Archive | January, 2010

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4th Outfielder on Cubs, Hendry’s To Do List

Posted on 21 January 2010 by Lou

The Chicago Cubs still need to find their 4th outfielder for the 2010 MLB schedule – Jermaine Dye, Xavier Nady and Reed Johnson are all on the list.  Three starters are already locked in – Left Fielder Alfonso Soriano, Center Fielder Marlon Byrd & Right Fielder Kosuke Fukudome.

Dye has played for the cross-town rival White Sox the last few seasons.  In 2009, however, Dye’s average dipped down to .251 well below his career .274 batting average.  Dye had 27 HR’s, 18 doubles and 81 RBI’s during the course of the 2009 MLB schedule.

Nady played only 7 games during the 2009 MLB season.  In July, Nady had season-ending elbow ligament replacement surgery.  He is a career .280 hitter and he has played for the San Diego Padres, Pittsburgh Pirates and both New York baseball teams – the Mets and Yankees.

Reed Johnson could also find himself back on the Cubs roster in 2010.  Johnson played only 65 games for the Cubs in 2009 because of injury issues.  He fractured his foot on a foul ball in July and never fully recovered.  The Cubs told Johnson that he should at least test the free agency market to see if he could find a team that would guarantee him more playing time or a longer-term deal.  If he doesn’t find something he likes, the Cubs could always bring him back under a 1-year club-friendly deal.  Johnson was a fan favorite at the friendly Confines of Wrigley Field, so it would not be horrible to have him back – as long as the 33-year old is healthy.

The only other Cubs outfielder on the roster is Sam Fuld.  Fuld is a scrappy player who excels at defense.  He can play all 3 outfield positions.  In 65 major league games for the Cubs in 2009, Fuld batted .299.  Fuld also hit .284 at Triple-A Iowa during the season (84 games).

I like either Dye or Johnson.  Dye is a good veteran presence and a good teammate in the locker room.  Not having to play everyday could also prolong his strength during the long MLB season (he will be 36 when the season starts).  Johnson seems like a good fit too.  Nady seems like more of a long-shot given the surgery – not sure he’ll even be ready by Spring Training…

Come on Jim (Hendry) let’s get something done here…

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Milton Bradley – Chicago Nightmare Keeps on Ticking

Posted on 20 January 2010 by Lou

Even though the Cubs traded Milton Bradley a few weeks ago, he is still wreaking havoc on the city of Chicago.  Allegedly Bradley hasn’t paid rent on his luxury Mag Mile condo since October, and now his landlord and realty company are suing him to make good on what he owes.  Can you believe this?!

Bradley plays like ass all year long, despite signing a $30 million, 3-year deal at the beginning of 2009 – that works out to an approximate $43,000 per game paycheck.  To date, he owes approximately $44,100 in back rent and late fees through the month of January and he can’t find the money to pay up?  What a moron.  The landlord has vowed to pursue the damages and to keep assessing rent through the 1-year term of the lease (at $15,000 per month).  The property is located on the 24th of the Park Hyatt at 800 North Michigan Avenue.  How this guy continues to act the way he does is mind-boggling.  Does he have any agents or “handlers” to help him with these things?  It is just unconscionable…

Bradley batted .257 in 124 games for the Cubs in 2009 before GM Jim Hendry and the Cubs front office suspended him in September for conduct detrimental to the team.  At the time, the Cubs owed Bradley $20 million under the final 2 years of his contract which runs through 2011.  Bradley struck out 95 times in 393 at-bats, but he did walk 66 times to help get his on-base percentage all the way up to .378.  His 12 home runs and 40 RBI’s were a joke, however, and the Cubs had no choice but to move Bradley as far away from Chicago as possible.

Good riddance Milton – the city of Chicago and Wrigley Field are all better places now that you are now longer here…

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Cubs Agree to 1-Year Deals with 5 Players; Theriot, Marmol & Marshall Still to Come

Posted on 19 January 2010 by Lou

The Chicago Cubs have agreed to 1-year deals with 5 players – infielders Mike Fontenot and Jeff Baker; catcher Koyie Hill; and pitchers Angel Guzman and Tom Gorzelanny.  Each player was in his first year of being arbitration eligible.

