Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Change Found Between Cushions!

Prior and Cubs avoid arbitration and agree to a one year deal for $3,575,000. Tribune reports that there still is plenty of money left to extend Zambrano as the resources used for the Prior deal was funded solely by change found between the cushions in the couch of Andy McPhail's office.

3,4,5 Open Thread!

If Pinella decides to use Soriano as the lead off hitter next season, does it have a negative impact on the middle of the order?

If Jones is traded, Floyd definitely couldn't play CF and do we want to count on Floyd to be an everyday player?

If Pie can make the team out of spring training, doesn't the middle of the lineups production suffer?

The decision where Soriano bats in the lineup could very well make or break the lineups production, so does his speed at lead off justify the the loss of production in the middle of the order?

I'd love to hear your take on this.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The 2 Hole Open Thread!

It seems most of you believe Soriano is a done deal in the leadoff spot, but the point of these open threads on the lineup is to solicit your opinions on if players belong in these spots in the lineup.

The 2 hole in the lineup is a critical one in most lineups as the player designated for this role must demonstrate excellent plate discipline. The Chicago Media has DeRosa as the Cubs starter at 2B and hitting out of the 2 hole. ???

I don't even know if he belongs as the starter let alone batting second, your thoughts?

Monday, January 29, 2007

Lineup Open Thread!

I've been agonizing like I'm sure most of you have, as to how the starting lineup is going to shake out after spring training. Since you're all somewhat familiar with my thoughts, I'd like to solicit your sentiments in this thread.

Please feel free, or should I say I would expect you all to give your reasoning behind your positions. Since this could be a rather lengthy reply if we covered the whole team, let's brake it down into a few segments.

Today I'd like to hear about who you think should bat leadoff. If the player you think isn't projected in the starting lineup, please explain why you think he should be.

The Chicago press has projected a starting lineup as follows;

Soriano RF
DeRosa 2B
Lee 1B
A-Ram 3B
Jones CF
Barrett C
Murton LF
Izturis SS

Have at it folks and we'll breakdown the rest of the lineup in the following days.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

She's So Persuasive!

What can I say, with the lack of any substantive news about our beloved men in blue, the other passion of mine, Lollygagger Girl, Kerry, wanted a fresh look a few days early. Kerry made a very thorough and articulate argument. Ok, Ok, she just winked and whispered in my ear.

Kerry also wanted me to pass along a message for all of you. She wants everyone to keep it up, I mean she wants everyone to keep their spirits up, as spring training is just around the corner and she's getting very excited.

It's Hard to not give it to her, I mean it's hard to not give in to her, when she's so persuasive, so I'll just zip it up for now.

Hell, you know what I mean.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Dog Days Of Summer!

However the starting lineup shakes out for the start of 2007, the days of grinding down players with the abundance of day to night home games will be non-existent.

I'm sure all of us have our favorite players and want to see them on the field, but no other team in baseball has such a preponderance of day baseball games on their home field. Therefore the Cubs of yesteryear with their weak benches, have actually had a home field disadvantage.

This now has been addressed for the first time since I can remember. With the depth of the bench, even the stalwarts have capable replacements that can actually give them a day off, not just pinch hit. The importance of having a capable bench is important on most winning teams but critical for the Cubs.

With Mark DeRosa and Daryl Ward, you have players that can spell Ramirez and Lee for a much needed day off. The Riot can do the same for the two middle infield positions, and with a starting outfield of Murton, Soriano and Jones, you have Floyd, Ward, Pagan, DeRosa and possibly even The Riot and Pie, to spell relief for them.

Pinella will have the flexibility to mix and match his lineup and keep all of his players sharp, knowing that playing time will be dictated in the best interests of the team. Of course the studs will garner most of the playing time, but the depth and quality of the bench will provide many more options for Pinella, and quite possibly allow one of the bench players to crack the starting lineup if their numbers justify it.

Regardless of our sentiments of who deserves to start or not, we have to understand that Pinella comes into the season not beholden to any player. Gone are the days of Dusty's pets, Macias, Perez and their ilk. Pinella understands the importance of players earning their playing time, and the competition for it can only make the team stronger.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Hot Dog & Beer!

