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Browsing posts from December, 2008

Cubs Short A Penny

By bullpenbrian - December 31, 2008 - 12:45 am Leave a comment.

The Cubs should have signed Brad Penny before Boston did this week.

Instead, the Red Sox make another brilliant move by bringing in a top of the rotation pitcher for 1-year at $5 million.

Certainly, it’s a high-risk move for any club that signs a 30-year-old power-pitcher coming off a season plagued by arm troubles.

But, why not take a chance on a guy who’s 19 games above .500 for his career (9 years) and has averaged 135 Ks from 2005-07 (Penny started just 17 games in 2008 with 51 punchouts).

Plus, the best part is it’s a 1-year deal, if Penny fails to return to his All Star form the Sox simple move on without him – and putting it that way makes the deal seem more low-risk than anything else.

Sure, there’s a $3 million dollar performance bonus in Penny’s new deal but, that means the high-risk move has paid off in high-risk rewards.

For Chicago it’s all about the post season…and post season games are won with pitching, especially power-arms the likes of Penny.

There’s no question the Cubs already have a solid rotation without Penny: Dempster, Zambrano, Lilly, Harden…but, there’s always room come October for one more power-arm.

On the flip side, dealing Jason Marquis for Luis Vizcaino is a smart move.

Since late June I’ve been heckling Jim Hendry to improve the club’s bullpen.

Thankfully, Bob Howry has departed to San Fran but, leading up to Marmol and newly acquired closer Kevin Gregg the Cubs are thin in the pen.

Jeff Samardzija has yet to tame his control issues and incumbent relievers Michael Wuertz and Neal Cotts both spent time at Triple-A Iowa last season, not exactly your type-A relief staff.

Vizcaino doesn’t absolve all the pen’s problems but, if healthy, he’ll serve as a plus upgrade.

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Banned Sports Language

By bullpenbrian - December 29, 2008 - 12:45 am Leave a comment.

Is this stepping up?

Is this stepping up?

Read this article about words that should be banned from the English language.

Made me think about what words and phrases I’d ban from the sports world.

Mainly, clichés like “one game at a time,” “someone needs to step up,” and “controlling one’s destiny.”

Of course, teams can only take things one game at a time, that’s all that’s played at a time.

And shouldn’t players always be striving to step up???

Plus, as Bob Costas pointedly noted on NBC’s Football Night in America, you CAN’T CONTROL YOUR OWN DESTINY PEOPLE, destiny means it out of one’s hands.

What you can control, however, is your own path!!!

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Why MLB F.A. Are Heading East

By bullpenbrian - December 28, 2008 - 12:45 am Leave a comment.

CC points East towards New York

CC points East towards New York

It’s no coincidence MLB’s top tier free-agents are heading towards the East coast.

Not only do East coast teams typically have more money to spend on F.A.’s but, they have to spend in order to compete within the East Divisions.

If the Yankees don’t sign CC, A.J. and Teixeira, they’re probably finishing behind Boston, Tampa Bay and Toronto in the division.

Meanwhile, even if the Dodgers let Manny walk and stand pat with its currant roster heading into spring training, chances are they’re still competing for the division crown against its Western rivals.

And, because West coast clubs don’t have to reel in the cream of the free-agent crop to compete, they won’t spend any unnecessary money to do so.

Sure, it’s possible we’ll see another Furcal-type signing out West but, most of the big fish will swim East.

East Coast Signings:

CC Sabathia

A.J. Burnett

Mark Teixeira

Francisco Rodriguez

Raul Ibanez

Jamie Moyer

West Coast Signings:

Travis Blackley

Juan Rivera

Jody Gerut

Rob Bowen

Alan Embree

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Free-Agents for the Cubs

By bullpenbrian - December 22, 2008 - 12:45 am Leave a comment.

