Red With Envy

Today's piece was written by Don Nelson (twinscubsfandon) and he has been a practicing Cubs fan since 1969. He lives in suburban Chicago and frequently talks about starting his own blog, which, he notes, requires a lot less energy and commitment than actually doing it. He works in advertising and carries a 1970 Don Kessinger baseball card in his briefcase. The beauty of having your favorite baseball teamís season reach a virtual end before its actual end is that you can get a head start on your season retrospective. (ì2005: A Kansas City Royals Year In Reviewî could have been penned in mid-May.) When I look back on the Cubs season, one of the more noteworthy events, I think, was the Red Soxí visit to Wrigley back in June. Youíll recall that series offered a satisfying result (two Cub wins out of three), the proverbial ìplayoff atmosphere,î and a lot of media blather about how the two franchises simply belonged on the same field. You know the blather: two grand, old clubs with similarly painful histories (at least until last October), both playing in quaint, big city neighborhood parks before insanely devoted fans. Well, a few weeks back, I vacationed in Boston and made my inaugural visit to Fenway, and the experience crystallized a thought I first had back in June: The Cubs and the Red Sox are not birds of a feather. Cub fandom isóand has been for as long as Iíve rooted for the teamóa whole lot more pathetic way to spend your time. The numbers confirm it. Going back to 1969, my first year as a fan, there have been 35, overlapping 2-year periods (1969 and 1970, 1970 and 1971, 1971 and 1972, etc.). The Red Sox have put together consecutive winning seasons 25 times; the Cubs have done it 4 times. Since í69, the Red Sox have been to the post-season 9 times and to the World Series 3 times. The Cubs have been to the post-season 4 times and to the World Series...well, you know. None of which is to suggest that the Red Sox havenít inflicted more than their share of emotional scarring on all of New England. Youíve got the heartbreaking loss to Cincy in 1975. Bucknerís error and the loss to the Mets in í86. To say nothing of Bucky Dent in í78, Aaron Boone in í03 and a host of other catastrophes Iím not enough of a Red Sox fan to recall right away. And the Cubs? Again, in my lifetime as a fan, you have 1969, Durhamís error and the ensuing loss to San Diego in 1984 and Steve Bartman, et al in 2003. All in all, the Red Soxí failures seem more devastating because they were so high profile. But thatís really the point: at least the Red Sox got to play the big room. And this is an essay not about breaking hearts, but about being feeble. And on that count, I feel comfortable saying something Cub fans almost never can: The Cubs rule.
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Comments

I see why people were upset at Dusty for not putting Rusch back in the starting rotation sooner. Here are his stats since coming backto the rotation:

4 starts, 18.1 IP, 32 hits, 7 BB, 18 ER, 2.13 WHIP, 9.00 ERA.

Manny,

Who was going to give us the best chance to win Rusch or Hill? As much as I hate Baker I am not one to blame him for runing players. Though I think you could make a case that he did ruin Rusch.

Great piece Don. Although the Sawx hadn't won anything until last season, they made the WS a bunch of times, and have had many great teams. The Cubs may not have had a single GREAT team in our lifetimes. Some good ones - but no great ones.

I love reading balanced pieces about the Cubs. Nice job Don.

FOUR times. 84, 89, 98, 03.

See? Not pathetic at all.

Good catch, Brick. And you're right--four times in 35 years is an entirely different matter. Reminds me of the Yankees during the Stengel years.

Chifan-
Rusch was moved back and forth from the bullpen to the rotation a few times last year and Dusty didn't ruin him then, but he did this year?

Maybe Rusch is just showing that last year was a fluke and he is going back to the REAL Glendon Rusch. Looks like 2004 was a fluke year. Before last year he never had a winning season and never had an ERA under 4.00, in his previous 7 year career.

I see why people were upset at Dusty for not putting Rusch back in the starting rotation sooner. Here are his stats since coming backto the rotation:

The problem with comments like these - and not just Manny makes them people on both sides of the Dusty fence do - is it paints with too broad a brush and becomes a strawman.

For example I have problems with Dusty - but not in the handling of Rusch. Yet Manny implies everybody hates the handling of Rusch. This isn't a perfect analogy - but I see it more and more "See all of you wanted Cedeno to play..." or "Look how everybody was on the Neif! bandwagon..."

This is a "community" which is a full-of-itself way of saying there is no Cub Reporter belief system or commonality. We are all different.

K rant over...

This...
Though I think you could make a case that he did ruin Rusch.

Rusch was arguably the worst pitcher in baseball (competing with Estes) in 2003. He's been servicable since coming here - Dusty did not ruin him. We got very lucky with him in actuality.

Andrew Sisco 56 0 2 2 0 12 65.2 53 17 4 37 67 9.18 0.0 1.37 2.33

Sisco threw two more scoreless innings yesterday. Hendry owes us all for that fiasco AND I blame baker peripherally of course for making Hendry paranoid of 'bad egg' players.

Manny - You never cease to amaze any of us. You are the worst "Monday Morning QB" Dusty defender that could ever be. Can you at least come up with something different to comment on, instead of the constant defenses of Dusty based on after the fact analysis? The decision to use Rusch in the pen to start the season was bad and the decision to move him back the pen during the season was even worse. Dusty blew it, plain and simple. This whole team basically sucked and he helped make it worse with his tactical errors. Just for once admit that Dusty made a couple huge errors in judgement. If you do, maybe the TCR readers will actually value a comment or two of yours in the future instead of just blowing you off.

ERic:
"Yet Manny implies everybody hates the handling of Rusch."

I think you might be the one painting with the broad brush. I only said: "I see why people were upset at Dusty for not putting Rusch back in the starting rotation sooner." I did not say ALL people or ALL Dusty haters. I said people. Those people who complained about it know who they are.

Superjimmer:
"Hendry owes us all for that fiasco AND I blame baker peripherally of course for making Hendry paranoid of 'bad egg' players."

HA HA

Come on, it is posts like this that are so far over the edge of rationality, that is is a clear and balant hatrid toward Dusty that prompts these comments.

So is Dusty responsible for the stampede yeaterday in Iraq, the power shortages today in CA or Hurricane Katrina too??

I would be surprised if Baker has ever even met Sisco.

Oh well this is TCR...

Cubman:
"Manny - You never cease to amaze any of us."

Speaking of painting with a broad brush.

"Can you at least come up with something different to comment on, instead of the constant defenses of Dusty based on after the fact analysis?"

I will come up with something different when a majority of TCR posters come up with something different to complain about. You don't mention that about half the posts on here complain about Dusty and THEY should come up with something different to comment on. Double standard???

"Just for once admit that Dusty made a couple huge errors in judgement."

Dusty, just like every other manager in MLB, has made errors and is partially responsible for the lack of success this year. I have NEVER said otherwise. Rusch was not one of them, IMO.

"If you do, maybe the TCR readers will actually value a comment or two of yours in the future instead of just blowing you off."

I am sure you didn't value you my comment, but yet you still didn't blow it of....HMMMMM??? Eric and CHIFAn also didn't blow it off and commented on it.

Sorry my posts don't match your agenda or thoughts, but I will post what i think and if you don't like it, just blow it off in teh future...THANKS!!

Wow! Manny admitted Dusty is partially responsible for the Cubs lack of success this year. I'm expecting a plague of locusts any moment.

Cubman-
It is obvious you have either not been on TCR long (I don't recognize your handle) or you don't read to well, as I have said that many times in the past 12 months.

MANNY T: A lot of posters here at TCR (including your's truly) posted way back at the start of the season that Dusty should use Rusch as a starter (NOT as a reliever), Dempster as the closer (NOT as a starter), and Hawkins as 8th inning set-up man (NOT as the closer). And I don't think that was "Dusty bashing." It was reasonable criticism. In fact, if Dusty had used Rusch as a stater, Dempster as the closer, and Hawk as the 8th inning set-up man from the get-go, I believe the Cubs would still be in the thick of the Wild Card race right now.

Although Glendon Rusch has been horrible since returning to the starting rotation in recent weeks (and he HAS been terrible), he is even worse as a relief pitcher. Finesse lefties don't fare well pitching out of the bullpen because they give up too many hits and don't have a strikeout pitch. Rusch is at his best when he has greater margin for error and can afford to give up some hits and runs without costing the Cubs the game. If he is used out of the bullpen, it has to be at the start of an inning AND where if he gives up a run or two, it won't cost the Cubs the game, like in a game where the Cubs are way ahead or way behind.

That said, Rusch has indeed been horrible lately as a starter. I have no problem with Dusty removing Rusch from the rotation due to ineffectiveness and replacing him with Mitre or Hill, and moving him back to the bullpen AS LONG AS it's to use him in a long-relief and/or mop-up role, and not to use him in "game" situations (not that it matters at this point in the season, with the Cubs out of it).

I still think Rusch will exercise his option to become a free-agent when the season is over, and try to find a gig as a starter in 2006. He's only 31, he has had stretches over the past two years where he has pitched very well as a starter (not as a reliever, but as a starer), and a lot of teams in baseball are desperate for starting pitchers. I'm not saying he going to get the "big bucks," but he should score a better deal in the open market than he would get if he stays with the Cubs ($2 mil base salary in 2006, with $1.2 mil in incentives & bonuses if he is used as a starter). Even if he gets a one-year deal with a guaranteed $3.25 mil for one season, that would be a better deal than what he's got with the Cubs right now.

Wrong Manny, I just don't normally comment. I cannot find one comment where you have stated the Dusty is partially responsible for the lack of success. You have on rare occasions admitted that he did some things that you did not agree with, but then immediately stated that these "errors" (who should start, line up construction, etc.) have only a negligible effect on the team's performance and the that the team would be worse without him.

"Neither rookie Matt Murton nor Ronny Cedeno started Wednesday, one day after each had a hit, stolen base and sacrifice. "We're trying to win and observe at the same time," Baker said"

This kind of speaks for itself.

AZ Phil-
In ST when TCR was talking about Rusch in the pen or starter and same with Dempster, I would not count that as Dusty bashing. You are correct. That was just trying to find out the best thing for Cubs and discussing it. i was referring to posts in the mid season asking for Rusch to start and CHIFAN saying Dusty ruined Rusch.

I hope Rusch doesn't pick up his $2 million option. I think he is not good and we got lucky with him last year. It was the ultimate FLUKE year. I would expect numbers much like this year for him next year and if that is our #5 starter (or possible #4 with Wood going to pen), that would be not be good at all.

Cubman-
Well then you must of missed those comments, becuase I have stated that as far back as late in the season 2004. Dusty had to be partially responsible for their collapse last year as he could not get the team refocused after the Diaz HR. The team seemed to be in shock and he was unable to get them back on track.

Dusty is the manager and of course he is partially responsible for the teams results, GOOD or BAD.

MANNY T: I think one of the mistakes made by Cubs management (and I'm including both Jim Hendry and Dusty Baker here) prior to the start of the season was viewing Glendon Rusch as a "valuable swingman" who could start or relieve as needed.

In the best of times and in the worst of times, Glendon Rusch is a starting pitcher. He is NOT a "swingman" (or a LOOGY), and the option that he could be used out of the bullpen should never have been considered. Either Rusch starts, or you don't re-sign him. That's obvious now, and it should have been obvious to Hendry last winter and to Dusty during Spring Training.

Wow, we agree!

"Dusty is the manager and of course he is partially responsible for the teams results, GOOD or BAD."

Since the start of his tenure, the Cubs have been more mediocre/bad than good. They've basically exceeded mediocre for a one month stretch (Sept 2003) in nearly three years. Time for Dusty (and maybe Hendry too) to leave.

Looking ahead to 2006, these are what I think are most likely for the Cubs:

1) The Cubs will open 2006 with a starting rotation of Wood, Prior, Zambrano, Maddux, and an in-house #5 (from Mitre, Williams, Hill, Pinto, Wellemeyer, etc, etc).
2) The Cubs will re-sign Dempster to be closer, and will not pursue Wagner, Ryan, et al. During the negotiation with Dempster the Cubs will make it clear that if Wood’s 2006 goes like his 2005, then when he goes to the bullpen Wood will become the closer and Dempster will go to set up. The Cubs are hedging their bet here—no way will they tolerate Wagner at $8MM at closer and Wood at $9MM (or whatever $) as set up. The remainder of the bullpen will be staffed from in house (Novoa, Ohman, Williamson, Weurtz, Wellemeyer, Hill, Guzman, etc).
3) The Cubs already have 4 of their everyday players for 2006 set: Barrett, Lee, Walker, and Ramirez.
4) Of the 4 remaining positions (SS, LF, CF, RF) 2 will come from outside (trade or free agent), 2 will come from the current roster. I think there is a certain inertia or resistance to change or overhaul that will limit the new faces in starting positions. There are lots of combinations possible, I think it most likely that Burnitz and Nomar will be back, leaving LF and CF to come from outside. Once the first domino falls at one of those positions, the remaining possibilities will become more clear and easier to predict.
5) Neifi and Blanco will be 2 of the 5 bench players.
6) Dusty will be the manager.

Not all of these are what I would do, just what I think is most likely. Just one guy’s opinion.

Bad editor...I fixed it to 4.

Nice post Don...Red Sox fans have it made, they got to enjoy a World Series and a championship. Yet, just one year later they moan and whine -- we Cubs fans won't be that way when we win the World Series, we'll be old(er) or dead.

Great post, Don. I'd always chafed at grouping the franchises together. The Sox were always tragic because of their near success. The Cubs sprinkle just enough feast in the with the famine to make us forget they've been cooking with Soviet groceries since time immemorial.

In a matter totally unrelated to that, for those that pay for BP, there's a great piece by James Click examining the season month-by-month in reverse, to demonstrate how the events of the first 45 days tend to skew everyone's impressions of what's actually going on.

At "mid-season":

HOU 50 30 .625 0.0
SLN 51 31 .622 0.0
CIN 41 38 .519 8.5
MIL 40 41 .494 10.5
CHN 37 45 .451 14.0
PIT 32 50 .390 19.0

BATTER TEAM LG AVG HR RBI
Andruw Jones ATL NL .275 30 73
Ken Griffey Jr. CIN NL .325 25 55
Morgan Ensberg HOU NL .285 24 68
Albert Pujols SLN NL .333 23 57
Derrek Lee CHN NL .336 23 48
Aramis Ramirez CHN NL .325 21 66
Adam Dunn CIN NL .257 21 60
Miguel Cabrera FLO NL .319 18 60
Pat Burrell PHI NL .271 18 54

jackstraw-
I think your above post is right on and very close to what I think will happen. Of course not what i would like to see, but will happen. I have stated recently that I think the Cubs team next year will look much like this years with only a few minor changes and that will be Hendry's downfall. If McPhail does not give Hendry and Baker an extension by ST next year, they will both be gone by years end in 2006 if the can't make the playoffs.

Manny,

Look what Rusch did as a starter in 04. You would think idiot would give him the of 5th starter to him out of ST this year? No he puts Dempster in their. He gets put back in the when Wood goes down. He has several good starts and is a canidate for the ASG. Then comes a couple of bad starts vs BOS and NYY. He then get banishes to the pen again. Now if I am Rusch my response to this would be FU Baker and cash it in for the year. Like AZ phil says he will get more money for somebody then he will get from his 2 mill option so he has done his job this season. Baker simply lost Rusch like he did the most of the team.

JACK STRAW: Excellent (and succinct!) post, bro. I agree with you right down the line, except I don't think the two "in-house" spots will be LF & CF. I think if there are two "in-house" slots, they are more likely to be LF (Matt Murton) & SS (Ronny Cedeno).

I believe Corey Patterson will absolutely positively be traded. Hendry will deny it right up until it happens, but it's gonna happen. And Jerry Hairston, Jr will "hold down" CF until Felix Pie is ready (presumably by 2007 at the latest).

I posted some peyote-inspired likely trade scenarois on another post a couple of days ago, but upon further review, I don't think C-Pat will go to Pittsburgh (with Ronny Cedeno and Rich Hill) in a multi-player deal involving Jack Wilson, Rob Macowiak, and Oliver Perrz or Kip Wells. I think it's more likely that unless Rafael Furcal falls into the Cubs lap, that Cedeno will be the Cubs starting SS next season and into the future. If the Cubs do sign Furcal, then Cedeno goes to Iowa in 2006 and learns to play 2B, with an eventual battle for the 2B job with Eric Patterson in 2007 after Walker leaves (unless Walk gets traded to Texas as part of a deal for Alfonso Soriano during the off-season).

I firmly believe Patterson will be traded after this season, and that it will be to a small market club like Colorado, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, or Milwaukee, but that it will be more of a one-for-one or two-for-one trade rather than a multi-player deal. Jim Hendry should expect to get somebody like Jason Jennings or Byung Hyun Kim (Colorado), Victor Santos (Milwaukee), Casey Fossum, Seth McClung, or Doug Waechter (Tampa Bay), or Kip Wells or Josh Fogg (Pittsburgh) in return for C-Pat. Acquiring Jennings from the Rockies or Wells from the Pirates would probably require a second player (a pitcher like Mitre to Pittsburgh or Wellemeyer to Colorado), but would be a better deal.

