 1997-2001. David Rosario returns as Boise’s pitching coach for the third-straight season, as 2013 will mark his ninth-consecutive campaign as a minor league coach in the Cubs system. Bill Buckner remains the team’s hitting coach after joining the club in the same position last season. Buckner enjoyed a 22-year major league playing career, playing for the Cubs from 1977-84. Jonathan Fierro begins his first season as Boise’s athletic trainer.

Bobby Mitchell returns for his second season as Rookie-League Mesa’s manager after spending nine seasons in the Angels organization, five as a minor league manager. Mitchell last year led the Mesa Cubs to the playoffs in his first season with the organization. Anderson Tavarez joins Mesa as its pitching coach after holding the same position with the Dominican Cubs the last six seasons. Rehab pitching coordinator duties will be handled by Rick Tronerud, in his 18th campaign with the Cubs and his 13th season with Mesa. The club will have two hitting coaches next season, Ricardo Medina and Jimmy Gonzalez. Medina has been a coach, manager or scout in the Cubs organization since 1999. Gonzalez is a former catcher who played 14 minor league seasons after he was selected in the first round by Houston in the 1991 draft. Steve Melendez, in his 28th season with the organization, returns as the club’s athletic trainer for the sixth season. Melendez will be assisted by rehab strength coach Yi-Chiang Chang.

Yudith Ozorio will manage the Dominican squad, the same position he has held for the past three seasons. Leo Hernandez will serve as the pitching coach in his 18th year with the club while Oscar Bernard makes his organization debut as the club’s hitting coach. Leo Perez begins his fifth season as a coach in Chicago’s organization, assisting the club with catching coordinator duties. Wilkin Perez will continue as the club’s athletic trainer in his third year with the organization. The Cubs will have only one Dominican team next season, and Juan Cabreja, who managed the second Dominican team last year, will serve as the Latin America Assistant Field Coordinator.

Osmin Melendez serves as the Venezuelan Cubs manager, a newly created team. He will be joined by hitting coach Franklin Blanco, who begins his seventh year with the organization.

It’s always nice to see names you recognize, and Jeff Fassaro is a nice one to see get a promotion and Bill Buckner makes the list as well.

The Cubs are still actively shopping Alfonso Soriano, with rumors that the Phillies and the Astros have at least inquired on the aging slugger. I’d have to say that the Soriano deal for Dominic Brown is a head scratcher on why the Phillies would make that deal, but I guess it fits their mold of getting older in a last ditch effort to hold onto the past. I’d do that deal in a heartbeat if Theo and Jed can get them to agree. Heck, eat the entire contract to make it happen.

Not much else going on at this point. Just have to sit and be patient. It’s funny because as bad as this last year or so has been for this team, you know for a fact that all of us will be super excited come opening day, even if it’s just for that day.

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Morning News: Expensive Pitchers, Sloppy Defenses, and Dirty Surgeons

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

We’ll start with some news from last week about an ex-Cub–you may have already heard about it, but I don’t think I’ve seen anything about it in this space yet. Last Thursday, word got out that Ryan Dempster had turned down a 2-year, $25M offer from the Red Sox, and that he’d also turned down a similar deal from the Royals. According to Gordon Edes, Dempster is angling for a 3-year deal, and has interest from the Brewers and (gulp) the Cubs. I don’t see any way the Cubs bring him back for big money and multiple years. In fact, I can’t see them even doing two years unless it was dirt cheap and they hoped to trade him off again. Frankly, I think Dempster is getting bad advice–at his age, with his inconsistent track record, I’d take the money and run.

The only other notable Cubs news Monday was that they appear to be one of three teams (along with the Yankees and the Angels) who have opted out of the MLB’s renewed deal with StubHub. Or did they? According to the Cubs, they are still exploring their options. Here’s hoping they stick with StubHub in the end–the system couldn’t be easier for the seller, and with another season’s worth of tickets to unload in 2013, I’m not looking forward to jumping through additional hoops. And as a frequent StubHub customer, there’s really no one who offers comparable service–meaning that if the Cubs do decide to switch, it’s likely everyone suffers in some way.

