Thursday, December 31, 2009

Come On 22! Hendry Needs a New Pair of Shoes!

Marlon Byrd.  Three years.  Fifteen million dollars.  I just want to inhale fumes from various cleaning supplies until I can convince myself that it isn't true.

Many people don't understand the move, but unfortunately, I do.  Marlon Byrd is the longshot, Hail Mary, please-let-me-keep-my-job, desperation move that Hendry hopes will keep him employed beyond the 2010 season.

He is no longer concerned about what is best for the long term success of the Cubs.  He can give a shit about 2011.  Everything is about 2010 and whatever miniscule shot this team has of winning the World Series and validating the misadventures of Spendin' Jim.  Unfortunately, he has a very limited amount of money (thus maybe he should be renamed Thrifty Jim), so his choices for "improving" the team were limited to a group of players who might possibly be slightly better than what Sam Fuld could provide at ten times the price.

Hendry has basically spent the last few years sitting at the blackjack table with a big pile of the Tribune's money and he has been splitting kings, doubling on twelve, and hitting on sixteen with the dealer showing a five.  He has been making horrible decisions and losing.  Badly.

Now, he is trying to get back all that cash he pissed away by going to the roulette table and putting everything he has on number 22.

Anybody who has ever tried to win back money from a casino in this manner knows that it rarely turns out well.  Everybody else in the world realizes that he might as well just take that money and set it on fire, but he has convinced himself that  he has a system that can beat the house.

So gather 'round the roulette table, Cubs fans, and start watching that ball spin.  Maybe we can will it into the slot that pays off.  Come on!  One time... please?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Cubs Hellbent on Looking Like They Are Doing Something

I was reading Andy Dolan's post about the 2001 season at Desipio and found myself reading the names of Cubs players that I have tried very hard to forget: Delino DeShields, Ron Coomer, Kyle Farnsworth, Jeff Fassero, Jason Bere, Robert Machado.  The list goes on, but I fear that by doing so I will cause my three readers to furl up into a permanent fetal position beneath their chairs.

Then I started looking at the names of players that the Cubs supposedly have (or had) interest in acquiring:  Scott Podsednik, Marlon Byrd, Jose Contreras, Rick Ankiel, Ryan Spilborghs, Kiko Calero.  The lists are eerily similar in their lack of baseball talent.

This continues to fuel my growing belief that whoever the Cubs acquire is going to suck.  So my question is, why in the world wouldn't we let our own farm system provide the suckiness at the league minimum salary?  If something is going to to be terrible, and you know it is going to be terrible, wouldn't you want to pay the least possible amount in return?

I am not one of the people who thinks that Sam Fuld is an All-star in the making.  I'm guessing we would get a very similar season from him as we just got from Mike Fontenot if the Cubs gave him more playing time as many have suggested. I know that RBIs aren't a great measure of a player's hitting value, but we can all agree that he probably should have accidentally driven in more than two by now, right?

But here's the thing about Sam Fuld.  He is cheap.  There is still the possibility that he could improve.  That possibility, as infinitesimally small as it might be, is still greater than the possibility that Scott Podsednik, age 34 when the season starts, will improve upon his career OPS+ of 87 (league average is 100).  He has exactly one season in his career where he has an OPS+ of over 100 and that was in 2003 when he was 27 years old.

Fuld put up an OPS+ of 111 last season in limited duty.  What does that mean?  Probably nothing except that he has already almost matched Scott Podsednik's best year of his life.

So I have to ask myself, why in God's name are they even talking about Scott Podsednik or any of the other shitty players outside of sentences like, "Scott Podsednik's agent called me today.  I laughed at him." or "I wonder which is higher, Jose Contreras' actual age or his ERA?" or "Can you believe that Phil Rogers doesn't know the difference between Paul Byrd and Marlon Byrd?"

The only answer I can come up with is that the Cubs know that Fuld truly has no upside.  Nor does Tyler Colvin, or any of the other Not Ready for Prime Time players they have out in Iowa.  They have more information and data on these players than anybody else, and they have determined that the Cubs farm system blows and will not be of any actual help this year.  Thus, they will pay far above market value for guys that probably shouldn't be on major league rosters anywhere anymore because it looks like they are doing something.

You have to look like you are doing something to sell all of those single-game tickets in the middle of February.  Even if you are actually not.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Twelve Days of Cubs Christmas

Al over at BCB beat me to the Night Before Cubs Christmas, so I'll instead present for your potential enjoyment:

The Twelve Days of Cubs Christmas

On the first day of Christmas, my Cubbies gave to me a World Series Title Trophy.

On the second day of Christmas, my Cubbies gave to me two White Sox sweeps and a World Series Title Trophy.

On the third day of Christmas, my Cubbies gave to me three no-hitters, two White Sox sweeps and a World Series Title Trophy.

On the fourth day of Christmas, my Cubbies gave to me four bleacher seats, three no-hitters, two White Sox sweeps and a World Series Title Trophy.

On the fifth day of Christmas, my Cubbies gave to me five gold gloves, four bleacher seats, three no-hitters, two White Sox sweeps and a World Series Title Trophy.

On the sixth day of Christmas, my Cubbies gave to me six relievers holding, five gold gloves, four bleacher seats, three no-hitters, two White Sox sweeps and a World Series Title Trophy.

On the seventh day of Christmas, my Cubbies gave to me seven innings from starters, six relievers holding, five gold gloves, four bleacher seats, three no-hitters, two White Sox sweeps and a World Series Title Trophy.

On the eighth day of Christmas, my Cubbies gave to me eight hitters raking, seven innings from starters, six relievers holding, five gold gloves, four bleacher seats, three no-hitters, two White Sox sweeps and a World Series Title Trophy.

On the ninth day of Christmas, my Cubbies gave to me nine beer vendors vending, eight hitters raking, seven innings from starters, six relievers holding, five gold gloves, four bleacher seats, three no-hitters, two White Sox sweeps and a World Series Title Trophy.

On the tenth day of Christmas, my Cubbies gave to me ten W flags a wavin', nine beer vendors vending, eight hitters raking, seven innings from starters, six relievers holding, five gold gloves, four bleacher seats, three no-hitters, two White Sox sweeps and a World Series Title Trophy.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my Cubbies gave to me eleven playoff wins, ten W flags a wavin', nine beer vendors vending, eight hitters raking, seven innings from starters, six relievers holding, five gold gloves, four bleacher seats, three no-hitters, two White Sox sweeps and a World Series Title Trophy.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my Cubbies gave to me twelve can't-miss-prospects, eleven playoff wins, ten W flags a wavin', nine beer vendors vending, eight hitters raking, seven innings from starters, six relievers holding, five gold gloves, four bleacher seats, three no-hitters, two White Sox sweeps and a World Series Title Trophy.

Merry Christmas to all my familes - the family into which I was born, the family that has taken me in as one of their own, my Summer family, and everyone who has found their way to this blog.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Happy Holidays from the Cubs

Good to see that $3,300 per seat in the upper deck buys you a little holiday spirit from the Cubs.  You can even see it animated here.

Of course, if you aren't a Season ticketholder, the Cubs can probably give a shit about your Holiday Season.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Podsednik, Ankiel, and Byrd, Oh My (BEARS SUCK!)

NOTE:  I wrote this post while watching the Bears play the Ravens, so please forgive the moments where it may seem as though I am about to set off on a psychopathic rage.

The Milton Bradley saga has finally drawn to a close with all of Cub Nation flipping a collective bird as he heads off into the sunset towards Starbucks City.

It is time to put the mistakes of the past behind us.  It is time to heal the wounds.  It is time to move forward.


It is time to usher in a new era of peace and harmony.

Mainly, it is a time to figure out who the Cubs will have roaming around in the outfield this season.  The general consensus is that now is the opportunity to move Kosuke Fukudome back to right field where he is more comfortable, so the Cubs are looking for a center fielder.


Luckily, the Cubs went rummaging through an old pair of pants and found some spare change amongst the pocket lint otherwise known as Carlos Silva.  They brought the pennies to a Coin Star and found out they have about $6 million more to spend than they did before.  Yay!!! Found money!!!


