The Long & Winding Road

logoYesterday’s tease piece in the Sun-Times that envisioned a reunion in Chicago next year of Walt Jocketty, Tony LaRussa and Albert Pujols got me connecting some dots of my own.

Years ago, before Pujols was born in fact, Jocketty and LaRussa first teamed up as the GM and skipper, respectively, of the Iowa Oaks. The year was 1979 and before that season ended LaRussa, at the mere age of 34, replaced Don Kessinger as manager of the White Sox.

I was an adrift 25 year-old quaffing beer in the stands, usually from a vantage point right behind the home dugout, courtesy of a buddy whose widowed mother was then consorting with one of the Oaks’ owners.

Bobby Molinaro was the driveshaft of that team; the player we most approved of and had most occasion to cheer. The ascendant Harold Baines was also catching eyes. LaRussa cut his managerial teeth against the likes of Jack McKeon, Jim Leyland and Lee Elia that summer, each of whom also had clubs in the American Association at the time.

Marv Foley was on that team. Years later, in 1993, he managed the Iowa Cubs to a pennant and spent some (after) hours in my pub helping me pass the time between last call and the janitor’s arrival at dawn. I still have a sleek, black fungo bat he bestowed upon me in return for my hospitalities. A couple of times I rescued it from the clutches of my two boys when they drug it into service in neighborhood sandlot games despite that they stood hardly taller than the bat.

I’d forgotten that Bobby Douglass did a cameo turn with that ’79 team. According to the archives I consulted he completed seven innings of work without fanning anyone while walking 13. Apparently the left-handed fastballs he winged in the general direction of receivers while quarterbacking for the Bears were no more accurate when aimed at someone equipped with a bat.

The last beer I had was at the same ballpark where LaRussa and Jocketty first collaborated. That was in 1994. By then they had both moved on and Pujols was 14, probably just coming into the natural hormonal supply that would fuel his unparalleled career, the commencement of which was still seven years distant.

Everyone mentioned here, with one exception, either moved on from Principal Park, nee Sec Taylor Stadium, to work in major league sports or, in the unusual case of Douglass, already had when they arrived in Des Moines.

But I, too, have come a long way.



impressed you found a logo

dumb luck...

whomever this fella is for ESPN Chicago, says Cubs and White Sox should aggressively pursue L. Morrison if becomes available in trade market

Morrison filed a grievance against Marlins today for the demotion

good story by Amy Nelson on Morrison at ESPN

love morrison...he's a much better hitter than he's showing and it's not like he's a slouch...should hit for more power, too.

new school attitude, but whatever...

but I'm giving you Hill too

Castro SS, Barney 2B, Ramirez 3B, Peña 1B, LaHair LF, Byrd CF, Colvin RF, Hill C, Wells P

Well thank god for Hill...whew.....keeps some normalcy to the lineup.

GM talk

"They are going to try to get the biggest name they can," one player agent said.


So, perhaps Ricketts could hire the new GM as his “president of baseball operations,” while shifting Kenney to “president of business operations.” The autonomy of reporting directly to ownership would actually be a drawing card to established GMs.

If “president” is any part of the new GM's title, that means a higher salary.

Re: B. Jackson
Jim Callis: Dunn whiffed in 18% of his minor league plate appearances, while Jackson is at 24%. Jackson is always going to swing and miss some, but he has solid tools across the board. Not sure how highly he's rated overall—he's one of the Cubs' best prospects, but I don't see anyone calling him a future superstar.

to undergo Tommy John Surgery according to Muskat.

shame he can't wait until march 2012 to get that surgery

Chad Fox is only a phone call away.

Submitted by Rob G. on Thu, 09/15/2011 - 2:43pm.
Justin Berg to undergo Tommy John Surgery according to Muskat.


ROB G: That means Berg will definitely get outrighted post-2011 and will become a six-year minor league FA after the conclusion of the World Series (he was already a likely outright candidate since he will be out of minor league options in 2012).

