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!
Right before the free agency period began, I let you guys chime in on your free agent picks. Unfortunately I can't link up to it at the moment as they haven't imported all of our archives quite yet, so you're going to have to trust me on this for now. Each free agent has signed that was on the list sans Zito, so I added up the totals so far and here are the current results: Chifan3887 64 Junior 59 WPZ 59 Jackie T 58 Z 56 TWCoffee 56 Carmenfanzone 54 Sweet Lou 54 Vorare 54 Jessica 54 IM Slacker 53 Green Lantern 52 Dallas Green 52 Aaron B 51 Bogey 51 Karl H. 49 Rob G. 46 433 43 BobbyMac 41 The E-Man 41 Real Neal 41 Bleeding Blue 39 Cubster 31 Champsummers 31 Jacos 31 Tom C 26 Nohit 23 MannyTrillo 22 There's also a fella named Ernie who entered but he had three guys at a 12 confidence level and another two at a 10 confidence level, so I didn't feel his picks should count nor was he that close anyway. Manny picked the Cubs for every free agent as a joke, so don't rag on him too much. Chifan3887 successfully chose Bonds to the Giants at 11, Lee to the Astros at 13, Lugo to the Red Sox at 12, Matsuzaka to the Red Sox at 15 and made his big push with Matthews Jr. to the Angels at 3 and being the only one to correctly guess Maddux to the Padres at 10. With only Zito left, I believe here are the possibilities. - If he signs with the Yanks, Vorare will tie with Chifan3887. - If the Padres surprise everyone, then Junior will win. - If he signs with the Rangers, WPZ wins. - If he signs with the Mets or any other team, Chifan3887 is the winner. And the winner will get a $15 gift certificate at MLB.com (although you could probably talk me into a gift certificate somewhere else baseball related) OR a $15 donation to a Cubs charity. I'll also give you a free post, preferably Cub related but at the very least baseball related.
Paul Sullivan in the Chicago Tribune is reporting the Cubs are close to signing 1B-OF Cliff Floyd to an incentive-laden deal. Sully speculates that Floyd will be used in a "platoon" in LF with Matt Murton, which considering the number of RHP vs LHP starters in the N. L., would mean Floyd would start about 2/3 of the time. Floyd was hampered by a sore left Achilles tendon in 2006, and there has been some concern that the Achilles will continue to be a problem for him in 2007. Also, Floyd had a rather extreme case of the splits in 2006 when it came to hitting versus RHP (OK) and versus LHP (terrible).
Unfortunately there's not that much to talk about as the deals are drying up. At some point Barry Zito and the rest of the free agent pitchers will sign and the Pirates will scrape off a player or two that's left since they're required to actually field a team, but the Cubs look pretty much done for the offseason. The only real Cubs news is that Jason Marquis is taking his physical today and the deal is about to be finalized for the 3/21 that was talked about. It certainly sounds better than the 3/24 that Miguel Batista just got from the Seattle Mariners, so let's hope Marquis and Larry work well together.  Jerry Crasnick took a look at next year's free agent crop and puts the odds of Z staying put at 50/50. Here's a quote from Jimbo:
"We certainly have interest in keeping Carlos in Chicago," Cubs GM Jim Hendry said. "That's always been something he's expressed to me that he wants to do. We'll sit down and have conversations with his representatives before and during spring training, and pursue it with our normal diligence."
I think the odds are 50/50 that Crasnick is on crack because for all the Hendry hatred out there, he's still batting 1.000 at keeping the players he wants. Hope everyone is enjoying the holiday and just bear with us during the changeover. We'll fix this up in no time. And yes, parachat will be back by spring training, rest assured.
As you can see, we've got a whole new design to the website and we're adding a writer from "Behind the Ivy", Graham Funk. There are obviously some kinks to still work out and I imagine the redesign will go through a few more versions before we settle on anything. And no, I had nothing to do with any of this. So be patient, we'll hopefully get this all fixed up in no time. And yeah, I want the comments in their own pop-up box too.
A very brief edition for various reasons that no one cares about... - The deals for Ted Lilly and Daryle Ward were officially announced today. Lilly gets a $4 million signing bonus, $5 million in 2007, $7 million in 2008 and $12 million in 2009 and 2010, which should make him virtually untradeable by that point. Daryle Ward's deal is for one year and it was rumored to be for $1.05 million. It does include a mutual option for 2008. - Ken Rosenthal speculates that the Brewers might make a run at Jeff Suppan. - The Cubs are looking for an assistant GM to help Hendry. As the article notes, Hendry has 5 "special assistants to the GM", but all are scouts. The assistant GM, much like Hendry under Macphail when he had the role, would likely help negotiate deals amongst other activities. This probably has more to due with Hendry's health problems, but if said new assistant GM knows how to manage a 40-man roster, that would be a nice bonus. - Speaking of Hendry, a Q&A with SI.com can be found here. Happy Holidays, if you're out Christmas shopping for me, a PS3 would be nice!!!
