The Cubs proposed $11.025 million and Carlos Zambrano had $15.5 in mind. This one is going to take some work. Will this be Hendry's first arbitration case? My guess is that Hendry would like to speed up the extension talk and get Z under contract for the next 5-6 years, avoid the arbitration case and make up whatever differences between the two sides over the course of a long-term deal. Mark Prior had the audacity to ask for a raise at $3.875 million. The Cubs have offered $3.4 million. Prior made $3.65 million last season. They might as well just agree to meet in the middle and keep him at the same money he was at last year.
The Cubs have signed Ohman for two years avoiding an arbitration case this year and next. Financial details have yet to be disclosed. I would assume this means he's still in the Cubs plans rather than being trade bait as has been rumored. UPDATE: Ohman will receive $900,000 next year and $1.6 in 2008. Bonuses include $100,000 for appearing in 75 games next season and 70 in 2008. He'll get $200,000 for appearing in 80 games in 2008. And in what has become a Hendry staple, there's bonus money for finishing games that begins at $25,000 each year for finishing 15 games, up to $150,000 for finishing 35 (or more).

On February 27th, the Baseball Hall of Fame will announce the voting results of the 84 members of the Veterans Committee. In a three part series, guest columnist and reader, "Dying Cub Fan" takes a look at the candidacy of former Cubs third basemen, Ron Santo.

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"Red Sox Nation: In your opinion, who's the best player not in the HOF? Bill James: Ron Santo"

10/27/04 Interview with Bill James on RedSoxNation.Net, 1 http://www.redsoxnation.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=11048 Ron Santo has a meritorious case for election to the Baseball Hall of Fame. There are currently thirteen third basemen2 in the Hall of Fame: Frank "Home Run" Baker, Wade Boggs, George Brett, Jimmy Collins, Ray Dandridge, Judy Johnson, George Kell, Freddy Lindstrom, Eddie Mathews, Brooks Robinson, Mike Schmidt, Pie Traynor and Jud Wilson (who was inducted in 2006). When compared to the ten major league third basemen currently in the Hall of Fame (leaving aside, for purposes of this discussion, the three Negro League players, Johnson, Dandridge and Wilson), Santo's offensive numbers fit squarely in the middle of that group. The offensive numbers demonstrate that Santo was better than five of the major league third basemen currently in the Hall of Fame. The numbers indicate that Schmidt, Mathews, Brett, Baker and Boggs (in roughly that order) were better than Santo. Santo has a clear edge on everyone else. During his career Ron Santo was a nine-time All-Star. He finished in the top ten in MVP voting four times. He had the fifth highest RBI total of all major league players during the 1960s (topped only by Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Harmon Killebrew and Frank Robinson). During that period no player in the National League drew more walks. 3 He won five consecutive Gold Gloves at third base, and led NL third basemen in putouts, assists, chances and double plays in many seasons. He was among the league leaders in on base percentage and slugging percentage throughout the 1960s; he finished in the top 10 in both categories in his league in every season from 1964 through 1967. He hit more home runs in his career than any third baseman currently in the Hall of Fame other than Mike Schmidt and Eddie Mathews. He combined power and defense to a degree that was unprecedented for third basemen. He coupled that with an ability to draw walks that added value in a manner that has often gone unappreciated. In his 2001 Historical Baseball Abstract Bill James ranked Santo as the 6th best third baseman of all time; he ranked Robinson 7th. He ranked Traynor as the 15th best third baseman (behind Stan Hack, Darrell Evans, Sal Bando, Ken Boyer, Graig Nettles and Al Rosen), Collins 17th (after Ron Cey), Kell 30th and Lindstrom 43rd. Santo fits squarely within the middle of the group of third basemen in the Hall of Fame. Santo was arguably the best player at his position in the major leagues for an extended period of time, a dominant hitter and a great defender. He should be in the Hall of Fame.

...make every play clear the way to victory; Bear down, Chicago Bears, put up a fight with a might so fearlessly. We'll never forget the way you thrilled the nation with your T-formation. Bear down, Chicago Bears, and let them know why you're wearing the crown. You're the pride and joy of Illinois, Chicago Bears, bear down.
I didn't have time to check for a chat program this week, so stop by Chad's Bears Chat site if you wish to discuss the game. If you want baseball news, I've got nothing other than Shawn Estes just won't die.
