Lou's Six Man Bench

Spring training is nothing if not repetitive story lines, but Cubs manager Lou Piniella is once again hinting that he'd like to carry 14 position players and 11 pitchers.

Piniella admitted he doesn't have a set number of days off for
players. That won't be an issue until the regular season starts. Right
now, the Cubs have other matters to resolve. While thinking out loud,
Piniella said he'd like to carry 14 position players and 11 pitchers if
possible. The team isn't sure how to slot some players -- newcomer
Aaron Miles, for example. Piniella wants to see them on the field, and
the Cubs will have 39 spring games to evaluate the team.

It's not going to happen, it never does...but that won't stop me from taking a look at what the team might look like. And it's exponentially more interesting than where Alfonso Soriano might bat this year (hint: leadoff).

25 Random Baseball Things About Me

With kudos to Craig Calcaterra ("ShysterBall") over at The Hardball Times, who suggested giving the Facebook game, "25 Random Things About Me," a baseball twist, I offer my list of 25:(updated: mine now added, below Cubnut's, below the fold. - Trans)

1.) I attended my first Cubs game in 1968--Cubs v. Giants, Fergie Jenkins v. Ray Sadecki. I still have the scorecard and thanks to the miracle of Retrosheet have been able to confirm that I did a pretty decent job of keeping score for a 7-year-old.

2.) The first Cub baseball card I ever turned up in a Topps package was a 1968 Rob Gardner and yes, it was eventually thrown in the trash by my mother, along with all of my other precious cards.

3.) About three years ago, I bought a replacement Rob Gardner card on eBay. Take that, Mom!

Introducing Wiklifield - the Cubs Online Encyclopedia

In case Cubs history isn't your thing, there's a prospect post below this as well for today.


I've hinted at it enough over the last few months, but I suppose I'm ready to now to unleash it upon the world. Wiklifield (thanks to Cubnut for the name) has been my main project and passion this offseason and the goal is simple, if not ambitious -  a community project to capture the entire history, culture and atmosphere of the Chicago Cubs. And I truly mean entire...

Players, coaches, songs, books, movies, Wrigleyville bars, rooftops, blogs, TCR memes, brain-cell killing articles, minor leagues, major leagues, you
name it, I would love to have it in there eventually.  It's going to take years to accomplish and hopefully a lot of help from Cubs fans across the Internet, but I think it could be something special for Cubs fans to lose themselves in a few hours at a time. A few examples of similar projects include the Ultimate Mets Database, Sons of Sam Horn Wiki and the Baseball Reference Bullpen.

To achieve this massive goal, it's obvious that I couldn't do it myself,
nor the writers of TCR, so hence the open wiki interface that allows
anyone to contribute.
Now as you start looking through the site, you may start asking where's
this bit of info or why hasn't this been included. Well first, let me say back off...I've been doing it mostly by myself. Second, that's the
beauty of a wiki, if you don't see something just go ahead and add it. Of course that can also be its downfall as
the information can easily be corrupted, but more on that later.

Before I get to the nuts and bolts on how you can contribute, let me demonstrate a few examples of what I'm hoping to capture. Let's start with the entry for the Cleveland Indians.  My idea for these major league franchise pages is to include every way that the teams have interacted with the Cubs. The main sections as you'll see are head-to-head record, all transactions between the two franchises (including any rumors), and finally thanks to Baseball Reference and their multi-franchise player finder, players that have played for both teams. I've started pages for the current 30 franchises and some have been done already. I also needed to give a big shout out to reader homerzzz, who has volunteered a tremendous amount of his own time helping me take the retrosheet transaction files and converting them into something we can use on Wiklifield. 

Cubs Prospect List-Mania 2009

For the third year running, I go through the various prospect lists. I've also started compiling them at Wiklifield.