Contracts have been tendered and salary abritration has been offered, so pending further trades, FA signings, and minor league acquisitions, here is the projected Cubs organizational position depth chart, including the Cubs and their four full-season farm clubs (Iowa, Tennessee, Daytona, and Peoria). There are quite obviously too many position-players and pitchers listed on the various minor league teams, so not all of the candidates will survive Minor League Camp (Spring Training). Some will get released, while others will get moved in a "courtesy trade" to allow them to go to an organization where they aren't blocked.
The Cubs made some room on the 40-man roster by non-tendering P Adam Harben and C Jose "I never should have been on the 40-man in the first place" Reyes. They're both likely to be resigned on minor league deals. Here's a list of some the notable non-tendered casualties: Marcus Giles (whomever suggested the Astros in the comments is a sick bastard) Jayson Werth Toby Hall Jerome Williams David Newhan Victor Zambrano Joel Pineiro Aaron Guiel Many of these players will end up resigning with their old teams but were non-tendered in order to avoid giving the player leverage in arbitration as their teams feel they deserve a paycut, something that rarely happens in arbitration cases. UPDATE: As expected, the Cubs signed Adam Harben to a minor league deal. No mention of Jose Reyes though. That's two open spots now for Daryle Ward and what looks to be the eventual signing of Jason Marquis. My bad on the Ted Lilly reference earlier, he got his spot when "Boom-Boom" Bynum was dumped.
Today is the deadline for MLB clubs to tender 2007 contracts or offer salary arbitration (where applicable) to players on the club's MLB Reserve List (40-man roster) who are not already signed for 2007. (The old deadline for tendering contracts or offering salary arbitration was December 20th).
It looks like they might have jumped the gun a little bit on the Marquis signing as it's being reported that nothing has been agreed upon quite yet and the years and dollar amounts are still up in the air. He still looks to be coming to the Northside, but the contract details still need to be hammered out. The same article says Daryle Ward's deal is for one year and one million with a second year club option. And that talks with Ryan Church have cooled off at this moment. (Welcome Kenny Lofton!). Unlike Jason Schmidt, Ted Lilly's former team wanted him back and this is what his former manager said about him:
"You know what, I see Ted, he is starting to come into his own. He's always been one of those guys who had the potential to win a lot of ballgames. We always saw so much more in him and last year, we started to see it. He finally got to 15 [victories], but on any given night, when he is on, he can dominate the best teams in baseball."
Well I feel better, okay, not really but I'd rather hear that than "good riddance, jerkoff", much like I'd rather hear John McDonough spout off about winning the World Series as opposed to just trying to be competitive or something like that.
Paul Sulivan at the Chicago Tribune (as well as other media) are reporting that the Cubs have signed free-agent RHP Jason Marquis to a three year deal worth $28M. The 28-year old Marquis was ranked as an MLB Type "B" free-agent, so the Cubs weren't going to lose a draft pick by signing him anyway, but because the Cardinals did not offer arbitration to him by the December 1st deadline, they will not be receiving a Supplemental ("sandwich") draft pick between the 1st & 2nd round of next June's First-Year Player Draft (Rule 4 Draft) as compensation for losing him. (If the Cubs had signed Type "A" FA Jeff Suppan instead of Marquis, the Cubs would have lost a 3rd round draft pick to the Cardinals--Alfonso Soriano cost the Cubs their 2nd Round pick--and the Cards would have also received a Supplemental 1st rounder). Marquis was a 1st Round (supplemental) pick of the Atlanta Braves in the 1996 Rule 4 Draft (June Draft), and quickly became the Braves #1 pitching prospect. He was used as both a starter and reliever with the Braves 2001-2003, before getting traded along with RHP Adam Wainwright and LHP Ray King to St. Louis in December 2003, a deal where the Cardinals sent OF J. D. Drew and C-OF Eli Marrero to Atlanta. Marquis had his two best seasons while pitching for the Cardinals in 2004 and 2005, when he went 15-7 with a 3.72 ERA ('04) and 13-14 with a 4.13 ERA ('05) as a rotation starter. Marquis went 14-16 with a 6.02 ERA and 1.52 WHIP in 2006, and was considered so unreliable at the end of the regular season that he was left off the Cardinals post-season playoff roster. In his best years, Marquis was--like Brandon Webb, Jake Westbrook, and Derek Lowe--an extreme ground ball pitcher. However, last season he got his pitches up and got clobbered, actually getting increasingly worse as the season wore on (he was 11-6 5.55 at the All-Star break, and 3-10 6.91 after the break). If you throw out his six-plus ERA, Marquis' 2006 G/F ratio and WHIP closely match MLB starting pitchers like Josh Fogg or Rodrigo Lopez, so if he can't rediscover his ground ball magic, that's the type of pitcher you can expect Marquis to be for the Cubs in 2007. But if he can relocate his sinker, then he could be a lot better than that. I'd like to think the Cubs know something the Cardinals don't know, but if Redbirds pitching coach Dave Duncan couldn't fix whatever ailed Marquis last season, is it realistic to expect Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild will be able to turn the trick in 2007? CUBS PROJECTED 2007 STARTING ROTATION: 1. Carlos Zambrano 2. Ted Lilly 3. Rich Hill 4. Jason Marquis 5-A. Mark Prior 5-B. Wade Miller 5-C. Neal Cotts 5-D. Sean Marshall, Angel Guzman, Juan Mateo, or Jae-kuk Ryu. UPDATE from Rob G. The Trib has changed its tune again on the money and puts it at a far more reasonable 3/21 now. Bruce Miles of The Daily Herald also pegs the contract in that vicinity as well.