A little extra this week to get you through the three day weekend... UPDATE: Cubs signed infielder Tomas Perez to a minor league deal with a spring training invite. - If I had a vote for the Hall of Fame, it would have went to Cal Ripken Jr., Tony Gwynn, Mark McGwire, Andre Dawson, Goose Gossage, Bert Blyleven and Alan Trammell. I still can't forgive Lee Smith for Game 4 of the NLCS, so screw him on my imaginary ballot that doesn't count for anything. - Here's one that Cubs.com seemed to miss or just didn't care about. It seems pitcher Adam Harben (the bounty in the Phil Nevin trade) whom we just invited to spring camp had Tommy John surgery in October after a few games in the AFL. If you recall, he was removed from the 40-man roster during the offseason and part of the condition of him resigning with us on a minor league deal was that he'd get a spring training invite even though all he'll be doing is rehabbing at that point. That's an odd little series of events. Harben who was up there on some of the Twins prospects lists a year or two ago has been suffering from some loss of velocity on the fastball. We'll see if the surgery helps him regain some of that along with his prospect status.
Ken Rosenthal at FoxSports is reporting that FA outfielders Darin Erstad and Steve Finley are "on the Cubs radar" as potential stop-gap CF candidates for 2007, and that they are still interested in signing Cliff Floyd as a part-time LF. Rosenthal also mentions Bernie Williams as a possible bridge (and mentor) to Felix Pie, although it is not clear whether Williams will retire if he can't get a new deal done with the Yankees. Rosenthals's comments presume that Jacque Jones leaving the Cubs is a given, and maybe it is. But it is at least theoretically possible for the Cubs to just keep Jones and play him in CF until whenever Pie is ready, and then move Jones at that time. But maybe Jim Hendry has promised Jones that he positively will trade him prior to Opening Day. I don't know.
The Cubs have announced the names of 11 more players who have received Non-Roster Invitations to Spring Training. Together with the five players who received NRIs to ST in November, the new list of NRIs is: * bats or throws left # bats both PITCHERS (9): Jason Anderson Sean Gallagher Adam Harben Ben Howard * Ryan O'Malley * Carmen Pignatiello * Les Walrond John Webb Randy Wells CATCHERS (2): Jake Fox # Koyie Hill INFIELDERS (3): Mike Kinkade Casey McGehee * Eric Patterson OUTFIELDERS (2): * Tyler Colvin Chris Walker Four notable names NOT on the Cubs NRI list are: RHP Federico Baez 2B Mike Fontenot 1B Micah Hoffpauir RHP Jeff Samardzija Baez--a rubber-armed swingman and one-time infielder in the Orioles organization--pitched for Team Puerto Rico in the WBC last Spring and split time between AA and AAA in '06; Fontenot--the one-time DP partner of Ryan Theriot at LSU, who was acquired by the Cubs from BAL in the Sammy Sosa deal a couple of years ago and who has been the starting 2B at Iowa the last two years--almost certainly has no future in the Cubs organization, but he probably at least deserved a courtesy NRI to the big club's camp; Hoffpauir tied Scott Moore for most HRs among Cubs minor leaguers in '06 and would appear to possibly have a future as an MLB 1B-LF-LHPH; and Samardzija was supposedly promised an '07 NRI to ST when he signed with the Cubs last Summer.
Congratulations to Cal Ripken Jr. and Tony Gwynn on their elections to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Goose Gossage reached the 70% plateau and was just 21 votes shy of induction, so it appears it's just a matter of time before he gets in. Andre Dawson was at 56.7% and Lee Smith was at 39.8%. You can view the final vote tally here. Anyway they're moving some stuff around in hopes of getting rid of the glitchiness over the last few weeks. Bear with us.
I wanted to introduce myself to you since it seems that you’ve never heard of me, which is a bit surprising since I’ve played against the Cubs a total of seventy games over the last six years. Of course you probably haven’t watched much baseball over the last few years if the Cubs record is any indication….(Hmmm, I think that came out wrong, let me start over). My name is Craig Wilson and I wanted to offer my services to the 2007 Chicago Cubs (and hopefully beyond). I assume you’re unfamiliar with my credentials, you’ve probably been too busy driving a $100 million dollar team into the ground while keeping the fanbase excited about the season trying to build the World Championship team that the good fans of Chicago deserve. Sorry to hear about the bad ticker by the way, Ryan Dempster will do that to a fella..haha!
There's probably some law against driving and digital cameraing, right? I think that the real authors around here have a bunch of good things in the pipeline. Until then, here's a new thread.
