Archive - 2008

November 16th

The World Baseball Classic is happening again this spring and the rosters are starting to take shape. MLB.com came out with an article on the Dominican Republic team and it sounds like Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Marmol will be playing for them. In Carrie Muskat's latest mailbag, she says that Carlos Zambrano will sit out for Team Venezuela this time. It doesn't appear any Cubs will play for Team USA unless the Cubs do land Jake Peavy. You have to hope that Rich Harden wouldn't participate for Team Canada, although I'd guess that Ryan Dempster would. Kosuke Fukudome has indicated he would be honorod to play for Team Japan if they ask. And that's all the Cubs I can think of off the top of my head for the major league squad.

As for the minor leagues, I assume pitcher Alex Maestri will play for Team Italy. The Cubs also signed two Australian pitchers Ryan Searle and Cody Hams and they may play. There are also a few Korean prospects in the system, Lee Hak-ju and Dae-Eun Rhee, so watch for them. And there's a good chance I'm missing a few players so fill in the gaps in the comments if you know of anyone else. (UPDATE: And there you go, Geovany Soto is probably a good bet for the Puerto Rico team).

In the 2006 WBC, Carlos Zambrano and Henry Blanco played for Team Venezuela, Derrek Lee and Michael Barrett played for Team USA. The 2009 WBC will start on March 5th.

November 15th

UPDATE: Apparently the NSBB story guy(DonnieD) was vacationing in Puerto Rico, not that he lives there. Apperently some folks at NSBB think this is vital information. I think it's inconsequential. I also think most of the folks on that board have an extra chromosome, especially this genius who thinks Chad's bit of information has anything to do with the NSBB story. They're two mutually exclusive stories pal, I just posted them together - try to figure that out.

So to sum up for the reading impaired, i.e. the posters at NSBB - dude met Jake Peavy at a resort in Puerto Rico and Peavy said he's not going to Atlanta and if he can't end up in Southern California, he wants to be in Chicago. Padres rightfully aren't interested in sending him to the Dodgers and Peavy still would prefer to pitch in the NL.

Then, a completely isolated story was related in the comments by one of our readers, NOT The Cub Reporter or any of its writers. That reader heard something from a source that has been reliable in the past for him. I have no reasons to doubt Chad as he's been at posting at The Cub Reporter longer than I've been writing and Chad may be a lot of things, but he's not a liar. 


 

Oh, the Internet...the wild west of information and speculation has spewed out a couple of beauties for us. First, a fella that claims to live in Puerto Rico relays a story of running into Jake Peavy over on the Northside Baseball Message Boards. Read the entire link but he basically says that Peavy only wants to come to the Cubs. There was a Nike Tour in Puerto Rico this week, so he's either a good researcher who has weaved together a fantastic story or telling the truth.

Then, long-time reader Chad relays this bit of information:

MAJOR GRAIN OF SALT ALERT

My boss has an inside guy in the San Diego Padres front office. Says the deal is done. Just waiting on the announcement.

I will say that a few things that my boss has tipped me off on in the past came true.

Please notice the bold type, but we've known Chad a long time around here and I'm confident he  heard what he heard. It MAY NOT come to pass, as it is a rumor afterall, but I don't have any doubts that is what he was told.

So there you go, if nothing happens, don't blame me, I'm just passing along the information. They are rumors afterall. 

November 14th

UPDATE: Arizona Phil's much anticipated top 15 list was kind of lost in the shuffle yesterday with the Kevin Gregg trade, so I'm putting it up top for the weekend. Obviously it was done before Ceda got traded, so Phil will have to drop by with #16 and you can move everyone else up one.

I also wanted to add, and sorry if it's a repeat, that the Cubs 6th round pick of 2006 Joshua Lansford has moved from third base to the pitcher's mound as of Instructionals last month. Word comes from friend of TCR, Steve Holley at Inside the Ivy. (Rob G.)


