End of Year Roundtable: Outside Influences Edition

Today, we have five writers from the Cubs world answering the same questions that the TCR writers answered yesterday. The participants: Joe Aiello, View From the Bleachers Will Carroll, Baseball Prospectus and The Juice Chuck Gitles, Ivy Chat TCR alumnus Derek Smart, Cub Town Al Yellon, Bleed Cubbie Blue FYI, some of the commenters sent their answers in before the Ryan Dempster extension. Enjoy! ---------- Letís start off with the biggest positive in an otherwise disappointing season: Does Derrek Lee deserve the MVP? Will he get it? WILL CARROLL: Deserve? Yes. Get it? No. It would be another Andre Dawson scenario. I think Pujols wins it, just as a make up and the fact that he's just as good. DEREK SMART: Deserving? Yes. Receiving? No. CHUCK GITLES: Deserve? Perhaps. He had as good of an all around season as anyone. Perhaps thatís the problem. He wasnít far and away better than the other MVP candidates to make up for the Cubsí poor record. Because of that, thereís no way he wins the MVP award. AL YELLON: Depends on what you mean by "MVP." Most Valuable? Well, without Derrek the Cubs would likely have finished in the Pacific Coast League. But did his monster season accomplish anything for the team? No, it didn't -- they stay home for the postseason, with or without him. It can be compared, in a way, to Andre Dawson's MVP year of 1987. The difference is, that year there really wasn't anyone offensively comparable to Dawson on a playoff team. This year there are two: Albert Pujols and Andruw Jones, and the Cardinals won going away, largely with their pitching this year. My vote goes to Jones. JOE AIELLO: I donít feel like Derrek Lee deserves the MVP. He was an exciting part of the 2005 MLB season, but itís awful hard to merit the MVP when your team finishes as poorly as the Cubs did. If there were not teams who made the playoffs that had MVP candidates I would say yes, but because of the year that guys like Andrew Jones and Albert Pujols had, I think you have to give it to him. I think Lee finishes 3rd behind Jones and Pujols. If you had a disposable time machine that could only travel back as far as October 4th, 2004 and was good for only one trip, plus the superhero power to change peopleís minds and actions - what one move, moment, play or decision from this past season would you alter? JOE: I would go back and change the Nomar Garciaparra signing. I think that he was a great idea, but just did not merit the money or the amount we had riding on him. A close second would be the lack of Matt Murton playing time. DEREK: The decision to start Nomar on April 20th. CHUCK: There are so many. I donít think any one decision hurt the Cubs. But, if there was ONE move I would have made (obvious drumroll please), it would have been to trade Korey Patterson. To go into this season counting on this man to provide any kind of offense given his history was ludicrous. AL: I know I'm going to get an argument from many here, but I think the Sosa Circus hamstrung the entire ballclub. In recent days I have heard that Jim Hendry did, in fact, have a deal in place to trade Sosa to the Mets for Cliff Floyd. Many Cub fans were against that deal due to Floyd's injury history and his reputation for being a butcher in left field. But Floyd stayed healthy all year, hit 34 HR and drove in 98 runs, and by all accounts played a decent enough outfield. Had the Cubs made this deal, they could have signed Jeromy Burnitz to play RF anyway, and perhaps the added offense would have kept them in a few more games. If not, Floyd would have been very tradeable at the July deadline. One more thing about this deal. Apparently this deal had been agreed to by Hendry and Omar Minaya, but then was scotched by upper Mets management. Hendry was so pissed he won't even speak to Minaya now. Can't say I blame him. WILL: I'd trade Sammy Sosa sooner. As we can see now, the holdup on that deal cost Hendry any flexibility in the off-season. At what point did you give up on the Cubs this year? WILL: "Batting leadoff for the Cubs, Neifi Perez!" CHUCK: May 4th. The night Roberto Novoa walked Damian Miller with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth to give the Brewers their 6th consecutive win. DEREK: Youíd think that, writing a blog and all, that I could come up with a moment when I knew it was over. I mean, thereís a record out there, right? Still, even in looking back on it all I have no idea of an exact date, and even though the words I wrote may not fully support it, I think I gave up the ghost after the second eight-game losing streak left the team 6 games under. AL: I didn't give up at the time, but in retrospect the key turning point that turned the Cubs from contenders to pretenders was the August 3 game in which Michael Barrett blew the rundown play and Jimmy Rollins scored the winning run in Philadelphia. The Cubs had been somewhat hot up to that time; that was the beginning of a seven-game losing streak which pretty much took them out of any sort of real contention. JOE: I can pinpoint the abandonment of the team to a specific series. When Dave and I attended the Cubs/Mets series in NY and they failed to hit the ball during the entire series on the way to a terrible losing streak, I officially gave up on the year. All signs point to Dusty Baker returning for the final year of his contract in 2006. But what lies ahead? Is an extension on the way this off-season? Is he in any danger of losing his job in 2006? Should he be? Any other coaching changes on the horizon? DEREK: I donít think weíll see an extension without a big 2006, and I think a fall-on-their-faces start, especially if the Cubs have done a lot of revamping and spending of money in the offseason could result in Baker getting canned, and at that point it would be richly deserved. As far as other changes, the only likely firing would be Larry Rothschild, but my guess would be that heíll be the odd beneficiary of the teamís injury woes, given another chance due to difficult circumstances. JOE: Dusty Baker is one that baffles me. He has such a great reputation around baseball but Iím not sure why. My only consolation is that there is a lot that goes on behind closed doors that the common fan does not see. He didnít get the good rep for nothing so there is something we must NOT be seeing, because the things we ARE seeing make me want to vomit. Dusty seems to be a Hendry guy so I think he will be OFFERED an extension but will turn it down. CHUCK: Dusty Baker should be in danger. The new opening in LA and the curious announcement of when and the terms of the extension of Dustyís contract (not until February and for 2 years) makes it clear what someone has to offer to get Dusty out. He might just take the lifeline. We can only hope. WILL: The extension is all but done. I think he'll be back, the Cubs will continue to be mediocre, and he'll be fired sometime in 2007. Hendry has to force the issue on guys like Pie, Murton, and some of the young pitchers. I think Rothschild will be the sacrificial lamb, with Rick Kranitz from Iowa coming up. I just hope Andy MacPhail lets the new coach borrow his copy of "Saving The Pitcher." AL: Media reports now have Jim Hendry getting an extension "sometime in February," and Hendry probably giving Baker an extension after that. This goes against other reports that said that both would be given extensions after the season ends. I still think that could happen. The same reports say that the coaching staff is going to be re-hired en masse. I'm not in favor of this -- the batting coaches the last two years, Gene Clines and Gary Matthews, have done a terrible job, and I'd like to see the Cubs re-hire Jeff Pentland. The Brewers just let Rich Donnelley go -- I'm not sure why. He's a very highly-regarded third-base coach. Perhaps the Cubs could hire him to coach 3B, and move Chris Speier in to be bench coach. The Cubs have absolutely the worst bench coach in baseball in Dick Pole. The bench coach ought to be a former manager or manager-in-waiting, not a failed pitching coach. All that said, this year was, in my estimation, not Baker's fault, it was largely Hendry's. What about Jim Hendry -- should McPhail and the Trib re-up him or is his fate tied with Dustyís? DEREK: In general, I like what Jim Hendry has done. Some might say he hasnít been aggressive enough, and others might wish for a more SABR-friendly GM, but I think heís a smart guy who has a pretty solid understanding of market values, and actually seems willing to learn from some of his mistakes. I say extend him. WILL: Hendry and his staff, especially Oneri Fleita, should be re-signed. It's hard to fault his results, even if they are not up to our standards. If it weren't for 2003, our expectations would be back in the toilet. JOE: Jim Hendry has the ability to make things happen. As a general manager, all you can do is put the best possible team on paper together. You cannot control the everyday play of those players. Before you criticize Hendry, itís important to look at the great things he has brought here: Ramirez, Dempster, Lee, Murton, Nomar, Barrett, Maddux. That is enough for me to have confidence in his abilities as a GM. AL: One of the things that's hurt the Cubs most is starting over every three or four years with a totally new regime and way of doing things. Yes, Jim Hendry had a poor year, and I think he'd admit that. But he had a couple of good ones before that, and I think he's earned the chance to make it right this off-season. Absolutely. Re-up him. Remember this: after the Giants won 103 games and missed the playoffs by a game in Baker's first year in 1993, they suffered through three putridly bad seasons, but stuck with him. They were rewarded with multiple playoff appearances starting in 1997, winning seasons every year, and an NL pennant in 2002. CHUCK: Dusty Baker has done nothing to warrant an extension. If he is re-upped, itís a purely face saving move for Hendry and MacPhail (ìWe made the right move in hiring him! Firing him only shows we screwed up!