November 2011

Nobody Fucks With The DeJesus

(props to Jacos for the headline)

The Cubs signed OF David DeJesus to a 2-year/$10 million deal with a 3rd year club option. It's actually $4.25M for the next two years with a $1.5M buyout or $6.5M in 2014. A Jim Bowden tweet indicates that the Cubs told him DeJesus will be the everyday right fielder.

Dejesus will be 32 next season and played for the A's last year and had the worst season of his career, a 93 OPS+ on the back of a .274 BABIP. His career slash line is 284/356/447 with a 106 OPS+. Great for a center fielder, kind of okay for a right fielder, but he's getting older and probably gonna be as good or worse than his career numbers going forward. That means baserunning and defense will have to make up some of the difference and if you believe in some of the defensive numbers out there, he seems to been quite an asset. Most of that time was in center, so a move to right field should be no problem. (Correction, played right for A's last year for the most part and put up great UZR numbers if you care for that).  Although he doesn't steal a bunch of bases, his baserunning numbers seem to border on neutral to a slight positive. He's cheap enough and lefty enough that this isn't too big a deal to me and he does nearly see 4 pitchers per plate appearance which fits into the mold of grinding out at-bats. That all being said, it's a big old "meh" move. As Kevin Goldstein tweeted, it's a warm body that fills a need, and for a guy that at best should be worth about 2 wins over replacement, the cost makes it about right. But I have a hard time seeing the big difference between him, Byrd or Fukudome.

Keep Your Eye on the Crystal Ball

Pre-holiday musings while waiting for some real news about PLAYING personnel:

•Due to overcrowding in the front office the saber-squad works out of the Wrigley Field scoreboard. You know, inside the numbers.

•Prince Fielder re-ups with the Brewers and gives them a substantial hometown discount now that Sveum is finally gone.

•Sveum’s brother, Sven, joins the team as a rowing [pronounced roving] instructor.

Cubs Finally Begin to Address Roster

After what felt like months of chatting about compensation, GM's, presidents and managers, the new powers-that-be finally get around to some player juggling. The deadline to protect players from the Rule 5 draft is soon approaching and the Cubs had some decisions to make. The lucky 4 deemed worth protecting were Josh Vitters, Matt Szczur, Jeff Beliveau and Junior Lake.

Who Will Lead the Cubbie Revolution?

If topics among major league teams trended like twitter, "building the farm system" would certainly be near the top. All the new GM's and some of the old ones alluded to it one way or another as the key to sustained success and of course, there's a lot of truth to it. But there's also a lot of truth to the famous phrase, "it's easier said than done".  For the new Cubs in charge, they'll be taking over a farm system that will likely rank in the lower third as an organization in overall talent that many of the self-proclaimed experts believe has lots of depth and marginal major league talent, but very light on the upper tier players. Unfortunately, it's those upper tier players that the Cubs are sorely in need of at that moment as they try to reverse a 3-year trend of losing while in the midst of saying goodbye to their aging core of players. Not only do the Cubs have to find(or soon find) replacements for the likes of Aramis Ramirez, Carlos Zambrano, Kosukue Fukudome, Derrek Lee, Alfonso Soriano, Marlon Byrd and so on, but they have to find players that are cumulatively better than those in order to improve. Just finding the equivalent isn't going to get the Cubs back into the division hunt. Personally, I don't see those players in the Cubs farm system right now and certainly not anyone ready in the next year or two. So to me that means having to dive into free agency and/or be willing to trade some of that depth for a few stars (much like the much aligned Garza trade last year) if the Cubs intend to compete next year and the subsequent years. Now if they want to go into a full 3-year rebuild, more power to them, but I don't see the Cubs taking that path. To me, it's identifying whom on this list and subsequent lists are going to be the average or above average major league contributors and not just roster filler, protecting those players and thus making everyone else expendable if a trade presents itself.

