Archive - 2008

November 6th

Oh dear...things should be interesting this weekend.

- ESPN1000 is reporting that Peavy could be dealt by Monday with the Cubs and Braves being the most likely targets.

-  The hot rumor early Thursday was the Braves offering Yunel Escobar and two prospects, but if that is the case, it sounds like Peavy would veto that deal. 

“One of the things we will want to look at some point is,
'Who are you giving up? How much are you weakening your team to make
this deal?'” Axelrod said. “If Team X trades three starting pitchers
and a starting shortstop to get Jake Peavy, that lessens their chance
of being a successful team.”

That sure sounds good for the Cubs chances as the players that have been leaked so far are spare parts (Ceda, Marshall, Pie, Cedeno, Fontenot).

- That same article says the Cubs don't have much interest in Khalil Greene.

- USA Today says it's between Braves, Cubs and Dodgers and even gets confirmation from Jim Hendry that an offer has been made, which is rare for Hendry to confirm such things.

-  A supposed Levine report that I almost feel bad for passing it along, so I hope someone can back this up. The Cubs grand plan would be to trade for Peavy in case Dempster walks, but to try and still resign Dempster somewhere in the 4/50 range. Kerry Wood would still be on the radar at one or two year deal at most.

- Jeff Passan at Yahoo says it comes down to which team will cough up their top pitching prospect.The Padres want Jeff Samardzija from the Cubs or Tommy Hansen from the Braves. Other Cubs that could be included are Sean Marshall, Donald Veal, Felix Pie, Ronny Cedeno and Kevin Hart. Samardzija's no-trade clause is a limited no-trade clause according to Passan, which I did not know. 

UPDATE: Bruce MIles tells Jeff Passan to fuck off. Well not that harsh, but Samardzija does have a full no-trade clause. No wonder no one else knew it was a limited NTC.  Miles runs down some of the possible players that might go in a deal as well.

November 5th

The czar of trade rumors says the Cubs have emerged as a front-runner for the services of one Jacob Peavy, possibly ahead of the Atlanta Braves. It's widely believed  the Dodgers are the third team still in play, although Tim Brown as you'll see below mentions the Cardinals. Rosenthal even goes on to suggest that the Cubs may be willing to go 4 years and around $50 million on Dempster to have them both in the rotation for 2009 and beyond.

What's interesting is that the first line of Rosenthal's article seems to neglect someone.

Imagine a Cubs rotation that featured Jake Peavy, Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster and Ted Lilly.

That someone would of course be Rich Harden, and although the article doesn't suggest any names going back to the Padres, the omission of Harden is a curious one. Chances are it was just an oversight on Rosenthal's part, but myself and some readers have suggested that Rich Harden might be an option for the Padres in a Peavy deal. Yes, the Padres are trying to cut payroll and yes, the Padres are trying to get some players that they'll have control over for four, five or six years, Harden though comes at a cheap price for 2008 considering his talent ($7M). And even though he's set to be a free agent after this year, it would give the Padres quite a bit of leverage for 2008. They could either try and resign Harden to an extension which is the unlikeliest of scenarios. Or they could trade him half way through the season, get out of half his contract and collect even more prospects to reload. They could also just let him pitch all of 2008 and then let him walk and pick up the two draft picks he's likely to fetch for being a type "A" free agent if he doesn't break down.

Rosenthal does say that if the Cubs acquire Peavy and resign Dempster, that pretty much means the end of the Kerry Wood Cubs era.

Tim Brown at Yahoo still says the Braves are the best bet to land Peavy and says that they're already working out contingency plans for players they'd trade away in a deal, as our the Cubs and Cardinals. The Cardinals supposedly said a week or two ago that they weren't willing to give up the types of prospects the Padres were seeking, but things can change quickly.

Time for another shot at wonderful prizes with the TCR Free Agent Frenzy Contest. MLB.com actually runs it and we just piggyback off of them, but it's been great fun. The prize this year for first place is a brand new copy of Cait Murphy's Crazy '08, which I know Dr. Hecht strongly endorses.