î). Jim Hendry has gone into the last three seasons lacking a leadoff hitter. Heís gone into the last two seasons without a bullpen. Heís made excuse after excuse that the delay in trading Sosa was a detriment to this yearís roster. Heís yet to make the minor leagues produce. Heís allowed high ceiling prospects to wither on the vine and not trade them for veterans while other teams have done so (nicely done for Derrek Lee ñ what about Mulder, Beltran, Hudson?). Heís only shown solid ability to pull of deadline deals. By all means, re-hire him. The focus needs to move to Andy MacPhail. That he is allowed to stay with the lack of on-field performance means that team profitability is so high as to make the Trib not care about the on-field record. Until the fans start making the Trib care, why should the Trib make any changes? What are the top three things that went wrong for the Cubs this year, foreseeable or not? WILL: 1. Wood's injury. Foreseeable, but still devastating. 2. Dempster in the rotation. How many wins did that mistake cost us? 3. Lack of PT for Murton and Cedeno. Look at the Pirates, for cripes sake. CHUCK: 1. Lack of leadoff hitter - Forseeable 2. Lack of effective closer ñ Forseeable 3. Reliance on the starting pitching (Wood, Prior) to stay healthy ñ Forseeable Honorable mention ñ Bakerís refusal to bat players where they would have maximum effectiveness (I.e. Patterson / Neifi 1-2 while Hairston rode the bench). JOE: 1. Injuries. 2. Corey Pattersonís regression. 3. Left Field not being as profitable as planned. DEREK: Rather than naming three injuries, Iíll say all the big hurts ñ Nomar, Wood, Prior, etc ñ were thing one, followed by the initial backwards usage of Rusch and Dempster (I honestly think we might still have a happy, effective LaTroy Hawkins on the team had Dempster begun the year as closer), and ending with the clubís spectacular inability on most occasions to play anything resembling good, crisp, smart baseball. AL: 1. Nomar's injury. He had a great spring training, got off to a lousy start. OK, this happens to a lot of players. Getting hurt not only put bench players in the lineup, it hurt the bench. 2. LaTroy Hawkins. Had Ryan Dempster been named closer in the off-season, as he was supposed to be, Hawkins might have been able to reclaim his role as setup man. As it turned out, he was so bad as closer that he had to be dealt, and perhaps he may never be the same. 3. Corey Patterson. Yes, he may never become the star or superstar that some thought he would be. But I think even his detractors wouldn't have thought he would be THIS bad. Patterson's offensive season was just that, offensive; there haven't been any players with that many AB (over 450) who have hit that badly since 1968 -- and that was a pitcher-dominated season. How about three that went right, besides Lee's breakout? CHUCK: 1. Ryan Dempster, after being misused by Baker for 6 weeks, emerging as a quality closer. 2. Matt Murton showing that Theo Epstein knows what heís doing. 3. The season only having 162 games JOE: 1. Matt Murton 2. Ryan Dempster 3. Aramis Ramirez DEREK: The emergence of Matt Murton as a legitimate option in left should be a big deal next year and beyond, it was nice to see that the Cubsí faith in Aramis Ramirez was not misplaced (not that I had much doubt), and finally, while the club played poorly most of the year, it was still lovely to take the season series against the Cardinals. WILL: 1. Prior making it almost a full season without injury, aside from the freak comebacker. 2. Amazing season in Jackson, TN. 3. Umm, Len and Bob were pretty solid. AL: 1. Ryan Dempster's emergence as a top closer. 2. Carlos Zambrano's continued excellence, consistency, and taking over as the leader of the pitching staff. 3. The potential of Matt Murton to emerge as a solid regular outfielder for the next several years, if they'll only let him. The free agent market is one of the weakest in years, but the Cubs look to have plenty of cash to spend on it. Should they spend, spend, spend, and if so what should their targets be? Or should they hold on to it until next year or use it to take some garbage contracts off other teams? Should they spend it on extensions for any current players? JOE: When I look at this team and upgrades, I look around the IF. I return Lee and Ramirez as well as Todd Walker. I think you can give Ronnie Cedeno a shot at SS, if you sign Nomar to a strictly incentive laden deal. In the OF, I think Murton has earned his shot in the OF and could play RF if asked. Patterson needs one last shot in CF before we try Pie in í07 and that leaves one corner OF spot to fill. I wouldnít mind seeing someone like Matt Lawton come back for a full year to leadoff for us. He had a lot of pressure as a trade deadline guy and I think that hurt his performance. None of that would eat a lot of money, which would free us up during the year to take on contracts or do some extensions. I just do not see enough on the market to warrant a spending spree. AL: Derrek Lee, Carlos Zambrano and Mark Prior are three players that absolutely must be locked up to long-term deals. Those three, along with Aramis Ramirez, who was locked up last winter, are in my mind the four absolutely untouchable players on the ballclub at this time. So yes, with a lot of cash flow, those are three good places to spend it. Do not assume that the Cubs will only look at free agency for acquisitions. Some of Hendry's best moves have been trades. And don't think that he won't be asking after players who might appear to be unmoveable. Why not see if you could pry Carlos Lee from the Brewers, for example? Apart from Lee, Prior, Ramirez and Zambrano, not a single current Cub should be considered untouchable in the right trade. WILL: Here's my off-season checklist: 1. Resign Todd Walker. 2. Resign Ryan Dempster if it's reasonable and 2 years (or less) 3. Pick up Burnitz's option. 4. Spend everything left on Rafael Furcal. DEREK: The Cubs need to get an extension done with Derrek Lee, if only to quiet any speculation during the season, but beyond that I see no need to lock anyone else up on the current roster. As for the market, it is weak, and the few prime players are pretty easily identifiable, but the Cubs have the distinct advantage of being loaded with cash going into the offseason, and itís one they should take full advantage of. The guys I look at are mostly obvious ones ñ Rafael Fucal, Brian Giles, and Iíd actually like to see them make a run at Jason Schmidt if he becomes available. What are 3 things the Cubs MUST DO this off-season? CHUCK: 1. Find a leadoff hitter. 2. Add a quality veteran to the starting rotation 3. Add a thumper in the outfield. DEREK: They must upgrade in right field, upgrade at shortstop, and acquire another starter. I think thereís more than one option available for each of those spots, and while Iíve got some names Iíd prefer, just getting that done will go a long way toward making next year better. JOE: 1. Fully commit to Matt Murton as an everyday OF. 2. Fully commit to Ryan Dempster as their closer. 3. Bring in bullpen help. AL: 1. Get rid of Corey Patterson. 2. Get rid of Jose Macias. 3. Get two better players to replace those two. What are 3 things the Cubs MUST NOT DO this off-season? DEREK: 1. They must not spend ridiculous cash on veteran, free-agent relievers (an axiom theyíve already partially violated). 2. They must not throw in the towel on Matt Murton. 3. They must not allow Jose Macias to darken their door again. CHUCK: 1. Give Dusty control over the lineup. 2. Count on Felix Pie as a starter in Wrigley in April 3. Re-sign Jeromy Burnitz. JOE: 1. Overpay for A.J. Burnett. 2. Overpay for Kevin Millwood. 3. Hike up ticket prices yet again as a result of the new bleachers. WILL: 1. Resign Nomar for anything more than a token. 2. Call Wood the closer. 3. Not trade Corey Patterson. AL: 1. Don't mess with Derrek Lee. Thank him for his great year and tell him to get some rest! 2. Don't NOT trade Corey Patterson. 