Baseball America has released it's post-2006 "Top 10 Prospects," listing the top twenty prospects from each minor league. Here's how the Cubs fared...
If you're suffereing from parachat withdrawal, then feel free to pop in if you want to talk about the playoffs. No promises on who will be there, but give it a shot. The link is on the sidebar. Last year I trotted out the World's Most Useless Playoff Predictor. Let's try it again...
With the year coming to a merciful close, the TCR writers gathered together thanks to the wonders of technology and discussed the past and present. Luckily, cameras were there to catch the event. ---- Dusty, Dusty, Dusty, sum up his tenure in 2 sentences or less. AZ Phil: Dusty Baker is a good people manager, but is lacking in game management skills. He would probably do OK managing a veteran A. L. team (where double-switches are not required) with a lot of big egos like the Yankees or Red Sox or maybe the White Sox, and I suspect one of the main reasons Hendry hired Dusty was because Dusty had somehow managed to lead Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent into the World Series in 2002 and Jimbo thought Dusty would be the best choice to manage a team featuring a superstar prima donna like Sammy Sosa, but with Sammy now just a distant memory, an "ego manager" like Dusty Baker is no longer needed. Rob G. Dusty was more myth than manager. His deficiencies far outweighed his benefits. Transmission: He came. He saw. He complained. (Wait, thatís three sentences, let me try again.) In spite of who he replaced, and in spite of the successes of 2003 and 2004, Dusty failed to leave the Cubs in a better state than how he found them. I donít think I could have imagined such a failure. Ruz: I think his tenure could best be summed up in a haiku: High hopes for winning Quickly changed to excuses And too much Neifi What do you want out of the next Cubs manger in terms of personality and qualities. Is there an individual you have in mind? Ruz: I want a manager who doesn't bunt too much, who understands the value of a walk, and who doesn't prize experience and familiarity over talent. Basically, I think I want Earl Weaver. Rob G. I want a manager who doesnít hides behind excuses, whoís more worried about the team than his own ass, who doesnít treat a major league baseball team like a varsity high school squad, and who understands at the least the very basics of in-game management. Bruce Bochy would be interesting albeit unlikely. Most anyone else I donít know much about beyond their reputations and Iím not falling for that again. AZ Phil: A chicken shit Napoleon with a lot of lame rules isn't necessary, but I do want Hendry to hire a manager who demands excellence in his players' performance, who requires players to take pre-game batting & infield practice so that the team will be properly prepared for each game, who has strong game management skills such that the Cubs can get every little edge they can get every game, and who willingly accepts reponsibility for his own mistakes, shortcomings, and failures, and (most importantly) does something to correct them or make sure they don't happen again. Who? Well, without being present at the interviews, I couldn't say for sure. But Bobby Cox says Fredi Gonzalez will make an excellent manager, so maybe Fredi Gonzalez. Transmission: Dusty Baker lost all credibility ñ in his assessment of his teamís strengths and weaknesses, in his ability to discipline his players, to cope with the media or fans, to identify winning baseball strategies. There just came to be a point where I could not take seriously anything he said, based upon his personal history. I want someone who in his demeanor and personality, his tactical knowledge and disciplinary skills, demonstrates that it is worth my while to listen to him. Iíd like to see Ron Washington in Oakland get a shot. Freddi Gonzalez, of course. Absolutely no retread managers not named Showalter or Valentine. Those two would both be ìname brandî and unlikely to get pushed around by the politicking in the front office and the clubhouse. At what point did you give up your playoff aspirations for the 2006 Cubs? Transmission: If I recall my April prediction correctly, I gave up before the season started. This just wasnít a good team. Ruz: At the beginning of the season I predicted they'd finish two games behind the Cards (missed it by that much) so apparently sometime before