Archive - Dec 2008

December 19th

No time like the holiday season to be grateful for what we have... and to keep in mind that there is always... Room for One More... 

December 17th

There is a new rookie in the TCR bullpen and as a result, I've picked up my Dora the Explorer backpack and have assumed the position. Hmmm, perhaps that didn't come out right. All kidding aside, I wanted to take a minute to mention just a few things I do and do not bring to the table.

I bring.....

  • A strong distaste for Derrek Lee and maintain that he is the most overrated first baseman in all of baseball.
  • A love of the farm system, though not nearly as much as the farm crazy AZ Phil has. He's my idol. I hope to one day be able to be half the man he is.
  • A heavy heart over the loss of my favorite Cub, Kerry Wood. I can still remember the day I skipped work for no other reason than to watch him pitch in his rookie year. What game was it? None other than the 20 K game. From that point on I was in love.
  • A hatred of Bleed Cubbie Blue and all the smug attitude emitted Al. Long ago I was told not to mention this, but what the heck? True story, Al was not their first choice: I was. I turned it down.
  • A strange list of favorite Cubs over the years that includes Rey Sanchez, Frank Castillo, Steve Trachsel and Joe Girardi. For some reason I never liked the good players.

I don't bring....

  • The ability to kiss Jim Hendry's butt when he makes a poor decision. He's been given the resources and it's time to get it done.
  • The patience to wait till I'm 80 for a championship.
  • The language in my posts that caused TCR to move from MVN, but I can still be ok, right?
  • A love to go to Wrigley Field. Call me crazy, but it's gotten frustrating to spend $100 and be surrounded by way too many drunks. If the stadium was filled with sane people throughout, I could rationalize it. It's TV all the way for me, though watching a drunk in any other circumstance for free is a fun assignment.

Hopefully that will give you an idea of who I am. I'll do my best to be active in the comments, so feel free to fire off questions. I'll submit to the grill. Roast away.

 

Hey, anyone see a Frank around here, Frank Wren...the guys at Liberty Media Group have sent someone down to talk to him. They're a bit concerned over recent developments.

I've been thinking of Joey Gathright as a Doug Dascenzo For The New Century, but Geoff Young, author of the Padres blog Ducksnorts and in this case writing for Baseball Digest Daily, paints an even uglier picture.

Enjoy Geoff's post for yourself. All I'll quote here is this:

...what Gathright did in 2008 has been accomplished a mere 15 times since 1901.

Effective immediately, Joe Aiello of "View From The Bleachers" is
joining us here at TCR. Joe started his blog back in October of
'03--the "Dark Time"--and over the years he turned VFTB into one of the
true stalwart Cub blogs.

We're thrilled to have him.

December 15th

Update (11AM, CST): Cubs.com site makes it sound official. Per ESPN, Gathright will get a one year deal at $800K. Gordon Wittenmyer at the Sun-Times also weighs in with this confirming article, as does Paul Sullivan from the Tribune.


This is far from being confirmed, but I have found several links saying the recently non-tendered KC Royal, Joey Gathright will be finding his way to the Cubs roster. Apparently a report by Jesse Rogers on WSCR-AM mentioned that he's been signed (around 6pm Monday evening). Carrie Muskat then posted this odd mention of Gathright at Cubs.com. Noting that the 27 year old speedy, no power, lefty hitting OF could be added to the roster soon. She also reminds us that Gathright played for Lou Piniella and stole 20 bases for Tampa in 2005. Finally, in an interview with Joe Castellano on XM radio monday night, Cubs superscout Gary Hughes (special assistant to GM Jim Hendry) mentioned that "we're going to add a speed guy". He didn't name names but it sure seems odd to have this confluence of soft information match up all at once.

Maybe Jim Hendry wants Gathright for his jumping skills. You can see his famous car jumping video here. The Cubs can use anyone who can top Dodger pitcher Hiroki Kuroda and  Gathright garnered attention when he jumped over Kuroda avoiding a tag in a spring training game last year. It certainly isn't based on his hitting prowess, 263  .324  .308  are his career splits vs righty pitching.

