Big Unit Signs With Giants, Remains Free to Continue Abusing Cubs

Despite a past association with current Cubs manager Lou Piniella and rumors that the Cubs had him in their sights, Walnut Creek, California native Randy Johnson has signed a one-year deal with the Giants for a reported $8 million plus bonuses,.

Particularly before Ryan Dempster was re-signed and then when the Jake Peavy deal fell through, Johnson was identified by fans and press alike as an affordable free agent option to bolster the Cubs staff.

Once Dempster was back in the fold, it was easy to get excited about the thought of Johnson replacing Jason Marquis as the Cubs' fifth starter. Also attractive was the thought that if Johnson came to the North Side, the Cubs would never have to face him: Johnson's career mark against the Cubs, spanning 14 starts, is 13-0, 1.84, with 142 K's in just 102 2/3 IP.

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SF's just pissed they missed out on jamie moyer so they decided to go young.

Ha. I was fresh out of old jokes. Glad you had one at the ready.

I was too focused on not making a 'randy' joke. I succeeded there, at least.

Darn. I was kind of liking the idea of Randy...at least as a fallback option. SF has got a pretty good rotation. Too bad their offense sucks.

Don't look now, but the Giants are a Dunn or Burrell away from being the class of a soft division. Right now they're at least in the same conversation as LA and Arizona.

I was thinking the same thing JB

Ya gotta give it to those Geriatric Giants

Big Unit + Giants = Ginourmous Unit

Any of our TCR Japanese scouts know anything about these pitchers the Cubs are supposably interested in? Kadokura, Noguchi.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/baseball/cubs...

if Hendry is so worried about finding a playfriend for Fukudome why not take a look at Akinori Otsuka?

Hendry loves to pretend he's a general manager.

Thanks to all the 'scouts' who have offered their knowledge of these players.

Sorry I looked that up for you, I'll make sure not to do it in the future.

You realize the Chicago Cubs have about 1/2 of a scout watching the Japanese leagues, right? There's not going to be a lot of people at TCR watching injured relievers in the NL.

Actually, yours was mildly appreciated. Those links were just stat-lines. I was more interested in 'scouting' information. I had read some other articles and had heard some positive and some negative comments.

I was curious, though, if the TCR reader in Japan who watches the games there had any opinions.

they got multiple scouts on the J-league (not counting the pacific rim coordination). it could get more interesting/intense if they start "stealing" younger players like theo in boston is trying to blaze a trail to do.

that aside, the 2 guys theyre looking at would be lucky to get a guaranteed contract from any MLB team, much less the cubs. minor league/ST-invite or low-cost MLB contract (if it gets to that point) are the most likely options.

they look like cartoon characters to me.

http://www.japanesebaseball.com/players/photos/yom...

Question of the day: With the way the market has changed, if Dempster was still a free agent, could be still get 4/52?

We'll probably know after Perez and Lowe signed, but I bet the Cubs might've gotten the fourth year on an option.

Yay hindsight.

Not entirely hindsight. I described at the time how I thought it had unfolded: Hendry made the offer before Dempster became a free agent. Dempster said no, I think I'll take my chances on free agency. When the phone didn't ring after about two days, Dempster or his agent asked Hendry whether the offer was still good.

Hendry, being Hendry--world-class nice guy, especially with other people's money--said sure.

A.J. Burnett is wondering what you two are talking about.

From that story:

"Since his rookie season in 2005, Taveras leads the Majors with 207 infield hits, accounting for 37 percent of his 558 career hits.

A full third of his career hits never made it to the outfield grass. Is being the real life Willie Mays Hayes something to be proud of? I guess it has to be, because he sure can't be proud of that .308 OBP last year.

fwiw, I would have taken Taveras over Gathright in a heartbeat

Dusty would have gladly given either guy 400 at bats in the 1 or 2 hole next year.

As would I, but I bet Jocketty is paying Taveras more than $800,000.

and to be a starter, too.

yeah, I know, sounds like he's first in line for a starter's job and got 2 years on top of it.

Just needed to pile on Hendry....things are slow.

Taveras in CF and Jerry Hairston Jr. in LF (maybe). I love it. Maybe Norris Hopper can start in RF, too, after Dusty gets sick of Jay Bruce.

