January 2010

The latest projections use the Diamon Mind simulator and run 100 seasons using CAIRO projections (which I never heard of until today, but apparently have been the most accurate of the projection systems of late).

They have the Cubs doing a bit better than PECOTA with 83-84 wins and a 17% chance of winning the division, although like PECOTA they'll run the projections again as the season approaches and playing time is a little more certain. As Neyer notes in one of the links above and others have, there's pretty much a 6-game margin of error no matter what  projection stats you use, so we're talking 76-89 win range at the moment. That being said, the Cubs are pretty clearly looking up at the Cardinals at this point and apparently the Reds.

Here are the weighted means from BP's PECOTA projection system in a few categories for the Cubs. PECOTA does try to project playing time, so cumulative stats like VORP and WARP are based off of that.

 

 

The Hall of Fame made the right move, albeit the unpopular one, by announcing that Andre Dawson will be inducted as a Montreal Expo. Real Neal did the legwork for me using BP's WARP3 numbers:

Montreal: 43.7 Wins

Chicago: 18.1 Wins

Others: -2.2 Wins

Dawson may have been a more popular player in baseball thanks to his Cubs days, but he was clearly a better player as an Expo. Even if you divide his wins per season, it's 3.97 as an Expo and 3.01 as a Cub, so there's just no reasonable argument for Dawson as a Cub other than a popularity contest. Dawson did prefer the Cubs for what it's worth and says he may don a Cubs hat during his speech to acknowledge the Cubs fans.

A busy day for Jim Hendry as he's now inked Chad Tracy to a minor league deal. He'll get a chance to compete for a bench spot in spring training.

Tracy hasn't played a full season since 2006 due to a number of maladies,  including microfracture surgery on right knee in 2007. He's also had oblique, groin and back problems. You wonder if he can even play third base or the corner outfield positions anymore.

His OPS+ and wOBA numbers since 2004:

Year OPS+ wOBA
2004 90 .325
2005 132 .385
2006 98 .342
2007 100 .342
2008 82 .313
2009 76 .296

Nothing too exciting here, but it's a minor league deal and Tracy may be more than willing to go to Iowa if he doesn't make the team out of spring training to try and jumpstart his career back to life.

UPDATE: Heyman tweets that it's for $3.3M with $2M in incentives based on games played.


Tim Brown of Yahoo breaks the story that the Cubs have signed outfielder Xavier Nady on a one year deal...dollar amount yet to be determined (likely in the 3-4.5M range according to Levine). Out of the names mentioned so far - Jermaine Dye, Rocco Baldelli, and Johnny Gomes, Nady was probably my preference on the assumption that he's recovered fully from his second Tommy John Surgery. According to Tim Brown, the physical is later this week but Nady's been throwing regularly and without problems. Before we get into the player, let's talk about the injury. Dr. Hecht in the comments dropped this note about having multiple TJ surgeries yesterday.

The basic operation takes a tendon graft from the forearm from a small tendon called the palmaris longus.

On a second surgery they have to take a graft from somewhere else. Other sites are available (the other arm or a tendon from the calf (plantaris) but that means he's gonna have two limbs involved to recovery. I'm not sure why his graft failed but it's pretty unusual for this to happen (expecially when it's not a pitcher). This would make me a bit leary too (Chad Fox alert!) but my guess is he'll be OK.

We're about three weeks from pitchers and catchers reporting and Hendry still has at least two moves to make and possibly up to four if the latest from Jon Morosi is to be believed.

The top priorities remain the bullpen and fourth outfielder and according to Morosi, Xavier Nady has floated to the top of the Cubs' wish list. His agent is Scott Boras though and much like all the players the Cubs are interested in, his demands will have to lower into the Cubs price range. Otherwise, Reed Johnson, Rocco Baldelli or Johnny Gomes are the other options.

On the bullpen front, things with Kiko Calero have cooled.  No other names are mentioned.

Another starting pitcher is more a want than a need and Ben Sheets is asking too much at the moment.

Finally, the Cubs have shown some past interest in Adam Kennedy and Orlando Hudson, but like starting pitching, not a big priority. If an upgrade at second base is available at the right price, then the Cubs could make a move although I fail to see how Kennedy would be an upgrade.