Unfortunately, the market for centerfielders has been pretty sparse this season, and the early-bird shoppers have already beat the Cubs to Mike Cameron and Curtis Granderson, so the remnants left on the shelves include Scott Podsednik (who was made available because the White Sox preferred noodle-armed Juan Pierre), Rick Ankiel (who is actually just what would happen if Brant Brown had ever used steroids for a brief period), and Marlon Byrd (who is a pretty good hitter when he is hitting in the Stadium in Arlington, Texas, but unfortunately, the Cubs hardly ever play there).


I'm hoping that Jim Hendry doesn't have his usual post-season blinders on and realizes that he doesn't absolutely have to spend that $6 million he just got from Seattle.  He gets so focused on what has to happen, he loses sight of the fact that signing a center fielder from that list of center fielders would actually only make the team worse, while at the same time locking up the money that could probably be spent later in the season on a deadline deal for a player who might actually be good at playing baseball.


I don't want to get anyone too excited (Phil Rogers, I'm looking at you), but Carl Crawford is a free agent in 2011 and he'll only be 29 years old at that time.  If the Rays start falling behind the Red Sox and Yankees again in the AL East, they may try to trade him before losing him for nothing to free agency.  As much as the media salivated over a decent player like Granderson, they will absolutely cream their pants over a player of Crawford's abilities.


Personally, I could live with a few months of Sam Fuld and whatever right-handed equivalent they can dig up to platoon out there if it meant making a serious run at a player like Carl Crawford at the deadline.  Save the money and resist the urge to throw it all (and likely even more than that) into a three-year deal with a no-trade clause to some baseball equivalent of Shemp.


But knowing Hendry, he'll feel this irresistable compulsion to show that he's doing something, and we'll be watching Marlon Byrd strikeout a lot this summer at Wrigley.  Then we'll watch Crawford get traded to some other team that is not the Cubs and we'll all wonder why we're paying so much to watch a team that can't win seventy games.


Friday, December 18, 2009

Cubs Trade Milton Bradley, Give up on 2010

The Cubs refused to believe they were out of the playoff chase last year when they hadn't gained a game on the Cardinals in over a month, but they showed a brand new can-quit spirit today as they shipped off pouty Milton Bradley to Seattle in exchange for a pitcher that will most likely make us look back fondly on the Neal Cotts Era.

I'll put it another way.  The Cubs traded their answer to all of their 2008 problems in the playoffs for a pitcher that has injury problems, is kind of a dick in his own right, and sucks at getting opposing batters out.  The eleven and a half months of the Milton Bradley Era is the biggest conglomeration of poor judgement and mismanagement of my lifetime and quite possibly the entire history of the Chicago Cubs.  (Move over Larry Himes.)

It is readily apparent that this move is a marketing and PR move and not a move that is intended to make the team better at the actual game of baseball.  The last time marketing and PR came into play in player personnel decisions, we wound up with the Neverending Contract in left field that will continue to hamstring the roster for years to come.

The Cubs decided it was easier to market a shitty team without the stain of Milton Bradley than a potentially shitty team with Milton Bradley.

The purely baseball decision here was to bring Milton to camp and pray to God he started hitting the baseball with authority so that the price could be raised enough to get a player of some value back, or to save more than the $6 million they cut in the deal with Seattle.

I'm not saying that the Cubs would EVER get true value back for Milton's talents that will almost assuredly be on display in the Pacific Northwest this season.  I'm talking about raising his value enough so that other teams might begin to actually believe that the Cubs didn't HAVE to trade him and thereby stop trying to shove barbed wire up Hendry's ass in any trade discussions.

Meanwhile the Cubs are relieved Milton won't be distracting them in the clubhouse anymore.  Ryan Theriot went on Waddle & Silvy on ESPN 1000 in Chicago and talked about how much easier it will be to focus without Milton around anymore and I wanted to reach into the radio and strangle him.  Blaming Milton Bradley for all of the ills of the Cubs last season is horseshit copping out.

I've worked with people that I hate and its no picnic, but it shouldn't affect your job performance.  Unless Milton was going around the clubhouse setting things on fire, destroying game tapes, or falsifying scouting reports, there is no excuse for letting one guy take the blame for the entire season of fail last year.

Nobody in this scenario is clean.  The Cubs players are apparently fragile, whiny bitches.  The coaches enabled a destructive belief that the players can't hit, field, pitch, or run as long as Milton was moping around the clubhouse.  Hendry never should have signed him in the first place, and most certainly never should have given him three years.  Hell, even the media started poking Milton with a stick the moment Spring Training started and exacerbated every situation at every opportunity.  Any fans that yelled anything racial at Milton or any other player they don't like should be hog-tied and laid out in the Wrigley urinal troughs during a game.

The good things about the trade are that it is finally over and I have a new easy target for my lame jokes.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

I Have Seen the Problem and the Problem Is Us

I'm part of the problem.  I know it and I own it.

I sit here and type away my little snarky comments about how the Cubs are run and the dumbass decisions they have made throughout not only my lifetime, but my father's and grandfather's, but when it comes right down to it, the problem with the Cubs looks back at me every morning in the mirror.  I (and millions of people just like me) am the reason the Cubs suck at winning championships.

The Washington Nationals are reducing ticket prices for 3,300 of their seats this year.  Why?  Because the Nationals suck, everyone knows they suck, and the people who live in the Beltway have better things to do with their lives than to go and watch sucky baseball.  They certainly aren't going to spend a large chunk of their children's future tuition money to do so.  The Nationals know it and are basically having a sale to try to get people into the ballpark to buy their $7 beers.

Here, the Cubs are going to suck too.  Yeah, I said it.  Think about what has to happen for the Cubs to do well this year. 

They need Alfonso Soriano to recover from his knee injury and hit again.  They need some balance of hitting and defense in the middle infield that hasn't yet been exhibited in the combination of middle infielders we currently have, or that are available on the market.  They need Ramirez to stay healthy for the whole year.  They need Derrek Lee to continue to hit like he's 28 years old.

They need to either figure out a way to make either Bradley or whatever piece of garbage replaces him to be useful.  They need Soto to hit like that one great year he had in 2008 instead of like every other year in his entire minor and major league career.  They need Fukudome to be more than an OK platoon level player. 

They need Ted Lilly to rebound from shoulder surgery faster than anyone probably really believes is realistic.  They need Dempster to pitch more like the 2008 version of himself.  They need Marmol to be able to throw strikes with some regularity.  They need Randy Wells to not take a Soto-esque step backwards in his sophomore year.  They need someone from the pile of Samardzija, Gorzelanny, Marshall, and assorted mishmash of minor league prospects to step into the fifth starters spot and not completely suck.  They need Zambrano to pitch well, not stage nutties on the field every other start, and stay healthy.

Granted most of those things are possible, if not plausible, but ALL of it happening?  Even MOST of it happening is unlikely.  When you have to discuss a team's chances of success with more than five or six "if" statements, the team is probably not going to do very well.

The Cubs, probably knowing as well as I do that 2010 is not going to be great year, have raised ticket prices (again).

But here is the problem and why the Cubs can get away with behavior in the market place that is completely contrary to common sense and reason: I will be renewing my season ticket package for my 12th year in Aisle 424.  And I will not be alone.  Not by a long shot.

After all of that which I know is wrong with the team, I'll eventually hand a check to the fat guy in the ticket office, he will not say thank you, and I will get to watch about fifty games where the Cubs will most likely make me wish someone would just hurry up and gouge out my eyes already.

So why do I do it?  Because I'm the guy the Cubs count on when they do dumb shit.  If there was a poster of the Cubs' dream dipshit fan hanging in their office, it would be a picture of me. I'm the guy they know is too scared that he'll never get his tickets back when the Cubs are actually poised to make a run at the World Series.  There is a reason they always update us on the number of people on the waiting list. They know stupid morons like me will just keep ponying up the dough to watch bad baseball for fear that one of those 120,000 other people will instead pay to watch bad baseball and I won't be able to.