If the Pitcher Jumping, Car Jumping, 5th OF is signed to a contract, does that hasten, ala Snagglepuss, an exit - stage door left for Felix Pie?  I'd like to see Pie get one more chance but it seems like he may literally as well as figuratively be running out of options. In any event, it's hard to get too worked up over the 25th roster spot in December, particularly when the starting right fielder has yet to be sorted out.

I've put my notes from the Gary Hughes interview after the jump...

December 13th

So ends the saga of Jake Peavy to the Cubs for 7 or more players. But is the deal really dead? In fact, even the Brian Roberts deal isn't exactly dead. These kind of non-transactions take a "life" of their own. So I thought we might play a little game. One of the more common cliche's is "the best trade is often the one not made". So I'm asking for you to reach back and see what you can remember as to rumored trades that never occurred but if they had been made, would have been one gigantic mistake for someone or maybe even a timeline changer in the course of baseball history. Sosa for Soriano circa 2000 comes to mind. I'm sure there are some good one's out there to remember. Please help.

Kerry Wood passed his physical with the Cleveland Indians and has signed a 2-year/$20 million contract with an option for a third year based on "a vesting mechanism."

As reported by the Cleveland Plain Dealer...

Wood, 6-5, 211 pounds, lives in Scottsdale, Ariz., with his wife
Sarah and their two children. It's believed that the Indians moving
their spring training facility from Winter Haven, Fla., to Goodyear,
Ariz., this year played a part in Wood coming to Cleveland.


GM Mark Shapiro also added right-hander Joe Smith earlier this week
at the winter meetings to pitch in front of Wood in the pen. Smith was
acquired in a three-team, 12-player trade with the Mets and Mariners.


"The signing of Kerry Wood brings to the Cleveland Indians a
powerful presence in the back of our bullpen and in our clubhouse,"
Shapiro said. "Kerry fills our need for a closer and fits our team's
culture perfectly as he is a dominant talent and an outstanding
teammate and person."

Tags: 

December 12th

No suprise here, but the Cubs end up offering contracts to all of their arbitration eligible players that Arizona Phil went through this morning.

They even got Chad Gaudin to sign a one-year deal already, terms have yet be to be disclosed.

This seemed like a no-brainer to me once they dropped the Jake Peavy pursuit. None of these guys will be making much and all could provide some sort of usefulness next season.


6:10 PM CST: It looks like Neal Cotts signed as well. Sullivan says Gaudin will get $2 million, and Cotts will get $1.1 million.

1:20 AM CST: Add Reed Johnson as well for $3 milllion.

Today is the day when contracts are tendered to players on MLB Reserve Lists who are unsigned for 2009.

December 11th

As reported in multiple places, including here, the Cubs are baling out on the Jake Peavy trade talks. Writes Ken Rosenthal:

The Cubs were frustrated by the Padres' attempts to seek five or six
players for Peavy with one team executive saying, "They're looking for
a Herschel Walker-type deal."

UPDATE: The Cubs lost three players in the 2008 Rule 5 Draft this morning, one in the Major League Phase and two in the AAA Phase.

1. Donald Veal, LHP - selected off AAA Iowa roster by Pittsburgh Pirates with 4th overall pick in Major League Phase.

2. Yusuf Carter, OF - selected off AA Tennessee roster by Oakland A's in AAA Phase.

3. Mark Holliman, RHP - selected off AA Tennessee roster by Milwaukee Brewers in AAA Phase  

The Cubs did not select any players, but they did acquire RHP David Patton from the Cincinnati Reds in a cash transaction after the conclusion of the draft. Patton was selected from the Colorado Rockies by the Reds with the 8th pick in the 1st round of the Major League Phase, and so the Cubs will assume the Rule 5 obligations (Patton must remain on Cubs 25-man roster for the entire 2009 season--or at least 90 days on the active roster if he spends time on the DL--before he can be optioned to the minors).