The only other trade sceanrio I could see involving C-Pat would be to go to Texas with Todd Walker, Jerome Williams, and a top pitching prospect (Hill, Guzman, or Pinto), for Alfonso Soriano. Again, I am not a Soriano fan, and would much rather keep Todd Walker, but it could very well happen. Soriano is Dusty Baker's kind of player (a free-swinger with speed and power).

Look what Rusch did as a starter in 04. You would think idiot would give him the of 5th starter to him out of ST this year?

Another amusing hypocrisy by our fair manager. He says stuff like "I can't forget what Holly did for us last year" or I can't take ball and glove out of Neifi's hands, but he did forget that Rusch was had a helluva of a year last year. Doesn't really mean anything, other then our manager has no plan whatsoever and loves to talk out of his ass...

Speaking of hypocrisies:
''They talk about me and kids and [stuff]. How many kids I got?'' Baker said. ''Damn near half my team is kids. Probably 80 percent of my pitchers. You look at [Cardinals manager] Tony La Russa, how many kids has he ever had? He has nothing but veterans on his team, and he always has.''

and

"We don't have a whole bunch of kids," Baker said. "Really, we have two kids as [position] players. Most of our kids are pitchers.

AZ Phil,

Everything I have heard about Soriano to the Cubs would be Soriano being an OF for us. My guess would be in RF. If something happens w/ Soriano think the trade will be a 3-way one where Col gets Cpat, Wellemeyer, and Derosa Tex gets Jennigs, Hill, and Walker and we get Soriano, Bigbie, Luis Gonzalez (who is the super utility guy Dusty loves and he is actually good).

Chifan:
"Now if I am Rusch my response to this would be FU Baker and cash it in for the year. Like AZ phil says he will get more money for somebody then he will get from his 2 mill option so he has done his job this season. Baker simply lost Rusch like he did the most of the team."

That is your take, and you are entitled to it. I of course don't agree.

But I would be very happy if Rusch vetos that $2 million option. He had one good fluke year in 2004 and the rest of his career he has been a well below .500 pitcher with a 4.00+ ERA...crap.

AZ Phil-
You really think Cedeno will be the starting SS nexty year?? I just don't see it happeneing. I think Hendry will resign Nomar for $3-4 million + incentives. He has shown he can still hit, he just needs to stay healthy. And we all know Hendry loves those guys he can get cheap because of injury (Nomar, Dempster, Williamson). I think it is worth the risk and still have Cedeno for a backup in case of injury.

CHIFAN3887: We must think alike. I'd worry if I were you!

Although I didn't mention them in any of my previous posts, Luis Gonzalez and Larry Bigbie were the two other names that came to my mind when thinking about a potential deal involving C-Pat & Colorado. C-Pat & Wellemeyer (who the Rockies wanted in a deal for Preston Wilson) for Jason Jennings would seem a likely scenario by itself, but I could see C-Pat & Wellemeyer for Bigbie and Gonzalez, too, However, it would almost certainly require another player or two to get Jennings and Bigbie and Gonzalez. But Bigbie (the left-handed hitting LF-CF-RF 4th outfielder Jody Gerut might have been) and L-Gon II (super-sub with a good stick) would seem to be a good fit for the Cubs in 2006.

C-Pat be gone. It ain't gonna be back in 2006.

MANNY T: My problem with Nomar is that he has all the earmarks of a guy who will need to have the option to DH to stay in the lineup, although with his athleticism, I could see him playing 2B or 1B on a fairly regular basis when healthy (and then DH when his nagging injuries manifest).

Also, Nomar's sidearm throws from the left side of the infield (which were always his one problem at SS) have become increasingly wild and erratic, and I don't think he can play SS anymore or 3B either.

Don't get me wrong... I like Nomar a lot. He is an outstanding hitter and a good citizen. I just don't think his future is at SS. Like I said, it's more likely at 2B or 1B, with an occasional period (when necessary) at DH. That means the American League, possibly someplace like Seattle, or even more likely, the White Sox, or possibly even the Yankees or Red Sox.

As you know, I am a BIG Ronny Cedeno fan, amd believe he will be a fine everyday major league shirtstop, as long as he hits 7th or 8th in the order. I can see him hitting in the .270's0 with 12-15 HR, 25-30 2B, and 60-75 RBI. Good enough to hit 7th or 8th, IMHO. And he has a great attitude, too. He's a hard worker. I've seen it.

The only way I can see Ronny Cedeno not being the Cubs starting SS next season is if Hendry signs Rafael Furcal, which could happen. Then Cedeno either gets traded (could be part of a deal for Soriano), or goes back to Iowa to learn how to play 2B.

I'm probably all wet, though. My predictions usually aren't too accuurate. Although I am willing to put money on C-Pat getting traded during the off-season.

"The only way I can see Ronny Cedeno not being the Cubs starting SS next season is if Hendry signs Rafael Furcal"

What about if they retain Neifi?

ROB R: I don't think Neifi will return to the Cubs in 2006. There are a lot of posters here at TCR who don't care much for Neifi, but he has a good chance to get a two-year deal to be an everyday SS in any one of a number of places (Washington, Minnesota, Seattle, Tampa Bay, Florida, Atlanta, White Sox, Pittsburgh, just to name a few), depending on how the free-agent thing shakes out. And I can't see Neifi returning to the Cubs as a million dollar a year utility player. Neifi is going to be an everyday SS someplace in 2006, but I would be amazed if it was with the Cubs.

Although I know Dusty loves Neifi, and so does Jim Hendry, I don't think Hendry will spend front-line free-agent money on the SS position unless it's to get a guy who can play SS AND hit lead-off. And that's Rafael Furcal. Furcal will only be 28 next season, and would eeem to be the type of free-agent Hendry would pursue and be willing to give a multi-year deal, and the kind of lead-off hitter Dusty could live with (is fairly aggressive at the plate, steals bases, distracts the other team's battery, can score from 1st on a double or from 2nd on a single to the outfield, etc).

If Hendry strikes out with Furcal, then Ronny Cedeno will be the Cubs starting SS in 2006, and somebody like Cody Ransom will be the back up middle infielder.

"There are a lot of posters here at TCR whodon't care much for Neifi, but he has a good chance to get a two-year deal to be an everyday SS in any one of a number of places (Washington, Minnesota, Seattle, Tampa Bay, Florida, Atlanta, White Sox, Pittsburgh, just to name a few)

I'd be absolutely STUNNED if he gets 2 years at starters money from anyone. 2005 will be his best year since he left Colorado (2001) and his numbers will still suck. (.276/.302/.393) and defense that is no longer significantly above average. Neifi shouldn't be starting ANYWHERE. The Nats have Guzman. Minny won't pay for a bad veteran, Seattle has a few kids in the system, TB has Upton, Atlanta has 2 guys ready to play so they can afford to lose Furcal, the Sox would be better off with Uribe, etc.

That doesn't mean it won't happen...I'd just be very very surprised if anyone would pay Neifi starters money for two years. If it so happens to be the Cubs who do it, I'd be surprised and pissed.

And I can't see Neifi returning to the Cubs as a million dollar a year utility player. -- AZ Phil

But if Dusty returns as manager and Nomar doesn't, Neifi will start ...

"You look at [Cardinals manager] Tony La Russa, how many kids has he ever had? He has nothing but veterans on his team, and he always has.''

Misleading.....LaRussa's top two position players this year, Eckstein and Pujols, played every day their rookie year.

Eckstein (Angels) 2001- 153 games, 582 AB, .285
Pujols(Cardinals) 2001- 161 games, 590 AB, .329

And then we have Taguchi 6th most Cardinal AB this year (556 career AB), Molina 7th most (435 career AB), and Rodriguez 12th most (122 career AB) who all qualify as kids that LaRussa is depending on right now.

baker's statement is a bunch of phooey, but I don't get the Eckstein reference you make. LaRussa wasn't managing that team and Eck is certianly considered a vet now that he joined the team...

I do think LaRussa favors vets to rookies, but he also doesn't seem to have too much of a problem letting a rookie play if a vet goes down, one of my many bones of contention with Baker.

Neifi seems to be a guy that Ozzie loves a hard gamer who plays D and runs well. Uribe will not their SS next year. According to Roger's column a few weeks ago they have huge $ problems. He makes 7.30 Million next 2 years. They will try to trade him. Probably to FLA for prosecpts. Then try to sign Neifi for 2/4 with a 3 mil option for 08 with a $1 mil buyout.

I don't see Jim Hendry giving Neifi Perez front-line starter money (which I think he can get elsewhere), so I can't see Neifi taking utility player money to return to the Cubs.

But IF (and that's a big IF) Neifi were to agree to return to the Cubs in 2006 for the same kinda money he's making this year ($1 mil base plus $500,000 in incentives), then I would agree that Hendry would re-sign him in a heartbeat, and if Dusty is given an option at SS between starting Neifi or Ronny Cedeno, that he would start Neifi. I just don't think Neifi's coming back.

And I can't see B. J. Upton ever being the everyday SS at Tampa Bay. How many errors has he made this year at AAA? 40? 50? So I would expect Upton to be moved to CF, and Neifi could be the everyday SS for the Rays. And even if the White Sox stick with Uribe and the Braves and Mariners go with "kids," there is still Florida, Minnesota, and Washington (who claimed Neifi when he was placed on aivers last month).

Neifi will get somewhere in the neighborhood of $5 mil for two years ($2.5 mil per) from somebody this off-season. And it won't be from the Cubs.

well if Phil Rogers says they have money problems....

it appears they have $51 mil committed in salaries for next year and their payroll looks at about $83 mil this year. I have no ideas what holes they need to fill and what not, but it doesn't seem that dire....

Manny and AZ Phil: Thanks.

I see lots of ways the Cubs can go with the four spots I believe are not already settled for next year (SS, 3 OF). And again, whatever move comes first will help shape the later ones. I'd love Murton and Cedeno for two spots (low cost, and at least in the few ABs I've seen some patience and ability to battle), but I think that means a fair amount of thunder out of the other two (Damon as FA, trade for power-hitting RF?). I also wondered about Cedeno's ability to play 2B. I think like Manny does on Nomar--that the Cubs will resign him and hope for a full and healthy year.

Am I missing something on Julio Lugo? Why does TB need a SS?

God knows Lamarr isn't going to trade him, unless he gets Hanley Ramirez or some other stud prospect in return.

I should put those Cardinals in context with the Cubs.

Cubs with most AB this year/ and the date of their rookie year
--

1. Burnitz 1993
2. Lee 1997
6. Patterson 2000
7. Barrett 1998
12. Blanco 1997

Look like veterans to me.

Jason Dubois was the only "kid" to get any significant Cub ABs and be included in the top 12. He currently ranks 10th and he's traded.

It sure looks like Dusty is prevaricating again.

From an offensive stand point what the Cubs need is not power (they are currently 2nd in the league HRs and Slugging), but guys that get on base. If that means you give up some pop at a traditional power position so be it.

"And I can't see B. J. Upton ever being the everyday SS at Tampa Bay. How many errors has he made this year at AAA? 40? 50?"

last i heard...49

ive seen him play in well over 2 dozen games and yes, he really is that bad.

its unbelievable. very very unbelievable that this guy even played SS in highschool.

for every great play he bobbles one or throws one away.

the depth of the TB outfield keeps him from being shifted...they're going with the line of thinking that they dont wanna screw with him and hope he clicks (think: drew henson @3rd).

i dunno how much longer they can stay in denial and if he does make the turn-around...ozzie smith is a f'n master.

that said, especially for his age...he's a very intelligent hitter and good on the bases when he's in motion.

Rob:

If Rogers' numbers were right (!), the White Sox have closer to $70 million committed for '06 based on various raises that would be due, either via contract or arbitration. And that doesn't include re-signing Everett, Thomas, Konerko, or Hermanson. If their budget sticks at around $80mm, they could have a rough offseason.

Everett's got an option for $5 mil with a 500,000 buyout, he'll get the buyout, sign with another team and then get traded back to the WSox in July for their best prospects. (Sarcasm!)

Thomas is getting $10 mil next year and he may get bought out and restructured as part of a retirement deal

Hermanson is under contract for $3 mil

Konerko is the big money FA

And my point is that I just don't trust a goddamn word Phil Rogers writes. It may be true, but he's been wrong enough that I stopped paying attention.

Several posts ago, AZ Phil wrote:

"Jim Hendry should expect to get somebody like Jason Jennings or Byung Hyun Kim (Colorado), Victor Santos (Milwaukee), Casey Fossum, Seth McClung, or Doug Waechter (Tampa Bay), or Kip Wells or Josh Fogg (Pittsburgh) in return for C-Pat. Acquiring Jennings from the Rockies or Wells from the Pirates would probably require a second player (a pitcher like Mitre to Pittsburgh or Wellemeyer to Colorado), but would be a better deal."

Is Corey's trade value that low right now? The only -- and I mean only -- player on that list tht interests me the slightest is Josh Fogg.

I don't think Nefi will be a Cub next year. Rumor has it that the Nats were in trade talks for Neifi this last week. They ended up with Deivi Cruz, apparently their Second Choice in the "E before I Despite There Being No C" First Name Sweepstakes. That and the general lack of free agent SS's this coming offseason tells me that Neifi has "played" his way into a nice little, 2-year, million-plus contract.

Interestingly, if you believe in VORP, if you put put Neifi's +14.2 for Christian Guzman's startingly atrocious -20.2 VORP for this season and apply the "10 runs = 1 win" rule of thumb -- with Neifi Perez as their SS, the Nats would be leading the Wild Card chase.

ROB G: I would expect the D-Rays might trade Lugo, Baez, and Huff during the off season, but if they don't, Lugo could remain at SS (except among the 23 MLB players who have played at least 100 games at SS this season, Lugo is 18th--and Neifi is 5th, BTW), or they could move Lugo to 2B or 3B (depending on where Cantu plays) and Huff to 1B (Travis Lee is a FA), and sign a free-agent SS (like Neifi).

Despite what you might have read here at TCR, Neifi Perez IS an above-average defensive SS, especially when compared to somebody like Julio Lugo. Neifi's #1 shortcoming is impatience at the plate, such that he hurts a team if he hits at the top of the order. Put him in the #9 spot on an American League team, and he would be just fine.

"it appears they have $51 mil committed in salaries for next year and their payroll looks at about $83 mil this year. I have no ideas what holes they need to fill and what not, but it doesn't seem that dire...."

They also will close this year with about 20% more in attendance than last year, plus in all likelihood at least 2 playoff games, possibly more. They have a farm system that will produce at a minimum a starting pitcher (McCarthy) and possibly an OF (Anderson) this year, and still has some guys for the next few years who are possible starters on Williams' 3 year board.

I don't see how they have any financial problems. They are getting Konerko off the books, or bringing him back for much less than 9mm. Thomas will be bought out, and may or may not come back at significantly reduced money. I don't see money problems next year on the south side - surely not ones that would require them to hire Neifi Perez to be their starting SS.

Neifi should not be starting in this league. He can't hit well, he doesn't get on base, his glove is no better than average, his arm is average.

I can't even begin to tell you how god-awful horrible Josh Fogg is...

(BB/K/HR/IP/ERA)
2002: 69/113/28/194.1/4.35
2003 40/71/22/142.0/5.26
2004: 66/82/17/178.1/4.64
2005: 48/75/24/152.1/4.90

His career K/9 rate is 4.74

Abysmal...

Of course he starts tomorrow against us and should throw a gem....

Lugo is 18th--and Neifi is 5th, BTW

at what?

Rob G: Sorry about that. I was referring to fielding percentage among the 23 MLB players who have played at least 100 games at SS in 2005. Neifi is 5th, Lugo is 18th.

Guys, what the Cubs need is PITCHING!

We should stick with Murton in LF, Cedeno at SS. I bet they can sign Nomar to play 2nd, and then maybe one solid FA outfielder to play right (Giles, I'm looking right at you) or possibly a right fielder via a trade.

We need pitching! Can we count on the rotation of Prior, Zambrano, Maddux, Wood, Williams? Heck no. It's better to have to many solid starters than not enough. If I were Hendry, I would go after a solid SP (Burnett, Millwood, Morris, etc..). Then, if Wood is healthy, great, if he's not, bring up Jerome.

Also, sign one big name reliever (Ryan, Hoffman, etc..), and one middle reliever(Witasick, Timlin, Rincon, Al Reyes, etc..). How about this bullpen:
B.J. Ryan
Dempster
Witasick
Williamson
Novoa
Ohman

I see many of you guys saying "fill the bullpen from within", didn't we see how well that works this year? We need to spend less money on offense, let the kids play, and spend some money on pitching (look at what the Braves do every year).

" I was referring to fielding percentage among the 23 MLB players who have played at least 100 games at SS in 2005. "

Fielding % is, as I know you know, a terrible stat. Neifi reminds me of the old saying, "If you show me a guy who doesn't make any errors, I'll show you a guy who isn't trying hard enough." His range is limited. His arm is soft. Maybe he doesn't boot the ball much. Maybe he doesn't throw it away. But I want my SS to be one of two things - either a vacum cleaner who gets to everything and has a cannon to throw people out OR a fantastic hitter who makes me forget his defensive shortcomings. Personally, I'd rather have a combination of both. But if a guys is middle of the road on both, he does very little good as an everyday player.

