As I get ready to do some editing on the end-of-year roundtable (and those of you who haven't gotten your answers in yet, you know who you are), I thought I'd take a look back at what we thought about this team at the beginning of the season. Obviously no one foresaw Derrek Lee's injury, but plenty of people foresaw Wood & Prior's struggles. Just about everyone thought Matt Murton would have a decent-to-good year if he got to play, and opinion was decidedly mixed on whether or not the Juan Pierre trade would turn out to be a good one. Opinion was also mixed on Rafael Furcal, with lots of people wishing the Cubs had done what it took to sign him, and others suggesting that what it took was too much. I thought I'd pull out a few predictions, ones that look smart in retrospect and ones that don't, so we can all cast our minds back to six months ago, when anything seemed possible. I mean no disrespect to those people who show up on the bad side of the ledger, all of whom had some prescient things to say as well. If you want to read full responses, you can go back and see what TCR writers, TCR readers, and other Cubs bloggers had to say. The end-of-year roundtable will be posted early next week. THE GOOD MikeC: "A possible disappointment could be Ryan Dempster, he still hasn't got his control problems fixed. Very lucky pitcher last year and baseball has a tendency to even out that luck." ruz: "Jones, meanwhile, will be an albatross by 2008, but this year I expect him to contribute." Rob G.: "Iím glad they stayed away from A.J. Burnett, big upside but just as injury prone as any of our big guys." John Hill: "The short-term results, especially in Cedenoís case, may be ugly, no better than what Neifi Perez might achieve." Rob G.: "I think the biggest surprise will actually be Jacque Jones." ruz: "Sean Marshall looks like he's going to get a chance to prove some things in April, but I think before the end of the year it'll be a different tall lefty, Rich Hill, we'll be talking about." MannyTrillo: "[Hendry] did not properly prepare for the very likely injuries to Wood and Prior."
As the 2006 season comes to a merciful end, you can look forward to Jim Hendry making a few roster moves in the next few weeks and months in an attempt to improve the Cubs for 2007. Besides trying to re-sign some of his own free-agents (almost certainly Aramis Ramirez, and probably Juan Pierre, Kerry Wood, Wade Miller, and Henry Blanco), the Cubs GM will also likely try and acquire a starting pitcher or two, maybe a power-hitting outfielder, and maybe a veteran middle infielder, via free-agency or trade. But there are also other roster moves that will be made, the type that are made "under the radar" by all MLB clubs every year at this time. And since we want you to be prepared, here's what you might expect to see happen in the coming weeks and months...
I know, the last thing anyone really wants to read is another freakin' piece bashing Dusty Baker. Do not fear, that's not what this is about. This one is all on Sir Hendry. Back in July, Hendry stated that Dusty would stick through the season and Hendry would "try to move expediently and make a decision as to what direction to go" once the season ended. Well that's all well and good and I do hope that the only thing he's deciding at this point is whether to fire Baker on the Monday morning following our last game versus the Rockies or do it right after the game to save Baker a trip back out to the office to clean out his collection of war books and designer toothpicks. My concern and where I believe Hendry may have taken a misstep is not taking care of this mess a whole lot sooner. What worries me is that the Cubs have a couple of guys on the team who will be vying for new deals this off-season, most notably Aramis Ramirez and Juan Pierre. When it comes to wooing free agents, itís my opinion that 98% of the decision-making is based on the money offered, with the other 2% a mixture of locale, amenities, manager, cronies and other such intangibles. But when trying to retain your own guys, I think the intangible percentage can play a bit of a higher factor especially if you want to sign those players for a few bucks less than they may get on the open market, which, of course, is certainly a wise business decision. While the image of the modern ballplayers is one with dollar signs in their eyes and no sense of loyalty to their current teams, more a collection of mercenaries for hire rather than a group of soldiers fighting for a common ideal, I do believe that it's not quite that grim of a picture. I think most players would prefer to stay where they're at rather than go through the process of uprooting themselves and their family, having to worry about fitting into a new team, and all the other headaches of finding a new place to play. Granted, millions of dollars tend to soothe those headaches a lot easier, but I still think it's part of the decision-making process, albeit a small one. It's also my feeling that the longer the player has played in one place, the more they want to stay. And as you start taking things away that are familiar to that player, that's a few less reasons holding them here.. And this is where I think Hendry may have messed up.
I think Jacque Jones needs to sire a few more kids as he went 3 for 5 last night with three RBI's, a homer, a double and three runs in his triumphant return to the starting lineup after taking a few days off to be with his newborn daughter. Congrats to Jones and his family and keep the hot-hitting up. Tonight is the final night game of the year and the final opportunity to watch Rich Hill pitch. Then the last off day of the year which I'm sure will be used as a mandatory practice day and the final showdown with the Rockies to finish the year off. Cubs lost out on the first pick in the draft last night with their victory and the Royals loss. Second place is still in reach, but so is fourth place as the Pirates have to contend with the Astros and Reds the rest of the way who are both trying to unthrone the rapidly collapsing Cardinals. Go Cubs! GAME ONE HUNDRED FIFTY-NINE IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] MILWAUKEE BREWERS (73-84) AT CHICAGO CUBS (64-94) Wrigley Field, 7:05 pm CDT Weather: Clear, 63 degrees, Wind from L to R @ 15 mph TV: CSN, DirecTV 743 Radio: WGN, XM 188
Rich Hill, LHP 6-7, 4.29 ERA, 92.1 IP 83 K, 37 BB, 13 HR 226/304/424 againstDave Bush, RHP 12-11, 4.54 ERA, 202 IP 161 K, 38 BB, 26 HR 256/305/427 against