The Cubs should bring Edmonds back in 09

The Cubs should bring Edmonds back in '09

The Cubs, as expected, didn’t make a peep at the Winter Meetings after the Jake Peavy deal fell through.

And although I was in favor of trading for Peavy (and I still am), it’s not the end of the world on the North Side.

The bright side of not landing Peavy is the Cubs retain what little remaining minor league talent they have at Triple-A Iowa and Double-A Tennessee.

However, this team is still in need of some left-handed hitting despite the signing of outfielder Joey Gathright.

While I’m an early believer in Gathright’s potential to become an everyday player, he’s still a role player on this Chicago team until proving otherwise.

That being said, below I’ve listed – in no particular order- a few free-agents who I think would complement the Cubs’ left-handed needs for the lineup.

First of all, I like the idea of resigning Jim Edmonds.

Sure, he’s old (39) and a former Cardinal but, the guy played rejuvenated baseball after joining the club in May.

Give Edmonds another year on a winner like Chicago and I like his chances of posting similar numbers to last season’s .256 avg., 19 HR & 49 RBIs.

Not to mention, Edmonds’ knack for hitting fly balls plays well in tiny Wrigley Field and Gathright’s arrival gives the aging star plenty of days off in centerfield.

One below-the-radar type player is Brad Wilkerson, a 32-year-old lefty with some pop and a decent glove in right field.

It’s been four years since Wilkerson notched 32 HRs with Montreal but, since then he’s averaged around 13 bombs per season.

The good news is he has a lifetime (8 seasons) .350 OBP and plays right field…the downside is his durability which has limited him to playing in no more than 119 games since 2006.

The Cubs could probably get Wilkerson on the cheap for something around $2.5 to $3 million per year while platooning him in right with Fukudome.

Another possibility is first baseman Sean Casey.

Given Lou’s penchant for double switches and playing his entire bench, Casey’s left-handedness would come in handy especially as a pinch hitter.

While Casey is far from a spring chicken (34), he’s a career .302 avg hitter including a .296 avg. with Detroit in 2006 and a .322 avg. with Boston last season.

The positives with Casey is that he’s no threat to current first sacker Derrek Lee, who’s never played fewer than 150 games since 2000 with the exception of his broken wrist in 2006 that limited him to just 50 appearances.

And most importantly, Casey has been clutch during the post season.

During Detroit’s World Series run in 2006 Sean batted .353 avg. in the ALDS, .333 avg. for the ALCS and .529 avg. in the Fall Classic.

In all for the 2006 post season Casey went 16-for-37 (.432 avg.) with 2 HRs and 9 RBIs.

That’s the kind of hitting Chicago needs from a left-hander come October.

On the contrary, Casey is sub par defensively, slow on the bases and injury prone.

Lastly, I think whoever signs former Cub Jerry Hairston Jr. is getting a real bargain.

With Cincinnati last year (80 games) Hairston batted .326 with high .384 OBP.

Although Hairston is a right-hander hitter, he’s also an above average centerfielder, can play shortstop as well, and stole 15 bases vs. being caught stealing just three times.

However, he had two extended stays on the DL with leg injuries in 2008 and that’s a scary trend at 34-years-old.

Still, it’s likely Hairston is signable at less than a million dollars meaning he’s a cheap risk.

Basically, it’s crucial the Cubs sign someone left-handed to complement its everyday lineup dominated by righties.

And while I love the idea of a Micah Hoffpauir having a break though year come spring training, it’s better safe than sorry in signing one of the above free-agents.

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Ryno the Cubs’ Next Manager

By bullpenbrian - December 17, 2008 - 12:45 am Leave a comment.

In two years Ryne Sandberg will manage the Chicago Cubs.

Figure this: the upcoming season is the final year of Sweet Lou’s 3-year deal, throw in a fourth option year for Piniella (meaning the Cubs don’t win the World Series in 2009 and Lou returns in 2010) and Sandberg makes his way from the minor leagues to the bigs for 2011.

