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Saturday’s Wall Street Journal reports that Alex Rodriguez turned to billionaire friend Warren Buffett and two execs from Goldman Sachs with ties to the Steinbrenner family to help assist his apparent return to Yankee pinstripes. It was Buffett, a rabid baseball fan whom Rodiguez first met socially a few years ago, who suggested that Rodriguez meet the Yankees without Boras. The Goldman Sachs executives then contacted Hank and Hal Steinbrenner and said Rodriguez was heartsick over the break-up with the Yanks and wanted to talk. The Steinbrenners agreed, on the condition that Boras stay away. The Goldman Sachs money men then withdrew from the process, owing to terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, which specify that the only person besides a player himself who can negotiate on his behalf is the player's agent of record. Now Rodriguez looks to be headed toward a ten-year, $275 million deal, incentives included, and Warren Buffett would seem assured of getting really good seats for New York Yankees games. In retrospect, it was the waste of a perfectly good fantasy to even imagine that Alex Rodriguez would ever wear Cubbie blue, but I’m still surprised that A-Rod’s new team turned out to be his old one.
Jake Peavy wins an award that honors his pitching; Sam Fuld wins an award that honors his character.
On Monday, The Sporting News Web site began a day-by-day replay of the 1986 MLB season using the Strat-O-Matic baseball simulation software. The site will be tracking the season with a daily scoreboard, box scores, game recaps, and player stats. Each of the 26 teams in existence back in '86 is being managed by a different baseball insider, writer, super-fan, etc. The faux Cubs’ manager is espn.com writer Dan Shanoff. Shanoff’s managerial debut was Tuesday, when the Cubs opened against the Cardinals. After the Cubs scored twice in the top of the eighth to erase a 4-2 deficit, the Cards scored in the last of the ninth on a single by John Morris to win 5-4. Cub starter Scott Sanderson took an ND; the loser was reliever Dave Gumpert. Shawon Dunston led the Cub offense with three hits. The box score even lists attendance, in this case, just 19,154. (For a Cubs/Cardinals opener? They must have played in a simulated blizzard.) Oh, yeah—I’m already calling for Shanoff’s head. Letting Gumpert go 2 2/3 innings when he had a rested Lee Smith in his virtual bullpen?! I can’t imagine what in the name of Jim Frey he was thinking.
  • The GMs have voted 25-5 in support of limited use of video replay. A proposal will now be forwarded to the Commissioner, who will involve representatives of the Players and Umpires unions in evaluating the proposal. Jimmie Lee Solomon, MLB's VP of Baseball Operations, says he does not expect the proposal to become a rule in time for the 2008 season.
  • Curt Schilling is now officially no longer a free agent, but rather, Red Sox property for the upcoming season, his last in the big leagues. It seemed like just the other day he was listing 12 teams in addition to the BoSox that he would be willing to play for. I'm going to assume the Cubs came in second.
  • Rob mentioned this earlier in the comments: Glendon Rusch has apparently recovered from the life-threatening blood clot that ended his '06 season prematurely. Last week, he threw a 60-pitch audition for scouts from nine Major League clubs, the Cubs not among them. The session included breaking balls, change-ups and 86-87 mph fastballs. He is hoping/expecting to get a Spring Training invitation...from somebody.
First of all, how angry do you think Bud Selig was Sunday night when Scott Boras effectively shattered Bud’s edict prohibiting major announcements during the World Series by telling Ken Rosenthal of Fox who then told the world that Alex Rodriguez would be opting out of his Yankees contract? Not that the report smothered any World Series drama: the Sox and the Rox took care of that by playing four long, mostly tedious games that were decidedly short on compelling moments. Back to Boras. Even before the A-Rod announcement, I felt like I was having an all-Scott Boras weekend. First, I happened on the Boras profile in this week’s New Yorker (headlined “The Extortionist”). It paints a picture of a profoundly driven man who has built a firm with an infrastructure—complete with talent scouts, stats guys and sports psychologists—that would put many Major League front offices to shame.
Things you think of while watching a World Series slaughter and waiting for an all-old rerun of The Daily Show to come on: * Last night’s one-sided contest looked like the Dads vs. Kids softball game at the annual Cub Scout Picnic, only in this version, the dads wanted to be sure the kids went home in tears and never had the will to get on the field again. *Fox’s Ken Rosenthal had to point out that the Rockies were stepping up in class by matching up with the AL’s best after fattening up on the lowly Diamondbacks and Cubs in the NL playoffs. Bad enough to have your favorite league trashed (however deservedly); even worse when your favorite team has to be mistakenly dragged into the argument to illustrate the point. *I look at that Boston lineup and a very small part of me is glad the Cubs aren’t on the field to face it. I’m imagining it would feel pretty hollow to have finally made the Series after all these generations, only to be disemboweled in front of an international audience. *The consensus before the Series--that Boston was the better team and that Colorado’s miracle ride was about to skid off the road and crash into an embankment—was certainly borne out by last night’s result. But even assuming the Red Sox roll again tonight, I think the games in Denver may prove to be challenging for Boston. The altitude, the unfamiliar park, the selling of Rocky Mountain Oysters in the concession stand—lots of reasons for the mighty Red Sox to be thrown just a little off kilter. At least that’s what I’m telling myself. The thought of three more games like Wednesday night’s is just not anything to be excited about. Finally, a non-World Series Cub note: At The Hardball Times, Dave Studeman reports on Net Win Shares Value, i.e., which teams got the most and least for their payroll dollars in the season just past. A shout out to possibly soon-to-be-ex-Cubs Jason Kendall and Craig Monroe, who showed up at 2nd and 7th respectively on the Worst Values of '07 list. On the positive side of the ledger, the Cubs 2007 free agent class finished as the fourth best value in the game. Seattle, Tampa Bay, and Detroit led the way.