Then the Cubs will re-sign him to a minor league deal, and he will spend the 2012 season rehabbing at Fitch Park.

imagine the Fitch Park attendance records that will be set

Shouldn't Berg be gone now that Hendry is?

Submitted by The Real Neal on Thu, 09/15/2011 - 4:48pm.
Shouldn't Berg be gone now that Hendry is?


TRN: Justin Berg probably would have been gone if not for the TJS. He was likely to get outrighted post-2011 anyway, and if he was healthy he probably would have opted to leave as a 6Y minor league FA and sign a minor league deal (with an NRI to Spring Trainming) with another organization.

But the Cubs almost always offer minor league deals to FA pitchers rehabbing from elbow & shoulder surgery, even if the pitcher probably has no future in the organization. And the pitcher usually accepts the offer, since nobody else is going to sign him if he is going to miss most or all of the next season.

Adduci RF, Ha CF,Lalli 1B,Ridling LF,Vitters 3B,Clevenger C,Lake SS,Mota 2B,Raley SP

important note, Jarrod Parker goes for Mobile

Submitted by Rob G. on Thu, 09/15/2011 - 5:15pm.
Adduci RF, Ha CF,Lalli 1B,Ridling LF,Vitters 3B,Clevenger C,Lake SS,Mota 2B,Raley SP

important note, Jarrod Parker goes for Mobile


ROB G: Mobile has one of the best (if not THE best) starting rotations in minor league baseball.

pena gets #28 on a huuuuge shot to CF.

and lahair gets hit #199 on the year.

homer bailey throwing BP...4-0 cubs, 2 out, 2hr given up (pena/byrd)

impressive to have 28 HR's and not even 80 RBI's hitting behind Ramirez, Castro and Fukudome

not that I'm surprised, but still impressive

13.1% OBI rate for him this year

Ramirez - 17.3%
Reed - 16.9%
Soriano - 16.0%
Baker - 15.3%
Castro - 14.5%
DeWitt - 14.2%
Pena - 13.1%
Barney - 13.1%
Soto - 11.5
Z - 11.1%
Colvin - 10.6%
Fukudome - 7.4%
Byrd - 7%

Wow. How has Barney managed 13.1%? I would've figured he'd be down in Byrd and Fukudome territory.

RBI creation stats suck is a pretty basic one...the field of research will grow up, but it takes time.

oh please do elaborate

OBI is so basic what is one really to do with it's results when you look at R1, R2, and R3 breaks and you're left with a "well, that's interesting" list of players who cash in.

it does what it says it does batting average.

"what is one really to do with it's results"

look at them instead of raw RBI totals would be a start

nothing wrong with basic

he's been good with runners on this year, I'd be shocked to find out if it continues next year.

Nonetheless, 13.1% for a non-power hitter is great, as are Castro's.


noticed an old news item saying he was put on DL right at the end of the season, didn't seem to elaborate on the injury.

anyone know?

Jock itch.

High five.

Cubbery at its finest

bases loaded, 0 out

Byrd lines out, Colvin K, Hill K

Adduci single, steals 2b, thrown out at 3b I presume attempting to advance on bad throw, Ha K's, Lalli doubles, Ridling walks, Vitters FO-7.


cubs + smokies in the 11th

...and mobile wins it almost as soon as i post that.

...and the reds win

Some source that Crane Kenney is out as president by end of year, or shuffled into a new position

dude seemed to have some info about Hendry leaving before it was announced, although his timetable was slightly off

and very unlikely Soriano is back next year...we can only hope.


in the "you don't say" department, agent and his Cub player feel Quade is overmatched

Quade's happy with the effort his team is giving. Probably because he thinks that reflects well on him.

If effort isn't the problem, it's talent or coaching, reQuade.