We should be able to do better.

Well I won't argue that Neifi is better defensively than Lugo, but fielding percentage is a rather poor benchmark, doesn't incorporate range in any way or the ability to turn double plays.

Baseballprospectus has a stat called Rate2 (100 is average)
Last 3 years:
Lugo 109,104,108
Perez 107,103,114

Their EQUa's are .280 for Lugo, .240 for Neifi, Cantu is at .282 altough his defense looks pretty bad this year (Rate2 of 87)

Better defensively, sure, better shortstop, not even close and I believe he has one year left before being a FA. They may want to cut costs, but he's not going to be that more expensive than Neifi and as everyone knows, trading with Chuck LaMarr is a fool's quest.

I made the same poor-ass assumption earlier in the year that Neifi wasn't a good defender and I couldn't have been more wrong. Neifi is an excellent defensive shortstop. It doesn't make up for his cruddy offensive shortcomings, but the boy can pick 'em. He's got great instincts, positions himself well, and does have a good and accurate arm. I think you're fooled by the way he seems to always just beat the runner. It's the same thing Ozzie Smith use to do (no, I'm not really comparing the two). But Neifi just seems to always put enough on it, so the throw gets there just in time and when he needs to rifle one over, he does.

Personally, Neifi probably would do himself a whole lot of good by just scrapping the switch-hitting thing. He doesn't have enough speed that it's all that advantegous for him to be hitting from the left side (thus beating out bunts and infield singles), and his power takes a massive dive. As I've said, Neifi would be an excellent backup once again next year, but your starter has to be helluva lot more reliable than Nomar.

DREW: I wouldn't be surprised if Hendry signs a free-agent reliever (non-closer), especially a lefty like Scott Sauerbeck. Jay Witasick is very good, too, and I wouldn't mind seeing him in the Cubs bullpen next year.

I just think Hendry is going to spend his $25 mil (my estoimate--see my posts from last month) in 2006 payroll something like this (until the money runs out):

1. Rafael Furcal
2. Ryan Dempster (re-sign for lower-echelon "closer money," with player option for 2007 tied to Games Finished in case Wood gets moved to closer)
3. Jacques Jones multi-year to play RF, or else buy-out Burnitz and re-sign him for 2006 for 2005 salary.
4. Bullpen help, like Sauerbeck or Witasick
5. Bench: lefty PH-OF-1B type, like Mark Sweeney or John Mabry

Note that I mention Jacques Jones because he is the guy I think Hendry will pursue, not because I would. This is what I think Hendry will do vis-a-vis free-agents this off-season. It is NOT what I would do...

Some of this depends on what the Cubs get back for Corey Patterson (I figure it will be a #5-type starting pitcher like those I mentioned in my earlier post today, or a bench guy or two like Luis Gonzalez and Larry Bigbie).

watching lugo play SS and watching neifi play SS there is no way you can compare them.

lugo is not a good SS.

he's got a leaky glove and tends to play far back in the field to compensate for his slowness. his arm is not accurate and his only real plus is he can toss the ball to the 2nd baseman and let him take care of it.

neifi's range tends to be smaller cuz he's a real "twitch" fielder...he's got fast eyes, fast hands, and a fast body. he WILL dive for a ball, he will read a ball off the bat well and above anything lugo can do, he has possition himself in the field in anticipation cuz he actually does his homework and tends to know where hitters are likely to put one.

he commonly schools the rest of the infield about the strenghts/weaknesses of batters...that's why you see him on the mound talking to the pitcher and other infielders.

neifi is a very smart defender...lugo is a guy with a glove.

Hmmmm, how can anyone say Baker ruined Rusch. Rusch had his fluke season last year now he is back to his normal horrible self. It's not shocking. You see alot of Cubs fans look at a very very very small picture regarding these veterans and think they will continue to be good for the Cubs.

Holly great in the begining of 2004, way above his career norms. Now suddenly all winter we have a debate on whether Holly should be the starting LF or not. Everyone ignored that every starting job he ever got he failed at over and over and over again. No one paid much attention to that.

Neifi Perez has 1 good month and then started off hot in 2005 when Nomar went down. Again way above his career norms and everyone ignoring his 10 year history of failure. So people are all like how cool is it to have Perez!! Perez was never going to keep it up and eventually have some very long streaks where he was a black hole offensively. He should of been benched long ago, because when the fall comes for a player like Perez you don't realize it until you have already wasted a month or 2 waiting for him to figure out something he hasnt figured out in his entire career.

Now we have Rusch who has pretty much sucked his whole career and now is sporting a large ERA. It's Glendon Rusch guys. He blew before he came to Chicago and he will blow after he leaves.

AZ Phil-I wish you could GM for this team.

But how many everyday players has this organization brought into this league, let own on the Cubs?
The numbers are microscoptic, but you already have Cody Ransom backing up Cedeno, when we can't even see Cedeno play everyday. This is not a slight at you, but this from someone who was waiting for Ty Griffin, Gary Scott, Derrick May, Jerome Walton, Kevin Orie, Nick Jackson...the list goes on.
The Cubs are in tough situation, one that they, current ownership, brought on to themselves. Everyone knows the kind of scratch that they pull in every year, and yet they are generally on the cheap when signing free agents.
Does this mean spending money equals wins,no. But spending money,(oh I don't know, maybe the entire bullpen) wisely will bring results.
The Yankees and the BoSox would never get away with a youth movement, although I would like to see kids play for rest of year to see if they can play, play enough to trade for ready talent, or put in the graveyard of players above.
Spend money, and spend it wisely.

"You look at [Cardinals manager] Tony La Russa, how many kids has he ever had? He has nothing but veterans on his team, and he always has.''

can anyone name another manager unprofessional enough to even communicate on this level? He sounds like some teenager . . . this guy is a piece of work.

yeah superj...

tony larussa.

when the cubs arent stealing signs from him or other teams arent purposely headhunting their hitters or whatever larussa's roaming Art Bell show is coming up with this week...

yes crunch (point taken), but at least larussa is concerned with the game when he goes on in his paranoid fashion - Baker is just concerned about his underdeveloped sense of self.

I hope they dont spend big money on the pen. They are fine in that regard. I know Crunch is going to bitch about the 24 losses and Dempster's WHIP. Well actually it is 17 losses charged to a RP. 8 of them our guys on the team. Unless your ANA, SD, PHI, MIN, or CWS that is going to happen to you. The other nine are guys off the team Bartosh, Leicester, Hawkins, and Remlinger none of those guys will be on the team next year. Other than Sauerbeck I wouldn't add anything to this pen unless Ryan is going to sign for under 5 mil. On Dempster's WHIP who cares. The only thing that matters is he got the job done. Yes he let 4 guys get on base in that Philly game but he got the save. In his blown saves he let 3 guys on base. All that matters is SAVES! How many times did Beck in 98 or J-bo give you guys near grabbers but when all was said and done they got the 27th out with the lead more ofton than not.

THE BULLPEN IS FINE? Wow. I agree about Dempster, and I kind of like Novoa and Ohman, but...the pen needs to improve. No doubt about it.

Glendon Rusch (2004 through June 28th 2005)
Starter: 161.0 IP, 152 H, 14 HR, 42 BB, 115 K, 3.41 ERA
Reliever: 47.1 IP, 55 H, 1 HR, 23 BB, 29 K, 3.04 ERA

Rusch's low relief ERA there is somewhat deceptive: from the bullpen he's been allowing a lot of hits and a lot of walks, and his strikeout rate there was down too. Rusch's only saving grace in relief had been the conspicuousness of the home run ball. However, flyball rates and home run rates are reasonably well correlated, and so unless Rusch had turned into an extreme groundball machine from the bullpen, which is highly unlikely even theoretically, that sole home run allowed has to be viewed as a quirk more than anything else. Adjust his numbers to a higher home run rate, and with his sloppy strikeout to walk ratio from the 'pen, that ERA isn't going to stay that good for long. His starting numbers on the other hand are strong across the board, a good ERA backed up with good peripheral rate numbers.

However, on June 29th, Kerry Wood came off the disabled list. The Cubs had a decision to make, with one of Jerome Williams and Glendon Rusch going to have to move to the bullpen to accomodate him.

With the benefit of hindsight, the Cubs perhaps payed too much attention to Glendon Rusch's struggles in his last three starts prior to June 29th, one of which was against the Red Sox, another in Yankee Stadium, too much attention again to Rusch's superficial relief ERA, and too little attention to Jerome Williams' game, which primarily features a fine fastball-changeup combination backed up with unreliable fringe third pitch offerings.

Whatever, whether it may have been a better decision to shift Williams to the bullpen or not, Rusch's season collapsed as for June 29th, and not as of his next return to the rotation on August 15th, as was above suggested by Manny...

Glendon Rusch (June 29th through August 14th)
19.1 IP, 29 H, 4 HR, 8 BB, 23 K, 7.32 ERA

There are those home runs catching up with him, and the lots of hits and walks in relief pattern continues. Meanwhile, the strikeout rate is a sample size fluke.

The guy is just not a reliever, and the fact that he's been sent to the bullpen twice this year is a case of misuse. That I think is one of the two reasons that Glendon Rusch has collapsed this year.

The other is that his control this year has really come and gone. This year constitutes comfortably the wildest, in terms of walks, that he has ever been in his major league career control-wise. That's symptomatic of the fact that he's tended to miss a lot of spots this year, and that's no good, simply because he is a pitcher that relies on his pitchability as opposed to any pure stuff. Rusch's entire game is about getting ahead in counts, or rather his entire game is about avoiding getting behind in counts, because he relies a lot on moving the ball around up, down, in and away, and mixing up his pitches, toying with the batter if you will. Furthermore, because he doesn't have a dominant strikeout rate, and because by virtue of allowing a lot of baserunners via hits on line drives, he's not a pitcher that can afford to issue free passes, if such a creature exists. As a result, he's beating himself.

But one thing that you cannot attribute Glendon Rusch's problems this year to is him reverting now to his old self, with 2004 having been a fluke. 2004 was no fluke, although it was at the very height of what Rusch is capable of. And neither is the pitcher we're seeing now the old Glendon Rusch. That Rusch's primary problem was that he gave up far too many home runs and extremely hard hit balls. Even in this awful stretch of four starts that Rusch has suffered since moving back into the rotation, while he's given up 32 hits, just 4 have been for extra-bases.

I wouldn't say the bullpen is just fine, but I'm not in a rush to go out and spend tons of money on it. (We've already tryed that: See Remlinger, Mike; Merker, Kent; Veres, Dave; etc)

The Cubs need a viable alternative to Dempster as closer for next year. As for saves being all that matters, that only applies to past results. You can get by with a lot of runners for a while, but sooner or later it'll catch up with you. The best way for a closer to get saves is to prevent runs. The best way to prevent runs is to prevent baserunners.

sept callups: (Cubs I assume will announce some of theirs tomorrow)

Braves - (P)Kyle Davies, (P)Jim Brower, (C) Brayan Pena, (1B) Andy Marte
Marlins - NONE YET
Mets - (P)Kaz Ishii, (P)Shingo Takatsu, (P) Tim Hamuleck
Nats - (3B) Ryan Zimmerman
Phillies - (P) Geoff Geary, (P) Pedro Liriano, (INF) Matt Kata, (C) AJ Hinch, (OF) Shave Victorino

Astros - (P) Travis Driskill
Breweres - NONE YET
Cardinals - NONE YET
Cubs - NONE YET
Pirates - NONE YET
Reds - (P )Josh Hancock

Dodgers - NONE YET
Giants - NONE YET
Padres - (P) Chris Oxspring, (P) Cragi Breslow, (1B) Paul McAnulty
Rockies - NONE YET

Blue Jays - None Yet
D-Rays - (P) Lance Carter
Orioles - (1B) Walter Young, (2b) Bernie Castro; Released Sidney Ponson
Red Sox - None Yet
Yanks - (P)Ramiro Mendoza, (P) Wayne Franklin, (INF) Andy Phillips, (C) Wil Nieves

Indians - None Yet
Royals - (1B) Justin Huber, (P) Leo Nunez
Tigers - (P) Doug Creek
Twins - None Yet
White Sux - (1B)Ross Gload, (C) Raul Casanova, (P)David Sanders

A's - (P) Juan Cruz, (C) Albert Castillo, (OF)Matt Watson
Angels - None Yet
Mariners - None Yet
Rangers - (C) Gerald Laird

rob wrote: "I don't get the Eckstein reference you make."

Dusty Baker was trying to disparage the idea that winning managers (such as Tony LaRussa) play rookies. According to Dusty, young ballplayers must be brought along slowly lest they lose confidence. They also have to understand that veterans are more valuable because "that's just the way it is" and deserve playing time even if they suck and you are a great rookie.

So, if Dusty is correct then LaRussa is a dolt who doesn't realize that his top two workhorses, Eckstein and Pujols, both were regulars right from the start of their rookie years. Nobody brought them along slowly. And somehow that didn't ruin them.

But of course, Dusty is just making up things. LaRussa is featuring three young players himself while the only one Baker has used enough to break into the Cubs top 12 was Dubois.

rob wrote: "I don't get the Eckstein reference you make."

Dusty Baker was trying to disparage the idea that winning managers (such as Tony LaRussa) play rookies. According to Dusty, young ballplayers must be brought along slowly lest they lose confidence. They also have to understand that veterans are more valuable because "that's just the way it is" and deserve playing time even if they suck and you are a great rookie.

So, if Dusty is correct then LaRussa is a dolt who doesn't realize that his top two workhorses, Eckstein and Pujols, both were regulars right from the start of their rookie years. Nobody brought them along slowly. And somehow that didn't ruin them.

But of course, Dusty is just making up things. LaRussa is featuring three young players himself while the only one Baker has used enough to break into the Cubs top 12 was Dubois.

thanks for clarifying....

I'm probably a bit jaded by this point in the season, but here's a sure sign Dusty isn't going anywhere this off-season:

http://chicago.cubs.mlb.com/NASApp/mlb/news/a...

"For Baker, school is always in session
Cubs skipper intent on teaching club better fundamentals"

A lovely article exonerating Baker...

Here's my favorite part
---Baker played winter ball, played in instructional leagues. He played because that's one way to learn the game. And sometimes you can learn simply by watching.

He was thinking about the importance of learning by observation as the Cubs prepared to add some young players for the final month. Baker's first call to the big leagues was in September 1968, when he was 19 years old. He got five at-bats. In 1969, he was called up in June, and had seven at-bats. In 1970, he was called up again in September and got 24 at-bats.

"You're not only here to play sometimes, you're here to learn by watching how to play before you actually play," he said. "Maybe I'm old school, but this is how it was. When you got your chance to play every day, you'd already checked it out."

Players need to tap into the resources available such as the coaches, the manager, veteran players. Study the game.

"Not only did I get good instruction but you have to seek certain guys, too," Baker said. "I wish pitchers here would spend more time talking to [Greg] Maddux. Some of them ask him, some don't. You've got to go ask. As soon as he volunteeers and some young player says something smart, he'll say 'Forget it,' and go about his business."
---
Anyway, the players are certainly to blame, no doubt, they should take the blunt of the blame for the lack of fundamentals.
But I'm still amazed on how players "love to play for Baker" cause that whole article he just ripped on everybody but Maddux and Burnitz, essentially without taking one ounce of the responsibility on himself. Very impressive...

Some other choice cuts...

- "Just because you can hit, doesn't mean you know how to play winning baseball," Baker said in an interview this week. "That's what I'm trying to instill here, and it's not easy to do in the short time I've been here."

Didn't Baker say it would take 4 years when he signed, clock is ticking..

-- He also apparently somehow takes credit for the AA Jaxx success and their players striving in our system

Actually, I always remember Dusty's backers talking about a 3 year plan. What happend to that one?

I guess they ment it would take 3 seasons to take 2003's talent and turn it into the 2002 team.

chifan...i dunno where you got those #s.

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/teams/pitching?...

there ya go.

24 losses... 4.38era 1.48whip...and that's after a pretty decent few weeks of pen.

as of 2 weeks ago it was a 4.50+era/1.50+whip pen

John Holl:
"Whatever, whether it may have been a better decision to shift Williams to the bullpen or not, Rusch's season collapsed as for June 29th, and not as of his next return to the rotation on August 15th, as was above suggested by Manny..."

I was only mentioning him starting as many on here blamed Baker for not going with him earlier in the rotation. Since he has started he has been HORRIBLE. And I don't expect anything more from him. 2004 was a fluke.

Crunch,

Thanks for the info. I was using the Yahoo schudule/results page and counting by hand. If you look at the losses 18 were committed by guys who will not be in the pen next year. they Follow: Bartosh 2, Leicester 2, Hawkins 4, Mitre, 2 Remlinger 3, Rusch, 1, Wellemeyer, 1 Wood 1. The guys we have in the pen can get the job done. Add to that Angel Guzman will join them and replace Wellemeyer (that is why I listed him in the guys who won't be in the pen next year). All you need is a second LOOGY to help Ohman and the best one would be Sauerbeck. Don't waste money on Hoffman&Wagner there old and want too much in $ and years. Also Ryan is just as expirenced as Dempster in the CL role and will cost you more. Please Jim stay away from the pen arms. Also Jim don't pick up Williamson's option. If you want to expirement with RP coming off TJ surgery go with Dotel he is a domiant 8th inning guy.

