October 2006

tick, tick, tick…

With the Cardinals having won the 2006 World Series, MLB players with at least six years of MLB service time who are not signed to a contract for 2007 can begin to file for free-agency starting at 12:01 AM (EDT), Saturday, October 28th. Players may file by telephone, FAX, e-mail, snail mail, telegram, Candygram, however they choose to do it. Cubs players eligible to file are: Henry Blanco John Mabry

The Last Right

In the new CBA that will cover the years 2007-11, the right of a player to demand a trade if dealt while in the midst of a multi-year contract will be eliminated. In the previous CBA, players with at least five years of MLB service time who signed a multi-year contract with one team and who got traded to a second team before the contract expired had the option to make a trade demand during the Free-Agency Filing Period (first 15 days after close of World Series) after the conclusion of their first season (and ONLY after the conclusion of the first season) with the new team.

Guest Column: That Game

Mother Nature has been rather cruel this post-season, delaying the playoffs which in turn has delayed the Hot Stove and turned us into a music blog last night. Last night's rainout was even more cruel as ESPN radio replayed Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS to fill the time and it got Rabble-rouser and and Sabre-guy at large "Chad" to do a little soul-searching. Which is better than veering off into oncoming traffic, which is what I would have likely done if I had tuned in. ---

Earth-Shattering News

The World Series can't end soon enough so we can start concentrating on the Hot Stove. Anyway Alan Trammell got the bench coach gig as has been rumored. He'll also be an infield instructor. I believe the staff currently under Piniella is Rothschild as pitching coach, Trammell as bench coach/infield instructor and Mike Quade in an undetermined role (probably first or third base coach).

TCR Friday Notes

The next week or so should be pretty quiet. Bud Selig has his gag order on MLB clubs so they won't distract from the World Series and the Cubs organizational meetings aren't until November 7th I believe. - Paul Sullivan getting itchy about the Cubs not signing Aramis yet. Best part is that even if they do agree on something in the next week, there's a good chance we won't know about it until after the World Series ends. There's also this little tidbit.

Talking Out Of Tampa

"How about Chicago? Is it cold there now or not? Talk me out of Tampa" -- Joe Nichols, "Talk Me Out Of Tampa"
Following in the footsteps of Derek Zumsteg's Seattle-based look at Lou Piniella's managerial stylings, I have two links from Tampa Bay Devil Rays bloggers regarding Sweet Lou. It isn't pretty, and the more of this stuff I read the less excited I get about Piniella taking the helm of the Cubs.

Sweet (Lou) Emotion

Whatever Lou Piniella's strengths and weaknesses are, one sure thing is that he is never boring. Stories of his many and varied umpire arguments and on-field freakouts are legendary, and thanks to YouTube we can watch a few of the best of them over and over. May 28, 2002: Lou disagrees with a call by John Shulock and covers both home plate and Shulock's feet with infield dirt: September 18, 2002: Lou disagrees with C.B. Bucknor about a call at first. He ends up tossing the base into the outfield (twice) and injuring his shoulder and hamstring. Good times...

The Savior Part Two: Fiery Lou Piniella

The Lou Piniella era is about to begin on the Northside and a new wave of expectations and excitement will come along with him. Personally I'm looking forward to every mention of Sweet Lou being accompanied with the term "fiery". It's really been an underused term in our lexicon over the last few years and particularly when it comes to Cubs managers. The last Cubs manager to be bestowed the "fiery" label was probably Lee Elia who coincidentally was a coach under Piniella in his previous stints. Otherwise you need to go all the way back to Leo Durocher who was about as "fiery" as they get. As for the man himself, there's the public perception of Lou, which is of course "fiery". But it's always good to see what people who watched him on a day-to-day basis have to say. So I went to the very fine U.S.S. Mariner and pestered them for their opinion. Derek Zumsteg, author of the soon-to-be released, "The Cheater's Guide to Baseball", was kind enough to humor me. I would have asked a Devil Rays blog, but I'm not sure if they exist and I'm kind of pretending those years didn't happen for Piniella. So let's touch on some manager traits, the board is yours Derek:

Open Thread: Schadenfreude Edition

While I continue to plug away on the group predictions for the Cubs players (I really didn't think about how much work this would be when I announced it), here's a new discussion thread for the day. Maybe we can use this space to talk about the Cardinals being SHUT OUT last night. Or maybe about Albert Pujols saying that Tom Glavine "wasn't good. He wasn't good at all," after Glavine SHUT OUT the Cardinals last night. It's up to you all.