    ''5-Star Prospects''

  1. Josh Vitters
  2. Starlin Castro

    ''4-Star Prospects''
  3. Hak-Ju Lee
  4. Brett Jackson

    ''3-Star Prospects''
  5. Andrew Cashner
  6. Jay Jackson
  7. Chris Carpenter
  8. Chris Archer
  9. Kyler Burke
  10. Ryan Flaherty
  11. John Gaub

Kevin Goldstein puts Chris Huseby, Logan Watkins, Dae-Eun Rhee and Darwin Barney as 12-15. You can see past lists at Wiklified.

- The mayor of Mesa discusses the city's proposal for the Cubs potential new spring training facility. The two locations being discussed are the NE part of the valley by the 202(sounds like he says by Record but couldn't find that, earlier interview he said Greenfield which is what the link goes to) or near the Gateway Airport by the 202 Freeway and Elliot Road. He also says that they'll look to try and grab another Florida team to fill HoHoKam and Fitch Park. As has been mentioned, besides the new stadium and facilties, a Wrigleyville West will be built around the park for fans to spend their cash at.

And for what it's worth, the governor of Florida says it's not quite over.

“I had the opportunity to chat with the owner last night,’’ he said
during a stop at Cambier Park in Naples. “He told me, ‘governor, you’re
going to see some thing in tomorrow’s papers, but no decision has been
made.’’

- The New York Times takes on the Cubs convention. Speaking of the NYT, they've announced a metered payment system to start in 2011 for their online content. Basically you get 10 free visits a month and then will have to pay to access anymore articles. Don't be too surprised when the Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune do something similar in a few years.

- We got a mention at Big League Stew in their Chicago Cubs BLS Blogbook. Thanks. On the left sidebar of our site, I added a Cubs blogroll that randomly features 5 of the so far 36 and counting Cubs blogs that I've found.

The Fox TV News affiliate in Phoenix has the infamous "source close to" the Ricketts (an executive apparently) saying the Cubs are likely to stay in Mesa. Apparently Bud Selig has even put in a word to the Cubs that he'd like them to stay there and I'm sure that will carry some weight with the new owners who appear to be the kind that don't want to rock the MLB boat.

Good news for those of us who prefer Mesa and who have Arizona Phil writing at their Cubs blog. Thanks to navigator for the link tip.

Of course it doesn't mean the drama is over, as the Cubs said they would pick a site to exclusively negotiate with first.  So if this is true, Mesa and Arizona still need to come up with the funding for all the new facilities that were promised

 


UPDATED: Kaplan and Co. are chiming in as well saying a Monday vote by the Mesa city council to approve funding is the last hurdle.

UPDATE #2: Here's the plan unveiled by Mesa today.

  • 15,000 seat stadium
  • city would own stadium and training facilities
  • Cubs agree to take over maintainence of facilities in exchange for advertising rights in stadium including naming rights of stadium
  • overall cost is in the $84M range and should be approved by city council on Monday
  • site yet to be determined
  • The Mesa city manager warns that even if funding is approved, Cubs have yet to formally agree to anything.

My latest little pet project at Wiklifield after completeing the team-by-team transactions is to put together player pages on the entire Cubs organizations from the majors to the minors. I got through the basic info on the 40-man roster this weekend and have discovered with some very simple coding, that I can start putting together some interesting lists. One such list is how the Cubs' 40-man roster was put together, so I thought I'd share.

So here's the breakdown from the Cubs' 40-man roster found at Wiklifield (not to be confused with the 40-man roster maintained by Arizona Phil):

The Cubs signed 5 of their 8 arbitration eligible players today.

Baker: $975,000, up from $415,000

Guzman: $825,000, up from $421,500

Gorzelanny: $800,00, up from, $433,000

Fontenot: $1 million, up from $430,000

Hill: $700,000, up from $475,000

That's $4.3M total for those 5, leaving Carlos Marmol, Ryan Theriot and Sean Marshall. The three will file their salary figures today and the Cubs will counter. Marmol made $575,000 last year, Theriot made $500,000 and Marshall made $450,000. Miles guesses Marmol will top $2M, Theriot will go over $1M and no guess on Marshall but I would guess right around $1M. Always a good time to remind everyone that Jim Hendry has never actually gone to an arbitration case ever with a Cubs player...the last Cub to make it that far was Mark Grace in 1993.

Miles also says the Cubs are interested in Jermaine Dye and Rocco Baldelli, but it all depends on the price.

 


Theriot asks for $3.4M(dear god, just cut him), Cubs counter with $2.6M. Marmol asked for $2.5M, Cubs put in $1.75M, Marshall asked for $1.175M, Cubs offered $800K.