3. Don't let Hendry and Baker go. Letís talk specific players. Should Baker and Hendry give the keys to left field to Matt Murton or do they look for other options? CHUCK: I love Matt Murton. I may let him father another child for me (inside joke if youíve seen my site lately). That said, he may have a peak value in acquiring a veteran pitcher. Say you could get a Brandon Webb for him? I might make that trade. WILL: Platoon him. I'd love to see a Pie-Murton-Burnitz outfield, but I don't think that will happen. How about Murton-Burnitz-Hidalgo? Get a cheap upside guy and be ready with Pie come June 1. DEREK: I think Murton can be the guy, so thereís no reason in my mind to try to spend money on someone to take his place when you could use that cash to upgrade in other areas in much greater need. AL: Right now, I'd like to see the Cubs sign Nomar Garciaparra to play LF and try Murton in RF. Matt's not the greatest defensive outfielder, but I think his offense would make up for it. That said, given you'd have two below-average outfielders in Nomar and Murton, that would make it imperative to go out and get an excellent defensive center fielder. There are guys out there. One might be the White Sox' Aaron Rowand, believe it or not -- I have heard the Sox might be looking to deal him, as they have a hot prospect OF in Brian Anderson ready to replace him. JOE: Murton has proved that he deserves a shot. The organization tried Dubois and he had showed less at the major league level. Murton played outstanding and is a model for how this team should be built. Give him the shot he earned. Is Ryan Dempster the closer next year or should the Cubs look elsewhere? (Note: this question was asked before the Cubs signed Dempster to a 3Y-$15.5M extension over the weekend) CHUCK: Sure. Why not. But with $50 million in payroll clearing over the next 2 seasons, adding a lefty, a la B.J. Ryan, is required. Itís actually inexcusable not to add B.J. WILL: Dempster and Williamson should pitch until their arms blow up...again. Passing on Craig Hansen or even Luke Hochevar hurts. JOE: Dempster is the man as far as I am concerned. Closers are vital but can also be made at will. Dempster is a perfect example. He had never closed but did a stellar job. Let him keep it. AL: This has already been answered by Dempster's signing, which I applaud. Nomar Garciaparra: try to resign to another incentive-laden deal or say thanks for the memories and the groin jokes? If he comes back, where should he play? AL: As I said above, I'd like to see him signed to play left field. I think his offense showed signs of coming back (though he's likely done stealing bases), and if he stays healthy, he's the kind of exuberant leader the Cubs could use on the field. CHUCK: Back in the corner outfield and as emergency shortstop. He is not a long-term solution in the infield. WILL: Utility player. 1Y/3M plus incentives and a team option. JOE: Nomar should be brought back on an incentive deal only if the organization is ready to commit to Ronnie Cedeno as their everyday SS. If that is the case, then Nomar is a good clubhouse guy that can help any team by playing 5 days a week somewhere. He can play 2b, 3b, SS, and maybe even an OF spot. Thatís enough ABís to allow him to prove himself. DEREK: I love Nomar, but I donít think this team can risk that he might get hurt again, and I donít think thereís anywhere they can afford to absorb him defensively in order to field his bat. It pains me to say it, but I think he needs to be let go. Neifi Perez: uber-backup, starter, or agent's phone calls immediately transferred to voice mail? JOE: Lightning in a bottle. Do NOT bring him back for what heíll want. If heíll take bench money then fine. WILL: He had one hell of a year defensively. He's valuable if he's in that role, so why not give him a million bucks or so. He's replaceable, so don't mistake him for a good all-around player. DEREK: If the Cubs have good, historically healthy starters up the middle ñ guys whose names Dusty will want to write on the lineup card every day ñ then I have no problem with him as a backup, particularly if the man at second is Todd Walker. Otherwise, if the men up the middle are both accomplished defenders, or if one of them is someone Dusty might suddenly turn fickle on, like Ronny Cedeno, then he needs to be ignored until he goes away. CHUCK: Backup, only if Dusty isnít managing. If Dusty stays, then backup only if Rafael Furcal is signed. AL: I like the phrase "uber-backup". That describes very well the role I'd like to see him have on the 2006 Cubs. As such, he's a very useful player. Giving him 572 at-bats in a year isn't what a winning team does. Teams for whom he had that many or more at-bats, in Colorado and Kansas City, sucked. The 2003 Giants, for whom he was "uber-backup", with about 300 AB, were a playoff team. Can Corey Patterson's brain and/or bat be salvaged? CHUCK: Do I have to answer this? DEREK: I suppose if I were feeling particularly ornery Iíd ask how one can salvage things that never existed in the first place, but that would be going over the line. I think heís done as a Cub. The general question of whether he can be a good Major Leaguer again is moot to me, because whether someone else can fix him or not, I donít think he can be effective again in Chicago. AL: Not with the Cubs, they can't. There's too much history, too much baggage. He still does have talent, and there's got to be some other team out there who'll say "we can fix that", and give the Cubs something in return. Frankly, I'd take a bag of used baseballs, but I think the Cubs can get a prospect or two, or package him in a larger deal. WILL: Yes, but not in Chicago. This might be the ultimate challenge trade. Bet Atlanta would love him. JOE: I think he can be salvaged but only with proper coaching. I just donít know that heíll be salvaged as a Cub. Kerry Wood: bullpen or rotation? WILL: Have to give him one more shot before resigning ourselves to the fact that he's never going to be Nolan Ryan. JOE: Rotation if he can stay healthy. If he gets hurt or feels pain even once that causes him to be removed like last year, then heís got to go to the pen. AL: Before the Dempster signing I'd have said try him at closer. But you're not going to pay Dempster that kind of money without promising him the closer slot, and Wood makes too much money to be a setup man. So let's assume that he can recover from the surgery and start again. If he has a good spring, maybe he can even still be traded. That said, I'd love to see Wood succeed. I've been a big fan of his since even before his 20-K game, when I saw him throw consistent 98-MPH heat in spring training 1998, only to be demoted to Iowa. That year, someone asked then-Angels manager Terry Collins who he thought would win the World Series. He said, "The Cubs." Asked why, he said, "If the Cubs have five pitchers better than Kerry Wood, they OUGHT to win it all." That's the Wood I hope we see again. DEREK: Rotation. And heíll stick, at least for one more year. CHUCK: Iíd use him in the pen. Hendryís gonna have him as a starter. That means at least 1 trip to the DL and 2 rookies to fill in for him. Jeromy Burnitz: pick up his $7 mil option or buy him out for $500K? CHUCK: Hasta la vista. WILL: Pick it up. There's not much out there better at the same price. DEREK: Buyout. The Cubs can do better for that kind of cash. JOE: I hate to say it, but I really like Burnitz and the way he plays. I bring him back. AL: Buy him out, thank him for his service, give him a gold watch or whatever it is you give retiring ballplayers these days, and say goodbye. Todd Walker: good facial hair, gimpy leg, Cubs beat writers' best friend. Pick up his option or look elsewhere? JOE: Iím kind of a homer with Walker, but I really like him and what other options do we have at 2B in the FA market or on the farm? DEREK: I love Toddís bat, but his defense gives me and Greg Maddux night sweats. If the organization is truly committed to giving Cedeno a shot over at second in the event that someone else is signed to play short, then I can let him go ñ particularly if the Cubs decide to let Nomar have one more shot at the 6 hole. Otherwise, if whoever is going to play short is solid enough defensively, and Cedeno isnít going to play the keystone, Iím good with another year of The Shadow. CHUCK: I look elsewhere. Heís just not good enough and he drives in too few runs. AL: I like Walker and only wish he could stay healthy. He's not nearly as bad defensively as everyone says. It's entirely possible that the Cubs will pick up his option and then trade him, which even he admits could happen. I have heard that the Cubs are going to make a run at Rafael Furcal and try Ronny Cedeno at 2B next year, which wouldn't leave room for Walker. But, if they don't get Furcal, they could sign Nomar for LF, Walker for 2B, and try Cedeno at SS. Nice to know there are at least some options out there. WILL: Pick it up. Good facial hair is worth something and the other option is Neifi starting. Which lilí Cubs would you like to see get a shot at a roster spot in spring training? JOE: David Aardsma could help the bullpen. He has closer-like stuff so he can get some experience in pressure situations that arenít quite save situations. Plus, how nice would it be to hear that heís the first person in the alphabetical list of players in MLB history over and over all year? WILL: Murton, Pie, Greenberg, Brownlie, Leicester, Sing, Nolasco, Ryu, Pinto, and Aardsma. DEREK: Murton, Cedeno, Pie. AL: As noted above, Cedeno. I like his bat, glove and attitude, and I think that has not gone unnoticed by the brass, and as also mentioned above, Murton. Apart from that, Jermaine Van Buren has a good shot at making the 2006 bullpen, IF he can control that fastball of his. Nine walks in his six major league innings to date isn't a good sign. CHUCK: Angel Guzman, before heís AARP-eligible. Is 2006 the Year of the Cub? WILL: Not yet. Cards will still be very good, Brewers will be coming up, and it just doesn't look to gel. I'd like to see them see what they have in the first half and see if it's moving towards something. The Cubs could always add or subtract at the deadline in any year. DEREK: Itís just too early to tell. Iíd like to think so, but a lot needs to happen in order make that hope a reality, and with the weight of history on their backs, if I had to lay a bet Iíd have no choice but to say no. CHUCK: No. Dusty managing. Hendry leaving too many holes for too many years. Too many holes (two OFs, SS, 2B) and too many other bad spots (C, relief). Two-year project, minimum. AL: Man, what a question. Cub fans have been asking that for ninety-eight years, ya know? And every year we hope, every year we hope the answer is yes. It's early to say yes or no. It's only two days after season's end, and no moves have yet been made. All we have right now are rumors, and you can't base a prediction on rumors. Ask me again in March. JOE: Ask me in October of í06. I think Iíll have a better idea then.
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Comments

