We have entered the most boring part of the year for a baseball fan. The season is long over, and the once-sizzling hot stove has been reduced to embers. We have nothing to occupy us except what-if scenarios and trade talk. This is the time of year that leads actual paid writers to write things like "Club relying on starters to stay healthy all season long." Seriously, if that's what the Cubs are relying on, I'm out of here. But fear not - there is a cure for boredom, and it comes from a non-baseball source. We're going to spend the next month predicting how the Cubs will do this season.
We can all go about the business of counting the days until spring training. It appears that Miguel Tejada has mellowed out on his trade demand and he'll be staying put, for now. It could all be a smokescreen from the O's camp to get teams to pony up their offers, but this quote from Orioles GM Jim Duquette makes me think it's on the up and up.
"This is the first time we heard this directly from him. We're elated that he's chosen to stay. We're all committed to improving the team, and it's easier to do it with Miguel than without him."
Doesn't mean Miggy won't change his mind in the middle of the season when the O's are hovering near last place, but for now, I think he's staying put.
The Cubs have invited the following players to Spring Training to join previous NRIs Marqius Grissom, Augie Ojeda, and Michael Restovich: * OF Adam Greenberg * RHP Bobby Brownlie * LHP Carmen Pignatiello * LHP Raul Valdez * RHP Randy Wells * C Dennis Anderson * C Jake Fox * IF Casey McGehee * 1B Brandon Sing * OF Buck Coats Arizona Phil mentioned most of these guys a few days ago, and none of them has a chance to make the team, but it will be great to see Brownlie throwing in Mesa. It's not much news, but it is actual news about the 2006 season. Pitchers and catchers report on February 15th, and the first Cactus League game is on March 2nd against the A's. That's only 55 days away! PS: I didn't open comments on the Frappr post because I didn't figure it was worth discussing. I guess I should have realized that you guys will talk about anything. At least that's one post where the comments aren't full of Miguel Tejada rumors...
Put your pin in the Cub Reporter Frappr! Thanks to Geoff at Ducksnorts for the idea.
Looks like the cellphone minutes that have been accumulating between Orioles GM Jim Duquette and Jim Hendry will finally payoff. It probably won't land us Miguel Tejada, but it does look like we'll rid ourselves of Corey Patterson. Rumor has is that the 2 teams are close to a trade sending Patterson for a mid-level prospect. If the Cubs can just rid themselves of Patterson's salary, I'll consider it a good trade no matter who we get in return. It should free up a 40-man roster spot as well so that we can welcome in the Marquis Grissom era.
ìNice guys finish lastî ñ Leo "The Lip" Durocher The 1965 season closed with the Cubs mired in 8th place in the National League, with a 72-90 record, 25 games behind the N. L. pennant-winning Dodgers. 1965 was the fifth year for the College of Coaches, and the experiment wasnít working. After the season, Cubs Athletic Director Col. Robert Whitlow (USAF ñ RET.) resigned, and there was some question about who P. K. Wrigley would hire to replace him. Two Ton Baker? Bozo the Clown? The Doublemint Twins? Garfield Goose, perhaps?
Well thanks to everyone who responded to my call for action last week. Not only did you make us the top Cubs blog, but you voted us the top MLB blog out there. I'm not going to put a lot of merit into the award, considering the list of entrants didn't include some of the better MLB blogs out there, the most glaring admission being Athletics Nation. But a win is a win and apparently this victory earned us a year subscription to baseball prospectus.com so we can fill your heads with an array of abbreviations that Einstein would have trouble comprehending. Thanks for the support and congratulations to you guys as well. The victory says as much about our readers as it does us writers. I can say with a fair amount of certainty that the comments section and those who contribute, is as much a part of TCR's success (if not more) then the daily ravings of a few crazed Cubs fans scattered around the globe. Congrats once again and looking forward to another fun year in 2006!!! And feel free to use this as open thread to discuss whatever is on your mind regarding our boys in blue.
