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— Cubs Baseball for Thinking Fans

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Now what?

I’m hungover and at work.  This is probably going to be an incoherent mess.  I probably will end up disagreeing with some or all of this, probably sooner than later.  However, might as well start thinking about how the Cubs are going to approach this offseason. 

The easy route is making some small changes around the edges - maybe splurge on a reliever or two, bring a couple more long shot rebound types - and talk about being healthier and improving from within.  There’s probably some merit to that, and it very well could work.  They could burn it all down - fire Maddon, make a couple big, splashy trades, and spend a ton of money in FA.  Maybe there’s some merit to that too, but that still would be an overreaction.  I expect them to do something in between (wow, really going out on a ledge here, aren’t I), but it still very likely will be more turnover than we’ve been used to lately.  So, let’s break it up by area.

Coaching Staff
I don’t think I’d be stunned if they fired Maddon now, but I’d be a little surprised.  Robothal has a piece today that feels like a little more than just pure speculation to me.  Maybe it’s just someone sending out feelers to gauge the reaction, maybe it’s nothing.  I think I’d like them to move on from Chili Davis; how much credit or blame should he really get though?  The offense is really the problem here, and it’s so incredibly damning to see how the Red Sox and Cubs went in opposite reactions based on him. 

Hitters
Absolutely, positively will be back: Baez, Bryant, Rizzo, Contreras, Heyward (he’s not going anywhere, and I don’t see any way they get rid of him).  Will not be back: Russell, Murphy. After that, I think everything else is in play.  I have some hope they’ll get *something* for Russell (look at the Osuna deal).  I think moving any of Schwarber, Happ, or Almora would be also selling them at a lower point in their value; none of them really are guys who’ve shown they should clearly be every day regulars, although you could make an argument for giving each of them a chance to play more.  I do think the Cubs are going to go pretty hard after one of Machado or Harper - though I don’t necessarily seeing them being able to outbid the Phillies (so much damn money available) or the Yankees/Dodgers if they really want one of them.  If they do get one of them, it’ll mean at least one of those 3 young guys becomes expendable trade bait.  I keep going back and forth on which one of them I’d prefer the Cubs to go after, and I think today I’m thinking Harper (he’ll cost less) and just putting him in LF (bye bye Schwarber); I really don’t want to see a regular OF of Schwarber/Heyward/Harper.  If they went after Machado, they could move Bryant to LF fulltime (again, bye bye Schwarber) or move Javy back to 2b (the lesser of those two options).   

I think the Cubs need a new backup catcher.  I’m actually ok with Caratini, but they need someone that can give Contreras a lot more rest.  Whether that’s a coaching thing that Joe just won’t play him, or a real reason they don’t like him getting regular appearances, they can’t expect Willson to play this much again and be worth anything with his bat.  I still hope that for Contreras, he just needs more rest and he’ll be fine.  The Cubs need a fulltime 2b and CF, but it very well could be those spots continue to be a rotation of in house guys (Almora/Happ/Zobrist/Bote/Heyward).  I can live with that (and Heyward getting most of the starts in RF) if they add a big bat elsewhere.  However, I have a suspicion that Cubs add someone else from the outside to fill one of those spots.  I like the idea of Bote and Zobrist as bench regulars who each start a few times a week, but think the Cubs are better if neither are counted on to start 140ish times (Zobrst, just due to his age, can’t really be expected to be this good again in this much PT). 

Bottom line, I think the Cubs end up with 2 new starting position players and a different looking bench.

Pitchers
Pick up Hamels’s option is step 1.  Find some way to make Chatwood disappear is step 2.  I don’t see the Cubs spending much money here at all (biggest expenditure will probably how much of Chatwood’s deal they have to eat).  Rotation is then set with Montgomery and Mills are the long men/6th starter options (I think I want Mills on the roster all year next year).  They need to add more guys at the AAA level that could also fill in as starters (who knows what to expect from Azolay, but he’s going to make some starts next year if he’s healthy).  I would expect them to make another Morrow/Cishek range signing, maybe a lefty since Wilson is most likely gone.  You have a solid bullpen base with Morrow (for the times he’s healthy)/Strop/Edwards/Montgomery.  Bullpens are hard to predict, so I’d again expect them to approach it with quantity.  In addition to Wilson being gone, I’d also expect Duensing, Kintzler, and Garcia to be removed one way or another.  Anything else is TBD, and I don’t have any specific guys in mind (I would love for Maples to figure his #### out).

Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 03, 2018 at 10:27 AM | 220 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Neil M Posted: October 04, 2005 at 11:55 PM (#1663066)
This is a good thing.
   2. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 05, 2005 at 12:02 AM (#1663077)
It is.

We may have to get some sort of permanent link to this year's last game chatter.
   3. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: October 05, 2005 at 12:12 AM (#1663095)
I missed the last chatter, I figured it would angry up the blood. Now I'm disappointed because it looked fun.

I'm excited about the Cubs blog but disappointed they didn't use my name suggestion of "Cubtharsis."
   4. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: October 05, 2005 at 03:58 AM (#1663619)
I do like Gonfalon. It harkens back to the last time the Cubs won anything.

DUSTY SUX0R.
   5. Sweet Posted: October 05, 2005 at 05:25 AM (#1663669)
Great. And here I was looking forward to a productive offseason.

Seriously, though, this is cool. Looking forward to it.
   6. Neil M Posted: October 05, 2005 at 08:02 AM (#1663724)
So, the Trib is saying that Leyland wants to take Rothschild to Detroit.

Says Rick Krantz would be brought up from Iowa.
   7. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: October 05, 2005 at 01:06 PM (#1663784)
I still like Rothschild.
   8. Neil M Posted: October 05, 2005 at 01:16 PM (#1663790)
Me too, Pops.

I also valued the fact that he wasn't one of Dusty's cronies and thus, possibly, somewhat immune to the prevalent idiocy. I doubt that Krantz, if appointed, would feel secure enough in his new post to resist any hare-brained notion that Dusty might develop.
   9. Spahn Insane Posted: October 05, 2005 at 03:23 PM (#1663998)
Great idea. Hell, this may even be therapeutic enough for me to remain a Cub fan.
   10. Sweet Posted: October 05, 2005 at 05:24 PM (#1664317)
Yesterday's BA article and chat on the top 20 prospects in the Southern League featured a decent amount of info on Cubs' prospects, five of whom made the top 20 (Pie, Murton, Hill, Nolasco, Pinto). Pie was tagged as the top-10 propect least likely to reach his potential and attained his ranking almost solely on the basis of his very high upside. Sound familiar? Sing and Ryu were pegged in the 30-40 range in what was an incredibly deep league. Pinto is thought to have better raw stuff than Nolasco but Nolasco is thought to be the surer bet -- a solid middle-of-the-rotation guy.

So far, here's how BA has ranked Cubs' prospects:

AZL: Pawalek (1)
Northwest: Veal (2), Reed (20)
Midwest: Harvey (7), Gallagher (15), Patterson (16)
FSL: Moore (15), Dopirak (18)
Southern: Pie (8), Murton (12), Hill (15), Nolasco (17), Pinto (18)
PCL: ??? (Cedeno is probably the only one with a shot)
   11. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 05, 2005 at 05:41 PM (#1664393)
Sorry, but I think it's about time for Rothschild to go.

Whether or not he deserves blame, both Prior and Wood have struggled with injuries (and haven't been that effective while healthy) the last couple of years. He hasn't been able to do much with the bullpen pitchers (well, I'd say Dempster, Ohman, and Weurtz look fine; too early to say on Novoa), but what's really obvious is how well some guys have done *after* they've left the Cubs (most notably Farnsworth and Alfonseca). Zambrano has gotten better, Rusch looks like a great reclamation project, and Williams definitely shows potential.

I guess as I'm typing this out I realize I'd have to look at it a lot more detailed. As bad as the offense was the last couple of years, we always expected our pitching to carry us. And it definitely failed this year.
   12. Neil M Posted: October 05, 2005 at 06:00 PM (#1664452)
Here's a thing about the Cubs relief pitching.

The second to last day of the season, FSN Houston posted a graphic that showed the Cubs to have the third-best record in the majors where they scored first.

This would indicate that for the most part the chosen set-up men and closer were able to get the job done effectively.

Where it all fell apart was with Dusty's frequent refusal to use any of his better relievers unless the club was already leading. This led to a lot of close games turning into blow-outs as the Remlingers, Wellemeyers and Mitres got knocked around.

Just as silly was Baker's reluctance to give run-outs to less-used players when the club was winning comfortably. Their under-use certainly contributed to some of the travails referred to in the previous paragraph.

This rigidity of bullpen management cost the Cubs more than did the actual quality of the options available. I think that the blme for this lies with the manager and not the coach.
   13. Mike Emeigh Posted: October 05, 2005 at 07:36 PM (#1664645)
Southern: Pie (8), Murton (12), Hill (15), Nolasco (17), Pinto (18)

I realize that Pie is rated as highly as he is by BA because of his age and tools, but putting him as the top prospect in this group is, well, an overstatement. He has a LONNNNGGGG way to go in developing pitch recignition skills, plus getting hurt and losing development time isn't going to help him at all.

I have a suspicion (nothing more) that Cub fans are going to be disappointed by this group.

-- MWE
   14. Sweet Posted: October 05, 2005 at 09:20 PM (#1665040)
Inasmuch as disappointment entails surprise, Mike, I think you're wrong. I, at least, won't be surprised if none of these guys is a productive major leaguer five years from now. I give Murton the best shot, if only because, even if he doesn't become a star, some team will find a use for his ability to hit for a decent average.