Nice discussion fellas....

Line of the day:

At what point did you give up on the Cubs this year?
WILL: ìBatting leadoff for the Cubs, Neifi Perez!î

This team can't be fixed in one off-season. But it can be upgraded in area pretty dramatically. Defense.

The Cubs spend all this money on a pitching staff and give them a little league third rate catcher to throw to? Come on now that isn't smart baseball. We should sign Bengie Molina and make Barrett the 3rd/LF/C backup or simply trade him. This team needs a catcher with a clue behind the plate and have the confidence of the pitching staff.

This also pretty much means we need Furcal. Yeah yeah he will cost a ton of money but not even Dusty Baker can screw up writing him in as the #1 hitter.

This leaves 2nd base. I love Walker, but I like Cedeno's glove as well. If Cedeno is being groomed for second then those 2 can battle out in spring training. If Walker loses he can be traded, if Cedeno loses he makes a nice SS, 2nd base back up and can still try and fight his way back into the lineup.

I would love a defense up the middle of Furcal, Cedeno, Molina.

Ohh and I don't know why people keep assuming Hideki Matsui will be a free agent. A) He is nearly a lock to resign with the Yanks anyways B) If the Yankees decide not to resign Matsui, Matsui goes to waivers not free agency.

If he does not sign a contract extension or a new contract by Nov. 15, 2005, then the NYY must place him on waivers for the purpose of granting him his release- + if he were to clear waivers he would become a free agent

The Cubs would have a decent shot of claiming him, but I would bet money teams like the Dodgers, San Fran, and Balt would claim him before the Cubs do.

