Archive - Mar 2006

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Apparently Texas and Florida are the place where Cubs pitchers go when they're unwanted. The Cubs traded LHP John Koronka to the Texas Rangers for infielder/outfielder Freddie Bynum. Bynum was traded earlier to the Rangers along with pitcher John Rheinecker from the Oakland A's for pitcher Juan Dominguez. Bynum is 26 years old and was a 2nd round selection of the A's back in 2000. His minor league numbers indicate a player with very limited hittings skills who strikes out way too much for a utility player with no power. Like any good Oakland Athletics player though, at least he's not allergic to taking walks. He did have a fantastic spring as he hit .373/.439/.667 in 51 AB's. He does have a bunch of speed(rated the fastest baserunner in the A's organization by Baseball America the last 2 years and it may go farther back then that) and can play both the infield and outfield, more specifically second and third base along with left and center field. The most that I could find on his defense was that he's at best, "competent"; *COUGH* Jose Macias *COUGH*. This should be the final piece to solve the 25-man roster puzzle as Wade Miller will be put on the DL before Opening Day and Ryan Theriot sent down to AAA Iowa most likely. ----- OPENING DAY 2006 ROSTER STARTERS Carlos Zambrano, Glendon Rusch, Greg Maddux, Sean Marshall RELIEVERS Jerome Williams, Michael Wuertz, Will Ohman, Scott Williamson, Scott Eyre, Bobby Howry, Ryan Dempster CATCHERS Michael Barret, Henry Blanco INFIELDERS Derrek Lee, Todd Walker, Jerry Hairston Jr., Ronny Cedeno, Neifi Perez, Freddie Bynum, Aramis Ramirez OUTFIELDERS Matt Murton, Juan Pierre, Jacque Jones, John Mabry, Angel Pagan DL Kerry Wood, Mark Prior, Wade Miller

March 30th

The rites of spring are upon us once again, marked by the blossoming of flowers, warmer temperatures, April showers and of course, the TCR roundtable preview. The powers that be here have gathered around one very round and large table extending from the West Coast of the Great States of America to the land of kings, queens and something known as ìspotted dickî; all in an effort to bring you into the new season. Our pal Transmission has gotten himself wrapped up in a defense of his disseration so unfortunately he will not be able to play along. We wish him luck as we do the 2006 Cubbies. --------------------- Rate the Cubs off-season acquisitions and maneuvers? Did Jim Hendry sufficiently address the teamís needs or was he left in the cold holding a bag of donuts? MmmmmÖdonuts!!! [John Hill] When Americans talk about donuts, or doughnuts as itís correctly spelt, are we talking ones with jam in the middle, or ones with holes in the middle? I mean theyíre both good, but I think weíre all better off if our favourite things come without a big bit missing. Take the Cubs, for instance. Just how much better off they would be without about half a lineup missing? Letís just say, with a little more strawberry jam, they might not be in the position theyíre in now where, if theyíre to have any real playoff aspirations at all, theyíre once again entirely dependent upon the ridiculously high upside pitching getting healthy and staying healthy. And once again the news on that front has not been good. Iíd love to act all surprised on that one, but Iíve won the grand total of zero Academy Awards in my lifetime. The bottom line is, when you consider just what can be done with a hundred million dollar payroll and the lure of the big city, Hendryís off-season for the second year running has to go down as a big disappointment. Again, some backwards and a lack of foresight and creativity have been the main culprits. [Ruz] He addressed their needs, I just don't think he did a very good job. I'm probably in the minority in liking the Jones signing more than the Pierre trade -- the Cubs gave up an awful lot to get a guy who does one thing well. Jones, meanwhile, will be an albatross by 2008, but this year I expect him to contribute. The bullpen additions certainly will improve the staff, but the cost of the Howry and Eyre deals is just ridiculous. [Rob G.] He certainly addressed what he felt the teamís needs were, Iím just not sure he addressed them properly nor sufficiently. Juan Pierre was absolutely an essential pickup after missing out on Rafael Furcal, but it was a steep price to pay. Heís certainly going to perform better then Corey Patterson did, but will he perform up to his 2003 and 2004 levels? I have serious doubts. He signed some decent relievers but itís a dangerous strategy signing middle relievers to big contracts, one that Hendry has already been burned on a few times. Hendry claimed to have an eye for defense this off-season, but once again Iím not sure if he did much to improve upon that aspect of our game. And he did nothing to improve on one of our biggest problem's; woeful team OBP. Heíll have to hope that Hairston/Walker, Murton, Pierre and Jones play at the apex of their potential while Lee and Ramirez continue to play at theirs. To give it a grade, C-. [AZ Phil] BULLPEN: Signing Dempster, Eyre, and Howry for three years is one year too long for each, but I will worry about that in 2008. I guess giving each of them three years is what Hendry felt he had to do to get then to sign (or re-sign) with the Cubs. Kerry Wood is the Cubs bullpen ace-in-the-hole, though. I would have no problem with Woody moving into the closer role mid-season if Dempster struggles. With a healthy(?) Kerry Wood as the closer, the Cubs bullpen would be the best in baseball, and it's already very good. BENCH: I like bench guys who are good pinch-hitters, so I would have preferred the Cubs sign Mark Sweeney, Wes Helms, and/or Robert Fick over John Mabry. RIGHT-FIELD: I am not a Jacque Jones fan. I would have preferred the Cubs go hard after Brian Giles instead. There weren't a lot of options here. LEAD-OFF HITTER: Rafael Furcal would have been one-stop shopping (SS and lead-off hitter in one player). I guess Pierre is an OK fall-back lead-off hitter, and I like Ronny Cedeno as a SS, but I would have MUCH prefered Furcal.

