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
It's a shame that franchise (KC Royals) can't be competitive. In the 70s and 80s, they had one of the best fan bases in baseball relative to population. The economics of the game have made thriving in KC/Pittsburgh nearly impossible. It's things like that that make me back off of my Republican economic beliefs and start to think the Communists or at least the socialists had a decent idea. KC and Pittsburgh are great small cities with great sports fans. They deserve better than the snot with bats that they are forced to root for. The Cubs bring most of their problems on themselves, as they have the resources to do better. But the Royals and Pirates in particular are truly handicapped. - "X" in TCR, Friday 12-23-05. X is spot-on correct, folks. It will likely be a long, long time before we see the Pittsburgh Pirates or Kansas City Royals in the World Series again, and that is a shame. Which is why from time to time there have been discussions about improving "competietive balance" in MLB. The MLBPA will never accept a NBA or NFL-style salary cap, and the mechanism of free-agency and free-agency "compensation" (draft choice) aren't going to change anytime soon, but there are other ways to equal the playing field a bit. Everyone who's thought about it probably has their own ideas about how best to do it, and I have mine, and I invite all of you to offer your suggestions as well. While you are thinking about it, here are some of the ideas I have for immediately improving MLB "competitive balance," especially as it relates to giving losing clubs and smal market teams a chance at acquiring some pretty decent talent for a reasonable price, and it's a a process which does not involve token compensation for losing free-agents by getting a pick in the "crap shoot" known as the June Draft. Rather, I'm talkng about genuine coin-of-the-realm major leagure players, and good ones, too. Let's start at the end of the regular season, and take it from there...
I'll make this brief and please continute to use the "Blue Christmas?" thread for the Prior/Tejada trade talks.
The #1 topic of conversation these last few days has been the possibility of trading Mark Prior. Speculation, thanks to Ken Rosenthal's column, has centered on Prior going to Baltimore in a trade that brings Migeul Tejada to the Cubs, though there has been talk of a trade to the Phillies, and there may be a West Coast team (like the A's?) involved as well. The Cubs are supposedly holding out for Erik Bedard in return, while the O's may want one of the Cubs' minor leaguers along with Prior. Rob, Trans, John and I had a little discussion about this in email last night (and John even managed to drop a Dr. Who reference like the cheeky Brit he is), and since no matter what we post today the comments are going to be about this trade, we thought we'd just post our exchange here:
Not too much happens, generally, the closer we get to Christmas. But here's one gem: 12-23-1997 - Traded Doug Glanville to the Philadelphia Phillies. Received Mickey Morandini. I believe there will be at least one detailed article, perhaps more, posted today and tomorrow. So feel free to use this as an open-thread, while the articles stay more on-topic.
Gee, I dunno. What do you wanna talk about?
The Cub Reporter has been nominated for Best Sports Blog of 2005. Go on over the Red Reporter and vote. Don't let the Batlings steal the election!
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OK, I've come all the way around on the Jones signing and am in favor of it. There are a few caveats, but overall I think it will improve the team. The question I kept asking myself was, "does this make the Cubs better than they were last year?" And the answer, it seems to me, is yes. Signing Jones does two things: it replaces Jeromy Burnitz in the outfield, and it prevents Corey Patterson from starting.
...but not playing dead. I still haven't gotten all my thoughts together about the Jones signing, but I will say the more I think about it the less I hate it. I hope to be able to post a bit on that topic tomorrow, but for now the comments needed to be rolled over. Instead of re-hashing that, though, I want to bring Arizona Phil's trade musings out of the comments. I'm not usually a fan of blue-sky trade talk, but Phil had a couple of ideas that not only seemed good for the Cubs, but seem like they'd make some sense as well:
The player I think now most likely to be traded now is Matt Murton, either in a deal for Bobby Abreu or in a deal for Miguel Tejada. That's why Hendry felt he had to jump on Jacque Jones before Jones went elsewhere.I think ideally Hendry wants Dusty to play Jones in LF, where his below average arm is less of a negative factor. And Hendry would probably want to acquire a stud middle-of-the-order run producer to hit between Lee and Ramirez, with Jones hitting 6th (or at least 5th against RHP, or 6th against LHP). Hendry must knows by now what it would take to do it, and that he thinks he now has the offer it would take to get either Miguel Tejada or Bobby Abreu. It probably starts with Matt Murton, and would include other players like Jerome Williams and Ronny Cedeno (if it's a deal for Tejada) or Rich Hill (if it's a deal for Bobby Abreu). I suspect Barry Zito would be part of a deal for Abreu, and that Hendry has that part already in place. Remember, if the Cubs acquire Tejada or Abreu and pay all of the player's salary (minus Barry Zito's salary), the Orioles and Phillies would have money left over to either sign (although most of the better FAs are already gone) or make a deal for a replacement run producer. If acquiring Barry Zito is crucial to getting Abreu and possibly even as part of a deal for Tejada, the Cubs are in a good position to make Oakland a tempting offer. If you look at what Oakland took back for Tim Hudson (Juan Cruz, Dan Meyer, and Charles Thomas) and Mark Mulder (Dan Haren, Kiko Calero, and Daric Barton), trading Barry Zito to the Cubs for Matt Murton, Rich Hill, and either Michael Wuertz, Roberto Novoa, or Jerome Williams would be a very similar type deal, certainly a better package than what they got back from Atlanta for Hudson. And then the Cubs could trade Zito and Felix Pie to the Phillies to get Abreu, or Zito, Pie, and Cedeno to the Orioles to get Tejada. The Phillies and Orioles could use the $5m differential in 2006 salaries between Abreu and Zito or Tejada and Zito to acquire a replacement run producer.