I'm the guy who wouldn't be able to forgive himself if the Cubs somehow went to the World Series and couldn't get a ticket into the park to watch it.  I'm the guy who still thinks in the deep recesses of his brain that eventually the farm system will start churning out good young players that will be fun to watch as they develop, despite an endless parade of Sam Fuld and Jake Fox clones.

So here I sit with my renewal form as the Cubs prepare to trade away a player that they once thought was worth $30 million for the equivalent of what my cat coughs up when he eats an occasional dropped McDonald's french fry.  I stare at tomorrow's due date as the Cubs try to decide between Larry, Moe and Curly to play centerfield.  I ponder on that which the money could be better spent as the Phillies lock up a Cy Young pitcher for three more years that will be supported by home grown talent like Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, and Jayson Werth while the Cubs have Carlos Zambrano backed up by Geovany Soto, Ryan Theriot, and Micah Hoffpauir. 

A sane person would tell the Cubs to take their boosted ticket prices, crappy customer service, and 102 years of constant losing and shove them up their ass.  A sane person would have given up on the Cubs long ago.  But alas, here I am about to renew again.

My only solace is that I will be surrounded by my similarly insane summer family in Aisle 424 and roughly 40,000 other deranged people at every Cubs game I attend. This summer, as you dance around to Go Cubs Go after a game that will pull us within 11 games of the division lead in June, make no mistake:  We are the problem.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

What's Happening?

I get distracted from the blog to take care of school projects and other business and I missed so much Cubs news.  Since the Winter Meetings ended, the Cubs have... um.... hmm.  Well, they must have done something.

Maybe they signed a new centerfielder?  No.  But they did lose one of their crappy options to the Red Sox when Mike Cameron signed with them.  But the good news on that front is that the White Sox traded for Juan Pierre so the crappy option of Scott Podsednik in a Cubs uniform comes a half step closer to fruition.

I bet they finally whittled down the numerous teams showing interest in clubhouse leader and all-around good guy, Milton Bradley, down to a few and have started hammering out specifics of an imminent deal to free up some salary and bring a whiter and less talented player to stumble around in right field.  No.  Milton is still a Cub.

Any moves to bring in a shortstop that can actually play shortstop?  No.  Any long term deals handed out to aging relievers coming off of arm surgery?  No.  Any AAAA outfielders that are out of options traded for the flotsam and jetsam of someone else's farm system?  No.

It turns out that the only thing less active than this blog has been the Cubs, so I guess I picked the right time to drop off the face of the earth for a bit.

I kind of wish I had missed something though.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Crappiest Winter Meeting Wrap-Up Ever

It's been a little bit difficult to focus on the blog this week, so I apologize for the half-assedness of this post.  My official story is that I am looking to avoid copyright infringement by having only a Top 5 list and that's what I'm sticking to.

Top Five Things Overheard at the
MLB Winter Meetings

5.  "Whatever you do, don't let Hendry get you in a conversation, he'll talk your ear off about Bradley... shhhh! Here he comes."

4.  "I put the address of this hotel into my GPS device and it said, 'Really?'"

3.  "I couldn't get any sleep last night because Phil Rogers was next door weeping about Granderson going to the Yankees."

2.  "I find it ironic that about the only person Tiger didn't have sex with is Steve Garvey... oh, he did?"

1.  "Jacque Jones isn't down here looking for a job.  He has one here carrying luggage."

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Chris De Luca is Inordinately Concerned About Piniella's Job Security

Sounds like something ominous is a brewin' down in Indianapolis.  Chris De Luca lets us know that dark clouds are on the horizon for the Cubs.

Lou Piniella faced the questions on the first day of the winter meetings. He'll face them again on the first day of spring training. And again on Opening Day. Worse, he will face them any day the Cubs slip in the standings during the 2010 season.

What happened?  Was Lou caught running a dog-fighting ring?  Does he have a list of infidelities growing faster than the number of followers Ashton Kutcher has on Twitter?  Did he get further distance on his dirt-kicking in the 90s by using performance enhancing drugs?  What could it be?

The questions involve his lame-duck status. They're hard for any manager -- and team -- to weather. Even harder when the manager wears superstar status.

His what?  Did he make an announcement?  I heard he might want to stay on beyond 2010.  That's good news.  That means that he isn't actually a "lame duck."  I'm confused.

For whatever reason, little distractions turn into huge obstacles for the Cubs more than any other team.

Hard to imagine how that always happens when rumor, innuendo, and what-if speculations are printed and reported as news.

That 100-year drought weighed on them in 2008.

Imagine how many more games they would have won if Mark DeRosa hadn't been constantly beating himself up for 98 years of history that did not involve him in the slightest bit.

The expectations of finally delivering in the postseason weighed on them in 2009.

It weighed them down so much that Ryan Dempster broke his toe, Ted Lilly and Aramis Ramirez damaged their shoulders, and Soriano hurt his knee.  Ryan Theriot found a burst of adrenalin to lift that weight and became convinced he was a power hitter and Soto ate his feelings as well as everything else on the buffet table.

And now, Piniella's uncertain future will weigh on their fragile psyche in 2010.

I know if I was trying to hit a Johan Santana fastball, the first thing my mind would need to have settled is my manager's job situation in 2011.

Adding to the angst was the news from the winter meetings Monday in Indianapolis. The Cubs promoted Ryne Sandberg from Class AA to manage Class AAA Iowa.

Such angst.  I don't know how someone hasn't made a movie about that involving Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson staring at each other yet.

Great news for Sandberg, the Hall of Famer who has worked hard and deserves the recognition. Bad news for the lame duck, who has an eager replacement that happens to be a sentimental favorite among many Cubs fans.

This would be trouble if Lou gave a flying f--- what Cubs fans think about how the team is run.  Luckily, he is the best manager the Cubs have had in my lifetime and he doesn't.  I also highly doubt he is looking over his shoulder too hard at a guy who has never managed at the big league level and quit on his team when it turned out his first wife had a harder time keeping it in her pants than Tiger Woods.

 Sandberg called the Iowa job a steppingstone, and we all know where he wants his next step to land. He has made it clear exactly what would be his dream job. 

And it still belongs to Piniella.

So if I made it clear that I want Chris De Luca's job of making up issues, that might make it harder for him to make up issues?  I want Chris De Luca's job.

Seems like the Cubs have a brand new distraction that falls somewhere between a Milton Bradley meltdown and a Carlos Zambrano Gatorade thumping.

I think it actually falls somewhere between having a shoe come untied and having to ask for help opening a pickle jar.

''It won't be a distraction at all,'' general manager Jim Hendry said Monday. ''We've got to worry about playing baseball.''

Jim Hendry gets it.

This is where things get dicey. Hendry seems to want Piniella back for more than a year. Piniella -- no matter how beat down he seemed last season -- clearly is open to an extension, suggesting he can operate on a handshake deal.

Nothing is "dicey."  Having your immediate boss open to you returning beyond your original stated plans is GOOD.

But that handshake must come from someone higher than Hendry -- someone such as new owner Tom Ricketts.

Lou has been around long enough to know the new ownership doesn't guarantee anything and I doubt he will throw a fit if it doesn't happen.  He's probably just as happy to ride off into the sunset if the Cubs decide they are better off without him.

There's little doubt Ricketts is driven to make the Cubs winners. But his sights are set beyond 2010. Over the next season -- thanks to the greedy nudging from president Crane Kenney -- Ricketts will be more interested in turning Wrigleyville into a mini mall that will suck more revenue out of the Cubs brand before turning his full attention to the team.

I'm not about to be confused with the President of the Crane Kenney Fan Club, but the interest in building up the additional revenue streams has more to do with the $450 million debt Ricketts needs to start paying down.  Crane's alleged greediness is probably no more a factor in this decision than anything I've ever written on this blog.