Who’s Your (New) Daddy?

The Cubs are without a caretaker for the first time in four years and Teflon Jim has been busy gathering the greatest minds in baseball, letting them know what a privilege it would be to manage the worst team in the N.L., for a franchise that hasn't won anything in 98 years. You've got your work cutout for you Jim. God Speed. Some of us TCR-folk (kind of like river folk) had a little chat on the candidates: ---- 1) What's the most important question that Jim Hendry needs to be asking the candidates in their interviews? Rob G. - Know any good places to eat? (just kidding) "What are your methods for preparing the team, not only on a daily basis, but to withstand the rigors of a six to seven month season?" I'm going to cheat here and throw in a second question - "From an outsider's viewpoint, what were the most obvious mistakes this organization has made over the last four years?" AZ PHIL- "What makes you think you can do a better job than the three previous permanent managers (Riggleman, Baylor, Baker), or to put it another way, what (if anything) did they do that you would have not done, or what did they not do that you would have done?" Ruz - "Pop quiz, hotshot: It's the bottom of the first inning. The leadoff man is on first. Ryan Theriot, a pretty good bat-handler is at the plate. What do you do? WHAT DO YOU DO?"

Guest Column: Discovering Daisuke Matsuzaka

As we've painfully come to realize, the Cubs are in desperate need of not only good pitching but reliable pitching. The big free agent names are Jason Schmidt and Barry Zito from stateside and the enigmatic Daisuke Matsuzaka from Japan. Pulling up a stats page on Schmidt and Zito will pretty much tell us all we need to know about those two, but what about Matsuzaka? TCR Commenter "Wes", took a closer look at Matsuzaka and his highly touted gyroball, which it turns out he doesn't really throw. ----

LCS Preview (Never Bet Against the Ex-Cub Factor)

I know that technically the ex-Cub factor is three or more Cubs on your post-season roster, but it's better not to tempt fate. Each division series winner had less ex-Cubs than the team they beat, at least on their pre-playoff rosters. It's going to make the Mets vs. Cardinals series very interesting. Also my Rule #1 of picking a team with a good run over the last few months has been completely blown up over the last two years. White Sox won it all last year despite almost coughing up the division to the Indians, Tigers looked unbeatable after dismantling the almighty Yankees and the Cardinals beat up on the formally hot Padres. It's all luck in the playoffs baby (and pitching). Onto the brief and useless preview and predictions:

Q & A with Bruce Miles

Those of you who may still be stuck in the rut of only reading the Chicago Sun-Times and Tribune have probably been missing out on some of the best Cubs-related writing out there. Bruce Miles of The Daily Herald has become a must-read on my morning periodical tour, offering a critical, but objective voice on all things Cubs with a sharp wit to spare. And the fella knows what OBP is as well, which is refreshing.

Is Torre Fired?

I was watching Sportscenter just now and the New York Daily News apparently is reporting that Joe Torre is expected to be fired and Lou Piniella will be in as Yankee manager. Hardly the most credible source but if it turns out to be true that'll put a ripple in the coaching carousel.

For Your Sunday Reading Pleasure

Knowing that Dusty was going to be shown the door, I had this bright idea of compiling some of the best (or worst) quotes of his Cubs tenure as a sort of farewell to the toothpick chomper. I figured Sir Dusty had enough head-scratchers come out of his mouth the last four years that it would make for a good read. Unfortunately (or fortunately), the Trib must have my computer tapped so they can steal my ideas, and they just went and did it themselves, hogging all the glory.

All Signs Point to…

''John (McDonough) is going to work with Jim Hendry and the rest of the organization to prepare for 2007. John will be the point person for decision-making with the Cubs." - Trib President Dennis FitzSimons at Andy MacPhail presser last Sunday ''It's important [candidates] understand what a privilege it is to be the manager of the Chicago Cubs. It's a unique culture -- the lights are brighter, the stage is bigger. Whether you're playing the Milwaukee Brewers on a night in April or the Los Angeles Dodgers in July, you're always playing in front of a full house. You need someone who recognizes it's a privilege and respects the logo and the fans and everything about it. It's a unique mystique, and the payoff should be the winning part.'' -- John McDonough telling the Sun-Times yesterday what he expects to see in the new Cubs manager ''They have to bring in someone who is pretty assertive. And someone has to take control of the clubhouse and just try to change the attitude of the whole organization.'' -- Joe Girardi on the type of manager needed by the Cubs, expressed as he left the Cubs as a FA November 2002 OK. So after John McDonough hears Jim Hendry's opinion and decides to hire Joe Girardi instead, what's next?