Brady Clark, CF Tony Graffanino, 2B Jeff Cirillo, 1B Bill Hall, SS Corey Hart, RF David Bell, 3B Mike Rivera, C Vinny Rottino, LF Dave Bush, P *Juan Pierre, CF Ryan Theriot, 2B *Jacque Jones, RF Matt Murton, LF *John Mabry, 1B Henry Blanco, C *Scott Moore, 3B Ronny Cedeno, SS *Rich Hill, P

Brewers vs. Hill: No Brewers with more than 10 AB'sCubs vs. Bush: Jacque Jones: 5-17, 294/294/588, 4 K, 1 HR, 2 2B Juan Pierre: 6-14, 429/429/714, 1 HR Ronny Cedeno: 3-11, 273/250/545, 1 HR Aramis Ramirez: 3-10, 300/417/700, 1 HR
This has been a wretched excuse of a year. To celebrate our release from suffering on October 1st, I invite everyone to ring out the year in style, in Parachat. Let's fill the chatroom for the Sunday Oct. 1, 1:20 pm game against the Rockies, and toast the end to another fruitless season. Come in costume, come naked, come drunk, or with the lucid sobreity of a fan who has seen it all and wishes to see no more. Tell the bouncer at the door that you're a Friend of Trans, and he'll be sure to let you in. He'll ask you to check your sour mood at the door, but otherwise, anything goes!
A Royals loss coupled with a Cubs win will eliminate the Cubs from getting the top pick in next year's draft, mostly thanks to the Royals recent seven game skid. The Cubs are 2.5 back of the D'Rays for the second spot at the moment and you never know if the Royals will cheap out on a signing bonus (or for that matter the D'Rays) so there's still hope the Cubs can land the best talent in next year's draft. The Royals did shell out on Luke Hochevar this year so they may finally realize the value in building from the ground up. This is likely Sean Marshall's final start of the year and his last chance to leave something better than the taste of rotten milk on the Cubs palette. It hasn't been pretty at all for Marshall since his return from the DL (which coincided rather closely to the loss of his mentor Greg Maddux). Carlos "Don't Call Me Hector" Villanueva is a 22-year old Brewer prospect who was the bounty in the big Wayne Franklin deal with the Giants two years ago. He didn't break the Brewers top 10 prospect list by Baseball America last year but he was rated as having the best changeup in their organization. He put up a nice season between AA and AAA this year going a combined 11-6 with a 3.22 ERA, 120 K, 40 BB, 12 HR in 128.2 IP. This will be his first chance to terrorize us for many years to come. Go Cubs! GAME ONE HUNDRED FIFTY-EIGHT IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] MILWAUKEE BREWERS (73-83 (Draft) 7th) AT CHICAGO CUBS (63-94 (Draft) 3rd - 4.5 GB) Wrigley Field, 7:05 pm CDT Weather: Clear, 70 degrees, Wind out to CF @ 6 mph TV: WCIU, DirecTV 744 Radio: WGN, XM 188
Sean Marshall, LHP 5-9, 5.64 ERA, 119.2 IP 74 K, 56 BB, 19 HR 270/357/440 againstCarlos Villanueva, RHP 1-1, 3.35 ERA, 40.1 IP 30 K, 9 BB, 5 HR 204/264/395 against

