thecubsfan.com

extraneous thoughts

Dec
25

Because why write three posts when you can make it one? Things get longer once I start writing them.

We’ve been pretty much spared a blizzard this week, maybe by all of two degrees. Lots of precipitation, but the thermostat has been hanging around the 34 (1!) degree, and so things haven’t gone completely off the rails. Drove around a bit on Wednesday during some of the worst of it, and was so thankful for the degrees. Roads have been surprisingly great. (Parking lots, not so much – hauled a heavy computer over an inch of ice, barely manged not to have an expensive crash.)

The storms left a lot of ice behind – until I got LastFM running again, the background noise in my house was ice chunks crashing off the side of my roof and hitting the ground – but ice storms make for the neatest of all frozen scenery.

I’m totally okay with the Cubs not getting Matt Capps. It was going to have to be a two year deal, and that idea doesn’t thrill me for marginal relievers.

Between this, and wanting to pick the new centerfielder based on the length of his contract more than his ability, I think I’ve subconsciously realized:

a) it helps the next GM to repair things if Hendry doesn’t give out multiyear deals this year (and the next GM is coming on next year)
b) I don’t think this team is going to be very good, or at least not two marginal players from being very good.

The Pirates, the Astros and the Reds are going to be no different then the last few years. One of them will make a first half run, but none of them will be competitive by the end. The Brewers and the Cardinals will be good as long as injuries don’t cripple them, and they can be great if they get a few guys to play above expectations (and it’s the same people as always – the starting pitching for the Brewers and the non-Pujlos hitters for the Cardinals.)

The Cubs, as they are and how they’ll probably be, are a good team, but there’s not a lot of hope for a very good team. There are bounce back candidates (Soriano), but the team is starting from a worse position then last year, and there’s not much left that’ll change that.

86, 87 wins seems like the best possible number the 2010 team could pull off, which has been enough for the NL Central some years and may be for next year. The best possible win number for the Cardinals and the Brewers seem well into the 90s. I’m usually not so quick to pick against this team, but I really don’t feel strong about it.

I need to do the 25 starting roster again and figure this out a bit more quantifiably, but I’ve been waiting for the Byrd deal to get done. That it hasn’t means there’s still some serious salary issue, but I’m not sure who else is in the market for Byrd at this point.

—-

Of my four fantasy football leagues, I’m in the finals of one, in the consolation bracket of another, and in two other semifinals. It’s the first one, the one with the live draft and occasionally live other team members that I’ve been focused on this week.

Week 16 Starting Lineup, at the moment

QB Brady
RB Chris Johnson
RB Jaamal Charles
WR Greg Jennings
WR Heinz Ward (over Josh Morgan – Reggie Wayne is the normal starter)
// Marion Barber (over J. Snelling, M. Bush)
TE JerMichael Finley (over Fred Davis)
KI Hartley
TM Cardinals vs STL

Really undecided about that WR2 and Slash spots. Barber has been tremendously disappointing, but I guess it makes more sense to go down with him then an Oakland Raider.

I’m up against

QB Romo
RB MJD
RB Jerome Harrison
WR Welker
WR Calvin Johnson
// Vincent Jackson
TE Kellen Winslow
KI Akers
TM Bengals vs KC

I think Harrison won’t come close to last week, but I tried picking up him up to (lost on the waiver claim.) His other RBs are Turner (out) and Moreno, so it makes sense.

Feels like he’s going to beat me easily on the WRs and Slash and the RBs are closer than I’d like. My friends have been nice enough to tell me that I’ll win this, but I’m not feeling that confident. Figure to have a good idea on how this is going after tonight’s game.

Bradley for Silva

Dec
19

I’ve recently started using Remember the Milk as a cloud based task manager service. It’s helpful for the obvious reasons, reminding me to do stuff (gotta go pick up dry cleaning as soon as I get done with this) and as an idea dump place, but I actually more enjoy it just for the sense of accomplishment it gives me. Whatever the odious task, whenever I’m done, I get to click a button to declare I’ve finished with it. There’s some satisfaction there – moves my mind a little bit from worrying about all the things I’ve haven’t finished to being pleased with the things I’ve gone done.

It’s just a task monitor, not an evaluation dvice, so there’s no grade of how well you’ve actually done the task. Which means I’m probably not going to recommend this service to Jim Hendry. I’m sure he would’ve had the same feeling of relief checking the boxes next “Trade Milton” and “Create Payroll Space for 2010” (both highlighted in red, listed as OVERDUE) and clicking the complete button, but doing a job and doing a job well are two different things.

I’m glad Milton is not on the Cubs, and I don’t share the optimism of M’s fans and most internet pundits that Milton will get along this time. He is who he is, and he’s probably not changing just because his uniform does.