Before we get to the rankings, I like to share this bit of insight from Bill James via Joe Posnanski. Something to keep in mind that not all top 10 lists are the same.

A few years ago, Bill James told me something I had never thought about before but now think about all the time, especially after trades like this one: Every single baseball team has prospects. Every one. The best teams. The worst teams. The smartest teams. The dumbest teams. They all have prospects. Not only that — every team has enough prospects to fill out a Top 10 list. You never see a team’s “Top 7 Prospects” list because the team did not have enough to fill out 10. No. They all have 10.

To the list...

TAWL Drills

In a recent Paul Sullivan Tribune article, Cubs new GM Jed Hoyer was asked what are the greatest needs short term to fix the roster. Hoyer said, "It's no secret we need to get some depth in the rotation. Depth in pitching hurt the team last year." To complete the quote: "We have to find a way to improve the defense, and we probably need to find a little more athleticism on the bases." Improving the defense, of course, will help the pitching (which might be as simple as including more pfp/pitcher fielding practice for Matt Garza).

We all recall the 2011 season started with significant pitching injuries to the starting staff. After one week the Cubs lost their number 4 and 5 starters.

Where is this leading? Baseball Prospectus' Corey Dawkins just ranked the NL Central using their metric for team/player injuries called T.A.W.L (Total Adjusted WARP Lost). More after the jump...

Your Weekend Open Thread

I'm gonna attempt to write this on my IPhone. I won't be able to link to articles, so you'll have to take my word for it. Let's see what happens...I'm also going to leave in most of the autocorrects just for giggles.

- Sandy Alomar Jr. had his interview yesterday and Bruce Levine considers him the front runner only because he's not sure if Mike Maddux would take the job. Jed Hoyer says they're happy with the 4 candidates so far and it's unlikely, but possible they'd bring in another. And it's really 5 candidates as Terry Francona still seems a real possibility.

Mid-week funnies: if the Cubs were on South Park

If you're a "South Park" fan, hopefully you get a laugh here.
Yeah, the collective dislike and bashing of Cub Suit Crane Kenney is pretty old news, but this cartoon just popped in my head.
Of course, it would be awesome if this gif had an accompanying story about Kenney actually being dismissed or moving on, but that didn't happen.

What's really going on?

Why, the Cubs will interview Mike Maddux for their manager job.
Lets see what happens...

Meet the Cubs Managerial Candidates: Dale Sveum

Word is that Mike Maddux took his name out of the running of the Boston job citing a desire to keep his family in Texas, probably a good bet that the same thing will happen to the Cubs, but haven't heard about it yet.

On to another Brewer coach...Dale Sveum.

Meet the Cubs Managerial Candidates: Mike Maddux

Mackanin is the first to interview and the first to be profiled. Next up is Greg Maddux's big brother, Mike Maddux who will interview sometime next week after he gets over a case of laryngitis. Gordon Wittenmeyer pegs him as the early favorite because he's a pitching coach and the Cubs need better pitching. I hope that makes as little sense to everyone else as it does to me.

So Prince Fielder is Going to Be a Dodger

The news broke last night that MLB and Frank McCourt came to an agreement to sell the Dodgers...possibly at gun point. That's real good news for baseball and Dodger fans that truly couldn't stand the guy. That's bad news if you thought any bargains were going to be had in free agency for the big names.

Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod Press Conference

I believe the press conference is scheduled for 3pm CST, maybe EST...so soon. You can allegedly watch a live stream at CSN Chicago.

In the meantime, read up on the new scouting director with this very well done Q&A.

The rumor mill is rather quiet at the moment, last bit of "news" was that Theo and Jed (sounds like a sitcom title) met with Q-Ball for 7 hours last week and have a second meeting this week. I want to imagine the 7 hours was spent getting as much information about the ballclub out of him before they canned him.

On the manager front, Peter Abraham reports that the Cubs and Red Sox could both be interested in former Brewer player and their current hitting coach, Dale Sveum.

After the jump, I'm trying to embed the live stream...see if it works.

