Friday Notes

- As one astute reader noticed - replacing the big bat of Alfonso Soriano with Mike Fontenot has all the makings of replacing Derrek Lee's bat in 2006 with Neifi Perez. After today's showing, it's hard to see if Eric Patterson is much better.. But with two lefties scheduled after today, I think it's time to (wait for it)....Free Matt Murton!

- A quick shout-out to a new member of the Cubs Blog Army. One of our readers has started Harry and Hawk, which covers both Chicago baseball teams. You can stop by and read half the articles.

Some site notes after the jump...

...Friday's game thread is below...

- As you've probably heard by now, the Cubs received 25-year old outfielder/first basemen Doug Deeds from the Twins today as the PTBNL in the Craig Monroe deal. A ninth-round selection of the Twins in 2002, the lefty was an honorable mention on John Sickels top 20 Twins prospects before 2007, but didn't make the cut in 2008 after a rough year in AAA. His scouting report on Scout.com before the 2007 season sure had some encourging notes:

Deeds is one of the more polished hitters in
the Twins’ organization, and each year he seems to grow at the plate.
He has the ability to hit to all fields, and has shown the ability to
hit at every level he has played at during his Minor League career.

Deeds is a great defensive outfielder, and
should have a future as an everyday corner outfielder in some
organization, hopefully the Twins. He makes all the plays in right
field, and has a tremendous arm that enables him to scare potential
base runners from advancing a base. He uses good closing speed to get
to balls that most outfielders do not get to, and has had his fair
share of outfield assists throughout his Minor League career.

His career line is still a solid 291/374/463 and hopefully a change of scenery will benefit him. I imagine he'll be headed Mike Wellman's way and on to Iowa.

we kid...we kid.

Soto gets knocked over by Weeks
Observations from the first three games:

  • A bad idea is a bad idea and I'm glad Lou doesn't take 20 games to come to these conclusions. Theriot batting leadoff was just never a good idea and Soriano batting second is even a worse idea. Soriano doesn't have the patience or bat control needed for that spot and Theriot doesn't get on nearly enough that it's going to help the teams bottom line - scoring runs. Kudos to Lou to for the willingness to admit his mistake quickly and moving on just as quickly.
  • Has Geovany Soto been listening to Henry Blanco or did he dust-off a copy of "Michael Barrett's Defensive Drills for Catchers"? It's never good when between you and Jason Kendall, Kendall looks like the better defensive backstop.
  • While legal, Weeks took one heckuva cheap shot at Soto. I'm not sure if Weeks was just angry at getting plunked a few times, but he's made a career of getting hit by pitches, so he needs to get over it quick. As for the play itself, the ball wasn't all that close to Soto and it wouldn't have taken any effort by Weeks to go around him. I'm frankly shocked that the Cubs didn't retaliate later in the game. On the other hand, we needed the win pretty badly and maybe it's best to save that for down the road.
  • This Fukudome character is pretty good.
...1,753 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half pack of cigarettes, it's dark and we're wearing sunglasses.

- I had been on record saying that the Cubs choosing between Dempster, Marquis, Lieber and Marshall wasn't much of a choice at all. Just pick whatever shade of gray you're in the mood for and go from there. If anything, Marshall still having options made him the obvious choice to get sent down and be available when the inevitable injuries hit. Now that the decision has been made to go with Dempster and Marquis with Lieber to the pen and Marshall suddenly fighting for the LOOGY role, I will say I feel a bit reassured, at least in one area. 

Cubs pitchers have a tendency to run up their pitch counts early in games and it's particularly worrisome with Ryan Dempster early on, who still has to get use to pacing himself as a starter. But, with Lieber, Hart and possibly Marshall in the pen, that really shouldn't be much of a problem, as all three can go multiple innings. I wouldn't be surprised in the least if Dempster and possibly Marquis will be getting some really quick hooks in their games this year to see Lieber come in for three to four innings.

- Sports Illustrated has gone and ruined our season, predicting us to lose in the World Series to the Detroit Tigers. I believe last year they picked the Los Angeles teams to square off and I'm sure we all remember how 2004 went after SI picked us to win it all. Curse you SI....