The first Friday of the New Year, the first edition of TCR Friday Notes for 2007. - The annual Cubs convention is fast approaching, January 19th to the 21st. I've never been but I hear good things if you like insanely large crowds. I'm supposing though that many of you are going and I'd like to throw two things out there. First, if anyone cares to volunteer as our TCR correspondent, we'd love to have daily reports. You can do it anyway you wish and I suppose it depends on your schedule and Internet access. Either update as the day goes on or just provide a daily recap at the end of the day. The most important element that needs to be covered is the Q&A with Jim Hendry which I believe is on Saturday morning. Never being there I don't recall if it's at the same time as the session with Hendry, but also anything with Lou Piniella or any of the other higher-ups like Oneri Fleita. And it doesn't have to just be one person, if different people want to take different days, that would work as well. Secondly, if the readers who are going care to meet up, I'm more than happy to help facilitate it any way possible. Someone would have to volunteer to sort of spearhead the whole thing like when and where to meet, but if you need me to post something so everyone is on the same page, just let me know.
I figured I'd borrow one of their concepts since I'm about to plug their book. For those unfamiliar with The Hardball Times, well where have you been? Great baseball writing, informative well-researched topics and it's free. This though was my first foray into picking up their annual and it was well worth the twenty-ish bucks I put down. Our pitching really sucked That's not earth-shattering in of itself, but usually when you give up a lot of runs like we did last year, some of that can be attributed to a shoddy defense. That just wasn't the case for the Cubs last year and THT aren't the first to pick up on it. John Dewan has an essay on Team Defense using the metrics he helped created in The Fielding Bible. A real basic summary is that his researchers watch every single inning of every single game and record detailed information and then compare each player to his peers at the position basically rating everyone on a plus/minus system. A "+43" for a player means they made 43 more plays than the average player at that position. Pretty cool stuff and I keep meaning to pick up the actual book. You can find the 2006 season numbers for individual players in the Bill James Handbook 2007. As for our overall defense, it's broken down quite wonderfully into middle infield, corner infield and outfield along with information on turning double plays, handling bunts and outfield throwing. I know, you're dying for the results. Well, our outfield was exceptional, +44 for the unit, good for fifth best among outfielders with the Braves leading the pack at +63. The overall rank for the defense was a +49, also good for fifth best in the league, the middle infielders received a +8 and the corner infielders (surely missing Derrek Lee although he didn't rate so great individually if I recall in previous years) received a -3. We sucked at turning groundball double plays (28th), middle of the road at fielding the bunt (16th) and very surprisingly turned up above average at outfield throwing (11th), which takes into account opportunities, how many extra bases are taken and kills (runners thrown out). I'll venture a solid guess that unless Soriano is a trainwreck in the outfield, we'll even be better as a unit next year. My only criticism/question is where do catchers and pitchers fall? If I read the explanation right, they don't seem to be accounted anywhere. I'm sure it's explained in The Fielding Bible but if anyone knows, let me know in the comments.
This is about the time of year everyone starts putting up their looks back at the year that was 2006. But hey, what's the fun in rehashing the misery that was last year when we can take a peek into next year? So here are tomorrow's headlines today: January 3rd: Cubs sign Cliff Floyd....and every other remaining free agent. Rival GM's complain that "Spendry" hasn't left anyone for them. Hendry responds with "when you haven't won a World Series in 98 years, you have to do things a little different". Also petitions MLB to expand to a 60-man roster. 9th: Mark Prior begins throwing program, Cub layout relevant dates for public. He'll play long toss for a week, then pitch off flat ground for another week and then slowly increase his pitch count off a mound. By February he'll be complaining of arm soreness, in March he'll come down with a "mysterious illness" that takes him out for a few weeks, April he'll start his rehab program from scratch, May will consist of minor league starts, June he'll make a few starts in the majors, get shelled and go back on the disabled list. 20th: At the Cubs convention when asked by a fan that despite all the money spent, the team did nothing to address its problems with walks on the hitting or pitching side Hendry responds with, "Obviously we have no idea how to build a winning team, but we're obviously confident that even the most ill-conceived teams get lucky once in awhile. Obviously I'm also confident that with the hiring of another big name manager, that all the criticism will be deflected away from me." February 15th: Pitchers and catchers report for spring training. Zambrano comes into camp with twenty new bats and new gloves for first base and the outfield, says he's ready to play everyday and help the team anyway possible. When asked about cutting down his walks while pitching, he takes one of his twenty new bats and bludgeons writer to death who asked the question. Writers all agree to say nothing since it was Phil Rogers who asked. 16th: Mark Prior complains about arm soreness. 20th: The rest of the team reports, Piniella encourages Ramirez to hustle around the bases by releasing a bobcat whenever he puts a ball in play. 21st: New hitting coach Gerald Perry begins working with hitters and explaining the concepts of patience and waiting for your pitch. Team looks on with bewilderment. Perry scratches head and proclaims, "Looks like I picked the wrong day to stop sniffing glue." 23rd: Piniella and coaches show up to morning practice and field is empty, ballplayers nowhere to be found. Finally tracking some down on the golf course, Kerry Wood explains that under the old regime they'd play catch for a few days and then could do whatever they want as long as they showed up for the Cactus League games.
