Bullet Point Friday

The weekend is coming, the Cubs were on the losing end of the division-clincher (sort of, maybe) last night, and not even the fact that the game was called on account of rain with the tying run on-deck can excite me enough to string together a full column. Who knows, maybe Jose Macias would have gotten on, and then Mighty Jerry would have hit a game-tying grand slam, but we'll never know, will we? Anyway, on to the bullets... * I flipped on Wednesday night's game when I got home from Washington D.C. and it was the bottom of the 10th inning, and I swear to God, the first thought that went through my head was, "how are the Cubs going to blow this game?" It's sad, but what's even sadder is that they managed to do it in the very next inning by walking the leadoff batter, making the wrong throw on a sacrifice bunt, and making the wrong throw on a sacrifice fly. Van Buren, Hill, and Hairston thus add themselves to the long, long list of Cubs who apparently never learned the fundamentals of the game. I haven't seen a team this poor in the basics since I don't know when. By the time Sean Casey hit his inevitable bases-clearing double, I didn't have the energy to complain about why Hairston was playing so shallow. It's just demoralizing sometimes. * Since I turned on the game late, I missed Michael Barrett getting hit in the head, but it looks like he could be back in the lineup as soon as today. He appears to have avoided a concussion, which is good news. * How about that Matt Murton? It's Small Sample Size City, but it looks like maybe he can make it at the major league level. Hopefully the 100 ABs he got this year will convince Dusty to give him a shot at a full-time job next spring. Bruce Miles has some advice for Dusty on how to take credit for Murton's success. * If you want to read Paul Sullivan's version of the exact same notes that are in Mike Kiley's piece, it's right here. Kiley does scoop Sullivan on the whole "Nomar and Mia are class acts" story, but other than that it seems like the beat reporters' seasons are winding down, too. * Former TCRer Derek Smart writes about What Went Wrong this year over at Baseball Anaylsts. Good stuff. We'll have our own versions up in the next few weeks. * Predicted Cardinals line-up for today's post-clinch game: CF: So Taguchi 2B: Hector Luna 1B: Chris Duncan LF: Reggie Sanders 3B: Scott Seabol RF: John Mabry SS: Abraham Nunez C: Mike Mahoney [UPDATE 2:00 PM] GAME 148 IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] ST. LOUIS CARDINALS (94-54) @ CHICAGO CUBS (72-75) WRIGLEY FIELD, 7:05 pm CDT, TV: WGN, Fox Sports Ohio
Glendon Rusch, LHP
6-8, 4.62 ERA
99/49 K/BB, 11 HR in 126.2 IP
Matt Morris, RHP
14-8, 4.04 ERA
104/30 K/BB, 17 HR in 171.2 IP
SS David Eckstein LF 3rd Generation Mediocrity
CF * Jim Edmonds SS #I Control Dusty's Brain
1B Albert Pujols 1B M.V.P.
RF Reggie Sanders RF *Shows Up, Hits, Goes Home
2B Mark Grudzielanek 3B Will Play Third For Pennant
RF So Taguchi 2B *I Left Boston For This?
C Yadier Molina CF *0-4, 4 K
3B Hector Luna C Perfectly Adequate Backup
P Matt Morris P *Just a Swingman
LaRussa is playing a whole lot more veterans than I thought he would. Unfortunately, so is Dusty.
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Comments

Any one know where I can find a good place for Japanese leagues stats?

Thanks ruz. Couldn't find who I was looking for, but it will come in handy later.

Torii Hunter could get traded in the off-season here is the link to the story:
http://www.startribune.com/stories/509/561777...

Anyone want him? and what do you think the price would be? Personally my anwser would be yes. And given their weak IF maybe and their desire to add pitching I say Cedeno, Ryu, and Brownlie would work.

Could Murton be a Sarge 2.0? Decent pop, decent wheels, suspect D, on-base machine. That 2-hole looks pretty good on him.

Sorry to do this, but I need four tickets to the Cubs-Astros game on Saturday the 24th. If anyone can help I'm at [email protected]

All apologies and thanks.

No way. Hunter is overrated offensively, overpriced, and coming off an ankle injury that may hurt his defensive prowess. If Hendry wants an outfielder that'll hit somewhere in the .260/.330/.450 range, he can pick up Burnitz' option and save the club $3mm, not to mention keeping the quality prospects Minnesota would demand.