- Speaking of the Cubs and Tigers in the World Series, I stumbled across this gallery from the 1945 World Series.

- ESPN's Page2 goes through each and every painstaking year since we last won it all. 


- Nate Silver of Baseball Prospectus takes a look at the Cubs signing of Reed Johnson and thinks it's another "uncreative use of resources", par for the Cubs' course.

- Doug Glanville's second career as a freelance writer sure looks promising. He writes in the New York Times about some of his past spring training exploits.

3 days until Opening Day....

....counting down to Vegas (I'm going next week, Cubs arrive at the end of the month).

- Feel free to use this as today's game thread, Cubs stay home in Mesa and battle the Angels; Ryan Dempster vs. Ervin Santana. 

- The big news of the week was another Lou lineup change, this one involving our highest paid player though. I immediately expressed my displeasure over the experiment, but I'll save my final judgement when it's actual put to use in a game that counts. Lou still has a few weeks to change his mind. I have no problems with moving Soriano to the 2-spot or the 5-spot or the 4-spot or even the 3-spot. I have all kinds of problems with giving Ryan Theriot even more plate appearances, even if it's just a handful more.

On the other hand...

There's just something about the Lou tenure so far that makes me give him the benefit of the doubt. It's not that I think he's infallible or anything. It's just that if he does go down this road with Theriot at the top of the order, I feel just as confident that he'll abandon it if it's not working. This is the complete opposite of how I felt about Dusty, who was stubbornly stupid.

- The Cubs made their first roster cuts, trimming the roster by nine. They included pitchers, Billy Petrick, Esmailin Caridad, Jose Ceda and left-hander Geoff Jones. Also, outfielders Tyler Colvin and Andres Torres, infielder Bobby Scales, and catchers Wellington Castillo and Josh Donaldson.

- A few folks sent me links to their Cubs sites lately and wanted to menton kosukefukudome.org, which is naturally, all things Kosuke. There's also Cubs Chat Room, which looks like it puts together all the major Cubs blogs in one place and has an ongoing chat. And finally, Just One Bad Century, which sure looks promising. Anyone doing a retrospective on great Cubs mustaches throughout the years, is my kind of place. 

- You may have seen the recap of our MLB Open Fantasy League draft. You can have just as much fun by joining our second league. We're one to two players short of a full league, so drop me a line if you want to be part of the fun. I believe the draft is Saturday, March 22nd at 11am CST. 

- Steve Holley of Inside the Ivy is going to do a little Q&A with us sometime over the next couple of weeks. I'd like to get my questions to him next week, so if you want to ask anything about our minor leaguers, drop me a note in the comments.

- A couple of quick site modifications with more soon to come. I added a "module" as Drupal calls them, that will automatically fill in the subject line for users when they comment. When you first hit the comment button, it will add "Re: {Title of Post}. If you hit reply to a comment, it will fill-in the subject line with the subject of the comment you are replying to. You can go in and edit them if you wish. If you are replying to someone's comment though, we do ask that you just leave the default because it makes life a lot easier for those viewing comments in the "flat" modes.

- The next tweak is the signature module. It has a few options - the most important is that it will stylize the signature automatically (no more broken tag troubles hopefully). Currently it's set-up to have a small line break and italicize it:

__________________________

Welcome to The New Cub Reporter!

Since the system is doing all the formatting now, I do ask that if you did add a signature, to go in and remove any tags or linebreaks (directly the opposite of what I asked yesterday). I simply typed in: Welcome to the New Cub Reporter! in my signature box without any formatting and what you see above is what is pumped out.

Also, if you change your signature or add one, it will change the signature on all your old comments as well.

Next, your signature will no longer show up in the comment box and you won't have to type around it. If you added a signature to your account, it will automatically attach it to the end of your posts now.

The last note is that after I installed the module, it did take everyone who had a signature yesterday and duplicated them in your comments. An unfortunate side-effect, but everything should be working normally from here on.

...where I have nothing exciting to mention.  


UPDATE: If you wish to endorse the buy Wrigley plan at the bottom of this article, send an email with your full name to Mr. Lunchbuckett.