Actually, I was thinking the opposite. If everything goes right, a roster of:

Taveras
Dickerson
Phillips
Votto
Bruce
Encarnacion
Hernandez
Gonzalez/Keppinger
Harang/Volquez/Arroyo/Cueto/Bailey/Owings
Cordero/Bray/Weathers/Burton/Rhodes

... could actually be a threat at least in the Wild Card race if not better. There's enough talent and experience there that I wouldn't dismiss this team by any means.

Looks like some Red fans do not share your enthusiasm.

http://redsminorleagues.com/2008/12/27/why-reds-si...

Best comment-

"hopefully Dusty learned from Patterson"

Somewhere Neifi Perez smiles.

Off-topic and maybe previously mentioned, but Abreu's had eleven straight years of over 150 games played.

Milton's high was 141 in 2004. Last year's 126 was his second highest games total and was obviously helped by DH duty. His third personal best falls all the way to 101.

So unless you're content with your Fuku replacement possibly only replacing him half the time for large coin, I think I'd pass even if we can't get Abreu. He helped a couple of my fantasy teams last year but I don't see any reason the Cubs should be the team to pay him after a timely career year.

Not to say we have an in-house option like them, but does anybody remember or have a record showing if Jerome Walton and Dwight Smith were highly touted prospects prior to the '89 campaign? I seem to recall them coming up from AA but I don't recall much beyond that.

I have an idea, let's start rumors thst the Cubs are going after Abreu first and Bradley second only to have neither thing work out. It felt so good to have that happen with pitching. Let's relive it again.

I'm not sure what they were in prospect rankings or anything like that, but here's what they did before joining the team in 1989.

Jerome Walton
- Taken 2nd Rd (36th overall) in 1986 June draft
- 1986 Rookie League - .288-.376-.419 w. 21 SB in 62 games
- 1987 A-Ball - .335-.452-.470 w. 49 SB in 128 games
- 1988 AA-Ball - .331-.399-.425 w. 42 SB in 120 games

Dwight Smith
- Taken 3rd Rd (62nd overall) in 1984 June draft
- 1984 Rookie League - .406 OBP w. 39 SB in 61 games
- 1985 Low-A - .289-.374-.405 w. 30 SB in 73 games
- 1986 A Ball - .310-.389-.473 w. 53 SB in 124 games
- 1987 AA Ball - .337-.415-.542 w. 60 SB in 130 games
- 1988 AAA Ball - .293-.367-.410 w. 25 SB in 129 games

So as you can see, Walton was a high pick and moved rapidly through the system. Putting up a .452 OBP at any level is remarkable. It was clear by his average, OBP, and is SB success rate (42/55) in 1988 that he was probably ready for at least a big league shot.

Smith was picked highly as well, but took longer to develop, but it should be noted he never repeated any levels. But he was more erratic than Walton. One year he was 60/78 in SB and the next 25/45. In 1987 he had 28 2B, 10 3B, and 18 HR, but in other years that power was non-existent. Still, he had some of the best raw speed of anyone in the system and was getting on base at a very high rate throughout his minor league career.

So neither was completely off the radar, in fact Walton had put up better minor league numbers and was the same age as Pie is right now when he joined the majors. I don't think we have anyone like that in our system, besides Pie. And regardless, I would not want to sit around this off-season and just hope that someone from the minor leagues will become Rookie of the Year. It is far more likely that any minor leaguer called up will have a year more like Walton/Smith's 1990+ seasons and not their 1989 seasons.

Walton was pretty highly touted, it wasn't a shock that he won the big league job. I remember reading an article where someone translated his Pittsfield (right?) stats and said he'd hit .300 in the bigs in '89.

Smith was considered a solid hitting prospect - and his career bared that out. Walton, as I recall, got fat and stopped working hard.

Walton, as I recall, got fat and stopped working hard.
======
I'm no hitting coach but I remember some commentary on Walton's extremely open batting stance, which eventually became a problem. Expecially if one loses some bat speed or quickness. When he gained some weight (stopped working hard), he was never the same.

on a 1/5 deal...3 M in incentives

Thanks for the Walton and Smith info, Wiscgrad.

I'm not necessarily advocating that waiting for a player to come out of the blue is the way to go (and I do believe Hendry signs a FA OF making this moot), but I do wonder if giving an in-house option the chance to play a larger role would be such a bad thing when weighed against Bradley's injury history. Knowing that both Walton and Smith didn't come without expectations hedges that thinking a bit.

