Game 1: Cubs 4 – Pirates 0

Why not?

There was a spirited debate today in my text messages after the lineup came out. Tommy LaStella, a guy most people forgot was ever on the team by July, was not the most straightforward choice for batting fifth. My biggest concern was putting Kyle Schwarber in the outfield in a critical game. Kris Bryant is a passable outfielder, maybe even average. If the Cubs decided to go with Bryant as a frequent centerfielder next year (2), it wouldn’t be optimal but they’d get by fine most of the time. Schwarber appears to be the second coming of Matt Stairs, and especially Matt Stairs in the outfield. It’s sometimes an adventure. He – and the Cubs! – have mostly gotten away with it, but there’s been plays a normal outfielder would’ve made and plays were thing nearly could’ve gone very wrong. Given the way he was slumping for the last month, it didn’t seem like it was worth the risk to put him out there.

And then…


Kyle contributed one very long single earlier and that’s was all they needed. I think he had about zero meaningful plays in right field too. Maybe Fowler does it himself anyway, maybe it’s really good scouting of what tendencies match up with which players, or maybe the roulette ball just keep landing on the right number time after time. The team seems good – “We Are Good” even – but it also feels like the 2015 Cubs are living a charmed existence. It doesn’t have to go that way – the Rodriguez misplay followed by the complete ineffectiveness of Alvarez showed how badly it can go the other way – but this is the year where everything seems to go right. You don’t get many of those.

Jake Arrieta went 9 innings, gave up zero runs, struck out twelve, allowed four hits and hit a couple of people, and it completely looked like his shakiest start in a while. Bar is high, he’s been incredibly dominant, but he was wild early (maybe overwhelmed by the moment) and lost it again in the middle innings before settling down. He locked back in fair the last few innings, after the scrum, but the Pirates had their chances. They just hit the ball very hard where people happened to be positioned. Four zero doesn’t say how close this felt like going the other way, but the Pirates just can’t break thru. That’s their story.

The Pirates prepared the Cubs for their next opponent well. The HBP to Arrieta was some true Cardinals Way junk. I didn’t like the TBS announcers that much and maybe that’s just local team bias, but their lack of familiarity with these two teams hurt the broadcast during that not-fight. Pirates were definitely angry about getting hit, but it’s also probably was a little bit about the second baseman who was in a wheelchair during introductions. This isn’t the end of it for these two teams, this is coming back as a remix in 2016.

It took me about 15 seconds to start trying to map out the rotation for the next series, and only that long because I fought hard to resist thinking about it from about the seventh inning on.  The design of these wildcard games it to make it tough for the Wild Card winner to throw their ace again in the next series. Tough, but not impossible.

                   Plan A    Plan B
Game 1 Friday      Lester    Lester
Game 2 Saturday    Hendricks Arrieta*
OFF    Sunday
Game 3 Monday      Arrieta   Hendricks
Game 4 Tuesday     Hammel?   Lester*
Game 5 Thursday    Lester    Arrieta

Traditional planning would have A. My preference is to go for Plan B; get Lester and Arrieta as many times as possible even if not on full rest. People with more sense than I pointed out maybe you don’t decide at all until you must. (4) If the Cubs win, hold back Arrieta onto normal rest to be either the close out guy or the guy who puts them back ahead in Game 3. If the Cubs lose game 1, play Arrieta right away because you then you know to find a way to get two wins from him and one win from anyone else, and you can’t afford to go with a Hammer or Haren or Bullpen Day in game 4. Playing aggressive has gotten the Cubs this far, so I’m thinking Arrieta’s going to be pushed hard.

