News & Notes

- Crane Kenney says the Cubs will increase payroll next year regardless of an ownership change.

''And when it all works, this is what it looks like,'' he said,
referring to back-to-back postseasons and a 97-win season. ''It's like
the Braves. That's the model -- the Braves and the Red Sox and the
Yankees. Play like a big market, flex your muscle like a big market and
hopefully perform like one on the field.''

- Sullivan is hearing that the Cubs will pursue a left-handed outfield bat to compete with Fukudome and Fukudome doesn't really care.

"If it means that there will be competition in right field, all I have to do is win that competition," he replied.

- Carlos Marmol got banged up a bit in a car accident in the Dominican Republic.

"Out of precaution they did different studies on my body, and I don't have any kind of serious injury," Marmol wrote.

- The headline says it all - "Harden to visit Shoulder Specialist". Apparently the Cubs have until today to decide on his option. They have until after the World Series on Blanco's. 

- The same link says all the Cubs coaches have been asked back.

- Cubs organizational meetings begin October 19th in Arizona. A few rumors and notes in that link including...

Lee has a no-trade clause but could be asked to lift it if he's dealt
to a team in California for pitching help. Lee lives in Sacramento, so
it's not out of the realm of possibility.

Ronny Cedeno
likely will be on the trade block again after yelling at trainer Mark
O'Neal during a nasty exchange before a game in Milwaukee on the final
weekend of the regular season.

Well that should add some fuel to  the sign Teixeira/deal Lee flames. Trading Cedeno, moving Theriot to the utility role and signing Furcal would be kind of neat too.

- Paul Sullivan and I agree on something. I'm not comfortable with this...

The Cubs players spent much of the season downplaying talk of the
alleged curse, only to have Cubs brass bring out a Greek priest to
spread holy water in their dugout the day of the start of the playoffs.
What kind of a show of faith in the high-priced team was that? Piniella
and the players were blind-sided by the stunt.

 

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Comments

already dumping Korey and now...

The Reds don't plan to re-sign free-agent-to-be Paul Bako, GM Walt Jocketty said.

I'll go ahead and take credit for spotting that first quote, btw.

already gave you some love in the comments

http://thecubreporter.com/2008/10/07/post-2008-ros...

you can never get enough TCR lovin

awk! Now they are the Chicago Vandals...
http://www.suntimes.com/sports/telander/1208336,CS...

This nonsense is why sportswriters deserve all the criticism they get, and more. First of all, I guess Rick didn't get Sullivan's no-more-curse-talk memo. "The dark pendulum of history" indeed. Listen, Gandalf, they played like garbage for three games. If that strikes you as "bizarre and inexplicable," maybe you should cover something simpler, like hockey. Oh, wait!

Still, the faint odor of irresponsibility and peevishness lingers around that team, around that sport.

If there is an "odor of irresponsibility" (what does irresponsibility smell like, after all?) surrounding hockey, maybe it has less to do with one 10-year-old incident for which restitution was made than with the vicious, bloody fights that routinely break out during games.

What a weak attempt to support the customary high-handed sportswriter moralism (enough in this one to choke a bishop, although it's clear that Telander's righteous anger really derives from having been inconvenienced) with "evidence." It'd be quite compelling if it weren't all made up.

Also, if even one's shadowy Dodger source indicates that "the problem was addressed immediately," one should really examine whether this was the bold exposé one previously perhaps thought.

Once he said the Cubs were "curse-riddled," I stopped reading. Basically, he's mad because he was inconvenienced.

The players can't win. Either they're "lazy" or "didn't care" about losing, or they're wrong for displaying their anger in the way they did.

According to Bruce Levine -ESPN 1000

Pass.

I think it's obvious that the Cubs should have pushed harder for Sabathia prior to the deadline. The Brewers got the better of the two trades. Although now, I'd be hesitant to pursue CC after the Brewers used him up. That kind of overuse makes all-star starting pitchers throw towels and become closers.

Cubs could have pushed as hard as they want, but unless a magical near-ready power-hitting prospect showed up in their camp, they weren't going to get CC.

and people are joking about not picking up Harden's option, right? The Cubs are gonna pay Marquis $9.875 to pitch next year, they can take a chance on $7M for Harden. Even throwing low 90's, Harden was a pretty effective pitcher...