The Dodgers finalized their blockbuster deal with Zack Greinke Monday–six years for a reported $147M, making him the highest paid right-hander in MLB history. Anybody else a little frightened by how spend-happy the new Dodgers’ owners are? It’s like they learned absolutely nothing from the MC Hammer episode of Behind the Music.

In today’s NFL, it seems that no defense is truly “shutdown”–unless of course that team is playing the Arizona Cardinals. Monday night, the vaunted Texans defense looked lost and confused against Tom Brady and the Patriots, losing in New England 42-14.

Remember the name Todd Monken. Up until very recently, he was the offensive coordinator for my Oklahoma State Cowboys. Monday it was announced that he was moving on after two seasons to be the head coach at Southern Miss. Why is that worth noting? Monken quickly made a reputation for himself as outspoken, blunt, candid, bawdy, and often hilarious–several of the factors that make for excellent post-game press conferences. It’s not a question of when he’ll say something quotable and memorable–it’s a question of when.

It seems like every week I have to be the bearer of sad NHL news. This week is no different–the NHL announced Monday they were cancelling all their games through the end of the calendar year. I think these piecemeal cancellations are Gary Bettman’s way of further driving home the knife in the heart of us fans–why else would he chip away at the season in little two-week chunks? Furthermore, how does he hope to hold onto his job on the back end of this? In what fictional endgame does he coming out looking to anyone like the good guy at the end of this?

And finally, make sure your next heart surgeon is a fastidious hand-washer.

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Morning News: NFL Death (Again), Bears Lose (Again), Djokovic Loves Cheese

Monday, December 10th, 2012

Cubs News
Cub first baseman and resident bad boy Anthony Rizzo held an event ostensibly to support cancer research on Sunday in his hometown of Parkland, Florida. Rizzo, a cancer survivor and insufferable ingrate reportedly didn’t sign any autographs, donated none of his own money, and openly mocked those ‘too weak to beat cancer.’ (If you’re not picking up on the extreme sarcasm, just know that there was once a scurrilous rumor about Rizzo’s penchant for rudely refusing autograph hounds. Hopefully that article will help dispel those defamatory notions.)

NFL
Again, sadly, we start with death in the NFL. This time, two Dallas Cowboys were driving along in the wee hours of the morning. The driver, Josh Brent was drunk. The passenger, Jerry Brown is dead. As a number of analysts have noted, every NFL team has a security service that provides, among other things, a free ‘stay-out-of-jail’ car service for all their players. All Brent and Brown needed to do was notify the team security service of their location and they’d have made it home safely. Instead, neither will play football again – Brent will likely serve a lengthy jail service for causing the death of his best friend, college teammate, and most recently his roommate. Tragic, foolish, and hopefully a lesson for other NFL idiots that are probably trolling clubs and planning to drive themselves home even later tonight. Oh, and Brent had been nabbed for drunk driving before (should be an automatic license suspension upon the first offense, but don’t get me started).

The games; stick a fork in the Bears. Cutler is hurt, again. They lost a winnable game, again. The Packers come to town next week a game up in the division and with a stranglehold on most of the head-to-head tie-breaker scenarios even if the Bears manage to pull even. So with their win on Sunday night, the Packers are squarely in the driver’s seat for the division, and a home playoff game; meanwhile the Bears find themselves needing to win 2 of 3 just to stay in what’s becoming a crowded NFC playoff race (remember, the Seahawks bested the Bears last week and now also hold the tie-breaker over them).

Let’s Play, Who Gets The Benefit Of the Doubt?
Stephen Jackson, of the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs, took it upon himself to call out the OKC Thunder’s Serge Ibaka. You see, Ibaka tangled with The Artest Now Known As Metta World Peace late in Friday’s matchup between the Thunder and the LA Lakers. Jackson jumped to the public defense of his buddy Artest for the second time (you might remember the first, most refer to it as ‘The Malice At The Palace’).

