Bye-bye, Blanco

Addendum: If the Cubs do, in fact, replace Henry Blanco with Paul Bako (per all the rumors) and the explanation is tied to the team wanting to "become more left-handed," these numbers might be of interest:

Paul Bako's lifetime batting line against RHP: 2015 PA's, .240 / .317 / .321 / 638 OPS
Henry Blanco's lifetime batting line against RHP: 1708 PA's, .222 / .281 / .352 / 633 OPS

Not much of a gain, especially considering all of those intangibles that Blanco was said to have contributed to the team--the same intangibles that are cited by the Padres upon their signing him.

The Padres signed 37-year-old Henry Blanco to a one-year, $750K deal on Wednesday. Blanco will back-up and mentor young Nick Hundley (no relation to Randy or Todd).

From the Padres Web site:

"I thought it was very important," (Padres GM Kevin) Towers said of the mentorship. "Two
of the guys we identified were Brad Ausmus and Henry Blanco. And a lot
of it was what they have done throughout their career.

"Henry has done it with [Chicago Cubs catcher Geovany] Soto.
Hopefully he will help Nick develop into one of the elite catchers in
the game."

Blanco, who hit a career-high .292 for the Cubs last season while throwing out 10 of 22 would-be base-stealers (46%), seems to be a consolation prize for the Padres, who lost out in the bidding for the longtime Astro, Ausmus. The 39-year-old signed a one-year, $1MM contract with the Dodgers, also on Wednesday.

No closure yet on the numerous reports--make that threats--that the Cubs are planning to sign Gabor Bako as Soto's new caddy.

TCR roster change: Joe Aiello, who joined us a few weeks ago from View From The Bleachers, has decided to unjoin us and get VFTB back up and running. We wish Joe the best and implore him to forget the secret TCR handshake we shared with him during the indoctrination process.


So, the Cubs have $800,000 to spend on Gathright but not $750,000-ish to re-sign Henry Blanco? LouPa must be really high on Zsa Zsa.

I was partial to Ava in Green Acres myself.

Mr. Haney and Arnold Ziffel, nuff said.

apparently Kevin Towers consulted Greg Maddux before signing Blanco. Too bad Maddog didn't stick up for his other old caddy, Bake-o.

I'm rooting for Koyie.

I second that.

And, O, Joe, we barely knew ye.

I nominate Chad to deliver the Kiss of Death. No one gets out.

I know it was you Joe. You broke my heart

John Hill's either somewhere in Tucson in the witness protection program, or sharing a watery grave with Big Pussy.

I thought Big Pussy and Richie Aprille were both in the witness protection program?

I heard John Hill was trampled under by "football" fans during an English Premier League match.

So what happened with Joe? Why did he bail so soon?

I was upset with an article I wrote and Joe offered some constructive criticism which I didn't take kindly to...after a few moments I took a swing at him and then we took it to the clubhouse before Cubnut and Transmission broke it up. Arizona Phil then had to get rid one of us.....


Did Joe at least sock AJ Pierzyinski before Phil sent him packing? Because we could make some t-shirts out of that...

no, but he did take a swing at Al Yellon, if we're going to play this metaphor correctly


so was it rob or joe who broke the water cooler ad on the right during the scuffle?

also don't use the word touche.
it's french.
france is next to germany.
germany is nazi.
al yellon hates anything nazi.

No real story. He was thrilled to escape the clutches of MVN and land at TCR, then (I guess) just decided he missed having his very own blog.

I knew it! The initiation rites freaked him out.

I told him to beat it. I don't like threads with liberal uses of "Joe". They confuse me.

Joe did not even carry the pink backpack long enough. So 3/44!

This was another dumb Hendry move for what is turning into a horrible offseason. If Hank only wanted a one-year $750K deal, how do you not bring him back? Age and injury concerns? I don't get it.

He can play some 1B in a pinch, he still calls a great game behind the plate, and he can occasionally hit the ball with some genuine power. How the HELL does Gabor rate better than this? Because he freaking hits LH???!!!

I'm starting to get pissed off. Yes, I know it's just a backup catcher, but it's still another baby step backwards for this team compared to its setup in September 2008.

Big or small, it definitely seems like a strange maybe even just plain dumb choice.

I honestly thought they were letting Blanco go because he wanted a starting job somewhere. Maybe Hank just wants to develop a posse one young catcher at a time?

hank will actually get a chance to play in SD more than a handful of innings/games. he probably wont start, but he'll be in a damn nice place to play some summer ball and see 200+ab's.

he barely saw work at all last year. the guy was healthy and saw 120ab's.

soto is gonna carry catcher and whoever backs him up is gonna have to be content with riding a lot of pine and knowing you're going to be lucky to see 200ab's if health holds. that's not an easy sell to a lotta players.

