Archive - Feb 2008

February 22nd

...where I have nothing exciting to mention.  


UPDATE: If you wish to endorse the buy Wrigley plan at the bottom of this article, send an email with your full name to Mr. Lunchbuckett.

- Tickets for individual games at Wrigley went on sale today. A look through the comments of the previous thread indicate it's as hellacious as ever. Once the home of Bleacher Bums and nuns from DeKalb, it's now just a scalpers heaven. Sigh.


 - Lou Piniella seems to be seeing the same things that our pal Arizona Phil is, suggesting that the Fuk might end up batting third with Soriano and Theriot at the top of the order and Lee and Ramirez following him.
- You can also listen to a Lou's appearance on the Mike North show from this morning. I haven't had a chance to listen to it, but I believe he talks a little about the batting order, the closer job, and Hendry working on some deals...with all the vagueness you should expect. 

- If you're still interested in joining a low-key fantasy league with some fellow TCR readers, drop me an email. We already filled up one league, but I have quite a few names that are still interested and would love to open up a second league. 

- I received an email from someone calling themselves "Joe Lunchbuckett" (how fantastic would that be if that was his real name?). Mr. Lunchbuckett is taking it upon himself to try and organize the Cubs masses into buying Wrigley Field. I don't believe there's any relation to the fan effort to buy the Cubs, but I thought I'd give him his 15 minutes. You can view his press release by following the link (Google Docs is fantastic by the way). 

Enjoy the weekend...

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February 21st

Or, how Baseball-Reference will be the death of me

 

The latest ridiculously interesting tool released by baseball-reference.com is its Batting Order Position Outcomes page. Plug in a team, a year, and a position in the batting order, and it will break down that position's results by the player batting in that slot.

 

For instance, did you know that on the 2007 Cubs team, Cesar Izturis logged the most games (41) and plate appearances (154) in the 8th spot in the order? He put up a .254/.314/.300/.614 line while hitting 8th, and the Cubs went 18-23 in games where he batted 8th. With Koyie Hill hitting 8th, the Cubs went an impressive 14-7. No thanks to Hill, necessarily, who hit .141/. 203/.211/.414 in those games. In stark contrast to Hill, Ronny Cedeno hit .368/.369/.737/1.052 in nine games there, and the Cubs went 2-7.

 

Other interesting but perhaps entirely meaningless discoveries include...

According to the Daily Herald, the Blackhawks have discussed with the Cubs the possibility that the Hawks would play one of the NHL's outdoor games next season at Wrigley Field. The NHL would obviously need to give its okay and according to the Daily Herald story, the New York Rangers, who are hoping to host a game in soon-to-be-shuttered Yankee Stadium, might be more likely to get Gary Bettman's approval than the Hawks.

I've looked around the Internet trying to find the weight of an NHL hockey rink and can't come up with it, but I'm pretty sure they're heavy.

If Roger Bossard was dead, he would be spinning in his grave.

February 20th

It was a long day at the Long Beach County Courthouse today for me, fulfilling my civic duties (that woman was guilty the second I saw her).  So I didn't have time to put up the link for my podcast appearance on "The Pitch" with Joe Aiello (of "The View from the Bleachers" fame) from yesterday.  We chat about the upcoming season and the role of midgets in baseball. I'm going to assume it's rather unbearable to listen to me drone on, but I know it's hard to resist watching the car wreck on the side of the road.

 Enjoy...

By way of Gordon Wittenmyer in the Sun-Times, Lou Piniella talks about the importance of finding days off for Soriano, Ramirez, Lee, et al.

Hmmm, sounds like what you could use, Lou, is a “super sub.”

Meanwhile the 26th Cub, Brian Roberts, showed up for Orioles camp and got to choose between discussing his as yet unrealized trade to the Cubs and the presence of his name in the Mitchell Report.

Have the Chicago/Baltimore talks cooled to the point that the supposed principals aren’t even thinking about it any more? Andy MacPhail claims he spoke to Roberts Tuesday morning and the subject didn’t even come up.

February 19th

Today marked another milestone in the annual Cubs Spring Training ritual, as the "full squad" took the field together at Fitch Park for the first time (which is to say Aramis Ramirez finally arrived) under sunny skies and temperatures in the high 50's, and under the watchful eyes of The Brain Trust (Jim Hendry wandering from field-to-field with a cell-phone glued to his ear while patting players on the back, Lou Piniella with a cup of coffee in hand schmoozing with the fans, Randy Bush and Oneri Fleita following Hendry around, Gary Hughes tooling around in a golf cart, Carrie Muskat feverishly taking notes, et al).

February 18th

The Cubs have signed 29-year old switch-hitting FA middle-infielder Alex Cintron to a minor league contract with an NRI to Spring Training. He is expected to report to Fitch Park with the rest of the position players tomorrow.

A native of Puerto Rico, Cintron is a veteran of 598 MLB games over parts of seven seasons, the first five with the Arizona Diamondbacks, and the last two with the White Sox. He has a 277/315/401 career line, but hit only 243/281/324 last season as a back-up middle-infielder with the Sox. His best season was in 2003 with Arizona, when he hit 317/359/489 with 13 HR, but he hasn't come anywhere close to that since. He had elbow surgery after the 2006 season.

Signing Cintron is presumably insurance in case the Cubs end up trading Ronny Cedeno to Baltimore as part of the long-rumored package that would be required to get second-baseman Brian Roberts from the Orioles.