Also a little video of Brett Jackson with some talking head stuff from MLB guys.

his about page since I never heard of him before

already doing better than Wrongway Rogers

#Cubs lineup vs #Astros castro ss, barney 2b, ramy 3b, bake rf, byrd cf, pena 1b, soriano lf, soto c, garza p

i think wandy is pitching.

cassy, barn-barn, missy, bakey, byrdy, peny, sory, to-to, garzy


Iron Pigs lost last night as well, both them and Smokies face elimination tonight

why depodesta didn't let them use his name in film

Plus now every time someone brings up the 2005 season he can just say "Oh, that wasn't me, it was Peter Brand."

LaHair named DH of BA's 2011 Minor League All-Star Team

Hak-Ju Lee and Canzler made the 2nd team

LaHair also a AAA All-star

OF Pin-Chieh Chen and P Jose Rosario Short-Season All-Stars

This Lee-Canzler-Guyer-Chirinos business is starting to bother me.

Fuld doesn't bother me. Archer doesn't bother me at the moment, but I'm sure he will.

if canzler could only play 3rd well enough to stick there. really really really nice guy suposedly...he should be on the TB bench next year unless they "go cheap" on him.

lee's gonna make prospect lists and looks good even if he's years away.

the rest seem little more than bench fodder...except archer...too early to really say much about him except he took a huge step backwards in 2011.

Lee finsihed in AA, he's not that far away. Only 18 errors for him, that's not too shabby.

Meanwhile we've got DarBar manning half our middle infield.

lee would do no one any good given his line in AA...he's young, he's also got some years before he's ready...he's a good contact hitting SS prospect, but he's not ungodly special.

numbers aside, he's a kid...he's not supposed to be up for a few years, anyway.

Yeah, no one jumps from AA to the majors in a year.

yeah, this guy surely will.

i will literally fight you to the death to win this very important argument.

Once again, there's 100 of years of how baseball works on one side, and then there's crunch on the other side. Where's the smart money go?

once again, lick my balls.

you're not dragging me into one of your "im never wrong, i didn't hear what you said" argument things.

Lee has played 24 games in AA in his career, batting .190. No, he's not going to the majors anytime soon.

So you think at the very earliest he will seen the majors is 2013 (using "years" as the bear minimum definition of "two" years)? There's no possible way that a guy in AA will reach the majors the next year?

with the Rays, Hak-Ju Lee may see the majors by 2013, I don't think he'd seriously be considered for a job until 2014. I'm not sure of his 40-man situation.

AA next year with maybe a AAA stop near the end of season
AAA in 2013 and see how it goes from there.

if he was with the Cubs, they'd call him up on the first hot streak next season.

Submitted by Rob G. on Fri, 09/16/2011 - 6:27pm.

with the Rays, Hak-Ju Lee may see the majors by 2013, I don't think he'd seriously be considered for a job until 2014. I'm not sure of his 40-man situation.


ROB G: Hak-Ju Lee will be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time post-2012 (December 2012).

The Cubs would have put him on the 40 man already. We hate when guys have Minor League options.

yeah, and in the real world they wouldn't have because there's no need...same as tampa bay. i'd be surprised if TB didn't add him to the 40-man this offsesason and if they don't that says a lot about how close he really is.

hell, if TB had a need there's already a kid a year older higher in the pecking order and a former 1st round pick they invested heavily in ($6m bonus). they've already rushed their SS's up through their system so quickly to the bigs looking for someone that can hit for average and/or power that there's a 21 year old in AAA and a 20 year old in AA. that settles out to some kinda normalcy in 2012, at least.

neither beckham, nor lee are ready, but beckham is closer...lee should be a better glove man eventually, though.

Speed, contact, defense, patience (probably in the order of his ability) at a prime position, dirt cheap, and young. If he hits at AA next year, a leap to the majors isn't that unlikely. He's got the potential to be an above average top of the order hitter and an above average defensive shortstop, which made him one of the best prospects in the Cubs system last year before he followed that up with a solid 2011. He's a top 100 prospect, easily. I'm feel certain the organization will miss him (even if the front office would do the trade over again if they had the opportunity).