My assessment of it is that it's more complicated than saying "we're getting an effective pitcher for $7M." Marquis will be way overpaid comparing his effectiveness to the market for starting pitcher so I don't think that's really relevant to the discussion. In order to assess Harden's value at $7M you have to take a look at how the lowered inning totals, injury risk, and other "quality of starter" issues impact his availability and effectiveness.

In assessing the risk of picking up Harden's option I'd want to start by attempting to calculate what his cost would be as a healthy ace. With the risk of upsetting Chad, Dempster was our ace this year and remained healthy the entire year. He pitched 207 innings. Harden pitched 148 innings. Using a single year in isolation we see that Harden pitched 70% of the innings that Dempster pitched. Using this as the most rudimentary baseline to calculate his extended cost:

$7M / 70% = $10M

So at the very least Harden's true cost is at minimum more like $10M. But there are a number of other factors which I think dramatically lower his value. Since Harden's first bout with injury, Harden has played four seasons. In those four seasons Harden has averaged 87 innings (or 42% of a healthy ace's innings). Calculating an extended cost on that average looks more like this:

$7M / 42% = $16.7M

That number even surprised me. The spread between those two numbers is significant and is contingent upon Harden's health. I'm no actuary but I would assume that the drop in velocity and the fact that Harden is seeing a shoulder specialist and has had nagging, unexplainable injuries (torso, ribcage, back, left shoulder) over his career doesn't just speak to his effectiveness, but to an increased likelihood that he will not be as available next year as he was this year. I'd put the chances of his continued relative healthiness pretty low given how he finished the season. This would appear to weight us more towards the $16.7M side. For the sake of argument, let's call his extened cost $13-14M.

Other issues: Harden was far more effective when his velocity was up; however, some of that may have been due to the league switch. By next year scouting and the repeated at bats against Harden will likely make him a less effective pitcher. How much less? The ERA+ discussion shows that in general there's about a 13% shift for pitchers moving from AL to NL. But more important for our discussion, this shift tends to be a temporary one. There's no doubt that Harden will continue to pitch well, it's just extremely unlikely that he'll post an ERA of 1.77 (ERA+ of 254) moving forward. Additionally, Harden has now pitched in four postseason games and has a collective ERA of 6.35. It's undeniably a small sample size, but post-season effectiveness definitely has to weigh into perceived value.

All that said, I won't be terribly broken up if the Cubs risk their money on Harden as long as they're increasing their budget significantly next year. My concern though is that if we pick up Harden he'll be considered as one of our top three pitchers in the rotation and that the spread between $7M and $16M won't be covered with a top notch backup for the starting rotation (assuming he gets injured) or high quality middle relievers to cover his short starts (assuming he stays health). As a fan--given the Cubs recent spending trends--I would assume that even with Crane Kenny's promise of more spending the likelihood of really getting the value from Harden we want is extremely slim.

You're not looking at it correctly.

When Harden doesn't pitch, then he gets replaced with someone. In 2008 it was Marshall. So if you want to come up with what he cost us you would add Marshall's salary, you woudn't extrapolate an imaginery pitcher's salary at $7 million over the season. You would also then need to factor in the downgrade from Marshall to Harden and the downgrade from whoever comes up from AAA (if Harden goes on the DL) and Marshall in the bullpen. If Harden doesn't go on the DL, and no one replaces him, he doesn't cost us anything extra at all.

When you talk about replacing him with a free agent, Rob's not that far off base. A guy who takes the ball and gives you 200 innings can get $10 million on the open market. If he doesn't have surgery (and he checks out with various team doctors OK) you can be damned sure he's going to make more than $7 on the open market.

The other math you did, with the extrapolated innings, (not even counting the previous mentioned error) doesn't make much sense, because if the Cubs re-up him they're not expecting him to pitch 84 innings. If you're going to do an average, you should at least make it a weighted average. Where did the 4 years come from, other than that's the number that would best 'prove' your point?

It's not that he's saying it literally costs the Cubs $16 million for Harden, he's saying that if you only get Harden for 42% of the season, his prorated salary is $16 million.

It's like when Roger Clemens went to the Yanks for like $22 million for 4 months of the season.

Harden for $7 million for a full year's worth of pitching is a steal. Harden for $7 million for 42% of the season isn't such a great deal.

But Harden still doesn't cost the Cubs $16M.

And again, I am quite convinced that most teams in baseball would be quite willing to pay Harden $7M next year.

You're right, most teams may be willing to pay that. I'm not even saying the Cubs shouldn't. What they should do is have a MUCH better backup option than Sean Marshall or Jon Lieber going into 2009 because odds are, he's going to be pitching instead of Harden about 60% of the time.