Fontenot signed a $1 million deal for 2010.  After a great 2008 in which he hit over .300, Fontenot came back down to earth in 2009, hitting just .236 in 135 games played.

Baker signed a $975,000 deal for 2010.  The Cubs acquired Baker from the Colorado Rockies in July and he hit over .300 in 69 games for the north siders.  Baker and Fontenot will be competing for the starting 2nd baseman job in Spring Training in Mesa, Arizona.  If neither stands out, Manager Lou Pinella could implement a platoon.

Catcher Koyie Hill signed a $700,000 deal to be the Cubs backup catcher behind Geovany Soto in 2010.  While Soto was injured in 2009, Hill made 26 consecutive starts from July 7th through August 5th.  Hill only batted .237 but he handled the pitching staff very well.

The Cubs acquired Tom Gorzelanny from the Pittsburgh Pirates in a deal that also brought over John Grabow.  The Cubs and Gorzelanny agreed upon an $800,000 deal for 2010.  Gorzelanny appeared in 13 games for the Cubs, going 4-2 with a 5.63 ERA.  Gorzelanny actually fared better in relief, holding opponents to just a .192 batting average during those 6 appearances.

Angel Guzman signed an $825,000 deal after arguably his best season as a Cubs reliever.  Guzman appeared in 55 games posting a 2.95 ERA (2.03 ERA at home at Wrigley Field).  He held opponents scoreless in 40 of his 55 appearances, including 34 of his last 42 games.  Assuming Guzman can stay healthy, he will play a pivotal role in the Cubs bullpen during the 2010 MLB schedule.

The final 3 Cubs players who are arbitration eligible will make a huge impact on the success of the 2010 squad.

Carlos Marmol will be the Cubs opening day closer.  Marmol made $575,000 in 2009 and he will become a free agent in 2013.  Marmol took over the closer’s role from Kevin Gregg at the end of the season and provided a stable force at the back end of the ‘pen.  Marmol ended up saving 15 games, while holding 27 games in 79 appearances.  His 65 walks in 74 innings, however, is still a major concern.

Ryan Theriot will be the Cubs opening day shortstop and will likely lead off for the Cubs.  Theriot made $500,000 in 2009.  Theriot hit .284 with a .343 on-base percentage in 154 games for the Cubs.  His games played, at-bats (602), triples (5), home runs (7) and RBI’s (54) were all career highs.

Sean Marshall will either be in the starting rotation on opening day or serve a vital role in the Cubs bullpen as a lefty reliever.  Marshall made $450,000 in 2009 and will be a free agent in 2013.  Marshall can start and come out of the bullpen, so his versatility is invaluable.

GM Hendry still has his work cut out for him.  Let’s hope he can ink smart deals with Marmol, Theriot and Marshall soon.

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Who Will Bat Leadoff for the Cubs During 2010 MLB Schedule?

Posted on 18 January 2010 by Lou

Who will bat leadoff for the Chicago Cubs during the 2010 MLB schedule – that is one of the many questions on Manager Lou Pinella’s mind heading into the 2010 campaign.  The 2 front-runners are shortstop Ryan Theriot and right fielder Kosuke Fukudome.  The 2 put up fairly similar numbers in 2009 when batting leadoff.

Theriot hit .283 with 18 walks and 49 hits, good for a .354 on-base percentage.

Fukudome hit .269 with 30 walks and 35 hits, good for a .404 on-base percentage.

Theriot was the only Cubs player to record double digits in stolen bases with 21.

The days of Alfonso Soriano are likely over.  Soriano hit .241 with a paltry .303 on-base percentage as his numbers continue to decline as his age increases.  Dealing with various injuries all season long, he is no longer a threat to steal bases (9 stolen bases in 2009) and he strikes out way too much (118 K’s with only 40 walks in 477 at-bats). Ouch – that is just bad.

I like Theriot in the lead-off spot.  He seems to be a more consistent hitter than Fukudome and less likely to go into long hitting droughts.  If your leadoff hitter gets into funk, it can set the tone for the whole lineup.  With Theriot leading off and Fukudome hitting second, Fukudome can bunt when he is struggling and even if he goes into one of his slumps, you would still have Theriot on base with sluggers Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez coming to bat (assuming Fukudome doesn’t hit into a double play).

