The Tipping Point

Another day, another loss and this season has somehow become even less interesting than last season. Incredible.

The trade deadline won't even give us much to peak our interest, the players that could net anything interesting are paid too much and few teams have the money or the willingness to take on that type of salary. Carlos Pena could make sense for the Rays or Giants and possiby Mariners or Angels, but how willing are they to take on his $5M balloon payment for next year or the remaining $2M or so he's owed this year and then how interesting will the prospects be that the Cubs could get back?  Aramis has warmed up and 3b always seems like a tough position to fill, but he'd have to waive all his options that kick in($1M if he's traded plus his 2012 $16M option) if he's traded along with his no-trade clause. I'm sure he sees the writing on the wall that he won't be back with the Cubs at $16M next year so he may be willing to do that, but that's gonna take a lot finessing to happen and then to find a team to move him to. Some contending teams with black holes at third base include the Mariners, Tigers, Brewers, White Sox and Pirates.

The other options that the Cubs may consider moving would probably be Jeff Baker, Reed Johnson, Kosuke Fukudome and if any dumbass team would want Zambrano or Soriano's contracts, but good look with that. None of those will really net more than minor league filler though. I suppose Kerry Wood as well, but my feeling is that Wood is pretty much committed himself to being a Cub for the rest of his career and Hendry will respect that.

I also just wanted to note that I got through the Cubs 2011 draft on Wiklifield and some guardian angel was helping out with the signings, so thanks for that. I still have to go back and do the 2010 draft and re-do previous years so all that sortable info is useful. Also updated the All-Star page and Futures Games for anyone interested.

Garza vs. Livan Hernandez tonight in an attempt to avoid the 4-game sweep. Cubs currently hold the 2nd worst record in the baseball, 5 games ahead of the Houston Astros for the top draft pick.

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bad video angles of Austin Kirk's no hitter

http://www.minorleagueball.com/2011/7/7/22641...

in 2009, Kirk was on my pre-season Sleeper Alert! list and it looks like he's waking up. His best pitch is his curveball. I have conflicting reports on his fastball velocity. One source says 86-89, like last year, another source reports a vague velocity increase but with few details. I am working to get that conflict resolved one way or another. In any event, he's having a great year.

Was Baylor the last Cub manager fired during the season?

sounds right

fwiw, Q-Ball now 59-66 since taking over...

Jim Hendry-as-GM record is currently 730-730

So tonight should put Hendry under .500 and falling.

Chris Rusin promoted from AA to AAA according to Muskat

Rusin has been pitching well lately. The problems that McNutt, Rusin, Raley, Cabrera and Dolis were having at Tennessee in the earlier part of 2011 caused the influx of 38-year-old pitchers at Iowa.

A few of Rusin's cumulative minor-league numbers compared to Sean Marshall's:

Marshall (336 innings): 1.133 WHIP, 2.6 BB/9, 8.6 K/9, 3.26 K/BB.

Rusin (222 innings): 1.176 WHIP, 1.9 BB/9, 7.2 K/9, 3.17 K/BB.

The problems that McNutt, Rusin, Raley, Cabrera and Dolis were having at Tennessee in the earlier part of 2011 caused the influx of 38-year-old pitchers at Iowa.

none of that is really true, but I do find Rusin to be an interesting prospect.

His K numbers though are way down so far this year.

players taking up the most percentage of their team's payroll

http://www.baseball-reference.com/blog/archiv...

according to their team payroll numbers, Cubs are 6th in league behind Yankees, Phillies, Red Sox, Angels and White Sox

Wow... Kosuke is making a lot of money. I didn't realize how much. I don't have a problem with Kosuke, per se, just have a problem with how much money he makes.

He makes crazy money. Plus defender, but, as usual, his hitting stacks up poorly versus other right fielders...

http://espn.go.com/mlb/stats/batting/_/positi...

The average NL RF line: .269 .340 .439 .780

And given his tendency to totally tank in September, you look at that and you wonder who would want him.

He ranks 15th in MLB on RC/27, though his platoon deal will benifit him on any rate stat.

I could see San Fran, Cleveland or Philly being able to use him .

I don't have a problem with Kosuke at all, even his bat. He can work a count and isn't afraid to take a walk. If I were starting a team from scratch, I wouldn't mind keeping him at all... at half the salary.

When he was signed, he was supposed to be the second-coming of Ichiro. Clearly, that hasn't panned out, but if it had, I might feel differently about his salary.

Kosuke's number is a bit inflated, as he had a back-loaded contract. But yea, he is overpaid.

Also crazy is that Albert Pujols only makes $14.5M

Not for long!

"I don't have a problem with Kosuke, per se, just have a problem with how much money he makes."

I have a problem with him if he played for Brett Jackson money.

Fukudome scores fewer runs per plate appearance than any other Cub starter. That's hard to do if you lead off.

Less surprising is that he drives in fewer runs per PA than any other starter.

He should only play on the 4th of July: he's a dud.

