November 2009

A whole lot of noting happening still so let's look at the Hall of Fame ballot.

The newbies for this year are:

2010: Roberto Alomar, Kevin Appier, Andy Ashby, Dave
Burba, Ellis Burks, Andres Galarraga, Pat Hentgen, Mike Jackson, Eric
Karros, Ray Lankford, Barry Larkin, Edgar Martinez, Fred McGriff, Mark
McLemore, Shane Reynolds, David Segui, Robin Ventura, Fernando Vina,
Todd Zeile

Let's couple that with the returning candidates and here would be my ballot. As I did earlier in the year, I've broken it down in two ways.

Well I'm sure there are some bugs, but as far as I can tell everything is functioning with one minor exception. That being under the "Our Writers" drop-down menu, the links for Arizona Phil's latest (also under AZ Phil's Corner), Cubnut's latest, Dr. Hecht's latest, etc currently aren't working. Some of the code is clashing with some other code and now they're waiting for the other to apologize. I should be able to fix it down the road, but it's not particulalry vital either for the site...at least not for the moment.

As for the upgrade, most of the new bells and whistles are behind-the-scenes, but they will appear around the site as the offseason progresses. The one change you will notice is in the comments. We've added something called AJAX comments, which is basically some cool javascript code that will now post your comments without having to refresh the whole page (although it doesn't seem to work for the first comment of a post if you click "Add New Comment"...shrug). That should save on some load times for everyone. You still need to refresh the article or go to the front page to see if anyone else has posted new comments, but all your postings will load right up at about half the time. So let's say you visit the site and there are a bunch of new comments and you want to reply to a couple of them. You can do that without having to refresh the page three times and losing your place. The one little bug in that is that the comment subjects get erased after the first reply, so if you guys can stay on top of filling that in I'd appreciate it. It's always better for other users using the flat view if you type in a unique comment subject anyway.

Anyway test some things out and let me know if you come across any bugs.

UPDATE: Also, the ability to add signatures to your comments has disappeared. This wasn't a decision on my part, rather the developer that created that functionality didn't update it for this version of the software. If I can find a suitable replacement, I'll install it.

UPDATE #2: One feature that was requested awhile back was a Return to Homepage link at the bottom of the comments so you don't have to scroll all the way back up. It's there now.

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There's going to be an upgrade done to the site sometime over the weekend, so apologies if it's down when you try to escape your in-laws . This could last anywhere from late Thursday night through Sunday(the upgrade and avoiding your in-laws) and I'm sure it's a guarantee that the Cubs will pull off some big news event just to mess with me.

See everyone on the other side and enjoy the holiday break.

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According to Sun-Times beat reporter, Gordon Wittenmeyer, with the signing of John Grabow to a 2/7.5 contract (backended as only Jim Hendry can do) and the trading of Aaron Heilman to the Snakes, the Cubs have supposedly made their final bullpen move of the offseason.

The deal appears to secure the final key piece to the Cubs' projected 2010 bullpen, coming one day after the team traded veteran Aaron Heilman to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

I'm pretty happy to see Heilman move out of town but replacing him with Grabow seems kind of blah. It's a Hendry thing to get a grizzled veteran for that 8th inning setup role and since Grabow is able to get lefty and righty hitters out (i.e. not a LOOGY), he's the heir apparent for the crusty veteran out of the bullpen for 2010.

List em. Since Jim Hendry was given the reins to the GM job in 2002, he's added through trade or free agency the following veteran bullpen lugnuts: Antonio Alfonseca, Mike Remlinger, Dave Veres, Mark Guthrie, Alan Benes, Phil Norton, Joe Borowoski, LaTroy Hawkins, Glendon Rusch, Cliff Bartosh, Scott Williamson, Chad Fox (twice), Bob Howry, Scott Eyre, Neal Cotts, Chad Gaudin, Jon Lieber, Luis Vizcaino, Aaron Heilman and lastly Grabow. I'd say for the most part, that's the ugly underbelly of MLB pitching although I know the Cubs are far from being alone in accumulating pitchers like these. Hence, I'm hoping the 2010 Cubs get more out of their young pitching so we don't see Chad Fox (round three?) ever again. Esmalin Caridad, Jeff Stevens and Justin Berg, I'm talking to you. It would be really nice to see productive seasons out of the recent 40 man roster additions including John Gaub, Blake Parker and even longshot/hotshot Raphael Dolis.