So Jackson tweeted, “Somebody tel serg Abaka. He aint bout dis life. Next time he run up on me im goin in his mouth. That’s a promise. He doin 2 much.”

He, or someone with his username, password, and/or a gun to his head, cleaned up the mess a bit later by posting, “I apologize to Serge Ibaka, the NBA, and to all my fans for the comments I made. It was unprofessional and childish. I’m not a thug just a man who speaks his mind. It was not appropriate. I do apologize. Only a man can admit when he’s wrong.” So Jackson not only learned to spell Serge Ibaka, but to speak in full, grammatically correct sentences. Twitter arguments are hilariously childish to begin with, but if as a player you’ve chased into the stands after fans, you probably are the last person anyone will side with in such an argument. And if you have to say, “I’m not a thug,” you’re losing the PR battle by a sizable margin.

Djokovic Like Him Some Cheese
If you’re not up to date on conversions, that’s roughly $580/pound. For donkey cheese.

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Morning News: Minor Moves and Major Idiots

Friday, December 7th, 2012

We’ve got a couple days worth of Cubs news to catch up on. On Wednesday, the team announced they had signed Nate Schierholtz to a one-year deal for $2.25M. He’s projected to be the starting right fielder headed into 2013, meaning David DeJesus will man center field alongside Soriano in left.

On Thursday, the team officially announced they’d reached an agreement with Japanese reliever Kyuji “The Colonel” Fujikawa, although the terms of the deal have not yet been disclosed. The Colonel will introduced during a press conference sometime today.

The team also claimed right-handed pitcher Hector Rondon in the Rule 5 draft. Rondon has a history of elbow problems, but Jed Hoyer is clearly optimistic about his ability to contribute throughout the season on the 40-man roster. (The article also mentions that the Cubs lost pitchers Starling Peralta and Alvido Jimenez, along with outfielder Michael Burgess and infielder Matt Cerda as Rule 5 selections.)

And in one more move Thursday, the Cubs found an interesting way to set fire to $2M.

ESPN Chicago’s Bruce Levine recaps the Cubs recent moves and hints at one that still might happen.

Former Cubs outfielder and fan favorite Reed Johnson signed a new deal with the Atlanta Braves.

In the wake of the recent news that Alex Rodriguez would miss at least the first half of the season, the Yankees have reportedly offered former Red Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis $12M for one year in the pinstripes. Things didn’t really end on great terms between Youkilis and the Boston front office, but don’t be surprised if he’s still got too much Sox in him to take the mercenary deal.

Elsewhere in the sporting world, the Broncos continued their charge to the postseason, rolling over the hapless Raiders 26-13. The game wasn’t as close as the score might indicate–I could only watch about a half hour of the lopsided action before Oakland’s ineptitude became yawn-inducing.

The NFL is mulling a rule change that would effectively do away with kickoffs. I think it’s a self-evidently terrible idea–what say you?

Another self-evidently bad idea? Letting Vikings’ linebacker Chad Greenway plan your next trip to the ballpark.

Sad news here for us hockey fans: it seems Garry Bettman is content–perhaps even eager–to cancel the whole NHL season. Rumors had been trickling out all week that a reconciliation was getting closer, but the news Thursday afternoon makes it sound like we’re as far from an agreement as we’ve been yet.

And because we probably shouldn’t go out on a downer note like that, here are the ten most expensive parking spots in the world.

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Northside Archives: Where We’ve Been! Where We’re Going?