The big club announced today Sandberg is taking his act south to Double-A Tennessee after two seasons with Single-A Peoria (131-146).

Forget the sub .500 record with the Chiefs, it doesn’t matter.

The man is a born leader; he played like one on the field and continues to carry himself like one off it.

What’s important in Tennessee is for Sandberg to hone his managerial skills as a bench boss in time to take over for Piniella.

Yes, a winning record is desirable with the Smokies but, no matter the outcome in Tennessee, Ryne Sandberg WILL BE A CANDIDATE TO REPLACE PINIELLA sooner rather than later.

In turn, chances are Sandberg begins fielding big-league managerial offers after this season…so, if Lou is gone after 2009, Ryno is the next man up in Chicago.

If Lou stays???

Then there’s the chance Sandberg manages at Triple-A Iowa or moves outside the Cubs’ organization but, I don’t see that happening.


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Gathright A Good Signing

By bullpenbrian - December 16, 2008 - 12:45 am Leave a comment.

Meet Mr. Gathright

Meet Mr. Gathright

You can forget about Chicago signing Raul Ibanez, he’s now signed on with Philly. However, there’s no reason not to be excited about Joey Gathright…seriously!

He’s 27-years old, has excellent speed (78 stolen bases in 105 attempts in his career), is versatile in the outfield and, is a left-handed bat with 400+ games of MLB experience under his belt.

Obviously, Gathright is not is the power hitting lefty (1-career HR) Lou is coveting, but there’s definitely a place for this guy on Chicago’s roster.

After watching Lou manage for two seasons we understand the skipper’s pleasure in making double switches and inserting pinch runners, both of which make Gathright an ideal fit off the bench.

Not to mention, Gathright is above average defensively in center field — something the Cubs lack.

Still, this signing is all about Felix Pie. He’s out of minor league options and still struggling to hit MLB pitching.

In turn, Pie’s trade stock has dropped considerably leaving Jim Hendry stuck with the under-achieving prospect.

With Gathright in the mix we’re only left to believe Pie is on the move. Where he goes, who knows?

***

Of course, it’s looking better each day that Hendry lands free-agent slugger Milton Bradley.

Yes, Bradley is an ideal fit for the Cubs lineup statistically, but he’s also far more expensive than Gathright’s 1-year $800,000 contract.

And let’s not forget, when you sign Milton you’re also signing the loads of baggage that’s trailed him from Cleveland, L.A., Oakland, San Diego, and Texas.

In my mind, Bradley isn’t a guy you want on a championship type roster like the Cubs. And clearly, there’s a reason he’s played for five different clubs in the past six seasons. Basically, the guy is nuts between the ears.

So yeah, get excited about Joey Gathright! Even though he’s not the perfect fit, he’s still good enough.

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Chief Woody

By bullpenbrian - December 15, 2008 - 12:45 am Leave a comment.

I’m surprised teams like Milwaukee and St. Louis let Kerry Wood sign with Cleveland, 2-years for $20.5 million.

After the Brewers fell out of the CC race, as expected, I figured they’d give Wood a call, and the Cards led MLB in blown saves last season.

Wouldn’t Wood be an awfully good closer as a guy who knows the NL Central winning Cubs better than any pitcher on the free-agent market?

Woody finished 2008 (34-40) in saves opportunities with a (5-4) record and 3.26 ERA, far better than anyone the Brewers or Cardinals have penciled in for closing games in 2009.

Nonetheless, the Tribe is a fantastic fit for Kerry…as a club overall they’re super talented and especially in the pen.

Setting up Wood next season is Jensen Lewis, Rafael Perez, Rafael Betancourt and newly acquired Joe Smith (NYM).

Remember, two seasons ago the Indians were one game away from reaching the World Series…Wood is the final piece to a club that will be knocking on the door to the post season again next season as well.

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Abreu Not A Cub

By bullpenbrian - December 9, 2008 - 12:45 am Leave a comment.