We've upscaled it this year and you can enter your choices by filling in this survey. A few things to note, it's limited to 100 responses although we've never had more than that. Second, it won't double check your work so if you put the same confidence level on two players, your ballot will be thrown out. If you wish, feel free to put your choices in the comments as well for a backup and so we can all mock you.

Best of luck...

All quiet on the Western front...

- The Braves have contacted Ryan Dempster's agent. Dave O'Brien guesses that Dempster will still sign with the Cubs and says the Cubs have offered a three year/$36 million deal which Dempster wants to make sure isn't too much of a hometown discount.

- Dave van Dyck of the Tribune throws out Bobby Abreu and Derek Lowe's name but it's all speculation on his part. He says the pitching market was already set by Kyle Lohse's 4/$41M deal and Dempster should expect more than that.

- An AP article in the Herald where it says Jake Peavy and his agent want the Padres to focus on three teams. Houston and St. Louis are likely out of the picture, so that means the Cubs, Dodgers and Braves in all likelihood. It claims Towers is looking for two major leaguers and prospects in return. Earlier, Towers said is was about the quality of players, not the quantity. It's been reported that the Padres would like to deal Peavy sooner, rather than later. Towers did say he's "down the road" with two of those three teams.

- Rosenthal thinks Rafael Furcal is a good bet to stay with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

- Here's a name that I hadn't thought of for the Cubs - Kelly Johnson of the Braves. 10 teams have called about him and although the Rosenthal article doesn't mention the Cubs specifically, he could be a good fit for the top of the order, lefty bat the Cubs are in search of. He struggled for the most part last year until a huge September saved his season numbers, but he was bothered by knee issues for much of the season.

 


UPDATE: The Sun-Times says the Cubs interest in Peavy is "limited", but they do have "deep interest" in Sabathia and possibly some in A.J. Burnett. They also say that Raul Ibanez and Brian Roberts are on the Cubs radar.

 

UPDATE #2: A quick blurb that the Cubs might be a spot for Aaron Heilman. A name that has been linked to the Cubs in previous off-seasons. Mets might make a run at Dempster as well.

November 4th

We tend to suppress the political talk around here because we like to treat sports as an escape from the realities of the world. Also because people tend to go off the deep end whenever the topic comes up.  This being election night though and there being nothing baseball-related worth discussing - go at it.

I'll be sadly working most of the evening, but following through Nate Silver's 538 blog and CNN.com. Any recommendations on a better site to follow the action?

For a brief moment(7:06 pm CST), McCain was winning 16-3 in the electoral vote. OMG! UPSET!!! A quick refresh and he's already down 81-34 in states that have been called. If I understand this correctly, based on the polling, if Obama takes Ohio, the night is pretty much over.

I'm also happy to see the "Godless Sunday School Teacher" won in North Carolina (here's the backstory on that one). I'll also be following the California races of course.

Happy Election night!

Here on election day, I'm voting for none other than Arizona Phil. Anyone armed with so much information can't lead our country wrong. I can't wait for Chris Berman to get his post-election interview with Phil.

Strong commentary by Az Phil from the "Cubs make the First Trade of the Offseason" post. 

On newly acquired Ryan Buchter:

Ryan Buchter was drafted by the Nationals in the 33rd round of the 2005 draft, but he didn't sign, and instead went to a JC in New Jersey.

The Nats signed Buchter as a "Draft & Follow" in May 2006 (prior to the new CBA, clubs retained rights to their Rule 4 Draft picks until one week before the next year's draft), an indication that his draft stock had gone up after his year playing JC ball.

What probably happened is, the Cubs area scout in New Jersey "turned in" Buchter off his performance in JC in '06 ("turned in" being the term used by scouts when they recommend a player), but the Cubs never got a chance to draft him in 2006 because the Nats had already signed him as a DNF in May, although the Cubs probably kept his name on file for future reference should a trade be made with the Nationals at some future date.