A nice feature on JVB. http://chicago.cubs.mlb.com/NASApp/mlb/news/a...

He has family in MS that he hasn't been able to contact yet. My prayers are with him that there OK. On a lighter note the piece might explain why Baker plays Macias, Holly and Neifi so much.

yahoo screwed me over a few days ago mixing up their game schedules...go figure.

and if wuertz/ohman/novoa can keep doing what theyve been doing lately they seem to be of very little worry to cubs fans next year...a nice core of youth to build around anyway seeing as all 3 have 4-5 years of club control still attached to them.

Baker must be going for his all-time record of stupidity in this final month...

"Just because you can hit, doesn't mean you know how to play winning baseball," Baker said in an interview this week. "That's what I'm trying to instill here, and it's not easy to do in the short time I've been here."

Ummm you have had 3 years Baker and last I checked you haven't instilled one bit of a winning attitude. Just a bunch of excuses of why your a failure at your job. I cant teach this, I cant tell a player that, I cant play this player. Sounds like one bitchy ass "I cant" excuse. This team needs a "can do" manager and Baker certainly isn't the man for the job. If Baker can't do his freaking job, then what benefit does he have to this organization?

Oh yeah and this is why the Cubs are horrible at getting free agents...

Burnitz probably will be asked back but not before the Cubs buy out that $7 million option for $500,000 and attempt to re-sign him at a lower price.

Oh yeah that will go over well with Burnitz. Either you honor the orginal contract or you simply let Burny go. I seriously hope this organization doesn't try that slimey tactic.

Mikec,

On the Burny situtions almost everybody does that. If I was Burny I would be mad at my agent. How do you have only a $500,000 buyout on a 7 Mil contract. I mean if I were his agent I would want at least 20% of the option for the buyout which would be 1.4 mil. He has played an awesome RF for us and hustles on the bases. What the Cubs should do is tear up that option and resign him to a 1/5 mil deal with a team option at the same price for 07 with a 2 million buyout. No matter what he gets his 7 mil. He can play CF for you if you add a Dunn or Giles and play RF if you add Damon or Matsui.

Come on guys, Dusty didn't ruin Rusch. Rusch MUST pitch from ahead in the count, MUST spot his fastball and MUST throw his breaking pitch for strikes enough to keep them from sitting on #1.
It doesn't matter whether he is starting, relieving, or both. If he doesn't do the above he's going to get killed.
Rusch has garbage stuff. Because he's LH, when he's on his spots he can trick batters and keep them off stride.
But he's never been a good pitcher and never will be. He had one year in the groove. That's it.

Manny--"I was only mentioning him starting as many on here blamed Baker for not going with him earlier in the rotation. Since he has started he has been HORRIBLE."

It is certainly true that he's been pretty horrible since moving back into the rotation, simply because of the number of singles that he's given up. But you simply cannot look at those four starts in isolation. Firstly, the sample size is pretty insignificant. Secondly, Rusch's recent track record is heavily biased towards him being a more effective starting pitcher. It's therefore not likely that he's struggled because he's been moved back to the rotation, but rather because he was moved out of the rotation in the first place, which has necessitated him having to re-adjust to pitching significantly longer every five days. He's been having to continually re-adjust all season. It would have been far wiser to have just left him in his comfort zone, in his element, where he's most confident, and can simply focus on pitching.

Rusch's problems just don't stem back to August 15th as you're trying to suggest. Rather they stem back to at least June 29th, and possibly to the three starts that preceeded that. The first of those three starts was against the Red Sox, the next in Yankee Stadium (the final one was at the Brewers). How you can hold that against a pitcher, I don't really know. You just have to let him get back in his groove. By continually jerking Rusch around, the Cubs haven't allowed him that, and he's pitched as poorly as he did in those three starts ever since, from the bullpen as well as from the rotation.

It's always the same with the Cubs. They take players out of their element, out of their comfort zone, and expect them to perform regardless. I suppose you could look at the fact that Rusch performed regardless in 2004 as a fluke. But I don't believe that Rusch really resembles the pitcher pre-2004 very much now, and I think that if you just let him pitch, and you let him feel confident and comfortable, that he's still a solid and reliable back of the rotation 4.00-4.25 ERA pitcher.

And, for crying out loud, prior to his last start against the Dodgers, his ERA on the year was still 4.35, and prior to the start before that, against the Marlins, his ERA was 4.21. There's that 4.00 - 4.25 ERA range that I'm talking about. Well, right now, he's two bad starts removed from that. His upcoming schedule, if he stays in the rotation, which knowing this team is no certainty, is @STL, @SF, STL, @MIL and PIT. If the Cardinals don't kill him, I can see him getting his ERA to around Greg Maddux territory, and still not picking up $9m this year and next.

Based on the pattern Andy McPhail team's have shown in 1995-96, 1998-99, and 2001-2002, when the team improved the first year and fell back the second, I believe Jackstraw's post above was perceptive about what Cubs will do, or rather not do, over this coming season. There is a lot denial, wishful thinking, and hoping to draw an inside straight without putting money in the pot that goes into McPhail's approach and sets the limits on what Hendry can do. Its a complacency and unwillingness to address real holes on the team that has insured that for every step forward, is usually followed by two steps backward.

The inside straight I expect them to try to draw will be to assume that they will finally get 35 starts and 250+ innings each next year from Wood, Prior, and Zambrano and a full year of a healthy Garcipparra and that faux Corey Patterson who has played this year will be replaced by the real Corey Patterson who they drafted back in 1998 and have spent millions on over the last seven years.

Yes, I think they will bring Corey back. Jim Hendry's and Gary Hughes's reputations as scouts, their belief about their superiority over the Moneyball types out in Oakland or in Boston, is wrapped up in Corey working out. The team has made a tremendous investment in Corey, and if what we are seeing this year is the real Corey, and I think it is, then they are not so smart afterall. Of course having an out machine like Corey in he lineup will definitely put the team behind the eight ball and another failure like this season will definitely send Jim packing.

I have become very disillusioned with all the hype (I blame you Baseball America!!) about the Cubs farm sytem. Yes Murton and Cedeno might become nice players (I think right now they are better than Corey and Neifi) but the manager who makes up the line-up is not comfortable with young players, who are not pitchers, who are merely good. He prefers veterans in his line-up and veterans on his bench. And even their fans have to admit these guys are not studs like Francoeur, Swisher, Crosby, etc. that the Atlanta and Oakland systems seem to routinely produce. The system has not produced a really good pitcher since Zambrano and Prior in 2002. Many of the good pitching prospects who have been in the system all seem to get hurt, and the ones not hurt can't make the jump to the majors effectively. Again it is a very unfavorable comparison to Oakland where two rookies, Houston Street and Joe Blanton, have made significant contributions. The Diamond Jaxx success this seasaon may be overblown as the players on that team all seem older than your average AA player. Lewis, Dopirak, Harvey all seem to have moved from being prospects to suspects. Hopefully, Baseball America will take away the fig leaf they have given Hendry and will rate the Cubs farm system more realistically at the end of this season (BA blames it on the trades for Ramirez, Lee, Lofton, etc, but the what the Cubs have given up (Bobby Hill, Brendan Harris, Justin Jones) does not seem to me to a real depletion of talent. I would like to have the Juan Cruz trade back, but then that was a trade for prospects (or was it suspects) Lewis and Pratt.

Dusty is so irritating, and some of his decisions definitely made things worse, but once this team's starting rotation sprang a leak of Titannic proportions, and Corey and Todds Hollingsworth turned into jokers (that the sabermetric minded always thought they were), thereby leaving the outfield an offensive wasteland, this team was not going to win and would have had a hard time making .500 if Joe McCarthy or John McGraw was managing it. It hurt a little more to lead off with Neifi and Corey, but they are still going to kill you even if they are hitting 7&8 in a line-up.

If I was running the team, rather than McPhail, Hendry, and Dusty, I would make the following my priorities 1) one of the top 3 FA SP pitchers, Morris, Millwood, and Burnett; 2) either by trade of FA get a left handed power hitting corner outfielder; and 3) sign Furcal to play SS (under 30 FA, whose strengths (speed, defense, and OBP (where he is staging a fine recovery from his early season slump) addresses 3 of the Cubs biggest weaknesses and who may be had at a bit of a discount because of his off-field problems. But I will not hold my breadth.

The little essay that started this chat made a good point that the Cubs are the Champs of futility; of turning sports conversations in August and September to talk about the Bears (which is somewhat like going from the frying pan into the fire) for sixty years. I believe their twenty-one straight 2d division finishes (first in an 8 team league, and then in a 10 game league) from 1946-1966 is unmatched, although the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and KC seem to be going for a run at that record. In most of those seasons they finished last or next to last. That takes management and it is clear that McPhail does not want to really break with tradition. I now see that last year was the real disappointment because, in having back to back winning seasons, they broke with the pattern they had sustained since 1973. Think what a problem high fan expectations might have become if the team had made the playoffs in back to back seasons. Can't spoil them with to much winning.

Or, better still, ChiFan, you could forget about 37 year old Burnitz and try finding someone that actually hits like a right fielder. His defence out there has been a pleasant surprise, but that's secondary to the fact that .268/.331/.461 from a corner outfielder, which is hardly out of line with what could have been expected, just doesn't cut it.

ChiFan--"Also Ryan is just as expirenced as Dempster in the CL role and will cost you more."

Yuh, and most of that cost will have something to do with the fact he's a far, far better pitcher. Ryan Dempster's relief splits...

2004: 21.2 IP, 16 H, 1 HR, 13 BB, 18 K, 3.92 ERA
2005: 43.2 IP, 36 H, 1 HR, 22 BB, 34 K, 2.53 ERA

A 52/35 K/BB ratio. Fugedabowdit. That ERA ain't going no way but up.

Still, I don't really think BJ's worth what he'll be getting either, because further to the cost attributable to the fact that he's far, far better than Dempster, there's also the cost attributable to the bidding war that'll probably ensue for his services once Billy Wagner makes his move.

Mike--"So people are all like how cool is it to have Perez!!"

I think you'll find that was entirely tongue in cheek, Mike.

Julio Lugo - as I said over the winter, he's pretty much Edgar Renteria. That's a bad thing, incidentally, although it's better when your contract isn't $40m/4yrs. Silly Theo.

Since when, Arizona Phil, are Oliver Perez and Kip Wells so similar that you can delete as applicable?

Still a big fan of Wuertz, Novoa, Van Buren and Ohman, and I'm hoping for big things next year from Williamson.

Manny--"I would be surprised if Baker has ever even met Sisco."

Not for the first time, you completely missed the point. His point was that Dusty's inability to control disruptive players may have made Hendry more vary of such players than he has good reason to be, thus compromising the Cubs. There runs a common theory that Hendry left Sisco off the Cubs' 40-man roster last November because he had a problem with Sisco's attitude and personality, as opposed to a problem with his ability as a tall, hard-throwing and projectable left-hander. At the same time, as you may recall, the Cubs were systematically purging the major league clubhouse of supposed malcontents, with Alou, Mercker and Sosa among those to be shown the door over the off-season.

>The Diamond Jaxx success this season may be overblown as the players on that team all seem older than your average AA player.

Really?
Their first half title was driven by these players:

Renyel Pinto - 23
Ricky Nolasco - 22
Felix Pie - 20
Matt Murton - 23
Jae-Kuk Ryu - 22
Sean Marshall - 22
Brandon Sing - 24
Matt Craig - 24

Only Sing and Craig are on the older side for Double A and then not by much. The rest of the core are right in the pocket for Double A.

The Diamondjaxx aren't the youngest team in the league, but they aren't the oldest by any means, either. We shouldn't sell them short.

John Hill,

Being a good pitcher does not mean you can closer. Ryan has done it for a year and a good one in BAL. However closing games in BAL is differnt than closing games here. The last time BAL was in the playoffs Armando Benitez was their closer. He went on to the Mets and was horrible. Once he went back to a mid market team in FLA he was a good closer again. We know Dempster can close games here. Like I said earlier in the thread the only stat that matters for a CL is saves and save%. On Burnitz he is fine as a 2nd outfielder. I am assuming someone like Dunn, Giles, or Matsui will have one spot in our OF. A Dunn/Giles/Matsui- Burny- Murton OF can win a championship.

John Hill:
"It's therefore not likely that he's struggled because he's been moved back to the rotation, but rather because he was moved out of the rotation in the first place, which has necessitated him having to re-adjust to pitching significantly longer every five days. He's been having to continually re-adjust all season."

He seemed to adjust fine last year jumping around from long relief/bullpen to starting roatation. Its just that last year was a fluke and this year he is turning back into the REAL crappy Glendon Rusch. John, I just don't buy it. He is just not that good no matter where he is at and he might be a better starter, but that being said he is not a very good one anyways.

John Hill:
"Not for the first time, you completely missed the point."

I caught the point John, but to blame Baker for Sisco is just another of the irrational conspiracy theories TCR is now known for and pushed on by some of the "writers" on here like yourself.

I don't know why you keep beating the drum for Matsui. He will not be here next year, the year after or the following 10 years after that. Dunn won't ever be here unless Hendry overpays out the ass for him. Giles maybe... if he wants to leave San Diego, a giant pile of money might lure him to Chicago. Damon will not be here, Boston will overpay for him and he'll be Bernie Williams by the time that contract is up. Everyone had these wet dreams last year of Beltran & Drew.
Juan Pierre would be realistic and he'd come the way Hendry likes to work, by trading. With his down year this year and his FA coming after 2006, Hendry might be able to work a reasonable deal for him. A big question is: is 2005 a down year for Pierre? His BA and subsequently OBP have taken a considerable drop. Will he likely rebound next year? If so, he'd be the speedy leadoff guy that the Cubs need and he'd plug the hole in CF for a couple years until Pie shows up.

"I caught the point John, but to blame Baker for Sisco is just another of the irrational conspiracy theories TCR is now known for and pushed on by some of the "writers" on here like yourself."

No, Manny, these aren't conspiracy theories. They're honest observations from fans who aren't ice-cream eating members of the Dusty Baker fan club... like yourself.

Big John Stud:
"They're honest observations from fans who aren't ice-cream eating members of the Dusty Baker fan club... like yourself."

Or they are thoughts by the founding members of the TCR chapter of the Dusty Baker Hater Club...like yourself.

"His point was that Dusty's inability to control disruptive players may have made Hendry more vary of such players than he has good reason to be, thus compromising the Cubs."

wow...some of the assumptions we jump to here are just comical, considering that none of us have any applicable knowledge on the subjects involved.

I'd say the operative word for next season is Quality over Quantity. The Cubs don't have to play Moneyball. They can afford to take a few financial risks. Lets not forget that the core of this team is not that young. Wood is 28. Prior has 4 years under his belt. Cpat has 5 years of big league experience.

That said, you have to look at Cpat and say he didn't live up. Baylor was frustrated with him, calling him the next Oddibe McDowell. He doesn't take instruction and is only getting worse. Cut your losses.

I see the Cubs trading Patterson or Murton in a package with Jerome Williams and an "a" list prospect. Someone like Dopriak or Grant Johnson. With the core of the team at an age where players reach their prime, you have to roll the dice and have a sense of urgency. I don't care for Dusty but you have to think that his thought was "we're supposed to be a championship caliber team."

Hendry and Baker have one more chance. If they fail, a new regime comes in. We may end up making a "herschel walker" trade but they won't be around two years from now anyway.

Got to get a number 3 starter. A leadoff man and a number 5 hitter. I'll predict that Cedeno has a better chance of making the club than Murton. Murton suffers from a lack of speed and power. Don't get me wrong, I like him, but without speed or power, he may get traded. He probably has more trade value than Patterson. Not to mention the contract issues.

Tampa Bay doesn't want prospects. They want young major league talent. SF will probably re build. Jason Schmidt may be available. The Dodgers are going to make some big moves. Do you take a chance on pot head Weaver and/or JD Drew?

The Cubs want a whole new outfield. Trading Murton and Patterson will most likely happen. They want a solid #3 starter. They'll trade Jerome Williams and Sergio Mitre.

As for Soriano, if he doesn't want to play outfield, he'll be a malcontent. The Rangers want a starting pitcher-an ace. That trade will not happen with the Cubs.

As for Nomar, if he's willing to move to 2b and sign a cheap one year deal, he'll be back. Hairston gives them great flexibility if Nomar can't cut it. Thats why I was for them moving Walker. I like Walker but he limits them. Again, no speed-from a speed position, not enough power-not enough power to allow you to play a no power guy in the corner. Sandberg allowed the Cubs to play Grace at first and not miss the power. Walker doesn't give you that. Kent would give you enough power to keep Murton so thats an option.

I don't understand the push to get rid of walker...where will you find a better hitting second baseman? he's only average as a fielder and isn't going to steal bases, but those things are really not as important as romantic baseball types would have you believe. losing a good hitter in the lineup so we can have another neifi perez in the lineup is just stupid.