Pinella projects his 2010 starting batting order as follows – Theriot, Fukudome, Lee, Ramirez, Marlon Byrd, Soriano, Geovany Soto and your 2nd baseman (either Jeff Baker or Mike Fontenot).

Good luck Cubs fans – it could be another long season for Cubs fans at Wrigley Field if Soto and Soriano don’t find their swings quickly in 2010…

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Len Kasper & Bob Brenly Rock House of Blues

Posted on 17 January 2010 by Lou

Chicago Cubs TV Broadcast Team Len Kasper and Bob Brenly rocked the House of Blues on Thursday night to kick of the Chicago Cubs Convention scheduled for this weekend.  Kasper and Brenly are hug music fans who host this annual event on the Thursday night before the Cubs Convention.  All proceeds of the event go to charity.

Kasper and Brenly took the stage to kick off the night and rocked out better than ever.  The Baseball Project – consisting of musicians Peter Buck of REM and Scott McCaughey, Linda Pitmon and Steve Wynn – also performed some amazing baseball-themed songs.  G. Love & Special Sauce, known for their unique blues and classic R&B mix will closed out the phenomenal night with a great set.

Thanks to Len and Bob to making this a memorable occasion…

Scott McCaughey, Linda Pitmon and Steve Wynn

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Cubs Convention This Weekend!

Posted on 16 January 2010 by Lou

The Cubs Convention is going on this weekend in Chicago at the Hilton Chicago.  Passes for the convention are sold out, but supposedly there is still home hotel room availability for the weekend.  If you have a room, you can buy up to 4 passes per room for the weekend.

The opening ceremonies to the 2010 Cubs Convention kicked off on Friday night from 5-5:30PM.  There were a few other activities on Friday, but the real action begins in earnest today.  You’ll get to meet the Ricketts Family in person and you’ll get to mingle with current Cubs players (Derrek Lee, Carlos Zambrano, Carlos Marmol, Ryan Theriot, Ryan Dempster) and former Cubs players (Ernie Banks, Andre Dawson, Ron Santo, Ryne Sandberg, Milt Pappas, Dave Otto), as well as the team’s coaching staff (Lou Pinella, Larry Rothschild) and broadcasting teams (Bob Brenly, Len Kasper, Pat Hughes and Santo).

Gotta love it – what a perfect way to get geared up for the upcoming 2010 Cubs schedule at Wrigley Field…

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Chicago Cubs Pat Hughes Honored as Illinois Sportscaster of the Year

Posted on 15 January 2010 by Lou

Pat Hughes has been named Illinois’ Sportscaster of the Year for the year 2009 by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association.  Hughes is entering his 15th year as the play-by-play man for the Chicago Cubs on WGN radio 720.  Hughes teams up with Cubs legend Ron Santo to provide one of the most entertaining MLB broadcasts around.  Since you never know what you’re going to get with Santo, Hughes has really elevated his game to provide a seamless broadcast for Cubs fans all across the country.

Hughes has already won the Illinois award 4 other times – in 1996, 1999, 2006 and 2007.  He also won the same award 3 times for his work in Wisconsin from 1991 through 1992.  Hughes has been a Major League broadcaster for 28 seasons – WOW!

Hughes had this to say about the honor – “I would like to thank the Cubs fans for being the greatest audience that a broadcaster could ever dream of.  I would also like to thank all of those who voted for me.”

Congrats Pat – love listening to you every afternoon or night and I look forward to listening to you for many more years broadcasting Cubs games for the ages…

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Update: Future Spring Training Site – Arizona v. Florida

Posted on 14 January 2010 by Lou

A decision as to whether the Cubs play future spring training games in Mesa, Arizona or in Naples, Florida could come as early as next week.  The investment group trying to lure the Chicago Cubs to Naples consists of Chicago-based Esmark Inc. and Naples-based Fifth Avenue Advisors.  The group held a press conference today to highlight the numerous local and state benefits related to a Cubs move east.

