December 2006

This is about the time of year everyone starts putting up their looks back at the year that was 2006. But hey, what's the fun in rehashing the misery that was last year when we can take a peek into next year? So here are tomorrow's headlines today: January 3rd: Cubs sign Cliff Floyd....and every other remaining free agent. Rival GM's complain that "Spendry" hasn't left anyone for them. Hendry responds with "when you haven't won a World Series in 98 years, you have to do things a little different". Also petitions MLB to expand to a 60-man roster. 9th: Mark Prior begins throwing program, Cub layout relevant dates for public. He'll play long toss for a week, then pitch off flat ground for another week and then slowly increase his pitch count off a mound. By February he'll be complaining of arm soreness, in March he'll come down with a "mysterious illness" that takes him out for a few weeks, April he'll start his rehab program from scratch, May will consist of minor league starts, June he'll make a few starts in the majors, get shelled and go back on the disabled list. 20th: At the Cubs convention when asked by a fan that despite all the money spent, the team did nothing to address its problems with walks on the hitting or pitching side Hendry responds with, "Obviously we have no idea how to build a winning team, but we're obviously confident that even the most ill-conceived teams get lucky once in awhile. Obviously I'm also confident that with the hiring of another big name manager, that all the criticism will be deflected away from me." February 15th: Pitchers and catchers report for spring training. Zambrano comes into camp with twenty new bats and new gloves for first base and the outfield, says he's ready to play everyday and help the team anyway possible. When asked about cutting down his walks while pitching, he takes one of his twenty new bats and bludgeons writer to death who asked the question. Writers all agree to say nothing since it was Phil Rogers who asked. 16th: Mark Prior complains about arm soreness. 20th: The rest of the team reports, Piniella encourages Ramirez to hustle around the bases by releasing a bobcat whenever he puts a ball in play. 21st: New hitting coach Gerald Perry begins working with hitters and explaining the concepts of patience and waiting for your pitch. Team looks on with bewilderment. Perry scratches head and proclaims, "Looks like I picked the wrong day to stop sniffing glue." 23rd: Piniella and coaches show up to morning practice and field is empty, ballplayers nowhere to be found. Finally tracking some down on the golf course, Kerry Wood explains that under the old regime they'd play catch for a few days and then could do whatever they want as long as they showed up for the Cactus League games.
Looks like it's been awhile since we had a new thread. What do you hope the different members of the Cubs got for Christmas? Jim Hendry: A treadmill, another executive assistant, and a Sam's card for discounts on off-the-shelf utility infielders Lou Piniella: An industrial-sized bottle of antacid and brochures for retirement condo. complexes in south Florida Matt Murton: A neon sign reading "Play Me" to hang by his locker Carlos Zambrano: Cleaning equipment, to help with all the broken bats and broken hitters he'll see in 2007. A good realator to help him pick out a permanent home on the North Side. Felix Pie: a Des Moines Chamber of Commerce Guide to Des Moines. Kerry Wood: Bubble wrap. Lots and lots of bubble wrap. Mark Prior: See Kerry Wood. Derrek Lee: Good news from the family doctor. Glendon Rusch: See Derrek Lee. Len and Bob: Shiney new contract extensions. Alfonso Soriano: A transport helicopter stocked full of Prozac, to drop on the Bleacher Bums after his first 0-for-8 streak Jacques Jones: Two transport helicopters. Rich Hill: A nice night out on the town with Zito and Glavine, to talk pitching over a few bottles of wine. Muskat, Marrioti, and Rogers: A coupon to Toys 'R Us, so that they can each buy a game of Clue. Jason Marquis: Either a gift certificate to the best neck massage therapist in Chicago, or special high-density baseballs. Ted Lilly: A holiday card from all the middle relievers, betting him a case of beer that they'll rack up at least 30 holds in his starts. TCR: Another year of great conversation, and a gritty 94-win Cubs team worth talking about.