Sorry for the lack of posts lately. I'm in the middle of launching a new marketing campaign and it is consuming much of my free time.

As some of you might know, I reside in So Cal, so I can't really add any first hand reporting on the Cubs Convention, wish I could. The lack of any other hard news about our beloved men in blue has also made only the purest of speculation possible on my part.

I haven't ever intended this blog to be a stat geek rag, as other blogs seem better equipped and more inclined to pour over such numbers.

I would however like to encourage an open discussion among those of you as to the debate amongst many other blogs, regarding Zambrano's fate with the Cubs. Should big Z be traded? Given a raise for this year in the hopes of hammering an extension in mid season? Or, just pay him the damn money?

Just remember whatever happens with Zambrano, you'll still need to bring your Visa Gold Card, to buy a hot dog and beer at the game.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Notre Dame Kids Really Are Smart!

Jeff Samardzjia must have at least minored in math at Notre Dame, as he caught his first pro contract from MLB, specifically the Chicago Cubs, not from the NFL.

The economics of an non guaranteed NFL contract, for an average speed, white slot receiver, just doesn't compare to the guaranteed money in pro baseball.

Samardzjia, for all his accomplishments on the gridiron, was not a John Elway or Bo Jackson type of football talent, and his recognition of this fact speaks volumes for the young man being mature. He realized that although his passion for playing two sports was a long time dream, he was now about to become a professional and like most of us in this world, had to make a career choice.

So great, Samardzjia makes a sound decision for himself. What does this mean for the Cubs?

The Cubs are banking on another live power arm being nurtured into a pitcher. Their past has been somewhat sketchy on developing their young arms, but barring any medical issues, Samardzjia seems to have the mental makeup needed to succeed. Forget that he's somewhat behind in his development for his age. Samardzjia has the one thing you can't develop, a live arm, but more importantly has the other thing you can develop, a brain.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Reversal Of Fortune?

It has only been a year since all of Cubdom was up in arms that Mark Prior might be traded. It didn't matter that in return for Prior, that either Miguel Tejada or Bobby Abreu, two everyday all star caliber players, would've contributed mightily and been a cornerstone of the team for quite some time.

As the Cubs and Prior enter spring training in less than a month, fans have done an about face. Prior has been bashed in the media as being soft and medical reports abound that Prior's shoulder may not even be fixable due to a genetic flaw. Cub's GM Hendry, is following the prevailing winds of public opinion and offering a contract to Prior that is lower than last year's, as he feels justified that the numbers are on his side.

The actual difference in dollars that Prior is asking for and the Cubs are offering is some $500,000. With the money that's being tossed around this off season, the difference appears to be meaningless in the overall scheme of things.

So why are the Cubs offering a contract that in reality can do nothing but breed ill will between Prior and the Cubs?

It appears that Hendry is miscalculating the consequences of what offering a contract, however justified in some people's eyes, lower than last year's to Prior.

Regardless of what the arbitrator's number comes up to be for Prior, the amount of money will be inconsequential, so what's the point? The message being sent to Prior, especially in light of past contracts for the likes of N. Perez and G. Rusch, appears to be a slap in the face.

If Prior pitches this year, it will be because he is healthy. If he is healthy, he'll post solid if not superior numbers compared with most everyday starters. Then, when he becomes eligible for free agency, what incentive will there be for Prior to re-up with the Cubs besides a big fat contract?

I understand like many, that Prior has been a major disappointment and may never be healthy again, but considering Prior's upside and the ill will created by the Cubs offer this year, I see the makings of a disaster down the road that would've been avoided by Hendry, for just a few hundred thousand dollars.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

More Bullshit Trade Rumors!

In today's Tribune, Phil Rodgers in all his wisdom, cough, suggests the Cubs should trade Jones to the Pirates for either Nate McLouth or Chris Duffy. Who does Phil think he is, a blogger? Bloviating about what the Cubs should do is the providence of the fans and us bloggers, not a sanctimonious reporter.