 

Using the criteria Baseball America uses to rate their Top Ten prospects (50 MLB IP and 130 MLB AB limit, but not concerned with MLB service time), here are my Top 15 Cubs prospects pre-2009. It's just my opinion,and I'm sure many of you have your own idea of who should be where. I probably tend to place greater weight on players at the higher levels, although I do consider players further down the pipeline as well...    

November 13th

On the heels of the Cubs acquiring Kevin Gregg, reader "jacos" heard on WSCR that Jim Hendry has said that Kerry Wood is pretty likely to have played his last game as a Cub.

Wood wanted a three year guaranteed deal and the Cubs, skeptical of his injury history, don't feel he's worth that much risk. We'll see what the open market has to offer, but someone will take a chance on his talent. You can't blame either side on their positions in my opinion. The Cubs were burned for years expecting Kerry and Prior and others to be healthy, that it's understandable of their more cautious approach. Kerry though had a very good season, really didn't have any arm issues last year besides a blister and after living off a few one year deals, he has every right to look for some security.

I don't think the book is closed, but we're on the last paragraph. Or maybe I'm just reading the appendix now.

UPDATE: The Miami Herald says it's for 4-star prospect Jose Ceda. Shiite. Too much, way, way too much. And since Ceda was one of the possible names going to San Diego for Jake Peavy, you have to think that ship is about to sail.

Double check my work if you wish, but I believe Gregg is set to be a free agent after 2009 and is arbitration eligible for this year. He made $2.5M last year.


 

Ken Rosenthal is reporting that the Cubs have acquired Marlins relief pitcher Kevin Gregg. The 30-year old pitcher was the Marlins closer for the better part of two seasons racking up 61 saves and ERA's of 3.54 and 3.41 respectively. He strikes out nearly a batter per inning but walks a few too many guys for my tastes. I'm sure the first reaction will be that Kerry Wood is definitely a goner, but my guess is that it's just a possible back-up plan as Gregg could certainly slide into a set-up role. Even if Wood goes, I'd rather see Carlos Marmol in the closer role.

Of course, whenever a Cubs trade goes down, the first question is who do the Cubs get and the second question is what did they give up? Rosenthal don't have the answer on the second part yet, but I'll update as soon as someone finds out.

Former Peoria Chiefs pitcher Julio Castillo pleaded not guily to two charges of felonious assault Wednesday morning in an Ohio courtroom. Castillo was part of that huge on-field brawl between the Chiefs and the Dayton Dragons this past July 24th, at one point firing a ball toward the Dayton dugout, only to have it sail over his target and hit a fan in the head. Castillo's apparent defense is that he never intended to hit the fan, who got a free concussion just for attending the game. Castillo faces up to 16 years in prison and a $30,000 fine if convicted.

Disgusting and idiotic...but feel free to enjoy it all over again.

November 12th

Lou Piniella won he NL Manager of the Year award today. Always a curious award that seems to honor lowered expectations than actual managing skill. Nonetheless, Piniella takes the honor and will likely just dump it into the spare closet as I'm sure he couldn't care less after the playoff debacle.

He would have probably gotten my first place vote as I thought the Cubs were about an 88-win team to start the year, so the Cubs certainly exceeded my expactations. Tony LaRussa was the only other manager that probably deserved some first place votes, but he finished 5th in the voting.

I'll keep this brief...

- Jerry Crasnick says the Cubs will be in on Ben Sheets if they lose out on Dempster and Peavy. I suppose that could be an and/or since the Cubs were considering both.

- It seems someone in the mass media has finally gotten around to mentioning that Jake Peavy is a huge injury risk.

- Jeff Passan returns and I mostly ignore everything in it.

- Rosenthal says the Padres now want Single-A catcher Tyler Flowers from the Braves instead of center fielder Gorkys Hernandez. He says the Cubs have given from six to eight names for the Padres to choose from.

- Bruce Miles was apparently on the radio and says Felix Pie and Ronny Cedeno aren't of that much interest to the Padres and they're more interested in Josh Vitters, Welington Castillo, Sean Marshall and possibly some others.