Brady Clark, CF Tony Graffanino, 2B *Prince Fielder, 1B Bill Hall, SS Corey Hart, RF Kevin Mench, LF David Bell, 3B Mike Rivera, C Carlos Villanueva, P *Juan Pierre, CF Ryan Theriot, 2B *Jacque Jones, RF Matt Murton, LF *John Mabry, 1B Henry Blanco, C *Scott Moore, 3B Ronny Cedeno, SS *Sean Marshall, P

Brewers vs. Marshall: No Brewers have ever faced MarshallCubs vs. Villanueva: No Cubs have ever faced Villanueva
Well if that lineup doesn't scare the hell out of Hendry into giving Ramirez whatever he wants, nothing will.
After this, it's back to Wrigley for a -- what's the opposite of "victory lap" anyway? Go Cubs! GAME ONE HUNDRED FIFTY-SEVEN IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (63-93 (Draft) 3rd - 4.5 GB) AT CINCINNATI REDS (76-79 (Div) 3rd - 4.5 GB; (WC) 4th - 6.0 GB) The Great American Home Run Park, 11:35 pm CDT Weather: Sunny, 60 degrees, Wind out to L @ 5 mph TV: WGN, DirecTV 735 Radio: WGN, XM 186
Bronson Arroyo, RHP 14-10, 3.38 ERA, 226.2 IP 176 K, 59 BB, 31 HR 246/297/404 againstWade Miller, RHP 0-2, 4.97 ERA, 12.2 IP 14 K, 12 BB, 3 HR 222/397/444 against

*Juan Pierre, CF Ryan Theriot, 2B Aramis Ramirez, 3B Matt Murton, LF #Angel Pagan, RF *John Mabry, 1B Henry Blanco, C Ronny Cedeno, SS Wade Miller, P *Chris Denorfia, CF *Scott Hatteberg, 1B Rich Aurilia, SS Adam Dunn, LF Edwin Encarnacion, 3B Brandon Phillips, 2B *Todd Hollandsworth, RF David Ross, C Bronson Arroyo, P

Cubs vs. Arroyo: Aramis Ramirez: 4-14, 286/333/571, 2 K, 1 BB, 1 HR Jacque Jones: 3-18, 167/211/222, 2 K, 1 BBReds vs. Miller: Rich Aurilia: 6-16, 375/474/500, 3 BB Adam Dunn: 1-23, 043/185/174, 13 K, 4 BB, 1 HR
Mateo returns to the rotation after dealing with his back issues and the Cubs avoid a 100-loss season with there win last night. Go Cubs! GAME ONE HUNDRED-FIFTY-SIX IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (63-92 (Draft) 3rd - 4.5 GB) AT CINCINNATI REDS (75-79 (Div) 3rd - 5.5 GB; (WC) 5th - 6.0 GB) The Great American Home Run Park, 12:15 pm CDT Weather: Partly Cloudy, 69 degrees, Wind from R to L @ 13 mph TV: CSN, DirecTV 735 Radio: WGN, XM 186
Aaron Harang, RHP 14-11, 3.91 ERA, 216.1 IP 198 K, 56 BB, 26 HR 274/323/442 againstJuan Mateo, RHP 1-3, 4.38 ERA, 39 IP 30 K, 15 BB, 4 HR 289/363/447 against