I'm no expert, but I'd probably rank all the listed prospects as follows:

Murton
Nolasco
[Cedeno]
Pie
Patterson
Pinto
Hill
Moore
Gallagher
Harvey
Dopirak
Veal
Pawalek
Reed

I'd find a place for Sing somewhere in the top half, too. But there are certainly no sure bets on that list.
   15. Andere Richtingen Posted: October 05, 2005 at 09:58 PM (#1665127)
I think that if the Cubs are slightly lucky, Pie is Corey Patterson, 2002-04. I'm not sure if "luck" would describe Pie learning pitch recognition skills, but if that happens they have something special.

I'm not sure where he's going to learn it. In this organization, guys who are selective at the plate seem to unlearn it, not the other way around.
   16. Sweet Posted: October 05, 2005 at 10:14 PM (#1665160)
Guzman made his first AFL start today:

4.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 5 K

I'm not going to read too much into any one stat line, particularly when it comes from the AFL, but this looks like typical Guzman -- not unhittable, but with impeccable control.

Game is still going, though Guzman's done for the day. Sing has a double and a walk, Patterson, is 1-4 with a SB, and Coats is 2-3 with a double.
   17. Sweet Posted: October 05, 2005 at 10:25 PM (#1665171)
Guzman now has an 82:5 K:BB ratio in 70 IP since coming off major shoulder surgery in the summer of 2003. Of course, you wish those 70 IP weren't spread over two years, but man, if the guy could just stay healthy . . . .
   18. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: October 06, 2005 at 12:04 AM (#1665424)
I wonder what it will take for the Cubs to give in and move the man into the bullpen.

He would be a big boost right away.
   19. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: October 06, 2005 at 12:21 AM (#1665480)
I like your list, though I think I'd move Gallagher up a couple of notches. He showed some real flashes this year, and his 12th round selection status was more indicative of his signability than his talent.

2006 will be a big test, to see if he can continue to succeed at AA. Really, a lot to watch next year, with Nolasco and Pinto moving up to AAA (presumably) as well, and I'd guess Rich Hill will join them if he's not in the Cubs bullpen.

And I agree on Guzman -- there is a sufficient number of good looking prospects down there that stretching him out as a starter doesn't make a whole lot of sense given his injury history. Even as a one-inning specialist, a guy with that kind of control is a bullpen jewel. How often did we see the pen walk their way into trouble this season? (In fact, wasn't there a stat showing the Cub bullpen was last in the league in walks allowed?)
   20. Meatwad Posted: October 06, 2005 at 12:45 AM (#1665588)
i wonder what is next to my name for the diamond thingy
   21. Sweet Posted: October 06, 2005 at 05:00 AM (#1666301)
BA's PCL rankings are now out. Hill checks in (again) at 14, one spot higher than his ranking at the AA level. (He's the fifth-ranked pitcher.) Cedeno pegged at 16. Nice to see him get some recognition after his phenomenal year, even if -- undertandably -- no one seems to be quite sure what to make of him yet.
   22. Neil M Posted: October 06, 2005 at 03:10 PM (#1666643)
Updating the Rpthschild story. The Sun-Times reports that the Cubs have offered him a new deal but have also given Detroit permission to speak to him.
   23. Sweet Posted: October 06, 2005 at 04:40 PM (#1666840)
From today's BA chat:

Q: Do you see Rich Hill or Ronny Cedeno having much of an impact in the major leagues? It seems to me Cedeno didn't do much of anything until this year, and I wonder if he can be even a solid starter, let alone an all-star. Hill does have a great curve, but I don't see him ever having an ERA under 4.50 at the major league level. Am I wrong? I hope so.

A: Jim Callis: I think they both have the chance to be regulars, Hill as a starter and Cedeno as an everyday guy in the lineup. Cedeno was rushed too quickly by the Cubs and it led to two awful years with the bat, but he finally starter to recover in 2004. He might not be an all-star, but he can hit for average with some pop and play very good defense. Hill always had great stuff and very little command or control. The light switched on for him this year (at least it did in the minors), and if he can maintain his newfound control he could be pretty good.

***

Earlier, Callis said that Cedeno should definitely start at short for the Cubs next year, but "who knows what Dusty Baker will do."
   24. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 11, 2005 at 07:05 PM (#1677280)
Cubs have kept Rothchild and he turned down a 3 year contract offer from the Tigers.

Methinks this signals the 2yr extension for Dusty and his staff is a mere formality at this point.
   25. Sweet Posted: October 11, 2005 at 08:53 PM (#1677486)
Many of you have probably seen this, but just in case, note that www.minorleaguebaseball.com has GameDay coverage for Arizona Fall League games. Wonder whether they'll do this for all minor league games next year.

Murton is now 5-8 with 3 BB in 11 PAs over 2+ games. Of the five hits, four are doubles.
   26. Neil M Posted: October 11, 2005 at 09:16 PM (#1677586)
Methinks this signals the 2yr extension for Dusty and his staff is a mere formality at this point.

Dusty, maybe, but according to the Cubs website all the other coaches got one-year contracts.
   27. Sweet Posted: October 11, 2005 at 10:43 PM (#1677831)
In happier news, Murton has 3 doubles today. So, that's 7-11 with 3 BB in 14 PAs. Six of the seven hits are doubles. Guy has a knack for getting off to a quick start.
   28. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: October 12, 2005 at 03:33 AM (#1678496)
Cubs have kept Rothchild and he turned down a 3 year contract offer from the Tigers.

I view this as a good thing.

Methinks this signals the 2yr extension for Dusty

geh
   29. Sweet Posted: October 12, 2005 at 05:52 PM (#1679383)
So, I was thinking (sort of) . . .

- The Cubs have lots of money to burn
- The Cubs have lots of pitching prospects to give
- The Cubs have a centerfielder to trade
- The Cubs need a shortstop

What if there was a trading partner out there with a disaffected, expensive shortstop, a dearth of pitching, and a need for a centerfielder?

How about Corey Patterson, Kerry Wood, and any two Cubs pitching prospects for Alex Rodriguez?
   30. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 12, 2005 at 07:38 PM (#1679685)
How about Corey Patterson, Kerry Wood, and any two Cubs pitching prospects for Alex Rodriguez?

Are the Cubs paying his entire salary (the Yankees part)?

Either way, Do It.
   31. Sweet Posted: October 12, 2005 at 11:12 PM (#1680115)
Ooof . . . Guzman and Aardsma combined for the following line today --

4.2 IP, 13 H, 10 ER, 3 BB, 5 K

-- as Mesa lost 10-1 to a stacked Surprise team featuring Angels prospects Kendrick, Wood, and Morales, among others. Murton had another double.
   32. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: October 13, 2005 at 02:52 PM (#1681274)
How about Corey Patterson, Kerry Wood, and any two Cubs pitching prospects for Alex Rodriguez?

What's plan B for centerfield if Corey gets shipped out?
   33. Sweet Posted: October 13, 2005 at 05:39 PM (#1681670)
What's plan B for centerfield if Corey gets shipped out?

Dunno. Hairston, maybe, until Pie's ready. Brian Giles, maybe, if there's still money left. Kenny Lofton, maybe. Weren't there rumors during the season that Hendry liked Kotsay? So maybe a trade . . . .

I'm one of the few remaining Corey backers, and I don't think he should be traded, particularly while his value is at an all-time low, but I do expect it to happen -- probably not for Alex Rodriguez, of course.

The outfield could be a disaster next year. Heck, the team could be a disaster next year.
   34. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: October 13, 2005 at 06:55 PM (#1681833)
Weren't there rumors during the season that Hendry liked Kotsay? So maybe a trade

He signed an extension. I doubt Oakland would do that just to turn around and trade him.

I'm one of the few remaining Corey backers

I am as well. None of those listed options look very enticing.

The outfield could be a disaster next year.

It would take some doing to be worse than the 2005 version. I can't think of a worse outfield in all of baseball.
   35. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: October 13, 2005 at 09:44 PM (#1682332)
I'm all in favor of making a move for ARod when his stock is at its lowest (which, in the eyes of New York, it probably is right now), and I'd happily give up Patterson, Wood, and prospects to make it happen.

He's expensive, yes, but it's not like he doesn't produce superstar numbers every year. With Lee, Ramirez, and ARod in the infield (plus Barrett and Walker), it's not like the Cubs would need to carry some kind of mega-productive outfield in order to score. Put Murton out there with two guys who can go get it defensively, and let the good starting pitching and rest of the lineup carry them.
   36. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: October 17, 2005 at 04:55 PM (#1689006)
Just found this new addition. Cool thing. Hopefully, I'll be able to take more advantage of it without having to fully jump ship next year.

At the moment, the Devil Rays are my AL team du jour.
   37. Shaun Payne Posted: October 17, 2005 at 11:45 PM (#1689625)
I went to the same high school as Murton a few years before. He has a brother that is likely on his way to the big leagues, Luke. I watched him take two pitches for balls, hit a homer that was called foul, take another ball and hit the next pitch for a homer. He's playing at Georgia Tech next year.
   38. Andere Richtingen Posted: October 18, 2005 at 12:00 AM (#1689636)
Murton doing well in the Arizona Fall League merely seals his fate.
   39. rLr Is King Of The Romans And Above Grammar Posted: October 18, 2005 at 12:05 AM (#1689640)
He has a brother that is likely on his way to the big leagues, Luke.

Do they have two more brothers named Mark and John?
   40. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: October 18, 2005 at 12:42 AM (#1689711)
Murton doing well in the Arizona Fall League merely seals his fate.

Huh?
   41. Bunny Vincennes Posted: October 18, 2005 at 02:59 AM (#1689982)
I'm guessing Dusty will give Murton lots of spring training AB's, because you know he loves playing the young guys.
   42. Darren Posted: October 18, 2005 at 04:41 AM (#1690355)
Like we really needed Mientkweihcwiaonvatz!
   43. Cabbage Posted: October 18, 2005 at 04:44 AM (#1690359)
I'm guessing Dusty will give Murton lots of spring training AB's, because you know he loves playing the young guys.

I spent last offseason terrified the cubs were going to do something stupid. You have no idea how excited I was when Troy Percival was signed by someone else.

