December 2005

PTBNL Named in Van Buren Deal

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 says:

TCR Friday Notes

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.

A little help….

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!!

He Blinded Me With Science

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

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.

Projected Cubs Free-Agents through 2009

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

Competitive Balance

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...

Blue Christmas?

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:

Today in Cubs History: 12-23

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.

Why I Like the Jones Signing

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.

On Continue Avec Jacque

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.

Cubs Name Scouting Director

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.

All I Want For Christmas Is A Right Fielder

Today we have a guest column from long-time TCR reader and occasional guest poster RJ Johnson. It's a look at the Cubs' off-season moves so far, something that I think a few people around here have been interested in talking about. Like Trans said, let's try to keep the discussion focused on the article at hand and use the TICH comments for everything else. Enjoy! ========== It's December after the Winter Meetings when all good fans' thoughts turn to, "What did our GM do this time?" Let's see what Santa Hendry has left for us under the tree along with some speculation as to what else might be opened up before the spring thaw. After months of caterwauling about the lack of a competent leadoff hitter, Trader Jim has unwrapped Juan Pierre as the Cubs new center-fielder. Yes, he gave up three pitching prospects and the thought that any one of them might turn out to be the second coming of Dontrelle Willis gives one pause. But I like the trade for what it gives the Cubs now in much the same way that I like the Derrek Lee trade. Maybe one of the pitchers will pan out, but we get several years of Pierre now.

Today in Cubs History: 12-20

12-20-2002 Signed Shawn Estes as a free agent. I told you today's wasn't an improvement on yesterday's. Although in happier news we also signed Ricky Gutierrez to a two-year deal today, in 1999. Also: On days where someone has written a detailed article, it would be ideal to keep that message board more-or-less on-topic, while using TICH for more free-ranging discourse... Not mandatory or anything, just nice.

Dealing With Strengths

Right now, few things are likely to be much further from the mind than the state of our starting pitching, which presently represents a definite strength. But by this time next year things could easily have changed, and the front office needs to be looking very closely at the future of our rotation, showing some foresight for once. Just so we're clear, Cubbies, as to what's meant by "foresight", this is not it...

Player Power

It's not often that I take something from the comments and put it on the front page, but I found myself agreeing so strongly with the following "tirade" that got buried in amongst yesterday's Bears talk (guys, you should know better, follow real football - you know, the one in which they use their feet) that I thought I'd give it a little attention...

On The Outside Looking In

Jim Hendry has seemingly made it something of an off-season priority that his Cubs avoid going into 2006 with Todd Walker manning second base. Hendry picked up the $2.5m team option that they hold on Walker for this upcoming season, but he seems not just open to trading Walker, but rather intent upon it, so much so that he's recently been guilty of talking about the keystone position as vacant, as though Walker had already departed the organisation.

Today in Cubs History: 12-15

12-15-2003 - Traded Damian Miller and cash to the Oakland Athletics. Received Michael Barrett. 12-15-1997 - Drafted Roosevelt Brown from the Florida Marlins in the 1997 minor league draft. 12-15-1912 - Traded Joe Tinker, Harry Chapman and Grover Lowdermilk to the Cincinnati Reds. Received Bert Humphries, Red Corriden, Pete Knisely, Art Phelan and Mike Mitchell.

Today in Cubs History: 12-14

12-14-2000 - Signed Tom Gordon as a free agent. 12-14-1998 - Traded Brant Brown to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Received Jon Lieber. 12-14-1990 - Traded Greg Smith to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Received Jose Vizcaino. 12-14-1987 - Signed Vance Law as a free agent. 12-14-1948 - Traded Hank Borowy and Eddie Waitkus to the Philadelphia Phillies. Received Monk Dubiel and Dutch Leonard.

What to Do with Corey?

As everybody around here probably knows, Corey Patterson is among five Cubs (Carlos Zambrano, Jerry Hairston, Jr, Juan Pierre, and Will Ohman are the others) who must be offered salary arbitration by next Tuesday, or they can become free-agents. I'm sure Jim Hendry will tender the offer of arbitration to Zambrano, Pierre, and Ohman, and PROBABLY to Hairston, but I'm beginning to wonder if Patterson might not get non-tendered. Here's why:

Today in Cubs History: 12-12

12-12-1999 - Traded a PTBNL (Brian Stephenson), Terry Adams and Chad Ricketts to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Received Ismael Valdez and Eric Young. 12-12-1999 - Traded Manny Alexander to the Boston Red Sox. Received Damon Buford. 12-12-1997 - Traded Miguel Batista to the Montreal Expos. Received Henry Rodriguez. 12-12-1903 - Traded Jack Taylor and Larry McLean to the St. Louis Cardinals. Received Mordecai Brown and Jack O'Neill.

Recent comments

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  • Mama Schwarber wants to have a word with you.

  • Mrs Fowler would like a word with you.

  • It seems to be blowing a bit out to right but far less than yesterday and much cooler so shouldn't be too much of an effect.

    Only one of our hrs last night was out because of the wind though I think.

  • Which direction is wind blowing today? With Lackey a groundball pitcher, it might help Cubs if it is blowing in today and a 2-1 game instead of a 10-6 game.

  • I have convinced myself that Hammel's second half struggles were due to minor injuries and fatigue so with the extra rest he is going to be lights out.

  • Benji Molina is out of lineup

  • Yes. Unfortunately, as many of us, I have seen this movie before. Do not care for Hammel, and unlike other managers Joe will pull the plug quickly at least. I hope before things were to get out of hand.

    Many of us are like "abused spouses" or whatever - with this Cubs stuff. You get hurt so many times, the trust rapidly erodes.

    If the Cubs can get to Lackey early, its gonna be a big key to a W or L.

  • No idea what will happen. The Cards are the Cards and they have come back from 2-1 holes twice in the last 4 years, so I don't see them in panic mode at all. If anything, I expect the Cubs to be pressing more than the Cards today.

    I want the Cubs to win because it would be great for the city, and great for the fans. But more than anything, I want the Cubs to win so I can see this team play for at least one more week this year. Never enjoyed watching a team more than this year.

  • Just to remember how far we have come: last year's opening day lineup was Bonifacio, Lake, Castro, Rizzo, Olt, Castillo, Schierholz, Barney, and Samardzija. It's been a fun ride this year!

  • BRADSBEARD: I haven't noticed any new rule or a change in the interpretation of an existing rule happening in Advanced Instructs, I don't know what rules will be tested in the AFL, although almost all recent rule changes and new interpretations of existing rules (the home plate collision rule, replay, time clock between innings, et al) do get their start in the AFL.  

  • Yep

  • AZ Phil: I've heard that the AFL will be testing out a new force out rule that would affect break-up plays (like the Utley play). Have you heard anything about this new rule and any details about it? Are they testing it out at the advanced instructs as well?

  • Pretty sure I already know the answer to this, but since I will be in NYC next week I want to confirm... If the Cubs were to advance to the NLCS, the winner of LAD/NYM would have home field based on being a division winner (as opposed to Cubs by virtue of better record), correct?

  • CUBSTER: This "hammy" is on the other leg I heard last night. See you at the ballyard today young man!

  • Lulz

  • Oh what do you know, Cubster? Go back to your day job.

    --- Ducks, puts on Cardinals cap, runs.