*Juan Pierre, CF *Freddie Bynum, 2B Aramis Ramirez, 3B Matt Murton, LF *Scott Moore, 1B Henry Blanco, C *Buck Coats, RF Ronny Cedeno, SS Juan Mateo, P *Chris Denorfia, CF *Scott Hatteberg, 1B Rich Aurilia, SS Adam Dunn, LF Edwin Encarnacion, 3B Brandon Phillips, 2B Norris Hopper, RF Jason LaRue, C Aaron Harang, P

Cubs vs. Harang: Aramis Ramirez: 4-17, 235/278/412, 2 K, 1 BB, 1 HR Juan Pierre: 3-12, 250/250/417, 2 K, 0 BB, 1 3B Reds vs. Mateo: No Reds with more than 10 AB's
Rich Hill looked like he had some dominating stuff yesterday, striking out 10 batters in 5 innings, but he also got touched for three homers and Mother Nature took care of the rest, washing out the game before the offense could get Hill off the hook. Oh well, they all can't be great. Today Z hits the mound, on some sort of personal quest to try and win the Cy Young. A fool's quest it seems. He's 5th in the NL in Win Shares among starting pitchers, 7th by VORP, 5th in ERA and he's dropped to 4th in K's because of his time missed. He is 2nd in wins and only one win shy of being tied for the league, but that's because for whatever reason the Cubs offense decides to perform when he pitches (6th best run support in the league). Of course, some of that could be because of Z's presence in the lineup itself. Eight lousy games left! GAME ONE HUNDRED-FIFTY-FIVE IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (62-92 (Draft) 3rd - 3.5 GB) AT CINCINNATI REDS (75-78 (Div) 2nd - 5.5 GB; (WC) 3rd - 5.5 GB) The Great American Home Run Park, 6:10 pm CDT Weather: TV: WGN Radio: WGN, XM 186
Kyle Lohse, RHP (NL Only) 2-4, 4.33 ERA, 54 IP 43 K, 15 BB, 5 HR 288/335/418 againstCarlos Zambrano, RHP 15-6, 3.38 ERA, 200 IP 194 K, 108 BB, 19 HR 210/318/356 against

*Juan Pierre, CF Ryan Theriot, 2B Aramis Ramirez, 3B Matt Murton, LF #Angel Pagan, RF John Mabry, 1B Henry Blanco, C Ronny Cedeno, SS #Carlos Zambrano, P *Dewayne Wise, CF *Scott Hatteberg, 1B Edwin Encarnacion, 3B Adam Dunn, LF #Javier Valentin, C *Todd Hollandsworth, RF Brandon Phillips, SS #Ray Olmedo, 2B Kyle Lohse, P

Cubs vs. Lohse: No Cubs with more than 10 AB'sReds vs. Zambrano: Adam Dunn: 7-34, 206/364/559, 10 K, 9 BB, 4 HR Jason LaRue: 4-24, 167/231/208, 11 K, 0 BB Royce Clayton: 4-19, 211/250/368 Rich Aurilia: 4-14, 286/375/286 Scott Hatteberg: 4-13, 308/526/615, 2 K, 6 BB, 1 HR Edwin Encarnacion: 3-10, 300/417/600, 1 HR
I assume something is wrong with Jacque Jones. What the hell is wrong with Dusty to start Mabry over Moore?
In Hill's last outing he threw a complete game shut-out against these very Reds on 118 pitches, walking one while striking out ten, giving up only two hits and facing a mere thirty-one hitters. I'd call that a good game. A matter of fact if you go by Bill James's game score, it was the best pitched game this year along with a gem by Dontrelle Willis earlier in the year. It'll be tough for him to top tonight, so I expect nothing less than a no-hitter or a 20 K night out of the Michigan alum. This is the last road trip of the season for the Cubbies before a final adventure in the Friendly Confines to wrap up the season. Go Cubs! GAME ONE HUNDRED-FIFTY-FOUR IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (62-91 (Draft) 3rd - 3.5 GB) AT CINCINNATI REDS (74-78 (Div) 2nd - 6.5 GB; (WC) 6th - 5.5 GB) The Great American Home Run Park, 6:10 pm CDT Weather: TV: CLTV, DirecTV 737 Radio: WGN, XM 186
Chris Michalak, LHP 1-3, 4.88 ERA, 27.2 IP 7 K, 11 BB, 4 HR 306/380/481 againstRich Hill, LHP 6-6, 4.12 ERA, 87.1 IP 73 K, 35 BB, 12 HR 227/305/408 against