Second. I want nothing to do with either of Minnesota's going-elsewhere outfielders. Neither Hunter nor Jones has had a quality offensive season in three years.

In addition to the Cardinals' clinch, we'll soon see the Cubs statistically eliminated. They stand a 0.076% chance of making the playoffs today.

Vorare,

I'd pay the xtra 3 mil for a GG CF and a guy who is a proven leader. The injury I don't think will be a problem for his D as the surgery he went through is common, unless the doctor botches it like Grant Hill had happen to him.

I'll go out on a limb and say that the lack of a solid, reliable offense hurt the Cubs more this season than the lack of a Gold Glove-calibre centerfielder or a "clubhouse leader."

And to clarify: I wasn't advocating picking up Burnitz' option either, because mediocre outfielders that get on base in the .330 range and slug at in the .450 range can be had much cheaper than $7mm. That's why picking up Hunter -- at $10mm!! -- is even more ridiculous.

Vorare - Hunter will not get anywhere near $10M a year.

Ron and Vorare,

What you forgetting is that Wrigley is a better park to hit at then the roller dome as Ditka would say. Hunter is a great leader that is something this team lacks. He is the kind of guy Hendry likes to trade for a 25-31 year old who has not quite reached his peak or needs a scenery change. At Wrigley I could see Hunter putting up a .280/.350/.500 with 35 HR, 115 RBI line in a good year.

Newman,

Hunter will make 10 million next year and has a 07 option for 12 mil with a 2 mil buyout.

Reading that article, I just see more Torii Hunter being Torii Hunter. Every offseason he complains about how the Twins lose free agents because they can't afford them, while he sits back and enjoys being the highest paid player on the team, and doing very little to justify his 10 million dollar salary, particularly on a team with a payroll under 60 million.

While I think the Cubs could use a good defensive center fielder, I would be very concerned about a player with that kind of 'oh poor me' attitude playing for a manager like Dusty Baker.

If the Cubs gave up very little to get him, say Jerry Hairston and a low level throw in prospect, ala Leicester or Wellemeyer although I don't see why the Twins would want any more pitching, then I could see making the deal, but I wouldn't give up much more than that for an overpriced defensive specialist who could become another clubhouse problem.

My mistake, should have stated no one trading for him will assume the $10M. The Twins will have to pick up some of that to move him.

Chifan, I don't have any stats to back it up, but I've always been under the impression that the Metrodome was one of baseballs more hitter friendly parks - although maybe that's changed with all the bandboxes that have sprung up recently.

Either way, I think you're out of your mind if you think Hunter, a 30 year old career 267/321/458 hitter who's never hit 30 HR and has had 100 RBI only once in his career is suddenly going to become a 280/350/500 35 HR, 115 RBI player just by moving to Wrigley.

Newman:

In fact, he'll make $10,750,000 next year per his contract. His contract also includes a $12,000,000 option for '07 with a $2,000,000 buyout. So if the Cubs were to trade for Hunter, they'd in effect be paying at least $12,750,000 for him and trading away some primo prospects. What a bargain!

Chifan3887: Hunter is at the far end of that scale you gave (he'll be 31 next season), so I doubt there's much of a peak to look forward to. And playing in Wrigley may improve his power numbers slightly but I don't see why they'd increase his OBP or average.

Newman,

The only reason the Twins would trade Hunter is to free up payroll. If they have to pay for his contract, they'll simply hold onto him.

Two more points about Hunter,

I'd actually predict at Wrigley, his average and OBP numbers would actually fall. He might see a little more power, but a lot more of the balls that jump into the outfield on the Metrodome's concrete will be easy outs with Wrigley's slow infield.

I also don't know why any Twin would want to leave Minnesota. Talk about a team that's built on the sum being worth more than its individual parts. All of the "big name" players they've lost to trades or free agency have gone on to disappoint with new teams. LaChoke and Milton are worthless now, Koskie, Pierzynski, and even Matt Lawton have declined since leaving Minnesota, the only player still doing alright is Eddie Guardado in Seattle, and I'd bet even he'd rather be back with the Twins.