That and figuring out the end of the roster are the talk of the next few days. The Cubs will add at least one more starting pitcher and maybe one more reliever. As strange as it would’ve seemed at the start of the season, I wonder if Jorge Soler is off the 25 man now. He only serves a purposes as right handed pinch hitter but they don’t seem to be using him much as that. I’d be sure LaStella would be the other guy to be dropped if he didn’t play this game and he’s the guy I’d cut. People will look at Ross’ numbers and think it’ll be him, but he’s Lester guy and he allows more double switching and positional movements; he’s as safe as they get. Berry’s another one that’s going to look weird to people who haven’t been closely following the team, but the only reason he’s getting paid is to steal a critical base in the postseason and he’s got to be active for that. Maybe Denorfia? The problem with having such a deep team is there are some hard cuts, but having a deep has at least put them in the position to make some cuts.

11 to go. Why not?

(1) And that out of the box thinking didn’t seem to amount to much; 0-2 for him, 0-2 for Austin Jackson in his spot.)

(2) Dexter Fowler is going to get paid so much for so many years and good for him

(3) I’m fairly sure I couldn’t do that last time I wrote one of these.

(4) uncertain why I need the thing I tend to do most explained to me; I was too happy in the moment?

 October 7th, 2015  
 chicago national league ball club  
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on Soriano, redux

the thing about being on the internet for three or four lifetimes is I can occasionally go back seven years and see what I said about silly things

I don’t think we’ll know for sure till the deal is done or he’s gone (given the A-Rod and Manny drama, it seems likely they’ll at least try moving him sometime in the ’10s),

YEP. I was beginning to think Soriano would be the guy who just never gives up his no-trade clause. I don’t he wanted to at the end, and I think it was underreported how Theo & Jed pretty much told him he’d be benched if he stayed any longer. That probably wouldn’t have gone over too well – manager is okay with developing but wants to win to show progress – so it’s best it didn’t happen no matter how much money it took.

The deal [is] a high percentage of the payroll and he probably won’t produce at a level where it’s an even bargain…but if he contributes towards a World Series win (or, gasp, multiple ones!), then everyone will be fine with whatever he’s getting paid. At least for a year, anyway.

multiple world series. NOPE.

The FanGraphs number WAR calculation was highly quoted as proof Soriano was actually worth his contract after all. Some of that is fair, some of that are contract prices going way up…and some of that is goofy UZR ratings giving Soriano much more credit for defense in his first five seasons with the Cubs than he should’ve gotten. You can only tell the story about Soriano getting much better the last two years if you acknowledge how bad he was to previously, and those Fangraph value numbers have Soriano as a better defender than hitter in his first two seasons. That’s not what I remember seeing.

Soriano had the misfortune to have his big dropoff season the same time the team did. He was hurting the team, but he wasn’t the only one and it took him until the last couple years to shed that. It was still an overly optimistic deal, made hoping they could pay a good player into being a great player, like a lot of Cubs free agency signings at that time.

 July 31st, 2013  
 chicago national league ball club  
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end of the alphabet

the Cubs agreed to assume $15 million of his $18 million contract in a trade that should be announced soon.

The Marlins will send 6-foot-8 right-handed pitcher Chris Volstad in return, according to multiple sources


