Archive for November, 2013

GirlieView (11/28/2013)

Thursday, November 28th, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving! I wish for all of you a day full of love, laughter, and lots of good eats!

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 the 2013/2014 Offseason = 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.


  • it could signify that the front office sees Wellington Castillo as a long-term piece.
  • “Would you like to make that a combo?” is what Seymour is used to hearing from his waitress.
  • What frustrates me is the fact that people in this fan base get attached to a player for whatever reason and then fail to see when that player hurts the team by being a part of it.
  • I want to consistently root for my team deep into October year in and year out.
  • I am for any move that makes the Cubs better but the greatest game of baseball is such an intricate game the definition there in of ‘better’ is open for debate.
  • A Cub fan goes into every year knowing we aint gonna win! So we latch onto a player(s) to make the season bearable.
  • Of course, if the Cardinals trade for him, he’ll probably never miss a game again.
  • Kirkus Reviews, a leading American book review for more than 80 years, called it an “entertaining, fantastical adventure” and a “well-paced, delightful children’s book with a moral that’s clear without being heavy-handed.”
  • I read the first sentence, “The Cardinals look to remain the class of the NL Central’, and just couldn’t go on.
  • If it makes you feel any better, I had about as much fun writing that sentence as you had reading it.
  • I’m not sure I’m ready for names like “Stryker” yet.
  • Stryker belongs in a rotation with Balfour. A Stryker can only make a Balfour better.
  • Arismendy (my favorite prospect first name) Alcantara


  • Not a rumor: MLB will be instituting NFL-style replay challenges next season.

Shout Outs

  • Congratulations to Noah and Tom C for winning their first off-season Lizzies this time around.


  • Congratulations to Sean Powell our Most Valuable Lizzie’er for the second time in a row!

Top 10 of the 2013/2014 Offseason (one point for each Lizzie, three points for the Lizard)

1. Sean Powell
2. Doc Raker
3. jswanson
4. cap’n obvious
5. Joe Aiello
5. Noah
5. Seymour Butts
8. Eddie von White
8. Jedi Johnson
10. L lips es
10. Tom C

Chit Chat

Slim pickins this week on the Lizzies, so I’d better come up with some chit chat. What are you doing today? Cooking? Eating? Watching football? Making a step-by-step map-based shopping list for Black Friday? All of the above? Say hello and let us know!

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Meet Your New Backup Catcher?

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

If you missed the news late yesterday afternoon, the Cubs made a trade with the Kansas City Royals. In a deal that was essentially the equivalent of a waiver pickup since it was player for cash, the Cubs acquired the services of George Kottaras.

He’s a former 20th round pick by the Padres in 2002 and will be 31 this upcoming season. Based on what is currently in the system, we could be looking at out backup catcher. His stats are not pretty, posting a career .214 / .324 / .406 slash line. What you do like to see is the gap between the average at the on base percentage. It’s always encouraging when you see that 100+ point difference there because you know he has the ability to judge the strike zone and draw walks.

I dug up the old John Sickels prospect handbook and found this scouting report written in 2006.

“Kottaras’ 2005 campaign was a fine follow-up to his breakout ’04 season, where he played very well in A-ball but also appeared on the international stage as a member of the Greek Olympic baseball team. Returning to the US in ’05, he continued to to develop offensively, honing his strike zone judgement while keeping his power output and batting average at strong levels. His OPS in the California League was +6 percent, but it increased to +11 percent after his promotion to Double-A. I think he projects as a .260-.285 hitter in the majors, with 10-15 homers a season and a nice on base percentage. Kottaras has a strong arm and good mobility behind the plate, although his footwork can be a problem sometimes, inhibiting his throwing. Still, his glove is good enough for him to start if he hit as expected.”

It doesn’t appear that he’s reached that ceiling, and I think Cubs fans will realize quickly how good we had it last year with Dioner Navarro as the backup catcher since he was essentially a starter filling that role. This seems like a move to fill the position with another veteran on the cheap and hope he hits well enough to be serviceable. It also gives the job to Castillo for sure.

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Of Strasburg and Rose… and Windows

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

There is a fair amount of BS in talk about professional sports. The vast majority of player interviews are the same meaningless clichés we’ve heard a million times. At the beginning of every season, every team that has no real chance of winning, including the most recent Cubs teams, talk about how every year is sacred. There is little truth or meaning to learn from these conversations.