Well I hope Boston fans are seeing the real Matt Clement now, the one Baker had to bench down the stretch last year. He might not even be able to get out of the 1st inning, down 5-0 already. People get blinded by his record when you look at his other numbers, they show the picture better. This guy is a .500 pitcher witha 4.50+ ERA in the AL and needs an offense like ther Red Sox to win games.

Got to disagree that Walker doesn't drive in enough runs.

Batting average with runners on base, 2005: .311

Batting average with runners on base, 2004: .312

How is it his fault if they don't get enough guys on in front of him? With the rest of his numbers as strong as they were, D-Lee should have driven 135-140 runs this year. Does he drive in too few runs?

70 percent of Walker's at-bats came in the two spot, following such great leadoff men as Neifi and Corey. In a lineup that puts men on base, and in a spot in the order that gets RBI chances, Walker knocks in 80-90 runs, no problem.

The Tigers have already hired Leyland.

That was fast.

I work downtown St. Louis, so there is little more depressing than being forced to listen to the Cardinals win one while at work thinking about the Cubs of '06...oh well...my wife and I were going to head up to Wrigley next summer, and I wanted to get really nice seats...I know here at Busch in the club seats you get free food all game...do they have seats like that at Wrigley, and how much do they cost? I know I will probably have to get them scalped, so what is the scalped price, not the face value? Thanks

Didn't have any problems with Clement leaving myself, he does seem to have a problem of fading down the stretch...

3 year #'s: (from 2002-2004)
Post All-Star: 4.77 ERA 192/103 K/BB
Pre All-Star: 3.71 ERA 315/121 K/BB

ERA's by month:
April 3.24
May 4.02
June 3.73
July 4.21
Aug. 4.31
Sept 5.60

2005:
5.72 ERA 49/33 K/BB
3.85 ERA 97/35 K/BB

ERA's by month:
April 3.90
May 2.43
June 3.94
July 8.88
Aug. 3.60
Sept 6.00

I assume the Red Sox didn't have much choice, but rather curious that they'd start him Game 1. Lucky they didn't have to play in a one game playoff.

Rob,

I was wondering with the Dodgers firing Tracy is McCourt the kind of owner who would force a manager on Depo (Baker or Herisher) if he thought it was good for the bottom line or is this going to be completly Depo's call which means Ron Washington is going to get it.

Oh good lord. I'm fond of the Cubs and want them to win the World Series soon, but...do you any of you *seriously* think you're going to get Nomar as a *utility* player? For 1 yr & 3 million? Here's a quick list of teams that need/want to make an upgrade at shortstop: Nationals (Nomar vs Cristian "6-3" Guzman,) Dodgers (Cesar Izturis is getting Tommy John surgery,) Twins (Punto and Bartlett have been nothing special, and they are dying for offense,) White Sox (Nomar's an upgrade to Uribe, who I *think* might be leaving.) That's just for shortstop. Add teams needing a third baseman, and even more go on the list.

I think Nomar would give a big hometown discount to the Cubs because he's quite happy there. I also think that the club is likely to regretfully let him go because they don't wish to chance the injuries again. What *will* not happen is Nomar, still in a good part of his career and trying to resurrect his elite status, taking a job as a utility player. I mean *really*, folks.

Oh good lord. I'm fond of the Cubs and want them to win the World Series soon, but...do you any of you *seriously* think you're going to get Nomar as a *utility* player? For 1 yr & 3 million? Here's a quick list of teams that need/want to make an upgrade at shortstop: Nationals (Nomar vs Cristian "6-3" Guzman,) Dodgers (Cesar Izturis is getting Tommy John surgery,) Twins (Punto and Bartlett have been nothing special, and they are dying for offense,) White Sox (Nomar's an upgrade to Uribe, who I *think* might be leaving.) That's just for shortstop. Add teams needing a third baseman, and even more go on the list.

I think Nomar would give a big hometown discount to the Cubs because he's quite happy there. I also think that the club is likely to regretfully let him go because they don't wish to chance the injuries again. What *will* not happen is Nomar, still in a good part of his career and trying to resurrect his elite status, taking a job as a utility player. I mean *really*, folks.

McCourt doesn't know the first thing about baseball, that's why he hired Depodesta. Baker hates the entire Dodger organization, I don't know why anyone thinks he's going over there. Depo is going to hire someone, and he's going to be of the Ken Macha variety. Fold arms, stand on top step, don't do anything stupid, keep everyone happy. Actually it might be Ken Macha as I heard earlier this year that he was likely gone. If Showalter leaves he might go there too.

All speculation anyway, Depo has a plan and he's sticking to it.

Btw, I think it was a good move. I don't mind Tracy but he was very much like Baker in certain ways and it just didn't gel with what the Dodgers are trying to do, which is to start getting some of their prospects in the lineup to go along with some of the guys he's signed recently (Drew, Kent). We'll see if it works.

Wow...wsux up 12-2

John Hart resigned....showalter most likely on the hot seat for sure now.

maybe not..now i notice that the assistant GM, Jon Daniels was promoted. Only 28...damn!!!

Clement was the only rested starter, and more of a solid bet than Arroyo. I can't understand why you guys hate him. Even after today, I still stand by him and I think he's great. *shrug* I don't mind having him. Who else do you contend pitch in his place?

Can't say I was paying all that much attention to your rotation but it looked like you were down to Arroyo or Clement. Didn't Arroyo have a pretty good post-season last year and his Sept was better than Clement's. Would have went with the guy with postseason success if there wasn't a clear option and their overall #'s look about the same this year.

Whatever, go get them tomorrow.

Nevermind about Macha, the A's offered him a new deal, although he's still deciding if he wants to come back.

http://www.dailysouthtown.com/southtown/dsspo...

"Got to disagree that Walker doesn't drive in enough runs.

Batting average with runners on base, 2005: .311

Batting average with runners on base, 2004: .312

How is it his fault if they don't get enough guys on in front of him? With the rest of his numbers as strong as they were, D-Lee should have driven 135-140 runs this year. Does he drive in too few runs?

70 percent of Walker's at-bats came in the two spot, following such great leadoff men as Neifi and Corey. In a lineup that puts men on base, and in a spot in the order that gets RBI chances, Walker knocks in 80-90 runs, no problem."

Yea, that's total horse shit. Walker would have plenty of RBI's if anyone was on base in front of him. The only reason to let Walker go is if you wanna go with stellar defense up the middle.
And I don't understand the thought that Nomar could handle 2B any better than Walker. He'd chuck the ball past Lee a couple times a week.

"do you any of you *seriously* think you're going to get Nomar as a *utility* player? For 1 yr & 3 million?"

No Quesadilla, no one believes that...
I'm pretty sure the idea is that Nomar would take the hint that his services are no longer needed.