The calendar says Friday, so it must be notes day. - My apologies to everyone on the suddeness of the move to a new look and server. I knew it was in the pipeline but I really had no idea on the timeline otherwise I would have warned you all. I appreciate everyone who has come over with the move and your suggestions on the site design. I love the new look on the comments, the individual links for each comment and some of the new features like how it creates auto-links on URL's posted. I know, nothing special, but it's an improvement. So thanks to Brandon Rosage, the webmaster and all you for your ideas. Some people were asking for a rundown of site enhancements and I wish I could give you a complete list. Here's what I do know. There's an RSS feed for comments now, so you can just add that to your RSS feeder and find out when new comments are up. The aforementioned auto-URL's where if you post a link with http in the front of it, it's automatically clickable and opens in new window. There's also emoticons, whether that's good or bad is yet to be determined. If you post more than one link in a comment it automatically goes to moderation where a writer must approve it. This is done to avoid spam so it's best you break up your links over individual comments because who knows when we'll get to them. There's also a bunch of stuff behind the scenes that I won't bore you with, but they make my job easier and the other writers. We'll still be tinkering with the look over the next few weeks and absolutely have to get the rest of our archives in here as soon as possible. - Baseball Prospectus has a new article on baserunning which I found interesting (apologies if it requires a subscription). Dan Fox, who's sort of their baserunning guy, tackles the Bill James Handbook 2007 which has it's own essay on baserunning as compared to the work Fox has previously done. He basically goes through the differences between the two methodologies and compares their top 10 and bottom 10. I can't really print the full lists, but Chone Figgins seems to have been clearly the best last year and Josh Willignham, Victor Martinez, Pat Burrell and Jason Giambi being some of the worst. The only real surprises were that Bill Hall and Magglio Ordonez showed up on Fox's Top 10 worst baserunners of last year. On Bill James's lists, Mark Teahan shows up as one of the ten best, but Juan Rivera as one of the ten worst. Interesting stuff, at least to me. - I still have to calculate that playoff contest I ran, so more prizes coming. As for the free agent frenzy, I guess Ruz had some Wrigleyville Sports gift cards they were kind enough to give us for contests, so I'll probably offer that instead. - The well of Cubs news has dried up. I guess Hendry has packed up shop until after the holidays. Assuming the Floyd rumors turn out true, I imagine the rest of the off-season will consist of the Cubs Convention and then spring training. The team will test out Pie in center and then maybe look to move Jones by then assuming teams find some holes when they start playing exhibition games. And if Pie doesn't work out and Jones gets traded, they'll probably go seek a veteran center fielder from somewhere. And let's not forget Priorwatch 2007. Ho-hum. - Someone posted this link in the comments, a rather famous Internet video of a German kid yelling at his computer. Someone put a Cubs twist on it though and it's worth the four minutes of your life. Merry Christmas to all that celebrate!
Right before the free agency period began, I let you guys chime in on your free agent picks. Unfortunately I can't link up to it at the moment as they haven't imported all of our archives quite yet, so you're going to have to trust me on this for now. Each free agent has signed that was on the list sans Zito, so I added up the totals so far and here are the current results: Chifan3887 64 Junior 59 WPZ 59 Jackie T 58 Z 56 TWCoffee 56 Carmenfanzone 54 Sweet Lou 54 Vorare 54 Jessica 54 IM Slacker 53 Green Lantern 52 Dallas Green 52 Aaron B 51 Bogey 51 Karl H. 49 Rob G. 46 433 43 BobbyMac 41 The E-Man 41 Real Neal 41 Bleeding Blue 39 Cubster 31 Champsummers 31 Jacos 31 Tom C 26 Nohit 23 MannyTrillo 22 There's also a fella named Ernie who entered but he had three guys at a 12 confidence level and another two at a 10 confidence level, so I didn't feel his picks should count nor was he that close anyway. Manny picked the Cubs for every free agent as a joke, so don't rag on him too much. Chifan3887 successfully chose Bonds to the Giants at 11, Lee to the Astros at 13, Lugo to the Red Sox at 12, Matsuzaka to the Red Sox at 15 and made his big push with Matthews Jr. to the Angels at 3 and being the only one to correctly guess Maddux to the Padres at 10. With only Zito left, I believe here are the possibilities. - If he signs with the Yanks, Vorare will tie with Chifan3887. - If the Padres surprise everyone, then Junior will win. - If he signs with the Rangers, WPZ wins. - If he signs with the Mets or any other team, Chifan3887 is the winner. And the winner will get a $15 gift certificate at MLB.com (although you could probably talk me into a gift certificate somewhere else baseball related) OR a $15 donation to a Cubs charity. I'll also give you a free post, preferably Cub related but at the very least baseball related.