Five-Star Prospects
1. Josh Vitters, 3B

Four-Star Prospects
2. Jeff Samardzjia,RHP

3. Jose Ceda, RHP

Three-Star Prospects
4. Hak-Ju Lee, SS
5. Andrew Cashner, RHP
6. Tyler Colvin, OF
7. Dae-Eun Rhee, RHP
8. Ryan Flaherty, SS
Two-Star Prospects
9. Welington Castilo, C

10. Donald Veal, LHP

11. Micah Hoffpauir, 1B

Just Missing: Matt Cerda, INF; Jay Jackson, RHP; Logan Watkins, INF

Sleeper: Kyler Burke

What They Say: The Cubs are a very tough team to rank. That said, the top three prospects on my initial snapshot never moved, and you see them exactly where they started. Everything after that is a bit of a mess however, as one could jumble up the players ranked fourth through eleventh in any order and make some kind of reasonable argument for all.

Chicago, We Have a Problem (or Maybe Not)

We do love our guest columns since we all get to take the day off from writing. Today, it's the ever cantankerous Real Neal taking on The Fielding Bible System.

The other day I bought The Hardball Times 2009 Baseball Annual. I haven’t finished yet, but as of so far, I would say save your money.

Echos of Long Toss and Towel Drills Past

Rich Harden was all the news yesterday even though there was nothing new going on. Harden was newsworthy because he's starting the spring camp with long toss rather than work off the mound like the other pitchers. He's been on an off-season strengthening program for an achy-breaky shoulder that everyone in Cubs camp is still struggling to label. It's kind of like having a family member with a psychiatric diagnosis in the 1950's. Nobody wants to label the poor fella because of the stigma and gossip. Sun-Times beat reporter Gordon Wittenmyer, in his blog, was irked that once again there was misinformation delivered this off-season regarding what the diagnosis of Harden's shoulder issues are.

Can anybody tell me what the advantage is in omitting those details and being vague about these things? It's not like the Cubs have to protect the information for the purposes of shopping Harden or for any on-the-field competitive reasons (scouts have eyes).

I've covered three other teams in my career, and the ones that were most up front about these kinds of things had the fewest headaches with the way the information got out. And the fans stayed well informed, without the yo-yo effect.

Spring Training Narratives: The Mad-Libs Edition.

I was meaning to write a nice update of spring training storylines like Rob has done in the post below, but I'm too busy reading rejection letters from Universities being chased by spurned Valentines to scour the globe for the informative content that you, the reader deserve.

Then I remembered that it's spring training, and the stories write themselves.

So here are your Mad Libs that need filling in.  The story itself is below the fold.  (No peeking until you've entered your words!)

 

1. A Cubs Player

2. A number

3. A celebrity

4. A food

5.  A gerund (a verb + ing) 

6.  A noun

7. A Cubs Player

8.  A body part

9.  A medical procedure

10.  A number

11.  A roster position

12. A Cubs Player

13. An adjective

14.  A Cubs Player

15.  An Adjective

16.  A player from another baseball team

17.  A sports reporter

18.  A retired player

19.  An adjective

20.  A roster position

21.  A feature of Wrigley Field

22. +  23.  Two corporations

24.  An occupation

25 + 26.  Two Celebrities

27.  A tragedy

28.  A Cubs Player

29.  A noun.

TCR Friday Notes

- Bruce Miles and the beat writers are back in business with the start of spring training. Miles says Geovany Soto has come to camp in great shape, Z is sporting a 'stache and will not pitch for Venezuela in the WBC. He also says that Z is holding off on laser eye surgery due to an infection and some odd eye geometry on his behalf. There appears to be some video at the Trib of Z and the Cubs in Arizona on the sidebar, but I can't get it to load.

- Fangraphs takes a look at the best outfield arms and comes to the shocking revelation that Alfonso Soriano is good and Juan Pierre is not. 

- An interview with the Phils former GM, Pat Gillick, gives some insight on the Cubs corner outfielder pursuit this winter.


