Mother Nature has been rather cruel this post-season, delaying the playoffs which in turn has delayed the Hot Stove and turned us into a music blog last night. Last night's rainout was even more cruel as ESPN radio replayed Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS to fill the time and it got Rabble-rouser and and Sabre-guy at large "Chad" to do a little soul-searching. Which is better than veering off into oncoming traffic, which is what I would have likely done if I had tuned in. --- So last night I'm driving home from work when my cell phone rings. Itís my buddy, Pat, who left work a few minutes before me. He tells me that whatever I do, don't tune into 710 AM on my radio (the station here in Los Angeles that carries the World Series). Now thanks to an earlier post, I knew they were replaying old games. So I said with him, They're replaying game 6. Yup. And not just Game 6 but the top of the 8th. I became instantly sick. Thankfully, I was carpooling last night and were listening to the driver's choice (as is our carpool rule) and she had her iPod plugged in, and not much of a baseball fan to boot. I thanked my friend for the heads up and closed my cell phone. I was quiet for a few moments and my carpool partner became worried. She asked me if I was OK. No. She knows enough about sports to know about Game 6 and some of the details of it. So I told her about the warning I had just received and she thought it was funny. I asked if there was something wrong with me that I just couldn't get over that Game. She of course said yes. That got me thinking; is there something wrong with me that I can't get over that Game? That the very thought of it can totally ruin my day. Even this morning while I was getting ready for work, I was replaying the events of that day. And I know where I went wrong. I started to believe. Right around the 6th or 7th inning, I started to allow myself to actually think about my team being in the World Series. To actually believe that it was going to happen and I was going to witness it. For the first time in the entire post season I thought we were actually going to win. I felt a tiny little smile for in the corner of my mouth and I did nothing to stop it. That was a mistake. I am sure that everyone reading this can do a play by miserable play of what happened in that 8th inning so there is no reason to belabor that anymore. So, back to last night, I told her (my carpool partner) that I don't think that I'll get over that Game until my team goes to the World Series. But then I paused. Then again, probably not. Prosecutor: Over Macho Grande? Witness: No. I don't think I'll ever get over Macho Grande - Airplane II ---- Thanks Chad for the write-up.
We finally get the details on the new CBA agreement which was announced today. The one provision that I was most concerned with was draft pick compensation and here are the details:
Type C Major League free agents will no longer carry draft pick compensation for the club that loses the player, beginning this year, while Type A and Type B free agents will continue to carry compensation. Next year the Type A and Type B pools shrink. Right now, Pool A is the top 30 percent at their position, but in succeeding with decrease to 20 percent. Pool B is the top 50 percent, but it will decrease from 21 percent to 40 percent.
Bummer, I was really counting on that pick we'd get for Henry Blanco. Oh well, that barely changes anything in my opinion. In case you need a refresher, here's how teams were compensated:
A type players fetch the 1st-round draft pick of teams in the top half of W-L record or a 2nd-round draft pick of teams in the bottom half of W-L record and an additional pick between the 1st and 2nd rounds. B types don't get the sandwich pick and C type players fetch a sandwich between the 2nd and 3rd rounds. The higher the player's ranking in the compensation formula, the higher priority the old team gets in acquiring draft picks.
Well that ended up to be a whole lot of nothing. The other interesting bit is this:
After Major League players file for free agency in the one-week period that begins at midnight the day after the World Series, all subsequent deadline dates are eliminated: Dec. 7 (for club to offer arbitration), Dec. 19 (for players to accept), Jan. 8 (last day the old club could re-sign its own free agent) and May 1 (first day a club's former player could re-sign with its former club if he went past Jan. 8 date). Also, the tender date for clubs to offer contracts to all players has been moved up from Dec. 20 to Dec. 12. And players traded in the middle of a multi-year contract can no longer demand a trade.