Hendry, whose contract runs through 2012, is on a short leash. So is Piniella. No guarantees for either beyond next season. They must deliver on a grand scale to keep their jobs, with the knowledge the club finances will be committed to buildings, not baseball.
Hendry is on a short leash because he has committed millions of dollars to players that have come nowhere close to earning those dollars.  Why is Piniella on a short leash?  The fact that the Cubs finished above .500 last year is mind-boggling.  I'll put it into perspective for you.
Last week, my 82-year old grandfather arrived to his winter home in Florida so he could get it all ready for my grandmother's arrival a few days later.  He went to light the pilot light of the stove and found out the hard way that there was a gas leak.  The explosion blew out the windows, ripped the kitchen sink away from the wall, destroyed the cabinets, lifted the roof off the kitchen, and started a fire.  My grandfather sustained a few cuts on his legs (because he was wearing shorts) and singed eyebrows.  By the time the firemen got there, he had put out the fire with a fire extinguisher.  They were all baffled as to how he survived, much less came out pretty much unharmed.
The Cubs record last year was only a slightly less impressive miracle than that.

Hendry and the Cubs have been down this lame-duck path before, and the results were worse than anyone could have imagined.

Usually when the Cubs have a lame-duck manager, it is because he sucks, everyone knows he sucks, and there is no reason at all that the current manager is relevant.

 Dusty Baker entered the final year of his contract -- the same four-year span Piniella is on -- in 2006. Rumors at the Cubs Convention suggested he would have a new contract by spring training. When camp started, word was he would get a new deal before camp broke.

Case in point.  Dusty lost control of that team and the only thing that prevented Hendry from slapping on another four or five years anyway is because the 2005 season was such a complete and utter disaster that they couldn't justify it without sounding like complete idiots (which they would have been).

Then nothing.

Because the team started to suck all over again in 2006.

At the end of May -- after a 7-22 run through the month -- the vibe from the Cubs' front office was that Baker's extension would come down just as soon as the Cubs' record jumped up.

It never did.

All I can say to that is: Thank God!  Because no one was listening to Dusty anymore.  His "hey, dude" manner had worn out on the players and he enabled all of their bad habits preventing any improvement.  It had nothing to do with his "lame-duck" status.  It had to do with him being a shitty manager that passed the blame everywhere but to himself and his players.

Baker twisted in the wind that season, facing a steady diet of questions concerning his uncertain future. By July, it was clear he wasn't getting that extension, and he wasn't getting fired.

He was a lame duck in limbo.

It was pretty clear he was getting fired.  He just wasn't getting fired in the middle of the year so that some interim manager could get crapped on for three months by the press and fans.  Please explain to me how this situation is similar to that of Lou Piniella who has two division titles and three straight years of finishing over .500?

 The cloud of questions would hover until the Cubs closed that season in last place, dragged there by 96 losses.

The cloud of questions surrounding how this story serves any purpose is dragging down my interest in reading it any further.

All the more reason why Piniella's lame-duck status will be a hot topic not only in Chicago next spring and summer, but just about every stop they make if the Cubs continue to struggle the way they did last season and the national media senses an easy story.

There's the reason for this story.  It's easy.

Take Monday. The first time the subject was broached, Piniella seemed to have a prepared answer.

''Come on, I don't need to approach that anymore,'' he said while conducting the large group interview each manager does during the winter meetings. ''I've said what I have to say. I'll sign a 15-year extension and I'm going to go pull pitchers out with golf carts.''

Ha ha ha, oh Lou, you kidder.  Though the golf cart idea has merit.  He looked like he wanted to run Kevin Gregg down with one a few times last year.

During this session with reporters, Piniella answered 35 questions. Only two involved repeat topics. He was asked twice about improving the Cubs' shaky defense. And he was asked twice about entering the final year of his contract.

My God.  He was asked a question TWICE?!!  Oh the pressure!  Where does he summon the strength to go on?

The second time he was asked, Piniella tried to move on as quickly as possible.

He has shown a pesky habit of trying to move on quickly from stupid questions.

''I told you I was going to sign a 15-year deal,'' Piniella said. ''What else can I say? Huh?''

Next time, try this, Lou:  "How about you concern yourself with keeping your own job and not so much about me keeping mine.  I have a successful track record in this business both with this team and other teams.  I do not need to sit here day after day and justify myself to anyone who considers asking me this same dumb-shit question as a form of journalism.  I'm here as long as Jim, Crane, and Tom want me here.  Go worry about your own damn job and try to write something that doesn't make people think you are a chimpanzee with a typewriter."

Better come up with something soon because this topic won't disappear.

Oh holy hell.  Somebody pass me the scissors.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Winter Meetings Insanity in Indy

As the little ticker above shows by having hit all zeroes, the hushed whispers, scuttlebutt gathering, and all-out rumor-mongering that is the MLB Winter Meetings are underway.  Last year, they got together in Las Vegas where there are plenty of outside distractions to help contain at least a little bit of the crazy speculations that occur whenever someone like Jim Hendry and Brian Cashman get into the same elevator together, stand next to each other at a urinal, or casually acknowledge each other across a crowded lobby.

This year, the site of the Winter Meetings are in Indianapolis which (according to Wikipedia) you might remember from such TV shows as: One Day at a Time and surprisingly, Good Morning, Miss Bliss (which eventually became Saved by the Bell).  

Additionally, Indianapolis is mentioned twelve times in the film Uncle Buck. It is also second only to Washington, D.C. for number of monuments inside a city limits.  Suck on that, Washington.

So when reporters aren't being distracted by the American Legion National Headquarters, the President Benjamin Harrison Home, the Colonel Eli Lilly Civil War Museum, or the fact that Indianapolis is the only state capital that is located exactly at the center of the state, they are looking for anything they can write and/or tweet about to justify the travel expense of the Super 8 Motel off of I65.

Of course, this offseason means that the Cubs writers are narrowly focused on only a few topics: 
  1. The potential trading of Milton Bradley
  2. The potential of Milton Bradley being traded
  3. Milton Bradley trade potential
  4. Bradley, Milton: potential trades
  5. Curtis Granderson
For actual updates to the goings on at the Winter Meetings, Wrigleyville23 is compiling updates and tweets (with commentary) throughout the day.

I've gone over a number of the rumored Milton Bradley trade scenarios in the past and find them less palatable than a plate of deep-fried horse manure.  I find it ludicrous that a team would trash everything about a player and then trade him when everyone in the world knows they have to in order to clear up payroll space to fit another player to replace him.  It is just asking to have a flaming porcupine shoved up their proverbial backsides.

Billy Williams wants the Cubs to keep Milton and he is not alone anymore.  According to Paul Sullivan:

One major league manager said: "They should just keep him. He's a good hitter and he'll probably have a better year."

But Cubs sources say that option is not being discussed.

I've gone back and forth on this issue myself, so I have to ask:  Why the hell isn't it being discussed?  How is eating millions of dollars and/or receiving back a player whose presence in the lineup can only make the team worse the only course of action that is being considered?  How are the Cubs tacitly acknowledging the fact that Milton Bradley's presence on the team caused Theriot to think he is a power hitter? 

How in the world did Milton Bradley in a Cub uniform cause Aramis Ramirez's arm to come out of its socket?  Is Milton the one who threw Ryan Dempster over the railing of the dugout that broke his toe?  Did he grab Ted Lilly's arm and yank his shoulder?  Did he pull a Tonya Harding on Soriano's knee?  Was he the one that kept telling Soto that there were donuts available in the clubhouse?

Do we really believe that Kevin Gregg would have converted those saves if Bradley wasn't the one in right field watching the homerun balls fly out of the park?  Does he have some sort of electromagnetic pulse that is messing with Carlos Marmol's sense of where the strikezone is?

If any of that is true, yes, Milton Bradley needs to go.  Absolutely.  But if the fact that he's a dick is the only reason to trade him at the absolute lowest value of his career, then DON'T.

Bring Milton back to play out the contract he signed.  If he is insubordinate, suspend him and dock him pay.  If he gets hurt, put him on the DL and clear up a roster spot.  If he just bitches about hearing a couple of drunken louts in the bleachers calling him names and doesn't want to be anyone's friend, then tell the rest of the team to ignore him and focus on their own damn jobs.

The more I realize the only reason to trade him is just to be rid of him, the more it makes me want to strangle someone and now Aaron Miles is no longer available.

