Archive - Dec 2008

A funny thing happened on the way to the NHL Winter Classic:

The Blackhawks got good. Very good.

As a result, the spectacle that John McDonough begged his league to bring to Wrigley to help him reanimate a recently dead franchise has turned into something else:

A signficant matchup between the Detroit Red Wings, the defending Stanley Cup champions, and the Blackhawks, the Wings' closest divisional pursuers, one of the league's youngest, highest scoring, and most dynamic clubs.

In case you have been too busy following the Cubs' off-season exploits to pay attention to the Blackhawks--or, more likely, if you have never paid attention to the Hawks--here is a Cubs baseball/Blackhawks hockey translator just for you.

Jim Hendry was on XM radio with Rob Dibble and his co-host...Stern something or other. The completely uninteresting highlights:

  • trading DeRosa was the toughest trade he ever made 
  • too right-handed
  • Fontenot and Miles at second base
  • No talks at all with Baltimore for "the player" (Brian Roberts)
  • couple of deals expected over the next few weeks, in 7-10 days they expect to add a left-handed hitting outfielder
  • seems content with the bullpen, Lou and Rothschild will figure out the closer between Gregg and Marmol in spring training
  • not going to the hockey game, currently visitng his brother in Louisiana
  • Soriano's just streaky, not worried about his playoff performance or wilting under the pressure
  • Sale completed within next month he hears
  • Payroll is set until new owner is named, had to move money to add money
  • humorous bit about not caring what the Yankees spend and he's spent plenty on his part and if he didn't, he probably would have been fired by now.

No mention of the Jason Marquis trade, but you have to assume it's one of those deals expected over the next few weeks.

On another note, this Stern fella sounds like a bigger idiot than Rob Dibble, which I didn't think was possible. He keeps harping about Brian Roberts and just called Mike Fontenot a "punch and judy" hitter.

Dr. Hecht's simulcast after the jump...

Bruce Levine of ESPN1000 is reporting that the Cubs have traded Mark DeRosa and the $5.5M on his contract for 2009 to the Cleveland Indians for three minor-leaguers, RHP Jeff Stevens, LHP John Gaub and RHP Chris Archer.

You have to think a trade, let's say for a certain pitcher from San Diego whom I dare not speak his name, is possibly forthcoming.

I'll try and get some info on the prospects in a bit.


UPDATE #1: Link from espn.com, although I think they have a typo on John "Caub".


UPDATE #2: I poked around a bit and none of the three prospects showed up on Baseball America's recent top 10 Indians' prospect list or John Sickels Top 20. In other words, this deal only makes sense if they're all headed to another city, let's call it San Diego, to give them the quantity of pitchers and players that they wanted in that trade for that certain pitcher, whom we'll refer to as J.P.

Scouting reports and biographies that I could piece together on the prospects after the jump....

Rob G: Sorry guys, the article Joe put up was just a cut and paste from the press release, apparently he didn't read the TCR Manual. :)

I kid because I care.

But as mentioned, the Cubs do sign switch-hitting infielder Aaron Miles for two years, the Trib says the deal is for $4.9M total and if it's an even split, that's $2.45M for this year. Miles hit 317/355/398 last season for the Cardinals after hitting 290/328/348 in 2007. He primarily plays second base with a 100+ games at short in his career. He's even dabbled in the outfield, but less than 10 games for his career including four in left field last season.

I think it's safe to assume an infielder is on his way out the door soon, most likely Mark DeRosa if yesterday's rumors are true, but possible that it's Ronny Cedeno or Mike Fontentot.

December 30th

One of our readers ("DB") caught Steve Phillips saying a deal of Jason Marquis to the Colorado Rockies for relief pitcher Luis Vizcaino was "close". Famous last words of any rumor...

MLB Trade Rumors has it as well (apparently part of the update ticker on ESPN2).

Marquis is owed $9.875M and the story out of Colorado yesterday was that they couldn't "absorb hardly any of his $9.8 million salary this season." Cot's Baseball Contracts has Vizcaino as making $3.5M in 2009 and a $4M option in 2010 with a $500K buyout. That would still leave the Rockies on the hook for $6.375M and I'm going to guess that the Cubs are still throwing $1-2M more the Rockies way if this does indeed go down.