I've gotten a bit addicted to Sporcle since someone posted that quiz of Cubs Opening Day Lineups in the comments. Since not a damn thing is happening, I created one on all the players to grace Cubbie uniforms or been associated with the team that have been inducted into the Hall of Fame. Good luck.

The silly website won't let me add a note to the quiz or I just can't figure it out, but the asterisks next to their position indicate that the player, manager or executive played or managed less than two seasons with the Cubs(roughly). The year is the year the player was inducted. And although I did my best to put alternative spellings in there, since I don't think it should be a spelling contest, I think it's perfectly acceptable to look up the spelling of the name if you think you know an answer and it's not accepting it.

-edit- speaking of, I apparently have a typo on Joe Tinker, I put in Tinkers and it won't let me edit it, so there's one.

-edit #2- finally figured it out, the Tinkers/Tinker typo has been fixed.

The Cubs added pitchers John Gaub, Blake Parker and Rafael Dolis along with catcher Welington Castillo and OF James Adduci to their 40-man roster. All five were eligible to be selected in the upcoming Rule 5 draft and the deadline was today to add them. Arizona Phil has been keeping track of this on the right sidebar of course. He had Matt Camp on his short list of players he thought the Cubs would protect - rather than Adduci - but he got the other four.

Besides Camp, I would guess that Steve Clevenger, Alessandro Maestri, Thomas Diamond, J.R.Mathes or Greg Reinhard might draw a little interest.

- Muskat blogged that the Blue Jays contacted the Cubs about Roy Halladay.

...there's a catch. He's owed $15.75 million in 2010, and the Blue Jays
want some of the Cubs' top prospects. No. 1, the team can't take on
Halladay's salary. The Blue Jays apparently have a wish list and Milton
Bradley is not on it. A player like highly regarded shortstop Starlin
Castro most likely is, and the Cubs don't want to part with him,
especially since they might only have Halladay for one year.

A good time to show your committment to winning Ricketts family - we're all counting on you.

- Phil Rogers tried to sell a 3-way trade of Luis Castillo to the Cubs, Kevin Millwood to the Mets and Milton Bradley to the Rangers. It was quickly shot down though by the Cubs and Rangers.

- Carlos Marmol claimed the Cubs were pursuing Pedro Martinez, but the Cubs shot down that as well.

- John Grabow's deal is official, 2/7.5M. A report from Bruce Levine said it would go up by a million in the second year, so that makes it $3.25M in 2010 and $4.25M in 2011 if that ends up being the case. Also should note that Grabow's been dealing with bone chips as well for the last three years. I'm sure that won't bite the Cubs in the ass.

- Last day to enter the TCR Free Agent Frenzy contest, I'll shut it down sometime this weekend.

Mike Leake (CIN) threw four innings of shutout ball and Lance Zawadzki (SD) had three hits, including a solo home run and a two-run double, leading the Peoria Saguaros to an 8-1 victory over the Mesa Solar Sox at HoHoKam Park this afternoon.

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The Cubs have traded RHP Aaron Heilman to the Arizona Diamondbacks for two minor leaguers, LHP Scott Maine and 1B Ryne White. No one on the Cubs or their fans is probably gonna miss Heilman so I won't waste much space on him, but it was a good way for the Cubs to get something for a guy that was probably a good bet to get non-tendered.

Bruce Levine is reporting that a deal with John Grabow should be completed today for two years and nearly 7.5 million. I had expressed my indifference in the past over resigning Grabow. Oh sure, his ERA has been pretty good the last two years, but with a BB/9 rate near 5 last year and 4.15 for his career, I don't think anyone would really miss him if he got away. I was asked in the comments yesterday how I'd handle this situation and here was my response.

Nick Evans (NYM), Mike Moustakas (KC), and Colin Curtis (NYY) each crushed two-run homers, and Ian Kennedy (NYY) threw five innings of one-run ball, leading the Surprise Rafters to a 9-2 drubbing of the Mesa Solar Sox in Arizona Fall League action at HoHoKam Park in Mesa this afternoon, in what was Andrew Cashner's final AFL start.