Carmenfanzone:
"Hendry and Baker have one more chance. If they fail, a new regime comes in."

I agree with that 100%. The more and more I think about it, the more I hope neither get contract extenstions this offseason. Make them earn them by getting to the playoffs and moving the organization back in the right direction.

Hey, what the hell's wrong with eating ice cream?

Chris:
"I don't understand the push to get rid of walker...where will you find a better hitting second baseman?"

I personally am not saying get rid of him, but if you can get someone to replace him (relatively close numbers), he would be great trade bait in the offseason to try and use to fill other bigger holes.

There are guys out there who compare to Walker very well.

Over past 3 years (2003-2005):
Walker- .286/.345/.456
Player X- .307/.352/.423

Player X has a little better speed and clearly better defensively. And oh yeah, even cheaper than Walker.

Of course, the only reason that those numbers are as close as they are is that 2003 was the best year Player X has had in the last 6 and the worst year Walker has had in the same time span.

Walker's EQA minus Player X's EQA over these years:

2001: 7
2002: 27
2003: -16
2004: 10
2005: 17

Apart from one year, Player X has been a worse hitter than Walker, and it usually isn't close.

"Or they are thoughts by the founding members of the TCR chapter of the Dusty Baker Hater Club...like yourself."

Or they are thoughts by members of the "I want to punch Manny in the throat fan club"... like me.

Big John Stud...learning from the MIKEC school of classlessness. NICE!!!

Ron-
Ok, let's take out 2003.

Walker: .288/.352/.470
Player X: .304/.345/.427

Yes, clearly Walker has more power, but with Player X having better wheels and better glove, I think it makes up for it. So overall they aren't that much different with Player X getting paid less than half of Walker.

"The Cubs want a whole new outfield. Trading Murton and Patterson will most likely happen. They want a solid #3 starter. They'll trade Jerome Williams and Sergio Mitre.

As for Nomar, if he's willing to move to 2b and sign a cheap one year deal, he'll be back. Hairston gives them great flexibility if Nomar can't cut it. Thats why I was for them moving Walker. I like Walker but he limits them. Again, no speed-from a speed position, not enough power-not enough power to allow you to play a no power guy in the corner. Sandberg allowed the Cubs to play Grace at first and not miss the power. Walker doesn't give you that. Kent would give you enough power to keep Murton so thats an option."

---

Trading Murton will most likely happen? What makes you think that? Do you not like him? I highly doubt he'll be traded. He's cheap and he's gonna be an OBP machine. Unless he can't hit righties at all, he'll probably have the LF spot next year. Forget power hitters, this team needs OBP. All the home runs haven't done shit for the Cubs over the past couple of years. The HR's will come... get guys who actually get on base and don't swing from their ass 90% of the time.

Walker limits the Cubs? So you wanna move No-Play Garciaparra to 2B... as if Nomar doesn't limit the team? Like when he'll be limiting them to only 60 games or so of production next year. Walker is far more dependable than Nomar and his D isn't as costly. Nomar has no business playing SS ever again and it's apparent that he shouldn't be hired to play 3rd base for anyone either.
I really don't understand the Walker talk either. He's a patient hitter who takes walks, hits .300, plays smart baseball and plays hard.
The only damn way the Cubs should replace Walker is with a guy who gets on base equally as well, but also plays sharp defense... Hairston. Otherwise, stick with Walker.

Yes, clearly Walker has more power, but with Player X having better wheels and better glove, I think it makes up for it. So overall they aren't that much different with Player X getting paid less than half of Walker.

And Player X also misses a lot more games than Walker does, because he often has to sit out with a wide variety of nagging injuries. Advantage Walker. In those 2003-2005 stats that you showed, Walker's played 40 more games than Player X and it's only that low because he had to split time with X in '04 and had a fluke injury on a dirty play in '05.

learning from the MIKEC school of classlessness. NICE!!!

I suppose sarcastically using quotations around the word "writer" toward John is a classy move?

ChiFan--Being a good pitcher does not mean you can close."

Quite possibly, but the best way to close is by being a good pitcher. I think the job that BJ Ryan's done so far this year is more than good enough to suggest that he can close. Meanwhile, I don't buy the argument that closing in Chicago is hugely different from closing in Baltimore. Your supposed example of Armando Benitez is ridiculous. A guy blows a couple of saves that the New York media makes an enormous fuss about, and he's a failure that can't handle the pressure. You say he was "horrible" with the Mets? Yeh? In five years with the Mets, he threw 347 innings with a 2.70 ERA, converting 160 saves and 17 holds in 202 chances (88% conversion rate). He allowed 225 hits, 39 home runs and 168 walks, and struck out 456 batters. Twice he saved more than 40 games in a season. If that's the definition of "horrible", I hope the Cubs acquire a "horrible" closer this winter.

Now of course the post-season is a completely different matter (though even with the Mets, his post-season record features a 2.00 ERA, look it up), and Benitez suffered a bit of a meltdown in terms of blown saves in 2003 with the Mets (though that's incorporated in his overall numbers with the Mets - excluding 2003, Benitez converted opportunities at 90% with the Mets, as opposed to 88% including 2003), but to call him "horrible" is just you being a slave to the melodramatic New York press.

ChiFan--"On Burnitz, he is fine as a 2nd outfielder."

That's not true, because .268/.333/.461 simply doesn't cut it from a corner outfielder, particularly not when accompanied by a serious risk of further age-related decline, but even if it were true, that's hardly something to be jumping up and down about.

Manny, read all of what I wrote. I specifically said later on that "I suppose you could look at the fact that Rusch performed regardless [of being continually moved around, taken out of his element and comfort zone] in 2004 as a fluke." Before you suggest it though, that doesn't mean that I think his performance level last year was a fluke, rather I just think it is at the height of what he's capable of if you if you were to leave him in his element and just let him get on with pitching every fifth day.

But, whatever, you don't think that Rusch is that good. Not what you were saying earlier this year. Or last year. You change your tune with the wind. I'd value your opinion, really I would, if for once in a while it wasn't manufactured using your unique pro-Dusty brand of reactionary hindsight.

Manny--"I caught the point John, but to blame Baker for Sisco is just another of the irrational conspiracy theories TCR is now known for and pushed on by some of the "writers" on here like yourself."

Learn to frigging read. At no stage did I endorse superjimmer's point. I just paraphrased it for your benefit, pointing out that the fact that your retort Dusty has probably never met Sisco is completely irrelevant to what he was trying to say.

You want to know what I think of superjimmer's point? I think it's far-fetched, and that Dusty probably had nothing to do with the Sisco decision at all, directly or indirectly. Instead, I think it was a decision made primarily by Hendry and Fleita, in conjunction with the Daytona management and a number of other organisational people. If the Cubs had had any inkling that Sisco could stick in the majors for a year, I have absolutely no doubt that they'd have protected him, bad egg or not. For crying out loud, I doubt there was even a single person even here that thought initially that Sisco would stick, though it was always a certainty really that he'd be claimed.

#94 of 110: By John Hill (September 2, 2005 03:46 AM)

Since when, Arizona Phil, are Oliver Perez and Kip Wells so similar that you can delete as applicable?

John H: I would be happy to try and provide an answer, but could you rephrase the question so I can understand it?

Watching John and Manny argue makes me smile inside.

Arizona, I was referring to...

"I posted some peyote-inspired likely trade scenarois on another post a couple of days ago, but upon further review, I don't think C-Pat will go to Pittsburgh (with Ronny Cedeno and Rich Hill) in a multi-player deal involving Jack Wilson, Rob Macowiak, and Oliver Perez or Kip Wells."

It's just the way that that's phrased it sounds as though the Cubs and the Pirates wouldn't really mind which of the two pitchers was involved in the deal. "Littlefield, I know we'd pretty much agreed the deal with Kip Wells in it, but do you mind if we take Olly Perez instead?" "Sure, Jim, they're both much over muchness anyway".

And the way that I phrased my first attempt at putting this to you was just as stupid.

John Hill:
"You want to know what I think of superjimmer's point? I think it's far-fetched, and that Dusty probably had nothing to do with the Sisco decision at all, directly or indirectly."

Good to know that you at least you see some of these posts as radical conspiracy theories like I do. And if YOU go back and read my whole post, you would see that the gist of it was that everything gets blamed on Dusty and that it is kind of ridiculous to do so. But in typical TCR fashion, one small statement gets pulle dout of a quote and turned around to be out of context and is criticized. But hey, like I said earlier, this is TCR...

No one makes you come here, Manny.

John Hill:
"I'd value your opinion, really I would, if for once in a while it wasn't manufactured using your unique pro-Dusty brand of reactionary hindsight."

Wow...I can say the exact same thing about most posters on TCR if you change the word "pro-Dusty" to" anti-Dusty", but of course you don't have many problems with their opinions, or call them out, because you tend to agree with them. Much like the superjimemr comment. Instead of saying that SuperJimmer's conspiracy theory was way out there, you came after me for one comment of my posts and YOU missed the gist of the entire thing. Finally after some prodding you did agree that SuperJimmers idea was "far-fetched". Congrats....

BillT:
"No one makes you come here, Manny."

No one makes you read my posts either. :)

I am sorry I can't carry on this interesting conversation, but I am leaving town for the weekend. Everyone be safe and enjoy the holiday weekend!!!

Manny, you didn't just take out 2003, you also took out 2001 and 2002, the last two years of a set of three beginning in 2000 where Player X was varying degrees of unproductive with the bat. That one season is all that stands between Walker blowing Player X out of the water cumulatively over the last five years, to the point where it doesn't matter how scrappy or rangy Player X is, especially behind a staff that's once again leading the world in Ks. Although infield defense is important, there's no team where it matters less.

The Cubs had a choice between hoping a huge turnaround continued into a player's age-35 season, or going with a hitter who's been consistently good for his position for six years. For once they did the right thing and have managed to get an established player and easy plus for the position locked up at a low rate so they can go invest elsewhere (sound familiar?), and you're interested in trading him to fill other holes while at the same time claiming there are easy substitutes available.

I haven't been able to leave a comment at the new post above by Ruz concerning places to send money for hurricane relief. I just wanted to mention that #2 on the list, Operation Blessing International, is run by Pat Robertson. Some might have a problem with that, others might not. Just wanted to pass along the info.

"I am sorry I can't carry on this interesting conversation, but I am leaving town for the weekend."

That's nice of Mom & Dad to take the children off to Disneyland for the weekend. With a stop at Chuck-E-Cheese for some pizza & soda on the way home. Wheeeeeeeee
In Dusty we Trusty!

Also, in addition to whatever you can give, now is a great time to review your personal disaster/emergency plans for both small- and large-scale events: make sure that the standings are the only place where we're forced to hide in the cellar due to a total failure of infrastructure.

Dusty is very good at making players "feel good". Some players actually like to play for a manager who puts little regulations around them. The country club atmosphere is comforting to them. Now I can't name too many players who have come here strictly because of Dusty. (Except Macias, Neifi, Lenny, etc. who weren't wanted by anyone else anyhow) Walker came - but he wasn't in high demand. I'm waiting for Dusty to draw a big name player to come here. That said, his best skills of being player friendly are better suited to being a bench coach or a position coach than to being a manager. A manager has to drive organizational culture. A manager has to make tough lineup decisions. A manager has to make the in-game decisions. Dusty is not good at any of the most critical skills a manager must have, other than being well liked by "his" players. (and knowing who "his" guys are, sometimes that is more a curse than a benefit)

We don't really know what goes on behind closed doors in the clubhouse - all we know is how that is reflected in the on-field play. I can not think of too many areas where we have, under the Dusty Baker regime, conistently excelled on the field, above and beyond where our talent level should have taken us.

" I doubt there was even a single person even here that thought initially that Sisco would stick, though it was always a certainty really that he'd be claimed."

Even those most enamoured by watching Sisco pitch would have said that the only way he stayed on a roster all year is if he was claimed by one of the absolute worst teams in the league who would have nothing to lose by keeping him in a middle relief spot all season. Unfortunately, that is EXACTLY what happened. Predictably, as every expert who we all read said, he was going to be one of the top players taken, and would be stashed away somewhere for the year if possible. Unpredictably (and even those who most regret losing Sisco should admit this) he not only managed to stay on a MLB roster all year, but he pitched so effectively that he would have been able to stay not only on our roster all year, but on nearly EVERY MLB TEAM for the duration of the season.

My problem isn't letting Andy go in isolation, my problem is with who Hendry decided to keep instead.

Sisco 2005
2.33 ERA
1.37 WHIP
.222 Opp Avg

vs Lefties
1.12 WHIP
.195 opp avg

Hey lets buy a champioship:

http://www.drodd.com/cubs-championship/

Whatever, he's probably just going to take the money and buy Goldfinger tickets.

Manny--"But in typical TCR fashion, one small statement gets pulled out of a quote and turned around to be out of context and is criticized."

Hmm. Here's what you wrote in its entirety...

Superjimmer:
"Hendry owes us all for that fiasco AND I blame baker peripherally of course for making Hendry paranoid of 'bad egg' players."

HA HA

Come on, it is posts like this that are so far over the edge of rationality, that is is a clear and balant hatrid toward Dusty that prompts these comments.

So is Dusty responsible for the stampede yeaterday in Iraq, the power shortages today in CA or Hurricane Katrina too??

I would be surprised if Baker has ever even met Sisco.

Oh well this is TCR...

The way I read that originally the first two paragraphs are fair enough, and the third, the single line that I quoted, is your attempt at exonerating, or at least defending, Baker. I suppose one other possibility, which didn't occur to me until you asked me to read it again, is that that was just a throw-away line. To tell you the truth, with retrospect, I don't know which it is. If it's the latter, then sure, I'll apologise - it's very annoying when others imagine their own new meanings to what you've written, I can empathise with that.

Manny--"I can say the exact same thing about most posters on TCR if you change the word "pro-Dusty" to" anti-Dusty", but of course you don't have many problems with their opinions, or call them out, because you tend to agree with them."

Erm, not really. If someone says something that I disagree with strongly enough, assuming I have the time and the energy for it, I'll tell them that I disagree with it, regardless of whether it's pro-Dusty, anti-Dusty or anti-pro-Dusty or whatever.

As for what I disagree with, I'd classify myself as mildly anti-Dusty. I'm extremely frustrated by him - I think his in-game strategy is generally poor, I think his general use of the players on his roster is highly inefficient, and I'm disappointed too by his emotional management of the players too, which I think is, or at least originally was, considerably overrated. I therefore cannot see any way in which he helps this franchise, and I can see ways in which he is quite obviously hindering it. On the other hand, I appreciate that a lot of his in-game strategy decisions are of relatively little negative consequence, I appreciate that the players and the management have to accept a great deal of responsibility and therefore criticism too, and I appreciate that the alternatives to Dusty do not seem that alluring. Therefore, I find a lot of the extreme anti-Dusty stuff ridiculous, even if I empathise with the feelings that are leading them to exaggerate their case. On the other hand, I am quite simply dumb-founded by people such as yourself, and Crunch, that seem to be continuing to insist that Dusty is doing a good job. I could understand if you feel that Dusty is doing a good enough job not to be fired, simply because there is no quick-fix managerial alternative that's going to solve all our problems, which do indeed go far beyond Dusty, but I simply cannot believe that you believe that Dusty is still doing a good job. When you compare the talent on this team to that on the Brewers, do you think we come off second best? Heck, when you compare the talent on this team to the Reds, who have one freaking pitcher, do you think we come off second best?

Does that make me pre-disposed to being more generous in my criticism of the kind of opinions that you hold than to the opinions of the extreme anti-Dusty movement? Probably, simply because I feel and therefore disagree more strongly with the kind of opinions that you hold. What Superjimmer said, if you're intent upon making a fuss of the fact that I decided not to comment on it originally, I disagree with it, but not so strongly that I felt the need to point out that I disagree with it. For crying out loud, if I responded to every single thing I disagreed with, regardless of the magnitude of my disagreement, you don't think I'd have "called you out" (which incidentally is I think the most annoying American phrase) more often? Jeez, the number of times you've written something I've disagreed with and I've not responded, either because I didn't have the time or energy or I didn't feel strongly enough about it, it's a joke...

Can we blame Dusty for this?!!

Ron Galt--"Manny, you didn't just take out 2003, you also took out 2001 and 2002"

Sure, but how much relevance do 2001 and 2002 have this far down the line?

Not that I'm a particularly big fan of Mark Grudzielanek or anything. He's a decent player, slightly above-average with the glove, just about good enough with the bat as long as he hits for average, and for $1m he's an absolute steal, even though his age threatens that that average, and with it his entire offence, could disappear pretty quickly. That and he misses too many games. Still, for now he's not bad, but he's certainly not someone whose moving on should leave crying your eyes out.

On the other hand, I really like Walker's bat (which is well above-average for a second baseman) and I think his glove is somewhat unfairly maligned (it's roughly average I think, maybe just a touch below). All in all then, he's an above-average second baseman, he's still young enough and his contract is a masterpiece. Really he ought to be earning at least $5m a year. We're paying him over two years. How anyone can possibly complain about that is beyond me.

