Archive - 2008

October 29th

There's a whole lot of nothing going on as Mother Nature and the Rays have ruined the Fall Classic. Part of the fun over the last two days was a supposedly anonymous quote by a Phillies pitcher after seeing the beleaguered Commissioner roaming the halls of the Phillies locker room.

October 27th

The Padres called, the Cubs said they're interested, and it's a possibility.

According to a West Coast source, the Cubs are the
Padres' best option for a trade partner if for no other reason than
they're not the Dodgers, who are Peavy's first choice, and they're not
the Braves, who at this point are saying they won't deal their best
prospects.

That's the latest from Barry Rozner of The Daily Herald and I'd probably put a lot more stock into it if it was from Bruce Miles, but it should make the offseason rather interesting. Rozner doesn't believe the Cubs have the pitching prospects that the Padres are looking for, and if you consider Jeff Samardzija and Carlos Marmol as untouchable, I'd have to agree. He then goes batshit crazy by suggesting Sean Marshall and Felix Pie to the Padres and then dumping Jason Marquis and another prospect or two to a third team that would land the Padres the elite pitching prospect that they so crave.

While I agree that dumping the bulk of Jason Marquis' contract for next year would be crucial in trying to acquire Peavy and resigning Ryan Dempster, there will be no good player being exchanged for Jason Marquis and the near $10M he's owed.

You may have come across the news that Tyler Colvin had left the Arizona Fall League due to an elbow injury. Supposedly it was something that was troubling him for much of the 2008 season and according to our pals at Inside the Ivy, Colvin did undergo Tommy John Surgery on Sunday. The procedure has become rather common place these days and Colvin should be back for a good portion of the 2009 season although it's likely he'll start out in extended spring training in Arizona before being assigned to a minor league affiliate.

That does take him off as a potential trading chip this offseason, although his .736 OPS in AA probably already took care of that.

October 24th

It looks like Michael Lewis may have his next besteller, a team of doctors take on the system by using a statistical approach to health care.

So what the hell am I talking about?

October 23rd

Cubs color man Bob Brenly interviewed for the Brewers' managerial job on Thursday, leading Paul Sullivan to wonder if former Cub and onetime Chicago playboy Mark Grace would replace Brenly in the Cubs' booth, assuming BB lands the Milwaukee job.

According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Brewers GM Doug Melvin will probably limit the number of candidates to three, with Brenly competing for the slot against former Mets manager Willie Randolph and former A's manager Ken Macha. Brenly's appeal vis a vis the other two options includes his having won a World Series with the Diamondbacks and his deep knowledge of the Cubs personnel. Melvin expects to make his selection next week.

For the second year in a row, Bill James has ranked the Cubs in the lower third in his top young talent inventory. Last year, the Cubs were 29th, this year they jumped all the way to 26th. He didn't even have the decency to rank Geovany Soto in the top 25 players under 30.

Bastard.

Here's the top 25:
1. Prince Fielder, Milwaukee Brewers first baseman, age 24
2. Hanley Ramirez, Florida Marlins shortstop, age 24
3. Tim Lincecum, San Francisco Giants pitcher, age 24
4. David Wright, New York Mets third baseman, age 25
5. Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers left fielder, age 24
6. Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox second baseman, age 24
7. Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder, age 23
8. Francisco Rodriguez, Los Angeles Angels pitcher, age 26
9. Jose Reyes, New York Mets shortstop, age 25
10. Nick Markakis, Baltimore Orioles right fielder, age 24
11. Joakim Soria, Kansas City Royals pitcher, age 24
12. Ryan Zimmerman, Washington Nationals third baseman, age 23
13. Cole Hamels, Philadelphia Phillies pitcher, age 24
14. Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies shortstop, age 23
15. Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners pitcher, age 22
16. Jon Lester, Boston Red Sox pitcher, age 24
17. Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays third baseman, age 22
18. John Danks, Chicago White Sox pitcher, age 23
19. Adrian Gonzalez, San Diego Padres first baseman, age 26
20. James Loney, Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman, age 24
21. Stephen Drew, Arizona Diamondbacks shortstop, age 25
22. Brian McCann, Atlanta Braves catcher, age 24
23. Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers first baseman, age 25
24. Grady Sizemore, Cleveland Indians center fielder, age 25
25. Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds first baseman, age 24
My understanding, like all things James, is that he uses some statistical formula that incorporates age along with minor league and major league numbers and it doesn't seem like there's any room for defense in there (he uses Runs Created). Soto is probably still being penalized for just having one good minor league season, while some of the others on that list had more distinguished minor league careers. McCann would finish ahead of him just on the strength of already having a couple of plus major league seasons under his belt.
As for the Cubs 26th ranking, well don't fret, James has a ready-made excuse for the Cubs.

As James has noted often, “Competitive teams don’t have as much room to let young players thrash around, and consequently most of the top teams don’t show as having a lot of young talent. They may have the young talent; it just isn’t in the lineup yet.”