Back by popular demand (okay it was like two people in the comments), it's TCR Friday Notes. I have to admit that I'm a bit burned out by the last few days, so excuse me for this being brief and/or repetitive from stuff in the comments. - It looks like the O's are interested in Jacque Jones and they'll kindly take them him off our hands for hidden gem David Newhan. Oh what's that you say, Newhan isn't very good? Well you'd be right. Hopefully that one is just a cruel joke. - Speaking of the O's, it's reported they offered 3/48 for Jason Schmidt, but it wasn't enough to get him to the East Coast. A St. Louis Dispatch blurb said the Cardinals offered 3/39 and were probably willing to go to 3/42. - Some speculation that the Braves will just non-tender Marcus Giles as they're in a bit of a budget crunch and trade interest has been lukewarm on him so far. Some team will end up being very happy that lands him. - St. Louis Dispatch joins the growing chorus that Jason Marquis will be a Cub soon. Larry Rothschild has even gone to see his workouts and there have been several talks with his agent. Anyone else completely underwhelmed, raise your hands? - We also have talk about the Cubs pursuing Jeff Suppan and if it's a decision between signing Suppan and Marquis, well, wait that's not a decision at all. Go get Suppan! - The same Sun-Times article says the Cubs have been talking to the Nationals about Ryan Church and Sean Marshall's name has come up. It's said that Carlos Marmol interests the Nationals more though. If true, and that's certainly a big if, why isn' this deal done? That seems like such a no-brainer to me and giving up Marmol instead of Marshall seems like a far better move for us. - The same article once again quotes Gary Hughes saying that "Cliff Floyd will probably never be off our radar." - Some humor to get you going for the weekend, an old top 10 list from Letterman on why the Cubs haven't won a World Series since 1908. Enjoy the weekend!!!
The updates will be scarce today as most the GM"s have left Florida and our own GM is recovering from getting fifty years of donuts and trans fats blown out of his arteries. 2:03 PM Another Score update from George Offman and he cites "one report" that the Cubs are talking to Jeff Suppan and mentions that Rocco Baldelli is on the Cubs wish list along with the White Sox. Both sounded like much ado about nothing at this point, so don't go nuts over it. 1:36 PM I'm listening to the Score at the moment and they did mention the Cubs are talking to Jeff Suppan, but no real details. 1:33 PM - Word is that Levine on ESPN 1000 is reporting the Cubs are "close" to signing Jason Marquis, take it for what it's worth.
The 2006 Rule 5 Draft meeting was held this morning at the MLB Winter Meetings at Lake Buena Vista, FL, near Disney World. The Cubs lost three players in the Major League Phase of the Draft--LHP Edward Campusano to MIL (the Brewers then sold Campusano's draft rights to DET), RHP Lincoln Holdzkom to HOU, and INF Jason Smith to TOR, and two players in the AAA phase--2B Richard Lewis to KC and RHP Andy Shipman to OAK. The Cubs also selected one player in the Major League Phase (OF Josh Hamilton from TB) and one player in the AAA phase (RHP Jim Henderson from WAS), but Hamilton was subsequently sent to the Cincinnati Reds in a cash deal. After the conclusion of the Rule 5 Draft, the Cubs acquired RHP Kevin Hart from BAL as the PTBNL in yesterday's deal where Freddie Bynum was sent to the Orioles. Hart was selected by the O's in the 11th round of the 2004 Rule 4 Draft (June Draft) out of the University of Maryland, and was a rotation starter at Hi-A Frederick last season. Hart will be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time after next season, so the Cubs have a year to decide whether to place him on their 40-man roster.
Word from WGN radio is that Freddie Bynum has been dumped on the Orioles for some jerseys, a hat and a day with Cal Ripken Jr. (in actuality it's the elusive PTBNL). I assume it was to make room for the signing of Theodore Roosevelt Lilly (awfully patriotic parents he had). The deal is for 4/40. Cubs are still waiting on Gil Meche to decide between them and the Blue Jays.

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