UPDATE: Looks like Kevin Towers jumped the gun on saying Peavy is willing to go to the Angels or Yankees, as Peavy's agent Barry Axelrod denies the report. Axelrod said Peavy may consider either team but it would require a healthy dose of extra compensation.

CBS's Scott Miller talks about the golf game between Hendry and Towers and throws Rich Hill's name into the mix.


 

- Bruce Levine reported on the radio talks between the Cubs and Padres centered around Sean Marshall, Felix Pie, Ronny Cedeno and Jose Ceda.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that's not enough.

The Trib's Dave Van Dyck  quotes a scout saying the Cubs lack the talent the Padres want but has a source that also mentions Felix Pie, Ronny Cedeno and others. It goes on to say that it's definitley Peavy OR Dempster for the Cubs and not Peavy AND Dempster. He finishes it off by mentioning that he believes Wood would be the better bet to get signed before the Nov. 13th exclusive negotiating window ends.

- In a separate article, van Dyck says the Cubs have some interest in Raul Ibanez.

- To add to the fun, Peavy has added the Anaheim Angels and New York Yankees to his list of teams he'd consider waiving his no-trade clause. It does say that Peavy would still prefer one of the 5 N.L. teams he originally listed - Houston, St. Louis, Chicago, Atlanta or Los Angeles.

- Chris DeLuca at the Sun-Times throws the Cubs hat in the CC sweepstakes if he doesn't resign with the Brewers. Greg Maddux is currently leaning towards retirement as well.

November 3rd

Trader Jim put a buzz through the GM meetings by pulling off the first trade of the week....RHP minor league pitcher Matt Avery has been sent to the Washington Nationals for LHP minor leauge pitcher Ryan Buchter. Avery was drafted in the 9th round of the 2005 draft out of the University of Virginia and played three years with their 3rd basemen, Ryan Zimmerman. Avery started off well in the organization with solid partial seasons in the Rookie League, Peoria and Daytona but has flatlined in AA in both 2007 and 2008 with ERA's above 4 and peripheral numbers that suggest he won't ever amount to a major leaguer.

Buchter was drafted in the 33rd round out of high school in 2005 by the Nationals and is just 21 years old. He's only pitched 70 innings of pro ball since then and the ERA isn't much, but he has maintained a K/9 rate above 9 which is always a good sign. The wonderful wide world of the web hasn't turned up a scouting report for me though.

Baseball's fourth season is about to warm up and I'll try and summarize all the gossip every couple of days.

- Ken Rosenthal says that Ryan Dempster won't sign with the Cubs before the Cubs exclusive negotiating window closes on November 13th. A rather wise move by him and his agent. There's no reason not to test the waters and see what is actually available for him as rival teams cannot discuss money over the next two weeks. He still may very well sign with the Cubs on a hometown discount, but that discount will be based on what the prevailing market is offering. Rosenthal speculates a four year deal for Dempster with the Cubs interested in three years. Rosenthal also speculates that if the Cubs cannot resign Dempster, they'll up their efforts on Jake Peavy, which sounds like a grand plan to me.

November 2nd

Here at TCR we're always trying to add value to our readers. One of the ideas discussed recently was that many fantastic posts in the comment section get overlooked when time is limited. Also some of our readers get their dose of TCR via RSS feeds and never see the comments section. In an attempt to feature "the best of TCR",  I'll dig up some of the comments that aren't to be missed and make this a semi-regular feature. It will be a regular feature once Rob G. hires us a full time executive secretary (so everyone please click on all those advertisement links).

The maiden voyage of this feature starts with the spotlight on the amazing Arizona Phil. We all know him as the guru of all things Cubs, including roster machinations, their farm system, mlb/milb rules and regs and of course Cubs history A to Z, George Altman to Carlos Zambrano... or is it H to H, John Holland to Jim Hendry?

(Also this demonstrates how well I can cut and paste, just like being in the operating room ala Dr. Nick!)

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

Post #31: Cubs Decline Blanco's Option, TCR 10/31/08.

Submitted by Charlie on Sat, 11/01/2008 - 10:55am.