November 11th

This is a couple of weeks old, but Chris Dial at Baseball Think Factory came out with a huge spreadsheet rating every player in the league on offense and defense with the appropriately named metric OPD (Offense Plus Defense). It does not take into account baserunning though, and be aware that players are compared to those who play the same position.  He briefly explains the methodology in that link and a further description of the defense can be found here. I didn't spend a lot of time assessing the merits of his system, but it seems solid enough. It tells me Albert Pujols and Joe Mauer were the best players in their respective leagues last year and well that certainly passes the smell test, although by no means is it the ONE stat that will settle every argument from now until the end of days.

The full Google spreadsheet can be found at this link and I've listed the Cubs team ratings and individual players below. It would have been nice to put a ranking next to each player so I didn't have to count them out, which I'm not going to do for every player, but I'll let you know that Soto was 17th in the NL and DeRosa 18th. The numbers are runs relative to average, not replacement or wins, and of course, a positive number is above average, negative is below average.The general sabermetrician's rule of thumb is that 10-12 runs is good for a win.

Just a little filler writeup. If you have any "pet Peavy's" keep them in Rob's Tuesday Hot Stove comments.

Over the weekend I heard that they have again added World Series Winner memorabilia into the Hall of Fame. This years addition is Cole Hamel's jersey worn in the rain delayed game 5 and Brad Lidge's glove for getting the save in game 5.

If they could just loosen up the criteria for getting stuff into the HOF a bit, I was wondering just what Cub trinkets would qualify?

Here's my short list but feel free to make it longer:

Stuffed black cat, Shea stadium circa 1969

Ron Santo's toasted gamer hairpiece from opening day in NYC 2003

Sammy Sosa's broken corked bat circa 2004

Moises Alou hand delivered urinalysis results, circa 2004

Videotape of Piniella's ejection June 3, 2007 with ump Mark Wegner

Autographed ball Cub infield, game 2, NLDS 2008...with 4 dirt smudges included

Ted Lilly (08) and Carlos Zambrano (07) game 4 NLDS warmup jackets

Of course plan B is to wait for our Carlos' (plural of Carlos? Carli?) Z and M to get their jersey/gloves into the HOF the way the Phillies pitchers did it this year.

- Rosenthal says the Braves are growing impatient and may pull their offer by Friday when free agency opens up. USA Today says "one team" is demanding a resolution by the 14th (let's take a guess on which team).  Rosenthal goes on to say the Padres have sent counter-offers to the Cubs and Braves, although he doesn't think either team will up the ante. In terms of players involved, he mentions Sean Marshall and possibly Josh Vitters.

- Sullivan thinks the Cubs are offering about 4/50 to Dempster right now.

- The Toronto Globe and Mail thinks Dempster is pretty likely to stay a Cub and says he'll take a discount if the Cubs acquire Peavy.


UPDATE: Buster Olney says the Cubs and Padres are trying to get a 3rd team involved and that Josh Vitters might be in play. I'd be surprised if the Cubs dealt Vitters or Samardzija myself, but you never know.

 

November 10th

As expected, the Cubs field general Geovany Soto took home the NL Rookie of the Year honors. He's the 5th Cub to win the honor and first catcher since Mike Piazza in 1993. He did it on the strength of a 285/364/504 batting line with 23 HR's, 86 RBI's and 66 Runs in the traditional baseball categories. He also created 6.6 Runs per game, had a 7.0 WARP-1 value and was 5 runs above average on defense, those last two numbers courtesy of Baseball Prospectus. That's quite a nice little season that was good enough to get 31 of the 32 possible first place votes, with one yokel probably from Cincinnati voting for Joey Votto.