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  • if they dont win at least 130 games this season they can pack it all up, turn wrigley into a concert venue, and move the damn team to san jose.

    #Bernie130orBust

    crunch 8 hours 12 min ago view
  • I see where catcher Cael Brockmeyer was promoted to Tennessee a couple of days ago, to fill a roster spot vacated by David Freitas, recently promoted to Iowa. Caratini is the other catcher at Tennessee.

    VirginiaPhil 8 hours 16 min ago view
  • They've already clinched a minimum winning percentage of .607 for the month, and that's only if they lose the last 2 games. If they win both, they can push that up to .679. So much for "stumbling" in May. When you're winning over 60% of your games, you're doing baseball well.

    John Beasley 9 hours 29 min ago view
  • If the best walk-off hit possible is a solo home run in a zero-zero game--Eloy did it tonight!

    (But maybe it's a grand slam when your team is down three? He didn't do that.)

    Number eight for Jimenez. His team is 31-17. Yesterday they scored 17 runs against Lansing. Two weeks ago it was 15 runs against the same team. This is a nice team, South Bend. The Cubs must have had a good draft last year.

    Tonight the pitchers were Sands, Brooks and Effross.

    VirginiaPhil 9 hours 37 min ago view
  • RIP Zoobrest.

    crunch 11 hours 11 min ago view
  • He'll be fine. He's not some wimpy young pup.

    Old and Blue 11 hours 40 min ago view
  • In all seriousness the Cubs have the fewest amount of games played in the NL which means they're gonna be facing quite the grind later on including 24 games in a row at the end of June and beginning of July so I hope he does get a few days off.

    johann 13 hours 36 min ago view
  • Meh. He only got one hit today. Maybe give him a rest?

    Old and Blue 14 hours 12 min ago view
  • 34-14...awww yeah.

    crunch 15 hours 8 min ago view
  • Good thing the Cubs have five left-handed batters in the lineup. Velasquez is just tearing thru the righties [edit - doesn't seem to faze Bryant!]

    Eric S 16 hours 29 min ago view
  • ben zobrist gets to ride up front tonight cause he's a good guy at sports.

    cubs with a 5 run lead and a lackey shutout through 3ip \m/

    crunch 17 hours 3 min ago view
  • HAGSAG: I have not seen Joe Nathan out on the field, but he is supposedly at the UAPC. 

    Arizona Phil 19 hours 59 min ago view
  • ERIC S: Best outing I've ever seen from Manny Rondon, and I've seen most of his outings since the Cubs got him from the Angels. 

    M. Rondon is competing with six others (Dylan Cease, Bryan Hudson, Jose Paulino, Pedro Silverio, Jesus Castillo, and Erling Moreno) for a starting slot at Eugene, and (as you can probably tell from the EXST box scores)  the competition has gotten fierce over the last couple of weeks, With the exception of Moreno, the Eugene SP candidates have upped their game lately, and M. Rondon's outing yesterday was especially impressive/dominating. 

    Arizona Phil 20 hours 2 min ago view
  • E-MAN: Pierce Johnsion was mixing a 92-94 MPH fastball with a plus-change-up AND curve, and he threw strike-after-strike-after-strike with all three of his pitches. I believe that was the best command and pitch-efficiency I've ever seen from Johnson, who often pitches from behind in the count and issues too many walks.  

    Of course now he has to avoid a recurrence of the lat strain (whch he has had previously in his career) as well as all of the other miscellaneous physical problems he's had over the last three years (hamstring, quad, back, etc).  

    Arizona Phil 20 hours 12 min ago view
  • PHIL: Any movement on P. Johnsons pitches? What was his "out" pitch? I know he was working on a 4th pitch, so wondering what he is looking like these days. Thanks.

    The E-Man 20 hours 55 min ago view
  • AZ Phil, has Nathan showed up in Mesa yet? Thanks.

    Hagsag 1 day 1 hour ago view