This year is shaping up to look like more of the same.

BTW, who is going to be running this Cubs blog? I don't recognize any of the names from Cub threads. Was there a different handle you fellows used to post under?
   44. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 18, 2005 at 07:37 AM (#1690490)
KDF (kinda damn funny), rlr.

His fate? I agree with that sentiment.
   45. Andere Richtingen Posted: October 18, 2005 at 01:11 PM (#1690630)
Murton doing well in the Arizona Fall League merely seals his fate.

Huh?


I'm not being entirely serious, but it seems that doing well in the AFL does not ensure that a position prospect will get a chance in the Cubs organization, to the point where you have to wonder if it actually hurts them.

BTW, who is going to be running this Cubs blog? I don't recognize any of the names from Cub threads. Was there a different handle you fellows used to post under?

Scott Lange has commented at BTF before, and he's a long-time Cubs blogger. I'm drawing a blank, sorry to say, on Ross Barnes though.
   46. Scott Lange Posted: October 18, 2005 at 01:38 PM (#1690673)
BTW, who is going to be running this Cubs blog? I don't recognize any of the names from Cub threads. Was there a different handle you fellows used to post under?


I've been lurking and occasionally posting here since the early days, and as Andre mentioned I've been Cubs blogging since April 2003 at Northside Lounge. I'll give a more detailed "official" introductory post later today.

On-topic, I don't think Murton has a incredibly high ceiling as a hitter, but considering the options he certainly ought to be a presumptive starting outfielder going into spring training next year. Like everyone else though, I fear that Dusty will look for any reason he can find to justify taking PA's away from him in favor of Burnitz, or next year's Hollandsworth, or any other 30+ outfielder he can find.
   47. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: October 18, 2005 at 02:13 PM (#1690722)
Now, you know that you can't just a player by what he does in <strike>September</strike> October, because it's not against real major leaguers who are trying. The only way to judge whether a guy is ready to play is to not play him during the heart of the season.
   48. Andere Richtingen Posted: October 18, 2005 at 03:36 PM (#1690845)
On-topic, I don't think Murton has a incredibly high ceiling as a hitter

Actually, I think he does have a very high ceiling, depending on whether you mean potential or actual. He hit .342/.403/.498 in 313 AA at-bats, then followed it up with .321/.386/.521 in 140 AB in the majors. It's possible that he has taken things to a new level and can maintain this. I wouldn't bank on it, particularly in the short-term, and in fact I'd project something along the lines of .280/.350/.430 for him. That's not very good for a corner OF, but what he did this year is intriguing and I think it's quite possible that he could maintain it.

In another world, you would simply match Murton with a strong lefty OF platoon partner, someone like Burnitz, and try to get him 250-300 AB with the chance of much more. But with Dusty managing, he isn't going to get the playing time to establish himself, and he will atrophy from disuse.
   49. Der Komminsk-sar Posted: October 18, 2005 at 03:57 PM (#1690893)
I've got all kinds of hopes for Luke ... I'm told he has more power than his brother.

Do they have two more brothers named Mark and John?
I can't speak for the parents, but Matt has been vocal about his playing for the God Squad.
   50. Andere Richtingen Posted: October 18, 2005 at 04:12 PM (#1690926)
I can't speak for the parents, but Matt has been vocal about his playing for the God Squad.

Hopefully the Man Upstairs will smite those who interfere with his deputies.
   51. Sweet Posted: October 18, 2005 at 06:03 PM (#1691116)
Guzman pitches again today; got hit hard by Brandon Wood & Co. last time out.
   52. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: October 18, 2005 at 07:29 PM (#1691236)
Actually, I think he does have a very high ceiling

I'm inclined to agree. Murton's primary weakness is his lack of power. He hasn't shown it at any level just yet but the size and strength are there. If he can integrate the power into his approach, he could be a minor star. If not, I hope he can keep hitting .300 and improves that defense or he's going to be good pals with David Kelton.
   53. H. Vaughn Posted: October 18, 2005 at 07:38 PM (#1691243)
He hit .342/.403/.498 in 313 AA at-bats, then followed it up with .321/.386/.521 in 140 AB in the majors. It's possible that he has taken things to a new level and can maintain this.

The power spike, which he carried through all year, is really intriguing. Until last year, his stats made him look like a guy with gap power and an exceptional batting eye. This year he looked like a poor man's Luis Gonzalez.

Guzman pitches again today; got hit hard by Brandon Wood & Co. last time out.

Any day Guzman pitches and his arm stays attached is a good day.
   54. Sweet Posted: October 18, 2005 at 08:09 PM (#1691309)
It'll stay attached for at least another day; game postponed by rain.
   55. CFiJ Posted: October 21, 2005 at 01:58 PM (#1696120)
Intro, eh? Lessee, lessee...

I was born in Naperville, Illinois, and spent my early childhood in the suburbs of Elgin, Carpentersville, and Wheaton. At age 8 my family moved to Minnesota, but by then my loyalties were already secure with the Cubs and Bears. That same year the Cubs went to the playoffs, but I was too busy adjusting to a new school, neighborhood, and all that good stuff to really pay attention. This was before we had cable, too.

We didn't have cable for a while and didn't get the paper, either, so for a few years my Cubs fandom consisted of checking the standings whenever I came across a paper, or noting if they won or lost on the evening news, wearing a Cubs cap to school on occasion, and collecting Cubs baseball cards. Nothing very deep.

Then came 89. The Cubs kept winning, and I followed them with interest for the first time (it helped that I was 13). Ah yes. I still remember the team: Maddux and Sutcliffe pitching; Damon Berryhill and Girardi catching, Grace at first, Ryno at second, Vance Law at third, Dunston at short, Dwight Smith in left, ROY Jerome Walton in center, and the Hawk in right. Lloyd McClendon was also on the team. Sutcliffe may be a crappy commentator, Girardi and Dunston may be swear words in the sabermetric community, Walton may have been a bust, and Dawson not a HOFer, but all of them are still heroes to the 13 year old somewhere still inside me (except for Grace, because there's a thin line between love and hate).

1989 came and went, and my fandom continued on in a very shallow way. The Cubs lost more often than not, and though we now had cable, the Internet wasn't mature yet, and I certainly didn't have access. In 1996 I finally saw my first game at Wrigley Field. Actually part of a game; my uncles misjudged how long it would take us to get into Chicago, and we ended up coming in during the 4th.

In 1998 I went to Japan. Sammy and the Cubs went on a tear, and baseball came back to my consciousness, even from across the Pacific. It occurred to me that I knew more about sumo than baseball, and endeavored to fix that. I have Mark Cuban to thank for 1999; I listened to about half of that year's games on broadcast.com, still the best Internet broadcast there ever was. If one were to consider me a bandwangon fan after Sammy's 66, I paid my dues that year. A 3:00 pm Wrigley start means a 5:00 am start time here in Japan, and I followed them that whole damn, downward spiral of a season, and have stuck with them ever since.

In 2000 I was at Tokyo Dome for the season opener versus the Mets, and it was fantastic, so I have little sympathy for those who dislike overseas openers. My then-still-hero Mark Grace hit a homer, and the Cubbies won it on Jon Lieber's strong pitching. In 2001, a buddy of mine and I journeyed from Tokyo to Minnesota, and from there to Chicago to see this game, and a Sammy homer.

Later that year I moved back to the States and began to enjoy WGN and ESPN broadcasts (well, seeing the Cubs, anyway). In 2003, I went with a bunch of friends to my third game, and while the Cubs lost, Kerry Wood got his 1,000 K, and the Cubs took the series and the division. In 2004, I grabbed my brother and my dad, and we went down to see this game. Homers by Alou, Sosa, and God - cool!

Now I'm back in Japan, with no way to watch the Cubs, but I'll be listening on MLB.Radio (I hope). Listening with mixed feelings, of course. I want the Cubs to win, but I don't see anyway they could do that that would also involve Baker losing his job. Well, maybe they could pull a 2003 Marlins/2004 Astros.
   56. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: October 21, 2005 at 05:36 PM (#1696661)
My original Cub loyalty was built by Andre Dawson in 1987. That guy was pretty cool. I gutted my very large (but poorly maintained) baseball card collection in ruinous trades for every Dawson I could find. I also liked Damon Berryhill for some reason I don't quite remember.

Anyway... I was a pretty passive fan for a long time. I always checked the standings but I only watched 8-10 games a year (we didn't have cable and WGN's signal didn't reach into South Bend) until the wonderful 1998 season. My fandom really kicked into high gear when I moved off to college in 1999. I roomed with a die-hard Cubs fan who could rattle off the scores of every world series game since the mid 1980's. He, Kerry Wood, and Sammy Sosa helped rekindle my childish obsession with the baseball team.

I morphed into a stat nerd in 2001 when I got a boring job with internet access. I stumbled onto Baseball Prospectus and became a loyal reader. I found Primer in the winter of 2002-3 but posted under "Matt" or various celebrity names. I didn't become a regular with a consistent identity until the end of the 2003 season.

I don't know why I follow this team. They piss me off far more often than they make me happy but here I am.

####### Cubs.
   57. Cabbage Posted: October 22, 2005 at 02:45 AM (#1697542)
My Dad grew up in Jefferson Park (Lawerence and Milwaukee). I grew up in the west suburbs where the Cubs Sox split was pretty 50/50. I went to the same high school as Neil M's in-laws and David Hasselhoff. Many of my friends were Sox fans during Big Frank's best years in the mid-90s. They almost got to me, but our interests turned away from sports (I was faily infatuated with Metallica at the time) and Dad's influence remained.

I only followed baseball casually until I saw highlights of Wood's 20 K game and tried to figure out how the hell a baseball could move like that. I watched a few more games and became totally infaturated with the art of pitching.

My search for pitching lead me to Sportcenter and BBTN my freshman year of college. From there I stumbled into Rob Neyer on espn.com. Rob sent me to Baseball Prospectus. Google was helping me look for 2004 Chicago Cubs Preview when I found Baseball Primer. My first comment mentioned how I felt that Pettitte wouldn't have a big impact on the Astros.