Big John,

The reason I want Matsui is because he is something this team lacks clutch hitting. Is he going to leave New York probably not. His chances of leaving New York is better than Giles leaving the west coast. His contract has a no-trade clause to every team outside the west coast execpt for ATL. He wants to stay on the west coast.

John Hill,

The OF trade or FA options aren't great. I am assuming Murton will be the starting LF. That will leave 2 spots to be filled. I am assuming one will come from the 10+ Million crowd (Dunn, Drew(maybe),Giles, Matsui, and Soriano) and one from the 1 or 2 year stop gap crowd so there isn't an OF jam when Pie comes up. The 1 or 2 year stop gaps would be (Burny, Cruz, Jones, Sanders, Payton, and Wilson) out of the 1 0r 2 year stop gap group my choice would be Burnitz. Out of the other group I would pick Matsui. Assuming one of the MI positions will be manned by a speedster W/ a glove and other with a good bat. The most logical combo would be Furcal and Walker. A Furcal-Walker-Lee-Ram-Matsui-Barrett-Burny-Murton lineup is a championship caliber that all I was saying. Burny is not the best but we can get buy with him.

I used the 2001/2002 numbers because for this particular comparison, the inclusion of 2003 in three-year numbers tremendously skews the picture. 2003 was the zenith of Grudzielanek's post-30 career and the nadir of Walker's recent history. The 2003-2005 cumulative numbers give a large weight to these aberrations.

people really need to drop the sisco thing...amongst other things while he was with the cubs....

1- bad work ethic
2- bad temper
3- interesting choice of reading materials
4- doesn't deal well with confrontation
5- wasn't expected to be added to anyone's roster and actually stick all year...the guy was barely an A-baller

at the time of being lost in the draft he was coming off a venomous clubhouse season and was last seen lounging around a pool being a 300+lb. whale.

now here's the funny thing...much like roger clemens shoving schilling around telling him he's wasting his tallent...david f'n wells helped bail out sisco and get his head straight.

i dont think anyone on this planet would say "damn, that kid needs help...let him talk to d.wells and see if that sorts him out."

X--My problem isn't letting Andy go in isolation, my problem is with who Hendry decided to keep instead."

Well, technically they didn't let him go, they decided not to protect him.

You're also assuming that they chose to protect someone over Sisco, that it was a one or the other choice. I doubt it was.

Great article by Sheehan about the travesty that is the current MLB schedule, particularly concerning interleague play. This is a disgrace which, along with the uneven distribution of teams within the varying divisions, should have Bud Selig out on his ass (as should have been done years ago). Since some might not have a subscription, here it is:

There's no way around it: this September, the best story in baseball is the National League East. All five teams harbor playoff hopes, all are over .500, and virtually every night this month will feature a division matchup of postseason hopefuls. From Queens to Miami, we're going to see key game after key game throughout the next 32 days. While the Braves have a four-game lead on the pack, the 23 games they have to play within the division in that time will give all of the chasers a chance to bring them back into the wild-card mix.

With every team in the division a contender, I thought I'd go back to something I did the last couple of years, but passed on this season. I'm not a fan of interleague play, and one big reason for that is that I think it makes a bad problem--teams with disparate opponents competing for one playoff spot--even worse. Now, you can have an advantage over your division mates thanks to a particularly soft interleague slate.

The NL East provides a really good example of this. Here are the division's team's ranked by the strength of their interleague opponents (and weighted by games played against):

Braves 352-308 .533
Mets 344-317 .520
Phillies 334-326 .506
Nationals 401-392 .506
Marlins 304-361 .457

You know it's comingÖwait for itÖ"One of these things is not like the othersÖ"

Well, two, actually. For reasons known only to the new schedulers who gave us things like teams making multiple cross-country road trips in a three-week span, the Nationals played three more interleague games than their NL East companions, and were the only team in the division to play all four NL West teams.

The real problem, though, is the Marlins, who again got to play the Devil Rays six times while the Mets were tangling with the Yankees, and the Braves and Phillies were playing the Red Sox and Orioles. Add in that the Marlins missed the A's, and you see they've had a much nicer path to contention than the other four teams have had.

Looking closer, we see that the difference between the Mets and the Marlins in the standings is a half-game. The difference between the two teams' interleague schedules is that the Mets played the Yankees and A's (225-171, weighted) for nine games, while the Marlins played the Devil Rays and Rangers (174-227, weighted). The Mets went 4-5, the Marlins, 8-1.

Unless MLB has become college football, that ain't right. The two teams are separated by nothing, and the fact that one of them had to play nine games against .568 teams while the other played nine against .434 teams makes a considerable difference.

I should drag the Astros into this discussion, but that gets complicated because not only are the interleague schedules different, the divisional ones are, too. A peek at the Adjusted Standings provides a hint as to what we're seeing; the gap between second-order and third-order wins works as a loose approximation of schedule strength. Sorting all five NL wild-card contenders by this gap:

Astros +1.8
Marlins +0.9
Phillies +0.4
Mets +0.1
Nationals ñ0.9

The Astros have made up nearly a win on the field just by having a softer schedule; their edge on the Nationals is nearly three wins.

A quick peek at the AL contenders using this same method:

Indians +1.3
Twins +0.6
White Sox ñ0.2
A's ñ0.3
Red Sox ñ0.6
Angels -1.0
Yankees ñ1.1

Within a smaller range, it's clear that it's good to have a lot of extra games with the Royals.

Interleague play continued to be more hype than substance, and now it's having a direct impact on who contends for playoff spots. It should be discarded, if for no other reason than to avoid ever seeing the kind of scheduling gap like we see between the Mets and the Marlins possibly determine a postseason participant.

"That is why I ask you the Cubs fan, find it in your Cubbie blue heart and donate anything you can to buy a Cubs Championship. The money will be sent directly to the Cubs. Much thanks! "

Over my stone cold dead body will I EVER donate money to the Tribune. The money they make from the operations of this team is more than sufficient. In fact, it is greedalicious.

Donate money to the Tribune...my a$$.

The Divisional setup would be fairer and actually more interesting if everyone played the same schedule, but loaded all the interdivision games into the beginning and end of the season.

"Well, technically they didn't let him go, they decided not to protect him."

By not protecting him, they chose to let him go. He was universally considered the best available player.

"You're also assuming that they chose to protect someone over Sisco, that it was a one or the other choice. I doubt it was."

They chose to protect 40 people over Sisco. Many of them are obvious choices. Others are less obvious. Others were flat out bad choices.

"Interleague play continued to be more hype than substance, and now it's having a direct impact on who contends for playoff spots"

this is the price we as fans pay so owners can take in some extra money.

unfortunately the ticket sales are OFF THE HOOK...chc/cws (formally a yearly charity game) sells like it was a world series.

mets/yanks and etc. same thing.

stl gets to play KC yearly as their rival...sigh.

Some of us have employers who will match charitable contributions. If you're donating for New Orleans, turn in a copy to your employer.

"Perez will be re-signed for 2006, serving as a solid backup for Furcal or safety net for Cedeno. If Furcal does sign with the Cubs, Cedeno might be moved to second base and Todd Walker might be dealt."

evidently theyre geting some decent crack cocaine at the trib lately.

http://www.sammyisgone.com

Someone should start a site like this for Nomar!!!!

Here is what I would do in terms of the schedule . I will say this will never happen but I think it would solve some things. Move a team from the NL to AL. I would suggest COL go to the AL west and Hou go to the NL West. It evens the competive balance that a playoff worthy team goes to the NL west. Col has a better chance at winning in the AL than in the NL because of the DH rule they could slug there way to something. For interleague play each team would play there rival 7 times and 15 games against one division of the other league. That is 22 IL games and only 7 would be differnt for teams in the same division. Each team would play 6 games aganist teams in their league and not in their division and 14 against those in their division. Out of 162 games only 7 would be differnt for each team.

more "no, seriously, we never do anything wrong! why do people pick on us?" from the cards camp...

"When you look at the guy, Lloyd McClendon, who seems to think the way to manage a ballclub is to intimidate his players (and) other teams - is to intimidate somebody - and he gets virtually a slap on the wrist," Duncan said.

"He's the most responsible for what happened because of the approach he took, because of the way he handled it. ... Lloyd McClendon is an idiot. This guy is off the wall. To think that I had had a conversation with a player that I had previously coached - not a threatening conversation, not a warning conversation, but a casual conversation with a player I had previously coached. And somebody that I considered a friend. And to be confronted and called out by the manager of the opposing team, in front of our team, embarrassed by the approach he took and challenged by him in front of our team. And then sucker-punched by one of his thug coaches. And I get suspended?"

im taking $1 off my hurrican relief donations to send a box of kleenex to stl.

My opinions:

About Sisco
He had more than one issue. His conditioning was terrible ( that's motivation?) and he has emotional issues. Talent doesn't spell success (see Corey). Commitment and motivation and hard work takes average skills to the all star game ( see Ecstein) I'll take the latter anytime and glady pass on the Milton Bradleys.

About Walker
Walker's bat doesn't make up for his slowness, his terrible range, and his inability to effectively turn anything but the most routine double play.
Maddux needs excellent defense behind him for obvious reasons.
Z is a pitcher that becomes frustrated when plays aren't made. I'm not saying he should, just saying he does. ( remember last year he had to appologize to Walker for getting upset over a play not made?) Anyway, Walker is more expendable than Z.

Ground balls that creep into the outfield for singles cause our starters to throw more pitches and leave sooner. We are not capitalizing on our strongest assest.

Chifan - You can't have 15 teams in each league unless you're playing one interleague series every day.

That won't happen because, one it would force that interleague will continue (although I doubt its going anywhere) and more importantly, it would eliminate the "novelty" factor baseball's still trying to capture by having interleague last for only 1 month.

interleague is about where the DH is at...there's too much money for one side (DH = players interest, interleague = owners interest) to go back now.

it'd take one hell of a consession to get rid of either of these useless additions to the game.

no matter how any of us fans feel about interleague its just making way too much money and the ticket sales are off the hook.

just like a lotta purists hate what the DH has done to the strategy of the game, a lotta purists really hate to see races heating up only to have june to be a throw-away month.

i cant stand either.

#117 of 145: By John Hill (September 2, 2005 09:03 AM)
Arizona, I was referring to...

"I posted some peyote-inspired likely trade scenarois on another post a couple of days ago, but upon further review, I don't think C-Pat will go to Pittsburgh (with Ronny Cedeno and Rich Hill) in a multi-player deal involving Jack Wilson, Rob Macowiak, and Oliver Perez or Kip Wells."
It's just the way that that's phrased it sounds as though the Cubs and the Pirates wouldn't really mind which of the two pitchers was involved in the deal. "Littlefield, I know we'd pretty much agreed the deal with Kip Wells in it, but do you mind if we take Olly Perez instead?" "Sure, Jim, they're both much over muchness anyway".

And the way that I phrased my first attempt at putting this to you was just as stupid.

----

John H: I don't equate Kip Wells (who will be a free-agent after next season) with Oliver Perez (who will be eligible for arbitration for the first time after this season), although I don't see them as being quite as far apart in trade value come this off season as you might. The difference has more to do with Wells being a free-agrent after next season than anything else.

As you probably know, Oliver Perez came to Spring Training this year overweight and out of shape, posted a 6+ ERA, and then broke his toe kicking a laundry basket after a poor outing. He presently is getting shellacked at AAA while on a rehab stint. I would say his market value (trade value) has probably gone down during this season (as happened with Jerome Williams before the Cubs got him from the Giants), especially now that he will be eligible for arbitration and is no longer on "auto-renewal."

Kip Wells has been a reliable (though unspectactular) rotation starter for the Pirates since being acquired from the White Sox, but he does not have the potential of an Oliver Perez, but he IS a reliable rotation starter. He might even be a very good starting pitcher on a contending team. And as I said, he will be a free-agent after next season.

When I was orginally discussing either Kip Wells OR Oliver Perez as part of a possible Corey Patterson-related deal that also would involve the Cubs taking Jack Wilson off the Pirates' hands, I was thinking of the Cubs pitching prospects in AA & AAA in three main groups.

GROUP A:
Angel Guzman
Rich Hill
Renyel P{nto

GROUP B:
Jon Leicester
Sergio Mitre
Todd Wellemeyer
Michael Wuertz

GROUP C:
Bobby Brownlie
Carlos Marmol
Sean Marshall
Ricky Nolasco
Jae-kuk Ryu

IMPORTANT SIDE NOTE: I grew up in Chicago watching the Cubs and Sox on WGN, and one time during a rain delay, Jack Brickhouse interviewed legendary GM Jack "Trader" Lane. During the interview, Jack asked Lane how he goes about making a trade. Lane said that when he proposes a deal to another club, he offers players in columns like the menu choices in a Chinese resataurant, allowing the other team to select "one from Column A, one from Column B," etc, so that the other GM gets to make the choice, and so that Lane doesn't tip his hand as to which one he would prefer to keep. I have never forgotten that, and I use that concept (although i call them "groups") when speculating about trades, even though GMs may not do that any more. Lane also said he was willing to overpay to get get the guy he wanted, and he was willing to allow the other club to underpay if he thought getting rid of a player would make his team better (addition by subtraction). That's how Gene Freese ended up in Cincinnati after the 1960 season. Al Lopez told Bill Veeck he wouldn't play Freese, so Bill Veeck traded Freese to the Reds, and got an erratic lefty pitcher named Juan Pizarro back in the deal (and Pizarro surprised everybody by becoming one of the best pitchers in the A. L. for a couple of years!). That's called serendipity, my friends.

Anyway, I digressed. Sorry.

So in a deal involving Corey Patterson & Kip Wells, I would say the Cubs would need to include either Mitre, Wellemeyer, orv Wuertz to make it happen. In a deal involving Corey Patterson & Oliver Perez, because Perez is not one year away from free-agency (like Wells), and because Perez has more potential than Wells, the Cubs would probably neeed to include Hill, Guzman, or Pinto to make it happen. And (although you didn't mention it), in a deal involving Corey Patterson & Jason Jennings, I would say the Cubs would need to include Wellemeyer, Mitre, or Wuertz to make it happen.

For all of the other pitchers I mentioned (Fogg, McClung, Waechter, Fossum, Santos, and Kim, plus you can add Mike Maroth and Jeriome Robertson, too, because I believe the Tigers are another possible trading pardner for the Cubs vis-a-vis C-Pat), the Cubs would probably NOT need to include a second player (pitcher) to make it happen. It would just be C-Pat for one of them straight-up.

The problem with finding someone to take Patterson is that any team making a deal for him would be hoping that all he needs is a change of scenery and a fresh outlook. Except Patterson is likely to get anywhere from $3.5 - $4 mil via aribtration after this season (his 2005 HR & SB numbers are good enough to get him a nominal raise over the $2.8 mil he is making this season), so that's a lot of money for a small market team like Milwaukee or Pittsburgh to spend just to take the chance that a change of scenery is all he needs. Which is why I think the Cubs would have a better chance of getting a deal involving Patterson done if they take back somebody (like Kip Wells or Jason Jennings) who will be making a salary in 2006 equal to or greater than Corey's, and who (like Corey) will be a free-agent in the next year or two (Wells is a free-agent after 2006, Jennings and Patterson will be FAs after 2007), even if it means having to include a second player (pitcher) like Mitre or Wellemeyer to make it happen. And if the Cubs would "up the ante" and include Rich Hill, Angel Guzman, or Renyel Pinto), they could probably get Oliver Perez instead of Kip Wells. Which would be an upgrade (but is it worth it?).

It was reported at ESPN.com a couple of weeks ago (either by Gammons or Stark) in a column about players who were put on waivers after August 1st and got claimed, that Corey Patterson was claimed by somebody. So apparently some team is interested. I don't know which one it was, though.

The Cubs have recalled Rich Hill from Iowa.

lineups oddly late today...

Bleeding blue,

I would have an interleague series for every set of serieses. I think having all those interleague series in a month stretch is stupid because you are bascally taking a break from the division races. Either MLB should treat the AL and NL as seperate entinties like they did before interleague play or they should treat AL v. NL games like the NFL treats a NFC V. AFC game as just like anther game on the schudule.

Jerry Hairston Jr., LF
Neifi Perez, SS
Todd Walker, 2B
Nomar Garciaparra, 3B
Jeromy Burnitz, RF
Michael Barrett, C
Scott McClain, 1B
Corey Patterson, CF

Wa-Hoo! Another Day, another chance to let Murton and Cedeno rot on the bench! I guess Dusty's decided we're trying to win again today.

Sorry if I'm offending anyone whose spending their evening at the Shrine of St. Dusty. Yes, I realise in your religion I've committed a mortal sin by criticising the great one.

You pay money to watch this crap? How is Murton on the bench. Then again we're all foolish for expecting anything different out of Dusty. That is, thinking he may not be as oblivious as he is a poor distributor of talent. Maybe he's best fit with the yankees who always trade their youngsters to win now anyway.

Why is Lee sitting? They just had a day off yesterday.

Lee is the only veteran on this team that should continue to be in the lineup everyday, regardless of McClain sitting on the bench.

Sit Walker, fine with me. Sit Nomar, maybe. We still need to see if he can stay healthy. Sit Neifi? Please! Sit Barrett? Fine...but there is no reason to. Sit C-Pat? Burnitz? Definitely. But Lee?