But one recent figure of speech is true in the world of big money sports: windows. A window is a period of time that a team legitimately competes for a title. Windows close when teams can’t afford their good players anymore, or their good players get old, or they will go over the salary cap. The franchise quarterback in football can make windows last the better part of a decade, but even those end. The lack of a salary cap in baseball can allow big spending teams to keep windows open a long time, but even the Yankees are likely to be facing a rough couple of years. Sometimes a window closes much more quickly than expected due to injury.

And yet, in just over a year, a team and a player have spat on their windows. In 2012, primed for the playoffs and arguably the best team in baseball, the Washington Nationals front office decided to shut down Stephen Strasburg, one of the best pitchers in baseball and their ace, for the last month of the season and the playoffs. The internal thought was that the Nationals were on the front end of their window, and would be right back in the playoffs in 2013. The Nationals got off to a bad start, and missed the playoffs. Their window remains open, they have the resources to keep it open, but they gave up their best chance at a World Series to this point.

Last season, the Chicago Bulls knew they would be without Derek Rose, one of the best players in basketball, for most of the season due to a torn left ACL in the first round of the 2011-2012 playoffs. The Bulls surprised in the season, gaining the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference and getting to the Eastern Conference semifinals against the eventual NBA champions, the Miami Heat. Team doctors cleared Rose to play late in the season, but Rose chose to sit out the whole season, not fully confident in his abilities coming off the knee injury. The Bulls would make one more run with their current core this season, the clear last year of a four year window. Then, in the twelfth game of this season, Rose tore the medial meniscus in his other knee, and he was declared out for the season after surgery Monday morning. The Bulls’ current window is closed, and they’ll likely have a couple years of retooling around Rose before they can make another run.

So what does this have to do with the Cubs? The entire Theo Epstein/Jed Hoyer plan is to open up a long window through the establishment of one of the best farm systems in baseball. While the window is closed, the Cubs can take their time with player development and injuries. Once the window opens, though, the cliché becomes truth. When the window opens, every season becomes sacred because that window can close very, very quickly.

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Press Release: Cubs Staff Announcements

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

From the Cubs Media Relations Dept:

CHICAGO The Chicago Cubs today announced several members of manager Rick Renteria’s major league coaching staff for the 2014 season as well as new appointments in scouting and player development leadership roles. 

Chris Bosio (pitching coach), Lester Strode (bullpen coach), Mike Borzello (catching and strategy coach) and Franklin Font (staff assistant) return to the coaching staff.  Joining the staff in 2014 are Brandon Hyde (bench coach), Gary Jones (third base/infield coach), Bill Mueller (hitting coach), Mike Brumley (assistant hitting coach) and Jose Castro (quality assurance coach).  The club has yet to name a first base coach.

Jaron Madison, who joined the club as director of amateur scouting on August 10, 2012, has been named director of player development, replacing Hyde in that role.  Matt Dorey, who this year worked for the Cubs as a national and regional crosschecker, has been named director of amateur scouting.

Bosio, 50, returns for his third season as the club’s major league pitching coach.  Overall, this is his third stint as a big league pitching coach, previously coaching in the majors for Tampa Bay in 2003 and Milwaukee in 2009.  A veteran of 11 big league seasons, the former righthander worked as a special assignment pitching coach in Seattle’s system from 2000-02, including a stint as Triple-A Tacoma’s pitching coach, before joining Lou Piniella’s staff in Tampa Bay.  Bosio has also served as a pitching coach in Milwaukee’s farm system and as an advance scout for the Brewers. 

Hyde, 40, enters his third year in the Cubs organization and begins his second stint as a major league bench coach, previously serving as bench coach for Jack McKeon and the Marlins for 1.5 seasons from June 23, 2010-2011.  Overall, Hyde has 11 years of coaching experience, including nine seasons in the Marlins organization, following a four-year playing career in the White Sox system from 1997-2000.  Hyde joined the Cubs organization in December of 2011 as minor league field coordinator and was named director of player development on August 29, 2012.

Jones, 53, joins the Cubs as third base coach and infield coach after spending the last 11 years in the Padres organization, including the last seven as minor league infield coordinator.  He has one year of major league experience as the first base coach for Oakland in 1998.  Jones has 15 seasons of experience as a minor league manager, earning four minor league manager of the year awards.  He originally signed with the Cubs as a non-drafted free agent in 1982 and appeared in 897 minor league games.  