I am BTF's biggest supporter of Old Style Beer.
   58. Dan Szymborski Posted: October 22, 2005 at 07:21 PM (#1698014)
As an aside, none of this is to suggest that the White Sox have been a model of how baseball teams should be built. The team’s offense has been continually over-rated this year. The Sox are also a prime example of how the sacrifice bunt, if not the opium of the masses, has become the opium of most managers.

It will certainly be interesting to see where the White Sox go from here. Very rarely does one see a successful team have less of a clue as to how they became successful than the White sox of this season. They hit 200 home runs, have a below-average offense and think they're a successful offense that scraps out runs. The top 3 offensive teams barely stole more bases combined than the White Sox yet all got more out of their stolen bases since they got caught so much less.

Williams did a wonderful job assembling a team without any grotesque weakness but it's hard to improve a team consisting of a whole lot of decent players, as Elias found in one of the Analysts (I think the green one, but I could be wrong).

The Cubs have much money to spend for 2006 and they will need it. Not a single outfield position is set. Who plays SS and 2B are up in the air. How the relief pitching staff improves and what the rotation will be next year are not known. I look forward to discussing and assessing all of this with fans who take their Cubs baseball as seriously as I do.

They simply have to give a job to Cedeno next year. There's simply nothing else he can accomplish or do. If Cedeno (and Murton) can't get starting jobs next year, Cub fans shouldn't even bother going to the games. If the team doesn't want to even pretend to car, why should the fans?

I'm not a Cubs fan, though, but even as an outside observer, what's happened to the Cubs is very disappointing to me. The Cubs' future looked so promising just a few years ago and now the only thing people have to look forward is to getting the correct date in the pool for when young players that they watched their entire professional careers get dumped to some other team that values them more.

Felix Pie? Juan Encarnacion might need a job! Angel Guzman? No can do, Jim Bullinger needs money or the phone company's cutting him off? Renyel Pinto? No thanks, Dusty Baker suspects Warren Brusstar's still alive somewhere.
   59. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: October 22, 2005 at 07:45 PM (#1698023)
If Cedeno (and Murton) can't get starting jobs next year, Cub fans shouldn't even bother going to the games.

I agree. If Cedeno and Murton aren't handed the jobs in the spring as theirs to lose, I will be extremely disappointed in Hendry. Baker will do what Baker will do, but if he won't play a young player who tore up the league and plays a position which the team has no other options, then I will be convinced that there is some sort of tri-lateral comission for the purpose of messing with Cubs fan's minds.
   60. CFiJ Posted: October 22, 2005 at 08:03 PM (#1698034)
Dan speaks much wisdom, and strikes at the heart of how I feel. In 2001, I had real hope that the Cubs were just around the corner. In 2003, I thought we were on our way to steady contention. And now, I have no optimism at all for next year, let alone beyond that. The young position players keep being traded away, the pitching is in shambles, and the holes we have now are ridiculous. The whole outfield, AND the middle infield??? WTF?

The 2003-2005 Cubs have had prodigious power. The pitching staff set an MLB record for strike outs and then beat its own record. Why haven't we won 90 freakin' games! (Don't answer. I know why. All too damn well.)

I was willing to be patient. Hell, even after the Division title in 2003 I was willing to settle for just a winning season in 2004, on the idea that the team was still developing. But it went into the crapper real quick.

I wouldn't blame Hendry for believing he was on the right track after 2003 and 2004. But I'm appalled that no changes have been considered at all after this disasterous season. It's not just Dusty's idiotic proactivity that has turned me from a Dusty-defender into a Dusty-despiser, it's the soul crushing passivity with which the organization as a whole has approached the issue. Things never should have gotten this bad. Hendry has squandered the abundant stores of credibility he had built up with me.
   61. Neil M Posted: October 22, 2005 at 09:07 PM (#1698078)
Hendry has squandered the abundant stores of credibility he had built up with me.

Not me.

Oddly, although I've liked him, I also believe that he got unwarranted credit for his past trades. Ramirez came with Kenny Lofton, at the end of a game when Tom F. Goodwin hamstrung himself in the 1st inning at a time when Corey was already done for the year. I thimk that, at the time - and bearing in mind the Cubs need for a 3B - Aramis's contract was the price for Lofton.

Regarding Lee for Choi, while it has turned out so well, I keep thinking of Hendry's comments, both to the print media and on TV and radio that he would have happily gone with Choi and Randall Simon in 2004 if the trade hadn't happened.

Despite my reservations, I let him have a mulligan for this year. The Sosa situation - a bad one made worse by Baker's inability to keep his trap shut, particularly at the winter meetings - severely limited his options.

This fall is the acid test. For all the holes in the line-up there are some very good guaranteed starters. Hendry has a bucketful of cash and an excess of young pitching - not great, but some are out of options and all have value.

This winter is Hendry's big one. Trade wisely, and he's given a pass-mark. Screw this one up and I'll be the one to pass him the revolver.
   62. Mike Isaacs Posted: October 22, 2005 at 09:42 PM (#1698103)
I, too, believe Dan makes many wise points. I would like to see Murton and Cedeno be given jobs to lose, but the skeptic in me says that may not be the case. At least, I've never seen a Dusty Baker team that relies on two young high-ceiling talents in such crucial roles in the everyday lineup. If Hendry believes that this is the way to go, why so early give support for Baker keeping his job when this contradicts the kind of manager he is? (There may be a $4 million answer to that question).
But it's true (and rather astonishing) to consider that the Cubs have at least five starting lineup decisions to make next year, and there's no way this franchise will acquire free agents for all of those spots. That bodes well for Cedeno and Murton getting the chance they deserve. It's just hard for me to imagine the manager so in love with Neifi Perez and Jose Macias (to name but two over-played mediocre veterans) coming into April counting on Murton and Cedeno as key pieces of the starting eight.
I also agree that Hendry was justified in believing he was on his way to building something special after 2003. But now the concern and frustration isn't simply that the Cubs had a bad 2005; it's that the last two months of 2004 seemed to scream loud and clear of the need to fill holes that Hendry ingnored last off-season. And comments regarding the 2006 season are troubling to me as well. There seems to be -- at least over the last couple of years -- an inflexibility in abandoning thinking that is not working or seeing the team's weaknesses in a more clear-headed way.
That was my point of comparison about the White Sox. That team is where they are because of a change in emphasis toward pitching and defense. (With a few pleasant surprises such as Garland's strong start to the year). The offense is another story. It's been over-valued by some (including me earlier in the year). I suspect the Sox will continue to build around strong pitching and defense, which should make them a contender in the AL Central. The interesting question though is whether they recognize shortcomings in their offense and that the small ball so championed by so many has not been terribly successful in generating runs. Their small ball offense filled with stolen base attempts, sac bunts and HRs is not why they're one of two final teams playing tonight.
   63. Old Matt Posted: October 22, 2005 at 10:36 PM (#1698157)
You know that the Cubs are going to shell out for Furcal. After that...it is anyone's guess.
   64. Dan Szymborski Posted: October 22, 2005 at 10:44 PM (#1698167)


<U>Neifi Perez</U> Posted: October 22, 2005 at 06:43 PM (#1698157)
Hey guys! I look forward to a year of playing the baseball in the city of breezes!
   65. Artie Ziff Posted: October 22, 2005 at 11:08 PM (#1698190)
All Cubs fans I know are rooting for Chicago to win. It is pride for the city, not a petty battle between fans. Furcal looks like he wants to stay a Brave. We will see.
   66. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: October 22, 2005 at 11:39 PM (#1698244)
Furcal looks like he wants to stay a Brave. We will see.

He did announce a willingness to play 2B. That sounds like a willingness to look for work outside of Atlanta.

Is anyone familiar with the Braves' financial situation this year?
   67. dcsmyth1 Posted: October 22, 2005 at 11:57 PM (#1698279)
I think all of the talk about remaking the Sox was smoke-blowing, and that it is essentially good luck that the "plan" worked. The Sox had no way of knowing that Garland would improve, that Garcia would be at the top of his range, that Buerhle would improve, that Contreras would improve, etc. If all of their players had performed as projected at the start of the season, the Sox would likely have not made the postseason.

There is no magic "style" of team which is better. You can win by mashing the ball, or with dominant pitching, or with an above-avg balance in all phases. The only real exception to this is that it is likely better to have the dominant pitching because it seems to hold greater sway in the postseason. But there is a price to pay for building your team that way--increased chance of derailment due to injuries along the way. The Sox were lucky that their core pitchers stayed healthy all season.

So the Cubs don't really need any "philosophy". Having a better team OBA is not a philosophy--it's a natural result of finding better players. Of course, Hendry has to be able to realize that a guy who hits 30 HR is not a star if he also has a mediocre OBA.

So, what about T Walker? A good stick at 2nd with a mediocre glove, and a guy who is usually healthy. What about signing Nomar to an incentive-laden contract and putting him in a corner OF position to help keep him healthy? He would still likely be a plus hitter there, and maybe even a plus fielder. I too would "pencil in" Murton and Cedeno at LF and SS, pending a look at their projections. CF is a black hole. I guess they should probably assume that Patterson will get back on track, and be at least an avg regular in 2006. I would not throw megabucks and 5 seasons at an over 30 player like Damon at a young man's position. Pie does not seem like the answer, at least in the near future. And with the money they don't spend by using Murton, Cedeno, and Patterson, I would think they should sign the best FA starting pitcher available, to go with Prior, Zambrano, Wood, and Maddux. I think they can do better than J Williams or G Rusch. Who is available?
   68. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: October 23, 2005 at 01:21 AM (#1698505)
Who is available?