Am I missing something?

And after last game we were told by a few Dusty supporters, "Don't worry. Cedeno and Murton will still get most of the starts".

Why are those two both on the bench?!

But some good news...I love it when Maddux pitches like this. It truly is a thing of beauty.

Damn...we really should have traded Todd Walker. And I still say Nomar is in the starting lineup on opening day next year.

Sorry for the several posts in a row...kinda' bored right now... :)

Why is Lee sitting? ...he's hurtin' after fouling a pitch off his leg in the last game.

Wuertz looked awesome again tonight. Williamson showed signs of life. Novoa had a so-so night if the ump would have ruled that first double fair then Hair probably hustles more and gets that into a single and the runs did not score. Nice game for Nomar. I would like to see him play some CF to see if he could handle it.

I would like to see him play some CF to see if he could handle it.

Are you serious? Nomar cannot play CF. There is no way that he would have the range necessary to play centerfield. And the amount of running that he would do in center would not help the leg/back/heel problems either.

Dave,

Drew and Griffey have said playing CF is eaiser on their injuries than playing a corner spot because there is less cutting involved in running. Nomar will not help this team as a 3b because of Ram. He is a D liabilty as a SS. With his side arm kinda of throwing style I don't think he can play 2b. He does not have the arm stength nor does Murton to play RF. So unless who want a no-arm RF. The only spot he could help assuming Murton is in LF is CF. If Shawn Green or Wily Mo Pena can play CF I think he could handle his own out there. All I am asking for is a 3 game trial I mean its better than Cpat out there.

Post 164 is talking about where Nomar would play next year if he re-uped. According to Deluca's column in the ST today the starting SS next year will either be Cedeno or Furcal.

big john stud: my reasoning behind trading walker is this: if you re-sign nomar and keep hairston you have two options. nomar is a more explosive hitter, hairston has more speed. walker is a good hitter but he's expendable.

murton will be traded because he doesn't have a "superstar" upside. nice player but very tradeable now because his contract is low and he's major league ready.

Chifan...Nomar simply would not have the speed/range to play centerfield. It will not happen.

I could see left field happen, but no way will he be in center next year...or probably ever.

Nomar will be playing in the IF somewhere next year.

X--"By not protecting him, they chose to let him go. He was universally considered the best available player."

No, by choosing to not protect him, they chose to run the risk of him being picked. That simply doesn't equate to "choosing to let him go". There was certainly a considerable risk that Sisco would be picked, but the risk of Sisco, a player who had had his difficulties in High-A ball in 2004, pitching well enough to stick on a roster for an entire year, was far, far less considerable. That is why, when he was left exposed, my initial reaction was that I didn't want Sisco's 2005 interrupted by a month or two of potentially damaging exposure to big league hitters before he was returned to the Cubs' minor league system with his confidence a wreck and the Royals having taught him a lot of things that may conflict with the Cubs' organisational philosophies.

X--"They chose to protect 40 people over Sisco. Many of them are obvious choices. Others are less obvious. Others were flat out bad choices."

You're disregarding the considerable possibility that it wasn't a case of whether or not to protect Sisco as opposed to whoever, but rather a case of "we're simply not going to protect Sisco at this stage, and since we've still got room to protect other players, we might as well". What motivations could there be behind such a strategy? Perhaps the Cubs wanted to shock Sisco into reforming himself by sending him a message that he's not going to be treated preferentially simply because he's a second-round draft pick with talent. Or perhaps the thinking was that Sisco's simply not going to be ready for the major leagues by 2008, and therefore it's no use burning options on him at this stage. Personally, I think that it's one of those two, or maybe a bit of both.

If the second had anything to do with things, the Cubs made a pretty considerable error of judgement, because Sisco has proven himself capable of not just pitching in the big leagues this year, in 2005, but also of dominating big leaguers, even if he was been pitching middle relief from the bullpen, which is a slightly different cup of tea to starting games as the Cubs had always hoped he would do down the line.

Look, if Hendry made a decision that he'd rather have Koronka than Sisco, he's a flipping idiot. I just don't think you suggest with a straight face that that was what it boiled down to.

Arizona--"Kip Wells has been a reliable (though unspectactular) rotation starter for the Pirates since being acquired from the White Sox, but he does not have the potential of an Oliver Perez, but he IS a reliable rotation starter. He might even be a very good starting pitcher on a contending team. And as I said, he will be a free-agent after next season."

Or, rather, Kip Wells is a 4.25 ERA pitcher with a little upside due to healthy stuff, though since he's already 28, you'd have thought that, if he was ever going to, he'd have shown a little more of that upside already. Furthermore, since he's a free agent after next year, you're talking about getting one year from this 4.25 ERA pitcher with a little upside, and then possibly a solitary first-round draft pick.

Smashing! Because the last thing the Cubs need now is another fourth or fifth starter, and that's what I'd define someone that's a 4.25 ERA pitcher with a little upside. After all, the Cubs currently have Greg Maddux, Jerome Williams, Sergio Mitre, Rich Hill (unwisely, given the third pitch problem) and possibly Glendon Rusch all fighting for a back of the rotation spot next year, and the Cubs are surely hoping that Angel Guzman, Renyel Pinto (I'm also unsure about Pinto sticking as a starter) and Sean Marshall are competing for those spots too by the end of the next year. So where exactly does Kip Wells fit in?

What the Cubs really need starting pitching-wise is better insurance against injuries to Mark Prior and Kerry Wood. The Cubs' rotation is fantastic as long as those two are healthy, at their best and combining with Carlos Zambrano to form a three-headed monster. But as soon as one of the three goes down, while the Cubs are never short of potential replacements, they end up simultaenously fielding three fourth or fifth starters. Yet the trouble with fourth or fifth starters is that you generally have to rely on the offence turning up to get a result that day. And, as we all know, the Cubs' offence simply can't be relied upon for that. More on this later...

You may be thinking, just why am I calling Kip Wells a 4.25 ERA pitcher (with a little upside)? Not because his career ERA is 4.27. Rather, because 4.25 is the number that his peripherals (his bleh home run, his high-ish walk rate, his mediocre strikeout rate) in Pittsburgh have always roughly pointed to (prior to this year, at least)...

2002, 4.30
2003, 4.45
2004, 4.27
2005, 4.78
02-05, 4.44

Well, okay, those peripheral numbers point to a 4.45 ERA, but since groundball pitchers (Wells is at 1.54 GB/FB during his time in Pittsburgh) have been known to undercut FIPS due to the superior nature of groundballs (go for hits more often, but they're much more rarely extra base hits, and there's the double play to consider), and because this year's numbers seem pretty out of line (the 2002-04 FIPS is 4.35), I'm going to call it 4.25, try and stop me!

All of a sudden, when you realise that Wells' 2002 and 2003 ERAs were a by-product of a whole lot of luck, he suddenly becomes a lot less shiny a proposition. Furthermore, you've got to consider the possibility at least that this year's numbers aren't just an aberration, and then there's the fact, still, that you're talking about getting him for just one year - it just hardly seems worth the bother, regardless of the fact he has a nice fastball and a hard slider, particularly when you consider that we already have a logjam at the back of the rotation.

No, the Cubs' more pressing need is insurance for losing Mark Prior or Kerry Wood. And the Cubs don't want to be paying too much for that insurance either, certainly nowhere near Matt Clement or AJ Burnett money, for that'd impede them in other areas. Oliver Perez then, if the Pirates are stupid enough, would be the perfect solution.

I don't even believe I have to type this. Here, let me remind you of what Oliver Perez did last year...

196.1 IP, 145 H, 22 HR, 81 BB, 239 K, 2.99 ERA (3.46 FIPS)

...in his age 22 season. Yes, he's an extreme flyball pitcher, and yes, he's a bit wild, and yes, his ERA last year was slightly out of line with him peripherals, and yes, he got his arm out of shape over the winter, and yes, he's a season to forget this year, and yes, he's an injury risk, but you simply don't give away young, tall, left-handed pitchers that throw upper 90s with a hard slider and strike out nearly 11 batters per 9 innings aged 22 when they still have three years of arbitration left for Corey Patterson and some other stuff. Jeez.

Arizona--"GROUP A:
Angel Guzman
Rich Hill
Renyel Pinto"

I've got nothing against this group thing, but your groupings at least are somewhat stupid. You've got Angel Guzman who's a virtual lock to be a good major league starter if he's back to his best and stays healthy, you've got a guy with a curveball and not much else who I'm becoming more and more convinced will amount to just a LOOGY in the long-term, and Pinto, who's kind of in the same boat as Hill, only he's got control problems and can't crack Triple-A.

Arizona--"GROUP B:
Jon Leicester
Sergio Mitre
Todd Wellemeyer
Michael Wuertz"

Leicester's still one of my favourite pitchers, but come on, he's not very good, and he's 26. Todd Wellemeyer is afflicted by huge home run and walk problems, and he's 27 years old now for crying out loud. Mitre and Wuertz, I like both of them. But there's simply no way I've parting with either of them along with Corey for Kip Wells. Heck, I probably wouldn't even part with Corey for Kip Wells. Perez, well, duh, obviously they're gone then.

Arizona--"GROUP C:
Bobby Brownlie
Carlos Marmol
Sean Marshall
Ricky Nolasco
Jae-kuk Ryu"

This is a weird group. Apart from Brownlie, I'd take every single member of this group over Leicester or Wellemeyer. Heck, I'd take Marshall over Pinto (and therefore Hill), and they're in Group A. Marmol and Ryu I really like too. Nolasco, hmm, I dunno. Brownlie, bleh, bust.

Anyway, Guzman, Wuertz and Marshall please. What does that get us? It better be Oliver Perez.

I'd love to see Nomar throw to home from mid centerfield.

*BOINK* He hit Burnitz in the head!

"big john stud: my reasoning behind trading walker is this: if you re-sign nomar and keep hairston you have two options. nomar is a more explosive hitter, hairston has more speed. walker is a good hitter but he's expendable.

murton will be traded because he doesn't have a "superstar" upside. nice player but very tradeable now because his contract is low and he's major league ready."

Yes, Nomar is certainly a more explosive hitter... unfortunately he also has exploding body parts and Walker doesn't.

I like Hairston's speed, OBP and defense at 2B.
I love Nomar's great bat at 2B. I'm scared shitless of his defense at 2B and his inability to stay healthy.
Walker provides D somewhere between Hairston & Nomar, a strong bat, he's a quality OBP guy and a patient, situational hitter.
Can Nomar even play 2B without maiming D-Lee on a weekly/daily basis?

I think the reasons you mentioned are exactly why the Cubs will keep Murton. It would be dumb to trade a guy with his patience & OBP. Two things the Cubs sorely need.

John Hill,

What your forgetting about Perez and PIT is that they had Duke and Snell come up this year and will get Sean Burnett back next year. Those are 3 good prosecpts. They have done a nice job of devloping pitchers. With Perez's stats that you mentioned they could get just about any young hitter they want. They have been trying to get a power bat for a while in ST they were trying to get Kearns or Huff. Most big market team would give their top hitting prosecpt easily for him now, but if his 06 campaign is like this one he becomes pitching's version of Milton Bradley.

Regarding Nomar at second, it would probably work well untill he took his first hit turning the double play then he'd be Nomore again.

I'm really not in favor of playing people out of position. Obviously, some guys like A-Rod and Ryno made the adjustment well. Most of the time, it really doesn't work. I think you have a better shot converting Cedeno to 2nd if you want to sign Furcal, for example. Nomar has no range anymore. There's no reason to fall in love with this guy. He hasn't come back from all his injuries. It's time to let him go.

J. Hairston Jr. cf
R. Cedeno ss
D. Lee 1b
N. Garciaparra 3b
J. Burnitz rf
M. Murton lf
T. Walker 2b
H. Blanco c

WHAT HAPPENED TO DUSTY PLAYING KIDS ALL YOU DUSTY SUPPORTERS MUST DIE...I WAS LIED TO BLAH BLAH WHINE WHINE WHINE WHINE WHINE WHINE.

WHINE WHINE ADAM DUNN WHINE WHINE WHINE WHINE.

...let's at least get sept. OVER with before the whining continues.

Crunch, you really need to get back on the meds. You're loosing it.

Please, give us one good reason why this shouldn't be the lineup everyday. I mean other than to "reward" Neifi for his "stellar" season.

Cedeno is up to .313

#169 of 175: By John Hill (September 3, 2005 02:32 AM)

Arizona--
"GROUP A: Angel Guzman Rich Hill Renyel Pinto"
I've got nothing against this group thing, but your groupings at least are somewhat stupid. You've got Angel Guzman who's a virtual lock to be a good major league starter if he's back to his best and stays healthy, you've got a guy with a curveball and not much else who I'm becoming more and more convinced will amount to just a LOOGY in the long-term, and Pinto, who's kind of in the same boat as Hill, only he's got control problems and can't crack Triple-A.

Arizona--
"GROUP B: Jon Leicester Sergio Mitre Todd Wellemeyer Michael Wuertz"
Leicester's still one of my favourite pitchers, but come on, he's not very good, and he's 26. Todd Wellemeyer is afflicted by huge home run and walk problems, and he's 27 years old now for crying out loud. Mitre and Wuertz, I like both of them. But there's simply no way I've parting with either of them along with Corey for Kip Wells. Heck, I probably wouldn't even part with Corey for Kip Wells. Perez, well, duh, obviously they're gone then.

Arizona--
"GROUP C: Bobby Brownlie Carlos Marmol Sean Marshall Ricky Nolasco Jae-kuk Ryu"
This is a weird group. Apart from Brownlie, I'd take every single member of this group over Leicester or Wellemeyer. Heck, I'd take Marshall over Pinto (and therefore Hill), and they're in Group A. Marmol and Ryu I really like too. Nolasco, hmm, I dunno. Brownlie, bleh, bust.

Anyway, Guzman, Wuertz and Marshall please. What does that get us? It better be Oliver Perez.

==============================================

John H: GROUP A is "best potential, but need to prove they can pitch in the big leagues," GROUP B is "major-league ready with some big league experience and some success at times in the majors," and GROUP C is "pitchers further down the pipeline and/or with less potential."

The idea with the groups is not that each pitcher in the group is EXACTLY equal to the others, but rather that they fit into the same general profile.

Although they are the three pitchers above Class "A" with the most potential, GROUP A pitchers have to prove either they are healthy (Guzman), they can develop a third pitch (Hill), or can throw strikes (PInto).

Three of the four in GROUP B are out of minor league options next Spring Training, and the one who isn't (Wuertz) is strictly a relief pitcher.

The pitchers in GROUP C have less potential than the pitchers in GROUP A and less experience than the pitchers in GROUP B.

So it depends who you are getting back in a deal. Oliver Perez would almost certainly require the inclusion of a high-ceiling pitcher from GROUP A, a Kip Wells or a Jason Jennings would require a pitcher from GROUP B or GROUP C, although I would expect the Pirates or Rockies to go for a GROUP B pitcher (probably Mitre to the Pirates or Wellemeyer to the Rockies) because they would want someone who is ready to pitch in the bigs right now.

Although I believe (like Kyle Farnsworth and Sammy Sosa last off-season), Patterson will defintely be traded. But I don't think it's for sure that Patterson will be traded for a pitcher. As was discussed in previous posts, Patterson and Wellemeyer or Mitre to Colorado for Luis Gonzalez and Larry Bigbie would seem to be a another possibility.

But if Patterson and pitcher are traded for a pitcher like Kip Wells (or Oliver Perez or Jason Jennings), where would the new pitcher fit into the Cubs staff next season? Well, I would see him as the 5th starter. I don't expect Rusch to return (I figure he will exercise his player option to be a free-agent and get at least slightly more money and a guarantee to start elsewhere), I don't think Mitre, Wellemeyer, or Leicester have a future with the Cubs (all three are out of options next Spring Training), and I believe Hill, Guzman, and Pinto would all be best served pitching in the starting rotation in Iowa next season. That leaves Jerome Williams, and I fully expect Jim Hendry to make a hard run at Alfonso Soriano (I wouldn't, but I believe Hendry will), and Todd Walker, Jerome Williams, and either Hill, Guzman, or Pinto (Rangers choice) would probably be the Cubs offer (the pitcher the Cubs would acquire for Patterson would replace Williams in the rotation). It shouldn't take more than that to get Soriano, because Soriano will be a free-agent after next season, but if Hendry does acquire Soriano, Hendry would want to sign him to a long-term deal.

If Hendry is not able to acquire Soriano in a trade, then I would expect Hendry to try and sign Rafael Furcal (to play SS and hit lead-off). Furcal will only be 28 next season and is the type of aggressive lead-off hitter Baker can live with. (If Hendry acquires Soriano, then Cedeno is the starting SS in 2006; if Hendry does not acquire Soriano but signs Furcal, then Cedeno will probably be moved to 2B; and if Hendry cannot acquire Soriano OR sign Furcal, then Cedeno plays SS and Walker plays 2B... Hairston would likely play CF until whenever Felix Pie is deemed ready).