*Juan Pierre, CF Ryan Theriot, 2B Aramis Ramirez, 3B Matt Murton, LF #Angel Pagan, RF Henry Blanco, 1B Ronny Cedeno, SS Geovany Soto, C *Rich Hill, P *Chris Denorfia, RF Brandon Phillips, SS Rich Aurilia, 1B Adam Dunn, LF Edwin Encarnacion, 3B David Ross, C Juan Castro, 2B Norris Hopper, RF *Chris Michalak, P

Cubs vs. Michalak: No Cubs with more than 10 AB'sReds vs. Hill: No Reds with more than 10 AB's
Look, I would love to see the Cubs sign a premier starting pitcher like Jason Schmidt, or a "big bat" like Alfonso Soriano or Carlos Lee. I really would. But I just can't see that happening.
Well we didn't get the pitching gem I was hoping for but we did get seven RBI's out of Aramis and the offensive explosion continues. And winning is always nice, even if it'll cost us a slot or two in the draft. Today it's the ageless Moyer against "Scruffy" Miller. Scruffy was pretty solid in his last outing versus the Dodgers, giving up a mere hit in his five innings of work in a game eventually won by the Cubs thanks to another three-run dinger by Aramis Ramirez. Scruffy topped out at 90 mph from what I saw, although he seemed to have trouble locating at that speed. Most of the time he was in the high 80's with his fastball and I thought his curve and change worked nicely. This spoiler role is kind of fun, so Go Cubs! One more win by the Cubs and they will avoid 100 losses this year. Little victories. GAME ONE HUNDRED-FIFTY-TWO IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (62-89 (Draft) 3rd - 4.5 GB) AT PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES (77-73 (WC) 2nd - 1.5 GB) Citizens Bank Park, 6:05 pm CDT Weather: Cloudy, 75 degrees, Wind from L to R @ 8 mph TV: WCIU Radio: WGN, XM 184
Jamie Moyer, LHP (NL Only) 2-2, 4.32 ERA, 33.1 IP 17 K, 3 BB, 4 HR 271/321/470 againstWade Miller, RHP 0-1, 6.75 ERA, 8 IP 6 K, 8 BB, 3 HR 214/389/536 against

*Juan Pierre, CF Ryan Theriot, 2B Aramis Ramirez, 3B Matt Murton, LF *Jacque Jones, RF Henry Blanco, 1B Ronny Cedeno, SS Geovany Soto, C Wade Miller, P #Jimmy Rollins, SS #Shane Victorino, CF *Chase Utley, 2B *Ryan Howard, 1B *David Dellucci, RF Pat Burrell, LF Chris Coste, C #Abraham Nunez, 3B *Jamie Moyer, P

Cubs vs. Moyer: Jacque Jones: 6-18, 333/400/389, 3 K, 1 BB, 1 2BPhillies vs. Miller: Jose Hernandez: 6-23, 251/320/435, 1 HR David Dellucci: 6-15, 400/471/667
Two straight gems by our starting staff has been a refreshing departure and Sean Marshall has about two to three more starts this year to leave some sort of impression going into the off-season. Hopefully it's a good one. While Marshall's final numbers at the end of the year probably won't be much to talk about, I think he's shown the ability to get major leaguers out and even flat out dominate at times. I'd say not to bad for a guy with about ten starts in AA before this season. And since consistency is generally the one thing lacking of rookie players, it's one of the things you hope he'll find in the very near future. And it's not like I'm advocating that the team guarantee him a spot this off-season and ignore the opportunity to acquire more talented players, but as the adage seems to go, you can't have enough good pitching. As for the Phils, once again the Cubs get an opportunity to either play spoiler or springboard. So far it's the role of spoiler as they take an early 3-run lead on an Aramis dinger. Go Cubs! GAME ONE HUNDRED-FIFTY-ONE IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (61-89 (Draft) 3rd - 3.5 GB) AT PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES (77-72 (WC) 2nd - 1 GB) Citizens Bank Park, 6:05 pm CDT Weather: Partly Cloudy, 78 degrees, Wind out to CF @ 3 mph TV: CLTV Radio: WGN, XM 184
Jon Lieber, RHP 8-9, 4.87 ERA, 153.1 IP 91 K, 24 BB, 24 HR 290/320/469 againstSean Marshall, LHP 5-9, 5.34 ERA, 116.1 IP 71 K, 54 BB, 18 HR 268/354/437 against