Paul Sullivan in the Chicago Tribune is reporting the Cubs are close to signing 1B-OF Cliff Floyd to an incentive-laden deal. Sully speculates that Floyd will be used in a "platoon" in LF with Matt Murton, which considering the number of RHP vs LHP starters in the N. L., would mean Floyd would start about 2/3 of the time. Floyd was hampered by a sore left Achilles tendon in 2006, and there has been some concern that the Achilles will continue to be a problem for him in 2007. Also, Floyd had a rather extreme case of the splits in 2006 when it came to hitting versus RHP (OK) and versus LHP (terrible).
Unfortunately there's not that much to talk about as the deals are drying up. At some point Barry Zito and the rest of the free agent pitchers will sign and the Pirates will scrape off a player or two that's left since they're required to actually field a team, but the Cubs look pretty much done for the offseason. The only real Cubs news is that Jason Marquis is taking his physical today and the deal is about to be finalized for the 3/21 that was talked about. It certainly sounds better than the 3/24 that Miguel Batista just got from the Seattle Mariners, so let's hope Marquis and Larry work well together.  Jerry Crasnick took a look at next year's free agent crop and puts the odds of Z staying put at 50/50. Here's a quote from Jimbo:
"We certainly have interest in keeping Carlos in Chicago," Cubs GM Jim Hendry said. "That's always been something he's expressed to me that he wants to do. We'll sit down and have conversations with his representatives before and during spring training, and pursue it with our normal diligence."
I think the odds are 50/50 that Crasnick is on crack because for all the Hendry hatred out there, he's still batting 1.000 at keeping the players he wants. Hope everyone is enjoying the holiday and just bear with us during the changeover. We'll fix this up in no time. And yes, parachat will be back by spring training, rest assured.
As you can see, we've got a whole new design to the website and we're adding a writer from "Behind the Ivy", Graham Funk. There are obviously some kinks to still work out and I imagine the redesign will go through a few more versions before we settle on anything. And no, I had nothing to do with any of this. So be patient, we'll hopefully get this all fixed up in no time. And yeah, I want the comments in their own pop-up box too.
This is an example of a WordPress page, you could edit this to put information about yourself or your site so readers know where you are coming from. You can create as many pages like this one or sub-pages as you like and manage all of your content inside of WordPress.
A very brief edition for various reasons that no one cares about... - The deals for Ted Lilly and Daryle Ward were officially announced today. Lilly gets a $4 million signing bonus, $5 million in 2007, $7 million in 2008 and $12 million in 2009 and 2010, which should make him virtually untradeable by that point. Daryle Ward's deal is for one year and it was rumored to be for $1.05 million. It does include a mutual option for 2008. - Ken Rosenthal speculates that the Brewers might make a run at Jeff Suppan. - The Cubs are looking for an assistant GM to help Hendry. As the article notes, Hendry has 5 "special assistants to the GM", but all are scouts. The assistant GM, much like Hendry under Macphail when he had the role, would likely help negotiate deals amongst other activities. This probably has more to due with Hendry's health problems, but if said new assistant GM knows how to manage a 40-man roster, that would be a nice bonus. - Speaking of Hendry, a Q&A with SI.com can be found here. Happy Holidays, if you're out Christmas shopping for me, a PS3 would be nice!!!
Contracts have been tendered and salary abritration has been offered, so pending further trades, FA signings, and minor league acquisitions, here is the projected Cubs organizational position depth chart, including the Cubs and their four full-season farm clubs (Iowa, Tennessee, Daytona, and Peoria). There are quite obviously too many position-players and pitchers listed on the various minor league teams, so not all of the candidates will survive Minor League Camp (Spring Training). Some will get released, while others will get moved in a "courtesy trade" to allow them to go to an organization where they aren't blocked.
The Cubs made some room on the 40-man roster by non-tendering P Adam Harben and C Jose "I never should have been on the 40-man in the first place" Reyes. They're both likely to be resigned on minor league deals. Here's a list of some the notable non-tendered casualties: Marcus Giles (whomever suggested the Astros in the comments is a sick bastard) Jayson Werth Toby Hall Jerome Williams David Newhan Victor Zambrano Joel Pineiro Aaron Guiel Many of these players will end up resigning with their old teams but were non-tendered in order to avoid giving the player leverage in arbitration as their teams feel they deserve a paycut, something that rarely happens in arbitration cases. UPDATE: As expected, the Cubs signed Adam Harben to a minor league deal. No mention of Jose Reyes though. That's two open spots now for Daryle Ward and what looks to be the eventual signing of Jason Marquis. My bad on the Ted Lilly reference earlier, he got his spot when "Boom-Boom" Bynum was dumped.
