February 2012

Cubs Pitchers Stretch Out at Fitch Park

Randy Wells, Travis Wood, Andy Sonnanstine, Trey McNutt, Lendy Castillo, Marcos Mateo, Trever Miller, and Rodrigo Lopez threw "live" BP at cool & blustery Fitch Park today, before a sparse crowd under partly cloudy skies.


Wells, T. Wood, Sonnanstine, McNutt, and Lopez threw 45 pitches each, while L. Castillo, Mateo, and Miller threw 30 pitches a piece.

Feeding the (Blue) Monster, Part One

This was my original thinking, the only reason I'd read any book about the Red Sox would be to gain insight into Theo Epstein's approach to roster construction and player acquisition. Still, I'm a sucker for a good baseball story and I have to admit that learning about the Cubs sister AL team that suffered from the 'Curse of the Bambino' had it's appeal, if for no other reason than  this old Billy Goat's misery loves company.

Seth Mnookin's 2006 book, 'Feeding the Monster' is an in-depth look at the Red Sox, focusing on team management and the eventual 2002 ownership change as the reason their drought ended. The Red Sox truly overcame urban legends created by the Boston press with their constant harping on eight decades of Epic failures and generations of fan misery.

Something I understand (except for the "overcame" part).

Now with the Theo "Compensation-gate" mostly completed, this book is filled with insights into the personalities behind what should have been a simple and quick front office only transaction (with no compensation as you will soon read). Why it became a bollixed, vitriol filled, press inflated, word-slinging mess that only Boston is known for makes more sense to me after this read.

There is a lot of story to set up before Theo Epstein jumps in, so prepare for the first part of the world's longest book summary.  Most of Theo's story will be in part deux.  Part one, after the jump...

Friday, Santo Day, Sunday...

Today is Santo Day. He would have been 72. Camp is open; so are the ticket windows, so I’m in the mood for some baseball flotsam. I thought I’d share a choice Santo anecdote that I discovered over the winter. Surely some of you know it.

For Christmas one of my sons gave me one of those “Baseball Voices” CD’s that Pat Hughes is always hawking. It’s the Santo edition. Have you heard the one about his pregame “interview” with Antonio Alfonseca?

Our Long National Nightmare is Almost Over

I try not to use that headline too often, but it seems fitting here. The verdict has been reached and the Boston Red Sox will get RHP Chris Carpenter from the Cubs. Cue the feigned outrage!!!!

The 26-year old righty can hit 100 mph and occassionally the broad side of a barn; 6.4 BB/9 in 45.1 IP in AAA. The overall minor league numbers are 1.384 WHIP, 4.2 BB/9, 7.6 K/9 , 3.62 ERA and a history of arm problems. He's probably a good bet to have a few good major league seasons, but I doubt the Cubs have lost a key cog in the machine they're attempting to build. Carpenter will go off the Cubs 40-man leaving room for the Cubs to add LHP Gerardo Concepcion.

A Chart of the Soler System

(This of course inspired by Rob's headline yesterday)
So, I don't know jack, do you?
The other day somebody said that Jorge Soler was gonna sign a contract with the Cubs, he just couldn't find his pen.
Now it's all kindsa teams trying to get close to Soler, apparently.
The Cubs, represented in the chart as the USS Enterprise, still seem to be the closest.
But the Yankee Evil Empire suddenly came on the screens, and not alot Captain James T. Epstein can do with his phasers against those guys.

Cubs Go Solar

This all seems still seems a little less than 100%, but there was a report early in the evening from the Tribune and Dave van Dyck saying the Cubs are "expected" to sign Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler according to "multiple reports" from the Dominican (it's more fun if you read that with air quote hand gestures).  The folks at Cub Hub seemed to have heard from the Score confirming the deal. Kevin Goldstein has no reason not to believe the reports, saying Soler's agent made similar agreements with other players he's represented before they offiicially became available to sign. Soler of course has yet to complete the legal gymnastics that Cespedes had to go through, so any confirmation from the Cubs is probably not going to come anytime in the near future. One report is suggesting a 3-4 year deal in the $27.5M range. The difference in that deal to Cespedes is that Soler would not get the clause in his contract where the club would not offer arbitration or auto-renew him once the deal is completed, meaning he'd be under the Cubs control for 6 full years of major league service time which doesn't start until he makes his major league debut. Once the initial contract runs out, he'd either sign a new one or just default to either pre-arbitration or arbitration depending on where he's at with his service time, similar to what Jeff Samardzija is going through right now.

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Cespedes Was Overrated, Soler is the New Flavor of the Month

I was trying to get my prospect list-mania article up and then Firefox ate half my work. I'll save it for a future date. In the meantime, now that the A's have signed outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to a 4/$36M deal, I'm comfortable calling him totally overrated. Jorge Soler is the real prize of the Cuban "draft class" and the guy the Cubs should be pursuing. I'm kidding around of course, Cespedes would have been a nice get for the Cubs, but it was not meant to be.

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Your Opportunity to B*tch About TCR

As I've mentioned in the comments, a new site design is on its way in the near(ish) future. Ideally before Opening Day arrives so I can work out the bugs before the games start. It will hopefully be easier to navigate and more importantly to me, easier to maintain as I'm finding the time that I can spend on the site dwindling year by year.

Since absolutely nothing remotely interesting is happening, I'm going to dip into the shark infested waters and dare to ask what more or less you'd like to see from the site.

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All Quiet on the Cubs Front

These few weeks before spring training starts is about as dull as it gets around these parts. We're all still waiting on Cespedes, but with Jedstein and their cone of silence, it's not like we can expect many leaks. There's also the case of the musical 40-man roster chairs with the Cubs having to drop someone once they add Gerardo Concepcion. Vegas money should be on Andy Sonnastine with Marcus Mateo and his lack of options a strong second. And the issue of compensation for both Theo and Jed still looms with no foreseeable end in sight.