Outside all the Jake Peavy to Chicago trade rumors -and they’re plenty of them knuckling towards the plate- there’s another rumor surfacing about Bobby Abreu fitting into the Cubs’ outfield.

Bad idea I tell you, Abreu has no business on this club.

While the 34-year-old free agent has put together a wonderful 13-season big-league career, he’s due way too much money for the Cubs to fatten his retirement plan.

Besides, I’ve yet to give up on Fukudome’s potential and they’re still plenty of suitable outfielders for the Cubs to sign at a more affordable rate than Abreu.

Just to be clear, this isn’t an age issue with Bobby…in fact, I often believe there’s way too much made about player’s ages to begin with.

Furthermore, the Cubs are a WIN NOW team, so who cares how old the right fit is.

On the other hand, my concern is the dollars…and while Abreu’s left-handed bat and career .300 avg. would fit nicely into the Cubs’ lineup, his latest deal of $16 million with the Yanks is over budget for a contender whose priority should be finding a left-handed bat to complement the lineup without choking the team’s payroll.

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Santo A HOF

By bullpenbrian - December 8, 2008 - 12:40 am Leave a comment.

Not this comes as a surprise but, Santo wasn’t voted in by the Veterans Committee.

And as I mentioned last week, I’m through getting worked up about HOF inductions…simply put, it’s a joke.

ESPN baseball writer Rob Neyer has an interesting take on the voting….below I pasted his coments about Santo.

R. Neyer – “Ron Santo is the best and most deserving candidate on the post-1942 ballot. Santo was an All-Star nine times, more than anyone else on the ballot. He hit 342 home runs, which at the time of his retirement was No. 2 all-time among third basemen. Santo also drew so many walks that he finished with a .362 on-base percentage, higher than those of Jim Rice and Andre Dawson. The one legitimate knock against Santo is he was washed up at 34, but before that he was perhaps the most durable third baseman ever. He has my whole-hearted endorsement.”

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MLB HOF – Who’s In & Who’s Out

By bullpenbrian - December 3, 2008 - 2:21 am Leave a comment.

Rickey says Rickey is a HOF

I don’t get too caught up anymore in MLB’s HOF inductions. This process is just one of several yearly blunders by the league.

Yes, it’s a shame the league hasn’t worked to make defining a HOF career more clear.

And the league’s stubbornness to do so slowly erodes the fans passion for celebrating the event.

So in the meantime, I like to stick by this definition…we know a HOF when we see one.

For example, Rickey Henderson…great player, Mark Grace…good player.

Below I’ve listed the eligible players for induction, then categorized them into No Chance, Long Shot and Good Chance by my assessment.

All that being said, let the debate begin…and riddle me this Batman: why isn’t Ron Santo in the Hall???

Here’s the list of the players eligible for the 2009 HOF inductions:

• Harold Baines

• Jay Bell

• Bert Blyleven

• David Cone

• Andre Dawson

• Ron Gant

• Mark Grace

• Rickey Henderson

• Tommy John

• Don Mattingly

• Mark McGwire

• Jack Morris

• Dale Murphy

• Jesse Orosco

• Dave Parker

• Dan Plesac

• Tim Raines

• Jim Rice

• Lee Smith

• Alan Trammell

• Greg Vaughn

• Mo Vaughn

• Matt Williams

No Chance:

• Jay Bell

• Ron Gant

• Mark Grace

• Mark McGwire

• Dan Plesac

• Alan Trammell

• Greg Vaughn

• Mo Vaughn

• Matt Williams

Long Shots:

• Bert Blyleven

• David Cone

• Tommy John

• Don Mattingly

• Dale Murphy

• Jesse Orosco

• Tim Raines

Good Chance:

• Andre Dawson

• Rickey Henderson

• Jack Morris

• Dave Parker

• Lee Smith

• Jim Rice

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