Today is the deadline for MLB clubs to tender 2007 contracts or offer salary arbitration (where applicable) to players on the club's MLB Reserve List (40-man roster) who are not already signed for 2007. (The old deadline for tendering contracts or offering salary arbitration was December 20th).
It looks like they might have jumped the gun a little bit on the Marquis signing as it's being reported that nothing has been agreed upon quite yet and the years and dollar amounts are still up in the air. He still looks to be coming to the Northside, but the contract details still need to be hammered out. The same article says Daryle Ward's deal is for one year and one million with a second year club option. And that talks with Ryan Church have cooled off at this moment. (Welcome Kenny Lofton!). Unlike Jason Schmidt, Ted Lilly's former team wanted him back and this is what his former manager said about him:
"You know what, I see Ted, he is starting to come into his own. He's always been one of those guys who had the potential to win a lot of ballgames. We always saw so much more in him and last year, we started to see it. He finally got to 15 [victories], but on any given night, when he is on, he can dominate the best teams in baseball."
Well I feel better, okay, not really but I'd rather hear that than "good riddance, jerkoff", much like I'd rather hear John McDonough spout off about winning the World Series as opposed to just trying to be competitive or something like that.
Paul Sulivan at the Chicago Tribune (as well as other media) are reporting that the Cubs have signed free-agent RHP Jason Marquis to a three year deal worth $28M. The 28-year old Marquis was ranked as an MLB Type "B" free-agent, so the Cubs weren't going to lose a draft pick by signing him anyway, but because the Cardinals did not offer arbitration to him by the December 1st deadline, they will not be receiving a Supplemental ("sandwich") draft pick between the 1st & 2nd round of next June's First-Year Player Draft (Rule 4 Draft) as compensation for losing him. (If the Cubs had signed Type "A" FA Jeff Suppan instead of Marquis, the Cubs would have lost a 3rd round draft pick to the Cardinals--Alfonso Soriano cost the Cubs their 2nd Round pick--and the Cards would have also received a Supplemental 1st rounder). Marquis was a 1st Round (supplemental) pick of the Atlanta Braves in the 1996 Rule 4 Draft (June Draft), and quickly became the Braves #1 pitching prospect. He was used as both a starter and reliever with the Braves 2001-2003, before getting traded along with RHP Adam Wainwright and LHP Ray King to St. Louis in December 2003, a deal where the Cardinals sent OF J. D. Drew and C-OF Eli Marrero to Atlanta. Marquis had his two best seasons while pitching for the Cardinals in 2004 and 2005, when he went 15-7 with a 3.72 ERA ('04) and 13-14 with a 4.13 ERA ('05) as a rotation starter. Marquis went 14-16 with a 6.02 ERA and 1.52 WHIP in 2006, and was considered so unreliable at the end of the regular season that he was left off the Cardinals post-season playoff roster. In his best years, Marquis was--like Brandon Webb, Jake Westbrook, and Derek Lowe--an extreme ground ball pitcher. However, last season he got his pitches up and got clobbered, actually getting increasingly worse as the season wore on (he was 11-6 5.55 at the All-Star break, and 3-10 6.91 after the break). If you throw out his six-plus ERA, Marquis' 2006 G/F ratio and WHIP closely match MLB starting pitchers like Josh Fogg or Rodrigo Lopez, so if he can't rediscover his ground ball magic, that's the type of pitcher you can expect Marquis to be for the Cubs in 2007. But if he can relocate his sinker, then he could be a lot better than that. I'd like to think the Cubs know something the Cardinals don't know, but if Redbirds pitching coach Dave Duncan couldn't fix whatever ailed Marquis last season, is it realistic to expect Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild will be able to turn the trick in 2007? CUBS PROJECTED 2007 STARTING ROTATION: 1. Carlos Zambrano 2. Ted Lilly 3. Rich Hill 4. Jason Marquis 5-A. Mark Prior 5-B. Wade Miller 5-C. Neal Cotts 5-D. Sean Marshall, Angel Guzman, Juan Mateo, or Jae-kuk Ryu. UPDATE from Rob G. The Trib has changed its tune again on the money and puts it at a far more reasonable 3/21 now. Bruce Miles of The Daily Herald also pegs the contract in that vicinity as well.
