Browsing posts from January, 2009
For the next 16 years the Cincinnati Reds own Ken Griffey Jr. $5 million per year, it’s all deferred money from Griffey’s original contract signed with the Reds in 2000.
Still, the sure fire HOF is yet to be signed this off season, a bit surprising considering Griffey isn’t in need of more dough and could be reeled-in on the cheap.
I still believe Junior would have been a better sign for the Cubs than Milton Bradley, but the Cubs’ miss is another club’s opportunity, yet who those teams are is still unclear.
The latest reports out of Griffey’s camp say four teams are interested in him for at least the 2009 season.
Seattle is obviously one of the bidders, but after that it’s anyone’s guess.
What we do know about Griffey is he’d prefer to play closer to his home in Orlando, wants to play for a winner and wants a regular deal, meaning no minor league deal or an invitation to Spring Training.
So, here’s what I’m thinking:
After watching the Red Sox gamble with Brad Penny and John Smoltz it seems reasonable they’d also take a shot on Junior.
Plus, Griffey could fill the void left from Sean Casey’s recent retirement and the Red Sox will again be contenders for a World title.
Tampa Bay appeared to lose interest with Griffey after signing Pat Burrell, but the Rays would be such a solid fit it’s hard to imagine there’s still not an opening for Griff, if for no other reason than location.
Speaking of which, location alone has the Marlins in positioned to be considered as well.
Not only is the location prime for a Griffey signing, but the organization’s strong personnel efficiency typically fields a competitive team.
And should Philly fall into a post World Series let-down the Marlins are sure contenders in the division against the questionable Mets and rebuilding Braves.
Of course, for years the Braves were included in Griffey trade talk but never appeared to be serious.
Although, Atlanta is about a close as Griffey can get to Florida without playing for either the Rays or Marlins.
Lastly, however, is Houston: perhaps close enough to Florida and a likely contender in the NL Central.
Not to mention, there’s still an opportunity for Junior to once again pal up with his good buddy Adam Dunn, an unsigned free-agent and a Houston native to boot.
Indiana native Aaron Heilman grew up rooting for the Cubs
Last season when Bob Howry stood as the Cubs’ best bullpen option before Marmol and Wood, it was obvious the relief corp. was hurting.
As many of you know, I spent the remaining summer months pleading for more bullpen help (and Howry’s departure) – but of course, it never arrived.
Sure, Chad Gaudin – part of the Harden deal – was a plus, but the ’08 Cubs’ pen needed more than one good arm.
And that’s still the case this January despite the club’s trade for Aaron Heilman yesterday afternoon.
There’s already plenty of chatter about Heilman moving into the Cubs’ rotation, but I see room for the guy.
First of all, come Spring Training the often forgotten about Rich Hill will make his case again for a starting position as will Sean Marshall.
Not to mention, it also makes sense for the Cubs to look at Samardzija moving into the rotation, a spot he’s familiar with from his days at Triple-A Iowa.
This leaves Heilman as my odds on favorite to partner up with Gaudin for the middle relief innings.
Heilman has been mediocre during his six seasons with New York, the last three as a reliever.
The plus side is he’s shown some durability, has hovered around a .500 record and averages near one strike out per innings pitched.
Some ballplayers hit their stride late, and at 30-years-old it’s possible Heilman could still improve.
At worst, he’s still an upgrade over the handful of 4-AAA relievers on the Cubs’ roster.
Although I still would’ve liked to see Olson’s development in the Cubs’ farm system, it’s encouraging to see the bullpen get some reinforcements before the start of the season.
The Brewers are wise not to commit to Prince Fielder beyond two years.
Sounds strange I’m sure, considering the guy’s shaping up as one of the most productive, and feared, power hitters in the game.
Problem is, he’s also shaping up much like his father, and not in the home run kind of way.
Prince’s robust gut presents a serious issue for the Brewers if they’re thinking about handing over the keys to the franchise to a guy who could eat himself out of the league before reaching the end of a big money, long-term deal.
His listed playing weight of 260lbs (he’s certainly heavier) is in no way favorable for a long-term playing career.
Just look at dear old dad, Cecil, who entered the league at a listed weight of 240 pounds (ie 290lbs) before his bulk rapidly declined his career.
Granted, Cecil averaged 38 HRs per season from his 26th birthday to his 30th, but just as quickly he became limited by injuries to averaging a meek 124 games per season from his 30th birthday to his retirement at age 34.
Thus, if Prince is anything like his father, and there’s no denying the physical similarities, the Prince’s career should be peaking around the time his new contract expires two years from now.
This is precisely when Milwaukee should cut ties with Fielder, letting him sign big, free-agent-money elsewhere, most likely with an AL team where the big-fella can DH.
It’s very likely the Brewers will miss out on a year or two of Fielder’s best baseball, but they at least they won’t be saddled in the long term with a huge contract for a huge player whose best years are behind him.
Today I strolled through the neighborhood and snapped a few wintery shots of Wrigley Field.
It’s another bone-chilling January day, the wind howls and the neighborhood quietly hibernates while waiting for Opening Day.
Other than a few construction workers on Sheffield, not much is going on around the ballpark, not even a trace of the ever-present tourist in front of Wrigley’s red marquee at Clark & Addison.
It was a different story last winter as Wrigley’s entire playing surface underwent a makeover.
Although, at some point this off season the infield will be reworked again, courtesy the NHL after the Winter Classic.