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

I’ve compiled a list directly from the Cubs website; if a transaction is missing, your problem is with them.  Glance as you scroll to the end of this list…

11/10/11 signed free agent RHP Marco Carrillo.
11/30/11 signed free agent RF David DeJesus.
12/01/11 signed free agent RHP Ricardo Estevez.
12/07/11 signed free agent RHP Carlos Martinez-Pumarino.
12/08/11 claim RHP Lendy Castillo off waivers.
12/09/11 claim IF Jeff Bianchi off waivers.
12/12/11 signed free agent RF Joe Mather.
12/13/11 signed free agent 2B Edgar Gonzalez.
12/22/11 signed free agent IF Adonis Paula.
12/22/11 signed free agent 2B Matt Tolbert.
12/23/11 signed free agent C Jason Jaramillo.
12/26/11 signed free agent RHP Manuel Corpas.
12/26/11 signed free agent LHP Andy Sonnanstine.
01/03/12 signed free agent LF Reed Johnson.
01/05/12 signed free agent C Juan Apodaca.
01/05/12 traded for P Chris Volstad.
01/08/12 signed free agent LHP Ryan Rowland-Smith.
01/09/12 signed free agent RHP Rodrigo Lopez.
01/10/12 signed free agent LHP Paul Maholm.
01/10/12 signed free agent C Mario Mercedes.
01/13/12 signed free agent RHP Kerry Wood.
01/13/12 signed free agent 2B Alfredo Amezaga.
01/20/12 signed free agent 2B Bobby Scales.
01/30/12 signed free agent LHP Trever Miller.
02/06/12 claim 2B Adrian Cardenas off waivers.
02/08/12 signed free agent RHP Michael De La Cruz.
02/18/12 signed free agent LHP Nate Robertson.
03/01/12 signed free agent RHP Greyfer Eregua.
03/01/12 signed free agent RHP Carlos Llano.
03/02/12 signed free agent RHP Jonathan Bautista.
03/02/12 signed free agent SS Bryant Flete.
03/02/12 signed free agent RHP Jeffry Hernandez.
03/02/12 signed free agent RHP Hendry Mercado.
03/02/12 signed free agent SS Dalfis Ortiz.
03/02/12 signed free agent OF Jose Paniagua.
03/02/12 signed free agent RHP Jesus Pereyra.
03/02/12 signed free agent C Carlos Ramirez.
03/02/12 signed free agent 3B Miguel Rico.
03/02/12 signed free agent OF Shamil Ubiera.
03/04/12 signed free agent C Nathan Maldonado.
03/11/12 signed free agent OF Gerardo Concepcion.
03/16/12 claim RHP Frankie De La Cruz off waivers.
03/26/12 signed free agent RHP Shawn Camp.
04/04/12 claim IF Luis Valbuena off waivers.
04/09/12 signed CF Yasiel Balaguert.
04/09/12 signed free agent C Eufran Vargas.
04/17/12 signed free agent RHP Harrinson Bermudez.
04/21/12 traded for RHP Michael Bowden.
05/12/12 signed free agent C Brian Esposito.
05/14/12 signed free agent RHP Mike MacDougal.
05/18/12 signed free agent C Leonardo Gonzalez.
05/19/12 traded for C Koyie Hill.
05/25/12 signed free agent SS Diory Hernandez.
05/29/12 signed free agent RHP Shane Lindsay.
05/31/12 signed free agent RHP Pedro Brazoban.
05/31/12 signed free agent LHP Frailyn Figueroa.
05/31/12 signed free agent OF Ricardo Marcano.