I think the bottom line is that if the new GM can't put together a decent 25-man roster in 2012 and/or 2013, Garza was a pretty poor investment. I guess there's always the hope that they will be able to trade him in his walk year if they aren't in it, which could recoup some value. It's not like the organization has been willing to admit they've been sellers in recent years though.

the guy will be freshly 21 and is a low-power SS. TB don't need him.

he could castro up his skills, but it's doubtful.

he may have started AA this year, but he didn't belong and was overmatched up until the end. it was a short stint, but it wasn't very pretty.

i still don't know how garza is a horrible investment. have you seen the 2012 FA market for pitching? hell, he cost $6m this year and today got his whip below the 1.30 mark for another consecutive year...only given up 13hr in about 180ip. this is just the type of pitcher you want when you trade something like what was given up.

If he hits at AA next year, a leap to the majors isn't that unlikely.

it is with the Rays

the rays already have 3 guys under club control who can play SS in the bigs and tim beckham (who's also just a kid, like 21) in AAA trying to prove he needs to be the 4th guy.

it was more a comment on their propensity to not call-up position prospects until they absolutely have to...

that, too.

That's great, but the overriding conversation is the stupidity of trading four of your top 13 prospects for a #2 starter, right?

or the brilliance of it...or something not as extreme, but still positive...but that would require you realizing other people may have a view that doesn't match yours.

You don't like Fuld anymore? Or do you only like crappy non-prospects when they are on the Cubs?

I never touted Fuld as a prospect when he was with the Cubs. Not once. You may be thinking of our man Mike in DesMoines.

I did say at the start of this season, when the Cubs were searching high and low for a leadoff man, that it was a strange time to trade Fuld.

I thought he was better than Fukudome, for example. It happens that Fuld had the exact same number of PAs (345) with TB as Fukudome had with the Cubs. Here is a comparison:

Fuld: 40 runs, 74 hits, 18 2b, 5 3b, 3 hr, 26 rbi, 20 sb, 31 bb.
Fukudome: 33 runs, 80 hits, 15 2b, 2 3b, 3 hr, 13 rbi, 2 sb, 46 bb.

Fukudome had more singles and more walks. Fuld had more runs, XBHs, RBI (x2) and stolen bases (x10).

I had Sam Fuld on my Cubs Top 15 Prospects lists when he was coming up through the system.

Not only your list. He was on Hendry's absolutely won't be traded list of "untouchables" three years ago.

I'd love to see evidence of that. I just don't recall the Cubs ever being high on Fuld.

He got called up to the majors at 25 in Sept. of Piniella's first season. He was strictly a defensive sub (remember that catch running into the wall in right?), with 9 PAs in 14 games. He got 115 PAs in 2009 at 27, and 31 in 2010. That was it.

Try to remember this: How quick u forgot...

"Hendry said Pie and Fuld are among the club's untouchables, along with Tyler Colvin and Jeff Samardzija.

"We're not going to trade Pie, and we're not going to trade [Fuld]," Hendry said. "It's pretty simple."

Paul Sullivan Dec 5 2007

Never saw that, and I had forgotten about Fuld going wild in the AFL.

But your claim that "[Fuld] was on Hendry's absolutely won't be traded list of 'untouchables' three years ago" is exaggerated. There's no direct quote of Hendry using the word untouchable, which would be stronger than him just saying that someone wouldn't be traded. You're basically quoting Sullivan, not Hendry.

Untouchable usually means untouchable, but this sort of thing happens all the time: "It should be noted that Rays manager Joe Maddon insisted during the Winter Meetings that Garza would be in the Rays' rotation in 2011, for what that's worth."

Piniella had no use for Pie or Fuld, as their PAs indicate.