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Danny Espinosa (WAS) had three hits and drove-in four runs and Josh Bell (BAL) cracked a three-run homer to cap a seven-run 4th, as the Phoenix Desert Dogs drubbed the Mesa Solar Sox 11-1 this afternoon at HoHoKam Park, clinching the AFL East crown and earning a berth in the 2009 AFL Championship Game versus the Peoria Javelinas next Saturday afternoon at Scottsdale Stadium. 

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I think they're on the verge of announcing the N.L. Rookie of the Year and Randy Wells was in the running for most of the season. Ultimately I don't think he'll get more than a few third place votes from the Chicago writers and I don't have much time to put together a full analysis, so I'm just going to lazily look at WAR values over at Fangraphs.

Randy Wells - 3.0

Garrett Jones - 2.6

J.A. Happ - 1.8

Chris Coghlan - 2.3

Andrew McCutchen - 3.4

Tommy Hanson - 2.6

Casey McGehee - 2.2

Colby Rasmus - 2.3

My guess is that it ends up Hanson, McCutchen, Happ by the voters and I would certainly encourage a more robust analysis than just WAR values, but there you have it. The Internet Baseball Awards voted Hanson the winner with Wells finishing 8th, for what it's worth.

On the AL side,  Elvis Andrus and Rick Porcello seem to be getting the most press with Andrew Bailey also in the mix.  Fangraphs has Andrus at 3.0 WAR, Porcello at 1.8 and Bailey at 2.4. Pitchers Jeff Niemann(3.2 WAR) and Brett Anderson(3.8 WAR) both surpass Porcello by WAR values but don't seem to be getting much hype. My guess is the voters give it to Porcello as most of Andrus's value came from his glove. Porcello got the nod at the Internet Baseball Awards.


Andrew Bailey wins the A.L. award with Andrus and Porcello finishing second and third. Chris Coghlan took the N.L. award. He was followed by Happ, Hanson, McCutchen, McGehee and then Wells finishing 6th.

 

A little under the weather and mourning the end of the Bears season, so some brief notes to hold you over for the weekend.

-  To add fuel to my "they better offer Rich Harden arbitration" fire, the Seattle Times suggest the Mariners have some interest in Rich Harden as I imagine a few teams will.

- Our pal Alex Eisenberg at Baseball Intellect has a new premium article scouting left-handed pitcher James Paxton (drafted by the Blue Jays in the supplemental round in the 2009 draft). The video in the game is against LSU and there's three at-bats of D.J. LeMaheiu which he does a little breakdown of. 

- Congrats to Carlos Zambrano on his third Silver Slugger award. I know Z gets a lot of heat for his Babe Ruth like swings and not worrying enough about his pitching, but I suggest if you have a problem with that you should go follow an AL team. Players like Carlos Zambrano is what makes the National League more fun.

- On the Curtis Granderson rumor front, MLBTR has a link up saying the Angels and Tigers have been talking...Granderson would presumably patrol left field.

- And now the greatest 4:30 minutes you'll watch this weekend, hat tip to Big League Stew for the find.

Enjoy the weekend!

Let's try to filter through all the rumor reports from the GM meetings...

Milton Bradley

We know Hendry has talked to the Rays, Rangers, Blue Jays, Mets and Angels and really only the Rays and Rangers seem to be showing any real interest and both want the Cubs to pay a hefty portion of Bradley's remaining contract. The two most discussed names coming back were Pat Burrell or Kevin Millwood. For those that thought Aaron Rowand or Barry Zito's contract could get it done, Brian Sabean said he has absolutely no interest in acquiring Bradley.

Robothal's latest said the Rays and Cubs were talking again yesterday and were just $2-$3M apart, but then stirred up some quotes describing the discussions as "worse than Chinese water torture." and "I wish cattle prods were legal." And if the Cubs do get Burrell, they'll probably just have to pay some more to ship to another team as he'll unlikely be a Cub next year considering no one thinks he belongs in the outfield anymore.

One of our most trusted readers heard on the radio from Bruce Levine that a deal for Bradley should go down in the next 3-4 days.

With two of the AFL's top starting pitchers on the hill, naturally the game turned into a slugfest, as the Mesa Solar Sox scored eight unanswered runs in the middle innings to overcome a 4-0 deficit, only to blow a four-run 8th inning lead, before scoring the game-winning run on a two-out single in the bottom of the 9th, en route to a 9-8 victory over Surprise Rafters in Arizona Fall League action this afternoon at HoHoKam Park in Mesa.

