Friday Notes

The big news is that the Cardinals have struck again on the trade market acquiring Matt Holliday from the Oakland A's for 2008 1st round pick Brett Wallace, RHP Clayton Mortensen and OF Shane Peterson. Wallace was a 5-star prospect according to Kevin Goldstein to begin the season and #2 on John Sickels list, with Mortensen and Peterson being "C+" prospects according to Sickels. Apparently being too right-handed isn't a concern for them as they're lineup could be Molina, Pujols, DeRosa, Ryan, Glaus, Holliday, *Rasmus and Ludwick.  Of course Glaus isn't back yet, and he'll probably be given a lot of days off when he does return but that's what their lineup could look like down the stretch.

Good news for the Cubs is that when Alfonso Soriano, Milton Bradley and Aramis Ramirez really start hitting, it'll be like making a trade.

(slams head in door)

I don't think this guarantees anything for the Cardinals, but it certainly doesn't hurt them this year, so....crap.

I'll have to keep this brief...deadlines, deadlines, deadlines.

- Another solid outing by Randy Wells, albeit against another poor offensive team. Of his 10 starts, only 3 have been against offenses currently in the top half of runs scored for their league (Brewers, Dodgers sans Manny and Indians sans DH). Of course, he pitched pretty well in those 3 starts, so I'm not really sure I have a point here. Besides Wells, the three scoreless innings by the bullpen were kind of neat to watch and it looks like a Sean Marshall/Angel Guzman 7th innning combo may help solidify the bullpen along with Marmol scrapping his Mike Fetters impression.

Nothing too exciting last night, Rich Harden worked out of a lot of trouble his last three innings, but did strike out 9 in 7 innings without giving up a home run. Milton Bradley went 2/4 with an RBI, a ricochet short of going 3-4. Soto and Fox continue to hit as well and the Marmol/Gregg combo actually did their job. Then we all remember it's the Pirates.

- The Southern League annouced their All-Star rosters and the Tennessee Smokies placed six:  Position players Jim Adduci, Darwin Barney and Blake Lalli will join teammates Casey Coleman, Jay Jackson and Brian Schlitter. 

- Barney will be headed to Triple A though along with a number of other promotions yesterday. Top picks Andrew Cashner and Josh Viiters will each move up a level, Cashner to Double A Tennessee and Vitters to Hi A Daytona. Cub Carpenter will  join Vitters on the ride to Daytona. 1B John Contreras makes the jump from Boise to Daytona, 2b Nathan Samson goes to Tennessee and 1b Ryan Keedy has been released.

-  I stumbled across this old Q&A with Bill James which touches on a wide variety of topics, some Cubs related.

UPDATE: Bill James and Joe Posnanski more recently talked about the age 33 fall-off. Cubs that are 33 this season: Derrek Lee, Alfonso Soriano and Ryan Freel. So is Ted Lilly, but the discussion focuses on offense.

- Milton Bradley is going to get a few days off to work on his left-handed swing with Von Joshua. The Cubs will likely go with Sam Fuld in center and Kosuke Fukudome in right field.

- 57% of Cubs fan agree with Phil Rogers that the Cubs should put Carlos Zambrano on waivers and see if anyone will take his contract off the Cubs hands. Probably the same 57% that applauded Mark DeRosa each time he came up in Wrigley.

- Barring any setbacks, Aramis Ramirez will begin a rehab assignment on Thursday, it's unknown which lucky affiliate will benefit from the added gate receipts.  If all goes well, he could be back in the lineup against Atlanta next Monday.

- A poll of players around MLB conducted by Sports Illustrated came up with Lou Piniella as the manager players would least like to play for...Ozzie Guillen finishing second.

- If you're looking for a write-up on Aaron Miles elbow problems from Dr. Hecht...

I'd do an ortho writeup on Miles hyperextended elbow... but honestly, who cares other than Sam Fuld.

A somewhat-weekly tour of Cubs' related links...

- Reader Virginia Phil spotted that infielder Justin Sellers was now with the Los Angeles Dodgers. A quick peak at Baseball America shows that he was dealt for a player to be named later a few weeks back. Sellers along with Richie Robnett were acquired for Michael "2.35 ERA, Hasn't walked a guy in 7.2 IP" Wuertz over the offseason (I'll work on the nickname).

- Some video and amateur scouting of Cubs' prospects down in Peoria including Josh Vitters and Ryan Flaherty at The Hardball Times courtesy of Colin Wyers.

-  Harry at Cubs F/x graphs the loss of velocity over the last few seasons by Rich Harden. 

- Lou says Sean Marshall is well on his way to securing a spot in the rotation.

"He has done absolutely nothing to hurt his chances," Piniella said.
"He's throwing the ball as well as I've seen him throw it. He came in
here as the front-runner and, truthfully, he hasn't lost that status."