Other than the days getting longer, this is Wrigleyville for the next three months…come back Cubs!
On the corner of Waveland & Clark
Scoreboard from Sheffield Ave.
Looking in from the right field cutout
Hang in there Harry!
Friday I reset my Bullpen Brian Visitor’s Map to zero hits.
Basically, last year’s map has been archived, which, you can make a return visit to by simply clicking on the map and finding the archives link.
Each January I’ll reset the map in hopes of keeping the visitor’s page from looking like a giant red blob.
Nonetheless, the map looks pretty naked, so start snooping around.
Check back Monday for more posts on the NFL Championship games this weekend, and a big thank you to everyone who visited during 2008!
With the Jake Peavy deal in the rear view mirror, at least for the time being, the Cubs should go after F.A. Andy Pettitte.
Despite the fact Pettitte has hinted at retirement the past several seasons if not resigned by the Yankees, I still think an opportunity to win a championship with Chicago could lure the 37-year-old lefty back to the NL Central.
Although it seems Pettitte is often thought of as injury-prone and washed-up, it’s quite the contrary.
Beginning with the 2005 season, Andy has pitched 200+ innings, made no less than 33 starts per season and registered no less than 14 wins per year.
Not to mention, he’s been money during post season having recorded (14) wins in a whopping 35 post season starts.
Granted the Yanks kept Pettitte from retirement with back-to-back $16 million deals, it’s reasonable to think Andy would be willing to sign with Chicago for closer to what he made with the Astros: ’04 – $5.5 million, ’05 – $8.5 million.
Plus, the addition of Pettitte would allow Sean Marshall to stay in the pen as a needed left-handed specialist and he would offer the rotation security for the more unpredictable Rich Harden.
Colon won 15 games with the Sox in 2003
On the South Side, it’s an interesting decision by GM Kenny Williams to welcome back Bartolo Colon.
Since winning 21 games with the Angels in 2005, Colon’s only specialty has been fighting through nagging injuries, which, has limited the 36-year-old to a meek 34 starts combined during the past three seasons and his record in that same time frame is a sub .500 (11-15).
And while I’m always in favor of adding power arms, if for no other reason than post season play, Colon’s career mark during October is a paltry (1-3) with a 4.15 ERA in eight starts.
Sure, Colon will play with a non-guaranteed contract, but the early predictions that Colon will be the team’s fourth starter are well, just that, too early to tell.
Worse, recent history says he’ll be far from it.
This afternoon I ordered two Snuggie blankets.
For those not familiar, it’s the latest fad for “As seen on TV” products.
Basically, it’s a blanket with sleeves, which allows one to keep their hands free while staying snuggled up on the couch.
What I didn’t know, surprisingly, is how much sleeveless blankets have become an issue for so many Americans, including myself.
But not any longer, thanks to Snuggie.
Anyway, it won’t be long before I’m keeping in style wearing a Cubbie Blue Snuggie while being far lazier than usual on the ol’ couch cushions.
Perhaps you’re thinking I’m the ultimate sucker, and quite possible you’re right, or maybe, you’re thinking about ordering a Snuggie too!
This is 2009, after all; shouldn’t we all have a blanket with sleeves?
Water to wine, flying, all thanks to Snuggie
Snuggies are popular in space too
Not a Snuggie
I’ll thank the White Sox for my free tickets to Sunday’s Hawks’ game against Nashville.
Back in October I entered a Blackhawks Sweepstakes at Four Corners Tavern while watching the Sox battle the Devils Rays in the ALDS.
Never thought anything of it until last Friday when I found out I actually won the Sweepstakes!
My loot: two 100-level tickets, a free Hawks sweater and lunch with a Blackhawks ambassador come February.
As for the jersey, I could choose between home red or road white: I went Griswold.
Look kids, a deer!
Below I’ve posted a few picks from the game: Hawks won 3-1 behind some fine net minding from my man, K-Habby, who I got to watch up close.
Khabibulin gets focused
Faceoff during the third period
Khabibulin is the game's first star
Wouldn't be sitting here without the Sox!
John Smoltz signing with Boston is the right move for him, not so much the Braves.
For years the Atlanta franchise set the standards for comforting its players, retaining dominate starting pitching and winning division titles, but this particular case officially marks the end of that era.
Obviously, Smoltz is nearing the end of his remarkable career; he’s 42-years-old and coming off a season in which he pitched in just six games.
So of course, there’s reason for Atlanta to be concerned about John’s durability, even despite the fact he’s rebounded successfully from multiply arm ailments.
Yet, Braves CEO Terry McGuirk says “I just don’t know what’s going on with him [Smoltz] right now,” “for him to walk away from that [Atlanta’s $2 million incentives-based offer] and to go to another place, I’m just shocked and surprised.
Since when should anyone be shocked or surprised that a player skips town for more money?
You pay people like Smoltz what they’re worth…and for a guy who’s won 210 games and saved 154, it’s more than the lame offer of $2 million with incentives of pitching 200+ innings.
In turn, Boston is bright enough to take a chance on Smoltz who’s won no less than 14 games since returning as a starter in 2005 (with the exception of the 2008 season).
The deal breaker: Boston offered Smoltz a higher base salary ($5.5 million) with more attainable statistical incentives for a 40+ year-old pitcher while setting no time table for his return.
If McGuirk and the Braves can’t see the value of keeping a John Smoltz, they won’t see the post season either.