Here is an interview W/ Hendry on MLB.com:

http://chicago.cubs.mlb.com/NASApp/mlb/news/a...

Holly and Lawton are not on the DS rosters for there teams. Man the Cubs had about a 100 starts from LF from guys who could not beat out Brian Jordan, Kelly Johnson, and Tony Womack on a playoff roster. That just sums that up. Talking about ex-cubs and playoff rosters Rob why was Josh Paul on the Angels roster and not Kendry Morales or Chris Bootcheck. Just seems like a waste to have 3 C especially when B. Molinia is a solid hitting catcher.

My Personal take on the positions:

Catcher: Barrett and Blanco are under contract- theoretically you could monkey around, but I don't see the point unless you get a ridiculous offer for Barrett. Barrett has gotten to be pretty damned good at blocking balls, and he's decent at leading the staff- I expect those things only to get better over the next two years.

First Base: During the last off-season I wanted the Cubs to put Lee out in left and bring in Delgado. That's still not a bad idea if you can get Florida to eat a bit of that contract- but I don't think there's any chance anyone besides Lee will have the job next spring.

Second Base: Todd Walker- he's showed willingness to be a Cub, and the Cubs need to reciprocate, or risk losing thier 'Play for the Cubs' cache. Plus he's a pretty good hitter and isn't Julio Franco 'Ole!' like at 2nd.

Shortstop: Furcal- the only excuse for not signing him would be if he never hits the market. He fills two huge holes for the Cubs, there's no other team he can provide same value for, and the Cubs should have the cash. Front load it something like 5 years for 42- 10 mill for 2006, then 9, 8, 8 and 7.

Third Base: Aram-Ram

Left Field: I don't think the Cubs will be able to sign Giles, and all the other free agents stink. I'll take Nomar here, if he will do it for about 2.5 + 6.5 in incentives. Otherwise, Murton.

Center Field: If Hendry is over his hissy fit, go ahead and take Cameron off the Met's hands. I'd say give a bad contract back, but we don't have much of those- so maybe Brandon Sing and some reliever (wellmeyer) with the Cubs getting $2 mill or so.

Right Field: Murton if we get Nomar or Ibanez from Seattle for left.

Bench:
MI: Cedeno- Backup at the middle infield positions, with maybe a half platoon at 2nd. By the trade deadline we should hopefully know if he can be the 2nd baseman for '07 and beyond, or have built up his value as trade bait.

Catcher: Blanco.

Corner Man: Bill Mueller- Not sure on what kind of offer he is going to get, or if we've burnt our bridge with him, but he would be the ideal #1 PH, and backup for Lee, Ramirez and Walker if he can be had for less than $5 mil for 2 years.

Back Up OF: Trenidad Hubbard: Can back up left or center, and I like him. If we don't blow money on Mueller, Encarncion from the Marlins would be an ideal 4th outfielder on a WS contending team.

Fontenot: It's time for him to start his career as a jack-of-all trades type. Hopefully he can be a Jose Macias with plate discipline (Hey Jose, who told you you have a green light 3-1 with D. Lee on deck, anyway?)

Rotation:
Ace: Wood- He's the toughest competitor on the Cubs and the leader of the staff. How many other pitchers would say 'I need shoulder surgery, huh? Well I can go one or two innings no problems, so that's what I'll do.' or 'I choked' after losing game 7 to the Marlins

2nd Starter: Zambrano- Would have to be brain dead not to bring him back.
3rd Starter: Prior- Still cheap and one of the top starters in the league when healthy. I'd listen to offers for him though.

4th Starter: Maddux- He was my favorite ex-Cub for a long time, but he's been a real failure in influencing the other starters, though I think Barrett has picked some stuff up. Hopefully he doesn't come to camp with that big gut next year, and can throw a pitch after covering 1st.

5th Starter: Weaver- 3 years at 5 a piece would be nice. Kenny Rodgers for a year a 3 to 4 million wouldn't drive me nuts either, nor would bring back Rusch.

6th Starter: Williams- he seems dedicated to coming back strong next year- I just wish he had an out pitch, I am not sure how effective he'd be in long relief until he's called on to start.

Relievers:
Closer: Dempter- Obviously
Set up: BJ Ryan- he's not opposed to doing it. If he can be had for 'Dempster' money or less. It's possible he'll get a Foulke like contract, in which case- I won't lose any sleep.
Weurtz- Obviously as well
Williamson- 2 million option for him is OK, if it's more than that, let him walk.

Ohman- Obviously- hopefully he'll get to knock out a few more right-handers next year.

Last Spot: Hill if he is still around, if he gets packaged for a corner outfielder, then Mitre. They need to let either one of them know from day 1 of ST that they're going to be relievers.

In summary I think if Hendry gets Furcal, he's in pretty good shape. I assume CP is going to be traded or in Iowa next year, neither one particularly bothers me.

Oh another thing:

You should have a 'Come clean' article, where people can admit how stupid thier pre-season projections were.

I'd say, for instance: I thought Sammy would come to ST with a vengance like he did in 2001, and accept coaching and have a huge year. I also thought C-Pat would be a lot closer to his '03 than his late '04 seasons.

Oh another thing:

You should have "I don't have a clue what I am talking about" article. Where people can admit they don't have a clue.

Catcher: Barrett and Blanco are under contract- theoretically you could monkey around, but I don't see the point unless you get a ridiculous offer for Barrett. Barrett has gotten to be pretty damned good at blocking balls, and he's decent at leading the staff- I expect those things only to get better over the next two years.

Pretty good at blocking balls? He has? When was this? Sure have not seen it over the last 2 seasons. Pitchers for the most part are afraid of throwing their breaking pitches in the dirt because Barrett is extremly weak at blocking all of those. This tends to make the pitchers throw their breaking stuff higher in the zone. Its called hanging a curve in the zone. Pitchers tend to do that with weak catchers.

Zambrano and Prior have had the love hate relationship with Barrett this season. Its pretty obvious if those two had the choice they would choose Blanco every day of the week and twice on Sunday. Nothing makes a pitcher more confident than a catcher who is great at blocking pitches in the dirt. And if Barrett is pretty damn good at blocking balls in the dirt then Henry Blanco must be the best defensive catcher in the history baseball.

Which brings me finally to pitch selection. Barrett calls curve after curve after curve. Doesn't matter if the pitchers curve is working or not, Barrett is going to call it. Blanco works the fastball more and if the curve is on, he will mix it up more than Barrett ever will. The money pitches for Prior and Zambrano are not the curve but the fastball. Blanco clearly knows this, Barrett still doesn't have a clue. 2 years later, and he still doesn't have a clue. But by some miracle he is gonna improve on not improving. If you start at 0 and add 0 your still at 0.

And lets not even get into his ability to gun down runners. Giving up 70 stolen bases each of the last 2 years and only gunning down on average 24% is not exactly good. And it is down right horrific when none of his other abilities make up for that. You got the total package of crap from Barrett on defense. And that isn't good.