However, Carlos Silva is a horrible baseball player, possibly the worst baseball player who will make a roster next season. As much as I hope that to be wrong, I don’t believe Silva’s abilities will turn around any more than Bradley’s attitude. This is a deal that will handicap the club just as much as David Patton on the roster took up a useful spot in 2009, except Silva will play more and pitch worse, and will do it for the next 2 years unless something lucky (or smart) occurs.

The single hopeful note in this deal is teams are much more willing to cut someone who was signed by someone else than someone they signed. Releasing Silva would cost the Cubs nearly the amount it’d cost the Mariners, but maybe it doesn’t look as bad in the papers and maybe that gives them the nerve to do it.

Things we’ve learned from this deal
– The Cubs have NO money to spend this off season
– They had to draw the hard line with Tampa Bay (Burrell would’ve been easily better) because they had no money and needed to create some room on any deal
– When Tampa Bay traded for Rafael Soriano, they were out of this market
– Besides the M’s, no one else seemed to be in on Bradley. And so this was done just to get it done.

My worry now is that this extra payroll room will be used to give 2+ year deals for Marlon Byrd and Matt Capps. Neither moves seem to be great bets – the difference between Byrd and the much cheaper Coco Crisp is minimal, and Hendry should know by now the dangers of multiyear deals for relievers – but they completely fit how he’s run this team.

In a way, I’m happy the new ownership didn’t fire Jim Hendry, because he’s spending his off season cleaning up his own mess and it woudl’ve been unfair to saddle all of that on a new guy (then again, the new M’s GM had the same and seems to be doing better than OK.) As this offseason goes on, I’m starting to change on that too, because moves like two years of Carlos Silva indicate he’s just making a new mess for whoever comes in next year.

That’s the one other thing to note here: this Bradley saga is the noose around Hendry’s neck, and it’s starting to look pretty tight. Unless people wildy out perform exceptions, the “Evaluate General Manager” task on Tom Rickett’s tasks list is going to be checked off next October, and it won’t be completed well for the current guy.

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Aaron Miles freedom day

Dec
03

I know it’s been too long between blog entries when there’s 150 spam messages waiting for me. Let me tell you, the post I only write in my head are super.

Cubs trade IF Aaron Miles & DH Jake Fox (and $1 million) to the A’s for RP Jeff Gray, ?P Ronny Morla, ?? Matt Spencer.

and so Chicago Cubs General Manager Jim Hendry is halfway done in undoing the bad moves by last year’s bad Cubs General Manger Jim…oh, right.

If the prospects ever turn into anything, that’d be neat and all, but this is really giving up Jake Fox to get Aaron Miles off his hand. And I guess THAT works if you subscribe to the beliefs the Cubs clearly do:

  • Aaron Miles had no future on this team and was just going to eat up a roster spot until they got up the nerve to cut him and eat the rest of the contract
  • Jake Fox had no future on this team because all the corner positions are taken and he’s not never going to be even an an OK defender anyway

I agree with the first point. The Cubs were clearly screwing with roster rules last year, sending Aaron Miles on as long as possible rehab stints, because they didn’t want him to take a spot on the 25 man roster. This saves the Cubs the spot in 2010, and it’s nice they can recoup $1.7 mil of a bad investment.

Can’t be emphasized enough – EVERYONE knew the Aaron Miles deal was bad the moment it was announced. The Bradley did was a dare, where you had people on both sides – those saying he’d hit, and those saying he’d crack. (I lost that one.) Miles had a disappointing season by his standards and will probably rebound, but having to do this deal to get rid of him is why it was a bad idea to give him two years in the first place.

Fox, I don’t buy into. The Cubs are going to be short on power unless Alfonso rebounds in a big way. Soriano may have entered the part of his career where he’s only going to miss 20-30 games every¬† year. Plus, until the Cubs actually sign someone to be a centerfielder, they could’ve still played Kosuke there and Fox in right from time to time. I understand a price had to be paid to get Miles off the Cubs hands – and they got a pretty good price for him – but the team is definitely worse of now than it was before the trade.

If they can turn the saved money into something useful, maybe this can be redeemed a little bit. But I suspect it’ll go to a veteran reliever who’s actually not that good.

I was actually happier with this trade before I started considering it. Getting rid of Aaron Miles for not full price is great, but they shouldn’t have been in that spot to start with. At least this is done, and Hendry can spend next week finalizing his other mistake.

Pretty sure this trade is going to be thrown back in Hendry’s face should he be in any trouble next year. Fox will hit 20+ if given regular DH time and it’ll be really easy to spin this against him. He knows it, too, which is why he’s already trying to make the case that he wouldn’t have the same chances with the Cubs.

Jeff Gray is a fastball strikeout (though not impressive so) reliever who will compete with a half dozen other guys for a spot in the bullpen. The other guys seem to be such long shots, they’re not worth thinking about (except hoping later we’re all dumb for not thinking about them at the time.)