The 24-year old Patton is 6'3 175, and was selected by Colorado in the 12th round of the 2004 draft out of Green River CC in Washington. He struggled as a starter his first two years in pro ball before turning his career around after a move to the bullpen in 2006. He throws a hard breaking ball and has an above average fastball, and so he could project as an MLB reliever. The only problem is, he spent the last two years pitching in the California League (Hi-A), and has yet to throw even one inning of AA ball, although he did get into nine games with the Phoenix Desert Dogs of the AFL post-2008 (an atrocious 9.24 ERA and 2.13 WHIP in 12.2 IP).  

All three of the Cubs players selected in today's Rule 5 Draft were 2005 Rule 4 Draft picks (Veal in the 2nd round out of Pima CC, Holliman in the 3rd round out of Ol' Miss, and Carter in the 12th round out of El Paso CC), and this was the first Rule 5 Draft for each player.

Veal is still only 24, and was rated one of the Cubs top pitching prospects for most of his time with the Cubs, before falling out of favor in 2008. Veal has a plus-curve and a 93 MPH fastball, but he has struggled with his mechanics throughout his pro career and tends to hit his pitch limit before he can get through five innings. To help him throw fewer pitches-per-inning, the Cubs had him junk his curve in favor of a more-pedestrian slider in 2008, and that could have led to his downfall. I suspect the Pirates will have Veal try and get back to where he was before the Cubs started messing with him. I have projected Veal as a future MLB reliever for some time now (I would compare him to Arthur Rhodes), and I believe that is his best chance to have success at the MLB level. He is very effective against left-handed hitters, and pitching more often but without a pitch limit (as will be the case if he works out of the bullpen) should help him find more consistency with his posture, release point, and arm slot.    

The 25-year old Holliman was a "Friday Night Starter" (ace) at Ole Miss in his college days, and he had some success as a rotation starter the first half  of 2006 and 2007 with the Cubs at Daytona and Tennessee. But then he would hit a wall at about 110 IP and was unable to finish strong. With it becoming increasingly obvious that Holliman lacked the stamina to throw the 180 innings per season needed to remain in the starting rotation, he was moved into a middle-relief role at AA in 2008, and that appears to be his future.

Drafted out of JC ball as a catcher, 23-year old Yusuf Carter was moved to RF his second year with the Cubs. He has a plus-arm and plus-power, but he is also a very raw hitter (226/275/409 hitter in 298 career minor league games) who strikes out a lot and rarely walks. He would have had to win a job as the 4th outfielder at Tennessee in 2009 if he had remained with the Cubs. He is the nephew of retired MLB star outfielder (and ex-Cub) Joe Carter.

When a Rule 5-eligible player is placed on a AA reserve list in preparation for the Rule 5 Draft (as was the case with Holliman and Carter), it usually means the player's club sees the player as having a 50/50 chance of getting released in Spring Training, and so the club is happy to get $12,000 for the player. And since they were selected in the AAA Phase of the Rule 5 Draft, Carter and Holliman will not be offered back to the Cubs. They are gone.

Veal's situation is a different matter, however, as he has to remain on the Pirates 25-man roster for the entire 2009 season (or a minimum of 90 days if he spends time on the DL) before he can be optioned to the minors. So it is possible that the Cubs could get Veal back, if the Pirates decide they can't afford to keep him in the big leagues for an entire season and if the other MLB clubs aren't interested in assuming the Rule 5 requirements. 

 -- AZ PHIL  

====================================== 

Well it was nice knowing you all, can't say enough about each and every reader...you guys are the best, really. But now that The Cub Reporter has gone national, well, see you losers. Please send media requests to Rob G., I hear Arizona Phil and Transmission are particulary photogenic.

All kidding aside, we did get a mention in USA Today yesterday, well actually reader "DC Tom" did for one of his comments on Ron Santo missing the Hall of Fame. Who and how they unearthed that comment I'm unsure of, but we'll take it. 

I'm 98% sure that I won't be able to keep up with the rumors today as I'm fighting a nasty cold and honestly, if I read one more headline saying the deal is "close" or "closer", I'll  beat the offending reporter with their own keyboard.

Hopefully Arizona Phil or someone else will cover the Rule 5 draft today.