If that isn't enough to convince you, I expect my catcher at the very least to execute a simple run down. Barrett can't even do that, not once, but twice this season.

If only they could take Barrett's bat and combine it with Blanco's defense. Oh wait we can do that, sign Bengie Molina.

Talking about ex-cubs and playoff rosters Rob why was Josh Paul on the Angels roster and not Kendry Morales or Chris Bootcheck.

Scioscia is fascinated by having 3 catchers, the main reason being that Bengie Molina has got to be the slowest player on the planet and needs to be pinch-run for late in games, particularly with Scioscia's take an extra base whenever you can philosphy.

Bootcheck would be pointless, the Angels already are carrying 2 long relievers in Santana and Gregg and doubtful either will pitch much as is.
Plus w/o a lefty once again in the pen, they won't go matchup crazy, so you don't need much of a bullpen (plus Escobar and Shields both can go 2 innings at a time).

Also it's the AL, not nearly as much need for pinch-hitters and who knows what Morales can do against major league pitching. Is he even on the 40-man?

Here's the thing. Arroyo has had success, regular and postseason, in reliever. Clement is a starter, period.

"If only they could take Barrett's bat and combine it with Blanco's defense. Oh wait we can do that, sign Bengie Molina."

while barrett isnt a hitting machine, bengie's not really comparable in the hitting dept. to barrett's power...and bengie's amazingly beyond slow.

better arm, yeah...better D, yeah...

barrett's a nice deal for his pay especially considering what blanco's getting paid for his occasional power and good D.

Anyone know where I can get Arizona Fall League updates... particularly box scores lines for Matt Murton?

minorleaguebaseball.com

they're even go to broadcast a few games...

just wanted to toss in my 2 cents.

Time Traveling Superhero:
karma from sosa fiasco was bad. nomars crotch was bad. hawkins/dempster business also very bad (because of the ramifications to rusch, etc), but just to be different i will go with jobo's wrist fucking breaking in spring training. that was what made me glance side-ways at the baseball gods and wonder what the FUCK was about to go down before the season ever started, and lo and behold, the season painfully went in the shitter. i would have used my super powers to save jobo from a broken fucking wrist. that is not saying jobo as closer allowing hawkins to set up was critical mind you. just that it was THE beginning of the end.

Hung it up for this year:
my ultimate goal was getting the WC. when we hit that 3rd streak is when i honestly said "we're fucked."

Dusty:
1 more year.

Hendry:
i trust him with the 100 Mil.

3 things that went wrong:
1) jobo's fucking wrist breaking.
2) NOBODY hitting in front of Derek for so FUCKING long (started to go in the shitter during the yankee series when neifi went like 1-14?)
3) Corey being a fucking bust.
(honorable mention: nomar's crotch, hawkins sucking ass)

3 things that went right:
1) getting J-will for hawkins from SF, cuz he finished strong and like it or not i think hes in the 06 rotation (and i didnt think wed get anything more for hawkins than a minor league concessions attendant prospect and a gounds keeper to be named later)
2) the ryan dempster
3) matt murton getting PT

Where to spend our money:
-sign raffy furcal.
-sign johnny damon.
-spend the rest on derek, carlos, glendon, neifi, nomar, etc.
-buy another starter.

MUST do this off-season:
-shop for 5th starter to join maddux, carlos, prior and williams
-sign rusch
-bolster bullpen
-ditch macias
-somehow trade patterson
-be careful with felix and ronnie's injuries

must NOT do this off-season:
-entertain playing nomar in left
-screw around with that patterson guy any further
-let woody believe he will start again

Matt Murton?
starting left fielder.

Ryan Dempster?
oh yeah baby. need more solid arms to hold down the fort until the ryan dempster slams the door.

Nomar?
sign him to back-up the OF and IF as felix and ronnie are weaned in. incentives, yadda yadda yadda. dont think he will bitch like t-walk about starts at this point. wants to stay, does NOT want to start over elsewhere. HOT BAT at the end.
shit just sign him.

Neifi?
give him a million bucks and keep him as the uber-backup. not much better than him for IF utility.

Woody?
bullpen. bullpen. bullpen. bullpen. bullpen.

Jeromy?
ditch burnitz. 7 mil for a guy who sucks with 2 outs and quits after the 7th inning is insanity. put a fork in him. adios. trying to win a fucking ring here for christ sakes.

Todd Walker?
toughest call to make. i like him. but w/ furcal, the dawn of the ronnie cedeno era, and neifi (cheap utility) and nomar (better offense) already aboard, don't think the Cubs will keep him. tough call.

2006 Cubs year?
im not afraid of the cards or anybody else. damn right its our year. check this out:
Rotation: maddux, j-will, carlos, prior, new guy.
Pen: woody, rusch, the ryan dempster, etc.
IF: derek, raffy, nomar, the aramis (and ronny) barrett and the new and improved henry blanco
OF: murton....damon in center?....new guy in left?.....shit this is the enigma here.
basically if we get that 5th starter, fill out the bullpen, and get damon in center and raffy at short, we're set.

GO CUBS!

I agree with Mike C. When you build your team around elite pitching you need them throwing to the best defensive catcher you can afford. That catcher will maxamize the performance and confidence of the staff making certain that your strength is not devalued.
Barrett is a very poor defensive catcher. He has trouble blocking balls in the dirt, throwing out runners, calling games, making plays at the plate and taking charge of the infield.
Cheap for his bat is not a good way to look at it. His bat is worth little in context if he downgrades our best asset ( pitching) which he does.

I agree with Mike C. When you build your team around elite pitching you need them throwing to the best defensive catcher you can afford. That catcher will maxamize the performance and confidence of the staff making certain that your strength is not devalued.
Barrett is a very poor defensive catcher. He has trouble blocking balls in the dirt, throwing out runners, calling games, making plays at the plate and taking charge of the infield.
Cheap for his bat is not a good way to look at it. His bat is worth little in context if he downgrades our best asset ( pitching) which he does.

i just read the end of my last comment and want to clarify my mentality so i dont come off as simply an overly optimistic ass (although that's what i probably am).

i used to hate Cubs fans who were always obstinately saying "next year is our year!" in spite of the teams problems, because their stubborn optimism pissed me off and frankly came off as blissful ignorance.

i used to subscribe to the "oh jesus, oh we're screwed, woe is us" school of thought myself, all the while hoping such pessimism would backfire and we'd actually do well.

well my dad was one of those fatally optimistic types, calling pessimists like myself "ye of little faith".

then, he died, and i changed.

him dying was indeed the reason for my change of tune, but it wasnt his death in itself. Rather it was when i looked back on my days with the man, and i realized, he simply had more fun than i did. my scowl, as opposed to his smile.

if you consider that fate determines the box scores, the bartmans and gonzaless of the game regardless of what beer you drink or what you say anyway, just as fate has made you a Cubs fan, i figure you might as well have fun and be positive.

and when we beat out SF for that wild card spot years ago, i cant say i enjoyed it more than my pals who were expecting the worst, but my joy sure felt more pure, never having doubted.

