Sunday, December 31, 2006


I don't post articles on anything unrelated to the Cubs. Today however, I must share this little unrelated nugget with you, DUMP THE MIDGET GROSSMAN!!! He doesn't have the composure to be a NFL quarterback. Ditto for Griese!!!

New Years Resolutions !

OK, OK, I understand that you could really give a flyin' %#@& what my new years resolutions are, but in the absence of any hard news concerning the Cubs, if you continue reading that's what you're going to get, my top ten news years resolutions.

1) Until spring training starts, I promise to report any and all bullshit trade rumors.

2) Once spring training starts, I promise to report any and all bullshit trade rumors.

3) Once the regular season starts, I promise to report any and all bullshit trade rumors.

4) I promise to publish coherent articles, even after consuming massive amounts of alcohol.

5) Ditto to #4 for drugs.

6) I promise to quit smoking. No laughing please.

7) I promise to get back in shape. No laughing please.

8) I promise to find a real job. No laughing please.

9) I promise to do everything in my power to coerce Lollygagger girl Kerry, to divulge her personal email address.

10) I promise to start posting pictures, like the one above of my two pantie granny, if Lollygagger girl Kerry, doesn't come across with that email address. I'll give here 'til the trading deadline.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Comments Matter !

In the short time Lollygaggers has been up and running, I've tried to post articles that would inspire debate amongst the legions of Cub fans that care so deeply about their team. I don't claim to be an expert on the Cubs or baseball in general for the matter. However, I do care as I'm sure many of you that visit here do, that sooner rather than later, the Cubs field a competitive team year in and year out.

I would like to encourage all of you to feel free to voice your comments on my articles pro or con, and suggest topics that you feel are relevant that possibly I'm overlooking.

Remember, just because you're a stutterin' prick and don't know what the hell you're talking about, leave a comment anyway. That way I'll have a chance to say what a jerkoff you are and get a few laughs.

Seriously though with the new year's celebrations just around the corner, remember be careful and don't drive unless you drink, or something like that.

Happy New Year, you freakin' jerkoffs!

Friday, December 29, 2006

The Big Z !

There is certainly a lot of angst being spread around the blog community concerning the impending doom of our fist pumping dynamo, Zambrano.

I certainly can't say what will happen, but let's look at what would make Zambrano bolt.

The Cubs offer some ridiculously low ball offer. Does that really appear to be the tack the Cubs will take after finally smashing the Trib's piggy bank to pieces?

There also seems to be some misinformation being bandied about that Scott Boras, is our internet surfing ace's agent. This is not factual, as Barry Praver has replaced the anti-Christ Boras, as Big Z's main man.

Is it really in Zambrano's best interest to insist on a 7 year contract now? Why should he when considering he will only be 26 next season. Zambrano could easily sign a fat extension for 3 or 4 years at Roy Oswalt money. Then at the end of the extension, still be young enough for even a bigger payday.

Do we have to believe that Zambrano is only a mercenary, and has no loyalty to the only organization he knows? With the Ramirez and Wood resigning, it appears that Zambrano could very well follow their lead, realizing he could be part of something historic.

I know in the wake of any hard news about the Chicago National League Ballclub, that many are looking for anything that can go wrong, will. My advice to all of those is just this, TAKE A FREAKIN' CHILL PILL! We all could very well be in for a great 2007 and beyond. God knows, we deserve it.

Why Lineup Configuration Is So Important !

Although there are some questions left in the final 25 man roster for next year, it behoves Pinella to set his lineup properly to make best use of the talent that's available.

All of us cringe when we remember the obscene Cub lineups trotted out by Baker. However, in 2003 Baker did have it set up pretty well. I tend to believe that the proven leadoff man, Lofton helped as well as having Grud. already in place as the two hitter, prevented Baker from cocking it all up.

Those two positions, leadoff and two hitter, paved the way for the Cubs to get the most from Alou and Sosa, plus the added punch afforded by Ramirez's addition.

When Uncle Lou finally sets his lineup for the 2007 Cubs, we can only hope he understands the effectiveness of such a lineup.

The importance of placing speed and OBP at the top of the order is critical in maximizing the run production from the boppers in the lineup.

It's just a simple of matter of numbers. When your big sticks come to the plate, you want men on base. The more that happens, the more runs you score, period.

There are two most likely scenarios of the starting eight position players, so I'll discuss each one's best configuration to maximize this scenario. I also will consider J. Jones as the starting center fielder as the trading of him is certainly in question.

The first scenario, has Murton, Jones and Soriano in the outfield, with A-Ram, Izturis, DeRosa and Lee in the infield and Barrett behind the dish. With this team, Soriano is the only real speed threat. Still I think it's a mistake to use him as a leadoff man. I've posted other articles on my reasoning for this, so I won't go into them here other than to say that his chances of being pitched around with first base open in an RBI situation are exacerbated with him in the leadoff role, ie; the eight hitter gets on base, pitcher bunts him to second, Soriano gets intentionally walked to face the two hitter. All of you can see what a waste of Soriano's production it is in these critical situations, therefore I propose a lineup that would negate this and still keep the Cubs only real speed near the top of the order.

With the leading OBP player Murton as the leadoff man, you create the most desirable effect of a leadoff man, getting on base. In the two hole plug in Soriano. Murton would even get better pitches to hit with Soriano's thunder behind him and Soriano would benefit the same way by having Lee and A-Ram hitting behind him. With Lee immediately behind Soriano in the order it could also quite possibly help cut down on Soriano's strikeout total. As far as Murton in the leadoff role remember this, he only ranked behind Pierre last year in going first to third and has above average speed.

Batting Soriano in the two hole instead of leadoff, doesn't cut down on the number of his plate appearances or take away from his value to steal bases, but does protect him from being pitched around.

The problem with this lineup is the all glove, not hit Izturis. If Jones is traded and Pie is called up, you'd have the inexperienced bat of Pie, and the Punch and Judy bat of Izturis, both at the bottom of the order. This clearly weakens the lineup unless Pie really performs well at the plate.

So let's look at the other potentially viable lineup. For this scenario to work, The Riot has to win the 2B job outright. This would give Pinella the option to plug DeRosa in at SS. As I made the case for DeRosa being a suitable replacement for Izturis in my last article, I won't go into that detail here.

With The Riot in the lineup, you not only eliminate the weak bat of Izturis, but also inject more speed into the lineup. This would allow Soriano to slide down another spot in the lineup, and provide another high OBP hitter to be placed in front of the one of the best 3-4-5 hitters in the game.

The Riot has the speed to be a quality base stealing threat, and you'd enhance Murton's natural stroke to the opposite field hitting in the two hole as well. This also decreases the likelihood of platooning Murton on any regular basis. If Jones is traded, you also don't have the problem of Pie and Izturis both at the bottom of the order.

We can only hope Pinella realizes the value of OBP, and after his press conference where he stated he wouldn't mind eight midgets in the lineup, I think we can all have some faith that the days of playing the manager's pet are over and the best interests of the team will be the norm.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Should DeRosa Start At SS ?

There has been much consternation concerning the health and the dismal offensive numbers of Ceasar Izturis. We hear all about his gold glove year, but that was 2004. Back in the day, an all glove no hit SS was the norm. However, in today's baseball world, shortstops are expected to produce at the plate. Maybe not like an A-Rod, but at least league average.

With little Ceasar's nagging health issues the past few years, it seems that a hard look for a replacement should be one of Pinella's top priorities this upcoming spring training.

As the Cubs roster lays out this spring, I think it's safe to assume that R. Cedeneo is a long shot to even make the big club, let alone start.

That leaves M. DeRosa and R. Theriot. Now we know, though based on a small sample, that The Riot looks just fine at 2B. Can he handle SS? Maybe, but DeRosa, who has been initially slated to start at 2B, actually has played more games at SS than he has at 2B. So let's take a look at some historical fielding data for Izturis and DeRosa.

The career fielding data is broken down for both players based on (ZR) Zone Rating (# of outs made/ # of chances) and (RF) Range Factor (Put Outs + Assists divided by 9 divided by innings).

Izturis 859ZR 440RF 580Games
DeRosa 837ZR 487RF 137Games

As you can see their fielding numbers are quite comparable, and when you compare their offensive numbers, it appears to be a no brainer. Moving DeRosa to SS also frees up 2B for The Riot to prove he can handle the job. If The Riot doesn't produce in spring training, you can always plug Izturis back in.

The Riot also adds much needed speed to the lineup and would give the Cubs a dynamic one-two punch at the top of the order, while at the same time eliminating the weak hitting bat of Izturis.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Sharpen Those Lawnmower Blades !

One of the most recognizable things about Wrigley Field has always been the ivy covered outfield walls. However, since the departure of Kessinger and Beckert, one of the other most consistent facets of the park has been the long infield grass.

I contend it's time to cut the infield grass down to the nub.

If the Cubs are going to war with little Ceasar at SS, why not make the most of his glove. Izturis's offense will be mediocre at best, so let's capitalize on the strength of his slick fielding, while at the same time punish the opposition's less than gold glove fielding infielders.

The high infield grass will only help the poorer fielding teams. So a faster infield will become a plus to a Cubs infield that features two Gold Gloves and an upgraded second baseman.

Also the league average for the top eighty starters in ground ball to fly ball percentage was 1.42. The projected Cubs rotation of Zambrano, Hill, Lilly, Marquis and Miller, historic numbers average 1.26. Hence, the Cubs starters will be yielding a higher number of fly balls compared to the league average and a slow infield would only benefit the opposing team's defense.

Even with the Cubs starters averaging less ground balls than the league average, they will still induce 26% more ground balls than fly balls.

On the contrary, if the Cubs hitters face even a league average rotation, they will hit a higher percentage of ground balls than their competition, so the faster infield, the better.

All this talk of the height of the infield grass may seem trivial, but with a projected superior defensive infield and increased team speed, it wouldn't hurt for a few more seeing eye grounders to make their way through the infield.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Picture Update!

Just a little reminder for all of you that didn't get everything you wanted for Christmas. Just 7 days until Lollygagger girl, Kerry's new pic. Ain't baseball grand?

Monday, December 25, 2006

The Gold Standard, Part 4 !

In this last installment to the four part series, I will try to quantify a managers coaching effectiveness.

Unlike the other three categories of hitting, pitching and defense, that were quantifiable from raw statistical data. Managing a MLB team is a very subjective topic.