Or the Cubs could opt to keep both Cedeno and Cintron as extra men, although that might cause a problem since they might also feel the need to carry a right-handed hitting or switch-hitting "4th OF" who can back-up all three OF positions and also (if necessary) play CF against LHP.

Since Daryle Ward, Henry Blanco, and Matt Murton (if he doesn't get traded) would seem to be assured of three of the five bench gigs, carrying two back-up middle-infielders on the roster would probably rule out keeping a "4th OF" on the bench.

If he isn't traded, Cedeno (who is out of minor league options) could conceivably prove to be the right-handed hitting alternate CF the Cubs are seeking, but that is far from a sure thing (Cedeno played only about a dozen games in CF in the Venezuelan Winter League), and a lot would depend on how he adapts to the position during the course of ST.

February 16th

While it's no Arizona-Phil-from-two-days-ago-live-scouting-update , John Sickles has a post up at his website concerning Felix Pie. For the most part, it's a vanilla run through Pie's minor league credentials, but a couple of things came up from the post that are worth re-emphasizing.

February 15th

...been doing it clean since 2005.

- The Congressional Hearings were the big topic of the week and I'll add my final two cents. It seems to me now that there are two likely scenarios. In one corner, Roger Clemens is guilty as sin and flat out lying. Or Brian McNamee is the new "Verbal" Kint. He's pieced together all these little snippets of information (team BBQ, B12 injections, things on Clemens's butt, Petitte using HGH, etc) and then he weaved this incredible tale to get him out of jail time. If we see him limping out of the courthouse one day into a waiting car that whisks him away to never be seen again, then I might just believe Clemens. In the meantime, I'm going with guilty as sin.

- While I applaud Zambrano's attempt at humor, there were so many things that could have gotten lost in translation with his little prank today. Hopefully Fukudome has a good sense of humor, because you need one to be around the Cubbies.

- Congrats to Pat Hughes on being named Illinois Sportscaster of the Year. Although it's a limited pool of candidates when you think about it (heck this is Hughes 4th win) and I think just about any sportscaster in Illinois will end up with the honor if they stick around the state long enough.

- I'll be on with Joe Aiello and Brandon Rosage on their podcast, "The Pitch" today. I dont' believe it's live anymore, but the podcast should be available to listen or download sometime later this afternoon. I'll post the link when it becomes available.

Enjoy the holiday weekend....

UPDATE: False alarm on the podcast appearance, going to be pushed back until Tuesday now.

February 14th

With security understandably tight (well, there was one off-duty Mesa cop in the players parking lot), the Cubs had their first "official" work-out of the 2008 season under mostly cloudy skies (around 60 degrees, with a wind chill of about 59) this morning at Mesa's Fitch Park, as Pitchers & Catchers and eight position player "early birds" took the field. It was a smaller crowd than usual for the first day (maybe about 40 or 50 fans), but at least nobody got arrested.

Dedicated to cockfighting, that is.

Chicago Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramírez is prominently featured in a recent issue of a Dominican cockfighting magazine, En La Traba, in which he is pictured with several roosters that he raises for fighting. Of roosters, he said in the magazine, “When I’m in the Dominican Republic, I’m dedicated entirely to them.”

Too bad all of this is going on in the D.R. It would be a perfect topic for that new Henry Waxman reality show.

February 13th

As you might have heard, and if you haven't...well you certainly will, the Cubs will go 100 straight years without a championship if 2008 is not the year. And at least one Cub is ready for battle:

"I think we're going to win the World Series. I really do. I wouldn't have worked as hard as I did and everybody worked as hard as they did to not believe that."

That Cub would be Ryan Dempster and I applaud his optimism. What fun would it be if they didn't believe that on the first day of spring training in the warm Arizona sun, a place where optimism should flow like water over Niagara Falls. I hope Dempster is equally optimistic he'll still be a Cub by the time October rolls around because I'm not so sure he will be.

There isn't much else to be said, the first workouts are scheduled for tomorrow, and I think we're all jonesing for any brief snippet of information. I did find this passage amusing though:

The first day was a chance to get reacquainted and organized as coaches discussed the game plan for most of the morning. Zambrano showed off his sleek, black Lamborghini, Michael Wuertz brought red licorice for his teammates, while early bird position players like Ryan Theriot, Tyler Colvin, Sam Fuld, Jake Fox and Koyie Hill took grounders on the half field at Fitch. Position players don't have to report until Feb. 18.

Yes, nothing shows the difference between arbitration-eligible and first free agent contract like a Lamborghini and red licorice.
---------

The only other news of the day comes from Lou who says that he'll try to settle on a closer about three-quarters of the way into spring training. The other spring training competitons will be center field between Felix Pie and Sam Fuld and coming up with the five-man rotation (three of which are set). LDM (Lieber, Dempster, Marquis), and the two Sean's will compete for the final 2 spots and I suppose Kevin Hart might be in there as well. The losers of that competition will likely round out the bullpen which has five set in stone (Howry, Marmol, Wood, Eyre, Wuertz). Tim Lahey and Jose Ascaino will also be in the mix and dont' be surprised if Chad Fox ends up on the Opening Day Roster somehow....and then ends up on the DL by May 1st.

Clemens vs McNamee!!!!!

Only one will be left standing....

Are you Rrrrrready to Rumble!!!!!!!!!

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