Not sure if I'll be able to throw up any more previews as we're preparing for a very busy off-season here at TCR. Okay, I got to work this weekend and I'm far too wrapped up in trying to secure third place in the TCR Fantasy Pool. - A San Diego paper tells us that in 2002 Jim Hendry approached Kevin Towers in trying to acquire Bruce Bochy to manage the Cubs and was told he wasn't going anywhere. According to the article:
Archive - Sep 2006
Don't believe what you're hearing on Entertainment Tonight, Access Hollywood, or reading in the NY Post or Daily Mirror or Weekly World News. To set things straight, once and for all.
* No, the Parachat party hasn't been cancelled due to fire-code violations * No, we aren't letting Mariotti be the DJ * No, it's not true that Neifi Perez is threatening to sue us for libel or slander if we go through with the Parachat party * No, the VIP section of the Parachat Club is not a ghost subsidiary of the Tribune
Back in the day, I was always excited about the final weekend series in Wrigley because of Fan Appreciation Weekend. The Cubs always advertised a raffle for prizes that to a prepubescent kid seemed like they were giving away gold. I watched in awe on WGN as I imagined fans walking out of the stadium with more Cubs stuff than they could hold. I mean what a cool thing to do, the generous Cubs just giving stuff away to fans out of the kindness of their hearts as a way to say thanks.
As I get ready to do some editing on the end-of-year roundtable (and those of you who haven't gotten your answers in yet, you know who you are), I thought I'd take a look back at what we thought about this team at the beginning of the season. Obviously no one foresaw Derrek Lee's injury, but plenty of people foresaw Wood & Prior's struggles. Just about everyone thought Matt Murton would have a decent-to-good year if he got to play, and opinion was decidedly mixed on whether or not the Juan Pierre trade would turn out to be a good one. Opinion was also mixed on Rafael Furcal, with lots of people wishing the Cubs had done what it took to sign him, and others suggesting that what it took was too much. I thought I'd pull out a few predictions, ones that look smart in retrospect and ones that don't, so we can all cast our minds back to six months ago, when anything seemed possible. I mean no disrespect to those people who show up on the bad side of the ledger, all of whom had some prescient things to say as well. If you want to read full responses, you can go back and see what TCR writers, TCR readers, and other Cubs bloggers had to say. The end-of-year roundtable will be posted early next week. THE GOOD MikeC: "A possible disappointment could be Ryan Dempster, he still hasn't got his control problems fixed. Very lucky pitcher last year and baseball has a tendency to even out that luck." ruz: "Jones, meanwhile, will be an albatross by 2008, but this year I expect him to contribute." Rob G.: "Iím glad they stayed away from A.J. Burnett, big upside but just as injury prone as any of our big guys." John Hill: "The short-term results, especially in Cedenoís case, may be ugly, no better than what Neifi Perez might achieve." Rob G.: "I think the biggest surprise will actually be Jacque Jones." ruz: "Sean Marshall looks like he's going to get a chance to prove some things in April, but I think before the end of the year it'll be a different tall lefty, Rich Hill, we'll be talking about." MannyTrillo: "[Hendry] did not properly prepare for the very likely injuries to Wood and Prior."
As the 2006 season comes to a merciful end, you can look forward to Jim Hendry making a few roster moves in the next few weeks and months in an attempt to improve the Cubs for 2007. Besides trying to re-sign some of his own free-agents (almost certainly Aramis Ramirez, and probably Juan Pierre, Kerry Wood, Wade Miller, and Henry Blanco), the Cubs GM will also likely try and acquire a starting pitcher or two, maybe a power-hitting outfielder, and maybe a veteran middle infielder, via free-agency or trade. But there are also other roster moves that will be made, the type that are made "under the radar" by all MLB clubs every year at this time. And since we want you to be prepared, here's what you might expect to see happen in the coming weeks and months...
I know, the last thing anyone really wants to read is another freakin' piece bashing Dusty Baker. Do not fear, that's not what this is about. This one is all on Sir Hendry. Back in July, Hendry stated that Dusty would stick through the season and Hendry would "try to move expediently and make a decision as to what direction to go" once the season ended. Well that's all well and good and I do hope that the only thing he's deciding at this point is whether to fire Baker on the Monday morning following our last game versus the Rockies or do it right after the game to save Baker a trip back out to the office to clean out his collection of war books and designer toothpicks. My concern and where I believe Hendry may have taken a misstep is not taking care of this mess a whole lot sooner. What worries me is that the Cubs have a couple of guys on the team who will be vying for new deals this off-season, most notably Aramis Ramirez and Juan Pierre. When it comes to wooing free agents, itís my opinion that 98% of the decision-making is based on the money offered, with the other 2% a mixture of locale, amenities, manager, cronies and other such intangibles. But when trying to retain your own guys, I think the intangible percentage can play a bit of a higher factor especially if you want to sign those players for a few bucks less than they may get on the open market, which, of course, is certainly a wise business decision. While the image of the modern ballplayers is one with dollar signs in their eyes and no sense of loyalty to their current teams, more a collection of mercenaries for hire rather than a group of soldiers fighting for a common ideal, I do believe that it's not quite that grim of a picture. I think most players would prefer to stay where they're at rather than go through the process of uprooting themselves and their family, having to worry about fitting into a new team, and all the other headaches of finding a new place to play. Granted, millions of dollars tend to soothe those headaches a lot easier, but I still think it's part of the decision-making process, albeit a small one. It's also my feeling that the longer the player has played in one place, the more they want to stay. And as you start taking things away that are familiar to that player, that's a few less reasons holding them here.. And this is where I think Hendry may have messed up.
I think Jacque Jones needs to sire a few more kids as he went 3 for 5 last night with three RBI's, a homer, a double and three runs in his triumphant return to the starting lineup after taking a few days off to be with his newborn daughter. Congrats to Jones and his family and keep the hot-hitting up.
This has been a wretched excuse of a year. To celebrate our release from suffering on October 1st, I invite everyone to ring out the year in style, in Parachat. Let's fill the chatroom for the Sunday Oct. 1, 1:20 pm game against the Rockies, and toast the end to another fruitless season. Come in costume, come naked, come drunk, or with the lucid sobreity of a fan who has seen it all and wishes to see no more. Tell the bouncer at the door that you're a Friend of Trans, and he'll be sure to let you in. He'll ask you to check your sour mood at the door, but otherwise, anything goes!
A Royals loss coupled with a Cubs win will eliminate the Cubs from getting the top pick in next year's draft, mostly thanks to the Royals recent seven game skid. The Cubs are 2.5 back of the D'Rays for the second spot at the moment and you never know if the Royals will cheap out on a signing bonus (or for that matter the D'Rays) so there's still hope the Cubs can land the best talent in next year's draft. The Royals did shell out on Luke Hochevar this year so they may finally realize the value in building from the ground up.
After this, it's back to Wrigley for a -- what's the opposite of "victory lap" anyway? Go Cubs! GAME ONE HUNDRED FIFTY-SEVEN IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (63-93 (Draft) 3rd - 4.5 GB) AT CINCINNATI REDS (76-79 (Div) 3rd - 4.5 GB; (WC) 4th - 6.0 GB) The Great American Home Run Park, 11:35 pm CDT Weather: Sunny, 60 degrees, Wind out to L @ 5 mph TV: WGN, DirecTV 735 Radio: WGN, XM 186