In 2002, 26-year-old Torri Hunter was the best hitter on his team, posting a .282 EQA. The fact that .282 led the team says much more about the Twins than it does about Hunter, but it was the beginning of his reputation as a star.

In 2003, by contrast, he was one of the team's worst regulars (.253). Another clue came in 2004, when he was fourth (.265). This year (.270), behind Matt Lecroy and Joe Mauer, he's one of the better players on one of the league's worst offenses. Add some defensive panache, and you may have a reputation and a name-brand star, but you don't have a player worth big money, especially when the last thing you need is another .320 OBP. Any move to acquire Hunter (or Jones, who's even worse) is a "Hey! We're making a move!" move which'll add some jersey sales, payroll and about 435-450 outs to the 2006 Whoevers.

All of the "big name" players they've lost to trades or free agency have gone on to disappoint with new teams.

While they did not technically lose him to a trade or free agency, there's a DH in Boston that has done pretty well for himself after leaving Minnesota.

Why did Murton replace Hairston to start the 4th?

Very true Weeks, but remember the reason the Twins let Ortiz go was that he didn't fit in as the kind of ballplayer Tim Kelly wanted on his team. Which goes back to my point as the Twins being sucessful as a team and not as a individuals.

Oh, and I forgot to mention Christian Guzman as another ex-twin who's horrible not after getting paid millions in free agency.

Hairston was ejected. Ahh, memories of 2004... does anyone know what that ejection was about?

And of course, when I said Tim I ment Tom and when I said not I ment now.

I'd love to have a glove like Hunter in CF.

And of course, when I said Tim I ment Tom and when I said not I ment now.

And when you said "Tom Kelly" you really meant Gardenhire or Ryan, because Kelly was already gone by the time the Twins released Ortiz. :-)

Ah, Weeks, you're right again. I was thinking the Twins released him after 2001, instead of 2002.

Vorare,

Ok I exagrated Hunter's possible RBI's here by 10. Wrigley will help his AVG because there is less OF space to contend with. It will save his legs on D which will help the bat. His OBP prblem is due to his average and not the amount of walks. so any uptick in his BA will help the OBP. He would be fine as a 6 hitter who could anchor your OF D. Do you have any better suggestions on who should play CF next year? When you look at the alternatives Hunter looks like Babe Ruth. Because the only good alternatives outside the organization are Dave Roberts and Jay Payton. I am sure out of Hunter, Payton, and Roberts you would take Hunter.

Not when you factor in contracts and what it would take to trade for someone.

Also, we only have to take care of CF for next year, as we hope to have someone else playing there in 2007. So, when the question becomes which of your proposed group the team should want as basically a rent-a-player given the costs of acquiring and retaining each of them, I think one stands out as a poor choice.

Your absolutely wrong Ron Galt. That is the exact same thinking the Cubs have been under for decades. "We only need to take care of (insert position) and so and so will be ready." Meanwhile 30+ years of stop gap players have rolled through the Cubs organization and we have not built a damn thing.

If the Cubs want to get Damon this winter. Then they should do it. The organization should not consider what Pie will be in 1 or 2 or even 3 years. Just forget about Pie because he doesn't matter at all. If he is good then you might have the luxury of 3-4 good OFers. Ohh the horror! But if Pie sucks and you go the stop gap method your entire OF blows chunks. Much like this year.

Chifan...your projected numbers on Hunter are ridiculous.

Lets look at some actual numbers:

2005:
Hunter at home: .273/.335/.437
Hunter on the road: .265/.338/.466

Hunter has better numbers on the road then at home. This pattern holds true over the last three years.

So how is Hunter all of a sudden going to increase his average by 21 points, his obp by 13 points, and his slugging by 48 points, his homeruns by 14 (when looked at averages over the last three years), and his RBIs by 25 (again, over the last three years.

Also..remember that Wrigley only plays as a hitter's park for half the season. The park tends to be somewhere in the middle in terms of "hitter friendly" over the course of a season.

Do you have any better suggestions on who should play CF next year?

Yes...Jerry Hairston Jr. He has been mediocre this year - but not much worse the Hunter:

JHJ: .262/.337/.370
Hunter: .269/.337/.452

Hunter gives you more power, and much better defense. But if Hairston knows he is the starting CF for the cubs, he can work all winter. And Hairston comes much, much cheaper.