Today we welcome five esteemed Cub bloggers who were kind enough to share their thoughts on the questions which the TCRers addressed on Monday. The guest list includes: Andy from Desipio.com, Adam from Bugs and Cranks, Joe of View From The Bleachers, Cub Reporter alum and Mayor of Cub Town, Derek Smart, and the Ted Lilly Fan Club. It's an honor to be your hosts, gentlemen. Thank you for coming over to play in our sandbox. Enjoy… 1.) What was your favorite memory of the 2007 season? Joe (View From The Bleachers): My favorite moment of the season was by far the comeback on June 25th, when the Cubs had seemingly blown the game in the 9th after a bullpen implosion that allowed six runs. The Cubs came back and won it on a walk-off, two-run single by Soriano that made Len Kasper’s voice crack. I wanted to jump up and scream, but the family was asleep. Adam (Bugs and Cranks): Aramis Ramirez' walk-off homer against the Brewers on June 29th was probably my favorite memory. It was the moment where it really seemed like winning the division was going to happen.
From Dusty, himself:
"I love challenges." "I know I'm not a miracle man. I don't know if it's going to take a year or two years or whatever. But we're dedicated to winning.” "I want to dispel the reputation that I can only work with older players…I'm looking forward to having a mixture of young and old. I sometimes feel I have more in common with younger players." "I want to help guys on the team have a winning attitude. I'm almost more of a teacher than a manager." "A number of players have indicated that they would possibly like to come [here] and play for me. They're dedicated to bringing in the best players that the budget will allow."
From his new boss, the General Manager:
"He brings a lot of intangibles. A lot of people want to play for him." "It's pretty obvious that he's one of the best in the business. Every player he gets, he gets the most out of him." "Putting our young players in his hands is going to be terrific. It came across very clearly…that he was looking forward to helping mold and shape their careers and he was looking forward to working with young players. He felt, through his homework, that we had a lot of good ones, not only coming up to the big leagues last year, but coming up through the system…He's a guy I feel can work with any type of player, and certainly with our young players."
Bob Castellini and Wayne Krivsky feel they have the right man. But then, so did Andy MacPhail and Jim Hendry, back in November of 2002…when Dusty and Hendry stood before the assembled Chicago media and the microphones at the press conference from which all of these quotes were taken.
Game Chat : BR Preview : Press Pass Livan Hernandez vs Rich Hill Lineups:
Young CF Soriano LF
Drew SS Theriot SS
Byrnes LF Lee 1B
Jackson 1B Floyd RF
Reynolds 3B Ramirez 3B
Upton RF DeRosa 2B
Ojeda 2B Jones CF
Montero C Kendall C
Hernandez P Hill P
It's true: Geovany Soto is sitting in favor of Jason Kendall and his lifetime 846 OPS against Livan Hernandez. We're talking about 31 at-bats, none since 2005. One double, one triple, nine singles. And don't forget about Kendall's CS% (5-out-of-57, 9%) vs. Soto's (4-for-14, 29%). Maybe the Diamondbacks will be so intoxicated by the beauty of all that new Wrigley Field sod that they'll forget to run wild against Hill and Kendall on the bases. Addendum : On Piniella's pre-game radio show with Santo, he just mentioned a desire to balance Hill's inexperience with Kendall's veteran-ness. No mention of Jason's past plate success against Hernandez. Rob G: So it's come to this - a must-win, do or die, backs against the wall, sudden death, win or go home battle just for the right to play yet another must-win, do or die, backs against the wall, sudden death, win or go home battle that'll set us up for a final must-win, do or die, backs against the wall, sudden death, win or go home battle. And while the up-Hill climb might seem daunting, maybe it'll just make the journey all that much sweeter. Or maybe today's the last day we'll enjoy Cubs baseball until 2008. Either way I'm here to enjoy it while lasts - to root, root, root for the Cubbies all the way until their final out. Let's Go Cubs!!!!
In Moneyball, Michael Lewis quotes Oakland Athletics GM Billy Beane as saying:
“My sh_t doesn't work in the playoffs. My job is to get us to the playoffs. What happens after that is f_cking luck.”
In Baseball Between The Numbers, the editors of Baseball Prospectus ask the question raised by Beane’s frank self-analysis: Why hasn't the guy’s sh---t worked? To get to the answer, BP identified 26 different measures of team quality—everything from things like regular season won-loss record, late-season W-L record, run differential, and team playoff experience to the more arcane Percent Of Runs Scored On Home Runs and Isolated Power—and after a lot of number-crunching and analysis, they concluded that three factors have “the most fundamental and direct relationship” to playoff success:

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