- If you're missing Wrigley Field, you can print out and assemble your own thanks to this link I found through Baseball Musings. Or if you need some set pieces for a Godzilla movie you're filming.

- Joe Posnanski writes about the case for Andre Dawson and the Hall of Fame.

3. The idea that a lack of walks is the ONLY reason Dawson has not been
elected to the Hall of Fame does not ring true for me. If Dawson had
3,000 hits, he would be in the Hall of Fame. He does not. If Dawson had
500 homers, he would be in the Hall of Fame. He does not. If Dawson had
managed to stay in center field for more than seven years — that is if
his knees had not gone out on him — he would be in the Hall of Fame.
His knees did go out (and I think he won four pretty suspect Gold
Gloves in right field). If Dawson had hit .300 instead of .279 for his
career, he would be in the Hall of Fame, and probably if he hit .290.
If Dawson had driven in 100 RBIs 10 times instead of four, score 100
runs 10 times instead of two … on and on.

- Fangraphs takes a quick tour of the Cubs prospects and Alex Eisenberg finishes his top 15 list.

- Spot the current Cub coach in this clip.  Question is, how does a die-hard Tigers fan not know who he's talking with at the bar?

- We won an award. Thank you, thank you very much...I'd like to thank God for giving me the strength to write about this insufferable franchise on a nearly daily basis. And the Angel Fan Wife for putting up with her insufferable husband while he follows this insufferable team. Oh yeah, and thanks to the rest of the writers which you all actually come here to read.

-  Starting to switch back over to the in-season look around the site. The schedule and weather are back on the left sidebar and game results are back as well at the top right.

Enjoy the weekend!

 

- Everyone's favorite topic...lineups!!!

On days when switch hitter Aaron Miles plays second base and Kosuke Fukudome plays center field, Piniella said he likes this lineup: Soriano, Miles, Lee, Bradley, Ramirez, Fukudome, Geovany Soto and Ryan Theriot. That's a right-switch-right-switch-right-left-right-right alignment.

Armchair managers commence bitching! Between rumors of 400 AB's and now batting second,  Aaron Miles has all the makings of being the new ¡Neifi! It's like no one in the Cubs organization has noticed that his likely unrepeatable .343 BABIP last season accounted for nearly all of his .753 OPS "success".

- Bruce Miles and the beat writers are back in business with the start of spring training. Miles says Geovany Soto has come to camp in great shape, Z is sporting a 'stache and will not pitch for Venezuela in the WBC. He also says that Z is holding off on laser eye surgery due to an infection and some odd eye geometry on his behalf. There appears to be some video at the Trib of Z and the Cubs in Arizona on the sidebar, but I can't get it to load.

- Fangraphs takes a look at the best outfield arms and comes to the shocking revelation that Alfonso Soriano is good and Juan Pierre is not. 

- An interview with the Phils former GM, Pat Gillick, gives some insight on the Cubs corner outfielder pursuit this winter.


--On whether the Phillies may have overpaid for Ibanez (three years, $31.5 million), given the one-year, $6 million deal that Bobby Abreu
just signed with the Angels: "The Cubs were after [Ibanez] pretty
thick. Lou [Piniella] and he had a good relationship, so I think Lou
was plugging pretty hard for him. I don't think [the Phillies could've
waited]. The Cubs were searching for left-hand hitting. My opinion is I
would prefer Ibanez to Milton Bradley, just from an
injury standpoint. Milton Bradley to me is an American League player, a
DH/part-time outfielder. He's not a day-in, day-out player in the
National League."

- Colin Wyers, whom writes at GROTA and Statiscially Speaking, begins a series at the Hardball Times looking at the überstat systems like Win Shares, WARP and WAR.

-  The Hardball Times also looks at hitters with an affinity at swinging at first pitch fastballs - Gathright (in a bad way) and Soto (in a good way) are mentioned.

-  Fantastic piece by Stats Inc. on newly acquird Aaron Heilman and his repertoire. There's some words of warning in there, but it's pretty clear he has filthy stuff.

More after the jump...

The rest of the world might have been on holidays the last few weeks, but general managar Jim Hendry was busy shuffling the deck chairs on the Cubbie Titanic. Things happened at a rather fast and furious pace last week, so let's revisit with a more in-depth look. What you may have missed while in your drunken egg nog stupor...

Cubs Sign Gathright

Granted, this was before the holiday break, but it's not like I can let a Cubs move go without commenting. Gathright, as we all know by now, can jump over a car and he can also jump over a pitcher if needed. He'll also take a swing at Julian Taveraz which certainly warrants a +1 if this was Deadspin. We also know that Gathright grades at 80 on the 20-80 scouting scale for speed, one of those five tools that Corey Patterson supposedly possessed. A shame that scouting scale hasn't been revamped to include a sixth tool for "baseball IQ" or "can't layoff a breaking pitch".