- Tickets for individual games at Wrigley went on sale today. A look through the comments of the previous thread indicate it's as hellacious as ever. Once the home of Bleacher Bums and nuns from DeKalb, it's now just a scalpers heaven. Sigh.


 - Lou Piniella seems to be seeing the same things that our pal Arizona Phil is, suggesting that the Fuk might end up batting third with Soriano and Theriot at the top of the order and Lee and Ramirez following him.
- You can also listen to a Lou's appearance on the Mike North show from this morning. I haven't had a chance to listen to it, but I believe he talks a little about the batting order, the closer job, and Hendry working on some deals...with all the vagueness you should expect. 

- If you're still interested in joining a low-key fantasy league with some fellow TCR readers, drop me an email. We already filled up one league, but I have quite a few names that are still interested and would love to open up a second league. 

- I received an email from someone calling themselves "Joe Lunchbuckett" (how fantastic would that be if that was his real name?). Mr. Lunchbuckett is taking it upon himself to try and organize the Cubs masses into buying Wrigley Field. I don't believe there's any relation to the fan effort to buy the Cubs, but I thought I'd give him his 15 minutes. You can view his press release by following the link (Google Docs is fantastic by the way). 

Enjoy the weekend...

...been doing it clean since 2005.

- The Congressional Hearings were the big topic of the week and I'll add my final two cents. It seems to me now that there are two likely scenarios. In one corner, Roger Clemens is guilty as sin and flat out lying. Or Brian McNamee is the new "Verbal" Kint. He's pieced together all these little snippets of information (team BBQ, B12 injections, things on Clemens's butt, Petitte using HGH, etc) and then he weaved this incredible tale to get him out of jail time. If we see him limping out of the courthouse one day into a waiting car that whisks him away to never be seen again, then I might just believe Clemens. In the meantime, I'm going with guilty as sin.

- While I applaud Zambrano's attempt at humor, there were so many things that could have gotten lost in translation with his little prank today. Hopefully Fukudome has a good sense of humor, because you need one to be around the Cubbies.

- Congrats to Pat Hughes on being named Illinois Sportscaster of the Year. Although it's a limited pool of candidates when you think about it (heck this is Hughes 4th win) and I think just about any sportscaster in Illinois will end up with the honor if they stick around the state long enough.

- I'll be on with Joe Aiello and Brandon Rosage on their podcast, "The Pitch" today. I dont' believe it's live anymore, but the podcast should be available to listen or download sometime later this afternoon. I'll post the link when it becomes available.

Enjoy the holiday weekend....

UPDATE: False alarm on the podcast appearance, going to be pushed back until Tuesday now.

...for those that missed out on the West Coast scores.

- One of our wonderful readers, "Wolf at the Door" has been burning the midnight oil with all kinds of fancy charts and graphs over at the Wolf-Report. Fantastic stuff. His latest is a comparison of Japanese players making the transition to the majors, although he did forget one player....

- Tadahito Iguchi, who John Dewan points out had remarkably similar numbers to Fukudome in their age 29 seasons in Japan (that was two years ago for Fukudome). Iguchi's first season with the White Sox produced a 278/342/438 line with 15 HR's. That doesn't sound $12M worthy.

- Another Dewan factoid questioning the effectiveness of the Cubs seven-year run as NL strikeout kings.

- I was actually going to mention that same "Stat of the Day" that Cubnut did earlier, but more for the fact that Zambrano has the most plate appearances (84) for a .300 hitter or above without a hit by pitch or a walk in a season (in 2005). I also wanted to note the one about "The Most Average Batters of All Time". Bill Buckner leads the list of hitters with most career plate appearances and an OPS+ between 99 and 101.

- I thought this article was a fun read by Ken Arneson on "How to Defeat a Sabermetrician in an Argument".

- A few weeks back I put up a video of Hendry watching a Felix Pie home run. Here's the clip of the actual moonshot.

Enjoy the weekend....

-- Dayn Perry’s anti-All Star list–the worst National Leaguers, position by position–includes no Cubs, but two exes, Jason Kendall and Juan Pierre.