Opening Day. Rob G. Probably when Derrek Lee went down, certainly when Kerry Wood went back on the shelf. AZ Phil: Sometime in May, after it became obvious that the team could not withstand the loss of Derrek Lee, and once it became clear that Kerry Wood and Mark Prior were not going to be able to join the starting rotation anytime soon. The deal for Phil Nevin (or somebody like him) should have been made immediately after it was known that D-Lee would miss at least two months. Hendry dropped the ball, in my opinion. There were far too many things that went wrong with the club to address in this space, was there anything that went right? Transmission: I got to see a game in person for the first time in six years. Murton, Theriot and Hill, of course. Jones wasnít the complete disaster I feared. Pierreís second half almost justified his presence. Aramisís second half suggested he has the capacity to carry a team, if he wanted to. We learned that when Barrett embarrasses himself and his team, it inspires him to become an elite hitter. AZ Phil: Not really. I would call 2006 "The Season from Hell." The number and types of injuries this year far exceeds what I believe is reasonably probable. It reminded me a lot of the 1985 season, when the entire Cubs starting rotation was on the DL at one point Ruz: Matt Murton looks like a solid major leaguer, Rich Hill looks like he gets it, Jacque Jones had a decent year, and the Cubs were bad enough that Dusty Baker isn't coming back. Rob G. It ended the Dusty Baker era, Iíd call the season a rousing success. Andy MacPhail resigning is pretty good too. Hill, Murton, Theriot and Marshall (in that order) got opportunities to show they could very well be part of the next good Cubs team or at the least, very tasty trade bait capable of reeling in a big fish. Can the Cubs compete next year without signing Aramis Ramirez? AZ Phil: Yes. It would not be easy to replace A-Ram's bat in the lineup and at 3B, but there are ALWAYS other options (like maybe sign Soriano & Feliz, or trade for V. Wells & Lowell, etc). I definitely want Hendry to do everything he can to re-sign Ramirez, however. Transmission: Realistically, no. It would require replacing his bat with Soriano, and everything else going as right in 2007 as went wrong in 2006. Rob G. Stranger things have happened, but Iíll go with bloody unlikely. Unless Hendry has a miracle trade in him for a third basemen next year, the options are pretty horrid in the free agent market. Ramirez is on the verge of becoming one of the elite hitters in the game. Ruz: I don't think they can compete *with* signing him, but they still have to. A healthy Ramirez/Lee duo, supplemented by another 20-homer guy (look, I'm not asking for the world) is the bare minimum for us to hope the offense can score enough runs to keep the team competitive. The Cubs seem to have more questions marks than the Riddlerís costume; prioritize the Cubs off-season moves in a handy clip and save card for Hendry. Rob G. 1. Resign Aramis Ramirez 2. Sign Jason Schmidt or Barry Zito or Daisuke Matsuzaka 3. Sign or Trade for another reliable, no worse than league average starter 4. Find some power at either CF or 2B, assuming everyone else stays the same. 5. Take a class in learning how to build a major league bench AZ Phil: A. Re-sign Ramirez B. Re-sign Zambrano long-term past 2007 C. Via FA or trade, acquire two reliable starting pitchers who make all of their starts and who can consistently keep their team in the game and pitch into the 7th inning. D. Add two or three proven quality vets to the bench, preferrably ace PH 3B-1B Wes Helms, a versatile lefty hitting PH-3B-1B-LF-RF like Geoff Blum, and maybe Craig Counsell as the utility middle-infielder (or he could start at SS or 2B if necessary). Guys who can get on base or get key hits off the bench late in the game. Ruz 1. Hire a manager quickly so free agents know what they can expect if they sign with the Cubs. 2. Re-sign Ramirez. 3. Sign a decent starting pitcher. 4. Figure out what you want to have happen in the middle infield and then make it happen. Transmission: 1. Begin overhaul of minor league instructional techniques. 