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.

heading east


One last time?

01 SS The Riot
02 LF Soriano
03 1B D Lee
04 3B A Ram
05 RF Fukudome
06 2B DeRosa
07 CA Soto
08 CF Pie

09 SP Z!
10 SP Lilly
11 SP Hill
12 SP Dempster
13 SP Marquis

14 CA Blanco
15 PH Ward
16 IF Cedeno
17 2B Fontenot
18 OF Reed Johnson

19 CL Wood
20 RP Marmol
21 RP Howry
22 RP Marshall (unless he blows it)
23 RP Lieber
24 RP Wuertz
25 RP Hart?

22 RP Eyre
— RP Guzman

— OF Murton

Some thoughts here:

– I really like the Reed Johnson signing. He’s not the best of CFs, but I don’t think he’ll hurt the Cubs if he plays seven innings and Pie gets subbed in as late defensive replacement. Johnson hits the lefties great

2007 – 85PA 325/381/531 (all star numbers)
career – 701 AB 308/371/462 (solid numbers)

Moving Theriot out of the leadoff spot against lefties, if they put Johnson there instead as discussed, is really going to help the offense. These kind of situations are made for platoons, and Lou seems pretty comfortable using one.

On the days he doesn’t play, he’s the righty equivalent of Ward, waiting for the situational lefty to get in the game versus our weaker guys. And if he doesn’t pan out, the Cubs can cut him loose for a small price and bring up Sam Fuld in a couple months, and Sam is getting everyday ABs in the meantime.

The problem here is also liked the Craig Monroe trade for the same reasons, and uh, not so good. Johnson was available because of a roster crunch, but also because he spent a lot of last year hurt. Hopefully he’ll be a bit more fortunate in Chicago.

– The Cubs really should’ve never had Matt Murton to begin with. He shouldn’t have left the Red Sox, or he should’ve gone to the Twins or the Expos, that deal got a bit confused when they tried to beat the deadline. I think it’s best to look at Murton’s career as a Cub that way, “something for nothing”, instead of the possibly far more realistic “something instead of something lot more if they just gave him consistent time.” Regardless of Reed Johnson being signed, Murton was done as a Cub a long time ago. At least when Kosuke signed, but probably as far back as Soriano’s signing.

You can’t go back and fix the mistake of not trading Murton a season or two ago now, you’ve got to deal with the situation that now exists. The Cubs are fortunate there’s a good market to move middling corner outfielders; there’s plenty of teams both inside their division and elsewhere, though “solid to plus defender” doesn’t resemble the lost guy I’ve seen out there the last two years. If the Cubs can flip Murton for a non-40-man-roster guy with some promise and no track record, that’d be a fair trade and about what they should’ve ended up in the first place.

The Cubs sound like they’re moving on this, because they like Matt and they want to make it right for him, and I hope they can get this concluded quickly. He should not have to set foot in Des Moines again.

– the Trib’s subheadline on the roster moves “Fontenot’s versatility key to keeping him on roster” was intriguing to me, because the big problem with him has been his lack of utility fielding for what is a utility bench spot. What new things has Mike Fontenot learned that makes him more versatile?

Cedeno will be the back-up shortstop, but Fontenot proved he can play there in a pinch.

That’s versatility? Fontenot learning to play third would be nice, because it’d give a backup to Ram without moving people all around the infield. Though, the Cubs had a guy who was actually versatile, could play 3B, and SS, and 2B, but they just cut Alex Cintron to give Fonentot the spot.

Neither Cintron or Fontenot is going to add all that much at the plate; when they’re at their best, they’re empty batting averages lacking power or enough walks to make it meaningful. Fontenot is a little younger and probably a little cheaper, but not enough of either to make a difference.

I wonder what the real story about this roster decision. Did Cintron’s freak (batted ball to the face) and non-freak (hamstring) injuries concern the Cubs? Did they feel required to keep the Cajun Combo together? Did they want to keep around someone who they could option to AAA easily? The story they’re giving is Cintron was only here as a backup shortstop if Cedeno got traded to the O’s, but it still doesn’t explain why he was limited to that role.

– It would’ve been nice for Eyre to tell people he was hurt more than five seconds before the season started. Marshall was never going to make the rotation, he could’ve been pitching as a one-out guy for weeks. Baseball players, what are you going to do.

I think Pig would’ve be a better fit, but Marshall has earned a shot to take it. Everyone will play before they’re done.