06/01/12 signed free agent LHP Alfredo Belizaire.
06/01/12 claim RHP Jairo Asencio off waivers.
06/05/12 signed free agent LHP Andin Diaz.
06/05/12 signed free agent SS Jenner Emeterio.
06/05/12 signed free agent RHP Francisco Carrillo.
06/16/12 signed RHP Paul Blackburn.
06/16/12 signed RHP Joshua Conway.
06/16/12 signed SS Stephen Bruno.
06/16/12 signed LHP Michael Heesch.
06/16/12 signed C Chadd Krist.
06/16/12 signed OF Rashad Crawford.
06/16/12 signed RHP Corbin Hoffner.
06/16/12 signed C Carlos Escobar.
06/16/12 signed LHP Nathan Dorris.
06/16/12 signed RHP Steve Perakslis.
06/16/12 signed C Lance Rymel.
06/16/12 signed OF Izaac Garsez.
06/16/12 signed SS Timothy Saunders.
06/16/12 signed 3B Benjamin Carhart.
06/16/12 signed 3B Jacob Rogers.
06/18/12 signed RHP Michael Hamann.
06/18/12 signed free agent LHP Matt Iannazzo.
06/18/12 signed RHP Chad Martin.
06/18/12 signed RHP Eduardo Orozco.
06/18/12 signed LHP Anthony Prieto.
06/19/12 signed RHP Pierce Johnson.
06/24/12 signed free agent RHP Anthony York.
06/24/12 signed OF Bijan Rademacher.
06/25/12 signed SS David Bote.
06/27/12 signed free agent RHP Jesus Baldayaque.
06/30/12 signed free agent RF Jorge Soler.
07/03/12 signed RHP Ryan McNeil.
07/03/12 signed RHP Carl Lang.
07/03/12 signed RHP Justin Amlung.
07/03/12 signed RHP Jasvir Rakkar.
07/11/12 signed OF Albert Almora.
07/12/12 signed RHP Duane Underwood.
07/12/12 signed free agent RHP Juan Collado.
07/19/12 traded for RHP Justin Germano.
07/27/12 signed free agent LF Jeff Frazier.
07/31/12 traded for RHP Arodys Vizcaino.
07/31/12 traded for RHP Jaye Chapman.
07/31/12 traded for RHP Jacob Brigham.
07/31/12 traded for RHP Kyle Hendricks.
07/31/12 traded for 3B Christian Villanueva.
07/31/12 signed free agent 2B Vladimir Frias.
08/13/12 signed free agent RHP Seth McClung.
08/16/12 signed free agent LHP Horacio Ramirez.
08/19/12 claim LHP Alex Hinshaw off waivers.
08/23/12 claim RHP Miguel Socolovich off waivers.
08/27/12 traded for C Anthony Recker.
08/29/12 claim LHP Scott Maine off waivers.
09/07/12 claimed RHP Jason Berken off waivers.
10/16/12 traded for RHP Marcelo Carreno.
10/24/12 claimed RHP Carlos Gutierrez off waivers.
10/31/12 signed free agent SS Edwin Maysonet.
11/02/12 claimed RHP Zach Putnam off waivers.
11/13/12 signed free agent RHP Scott Baker.
11/16/12 signed free agent C Dioner Navarro.
11/07/12 signed free agent RHP Blake Parker.
11/19/12 signed free agent RHP Shawn Camp.
11/20/12 traded for RHP Barret Loux.
11/13/12 signed free agent 2B Alberto Gonzalez.
11/13/12 signed free agent RF Johermyn Chavez.
11/14/12 signed free agent LF Brian Bogusevic.
11/14/12 signed free agent C J.C. Boscan.
11/27/12 signed free agent RHP Scott Feldman.
12/02/12 signed free agent OF Roberto Caro.
12/06/12 claim RHP Hector Rondon off waivers.