2. Begin overhaul of major league strength and conditioning, flexibility, and off-season training programs 3. Add walks to the offense, remove them from the pitching staff. Be as radical as need be in re-creating the roster to do so. 4. Related, do not fall into the trap of dismissing this year as the result of fluke injuries. This year was the product of a systemic failure to develop, promote, and acquire the players and skills necessary for a winning ball-club. You have $13-15 million burning a hole in your budget next year and one roster spot available. Give us the 3 free agents you target with that money. Ruz I'm really bad at this. Alfonso Soriano is a sexy pick right now, but he'll probably demand more than $13-$15M. Jermaine Dye's never going to match his 2006 numbers again. Torii Hunter is the kind of over-30 free swinger that I could see Jim Hendry throwing a 3 or 4 year deal at. I think it might be best to grab two mid-range starting pitchers for that money.** Let's say Miguel Batista and Jeff Suppan. Put them in the rotation behind Zambrano and Hill, find a cheap fifth starter, and try to get back to .500. AZ Phil: A. Jason Schmidt B. Alfonso Soriano C. Barry Zito (however, if Schmidt or Soriano cannot be signed, I would actually prefer the money to be spent on two healthy & reliable rotation starters instead of just on Zito). Transmission: Soriano. Anything left over (or more likely, the full amount, when we fail to land Soriano) should be used to fish for a cheap Frank Catalanotto, one of the three innings-eating left-handers Ted Lilly, Randy Wolf or Barry Zito, and from the right side, one of Jason Schmidt, Tony Armas or Tomo Ohka. God, what a bad off-season for free agency. Rob G. 1. Jason Schmidt 2. Barry Zito 3. Alfonso Soriano (to play CF) What are 3 things the Cubs should avoid doing this off-season at all costs? (asked before Dusty was relieved of duties) AZ Phil: A. Do NOT retain Dusty Baker as manager; B. Do NOT play Larry Himes hard-ass with Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Zambrano; C. Do NOT count on Mark Prior as a rotation starter for next season, but give him a chance to get back on the track. Rob G. 1. Go after one year wonders (Gary Matthews Jr., Pedro Feliz, etc) 2. Trade Rich Hill for anything less than a superstar hitter with years of club control left. 3. Sell any of their future for an immediate 2007 fix. Trading prospects is fine if the bounty is a player that will be around for at least 3 years. But risking it all for 2007 wouldnít be wise. Ruz Putting all their eggs in one basket on the free agent market, counting on anything productive out of Mark Prior next year, and thinking they can make a run at the playoffs. Transmission: Entering a land-war in Asia Naming a city after the head of your society or organization Showing mercy on the children who are rightful heirs to the throne. Regarding the Cubs, they are going to be tempted by the same things that have temped the Cubs for as long as I can remember: 1. overpaying on mediocre free-agent pitching. This off-season looks like it might lead to contracts not seen since the Chan Ho Park, Denny Neagle and Darren Dreifort era around the turn of the millennium. 2. overpaying for name-brand, washed-up, over-rated managers 3. messing with Wrigley Field in order simultaneously to squeeze more revenue out of the park itself while also raising ticket prices. Lightning Round: Give us your thoughts on these players and how important they are to next yearís team? Juan Pierre AZ Phil:I would not necessarily have a problem with Hendry re-signing Juan Pierre, but I would prefer Alfonso Soriano or possibly Vernon Wells (if Hendry can acquire him without trading both Matt Murton and Felix Pie), because I like sluggers who can drive the ball. Transmission: gone Rob G.: Not worth what heíll be asking. We should be able to do better. Ruz: The alternatives (Soriano for too much money, Felix Pie before he's ready) might be worse. Aramis Ramirez AZ Phil: Jim Hendry needs to sign Aramis Ramirez to a contract extension. Transmission: essential Rob G.: Vertical blue pin-stripes are very slimming. Ruz: Gotta keep him Kerry Wood AZ Phil: I hope Woody would be willing to accept a 2007 contract with a low base and incentives (maybe $1m guaranteed and $100,000 for each appearance), and that if he is offered and does accept a deal like that, that he will be healthy enough to be a "John Smoltz"-type closer for the Cubs next season. If he isn't consistent enough to be a closer, I wouldn't mind a Kerry Wood pitching in middle relief, either. Transmission: who? Rob G.: ìComing in to lock down his 50th consecutive save for your Chicago Cubs, Kerry Woodî Ruz: Don't even think about