6:24 PM CST UPDATE: Reader "DB" is all over it today including an update from Bruce Levine on ESPN 1000. The highlights:

  • Marquis trade may not be competed until next week
  • Deal for Bradley is essentially done but also won't be announced for a week or two
  • Moving Marquis means the Cubs may once again hit up the Padres about Peavy
  • Hendry might try to spin Vizcaino if he does acquire him
  • DeRosa may still need to be moved if they go after Peavy

6:32 PM CST UPDATE: Troy Renck at the Colorado Post makes the deal sound pretty official, although he concurs with Levine that it likely won't be announced until next week. He mentions the Cubs sending $1M to the Rockies. If true, the Cubs take on at least $4M ($3.5M plus a $500K buyout for next year) and send $1M to the Rockies, netting themselves $4.875M in savings, a bit more if you count the $500K buyout towards next season's payroll.


6:50 PM CST UPDATE: Wittenmyer chimes in and says it's at least $875K going to the Rockies. I should also mention that Vizcaino was arrested on a misdeamoner DUI in Florida in October.


7:11 PM CST UPDATE: Rosenthal also says it would be less than $1M headed to the Rockies.


8;25 PM CST UPDATE: Bruce Miles throws a wet blanket on the deal saying it's possible but not done yet. Adding that the deal is essentially in the Rockies hands to approve.

Update: Loyal TCR reader Jacos points out my glaring omission of Bobby Murcer from the obit list. I think I scooted right past his name on the list of 2008 baseball deaths because I will always think of him as a New York Yankee despite his time with the Cubs and Giants, just like I will always think of Billy Williams as a Cub, despite his time with the Athletics. For the record, Murcer was acquired in trade from San Francisco for Bill Madlock in 1977 then traded back to the Yankees in June of 1979. In his two and a half years with the Cubs, Murcer had a couple of okay seasons--including 27 HR and 89 RBI in '77.


 

In the year just past, eight more men with various ties to our beloved Cubs left this world without seeing a World Series championship find its way to the North Side.

R.I.P. to you all, gentlemen...

 

John Buzhardt
(Died 6/15/08 at age 71 in Prosperity, South Carolina)

A right-hander signed by the Cubs as an amateur in 1954, Buzhardt pitched for the team in September of 1958 and all of 1959. In his two seasons in Cubbie blue, Buzhardt went 7-5, bouncing between starting and relief roles. The highlight of his Cub career was in June of '59, when Buzhardt threw a complete game, one-hit shutout at the Phillies. In addition to pitching for the Cubs, Buzhardt played for the Phillies, White Sox, Orioles, and Astros, ending his career in 1968 with a record of 71-96.

 

Don Cardwell (Died 1/14/08 at age 72 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina)

Two days after being traded to the Cubs by the Phillies in 1960, Cardwell no-hit the Cardinals at Wrigley Field. If you haven't seen the grainy black & white footage from the WGN broadcast that day, you should.

December 29th

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas, Hanukkah and so forth. The Angel Fan Wife was kind enough to get me a Ryne Sandberg jersey, plus some wonderful Marquette gear, so I guess I ended up on the nice list. I would love to hear what Cubs goodies some of you received.

As for the current Cubbies, here's what a few of them unwrapped.

Alfonso Soriano - Jugs Curveball Pitching Machine

Aramis Ramirez -  "The Art of Cockfighting" (always good to brush up on the basics)

Jason Marquis - $100 Crate and Barrel gift card 


Ryan Dempster
A.J. Burnett baseball card 

Rich Harden - stack of hand towels (give it a sec)


Ted Lilly
- Star Trek Holodeck to let him pitch in 2008 playoffs

Carlos Marmol - copy of K-rod's contract

Jeff Samardzija - a slider

Carlos Zambrano -a Livan Hernandez baseball card

Geovany Soto - Rick Wilkins' locker

Ryan Theriot - The Ultimate Guide to Weight Training for Baseball & Softball

Derrek Lee - 2005

Cubs Fans - a World Series Title (comes in gift card form and can only be redeemed in October, never expires but not accepted every season)

As always, feel free to fill the gaps for others associated with the Cubs.