If any of us people with normal jobs messed up a presentation, ran over a budget, missed a deadline, or whatever else could go wrong in our jobs, our bosses would not want to hear that the reason we f---ed up was because Milton in the next cube is a jerk and thinks white people hate him.  Milton would not be the one to go.  We would be gone for letting something stupid affect our job performance.

The fact that the Cubs are so willing to throw out millions of dollars and take on another crappy ballplayer just so they can enable a losing attitude makes papercuts on my eyes seem like a more redeeming option.

By the way, I heard Jim Hendry ordered a Grand Slam at the hotel Denny's.  He must be shopping for a power bat.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Cubs Trade Fox, Miles, Cash and Easy Jokes to Oakland

You know when you want something so much that you envision your dream coming true and how it would almost have to be the most awesome day of your entire life?  But then you get what you were wishing for and somehow it doesn't measure up?

It happened to me when Phantom Menace came out after years of hoping and praying that Lucas would provide us with Darth Vader's backstory.  The result was learning that Luke inherited his penchant for being a whiny bitch from his father, and that even aliens want to sound like Vin Scully when they do sports commentary.  The worst thing, however, was Jar-Jar Binks. 

He was f---ing awful.  I saw him onscreen and I kept hoping he would do something cool or even not f---ing annoying, but he continued to underwhelm the ever-lowering expectations.  He was the Aaron Miles of the Star Wars franchise.

So here we are at the moment we have all been waiting for, the departure of Aaron Miles from the Cubs, and I am not finding myself dancing and singing and giving high fives to random people on the streets like I thought I would.

Don't get me wrong, I'm glad Aaron Miles is gone.  At his best, he is not a good baseball player and was merely blocking cheaper talent with more potential from the major league roster.  His presence did nothing to make the Cubs a better baseball team, and only impeded its ability to get any better.

Perhaps what is dampening my joy is the fact that the Cubs will be paying him $1 million this season to not play baseball for them.  Granted, I think that if Cubs fans had been able to pass a hat throughout the stadium, the donations for the Pay Aaron Miles To Not Play fund drive probably would have come up with more than that, but the principle bothers me.

Maybe it's the fact that the phone call with Billy Beane probably went something like this:

Jim:  Hey Billy, I've got a veteran middle-infielder that really needs a change of scenery and I think he'd make a great option off your bench and...

Billy:  Jim, I'm going to stop you right there.  What makes you think I'm an idiot?

Jim: Hey, I didn't...

Billy:  Seriously, what the hell?  I don't want Aaron Miles.  I wouldn't trade you the fattest, baldest, drunkest, still-dressed-in-Raiders-black-and-silver-paint moron from our bleachers for Aaron Miles.

Jim: You didn't let me finish.  I'm also going to give you... Milton Bradley!  He is so Moneyball!  He's patient, he draws a lot of walks.  He led our team in OBP last year.  You LOVE OBP and will LOVE Milton.  He may be a Raiders fan too, it would explain an awful lot.

Billy:  F--- you.

Jim:  OK, OK. You can't blame a guy for trying.  Seriously, how about Jake Fox?  The dude can hit.

Billy: I'm glad you're finally getting serious.  There are some nice players from my system I could give up for Jake Fox...

Jim: And Miles.

Billy:  What?  No, I told you I don't want that piece of shit.  I like GUYS WHO GET ON BASE!  You just said it!! I like high OBP.  Jesus, Jim!  He's not even good at being normal human height.

Jim: Yes, I hear you.  You don't want Aaron Miles.  How about I give you Jake Fox, one million dollars.... and.... Aaron Miles.

Billy: (sigh)  Alright.  I do like Fox.  I could probably use the million to have Miles killed and dropped into the Bay.  How about I give you a 28-year old rookie we took in the 32nd round and might make a serviceable middle-reliever, a guy that your fan base will be really excited about in about five years because he can hit the ball pretty well from the left-side, but can't catch a ball better than an average four-year old or Micah Hoffpauir, and an A-ball pitcher that might be good in a few years, but probably will have arm problems because otherwise I wouldn't part with him.

Jim: DEAL!!

Somehow I had hoped that Jake Fox would be a better bargaining chip than simply being the carrot to get someone to take a chance on Miles and only roughly 60% of his salary.

Or it may be that I won't have such an easy source of comedy anymore.  Now I know how Jon Stewart must have felt when George Bush left office.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Unemployment Lines Getting a Little Longer

I know that President Obama would like us to believe that the economy is turning around and that unemployment should start coming down soon, but the line at the unemployment office got a little longer yesterday, and looks to get even longer today.

The first pink slip of the day on Monday was probably drawn up when Notre Dame lost to Navy earlier this year, with an extra exclamation point added to "YOU'RE FIRED!" with each subsequent loss to Pittsburgh, Connecticut, and Stanford.  So today it was official and Charlie Weis had to slink away from South Bend with nothing but 18 million dollar bills he can probably eat or burn for fuel to get him through the long winter.  Poor bastard.

The second sudden job opening was a bit more of a surprise, and if possible, met with more joy than the Weis ouster.  Chip "Thank God My Last Name is" Caray was told by TBS that his services would no longer be needed and that they would be going in a new direction.  I used my Bullshit Spin Decoder Ring and translated that to mean that of all the things wrong with the TBS baseball broadcasts, Chip and his over-excited and often incorrect descriptions of the games were the worst part and most in need of drastic overhaul.

Andy over at Desipio has a theory that Chip would be perfect for St. Louis Cardinal baseball.  Personally, I think he has a great future doing play-by-play of hardcore gay and lesbian porn.  "Fisted!!"  Of course, he would probably still get things wrong: "Strapped on and buckled!  Here comes the threesome... just watching!  Wow those things look quite real!  Huh?  She's a what?  What the hell is a tranny?" 

On another only slightly more tasteful note, another college football coach who had a bit more success than Weis, will announce his "retirement" from Florida State.  I went reaching for my Decoder Ring again, but apparently ESPN's Mark Schlabach also has one and reports that,

According to sources, Bowden was given two options: return to FSU in 2010 as an ambassador to the program, in which he would have little input in the day-to-day operations of the program, or retire after the Seminoles' upcoming bowl game.

Bowden accumulated 388 wins at Florida State, raising the total number of FSU football victories in their entire history to 389, I believe.  The loyalty by the FSU boosters to a man that oversaw a team that had fourteen straight Top 5 finishes and who had exactly one losing season out of 34 (his first on the job with an inherited disaster of a team) is staggering.  I HATED Florida State in the 90s.  HATED them.  But, damn they were good, and Bowden deserved to leave the team on his own terms.

Meanwhile, Milton Bradley and Aaron Miles still have jobs.  Sometimes life just isn't fair.

Friday, November 27, 2009

A Vote You Can Believe In - Andre Dawson for HOF

Today, the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) released the names that are under consideration for election this year into the Baseball Hall of Fame.  The player on the ballot who has come closest to induction without getting the 75% of the vote necessary is former Cub (and Expo and Marlin and Red Sox), Andre Dawson, who received 67% last year.

I stated last year that the fact that Jim Rice got in on the last ballot and Dawson did not is baffling.  For all of the talk from the mainstream media about guys who played the game "right" or achieved their statistics without "enhancement," the writers seem to remain enamored by statistics piled up through pharmaceutical methods.

In addition to not achieving the magical milestones of 500 HRs and 3,000 hits, the main knock against Dawson is his pedestrian on-base percentage.  Now, perhaps there are statistics out there that refute this theory, but if I was a manager bringing a team into Olympic Stadium to face a team that had Dawson, Gary Carter, Tim Raines, Tim Wallach, Warren Cromartie, and Ellis Valentine in the lineup, I would be pretty insistent that my pitchers throw strikes, let them hit the ball into the cavernous outfield, and for the love of God, don't f---ing walk anybody.  Ever.

Then when Dawson was in the Cubs' lineup playing in Wrigley in the late 80s, he was practically the only real run producer they had in the middle of the order since Sandberg was always batting second.  I'm sure he saw few strikes, and in an era when OBP wasn't really emphasized, I'm sure he expanded his strikezone trying to drive in runs (which he did more often than HOFers like Harmon Killebrew, Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Willie McCovey, Willie Stargell and many, many others).