Back to Gathright, we know he's fast, we know he can jump a car or player, but what he can't do is play baseball very well.  He's a track star wearing a baseball uniform. The speed is fun and all when you're getting a .365 BABIP like he did in 2007, but when lady luck isn't on his side, he's a .265 hitter with a slugging percentage below his on-base percentage. When Ryan Theriot says you hit like a girl, you've got problems.

And as for his 80-grade speed, you'd think a guy so damn fast could steal at better than a 75% clip. While passable by the laws of baseball sabermetrics, when your only real benefit on the field is your wheels, he should be much closer to the 80% or higher range like Dave or Brian Roberts. Of course, speed also is beneficial in the field, but Gathright rates as below average by BP's fielding metric over his career

I still contend that on a one year, $800K deal, he was brought in as no more than a backup plan and motivation for Felix Pie this spring training. I don't think that contract will keep the Cubs from cutting him if Pie can put together a nice spring training. If he does stick, we just hope Piniella uses him appropriately, which would be not much at all.

...it's like Friday Notes, but on Thursday...and on 'roids.

Alright, I've been compiling links and notes for about three weeks now and finally had a chance to get it all down today, so plenty of diversions for the off-day today before we knock the silly out of the Redbirds this weekend. And yeah, some of this stuff is old.

- Let's go back in the time machine and talk about home field advantage for the All-Star game. I think most of the sentient baseball universe realizes the absurdity of awarding home field advantage for the most important games of the year to the league that wins an exhibition contest. MLB says they can't do the rational thing of awarding it to the team with the best overall record, as it won't give them enough time to plan and book events in the potential cities. I call SHENANIGANS!!!

When do they start booking these hotels and start planning? Using the current All-Star method, you know that after the season ends, one of four teams could be hosting the majority of the games. After one round, it's down to two teams. If they use the best record, there are seven teams that could host the majority of the games (throw out the playoff team with the worst record), and after the first round, it would be down to three cities (once again throw out the record of the worst team left). This doesn't seem like such a scheduling catastrophe as MLB makes it. And the NBA and NHL seem to have figured it out.

...the triumphant return.

- Fun with projections: At their current .642 winning percentage, the Cubs would win 104 games. They have played a considerable amount of extra home games though to this point, so if you use their current .784 home winning percentage and their current .467 road winning percentage, that comes out to (roughly) 63 home wins and 37 on the road for a total of 100 wins. If they "tank" the rest of the way and just play .500 ball, they'd still be good for 90 wins on the year. This would also be a good time to note though that the highest home win total since 2002 is 57 wins done by the 2003 A's and Giants and the 2004 Yankees.

...returns after a one week break.

- There was a brief discussion in the comments about who should be the Cubs All-Stars. I think the deserving candidates are Carlos Zambrano (leads NL pitchers in VORP), Carlos Marmol (leads NL relievers in WPA), Geovany Soto (leads NL catchers in VORP) and Aramis Ramirez as a backup at third base to Chipper Jones. Ramirez is just a few notches behind Garrett Atkins in VORP for the backup spot, but he has a slight edge in home runs, RBI's and huge lead in OBP...and the Rockie kind of suck right now.

On the outside looking in, are Kosuke Fukudome(12th among all NL outfielders), Ryan Dempster (12th in VORP) and Derrek Lee (4th in VORP). And don't be surprised if Soriano gets himself back into the mix before too long.

- I noticed today that you can view Iowa Cubs highlights from their home page. Neat.

- I wanted to once again thank everyone who took the time and hit to their bank accounts to donate during our April pledge drive. I have to say, some of you went well beyond the call of duty and while I would happily thank each of the 35 individuals that did contribute, but most of you I only know by your usernames on here and I don't want to give away your super-secret identities. But I will acknowledge the six who contributed $50 or more that helped us to our final tally of...... $912.30. Holy Cow!

UPDATE: Last second donation in, make it 36 total for $942.30. 

4 $50 Donations from:

Mr. Whipple

DC Tom

Jumbo

(I don't know the username) Buzz Music Inc.

$51 Donation (someone's a Price is Right Fan)

Tony S.

The Big Giver after the jump...

...just a few notes promoted from the comments and other site fun.

- Rich Hill will get his next start skipped with the day off Monday. 10 or so days off should really help him with his control problems.

- Another gem from ex-Cub, now blossoming writer Doug Glanville; that includes this gem:
And I recall seeing an electric young pitcher, Kerry Wood,
when he was the ripe old age of 19. He had yet to set foot in a major
league stadium when we watched him pitch in an instructional league
game in Arizona. Nevertheless, that didn’t stop me and everyone else
from realizing that he was a man among boys. Years later, he would set
the record for most strikeouts in a game. He just had something that
made his blank sheet of experience rise to the top of a pile of
bullet-point-riddled résumés.

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