The Cubs made a few minor league signings official today. Marquis Grissom, Augie Ojeda and Mike Restovich will all get a chance to show off their veteran savvy and catch the eye of the Cubs coaching staff come March. Grissom's old, once upon a time could hit lefites and has a good chance to become next year's Neifi Perez, a vet that Baker has an unhealthy affection towards. Ojeda comes back to the Cubs organization after a brief stop in Minnesota where he actually managed a .339/.429/.458 line in 59 AB's. If you're looking for an example of the dangers of "small sample size", you needn't look any further. He did once make an amazing diving stop to help preserve a Mark Prior complete game that I had the pleasure of attending. A game in which Sammy Sosa launced 2 homers off of Kevin Brown that I still don't believe have landed. Restovich is a corner outfielder that hits a lot like a middle infielder. He was a second round pick of the Twins in 1997 and once upon a time was pretty well touted. At 6-4, 250 you'd expect some power, which he did show at times in the minors, but his offensive game has been seriously lacking at the major league level. He played with the Pirates and Rockies last year. [Ruz:] Rob is too modest to point out that he mentioned the possibility of signing Grissom back in August. I see a glimmer of hope in the Grissom signing. When the Cubs signed Jacque Jones, one of the things I heard (and said) most often was that Jones is a player who should platoon but, because of the size of his contract and Dusty's proclivities, probably won't. With the Grissom signing (and the fact that it's a minor-league deal is merely a formality -- I'd say Grissom is just about a lock to make the team), what the Cubs now have is a suitable platoon partner for Jones that Dusty might actually play. Jones' splits over the last three seasons: Vs. RHP: 280/333/474 Vs. LHP: 238/295/363 And Grissom's: Vs. RHP: 267/299/396 Vs. LHP: 322/359/567 That's some decent pop against lefties. Grip is old, spent much of '05 injured, and will swing at just about anything, but given what we know (or think we know) about Dusty's managerial and lineup construction styles, this is about the best little deal Jim Hendry could have come up with.
I grew up as a Cubs fan in the 1960ís. My first memories of the Cubs were from 1960, but I didnít go to my first game at Wrigley Field until 1961. I learned to read in the Fall of 1960, so 1961 was my first year for sports sections (and there were FOUR newspapers in Chicago back then), box scores, baseball cards, and batting averages. The 1961 Cubs will always be near and dear to my heart. The College of Coaches! Brilliant! A ìrotatingî Head Coach! Ingenuius! An Athletic Director? OK. Whatever you say, P. K. Unfortunately, the College of Coaches didnít help make the Cubs a better team. If anything, it made them worse. There were too many cooks in the kitchen, no strong leader, and if there was ever a team that was defined by its wallow, it was the Cubs of 1961-65. But then in 1967, the Cubs suddenly got good. This Grand Improvement all seemed to coincide with the arrival of Leo ìThe Lipî Durocher as the Cubs manager in 1966. Leo was a complete jag-off, but was also a man who would not tolerate failure or accept excuses for losing. You got a losing team? Leoís answer was simple. ìBack Up the Truck.î Leo also grasped the basic premise that the most important element of a winning team is spelled ìP-I-T-C-H-I-N-G,î and for Leo, that meant four stud horses in the starting rotation. As important as Leo Durocherís presence and personality might have been in turning around ìthe program,î the foundation for the success of the Cubs after Leo arrived was actually laid over the previous ten years or so, going back to when John Holland was appointed General Manager of the Cubs, on October 11, 1956...
The Cubs apparently acquired OF Matt Ciaramella from the Boston Red Sox to complete the Jermain Van Buren deal from a few weeks back. He was a 13th round pick in 2004 who went to the University of Utah, 23 years old, throws lefty, hits from both sides of the plate, can play both corner outfield positions. Put up a line of .302/.360/.422 in A ball last year in 222 at-bats. A scouting report that was posted over at nortshsidebaseball.com says:
Hits for both average and power. Good Speed. Very Intelligent with great baseball instincts. Athletic and strong.