The total of games won, isn't an effective measuring stick due to the teams level of talent. Teams with the most talent usually compile the most wins.

The total number of errors committed can be misleading, as players with great range can quite often rack up errors that teams without such gifted athletes wouldn't even be able to make a play on.

Fundamental play such as base running, throwing to the right base, hitting the cutoff man, or sacrificing one's personal numbers to advance a runner, are stats not easily obtained. Also, there is much debate as to how much fundamental instruction can be implemented with veteran players, although we have seen how some managers year in and year out, field a heads up team that always plays hard.

An effective manager must understand the ability of the squad he has, then position them in the lineup and substitute them in a game, to best help the team. If a manager recognizes a veteran doesn't have the talent to perform at a high level, or isn't playing heads up, then he must develop a younger player that needs playing time to see if he can perform better, and bench the player that can't or won't conform to team play.

Let's face it, baseball players have the unique privilege of making a living playing baseball. They don't need a manager to be their mommy, best friend or groupie worshiper. They need a manager that can challenge them to be the best they can be.

As most of us in the real world job market understand. Our best managers motivate, instruct and exhibit fairness. Although I can't quantify who the best manager in baseball is. Teams that always exhibit sound fundamental play, are most likely lead by those type of managers that I consider the, "Gold Standard."

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas!

I sincerely hope all who frequent here have a Merry Christmas. Those of you who have children know what a busy time of year this is, so excuse me for the lack of posts these past few days. Be back up posting after I figure out how to put all my son's toys together.

God Bless,


Friday, December 22, 2006

You've Got To Click On The Above Link, "Angry German Cubs Fan!"

The Gold Standard, Part 3 !

Today I'll be examining the defense, as the third installment in the four part series of articles on the 2006 playoff teams.

Yep, you guessed it, the sadist in me includes our beloved Cubs.

I don't use fielding percentage in my statistical breakdown for a couple of reasons. One, their is only .004 of a percent between all of the teams and two, factors such as range are totally discounted in the percentage.

The categories I do use are, TC(Total Chances), E(Errors), A(Assists), DP(Double Plays) and SBA(Stolen Bases Allowed). I believe TC is a better reflection of the players range and hence the reason for it's inclusion with teams listed in descending rank as a result of it.

5903-30..106-22..1480-30..122-30...118-27.Baker's Bunglers

We can see a couple of interesting correlations upon closer examination. While Total Chances and Assists seem to mirror one another, Errors clearly do not. It stands to reason then that although superior range may cause a few more errors, it more than makes up for it in number of assists.

The old adage of being strong up the middle is even more clearly pronounced with the Stolen Bases Allowed stat. A team ability to prevent a stolen base, keeps the force and double play in order, contributing to more defensive options to escape big innings.

While there is no clear Gold Standard among the teams depicted, it is not a stretch to claim that the two of the best defensive teams met in the world series.

Conversely, it most certainly is a stretch to envision the off season moves made so far by our beloved men in blue, do much in securing them a position as one of the elite fielding teams after the 2007 campaign.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Gold Standard, Part 2 !

This is the second installment of the four part series, evaluating the 2006 playoff teams on pitching, defense, offense and coaching.

Today I'll try and break down each teams stats concerning their pitching staffs.

Once again, because of my sick sense of humor, the Cubs stats will also be included.

I've used 6 different criteria, ERA, WHIP, Runs, BB's, K's and Hits. The list will reflect the teams major league rank and be in descending order starting with the lowest ERA. Runs allowed will reflect total runs allowed not earned runs allowed.

4.74-24.1.45-22.856-26.687-30.1250-1..1396-2..Your 2006 Chicago Cubs

I'm sure you all realize that the NL teams numbers are helped by not having to face a DH, but as illustrated in the part one article the AL offensive numbers were helped by having the DH.

With that said, we still see 2 of the top 4 pitching staffs residing in the AL. We also can see that no team finished in the top 5 in every category as the Yankees did in offensive side of the ledger.

Of course the numbers do show some dominating staffs, primarily the Twins, Padres and Tigers. However, strictly based on the numbers, the Twins finished in the top 3 in 5 of the 6 categories and were clearly the Gold Standard, in pitching staffs.

As I look a little more closely at the numbers, it also seems clear some stats are more important than others. The stat that clearly jumps out at me is probably the most glamorous of them all, the strikeout. It seems that the strikeout is the least important and evidently has very little relevance to a staff's effectiveness.

In direct contrast to the strikeout we see one of the most damning stats, the free pass. In one of the more telling overall stats, WHIP, we can see the damage of the free pass when examining our beloved Cubs staff. They finished number 1 in strikeouts and 2 in hits allowed, but their total of walks issued was from Pluto.

It's just amazing that, not only the Yankees most prolific offense but the Twins most effective pitching staff, were both bounced from the playoffs in the first round.

What strikes me even more were the mundane numbers posted by the world champions, thus leaving me more certain than ever that all four categories combined must be considered to get a total picture of a teams ability to win.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Impact Trade!

There is a very interesting three way trade being mentioned involving the Yankees, Braves and Pirates. The Yankees are hot for this lefty closer, Mike Gonzales from the Pirates and are trying to negotiate a deal that would send Melky Cabrera to Atlanta, so Atlanta could in turn send Adam LaRoche to Pittsburgh which in turn would make Pittsburgh open to dealing Mike Gonzales.

Now multi-team trades are fascinating, but the more parties involved, the greater chance one team could muck it up. So I'd like to propose an alternative to the Yankees that would require only one team to deal with, the Yankee wanna be Chicago Cubs.

The proposal would be as such. The second city NL ball club will let you cherry pick any reliever from their stable of 8 in exchange for Melky Cabrera.

For those of you interested, Melky Cabrera is a left handed throwing version of Matt Murton, except he's a switch hitter and has superior defensive skills.

Melky Cabrera 2006
Hitting 460AB 262B 7HR 56BB 59K 12SB 280BA 360OBP
Fielding 116 Games 12 Assists 1 Error 996 Fielding Percentage

Cabrera is only 21 and has also started 10 games in CF without an error.

The Cubs can make a deal to get a young promising player by dealing from one of the only positions of strength they have, the bullpen. The Yankees get a choice of a right or left handed reliever with no third team to deal with and all is right with the world.

For those of you who say that Cabrera might block Murton or Pie, I say, who gives a shit. Cabrera is the same age as Pie and he already has shown his stuff on the biggest stage in baseball. Are there any guarantees Pie will ever be the stud we think he'll be? It's a no brainer to pick up Cabrera, if the Yankees are willing. The Cubs have more arms in their bullpen than the need, period. Since Pittsburgh's Gonzales is a LHRP, the Yankees might only be interested in the Cubs three LHRP's Ohman, Eyre or Cotts anyway. Not a bad trade for both sides.

Hendry has shown he can spend the money and has in the past pulled off a couple of good trades. Let's hope he's forward thinking enough to jump in the middle of this three way trade and offer the Yankees a clean and simple alternative.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Gold Standard, Part 1!

This is going to be the first in a series of four articles breaking down the 2006 playoff teams. Each article will focus on one of four categories, offense, defense, pitching and coaching. Today I will try and breakdown the offense.

Now while many a teams offensive numbers benefit from being in the American League, their pitching staffs are negatively affected being in the American League as well.

I used 8 categories to indicate a teams overall offensive prowess:
Runs, Hits, HR's, BB's, SB's, BA, OBP, and OPS.

Also for shits and giggles, I was twisted enough to include the Cubs stats.

I've listed the teams in descending order based on Runs Scored with their appropriate major league rank.

Runs... Hits... HR's.... BB's..... SB's.... BA..... OBP... OPS....
930-1.. 1608-1. 210-5.. 649-3... 139-3.. 285-2.. 363-1.. 824-1. NYY
834-7.. 1469-20 200-7.. 547-12. 142-2.. 264-20. 334-18 780-10 NYM
822-8.. 1548-9. 203-6.. 430-28.. 60-24.. 274-10 329-24 777-11 DET
820-10. 1552-8. 153-27. 601-6.. 128-5.. 276-8.. 348-4.. 781-9. LAD
801-13. 1608-1. 143-28. 490-22. 101-13. 287-1. 347-6.. 771-13 MIN
781-14. 1484-19 184-12. 531-13. 59-25.. 269-16 337-14 769-14 STL
771-16. 1429-25 175-16. 650-2... 61-23.. 260-25 340-10 752-21 OAK
731-26. 1465-21 161-23. 564-9.. 123-8.. 263-23. 332-21 749-22 PAD
716-28. 1496-18 166-19. 395-30. 121-10. 268-17 319-29 741-27 Chicago Cubs

You can see that the Yankees finished in the top 5 in every category, with no other team even finishing in the top 10, in every category. The Yankees were head and shoulders above any other team, and truly set the "Gold Standard" for offenses.

So what do all these numbers tell us other than the obvious realization that the Yankees are a powerhouse and the Cubs are a millie?

Well the first stat that jumps out at me is, what little importance the stolen base has. The stolen base was the only category that the Cubs finished in the top 10 with, while 3 of the 4 final teams in last years playoffs had only half as many stolen bases as the Cubs.

The second stat that seems to strike me as quite telling is runs scored. When you strike out the gaudy numbers of the Yankees, who in my opinion were clearly the best the team in baseball, only the Padres had significantly poor numbers in most every offensive category.

I know that the other categories of defense, pitching and coaching play a significant role in a teams success, but with respects to the teams ability to score runs, the Padres were clearly more pretenders than contenders.

You can see over the 162 game season, the runs scored differential between the other six playoff teams was a only 63. While most of these teams ranked near the middle in most offensive categories, you'll notice that when a team was deficient in a category like walks they made up for it HR's or BA.

So it seems that having a $200 million payroll clearly can provide you a big edge offensively, but with most every other playoff team pretty much in the middle of the pack, there has to be another unknown factor involved.

I submit the unknown factor most assuredly is the teams ability to perform in the categories that don't seem to get much attention when looking at a team's offensive production. Stats like, a hitter giving himself up to advance a runner, hitting a sacrifice fly, laying down a bunt, or going from first to third.

This fundamental play is the cornerstone of any team, and the ones that do it best make the most of even average offensive production, and quite often spelling the difference in most every close contest.