Year Age Tm Lg W L W-L% ERA G CG SHO SV IP ERA+ WHIP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB Awards
1998 17 CHC-min Rk 0 1 .000 3.15 14 0 0 1 40.0 1.600 8.8 0.0 5.6 8.1 1.44 CBZ · ARIZ
1999 18 CHC-min A 13 7 .650 4.17 27 2 1 0 153.1 1.383 8.8 0.5 3.6 5.8 1.58 LNS · MIDW
2000 19 CHC-min AA,AAA 5 6 .455 2.62 43 0 0 6 117.0 1.316 7.2 0.4 4.7 6.8 1.46 WTN,IWA · SOUL,PCL
2001 20 CHC-min AAA 10 5 .667 3.88 26 1 0 0 150.2 1.274 7.4 0.5 4.1 9.3 2.28 IWA · PCL
2001 20 CHC NL 1 2 .333 15.26 6 0 0 0 7.2 28 2.478 12.9 2.3 9.4 4.7 0.50
2002 21 CHC-min AAA 0 0 0.00 3 0 0 0 9.0 0.889 2.0 0.0 6.0 11.0 1.83 IWA · PCL
2002 21 CHC NL 4 8 .333 3.66 32 0 0 0 108.1 111 1.449 7.8 0.7 5.2 7.7 1.48
2003 22 CHC NL 13 11 .542 3.11 32 3 1 0 214.0 139 1.318 7.9 0.4 4.0 7.1 1.79
2004 23 CHC NL 16 8 .667 2.75 31 1 1 0 209.2 160 1.216 7.5 0.6 3.5 8.1 2.32 AS,CYA-5,MVP-28
2005 24 CHC NL 14 6 .700 3.26 33 2 0 0 223.1 135 1.146 6.9 0.8 3.5 8.1 2.35
2006 25 CHC NL 16 7 .696 3.41 33 0 0 0 214.0 136 1.294 6.8 0.8 4.8 8.8 1.83 AS,CYA-5,SS
2007 26 CHC NL 18 13 .581 3.95 34 1 0 0 216.1 117 1.331 7.8 1.0 4.2 7.4 1.75 CYA-5
2008 27 CHC NL 14 6 .700 3.91 30 1 1 0 188.2 118 1.293 8.2 0.9 3.4 6.2 1.81 AS,SS
2009 28 CHC-min A,A+ 0 1 .000 4.15 2 0 0 0 8.2 1.385 9.3 0.0 3.1 6.2 2.00 PEO,DYT · MIDW,FLOR
2009 28 CHC NL 9 7 .563 3.77 28 1 1 0 169.1 118 1.376 8.2 0.5 4.1 8.1 1.95 SS
2010 29 CHC-min AAA,Rk 0 0 5.40 4 0 0 0 5.0 1.400 10.8 0.0 1.8 9.0 5.00 IWA,CBZ · PCL,ARIZ
2010 29 CHC NL 11 6 .647 3.33 36 0 0 0 129.2 127 1.450 8.3 0.5 4.8 8.1 1.70
2011 30 CHC-min A 0 0 0.00 1 0 0 0 4.0 1.500 6.8 0.0 6.8 9.0 1.33 PEO · MIDW
2011 30 CHC NL 9 7 .563 4.82 24 0 0 0 145.2 81 1.442 9.5 1.2 3.5 6.2 1.80
11 Seasons 125 81 .607 3.60 319 9 4 0 1826.2 122 1.319 7.8 0.7 4.1 7.6 1.87
162 Game Avg. 14 9 .607 3.60 36 1 0 0 207 122 1.319 7.8 0.7 4.1 7.6 1.87
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 1/5/2012.

This is a smart baseball move. Volstad is worth the gamble; the Cubs are going to be making a lot of those types of gambles to see who is worth keeping around when (if!) the next wave of competitive rolls thru, and it seems a decent use of otherwise useless innings. Either Zambrano will pitch well in 2012 and be out of the Cubs price range, or he’ll pitch bad and not worth signing. It’s also a great offering to the Cubs base, who have bought in to the idea of a ‘necessary culture change’ to the point the right amount of subtractions is worth more than any additions.

It also breaks my heart. We’re now five seasons away from when Z was really Z. He had the biggest win total in 2007, but the hits per 9 jumped that year and have never gone down again. He’s not been the guy you’d go out of your way to see every time he starts since, but he still usually put together one really strong stretch every year, usually right before or after a blow up. He still is out there trying (except for those meltdowns), it’s his arm started going out on way too early. Prior and Wood will be remembered as the arms the Cubs (possibly) mangled via overuse at a young age, but Zambrano was throwing 200 IP at 22 and 23 and 24 with them, and maybe it just took a little bit longer for it to catch up to him. Prior’s pitied for his his failed career, Wood is respected for battling thru his arm problems, but people seem to just blame Carlos for the same problems. Mostly because he’s made himself such an easy target.

