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.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Rejuvenatin' Sammy

You know it is the baseball off-season when Sammy Sosa's skin color becomes a major topic of conversation.

It seems that Sammy showed up at an awards show in Vegas and he had his photo taken with his wife on the way in.  The photos, originally run on, showed Sammy a good five shades whiter than any photo I had ever seen of him.

Speculation ran rampant about the cause of Sammy's Michael Jackson look.  Was he sick?  Was this some side-effect of the steroids?  Is Sammy trying to look whiter for some reason?

Well, we can all go back to watching the Bears' season death spiral because the Tribune has revealed the reason behind the strange look of the photos:

"He's not trying to be Michael Jackson," said former Cubs employee Rebecca Polihronis, who talks frequently with Sosa.

Sosa was photographed recently during an appearance at Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas.
"He is going through a rejuvenation process for his skin," Polihronis said. "Women have it all of the time. He was surprised he came out looking so white. I thought it was a body double. Part of (the photo appearance) is just the lighting.
"He is in the middle of doing a cleansing process to his skin. The picture is deceiving. He said, 'If you saw me in person, you would be surprised. When you see me in person, it is not going to seem like the picture.
So, it's a rejuvenation process.  Good enough for me.  Of course, I don't care all that much.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Towel Drill!!!

The Cubs announced that Ted Lilly had arthroscopic surgery on his left (throwing) shoulder and that he should be ready in April.

There is no context given as to what "ready" means.  Ready to pitch in a real live game against real live opponents in the regular season?  Ready to start throwing and getting back into game shape and maybe rejoining the rotation around June?  Ready to have a second procedure that will force him to miss the entire season?  It's hard to say.

The definition of "ready" is nearly as important to the Cubs season as the performance of Dr. Lewis Yocum during the procedure itself.  My guess is somewhere in the middle.  I doubt the surgery is career threatening, but you never know with shoulders.  I'm not expecting to see Ted in a game that matters until about Memorial Day.  Anything before that is a bonus.

Of course, anytime Cubs fans hear about surgery for their pitchers, the looming spectre of Mark Prior and his towel drill haunts our sleep and causes us to wake up in a cold sweat. 

Personally, I'm going to try to believe that his surgery will actually tighten the muscles in his arm to such an extent that he will be able to sling a ball with such velocity that no hitter will be able to touch him, and thus lead a rag-tag bunch of underachievers and their long-suffering fans to World Series immortality.  I'm looking to turn this idea into a movie.

Of course, I may still just be delirious with fever.


Bruce Levine re-iterates the original report by the Chicago Tribune, but adds this nugget to give a little context to what "ready" means:

"The Cubs sources also said Lilly is projected at this point to be back in the rotation in April."

This may finally be the good news he promised us about a week ago.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Some Nonsensical Ramblings from the Hot Zone

I have been laid up with some sort of illness that may or may not have been swine related, but was nonetheless extremely annoying and exhausting.  You know you have no energy when the thought of logging on to a laptop that is sitting five feet away from you seems like an ungodly chore.

In the course of laying around, not eating anything and forcing myself to drink Gatorade so I didn't die of dehydration, I had a chance to reflect on some of the events of the last few days:
  • I wish I had been feeling better so I could have made an actual tally, but it seemed like for every real question a media member had for the Ricketts regarding ticket prices, Wrigley renovation, etc., there was a softball lobbed up a la Dave Kaplan's question (which I'm paraphrasing): "You once told me a story about your dad going to one of the rooftops before the sale process even started, can you tell us that story again?"  I'm not saying they had to grill the man, but a few more real questions instead of a rehashing of the time he met his wife in the bleachers would probably have been better use of the press credentials.  They're not going to be your buddies no matter how much sucking up them you do now.
  • I liked how every media member read the Ricketts his or her resume before asking a question.  Les Grobstein practically went back in his career to his junior high paper route.
  • None of the Ricketts said anything overly surprising, and all came off as true fans of the team. Time will tell if that is a good thing or a bad thing.
  • I realized I may be the only person in the world who doesn't give a damn if they spend one penny on the bathrooms at Wrigley.  I honestly don't spend much time in there, and when I do, I find the trough system to be about as efficient as possible in moving drunken fans through while reducing the amount of splashback that you can get from a normal urinal.  Sure, the sinks should probably not look quite so similar to the urinal troughs, but that would be a simple cosmetic change.  Otherwise a couple of runs through with a power washer and maybe some fresh paint would be fine with me.
  • I actually found myself agreeing with something Joe Morgan said during last night's ESPN Radio broadcast.  After A-Rod got hit with a pitch for the third time in six plate appearances, the umpires warned both benches despite the fact the Yankees had not hit a single batter in the whole series.  Joe summed it up with, "That's bull."  And it was.
  • My god, the Browns suck.  The Bears are pretty bad right now and they kicked the hell out of the Browns.  It did nothing to make me feel better about the team or its propects in beating the Cardinals next week.  The Cardinals lines are both pretty decent, and the Bears' lines are unbelievably not.  I don't know if this team wins seven games the way things are going.
  • The first Bulls game against the Spurs is now making me wonder more about how bad the Spurs are going to be rather than how good the Bulls could be.  The Boston game was an outright slap from the Celtics as punishment for the Bulls' uppity showing in the playoffs against them last year.  Then Miami didn't seem to be working very hard to hold off a lot of effort from the Bulls.  This mini trip did nothing to make me feel very confident about the annual Circus Roadtrip de la Muerte.
  • It seemed like Indiana might be able to overcome some very questionable calls on pivotal plays to take down Iowa, but then Iowa started going with the wind and had two TDs in two plays totaling something like 160 yards and Indiana crumbled.  I didn't care much, but changing the channel would have meant reaching for the remote control and I wasn't up to it.
  • Vernon Wells for Milton Bradley.  Holy Jesus - no, no, no, no, no.  A thousand times no.  This may actually be what made me sick in the first place.