(And next time you come by, bring my stomach!)...  

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I had to take a break from the series last week cause of that annoying paying job that I jeopardize every day spending way too much time here on TCR. So I'm gonna double up the efforts and today we look at some more potential center field candidates. Let's start with Randy Winn.

Once again we piggyback on MLB.com's Free Agent Frenzy contest. MLB picks the 15 free agents, you pick the team and then rank them by confidence levels, 15 being the most confident, 1 being the least confident. The submission form is after the jump, otherwise you can follow this link. Be sure to include your name on the bottom and include your email if you want me to contact you directly and don't check the site all the time. The form will not check for duplicate confidence value points, so please check your work (I recommend writing them down first). Entries will be closed on November 23rd at 4pm CST like the official contest OR when the first free agent from the list signs. Whichever comes first. Good luck.

Fangraphs is once again going to list the projections on their player pages from a variety of sources, Bill James, CHONE, Marcel....maybe more. Bill James projections are up first and here's how the Cubs ranked by wOBA and their 2009 wOBA (explanation of wOBA here). I'll try and expand when new projections are released. Age is their 2010 playing age. You can click on their names to get their full slash line predictions and more.

All Milton, all the time...

- Foxsports's rumor mongering robot Robothal is hearing talks about a 3-way trade of Milton Bradley to the Blue Jays, Lyle Overbay to the Mets and Luis Castillo to the Cubs. 

- Buried in this Stltoday.com article is this nugget:

DeRosa, coming off wrist surgery, figures to field an offer from the Chicago Cubs, at the least. 

Seems like idle speculation than anything legit, but at least the Wrigley-ites would be cheering for the right team if it did happen. (Hat tip to Bleacher Nation for the find)

With most all of the Cubs front office personnel, Scouting Department, and Player Development staff watching from the picnic area high above the third-base dugout, Michael Brenly singled twice and scored once, Starlin Castro singled twice (increasing his AFL-leading batting average to .433) and drove in a run with a sacrifice fly, and four Cubs pitchers combined to throw seven innings of one-run ball, as the Mesa Solar Sox dropped the Peoria Javelinas 8-1 in Arizona Fall League action at HoHoKam Park in Mesa this afternoon.

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Ah, another new adventure in Cubbery.

Sorry for missing the day's rampant speculation on Ted Lilly's left pitching shoulder arthroscopy. I was in the OR all day and connecting hip bones to...

So in one hour what can you see during a shoulder scope? Dr. Yokum puts the scope in from the posterior portal, low and behold he sees a caricature of Sean Marshall smiling face on the anterior capsule. He then puts in a Wissinger rod to create an anterior portal and whoa, is that a Tom Gorzellany autograph on his biceps tendon?

As we all remember from a report right here at TCR, the Ted Lilly Chronicles...

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As we know, Ted Lilly was battling through some shoulder issues through 2009 and still delivered a fantastic season with a 3.10 ERA. It didn't seem like it was too serious and something a little offseason rest may take care of, but instead he went under Dr. Yocum's knife.

Cubs pitcher Ted Lilly underwent a left shoulder arthroscopy and
debridement on Tuesday by noted orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Lewis Yocum in
Los Angeles. During the surgery, Yocum found no major damage to Lilly's
shoulder and the procedure consisted of a washout and clean up of the
shoulder.

I'm not sure I'll get an offseason potential target up tomorrow, but with the World Series almost wrapping up and the Cubs organizational meetings next week, the rumor mill is beginning to warm up for the offseason. Let's blast through these real quick.

Starlin Castro jacked-up his AFL league-leading batting average to .423 as he ripped two singles, knocked-in two runs, and scored one, Josh Vitters tripled and scored, and John Gaub tossed a 1-2-3 7th, leading the Mesa Solar Sox (Cubs, Marlins, Red Sox, Angels, and Twins) to a 7-2 victory over the Peoria Saguaros (Padres, Reds, Indians, Braves, and Astros) in Arizona Fall League action this afternoon at sunny HoHoKam Park in Mesa. 

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I'll go through a few more lower level free agents this week and pick it up to some possible bigger names next week. As we know, there's talk that if the Cubs can move Milton Bradley, they'd put Kosuke Fukudome back to right field and try and improve the outfield defense with a more true center fielder. And that's where Mike Cameron comes in...

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