And Fuld cost $14 million less this year.

WGN hasn't been showing many games lately...odd scheduling.

That's because this year's crop of crapola CW shows are starting and WGN needs to keep the schedule open for the only couple of episodes before they're cancelled.

ah...gotcha...didnt know they were still doing that affiliation thing.

Stark says Marlins and Dodgers could be big spenders this offseason, at least one could use a 1b-men

marlins big offseason move will be trading for ozzie in chicago =p

a Carlos Lee HR at Wrigley...crazy.

odd side effect of september weather + cubs losing...

...the bleachers seem to be filled with old regulars rather than "bros" and douches.

just when i thought i was in for a great game i hear len say "and we'll talk to martin sheen about that coming up."

sigh...stupid 7th guests...

keep shaking off soto, garza...woo tie game. bleh and sigh.

After Sept 1st there should be a limit to how many pitchers a manager can use in 1 inning. With 40 man rosters some of these guys act like it's game 7 of the World Series.

Submitted by Paul Noce on Fri, 09/16/2011 - 3:15pm.
After Sept 1st there should be a limit to how many pitchers a manager can use in 1 inning. With 40 man rosters some of these guys act like it's game 7 of the World Series.


PAUL N: I know this does not address your complaint about what happened in today's Cubs-Astros game (too many pitching changes), but one rule change I would like to see happen is after September 1st clubs must maintain a 25-man roster (just like pre-September 1), but clubs can add up to 15 players to a "Taxi Squad" where the players can play ONLY if a game involves two clubs where the game has no bearing on the post-season.

So for example, the Cubs and Astros could have played their game today with expanded rosters (up to 40 players each), but in any game involving at least one team that has not clinched and/or been eliminated from post-season play, the two clubs must play with 25-man rosters.

This would allow teams out of contention to get a look at some players up from the minors, while it also would allow teams that clinch playoff slots early to rest their regular players & pitchers when playing teams that have either been eliminated or who have also clinched a playoff slot.

I also would like to see MLB Active Lists expanded to 28 players for the first 30-days of the regular season so that clubs can get a longer look at Rule 5 picks, and so that clubs can carry a couple of extra pitchers coming out of Spring Training. (This actually was an MLB rule 1957-67).

And speaking of the Rule 5 Draft, I would like to see a rule change where players selected in the Rule 5 Draft can be optioned to the minors beginning with the 31st day of the MLB regular season, and a player selected in the Rule 5 Draft cannot be traded or outrighted to the minors until after the next year's Rule 5 Draft. So a club can't select a player in the Rule 5 Draft and then trade him to another MLB club (as happened with Josh Hamilton a few years ago), and a club must dedicate a slot on its 40-man roster to a Rule 5 player for at least one full year, and dedicate a slot on its 25-man roster (or 28-man roster) for the first 30 days of the MLB regular season.

well now that I won't be getting a Garza win, please lose this game Cubbies

if not for bad luck and wtf, garza would have had 45 wins by now with the cubs this year.

Bad luck being defined as "Traded to the Cubs".


yeah, it don't mean crap, but it was a fun game.

Beckett returns from an ankle injury, the first batter D. Jennings bunts for a single.

love it...

Just want you guys to know that, Ruth-like, I called that game-winning infield chopper by Byrd (although I thought he might hit it fair, more toward the SS, a double-play ball under normal circumstances).