Back by popular demand (okay it was like two people in the comments), it's TCR Friday Notes. I have to admit that I'm a bit burned out by the last few days, so excuse me for this being brief and/or repetitive from stuff in the comments. - It looks like the O's are interested in Jacque Jones and they'll kindly take them him off our hands for hidden gem David Newhan. Oh what's that you say, Newhan isn't very good? Well you'd be right. Hopefully that one is just a cruel joke. - Speaking of the O's, it's reported they offered 3/48 for Jason Schmidt, but it wasn't enough to get him to the East Coast. A St. Louis Dispatch blurb said the Cardinals offered 3/39 and were probably willing to go to 3/42. - Some speculation that the Braves will just non-tender Marcus Giles as they're in a bit of a budget crunch and trade interest has been lukewarm on him so far. Some team will end up being very happy that lands him. - St. Louis Dispatch joins the growing chorus that Jason Marquis will be a Cub soon. Larry Rothschild has even gone to see his workouts and there have been several talks with his agent. Anyone else completely underwhelmed, raise your hands? - We also have talk about the Cubs pursuing Jeff Suppan and if it's a decision between signing Suppan and Marquis, well, wait that's not a decision at all. Go get Suppan! - The same Sun-Times article says the Cubs have been talking to the Nationals about Ryan Church and Sean Marshall's name has come up. It's said that Carlos Marmol interests the Nationals more though. If true, and that's certainly a big if, why isn' this deal done? That seems like such a no-brainer to me and giving up Marmol instead of Marshall seems like a far better move for us. - The same article once again quotes Gary Hughes saying that "Cliff Floyd will probably never be off our radar." - Some humor to get you going for the weekend, an old top 10 list from Letterman on why the Cubs haven't won a World Series since 1908. Enjoy the weekend!!!
The updates will be scarce today as most the GM"s have left Florida and our own GM is recovering from getting fifty years of donuts and trans fats blown out of his arteries. 2:03 PM Another Score update from George Offman and he cites "one report" that the Cubs are talking to Jeff Suppan and mentions that Rocco Baldelli is on the Cubs wish list along with the White Sox. Both sounded like much ado about nothing at this point, so don't go nuts over it. 1:36 PM I'm listening to the Score at the moment and they did mention the Cubs are talking to Jeff Suppan, but no real details. 1:33 PM - Word is that Levine on ESPN 1000 is reporting the Cubs are "close" to signing Jason Marquis, take it for what it's worth.
The 2006 Rule 5 Draft meeting was held this morning at the MLB Winter Meetings at Lake Buena Vista, FL, near Disney World. The Cubs lost three players in the Major League Phase of the Draft--LHP Edward Campusano to MIL (the Brewers then sold Campusano's draft rights to DET), RHP Lincoln Holdzkom to HOU, and INF Jason Smith to TOR, and two players in the AAA phase--2B Richard Lewis to KC and RHP Andy Shipman to OAK. The Cubs also selected one player in the Major League Phase (OF Josh Hamilton from TB) and one player in the AAA phase (RHP Jim Henderson from WAS), but Hamilton was subsequently sent to the Cincinnati Reds in a cash deal. After the conclusion of the Rule 5 Draft, the Cubs acquired RHP Kevin Hart from BAL as the PTBNL in yesterday's deal where Freddie Bynum was sent to the Orioles. Hart was selected by the O's in the 11th round of the 2004 Rule 4 Draft (June Draft) out of the University of Maryland, and was a rotation starter at Hi-A Frederick last season. Hart will be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time after next season, so the Cubs have a year to decide whether to place him on their 40-man roster.
Word from WGN radio is that Freddie Bynum has been dumped on the Orioles for some jerseys, a hat and a day with Cal Ripken Jr. (in actuality it's the elusive PTBNL). I assume it was to make room for the signing of Theodore Roosevelt Lilly (awfully patriotic parents he had). The deal is for 4/40. Cubs are still waiting on Gil Meche to decide between them and the Blue Jays.
