Archive - 2007

November 15th

Sam Fuld played only three innings and went 1-2 with a SB and a run score, as the Cubs outfielder completed his AFL season today.

Jake Peavy wins an award that honors his pitching; Sam Fuld wins an award that honors his character.

November 14th

In an interview with the Sun Times yesterday, Lou Piniella discussed some of his ideas about the upcoming season, including a desire for added bullpen depth. Sun Times Cubs beat writer Gordon Wittenmyer speculated that in their quest to add depth, the Cubs would probably be looking at minor league free-agents. Of course, teams do that every year.

November 13th

As most of you now know by now, the Cubs traded OF Craig Monroe to the Minnesota Twins today for a PTBNL. The Cubs also reactivated RHPs Angel Guzman (TJ elbow surgery) and Mark Prior (shoulder surgery) from the 60-day DL (MLB clubs have until November 20th to reactivate players from the 15-day and 60-day DL), bringing the Cubs MLB Reserve List (AKA "40-man roster") up to 38 players, and leaving two slots open.

I put in my two cents on the Rookie of the Year and Manager of the Year awards yesterday but got pre-empted by the JJ trade. I'm back to finish the job. Cy Young NL - Jake Peavy AL - C.C. Sabathia Considering Jake Peavy essentially lead in the pitching Triple Crown of wins, ERA and strikeouts, the NL award is a no-brainer. The AL though is far more interesting.
Name VORP Win Shares WPA ERA+ FIP
C.C. Sabathia 65.2 24 3.66 143 3.27
Fausto Carmona 64 22 4.38 151 4.05
Josh Beckett 58.6 19 3.02 145 3.22
John Lackey 60.7 19 3.12 151 3.66

November 12th

UPDATE #3: The Sun-Times is reporting that the Cubs sent $2 million over in the deal and repeat the previous mention that JJ is owed $5.5 MM in 2008. My guess at this point is that he was only owed a half million of his pro-rated signing bonus, not the $1.3 MM that I suggested earlier. If Infante sticks with the team and makes about $1.5 MM next year plus the $2MM the Cubs gave to Detroit, that's only about $2MM in savings for 2008 for the Cubs. UPDATE #2: The press release says the Cubs will send over cash considerations but no word on the amount. Anything more than covering Jacque's signing bonus and we should burn Hendry at the stake. UPDATE: is indicating it's a done deal. I assume the financials will come out later and I can only pray that the Cubs are saving a bunch of money with this move. ----------------- The Detroit Free Press (who?) and now Phil Rogers are reporting that a Jacque Jones for Omar Infante swap is nearly complete. This would jive with an earlier Bruce Levine report. First, let me say, WTF? Now that I got out of the way, let's try and see what Jimbo might be thinking with this one. Jones is due $5 MM for 2008 plus the last installment of his $4MM signing bonus which brings his total contract up to $6.3MM this year. Omar Infante is eligible for arbitration and made $1.3 MM last season. It's reasonable to expect a half million raise for a utility player with limited at-bats. If this deal goes down, and hopefully we learned our lesson last year about jumping the gun on a Jones trade, we'll see how much money the Cubs fork over to the Tigers in this deal. Hopefully, it's none at all since the Cubs are getting a nobody for a marginally useful player. This seems to be a case of a salary dump for the Cubs to hopefully make room in the payroll for our big Alex Rodriguez push. What better way to motivate going after ARod then bringing in the generally useless Omar Infante as a potential backup. ARod jokes aside, Infante is a waste of roster space, time and energy. He doesn't get on-base, he doesn't hit and he's not particulary fast if you look at his stolen base numbers. Well maybe he's fast, but he's not very good at stealing bags. He has played six positions in his career including second, short, third, center, right and left. If this deal is completed, I hope the Cubs just non-tender him and save the extra million or so.

Every year I dip my toes into the post-season awards waters. Here's one man's opinion... Manager of the Year NL - Bob Melvin AL - Mike Scioscia This award seems to usually go to the manager of the team that no one had expectations to win before the season started but my vote usually goes to the manager who had to handle the most adversity throughout the year. I figure it's a lot easier to manage when everyone is healthy and the lineup and bullpen choices were decided in spring training. In the NL though, Bob Melvin seems like a slam-dunk. The Dbacks end up leading the NL in wins and take their division despite being outscored by their opponents over the year. The manager deserves some credit for that I say. Clint Hurdle of the Rockies seems to be the only other skipper worth even mentioning.

November 10th

I stumbled across a few fun Youtube items last night and I thought these highlights of a 1981 Dick Tidrow implosion would be good for some fun weekend nostalgia. Doug Bair?!?You give up a homer to freaking Doug Bair?