Mueller, 42, joins the Cubs for his first full season as a major league hitting coach.  The 2003 American League batting champion served as interim hitting coach for the Dodgers in the second half of the 2007 campaign.  Mueller joined the Dodgers front office following an 11-year playing career with the Giants, Cubs, Red Sox and Dodgers, finishing with a career .293 batting average, .373 on-base percentage and nearly as many walks (543) as strikeouts (only 571 in 4,886 plate appearances).  Mueller spent the last six seasons as a special assistant in the Dodgers front office.

Strode, 55, returns for his eighth season as Cubs bullpen coach and his 26th year in the Cubs organization.  Prior to his current role, Strode spent 11 seasons as the organization’s minor league pitching coordinator (1996-2006), two seasons with the big league club as a pitching assistant (1994-95) and five seasons as a minor league pitching coach (1989-1993).  Strode pitched professionally in the minor leagues for nine seasons (1980-88) in the Kansas City, Baltimore, St. Louis and Cubs farm systems.

Borzello, 43, enters his third season with the Cubs with an expanded role of catching and strategy coach.  Prior to joining Chicago, he spent four seasons (2008-11) with the Los Angeles Dodgers as their bullpen catcher, a stint that followed 12 years in the New York Yankees organization starting in 1996 (roles included bullpen catcher and batting practice pitcher).  Overall, Borzello has 18 years of experience with three major league clubs.

Brumley, 51, joins the Cubs as assistant hitting coach after spending the last four seasons as first base coach with the Seattle Mariners.  A veteran of part of seven major league seasons, Brumley began his big league career with the Cubs in 1987 and later played for Seattle (1990), Boston (1991-92), Houston (1993, 1995) and Oakland (1994).  Upon retiring, Brumley spent 13 seasons as a minor league manager, field coordinator and instructor from 1997-2009 before joining Seattle’s major league staff in 2010.

Castro, 55, joins the Cubs as quality assurance coach after spending the last 25 years as a minor league hitting coordinator or hitting coach in the Kansas City, Seattle, Florida, San Diego and Montreal organizations.  He also served an interim stint as Seattle’s major league hitting coach in 2008.

Font, 36, returns for his 20th season in the Cubs organization, his third at the major league level.  Prior to joining the big league club, he spent three seasons as the Cubs minor league infield coordinator.  Font played in the Cubs system for six seasons from 1995-2000 before becoming a Single-A Daytona staff assistant in 2001.  He served the Cubs as a minor league manager, hitting coach and coordinator from 2002-11.

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Cubs Interested in a Dodgers Outfielder?

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

  • In a chat over at FanGraphs, Dave Cameron mentioned that if the FA process drags out for Robinson Cano (and the price drops) “a smart team like the Cubs will jump in and sign him.” I’m sure Theo and Jed appreciate the comment, but MANY (most?) teams would be in on Cano if there is a significant price drop. Cameron also thinks that a good number for a Shark extension would be around 5yrs/60 million.
  • The Dodgers have an extra outfielder. Would one of Matt Kemp, Andre Either, or Carl Crawford make sense for the Cubs? The only one I would consider would be Matt Kemp IF he comes with a significant injury discount (dude is awesome, but always hurt). Some team(s) will pay full price for him, no doubt, so I don’t see the Cubs landing him. It wouldn’t be smart to overpay for someone with his injury history, IMO. The upfront asking price would have to be palatable, and the Dodgers would need to kick-in some significant salary relief.
  • The Cubs added Dallas Beeler and Arismendy (my favorite prospect first name) Alcantara to the 40-man roster, thus protecting them from the Rule 5 draft. Beeler really pitched his way onto the roster this fall, and he has all the physical tools you want (6’5”, mid-90s fastball). I’d look for Beeler to make a play for a bullpen spot this spring. It has been confirmed that Juan “mystery man” Paniagua is not eligible for the Rule 5 draft, so he didn’t need to be added to the 40-man for protection.
  • Our favorite topic: the proposed renovation of Wrigley Field. The Chicago Plan Commission approved the latest plans (which include bumping out the right field outer wall) and a proposed arch sign over Clark Street (which would take the place of the proposed-but-DOA pedestrian bridge).
  • Have a Happy Thanksgiving, and stay safe during your travels.
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