it Matt Murton AZ Phil: I believe Matt Murton is on the verge of becoming an outstanding MLB player, and I hope he returns in 2007. The MLB player to whom I would now compare him is Michael Cuddyer. If it is necessary to include Murton in a trade for a proven star like Miguel Cabrera, I certainly would, but otherwise Murt would be my starting LF in 2007. Transmission: worth a shot, weíre not contending next year, anyway. Rob G.: Heís only going to get better. It would be pretty foolish to give up on him unless he brings a superstar with years of club control like Miguel Cabrera. Ruz: Get him 500 AB Rich Hill AZ Phil: Like with Barry Zito, home runs will always be a bug-a-boo for a fly ball pitcher like Rich Hill, but I am happy to see Hill finally trust his stuff and throw strikes. As far as I'm concerned, he has earned a spot in the 2007 starting rotation. Trading him would be stupid, because then there would be another hole in the rotation. Transmission: Zambrano/Hill is a delicious thought. Dark-horse All Star candidate. Rob G.: Virtually untouchable at this point. (within reason) Ruz: The next big Cubs pitching hope -- a #4 in '07, a #2 in '08 Felix Pie AZ Phil: I believe Felix Pie will be an outstanding MLB player in the near future. He can be a Gold Glove-quality CF with a plus-arm, he is coachable, and he has worked hard with Von Joshua to improve his plate discipline and with Bob Dernier to improve his base-stealing. I believe he is very close to the big leagues right now. However, I can't see Pie as a lead-off hitter. To me, he is more of a middle-of-the-order run producer. Transmission: Do Not Open Until 2008 Rob G.: Not Corey Patterson and Not Quite Ready. Should be the first callup if any OFíers go down next year though. Ruz: Not yet, if ever Ryan Theriot AZ Phil: The Riot is an example of a player who became a good hitter by giving up switch-hitting. Once he learned to hit right-handed against RHPs, he became a consistent .300 hitter. Barring injury, he should be the Cubs starting 2B on Opening Day in 2007, and stay there until such time as Eric Patterson is (hopefully) ready to take the job sometime in '07 or '08. When and if E-Pat is ready, I would move Theriot to SS. I believe Theriot is another David Eckstein or Ryan Freel, and I like that type of player. He drives the opposition nutso. He is a good top-of-the-order type hitter, can go deep into the count, and can hit either 1st or 2nd. Transmission: Let him leadoff, hit second if we keep Pierre Rob G.: Damn heís fun to watch. If an All-star caliber second basemen with some pop is available (Durham or Marcus Giles), I wouldnít pass them up. Othwise Iím comfortable with giving him a shot at the job in spring training. Ruz: give him the 2B job and find out if this year was a fluke or a benchmark Mark Prior AZ Phil: If Mark Prior is healthy in 2007, he could easily return to his 2003 form. I just don't know whether he will be healthy or not, so I would want a viable Plan "B" for his spot in the rotation. But I wouldn't give up on him just yet. Transmission: who? Rob G.: Act like he doesnít exist. Ruz: Plan for the season without him. That way anything he gives the team will be a bonus. Can the Cubs be contenders next year without expanding the budget to $150 million and what will it take to do so? Ruz Of course they can. There is no juggernaut in the NL Central, and any team who puts together a smart plan and follows it should be able to win the division. Can you spot the critical word in the last sentence? Transmission: I donít see enough on the market or enough in our system of trade value to be able to turn this runaway freight train of a Titanic towering inferno quagmire around in one off-season. This is going to take time to clean up. AZ Phil: Sure. Absolutely. And not just because the N. L. Central is probably the weakest division in baseball, either. It would not require much more than re-signing Aramis Ramirez to a contract extension, hiring a different manager, putting together a healthy and reliable group of rotation starters, and the return of Derrek Lee as the everyday 1B, to make the team an instant contender. Rob G. Why not us? Why not now? Hmm, that sounds familiar. Itís bloody unlikely unless some of our young pitchers really step up next year (Iím looking at you Angel Guzman and Sean Marshall) and Hendry nails every move he makes next year. Spending lots of money would help the cause tremendously.
