February 2008

Cubs Drop Cactus League Home Opener

The San Francisco Giants rallied to defeat the Cubs 8-6 this afternoon at HoHoKam Park in Mesa.

 box score

The game was played under sunny skies with temperatures in the 80’s, but it was far from a capacity crowd at HoHoKam, as the announced attendance was only 8,838. There was a time when the Cubs Spring Home Opener was an automatic sell-out (which would be just under 12,000), but not this year.

TCR Friday Notes

- A couple of quick site modifications with more soon to come. I added a "module" as Drupal calls them, that will automatically fill in the subject line for users when they comment. When you first hit the comment button, it will add "Re: {Title of Post}. If you hit reply to a comment, it will fill-in the subject line with the subject of the comment you are replying to. You can go in and edit them if you wish. If you are replying to someone's comment though, we do ask that you just leave the default because it makes life a lot easier for those viewing comments in the "flat" modes.

- The next tweak is the signature module. It has a few options - the most important is that it will stylize the signature automatically (no more broken tag troubles hopefully). Currently it's set-up to have a small line break and italicize it:


Welcome to The New Cub Reporter!

Since the system is doing all the formatting now, I do ask that if you did add a signature, to go in and remove any tags or linebreaks (directly the opposite of what I asked yesterday). I simply typed in: Welcome to the New Cub Reporter! in my signature box without any formatting and what you see above is what is pumped out.

Also, if you change your signature or add one, it will change the signature on all your old comments as well.

Next, your signature will no longer show up in the comment box and you won't have to type around it. If you added a signature to your account, it will automatically attach it to the end of your posts now.

The last note is that after I installed the module, it did take everyone who had a signature yesterday and duplicated them in your comments. An unfortunate side-effect, but everything should be working normally from here on.

So That's Why The Orioles Would Be Interested In Ronny Cedeno

Earlier today, Rob alluded to this story in the Baltimore Sun, which says the O's will be sending a scout to Mesa next week "to get a closer look" at players the Cubs and Orioles have discussed as part of a potential Brian Roberts swap.

Gameday Open Thread/Cubs @ Giants

Cubs baseball (Cactus League version) is back! Ryan Dempster begins his attempt to win a spot in the '08 rotation; Noah Lowry starts for the Giants. Neither starter is slated to go beyond the second inning.

First pitch is at 2:05 Central Time. Pat and Ron have the radio call on WGN radio in Chicago.

Rob tells me that Parachat is open and your usernames/passwords from last year will still work, though they are different than the names you just created so you could leave comments here at the new site.

Sam Zell Needs You To Help Him Pimp Out Wrigley Field

Tribune Company is now owned by a supposed money-making genius, and the best ideas he can come up with to wring more money out of Wrigley Field are more night games, additional concerts, and peddling the naming rights?

What about the weddings you could host on the pitchers mound, the bar mitzvahs, the graduation bashes, and the Congratulations On Getting Out Of Prison parties?

Welcome to The NEW Cub Reporter!

On July 21st, 2001, Christian started this site somewhere on the World Wide Web with a post simply titled, "Welcome to the Cub Reporter." About six and a half years later, the NEW Cub Reporter is born. Yes, the rumors are true, we've moved to a new site and to our own domain name (finally). If anything, we'll be easier to find now at www.thecubreporter.com. I suppose the first question will be: Why the move?

While we appreciated the opportunities afforded to us at MVN.com and all the fine people working over there, we're just not the conforming types. Plus, we were very anxious to take on the headache of maintaining our own website. Mostly though, we just wanted to do our own thing and be able to swear whenever we wanted.

The second question you might be asking is: What's the ultimate answer to life, the Universe and Everything? Answer: 42 (it's even in our FAQ).

Third question(damn, what's with all the nagging): What's new about the site?

Plenty my friends...plenty.


Prospect List-Mania 2008

Just like I did last year, a rundown of the various prospect lists out there.

: Once upon a time it was all stat-based (or at least it seemed so), but since hiring Kevin Goldstein (formely of Baseball America) to be their minor league guy, I think he actually bothers to watch some of these guys and certainly talks to a scout or two.

Five-Star Prospects
1. Geovany Soto, C
2. Josh Vitters, 3B
Four-Star Prospects
Three-Star Prospects
3. Donald Veal, LHP
4. Jose Ceda, RHP
5. Josh Donaldson, C
6. Sean Gallagher, RHP
7. Tyler Colvin, OF
8. Eric Patterson, 2B/OF
9. Welington Castillo, C
10. Tony Thomas, 2B
Two-Star Prospects
11. Jeff Samardzija, RHP

Just Missing: Kevin Hart, RHP; Chris Huseby, RHP; Larry Suarez, RHP

Sleeper: Kyler Burke

What They Say: Colvin is a below-average center fielder range-wise, and many feel he'll need to move to a corner in short order. That leaves him as a bit of a tweener--his swing-at-anything approach led to just five walks in 62 Double-A games, which is not enough of an offensive force to play in a corner everyday. Lefties give him significant troubles, and he adjusts by shortening his swing, which costs him any chance at power against them.

We Have Baseball (Almost)!