LaHair pulls a Soriano in RF

I'd really like to see Castro learn to settle into the box on a consistent basis. He looked anxious and uncomfortable from the get-go of that first at bat, and a series of bad swings at bad pitches followed. Not sure that's causal, but I think it's something relatively simple that his hitting coach ought to be able to emphasize--go up there, settle in, and slow things down.

for the lahair watchers...

hr to cf was a massive shot...fastball, knee-level

He can definitely swing the bat well enough to be a PH--maybe a fringe starter because of his defense. Looking only at in-game stuff, he'd be a better choice for the starting LF job than Soriano, probably, who I think will continue to decline at the plate.

agreed on all counts...and i don't mind soriano at all.

soriano's best days have passed, but there's still pop in the bat and he's supposedly not a bad clubhouse guy. his D is manny ramirez awful, though...if not worse. soriano doesn't get to play 1/2 his games where a short OF wall helps your shortcomings, though.

i imagine re-signing r.johnson will be an instrumental safety net if they decide to go this route, though...along with the CF backup he provides. reed's been pretty awesome this year no matter who's pitching to him...wonder how much is a fluke and how much is adaptation...dunno.

castro #194


wtf? matt garza does an almost as good job at it.

Our fastest wimpiest hitter in memory and he arrives in the big leagues with zero bunting skills.

The Cubs only teach one thing in the minors



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  • as a fan, he only "owes" us the game on the field and not getting in the way of others on his team being ready to play (imo).

    it's exponentially worse to his family and friends, but this dude most likely had 15+ years of play left and even though he just turned 24 a couple months ago he had already established himself as a top guy in the game.

    crunch 2 hours 13 min ago view
  • Carrie Muskat [email protected]

    Updated #Cubs probs vs Pirates: Mon, Hendricks vs Kuhl; Tue, Lackey vs Vogelsong; Wed, Arrieta vs Taillon; Thu, Zastryzny vs Nova

    crunch 2 hours 36 min ago view
  • I know what you're trying to say, Charlie, that none of us feels what his loved ones must be feeling.

    On the other hand, what makes a death like this tragic is precisely the loss, based on Fernandez's youth and brilliance, to the baseball world.

    So, for example, we can say that Princess Diana's death meant more, in aggregate, to millions of admirers who didn't know her personally than to her loved ones.

    VirginiaPhil 2 hours 37 min ago view
  • boston pitching snags a couple of mlb team records...

    "Over nine innings of play, Boston's staff struck out 11 straight Tampa Bay Rays hitters Sunday, breaking the major-league record for most consecutive strikeouts in a game.

    The previous record was held by former New York Mets right-hander Tom Seaver, who struck out 10 straight hitters in 1970.

    Not only that, but with a strikeout to end the ninth, sending the game into extras, Boston's staff also struck out an MLB-record 21 batters over nine innings."

    crunch 3 hours 1 min ago view
  • What a loss to baseball, which I'm sure pales in comparison to the personal loss to his loved ones.

    Charlie 4 hours 45 min ago view
  • Somehow I am sensing alcohol was involved. The highest number of boating accidents by a wide margin...

    The E-Man 5 hours 29 min ago view
  • crunch 7 hours 11 min ago view
  • Reports this morning that Marlins' pitching ace Jose Fernandez died in a boating accident - just horrible news.

    Eric S 11 hours 3 min ago view
  • Check out John Arguello at Cubs Den for great analysis & photos from Cubs AZ Instructs


    Arizona Phil 23 hours 18 min ago view
  • soler + hammel for mike trout is pretty much a sure thing. *nods*

    crunch 1 day 4 hours ago view
  • Not an inspired outing by Rondon. Seemingly got ahead of every hitter but had no swing and miss pitch today, slider had no bite.

    Somebody give Soler some smelling salts - yeesh

    Eric S 1 day 4 hours ago view
  • that runner scores on a single...

    The E-Man 1 day 4 hours ago view
  • So where do you think Soler will be traded to this off season?

    jacos 1 day 4 hours ago view
  • And right on cue he throws to third with no chance to get runner on 2nd so the batter takes 2nd easily. How long has he been playing baseball??

    The E-Man 1 day 4 hours ago view
  • Man you cannot put Soler out there late in games for Playoffs. Yuch...

    The E-Man 1 day 4 hours ago view
  • Such is the life of a fatted calf...

    JoePepitone 1 day 5 hours ago view