From the Toronto Globe and Mail:

The Blue Jays will have a scout at tomorrow's workout by free-agent
pitcher Ben Sheets, but he's all but signed by the Chicago Cubs.

Transmission will give his left nut for this to be true (thanks to navigator for the tip).

- Geovany Soto says he's lost 40 pounds and looks the part from the shoulders up at least (video as well).

"It's weird, I feel like a 12-year-old," he said. "I have a lot of energy. I'm kind of wired all day. I've got a little one now, and it's helped me at home. I give mama some rest. I'm active the whole day. I used to be a little sluggish -- like 'I want to take a nap.' Now I feel great and I just want to put myself in the best position to help the club.

- More on the Cubs committment to getting in shape over the offseason including the Cubs hiring a personal chef and nutritionist for the team.

- The Hardball Times has put up their top 10 Cubs' Prospects:

  1. Starlin Castro
  2. Josh Vitters
  3. Brett Jackson
  4. Jay Jackson
  5. Hak-Ju Lee
  6. Kyler Burke
  7. Andrew Cashner
  8. Chris Archer
  9. Chris Carpenter
  10. Ryan Flaherty

Archer's not a name you see on a lot of Top 10 or even Top 20 lists so far.

First a word from our sponsors and for you degenerate gamblers...


The Super Bowl lines  are out and the Colts (3/1) lead the way, with the New Orleans Saints (4/1), San Diego Chargers (9/2) and the Minnesota Vikings (15/2) following close behind. The experts have made their picks, what are you waiting for? Now is the time to check out the latest Super Bowl Lines, make your Super Bowl XLVI pick and show everyone who the real expert is before it's too late.


You got to pay the bills.

Here's a good time to remind everyone of The Bear Truth, the Bears blog that I and a few readers contribute on an occasional basis. I do like the Colts this year to win it all, on the other hand, I got 3 of 4 games wrong in the first round so pay no attention to me.

Also if you need some time wasters, I've created two more quizzes on sporcle - Cubs Top Draft Picks and Cubs Playoff Opponents. At some point, I'll add all of these somewhere on the site.

The Cubs are going to have a full house in Mesa this spring, inviting 19 non-roster players to camp. To the list:

Pitchers:

LHP: J.R. Mathes, James Russell

RHP: Andrew Cashner, Casey Coleman, Thomas Diamond, Jeff Kennard and Vince Perkins

Catchers: Robinson Chirinos, Steve Clevenger, Blake Lalli and Chris Robinson.

Infielders: Darwin Barney, Matt Camp, Starlin Castro, Bryan LaHair, Bobby Scales and Josh Vitters

Outfielders: Brett Jackson and Brad Snyder

I started to keep track of past non-roster invitees at Wiklifield as well and if anyone can help fill in the gaps, it would be much appreciated, even if it's just a link.

In other news, Ted Lilly has already begun throwing after an offseason shoulder scope and Foxsports says the Cubs have shown interest in Kiko Calero, but are worried about his shoulder.

Fangraphs has added the CHONE projections on their player pages along with the Bill James projections. The Hardball Times comes out with theirs in their pre-season annual and of course Baseball Prospectus and PECOTA should be out shortly. But I promised updates when I put up the Bill James projections, so here are the wOBA CHONE projections (league average is generally around the .330 mark, give or take a few points).

The Cubs aren't doing much but a couple of nifty P.R. moves before the Cubs convention. The first is a rumor that if Cooperstown puts Andre Dawson in as a Cub, the Cubs will likely retire his number 8.

Dawson has been promised by the Cubs to have his No. 8 uniform number retired if he goes into the Hall of Fame as a Cub, a source close to Dawson said on Sunday.

The articles do say that if he goes in as an Expo, they still might do it, but it appears if it's as a Cub, it's a certainty. And this is where I unpopularly wonder out loud why they're going to retire Dawson's number in either case? I say he should be lining up behind Sammy Sosa, Mark Grace and even Rick Sutcliffe before getting his number retired, as all are far more identifiable with the Cubs than Dawson in my not-so-humble opinion (and no Sutcliffe should not get his number retired). And if Dawson is the Cub standard for getting a number retired, Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez might as well send out their  "set-the-date" cards for their eventual ceremonies.