It sounds like excuses (and feel free to provide me with data that refutes my theories) but I choose to put less weight on a low OBP than on the the rest of his combination of power and speed that ranks 7th all-time behind Barry Bonds, Rickey Henderson, Willie Mays, Alex Rodriguez, Bobby Bonds, and Joe Morgan.  He remains only one of three players with 400+ HRs and 300+ stolen bases in their career along with Barry Bonds and Willie Mays.  Combined with his eight Gold Gloves for his superior defensive work, Andre has put together an extremely impressive resume.

Many people will argue that sometimes there is more to a player than statistics, and this is most certainly true in Andre's case, but even by throwing that Yellonesque argument out the window, he has achieved plenty of tangible stats that dictate him getting into the same Hall of Fame that has deemed players like Tony Perez, Jim Rice, and Bill Mazeroski worthy of enshrinement.

BBWAA, it is time to put Andre in the Hall.  He did it naturally.  He did it through hard work and determination.  He is the perfect candidate to showcase up against those players that you villainize for bastardizing the game and the records through the use of a syringe.  A vote for Andre is a vote for America and a vote for the futures of our children.  If you leave him off the ballot, I have to conclude that you hate America and you hate children.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Cubs Hire Someone Else to Convince Us to Give Them More Money

I was wondering why I haven't received the annual letter from the Cubs that carefully explains why I should be happy with the team that excels at tearing the hearts out of its fans' chests and that I should hurry up and write them a check right f---ing now.

But they have apparently been holding the letter back so that it could be crafted to fit into the philosophy of their new executive vice president and chief sales and marketing officer, or EVPACSAMO for short.  Wally Hayward assumes his new position fresh off his work with the rousing success that was Chicago's 2016 Olympic bid.  At least he already understands the concept of raising everyone's hopes and then crushing them before they even know what is going on.  He should fit right in with the Cubs.

My main goal for Wally is to get the fat guy in the office to say "thank you" when I drop off my check for whatever ridiculous amount they'll be charging me this year to see the same team as last year, only older.  Good luck with that, Wally.  That guy is a dick.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

No Third Year for Grabow

The Cubs got a bit of a jump on the official opening of the Hot Stove League by re-signing lefty reliever, John Grabow to a 2-year, $7.5 million deal.  A lot of Cubs fans have greeted the news with the same amount of enthusiasm as one would expect from someone who won a dollar in the lottery.  The consensus seems to be that we were all really hoping for the jackpot, but have to understand that getting that dollar back is better than nothing.

I'm pretty pleased with the deal.  First, decent lefty relievers aren't exactly easy to find on the market.  Second, it is one less bullpen spot we need to worry about when the free-for-all between the declining veterans and the raw youngsters gets going in Spring Training.

Third, and perhaps most important to me, is that I am almost giddy with the amount of the deal itself.  I didn't think it was humanly possible for Jim Hendry to sign a reliever for less than 3 years and for less than $10 million.  Think about the deals Hendry has made recently to attempt to fix his bullpen:
  • Prior to 2003, he signed 37-year old Mike Remlinger to three years and $10 million.
  • Before the 2006 season, he signed 34-year old Scott Eyre to three years and $11 million.
  • Also before 2006, he signed 32-year old Bobby Howry to three years and $12 million (and he's not even left-handed).
Grabow just turned 31 and he got the same range of money per year as those guys and over only two years.  Are we seeing evidence of Hendry finally learning not to touch the electric fence?  Did Ricketts mention something about how three-year deals to aging relievers piss him off?  Is it just a sign of the economy and a sagging market?  Does Grabow need to fire his agent?

Whatever the reason, I can live with John Grabow for two years.  He isn't a true LOOGY, so the hope is that Hendry can provide Lou with at least one more trustworthy lefty in the bullpen (not Neal Cotts), but for today I'm content.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Shock Jocks Are Apparently Unfunny in Any Language

This may be a bit confusing, but before we get to Sammy and the idiot radio-host, I want to make sure I credit everyone involved in bringing this story to my attention:

First, I saw a tweet from the great Hugging Harold Reynolds blog, that was a re-tweet of The Big Lead, that led me to their blog post about Sammy.  This post linked to a blog called Bob's Blitz, which linked to the original radio host's site where he complains about getting kicked out of Sammy Sosa's birthday party.

I think that is everyone.  I apologize if I left anyone out. I have to go lie down.

Anyway, it seems that Enrique Santos, who has dubbed himself the King of all Spanglish Media (seriously), was invited to Sammy Sosa's birthday party.  Santos thought it would be HYSTERICAL to show up in blackface and claim that he was using a skin cream that was causing some darkening.  Get it?  Because Sammy is using a skin-lightening cream?  It's funny on so many levels.

While on the red carpet doing interviews, Santos was approached by a publicist who asked him what he was doing, telling Santos, “You can’t make fun of him,” and ultimately kicking him out of the affair. “I explained to her that it was a special cream I was using that darkened my face and then I asked her, ‘How many women in here are wearing makeup?” but she wasn’t having it,” Santos tells us. “Was I not white enough for Sammy’s party or have the millions gotten to his head–I mean skin?”

Oh man, that is good stuff.  "Have the millions gotten to his head - I mean skin."  See what he did there?  He made you think he was just talking about Sammy's ego, but then he went the other way and tied in the skin color.  Normally you don't find that level of humor outside of a Bazooka Joe comic.

Now, I am obviously not above poking a bit of fun at Sammy Sosa and his cream.  The main difference is that I don't show up at his house for his birthday party and make fun of him in front of him and all his guests.

But, lets say for the sake of argument that I DID get invited to his house and I did make fun of him in front of his friends and the media.  I certainly wouldn't get all pissy about it when Sammy didn't appreciate it and had me tossed from the party.  I would have had him thrown out of my party for being an unfunny douchebag even if I wasn't the butt of his "joke."

Look at this f---ing guy:

Who thinks this guy is funny?  I bet even Ted Danson thinks he's an asshole.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Rex Grossman's Dad Has Stupid Advice For Bears

I'm not quite sure why we care anymore, but Rex Grossman's dad took a page out of Milton Bradley's mom's playbook to get into it with the city of Chicago via the media. Fred Mitchell shares some thoughts by Dan Grossman as he rips on the Bears and their ability to develop a quarterback out of anyone including his son.

"I believe that the NFL is a passing league,'' Dan Grossman said. "It has been for the last 20 years. Chicago continues to use the phrase, at least Lovie Smith continues to use the phrase, 'We get off the bus running.' I think they need to abandon that concept.

"Running is obviously a very important part of the offense. But the best teams in this league are prolific passing teams. And they have been for years. You can't name me a really great team in the last 10-20 years that hasn't had a passing component that was a very important part of it.
I'll tell you what, Mr. Rex, you name for me the really great teams that didn't run the ball well and I'll name the teams that didn't pass the ball well and we'll see whose list is longer.

Let's see, the 2005 Steelers didn't throw the ball at all unless they absolutely had to.  Ben Roethlisberger would go entire games thowing the ball less than 20 times, but they would hand the ball to Jerome Bettis and Willie Parker and beat the crap out of you on defense.  They won the Super Bowl.  That's one.

The 2002 Buccaneers pounded teams with Mike Alstott and let Warrick Dunn run circles around slow defenders.  They had the game-managing Brad Johnson at quarterback and won the Super Bowl with a defense that scored three times in the Super Bowl over the Raiders.  That's two.

The 2000 Ravens had Trent Dilfer at quarterback.  Trent f---ing Dilfer. They also had Jamal Lewis tearing up teams on the ground and a defense that beat the leaving hell out of opposing offenses.  That's three.

The 1990 Giants beat Jim Kelly and the pass-happy K-gun Bills with Ottis Anderson running the ball on handoffs from Jeff Hostetler.  Jeff Hostetler.  That's four.

The 1991 Redskins won the Super Bowl over the same Bills on the strength of Ernest Byner running the ball on handoffs from Mark Rypien.  That's five.