To recap, Phil is suggesting: * Trade Matt Murton, Rich Hill, and one of Wuertz, Novoa or Williams to the A's for Barry Zito Then, * Trade Zito and Felix Pie to the Phillies for Bobby Abreu OR trade Zito, Pie and Ronnie Cedeno to the Orioles for Miguel Tejada I have a problem with the Orioles scenario, in that it leaves the Cubs short one outfielder, and with both Murton & Pie gone, it would seem to put Corey Patterson back in the starting lineup, which I'm not in favor of. Personally, I'd be happy with the Philly version of this trade as long as the Cubs got a prospect from the A's along with Zito. I'm not really in favor of trading four or five young guys away and not getting any young guys in return, even if Abreu was the result. I'd love to see someone like Jairo Garcia come over, but he wouldn't have a shot at making the 'pen. I wonder if the A's would part with someone like someone like second baseman Kevin Melillo or left-hander Dallas Braden?
As if it isn't bad enough that my wife, my daughter, and I have all been sick for the last three days, today I have to wake up and find out that the Cubs actually went to three years on Jacque Jones. The one thing I've been clinging to these last few weeks was the knowledge that only the Royals had offered him the third guaranteed year. I hoped that would be enough for him to decide to play there instead of in Chicago. So much for that. The more I think about it, though, the more I realize that I don't hate this signing. I certainly don't think it's terrible, like giving nearly $40M to Jarrod Washburn, or like giving any money at all to Tony Batista. It's only about $5M a year, so it won't break the bank. In general, I guess I'm ambivalent, leaning barely toward grudging acceptance. Mostly, it's the third year that upsets me. Let's assume that the Cubs are working toward signing Juan Pierre to a long-term deal. If that happens, then Felix Pie has been effectively blocked by the organization, which strikes me as one of those moves that might help the team in the short run but is going to damage them down the road. If they had blocked Pie with a star player, that would be one thing, but to do it with guys like Pierre and Jones exhibits a short-sightedness that is upsetting.
Free agent right fielder Jacque Jones has signed a $16m/3yr deal with the Cubs. And with that I'm off to bed to dream of just how I'll celebrate in September 2008 when this deal expires. More from me in the morning. Trans To repeat a sentiment that I presume has been expressed somewhere in the flood of comments: The Jacque Jones signing does not solve our outfield situation. Jones is adequate enough against right-handed pitching, hitting to a tune of .268/.348/.466/.814 last year. But he simple cannot be played against left-handed pitching (.201/.247/.370/.617). Find me a cheap corner-OF bat that can mash left-handed pitching in a platoon and we have an adequate right-field plan. Not good, but adequate. Several TCR people are hot about the recently released Jeff DaVanon, whose three-year splits against lefties are .307/.425/.455/.880. To this list of right-handed platoon bats I would add Jose Cruz Jr, Kevin Mench, Craig Monroe, Emil Brown, Dustan Mohr, Eli Marrero and Gabe Kapler. None of them are players I'd want to see collecting 500 ABs for the Cubs in a year, but then again, neither is Jacque Jones. And all of these guys are at a point in their life where they should be content with a platoon job mashing lefties, a skill at which they've all proven capable. Until that happens, I would have rather gone with Corey's greater speed and defense, and his lesser age, salary, and length of contract commitment.
The Cubs have named Tim Wilken their new Director of Amateur & Pro Scouting, replacing John Stockstill, who left the Cubs organization to take a similar position with the Orioles. The 52-year old Wilken is an Old School scout who left Toronto after J. P. Ricciardi brought Moneyball to the Blue Jays in 2001. Wilken was named one of the Top Ten GM prospects in baseball by Baseball America in 2003. Wilken is known for drafting high school players (although he claims to have no real preference for high schoolers over college kids, that is his tendency) and believes in building a draft the same way you build a team, with "strength up the middle" (pitchers, catchers, shortstops, and centerfielders).

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