So what can us Cub fans take away from all of this statistical mumbo-jumbo? I believe that if a seed change can be implemented in the way the players think and play the game, that even an average offensive club can at least make the playoffs.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Should Soriano Bat Leadoff?

The glamour and glitz of the Fonz signing, with his 40/40/40 gaudy stats, could quite possibly spell another season with a miscast leadoff man.

Does Soriano's speed make him a leadoff candidate? Of course, but does his propensity to the strikeout and his awesome power numbers make him more suited batting further down the order?

Consider Pierre's number of AB's in the leadoff spot playing everyday generated 4.2 plate appearances a game. The difference in the number of plate appearances Soriano would garner out of the two hole for example, would mean at most a tenth of a percent in AB's and could easily be made up with a more productive run scoring lineup.

The situational problems that can affect the production of the lineup are also compounded with Soriano in the leadoff role.

For example, we all know in the NL that quite often a pitcher is called upon to sacrifice a runner along. Now consider he's successful and Soriano comes up to bat with first base open. You think he'll get pitched to? Not a chance. He'll get intentionally walked and you've not only taken the bat out of Soriano's hand but also negated some of his speed by having a runner on base in front of him. The team now has to count on the two hitter driving in the run.

Now let's illustrate the same scenario with Soriano batting in the two hole. No matter who, hopefully a high OBP player is batting leadoff, comes to the plate after the sacrifice is made. You still have first base open, but the opposing pitchers options are greatly reduced with Soriano on deck, and the leadoff man chances of getting a good pitch to hit are increased dramatically.

We also have to consider the affect of Soriano having the three hitter following him in the order. Soriano will now be the beneficiary of a potent bat behind him and he'll see better pitches to hit.

With a high OBP hitter in the leadoff role followed by Soriano, you negate the situations were Soriano can be pitched around, still keep his AB's high where his speed is still a factor, provide better run producing opportunities and give him better pitches to hit.

Who could fit the leadoff man role?

If the Cubs go to war with Jones, I'd like to see if Pie could win that job, in CF and DeRosa, I'd like to see if The Riot could win that job, at 2B, Murton, who led the team with a 360 OBP last year and has decent speed, bat leadoff. Of course if The Riot wins the job at 2B, I think he might be a better candidate in the leadoff role because of his speed.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Your Thoughts!

I know most of us Die Hards have a burning desire, for the Cubs to shake the "Poor Fundamental" tag so rightfully heaped on the team these past few years by every Tom, Dick and Harry sportswriter and commentator.

What's the best way for our beloved men in blue to do that? It would appear quite simple, quit playing like the Keystone Cops.

Of course to say it and do it are two different things entirely. With Pinella now at the helm, a philosophical seed change needs to be hammered into the players skulls. Players that exhibit cranial rectus, head up the ass, results in pedial rectus, Pinella's size 12 firmly implanted in ass.

Physical mistakes happen to even the best players, but not understanding game situations by throwing to the wrong base, not being patient at the plate, missing signs or poor base running, has to do with attitude.

Does that mean you don't play your best players? Certainly not, but it does mean that there are repercussions if your heads not in the game.

Pinella has to send a message loud and clear, this is a team game and poor fundamental play hurts the team's chances to win. If players making millions can't be bothered with the finer points of the game, someone making thousands will replace them who can.

This is where I'd like to solicit your thoughts by placing you in the manager's role.

Would you adopt this philosophy if it meant sitting a starter to get a message across?

Do you think this style of managing is the most effective? If not, please explain.

Do you think starting a rookie over a veteran, assuming both are performing equally is the right thing to do, regardless of contracts?

Please feel free to elaborate in as much detail as you'd like and if you have any other suggestions you feel are germane to team play, feel free to opine.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Do Contracts Dictate Playing Time?

There is a new sheriff in town and his name is, Lou Pinella. Gone are the days of the screwball lineups and mishandling of the pitching staff. Uncle Lou brings a pedigree we hope, that has been honed from understanding performance, not size of contract determines playing time. Now that's not to mean that size doesn't matter, we all know it does, but the contracts I'm referring to are those 3 year, $13 million contracts, not the $13 million per ones.

We've all witnessed to many times with Don Knotts as the sheriff, that his decisions on playing time were determined like he was actually paying the players salary himself. I must respectfully suggest, that shit has got to stop.

There was a day, not to long ago, like a month or so, when a contract like Mark DeRosa's was considered starting money. That mindset has changed now with the crazy off season contracts that have been doled out so far. If the DeRosa contract is more than what a super sub should get, so be it. It's chump change in comparison to what the Cubs goal is, a world series title. The fact that DeRosa can play in so many different roles is a valuable commodity most teams don't have and Pinella should realize this, especially if someone else is capable of doing an equally good job at 2B.

Should DeRosa be the front runner in spring training for the 2B job? Of course, but there should also be a spirited competition for that job in spring training. If the likes of The Riot can perform as well as DeRosa, who becomes a more valuable bench player then, The Riot or DeRosa. We should then expect Pinella to do the right thing and insert the speedy Theriot, The Riot just didn't seem to work there, regardless of DeRosa's contract or the Cubs initial intentions of DeRosa being the everyday second baseman.

This small decision if warranted, would signal a new direction is the clubhouse. One that is based on performance and accountability, not perception and favoritism.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Time Has Come!

With the recent free agent pool of quality players dwindling faster that the temperature in Chicago, has the time come to go to war in 2007 with Felix Pie as the Cubs everyday center fielder?

There is little doubt that Pie is an outstanding defensive center fielder but the question often posed is, does he have the plate discipline to succeed in the Bigs?

I believe yes on both questions.

First we have to look at the Cubs options if they don't bring him up.

Do we think that the Cubs will actually make a trade to get a Vernon Wells or Andruw Jones?

Can a Steve Finley, or similar type of veteran, be a better alternative than bringing up Pie immediately, just to have Pie get a little more seasoning?

I say no on both of those questions.

This is not to say that Wells and Jones are not the absolute studs that we can only hope Pie to be, but do you think the Cubs would even have enough, or even would it prudent for them, to trade what little minor league talent they do have to acquire either of them?

I say no again. The Cubs lineup is pretty formidable as it is and if they are short of anything on next year's club to contend, it's a stud pitcher not another position player.

Steve Finley would be a valuable addition to the Cubs roster for 2007 as a reserve outfielder and is a free agent. By all means the Cubs should make a legitimate attempt to acquire him, but as an everyday player, I think Finley's best days are behind him.

With the questions of the defensive prowess of Murton and Soriano in the corner spots, Pie's defensive excellence seems to be imperative to shore up the outfield defense. Batting Pie in the bottom of the order isn't the same as batting Corey Patterson at the top of the order, so the pressure should be at a minimum for Pie to get comfortable and perform reasonably well.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Perception Versus Reality!

There seems to be some misconceptions among fans as to a coaches effectiveness on a players performance. I'm not talking about MLB managers, but the coaches that work for them. Quite often, when the home team's players struggle, for whatever reason, not only is the player blamed but also his coach. To the contrary, when opposing teams players do well, their coaches are either a non-factor or are considered saviors.

This perception versus reality, as to a coach's effectiveness on a players performance, is what I'd like to address in a little more detail with respects to a couple of high profile pitching coaches known to many Cub fans.

One is the former and present pitching coach of the Chicago Cubs, Larry Rothschild and the other is the former pitching coach of the Braves and present pitching coach of the Orioles, Leo Mazzone.

Many a Cub fan feels, that their pitchers would've benefited greatly by having Leo Mazzone instead of Larry Rothschild. This perception that Mazzone's success while at Atlanta, could have magically reversed the problems of the Cubs pitching staff had he been at Chicago, I contend is not realistic. I'm not saying Mazzone, is not deserving of his due, but the health and talent of the staff he shepherded in Atlanta, had more to do with is recognition as an excellent pitching coach than the reality of his turning duds into studs.

To further illustrate this point, the Orioles with great expectations, swept up Mazzone from the Braves last year to be their pitching coach. However, when you look at the Orioles staff results, Mazzone was unable to reverse their sub par performances. Why? Primarily because the Orioles don't have a very talented pitching staff.

Pitching coaches, like most baseball coaches are not paid a great deal of money. Do you know why? Because they just are a small reason why their players perform well or not. That's the reality.

The Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild has a perception of not being very good. Is that reality? I don't think so and let me explain why.

Most pitching coaches that are recognized and thought highly of have one, been the beneficiaries of having a good organization that scouts well and brings in talented arms. Two, has a good working relationship with their team's manager, that will defer to his pitching coaches advice on a pitcher's health and if he's struggling or not. Three, has pitchers that aren't stubborn and willing to be coached.

The Cubs have done a decent job of acquiring some talented arms, most notably Kerry Wood and Mark Prior. But their physical breakdowns most certainly were exacerbated in some part do to the poor working relationship between Baker and Rothschild. Baker abused his starters, much to the chagrin of Rothschild in 2003. Wood by his own admission was bull headed and refused to accept the warnings of his violent mechanics, while not heeding advice of a training regimen that would help strengthen his back problems. Prior wasn't helped by the workload he encountered his first year in the Bigs, and may also just be unlucky enough to have some genetic flaw in his shoulder.

These reasons are the reality of Rothschild's results working with the Cubs pitching staff. If he was as clueless as some Cub fans think, why now then when all the stops are being pulled out to win in Chicago, did Lou Pinella retain him? Further as yourself why, after the 2005 season did Dave Dumbroski, the GM of the Detroit Tigers, offer him a three year deal to come to Detroit? And lastly as yourself why, after Maddux had been traded to LA, and his ex-teammate from Atlanta, Jason Marquis called him about his struggles in St. Louis, did Maddux tell him to go talk to Rothschild, not Mazzone?

Those are facts Cub fans, and facts support reality not perception.

What Is Jacque Jones Value?

It seems Jacque Jones isn't happy and wants to be traded, and why not? He gets hate mail and a new no nonsense manager has taken over the club. I'm certainly not in favor of a disgruntled player in my clubhouse, but I'm also not in favor of the tail wagging the dog.

Does this mean that Pinella and Jones will be unable to co-exist? It's to early to tell, but Pinella has a wealth of experience as a player and a manager in dealing with disgruntled teammates and players. One of the reasons the Cubs hired Pinella, was because of his experience and one of his main jobs as manager, is to get the most out of his players.