R.I.P. Dusty Baker (Nov. 2002 - Oct. 2006) "It's called hitting, and it ain't called walking." The day we all knew was coming has finally arrived. Dusty Baker will not be back as Cubs manager next year. I suppose the range of emotions will run the gamut for Cubs fans. There will be some who feel sadness, that a good man is taking the fall for the shortcomings of others. There will be some who feel relief, just glad we can talk about something else. There will be some filled with exuberance, finally this dark cloud that has hovered over us has been removed from our most beloved team.
Before I begin, the Chicago Bears are real damn good. Thanks to the wonderful work done at Goat Riders of the Apocalypse, there's a transcript of this afternoon's press conference. And I take back what I said earlier, MacPhail got canned. Reading through the transcript, this John McDonough fella is sure saying all the right things. Let's cherry-pick some quotes:
The Cubs offseason started off on the right foot today as Andy MacPhail has resigned as team president. John McDonough, Cubs senior vice president of marketing and broadcasting, will serve as interim president and MacPhail is staying on to ensure a smooth transition. I suppose the bigger question is whether Hendry's job is in jeopardy but the press release says he's remaining in charge of baseball operations. I suppose the truth will eventually come out, but since he's remaining with the team for as long as it takes and Hendry is staying, I think this is more of a move by MacPhail himself, who many have speculated will be the next MLB commissioner. While he might not be taking that job quite yet, I wouldn't be surprised if this is just MacPhail moving on to bigger and better things and very little to do with the Trib holding anyone responsible for the trainwreck of a team we've witnessed the last 2 years.
And it's a train. END OF YEAR IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] IT DOESN'T MATTER (W - DO WE CARE? L - NO WE DON'T) AT THE SKOKIE POLICE AND FIRE RECREATIONAL SOFTBALL TEAM (W - BAD- L - WORSE) Wrigley Field, 1:20 pm, or just whenever. Come in late, bring the family, all the ticket-takers quit yesterday. Weather: A swirling mix of 77% Nitrogen, 22% Oxygen and 1% Cub Fog TV: Something other than WGN. Who decided I don't get to watch the last Cubs game? Radio: WGN, XM 188
Fragile Veteran Pitcher D (Stats: 90% has-been, 10% never-was) against Some Guy We've Never Heard OF, RHP (His Stats Don't Matter. He Doesn't Have Any. He will win.)
Who cares about the game? The catering in Parachat is to die for. Try the Womacked Crab Cakes, they're a specialty.
Not sure if I'll be able to throw up any more previews as we're preparing for a very busy off-season here at TCR. Okay, I got to work this weekend and I'm far too wrapped up in trying to secure third place in the TCR Fantasy Pool. - A San Diego paper tells us that in 2002 Jim Hendry approached Kevin Towers in trying to acquire Bruce Bochy to manage the Cubs and was told he wasn't going anywhere. According to the article:
One Cubs official said Bochy would be his first choice if something can be worked out. Bochy is guaranteed about $1.9 million in 2007.