I've got my annual prospect list-mania post coming up for Monday which always includes my delusional top 16 which should be good for laugh. It doesn't appear our pal Arizona Phil put up a list this year unfortunately, so you'll have to get your prospect fix from the national guys.

The Curious Case of Cardenas

The Cubs claimed infielder Adrian Cardenas off waivers today from the Oakland A's, where he was outrighted to make room for Johnny Gomes. To make room on the 40-man, the Cubs DFA'd Blake DeWitt. Before we get to Cardenas, if I'm reading this correctly, the Cubs most likely cost themselves up to $1.1M? I believe they're on the hook for DeWitt's salary, when they could have just non-tendered him back in December, but of course they didn't know Cardenas was available back then. If DeWitt signs with another team, I believe the Cubs are just on the hook for the dfference in salary, which will likely be the mininum, so a little over $600K. Now a team may also put a claim in or work out a trade and the Cubs will be completely off the hook, but those scenarios seem less likely. Not a big deal overall, as the Cubs have plenty of wiggle room to their payroll, but an odd move nonetheless. Now was it worth it for Cardenas?

The infielder was a supplemental first round pick of the Philies in 2006 (37th overall) out of high school in Florida. He was on the Philles top 10 list in 2008, ranked 2nd behind Carlos Carrasco and ahead of guys like Kyle Drabek and Domonic Brown and #76 among the top 100 overall prospects. In July of that year he was traded along with now-a-Cub Matt Spencer and Josh Outman for Joe Blanton. He was ranked #5 in the A's top 10 list for 2009 and #74 overall. He dropped to #9 in 2010 and out of the top 10 by 2011. I don't have the BA 2012 handbook, but apparently he was ranked #12 although that was before the Gio Gonzalez trade.

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  • Right, then. Moving forward lets focus on simple declarative sentences, subject-verb agreement, and watch out for punctuation. Avoid prepositions at the end of sentences.

    Jackstraw 17 min 57 sec ago view
  • I love sabremetrics and think FIP and WAR can definitely predict future success. For the Cy though which is an award for current success I do think ERA and WHIP have a place. Also while Hendricks doesn't have the strikeouts he does have the highest soft hit contact and second lowest hard hit contact which does a lot to take fielding skill out of it.

    To me if the ERA is close FIP and WAR should be used but right now its not. That said I agree with you Hendricks won't get it.

    johann 29 min 24 sec ago view
  • Can't get soft just because we have a big lead!

    billybucks 1 hour 33 min ago view
  • kershaw will be lucky to put in 160+ip. even though it projects to be an awesome 160+ip it's going to be extremely difficult for him to do much with that. he's still got minor league rehab game(s) to go through and he's only stretched out to 2ip with his last simulated rehab...it may take another couple weeks before he returns.

    the numbers are awesome, but he's lost the equivalent of a good chunk of a top-tier pen arm's season in innings of work compared to the rest of the lot.

    crunch 1 hour 44 min ago view
  • Kershaw, Fernandez and Syndergaard are your current leaders and all will be pitching meaningful games down the stretch that could make or break them. Hendricks will not be and his saber-numbers aren't anywhere close to those 3 and he'd split votes with Arrieta and Lester whom all are basically neck-and-neck for  WAR and FIP. If Kershaw pitches like just okay Kershaw in September he deserves to win in a landslide. Voters are pretty much saber-inclined now so it would take a crazy shutout streak or something for Hendricks to jump in the picture.

    Rob G. 10 hours 13 min ago view
  • AZ PHIL: With starters the likes of Edwin Jackson, even Chris Rusin or Michael Bowden could look good on their staff. At best, he is a #5-6. But as always, LH are at a premium.

    The E-Man 11 hours 43 min ago view
  • Sure we would all want consistency. He is not even 24, has played 5 (!) positions this year. Can you imagine what is in his head? He was only a part-time player at 2 spots last year. And THEN think about hitting?? Cut him some slack...You sure are picky lately. First wishing #6 NL RBI guy Russell have a better average, and now an "unncessarily fancy pick". Geez tough crowd!

    The E-Man 11 hours 47 min ago view
  • it's going to be hard to take down scherzer.

    kershaw is supposedly coming back soon, though he'll probably need a good amount of deep innings to match up with scherzer...probably too late at this point. tanner roark, bumgarner, and hendricks are probably going to steal some votes along with kershaw.

    crunch 12 hours 16 min ago view
  • I absolutely love Javy's game, and I love the way Maddon changed the perception of him as a ballplayer, but I really wish he would just make the routine plays routinely. On the ground ball in the 9th, he made an unnecessarily fancy pick. He made the play, but tried the same thing last night and made an error.

    billybucks 12 hours 37 min ago view
  • How many wins does Kyle need for serious Cy Young consideration? Would 17 be enough if he leads the league in ERA? My goodness, what a season -- makes a Dartmouth alum proud.

    billybucks 12 hours 39 min ago view
  • jacos 12 hours 43 min ago view
  • hendricks WHIP drops to 0.98 over 159 innings after throwing 7ip 3h 1bb 4k, 0r/er

    ERA down to 2.09 on the season.

    crazy good.

    crunch 13 hours 5 min ago view
  • I am pretty well fed up with the majority of home plate umps. Just terrible inconsistencies.

    The E-Man 13 hours 8 min ago view
  • Oh shit forgot about that
    Shark and Sczur right?

    jacos 13 hours 22 min ago view
  • Yes, football player?- check.

    The E-Man 13 hours 29 min ago view
  • jacos 13 hours 43 min ago view