It’s sad it ended like this. It’s depressing that it’s the second franchise guy who’s left on such terrible terms in a decade. Maybe Carlos will be welcomed back to the family before Sammy – Carlos is always willing to admit his mistakes (just not stop making them) and perhaps he’ll be a calmly guy when he’s no longer competing – but it’ll be years down the line. Zambrano acted like a jerk, but I’d wish he’d also be remembered for being the best player on the team and easily the most entertaining for the last decade.

I understand why he had to go, but I wish people remember why we were happy to have him here.


 January 5th, 2012  
 chicago national league ball club  
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your 2011 Chicago Cubs

Where were we? Where are we?

RF Fukudome
SS Castro
CF Byrd
3B A-Ram
1B Pena
CA Soto
LF Soriano
2B Barney
SP Dempster

CA Hill
2B Baker
2B DeWitt
RF Colvin
CF Johnson

SP Zambrano
SP Garza
SP Wells
SP Cashner

CL Marmol
RP Wood
RP Marshall
RP Grabow
RP Russell
RP Samardzija
RP Mateo

things that are actually really good:
– the pitching! Probably four above average starters and possibly the best 7-8-9 bullpen in the league.
– the lack of injuries (only Angel Guzman, and that was an issue from last year, and no one even counts him any more because it’ll be a miracle if he makes it back)
– the Brewers and the Cardinals having very important injuries
– Carlos Silva will never be a Cub again. SUNK COSTS, hooray.
– a manager who might do some actual platooning

things that are worrisome
– 2B may be an offensive black hole.
– they’re writing “now that Soriano is healthy, he’s going to hit!” articles for the fourth year in a row
– there’s almost no depth on this team; if Ram, Soto or Pena get significantly hurt, the season is over, and you might be able to throw Byrd and Castro in that group
– there’s no hitting coming off that bench. Colvin/Fukudome is the big bat off the bench, with Koskue (& Baker) only helpful in the right situation. Reed is not much. DeWitt almost played his way off this team. Koyie Hill is awful. If there was ever a team that could use a Houffpair/Fox type as a designed pinch hitter, it’d be this team (taking the place of DeWitt, who has no purpose here.)
– at least three guys – Grabow, Samardzija, DeWitt – probably don’t make the team if they weren’t already being paid decently for this year. If one turns out, it’s a big win.

things that have totally suprised me
– the many publications who have the NL Central as a four team race. Usually a bad four team race, usally with the Cubs 4th, btu somehow the Cubs haev gained ground mostly on everyone else being worse.

I really don’t understand it. Even with a bounce back year from Ram, a better bullpen and better results for guys like Wells, this seems a below average team without a strong offensive identity. Last year, I had the team at 80. They won 75. I’ll guess the recovery gets them back to 80, but this doens’t seem like a playoff team without multiple people having breakout years and it doesn’t feel like that’ll happen.

Last year, I had a feeling of dread, of the bottom falling out on this run. I don’t have that this year, but it hasn’t been replaced by any excitement. It’s a team. They’re going to play 162 games, that’s the only part I feel confident about.

 April 1st, 2011  
 chicago national league ball club  
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2005 trades in review

(by wins over replacement)

Mike Fontenot
2005 0.1
2007 0.6
2008 3.0 - also, totally awesome
2009 0.4
2010 0.1

Jerry Hairston Jr.
2005  1.0
2006 -0.6

Sammy Sosa
2005 -1.1

Cubs 4.6 (+ single A player)
O’s -1.1

I hope the outright player dumps to come this off season work out half this well.

Thanks for 2008, Mike Fontenot, but I don’t know why you were on team for the last year.

 August 11th, 2010  
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projected the 2011 Cubs roster

Should’ve written this post a month ago, but this team needs as few words as possible

1B – need new starter
2B – need new starter
3B – stuck with current starter

LF – stuck with current starter/borderline OK
RF – offseason salary dump?