Those are five pretty mediocre quarterbacks with rings on their fingers.

So lets look for teams that don't run the ball very well... The Patriots have been pretty pass-happy and they have a few rings, but in 2001 they had Antowain Smith rushing for over 1,200 yards, in 2003, Smith and Faulk combined for over 1,200 yards, and in 2004 Corey Dillon rushed for more than 1,600 yards.  Those are all pretty effective running games to help out Tom Brady.

Of course, now that Brady is throwing on practically every down, they haven't won a Super Bowl since 2004.  Hmm...

Let's see, the Colts had Joseph Addai, the Rams had Marshall Faulk, the Broncos had Terrell Davis.  Sure, they also had Manning, Warner, and Elway, but those were pretty good running games.

The Packers Super Bowl team had Edgar Bennett at 899 yards as its leading rusher, but they also had Dorsey Levens running for 566 and about 1,600 yards total on the ground to help out Brett Favre, so that is still a pretty decent running team.  But one could argue that Favre carried Bennett and Levens the way Jamal Lewis carried Dilfer, so I'll be generous and concede this one.  One for Mr. Rex.

Emmitt Smith was pretty good at running the football, so we can remove the Dallas Cowboys teams from the discussion.

That leaves the San Francisco 49ers.  The 1988 and 1989 teams had Roger Craig running the ball with Tom Rathman, so it wasn't just Steve Young and Joe Montana.

The 1994 49ers had Ricky Watters at running back near the end of his career.  He rushed for under 900 yards all season and Steve Young pretty much carried the team with his passing attack, so there is the second team in the last 20 years that won without being really good at running the ball.  Two for Mr. Rex.

I tally five teams that had average passing games (at best) that were carried by running and defense, and two teams (by virtue of me being very generous) that had average running games that were carried by their passing.  I win.

Obviously, the truly great teams have both a good running and passing game, as well as good defense. But it seems that a team can get by a bit easier without a great quarterback than they can without a great rushing attack.  Hell, Mr. Rex, how disappointing is your son's new team with a pretty good quarterback (not your son) at the helm and an underachieving running game (I should know, I have Steve Slaton on a couple of my fantasy teams)?

Passing may be cool and flashy and what gets on Sportscenter every weekend, but running the ball is important in controlling the clock, converting first downs regularly, and scoring in the red zone.  If the Patriots could have run the ball better against the Colts to end the game last night, maybe Hoodie doesn't have to make that dumb-ass decison on 4th and 2.  To suggest that the Bears just start winging the ball around the field willy-nilly is just plain idiotic and I somehow have less respect for you than your dumbass son.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Yes, But Can Granderson Grow Sexy Stubble?

Very quickly and unceremoniously, there appears to be a major shift in man-crushes and downright obsession in the world of the Cubs from the sexy stubble of Mark DeRosa

to a new object of everyone's affection, the apparent un-thinkin', fun-lovin' Curtis Granderson of the Detroit Tigers.

The Chicago Tribune's Phil Rogers is driving the Granderson Love Bus, but there are plenty of folks on Twitter jumping on board for a ride.
  • @lozotweets - #Cubs please get Curtis Granderson. Worry about Bradley after that
  • @DrGreg309 - Could the Cubs get Curtis Granderson? Maybe they could trade Milton Bradley for him!
  • @ClarkAddison - I could live with (and the Cubs could win with) an outfield of Soriano |
    Granderson | Fukudome.
  • @AndrewRDouglass - Love it. Granderson is one of my fav. players in MLB.
  • @D_Wyatt13 - If Curtis Granderson is available, then we (Cubs) need to go for him, minus Bradley and add Granderson. Would take that
  • @AngelaWoody - Granderson Solid Guy grt community asset/and player!
  • @5353 - @CarrieMuskat have your heard ANY real indication #cubs could go after granderson? please say yes.
I'm not sure how I feel about giving up multiple top prospects in order to land Granderson.  He can hit major league pitching, but how well is up for debate.  In 2007, he put up a fine batting line of .302/.361/.552/.913.  In 2008, he dropped to .280/.365/.494/.858, which is still good, but not special.  Last year, he dropped further to .249/.327/.453/.780 which gets right into the mediocre range.

So which Curtis Granderson is going to show up?  When lists players that are statistically similar to Granderson, the list includes very good players like Michael Cuddyer, Brad Hawpe, and Jayson Werth, but also tremendous disappointments like Kevin Mench, Craig Wilson, Geronimo Berroa, and Kal Daniels.

He is also almost useless against left-handed pitching.  Over his career, his batting line against lefties is .210/.270/.344/.614.  That is Aaron Miles territory.  The plus side is that he beats the crap out of right-handed pitching to the tune of .292/.367/528/.894.  He seems like an ideal platoon player with Reed Johnson, but the Cubs probably can't afford to re-sign Reed Johnson and have Granderson on the books, so the Cubs will still need a right-handed outfielder for days when the Cubs face a lefty.

Also, if the Tigers are serious about landing multiple quality prospects (with the Angels and Yankees also involved, the Tigers do have leverage), do the Cubs really want to give up a couple of guys like Castro, Vitters, or Cashner for a platoon player?  Do we really want an acquisition that comes with such a high price to be completely neutralized by someone like Randy Wolf starting against the Cubs in the playoffs?

Of course, it is also entirely possible that the market for Granderson may not require such high-level prospects.  It's not like Granderson's splits, strikeout rate, and two year decline into mediocrity are a secret to the other teams who may be interested, so maybe they won't fall all over themselves in an effort to land him and jack the price up into the stratosphere.  Maybe it will turn out that someone like Jake Fox has some value in a deal like this so that the Cubs only give up one top-ranked prospect in a package.

We must also consider the possibility that none of the Cubs top-level prospects will actually end up being star-level players on the major league level.  Let's face it, the line of guys like Matt Murton, Corey Patterson, Felix Pie, Bobby Hill, Hee Seop Choi, and many, many others doesn't exactly make me all that confident that Starlin Castro will end up being a better shortstop than Ronny Cedeno or that Josh Vitters will be better at third than Kevin Orie.  Perhaps getting Curtis Granderson in return is the best use of that talent, as was using Choi and Hill to land Lee and Ramirez.

It certainly would be a better use of the talent than letting the value completely fizzle to nothing like Pie and Patterson.

Of course, if they can't move Milton Bradley's salary off the books, they can't really bring in Granderson's salary anyway, so this may end up being nothing but something for us bloggers to write about during the long winter months.  So at least there is that.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sammy Sosa's Cream, New Formula

Sammy Sosa has spoken out regarding the photos taken that show him as white as newly fallen snow.  He spoke with Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes and shed some light on the cause of his new look.  Apparently he is using a new cosmetic cream:

"It's a bleaching cream that I apply before going to bed and whitens my skin some," said the former slugger during the "Primer Impacto" program at the Univision Spanish network.

Apparently, he couldn't be happier with the results:

"I'm going to market it, I'm a businessman," Sosa joked about the mysterious cream, about which he revealed only that it was bought in Europe.

Made up sources close to Sammy Sosa have told Aisle 424 that the mysterious cream is actually from a line of beauty products by comedian, Steve Martin.  We're looking forward to a new spot featuring Sammy Sosa, but for now, please enjoy the original commercial for this wonderful product.

Really all you need is a quick look at the before and after shots of Sosa:



Amazing isn't it?

The Wreck of the Milton Bradley

It seems the Milton Bradley saga has been dragging out since the Edmund Fitzgerald headed out onto Lake Superior for the last time 34 years ago, but it has actually been less than a year since he signed with the team.  Can you even f---ing believe that?  Both events had about the same level of success, so since today is the 34th anniversary of the Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, enjoy the Gordon Lightfoot classic ditty that never fails to cheer folks up at parties:

Late last night, I posted my support of the idea that the Cubs hold onto Milton and at least attempt to work things through with him rather than take whatever crap trades are being floated by opportunistic GMs that smell Hendry's blood in the water.  On paper there is no way the team gets better by trading Bradley, so I argued that they should do their best to make it work.