The main question for the Cubs as an organization is, can they get value in a trade of Jones, that fills another need they have?

As it stands presently, the Cubs outfield is likely to be, Murton in LF, Jones in CF and Soriano in RF. While some might claim they should wear their batting helmets in the outfield, I believe they may actually be superior defensively to last year. Here is why.

Murton is certainly not a gold glove left fielder, but he has shown improvement in the least demanding defensive outfield position.

Soriano although still new to the outfield, has a cannon for an arm and that is one of the keys to being an effective right fielder.

Jones came up in the Twins organization as a center fielder, and only the ascension of Tori Hunter prompted the Twins to move Jones to a corner outfield spot.

When you compare Jones and Pierre's range in center field, the small loss of range with Jones will be somewhat offset by the speed of Soriano in right field. Neither Jones or Pierre could throw worth a damn, so the outfield defense is a likely push and could possibly be a little better, with Soriano's gun in right field keeping base runners from easily advancing first to third. From the offensive side, the main reason we acquired Pierre was to be a lead off man and that was a bust. With Jones power numbers, he should boost the offensive production from center field.

How does this translate into value for prospective trading partners? Well the $5 million Jones contract is now considered below market value, but that doesn't mean the Cubs will receive fair value by trading him. Presently, Jones is of more value to the Cubs than he is to the rest of baseball, but that could change. How?

By showcasing Jones in center field, he'll have more value later in the season.

Could the Cubs use a Kenny Lofton? Of course, but rumors have it he is close to a deal with the Rangers.

Could the Cubs land a Rocco Baldelli to play center field? Well with the D-Rays past of asking for the moon when teams have inquired about their young position players, it seems unlikely the Cubs could or should part with the little minor league talent they have left to acquire him.

Ryan Church's name has been rumored in a trade, but as stated with a trade for Baldelli, what youngsters would the Nationals want and could you include Jones in the trade to acquire Church.

Any trade or acquisition of a center fielder for any other purpose than as a bench player, ie; Steve Finley, would only take at bats away from Murton by Jones, and do nothing to enhance Jones value in a trade.

If in fact the Cubs can get equal value from a Jones trade before spring training then fine. If not, keeping him to play center field certainly won't hurt his trade value by the time Pie eventually comes up.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

There Is No I In Team!

Much has been debated about the Cubs acquisitions this off season. Some moves have been applauded while others have faced strong criticism. I'm not sure it is possible that everyone can be happy with what has been done and profess to not have an opinion on what they would've done instead. Their is however one truth that cannot be disputed, and that is the Cubs have finally started to act like a big market team and are spending some of those millions raked in due to sellouts and advertising revenue increases.

While it is true that the most talented teams, usually are odds on favorites to win. However, the importance of the club being constructed with a plan to mesh all of it's talent, cannot be overlooked if their goal is the post season.

The recently departed manager, who I can't even bring myself to say his name, had such a loose operation that the accountability of his players performance was rarely evident. His mismanagement of lineup configuration and late inning pitching maneuvers cost the club dearly. It's true he didn't have many bullets in his gun these past two years, and much of that blame lays squarely on the doorstep of the Trib brass for operating the ball club with blinders on. Well the blinders are off now and the piggy bank has been smashed to pieces in hopes of not looking totally inept.

Does the Trib's new course of action signal a seed change? We can only hope so, but enough major pieces have been acquired that hopefully a little fine tuning can give the club a leg up.

What cannot be overlooked is the importance of their manager. Without saying Pinella is the next coming, it is important that fundamental team play has to be implemented with repercussions meted out to the lollygaggers. Pinella's generalship must also be held into account regarding his management of the pitching staff and late inning substitutions.

Over the course of a regular season, you probably have a third of your games where you blow the other team out and another third of your games where you get blown out. That puts the club at 500 for two thirds of the season. The effective implementation of fundamentally sound play and smart on field strategic moves of the other third of your games, is what can make or break your season. If the team can win three out of four of those close games, they'll get to the magic number of 90 wins, which should just about guarantee a seat at the post season dinner table.

Having a club house that has everyone playing for the good of the team, is essential for the manager to have the opportunity to strategically influence those close games final outcome.

The manager must set the tone from day one of spring training, that any lollygagging around will meet with more than the pine hitting the seat of their pants. Pinella must insist on his players using their head not just their God given talent. Pitchers will have to pitch smart not just throw, fielders will need to think of the game situation before they make a throw and hitters will need to understand the value of working a count and running the bases. Does talent play a role in the outcome of a players performance? Of course, but poor decisions and not understanding the fundamentals of sound play does as well, and is quite often what determines the outcome of the close contests.

Hopefully the Pinella regime, will be able to prevent any and all lollygaggation of our beloved men in blue and bring some pride back to this storied franchise we all bleed blue for.

Saturday, December 9, 2006

Next Up!

If rumors are confirmed, the Cubs will have acquired starter Jason Marquis, from the Cardinals. The acquisition most likely sets the Cubs rotation as follows: Zambrano, Lilly, Marquis, Hill and Miller.

While the Cubs have done an adequate job with the rotation, the everyday lineup is still in need of a legitimate center fielder and bench help.

With the skids being greased for the disgruntled Jacque Jones departure and an abundance of arms in the bullpen, the Cubs have an opportunity to get some decent value with such a trade. There has been talk of a trade with the Nationals, for versatile left handed hitting outfielder Ryan Church. Church is 28, and posted decent numbers in 2006, with a 276BA 366OBP 10HR 6SB in 196AB. The Nationals have a huge power vacuum created by the loss of Soriano, so Jones coupled with a relief pitcher as a sweetener, could get the deal done. That still wouldn't preclude the addition of a veteran center fielder like Lofton. An addition of Lofton, would also provide an alternative at lead off, allowing Soriano to move into an RBI role.

The Cubs bullpen stands at 7 without Kerry Wood, so moving the disgruntled Jones and a surplus arm for Church, would make the club younger and provide better defensive platoons in the outfield. Then the Cubs could acquire Cliff Floyd for a viable power option off the bench.

These three additions, alongside the already acquired Daryl Ward, help balance their predominately right handed lineup. A lineup I might add, that would have have a devastating 3-4-5, with disciplined table setters at the top and the only weak offensive link being Izturis.

Your Chicago Cubs Starting Lineup:
Lofton CF
Murton LF
Lee 1B
Ramirez 3B
Soriano RF
Barrett C
DeRosa 2B
Izturis SS

RH Blanco C
LH Ward 1B/OF
LH Floyd OF
RH The Riot INF
LH Church OF
SH Pagan OF


LH Eyre
RH Howry
LH Ohman
RH Wood
RH Wuertz
LH Cotts
RH Dempster
RH Novoa

Of course the bullpen will be affected depending on whose traded, leaving those remaining to compete for the 6 available spots, unless they add another bench player. Overall, a vastly improved 25 man roster to go to battle with in 2007. With some luck in the rotation, not to mention the tremendous boost that a healthy Prior would bring, let's fill out the lineup with the same urgency we addressed the pitching and the Cubs should be serious contenders.

Friday, December 8, 2006

Diamond In The Rough?

With all the Hub Bub going on with the Cubs failed effort to acquire Gil Meche, it might very well be a blessing in disguise.

The only two superior starting pitchers available through free agency this off season were Jason Schmidt and Barry Zito. The Cubs were almost forced to pay for one of the other starters available, that you could be considered serviceable but hardly top of the order starters. When you consider Meche got $55 million for 5 years, the price that was paid for last years the top free agent starter AJ Burnett, you have to consider the Cubs made the most of the $10 million per they spent to acquire Ted Lilly.

So who should the Cubs train their radar on now? It looks as if they are taking a hard look at Jason Marquis, As you can tell from this link, Gil Meche and Jason Marquis have similar numbers but Meche was coming off his best year and Marquis off his worst. Strike out the last year for them both and Marquis has better numbers.

Do I advocate going after these alsorans instead of an ace? Certainly not, but their is only one free agent starter Zito, who in my humble opinion is even close to being considered an ace, and his price tag will be from another planet.

You'll notice a couple of other starters names that have been mentioned as possibly available through trades, most notably Jake Westbrook and Jason Jennings.

It looks as if Westbrook's Indians, have done some solid work this off season already to address their sieve like bullpen, a major problem for them last year. Therefore the one position of strength that the Cubs could've bargained with is no longer a need for the Indians.

Jason Jennings Rockies, need a center fielder and young arms. The Cubs are going to have a hard sell to convince them that Super Jock is an everyday center fielder. A trade with the Rockies seems remote at best.

So who's left? Jeff Suppan and Jeff Weaver are available from the Redbirds.

Suppan is 31, with a career 4.67 ERA and 1.41 WHIP.

Weaver is 30, with a career 4.58 ERA and 1.34 WHIP.

Both of these free agents are going to be commanding big paydays after their 2006 post season performances and like the others mentioned above, don't distinguish themselves other than that.

All things considered, Marquis would probably come at the most reasonable price and has comparable numbers. If the Cubs do acquire him, he could very well be a diamond, though somewhat flawed, in the rough.

Thursday, December 7, 2006

X Amount Of $

When Pinella stated Jason Schmidt was really never being that hotly pursued by the Cubs, most of us just couldn't understand why?

I think all of us would agree that finally the Cubs were no longer holding on to nickels like manhole covers, so what was it?

Did we really think the Cubs were going to become the NL version of the Yankees?

While we applaud the Trib. opening the vault, they must certainly have a budget in mind and with the number of holes they had to fill, must have believed that the financial commitment to get Schmidt to leave the west coast, would cripple any further acquisitions.

If the Cubs truly had the green light to spend money without any budget restrictions, not signing Schmidt was a major mistake. If however the Cubs do have a budget ceiling, this didn't preclude signing Schmidt, but the Cubs lineup is still far from being considered set, and still in need of at least one more starter.

The herculean task of rebuilding a last place team with little minor league talent, into a world series winner in 2007, was just highly unlikely if the Trib. was only going to spend X amount of dollars.

Schmidt went for around $16 million per and we can only assume since Schmidt had already turned down the Yankees, that money wasn't the only issue. In any event, if the Cubs would've been able to sign Schmidt, it would've been for a bigger number than what the Dodgers paid him. Add a Lilly at $10 million per and you're financial commitment is $27+ million.