Harden's Win % over his career is .672. Marshall's Win % is .421. If Harden makes 15 starts (35 * .42), his expected W-L record is 10-5. If Marshall (or some equivalent pitcher) makes the remaining 20 starts, his expected W-L record is 9-12.

So for around $7.5 million, you're getting an expected W-L record of 19-17 (actually, with the decimal points it's closer to 18-17). You're also getting a bullpen that's constantly jerked around, a lack of confidence in your ace, and a steady stream of AAA guys back-filling in either the rotation or the bullpen.

Do I want to bring him back? Yes. But I want Hendry to be smarter about it than he was with P and W a few years ago.

So in conclusion. Harden at 1 yr/7 mil is good.

Signing Harden to a long term extention after this year is Bad.

What they should do is have a MUCH better backup option than Sean Marshall

Marshall isn't a good backup? And what better options are there, who would be willing to work out of the bullpen/AAA, who would be better than Marshall?

And are you really using win % as a measure to compare the two?

I have to agree with Dave here. Marshall IMHO is a superior pitcher to Jason Marquis. If not for the contract Jason has. Marshall would have been our 5th starter for 3 years running.

re Marquis:

I was looking at K/BB among NL pitchers with at least 140 innings and Marquis is 53rd out of 55. 91 strikeouts, 70 walks = 1.30 k/bb.

Zambrano is not much better at 43rd (1.81).

Lilly is much better at 12th, 2.88.

That's exactly right. It will likely cost another $9M to cover the other 58% of the season. That will be the cost to pick up an ace right before the deadline assuming Harden gets injured (not an unreasonable assessment). What responders seem to miss about my post was that I said:

All that said, I won't be terribly broken up if the Cubs risk their money on Harden as long as they're increasing their budget significantly next year. My concern though is that if we pick up Harden he'll be considered as one of our top three pitchers in the rotation and that the spread between $7M and $16M won't be covered with a top notch backup for the starting rotation (assuming he gets injured) or high quality middle relievers to cover his short starts (assuming he stays health).

This is the crux of my argument. If we want to truly have someone of Harden's caliber, we need to spend on Harden then spend on his backup as well. Otherwise, we're taking unnecessary risks that may be hard to cover after the deadline.

I am pretty sure that most teams in baseball would be more than willing to pay Rich Harden $7M to pitch for them next season.

You should be a blogger.

Yes, he should.

I'll leave that to the professionals.

The Brewers paid more for Sabathia than the Cubs did for Harden and Gaudin. As a result the Brewers got to the playoffs, and got a bad start from their guy and were eliminated. The Cubs got the same thing (with the kicker of home field advantage). The Cubs have the option to retain both players, and the Brewers will probably get a low first and a low 1st-2nd sandwhich pick for Sabathia. In what way did the Brewers have the obvious advantage?

Now the Brewers go into next year with no Sheets, no Sabathia and no LaPorta who they could have used to bring in a #1 or #2 starter during the off-season (or kept and traded Fielder or Braun for the same thing).

If the Cubs wind up waiving Harden, or worse keeping him and he doesn't pitch effectively then you can say the trades may be about even, over the long haul, but in 2008 they had no impact and in 2009, it's advantage Cubs. If Harden throws 180 effective innings next year, then runs off as a type A free agent, then it will be a huge 'win' for the Cubs.

read a joke on another blog I thought was appropriate...

I'd pay him the $7 million to pitch only in October.

Another blog is reporting that there are reports that Harden is going to have labrum surgery.

in that case...pass. :)

I am going to go out on a limb and say when a blog is 'reporting there are reports' none of which any of us can find or have heard, that they're making shit up.

He was throwing 94 MPH Saturday night. He's not going to elect for labrum surgery when he has 6 months to rest. I am pretty sure even if Krimchek recommends it, a quick call to Kerry will be a stop to that discussion.

Well... they said a little more than "there are reports."

They said:

he heard Dave Van Dyck on the radio say that Rich Harden is likely going to have his labrum trimmed. Labrum surgeries are usually the end of a career. UPDATE: Melissa also heard the report and she said it sounded like pure speculation.

The update is obviously new, and changes the "report."

stadium gun had him at 88-90 for the most part. Occassionally he got up in the 93-94 range, but none of those pitches seemed anywhere close to the zone.

so if we pass, we have 1.5 quality pitchers?
who exactly would we add other than CC (who has a blank yankee check)?