Interesting... - Speaking of managerial speculation, this Trib article has a doozy for you. Bob Brenly in as manager of either the Cubs or Giants and Steve Stone back in the booth. - Juan Pierre became the first Cub to reach 200 hits since Ryne Sandberg. Yeah for meaningless milestones. The Cubs offense has actually been decent since Pierre started hitting, unfortunately it didn't happen until June. They say speed never takes a day off, but you know what does take games off? Singles hitters with little patience. - I know we're way past this, but bottom of the 9th, 2 on, 0 outs, a tough lefty on the mound in Brian Fuentes. Guess who's coming up? That would be Jacque Jones and I believe my exact words in the parachat were "just strike out and give Murton a try". Jones predictably grounded into a double play squashing the rally. Think Baker has seen him fail enough yet? - If you're the praying type, say one for Derrek Lee and his family. His daughter has been diagnosed with something known as LCA (Leber's Congenital Amaurosis), an "inherited form of blindness that is usually apparent shortly after birth." So far it's just affected one of her eyes and let's hope it only gets better from here on out. Otherwise see you in the Parachat on Sunday...
Don't believe what you're hearing on Entertainment Tonight, Access Hollywood, or reading in the NY Post or Daily Mirror or Weekly World News. To set things straight, once and for all.
* No, the Parachat party hasn't been cancelled due to fire-code violations * No, we aren't letting Mariotti be the DJ * No, it's not true that Neifi Perez is threatening to sue us for libel or slander if we go through with the Parachat party * No, the VIP section of the Parachat Club is not a ghost subsidiary of the Tribune * No, the gift-bags you will receive upon entry are not taxable income, the IRS can not go after you for whatever baubles you might receive at the party. * Yes, we've done thorough background check on ALL of the Hell's Angels that we hired for private security. * To the best of our knowledge, no, participating in this event does not make you an "enemy combatant." * Yes, Augie Ojeda will be serving drinks. * Yes, we turned away Paris Hilton, and yes, we got a restraining order on Joan and Melissa Rivers to keep them 1000 feet away.
I hope this clears up any confusion. See you in Parachat on Sunday.
Back in the day, I was always excited about the final weekend series in Wrigley because of Fan Appreciation Weekend. The Cubs always advertised a raffle for prizes that to a prepubescent kid seemed like they were giving away gold. I watched in awe on WGN as I imagined fans walking out of the stadium with more Cubs stuff than they could hold. I mean what a cool thing to do, the generous Cubs just giving stuff away to fans out of the kindness of their hearts as a way to say thanks. Of course, years later and much wiser, I'm thinking the Cubs need to be giving away houses, cars, $10,000 in cash to each and every fan as a way to give back for the crap they've put on the field. Funny thing what age does to you... Last chance to see Z do his magic, all with a stiff wind out to CF. Cubs are now tied with Pitt (who face the Reds this weekend) for 5th in the division and the 4th draft slot if you care about such things. Go Cubs! GAME ONE HUNDRED SIXTY IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] COLORADO ROCKIES (74-85) AT CHICAGO CUBS (65-94) Wrigley Field, 1:20 pm CDT Weather: Cloudy, 55 degrees, Wind out to CF @ 10 mph TV: WGN, DirecTV 743 Radio: WGN, XM 188
Carlos Zambrano, RHP 16-6, 3.44 ERA, 207 IP 201 K, 111 BB, 20 HR 211/317/359 againstJosh Fogg, RHP 10-9, 5.62 ERA, 165 IP 89 K, 60 BB, 24 HR 304/365/511 against

Kaz Matsui, 2B *Jeff Salazar, CF Garrett Atkins, 3B Matt Holliday, LF *Todd Helton, 1B *Brad Hawpe, RF Troy Tulowitszi, SS Chris Iannetta, C Josh Fogg, P *Juan Pierre, CF Ryan Theriot, 2B Aramis Ramirez, 3B *Jacque Jones, RF Matt Murton, LF *John Mabry, 1B Henry Blanco, C Ronny Cedeno, SS #Carlos Zambrano, P

Rockies vs Zambrano: Todd Helton: 3-15, 200/333/200, 5 K, 3 BB, 0 XBHCubs vs. Fogg: Aramis Ramirez: 7-24, 292/414/792, 2 K, 4 BB, 4 HR Juan Pierre: 12-24, 500/520/583, 1 K, 1 BB, 2 2B
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!

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