I'm prepared to see Abreu sign elsewhere though I think he'd be a great fit. If Hendry does get Bradley, I'll just be hoping for the best.

R.I.P. 2008 Bears

Fuck You Jerry Angelo

I was just thinking yesterday what a good job Angelo does drafting defensive players. We should find a team that has the reverse problem (can draft offensive players but not defensive ones) and have them draft a quarterback and WR for us and trade them a CB and OLB we draft.

Very funny. :) Just logged on and read it. Would be a great approach at selecting the proper talent...

just a little webcam link to Brighten Up your holidays...

http://www.cubworld.com/category/a_cubworld_cam

Go Blackhawks and

...99 days until the Cubs open the 2009 season in Houston (April 6th). Woo!

If the Giants are to be considered contenders in the NL West, they had better plan on winning every game 2-1, because when Bengie Molina is your biggest threat, there are some serious holes in your lineup.
Have they acquired anyone to play RF, 3B, 2B, 1B, or SS yet?
OPS+ across the board:
C-98 Not a bad season from the senior Molina
1B-83 Bowker hot and cold..., .300 OBP, .408 SLG not great
2B-109 Ray Durham....is still alive.
3B-74 Jose Castillo...meh....671 OPS...yikes.
SS-45-goodbye Omar Vizquel, what a great career
LF-105 Fred Lewis..showed some flashes, stole 21 bases, hit 11 triples
CF-94 Aaron Rowand. A little different not hitting in Philly huh?
RF-105 Randy Winn. .789 OPS. Will be 35 in June. 10HR 65 RBI. Fukudome had 10 HR, 58 RBI.

Matt Cain was 8-14 despite a 3.76 ERA last year, Lincecum was outstanding, Zito can't pitch with a huge fork sticking out of his back. Jonathan Sanchez showed promise at 9-12, but still had a 5.01 ERA in 158 innings. Randy Johnson is 44, and who knows how he will pitch this season.

They picked up Renteria to play SS. That should be a huge upgrade. They seem like a perfect fit for an Adam Dunn. He could play LF or 1st and add alot to that lineup. Hell, if they added Burrell and Dunn they win that division with their pitching. Shades of 2007 Cubbies.

Defensive players Angelo has drafted:
Dan Bazuin
Michael Okwo
Leon Joe
Jamar Williams
Roosevelt Williams
Michael Haynes
Todd Johnson
Claude Harriott
Chris Harris...oh...hmm..so he's good? Crap...at least they go Manning jr?
Dusty "IR" Dvoracek
Mark Anderson-great 2006....then ugh.
Karon Riley
Bobby Gray

The jury is still out on Zack Bowman, Craig Steltz, and Corey Graham and Marcus Harrison who have shown flashes.

So Angelo hit on Kevin Payne kinda, Manning as a KR, Hester as a return man, decent #2 receiver,
Tommie Harris...Tillman and Briggs, and even Ian Scott was decent.
Alex Brown has been a solid player for years as well.

A great drafter though?

Alot of that depends on where they were drafted. Anderson was a late 5th round pick and was a valuable member of a NFC championship team so it was a good pick. I think alot of his struggles in the 2 past season have come about by misuse. Anyone could have told you that as an every down player Alex Brown was a better choice than Anderson. He is a pass rush specalist and used primarliy in that role he will produce. Chris Harris was a 6th round pick who started every game in his Bears career and when he got traded only led the league in forced fumbles to go along with 101 tackels for Carolina in 07. I would say that was a good pick. When healthy Dvorceck has shown he can play and a valuable member of a DT rotion, so I would rate it as an OK pick so far. Johnson, Joe, and Williams were 4th rounders who are nice special teams players, yeah they were better picks out there, but atleast they were/are contributors to the team. You cant hold Gray, Harriott or Riley aganist Angelo, they were 5th round picks and what 33% of 5th rounders make it in the NFL? The only flatout busts he has had on defense are Bazuin, Haynes, Okwo and Williams. Outside of Parcells, Belicheck/Pioli, Newsome and whoever does the Steelers draft I dont think there is a better eye for defensive talent among GMs in the NFL.

-Bill Polian- Jumps up and down waiting for you to remember him!!!!

"Chris Harris was a 6th round pick who started every game in his Bears career..."

This was a monumental, huge blunder - to let him go...

