I apologize for the lack of news yesterday. Unfortunately, I was in mourning due to the fact that my Notre Dame Fighting Irish forgot that the National Championship game was scheduled for Monday and didn’t realize the game had started until the second half. Say what you want about how they were “over-rated” and that they shouldn’t have been there. The fact is, you’re wrong. They deserved to be there and unfortunately them wetting the bed coupled with Alabama playing really well added up to a bad loss on the national stage. It is what it is and we move on.

The biggest news story today is the announcement of the new editions to the baseball hall of fame, assuming any are actually enshrined. There are some who believe that this year could be a year that elects no one, which is mind boggling to me considering the vast amount of talent on the ballot. The ballot  features 37 candidates with 13 holdovers from previous elections, including Jeff Bagwell, Jack Morris, Tim Raines and Lee Smith, and 24 newcomers, including Craig Biggio, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mike Piazza, Curt Schilling and Sammy Sosa.

There have been quite a few people who have posted who they would / are voting for and some who have said they are turning in their voting rights. Regardless of how you feel about the issues related to performance enhancing drugs, the who process is broken. We have people voting on election that not only no longer write about baseball, but some that really don’t even follow baseball anymore because when you’re given a vote, you’re given it for life. How is that not a broken system? I’m not sure what the solution is on that matter, but what I do know is how I feel regarding the ballot this year and future years as we struggle to figure out how to deal with the steroid stain left on the game and careers of the players of that era. My feeling on the issue is pretty simple. The players of that era used drugs. We do not know for sure who used them and who didn’t. What they did was not against the rules of the game at the time. Because of these things, I don’t use suspicion as a basis. I vote based on the numbers I can see and don’t discriminate based on what I can’t see. With that said, if I had a ballot, it would be filled out as follows:

  • Jeff Bagwell
  • Craig Biggio
  • Barry Bonds
  • Roger Clemens
  • Mike Piazza

Discuss that among yourselves and feel free to post your ballot.

Jim Callis of Baseball America recently released the top 10 prospect list for the Cubs. It’s subscription only for more in depth coverage, but the list as well as more awards for the system can be found here. If you’re too lazy to look, the top ten is:

1. Javier Baez, ss
2. Albert Almora, of
3. Jorge Soler, of
4. Arodys Vizcaino, rhp
5. Brett Jackson, of
6. Pierce Johnson, rhp
7. Dan Vogelbach, 1b
8. Jeimer Candelario, 3b
9. Kyuji Fujikawa, rhp
10. Arismendy Alcantara, ss

I like the fact that we’re slowly building up the system. It’s still going to take years to have a deep system that can consistently contribute to the big club, but we’re heading in the right direction.

Keeping with the prospect theme, Keith Law had a chat recently in which he addressed a few Cubs questions.

Q – Will Brett Jackson of the Cubs ever be more than just another replacement level player or do you believe altering his swing this off season will help him reduce his strikeouts enough to make him an effective 4th outfielder?

A – It’s not impossible, but it is unlikely that these swing changes – which haven’t appeared in a game yet – will help him boost his contact rate to a playable level.

Q – Is there a scout, front office member, executive, or analyst anywhere in baseball that seriously thinks Dan Vogelbach could ever play anywhere but 1B or DH in the majors? Because many Cubs fans expect a shift to LF is in his future, and that just seems silly.

A – I don’t even think he can play first. Any fan who thinks he can play left field is living in an alternate reality.

Moving on to the rumor / news mill, we have a few things to report:

  • We signed Zach Putnam to a minor league deal. He was claimed off waivers in November, but non-tendered later in the month.
  • Ken Rosenthal reports that “The Phillies, sources say, continue to look at all options, including the signing of free agent Scott Hairston and trades for the Chicago Cubs’ Alfonso Soriano and Los Angeles Angels’ Vernon Wells.” (Source)
  • Roch Kubatko reports that “I heard last night that the Tigers and Cubs are discussing a potential trade involving pitcher Rick Porcello, who also interests the Orioles. Now here’s the rumored kicker: The Tigers are trying to get the Orioles involved because they want shortstop J.J. Hardy, and they don’t feel as though the Cubs have the necessary components to make it a two-team trade. For this to happen, the Cubs would have to send pitching to the Orioles as part of a three-way deal.” (Source)
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Joe Aiello is the founder of View From the Bleachers and one of the lead writers as well as host of VFTB Radio. Growing up in Chicago, he fondly remembers attending games in the bleachers before that was the popular thing to do. Currently Joe resides in North Carolina with his wife and three kids. Connect with Joe via Twitter / Facebook / E-mail