Looks like it's been awhile since we had a new thread. What do you hope the different members of the Cubs got for Christmas? Jim Hendry: A treadmill, another executive assistant, and a Sam's card for discounts on off-the-shelf utility infielders Lou Piniella: An industrial-sized bottle of antacid and brochures for retirement condo. complexes in south Florida Matt Murton: A neon sign reading "Play Me" to hang by his locker Carlos Zambrano: Cleaning equipment, to help with all the broken bats and broken hitters he'll see in 2007. A good realator to help him pick out a permanent home on the North Side. Felix Pie: a Des Moines Chamber of Commerce Guide to Des Moines. Kerry Wood: Bubble wrap. Lots and lots of bubble wrap. Mark Prior: See Kerry Wood. Derrek Lee: Good news from the family doctor. Glendon Rusch: See Derrek Lee. Len and Bob: Shiney new contract extensions. Alfonso Soriano: A transport helicopter stocked full of Prozac, to drop on the Bleacher Bums after his first 0-for-8 streak Jacques Jones: Two transport helicopters. Rich Hill: A nice night out on the town with Zito and Glavine, to talk pitching over a few bottles of wine. Muskat, Marrioti, and Rogers: A coupon to Toys 'R Us, so that they can each buy a game of Clue. Jason Marquis: Either a gift certificate to the best neck massage therapist in Chicago, or special high-density baseballs. Ted Lilly: A holiday card from all the middle relievers, betting him a case of beer that they'll rack up at least 30 holds in his starts. TCR: Another year of great conversation, and a gritty 94-win Cubs team worth talking about.
The calendar says Friday, so it must be notes day. - My apologies to everyone on the suddeness of the move to a new look and server. I knew it was in the pipeline but I really had no idea on the timeline otherwise I would have warned you all. I appreciate everyone who has come over with the move and your suggestions on the site design. I love the new look on the comments, the individual links for each comment and some of the new features like how it creates auto-links on URL's posted. I know, nothing special, but it's an improvement. So thanks to Brandon Rosage, the webmaster and all you for your ideas. Some people were asking for a rundown of site enhancements and I wish I could give you a complete list. Here's what I do know. There's an RSS feed for comments now, so you can just add that to your RSS feeder and find out when new comments are up. The aforementioned auto-URL's where if you post a link with http in the front of it, it's automatically clickable and opens in new window. There's also emoticons, whether that's good or bad is yet to be determined. If you post more than one link in a comment it automatically goes to moderation where a writer must approve it. This is done to avoid spam so it's best you break up your links over individual comments because who knows when we'll get to them. There's also a bunch of stuff behind the scenes that I won't bore you with, but they make my job easier and the other writers. We'll still be tinkering with the look over the next few weeks and absolutely have to get the rest of our archives in here as soon as possible. - Baseball Prospectus has a new article on baserunning which I found interesting (apologies if it requires a subscription). Dan Fox, who's sort of their baserunning guy, tackles the Bill James Handbook 2007 which has it's own essay on baserunning as compared to the work Fox has previously done. He basically goes through the differences between the two methodologies and compares their top 10 and bottom 10. I can't really print the full lists, but Chone Figgins seems to have been clearly the best last year and Josh Willignham, Victor Martinez, Pat Burrell and Jason Giambi being some of the worst. The only real surprises were that Bill Hall and Magglio Ordonez showed up on Fox's Top 10 worst baserunners of last year. On Bill James's lists, Mark Teahan shows up as one of the ten best, but Juan Rivera as one of the ten worst. Interesting stuff, at least to me. - I still have to calculate that playoff contest I ran, so more prizes coming. As for the free agent frenzy, I guess Ruz had some Wrigleyville Sports gift cards they were kind enough to give us for contests, so I'll probably offer that instead. - The well of Cubs news has dried up. I guess Hendry has packed up shop until after the holidays. Assuming the Floyd rumors turn out true, I imagine the rest of the off-season will consist of the Cubs Convention and then spring training. The team will test out Pie in center and then maybe look to move Jones by then assuming teams find some holes when they start playing exhibition games. And if Pie doesn't work out and Jones gets traded, they'll probably go seek a veteran center fielder from somewhere. And let's not forget Priorwatch 2007. Ho-hum. - Someone posted this link in the comments, a rather famous Internet video of a German kid yelling at his computer. Someone put a Cubs twist on it though and it's worth the four minutes of your life. Merry Christmas to all that celebrate!

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