Tags: 

December 10th

10:32 PM CST: Here's a new name in the mix, Chone Figgins, from an article in the LA Times blog. Apparently the Cubs have asked the LA Angels of Anaheim about the leadoff batting, switch hitting, infielder/outfielder. The Angels don't have a good idea of what they would want in return until they get beyond the possibilities regarding Mark Texeira or a new closer such as Brian Fuentes. File this under good stuff that could get put in the ol' Christmas stocking on Dec. 24th. (Cubster)


9:40 PM CST: Jayson Stark writes that the Peavy deal "doesn't seem so inevitable anymore," adding that all the reports of the Cubs' willingness to move Mark DeRosa have really chummed the trade waters:

Since word leaked out that DeRosa might be available, the Cubs have
been bombarded with calls from other clubs interested in DeRosa. So
some of those teams report that Cubs GM Jim Hendry is telling them he
might deal DeRosa separately, but he doesn't really want to deal him at
all. So that, said one source, "has opened up a whole 'nother can of
worms."

(Cubnut)


9:20 PM CST: Bruce Levine with his evening update on the show (ESPN 1000) with Carmen and J. Hood said that Kevin Towers, if he does get Jason Marquis, expects that he can flip him in a secondary trade for additional prospects or more cash. Apparently Hendry and Towers met for 90 minutes earlier this evening and if a deal gets accomplished he doesn't expect it to be announced until late weekend or early next week, if you include physicals and possible ownership signoff issues.  (Cubster)


6:47 PM CST: Levine must have been at the same lunch as Bruce Miles, but he got that a deal for an outfielder should be done very soon, either Raul Ibanez or Milton Bradley, with the odds favoring Bradley. (Rob G.)


5:07 PM CST: The rumor queen is back saying that, oh just maybe they will move DeRosa in the right deal. She then regurgitates a Steve Phillips story that the deal could be DeRosa to the Phils for Happ or pitcher Carlos Carrasco and shortstop Jason Donald and then those two prospects plus Felix Pie, Josh Vitters and Jason Marquis (and you have to assume cash) to the Padres for Peavy.

- Bruce Miles says that Randy Johnson is still very much in play if the Peavy deal doesn't happen, the Twins and a number of other teams are interested in DeRosa if he is available and Gabor might be back as an NRI this spring competing for the backup catcher job. Lou also said he believes the left-handed hitting outfielder will come to the Cubs via free agency and not trade. (Rob G.)


3:03  PM CST: All kinds of bullshit floating around now...

We've got BP and Jon Heyman saying the Cubs need to move Marquis and his contract before finishing the Peavy trade.

- A few odd WSCR radio reports that Hendry is just keeping the trade talks alive as a favor to Towers in hopes that another team will swoop in. I can't say that makes an ounce of sense. Followed by another WSCR radio report that Towers may just keep Peavy. Always a good time to point out that WSCR's sources are trained monkeys living at the L-station stop on Addison.

- Muskat-love says DeRosa is staying put.

- Sullivan can't get anything out of Hendry and throws a monkey wrench in there with, "According to some reports, manager Lou Piniella said
the Cubs have little interest in Peavy, which is contrary to everything
that has been said and written over the last two months."
He also mentions that some think the Padres are trying to move Peavy before he blows out his elbow, not because they need the money.

He says Sean Marshall is off the table but Josh Vitters is in and Marquis needs to be moved. Then throws in some stuff on the outfielders.

- Heyman also had a note saying the Mets asked the Cubs about some of their relief pitchers (shrug). (Rob G.)


1:52 PM CST: Bruce Levine has a blog?  Claims the current deal being discussed is DeRosa to the Phils for Happ and a second prospect and then sending Happ, Vitters, Hart and Marquis plus $3-4M for Peavy. It makes it sound like the Cubs would keep the 2nd pitching prospect from the Phils.

Levine also mentions a possible trade in the works for an outfielder.

The Kerry Wood deal sounds likes it's going to be 2/20 with some sort of option and they're just waiting for the physical. (Rob G.)

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