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Well at least I haven't woken up to the headlines of "Jose Macias signed to lifetime contract by Cubs" yet. Give it time. Don't forget to check out the Free Agent Frenzy contest we're piggy-backing off of MLB.com. It's the post right below this one. A fun little game to see where you think some of this year's free-agent class will land.
MLB.com is sponsoring another year of Free Agent Frenzy. They give you a list of the top 15 free agents in their opinion and you rank them by team and by confidence level. Winner gets free opening day tickets. Try to use the comments to ONLY post your own picks. (So don't go looking at the comments and then posting your picks, please do that first) Once all the players on the list sign, I'll try and calculate a winner. I'll figure out a prize later. Signing period begins tomorrow so get your picks in quick!!! You can view mine after the jump:
Not much going on, but we're over 100 comments on the last post, so I thought I'd give you all a fresh canvas. So that today's post isn't totally content-free here's what Pro Sports Daily has to say about the Cubs: * Hideki Matsui might be interested in signing with the Cubs. An interesting possibility if he can handle right field and doesn't want a $10M contract. * The Cubs might be one of 20+ teams in the mix for A.J. Burnett. I'm not interested for the money he'll command. * There is some sort of multi-team blockbuster in the works that involves Corey Patterson and Juan Pierre. Pierre was a stellar 57/74 in steals last year, but his OBP dropped to a career-low .326. If he's getting on base at a .350+ clip, he's a good choice at the leadoff position.
I am, as many others are, upset about the Neifi Perez signing. My feelings about Neifi are well-documented here, so there's no need to re-hash them, and Rob pretty much covered the potential problems, which we all assume will become reality, in giving Perez a two-year deal. Searching for any sort of silver lining, I grab onto the fact that Neifi and Rafael Furcal are buddies, and Neifi has already made a recruiting call to Furcal, trying to get him to come to Chicago. Furcal has had some well-documented troubles with the law, including two DUIs, the second of which led to actual jail time. In a discussion about this signing, a friend mentioned the possibility that Neifi had been retained to sort of keep Furcal on the straight and narrow. It's highly speculative, of course, but isn't that what the off-season is about? So here's where my thinking is right now: Maybe re-signing Perez helps the Cubs sign Furcal. And maybe having Perez around makes it easier for Furcal to stay off the sauce and concentrate on playing shortstop and hitting leadoff, two things he does well. If so, then I'm willing to write off the $6M that Neifi got. I'll even mentally add it to whatever contract Furcal signs -- if it's a five-year deal as rumored, then that's only just over a million more per year. That's walking-around money to a major league franchise. If Furcal comes to Chicago and as a result Derrek Lee sees more than the anemic 379 runners on base he saw last year, I'll consider it money well-spent. Lee came to the plate with 379 runners on base, and drove in 61 of them. That's 0.161 RBI per runner. Not a great rate, but a decent one. By comparison, Alex Rodriguez had a worse rate than Lee's (0.159) but ended up driving in 82 runners because he had 516 opportunities. Think about that for a second: A-Rod had 137 more RBI opportunities than Lee last year. That's almost one additional runner on base per game. Giving Lee (and A-Ram behind him) one more runner a game to try to drive in is worth six million dollars, I think. This doesn't address the issue of playing time, of course. Perez has been given "no guarantees that he'll be a starter," which brings the number of players on the Cubs roster signed to multi-year contracts without any guarantees of starting to two, and I'd say I believe it in approximately zero cases. Anyone who thinks that Dusty can be handed a loaded Neifi without expecting him to point it at the lineup hasn't been paying attention the last few years. I haven't figured out a way to justify the playing time, but there are still almost five months until Opening Day -- give me time.
I proclaim that I have absolutely no clue what Jim Hendry's plans are this off-season. Cause this one is just baffling. The Cubs resigned TCR whipping boy Neifi Perez for not one, but 2 years. Re-read that if you have too, although that may be too painful. Details have yet to be disclosed about the contract but judging by how much Dusty and Hendry both love the guy so much I'm sure it includes access to the company yacht, a stake in ownership and guardian rights to Darren Baker. No word from anybody about the deal other than the press release, although Hendry had this to say:
"I've decided I really like the guys who catch the ball."