Therefore we must assume Plan B, was to sign Lilly and Meche for $20 million, leaving some $7+ million on the table to address the other holes in the lineup, even if the Miller/Prior/Marshall plan provide you the fifth starter.

Lofton's name has been bandied about and would help the outfield defense and allow Soriano to assume an RBI role in the lineup. Even though he could be had for a one year contract, I've heard he's looking for around $6 million per and the way the market is, I wouldn't doubt someone pays at least that.

You could go cheaper with a S. Finley and still not go more than a year out, however his numbers have fallen significantly more than Lofton and would only seem acceptable in purely a late inning reserve role.

It seems the Cubs are close to a $1 million, 1 year deal for Daryl Ward. He's a masher from the left side against RHP but struggles against LHP, has good hands but is slow afoot and seems to be little more than a LH power bat off then bench.

If Lofton, Finley and Ward are all signed, you're probably somewhere just shy of $10 million. That could have been the Cubs strategy all along going into the winter meetings. Sign two starters for $20 million and improve the bench by spending another $10 million.

Those of you that read here often know, I was strongly in favor of signing Schmidt. Unfortunately for us, I'm not the one setting the budget, and consequently this seems to be the most likely reason Schmidt was never seriously being considered.

The Cubs have seemed to have turned the corner and still have some trading scenarios that might help considerably. They're spending money like never before and hopefully a seed change has taken place. You can't tell me, if it took two years instead of one to win a world series you'd complain.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006


If reports are true, take the biggest horse off the board. Jason Schmidt is reportedly close to a 3 year $47 million agreement with the Dodgers.

It's amazing that Hendry would be willing to sweeten a deal for Lilly, but wasn't willing to do the same with Schmidt.


It's hard to imagine that Hendry really gets it. Opening up Mother Trib's checkbook to acquire Soriano doesn't make Hendry a brainsurgeon, but not signing Schmidt, definetely makes you a candidate to need one.

It's not like the Cubs have a lineup like the Yankees, or even like the Cardinals for that matter.

The Cubs have no leadoff man without sacrificing RBI's, batting Soriano at the top of the order. The way the outfield defense is configured now, Murton LF, Jones CF and Soriano RF, the Cubs should contact the manufacturer of Olerud's fielding helmet, they'll definetely need them.

With the Cubs having a decent fielding infield and a hardhat fielding outfield, why would you target a fly ball pitcher like Lilly, to be their number 2 starter. Yikes!

What is so annoying is that Hendry has no clue what a quality pitcher is. Any pitcher's key to success is quite simple. Hit your spots, change speeds and throw strikes. Unless your stuff is so dominating like Zambrano's, pitchers like Lilly and Meche with their control problems, unless they have a unlikely metamorphisis, will be only marginally better than the kids we had up in the rotation last year. I'd rather see them get a guy like John Lieber, who can keep the ball down and give you consistent innings.

Forget the world series bullshit now. Hoping for a division championship is the only goal that is remotely possible. There isn't a chance in hell we get past the Dodgers or Mets.

All together now. Hendry is an ASSCLOWN, Hendry is an ASSCLOWN!

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Arms Race!

Well the winter meetings have started and the rumor mill is starting to bubble over with who is going where and for how much. More importantly, as has been expressed here and by other fine members of the Cubs Blog Army, the Cubs need not just one, but at least two if not three starters to rebuild their rotation. More importantly, if Hendry is sincere about fielding a championship team, he just can't throw darts at those available and hope whoever bites will make everything right. There most certainly is a difference between the quality of starters available and Hendry must focus on quality, not just quantity.

Chicago Tribune writer Dave van Dyck, has a nice article today evaluating the starters that might be available this offseason.

In the article, five professional scouts were surveyed as to their rating of the starters available. Only one scout didn't claim Jason Schmidt, to be the prize of the group. It was also interesting to note, that even the dissenting scout who claimed Zito as the number one starter available, claimed he'd be a poor fit for Wrigley.

These scouts also ranked the three, four and five starters available, and all three of them take up residence with the our arch enemy to the south, the Chicago White Sox.

Oh how the Cubs like most of us, always pay for their sins of the past. The simple contract extention of Pierre's contract last year, would've been a wonderful bargaining chip with the White Sox, who may still be in need of a center fielder.

Well no sense crying over our spilt Budweiser, if the rumor of the three way deal for Jennings has any legs, the Cubs should have plenty of budget left to go make an offer Schmidt can't refuse. That would give the Cubs two dominant starters at the top of the rotation with Jennings and Hill filling in the three and four spots. Then the Miller/Prior/Marshall mishmash doesn't appear so repugnant and Hendry could even go gobble up for a minimal one year contract, an insurance innings eater like a John Lieber.

It seems insane to make your centerpiece acquisition a poor man's Zito, Ted Lilly, who brings the Cubs all of Zito's negatives with none of his positives. Hopefully, Toronto will save Hendry from this mistake, as they seemed to have trumped the Cubs offer for Lilly.

Just remember Jimbo, we need a pitcher, not a belly itcher!

Monday, December 4, 2006

Three Way Might Be The Right Way!

Steve Phillips, baseball analyst for ESPN, is reporting a three way deal might be in the works involving the Rockies, Pirates and Cubs.

As speculated last month here on Lollygaggers, the Pirates were willing to part with one of their LHSP's for a LH power hitting right fielder.

The rumored deal involves the Cubs sending Jacque Jones and Carlos Marmol to the Rockies for Jason Jennings, then the Rockies sending Jones or Hawpe to the Pirates for LHSP Paul Maholm.

This deal seems to help all three teams, as the Cubs get a solid number two starter, the Pirates get the LH power hitting right fielder they needed and the Rockies get two young arms and avoid losing Jennings next year to free agency.

In my previous post, "Let's Be Careful Out There," I outlined a breakdown on most of the starting pitching available this offseason, through free agency or trades.

Based on the criteria used, it appears the Cubs will acquire the second best pitcher from that list without spending a penny.

I don't usually advocate trading young arms, but with the Cubs thirst to win now and acknowledging that Marmol is a project that might be a couple of years away if ever, the deal makes good sense for the Cubs. The inclusion of Jones in the deal wasn't that surprising after Hendry came out publicly in support of Murton and the recent rumors of the Cubs pursuing Kenny Lofton. Hendry and his scouts have seemed to do their homework on this deal. The most important acquisitions the Cubs will make this offseason, will involve building a dominant rotation. They appear to be off to a good start if this deal goes through.

Let's Be Careful Out There!

Hendry has good intentions of not letting money get in the way of signing free agents to make the team better. With so few quality starters available and so many teams looking to upgrade their rotations as well, it is important for Hendry to make sure his money is wisely spent.

For sake of comparison, let's look at the Cubs ace Carlos Zambrano, and see how some of these so called pitching solutions available in this year's free agency, stack up.

We'll look behind the W/L record and ERA, and instead look at SLG, BAA and OPS. I believe these categories are a more accurate indication of just how effective a pitcher is.

Zambrano was ranked of all starting pitchers in both leagues as:
#1 with 351SLG, #2 with 208BAA and #7 with 667OPS

#35 with 415SLG, #27 with 257BAA and #48 with 759OPS

#14 with 379SLG, #6 with 238BAA and #12 with 689OPS

#48 with 431SLG, #23 with 254BAA and #50 with 764OPS

#45 with 427SLG, #25 with 256BAA and $54 with 768OPS

#38 with 419SLG, #40 with 262BAA and #47 with 757OPS

#53 with 440SLG, #57 with 277BAA and #59 with 783OPS

#42 with 423SLG, #48 with 271BAA and #27 with 724OPS

#16 with 386SLG, #28 with 258BAA and #23 with 715OPS

#25 with 402SLG, #68 with 296BAA and #37 with 743OPS

That's most of the desirable starters available through free agency or trade this year. There seems to be quite a bit of pitchers that are definetely not a #1 or #2 starter. So in the voice of Phil Conrad from Hill Street Blues; Hey, Hey, Hey, let's be careful out there.

If the Cubs really believe another miracle can take place like it did with last year's St. Louis Catdinals, well I guess it really doesn't matter what starter you pick up, as long as they are healthy. However, the history of World Series winning teams demonstartes that at least two dominant starters are needed. Only one free agent pitcher Jason Schmidt, stands out above everyone else, with the next best starter Jason Jennings, who is only available through a trade. We can only hope Hendry does his homework before he breaks open the piggy bank for the riskiest of all free agent acquisitions, starting pitchers.

You Know That Feeling!

Waking up after another marathon 'till 4 am at the bar, Sunday Afternoon At Soldiers Field, you invited what's her name home, Minnesota Vikings, your one head was spinning, Bears Offense, the other head was standing at attention, Bears Defense, you got your freak on, Bears Victory, but you just can't understand why in the hell you still do those things, Starting Rex Grossman.

Well it's a new day and you've repented for the umpteeth time, now your thoughts can be refocused on your one true love, Chicago Cubs Baseball.

The winter meetings start today and hopefully your sweety can make everything right with the world by always looking her sexiest, Jason Schmidt, Barry Zito and Vicente Padilla.

Ok, Ok, cut your sweetheart some slack and let her have a casual day, Jason Schmidt or Barry Zito and Vicente Padilla.

Just in time for Christmas to, but what should you get her? You drink another cup of coffee and everything becomes clear. Why not get her a Brian Griese Jersey, it would do wonders for her wardrobe on casual day.

Sunday, December 3, 2006

2003 Reunion?

As my friend, Kurt aka Death over at GROTA has posted, the caveman journalist reports the Cubs might sign Lofton.

As all of you that read my fledgling blog know, I have long been in support of this move. Back in 2003 when Lofton was acquired, he jump started a dead in the water 500 team at mid season. It is true Ramirez also provided some added punch that year, but the acquisition of the table setter Lofton, provided the most important thing a lineup of power hitting free swingers need, someone that can work the count against an opposing pitcher and get on base in front of them.

Even though the acquisition of Lofton is small potatoes in the overall budget makeup of the Cubs for 2007, his impact could be huge. Why?

* Last year Lofton at 39, had a 300BA, 360OBP and over 30 steals.

* He still can play center field better than any of the present Cub outfielders and if Hendry moves quickly, can be had for a one year contract.

* Lofton has a wealth of experience and could be a valuable mentor, if and when Felix Pie is called up.