I haven't enjoyed typing anything as much as this in a very long time:

Per the Sun-Times, here is the Cubs' batting order for Thursday's Cactus League opener at 2:05 Central Time against the now Bonds-less San Francisco Giants:

ss Theriot

3b Cedeno

rf Fukudome

1b Lee

lf Murton

c Soto

2b Cintron

cf Pie

p Dempster

DeLuca and/or Wittenmyer report that following Dempster's two innings, Sean Gallagher will go for two. Ceda, Cotts, Pignatiello, Ascanio, and Hart will then pitch an inning apiece.

Alfonso Soriano and Aramis Ramirez are expected to step into the lineup on Friday, when the Cubs host the Giants at HoHoKam.

From Arizona Phil:

The Cubs moved a half-mile up Center Street to HoHoKam Park this morning for the first time this Spring.

There were about 100 fans in attendance for the "free" preview, and as was the case last year, Manager Lou Piniella opted not to play an intrasquad game to prepare for the Cactus League, instead preferring an extended (90 minute) regular season-type infield practice and traditional BP, followed by baserunning practice.

Cub Notes On A Snowy Tuesday

– Gordon Wittenmyer writes in today's Sun-Times that Mark DeRosa's cardiac issues are not a major concern to DeRo or Cub doctors, nor will they be the impetus for any personnel moves by Jim Hendry.

Wittenmyer also thinks the Cubs are more likely to add that
proverbial, right-handed hitting, three-position outfielder before
Opening Day than they are He Who Must Not Be Named.

Baseball Musings sizes up a potential Cubs rotation of Zambrano, Lilly, Hill, Dempster, and Marquis (Where is your Lieber?) based on the Marcel the Monkey projections
and foresees a cumulative 4.28 ERA for the fivesome. That's a few ticks
above the 4.19 ERA Cub starters pitched to last season, when their ERA
was second best in the NL, but still pretty solid.

One highly questionable element in the projection: Ryan Dempster's
projected 4.50 ERA. Only once in his career as a starting
pitcher--Dempster's All-Star season in 2000 down in pitcher-friendly
Florida--has Dempster ever had an ERA at or below 4.50.

Baseball Prospectus, Condensed For Your At-Work Reading

What the latest Baseball Prospectus annual has to say about the Cubs, minus all those pesky numbers and the obscure historical and literary allusions:

Ronny Cedeno
"...Cedeno's is a tried and true skill set–the same one that's earning Orlando Cabrera millions of dollars every season..."

Ryan Dempster
"...has experienced a steady decline in his groundball rates over the past three seasons...coupled with command that was never very good to begin with..."

Mark DeRosa
"If the Cubs bring in a Brian Roberts-type...the gains will be less than they might appear at first glance."

Kosuke Fukudome
"An inspired acquisition...a J.D. Drew/Bobby Abreu type of player..."

Happy Birthday Ron Santo

Cub near Hall of Fame 3rd baseman and radio broadcaster Ron Santo turns 68 today! Yes, he was born on Feb 25th, 1940 in Seattle, Washington. Rumor has it that he clicked his heels right after the delivery.

May all your wishes come true this season (and we all know what that main wish is).

...and remember to keep the "gamer" away from all those birthday cake candles.

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2007 Batting Order Results

Or, how Baseball-Reference will be the death of me


The latest ridiculously interesting tool released by baseball-reference.com is its Batting Order Position Outcomes page. Plug in a team, a year, and a position in the batting order, and it will break down that position's results by the player batting in that slot.


For instance, did you know that on the 2007 Cubs team, Cesar Izturis logged the most games (41) and plate appearances (154) in the 8th spot in the order? He put up a .254/.314/.300/.614 line while hitting 8th, and the Cubs went 18-23 in games where he batted 8th. With Koyie Hill hitting 8th, the Cubs went an impressive 14-7. No thanks to Hill, necessarily, who hit .141/. 203/.211/.414 in those games. In stark contrast to Hill, Ronny Cedeno hit .368/.369/.737/1.052 in nine games there, and the Cubs went 2-7.


Other interesting but perhaps entirely meaningless discoveries include...

Welcome to the Frozen Confines

According to the Daily Herald, the Blackhawks have discussed with the Cubs the possibility that the Hawks would play one of the NHL's outdoor games next season at Wrigley Field. The NHL would obviously need to give its okay and according to the Daily Herald story, the New York Rangers, who are hoping to host a game in soon-to-be-shuttered Yankee Stadium, might be more likely to get Gary Bettman's approval than the Hawks.

Podcast Appearance

It was a long day at the Long Beach County Courthouse today for me, fulfilling my civic duties (that woman was guilty the second I saw her).  So I didn't have time to put up the link for my podcast appearance on "The Pitch" with Joe Aiello (of "The View from the Bleachers" fame) from yesterday.  We chat about the upcoming season and the role of midgets in baseball.