I can't imagine that I'll keep up the pace from yesterday, but I'll do what I can. 7:05 PM Rosenthal says that Lilly has agreed on a 4/40 deal with the Cubs. Welcome to the Northside! 7:00 PM Some of our readers that have been listening to local ESPN radio 1000 and Bruce Levine are saying that Jim Hendry has been admitted to the hospital with flu-like symptoms. Bummer. 6:43 PM - Maybe the Cubs are hedging their bets here, but that same St. Louis Dispatch writer, Bernie Miklasz is saying things don't look good for the Cardinals on the Jeff Suppan front and that the Cubs and Astros have made 3/30 offers for him. Cards are only offering 3/20 at the moment for Suppan. If true, Astros have a distinct advantage as Texas has no state income tax making it a better overall deal for Suppan. It also seems the only thing holding up the Dodger deal with Schmidt is the physical (various sources). 6:33 PM - Newsday is saying the Cubs have upped their offer to 4/44 on Lilly and Cashman is deciding if he'll offer the 4/40 that Lilly said he'd be willing to take to pitch for the Yankees. 6:21 PM My apologies to reader "Andrew", for he did post new info in the comments on a link I had previously posted. It seems 30 minutes after thinking they were out of the Meche running, the Blue Jays now believe he may take their 4/40 offer. 5:13 PM - Is Gil Meche a Cub? A Blue Jays official has told a Seattle paper that it's his understanding that Meche will sign with the Cubs. I'm not a fan...... 4:56 PM - Rotoworld and Will Carroll have both picked up on the Schmidt deal not being done quite yet and Schmidt has apparently stopped talking about it. - SI.com is reporting that Lilly has told the Yankees that he'll sign with them if they offer 4/40. - ESPN is saying that Andy Petitte has decided to pitch next year and if my update at 4:05 pm from Stark is true about the Yanks waiting for Petitte, they'd back out on the Lilly sweepstakes. 4:47 PM - Here's a twist for you, although it looks like a message board, the post is from one of the writers from the St. Louis Dispatch and he says the Schmidt deal isn't done yet and they want to still talk to the Cardinals. Ned Colletti may very well take out all the agents in a mass murder-Godfather style hit if Schmidt backs out. In a later post, (around page 5), Bernie (the writer) says he still believes Schmidt is going to the Dodgers and doesn't trust what his agents are telling the Cardinals. 4:05 PM - Another ESPN update from Stark tells us that the Yanks aren't even sure they'll make an offer on Ted Lilly, preferring Andy Petitte. Unfortunately for them, Petitte probably won't be making any final decisons for a couple of weeks. - He also puts the Blue Jays as the front-runners for Gil Meche.
UPDATED 12-6-06 The 2006 Rule 5 Draft meeting will be held tomorrow, and (as per usual) it will be the last order of business at the Winter Meetings.
I was going to start this yesterday but the servers decided to spontaneously combust. I figure besides the July tradeline, the Winter Meetings are the best time for unfounded rumor mongering and I'm more than happy to help. So I've got ESPN News on, about 25 tabs open in my browser, the Score streaming and an IV drip of coffee. I'll see if I can keep it up. I'm going to try and keep it mostly Cub related, even if it's players that have been connected with the Cubs talking to another team. New posts will go above the old posts. 5:25 PM - Bruce Miles gives us a quick update and has a Cubs source saying that Jacque Jones did not "formally" ask for a trade. Also some whispers of a Kevn Mench for Jon Lieber swap. 4:28 PM - Steve Phillips wasted ten minutes of my time just now on ESPN News. - Lilly's agent Larry O'Brien says the Blue Jays will need to get creative to land Lilly and that the Cubs have stepped up their offer on Lilly and are willing to pay him what he wants. Piniella called Lilly to entice him to the Northside as well. - Maddux deal seems to be done. 4:15 PM Probably the last update for a bit, but Rosenthal puts the Mariners in the Zito sweepstakes, and gives the Dodgers the lead for Schmidt citing his ties to Colletti and trainer Stan Conte (recently hired by the Dodgers). 3:39 PM - Ryan Church is on the block and the Cubs may be interested. Nats are probably looking for young pitching and Church isn't going to get a blue-chipper in return. I say cough up Carlos Marmol or someone similar and see if they bite. At worst, Church is a good 4th OF with good plate discpline and decent power from the left side. 2:56 PM - Rosenthal is back on the Maddux to Padres rumors stating that they're at the "dotting-the-i's-and-crossing-the-t's stage" on a one year deal with a 2nd year option. 2:44 PM - Jacque Jones just did an interview on ESPN News and did a fantastic job of dodging questions. Asked directly if he asked for a trade, he said "I don't know about that, you know what I mean?" accompanied with a sly smile that indicated he didn't want to dig too deep a hole. He did say he had a rough go in Chicago last year with the fans, that some folks even got a hold of his phone number, received some hate mail, etc. As far as he's concerned he signed for three years as a Cub, but you got a sense he'd be thrilled to get out of here. He also said he hasn't spoken to Lou yet this offseason. 2:27 PM - The Mariners met with Lilly's agent on Tuesday, no word on an offer but Lilly does have motivation to go to the West Coast as I believe his wife is going to veterinarian school in California.