This thread may be long over, but I had to get two cents in for Henry Blanco. He's been one of my favorite Cubs, a professional with great catching skills and some clutch hitting, and downright classy. I agree, how do you not bring him back for 750K?

i think they wanted a lefty-backup catcher, hence no Blanco. Foolish as that is...

I just looked at Bako v. Blanco re: hitting right-handed pitching. Hardly a difference, at least in OPS. (See addendum to the post for the actual numbers.)

but haven't announced it yet

Tribune Co. executives have chosen a favorite among three bids for the Chicago Cubs and have given that recommendation to the unsecured creditors committee in the company's bankruptcy case, a source close to the situation said Wednesday.

Tribune Co. and its investment banker, JPMorgan Chase & Co., removed the names from the bids, referring to them by number. The committee will review the offers and other Tribune Co.-related business at a regularly scheduled meeting Thursday.

the creditors actually can't veto whom the Trib has chosen, but Trib wants their blessing so there are no roadblocks down the road.

Hopefully it's announced tomorrow...

...who here expects any backup catcher the cubs sign to get more than 150-ish ab if soto is healthy?


it's not like soto is some sure-thing who's god of catching, but lou gave pretty much every indication he could last year that he's gonna iron-man the kid at the C position.

btw...i'd take hank over paul not only because of the bat, but because bako's arm is on the decline (even if hank's is, too). that said, im not sure hank would want to return to sit around and scrap for a handful of ab's.

I imagine that since whoever backs up Soto will only get 150 AB's or so they saw no point to pay more than a half mil. Honestly since Koyie is probably still Auto renew they should just give him the job and save a few extra thousand, than the quarter of a mil going from Blanco to Bako.

Joe Aiello = Cliff Bartosh?

More like Rick Majerus or Dana Altman.

I'm not nearly as fat as Majerus

You certainly don't eat like him.

I'm a little perplexed as to why we let Hank White go; everything I've heard says that one day Blanco might be management material. Did the Cubs think he'd have a bad attitude after taking over a million dollar per year paycut? Did they feel that Bako would be a better fit as backup?

In either case San Diego got a great deal getting Henry for only $750,000 per year - best of luck to Hank White, I'll miss him!

I can't believe that Paul Bako is giving Hendry wet dreams. Greg Zaun signed for 1.5 mil and now Blanco for $750k. The market for catchers is dropping like a rock. Why not try to sign Valentine or Pudge?

Is Valentin still out there? Remember he beat the Cubs with an extra inning homer off either Remlinger or Farnsworth in 2004, that precipitated the Steve Stone diatribe on GN? He was on Sports Central that night and when Kap asked about what happened, Stone said he would tell the truth but that Dusty "can't handle the truth".
Pudge would be a huge addition if he could be convinced to take a 2nd chair to Soto. Imagine giving Soto 30 games off during the season and having Pudge step in and continue to show him the ropes.
I'll miss Blanco. Great team player, I think an outstanding manager in the future. I'd say Hendry was being penny-wise and pound-foolish, but there ain't no wise to this non-move.

Pudge could definitely teach him how to chemically enhance his career.

Fare thee well, Hank White. I'll miss your curly mullet the most.

I'm gonna miss those badass flame tattoos on his forearms.

I agree with an earlier comment that I am very dissappointed with the moves this off season. The uncertainty in the ownership most likely had a lot to do with it, but I think the bottom line is the team as it is comprised today is not as good as the one that ended 2008. The best team on paper or even during the season doesn't mean a successful post-season, so maybe this team can achieve more during the post-season. Who knows, we are only speculating. However, I would rather feel good about the off season moves than not good.

I feel like Hendry is taking a calculated risk that no one in the division is going to beat out this team, whether or not it's better than last year's.

Hopefully we can remain free for some summer flexibility when any team that's out of it will be extra-motivated to move a good player with a lot of dough on their contract..

This is probably a 90-92 win team right now, plenty good enough to win the division. If they do add Peavy, you're talking an almost 100-win team on paper (probably overestimating that a bit).
I think the Cubs are doing just fine this offseason.

Other than losing Kerry Wood...

On paper this team is weaker I think, but I have to admit it's an interesting mix. It has potential, under the right manager. Lou has his work cut out for him. Wins might require lots of moving in and out, double-switches and such - well, that and some of these guys actually hitting, catching and pitching. It seems that on good teams, every year, someone comes off the bench or out of nowhere and contributes. We'll need one or two of those guys this year.