That’s what the Cubs have done under Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer. The names in bold should be part of the 25-man roster. The names that are underlined still reside within the minor league system (as near as I can tell anyway, without calling them individually to make sure).

Two things immediately jump out to me: 1) a franchise signs a lot of guys in just a single year who go on to do very little (or nothing) for them on ANY level, let alone at the MLB level. And 2) there’s a LONG way to go. Sure, we can add Scott Feldman’s and Scott Baker’s all day long…even Scott Baio or Scott Peterson if we really wanted to think outside the box. But that’s all filler; this team, the 25-man roster, is not significantly better than it was this time last year. You could argue that it’s actually worse (the pitching staff certainly is).

Could the Cubs come out of nowhere like the Diamondbacks did last year? Doubtful. Would it last? Not a chance. The ‘Theo Epstein Experiment’ is just a year old – but one thing is very clear, he has just a single shot to make it work. He’s fighting for a chance to be good in the future, not now. By setting forth such a long-term plan, he and Jed have to ‘get it right’ the first time around. The Cubs can’t be scuffling in two years AND saying to themselves, ‘maybe we need to try _______ instead.’ That would signal the end of the experiment. The minor leagues have to start paying dividends – whether it’s from fully developed talent ready to take everyday roles, or by harvesting those prospects via trades.

You’d likely heard comments about how the farm system is better now than it was 12 months ago. For a long time the Angels had a host of coveted prospects, but could never pull the trigger to part with many of them while they were still prospects. Nothing diminishes value quicker than taking a prospect, promoting him, and proving him to be a failure.

If December 2013 brings a similar list, where all the best names are years removed from the majors, patience will be thin. Continue adding to the minors, yes. But it’s also time to find good, young, attainable MLB-ready players. There comes a point in time when our leader can no longer point to his predecessor’s shortcomings as the prime excuse for poor performance (feel free to use that in a different context if you desire). Is it after Year One? Probably not…but in twelve months there should be some tangible rewards for all this rebuilding. It’s not going to happen overnight, but it doesn’t need to take a decade either. Just ask the Marlins.

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Morning News: Cubs Rumors

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

Top Stories

  • Apparently the Cubs are interested in some non-tender names. – Looking at the list, I’d be interesting in at least kicking the tires and seeing what the cost is on Jair Jurrjens, John Lannan, and Ian Stewart. You may remember that Jurrjens was a name that was rumored to be coming to Chicago in the deal for Ryan Dempster, so there may be smoke there.
  • Rumors that Cubs are also looking at Brandon McCarthy as well. – We already signed the poor man’s McCarthy in Scott Feldman, so why not sign the rich man’s McCarthy as well, right?
  • Odd story on Cubs.com about how Dale Svuem has spent his winter vacation so far. Apparently he decided to go out and get himself shot.
  • Yesterday was the 10 year anniversary of a great trade in Cubs history. Chris Jaffe of the Hardball Times has the story.

Stat of the Week

by John Dewan

Most of the public discussion of ballpark effects is of the extremes. We know that Coors Field in Colorado sees a lot of home runs because of the altitude and we know that Safeco Field in Seattle and PETCO Park in San Diego see fewer home runs because of their dimensions. The perception of those bookends is correct, but it is not comprehensive. They are not the only parks that have dramatic effects on the run environment.

We measure park factors in indices that compare statistics compiled by both teams in a specific home park and then in all other parks. If a park has an index of 110 in home runs, for example, it allows 10 percent more home runs than average. If a park has an index of 90 in home runs, it allows 10 percent fewer home runs than average. The Bill James Handbook 2013 has a variety of park indices for all 30 teams. Let’s look at a few interesting examples.

Here are the most hitter-friendly ballparks since 2010:

Park

Runs Index

Rockies (Coors Field)

143

Rangers (Rangers Ballpark in Arlington)

122

Red Sox (Fenway Park)

115

White Sox (U.S. Cellular Field)

113

Diamondbacks (Chase Field)

112

Yankees (Yankee Stadium)

110

It is little surprise to see Coors Field on top of the list for runs. Colorado sees 21 percent more runs than the next closest park, which is Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. The rest of the list is less differentiated and features a pair of AL East venues, Fenway Park in Boston and Yankee Stadium in New York, as well as U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago and Chase Field in Arizona.

Here are the parks that have allowed the most home runs since 2010:

Park

Home Runs Index

Rockies (Coors Field)

138

White Sox (U.S. Cellular Field)

138

Reds (Great American Ballpark)

134

Brewers (Miller Park)

129

Yankees (Yankee Stadium)

128

Rangers (Rangers Ballpark in Arlington)

124

Home runs are a large part of the high overall run environment in Colorado, but Coors Field is not the only park to play to that extreme. In fact, U.S. Cellular Field has been its equal in home runs for the past three years, with both parks surrendering 38 percent more home runs than average. A couple of NL Central parks, Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati and Miller Park in Milwaukee, are close behind. Yankee Stadium and Rangers Ballpark in Arlington round out the top-six.