That one is kind of big and confusing. I don't get the deadline dates are eliminated part of the equation. I guess this means that teams have to offer arbitration to players by the same time that players have to file for free agency. And do players have to accept arbitration by that time to or can they accept it whenever they wish as long as it was offered? I am glad to see them remove the provision where players can demand a trade if they're moved in the middle of a multi-year contract. I'm guessing that's what the players had to give up to get more freedom on the arbitration side, which is what it sounds like all that is doing. Other provisions include: - Minimum salaries will rise starting next year to $380,000 and go up to $400,000 by 2009 where it will remain until the deal expires in 2011. - All Star Game winner will still determine homefield for the World Series. Blah! - Teams that can't sign their draft picks will get the same pick in the draft the following year. That means if you drafted someone third and couldn't sign them, you get a third pick in the next draft. Also teams only have until August 15th now to sign draft picks instead of up to the next draft. I think the owners wanted a slotted draft bonus system but agreed on this instead. - Teams have one more year now before they have to protect players from the Rule V draft. Wasn't that nice of them? - The luxury tax is going way up that only the Yanks will really have to worry about it, not that they actually end up worrying about it at all. It doesn't seem like anything that will make too big a deal from what I can see, but a few interesting new twists. UPDATES: Rotoworld is saying that Type B free agents that get signed will not cost the signing team anything. The team that loses the free agent though will get a sandwich pick. A commenter over at Baseball Musings who it seems runs the Cardinals site at scout.com is saying that the arbitration dates have just been moved up to December 1st (for offering arbitration) and December 7th(for accepting arbitration) respectively. UPDATE #2: The Aug. 15th deadline for signing draft picks does not apply to college seniors. It basically reduces the leverage of players who threaten to go back to school. There will be no worry of contraction of teams during the agreement. Teams who don't sign their first and/or second round picks get the extra draft pick in the same slot in the following draft. And as I mentioned, the arbitration dates have moved up, the big change is that if arbitration is rejected by a player, they still can negotiate with their last team. UPDATE #3: A little bit on the timing of all this thanks to Baseball America. The Rule 5 changes will take place this off-season meaning a few players that AZ Phil listed yesterday will not have to be protected, most notably Ryan Harvey and Chris Shaver. Players on the 40-man roster who are optioned to the minor leagues did get a boost in the minimum salary department to $60,000 though. The free agency and arbitration changes won't go into effect until next off-season though.
21 Cubs minor leaguers filed for free-agency prior to October 15th, and ten others who were eligible to be free-agents did not file and apparently nine of them have been re-signed by the Cubs to 2007 minor league contracts (the other one has retired).
The World Series can't end soon enough so we can start concentrating on the Hot Stove. Anyway Alan Trammell got the bench coach gig as has been rumored. He'll also be an infield instructor. I believe the staff currently under Piniella is Rothschild as pitching coach, Trammell as bench coach/infield instructor and Mike Quade in an undetermined role (probably first or third base coach). We still need a hitting coach, bullpen coach and another base coach I believe, although originially someone mentioned that Chris Speier was coming back, but with Trammell in the mix taking over infield duties, this might make Speier's come back a little less likely. The only other bit of news is that Brandon Sing, Luis Montanez and Nic Jackson have opted to become minor league free agents. And cross Jamie Moyer off the available pitchers list as well. Hurry up with this World Series already!
A quick rundown of the rumors... - Paul Kinzer and Hendry will meet again on Monday to discuss Ramirez's extension. - Some inklings of Wade Miller coming back. - More talk of pegging Alfonso Soriano for CF and leadoff duties. That all comes from this Sun-Times article. - Piniella is targeting Alan Trammell for his bench coach.
The next week or so should be pretty quiet. Bud Selig has his gag order on MLB clubs so they won't distract from the World Series and the Cubs organizational meetings aren't until November 7th I believe. - Paul Sullivan getting itchy about the Cubs not signing Aramis yet. Best part is that even if they do agree on something in the next week, there's a good chance we won't know about it until after the World Series ends. There's also this little tidbit.
Although the Cubs can't force him to sign at their price, they can, and already have, let him know they have a contingency plan in case he decides to leave.
That of course is being smart, you should always have a contingency plan, but I'm not so sure you should let Ramirez know that. - So much for John McLaren following Lou Piniella in as bench coach of the Cubs. He was offered the deal, but him and his wife like to play 20 questions or something and decided that Seattle was a better place for them, where McLaren will take up bench duties under Mike Hargrove. One of the Lou's previous bench coaches was Lee Elia, so that could be fun. I don't know the full history of bench coaches under Lou, the only other name I could dig up was Jackie Moore who was his bench coach in 1990 with the Reds and he's managing the Round Rock Express right now. - A bit of humor from a Barry Rozner article to get you into the weekend:
Comedian Alex Kaseberg, on Lou Piniellaís new job as manager of the Cubs: ìThe pay is good, you get to travel, and you always have the month of October off.íí
Enjoy the weekend folks!
"How about Chicago? Is it cold there now or not? Talk me out of Tampa" -- Joe Nichols, "Talk Me Out Of Tampa"
Following in the footsteps of Derek Zumsteg's Seattle-based look at Lou Piniella's managerial stylings, I have two links from Tampa Bay Devil Rays bloggers regarding Sweet Lou. It isn't pretty, and the more of this stuff I read the less excited I get about Piniella taking the helm of the Cubs. * "Good Riddance," by Jim Wisninski, RaysBaseball.com, September '05 * "A Devil Ray Perspective On Lou Piniella," by Patrick Kennedy of DRays Bay, posted on Bleed Cubbie Blue last week
Whatever Lou Piniella's strengths and weaknesses are, one sure thing is that he is never boring. Stories of his many and varied umpire arguments and on-field freakouts are legendary, and thanks to YouTube we can watch a few of the best of them over and over. May 28, 2002: Lou disagrees with a call by John Shulock and covers both home plate and Shulock's feet with infield dirt: September 18, 2002: Lou disagrees with C.B. Bucknor about a call at first. He ends up tossing the base into the outfield (twice) and injuring his shoulder and hamstring. Good times...