SP1 (Dempster) – OK
SP2 (Silva) – OK
SP3 (Zambrano) – stuck with current starter?
SP4 (Lilly) – need new starter
SP5 (Wells) – uncertain

LH Setup – OK
RH Setup – OK (assuming it’s Cashner)
everyone else – uncertain -> need new reliever

The Cubs can, and probably will, fill any rotation hole and most of the bullpen from the minors. They’ve got the guys to try, and they can use the money saved from Lilly elsewhere (needed to improve positions, most likely eating a salary.) Signing one vet for the pen would not be a surprise.

They have the replacement for RF, and finding a new home for Fukudome might be priority #1 for whomever is the GM next year. (I presume Zambrano will be either settled this year, or proved unmovable for anyone and be put on the back burner.)

The Cubs do not have a major league caliber replacement for 1B or 2B. They could bring back Lee and keep Theriot, but both would almost certainly command more than what they’ll produce, and there’s going to be great pressure to shake things up. The big problem is the guys the fans generally like (Theriot, Lee, Lilly) are the easiest to move away from to get to that change. This will not go well.

 June 28th, 2010  
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going north

01 SS Theriot
02 RF Fukudome     09 ?F X Nady
03 1B Lee
04 3B A Ram        10 3B C Tracy
05 LF Soriano      11 OF T Colvin
06 RF Byrd
07 CA Soto         12 CA K Hill
08 2B Fontenot     13 2B J Baker

14 SP Z!           19 RP S Marshall
15 SP Dempster     20 RP J Samardzija
16 SP Wells        21 RP J Russell
17 SP Silva        22 RP J Berg
18 SP Gorzelanny   23 RP E Caridad
                   24 RP J Grabow
	           25 RP C Marmol

DL Lilly
DL? Jeff Gray - running a few weeks behind, and they had plans of using him;
                keeping him on ML DL saves an option for now
60DL Guzman

Yep. I don’t remember what projections I was looking at; there are many out by now, and I’ve looked at a lot of them. Which ever one it was (the one that was a sum of many projections, run many times?), they pegged the Cubs for about 83 wins, with a range of 72-90. That’s exactly where I’d have them based on this roster. They’re low 80s with a 10 game swing either way. It’s a fault of management to be that low, but at least there’s a chance.

The more I think about it, the less concerned I am about the inexperience of the bullpen. If you believe the vast majority of bullpen arms are unpredictable and unreliable from season to season – which I do, because otherwise they wouldn’t be bullpen pitchers – then you might as well go cheap and promising with it than expensive and flawed. There are going to be some games blown because the rookies blow a lead, and it will be the roster mistake which will get Hendry in the most trouble (because there’s nothing more dramatic than a game lost you should’ve won), but it’s hardly the worst thing here. This is a sounder move than 2010’s Scott Eyre and Bobby Howry.

Making decisions on 40 ABs in spring training is a great way to screw yourself up, but if everyone believes Tyler Colvin’s true upside is major league fourth outfielder, what’s so horrible about using him in that role?

Xavier Nady playing outfield despite being unable to throw the ball is the underplayed story of the season. Really, he shouldn’t be doing anything more than pinch hitting, but they’re making noise as if he’s going to actually start and platoon with Fukudome a little bit. Runners taking extra bases are going to get old quick.

This team kinda shifted to the back of my mind the last couple weeks, but I’m exicited to get this started now (and kinda disappointed I didn’t figure out a way to join a fantasy league I wouldn’t hate.) Maybe it’s the 80 degree weather that’s making it feel like baseball should already be here – probably won’t feel it quite the same in a couple weeks when it’s freezing again.

 April 2nd, 2010  
 chicago national league ball club  

Spring Training 2010

So, it’s much later than I wanted to do this. If I wait much longer, I’ll forget the 5% I still remember I wanted to say.

Phoenix was nice. I don’t know if it even got to 70 degrees during the weekend I was there, but it felt like 90 from where I was coming from. It looked a lot different. Lots of empty areas; where as here, those empty areas tend to be places where someone had plans to build something and gave up half way thru, Arizona is a lot of subdivisions of empty houses next to tracts of untouched grass and not much else. Not a lot of grass though. You leave a lot of land unattended to here, and the weeds are taller than people by the time it’s cold. Phoenix grass is low to the ground and sparse.