(and when things end like they did in 04, the pessimist's pain is just as bad anyway.)

besides,

2003 was one hell of a mind-fuck.
2004 was in some ways worse to me than 03.
this year was a fucking parade of disasters.

and if you believe in karma like i do you know that thats just way too much ying, and the fates owe us quite a bit of fucking yang god-dammit. going on 100 years worth and climaxing as we speak.

derek, chuck, al, will, sorry fellas but thanks for leaving it open for me to say 2006 is our year.

Mike C,

I am talking about Michael Barrett for the catcher for the Chicago Cubs. I'm not sure who you are talking about, but I am pretty sure where you're talking from.

here's a quote for you:

'Slip slidin' away: If you were paying attention during the Astros' eighth inning on Thursday, you noticed that Michael Wuertz threw a first-pitch slider to Craig Biggio. He threw another, and another, and another. In fact, Wuertz threw 15 pitches to four batters that inning -- and all were sliders.'

# of passed balls and wild pitches= 0. # of runs allowed = 0

Which cub starter throws his Curveball in the dirt? Let's see, Maddux throws two a game, Prior throws his for strikes generally. Wood throws his out of the strike zone, but away, not in the dirt. The only curves that are supposed to be in the dirt are overhand curves, and the Cubs don't throw those.

Let's check some stats out. I can't find Wild Pitches anywhere, sorry.

Let's actually make a composite stat: (Total Basis + Walks + HBP + SB - PB - SB Allowed - Errors)/(Outs made + CS - Runners Caught Stealing)

Here's the Outcome for 2005 (more is good)

Hernandez = .492
Molina = .565
Barrett = .588
Mike C = ignorant

Outs made? do you mean percentage of plate appearances? More plate appearances= more "out"chances

A little more searching and I did find season totals for wild pitches:

2005- 57
2004 - 50

Going by that stat it looks like Barrett is regressing, but what about 2003?

2003 - 63
Hmm...

outs made = while batting. Yes, more plate appearances means = more chances to make outs, it should also mean, more chances to walk, get HBP allow stolen bases etc etc.

"Also it's the AL, not nearly as much need for pinch-hitters and who knows what Morales can do against major league pitching. Is he even on the 40-man?"

Yes, Rob according to the Angels website he is.

So your arguement is that on one game last thursday Barrett blocked some pitches thus he is great defensive catcher? Neifi Perez hit a grandslam this year, i guess he is Alex Rodriguez now huh? What are you dumb? You got me dude, i can't argue against that level of stupidity.

And if you don't know that Prior and Zambrano throw sharp curves and breaking balls in the dirt I really don't know what to tell you other than your not really a Cubs fan because you clearly have never seen these players play before.

(I didn't include Wood because he has been injured most of the year. Any Cub fan with half a clue knows Wood has some nasty breaking stuff in the dirt to go along with a damn good fastball. Real Neal clearly doesn't even know this simple fact. I find that amusing, yet sad.)

Actually, I think that part of the problem is that they aren't throwing ENOUGH breaking pitches in the dirt. I'm sick of seeing 0-2 pitches in the strike zone to every batter. What idiot comes up with that? You don't need to throw a strike when the count is 0-2.

Mike C,

Quote:

'Zambrano's pitches match this eclectic nature, as every pitch in his repertoire has significant movement. He relies on a two-seam fastball in the low 90s, a slider, a split-finger fastball, and also throws a straight four-seamer, making him among baseball's hardest pitchers to hit.'

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carlos_Zambrano

Do you see 'curve ball' in there?

Michael Barrett doesn't catch Prior- something you've already pointed out, so when you say 'I can't argue against this level of stupidity' you're referring to yourself? I've got some pretty damning Blanco evidence I'll post later on that, though.

Sorry, Mike C, if you just make things up, you won't have any credibilty with me. Please watch the Cubs do some reasearch or something!

Mike C said 'So your arguement is that on one game last thursday Barrett blocked some pitches thus he is great defensive catcher?'

No, what I said was 'Barrett has gotten to be pretty damned good at blocking balls'. I have my personal viewpoint on it, I have given you anecdotal evidence, and what have you got?

You said that the Free agent catchers are better than Barrett- I showed you how they're not with statistics. What have you got, besides besmirching my intelligence, while contradicting yourself?

Real Neal:

Take a look a meaningful stat. ( From MLB.com)

Stolen Bases allowed Barrett =70
Now look at our main competitors
Molina ( StL) 14
Ausmus (Hou) 39

This alone is a huge detriment. I think only Piazza is worse at throwing out runners and Barrett has never had Piazza's bat.

We have all seen with our eyes Barrett's failure to make plays at the plate and block pitches in te dirt.
I think all of us would love to have a catcher that could hit and most like Barrett, he's a gamer.
But some of realize what we are sacrificing for that .276 B.A> and just think it's too much.

Alex,

Caught stealings, as I am sure you know, is not purely up to the catcher. Greg Maddux has been historically awful at preventing runners from stealing bases. Andy Petite has been historically very good at preventing runners from doing the same.

Now I made a stat which essentialy makes a single for Bengie Molina = a double for Barrett with Barrett allowing an extra stole base (1 = 2-1) and Barrett is still superior to the free agent catchers people are clamoring for. I'll run Ausmus through the same stats, if you like, but just from glancing at his #'s he's going to come out way behind.

Well, hell, I got the spreadsheet open, I'll do the Card's Molina and Ausmus.

Here you go:

Name Catcher Stat
Barrett .588
B. Molina .565
Ausmus .529
Y.Molina .509
Hernandez .492

I am not saying he's the best catcher in the world, or that he calls the best game. What I am saying is that there's not going to be a big upgrade available, so there's no point. Tomorrow night I'll torch Blanco's game calling (with Stats!), unless I go to Mo's.

To save next season I think we need to think outside the box

1) Trade Dusty to LA for M Bradley (Something for nothing if you ask me).

2)Trade (Hairston and / or Mitre etc...)with the A's for Juan Cruz (Young Gun).

3)Trade with KC for Sisco and or Pit for Zumaya(young Guns)

4)Kerry Wood and Cash (asuming part of salary) for Soriano - Soriano to Mets for lasting Milledge. Maddux and Blanco to the Padres for a cheeseburger (making room for young guns to compete). Please don't be sentimental Maddux won 13 of his 15 quality starts... 15 of 30+ is not good

3)Sign ONLY premier free agents without a recent history of serious injury(Furcal, Rogers, Millwood, Godzilla)

4)Take advantage of teams with lower payroll!!!! They will take those Title V guys we loose anyway and give us arbitration eligible players (Zito, Huff, Lugo, Pierre etc...)

5) Release Burnitz, Macias, Nefi (see 6)

6) Let the young position players truly compete... if a young player outplays a veteran the veteran SITS!

---

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