"The Cubs lucked-out with Type 'B' FA Juan Pierre that way a couple of years ago" Happened with Kendall last year, too, no?
I don't see any time signing Howry until after the Arb. deadline, given that they could lose a first round draft pick. But those top 15 draft picks are protected, right? So if a team in that first 15 were to sign him they wouldn't actually lose any draft picks, the Cubs would just gain a 1st round pick and a sandwich pick?

----------------------------------------

CHARLIE: Yes, Jason Kendall also signed with a new club before 12/1, so the Cubs got a supplemental (sandwich) 1st round pick (who turned out to be Ryan Flaherty, one of the Cubs Top 10 prospects IMO) without having to offer arbitration to Kendall. A club is more likely to sign a Type "B" FA than a Type "A" FA prior to 12/1, though,because while the player's former club does get a compensation draft pick for losing a Type "B," it's just one draft pick, and it's a supplemental pick between the 1st and 2nd round and doesn't cost the player's new club a draft pick. Signing a Type "A" FA prior to 12/1 would cost the new club one of it'own draft picks (either 1st or 2nd round). Of course, that didn't stop the Cubs from signing free-agents like Alfonso Soriano, Jacque Jones, Scott Eyre, and Bob Howry (and losing draft picks as a result) prior to 12/1! 

November 1st

The official Elias Rankings are out and MLB.com does their usual job of half-assery by not giving out the full list, but at least we know Joe Mauer is the top AL catcher. Gee thanks!

The ESPN free agent tracker gives the listings for those that have filed so far and it looks like SI.com has finally come through with the full list of potential free agents. For those unaware of the system or need a refresher, Elias has come up with some rather archaic ranking system that takes the last two years worth of stats and ranks every player in baseball...mostly relying on counting stats (decent explanation of the point system can be found near the end of this mlb.com article or read through this Tigers fans blog who is trying to reverse engineer their rankings). The importance of it is that MLB uses it to figure out free agent compensation. A type "A" player that is offered arbitration by his former team and is signed by a new team will net his old club a first round draft pick and a supplemental draft pick between the first and second round. A type "B" free agent nets his old team just a supplemental pick. Also, the first 15 picks in the draft are protected, so a team drafting in one of those slots that signs a type "A" free agent would give up their second round pick and so on.

October 31st

...and other notes

As our own Arizona Phil predicted, Henry Blanco's $3M option was declined, but the whispers are that he'll be back with the Cubs at a lower rate. The buyout did cost the Cubs $300,000.

-  Oneri Fleita expects Tyler Colvin to be ready by Opening Day from his Tommy John Surgery that I mentioned earlier this week.

- Looks like Trader Jim is ready for the offseason...

I'm looking forward to it, maybe more so than
the last couple. It'll be nice to talk to a lot of the GMs to see what
their appetites are going to be with free agency and possibly trades.
We feel like we've got some excess in areas that might help us in areas
we need to get stronger."

Happy Halloween!

On this morning's WSCR-AM, The Score sports talk show, hosts Mike Mulligan and Brian Hanley asked for input on what the Cub players were handing out for Halloween as trick and treaters knocked on their door. Some of the obvious treats were:

Derrick Lee's house was handing out double plays

Carlos Zambrano was handing out Gatorade

Ted Lilly was giving out tickets to NLDS game #4

Jim Hendry was shoveling out donuts

The Cub infielders were passing out Butterfingers...

I know our readers can apple polish this bit up; I just ask to please hold the razor blades.

 

October 30th

With the Phillies having polished-off the upstart Rays last night to claim the 2008 MLB World Series Championship, today marks the official beginning of the MLB off-season, and more specifically, the start of the Free-Agency Filing Period for players eligible to be free-agents under Article XX of the CBA.  

The Cubs have eight players on their 40-man roster who are eligible to file:

The Milwaukee Brewers claimed 3B-1B-C Casey McGehee off Outright Waivers, and RHP Billy Petrick was sent outright to the minors, as the Cubs trimmed their Reserve List (AKA "40-man roster") to 37 yesterday.

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