Notables:

Scott Elarton
Matt Morris
AJ Burnett
Kevin Millwood
Kenny Rogers
   69. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: October 23, 2005 at 01:33 AM (#1698552)
Add Jeff Weaver to that list.
   70. Pleasant Nate (Upgraded from 'Nate') Posted: October 23, 2005 at 04:51 AM (#1698913)
Jerome Williams will be just fine if someone leaves him alone for more than 10 starts and lets him pitch. Glendon Rusch is also a quality 5th starter. The last place I'd put money is into the starting pitching. Besides, as you note, having a top tier 1-3 in the rotation is what really matters for the playoffs. From the 4/5 spots all you need is average production to help get you to the post-season, and Williams/Maddux/Rusch can contribute that.

They've got plenty of cash. Sign Giles and Furcal, bring back Walker to go with Cedeno as MI depth, give LF to Murton, pray The Hotline rebounds in CF, and add a quality set-up guy.
   71. Mike Isaacs Posted: October 23, 2005 at 04:54 AM (#1698919)
I think all of the talk about remaking the Sox was smoke-blowing, and that it is essentially good luck that the "plan" worked...


Good discussion...We obviously have some disagreement here, although I think your point about White Sox pitchers and other players exceeding expectations is valid. To add further support your way, one could add examples of bullpen pitchers such as Politte and Cotts who exceeded expectations this year.

I'm mostly in agreement with your point about Garland. There was no indication that he would break though as he did. Other starting pitchers also performed beyond what one would expect as you say, but there still was real potential upside for pitchers such as Garcia, Contreras and certainly Buehrle. That some of these pitchers reached that upside during a year when the defense was greatly fine-tuned is no coincidence, IMHO.

Luck, career years (at least so far) and pitchers staying healthy certainly played a part in the Sox winning nearly 100 games and having the best record in baseball for much of the year. So I agree with several of the points you make.

I don't know of anyone who expected the Sox to be playing baseball right now. Many didn't even believe they would win their division. But I don't share the opinion that the strategy to "remake" the Sox was "smoke-blowing" or a mirage.

That Lee and Valentin and Ordonez (with injury) are not members of this 2005 team is, at least in part, the result of a definitive plan to upgrade the defense even at the cost of some pop. There was agreement by Guillen and Williams that if the Sox pitching was to reach a higher level, the defense had to be much more solid. The Sox gave up a significant amount of "power" in restructuring the team over the last couple of years: Valentin hit 58 home runs over the last two years as a Sox; Ordonez hit well over 60 hrs his last two injury-free years; and Lee was coming off a 31-HR season when he was traded for better defense and a leadoff man. The Sox certainly got some power back, but not of the likes of what they gave away.

As for the Cubs, when you've seen acquisitions from Alex Gonzalez to Todd Hundley to Jeromy Burnitz, placing a much higher priority on OBP would constitute some evidence of a shift in baseball philosophy to me. How a team prioritizes the strengths of the players it seeks speaks very much to the team's overall baseball strategy, IMHO.

I agree that there is more way than one for a team to win. But I think the Sox were praiseworthy for recognizing the need for better defense -- especially with the kind of team they were trying to build.

The Sox may have been lucky health-wise, but good defense also helps pitchers stay healthy. Better range and fewer errors allow pitchers to throw fewer pitches..keeping them sharper and lessening the chances for DL time. It also allows managers a better chance to avoid over-extending the bullpen and to keep relievers in given roles.

To translate this to a Cubs example: Any talk about signing Nomar Garciaparra should take into account the defensive infield this would create. I'm not keen on the idea of going into another year depending on Zambrano, Prior and Wood backed up on the left side of the diamond by Ramirez and Garciaparra.

I would hope the Cubs would better understand the added burden this could place on a pitching staff that needs to stay much healhtier than in years past. Can we at least agree that not signing Nomar -- at least not for SS -- is a good first step toward a change in thinking?
   72. CFiJ Posted: October 23, 2005 at 05:57 AM (#1698968)
Is Wood even a factor? Is he going to start? If he starts is he going to be effective?
   73. dcsmyth1 Posted: October 23, 2005 at 11:07 AM (#1699065)
---"I agree that there is more way than one for a team to win. But I think the Sox were praiseworthy for recognizing the need for better defense -- especially with the kind of team they were trying to build."

There is a bit of truth to that, but only a bit. The synergy between pitching and fielding comes into play not for good vs bad pitching, but for power vs finesse pitching. It is on the frequency of balls-in-play that pitching and fielding interact. So, if the Sox realized that some of their core pitchers (Buerhle, Garland) were strong finesse pitchers and that therefore a stronger defense would help, more power to them. But I don't think they are that sophisticated. There "philosophy" came out of stupidity ("We havent won by hitting homers, so homers aren't important") and adherence to convention ("Pitching, speed, and defense are 90% of baseball")
   74. Stately, Plump Buck Mulligan Posted: October 23, 2005 at 12:21 PM (#1699074)
"It will certainly be interesting to see where the White Sox go from here."

Whatever happens, you'll undoubtedly be ready for it. If the White Sox continue to succeed, I'm sure you'll have some sort of spin ready to explain why they really aren't that good. If the White Sox struggle, then you can resume talking about how stupid they are.

"Very rarely does one see a successful team have less of a clue as to how they became successful than the White sox of this season."

That's the spirit! OK, so the White Sox did significantly better than you thought they would. When a monkey could have made better predictions than you did (check out HubrisFest 2005 here), you have a few choices:

1. Admit that you screwed up, and try to figure out how it happened.

2. Pretend the success didn't happen, or chalk it up to luck. (Feel free to ignore the fact that, if a team can be that lucky over the course of an entire season, the whole purpose of your "analysis" disappears.)

3. Insult the team; after all, they made you look stupid! Are you really going to let them do that to you?

For the love of G-d, DON'T do #1 -- nobody wants to see a apologetic, thoughtful pundit. Stick with #'s 2 and 3. Make sure you provide a "take" that's devoid of context or balance. For instance, if the pitchers exceed expectations while the hitters do worse than you expected/predicted, don't mention the hitters -- just talk about how the pitchers were lucky. It's also important to ignore the fact that (surprise surprise) all successful teams get unexpectedly good performances from one or more players.

Finally, you could take some pointers from Duffy Duff -- it's imperative to pretend you have a clue about the team's front office dynamic (and, of course, have found it lacking).
   75. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 23, 2005 at 12:47 PM (#1699078)
What about signing Nomar to an incentive-laden contract and putting him in a corner OF position to help keep him healthy? He would still likely be a plus hitter there, and maybe even a plus fielder.

Ok, this is my calling this offseason-I need to pound it into people's head why this would be an incredibly STUPID idea. Why do all these Cubs fans have a sick fascination with Nomar? Yes, he *was* good. But not with the Cubs. He's going to get injured, we just don't know how or for how long yet. There's absolutely no reason to settle-yes, settle-on him as an OF solution. I don't think he'll be an above average bat for LF, and he surely isn't going to be average defensively (same goes for RF, and the only way Murton is starting is if he plays LF; Dusty's publicly questioned his arm strength multiple times so he'll never sniff RF).

There definitely needs to be improvement on the defense. That-and his penchant for putting his foot in his mouth-it why Walker needs to go. If he'd accept a backup role (1b, 2b, OF), maybe. But he can definitely be flipped to someone for a decent bench bat/rp/prospect with his cheap contract.

I really want the Cubs to sign Furcal, more so than any other player out there. I think Cedeno would be a great 2b, and it's a shame he got hurt and didn't get to play there any down the stretch. Not sure what I'd do about the OF, but I could be convinced to keep Corey if they significantly upgrade in RF (Giles, Dunn, who knows?).
   76. Andere Richtingen Posted: October 23, 2005 at 01:04 PM (#1699080)
But as I watch a Chicago team play in a World Series tonight, I must admit I will have feelings beyond jealously. Perhaps the more accurate feeling is regret – regret that the management on the other side of town is not willing to honestly and seriously evaluate why they’re not the Chicago team playing baseball deep into October.

I feel the same way, but the White Sox have very little to do with it. It's the other team in the WS whose presence gets my goat.

I don't know how Hendry and MacPhail can show their faces at the Winter Meetings.

In the 11 seasons since 1995, the Cubs have fielded a winning team 5 times, not once managing 90 wins in a 162 game season over that period. They have a .481 win percentage.

Since 1995, the Astros have fielded a winning team 10 out of 11 times, and have won 90 or more games four times, finishing worse than second place only once. They have a .549 win percentage over that period.

In 1995, the Cubs had a team payroll of $29.5 million, compared to the Astros' $34.2. In every year since, the Cubs have had a higher payroll, and over the entire period, the Cubs payrolls have averaged 13.2% higher.

This is a Goofus and Gallant situation. Only a deeply dysfunctional institution would look at this situation and think that the leadership is doing a good job, and that no changes need to be made. I am coming to the conclusion that this team is so fundamentally screwed up that it would take an incredible stroke of luck for there to be any real success.
   77. Andere Richtingen Posted: October 23, 2005 at 01:10 PM (#1699081)
Ok, this is my calling this offseason-I need to pound it into people's head why this would be an incredibly STUPID idea.

I'll cheer you on from the sidelines.

Why do all these Cubs fans have a sick fascination with Nomar? Yes, he *was* good. But not with the Cubs. He's going to get injured, we just don't know how or for how long yet. There's absolutely no reason to settle-yes, settle-on him as an OF solution.

I am open to the concept of bringing Nomar back, but only as a middle IF. Nomar as a corner OF is ridiculous.
   78. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 23, 2005 at 01:17 PM (#1699084)
I am open to the concept of bringing Nomar back, but only as a middle IF. Nomar as a corner OF is ridiculous.

Well, since defense should be a priority, I hope that doesn't happen either.

I like Nomar. I just don't think he can be a starter on this Cubs team if they're going to win (having below offense on defense at 3b makes him too risky to carry also).
   79. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 23, 2005 at 01:27 PM (#1699085)
I am BTF's biggest supporter of Old Style Beer.