I will miss Blanco's defense but that isn't much of a concern with Soto now behind the plate. It was essential to have Blanco when your catcher was Michael "I don't stinkin play defense" Barrett.

helluva shitty lineup they put together

and yet another case against including writer photos

I must say, when the OSU came to town to kick the crap out of Northwestern, that was the general body-type and look of a majority of their fans. Not a handsome group. But many were nice enough to piss in our front yards rather than lurking in our alleys the way fans of schools do.

Yeah, I'll apologize for that. Our traveling fans are typically the lower rent type, who have nothing to do for a whole weekend, if you can read between the lines (if not - no work, or real school responsibilities, etc). Many of them don't even go to OSU - they just live in Columbus and attend one of the numerous lower-tier or community colleges around here. People like that lack motivation to do much of anything, including take care of their bodies, really.*

Bah, I hate some of our fans, even though I love this university and have been here a total of 8 years between undergrad and graduate school. At least we don't riot anymore?

*note I'm not calling myself svelte, but I certainly don't look out of shape. Even though I can't run 50 yards.

" they just live in Columbus and attend one of the numerous lower-tier or community colleges around here"

I thought OSU was a lower-tier/community college.


It's possible that Henry Blanco didn't want to return to the Cubs. Maybe he was pissed off that they didn't pick up his option for 2009. Or maybe he felt he wasn't getting enough playing time, even for a back-up catcher.

Unless he gets traded to SD in a Jake Peavy deal, Welington Castillo is the Cubs "catcher of the future." Whether that means Castillo is projected by the Cubs as their #1 catcher in 2011 (with Geovany Soto moving to 1B to replace D-Lee) remains to be seen, but (for better or worse) Castillo would probably get called up if something bad happens to Soto in 2009-10.

If Soto catches 130+ games again in '09, the back-up guy isn't going to get much playing time, and so the Cubs probably don't want to spend much on that roster slot. There really isn't much difference between paying Paul Bako $500K or paying Koyie Hill (or Mark Johnson) the minimum MLB salary ($400K).

I think that's a mistake, BTW, because while Castillo is a definite MLB catching prospect in the mold of the Flying Molina Brothers, he is still very raw and will almost certainly need at least another year (or maybe even two) of polishing in the minors, and so if anything bad does happen to Soto in 2009, the Cubs will have a black hole in the lineup while he's out. They will probably need to make a mid-season panic-emergency Jason Kendall-type deal if that happens.

If Soriano continues to be plagued by leg problems, the Cubs may ultimately have to consider moving him to 1B, either when Lee's contract expires or at some other point in Sori's long-term deal.

AramRam wonders what he did so that he was so quickly forgotten.

2011 first base spot is thoroughly spoken for on this team.

What about Mark Reed? I hear pitchers prefer him behind the plate. Castillo has a bad habit of popping up too quickly, impairing the umps vision of the strike zone... resulting in fewer called strikes... obviously Castillo has a lot of talent and Reed's career line is something of an eye sore, but just curious if he's on anyone's radar? Az Phil?

I don't understand the assumption that Hank wanted to come back. Maybe he was offered a deal by the Cubs, but turned it down. I don't really give a shit anyway, because whoever is backing up isn't going to be playing much.

I just noticed this in one of Carrie Mustache's bits of journism.

So Taguchi led the majors in pinch hitting average in 2007 at .406. Yes, he sucked last year, but he might be a pretty good PH as well as an OF backup. Can you tell I'm really hoping he makes the team?

Yep..I hope the Cubs can load up on 40 year old back up Outfielders..

yeah but he's Asian DB.

We need him to keep our other Asian backup ofer company.

Good. Then we're in agreement. I think he's 39, though.

didn't you guys get the memo? asians age a whole lot more gracefully than white people. so he is really only 32 in caucasian years.

It's the Omega-3 fish oils

That's Iceland: see Bjork and Sigur Ros

I think he's 39, though...
Jack Benny signed to a 1yr deal to play violin in the visitor dugout?

Josh Vitters #14

I don't have ESPN Insider so can't see if there's anyone from 26-100.

Oh he's 39?? Well that changes everything...oh he turns 40 in July, so I guess there'll be a huge drop-off then? Lol...

Are you mocking my blind love for Taguchi? He shall be awesome. So shall Fukudome. It will be awesome.

Oh, you're just in a good mood today because you no longer have to share your name...

I hadn't thought of that, but you're probably right. So? Yes. Joe? No.

I f they were awesome, that would be awesome...but I'm not holding my breath..

the only other Cub prospect I saw ranked by Keith Law was at #98, Jay Jackson.

