better example of the state of local baseball coverage

– 7 days and running dedicated to commentary on Sammy Sosa’s face without, I dunno, having someone find him and take another picture.

– Phil Rogers writing a column about how little budget room the Cubs have, then writing about how the Cubs must pick up Curtis Granderson’s 3/$24 salary ASAP.

This is why they are what they are. And by that, I mean the Cubs, who race into situations like that without thinking long term, and all the sudden you’ve got a slumping DH playing left field for 5 more years.

I’m mixed on Granderson. I think he had the fortune to sign a contract at the exact best moment for him, and someone is going to be stuck paying for that good year for the next three. If he was in some nice spot in between his really good 2008 and eh 2009, I think he’d a fine pick up, but there’s no guarantee. FanGraphs already has the Bill Jamies projections for next year, which tend to be a lot closer 2008, but my worry is another number on that page – 13% of his outs were on infield fly balls. Seems like a guy who was trying to hit for more power, and ending up too far underneath balls.

Maybe he can correct that in an easier park to hit. And the league adjustment will certainly help. Just not so certain that I want to give up the whole farm system.

He’s definitely a better idea than giving a multi-year deal to Marlon Byrd, which seems like the current rumor. You’d think the Cubs would learn not to take hitters from Texas. The 479 slugging is not going to work out well outside that park, and the 329 on base will. He’s already the wrong side of 30, and they’d be paying for decling years. A one year deal for a reasonable price might work, but Byrd’s the sort of fungible player you don’t sign long term, because you don’t want to be stuck with him if a better option comes along (or he suddenly becomes a worse option.)

I think Mike Cameron is every single team’s back up choice, so he’s going to end up getting a lot better deal than casual people expect. Maybe it’ll secretly be the year people pay for defense.

Kinda cool that the Burrell deal is the closest, having called it a while back. I stil think it’s the best the Cubs can do – they’re going to lose any deal they make for him, because they’ll be giving up the better player. You’ve just got pick the best bounce back candidate.

Roster note few have picked up on: Mike Fontenot being declared a Super Two player means he’s eligible for a big pay raise thru arbitration unless the Cubs non-tendered him. So, he’ll be cut, and the Cubs keep Aaron Miles around as a backup instead of eating his contract this year.

In my mind, the current opening day 25 looks like

CA Soto
1B D Lee
2B ???? (let’s say Baker)
SS Theriot
3B A Ram
LF Soriano
CF ???? (someone not on the roster)
RF Fukudome

SP Zambrano
SP Dempster
SP Wells
SP Gorz
SP yo-yo Marshall or Samardzija?

CA Hill
IF Miles
OF Hoffpauir??
OF Fuld?? or Colvin? or Johsnon??
IF Blanco or ???

RP Stevens?
RP Marshall or Samardzija
RP Caridad
RP Grabow
RP Guzman
CL Marmol

DL Lilly – he’s not late if he starts on May 1st. Bet on it.

A lot of question marks. Doesn’t really seem like it’s a 90 win team there.

This might be a good place for baseball comments.

Joe Versus The World archive temporarily down


Due to the issues with the site over the last couple of days, I’ve had to take the Joe Versus The World episodes.

Didn’t want to do it, but the only way to get some stuff running again was to free up a lot of space for the moment.

They’ll be back up soon, I promise. Next weekend at the very latest. If you need an episode before then, let me know in the comments and I’ll see what I can do about making the otherwise available.

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On the new owner


Tom Ricketts did the best possible job introducing himself and his family as new owners for the Cubs. Everyone liked him, so much so hat no one made much of a fuss when he mentioned tickets were going up next season. He did a good job of positioning himself as an owner who’d be focused on the business end while hiring baseball people to manage that side.

There were some quotes in the newspaper interviews – all of which were presented as exclusive interviews done beforehand, but sure seem like the same one – that I thought were particularly lighting.

Payroll: It’s going to be just a little higher than last year, just over $140mil. The Cubs are currently committed to $120 (Cot’s Baseball contracts), before counting all the arbitration eligible guys. There’s no bail out for Bradley coming.

Not to depress you, but it doesn’t look much better for 2011. Only $96mil committed, but that doesn’t include Lee or Lilly, both of which the Cubs would want to keep and may even extend this off season.

How to build a team; Ricketts noted repeatedly that the Cubs spent the 3rd most on payroll, so money isn’t the issue. Instead, he said “The way you consistently make the playoffs is to have the right player-development process, to have the right guys drafting the right talented kids and the right coaches and scouts working together to see them be productive at the major-league level.”

If this is actually the way they go, and they start pouring more money in to the draft and the minor league system, the franchise is a lot better off.

Jim Hendry has a free roll this year, but Ricketts was very clear that they’d reevaluate things after the system. Two straight playoffs appearances buys you some time, but maybe not more than that.

the Triangle building!: Did this talk in 2005? Maybe before? And how many sketches have we seen already? Lost track of all this, except for the part where I’m completely tired of hearing about it. Which is OK, because I think there’s actually going to be some thing building in that lot next year. The overall plan seems to improve the stadium, but try to generate more revenue outside of it.

I wish I could find the quote for this one, just to have it later when it becomes necessary to have proof that they actually said it, but I believe what I read was the Cubs would work on a plan over the next year, and build in the ’11-12 off season. I wish it could happen sooner, or that stuff like moving offices out of the stadium to clear more room for the players could happen right away, but I think I’ll settle for having some progress.

Items that aren’t happening

Naming rights to the stadium were pretty definitely shot down. As were other big ideas people had been dreaming up – no moving for a year to redo the stadium, no jumbotron on a rooftop. They’re going to keep Wrigley as it, just make it look more presentable.

The one notable thing not mentioned: the stake in Comcast Sports Net. That whole deal has seemed wrong from the start; it makes everyone feel good to split that equally when it was created, but it’s always been clear the Cubs were adding much more than 1/4th of the value. The Cubs could support their own channel, and it fits with the model of making more money by looking to extend the reach of the franchise. That situation, or their radio/TV deals with WGN, didn’t seem to come up in any discussion.

Signs he’s got a sane head

It wasn’t just saying there’s no curse, and that people who believe in a curse will be moved to a less cursed them, though that’s nice. It’s reading that he used to be in fantasy baseball leagues, that he’s read Bill James Abstracts, and that he seems to be in line with the Billy Beane playoffs belief: “The reason the team has never won the World Series is they were either bad teams that played up to expectations or they were good teams that had bad luck in the playoffs. the end, that’s what it comes down to. To make it any bigger than that, is doing a disservice to the players who are here today and the coaches, and it’s just foolishness.” And still, he’s pretty clear he’s staying out of the way of the baseball ops, leading them to prove or disprove their own abilities without interference.

This is a guy who knows what he’s doing, and cares enough about the team to make it work. In the middle years of this decade, the Tribune made an honest effort to improve the team, to take the blame off themselves for not winning a World Series. Not quite sure that was true the last couple years, where the fortunes of team seemed to support the rest of the corporation, but I think it’s going to be very true from here on out. That’s all I want from an owner.