November 9th

So little to talk about.... - The Denver Post gives more credence to the Kaz Matsui rumors, saying the Cubs might go three years on a contract and covet Kaz's speed and (pardon my insensitivity here) Japanese-ness. As reader "The Joe" pointed out, signing Kaz might help sway other Japanese players to sign with the Cubs, most notably Fukudome. The same blurb suggest the Rockies might look at Michael Barrett for catching duties if Torrealba walks. -  The Cubs sale inches along ever so slowly and nothing is expected to be finalized until sometime in 2008. Besides the FCC issues, Trib and Zell haven't decided whether Wrigley will be part of the deal or not. The article does say only five groups have even been approved by MLB to view Trib's books and they are: John Canning, Mark Cuban, the Ricketts Family of Ohio, and two groups I hadn't even heard of: a partnership of attorney Thomas Mandler and businessman Jim Anixter and a group headed by MVC Capital Chairman Michael Tokarz. - Yahoo Japan is supposedly reporting that lefty reliever Hitoki Iwase has received both a one year and multi-years offers from his current Japanese team, the Chunichi Dragos. Iwase was on the the three Japanese ballplayer that the Cubs apparently covet but like Fukudome has yet to apply for free agency in the States. That article could actually be telling us that Godzilla is planning to attack New York in the next week for all I know, but that's what got out of the translation. And sadly, that's all the news that's fit to print...

November 7th

On Monday, The Sporting News Web site began a day-by-day replay of the 1986 MLB season using the Strat-O-Matic baseball simulation software. The site will be tracking the season with a daily scoreboard, box scores, game recaps, and player stats. Each of the 26 teams in existence back in '86 is being managed by a different baseball insider, writer, super-fan, etc. The faux Cubs’ manager is writer Dan Shanoff. Shanoff’s managerial debut was Tuesday, when the Cubs opened against the Cardinals. After the Cubs scored twice in the top of the eighth to erase a 4-2 deficit, the Cards scored in the last of the ninth on a single by John Morris to win 5-4. Cub starter Scott Sanderson took an ND; the loser was reliever Dave Gumpert. Shawon Dunston led the Cub offense with three hits. The box score even lists attendance, in this case, just 19,154. (For a Cubs/Cardinals opener? They must have played in a simulated blizzard.) Oh, yeah—I’m already calling for Shanoff’s head. Letting Gumpert go 2 2/3 innings when he had a rested Lee Smith in his virtual bullpen?! I can’t imagine what in the name of Jim Frey he was thinking.

We are going to utilize several objective measures of player performance to evaluate and develop players. We'll rely on the more traditional objective evaluations: OPS (on base percentage plus slugging percentage) , WHIP (walks and hits per inning pitched), Runs Created, ERC (Component ERA), GB/FB (ground ball to fly ball ratio), K/9 (strikeouts per nine innings), K/BB (strikeouts to walks ratio), BB%, etc., but we'll also look to rely on some of the more recent variations: VORP (value over replacement player), Relative Performance, EqAve (equivalent average), EqOBP (equivalent on base percentage), EqSLG (equivalent slugging percentage), BIP% (balls put into play percentage), wOBA (weighted on base average), Range Factor, PMR (probabilistic model of range) and Zone Rating. That said, we will continue to stress the importance of our subjective evaluations. Succinctly stated, we believe that a combination of quality objective and subjective analysis will allow us to maximize our probability of success and to make the best possible decisions.
That would be from new Pirates GM, Neil Huntington in a recent Q&A on the Pirates website. The Baseball Prospectus crew probably just wet themselves.