Sounds like a challenge to me... There's a liquor store right by my apartment (Armenetti's on Lincoln) that sells 30 packs of the Style for $10.99, mostly because our apartment buys about 3 cases a week.

Anyway, I can't pick a specific point at which I became a Cubs fan. Both my dad and grandpa were Cubs fans, and my dad grew up at Lawrence/Foster and went to games as a kid. My first Cubs game was sometime in late 1984 (I was about to turn 5) and I already knew Sandberg was my favorite player. I got the chance to play 2b in little league, and that only strengthened my fandom of him. For some reason, I also remember really liking Jody Davis.

For all the Cubs fans spread around the country and those who know exactly how many games you've been to at Wrigley, I really feel sorry for you. All I know is that I've been to more Cubs games than I could even begin to describe. I've seen Odalis Perez 1 hit (and almost perfecto, save a Bellhorn IF single) them, I say Prior 245 pitch complete game against Colorado his rookie year (damn you Kimm!), I saw 3 of the 5 great games against the Cards in 2003 (including Alou's screwjob game, and the Alou-led comeback later in the series), but the most memorable game I've ever been to was the clinching doubleheader in 2003. We were about 4 rows up in the R-CF bleachers for both games and it was easily the greatest day of my sports fan life. It's nice living a couple of blocks away. ####, I've been to more games at the cell *this year* than some of you have seen at Wrigley in your lives. That just boggles my mind, and makes me realize how awesome this community is (especially since I've met 2 or you, and neither of you live here).
   80. dcsmyth1 Posted: October 23, 2005 at 01:32 PM (#1699088)
---"There definitely needs to be improvement on the defense. That-and his penchant for putting his foot in his mouth-it why Walker needs to go."

And as I keep saying, there doesn't need to be an "improvement on defense", there just needs to be improvement. If they can find a 2Bman whose combo of bat and glove is better than Walker's, then go for it. But it is wrong to just look at defense without considering offense.

And why is Nomar in the OF so silly? I think Nomar in the IF is silly at this point. I mean, if Nomar is healthy he's a good player. At least, he is a good hitter with some defensive value. So where can he play that would help him stay healthy and avoid his fielding shortcomings at SS? I don't know whether Nomar could quickly adapt to RF, but I certainly wouldn't close my mind to it. Especially since Nomar has said that he is open to the idea. After he came back from his torn groin and got a few ABs to tune up, he was hitting the ball well for the last part of the season. Sometimes you have to think creatively about how to best utilize a player's skills at a certain point in his career.
   81. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: October 23, 2005 at 01:36 PM (#1699089)
If Cedeno and Murton aren't handed the jobs in the spring as theirs to lose, I will be extremely disappointed in Hendry.

At least for now, I'd like to see more time going to Cedeno and Murton as well -- certainly, if they are sitting behind the likes of Neifi Perez, Todd Hollandsworth, Matt Lawton, Jody Gerut, or Jerry Hairston next year, I'm likely to lose hope early. (Who am I kidding -- if Neifi is even on the team next year, I may be gone.)

Still, I can envision a scenario in which neither Cedeno nor Murton are given jobs next year and I'm still happy. Let's be honest here: While both players have promise, certainly more than the stiffs who blocked them this year, they are both players who are relatively untested and there is a real chance both can hit some speedbumps in 2006.

I'm not saying they should be chained to the bench, but suppose the Cubs:

(a) resigned Walker;
(b) signed Furcal;
(c) signed Giles; and
(d) traded for Manny Ramirez (hypothetically, dealing Aramis and resigning Nomar at 3B)

If they did this -- which is, of course, most unlikely -- I would have no problem with both Cedeno and Murton being reserves going into next season.
   82. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: October 23, 2005 at 01:44 PM (#1699093)
And as I keep saying, there doesn't need to be an "improvement on defense", there just needs to be improvement. If they can find a 2Bman whose combo of bat and glove is better than Walker's, then go for it. But it is wrong to just look at defense without considering offense.


Well sure, but if you're going to improve, at some point you're gonna have to pick certain things that you want to improve. It's not as simple as "go get a better player." The Cubs have 2 areas they specifically have to improve 1. OBP 2. Defense. Obviously, the best thing to do would be to simply get better players at all those positions, but there's going to be trade-offs.

And why is Nomar in the OF so silly? I think Nomar in the IF is silly at this point. I mean, if Nomar is healthy he's a good player.

Well, that's why I flat out don't want him on the team. Why in the world should a team with this much money to spend (and the highest payroll in the league potentially) have to settle for moving an over the hill, injury guaranteed, MI to a traditional offense-heavy position? If they miss on every single option, then fine. He's better than Holly or Macias or anyone of that ilk. But he really should be way way way down on the list of options.
   83. dcsmyth1 Posted: October 23, 2005 at 02:10 PM (#1699102)
Well, if you set out to improve OBA as your main goal, you're likely going to wind up sacrificing SLG to get it, and thus you may be just spinning your wheels. But if you set out to get the best players you can, it's much more difficult to mess up. So I continue to promote evaluating your *players*, in terms of their overall value, rather than trying to work on game phases.

---"But he (Nomar) really should be way way way down on the list of options."

Well, it largely depends on contracts. I'd rather have B Giles in RF for a year or two, but if I have to sign him to a 4 yr deal at 12 mil per, I might just as soon explore the Nomar option with a 1 yr incentive-laden deal.
   84. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: October 23, 2005 at 02:20 PM (#1699110)
If they did this -- which is, of course, most unlikely

Since the payroll would jump $20 million from 2005?

With the thin market, there's just no way the Cubs could afford Giles and Furcal. The Cubs will be fortunate to get one of those two players. The problem is, whichever position they fill will have a huge impact on the roster design. The Cubs need to know rather quickly.

And why is Nomar in the OF so silly?

I, for one, think his price tag padded by his stardom at SS would be far too hefty for a guy who might be an average corner OF. If it's the end of the year and the Cubs have the money to spend then it's not such a bad idea.
   85. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: October 23, 2005 at 02:33 PM (#1699119)
I think many readers here know a fair amount about my bio, but I'll try to recap and perhaps add a few new things.

I'm 38 and have been a baseball fan in general (and a Cub fan in particular) for as long as I can remember. My dad is a passionate Cubs fan (though not as intense) and his dad (my grandfather) was a Cubs fan as well. My dad went to the same HS as Cabbage and David Hasselhoff (though my dad was a Class of '63 alum); I grew up in the hometown of Emo Phillips (though he went to DGS and I went to DGN).

Anyway, I remember signing along to "Hey Hey Holy Mackerel" when I was quite young, and although I recall the days of Williams, Santo, Kessinger, et al., I doubt that I remember the '69 team (I would have been 2 years old). Most likely, my earliest Cub memories would have been from the '71-'74 era.

Although I probably went to earlier Cub games, the earliest game I remember going to was this one. My most formative Cub years were probably in the '74-'79 era, back in the days where I would watch Jack Brickhouse do the games, then play wiffle ball and adopt the hitting stances of guys like Jerry Morales, Bill Buckner, Dave Kingman, and Bill Madlock. (I can still probably do them today.)

"dJF" is an abbreviation of the handle I'm probably known as most -- "DeJesusFreak" -- who is the second Cub I remember referring to as my favorite. The list:

1. Rick Monday
2. Ivan DeJesus
3. Ryne Sandberg

Since around the late '80s, I haven't really loved any Cubs as much as I loved these guys, though I have been quite fond of Mark Prior.

There are two Cubs of whom I've had mixed opinions. I really enjoyed Mark Grace from the time he came up in '88 until around '91 or so. From then until around '96, I still thought he was ok, then I started getting fed up with (a) his being overrated and, more importantly (b) his tendency to slag his teammates to buddies in the media. I began to dislike him, which eventually turned into a hatred around the time of his departure to the Diamondbacks after the '00 season.

The second player I'm conflicted about is Kerry Wood, whom I enjoyed following from the day he was drafted in '95 through around '00. Ever since, though, I've been frustrated that he's followed the footsteps of his mentor, Grace, in being (a) the most popular Cub in the media and in the eyes of many fans and (b) also perhaps the most overrated.

Anyway, enough negativity. I'm fortunate enough to have attended hundreds of Cubs games over 4 decades (happily including playoff games in '84 and '03) and have seen them on the road in at least six other ballparks. I also share Moses's thought that I wish the posters here from the farflung parts of Cub World could have similar experiences. Though my frustration has reached the point that I'm openly auditioning AL teams to adopt in 2006, it's been a heck of a ride.
   86. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: October 23, 2005 at 02:36 PM (#1699121)
And why is Nomar in the OF so silly? I think Nomar in the IF is silly at this point.

How about the fact that his range was questionable before he had a major groin tear? If Nomar has a future at this point, it's probably at 3B or DH, unless a team like the Cubs wants to chance him at SS (and I don't think they should).
   87. Andere Richtingen Posted: October 23, 2005 at 02:47 PM (#1699130)
And why is Nomar in the OF so silly?

For the last five years, Nomar has been roughly a .280 EqA hitter, ranging between .262 and .290. That's really good for a SS, where the ML average EqA was .254 last year. But the corner OF positions average in the low .270s, so Nomar would be only slightly above average in LF or RF.

If you can get Nomar cheap I suppose that might not be a bad thing. A .280 EqA hitter in LF may be worth 2 or 3 wins above replacement. The additional problem with Nomar is that he's brittle, and the cost there is quite significant. Perhaps the advantage that he can play IF positions in a pinch makes up for that somewhat, but I think his tendency to get hurt is a huge factor. Nomar probably has enough of an arm to play RF, whereas Murton doesn't, so the two might not get in each other's way so much.

I guess if we're resigned to the idea that the Cubs aren't going to be very good next year, re-signing Nomar and putting him in the OF is no worse than a lot of other options. But thinking of things in these terms -- and it seems that the Cubs are always thinking of things in these terms -- is hardly the mark of a team poised for greatness.