Z
Lilly
Smardjza (I thought I read he would start 09)
Dempster- Give him Harden's money
Marquis/Marshall
or Myster FA

Z, Lilly, Marquis are pretty set

pretty good bet they resign Dempster or another FA pitcher

you then have some combo of Harden, Samardzija, Hill, Marshall, Atkins, Gaudin and Guzman for the final spot

I'd be thrilled if they somehow traded Marquis and his $9.875 M, but I doubt it.

Fuck, so the collapse is all Cedeno's fault! I should have known.

espn radio - "cubs expected to pick up option"

hell, why not? you did it for prior year after year and at least this guy has balls.

even if harden has labia surgery?

You're not a medical doctor, are you?

Or are you really Dr. Nick?

Am I the only one who thinks 'hard-on' when I hear his name?

Ok good...I was going out on a limb there. I figured there should be some relation to all this ball and labia talk.

I'm not familiar with that website you linked to, though.

Last night's Daily Show-

http://blog.indecision2008.com/2008/10/08/the-dail...

I laughed.

that made for a good laugh

ouch.

good stuff.

Painfully unfunny.

I love how liberals think they are so much smarter than everybody else.

F Stewart. F Colbert.

Wow dude, lighten up.

Plus, they are smarter.

yeah wow. glad you don't have the nuke codes.
seems there is some emotion in your voice.

Guess that's why they earn so much.

Now THAT is non sequitur.

It was a joke, though, so I'm not going to defend what I said.

learn 2 proxy.

Stewart's a Jew.

This is relevant because...?

cuz Carlos is Mexican.

WMVP saying Harden's MRI showed "shoulder tendonitis" and "normal wear and tear". This is of course the Cubs so that probably translates to torn labrum or rotator cuff.

Harden's option just got picked up according to Cubs.com

To me that implies no surgery is expected.

Harden replaces Kerry Wood as the closer in 09. Start the campaign!

The real cost of Harden isn't the salary, it's the upheaval in the rotation and bullpen when (not if) he gets injured or sits out a few starts.

The real value of a guy like Marquis is stability. If you're constantly switching bullpen guys to spot-starters or calling up some AAAA guy to start for an injured pitcher you ultimately tax the bullpen and give away wins because the replacement pitcher isn't very good.

We've seen this movie way too many times to not be able to guess the ending.

And if anyone interprets this as me saying Marquis is a better pitcher than Harden I'm going to shit myself. I just don't want to go back to the days of relying on oft-injured saviors to catch lightning in a bottle and stay fucking healthy for once.

This is why I advocate moving Harden to closer.

1. It allows us to take the comp picks for Woody

2. It should help preserve his Woody-esque arm

3. A 30 save season out of him will guarantee he is a type A Free Agent when he leaves after 2009

4. It will eliminate the inevitable Jim Hendry "When we get Harden back, it will be like we are making a deadline deal" mumbo-jimbo that will certainly happen if he gets hurt and leaves a hole in the rotation.

5. We have Marmol as Harden insurance in the closer role.

6. It will force us to sign a Lowe/Burnett/Dempster this offseason, to protect the rotation.

1. True, but this wont' make us better in 2009.

2. Debateable but possible. It seems he needs a lot of rest between starts. Pitching more frequently may or may not alleiviate some of his issues.

3. Being that no one knows what determines the FA rankings, I am going to have to question this point. JoBo had 81 saves from 2006 and 2007 and was a type B FA, so that stat alone won't do it. I would guess that he'd likely be a type A, but it could be that there are starts/or games measurements in there that would hurt him as a swingman.

4. There's a difference between counting on a guy being your 4th starter over counting on two guys as being your 1 and 2 starters. It wasn't the counting on Wood or Prior that hurt us so much, it was counting on Wood and Prior.

5. And Weurtz as his replacement?

6. I think we sign one of those guys regardless of what goes on with Harden.

Interesting thought, but I like Wood so I prefer we go with both of them and replace Dempster with Lowe if Dempster's price tag gets crazy.

Harden's option with the Cubs will include a mandatory 45 - day towel drill before opening day. Dark humour, but this seems appropriate.

I do love laundry

Is there a deadline by which Harden has to demand a trade, if he's so inclined?

I don't know what it would get Harden at this point to demand a trade. He's gonna get $7M next year no matter what and unless he hates Chicago for some reason, why would he ask? Considering he just got sent to the doc, he doesn't have any real leverage for a bigger deal.

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