* His short term and inexpensive contract, eliminates the crazy notion of acquiring Lugo at considerable expense and length of contract, to play out of position in CF, and therefore leaving as much payroll flexibility as possible to sign the best starters available.

However the biggest affect of the Lofton signing, is that it will move Soriano down in the batting order where his most valuable asset, run production and his most glaring weakness, strikeouts would best be utilized.

Saturday, December 2, 2006

Deals Of Strength!

Are the Cubs going to start the season with 13 pitchers on their 25 man roster, not counting, Mark Prior?

Thankfully, gone is Dusty Baker. Remember when he sent Murton down to add a 12th. pitcher when the Cubs went to Coors field in 2005?

Well it's a new day on the north side of Chicago, and the Cubs have an opportunity to wheel and deal at next week's winter baseball meetings, from a position of strength.

Although the needs are glaring in the starting rotation, the Cubs presently have a surplus of arms, Novoa, Eyre, Howry, Dempster, Wood, Ohman, Wuertz and Cotts, in their bullpen.

If the Cubs acquire at least 2 starters next week, that would bring their total to 13 pitchers, not including Mark Prior. Thank the Lord the mindset has changed, as the Cubs are no longer counting on Prior.

The Cubs can and should use this position of strength at the bargaining table next week, to make the best deals possible to upgrade the team, weather it be a starting pitcher, position player or prospects.

Who's available that the Cubs could use their surplus to acquire? Check out the article posted by, Tracy Ringolsby of the Rocky Mountain news, for an interesting look at who needs what and who they have to offer.

Friday, December 1, 2006

Good News! Prior Pitching In Arizona!

Mark Prior has finally begun working on his pitching. It seems he's completed the, "Make Millions As A Sports Agent" mail order home study course, just in case his arm falls off and won't be able to pursue his first career choice as a starting pitcher for the Chicago Cubs.

Reports from the Ricky Mountain News, have it that Prior is an Arizona neighbor of coveted free agent pitcher, Jason Schmidt. Prior, like all pitch men embarking on a new career, are instructed to try and sell family, friends and neighbors first, to make it easier to land their first deal. Hence our junior Scott Boras wannabe, is talking with Schmidt to make a move to Chicago's north side, emphasizing that he'd still be on the west coast, albeit west coast of Lake Michigan.

And we thought Prior was only working on towel drills.

PS Sorry fans of our lovely Lollygagger girl Kerry, no published phone number for her yet, but she did agree to post another pitcher and comment for you.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Tool Time!

Whether it's a do it yourself project at home or an assignment at work, your success is largely dependent on having the resources and proper tools to complete the task successfully.

As Jim Hendry heads off to the winter meetings next week he must be prepared, and make sure he leaves with the proper tools to construct a world championship baseball team, on the north side of Chicago.

It seems apparent Hendry has the necessary resources and we can only hope he is prepared. Hendry must now accumulate the other tools necessary to complete the job.

What's Hendry missing? Healthy, quality starters, three to be exact. Hendry must, through free agent acquisition or trade, get at least one superior starter and two other dependable inning eaters to have the tools necessary to construct a championship team.

I must reiterate, Championship Team, as the huge contracts doled out for positional talent will mean very little without an above average rotation. The Tribune has finally broke open the piggy bank and Hendry has to strike while the iron's hot.

If Hendry leaves Florida without three starters, his chances of acquiring the talent needed diminish drastically. All of the big moves by trades or free agent acquisitions are usually completed by the end of the winter meetings. Sure there might be a straggler here or there, but if they're of any value, the price is going to be through the roof.

I've debated some of the best available starters in other posts, so you know my feelings on who should be acquired. Hendry must read the instructions for constructing a championship baseball team. On page one it states clearly, without a solid foundation, quality starting pitchers, house, Cub hopes, go boom, you're out of a job.

So go to Florida Jimbo, and lay in the sun, better yet, go to a massage palor, whatever it takes to get your thoughts together and bring us the tools to build the Cub fans a winner.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Wells/Toronto Gap Widening!

Toronto, like most everyone is in the market to add a starter. Unfortunately for them, talks are not going well with Lilly. If they need to fill two rotation spots instead of one, Wells probably will not fit into their plans.

JP Riccardi indicates, there is only so much money to work with and with the price a free agent starters looking more and more likely to resemble the money free agent position players are getting, extending the Wells contract doesn't seem likely.

Good news for those teams, hopefully the Cubs, that can work out a package to trade for Wells. A scenario of Murton, Pie and a relief pitcher just might be able to get it done, who knows. But even though the Cubs priority has to be getting some quality starters, an opportunity to acquire a premier player like Wells, has to be seriously explored.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

We Need A Pitcher, Not A Belly Itcher!

Adam Eaton, $8 million a year for 3 years? Yikes! Randy Wolf, who I actually think has a great upside, $7.5 million for 1 year? Holy Snike's! Those signings make Hendry look like a genius with the W. Miller contract.

Let's see now, Henry Rowengardner was 12 in 1993, that makes him 27 in 2007. Any reports that he's still clumsy? If so, we could put him on our medical watch list and see if he brakes his shoulder before next season. Hell, I'm sure at his age now, Budweiser would be interested. We could even have our Rocket, Wood, mentor him.

Seriously though, the San Francisco Chronicle reports the Cubs rumored to be offering J. Schmidt, 3 years for $44 million. Over the past three seasons, Schmidt has posted; 610IP 514H 596K 242BB 55HR 3.73ERA.

If Schmidt can be had for roughly $15 million a year for 3 years, the Cubs would have a one two punch that could get you wins in 75% of their decisions. Then fill in the rest of the rotation with starters that can go .500 in their decisions, and you'd have a formidable rotation that could be a dominant force in getting to the postseason.

Now when you're in the playoffs, having two front line pitchers really pays the big dividends. First in the short 5 games series and second when you have the option of pitching not just one but two aces on short rest. It's definitely worth it for Hendry to spend the few extra million to sign another ace.

Monday, November 27, 2006

The One Year Deal!

The Cubs have signed a couple of players, K. Wood and W. Miller, to one year deals that can only work out well if both players remain healthy and return to past form. However, they can pick up another player for a one year deal that has no health issues and would help fill two valuable positions.

With the Cubs outfielder in a state of flux and the questionable wisdom of using one of the more prolific run producers, A. Soriano, in a leadoff role, K. Lofton would be a valuable acquisition that could be acquired for a one year deal with little or no downside.

Even at the age of 39, Lofton would probably provide the only known quality defensive player to patrol CF. His one year deal also wouldn't stand as a road block for the hopeful ascension of F. Pie, at the latest in 2008. Lofton's performance over the last two years shows he still can demonstrate the skills necessary to be a quality leadoff man and more importantly allow Soriano's talent to be used as a run producer.

Soriano's speed isn't as valuable in the leadoff role as his run production is in the middle of the order, especially if the Cubs have alternatives. Also Soriano's high strikeout total is much more acceptable as a run producer than a table setter.

Lofton is a smart move Hendry can make to provide depth at a minimal cost and commitment.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Can Pinella Change A Culture?

If Hendry didn't interfere with Baker's lineup, it would be hard to imagine him advising Pinella on who to play.

With that said, will Pinella put the best player in the best position to succeed?

There are a lot of preconceived ideas for recently acquired players as to how they will fit into the mix, so let's examine them.

DeRosa has played 6 full seasons and is coming off a career year, where he posted a
296BA 357OBP 102K 44BB 4SB 13HR in 520AB. However his career numbers are as follows,
273BA 331OBP 286K 125BB 11SB 38HR in 1643AB.

Let's assume when the Cubs brake camp in Mesa, AZ to start the 2007 campaign that DeRosa numbers average somewhere in between his career year and his career numbers.

Now DeRosa was acquired reportedly, to be the everyday second baseman. If he is to be challenged at all, which I would hope Pinella would want, The Riot seems to be the most likely candidate.

The Riot's 2006 season was split between AAA Iowa and the Cubs. In Iowa he posted a
304BA 367OBP 34K 27BB 14SB 0HR in 280AB. With Cubs he actually improved and posted a
328BA 412OBP 18K 17BB 13SB 3HR in 134AB.

If The Riot outperforms DeRosa in spring training, what should Pinella do? Will Pinella realize that DeRosa's versatility makes him more valuable coming off the bench, or will he succumb to the pressure of not showing up his GM and start DeRosa instead of The Riot, deserving or not.

I realize this is a hypothetical situation, but there is at least a 50/50 chance that it could happen. It's not like DeRosa has Derek Jeter credentials, where a proven track record of success would earn him the right to be given some slack.

When you consider the replacement of Pierre in CF with Soriano, you'd be hard pressed to find many similarities except for their speed. But on closer examination, if Soriano were to fill Pierre's leadoff role, you may not be making the most of Soriano's most valuable asset, run production. When you look at the other most recent 40/40 man, Barry Bonds, do you think it was a mistake not to hit him in the leadoff spot because he had 40 stolen bases?

The role as a run producer was out of the question for Pierre, so his speed made a case for his role at the top of the order. But as a leadoff man, his poor OBP and high percentage of caught stealing, negated much of his effectiveness.

With Soriano, you have many of the same negatives as Pierre from the leadoff spot. However, due to Soriano's prodigious power, his value to the team, emphasis value to the team, hitting in a RBI spot in the order is enhanced. Patterson and to a lesser extent Pierre certainly didn't fill the leadoff role as effectively as hoped. The effective leadoff man's most important asset is to get on base at as high a rate as possible. Speed is a plus and so is power, but they both follow a distant second and third in determining the overall effectiveness of the leadoff man.

If Pinella is the baseball man we all hope he is, he will have to insist that his decisions as to who plays what position and where they bat in the order, is a function of their performance and what's best for the team to succeed.

That would be most certainly be a welcome change in culture.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Waiting For The Other Shoe To Fall!

You put your right shoe, you take your right shoe out, you put your right shoe and you shake it all about, you do the hokey pokey and you turn yourself around, that's what it's all about.

Well the Cubs certainly put their right shoe in with the Soriano signing and are waiting, as it seems is most everyone else, to see who puts their left shoe in concerning the big free agent pitcher contract.

It doesn't seem the Cubs are willing to put both feet in, but should they?

If they don't, can they expect to find another K. Rodgers?