With the thin market, there's just no way the Cubs could afford Giles and Furcal.

While the Cubs could definitely use Giles, and if they plan on competing next year they probably need someone like him, I'm less than enthusiastic about the idea of signing him long-term starting at age 35. I'm not at all thrilled with the current prospects for the Cubs' 2006 OF, but Giles makes me nervous long-term.

Furcal is a different story. It's good to sign a guy at his age, and he has been a consistently good player. He brings things to the table that management values, although if his walk rate drops a lot as seems to be the current trend under Baker, he will be walking a tightrope.
   88. Andere Richtingen Posted: October 23, 2005 at 02:52 PM (#1699135)
How about the fact that his range was questionable before he had a major groin tear?

That's a pretty subjective evaluation, and an opinion that is not universally held.
   89. Andere Richtingen Posted: October 23, 2005 at 02:58 PM (#1699143)
How about the fact that his range was questionable before he had a major groin tear?

That's a pretty subjective evaluation, and an opinion that is not universally held.


I should clarify that: Yes, in 2004 it appeared that Garciaparra was terrible at SS. But in 2004 he was battling the achilles tendon, and also perhaps the nascent groin injury. I thought that more often than not, he looked pretty good after returning this year.

That said, I think one has to be concerned that Garciaparra at SS is an injury waiting to happen. I think that's a decent reason to consider moving him to another position, 3B being the best option.
   90. Mike Isaacs Posted: October 23, 2005 at 03:29 PM (#1699163)
There "philosophy" came out of stupidity ("We havent won by hitting homers, so homers aren't important") and adherence to convention ("Pitching, speed, and defense are 90% of baseball")

I guess I do give the Sox more credit than you. I do not believe the Sox simply took the position that HRs are not important and that since they have not won with them, let's try something else. Where that argument breaks down for me is that this is a team that hit a couple hundred dingers this year -- fourth in their league.

My scenario has the Sox saying that a continuation of home runs at the expense of poor defense with little range has hurt too much. The Sox, despite all the talk about their small ball, did not give up on the long ball. They scaled back that priority to add more weight to other areas. There was simply a realization that power and power alone is not the way for this team to win when it comes at the expense of other neglected and "less sexy" assets to a team's offense. The Podsednik acquisition was, in fact, the only significant offensive deal the Sox made where power wasn't an important ingredient in the player that was returned to them.

To return this to the Cubs for a second, I join in the belief that the Cubs should place a significantly higher priority on defense for next year. Your point about finesse pitchers versus power pitchers is well taken. But there's no doubt that pitchers such as Zambrano and Maddux to name two obvious examples would not benefit in any way from a left side of the diamond occupied by Ramirez and Garciaparra all year -- not just in terms of errors but in terms of range as well. Even if Garciaparra is realtively healthy, I'm not a big fan of re-signing him to the 6 defensive position. It's true that a player who has enough offenisive impact can certainly be a worthwhile acquisition even if his defense is lacking. But in terms of what we see on this current team and how the Cubs are likely to spend their money, labeling defense as a needed upgrade seems quite sensible to me. Identifying what areas are most important for improvement is a key job of a good general manager and what I would call the beginning of some kind of plan for next year.
   91. Scott Lange Posted: October 23, 2005 at 03:33 PM (#1699164)
For all the Cubs fans spread around the country and those who know exactly how many games you've been to at Wrigley, I really feel sorry for you.


I'm just glad I've gotten to the point where I have to think for a second before I can tell you how many times I've been to Wrigley. I was about to turn 24 before I ever set foot in Illinois. Having graduated college and finally collecting a reasonable bi-weekly paycheck, I was able to accomplish a lot of things I had always wanted to do that year. Visiting Wrigley was at the top of the list.

My girlfriend had a friend at Northwestern who let us crash on her floor for the only night we could stay (no vacation time from work yet, so it had to be a weekend trip.) I had been run over by a bus (long story) so I had one of these on my right leg, meaning my jeans had to be cut open to mid-thigh. No matter, the game was a Sunday afternoon, so surely the temperature would be comfortable right? Heck, I'll even wear a short-sleeve shirt under my Mark Grace jersey. No worries.

Well, nobody told me it was going to be 40 for a high and kind of misting in Chicago that late September day, and nobody told me that the wind blowing off the lake was going to make it feel like about 112 below. We looked hard all day for another person anywhere in the ballpark in short sleeves and never found even one.

And yet, I can't say it was a bad day. We walked up to the box office and they somehow had tickets in the second row directly behind home plate, for the Cardinals no less! Early on it looked grim. Will Clark hit a grand slam in the fifth to put the Cardinals up 5-2.

An aside- I hate Will Clark. From October '89 through the next 6-8 years, I hated him with the righteous intensity only a teenage zealot can produce. I genuinely think I would have attacked him if we had ever crossed paths. Now I have mellowed out to the point where I just collect old news stories about Will dropping the N-word on his teammates and anything nasty Rafael Palmeiro has to say about him. Still, it remains true that I have not hated anyone before or since as much as I hated Will Clark.

Fortunately, my first game at Wrigley Field was not going to end with my arch-enemy playing for our arch-rival and emerging as the hero. The Cubs rallied for seven in the sixth to take the lead 9-5, and one more in the seventh on an inside-the-parker by Corey Patterson in a September call-up. You could see then that he was destined to become one of the most popular Cub stars in franchise history. My hero ended 1-3 with a double, two walks, and two runs, his typical sort of day that for some reason we can discuss in another thread leads to his being bizzarely underappreciated here at BTF. I was shivering so hard I nearly shook our row of seats apart, but I walked out of there a happy man.

The boxscore

After that, I made three of the five Cardinal games (the Prior shutout, the Sosa walkoff in the 15th, and the comeback from another Cardinal grandslam), and three games this summer. One of the games this summer was the only loss I've seen, so my career record is 6-1. Not too shabby, especially considering the teams we've put on the field most years.
   92. Andere Richtingen Posted: October 23, 2005 at 03:46 PM (#1699171)
I'm older than ALL of you guys, but my tenure as a serious Cubs fan goes back fewer years than some.

I grew up in Southern California and followed baseball fairly superficially as a kid. I was always the scrawny kid and didn't play much in the way of team sports, partially writing them off as the sorts of things my trogladytic brothers were into. I did follow the California Angels, and could see the Big A pointing over the orange groves from the upstairs of our house. In 1977 and 1978 I rooted for the Yankees in the World Series (a transgression you can forgive when you consider their WS opponents, whom I hated).

My mom grew up on the north side of Chicago, and my parents met there. My dad lived in Chicago off and on in the 1950s and followed the Cubs then, and my mom's family rooted for the Cubs as well, so there was always a fondness for the Cubs in my house in California. I visited Chicago for the first time in 1979 and I went to my first game at Wrigley. When we got cable tv in the early 1980s, I began occasionally watching Cubs day games during the summer, and then I went to Northwestern in the mid-80s. I rooted for the Cubs during this period but I have to say I wasn't die-hard, even during the 1984 season. In 1985 I had a favorable spring class schedule and started to see the value of spending spring afternoons at Wrigley. It may sound bizarre, but it was 1986, one of the least interesting Cubs seasons you can imagine, that hooked me. That year I stayed in Chicago over the summer, and spent a tremendous amount of time with friends playing cards and watching the Cubs. While the results were the same the following season in terms of the record, the 1987 and 1988 teams had a lot more interesting players and it was probably those two years, most of which I spent back in California, where my fate was sealed. It was then that I developed the habit of seeing the Cubs play wherever I could, and I distinctly remember 1987 as the year when I had horrible luck, seeming always to catch them on the days when a certain very young and very raw pitcher was starting.

I moved to Georgia, then back to California, then to Pennsylvania in the following 10 years, but I have kept following the Cubs. This has been difficult as I have not lived in a major metropolitan area for all but three of the last 16 years, but the advent of the internet in the early 1990s connected me with Cubs fans from all over, so I was able to find people to talk to about it. The advent of Gameday Audio and mlb.tv in recent years has been huge for me. Moving to the Bay Area in 1995 meant I could see the Cubs play a couple of times a year at Candlestick, but it also meant that I lost WGN on cable, and only got it back again two months ago. Now that I have a real job that pays me something other than poverty wages, I manage to catch the Cubs a number of times a year, either on the road or in Chicago. In 2003, I saw the Cubs play in eight different ballparks, including Wrigley Field for the first time in 14 years, and in my life have seem them play in fifteen different venues.

Perhaps it's my unusual, mostly adult relationship history with the Cubs that makes me look at them a bit more critically and less wistfully (not the BTF usage of this word) than most. I'm not a sentimental person on a good day, and I've grown to hate the "lovable losers" tag associated with the team, and it irks me to see the spiralling effects of the organization's view of itself as second-tier. So I tend to come across as dismissive of the organization and the people running it. Which I generally am.
   93. CFiJ Posted: October 23, 2005 at 03:54 PM (#1699178)
Groin injuries are insidious. They never properly heel: look at Aramis Ramirez. Anyone remember Rondell White? It made me sad, but when I heard that Nomar'd torn his groin muscle, and the extent of the injury, I gave up all hope of him being an impact player for the Cubs.
   94. dcsmyth1 Posted: October 23, 2005 at 04:11 PM (#1699191)
I guess I'm starting to be convinced by you guys that Nomar should not be resigned.
________________________________________
---There was simply a realization that power and power alone is not the way for this team to win when it comes at the expense of other neglected and "less sexy" assets to a team's offense."

And I maintain that this "realization" was wrong and simply worked out due to luck.
   95. Neil M Posted: October 23, 2005 at 05:01 PM (#1699278)
I'm older than ALL of you guys,

Abd I'm older than you, alas.

Some of you know bits ad pieces about me, but here's a resume for the record.