Here's some more links if you care to read up on the kid. Sounds like a quality guy: Interview in Sept, 2004 with his alma mater His old Sox Prospect page A bit on him from Sons of Sam Horn

Thanks to ShawndGoldman for the scoop...

Just going to roll the discussion over here for you guys. Not much to report other than a Paul Sullivan article in the Trib today. The highlights: - The O's now want Carlos Zambrano instead of Mark Prior. - The A's and Cubs haven't talked since early December and the A's apparently want a major-league pitcher and at least one top prospect for Barry Zito. - The Marquis Grissom deal will probably be announced next week, but it will be a non-guaranteed contract, as it should be. And in case you were wondering, the Cubs never offered Prior to the O's. The same story is repeated in the Paul Sullivan article. It was the O's asking for Prior in a one-for-one swap for Tejada and Hendry insisted on a "quality" pitcher coming back to the Cubs in the deal. Whether that's the spin doctors coming out and doing damage control or the god-honest truth, I suppose we'll never know.
Well, it's nice to see you guys get in the spirit and put us ton top of the voting going on at Red Reporter for best baseball blog of 2005. We appreciate the support and it's as much a vote for you guys as it is for us writers. Voting goes through the end of the year I believe. - So we've heard some inklings of the Cubs pursuing Preston Wilson and/or Marquis Grissom. I suppose this is Hendry's plan to fill that righty bat on the bench or potential platoon-mate for Jones. I'd prefer a good player like Craig Wilson, but there is another FA out there who could fill the bill for both Dusty and Hendry. He's a vet (37 next season), can mash lefties, 3 year splits versus lefties: .293/.403/.497 2005 versus lefties: .288/.370/.471 and he's very familiar with Wrigley Field and day games.
We don't ask for much around here, but they're running this little contest for the best sports blog of 2005 at Red Reporter. We're currently in 4th place with a paltry 175 votes from a readership of 4000+ and growing. You folks can do better. I think it's a small price to pay, 300+ days of great baseball content versus 30 seconds of your time to go and vote for us. Seems fair!! Plus Al at Bleed Cubbie Blue just called us out and is determined to beat us, you're not going to let that happen are you? Seriously though, we don't get paid for this stuff so random acts of acknowledgement are kind of nice, your votes would be very much appreciated.
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If your body pH is alkaline, you can not get cancer. ... If itís acid, you can get cancer. In ourómy personal observations, every single person who has cancer has an acidic body, acid pH.

-Kevin Trudeau, from the infomercial designed to sell the book Natural Cures "They" Don't Want You to Know About

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There was only one guy in the history of baseball who could pitch every day without discomfort, and that was me. People said I was a freak, but it was how I threw. Give me Kerry Wood and Mark Prior and, after I train them, they will be unhittable forever. Nobody will worry how many pitches they throw. ... [Larry Rothschild and Tom House]sure as heck don't know how to apply Newton's first, second and third laws to the pitching motion. They don't know Isaac Newton from the Fig Newton.

-Mike Marshall, Ph.D. (first quotation from 6/24/05 Tribune, second from article linked below)

The Daily Southtown's Paul Ladewski wrote a doe-eyed piece about Mike Marshall and his criticisms of Mark Prior's pitching mechanics. With all the hemming and hawing about Prior's health, it's irresponsible articles like this one where we need to keep our sense of perspective and skepticism.
There was some surprise expressed yesterday on another thread that Mark Prior won't be a free-agent until after 2008, so here is the list of projected Cubs free-agents through 2009 that I posted a while back: FREE-AGENTS AFTER 2006 SEASON: Henry Blanco Jerry Hairston, Jr Derrek Lee John Mabry Greg Maddux (ìno tradeî through 2006 season) Juan Pierre Aramis Ramirez (player option for 2007) Todd Walker Scott Williamson Kerry Wood (club option to pay $13m salary in 2007 or $3m buy-out - also ìno tradeî through 2006 season) FREE-AGENTS AFTER 2007: Michael Barrett Scott Eyre (player option for 2008) Corey Patterson Neifi Perez Glendon Rusch Carlos Zambrano Kerry Wood (if Cubs decline buy-out after 2006) FREE-AGENTS AFTER 2008: Ryan Dempster Scott Eyre (if player option is not exercised after 2007) Bob Howry Jacque Jones Will Ohman Mark Prior Aramis Ramirez (mutual option for 2009, or vesting option for 2009 if 270 GAMES PLAYED 2007-08) FREE-AGENT AFTER 2009: Jerome Williams

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