The grass still is green, and so is the cacti, and so is just about nothing else. Where they’ve given up on grass, they’ve replaced it with rock and and sand, and the people designing houses and others buildings are a bit too attached to theme. The color palette seems to range from light sand all the way up dark sand. It was explained to me that the cactus are often secured to the ground to prevent people from stealing them, and it didn’t make much sense to me at the time why you’d want to steal something as painful to transport as a cactus. A few days later, I decided the people must desperately want a non-sand colored object in our life.

The spring training ballparks all seemed on the nicer side for what are essentially minor league parks. Besides Ho Ho Kam, we stopped by Tempe Diablo Stadium (home of insanely expensive concessions) and Peoria Stadium (a nice new two team facility, even if it does have a surprisingly small and generic gift shop), and went by a great majority of the other ones. I think, of all of them they saw, Ho Ho Kam looked the least modern. It definitely felt like they were desperately trying to squeeze as many seats as possible and had run of room for more. The extra grandstand extensions most of all looked ill fitting, like they were in such a hurry to get more seats than they didn’t have time to make it look good.

The Cubs played Arizona the first day, an exciting 8-7 comeback win. I left my camera in my luggage for that. Besides the backups making an inspired really to win, the highlight was Justin Upton crushing a ball to left field for a grand slam, the ball connecting near the top of the scoreboard.

I did take photos the next day (including at the SEA/SD building), when the White Sox annihilated the Cubs. I really need to get a scanner so you can appreciate my efforts at scoring the game. In some way, it wasn’t as tricky as I thought, because they were only planning to play 2 groups of players (they ended up with more; this is the game where Andres Blanco got hurt, and essentially lost his spot on the roster.) The Cubs give out lists of their extended roster, so figuring out who is who based on the number is too troubling; the trouble is figuring out who goes where in the batting order, or at least managing things until the new guys come up and you can verify their spots.

The last game never actually took place, but I had lots of photos of various warmups. I tried to get video of Starlin Castro taking batting practice (and special fungo fielding practice; he had one notable bad backhand try, and got a supportive lecture from Alan Trammell after.) The rain storm was the kind of rain storm where they’d probably try starting if this was a real game, and they did make an effort to dry things out as best as they could, but then suddenly gave up.

It did come down really hard shortly after they gave up on the game, but there are no long rain storms in Phoenix (expert knowledge of three days), and it was clear and drying up within an hour. Still got every game canceled.

Only baseball can get people to be so thrilled to see scrimmages. Basketball barnstorms into towns they don’t ever go, because the usual towns aren’t going to pay for 5 extra games that don’t matter. Football preseason is a plague. Baseball preseason is just inconsequential, but the locations and the timing make it feel much more like a rebirth (and much less like time killing.) I’m not sure if it’s something I’d want to do again, but that more of a personal thing (feels like I spend too much time on the irrelevant, or the barely relevant), but if you haven’t done it, I’d recommend it. It definitely feels like a vacation.

 March 23rd, 2010  
 chicago national league ball club  

Spring Training roster, 03/15

I need to write about the trip, still, but this is quicker and those photos are someplace else.

Locks That We Knew Going Into Camp and I Really Can Stop Mentioning,

01 SS Theriot
02 RF The Fuk
03 1B D Lee
04 3B A Ram
05 CF Byrd
06 LF Soriano
07 CA Soto
08 2B Fontenot

09 SP Dempster
10 SP Z
11 SP Wells – not that you would’ve known it today.

12 CL Marmol
13 RP Grabow

14 ?P Marshall – the position is another argument…
15 ?P Gorz – …and no one seems to have the first clue…
16 ?P Silva – …on even who’s leading here…

17 CA Hill
18 2B Baker

And I think that’s it, at least coming in. There’s three more who had/have hopes of being included

possible opening day Disabled List!