As the top draw in the Cactus League, the Cubs bring in an estimated $52 million in revenue to the State of Arizona.  Compare that with the approximate $24 million in revenue that out-of-state Red Sox fans bring into Florida during spring training and you can see why Florida would love to have the Cubs.  If you throw in the proposed Wrigley Village that private investors would build up around the Cubs complex, the Cubs revenue impact in and around Naples would be a year-round affair.  That means good things for all residents of the state of Florida.  The other good news for area residents – no county sales tax or property tax would go towards funding the new Cubs facility.  All funding to build the complex would come from private sources and from fees paid by out-of-state tourists and state funds that have already been set aside for the Florida baseball industry.

This is pretty exciting stuff.  And it has come a long way since we first reported on the potential move way back in November.  Could the Cubs make an announcement at this weekend’s Cubs Convention?  We’ll keep you posted as soon we hear anything…

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Cubs Formally Introduce Ryne Sandberg as Triple A Iowa Manager

Posted on 13 January 2010 by Lou

The Chicago Cubs officially introduced Ryne Sandberg as the new Manager of the Triple A Iowa Cubs on Monday.  Sandberg has worked his way up through the Cubs minor league system (2 seasons at Class A Peoria and 1 season at Double-A Tennessee) and appears primed to take over the Cubs major league job in the near future.  Sandberg seems very content with his role within the Cubs organization: “I think the best way to become a manager is to actually manage.  I think this is the necessary route for what I want to do… It’s a step in the right direction for what I’m doing.  This is something I have really taken to, I really enjoy.  My goal is to do this at the Major League level, so this is obviously a real nice stepping stone.”  While he currently has a losing record as a minor league manager (202-215 in 3 seasons), he did mange Tennessee to the Southern League playoffs in 2009 with a 71-69 record.

Sandberg also had the highest compliments for Andre Dawson who was recently voted into the Hall of Fame: “I just hope he gets to wear the Cubs hat when he goes in.  I think that’s the only thing that’s left to be determined…  The ’87 season that Andre had was phenomenal to watch.  He’s a Hall of Famer from the get go.  He’s a class guy on and off the field, and he’ll be a great addition to the group of Hall of Famers.”

Maybe we’ll see Ryno managing with newly-hired assistant Greg Maddux serving as his pitching coach or as the Cubs GM.  Could we see the changing of the guard soon – GM Jim Hendry and Manager Lou Pinella leaving- with younger Cubs greats taking over the reins for the Ricketts Family?  Should be fun to watch.

Congrats Ryno and good luck in the future…

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Could Cubs Make Play for Starter Ben Sheets?

Posted on 12 January 2010 by Lou

Ben Sheets is still on the market and the longer this drags on his asking price could continue to come down.  So far, it doesn’t appear that anyone is in a bidding war for the often-injured starting pitcher, so who knows – maybe he could find himself pitching on the North Side at Wrigley Field after spending most of his career pitching just north of the Illinois border in Milwaukee.

Sheets’ “handlers” have indicated that the pitcher is looking for a 2-year deal worth about $10-12 million per year.  Given where the Cubs are right now payroll-wise, that seems like way too much money to take a flyer on an injury risk like Sheets.  Sheets did not pitch at all in 2009 because he ended up testing the free agency market after the 2008 MLB season and then discovered he needed surgery in January to repair torn flexor tendon in his right throwing elbow.  Sheets could have come back for a contender at the end of the 2009 MLB season, but he decided to take a full year off to fully heal the injury.  In 2008, Sheets pitched 198 1/3 innings in 31 starts, going 13-9 with a 3.09 ERA.

The Cubs expect their 2010 MLB payroll to hit $140 million.  They have $125 currently committed and still have 8 arbitration-eligible players who will get raises in 2010.  The Cubs have 3 starters inked in for the start of the 2010 MLB schedule – Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster and Randy Wells.  Ted Lilly had surgery in early November to repair his left throwing shoulder and will be evaluated this weekend in Chicago to set a timetable for his 2010 start – hopefully by early-to-mid May.  Four Cubs players will compete for the final 2 starting spots – Carlos Silva, Tom Gorzelanny, Jeff Samardzija and Sean Marshall.  As for the bullpen, the Cubs are set with closer Carlos Marmol and lefty-set-up man John Grabow.  The Cubs still need a veteran right-handed set-up man to complement Grabow, as the rest of the bullpen is very young – