January 2008

Close Encounters With Mr. Cub

Happy 77th Birthday Mr. Cub. My close encounter with Ernie was well after his hall of fame career was over. Take the "wayback machine" with me to May 19th, 1979. A group of my University of Chicago Med School classmates went with me to see a Cubs game that crisp May afternoon.

Criminal Baseball: The Chicago Colts and the Sunday Observance League

Every Day Is Like Sunday

Readers of the Chicago Daily Tribune woke up on the morning of June 23rd, 1895, to discover that the day’s baseball game between the Chicago Colts (fore-runners to the Cubs) and the Cleveland Spiders was likely to be delayed. On account of police raid. As the paper reported, the Rev. W.W. Clark of the Sunday Observance League had demanded warrants for the arrest of team captain Cap Anson and the rest of the Chicago starting nine, for breaking the Sabbath laws.

Playing Ex-Cub Roulette

Jerry Crasnick has a story up at espn.com about the significant number of free agents still looking for work. "The game's rampant unemployment problem," he refers to it jokingly.

It's a long list--more than 90 players are still unattached according to ESPN's Free Agent Tracker--but 12 of the names on the list caught my eye:

Has Bedard Finally Been Traded? Will Roberts To Cubs Follow?

mlbtraderumors.com flagged this story by Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times, reporting that Adam Jones of the Mariners is on his way to Baltimore in a deal for Eric Bedard. According to Baker, Jones is scheduled to be in Baltimore Monday so he can take a physical.

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TCR Friday Notes

...the triumphant return.

- Earlier this week, Tom Verducci tackled the importance of rotation stability. A piece that easily could be re-titled: "The Value of Jason Marquis".

- Also at sportsillustrated.com, Joe Sheehan goes through his 2008 breakout candidates (I believe the article is on BP as well). Clip and save for your fantasty drafts.

Bigfoot

The newest addition to the Cubs pitching staff, 37 year old (38 on April 2nd) Jon Lieber is apparently ready to pitch. His tenure in Philadelphia ended abruptly last season in the 6th inning, on June 20th, while backing up home plate on a play in Cleveland. It was one rotten day for him already as he had given up 7 runs on 10 hits and was on the hook for his 6th loss.

Cubs Lineup Fun

With the wind chill factor in Chicago approaching 137 degrees below zero and Spring Training still 21 days, 14 hours, 9 minutes and 41 seconds away, I found this fun little diversion courtesy of David Pinto at Baseball Musings.

Based on work by Cyril Morong (Beyond The Box Score), Ken Arneson (Catfish Stew), and Ryan Armbrust (The Pastime), Pinto has fashioned a Lineup Analysis machine. You simply feed nine players into the formula along with their OBP's and slugging percentages, and what you get back is a series of run projection numbers, based on various lineup permutations of the players you entered.

For yucks, I entered numbers for Soriano, Theriot, Lee, Ramirez, Fukudome, Pie, DeRosa and Soto, plus a generic Cub Pitchers line (.167 OBP, .207 SLG, based on the Cub pitchers’ ’07 hitting performance).

Cubs Convention Opens Friday Night

The 23rd annual Cubs Convention begins Friday night. As usual, it’s sold out. If you have passes, enjoy yourself and, if you’re so inclined, please add your observations to the Comments.

If you don’t have passes, you’ll want to steer clear of the Chicago Hilton and Towers. It would be a shame for an innocent bystander to get stampeded by several thousand people racing for an autograph from Jody Davis or Andy Pafko.

Enemy Off-Season Update: The Brewers

Milwaukee's signing of outfielder Mike Cameron, made official on Monday, was just the latest maneuver in what has been a busy off-season for GM Doug Melvin.

The Brewers bid adieu (lot of French people up there in Milwaukee) to the following key players from the '07 club:

  • Relievers Francisco Cordero and Scott Linebrink, who left for big free-agent money in Cincinnati and on Chicago's South Side, respectively. (Melvin made Cordero a competitive offer but has acknowledged he may have bungled the negotiations.)
  • Longtime Brewer Geoff Jenkins, whose $9MM club option was declined. Jenkins signed with the Phillies.

Here's who the Brewers have added:

Cubs Sign Lieber; Jason Bere And Kevin Tapani Consider Comebacks

What Ken Rosenthal reported earlier this morning, cubs.com is now confirming:

The Cubs have signed righthander Jon Lieber to a one-year, $3.5 million deal. Lieber pitched for the Cubs from 1999 through 2002. In 2001, his best Major League season, he went 20-6, 3.80 and finished fourth in Cy Young voting.

Cubs Invite 19 To Spring Training

The Cubs invited the following 19 players to spring training, which begins February 13th for pitchers & catchers:

Pitchers
Ed Campusano
Geoff Jones
Les Walrond
Esmailin Caridad
Jose Ceda
Chad Fox
Mike Smith

Catchers
Welington Castillo
JD Closser
Josh Donaldson
Koyie Hill

No, You're Out Of Order

Slow news day.

I was reading The Hardball Times today, which eventually led me to this Retrosheet page of all known instances of a major league player batting out of order.

Care to take one guess at the former Cubs jersey-wearer who has been involved in not one, not two, but three instances of batting out of order in his career? (Yes, I'm being a bit legalistic in how I've phrased this...)

Cubs Sign Chad Fox

The Cubs have signed 37-year old RHP Chad Fox to a minor league contract and have invited him to Spring Training.

Fox last pitched in the big leagues in 2005 with the Cubs, when he suffered what was thought to be a career-ending injury to his right elbow in a game at Houston in April of that season.

But back when he was healthy, Fox had some decent years as an MLB reliever, and had some excellent IP/K ratios and OppBA numbers. In 214 MLB games, Fox went 10-11 with 45 saves, a 3.57 ERA, and a 1.43 WHIP, but in 224.1 IP, Fox allowed only 193 hits, with 128/261 BB/K.

Somebody must have some reason to believe Fox is healthy enough to compete for a big league job. I mean, I enjoy blood and gore as much as the next guy, but I really don't necessarily want to see his arm fall off in front of the old folks and kiddies at HoHoKam.

Although their complete list of Non-Roster Invitees (NRI) to Spring Training has not yet been released, and while additional players may be subsequently signed to minor league deals and get an NRI to ST, I believe the Cubs NRI list will ultimately probably look something like this:

(And again, this is just speculation on my part)

Looking In On Corey Patterson

Former Cub Corey Patterson has come a long way, and not in the direction any player wants to see his career go.

Since the Cubs traded Patterson to Baltimore in January, 2006, he's had seasons of .276 and .269, with OPS+ numbers of 94 and 80, OBPs of .314 and .304, and a combined 159 strikeouts and 42 walks.