Full Squad! (In Color)

Today marked another milestone in the annual Cubs Spring Training ritual, as the "full squad" took the field together at Fitch Park for the first time (which is to say Aramis Ramirez finally arrived) under sunny skies and temperatures in the high 50's, and under the watchful eyes of The Brain Trust (Jim Hendry wandering from field-to-field with a cell-phone glued to his ear while patting players on the back, Lou Piniella with a cup of coffee in hand schmoozing with the fans, Randy Bush and Oneri Fleita following Hendry around, Gary Hughes tooling around in a golf cart, Carrie Muskat feverishly taking notes, et al).

Pie and (Corey) Patterson: A Plethora of Prognosticators' Projections

While it's no Arizona-Phil-from-two-days-ago-live-scouting-update , John Sickles has a post up at his website concerning Felix Pie. For the most part, it's a vanilla run through Pie's minor league credentials, but a couple of things came up from the post that are worth re-emphasizing.

Cubs Get 2008 Season Started at Fitch Park

With security understandably tight (well, there was one off-duty Mesa cop in the players parking lot), the Cubs had their first "official" work-out of the 2008 season under mostly cloudy skies (around 60 degrees, with a wind chill of about 59) this morning at Mesa's Fitch Park, as Pitchers & Catchers and eight position player "early birds" took the field. It was a smaller crowd than usual for the first day (maybe about 40 or 50 fans), but at least nobody got arrested.

A-Ram Says He's Dedicated

Dedicated to cockfighting, that is.

Chicago Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramírez is prominently featured in a recent issue of a Dominican cockfighting magazine, En La Traba, in which he is pictured with several roosters that he raises for fighting. Of roosters, he said in the magazine, “When I’m in the Dominican Republic, I’m dedicated entirely to them.”

The First Stone Has Been Cast...

As you might have heard, and if you haven't...well you certainly will, the Cubs will go 100 straight years without a championship if 2008 is not the year. And at least one Cub is ready for battle:

"I think we're going to win the World Series. I really do. I wouldn't have worked as hard as I did and everybody worked as hard as they did to not believe that."

All The ???? That's Fit To Print

Chicago’s favorite former Chunichi Dragon gets the attention of the New York Times today. The article talks about how Fukudome played shortstop (badly) for his first three years as a pro, and the memory of that evoked this funny, self-deprecating description of what kind of shortstop Fukudome was:

“The kind that caused my pitchers great anxiety.”


Recent comments

The first 600 characters of the last 16 comments, click "View" to see rest of comment.
  • AZ PHIL- Is Clayton Richard a free agent or not? One site I see he is, on another no. MLB has him listed as a free agent, Cot's contracts says he is a FA, baseball-reference says he's not, but Cubs have him on active roster. I know that he is just short of MLB 6 years service by just like 15 days, but that doesn't always matter.

  • Except that he gave up Russell and McKinney for a half-season of Hammel...

  • Beane cam at least point and laugh at Hammel.

  • The genius Angelo traded Olsen at Martzs request

  • Maybe Theo will sign Shark just so he can call Billy Beane and say: "Let's see...Russell? Check. McKinney? Check. Hammel? Check. Ninja? Check. Any other deals?"

  • To be fair to Emery and Trestman the foreshadowing of last year started happening well before them with the failure or mismanaging of multiple draft classes forcing the team to overspend in a free agency market that is even worse than baseball. Kyle Long seems like a good pick but they traded away another good one in Olson because of Martz's stupidity and inability to change his offense to fit the team talent.

  • HAGSAG: I think Domonic Brown does fit the criteria of a reclamation project, but unless he is willing to accept a minor league contract with an NRI to Spring Training, I don't think the Cubs would be interested given where the Cubs are right now. A couple of years ago? Yes. But probably not now.

    Brown would be better-off going to a club that is rebuilding and re-establish his value there, like Chris Coghlan did with the Cubs. And if he can re-establish his value, he could get traded to a contender at the trade deadline and take it from there.  

  • "they just fade away"

    (Except in the cases of no-fade lefties like Moyer, Orosco and Rich Hill.)

  • Amazing to me how quickly it fell apart under Trestman. Year 1, they were a Chris Conte brain fart away from making the playoffs. Year 2 -- coach, staff and GM all fired.

  • I am sure Jonathon Mota will be signed next.

  • AZ Phil, what is your thoughts on Domonic Brown as a reclamation project?

  • He also played LF in deference to Curtis Granderson.

    Meh... other moves to make...hope to see a move or two soon.

  • I haven't seen much Bears football this year - difficult to watch the games out here, but the game I saw the week before I was watching in shock as I saw them actually make tackles. And Cutler has looked really good, too.

    I guess people can quibble about play calling, but the team I saw is way more than 50% better coached (my only very minor disagreement with your comment).

    Under Trestman, the team didn't do anything right. This team played like a well coached team when I saw them play the Rams.

  • "What is sometimes overlooked about Vogelbach because of his "bad body" and because he has struggled so much defensively is that he is a hard worker, has a great attitude, loves to play the game, and is very well-liked by his teammates, and while that may not seem important, teams do actually value stuff like that. "

    As well they should. Replace a word here and there and you are describing any worker someone would hire.

  • Hak-Ju Lee signs a minor league contract with SF Giants.

    Some closure on the 6 degrees of Separation for Matt Garza/Chris Archer

  • Hahahahaha