There can certainly be an argument made for both cases, but let's look at the Cubs situation in a little more detail and see if we can find a best case scenario.

While there are no absolutes, usually when a team makes the playoffs, their success is quite often dependent upon the effectiveness of the pitching staff.

As we look at the Cubs pitching staff we find one stud starter, one second year starter that looks to be on the rise and a mash unit. The bullpen looks deep but might have a questionable closer. There are a lot of holes there and the Cubs don't have an unlimited budget, but an extra $5 million could be a determining factor. Can we afford to let $5 million stand in the way of having a superior rotation after what's been doled out so far?

The approach of signing a couple of middle of the road starters appears to be the tack Hendry is espousing but things have to work out just right for a rotation of Zambrano, and four number 4 starters.

If we use a template of the past World Series winners you'll find that unless the rotation's starters implode with an outlandish rash of errors(Detroit Tigers), the best staff won out.

It's true there are also some interesting trading options available and a deal with Cleveland could land a quality arm, but if the Cubs are to be considered a World Series team instead of just a playoff team, another front of the rotation starter should be pursued.

Numbers of course don't tell you everything when evaluating the two aces, Zito and Schmidt.

Zito is younger and has never been hurt but he also has not performed well during the playoffs and that is the main reason you acquire a stud starter.

Schmidt is older and has a nick or two but he's pitched 610 innings the past three years. He has an excellent track record in the playoffs and just because his fastball has lost a couple of MPH, so has Barry Zito's. Rodger Clemens like Schmidt, have lost a few MPH on his heater as well, but both are big game pitchers and have enhanced their repertoire. Clemen added the splitter and Schmidt the changeup, allowing both of them to remain dominant even with the loss in velocity. The Cubs could probably land Schmidt for a 3 year deal, instead of the 6/7 year deal Zito will command.

A rotation fronted with Zambrano and Schmidt is a recipe for success.

Put your left foot in Jimbo, and do the hokey pokey and turn this team around. That's what it's all about!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Rebirth Of The Old Fashioned Trade!

Gm's are starting to realize that with the cost and scarcity of quality free agents this year, even the most well healed teams will have consider trading to get the talent they desire.

Free wheeling Gm's like Theo Epstien of the Red Sox, "The market is forcing some teams into trade talks. The most aggressive teams in this market are the teams that can take a broader view because so many teams are trying to fill holes, the free agent market is so expensive and the teams that can lose something off their big league team and fill the hole for someone else, can get back a lot of value." and Omar Minaya of the Mets, "I don't think there's enough in the free agent market to fulfill those needs, so the only option is for trades." understand the need to adjust their thinking if they are to fill the positions most important for their team.

As you know, I have been long advocating for the Cubs to use the trade route, simply because they have some, not many but some areas of strength from which to deal. One such area of strength on the Cubs is their bullpen. It's a shame that Hendry's hands where tied by McPhail, otherwise I'm sure Pierre would've had his contract extended as soon as he came to the Cubs. Just think in the recent light of Pierre's 5 year $44 million contract with the Dodgers, what he would've fetched in a trade? Ok, Ok, what's past is past, and there is no sense in crying over spilt milk.

Cleveland, Pittsburg and to a lesser extent Toronto are three teams I've advocated dealing with in recent posts. Now that the mainstream is starting to take notice as well, evidently my site is being religiously read by the more forward thinking GM's already, Ha!, it behoves Hendry to move as quickly on the trade front, as he has in free agency.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Case for Felix!

Felix Pie's circuitous route to the Cubs MLB roster has been well documented, but thankfully now with the addition of Fonzie, the template used with Corey Patterson, won't be imposed on another prized CF prospect.

Pie, like Patterson, has a wonderful blend of speed and power. Pie also resembles his predecessor with his free swinging style. However, Pie's defense appears superior to Pattersons, primarily due to his cannon of an arm.

If the Cubs stand pat in the outfield with J. Jones playing CF, I doubt any of us could assume that Jones would be defensively superior to Pie.

We then have to ask ourselves, will Pie's superior defense offset the potential loss of offense if Jones is traded?

As I mentioned in previous posts, the Cubs have a likely suitor for Jones in Pittsburgh, who would be willing to part with any of their LHSP's for a LH power hitting right fielder.

I don't believe, with the Cubs pressing need to fix the rotation, that Hendry wouldn't pull the trigger on such a trade if he had a solid replacement for Jones bat. Hendry should take into account that superior defense is an offensive category as well and factor that into his decision.

Let's look at the 2006 season numbers for both Jones and Pie to see what the difference actually is. Now I know Pie was at AAA and Jones was in the Bigs, however Jones was coming off his second best season ever and is on the wrong side of 30, where Pie's first part of the 2006 was below par after missing the last part of the 2005 season with a broken leg. Pie is only 21, and really heated it up at Iowa that last part of the season.

Pie 2006
559AB 33D 8T 15HR 127K 46BB 341OBP 283BA 451SLG

Jones 2006
533AB 31D 1T 27HR 116K 35BB 334OBP 285BA 499SLG

The question I'd like to ask all of you is this. Are the Cubs better off with a Z. Duke in the rotation and a Felix Pie in CF for a combined salary under $1 million, or are they better off with J. Jones in CF with no addition to the rotation for $5 million?

Monday, November 20, 2006

Soriano's Impact!

It is well documented the offensive talents Soriano brings to the Cubs. Defensively however there are some questions.

Pinella, in a "Score" radio interview Sunday, was asked where Soriano would play? Without hesitation, Uncle Lou said that his best arm in the outfield, Soriano, plays RF.

Which now without any further additions or prospects making the club in spring training, the Cubs outfield would comprise Murton in LF, Jones in CF and Soriano in RF. In comparing that outfield configuration with last years of Murton, Pierre and Jones, I sincerely doubt that we lose anything defensively. Whatever shortcomings Jones might have in CF, Soriano should more than offset just with his arm in RF. The leadoff situation with Pierre and Soriano is almost a wash, but the slugging numbers will go through the roof with Soriano.

This outfield will certainly cost more than last years, but Pierre already has a $10 million offer on the table. Soriano's contract will likely be seriously backloaded, so the difference in contracts should result in approximately $5 million additional to this years payroll.

The addition of Soriano's gaudy offensive numbers, will make that additional money spent seem like a spit in the ocean.

Constructing A Winner!

In a recent guest article I did for, "Goat Riders Of The Apocalypse," I compared the previous 6 World Series winners, to see if any similarities could be gleaned from each teams makeup. The purpose was to try and develop a template of the key ingredients to use for constructing a winner in Chicago, North Side that is.

By no means did the best team always win the World Series, but most had a considerable number of similarities.

One of the Cubs most glaring weaknesses last year was their rotation, with their top 5 starters only starting 109 games and accumulated just 651 innings in those starts.

By comparison, the last 6 World Series winners received 142 starts and 880 innings pitched from their top 5 starters.

Another glaring weakness of the 2006 Cubs was the amount of walks issued versus the amount of walks taken.

The reason I feel this is such an important stat is two-fold.

On the one hand, when your pitcher issues a walk, your defense has no chance to retire the hitter and the pitchers higher pitch count usually results in fewer innings pitched.

On the other hand, the table of events swings to your teams favor when your players exercise patience at the plate.

A dominant pitching staff can negate some of your teams offensive weaknesses, however the reverse is most certainly not true. Great offenses might accumulate a considerable amount of wins during the regular season, but the playoffs are a sprint to 11 wins where every weakness is magnified.

If there is one player that can dominate a game, the starter is head and shoulders above all the rest. If your starters can't control the game, your offense is always playing from behind.

Hendry must focus on acquiring starters that take the ball every 5th. day and have good HR and BB to innings pitched ratios. Then the Cubs could have a chance to win every game.

Their is a reason most playoff teams win most of their close games. It's called pitching.

Sunday, November 19, 2006


Read all about it. Cubs reach an 8 year, $136 million agreement with A. Soriano. Now the Cubs have signed the real Wood. More later, Grossman to Bradley, TD. Go Bears!

Hendry's Homework Assignment!

With the exception of all the fuss over the D. Matsuzaka posting, pitching moves have somewhat taken a back seat to position player signings. The rave about power hitting free agents seems to dominate the press. Our beloved Cubs seem to be in step with the rest of the league in seeking out the big bopper, but with their glaring weakness in the rotation, I feel it's like putting the proverbial cart before the horse.

If bludgeoning opponents with a barrage of runs, couldn't deliver a World Series Title for the New York Yankees this year with a suspect and unhealthy rotation, what makes Hendry believe he can go balls out for a free agent slugger and leave the rotation to be filled with hopes and dreams? Hendry isn't alone in this miscalculation of the universal truth, that a superior rotation is building block number one. But with the uncertainty and number of holes in the rotation, his miscalculations will cost the Cubs more severely than other teams.

What Hendry must understand is that baseball is a zero sum game. Every run you don't give up is one less run you need to score to win a game. Since successful hitting is a 30% proposition, no one player can effect the outcome of a game more than a superior starter.

When you look at the two big name starters available for free agency, B. Zito and J. Schmidt, you can certainly argue the point that they will be extremely overpaid and are they really true aces anymore. So what criteria should be used to determine if the rest of the free agents starters and those that could be possibly acquired through a trade be evaluated?

I believe the HR's and BB's surrendered per inning is the most effective yardstick.


Well HR's and BB's are the only two stats which do not allow your defense to make a play to retire that hitter.

If we look at B. Zito's and J. Schmidt's HR and BB frequency then compare it to the other starters that possibly could be acquired, I think we'd have a pretty good barometer of who compares favorably. See my, PITCHING OPTIONS post of 11/15/06.

You'll see the career HR and BB ratio of Zito, Schmidt and the Cubs, Zambrano. All three considered aces. Now while ERA most certainly can't be discounted, I'm sure you understand that a pitchers ERA is more likely to be higher pitching in the AL with the designated hitter than in the NL, where the pitcher hits for himself.

We see the only free agent pitcher that compares favorably with the above three is V. Padilla. Also a move back to the NL will most certainly reduce last years ERA. He's asking for $10 million a year and who knows if someone will pay it, but it would behove Hendry to seriously consider him as the number one free agent pitcher for the money.

The Pittsburgh and Cleveland trading scenarios could land another quality arm, as the Cubs seem to have the necessary players that would interest both teams. Hendry can earn his money on this one and make an acquisition from a position of strength if he does his homework.