Duffy and McLouth are 27 and 26 respectively. They are legit center fielders, bat left handed and have lots of speed. Duffy came on strong last year but has zero power. Let me amend that, he did hit a lead off home run and a game winning home run last year against the Cubs. Maybe the Cubs fear he's going to do that every time we face the Bucco's, but I doubt it. He hits LH pitching ok as last year versus southpaws had a 263BA 315OBP 654OPS, yikes! In 314AB, he stole 26 bases which is pretty impressive but once again, we have a light hitter who can steal bases but only carried a 317OBP last year. Do we really want a younger version of Pierre? McLouth's numbers are worse than Duffy's so I can't see what Rodgers is getting his underwear all in a bunch over these guys for.

Let's face it, Super Jock is under contract and I personally don't give a shit if he wants to be traded or not. He'll play more than adequate enough defense for the Cubs in CF and if Pie makes the club, he'll prove to be a valuable platoon partner for Murton.

It makes no sense to give Jones away without getting value in return, especially in these days of inflated contracts.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Competition = Competitive!

It has been a long time since the Cubs have gone into a season with the versatility and depth to have serious competition for a number of their starting positions.

Of course there are positions that are locked down barring any unforeseen trades like, catcher, first base, third base and most likely right field, with Barrett, Lee, Ramirez and Soriano respectively. However, the other four positions of second base, shortstop, left and center field, should be treated no differently than the competition for the open fifth starter's spot in the rotation. Best performance, wins the job.

None of the contracts of the remaining candidates to fill these vacancies is of any consequence. Therefore, the importance of awarding the starting job to the player that earns it is imperative for the team to be the most competitive. Pinella must revamp the clubhouse culture from the days when Dusty played his pets in the face of all common logic, to one of accountability based on performance, regardless of which player's ego gets nicked.

As we look over the probable list of players available to fill these four positions, we most certainly have to factor in what holes are created by the rest of the lineup.

The most glaring hole seems to be the absence of left handed bats. Since none of the niddle infield candidates bats left handed, it seems there will be no solution from those positions. That leaves left and center field as the only positions where a left handed bat can be inserted into the lineup, other than as a late inning replacement.

As we go to spring training, the two most likely left handed bats to fill the two outfield positions are Jacque Jones, and Felix Pie. However, Angel Pagan should be given every opportunity to become a starter as well.

What about team speed? Soriano, is a real burner and Lee is above average, but Barrett and Ramirez, yikes! It would seem Jones will earn a spot at least platooning, and if the Cubs can teach him to pay attention on the base paths so as not to get doubled up, he can run as at least as good as Lee. Murton, whose has decent speed and excellent base running skills, will most likely earn the left field position outright, if Pie or Pagan, who both have excellent speed, don't win a starter's spot.

Pie making the big club will almost certainly mean the platooning of Jones and Murton in left field. Against right handed pitching in 2006, Jones and Murton break down as follows:
Jones 303BA 358OBP 528SLG 886OPS
Murton 295BA 356OBP 426SLG 782OPS

The next big question mark in spring training is the starting middle infielders? It appears that Cesar Izturis, Mark DeRosa and Ryan Theriot, have the inside track going in. The performance of these players hopefully will sort out who will deserve to start. It seems the odds on best middle infield glove will be Izturis. If the rest of the Cubs batting order is solid, Izturis weak bat could easily be absorbed. DeRosa's ability to play solid defense at multiple positions, would seem to offer the Cubs greater flexibility off the bench if The Riot can win the second base job outright. Also The Riot's speed would fit nicely into the two hole in the lineup and bring another base stealing threat to the top of the order.

It should be an easy task for Pinella to inspire the maximum effort from his players, when they realize that the competition for starting positions is an even playing field.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Late Innings!

I've long believed that as many as a third of a teams games played, are determined by their late inning performance. Successful teams frequently not only have the ability to manufacture that insurance run or chip away at their opponents lead one run at a time, but they also have a manager that can strategically employ his bullpen.

Nothing creates opportunity to manufacture runs more importantly than having men on base. That's when the dynamic of plate discipline is most crucial getting men on base and also advancing them to score.

Of course the flip side in the outcome of these close games is in the teams ability to hold the lead. The role of the late inning relievers and their use is critical for the team to have success in these close games.

Even with the holes in the Cubs lineup last year, 30 games under 500 was more a result of poor fundamental play and late inning mismanagement of the bullpen, than not having enough talent.

I realize many people have differing opinions on the ability of MLB hitters to change their approach at the plate, but I insist it most certainly can be improved on. Can a different approach turn a 250 hitter into a 300 hitter? Probably not, but you can't tell me that me that laying down a bunt is beyond what all everyday players can't master, or that understanding what the game situation calls for, ie; working the count just to stay alive long enough for the pitcher to throw a couple of extra pitches and possibly make a mistake are skills that can't be taught.

One of the raps on Dusty before he ever arrived in Chicago, was his mishandling of the pitching staff. Especially late in the game.

One of the Cubs reported strengths going into last season was to be their bullpen. It's true the rotation was in a mess and the bullpen had to be strained, but spreading the work load more evenly and keeping your closer fresh, were decisions that Baker didn't seem capable of understanding. Howry, 3.17 ERA, pitched in 84 games but Wuertz, 2.66 ERA, only 41. They both were the Cubs most effective RHRP but Novoa, 4.26 ERA racked up 76 innings while the noted workhorse Eyre, 3.38 ERA, who'd demonstrated he could get righties out as effectively as lefties only pitched 61 innings. How does the LH specialist Ohman, 4.13 ERA, pitch more innings than Eyre? Dempster had long stretches, as many as 10 games, without throwing a pitch. That more than anything else probably contributed to his late season swoon.

Pinella must demonstrate he understands the nuances of effectively using his bullpen and implement a fresh approach at the plate. Pinella has to make it clear that everyone in the dugout will be held accountable for their performance, and that performance will be the standard he uses to decide their playing time.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Bullshit Reaches Fox's Ken Rosenthal!

Well Fox baseball reporter Ken Rosenthal, has come up with some bullshit trade rumors as well. I guess I haven't cornered the market for people concocting rumors of what might happen.

When I suggest a trade rumor however, I qualify it as a BULLSHIT trade rumor, as I don't have a mole in the Cubs organization feeding me information.

I sincerely doubt Mr. Rosenthal does either, but let's assume he knows a few more people than I do and his story today has some validity.

Of course reporting the Cubs are looking for an outfielder, most likely to patrol center field until Felix Pie, the superior defensively tooled Cubs prospect that will more likely resemble Corey Patterson at the plate than Carlos Beltran, is ready to assume the role of everyday center fielder is hardly news. Or for that matter that the Cubs are in pursuit of Thornwood HS grad. Cliff Floyd.

Also Mr. Rosenthal reporting that every other free agent outfielder who bats lefty is being considered is anything novel either.

Rosenthal's list includes the aforementioned Floyd. Ryan Church, whom I have been advocating long before Mr. Rosenthal has in my bullshit trade rumor posts. Darrin Erstad, another player who was a very fine outfielder before he became a regular on MASH. Steve Finley, ditto as in Ryan Church. And for the love of all things holy and righteous, Bernie Williams, who fits into the category of Ryne Sandburg in my book. Bernie has loads of class and has spent his whole career with the Yankees. Bernie should and most probably will, retire if he doesn't get a contract to play with them.

In my past bullshit trade rumor posts, I've advocated signing Church and Finley, and if they acquire any Yankee outfielder it should be Melky Cabrera, as the Yankees need bullpen help and that's one of the Cubs strengths.

Church is young but skilled enough to play a significant amount of time in at least center and left field. Finley is still a solid center fielder and a savvy enough veteran to excel coming off the bench. Both Church and Finley can play above average defense, have decent pop in the bat and would bolster the bench.

Floyd and Erstad have very recent severe medical issues. If Pie's ascension is delayed, you'd be hard pressed to capably fill the center field position if Erstad wasn't totally healthy, with anyone other than Angel Pagan.

Acquiring Church also might provide the Cubs an avenue to unload Jones. The Nationals have many holes to fill, but the loss of Soriano's production might be one of their more glaring. They also need bullpen help and if the Cubs could package a reliever and Jones together for Church, it would make sense for both teams.

So forget the man crush you have on Floyd, big Jim, just like you have to forget those old eating and lack of exercise habits. Your health and the health of the Cubs will be all the better for it.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

A Case For Finley!

I apologize for the absence of posts these past few days, but even I can't conjure up anymore bullshit trade rumors. I try and keep all my posts relevant to our current Cub team and frankly, there hasn't been squat to write about.

I've tried to cover in the past few months, many relevant comparisons of the Cubs versus the playoff pretenders and contenders from last year, so germane topics for other posts has been scarce.

However, I would like to discuss the possible addition of old man Steve Finley. No there isn't any rumblings from Cubs brass about him, but with the absence of LH bats in the projected lineup, I'm going to make my case for acquiring him.

* Finley is 40 years old and can still run better than 75% of the present roster.

* Has surprising power that would only be enhanced in Wrigley.

* Still has an above average arm, especially for a center fielder.

* Is as experienced a center fielder as we would have.

* Won't block the ascension of Pie, when and if he is ready.

* Batted only 240 last year but had an OBP over 80 points higher.

* Struck out less than once in every 10 plate appearances.

* Stole only 7 bases last year but was never caught stealing.

* Allows Pinella to keep a LH bat in lineup as a defensive replacement.

* Could possibly be had for as little as a minor league contract, or at most $1M.

I know Finley's acquisition wouldn't be a major move for the team, but the successful teams have quality, heads up players on their bench. I welcome your thoughts on his acquisition versus a Cliff Floyd, or any other player you feel I might have overlooked.

Remember only 36 days until pitchers and catchers report to Mesa, so the news should start to pick up soon. Until then, Lollygagger girl Kerry, says she doesn't want to see any flabby bellies come this spring because you were a slacker this winter.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Bullshit Trade Rumor!

I've been wondering why the Yankees were willing to part with Melky Cabrera, in order to obtain the Pittsburgh's left handed reliever, Mike Gonzalez.

Gonzalez who turns 29 in May, had an impressive 2006:
54IP 42H 1HR 64K 31BB 24/24SV

However, Gonzalez didn't pitch after August 24th, due to left elbow tendinitis.

The Yankees Melky Cabrera is only 22 and a switch hitter who showed that he could handle playing on the the biggest stage, Yankee Stadium and perform well.

Cabrera is a switch hitting outfielder whose 2006 line was quite respectable as well:
460AB 139H 7HR 12SB 59K 56BB 280BA 360OBP

It would seem to me that the Cubs should explore the possibility of acquiring Cabrera from the Yankees. The Cubs have 9 relievers going into 2007 with three of them being lefties, and could offer any one of them in exchange for Cabrera.

Although Cabrera has played the majority of his time in LF, 999 innings, he still has played both RF, 70 innings and CF, 72 innings.

It seems that a deal could possibly be struck with the Yankees that could benefit both clubs. I say let's at least look into it.

Friday, January 5, 2007

Developing A Pitching Strategy!

Basically a pitcher's strategy can be broken down into two categories, you've got command of your pitches, or you don't.

It doesn't do a pitcher any good to approach hitters with the same game plan when his stuff isn't as sharp as on other days. This is where mental preparedness and toughness comes in.

When you've got command of most of your pitches, the biggest problem most pitchers face is a lack of concentration. We've all seen it. A pitcher is sailing along and all of sudden, he starts getting drilled. Quite often it isn't because he's lost velocity on his fastball, but more likely because he was having so much success, he lost his focus.

A pitcher can stay focused and sharp by having another pitcher or coach keep a pitching chart, and review it each inning to see what you are throwing and when. Compare that to who is coming up in the next inning and how you can approach those hitters. This keeps you focused and helps you adjust your game strategy.

Now when you don't have you're best stuff, these are going to be the tough days, but your mental approach can still keep your team in the game.

You should realize that you still have the ability the get hitters out, so you've got to keep your confidence up and pitch a smart game.