A few days ago, right here at TCR, I dared Ryne Sandberg to take the open Peoria manager's job. Well, guess what happened?
Chicago media is reporting that Jim Hendry has made an offer to Toronto Blue Jays FA LHP Ted Lilly. The offer is believed to be somewhere in the neighborhood of $36-$40M over four years, comparable to the contract Jarrod Washburn got from the Seattle Mariners last off-season (4/37.5). However, Lillyís agent has said that the while an offer has been received from the Cubs, there are other MLB clubs interested in his client (believed to be NYY, TOR, and SF), and while he has been impressed by the moves the Cubs have made so far, Lilly has not made a decision yet. One thing pretty clear is that if Hendry has indeed offered Lilly $9M or $10M per year, then itís EXTREMELY unlikely that Hendry will have any further conversations about Jason Schmidt. If the $15M in 2007 payroll that would have been needed to sign Schmidt is instead split two-ways, and if Lilly gets about $9M of it, then figure Hendry will be able to spend about $6M of ìSchmidt Moneyî on another rotation starter, possibly by acquiring Jake Westbrook or Jason Jennings (both of whom make about $6M in 2007) via trade, or by signing a veteran ìswing-manî (starter/reliever) like Miguel Batista (also likely to get around $6M per year). So who exactly is Ted Lilly? Well, Ted Lilly is the poor man's Barry Zito. Like Zito (and Rich Hill), Lilly is an extreme fly ball pitcher who relies on pop-ups and strikeouts to get his outs, and when he is on his game and when the wind isn't blowing out at Wrigley or when he isn't pitching in a bandbox like the parks in Houston, Philadelphia, and Cincinnati, he can roll through a lineup, racking up Ks (Lilly was 7th in the A. L. in K/IP last season). However, while Zito (and Hill) frequently will give his club seven strong innings and sometimes pitch into the eight or ninth, Lilly doesn't do that. He is NOT a "horse" and he is NOT an "innings eater." In a typical start, Lilly throws about 17-18 pitches per inning (second-most P/IP in MLB last year, and second only to another presumed Hendry target, Gil Meche) and because he usually ìhits the wallî at about 90-100 pitches, he has trouble getting through the sixth inning. So the bullpen usually gets an early call when Lilly is on the mound. I consider Lilly to be a lower-half #2 or upper-half #3 starter, a decent middle of the rotation guy, but I would be more enthused about Lilly if the Cubs didnít already have some IP challenged starters (Mark Prior and Wade Miller) and a Zito-clone (Rich Hill) in the rotation. I believe Lilly is a better choice and a class above Meche, Marquis, Redman, et al, but he is not Jason Schmidt and neither is he Vicente Padilla. If the Cubs do manage to sign Lilly, the 2007 starting rotation would look like this (pending any additional acquisitions): 1. Zambrano 2. Lilly 3. Hill 4. Prior/Miller/Marshall 5. Miller/Marshall/Guzman/Mateo/Ryu
Every year going into the off-season, I usually informally rate the MLB starting pitchers, as either a #1, #2, #3, #4, #5-A, #5-B, or "emerging prospect" starter. Naturally, the list changes from year-to-year. Since there are 30 MLB clubs, I list 30 #1 starters, 30 #2 starters, 30 #3 starters, etc. Some clubs have more than one "ace #1 starter," while others don't have any. It's just my subjective opinion--and I'm sure you have your's, and normally I just keep the list in my head, using it as a reference when posting something here about pitchers the Cubs might be pursuing as free-agents or in a trade. But with the Winter Meetings set to commence at Lake Buena Vista, FL (near Disney World) on Monday, with MLB GMs likely to begin congregating at the hotel bar Sunday evening, and with Jim Hendry hoping to acquire two (or possibly three) starting pitchers while he's there, I thought I would post my list, just to provide a starting point for discussions about pitchers Hendry might be considering.
The Cubs announced their 2007 minor league managing and coaching assignments a couple of days ago, and together with a previous announcement regarding minor league coordinators, the MLB field staff and Player Development field staff for the upcoming season is just about finalized.
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