As I said, "Fuck you Jerry Angelo"

Yes...If they add Dunn and Burrell. They may also have the worst defensive OF in baseball.

If they trade for A-Rod and Grady Sizemore....if...if...

Assuming they add Burrell and Dunn...fairly big ifs, they still have holes at 3B, SS, and 2B if Ray Durham declines at age 36.

They traded Durham to Milwaukee last year. I hadn't seen if he has returned. But you are correct. The offense does indeed suck.

Sorry, Renteria will play SS. My apologies Dr.Aaron

Nathan Vasher...who has disappointed in the last two seasons as well.
Sorry for the omission..

Submitted by The Real Neal on Sun, 12/28/2008 - 11:14am.

Walton was pretty highly touted, it wasn't a shock that he won the big league job. I remember reading an article where someone translated his Pittsfield (right?) stats and said he'd hit .300 in the bigs in '89. Smith was considered a solid hitting prospect - and his career bared that out. Walton, as I recall, got fat and stopped working hard.

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

REAL NEAL: Jerome Walton got a ton of bunt hits in 1989, whereas Dwight Smith hit line-drive ropes all over the place and was the better "pure" hitter. But Walton was (by far) the superior defensive player of the two.

Walton had an outstanding rookie season in 1989, including a 30-game hitting streak (which I believe was the second-longest in Cubs history), but he was very upset that he didn't get a big payday after he won the Rookie of the Year Award (he didn't understand that the system doesn't work that way), and so he pouted the whole next season and allowed himself to get out of shape. Then he suffered a hamstring injury that caused him to lose a step and he never got it back. Also, his brother was shot & killed in an armed robbery around that time and that seemed to have a negative effect on him, too, and he just was never the same carefree player as he was in 1989.

Dwight Smith was a below-average defender who had difficuulty tracking fly balls and reading line drives. Any ball hit into the air in his direction was an adventure. And he was a brain-dead baserunner, too, always trying to take one base too many (The Bridge Too Far).

Walton and Smith were the last of the Dallas Green-Gordon Goldsberry products that came through the Cubs farm system in the 1980's, following the likes of Shawon Dunston, Rafael Palmeiro, Greg Maddux, Mark Grace, Jamie Moyer, Dave Martinez, Mike Harkey, Damon Berryhill, Les Lancaster, Derrick May, Shawn Boskie, Gary Varsho, Joe Girardi, et al to The Show. 

There are plenty of players still available who can help the Cubs in 2009 (because right now they are a lesser team than last season: plus Gregg, minus Wood). They need a lefty reliever or two, and there are several out there. They need a left handed hitter and there are a few in the field. My only hope is that Hendry is not pulling a MacPhail and waiting for some of them to "cheap down" (like Moises Alou did), while running the risk that he will emerge with no help at all.
Weighing in on Walton, the Cubs thought a lot of him back in '89 when he made the team and they weren't disappointed. He basically ate himself out of baseball; he reported to camp on '90 almost 20 pounds heavier, lost bat and running speed, and suffered a succession of nagging injuries that hampered him the rest of his career. He wasn't even good enough to be a spare part after that soph season.

"My only hope is that Hendry is not pulling a MacPhail and waiting for some of them to "cheap down"//

Abandon hope.

That's what he's doing.

Dr. Aaron...wht's what I get for not paying attention.. I forgot Durham was traded. I blame the holidays!!!

Or something..

Nice Muskrat retrospective on Gracey:
http://chicago.cubs.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=2...

Technically, his last game at Wrigley was in August (?) 03. It was a great, rain-soaked day. Cubs won, Clement outdueled Brandon Webb and the cheering for Gracey was so loud it might've knocked some concrete off of the upper deck. Sadly, my photos didn't turn out.

No chance at the HoF, nor should he get in. But what a fun player to cheer for.

wooo...grace

I don't know if some of you caught it, or if its 3/44, but Bruce Levine mentioned Saturday that the impending sale/non-sale is really throwing a big-ass wrench in allowing Hendry to do his thing to the best of his ability. BL did state that Bradley is still being courted, but the money thing with the Cubs at this current moment is just a quagmire. And, of course, here it is status quo as I am dusting off my checkbook once again, getting ready to plunk down for another season ticket package.

"in allowing Hendry to..."

I meant, "in interfering with him being able to do his job to the best of his ability..."

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