#98 Jay Jackson RHP Chicago Cubs
TOP '08 LEVEL: A (Daytona) IE 21

Call this one a hunch. Jackson may end up a starter, but if the Cubs choose to leave him in the pen, he could shoot to the majors this year or early next year. Jackson was the No. 1 starter at Furman last spring while also playing the outfield, leading the Paladins in slugging percentage, and earned notice in the spring with a 91-94 mph fastball and a potential out-pitch slider in the mid-80s with good tilt and a very sharp, late break. The consensus on him before the draft was that he was a reliever in pro ball, which allowed the Cubs to grab him in the ninth round, but that is already looking like grand larceny. Jackson does throw a curve and changeup if he's left in the rotation, but neither is an average pitch and his height (maybe 6-1) means he doesn't get any downhill plane on his fastball, which may make him too homer-prone to be a starter. If he can improve his fastball command just a little bit, however, he has a chance to be a dominant short reliever in the majors.

and here is Law's the Vitters writeup at #14:

14 Josh Vitters 3B Chicago Cubs
TOP '08 LEVEL: A (Peoria) 17 19
Vitters started the year slow due to a hand injury, ended up returning to short-season ball, and hit everything in sight. He has an easy, smooth, quick swing that would be that classic "sweet" left-hander's swing if it wasn't for the fact that he hits right-handed. He doesn't have great loft in his swing, but is strong and makes extremely hard contact; he led the Northwest League in doubles at age 19 and as he fills out a little bit, some of those will go over (or through) the wall. He's fringe-average at third base; he has plenty of arm and his footwork is improving, although he's not likely to ever be plus over there. If there's a concern, it's the very low walk total; he's not a hacker or even impatient, but is very aggressive, and that works as long as he's ahead of the pitchers and can make so much solid contact. If his patience doesn't improve and he doesn't continue to hit .320-plus, his ceiling will start to drop. If the patience comes, he's a potential No. 3 hitter who'll hit plenty of doubles and 25-plus home runs with a high average.

Bizzare top 25.

I just want to point out again, though, that the Braves listed five guys as untouchables in the Peavy deals - three of which are ranked below Vitters on this scale.

*Edit - counting is hard.

Looks like he'll miss most of April....

top 10 by position, Vitters the only Cub at #1 at 3b

top 5 Cubs prospects
1. Vitters, 2. J. Jackson, 3. J. Samardzija, 4. A. Cashner, 5. E. Caridad

ranking each farm system
not having Insider, I can't tell you, I'll guess #22

The love for Henry Blanco on TCR is more amusing than touching.

All the guy can do is throw, and it's hard to do that from the dugout or the bullpen.

The Cubs have Derrek Lee, so they're going to lead the league in intangibles with or without Blanco.

I wish these guys would accept payment in intangibles.

Jon Heyman claims without source that the Ricketts family is the favorite to buy the team.

Yay journalism.

Blanco did more than throw last year. Plus he can catch, plus he can call a good game for the pitchers. I disagree completely with the previous comment.

named special envoy to the Middle East

remember when some folks thought his steroid report was poorly done and a hack job? And something like 99% turned out to be correct...

Good times...

to echo VA Phil's comment, which is rare enough, when the Cubs signed Blanco and then resigned him, a lot of folks were bitching about him as a backup and why waste the $$.

now their bitching that we're losing him...

same goes for Marquis...rather amusing.

of course, it's probably different folks doing the bitching on each end.

I'm more worried about counting on Soto to play 130 games, not that I think Blanco is an adequate back-up if Soto did go down for a significant time.
Cubs seem to be putting a lot of faith in Fukudome to play CF and Soto to catch without proper backups. I guess Reed Johnson in CF or move Bradley over and let Hoffpauir play RF. Johnson will be overexposed as an everyday player though if that happens and I have doubts they'd even attempt Hoffpauir as a regular in the OF.
And yes, I'm not even going to justify Gathright as a starter.

So Taguchi will be filling in in that scenario, I think.

What I like best about Hank is the apparent role he's taken as a mentor, which, I think, Soto could still use. 750k for a good backup, great defensive catcher and an extra coach is pretty damn good.

sure, maybe Blanco wanted to play more or was mad at the Cubs for cutting his salary...

most people would rather take a lower paying job at a new work environment than take a paycut at their current job.

(I realize some folks have already touched on that earlier).

but if Soto gets hurt for anything more than 15 days, Blanco isn't much of an answer imo...and the difference between Blanco and whomever is the new backup isn't going to be much of one for the few Ab's and playing time they do get.