The Lou Piniella era is about to begin on the Northside and a new wave of expectations and excitement will come along with him. Personally I'm looking forward to every mention of Sweet Lou being accompanied with the term "fiery". It's really been an underused term in our lexicon over the last few years and particularly when it comes to Cubs managers. The last Cubs manager to be bestowed the "fiery" label was probably Lee Elia who coincidentally was a coach under Piniella in his previous stints. Otherwise you need to go all the way back to Leo Durocher who was about as "fiery" as they get. As for the man himself, there's the public perception of Lou, which is of course "fiery". But it's always good to see what people who watched him on a day-to-day basis have to say. So I went to the very fine U.S.S. Mariner and pestered them for their opinion. Derek Zumsteg, author of the soon-to-be released, "The Cheater's Guide to Baseball", was kind enough to humor me. I would have asked a Devil Rays blog, but I'm not sure if they exist and I'm kind of pretending those years didn't happen for Piniella. So let's touch on some manager traits, the board is yours Derek:
Lou Piniella will be introduced as the next manager of the Chicago Cubs during a press conference tomorrow. Piniella has apparently agreed to a three-year deal with an option for 2010. I think this is a good move for the Cubs. Piniella pretty obviously lost interest while he was managing the Devil Rays, but as bad as the Cubs were this year they were not Tampa bad. It's on Jim Hendry to get Piniella the players that will make the team competitive, if not in '07 than in '08; if he does that I think Piniella will be a good fit -- a good motivator, a decent in-game strategist, and a guy who I think fans will be happy with.
Forget Joe Girardi. Forget Bob Brenly. Forget Bruce Bochy. Chris DeLuca is reporting in the Sun-Times that Lou Piniella will very likely be introduced as the new Cubs manager on Tuesday, and if so, here is how Lou's coaching staff might look in 2007:
Or (Why You Can't Believe What The Papers Tell You). Word comes out that Bruce Bochy received permission the other day to interview for other jobs and immediately he moves to the top of the Cubs wish list because Teflon Jim has some sort of supposed baseball crush on him. That certainly sounded reasonable enough until you read that Hendry is not even certain he'll ask the Padres for permission to speak to Bochy. Then word comes out that Lou Piniella takes himself out of the running of the Giants job and Peter Gammons reports that the Cubs and Piniella could start negotiations on a new contract as soon as Monday, while the locals already are prepared to name Piniella the 48th manager of the Cubs by the end of the NLCS. The story does not end though as this San Diego paper has this doozy:
Cubs GM Jim Hendry said Thursday he was expecting to meet with Bochy soon, but according to Chicago sources, he shifted yesterday after being told by upper management he can't go with Bochy because Piniella and Girardi, a former Cub, resonate more with the team's fan base.
Of course what the hell does a "Chicago source" mean? For all we know it's Mike North just trying to keep up appearances that the Trib must meddle in all baseball affairs. Of course, it also sounds completely reasonable on another level. If this Piniella rumors are true, Teflon Jim has done it again. He's going to go have one of the shiniest race cars on the lot, and he'll put the most popular drivers in the driver's seat. This will distract the media and fans from realizing that the engine running it is no better than what you'll find in your lawnmower.
While I continue to plug away on the group predictions for the Cubs players (I really didn't think about how much work this would be when I announced it), here's a new discussion thread for the day. Maybe we can use this space to talk about the Cardinals being SHUT OUT last night. Or maybe about Albert Pujols saying that Tom Glavine "wasn't good. He wasn't good at all," after Glavine SHUT OUT the Cardinals last night. It's up to you all.
The Cubs are without a caretaker for the first time in four years and Teflon Jim has been busy gathering the greatest minds in baseball, letting them know what a privilege it would be to manage the worst team in the N.L., for a franchise that hasn't won anything in 98 years. You've got your work cutout for you Jim. God Speed. Some of us TCR-folk (kind of like river folk) had a little chat on the candidates: ---- 1) What's the most important question that Jim Hendry needs to be asking the candidates in their interviews? Rob G. - Know any good places to eat? (just kidding) "What are your methods for preparing the team, not only on a daily basis, but to withstand the rigors of a six to seven month season?" I'm going to cheat here and throw in a second question - "From an outsider's viewpoint, what were the most obvious mistakes this organization has made over the last four years?" AZ PHIL- "What makes you think you can do a better job than the three previous permanent managers (Riggleman, Baylor, Baker), or to put it another way, what (if anything) did they do that you would have not done, or what did they not do that you would have done?" Ruz - "Pop quiz, hotshot: It's the bottom of the first inning. The leadoff man is on first. Ryan Theriot, a pretty good bat-handler is at the plate. What do you do? WHAT DO YOU DO?"
The Mesa Solar Sox played their AFL home opener tonight at HoHoKam Park in Mesa. No wind, and cool temps. A couple of hundred fans and a couple of hundred scouts. A very pleasant evening.

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