You've still got to throw strike one and get ahead in the count. If your fastball is a little short that day, keep it down in the zone and try and get some ground ball outs. This is where your mental toughness is going to come in. You're still going to have a game strategy but it will have to be adjusted to you not having your best stuff. If you realize that only you knows what pitch is coming, you'll stay more focused and confident that you can get the hitter out.

Remember it really doesn't matter how good your stuff is on any given day. With a flexible and well thought out game strategy, you can still be successful.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

The A-B-C's of Pitching!

Much is made of pitcher's talent, and if I had to choose pitchers solely based on their stuff, I'd always take the pitcher with the most dominating stuff.

However, on the mound in a live contest, what goes on between the pitcher's ears can have a profound effective on the pitcher's success.

That's why you see over and over again that pitchers with less than dominating stuff, routinely rack up a significant amount of wins.

It is sure a plus to be gifted with a golden arm, think Kyle Farnsworth, but quite another to have a strategy on how to get opposing hitters out, think Mariano Rivera.

So if I had to choose a pitcher to win a game for me, it would definitely be the one that has a strategic plan on attacking an opposing teams hitters.

At the MLB level, most any pitcher can throw a pitch over the plate if he wants to. He might not be able to throw all of his breaking stuff over the plate on a given day, but he most certainly can get a fastball over, even if he has to take a little off it.

You may ask, but what good is that if all he can do is control a batting practice fastball?

Well, he certainly is going to be in for a rough time of it, but it doesn't mean he can't still be effective if he has a sound strategic approach.

Let me explain how.

First of all, baseball in general is a thinking man's game, and in no one situation is that more universally true as when a pitcher faces a hitter. The key for any pitcher is to not only have a strategy of how he's going to approach every hitter, but also have a strategy for the game as a whole. At no one point in a game does one player, the pitcher, have some many variables in his favor.

In this article I'd just like to concentrate on what I call the A-B-C's of pitching, which comprises the approach a pitcher takes against an individual hitter. I'll address a pitcher's game strategy for another article.

A) At least in the first time through the order, a pitcher should think of nothing other than to throw strike one. Now you automatically put the hitter at a bigger disadvantage than when he first stepped up to the plate. The more pressure on him, the more effective your other pitches can be and the less likely you'll have to risk getting to much of the plate.

B) Change speeds often, but don't fall into a pattern. Your goal is to keep the hitters guessing, so if you follow one fastball with a breaking ball, follow the next fastball with another fastball instead.

C) Change your pitches location. Don't work just the outside part of the plate but work the inside part as well. We all know that a very effective pitch can be a breaking ball away, but if you never work a heater up and in, you've lost a big part of the advantage to the breaking ball away.

You're going to have to be extra mentally tough on days when you don't have you're best command, but remember only you really know how effective how stuff is. If you can get ahead in the count and keep the hitter guessing where and what speed his next pitch will be, you've still got a fighting chance to keep your team in the game.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

To Many Walks + To Little Defense = Disaster!

I will be the first one to applaud Hendry for trying his best to reconstruct the shambles of a team called the 2006 Chicago Cubs. However, unless some players reverse their recent trends, any serious consideration for a trip to the world series is doubtful.

One of the bigger obstacles the team has to overcome is their propensity to issue walks.

We all know that the free pass is exactly that, a gift to your opposition's offense. If the best teams only hit safely at around a 280 clip, the present makeup of the Cubs rotation looks to increase their opponents OBP considerably.

If the Cubs rotation was backed by a superior defense, they would be able to overcome some of the damage done via the walks issued. This unfortunately is not the case as the team sets up presently.

It is highly unlikely that many changes will take place in the rotation, however the Cubs do have one wild card that could effect the rotation significantly. That is Mark Prior. Prior's re-emergence to his form of old will help immensely in the glut of walks issued as well as increase the strikeout total. The increased strikeouts alone can help relieve much of the pressure on the suspect defense. Let's face it, the more outs that can be attributed to a strikeout, the less outs you need to rely on your defense for.