Anyone else hear Buster Olney on Mike and Mike in the Morning? He was asked if he thinks Sandberg would have been a better hire as manager than Quade. He said that Quade going into this season was like a guy holding one sand bag and looking at a flood. He doesn't believe it would have made any difference who they hired as manager. He feels the Cubs' biggest problem is the lack of veteran leadership. He feels they get the least leadership per dollar of any team in the majors.

As little as I usually pay attention to Olney (especially with trade rumors), I thought this was an interesting angle. I would like to know who might be available as a FA this coming offseason, or by trade, that might be able to help with this leadership void.
Is the general consensus that he is especially talking about Aram, Zambrano, and Soriano?

Hey Jeff Russel, why did you suck today?

"Well, because I didn't have Kirk Gibson telling me not to suck."

Buster Olney should be fired for implying that veteran leadership counts for 14 games in the standings over half a season.

No offense, Jace, but that's Olney comment is remarkably stupid. The Cubs biggest problem was lack of starting pitching depth. Leadership might rank around #6 on their things to fix.

So much I would like to say in response, but I have learned...
LALALALALALALALALA!

Anyone ELSE have an opinion?

We don't need veteran leadership or a new manager we need better players.

no, the Cubs could definitely use a new manager

I am firmly in the camp that the manager doesn't matter much.

Olney is saying that, too. I also agree. How does everyone (except TRN) feel about the clubhouse culture? Doesn't part of being a better player also mean that you are a better leader? Saying that we need better players is somewhat synonymous with saying we need more veteran leadership, at least in my mind.

they won with Z, Soriano and Ramirez in the clubhouse before, so what do you and Olney think are missing?

Mark DeRosa?

In case you have missed the point of my post, I am trying to get opinions, not start an argument...

you're commenting on a sports blog on the Internet...

I'm attempting to point out the fallacy of Olney's statement and anyone who may for one second buy it.

cause #1, it's pretty much bullshit (see 2007 and 2008 with the same guys that are the problems now) and #2, the Cubs brought in Wood and Pena at least to attempt to combat that perceived problem.

The problem with the team is their defense sucks, as has their starting pitching(somewhat surprising) and their offense hasn't been too great either. Other than that, they're well on their way to a championship.

Who was the leader on the Giants last year? Posey? Burell? Wilson?

That's over rated bs.

Managers can cost you games. And Quade has had his fair share this year.

Apology accepted.

"Saying that we need better players is somewhat synonymous with saying we need more veteran leadership, at least in my mind."

It is not synonymous in my mind at all.

Baseball teams don't win because of leadership. They win because they out hit, out field and/or out pitch the other team.

Baseball is not football.

I am firmly in the camp that the manager doesn't matter much.

----

Unless you have a manager who can't make out a lineup, can't manage a pitching staff, and appears overmatched in all aspects of in-game moves.

"Unless you have a manager who can't make out a lineup, can't manage a pitching staff, and appears overmatched in all aspects of in-game moves."

The same was said about Baker, Lou and I bet pretty much every manager the Cubs have had in my life time.

I just don't think even the best manager make much of a difference. Just get a cheap one that the players respect.

"Rob Richardson
We don't need veteran leadership or a new manager we need better players."

Hear hear!

isn't that part of why Kerry Wood, Pena and even Reed were brought in or at least part of their charm?

I see Steve Rosenbloom is trying to fill the Jay Mariotti void of write something that will piss people off just to write it...

http://hardballtalk.nbcsports.com/2011/07/07/...

Now get a load of this: Zambrano plans to fly to Guatemala over the All-Star break to prepare for the adoption of his son. Can you say “utter disrespect,’’ boys and girls?

apparently the Cubs and Z are idiots for allowing him to fly to Guatemala to prepare for adopting a son over the ASB because he didn't fly to Washington or something.

http://www.baseballamerica.com/blog/prospects...

Mid-Season Top 50

Hak-Ju Lee at #22

B. Jackson at #32, Szczur at #48

szczur fever...surprised he's "only" 48 with all the love he's getting from all over.

"50 Paul Goldschmidt, 1b, Diamondbacks"

cold...

yeah, there's lingering concerns about whether he's exclusively a "mistake hitter," but meh...i think a bit higher of him in 2011.

also updated all the 2011 minor league all-stars

http://wiklifield.thecubreporter.com/2011_Cub...

former manager Dick Williams passes away at age 82, manager of the '84 Padres.

Z to rehab in Peoria on Friday.

Bath robes at half mast

A stroke?

That's what she said

Sorry if already posted, but see below link for the Economist's behavioral analysis of why anyone would root for the Cubs:

http://www.economist.com/blogs/prospero/2011/...

stopped reading when he said Juan Pierre was his favorite player.

http://deadspin.com/5819068/curt-schilling-no...

There isn't a team in the last 20 years that's won clean. And that's unfortunate."

I have no proof at all, but I get a weird feeling about Curt Schilling. The way he rails against steroids gives me a George Rekers feeling. I wouldn't be surprised if like 5 years from now someone will find evidence that he did steroids too. Prior to age 30 he was 52-52, 7.3 K/9, a WAR of 15, and couldn't stay healthy at all. He then goes 164-94 after age 30, with nearly 2 more K's per 9 IP, a WAR of over 50, and he starts stacking up 35 GS seasons. His best seasons were ages 34, 35, and 37. Maybe it just took him a long time to get his groove, to play for the right teams, to get healthy. He wouldn't be the first player in major league history to put it together late. But wouldn't shock me if he had some help either.