Since the last time I used "Hates the Cubs" in a headline it got a bunch of extra hits from the interwebs, I thought I'd try it again (never underestimate how much the Cubs are despised by the rest of the world). The good folks at Chicago Cubs Online did a pretty thorough rundown of Bruce Levine's radio show yesterday and it's chocked full of information. I covered the rumors in this comment but there's the little tidbit where the Cubs had a deal in place for Brian Giles before last year's trade deadline and he turned it down.

November 8th

Rosenthal says the Braves are growing impatient...

The Padres are still weighing offers for right-hander Jake Peavy, and
on Friday discussed the possibility of keeping the pitcher if they fail
to receive a satisfactory proposal, according to a major league source.
The Braves, after weeks of discussions, are growing impatient, another
source said, and soon might push for a resolution. The Braves and Cubs
remain the front-runners, with the Yankees and Dodgers on the
backburner. ...

That has to be good for the Cubs, Hendry has no problem waiting it out.

- Jeff Passan returns with his tail between his legs.

They had hoped for the Cubs to include pitcher Jeff Samardzija as part of a deal that could include outfielder Felix Pie, pitcher Sean Marshall and infielder Ronny Cedeno, but Samardzija has a full no-trade clause that he has no intent on giving up, said his agent, Mark Rodgers.


“Under no circumstances are we going to waive the no-trade provisions,” Rodgers said Friday.

The Cubs are tinkering with other players – pitcher Kevin Hart,
minor-league pitcher Donnie Veal and, according to various reports,
perhaps top hitting prospect Josh Vitters and minor leaguers Mitch
Atkins, Wellington Castillo and Jose Ceda.

Chris DeLuca hints that the Padres certainly would certainly love Samardzija, but it would be a deal-breaker for the Cubs.

- Supposedly Kevin Towers was on the radio with Bruce Levine and talked about how well respected Jim Hendry is among other GM's and that it may give the Cubs the leg up in the Peavy sweepstakes.

- The rest of the NL Central is still open for business and Rosenthal says the Cards are offering Skip Schumaker, Ryan Ludwick and  RHP Mitchell Boggs and possibly more for the Matt Holliday. The Brewers are awaiting a counter-offer from C.C. Sabathia's camp.

November 7th

Two developments on the ownership front:

As reported by Chris de Luca in the Sun-Times and noted by a reader under the previous post, there is z-e-r-o chance that MLB owners will approve beer-drinkin' regular guy/billionaire Mark Cuban as the next owner of the Cubs. According to de Luca, this seems to place "the group headed by John Canning, Jr.—(Commissioner Bud) Selig's personal favorite—back as the frontrunner."

On a related note, Friday's Wall Street Journal reports that Tribune Company may retain 50% ownership of the team anyway.

In recent weeks, an early plan to sell a 95% stake has fallen to about
half as suitors' ability to buy the team and its landmark stadium on
Chicago's North Side waned, according to two people involved in the
negotiations. On Thursday, bidders were preparing to receive a request
to submit new purchase proposals with financing details, those people
said.


The shift in strategy is a result of the tight credit market and a
heightening fear that few, if any bidders, would be able to complete a
transaction once valued at more than $1 billion. Under the new
scenario, the windfall to Tribune would be far less.


"This will still generate substantial cash," said one person with
knowledge of the sales process. "We're talking hundreds of millions of
dollars."


While the Cubs and Padres dance around a possible deal for Jake Peavy, there was another bit of Padres news this week that is very loosely connected to the Cubs.

Matt Vasgersian, who has done TV play-by-play for the Pads since 2002, is leaving San Diego for the job of lead studio host with MLB Network. Vasgersian, who worked Brewers games before heading west, was mentioned as a candidate for the Cubs job when Chip Caray left and was ultimately replaced by Lenny Kasper.

The greater connection between Vasgersian and the Cubs, however, lies in the fact that it was Vasgersian on the mic during a Padres game in May, 2006, when former Cub great Rick Sutcliffe stumbled into the booth (literally) and made his infamous drunken cameo appearance. (Kudos to Gaslamp Ball for retaining this unforgettable piece of baseball history.)

 

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