Since writing that, I have since seen a piece by Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman that makes that possibility seem almost as impossible as traveling back in time and never signing the asshole in the first place:

Apparently, several key members of the team -- including Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Zambrano -- barely speak to Bradley.

"I don't think they dislike him. But Milton's a unique guy who doesn't fit in, like the oddball kid in class,'' one Cubs-connected person said.
"He doesn't try to fit in. The other guys tried to take him in, but he's one of those kids that simply doesn't want to be part of anything,'' one Cubs person said.
First, that Cubs-connected person needs to be hunted down, fired and placed in an enclosed room with Ronnie Woo all hyped up on Red Bull.  What the f--- are you saying that to a reporter for? 

Realistically, the Cubs probably can't make it work with Bradley.  Even yesterday as I wrote my support of trying, I knew it was a longshot, but they can all at least start acting like they could. The Cubs need to start spinning this for all they are worth and stop providing reasons for other teams to not give up any value for him.

If I wanted to sell you my house, I wouldn't welcome you to the viewing by saying, "Thank God you came to see this place. The bank is crawling up my ass for money I don't have, and frankly, I can't live here one more day anyway. The roof is leaking, there are cracks in the foundation, and I don't know if there are more termites or roaches. The electrical is all ancient and not up to code and good luck trying to heat the place with all of the drafts. Oh, by the way, you didn't hear it from me but the neighbors are all pedophiles. So, what kind of offer can you make me?"

Billy Williams is the only one trying to build up the product they are trying to sell. Everyone else is running to reporters and telling them how shitty he is and how they absolutely have to get rid of him. Hard to imagine why the trade offers suck more than Aaron Miles.

I know the entire world knows he's a shit, but come on! Pretend other teams are your own fanbase and turn that Vine Line brand of steaming horseshit propaganda into something helpful for once.

This is the publication that told us that Gary Scott was the next Ron Santo, that Lance Dickson was a good pitcher, and someone named Earl Cunningham would be coming to the rescue at any moment.  I have issues at home that sing the praises of Kyle Farnsworth and I'm sure that Steve Buechler was highly regarded as well.  Clearly, no lie is beneath you!

At least tell your players to start lying their asses off.  Ryan Theriot getting on the phone with Dave Kaplan on Sports Central and talking about how Milton is difficult, but a quality player would go a long way.  Ryan Dempster could call up Waddle & Silvy on ESPN Radio and talk about how he's kind of hoping the Cubs keep Milton because he really can be a key component for the Cubs to win a championship.

If they can find a way to have Fox News spin the trade of Milton Bradley as a part of Obama's socialist agenda, all the better.  Anything hitting the media that suggests that the Cubs would be better off with Milton than without Milton is a good thing right now.  Even if such a suggestion is as disingenuous as when people used to tell Britney Spears people liked her for her singing voice.

Billy Williams May Be On to Something

The guys at Wrigleyville23 drew my attention to a piece by Fred Mitchell of the Chicago Tribune which reported that Cubs legend Billy Williams would like to find a way to keep Milton Bradley in a Cubs uniform and have him become a productive member of the team.

"If we could salvage something here and get a good ballplayer after what has happened, I think it would be a good thing," Williams said Monday. "I am going to continue to try to talk to him and give my opinion on what he should do and what he shouldn't do. I know that he listens and he will tell me a lot of things."

Now, I know that seems incredibly unlikely, but that is the scenario I am rooting for at this point.  The reason, plain and simple, is that I have not seen a trade rumor involving Bradley that doesn't make me throw up in my mouth a little.  The very best case scenario so far would involve Bradley rebounding and becoming a viable member of the offense (and by extension, winning back a significant portion of the fan base in the process).

Let's look at some of the players the Cubs would get back in various rumored scenarios:
  • Aaron Rowand - this seems to be the favorite option of Al over at BCB, but for the life of me, I have no idea why.  Rowand is basically a .750 OPS guy who had two non-consecutive good years that he combined with a "scrappy" reputation into major free agent dollars.  He has three years and $36 million left on his deal and he will be 32 this year, so the odds of a major resurgence is unlikely.  He is also right-handed, which leaves the Cubs back in that all-righty situation they were trying so hard to avoid last year.  On the plus side, he is universally regarded as a good clubhouse guy and you can't fault his effort on the field.  There is nothing the Cubs marketing department loves more than a hustling white guy who is trying to play above his talent level.
  • Pat Burrell - Burrell actually has a semi-quality bat.  Prior to last year with the Rays, he averaged 28 HRs, 92 RBIs with a .257/.367/.485/.852 line.  Not great.  Not terrible.  The problem is that he is also right-handed and would be best suited for left field where his brutal fielding would cause the least amount of damage.  Unfortunately, the 136 Million Dollar Man is stationed out in left, so Burrell would have to play right, which would be disastrous with Fukudome remaining out of position in center.  I do think he could rebound with a change of scenery and a return to the National League, so I'm not as worried about the loss of offense.  The problem is that he is only owed $9 million for next year, which means that the Cubs would be paying Milton Bradley's $21 million for Milton to play in Tampa plus have a worse player in the Cubs lineup.  I'm personally not interested in paying Milton to help another team unless the player we get back has higher upside, which isn't going to happen.
  • Vernon Wells - The man is owed $98.5 million over the next five years.  This would only serve to make Soriano's contract the second worst on the team.
  • Luis Castillo - this latest rumor provided by Ken Rosenthal involves a three-way deal with the Mets and Blue Jays that would send Lyle Overbay to the Mets, Bradley to the Blue Jays, and Castillo to the Cubs.  This deal brings Luis Castillo and his $12 million over two years to the second base position.  In theory, Castillo's OBP and speed could be useful, but his defense is declining with his age, and it would take playing time away from Jeff Baker, which would be a crime, given that he was the only guy on the team who remembered to bring his bat to the park on most days last year.  Also, the contracts don't add up, so we would again be paying for Milton to play elsewhere.
None of these options make me think the Cubs would be any better off than they would with Milton Bradley providing even just the level of offense he provided last year. Plus, I have a feeling that Milton is more capable of rebounding than the marginal players the Cubs would get in return for him.

Remember when Moises Alou first arrived in a Cubs uniform in 2002?  He was not good.  He had the worst year of his entire career. He rebounded and became a crucial part of the 2003 playoff run and carried a big part of the offensive load after Sosa's drop-off in 2004.

Derrek Lee showed up in 2004 and couldn't hit a damn thing for the first month as a Cub and then managed to pull off an average year before putting up Pujolsian numbers in 2005.

Because Aramis Ramirez was stepping into the black hole of third base, we don't recall that his worst numbers as a Cub came in 2003 right after he arrived from Pittsburgh.  His OPS was .805, which doesn't suck, but it isn't the .900+ OPS we have grown accustomed to seeing out of him.

With the exception of Andre Dawson, I have a hard time thinking of any Cub hitter that became a Cub and immediately became a force in the lineup.  For some reason, it is not an easy thing for a major league hitter to get used to being a Cub.

Blame it on the day baseball, the shitty accommodations of Wrigley, the intense pressure from the fan base, a combination of those factors or "The Curse," but there is something that makes becoming a Cub something that is difficult for most major league hitters.  It is also something that can improve for no apparent reason other than simply becoming accustomed to the Cubness.

I don't know why Milton Bradley would be any different if he decided he wanted to give it a shot.

Of course, there are a lot of big "ifs" involved.  IF Milton even wants to be here and is willing to try to make amends to his team mates.  IF the Cubs decide that they aren't going to get anything better for him and make an effort to repair the relationship.  IF the rest of his team (who did not seem upset in the slightest when the Cubs sent him home) is willing to give him a second chance.  IF he can stay healthy for a second year in a row (he did manage to stay about as healthy as one can expect of him last year).  IF all of those factors can come together, he could manage to become the hitter that Jim Hendry thought he was signing last year.  Believe me, IF those all come together, the fans will come around too.

As unlikely as all that seems, it seems even less likely that the Cubs will improve their team by trading Bradley.  So, that is almost assuredly what they will do.