--On whether the Phillies may have overpaid for Ibanez (three years, $31.5 million), given the one-year, $6 million deal that Bobby Abreu
just signed with the Angels: "The Cubs were after [Ibanez] pretty
thick. Lou [Piniella] and he had a good relationship, so I think Lou
was plugging pretty hard for him. I don't think [the Phillies could've
waited]. The Cubs were searching for left-hand hitting. My opinion is I
would prefer Ibanez to Milton Bradley, just from an
injury standpoint. Milton Bradley to me is an American League player, a
DH/part-time outfielder. He's not a day-in, day-out player in the
National League."

I've Just Experienced a Sudden Increase in Affection for Aaron Miles

From Tracy Ringolsby... 

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa began lobbying last fall for the release of second baseman Adam Kennedy, wanting to keep Aaron Miles instead. Now he winds up with neither, the front office letting Miles go back in December, and then this week giving in on Kennedy and his $4 million salary when it became apparent there was no trade market for Kennedy.

Kerry 20K Viewing Party Plus Other Odds and Ends

We've been meaning to do this most of the offseason, but I think we've finally settled on a date. So Sunday, February 22nd at 9PM CST, we're going to gather in Parachat and watch the Kerry Wood 20K game. We know a lot of you own the Chicago Cubs DVD set and that's what most of us will be watching. I believe they showed the game on MLB Network recently, so maybe you Tivo'd it. Considering we normally have people watching from various different feeds during the season, we'll figure out how to sync it up to everyone's satsifaction. If you don't have access to the game and want to partake in the festivities, drop a note in the comments and I think we can work out something.

So come join us and get your Parachat fix on, Transmission will be doing one of his game recaps. I believe it's Oscar night as well, so that should give us some good material as well.

UPDATE: One of our dear readers points out that you can purchase the game from Itunes for about $2.

More fun after the jump...

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  • Yeah, she's a good egg. The whole superdelegate thing is shady as fuck though.

  • the perks of being a big fundraiser model representative citizen.

    honestly, though...the dnc could do worse and she's involved in all kinds of dem party stuff.

  • I didn't realize Laura Ricketts is a superdelegate.

  • pretty much...also agree that it wouldn't surprise me to see him land with the cubs, too.

    the trade to free up room for him would be interesting.

    it would help if he didn't play such a mixed-bag CF. he's anything but sure out there with his wacky routes.

    the O's are favored because of links for weeks and they're about to land y.gallardo (giving up that draft pick).

  • holy crap...j.mejia got busted AGAIN for PEDs.

    3rd time...lifetime ban.

    at one point he was the "closer of the future" (and the actual closer) for the mets. 26 years old. unreal.

  • I agree with what you said, but isn't it so weird that the White Sox are not linked to Fowler? They seem like an ideal fit.

  • oddly...or not...fowler's been strongly linked to the O's lately.

  • Olmos takes another 40 man roster Roulette bullet. The new lefty will be gone when Fowler comes back.

  • seen him in the minors...rather boring lefty. really slow secondary stuff (very slow slider) and a fastball that barely hits 90 on a good day.

  • The Cubs have claimed C.J. Riefenhauser LHP on waivers from the Orioles. Edgar Olmos was again DFA.

  • They should have someone standing behind him to take the ball out of his glove when he's looking for a sign from the catcher, and throw to first. I vote for Baez. That way he can cover the rest of the infield, too.

  • but then d.ross wouldn't have someone to pitch around him or IBB him to put him on base...it's almost moot...almost...not really...but almost...kinda...

    just checked...7 IBB last year...hard to tell how many times he was pitched around, but even assuming it's 0 that brings his ob% to below .230 with a sub-.500 OPS.

  • the intro to the all-star game would take an hour longer just to announce the team...awesome.

  • Think how much more valuable Lester contract looks if he doesn't ever have to do that mockery of hitting thing he does!

  • TV schedule is out:
    http://muskat.mlblogs.com/2016/02/12/cubs-announce...

    It's irritating that it's so difficult to watch Cub games.

  • The NL should just go ahead and out-DH the AL.