Hunter is not the answer for the Cubs. He is no better than Burnitz and not much better than Hairston.

And your projections are WAY off.

Me

"At Wrigley I could see Hunter putting up a .280/.350/.500 with 35 HR, 115 RBI line in a good year."

Notice the in a GOOD year part based on him having a break through like Dlee and Aram. If he continues his current pace at Wrigley and a majority of Road games in the NL central he is likely to have a line of .273/.340/.478 with 27 HR and 100 RBI. I should have said breakout instead of good.

Wrigley will help his AVG because there is less OF space to contend with. It will save his legs on D which will help the bat.

So let me get this straight, Wrigley has a smaller outfield, so Torii wouldn't have to run as much to catch flyballs, which will cause him to be less tired, resulting in 15 more points in Average and 30 more points in OBP?

Except, isn't that same smaller outfield that's going to save his legs going to allow the opposition to also catch more of his hits?

And that doesn't even take into account the dozens of infield choppers that shoot through on turf that would be swallowed up by Wrigley's tall infield grass.

Its simply unrealistic to expect those kinds of improvements from a 30 year old players simply because he's moving from one hitters park to another hitters park. Torii had his breakout year, it happened in 2002 and he's been declining ever since.

Unless Hunter likes to miss signs and get picked off a lot, he wouldn't fit in the Cubs outfield at all.

MikeC, if there was somebody relatively young and ridiculously good available to play CF, I'd sign him. But there isn't. Rather than locking up Damon's age-33, 34, and 35 seasons because the Cubs feel they absolutely *have* to make an "impact" signing in a terrible market, I'd rather they recognize that their hand and circumstances aren't that great and find two stopgaps.

If you go through the stopgap method, and do it intelligently, then you don't have premium outfielders for a year. If the Cubs insist that the square peg will fit in the round hole if they just pound a teeny bit harder, then you've got a guy taking up huge money to be a marketing tool and decline-phase player over a period when Aramis, Lee, Zambrano, and Prior will all come up for free agency. It's about priorities, and locking up 30-year-old CFs in an attempt to win 88 games shouldn't be one of them, especially when you have a prospect with a good shot at doing an average-plus job.

I guess I'm just not as high on Felix Pie as everyone else is. He seems to me to be a second coming of Corey Patterson, except minus the illusions of being a power hitter. Maybe that's better becuase he won't try to hit for power and play as more a Juan Pierre type, but I just worry that his K/BB numbers are going to really remind us of the K-Pax era of center fielders.

Note - I don't think that Torii Hunter is the answer. I might consider signing Damon if he was interested in a 2-year deal. A 2-year deal at about 8 million each would be quite reasonable (because you get his age 32 and 33 seasons, which shouldn't show a huge dropoff in production, and also because then you aren't saddled with a big long-term deal.) Of course, he probably won't sign for that since it would mean a pay cut from his current 8.25 million deal. He would also probably want at least 3, if not 4 years.

Of course, we know that Dusty, along with other baseball individuals think that 32 is the prime of one's career, then why wouldn't Baker want Damon on his team? Furthermore, if Baker and Hendry are on the same page on this "age of prime" issue, why are ages 33, 34, and 35 so "old"? The only things I can think of is centerfield defense surely isn't included in the "32 prime rule" and also 32 isn't the prime in the leadoff hitter role. It also seems that Hendry, when it comes to minor leaguers, cares about one thing: developing pitching prospects. It seems that position prospects are just bargaining chips. I know this view could change with Murton/Cedeno, but why is it so crazy to think he wouldn't do the same thing with Pie?

"Of course, we know that Dusty, along with other baseball individuals think that 32 is the prime of one's career, then why wouldn't Baker want Damon on his team? Furthermore, if Baker and Hendry are on the same page on this "age of prime" issue, why are ages 33, 34, and 35 so "old"?"

Because that is complete bullshit. If they think that way then they are thoroughly retarded.

And not a single compliment to Ruz for the lineup. Criminal, absolutely criminal.
"The truth shall set you free."

Great line-up Ruz! Neifi has those pictures of Dusty.