Tags: 

December 26th

Despite a past association with current Cubs manager Lou Piniella and rumors that the Cubs had him in their sights, Walnut Creek, California native Randy Johnson has signed a one-year deal with the Giants for a reported $8 million plus bonuses,.

Particularly before Ryan Dempster was re-signed and then when the Jake Peavy deal fell through, Johnson was identified by fans and press alike as an affordable free agent option to bolster the Cubs staff.

Once Dempster was back in the fold, it was easy to get excited about the thought of Johnson replacing Jason Marquis as the Cubs' fifth starter. Also attractive was the thought that if Johnson came to the North Side, the Cubs would never have to face him: Johnson's career mark against the Cubs, spanning 14 starts, is 13-0, 1.84, with 142 K's in just 102 2/3 IP.

December 25th

The Chicago Tribune had a story on Melissa Isaacson's blog where readers got the chance to play GM for a day. I wanted to take a few seconds to point out some of the choice cuts.

If I could be a GM for a day, I would choose to be the GM of the Cubs. The only real order of business on my plate for that day would be finding some way to get rid of Soriano, who is the biggest face of the failure of the last two years in the playoffs? Soriano. Hopefully I could find a way to get rid of Soriano and then Hendry could take back over and do whatever it took to sign Manny Ramirez to replace Soriano. - Jim Fannin, Morris, Il.

What I can't understand is why everyone is so quick to get rid of Soriano. To me, moving him to get Manny Ramirez doesn't make sense. Do you really think Manny is done being Manny? Do you think he'll just come here and be a model player? I understand that people dont like Sori's contract, but to throw him and his production to the curb is just silly. I'm also sick and tired of the playoff production excuse for why people justify moving a player. I'm fine with Sori on this team. If moved to the middle of the order, he can be a very good run producer for this team. Am I wrong?

I'd be the Cubs GM for a day: 1) I'd make the deal for Jake Peavy (in the proposed three-team deal). 2) I'd trade for Brian Roberts (take whats left of the value of our minor leagues and a position player or two like Cedeno or DeRosa and trade them for a World Series win). 3) I'd sign free agent Milton Bradley and play him in right and platoon Reed and Fukudome in center. 4) I'd sign free agent Randy Johnson (figuring that Marshall is gone via trade for Peavy). I'd like the Big Unit on our side for once. - Keith Davi, Lansing, Ill.

Come on Keith, trading for Peavy and then signing Randy Johnson? So that gives us six pitchers for five spots. Brilliant GM'ing. Also, Ronny Cedeno doesn't have any value as a trade piece right now. Teams know he's out of options and doesn't have a role on this team. There is a really good possibility he'll be designated for assignment this spring and be available for nothing.

Dunn can play first and Gathright can play RF and be a pesky leadoff hitter -- assuming he can learn to take a pitch or two. - Brad, Twin Cities, Minn.

Pesky? What makes a hitter Pesky? Why do all the speedy guys or small guys get labeled that?

If I were GM for a day: I would try to get Manny Ramirez and Jeremy Bonderman. I would keep Soriano, move Ryan Theriot to center, AKA Mickey Stanley in 1968, and insert Rodney Cedeno at short and DeRosa at 2nd, and move Hoffpauir to first. Ramirez would play right, Soriano left. Bring up Sam Fuld, I think that is his name and use him as a spark plug. Bring Ryan Sandberg up to be tutored by Piniella so that there is continuity when Piniella retires. Finally stop trading and build the farm system with pitchers who can pitch. The Cubs do not need flame throwers, they need pitchers. - Mark Nielson

Good God, this guy is just retarded. I cant take this anymore. I open it up to you. Play GM for a day.

December 24th

Since season's bitterly abrupt end I have been busy putting finishing touches on my first book, Far From the Trees: The Troubled Sons of an American Neighborhood. If nothing else the gang hereabouts should like the cover design. You can check that out without even buying the book, though it goes without saying that I hope you do both.