*Juan Pierre, CF Ryan Theriot, 2B Aramis Ramirez, 3B *Jacque Jones, RF #Angel Pagan, LF Henry Blanco, C *Scott Moore, 1B Ronny Cedeno, SS *Sean Marshall, P #Jimmy Rollins, SS #Shane Victorino, CF *Chase Utley, 2B *Ryan Howard, 1B Jeff Conine, RF Pat Burrell, LF Chris Coste, C #Abraham Nunez, 3B *Jon Lieber, P

Cubs vs. Lieber: Aramis Ramirez: 9-27, 333/333/407, 6 K, 0 BB Juan Pierre: 7-22, 318/318/364, 2 K, 0 BB John Mabry: 3-17, 176/222/235, 6 K, 1 BB Jacque Jones: 5-16, 313 /313 /500, 1 HR, 6 K, 0 BB Henry Blanco: 5-14, 357/400 /429, 4 K, 1 BB Phillies vs. Marshall: No Phillies have ever faced Marshall
48 Cubs prospects will soon be playing in fall leagues in Arizona and Hawaii. A number of other players from the Cubs organization (TBD) will play in Latin Winter Leagues in Mexico, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, and the Dominican Republic.
Derrek Lee will miss the rest of the season to tend to his 3-year old daughter. They haven't clarified what illness she's suffering from but she has lost some vision in one eye. As Lee states, you think breaking a wrist is a big deal and then something like this happens. Our thoughts and prayers to the whole Lee family as I don't even want to imagine what his family is going through right now. Z is back on the mound today to try and give the Cubs the series win after Rich Hill's gem yesterday. Go Bears, I mean Cubs! GAME ONE HUNDRED-FIFTY IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CINCINNATI REDS (73-75 (Div) 2nd - 6.5 GB; (WC) 5th - 4.5 GB ) AT CHICAGO CUBS (60-89 (Draft) 3rd - 2.5 GB) Wrigley Field, 1:20 pm CDT Weather: TV: WGN Radio: WGN, XM 188
Carlos Zambrano, RHP 14-6, 3.50 ERA, 193 IP 188 K, 104 BB, 19 HR 212/318/359 againstEric Milton, LHP 8-7, 4.84 ERA, 152.1 IP 89 K, 42 BB, 27 HR 262/314/461 against

*Dewayne Wise, CF *Scott Hatteberg, 1B Rich Aurilia, SS *Adam Dunn, LF Edwin Encarnacion, 3B #Javier Valentin, C *Todd Hollandsworth, RF #Ray Olmedo, 2B *Eric Milton, P *Juan Pierre, CF Ryan Theriot, 2B Aramis Ramirez, 3B Matt Murton, LF *Jacque Jones, RF Henry Blanco, 1B Ronny Cedeno, SS Geovany Soto, C #Carlos Zambrano, P

Reds vs. Zambrano: Adam Dunn: 7-32, 219/366/594,10 K, 8 BB, 4 HR Jason Larue: 4-24, 167/231/208, 11 K, 0 BB Royce Clayton: 3-18, 167/211/278, 5 K, 1 BB Ken Griffey Jr.: 5-16, 313/421/875, 1 HR Ryan Freel: 2-14, 143/294/143 Rich Aurilia: 3-12, 250/308/250 Scott Hatteberg: 4-11, 364/563/727, 2 K, 5 BB Cubs vs. Milton: Aramis Ramirez: 9-27, 333/333/741, 4 K, 0 BB, 3 HR Juan Pierre: 6-22, 273/385/318 , 1 2B Derrek Lee: 4-18, 222/286/722, 3 HR Matt Murton: 6-17, 438/471/813, 1 HR Cesar Izturis: 3-11, 273/273/545, 1 HR

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