Congratulations, men.

-- Riffing off of Friday's Stat of the Day feature at Baseball-Reference.com, a list of players who went an entire season without a BB or HBP, here’s a list of Cub hitters who achieved the feat, in descending number of plate appearances:

Joe Carter (52 PA’s in 1983)
Dee Fondy (51 PA’s in 1957)
Mike Hubbard (39 PA’s in 1996)
Bubbles Hargrave (37 PA’s in 1914)
Don Young (36 PA’s in 1965)
Billy Cowan (36 PA’s in 1963)
Coaker Triplett (36 PA’s in 1938)
Rob Talbot (32 PA’s in 1953)
Sandy Martinez (30 PA’s in 1999)
Jeff Kunkel (29 PA’s in 1992)

Note: no Neifi Perez. Just doesn’t seem right. (And yes, Bubbles Hargrave is Pinky's brother.)

-- A tv-related note by way of the Muskrat: Comcast marks the 10th anniversary of Harry Caray’s passing with a day of Harry-related programming on February 18th. Included will be a documentary on Harry’s life and complete rebroadcasts of three big games from Caray’s time with the Cubs, including the NL East clincher in 1984.

--The sun is out in Chicago today for what seems like the first time in months. A fitting reason to point out that pitchers and catchers report to Mesa 5 days, 23 hours, 48 minutes and 26 seconds from now.

...the triumphant return.

- Earlier this week, Tom Verducci tackled the importance of rotation stability. A piece that easily could be re-titled: "The Value of Jason Marquis".

- Also at sportsillustrated.com, Joe Sheehan goes through his 2008 breakout candidates (I believe the article is on BP as well). Clip and save for your fantasty drafts.

- I'll be once again contributing to Wrigley Season Ticket 2008. An in-depth roster review of the 2008 Cubs with plenty of 100-year-World-Series-drought references and an article on our NL Central rivals. I believe you can pre-order now (available on Amazon.com as well) and it should ship near the end of March I believe. For the $10-$15 you'll end up paying, it's like TCR that you can take to the can (See if they put that in their marketing).

- Baseball America takes a look at the importance of velocity in pitching prospects. A quick look back at all the pitchers in their 2002 handbook that topped 98 mph on the gun and how they've fared and then a look a the 2008 prospects that have done the same. Zambrano made an appearance in 2002, Jeff Samardzija makes one in 2008. And we wonder why Hendry is in love with radar gun readings.

- Straight from the horse's mouth, the Padres definitely have interest in Matt Murton. Apparently Kevin Towers doesn't have the same issues as Hendry about talking about players on other teams. Or in the case of Mark Prior, actually talking to those players even though they're still under contract with another team.

I was being raked over the coals at work earlier this week, so I was never able to give my 2 cents on the Corey Patterson trade and I know you've all been waiting breathlessly for my take. To echo Ruz's statements, ìVaya con Dios, Coreylitoî. You wrote your Cubs tombstone the day you decided that you didnít want to play winter ball. Just another data point to verify the history of your arrogance. I do wish him luck with the O's and if he becomes the 30/30 guy we were all hoping for one day, don't worry, it would have never happened while he was in a Cubs uniform. I did find this quote from Korey regarding all the advice given to him highly amusing.
"Everyone has good intentions, but you have to know yourself and what parts to take in and leave out. I was listening to so many people. I wasn't being myself."
Here's some handy clip and save advice for you Korey, cut it out, put it into your wallet and refer to it the next time your on an 0 for 30 streak with 25 Kís:
Don't Swing at fastballs over my head.
As for the prospects we got in return, Carlos Perez will be lucky to have a career as good as the other Carlos Perez, and that's not saying much. Spears has tons of potential, just like the guy we traded him for once did, just in lesser amounts. He does have the upside of only being 20 and not being an arrogant idiot. There's a lot of comparisons to David Eckstein because of his frame and scrappiness. We can only hope he turns out that well. He played last year for the O's Advanced-A team, so he'll either get the bump up to AA or hang back in Daytona.
I'll make this brief and please continute to use the "Blue Christmas?" thread for the Prior/Tejada trade talks.

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