Copies can be ordered through either Amazon or Barnes & Noble online; hopefully a wider distribution is forthcoming - the book has gotten off to a tremendous start here in Des Moines. The local independent bookstore where we held a launch party immediately sold out of its hundred copies and has a waiting list of more than 200 and counting in anticipation of their next shipment. Amazon quickly sold out of its first batch.

Far From the Trees is a composite memoir from the neighborhood where I grew up; sort of a before/after the wild '60's seasoned with Cub angles throughout - forgive this shameless self-promotion offered for your consideration.

Happy holidays everybody - here's to a healthy 2009!

MW...

December 23rd

In keeping with the ongoing story of the Chicago political scene, the Peoria Chiefs (A) have decided to auction off "Senate Seats" this season.

The other day, one of the guys sent out an e-mail to all the other writers at TCR. He mentioned that he had setup something called Twitter. I have heard of it and seen people around me using it, but I've decided that I'm sticking to Facebook. There is something magical about being able to endulge in something that would probably be considered a high school website and get so addicted to it that you find your grandma wants to be your "friend". That being said, I put the twitter out of my mind until I saw this:

WITH a cry of "holy f**king s**t", a US man is believed to have made
history by "Tweeting" the aftermath of a plane crash just moments after
the accident.

Twitter (http://www.twitter.com) user Mike Wilson was on board the Continental Airline’s 737 in Denver, in the US mid-west, when it slid off the runway during take-off yesterday. 

At
least 58 people were injured after the Texas-bound plane slid off the
runway – sheering its landing gear – and dropped into a 12m ravine.

A fire then broke out, damaging the entire right side.

Just moments after the plane came to a rest, Mr Wilson used his
mobile phone to send a message to all of his Twitter followers: "Holy
f**king s**t - I was just in a plane crash!”~ (View Full Story)

Since there is no news, I thought maybe I'd tie this into the Cubs is some sort of way. It's obvious that this Mike Wilson cat is addicted to twitter. I liken it to the addiction that we have with the Cubs. The other day I see AZ Phil's post about a new minor league coach with the name Pevey and I got excited. We're so thirsty for news that, in a sense, we're just waiting to swallow the first bit of news that comes over the wire. Things like twitter make that happen. It's there you get nuggets that say someone just saw Ryan Dempster running or Lou Piniella in Nordstoms with his shirt off and rumors begin to fly. "Is Ryan Dempster training for a marathon?" "Is Lou Piniella secretly a gay pole dancer?" Is that a good thing? I'm not sure. It certainly makes for an interesting transition to the new way news and media is reported.

I'm not sure when, or if, I'll rock the twitter. What I do know is that I won't be doing it as a plane is crashing, unless of course that plane is carrying me back home from a Cubs World Series.

 

Tags: 

"Cubs Club is the online fan club for die-hard Cubs fans. Members
receive many exclusive benefits such as a subscription to 2009 MLB.com
Gameday Audio, ticket opportunities, special merchandise offers and
much more. New for 2009: Be sure to check out this year's two new levels of membership."

--Cubs.com

 

You don't have to check out the two new levels of Cubs Club membership; Ed Sherman, posting on his blog for Crain's Chicago Business, has checked them out for you:

December 22nd

Rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated, but I am finally feeling somewhere close to normal finally. I know you were all worried. 

A whole lot of nothing going on, but Ken Rosenthal is reporting that Mark DeRosa will play in the WBC. I know we were alll waiting for that shoe to drop. Kosukue Fukudome had already been named to play for Team Japan.

In two-day rumors news, Dave Kaplan on WGN radio reported that Adam Dunn's first choice is to play with the Chicago Cubs at a "fair offer". The Cubs first choice is to have Adam Dunn play somewhere else and sign Milton Bradley. The other rumor is that somehow Tim Redding is possibly holding up Jason Marquis getting traded. It seems whomever "loses out" on signing Tim Redding between the Rockies and Mets may pursue our dear fifth starter.

I'll slowly get back in the flow as the week goes on...otherwise enjoy the holidays.

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