Fantastic, I whole-heartedly agree. But at $100 million+ payroll, maybe we could find some guys who can catch the ball AND hit the ball. Just a thought. There's a rumor out there that deal is for $5 million over those 2 years, which means the Cubs have shelled out close to $6 mil next year to shore up pitching and middle infield depth. We needed to do this BEFORE the free agent signing period begins? Isn't this the stuff you wait to do after you've addressed the bigger issues on the club? Apparently Neifi and Rafael Furcal share the same agent and are good friends. Maybe this is just a signing to show Furcal that he'll have some buddies here if he ends up signing with us. There's a small sliver of hope inside me that this is what it should be. A minor move to keep a bench guy who will only be used on spot starts and as a defensive replacement. More likely he ends up with far too many at-bats next year over more deserving players. Obvious Prediction: Cubs trade Todd Walker and go into spring training with Neifi Perez and Ronny Cedeno battling for the second base job. Guess who Baker picks? And get ready for this quotable from Baker, "I just can't forget what Perez did for us last year." And he'll bat second. At which point, I'll gouge my eyes out with a rusty nail. UPDATE: Thanks to "Weeks T. Olive" for providing this link to a Dominican paper that states the contract is for $5 million over 2 years PLUS a one million bonus. Great signing as long as the Cubs payroll is over $110 million next year.
This is about the time where everyone and anyone's name will fly around in a trade rumor. Last year I heard something about Eric Gagne for Kerry Wood, I mean seriously. Here's some fun gossip from benmaller.com (notorious rumor monger) and a few other newspapers joining in the fun: Cards: "The Cardinals are among those teams interested in the availability of Los Angeles Angels outfielders Steve Finley and Darin Erstad in addition to the Cincinnati Reds' Austin Kearns and Adam Dunn. Accompanied at the meetings by assistant GM John Mozeliak and vice president for player personnel Jerry Walker, Jocketty also confirmed the club's interest in free agents Brian Giles and Jacque Jones." "Likely landing spots Brian Giles: 1. Cardinals (three years, $27 million overcomes the West Coast disadvantage for Larry Walker's replacement). 2. Dodgers. 3. Cubs (but if his heart is into returning to his original organization, the Indians would love to do a two-year deal)."
As the Hot Stove Heats Up, so do the length of my articles. Bear with me! Rusched Signing Glendon Rusch for 2 more years, huh? At the moment I donít get this signing at all. Especially when the prime reason given by Hendry seems to be just for the sake of pitching depth.
"I'm just not going to get caught shortî
Congratulations to Greg Maddux and Derrek Lee, 2005 Gold Glove recipients. This is Maddux's 15th Gold Glove. He won 13 straight from 1990-2002 before his string was stopped by Mike Hampton, and has now won two in a row. He is one short of the all-time record, held by Jim Kaat (1962-77) and Brooks Robinson (1960-75). For Lee, it's his second win. He won in 2003 before previous two-time winner Todd Helton took the award back last year. It's also probably the only significant post-season award he's going to win, as the smart money appears to be on Albert Pujols for MVP. Lee won both the Gold Glove and the Silver Sluger at first base. Both of these awards are voted on by managers and coaches, so that means that people involved in the game think he's the best offensive first baseman in the league, as well as the best defensive first baseman. And yet, the writers are most likely not going to name him the Most Valuable Player in the league. That doesn't seem right.
According to multiple sources, Deadspin.com is reporting that Matt Lawton is the "AL outfielder from a playoff team" that tested positive for steroids. Rumors have been floating about for quite awhile now. Apparently he's in the appeals process at the moment, which is why you haven't heard anything from MLB yet. Also from Deadspin.com, they have been rating the best blogs out there for most of the major sports franchises. I was trying to keep my eye out for their take on the Cubbies blogs, but those sneaky devils posted it way back on October 3rd, which is a national mourning day for Cubs fans everywhere, so I missed it apparently. Anyway, we finished first:
1. The Cub Reporter. Part of the consistently excellent All-Baseball network, this immensely popular Cubs site covers everything you might possibly want to know and more. Smart, and able to resist Cub Fan Fatigue.
So, um, yeah, Cool!!! We'd like to thank....[orchestra warming up in the background already]. Hey wait!!! All-baseball.com was all over their rankings: Boston: 3rd place for Fire Brand of the American League Chicago White Sox: 2nd place for Exile in Wrigleyville San Diego Padres: 2nd place for Ducksnorts Kansas City Royals: 1st place for Kauffman Confidential So win, place or show, congrats to all who were mentioned by Deadspin. And look, we get a fancy graphic to display as well, what more could a blog ask for?
The Transaction Guy hasn't returned from his post-season sabbatical (that he didn't tell anyone about), but I'm here to talk about the fact that the Cubs re-signed Glendon Rusch to a two-year deal. Contract specifics: 2006: $2.75M 2007: $3.25M There is up to $500K in incentives (based on games started) in each season. I don't have a problem with the cost of the contract, but I question the need for a two-year deal. This is a situation where Rusch is being rewarded for not going on the free agent market, which is nice. My concern is whether the Cubs are going to give him the benefit of the doubt over Jerome Williams for the #5 spot in the rotation because of a sense of duty.

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