NO WAY will the Hendry sign someone like Brian Giles (although I would seriously consider it) or make a deal for an Adam Dunn or a Brad Wilkerson as long as Dusty Baker is the manager. Dusty does not like "overly-patient" power hitters because he equates "too much patience" with being "too passive." I don't think Baker necessarily believes a batter has to swing "first-ball/fast-ball," but I believe he does not like overly "selective" hitters. Therefore, Jacques Jones is the likely future Cubs RF, but if Hendry cannot sign Jones, then I believe Burnitz will be back, although not for $7 mil ($500,000 buy-out, and then re-signed for 2005 salary).

bleeding...not the point.

besides neifi didnt hurt the club yesterday.

to think neifi is not in the SS hunt next year for the cubs is wishful thinking.

given the nomar health situation, like it or not, neifi IS in the SS hunt for this club.

all i said is how about waiting for more than *1* game into sept. before saying what dusty is and is not gonna do with the kids.

all people got is speculation and the negative people are gonna side with the negative.

no matter what we wont find out til well into sept.

ps - adam dunn.

all i said is how about waiting for more than *1* game into sept. before saying what dusty is and is not gonna do with the kids.

Crunch, I'm now including you in the group of people who defend Dusty, even when it contradicts what Dusty says and does. Dusty has clearly said - on several occations now - he's going to give the kids some playing time, but not every day because the team needs to win too. (yes, clearly implying you can't do both)

Sure, we're just a couple days into Sept, but we've been out of the race for weeks. We know what Dusty's going to do, because not only has he said what he's going to do, he's done exactly that.

And I'd still like to know 1 good reason that Cedeno and Murton shouldn't be playing every day - other than to reward Neifi for "carrying the team" with his 301 OBP.

We need to get Neifi in as much as possible to shave a few more points off his OPS:

Neifi 697
Zambrano 695
Macias 606

For what its worth I like Oliver Perez and given Pitts situation it would seem they'd trade him. Perez for Patterson seems very logical.

bleeding...put me in whatever group you want...go internets.

still...if you wanna blame dusty for not playing kids or blah blah go ahead.

and again...just cuz you dont like neifi dont mean he's not performing lately nor does it mean he's not in the race for this club's SS possition next year.

cedeno has 5 years+ of club control attached to his very young self. be happy. then again you probally thing he wont get day 1 of playing time til he's 28 anyway.

these kids have been playing, just not everyday.

just wait until the month is over to bury a guy for not doing what you think he'll do...not what you know he'll do. cuz no one knows yet...but in 30 days we'll all know.

CUBS MLB FREE-AGENTS AFTER 2005:
* Jeromy Burnitz (mutual option, with club buy-out)
Chad Fox
Nomar Garciaparra
Ben Grieve
Ryan Dempster
* Greg Maddux (vesting option at 187.1 IP in 2005)Neifi Perez
* Glendon Rusch (player option)
* Todd Walker (club option)
* Scott Williamson (club option)

SIGNED FOR 2006:
Michael Barrett - $4m
Henry Blanco - $1.5m
* Jermoy Burnitz - $7m (mutual option, with $500,000 buy-out)
Derrek Lee - $8.67m
* Greg Maddux - $9m (2006 contract guaranteed if 187.1 IP in 2005)
Aramis Ramirez - $10.5m
* Glendon Rusch - $2m (player option)
* Todd Walker - $2.5m (club option)
* Scott Williamson - $2m (club option)
Kerry Wood - $12m
TOTAL FOR PLAYERS SIGNED FOR 2006 ñ $59.3m
NOTE: If Rusch leaves, Burnitz is bought-out, and club declines options on Walker and Williamson - $46.3m

Or more likely (presuming Rusch chooses to leave and Burnitz is bought-out, but club exercises options to retain Walker and Williamson) - $50.8m

ELIGIBLE FOR ARBITRATION (2005 salary in parenthesis):
Jerry Hairston, Jr ($1.8m) ñ likely $2.75m for 2006
Jose Macias ($850,000) ñ likely $1m for 2006
Will Ohman ($350,000) ñ likely $750,000 for 2006
Corey Patterson ($2.8m) ñ likely $3.5m for 2006
Mark Prior ($3.55m) ñ likely $6m for 2006
Carlos Zambrano ($3.8m) ñ likely $7.5m for 2006
ESTIMATED TOTAL FOR 2006 FOR PLAYERS ELIGIBLE FOR ARBITRATION - $21.5m
NOTE: Jerome Williams could qualify for arbitration as "Super Two" (TBD)

AUTO-RENEWAl (PRE-ARBITRATION) ñ average $350,000 per player on 25-man roster:
David Aardsma
Ronny Cedeno
Mike Fontenot
Adam Greenberg
Angel Guzman
Rich Hill
John Koronka
# Jon Leicester
Richard Lewis
# Sergio Mitre
Matt Murton
Roberto Novoa
Renyel Pinto
Russ Rohlicek
Geovany Soto
Jermaine Van Buren
# Todd Wellemeyer
Jerome Williams (could qualify for salary arbitration as a "Super Two")
Michael Wuertz
ESTIMATED TOTAL FOR AUTO-RENEWAL PLAYERS ON 25-MAN ROSTER - $3.85m

TOTAL ESTIMATED PROJECTED PAYROLL FOR 2006 BEFORE ANY TRADES OR FREE-AGENTS ARE SIGNED - $76m

2006 PAYROLL BUDGET: I would figure it to be around $100 mil.

AVAILABLE FOR FREE-AGENTS: $24 mil if (as I would expect) Rusch leaves AND Cubs buy-out Burnitz.

OUT OF MINOR LEAGUE OPTIONS SPRING TRAINING 2006:
Jon Leicester
Sergio Mitre
Todd Wellemeyer

PLAYERS ON 25-MAN ROSTER LIKELY TO BE DROPPED PRIOR TO 2005 RULE 5 DRAFT:
John Koronka (would be a free-agent)
Richard Lewis (if he clears waivers, 6-yr MLFA after 2007)
Scott McClain (would be a free-agent)
Russ Rohlicek (if he clears waivers, 6-yr MLFA after 2006)

LIKELY TO BE ADDED TO 40-MAN ROSTER PRIOR TO RULE 5 DRAFT:
Bobby Brownlie
Carlos Marmol
Sean Marshall
Ricky Nolasco
Felix Pie
Jae-kuk Ryu
Brandon Sing (otherwise would be six-year minor league free-agent)

SIX-YEAR MINOR LEAGUE FREE-AGENTS (10 DAYS AFTER CLOSE OF MLB REGULAR SEASON):
Cliff Bartosh
Enrique Cruz
Nate Frese
Talley Haines
Mark Johnson
David Kelton
Casey Kopitzke
Tim Lavery
Michael Mallory
Kevin McGlinchy
Calvin Murray
Phil Norton
Cody Ransom
Brandon Sing
Aron Weston

Here is a likely CUBS 40-man roster when roster has to be finalized on November 19th (prior to Rule 5 Draft), but before any free-agents are signed or any trades are made:

37 PLAYERS (leaving three openings for FA signings and/or "wiggle-room")

PITCHERS (22):
David Aardsma
Bobby Brownlie
Angel Guzman
Rich Hill
Jon Leicester
Greg Maddux
Carlos Marmol
Sean Marshall
Sergio Mitre
Ricky Nolasco
Roberto Novoa
Will Ohman
Renyel Pinto
Mark Prior
Jae-kuk Ryu
Jermaine Van Buren
Todd Wellemeyer
Jerome Williams
Scott Williamson
Kerry Wood
Michael Wuertz
Carlos Zambrano

CATCHERS (3):
Michael Barrett
Henry Blanco
Geovany Soto

INFIELDERS (7):
Ronny Cedeno
Mike Fontenot
Derrek Lee
Jose Macias
Aramis Ramirez
Brandon Sing
Todd Walker

OUTFIELDERS (5):
Adam Greenberg
Jerry Hairston, Jr
Matt Murton
Corey Patterson
Felix Pie

I don't believe Nefi is in the SS hunt for next year but I believe he will be signed as backup, no doubt about that.

Next year's SS will be Furcal, Nomar or Cedeno depending upon what it takes to make a deal and how much money Cubs will have to pour into the OF to make it productive.

Reading Dusty's latest comments it seems the Cubs have finally taken notice of their bottom dwelling defense and OBP which leads me to believe that they plan to change the middle infield. We are also at the bottom in turning DPs.

Unless Corey morphs into a MLB hitter in winter ball, I expect he will be gone. Murton will get LF because staffing CF and RF with productive players will be costly.

So...Nomar, Walker, Corey and perhaps Burnitz will probably be gone. Nomar also carries an injury risk which I think Hendry will try to avoid as it has sapped this team for two years.

well, re: SS...cubs need 1 (and a backup)...

neifi will probally go to the highest bidder...whoever that is.

cedeno is around, period...unless traded. but its a loooooongshot for him to start no matter what.

personally, i could care less if cedeno starts or backs someone up as long as the money is spent wisely elsewhere if a top SS replacement isnt signed.

a lot of people in the sportswriting community have pretty much decided after nomar's last injury that neifi is good as here and nomar's good as gone.

i wouldnt mind seeing nomar around if it comes cheap w/ incentives, but who knows how that'll work out as of now.

so...cubs are holding 3 of 4 possible SS options for next season on their club right now...furcal being the other.

you're not gonna have neifi as an option if you just bench him just cuz...some people would be fine with that option...i dunno how the club feels about that option.

its not like neifi is bitching abuot having to occasionaly rest for cedeno and its not like cedeno is only playing 1-2 times a week.

It was reported: The Cubs told the Trib that KKKP is gone if he doesn't show them improvement this September.

His trade value seems microscopic right now. So what do they mean..."gone" ??

If Jim Hendry in fact has about $24 mil (or $25 mil if Jose Macias is non-tendered in December) to spend during the off season on new players, I would expect it to be spent this-a way (again, presuming Macias is non-tendered):

PRIORITY #1: CLOSER - Re-sign Ryan Dempster for $11 mil for two years ($5.5 mil per year), with a player option for 2007 based on GF in 2006 in case Wood is moved to closer.

PLAN "B": NONE AT THIS TIME

COST FOR 2006: $5.5 mil

AVAILABLE PAYROLL LEFT: $19.5 mil

PRIORITY #2: RIGHT-FIELD - I belive one of three things are likely to occur here. Either...

PLAN A) Hendry will sign Jacques Jones to play RF, for $30 mil for four years ($7.5 mil per year) or $24 mil for three years ($8 mil per year).

or

PLAN B) If unable to sign Jones, Cubs will buy-out Burnitz for $500,000, and then try and re-sign him to $10 mil two-year deal for 2005 annual salary ($5 mil) per year), with club option ($1 mil buy-out) for 2007.

or

PLAN C) Hendry will trade for somebody like Aubrey Huff or Austin Kearns, but only after he is unable to sign Jones or Burnitz.

COST: Anywhere from $5 mil to $7.5 mil, depending what happens.

AVAILABLE PAYROLL LEFT: somewhere between $12 mil - $15 mil

PRIORITY #3 - VETERAN RELIEVER - I believe Hendry will take a shot at signing one veteran reliever, like Scott Sauerbeck or Jay Witasick, for a $7 mil two year deal ($3.5 mil per year).

PLAN B - NONE

COST FOR 2006: $3.5 mil

AVAILABLE PAYROLL LEFT: somewhere between $9 mil & $12 mil

PRIORITY #4: Sign a veteran left-handed 1B-LF-PH like Mark Sweeney or John Mabry for one-year for $1.5 mil.

PLAN B - NONE AT THIS TIME

COST: $1.5 mil

AVAILABLE PAYROLL LEFT: somewhere between $7.5 mil to $10.5 mil

WILD CARD #1: If the opportunity presents itself, Jim Hendry will sign Rafael Furcal for four years at about $42 mil, with escalating salaries $9-10-11-12 mil 2006-09.

COST: $9 mil for 2006. Signing Furcal would preclude signing Jacques Jones, unless the Cubs decline option on Scott Williamson, but the decision to decline club option on Williamson needs to be made promptly at end of season.

or

WILD CARD #2: Acquire Alfonso Soriano in a trade. Soriano is eligible for arbitration after this season, and will be a free-agent after 2006. Any deal for Soriano is likely to include either Todd Walker or Jerry Hairston, Jr (saving Cubs about $2.5 mil - $3 mil in 2006 payroll), and Soriano is likely to get something close to what Furcal
would get for 2006. Acquiring Soriano would mean Cubs could retain Williamson for 2006.

NOTE: Signing Furcal or making a trade for Soriano would "blow the wad" and preclude the Cubs from signing any other free-agents beyond Dempster, Jones or Burnitz, Sauerbeck or Witasick, and Sweeney or Mabry, or trading for any players making salaries in excess of the player being traded.

DISCLAIMER: Please note that I am not advocating all of this. (For instance, I want no part of Alfonso Soriano). It is just what I think Jim Hendry will probably do come this off-season, presuming his budget is around $100 mil. If it's less than that (like $90 mil), then forget signing Furcal or acquiring Soriano.

just wait until the month is over to bury a guy for not doing what you think he'll do...not what you know he'll do. cuz no one knows yet...but in 30 days we'll all know.

Sure, but using that same logic we don't "know" the sun is going to come up tomorrow.

If a guys been doing something consistantly for the past several weeks, and that same person SAYS hes going to keep doing it, I think its pretty safe to assume that somethings going to change.

Seriously, What on earth would make you think Dusty's suddenly going to do anything different???

call me an optimist, but yeah...i believe the sun will come up tommorow...

and yeah...i believe murton/cedeno will get 80-ish+ ab's each this month.

and no...i dont believe neifi will play everyday.

and i see no reason to think any of this wont be true.

Arizona--"The idea with the groups is not that each pitcher in the group is EXACTLY equal to the others, but rather that they fit into the same general profile."

Maybe I've missed the point. But the way I'm reading this right now is that you, as the general manager, are saying "okay, we'll trade for your player, just pick one each from groups A, B and C and we'll call it a trade". Guzman, Wuertz and Marshall though is a hugely different package to Hill, Leicester and Brownlie. Why on earth would you want to give the decision as to which of those packages is the preferential haul to the other team? You're asking to get burnt when you defer power to those whose interests and priorities are not the same as your own.

Anyway, Arizona Phil, what would you do? I'm much more interested in that than what you think Hendry will do. After all, there is only so many times I can read "[I think] Hendry will sign Jacques Jones to play RF, for $30 mil for four years ($7.5 mil per year) or $24 mil for three years ($8 mil per year)" and not want to punch someone.

its not like neifi is bitching abuot having to occasionaly rest for cedeno

Well I'd sure hope not, considering how rare he's actually "resting." Neifi's played in all but 2 games over the past 3 weeks!

and i see no reason to think any of this wont be true.

So the fact that Neifi has been playing almost everyday since the Cubs have been out of the race, the fact that Murton and Cedeno have almost never been played on consecutive days, and the fact that Dusty says he's not going to change any of it (because the team needs to win too) are all irrelelvant to you?

Perhaps we should place a wager, I could use some easy money.

some notes on today's game

* Isn't funny the last 2 games that Cedeno and Murton were in the line-up we won, and that were 1-2 in games they haven't in the five games since Murton was back up. Nice HR for Murton.
*Why was Z left out their for the 8th. He already had 94 pitches in a game that was decided and he did not have a no hitter or shutout going. Maybe its time for Hendry to put him and Prior on the DL so they can not be victims of Dusty's pitcher abuse.

Cubs finish the season 82-80 if they do something like this in the remaining series':

1-0 Pittsburgh (finish sweep of Pirates)
1-2 St. Louis
3-1 San Francisco
2-1 Cincinnati
2-2 St. Louis
2-1 Milwaukee
2-1 Houston
2-0 Pittsburgh
2-2 Houston

17-10

Nothing spectacular needed to reach 82 wins. Just have to beat the bad teams like a drum, play slightly above average against the Brewers and Reds, and play Houston and St. Louis (as a group) even overall.

Of course the complete opposite is just as likely.

In Dusty we Trusty.

"* Isn't funny the last 2 games that Cedeno and Murton were in the line-up we won, and that were 1-2 in games they haven't in the five games since Murton was back up. Nice HR for Murton."

I like Murton a lot, but he wasn't a factor today.
His first hit came in the 7th inning with the Cubs
leading 7-2 . And although (I believe) he did get a hit off a right hander in the ninth, he hasn't shown any ability to hit for average against right handed pitching in his first 66 AB.

Zach Duke = lefty Bronson Arroyo minus early control problems?

Sean Burnett = Mark Redman, but with even less strikeouts?

Great article, BillT. Thanks for the link.

"Modern rookies are not arriving demonstrably earlier than their predecessors. By some measures, they are waiting longer."

"And the current decade's average, 24.4, is the highest since the 1940's, when many career minor leaguers replaced young big leaguers drafted into World War II. No matter how you look at it, today's players are arriving older, not younger."

"In the end, the rampant (and incorrect) pronouncements that minor leaguers are being rushed probably stem less from evidence than envy. Old-timers invariably accuse the next generation of having it easier than they did, of not paying their dues."

That's our Dustbag.

bleeding...bust my balls come august...its just that simple.

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