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Grading The Cubs Offseason, Theo Speaks, Alfonso Soriano, Mark Grace & Sammy Sosa

By bullpenbrian - January 16, 2013 - 1:30 am Leave a comment.

Theo Epstein

Sports Illustrated’s evaluation of the Cubs’ offseason: Grade B.
Only 2 names under Key Departures: Bryan LaHair & Chris Volstad.
Volstad? Are you freaking serious? (3-12, 6.31) Chris Volstad?
What about Ryan Dempster?
What about Paul Maholm?
Heck, I’d put Geovany Soto, Manny Corpas or Jeff Beliveau before Volstad.

“The rotation additions are a mixed bag, and the outfield remains unsettled, but it’s hard not to like the addition of Fujikawa.”
–SI article

Terry Francona’s book “Francona: The Red Sox Years” comes out on Jan. 22.
Excerpts released by Sports Illustrated:
Theo Epstein traded for Adrian Gonzalez and signed Carl Crawford following pressure from Boston Red Sox owners to build a “sexy team.”

“They told us we didn’t have any marketable players, that we needed some sizzle, we need some sexy guys. Talk about the tail wagging the dog. This is like an absurdist comedy. We’d become too big. It was the farthest thing removed from what we set out to be.” -Epstein

Mark Grace is participating in a Diamondbacks fantasy camp underway in Scottsdale. He’s also on the record for blaming himself, not the team, for his dismissal from the broadcast booth last season following his second DUI in 15 months.

Sammy Sosa purchases distribution rights to a needle-free injection company, Injex21. The former Cub says he sees the potential to help people overcome their difficulties with taking injections.
Laughable, I know.

Three Cubs, including Sosa, are seen in SI.com’s Photo Blog.
Lou Piniella and Alfonso Soriano pose for SI’s baseball preview in 2007.
Sosa and Mark McGwire team up for a shoot during what I assume would be 1999 or 2000.

Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times spoke with Rays GM Andrew Friedman.

“The team is still looking for another bat, more likely through free agency than trade, either as a primary DH (which sounds like the preference) or with some positional flexibility allowing them to rotate the DH role.” -Friedman

Soriano, eh?

Juan Cruz broke in with the Cubs as a 22 year old in 2001. He went (8-19, 4.43) during his three seasons in Chicago. Cruz, 34, has signed a minor league deal with the Phillies.

Former Cub Michael Wuertz (2004-08) who was traded by Chicago to Oakland in Feb. 2009 for Richie Robnett & Justin Sellers, has signed a minor league deal with the Marlins.

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Bob Brenly Out, Doug Glanville In?

By bullpenbrian - October 18, 2012 - 5:00 am Leave a comment.

Cubs fans have been privy to the exceptional work of Len Kasper & Bob Brenly over the last eight seasons. That’s not as commonplace in baseball as some might believe it to be.

Granted, Brenly wasn’t a favorite analyst of mine out of the gate. He did grow on me and I’m honestly disappointed he won’t be back in the Cubs’ broadcast booth next season—but wishing him all the best wherever he lands.

I’m not shocked, however, Brenly’s leaving Chicago. Here’s what I said in late August:

Post Aug 27: I’m wondering if Brenly wants to come back?

From the outside it seems broadcasting Cubs games is a wonderful gig, Brenly is certainly paid well, but does he want to sit through another three or four losing seasons on the North Side?

Watching the rebuild may not be worth it for a guy like Brenly whose on-air candidness and occasional humor would be welcomed with open arms in markets with competitive teams like Arizona or Los Angeles.

Personally, I’d enjoy if Brenly returns to the Cubs’ booth in 2013 and beyond. But I wouldn’t necessarily be surprised if he opts to move elsewhere.

Losing is hard to swallow, even when you’re being paid handsomely to watch.

Nonetheless, now the discussion turns to Brenly’s replacement, and it’s a hugely important decision considering the television broadcast is the main marketing arm of the Cubs…especially coming off a 101-loss season and continuing to sell the idea of longer-term rebuilding plan.

Paul Sullivan of the Tribune lists several possible replacements for Brenly:

  • Mark Grace
  • Rick Sutcliffe
  • Todd Hollandsworth
  • Kerry Wood
  • Steve Stone
  • Eric Karros
  • Gary Matthews
  • Darrin Jackson
  • Steve Lyons.

I understand how beloved Gracie is on the North Side, but I fear his reckless lifestyle would ultimately become a distraction to the organization—same as it did in Arizona.

Kerry Wood is obviously another popular name in the mix, but he has zero broadcasting experience (that I’m aware of) and is the least polished of the early candidates.

I could live with ‘Big Red’ Sutcliffe or the return of Steve Stone. But I’ve always had a soft spot for former-Cub Doug Glanville.

Glanville is smart, articulate, funny and still remains tied to the area as President of GK Alliance, LLC located in the west Chicago suburb of Glen Ellyn, as well as serving as an analyst on ESPN’s Baseball Tonight show since 2010.

There are certain to be other candidates. Heck, it’s likely the Cubs have been narrowing down a short-list for weeks now.

The good news is Kasper is signed through another four season, which is a saving grace in itself. Len’s one of the best TV play-by-play voices in baseball. So regardless of whomever is paired with him, at least we’re promised half the broadcast to be enjoyable.

All said, the announcement of Brenly’s replacement is certain to be one of the biggest offseason additions to the Cubs’ family. But here’s hoping it doesn’t remain the top headline for long.

We know whoever it is the Cubs land as its new television analyst won’t be starting at third base, center field, or shoring-up a leaky starting rotation. That’s the kind of signing we can only hope takes top-billing this winter.

Then again, Brenly’s replacement will be an everyday player in the booth, that someone we’ll want to welcome into our living rooms for those six/seven months out of the year.

Brenly couldn’t have been a better house guest on our flat screens, even if he took some getting used to.

Who knows if we’ll be as lucky to have someone as good as Brenly again?

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Mark Grace Arrested Again On DUI

By bullpenbrian - August 27, 2012 - 1:00 am 2 comments.

Mark Grace was arrested Thursday night for driving under the influence of alcohol and operating his vehicle with a suspended license.

It’s the second time in the last 15 months he’s been arrested for a DUI, and the former offense already requires him to have an interlock device on his vehicle.

Grace has remained in the good graces of Cubs fans since he was let go by the team in 2000. But despite his reputation as a lovable Wrigleyville playboy, there’s nothing comforting with what appears to be his personal battle with alcoholism.

The Diamondbacks announced Friday Grace had requested “an indefinite leave of absence” to seek personal assistance. It’s likely he won’t return to the broadcast booth this season.

Whether or not the D-Backs should invite Grace back next season, I don’t know. I personally take DUI offenses extremely seriously. And this obviously isn’t the first mistake Grace has made behind the wheel.

However, Arizona turning its back to Grace may not be beneficial to either party. Grace is a terrific broadcaster, and if he’s willing to seek help and remain open to treatment, why not work with him to get his life and his career back in order?

If, however, Grace succumbs to a third strike–sorry Gracie, yer’ out.

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