With Johnson, Gathright, Soriano, Bradley and Fukudome there doesn't appear to be room for Taguchi. Either Taguchi fails to make the team or Fukudome is going to Iowa or somewhere else.

not having Insider, I can't tell you, I'll guess #22
Try lower:

27. Chicago Cubs: Josh Vitters and a few hard-throwing relievers, and that's about it. The Cubs had some really atrocious drafts in the mid-2000s -- it's a fair bet that the 2005 draft class will fail to produce a big leauger other than Donald Veal, who was lost in the Rule 5 draft last month and has done absolutely nothing to earn a big league shot this April.

Out of curiosity, where/how do they rate the Padres system?

while the overall depth of the system is lacking, the top 3-4 guys are pretty exciting in my opinion...
Vitters, Samardzija, Cashner and Jackson
The Korean shortstop (Hak-Ju Lee?) is probably not getting noticed by anyone yet either.
I think Colvin and Flaherty are mildy interesting as well as the new guys from the Indians. A lot of guys that can contribute in the majors, but only a few potential All-Stars/breakout players....

Reuters repeats an unconfirmed source that Ricketts is the favorite.

The selected favorite is not Klaff. Ricketts' offer reportedly gives more cash up front while Utay offers a higher value overall.

rooting for the die-hard Cub fan, right? Ricketts?

I guess. I have this idea (not sure why) that Utay has deeper pockets. That true?

My impression is that Ricketts is most likely to have the win-at-all-co$t$ attitude this franchise needs.

After a couple of World Series victories I'd be much more open to an owner who has expenses in line with revenues. Until then, I don't care if he goes broke, we just need to win.

it's a fair bet that the 2005 draft class will fail to produce a big leauger other than Donald Veal
it's a bit unfair to kick the system with this comment without adding that 2005 was John Stockstill's last draft and he left for Baltimore afterward and the Cubs replaced him with Tim Wilken, who picked Colvin in 2006 then didn't have a pick until round #5 with Shark (which was plenty controversial but looks pretty solid right now).

Here is an idea. Why didn't we sign HB and include him as part of any trade for Peavey. Ausmus was pretty much already signed, so if the Padres wanted HB, they would need to deal with us. And if they don't we still have a solid backup cather for only $750K.

Blanco would have had no-trade rights if they resigned him until mid-June...

"We've decided to rebuild, and a let me introuduce to you a cornerstone of the Padres franchise for years to come, Mr Hank White. Hank come on up here... Oh, god, someone wake him up."

(How does Keith Law) rate the Padres system?
btw, Astros are 30 of 30. Nats 29, Tigers 28, Reds 26, WSux 23, Pirates 22, Brewers 13, Stl 6.

19. San Diego Padres: It's all depth with almost no ceiling other than Matt Latos, who has a lengthy history of run-ins with coaches. And a lot of the depth guys project as average or fringe-average regulars. However, with the addition of that depth, the system has made huge strides in the past two years, and the Padres should be able to fill some spots internally in 2010 and 2011, spots they now have to fill externally via mediocre free agents.

Never mind... I had misread your previous post...

comment #69

More Cubs + Peavy talks:

Let more speculation begin!

is that 3-sentence write-up the whole artice? it's just links from the last week or so..

I couldn't figure this out:

"Question: if the Arizona Cardinals win the SB, does that up the ante for the Cubs needing a final piece to make their World Series run?"

Is that a joke?


Is it a funny one?


Ken Kadokura in Cub uniform:

Ken getting hit in the face by ball batted by (ironically) ex-Cub Pedro Valdes. The sound effects and voice over makes it worth it.

Links come from NBP Tracker.

they had a press conference to introduce a minor league signing?

something's afoot...


Not necessarily. Maybe he just got excited and went shopping at his local footlocker (or wherever the kids are shopping these days).

Ken Kadokura should look into getting more Cubs this Cub martial arts white pinstripe belt outfit

$250 for a robe? Why don't people do like Blanco, just sleep in the locker room and stuff the robes into your bag when you leave?

TKD white belt is given, not earned

Tae Kwon Do is Korean. The belt systems are different.

I studied Kempo which is Japanese and the highest belt you can achieve is Red. Although white is also the first belt.

I heard a rumor the Cubs are back in the Peavy talks. True?

No. Talk to you tomorrow.


*high five*

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  • Hate to give the Mets credit, but they did everything right tonight in what had to be a very tough game for them to play. As Hollandsworth said on the Cubs post-game -- if you watched the game, you saw Mets players consoling Marlins players who were in tears during the game. Between that and the way Molina handled the Ross farewell -- maybe the Mets and Cardinal players aren't pure evil. Just the fans.

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    billybucks 7 hours 25 min ago view
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