Scottish born and bred. A die-hard soccer fan through my childhood and teens. My first hero was a player for my home-town team who had a few memorable games when I was 6 or 7 and first going to games with my dad. That player is known today as Sir Alex Ferguson. Back then, just Fergie.

Went to University in Glasgow where I met a womwn of beauty and taste who fell for me just as I did for her. She went to the same high school as Cabbage, DjF and, of course, David Hasselhoff.

She lived with me in Scotland until threatened with deportation - no work permit.
Love her or lose her? We got married in her mom's house in August '77 just as Herman Franks' Cubs and the Southside Hit Men both slipped from first place, never to threaten again.

Waiting for my Green Card took several weeks - weeks spent living cheaply, mostly hanging around our apartment. WGN TV became my friend and , ultimately, my seducer as I watched Murcer, Buckner and company stagger to a .500 finish. At that point, I didn't even know where the ballpark was, although I was living near Clark and Diversey at the time. Come October, though, we moved to Lakeview, just a couple of blocks north of Wrigley. The first game I saw there was actually a Chicago Sting soccer fixture.

Starting in '78 by taking a friend's kid brother to a Cubs-Bucs game, I became a regular weekend fan for the next three years. That first game should have warned me what I was in for as the Cubs successfully executed the first and third parts of what should have been a triple play, an errant throw to first negating the second put-out.

I was one of the founding triumvirate of a spoof fan=club which enjoyed a little cult status in ;80 and'81 - even got a mention in SI's rotisserie league column in '84. As we were 'Jews for DeJesus'. I expect I'll have to give more details some time this winter.

Anyhoo, we moved to London in Sept. 1980. My last game was Lee Smith's debut.

Saw some games during a vacation trip in '84 and again in '87, the last time I went to Wrigley. The last game I saw in the flesh. a very young Greg Maddux took a no-no into the 5th before leaving a tied ballgame after 7 innings. His final act that day was a three-pitch strike-out of Mike Schmidt with the bases loaded.

I suffered through the '84 and '89 play-offs by the crackly late-night radio from AFN.

The break-up of my marriage more or less severed my Chicago connections until the advent of broadband internet connections rekindled my love for the Cubs. The last three years I've seen a ridiculously high percentage of games and I imagine I will next year, too.

While I now watch from afar, I do treasure memories of the greats I saw - Carlton, Ryan and J.R. Richard ; Sutter and Smith: Sandberg, Schmidt, Dave Parker while stiil at his most awesome. I remember, too, the characters _ Micky Kelleher (Dusty would love him!), Cardenal and Biittner - I was at the game when he lost the fly ball in his cap -and I remember most of all just 'fun at the old ballpark'.
   96. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: October 23, 2005 at 05:14 PM (#1699306)
Well, growing up in the early 1980s, I should be all rights be a Sox fan because my dad & older brother are and my mom isn't much of a sports fan at all. Enter Eddie Einhorn & ONTV. The Sox were never on the tube when I was a kid, but I have plenty of Cubs memories. I remember Gary Woods's sliding/falling catch on the warning track, Leon Durham going four-for-four against the Cards with a sliding double for the final hit, a walk-off bases loaded single in the tenth against the Braves, those epic battles for next-to-last place with the Mets back then. Heck, I even remember the commercial the Trib ran for the Cubs after they bought them ("The Cubs are coming out of (cub in photo makes growl sound) hiiiiii-bernation!") The only White Sox memory I have is of Harold Baines hitting 3 homers in one game, and I went to bed before the last one of those.

In the early days my loyalties were divided - rooted for the Winning Ugly Sox in '83, but '84 won my over for good. Durham was my favorite player as a kid (because of that 4-for-4 game) so when he got busted for drugs I was not happy at all. My other favorite player as a kid (from divided loyalty days) was Harold Baines. So now I'm one of the only Cubs fans you'll find whose favorite player was a White Sox. Other favorite Cubs have been Dascenzo, Hector Villanueva, & Scott Servais.

Never made it to Wrigley until 1990 - dad kept buying tickets to Comiskey. Saw the Cubs and Shawn Boskie torch the 1986 All-Star team, or, as they were called at the time, the San Diego Padres. Only occasionally go to games - a few a year would be typical. I went to none in 1995 and maybe '96 (the strike), and the last two years (no desire to spend opening ticket sale day getting a busy signal for hours and they sell out too quickly). I have seen them play in Milwaukee in that time though. I have no idea how many Cubs games I've been to, but I have (gets out an counts) 20 scorecards from Wrigley. I've probably been to 25-30.

1984 was the big year for me though. New fan, great team, great time. They won a bunch of games against the Mets late that year. I remember coming home from school and watching the first two games of the playoffs. Then . . . . given the language constraints here at btf, I can't really discuss my feeling WRT the child molesting Nazi war criminal.

Paid more attention to them in the '80s than the '90s. Only sporadically noted them then. I wasn't paying as much attention to baseball in general. I only kinda vaguely know that they lost a bunch of home games one year to start off with a Trebelhorn had that village meeting by the Kenmore fire station. In 2000 I got in a fantasy league run by primer author & Sox fan Anthony Giacalone and that got the interests up.

More memorble Wrigley experience . . . in high school my mom's company used to get some tickets along the third base line in the lower deck. Nice seats, but between the shade from the overhang and the lakefront wind coming it, it was routinely 20 degrees colder there than walking on the sidewalk. A couple years ago (1999?) I saw Sosa hit a 480 foot homer and couldn't believe how long it was. The Waveland gang was running full speed down Kenmore. Then a few years later he hit one 520 (!!) feet. That was mind-blowing.

In '98 I figured McGuire was going to break the record so I bought tickets to one game every series he went to Chicago. In April on a day so cold you could see your breath I went there with a (Sox fan) friend. It was pouring rain and we got there two hours early. By game time we were soaked and the rain got even heavier. At 7:30 we left figuring a rain out was inevitable, only to have the game go off as the latest start in Wrigley history. McGwire hit a homer. Later than year, with McGuire and Sosa both dueling it out, I went to a game where neither hit a homer. Dag nabbit.

In '98 I read that Kerry Wood & Maddux could possibly face off against each other in Wrigley one game in May, so I got tickets. It was Wood vs. Glavine but still a great pitcher's duel. Wood clearly didn't have his best stuff but still struck out 13 in 7 innings.

(going through scorecards here) On another occasion I saw Wood make history by striking out four in one inning. He owed it all to Todd Hundley, who allowed two passed balls that inning. They should have gotten one of those two out at first, but Hundley threw the ball into right to get him. Not a good day for the king of getting booed, but he did get some applause later that day (actually, it would've been in the second game of a doubleheader) when he hit a homer that put the Cubs up 17-0. Every time I ever saw him come up to plate in a key situation, he always made an out. Wood hit a homer that game, too. I once called a Glenallen Hill pinch hit homer two batters in advance. He was another of my favorite players. Went to the first Sox-Cubs in Wrigley series & vowed to never go to a ticket broker again after that game. That would've been on 9/19/99. I saw them beat Gooden once. Saw Juan Cruz's MLB debut and have rooted for him ever since.
   97. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: October 23, 2005 at 07:06 PM (#1699575)
How about the fact that his range was questionable before he had a major groin tear?

--That's a pretty subjective evaluation, and an opinion that is not universally held.

I should clarify that: Yes, in 2004 it appeared that Garciaparra was terrible at SS. But in 2004 he was battling the achilles tendon, and also perhaps the nascent groin injury. I thought that more often than not, he looked pretty good after returning this year.


Maybe we agree, but let me spell things out more precisely: We know that Nomar has a groin issue now, and we know that he's had a history of an achilles problem and was never known for his tremendous range in the first place. What makes folks think that it's a wonderful idea to have him spend his days running after shots to the OF?

I'm not saying they should resign Nomar, but if they do, he stands a lot better chance remaining healthy at 3B than he does in LF or SS, let alone being a positive with the glove.

On another note:

With the thin market, there's just no way the Cubs could afford Giles and Furcal.

Probably right. Heck, even if they could sign both, I'm not convinced that either are necessarily great choices (see BPro's recent discussion of Furcal's H/R splits, for instance).

My point was that I suppose there could be a scenario in which I wouldn't object if Cedeno and Murton weren't immediately bestowed starting jobs next spring.
   98. Bunny Vincennes Posted: October 23, 2005 at 08:50 PM (#1699783)
You know, its very depressing for me as a Cub fan right now. The guys across town are playing in the World Series. The Cubs who seemed so close to long term contention recently seem poised to suck for the second consecutive season, and I get the impression that no one in Cubs management understands this. Completely disheartening.
   99. Hendry's Wad of Cash (UCCF) Posted: October 23, 2005 at 09:40 PM (#1699845)
You know, its very depressing for me as a Cub fan right now. The guys across town are playing in the World Series. The Cubs who seemed so close to long term contention recently seem poised to suck for the second consecutive season, and I get the impression that no one in Cubs management understands this. Completely disheartening.

Ditto. There's always the chance that the team will surprise me this offseason and sign Furcal and/or Giles, cut Macias, refuse to resign Neifi and exercise Burnitz's option, not extend Dusty, make a firm commitment to Cedeno and Murton as 2006 starters, move 3-4 good prospects for an impact OF bat in trade, etc. But I'm not holding my breath.

I fully expect the 2006 Cubs to be almost a carbon copy of the 2005 team, except without the superhuman season from Derrek Lee dragging them to relative respectability.
   100. Dr. Vaux Posted: October 23, 2005 at 09:46 PM (#1699855)
And with Maddux's continued decline rendering the rotation even less stable. That having been said, different luck could have seen them take the wild-card; they were close to .500 with a much better pythagorean record. They will acquire a big bat, because they think their pitching was good and they lost because they didn't score enough runs. Maybe Wood will be healthy. Maybe Lee won't regress a lot, and Dempster won't blow up, whatever. The fact is, the Cubs have enough talent around to wind up as next year's White Sox.
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