I read Couch's column on the Cubs in the Sun-Times last week and surprisingly he made the excellent point that the Cubs are building this team on a cracked foundation: Wood, Prior, and Zambrano. Wood who is is always broken (and will cost 12 million next season), Prior who is broken almost as much as Wood and seems to think it is an artistic achievement to start a game with 35 pitches in the 1st innning; and Zambrano, who is not physically broke, but seems to have a couple of loose screws in the noggin. We have a farm system which, whatever the actual talent of the players, seems unable to teach its players fundamentals or to keep its young pitchers healthy. We have gone backward each year since 2003, and were not that good that year until we picked up Lofton and Ramirez.

I don't think the Cubs would ever be Damon's primary choice, nor do I think the Cubs will out bid the Yankees for him if he decides to leave the Red Sox. As for trading for Hunter, if this team is as fundamentally flawed as it now appears how will one so-so outfielder like Hunter make up 20 games on the Cardinals. Hendry has made several good trades, most in 2003 when he picked up Ramirez, Lee, and Barrett. Where he has failed is putting together a bench, providing pitching depth in 2005, overvaluing his farm system (and perhaps relying on cronys as minor league coaches and managers), believing Corey Patterson would become a star, and in not adding a great free agent to the team after the 2003 or 2004 season. Regarding the bench he may be influenced by Dusty and in regard to pitching depth and pursuing superstars, I expect McPhail called the shots.

But that litany of errors has now built up, and with the other problems that have manifested themselves this year, the Cubs now seem to have too many faults for them to get back into contention in 2006. Assuming Murton will be the LF (a big assumption with Dusty if Hendry provides Dusty with the second coming of Hollingsworth, Troy O'Leary, or Tom Goodwin - you just can't beat that veterans experience in Dusty's eyes), that means we still need to find a CF and RF and that SS will be a big question mark, along with the bullpen and who will be the 4th and 5th starter (I don't think we will be contending if Rusch and Williams fill those roles).

On a more cheerful topic. Go Minnesota, Go Cleveland, Go Yankees. This week may give us Cub fans some wonderful moments of schadenfreude to see the White Sox complete the greatest collapse since the 1964 Phillies, finally surpassing the 1969 Cubs.

"Do you have any better suggestions on who should play CF next year?

Yes...Jerry Hairston Jr. He has been mediocre this year - but not much worse the Hunter:"

Hairston is a brutal defensive CF. He really has no business playing the position. The window for this team is open now - I don't want to OJT my CF for ANOTHER year. Get me a veteran CF who does the little things right.

BTW, the Cubs could very much benefit from some of the Minnesota Twins team attitude that has kept them amongst the top of their division despite a small payroll for the better part of the past 20 years.

If the choice is Hunter and having money to spend on Furcal or Damon and Cedeno/Neifi, please count me in the Hunter/Furcal camp. If it means getting Billy Wagner, and moving Dumpster into a RH Setup role, put me in the Hunter/Wagner camp. If it means firing Dusty, put me in the Hunter camp. (not that this has anything to do with firing Dusty - just that I think that action is in our longer term interest.

"Do you have any better suggestions on who should play CF next year?

Yes...Jerry Hairston Jr. He has been mediocre this year - but not much worse the Hunter:"

Hairston is a brutal defensive CF. He really has no business playing the position. The window for this team is open now - I don't want to OJT my CF for ANOTHER year. Get me a veteran CF who does the little things right.

BTW, the Cubs could very much benefit from some of the Minnesota Twins team attitude that has kept them amongst the top of their division despite a small payroll for the better part of the past 20 years.

If the choice is Hunter and having money to spend on Furcal or Damon and Cedeno/Neifi, please count me in the Hunter/Furcal camp. If it means getting Billy Wagner, and moving Dumpster into a RH Setup role, put me in the Hunter/Wagner camp. If it means firing Dusty, put me in the Hunter camp. (not that this has anything to do with firing Dusty - just that I think that action is in our longer term interest.

the Cubs could very much benefit from some of the Minnesota Twins team attitude that has kept them amongst the top of their division despite a small payroll for the better part of the past 20 years.

While I agree with the premise, I think you've forgotten just how bad the Twins were from 1993-2000. In their best year during that stretch (96), they still finished 2nd to last, 21 games out of 1st.

Haven't forgotten... Just over the 20 years in question, they have 2 WS Championships, 5 trips to the post-season and 11 seasons over .500. I'd take that over what we have.

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