Well said.

But does he float?

I got the chance to talk to him a little bit, and though he's really into the "cool cache" of being a MLB player, he just didn't strke me as a hypocrite. He was one of the guys encouraging players not to take the test, if memory serves.

I think the size of his gut as he got older will always get the benefit of the doubt from me.

He was pretty great when he was young, just couldn't stay healthy.

you never know though...

http://sports.espn.go.com/chicago/mlb/news/st...

"As long as I feel good tomorrow, I don't see a reason why I can't pitch on Saturday," Dempster said after his side session on Thursday. "I got a bunch of fluids in me, and I feel good. Just loosen it up and get some stretching in there and hydrate as much as possible.

"It feels good, and I think I'll just miss the one start."

from sullivan's twitter:

Quade on Cubs: “I believe we can turn this thing around, and I think it can start today, and I believe that everyday."

What's the plan, start Garza every day?

Bad plan.

What's worse than Mike Quade managing? Mike Quade managing scared.

In other news, Republicans on Deficit: "Lowering taxes means more revenue."

Small, happy children holding up a sign on TV saying, "First Cubs Game!"

I feel sorry for those kids. Someone should call DCFS on their parents.

So is Livan Hernandez going to throw 80 mph slop up there all night and we won't do squat?

That's rhetorical, I already know the answer.

well not doing squat against Livan isn't unique to the Cubs, at least the last season and a half of his career.

2-0 Nats in 3rd, well that was fun.

5 hits in a row...down by 3...still 0 outs, men on corners.

...6 in a row, 4 runs in, men on 1st/2nd

...pena error, bases loaded.

...2 run double, men on 2nd/3rd, 0 out, 6 runs in, garza out. ninja time.

that escalated quickly

Q-Ball will have to wait until tomorrow for things to start to turnaround.

that escalated quickly

----

Did I see you throw a trident?

yep, that really jumped up a notch

/splashes on some Sex Panther

If I was getting this kind of stuff out of my people at work the software my customers use would be broken and I'd be fired. I can't imagine upper management scratching their heads while things are going down in flames around them and saying that they believe in me and that I'll turn things around.

All we can hope for right now is that Ricketts wakes up near the all-star break and realizes nobody can watch this stuff as-is. I know changing managers and GM's isn't going to right the ship overnight, nor is it going to fix the complete lack of talent on this team, but it would be nice to know the captain is awake at the wheel.

Someone woke up. 8-6.

Well, evry buddy who tuned out just missed a 6 run Cub rally.

Savor it. We might not see that again this season.

Woohooo! Pena! And it's off a lefty, too! Game On!

at least Garza's off the hook for the loss now...

there's gotta be some team that wants Pena's power for the playoffs

There is, but do the Nippon Ham Fighters have the prospects to give up?

I'd settle for Matt Murton.

Free Matt Murton!

*facepalm*

Crazy game, great win. This was looking like the lowest point of the season.

Here comes that miracle run by the Cubs...to move us from 2nd pick in the draft to about 8th, anyway. Quade has shown he is a great manager when the Cubs are out of it.

Exactly what I was thinking down 8-0 early. Just when you think this team has hit bottom..a new bottom.

But then Q-Ball walked into the dugout with a bottle and he said, "Look what I just caught."

Well

Does anyone know how to dig out old Cubs videos on mlb.com or do they go into some black archive hole and are never seen or heard from again? I was interested in going back and checking out the 2003 playoff highlights, the Aramis walk-off against the Brewers from June a few years back, the Reed Johnson catch vs. the Nationals, and other stuff and couldn't find it anywhere. Can I pay some sort of subscription fee to get more access to old highlight videos?

I've tried to watch that Reed catch before and could never find it. MLB is annoying. If they won't archive it, they should at least let people put it on youtube.

The MLB search sucks, just google it. I put in
"mlb video reed johnson diving catch" and it was the third page listed:

http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20080...

Thanks for helping me track that one down but what about ones from 2003?

I found the link to the mlb.com page that recaps the 2003 NLCS but the links seem to be dead now...

http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/ps/y2003/home.jsp?view...

Is this something I can fix by giving them money or are they just not available any longer?

No, it's not a money issue, MLB just sucks. If you search Google for Bartman you can find that video, and then you can click on "more from this game" below it, which reveals:

http://mlb.mlb.com/search/media.jsp?game_pk=1...

But they aren't smart enough to have a "more from this series" button.

Thanks for doing some digging. I agree they do suck because in the information era, we should be able to find that stuff with a couple of clicks on the net. I know everything can't be saved forever, but when you are constantly cock-blocking every person who uploads a MLB video on the web, the least you can do is have the playoff games and highlights available...

TERRIBLE!

well at least they finally let you embed some videos (although you have to watch an ad), took them about 8 years.

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