I believe James gives the players letter grades but I think you need to get the Bill James 2009 Handbook for that. So I'll give you my own...
Geovany Soto - A
Carlos Marmol - A
Rich Harden - A-
Carlos Zambrano - B+
Jeff Samardzija - B+
Felix Pie - B
Rich Hill - B-
Sean Marshall - B-
Micah Hoffpauir - B-
Angel Guzman - B-
Chad Gaudin - C+
Ryan Theriot - C
Casey McGehee - C-
Kevin Hart - C-
Ronny Cedeno - D+
I used the tried and true tested, "off-the-top-of-my-head" algorithm made famous by anyone who has ever gotten in an argument at a sports bar.

October 22nd

The Cubs finished up their organizational meetings in Arizona and as expected, they'll attempt to find some left-handed bats.

''We're going to try to add some different wrinkles, offensively
especially,'' Piniella told the Sun-Times. ''We are going to add
left-handed hitting to this mix. From an offensive standpoint, that is
definitely the No. 1 priority. And if we can get a little more athletic
in the process, we're going to do that, too.''

October 21st

Carrie Muskat is  back with her weekly mailbag column, responding to the asinine questions from Cubs fans with a healthy mix of stock answers and utter disdain for her readers.

More importantly though, mlb.com has opened up comments on articles.

Oh dear....

October 20th

Be sure to vote on the poll below...


Now that the Dodgers have been rightfully ousted and played like the team I expected them to play like (bad defense, no one hitting besides Manny, overrated starting pitching), I can go about acknowledging baseball again. I know, sounds like a bunch of sour grapes and I don't really care. The Dodgers weren't a good team, the Cubs just beat themselves and I have always had a healthy distaste for the Dodgers and their fans.

Before I start looking forward to 2009 later in the week, let's take a look at 2008 and revisit the Cubs MVP talk. Bold indicates team leader...

October 16th

The sale of the Cubs is still up in the air, delayed due to the economic crisis and Joe the Plumber trying to figure out what net income means. That isn't stopping the Cubs from doing business though. They already extended Piniella before the playoffs started and it looks like Jim Hendry might get three more years or at least three more years worth of paychecks from the Chicago Cubs.

Kenney has previously said only that he would put his recommendation of
a Hendry extension "on a tee'' for new ownership. But sources indicate
that position has changed, possibly because the worldwide financial
crisis may have devalued the franchise while making it highly unlikely
the team will be under new ownership before the start of the 2009
season.

One source indicated that a three-year extension is being discussed and could be completed soon.

Nothing is official yet, but the link above goes on to say the Mariners, the only team searching for a GM this offseason, asked the Cubs for permission to speak to Hendry about their vacancy and were turned down. Hendry had a an option he could exercise for 2009, but was a little weary of being a lame-duck GM with the pending ownership change. 

The Cubs being in a state of prosperity on the field and I'm sure on the accounting books, probably couldn't be happier with Hendry right now, thus the extension. 

I know Hendry has his enemies around here, I mean 2005 and 2006 were bloody awful, but I'm all for the extension. He didn't hit every ball out of the park the last two years, but
under his watch and with the people that he's surrounded himself with, he's responsible for the  best Cubs team most of us have ever seen
and the best team in the NL in 2008...at least on paper. And while that seems like a hollow achievement, it's actually the one every GM should strive to accomplish - to put together the best team out there year after year and make the playoffs. As the playoffs taught us all this year, anyone can win or lose a 5-game series, no matter the tremendous difference in talent, so just get there and hope the cards flip the right way for you. The Cubs are now in that position and a large part of that is due to who Jim Hendry has traded for, signed, listened to and hired. 

Tags: 

October 15th

The entire TCR staff is still in mourning, what can we say, we take this shit personally. A relatively decent rumor though has gone through the wires as we start prepping for the most inconsequential regular season ever for the Cubs - the 2009 season. Because even if the Cubs are  fielding an All-Star at every position, win 120 games and outscore their opponents by five runs a game, none of that shit will matter to anyone until they win some playoff games and get to the World Series.

As for the rumor, the Padres are suffering some money problems as one of their owners is in the middle of divorce proceedings that may cause him to sell his 49% stake in the club.  The Padres debunked that rumor...sort of, but nonetheless San Diego is a pretty small market and are coming off a 99-loss season with not a whole lot of talent to build upon. They did have quite a few injuries last year, but not enough to warrant that bad a season.

Former Cub pitcher Kevin Foster died over the weekend after losing a six-month battle with cancer. He was 39.

With a career ERA in the upper 4's and a middling won-loss record, Foster hardly stands out from the many forgettable Cub pitchers who populated the roster between 1994 and '98. ('"Jim Bullinger,'" anyone? Do I hear a "Willie Banks" or a "Rodney Myers"?)

Foster was different in at least one respect from the others, however. He was a local kid, who attended Evanston High School and grew up a Cubs fan.

October 13th

So I was approached a few weeks back to be part of a donation drive for an organization known as Donors Choose. You may have noticed it on the right sidebar. Since Kirk buttered me up by saying he's a regular reader of the site, I couldn't help but take kind to his cause.

So if you have any extra money left over that you were planning on spending on playoff tickets or World Series merchandise (sigh, slams forehead on desk), consider making a donation to a very worthwhile cause.

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