It seems that as I get older, there's just very little in the world that surprises me anymore. You read the news and people seem to redefine the word despicable almost everyday. And it might just be the sensationalistic nature of journalism today that has numbed the pain, or just my generally placid everyday demeanor that makes everything just a little too bearable. But then something comes along that strikes a chord loud enough that even Beethoven could hear it. It's probably because it has something to do with my earlier years, the years that branded me a Cubs fan. The years of Sandberg, Cey, Moreland and Jody and the all too magical 1984 season that created this obsession of mine. In a rather revealing story in the Chicago Sun-Times (and you'll see why this wasn't in the Trib), former MLB commissionerPeter Ueberroth unveils a few inconvenient truths about the Chicago Cubs. The focus of the article is about the 1984 playoffs. As many around here will remember, MLB was up in arms with the Cubs making the playoffs because without lights at Wrigley they could not play and henceforth broadcast the games in primetime when television ratings were the highest. And of course this was still a time when baseball playoff games easily beat sitcoms in the Nielsens, so the concern was deserved. I recall the whispers at the time that if the Cubs did make the Series, there was a good chance that some of their home games would be played somewhere else with St. Louis's Busch Stadium leading the way. Ueberroth though reveals that he had in fact decided that Comiskey Park would be home to the Cubs if they did advance. That's right, what could have been the first World Series appearance in 39 years would have been played in an American League park, in a stadium with fireworks in the scoreboard. No decaying ivy, no bleachers, no rooftops for what could have been one of the teams greatest moments. Of course it never got there thanks to Steve Garvey, Lee Smith and Leon Durham's sticky glove. But that actually wasn't the most shocking revelation by Ueberroth... Ueberroth let's it be known that he invoked the mythical "best interests of baseball" clause to squash a rather shameful Tribune plan. A plan to knock down Wrigley Field and build a new stadium somewhere in the suburbs. Now I recall whispers back in the day that the Cubs were thinking of moving and I definitely recall the struggles to get lights and nightime baseball at Wrigley as the north side residents were appropriately worried about the noise and drunken debauchery that would accompany those games. Yet I had never known that Trib was actually willing and in fact had decided that enough was enough, time to tear down one of baseball's great treasures for the almighty dollar. I suppose that it's probably not as big a deal as I'm making it out to be and that these sort of corporate hijinx happen all the time behind closed doors with the public none the wiser. Nonetheless I'm a bit appalled by the whole notion that Trib was willing to pursue their bottom line over baseball history. And I'm a bit saddened that all those memories of going to Wrigley may never have been.

November 6th

  • The GMs have voted 25-5 in support of limited use of video replay. A proposal will now be forwarded to the Commissioner, who will involve representatives of the Players and Umpires unions in evaluating the proposal. Jimmie Lee Solomon, MLB's VP of Baseball Operations, says he does not expect the proposal to become a rule in time for the 2008 season.
  • Curt Schilling is now officially no longer a free agent, but rather, Red Sox property for the upcoming season, his last in the big leagues. It seemed like just the other day he was listing 12 teams in addition to the BoSox that he would be willing to play for. I'm going to assume the Cubs came in second.
  • Rob mentioned this earlier in the comments: Glendon Rusch has apparently recovered from the life-threatening blood clot that ended his '06 season prematurely. Last week, he threw a 60-pitch audition for scouts from nine Major League clubs, the Cubs not among them. The session included breaking balls, change-ups and 86-87 mph fastballs. He is hoping/expecting to get a Spring Training invitation...from somebody.

Awards season has started and a Cub walked away with some gold glove hardware. This is Derrek Lee's third glove of the golden variety and while he probably didn't deserve it (most metrics show Albert Pujols as the superior NL first basemen), he won nonetheless. The full list: American League P - Johan Santana C - Ivan Rodriguez 1B - Kevin Youklis 2B - Placido Polanco SS - Orlando Cabrera 3B - Adrian Beltre OF - Torii Hunter, Grady Sizemore, Ichiro Suzuki National League P - Greg Maddux (Gold Glove #17, you have a sense he'll still be collecting these after he retires) C - Russ Martin 1B - Derrek Lee 2B - Orlando Hudson SS - Jimmy Rollins 3B - David Wright OF - Carlos Beltran, Andruw Jones, Jeff Francouer/Aaron Rowand (the two tied in voting) I don't have access today to the usual defensive metrics I follow, but for the most part that seems about right other than Ryan Braun should have won for NL third basemen (I kid, I kid). Last time I did check, Troy Tulowitzki was way ahead among NL shortstops but they don't give Gold Gloves to rookies. Congrats to Derrek Lee! ----- Also a quick update that Bruce Levine on ESPN 1000 is reporting that Ryan Dempster will be moved into the starting rotation for next season. I'm going to just hope that he gets traded before it ever actually gets there. UPDATE: What some of the defensive metrics say about the NL gold glove winners after the jump....

November 5th

The general manager's meetings started yesterday in Orlando, enjoy the "GM's in Action" photos at the link. There likely won't be much news this week as teams are meeting to set up meetings for the Winter Meetings in December and teams can't talk money with potential free agents until next week. Two things we do know... - As I expected (even though I talked myself out of it in our FA Frenzy contest), Curt Schilling is poised to return to the Red Sox barring something "unforseen or outrageously odd happening." - Hendry will do everything he can to retain Kerry Wood, possibly offering him the closer role. This in turn would make Ryan Dempster expendable or a desperate 5th starter option if Hendry strikes out on plans A through F to fill that role. - The same article says the Cubs would tender Mark Prior a contract but only if they can get him to agree to a 2009 option. The team likely doesn't want to lose another year on a rehab season, plus if Prior does pitch and does it well, the Cubs don't want him walking away after just one season.  Early Vegas line is 1000 to 1 that Prior agrees to the option.


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