- Roberto Novoa was optioned to AAA Iowa. The roster is down to 27, one of which is Wade Miller, so it's really 26. It appears the final spot on the team is down to John Koronka versus Michael Wuertz, with Wuertz most likely flying east with the team. Ryan Theriot will likely make the team as well unless the team picks up a late spring training casualty. Dusty's thoughts on the makeup of a 25-man roster:
"We're looking for the best 25 we can break with, the most options, the most variables, the most interchangeable parts, and the best ability so we don't have many holes. We want to try to cover as many parts as we can with the personnel."
Versatility over quality, let's hope the strategy pays off. Which of course it hasn't over the last 2 years. - Sean Marshall has been told (subscription required) he will be the fourth starter and likely pitch the Saturday game versus the Cardinals. Way to ease the kid in.... UPDATE: Daily Herald writer Bruce Miles tips us over at Northside Baseball that Marshall will pitch the Sunday night ESPN game versus the Cardinals instead. Feet meet fire!!! Thanks to Gaius Marius for the heads up... - Starting tomorrow, we'll begin postiing our season previews. First up are the TCR writers, Saturday will be other fine Cubs bloggers and then Sunday the readers get their voice heard. All in time for Monday's season opener against Cincy.

The Cubs optioned RHP Roberto Novoa to AAA Iowa today, cutting their Spring Training roster to 27 (26 if you don't include non-roster invitee Wade Miller, who must be added to the 40-man roster by Opening Day, although he will then immediately be placed on the DL while he continues rehabbing from last season's shoulder surgery).

March 29th

Well Cubs camp stands at 29 right now with the demotion of Mike Restovich and then we get the surprise of camp that Sean Marshall may possibly overtake Jerome Williams for the fourth spot in the rotation, while Williams slides into the long relief role out of the bullpen and POSSIBLY get the 5th starter spot for that April 15th game. A bit of a shocker I'd say. Fantastic spring and all by Marshall and he's always been one of my favorite Cubs prospects over the last 2 years, but the likelihood of Marshall tearing up the big leagues after only 10 AA starts in his career is somewhere between "not bloody likely" and "what the hell are you thinking?" Trust me, I'd like nothing more then for him to dominate major leaguers from the get-go, but the guy has yet to survive a minor league season without a trip to the disabled list and now we're going to throw him out to the dogs and see if he can survive the strain of the majors? It would be nice if this organization actually had a plan to develop young talent. Oh wait, they do, it's called, "Whoever's Hot, Call them Up!" Marshall's control, poise and knowledge of the game are all very good, but the leap from Hi-A to the majors is a doozy, let's hope he can handle the jump without falling flat on his face. - Thanks for saving us from ourselves, Mr. Grissom. Does Angel Pagan owe him some Chewbacca-like life debt now? Or is it more of a "Saving Private Ryan" moment as in "Earn this....earn it!" - The Cubs released Russ Rohlicek and he's not too thrilled. Apparently he goes in for a 35 minute jog at 7am where he passes Minor League Director Oneri Fleita and says hi, and by 8:25 am Oneri is telling him that he's gone. That's class.

March 28th

The Cubs were busy Tuesday, as they traded RHP Todd Wellemeyer to Florida for two minor leaguers, placed RHPs Mark Prior and Kerry Wood on the 15-day DL retroactive to March 27th, optioned RHPs David Aardsma, Angel Guzman, and Jae-Kuk Ryu to AAA Iowa, and returned C Casey Kopitzke to the minor league camp at Fitch Park. Also, veteran OF Marquis Grissom retired. So the Cubs roster currently stands at 30, but it really is more like 29, because once RHP Wade Miller is added to the 40-man roster (and he must be added to the 40-man roster sometime before Opening Day), he will certainly be placed on the 15-day DL. Miller will no doubt take the 40-man roster slot formerly occupied by the departed Todd Wellemeyer. The Cubs will need to make five more cuts before Opening Day (four cuts if you don't include Wade Miller, since he will certainly be placed on the DL). If non-roster OF Michael Restovich is added to the 25-man Opening Day roster, another player will need to be dropped from the 40-man roster, either by moving Wood, Prior, or Miller to the 60-day DL, or by outrighting, releasing, or trading a player. UPDATE #1 3/29 AM: ATTENTION! ... ATTENTION, PLEASE!... The Cubs sent OF Michael Restovich to their minor league camp at Fitch Park Wednesday morning, so the Cubs Spring Training roster now stands at 29 (includes one non-roster player--Wade Miller--who will be added to the 40-man roster prior to Opening Day and then will be immediately placed on the DL). UPDATE #2: 3/29 PM : OK. Here's another one. The Cubs optioned LHP Rich Hill to Iowa today, so their Spring Training roster now stands at 28 (including Wade Miller). Besides adding Wade Miller to the 40-man roster sometime prior to Opening Day and then immediately placing him on the DL, the Cubs will need to cut just two more players, and at least one (possibly both) will be a pitcher.

Please feel free to digest the Todd Wellemeyer trade and Marquis Grissom retirement in the post below, but I had to mention that... - Roberto Novoa has recovered from his bout with "valley fever" and will likely see Cactus League action before the team breaks camp on Thursday. - Dusty Baker has decided on who will get the bulk of the playing time at 2b, but he's not telling. Nana, nana, boo-boo - 6:1 odds that Dusty Baker is the first NL manager fired this year. Any takers? Only Bob Melvin of Arizona is a safer bet among NL managers. - Glendon Rusch goes against the Mariners today in Cactus League action.
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