Pittsburgh paid J. Burnitz $6 million last year and would be willing to part with any of their three LH starting pitchers for a LH power hitting right fielder. J. Jones is due $5 million in 2007 and trading him for Z. Duke would be a master stroke for Hendry. You'd increase the Cubs salary by maybe $6 million a year by adding C. Lee to play RF and have a quality LHP in the process. Hendry most likely wouldn't be able to add another free agent starter with Z Duke's numbers, not to mention his youth, for the increase in salary paid to swap out Jones for C. Lee.

Let me ask you this, would you rather have J. Jones in RF or C. Lee?

The other interesting quality pitcher that could be had via trade is J. Westbrook from the Indians. I discussed in detail, the possible makeup of this trade. See my post, TIME TO TALK TURKEY WITH INDIANS posted on 11/18/06.

These three starters, V. Padilla, Z. Duke and J. Westbrook, are the pitching acquisitions Hendry should be targeting, will he?

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Time To Talk Turkey With Indians!

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, the Cubs should begin talks of a trade with the Cleveland Indians. The Indians find themselves in a precarious situation with their RHP Jake Westbrook, who is in the last year of his contract. He will most certainly put a strain on Cleveland's resources if he goes to free agency, so the Cubs are in an enviable position to help the Indians a lot more than the pilgrims did.

Cleveland's situation with Westbrook is similar to Toronto's with Wells. However, Cleveland has considerably less resources than Toronto and therefore is probably even a better trading partner for the Cubs.

What will it take to make a deal with the Indians for Westbrook? Well first of all, Cleveland's bullpen is like a sieve and they have a couple of well thought of Starters that could possibly take Westbrook's place. They also are in need of an everyday SS.

Let's brake down the needs of an everyday SS first. If Uncle Lou is sincere about pursuing Lugo, it most definitely makes Izturis, I know, I know, all of you will be crestfallen if we lose Izturis, expendable.

Next the Indians need a LHRP. Hendry's recent trade for Cotts, gives the Cubs the luxury of moving one of their three LHRP's.

The Cubs making trades when they have the best of it, like in the Toronto and Cleveland scenario's, is what teams with financial muscle do.

Just remember the Clute Motto; "When you've got'em by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow."

So stop lollygagging around Hendry, and start using some of that big market muscle. If you do, who knows, maybe all the donut jokes will stop.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Will Cubs take advantage of the exchange rate?

When teams have a coveted player that is in the last year of their contract, they are often caught between a rock and a hard place when deciding to extend their players contract or allow him to become a free agent. The Toronto Blue Jays find themselves in this situation with V. Wells.

Toronto most certainly is trying to stay competitive in the fierce AL East, but like most clubs, have a finite budget and many holes to fill.

Can the Cubs help ease Toronto's angst over what to do with Wells, by compensating them with enough talent to fill their other deficiencies?

For a summary of Toronto's situation please access the link, Http://

You'll see that Toronto needs 2 starters, yeah what a news flash, who doesn't. A catcher and second baseman and/or shortstop. With signing Frank Thomas, they may not have enough payroll room to fill the rest of the holes and still resign Wells to an extension?

A player of Wells stature, will never be available under better circumstances for the team that can offer the right deal.

The Cubs have a golden opportunity to not only acquire a young, five tool outfielder, but free up payroll to be the major player in acquiring the best starters available to fill out their rotation.

The Cubs could trade Barrett, Marshall, and Pie. Toronto gets a quality offensive catcher, an inexpensive left handed starter and a prospect to play CF. The salaries of Barrett and Wells, will be close to a wash and the need for the Cubs to commit $12 to $15 million dollars for a power hitting center fielder, will now become available to acquire another ace to go along with Zambrano.

Of course the Cubs would need to resign Wells to an extension immediately, but it wouldn't be a hit to this years payroll. The Cubs could then stockpile the rotation, their number one need by the way, allowing them after the 2007 season, to assess who best fits in the 2008 rotation.

The Cubs will have no trouble during next year's off season, unloading whatever starter doesn't fit into their future plans. Allowing the Cubs to recoup the payroll flexibility needed, when Wells new contract kicks in.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Time for a big trade?

I'm sure we're all a little concerned with Hendry's decision, to fore go the acquisition of a B. Zito or J. Schmidt, due to the anticipated large commitment of payroll needed to acquire a Soriano or Drew. Quality as well as health, needs to be foremost in Hendry's thinking when acquiring starters.

A forward thinking trade, could accomplish both the need for a power bat in CF and free up necessary payroll for Hendry to pursue a front of the rotation starter via free agency.

With the signing of Blanco for 3 years, it opens up the possibility of moving Barrett. Don't get me wrong. I like Barrett and think he's a natural leader and quality stick in the lineup. However, Barrett finished 29th. as a catcher this year defensively.

Toronto is in the market for a LHRP and is concerned they won't be able to resign V. Wells before he becomes a free agent next year. If the Cubs trade S. Eyre and M. Barrett with prospect F. Pie to Toronto, we could likely land V. Wells. The payroll for each team would be a wash and help both teams. This would allow to the Cubs to re-focus their payroll towards acquiring the quality starter they need.

Payroll Developments

The Cubs payroll could expand to $120 million according to Phil Rodgers in today's Chicago Tribune. Hope the extra money is used wisely.

Roster Update

Cubs trade D. Aardsma and prospect J. Vasquez to White Sox for N. Cotts.


How does Hendry trade Aardsma, who has closer potential, and a prospect to a team like the White Sox, who are definetely in need of bullpen help, and end up on the short end of the stick?

Hendry must have been on a suger rush after a hangover and thought Williams said Buehrle instead of Cotts. What other explanation can you give me?

In all seriousness though, unless Hendry has a suitor for Cotts, unlikely, or has a deal in the works with Eyre, posiible, I just don't see how this move helps the Cubs.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Pitching Options

I have long advocated the need of an effective, if not superior dependable rotation for the Cubs to be considered a viable playoff contender. History shows that no matter how prolific your offense is, without a quality rotation, you're unlikely to win the big prize.

With that said, let's look at some of the options available to upgrade the Cubs rotation. Of course the higher the number of innings pitched per HR and BB, the better.

B. Zito age 29:
2006: 3.83 ERA 221 IP 27 HR 99 BB
Career: 3.55 ERA 1 HR every 9.7 Inn. 1 BB every 2.6 Inn.

J. Schmidt age 34:
2006: 3.59 ERA 213 IP 21 HR 80 BB
Career: 3.91 ERA 1 HR every 10.9 Inn. 1 BB every 2.6 Inn.

J. Weaver age 30:
2006: 5.76 ERA 171 IP 34 HR 49 BB
Career: 4.58 ERA 1 HR every 8.2 Inn. 1 BB every 3.7 Inn.

J. Suppan age 32:
2006: 4.12 ERA 190 IP 21 HR 69 BB
Career: 4.60 ERA 1 HR every 7.6 Inn. 1 BB every 3.0 Inn.

T. Lilly age 31:
2006: 4.31 ERA 181 IP 28 HR 81 BB
Career: 4.60 ERA 1 HR every 6.5 Inn. 1 BB every 2.5 Inn.

G. Menche age 28:
2006: 4.52 ERA 191 IP 23 HR 60 BB
Career: 4.65 ERA 1 H every /5.7 Inn. 1 BB every 2.5 Inn.

V. Padilla age 29:
2006: 4.50 ERA 200 IP 21 HR 70 BB
Career: 4.06 ERA 1 HR every 9.6 Inn. 1 BB every 2.9 Inn.

R. Wolf age 30:
Came back fron TJS 2006 pitched in 4 games. Missed significant time in 2004 and all of 2005.
2003: 4.23 ERA 200 IP 27 HR 78 BB
Career: 4.21 ERA 1 HR every 7.5 Inn. 1 BB every 2.7 Inn.

There are 5 interesting trades possible. Pittsburgh is looking for a LH power bat to play RF and Cleveland is looking for bullpen help.

Pittsburgh has three LH starters and would consider trading any one of them for a LH power bat in RF.

Z. Duke age 24:
2006: 4.47 ERA 215 IP 17 HR 66 BB
Career: 3.72 ERA 1 HR every 15 Inn. 1 BB every 3.3 Inn.

P Maholm age 25:
2006: 4.76 ERA 176 IP 19 HR 81 BB
Career: 4.27 ERA 1 HR every 10.3 Inn. 1 BB every 2.7 Inn.

T. Gurzelanny age 25:
2006: 3.79 ERA 61 IP 3 HR 31 BB
Career: 4.52 ERA 1 HR every 16.8 Inn. 1 BB every 2.0 Inn.

Cleveland is open to trading RHP Westbrook or LHP Lee for bullpen help and some prospects.

J. Westbrook age 29:
2006: 4.17 ERA 211 IP 15 HR 55 BB
Career: 4.35 ERA 1 HR every 11.7 Inn. 1 BB every 3.3 Inn.

C. Lee age 28:
2006: 4.40 ERA 200 IP 29 HR 58 BB
Career: 4.39 ERA 1 HR every 7.3 Inn. 1 BB every 2.9 Inn.

There is some real quality in this list, with a majority of them being middle of the order starters. The youngsters, and Wolf having come back from TJS, could have a big upside for what we'd either have to pay or trade to acquire them.

Let's contrast the two know starters in the Cubs 2007 rotation, Zambrano and Hill, and the prospect Marshall.

C. Zambrano age 26:
2006: 3.41 ERA 214 IP 20 HR 115 BB
Career: 3.29 ERA 1 HR every 13 Inn. 1 BB every 2.2 Inn.

R. Hill age 27:
2006: 4.17 ERA 99 IP 16 HR 17 BB
Career: 5.12 ERA 1 HR every 6.5 Inn. 1 BB every 2.5 Inn.

S. Marshall age 25:
2006: 5.59 ERA 125 IP 20 HR 59 BB
Career: 5.59 ERA 1 HR every 6.3 Inn. 1 BB every 2.1 Inn.

With a quality start these days considered 6 innings, a HR to IP ratio of 6 would result in a HR yielded every start. Not a good thing. Also combining a low HR to IP ratio and a low BB to IP ratio is a recipe for disaster.

If any of you have any other criteria you think might be helpful in evaluating this list, please contribute it along with your comments.