DL SP Ted Lilly – this one keeps bouncing back and forth like a metronome. Even best case, it makes since for him to start on the DL and get the extra warmup starts, since they may only need four starters anyway.

19 PH Xavier Nady – I don’t like the idea of an OF who can’t throw until June; doesn’t really work at most any position, but since the idea here was to platoon him with Fukudome, that’s not very helpful. I’d start him on the DL until he can at least do something, but Lou brushed off that idea.

DL RP Angel Guzman – :( At least he got one good season. I’ll be shocked to ever see him pitch in the ML again.

Up four grabs

That still leaves 6 spots, and four of those are in the bullpen. One of those jobs is already accounted for:

20 RP Esmalin Caridad – already know how this one plays out. He’s got a live arm, so Lou will be thrilled to give him a shot. He’s got a walking problem, so Lou will bury him deep in the pen. This is your anointed setup man!

I’ll get back to pitching in a couple spots, but the bench is easier to finish out

21 OF (who can back up all three) – this was clearly supposed to be Sam Fuld coming into the season, but he might have had it snaked from him. Tyler Colvin does not have the positionally flexibility (he’s really more of a corner guy) but has been killing the ball and has that 1st round draft pick tag. James Adduci has hit a little less, but still really good and offers more defense. Colvin’s thought of a prospect (though I doubt he’ll be much more than he is at this point), but Adduci isn’t really and it’s not as though the Cubs would be risking a great upside by having him sit on the bench 6 days out of 7. No idea how this is turning out.

22 ?? – This spot is supposed to be backup shortstop, which means it’d be Andres Blanco, but he’s been hurt a week. It was never going to be Starlin Castro…but now it seems like it actually may be some other position entirely.

Bringing in Chad Tracy and Kevin Millar on NRIs never made much since, because there really wasn’t going to be a spot for them on the 25. That math changes if Fontenot can actually play a little SS – there’s no need for the fourth guy, and there’s room for an extra 1B/3B type. (As I’ve pointed out too many times, this is why they shouldn’t have bothered to keep Fontenot, but he’s hitting good so I should lay off.) If this spot exists, it looks like it’s Millar over Tracy, with Hoffpauir and LeHair trailing far behind. I don’t know that any of them will actually hit when the calendar turns to April, but the bench could use one more hitter so it’s worth trying.

The thing is, Fontenot has played all of four innings of SS. Maybe he’s been putting in a lot of work on the back fields, or maybe that was enough for Lou, but I’m not so convinced this plan is actually happening.

And all of that was easier than the last three bullpen spots.

23 + 24 + 25 RP (or maybe starter?)

Gorz and Marshall probably won’t make the rotation, or at least won’t be there for long, so there’s no specific need for a LHP over a RHP. Past that? Who knows. Everyone left who’s pitched, minus those not on the 40 man roster, and those cut already

  • RHP M Parisi – Rule 5 pick, seemed to be here as a starter not at all (and definitely won’t be hid like Patton last year); has been good in short stints
  • RHP J Samardzija – coming in, the idea seemed to be start in ML or AAA with no chance of bullpen; does Guzman’s injury change that? Has been hit hard and not looked good.
  • LHP J Gaub – on the fringe of the bullpen coming in, has pitched good
  • RHP M Mateo – not this year and lit up
  • RHP J Stevens – probably had a spot at the start, but has been hit hard, who knows
  • RHP J Berg – like Guab, but with a win and a save
  • RHP B Parker – not this year and lit up
  • RHP B Schlitter – not the year and OK

If you based it on just Spring Training, which is both dumb and what will probably happen, it’s clearly Parisi, Guab and Berg as the last three, with Stevens and Samardzija on the perphiary. But there’s still plenty of innings to change things.

 March 14th, 2010  
 chicago national league ball club  
 1 Comment

Aaron Miles freedom day

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.)

 December 3rd, 2009  
 chicago national league ball club  
 1 Comment