As far as upgrading the defense goes, there are still some moves that are possible. A decision has to be made by Pinella if he believes that the increased strength of the outfield defense by bringing up Pie, can more than make up for the loss of run production by putting Jones on the bench or trading him outright.

The team defense is already suspect up the middle with Barrett. Although DeRosa seems to have decent ability he doesn't have much more playing time at 2B than The Riot has.

All in all, the way the rotation projects out and the assemblage of the proposed lineup, it is questionable at best if the Cubs will be able to out slug their opposition enough to be taken seriously as a strong candidate for the post season.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Let's Score Some Runs!

Let's face it, the bottom line is for a team to score more runs than their opponent, and the more efficient they are usually translates into success in the win column.

How is this best accomplished?

Many believe that a team needs speedy players to accomplish this. While there most certainly isn't anything wrong with a speedy player, his ability to get on base and run bases well don't necessarily go hand in hand.

Others believe a team needs a power packed lineup, but hitting home runs and scoring runs don't have the correlation you might think it does.

Even if a team combines both speed and power, they still can be poor in manufacturing runs.

When we consider a team's efficiency at scoring runs, we need to look at something I call baseball smarts. The successful teams have it, and the poor ones don't.

How do you quantify baseball smarts?

Well if you consider the fact that you can't score unless you get on base, we need to look at the ways to do that. You can hit a home run, get a hit, or take a walk. I won't discuss being hit by a pitch or getting on base through a fielding error, as they are something the offensive player has little control over.

It's no surprise that the highest run producing teams are near or at the top of the league in walks. You don't have to lead the league in home runs or stolen bases, you just need to have more men on base, period.

The more men on base, the more runs you score when a home run is hit. That makes up for not having a lineup full of home run hitters.

The more men on base, the more opportunities a team will have to sacrifice a runner along. A player doesn't have to have the most talent to lay down a bunt, take the ball the other way, or hit a fly ball.

The more men on base, the more opportunities a team will have to steal a base. Quite often the ability to steal a base has less to do with a player's speed than him taking advantage of another team's pitcher or catcher.

The mere fact that a player has speed or raw power, has less to do with his potential run production than his ability adapting to the game situations.

This baseball smarts is tool any player can learn. He doesn't need tremendous God given talent to be productive, he just needs to be a student of the game.

Being disciplined at the plate is the overriding factor for a team to be the most productive with the talent it has, and this discipline is the most important element in manufacturing runs.

Monday, January 1, 2007

Welcome To 2007!

In keeping with one of my new years resolutions, I like to spin a little rumor that was once getting some attention during the past winter meetings.

The rumor mill had it that the Cubs were talking with the Nationals about acquiring the LH hitting Ryan Church.

For those of you not familiar with Church, I'll briefly discuss what he would bring to the table for the Cubs.

Ryan Church, who turned 29 this past Oct. 2006 line is as follows:

196AB 10HR 60K 6SB 276BA 366OBP 892OPS

511IP in CF 315RF 841ZR

Church is in his third partial year in the Bigs. Looks like a late bloomer that would be a cheaper alternative to Jones. The key in the trade would seem to be if the Nationals believe Jones would help fill the power vacuum created by Soriano's departure.

I'd like to hear your pros and cons concerning the possible benefit of this trade to the Cubs and the likelihood of it happening.

More bullshit trade rumors tomorrow. I have some serious hair of the dog to catch up with after that fiasco they called a football game last night.

Update On New Years Resolutions!

Loolygagger girl Kerry, seemed quite upset that her pics might be replaced by my two pantie granny's, so she made me a counter offer. Kerry will divulge her personal email address by the trading deadline only if the Cubs are in the tank by then.

You must understand, Kerry's a very persuasive girl so I accepted her counter offer.

What does all this mean to all of you?

Well if the Cubs are in the race at the trading deadline, Kerry gets to keep her pics up on Lollygaggers and not divulge her personal email address. If the Cubs are in the tank by the trading deadline, then we get Kerry's personal email address or Granny's pics.

Sorry guys, it's the best deal I could work out. Kerry makes me hard, I mean it hard, oh hell, you know what I mean, to negotiate.