Here are parks that have allowed the fewest foul outs since 2010:

Park

Foul Outs Index

Rockies (Coors Field)

77

Red Sox (Fenway Park)

78

Angels (Angel Stadium of Anaheim)

79

Rangers (Rangers Ballpark in Arlington)

83

Cubs (Wrigley Field)

83

Giants (AT&T Park)

86

Royals (Kauffman Stadium)

86

New to The Bill James Handbook 2013 is the Foul Outs Index, which generally corresponds to those parks that have the least and the most foul ground in which to convert extra outs on foul popups and flyballs. Once again, Coors Field is on top. Home runs and foul outs represent two of the three biggest hitter advantages in Colorado by percentage, with triples being the third. Fenway Park is famous for having stands up against the foul lines, but Angel Stadium of Anaheim is not much roomier. Rangers Ballpark in Arlington and Wrigley Field in Chicago are tied for fourth-friendliest for hitters, and AT&T Park in San Francisco and Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City are tied for sixth-friendliest.

Here are the most pitcher-friendly ballparks since 2010:

Park

Runs Index

Mariners (Safeco Field)

78

Giants (AT&T Park)

80

Rays (Tropicana Field)

83

Angels (Angel Stadium of Anaheim)

84

Padres (PETCO Park)

85

Mets (Citi Field 2012)

87

On the other end of the spectrum, Safeco Field allows the fewest runs in baseball. Seattle, San Francisco, and San Diego were the easy guesses on the list. Tropicana Field and Angels Stadium of Anaheim are lesser known as pitchers parks, and yet both have been more pitcher-friendly than even PETCO Park. The Index for Citi Field includes just the numbers from 2012, after they moved in the fences. Surprisingly, the run environment became more depressed after the changes despite the increase in home runs. From 2009 to 2011, Citi Field had a Runs Index of 91 and a Home Runs Index of 83. In 2012, Citi Field had a Runs Index of 87 but a Home Runs Index of 109. We like to look at three years of data to get a handle on a park’s true tendencies. This drop in the Run Index at Citi Field may be a one-year aberration.

Here are parks that have allowed the fewest home runs since 2010:

Park

Home Runs Index

Giants (AT&T Ballpark)

69

Marlins (Marlins Park)

73

Mariners (Safeco Field)

75

Pirates (PNC Park)

75

Padres (PETCO Park)

77

Angels (Angel Stadium of Anaheim)

80

Athletics (O.co Coliseum)

80

Marlins Park opened in 2012 and fell short of only AT&T Ballpark in home run prevention. The old Sun Life Stadium was much closer to neutral with a Home Run Index of 94 from 2009 to 2011. One wonders how many home runs that could cost Giancarlo Stanton over his career. Safeco Field, PETCO Park, and Angel Stadium of Anaheim make this list, as well. PNC Park in Pittsburgh and O.co Coliseum in Oakland tie for third and sixth, respectively.

Here are parks that have allowed the most foul outs since 2010:

Park

Foul Outs Index

Rays (Tropicana Field)

139

Athletics (O.co Coliseum)

136

Tigers (Comerica Park)

121

Mariners (Safeco Field)

120

White Sox (U.S. Cellular Field)

118

Cardinals (Busch Stadium)

111

Finally, Tropicana Field in Tampa Bay and O.co Coliseum in Oakland are the clear leaders in foul outs allowed. They allow 39 percent and 36 percent more foul outs than average. No other ballpark exceeds the 21 percent of Comerica Park in Detroit. List frequenter Safeco Field is just behind with an index of 120. U.S. Cellular Field is next, and Busch Stadium in St. Louis rounds out the list as the only NL park with a Foul Outs Index greater than 10 percent above average.

These and many other park indices for all parks can be found in The Bill James Handbook 2013.

Used with permission from John Dewan’s Stat of the Week®, www.statoftheweek.com.

Joe’s iPod Song of the Day

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