*historical footnote at end of the post

Tags: 

"Andre Dawson, the Hawk...no player in baseball history worked harder, suffered more or did it better than Andre Dawson. He's the best I've ever seen. The Hawk, I watched him win an MVP for a last place team in 1987. It was the most unbelievable thing I've ever seen in baseball. He did it the right way, the natural way and he did it in the field and on the bases and in every way. I hope he will stand up here one day."

                          --Ryne Sandberg, in his Hall of Fame Induction Speech


No matter what hat his hall of fame plaque has, Andre Dawson will represent the Cubs honorably into Baseball's Shrine. This is a man who overcame his own obstacles, or more specifically his own knees. We all know that Dawson came to the Cubs in 1987 to flee the hard artificial turf of Montreal Olympic Stadium which was playing havoc with his knees.

Dawson might have never made it to Chicago, where he said he rejuvenated his career, were it not for the encouragement of his wife, Vanessa. Dawson was in so much pain in his fourth big league season because of a “fractured knee” that he told her he didn’t know if he could play any longer. Pain medication was barely getting him through games.

“The third (Darvocet) took the pain away but it came back at night. That’s why I didn’t want to do it anymore,” Dawson said. “And she looked at me and said, `You know you’re hurting now, but just see what the problem is because a year, two years from now you are going to regret walking away.”’

The last 10 years of his career (including 6 with the Cubs) were based in home parks where right field had mother natures own soft grass turf. This prolonged his career well beyond what most of his early teammates could have projected.

In 1985, then-Expos teammate Tim Wallach said of Dawson's perpetual struggles with his knees, "It hurts me as much as it hurts him. Sometimes I wish I could give him my knees. He never moans. He never complains. He has no excuses. Everyone here respects him."

Most watched in awe at the agony he put up with but few knew why Dawson had to methodically prepare for games and baseball seasons. He made it onto the field for 2627 games over 21 seasons.

One of the many criteria people use when voting for the Hall of Fame is the question of, "Was he one of the best players of his time?" or at least, "Was he one of the best players at his position at that time?"

So I was curious who we think may be the best in the game right now? Here's my top 10 list and then top 3 at each position. I purposefully did very little statiscal research on this one, just more of when I think of the best players, this is who I think of.

In quite a shocker, the only player elected to the Hall of Fame today was Andre Dawson with 77.9%. Bert Blyleven just missed at 74.2% as did Roberto Alomar at 73.7%. Other former Cubs were Lee Smith (47.3%), Fred McGriff(21.5%), Eric Karros (0.4%), Todd Zeile(0) and bench coach Alan Trammell (22.4%).

Rudy Jamarillo is different than others. He has the reputation as the "best hitting coach in baseball." You can even go online and buy his "5 Simple Steps Hitting Video". Not so for Gerald Perry or Von Joshua (although Von Joshua did have the "Fuzz Machine").

Judging by the number of hits and comments, you guys are either ridiculously bored or still passionate about the Cubs...or just like to argue. I find myself rather indifferent after the holiday break, the Cubs instilling no confidence in me that they know what they're doing and seemingly content to blame the entire failure of 2009 on Milton Bradley and injuries.

I did score my usual swag of Cubs gifts for Christmas. The Angel Fan Wife got me this 1984 Cubs cap, plus I got a new Cubs jersey to add to my collection and various other Cubs-themed knick knacks that always seem to find my stocking including a Cubs-themed Connect Four. I tried to teach the G Twins how to play, but they seemed more interested in making pretty patterns with the red and blue pieces and then releasing the support bar from the bottom so all the tiles came crashing down.

Fun little sidenote about the G twins and living in a split household. Back during the playoffs while the Angels were making a little run, they were of course on the TV a lot. A few days after getting eliminated by the Yankees, I was watching another game and one of my daughters asked where the Angels were. I explained that they lost in the playoffs and that there season was over. Her little lip started to quiver, she whimpered "It's ooover...why?" and the sobbing began. Sadly, that probably won't be the last time she cries about baseball.

Here's the update to the Free Agent Frenzy contest. One person got Rich Harden right (for 10 pts), another Jason Bay(for 8 pts) and a third person got DeRosa to the Giants (for 5 pts).

Here's a link to an All-Decade Team at The Blue Workhorse. Corey Patterson is on it and I don't think it's meant to be sarcastic.

Stop by and wish Aisle 424 a happy birthday, one of the finer new Cubs blogs to emerge in my opinion.

A detailed look into how the Ricketts are financing their loans.

Ken Rosenthal predicts the Cubs will sign Ben Sheets.

May the New Year bring love, joy, peace and a pennant for the Cubs.

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