2006 End of the Year Roundtable (Other Bloggers Edition)

Let's finish up our look back at the 2006 season with roundtable responses from Derek Smart of Cub Town, Al Yellon of Bleed Cubbie Blue, and Chuck Gitles of Ivy Chat. Not surprisingly, there are some significant differences among the three of them when it comes to what the Cubs need to do this off-season. But, there are some pretty solid agreements as well. -------------------- 1. Dusty, Dusty, Dusty, is there any reasonable scenario that you can see him staying? And if he does go, sum up his tenure in 2 sentences or less. Derek: Define reasonable? If we're leaving aliens, rips in the space/time continuum, sordid photos of Andy MacPhail with a jar of mayonaise and their ilk out of the discussion, then I can't envision an extension of Dusty's reign.

TCR Reader Response Roundtable!

Without further ado........ 1. Dusty, Dusty, Dusty, is there any reasonable scenario that you can see him staying? And if he does go, sum up his tenure in 2 sentences or less. (Again, question asked and answers submitted in advance of the firing)
Vorare No, I can't imagine Dusty staying. Even if Hendry wanted to resign him--perhaps to make Ramirez, Pierre, and Zambrano happy--I still don't think Dusty wants to be in Chicago any more. His comments to the media regarding the racist email pretty well demonstrated that; you don't intimate that your team's fanbase is full of racist hatemongers if you plan on sticking with that team. I think pretty much everyone, including Dusty, knows that he's done in Chicago. As for his time here? I can sum it up in two words: Neifi Perez. Perez was emblematic of most of Dusty's problems. Bleeding Blue Can I see him staying, yes. I still can't figure out a logical reason why he wasn't removed long ago. The best guess I can come up with is that Hendry has too much respect for Dusty to fire him mid-season, and he wants to allow Dusty the chance to leave in what will appear to be a mutual decision on good terms. Sadly, that same respect could also get him an extension offer. If Dusty is removed, his term will be best described as Extreme Underperformance. The Cubs have never lived up to their potential under Dusty's Regime, and have always found an excuse for why it's not their fault. Mike C No. Complete and utter disaster. No manager in the history of this franchise was given more and produced less than Dusty Baker.
2. Assuming Dusty joins the unemployment line, what do you want out of the next Cubs manger in terms of personality and qualities. Is there an individual you have in mind?
Vorare I think the manager at the major league level is overrated, so my requirements are simple. I want a guy who will keep the players focused and relatively happy, and I want a guy who will, in terms of filling out the lineup card, put the team in the best possible position to win on a daily basis. Beyond that, I don't think in-game strategy decisions have a significant impact on the team's record at the end of the season unless those decisions are, as we've seen at times over the last four years, mind-bogglingly stupid. I don't have any specific individuals in mind for the job, but I'd definitely prefer that it be someone with a low profile--a current coach, minor league manager, or a major league manager with minimal experience. I hear good things about Ron Washington and I respect Joe Girardi's professionalism, so I'd be happy either either of them. Bleeding Blue More than anything else, I want a manager who will hold the players accountable. He doesn't have to be a hard-ass, and he should have the respect of his players, but he also needs to hold the player accountable, especially in regards to fundamentals. He doesn't have to be a master tactician, but someone with a better sense of strategy will be a welcome change. Freddi Gonzalez is the name I find most interesting, although I will admit that I don't know enough about him to say he's the guy. Girardi is interesting, although based on what I've read I'm not sure that he's the right guy for the job. Mike C I want a manager who has some discipline in his background. I think the last 2-3 Cubs managers have tried to be everyone's best friend, and let the players do what they want when they want. Girardi is a nice example of a manager who is willing to work with players and gain their respect without being their best friend.
3. At what point did you give up your playoff aspirations for the 2006 Cubs? (continued below the fold)

Quick Notes

-John Mcdonough grew up a White Sox fan and his interim tag sounds like it's temporary. He said it's safe to assume the payroll will stay in the vicinity of the $100 million range and don't expect a Yankees or Red Sox payroll splurge next year. - All the coaches are gone including Larry Rothschild and Chris Speier. They will be welcome back if the new manager wants them though.

Good Night and Good Riddance

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.


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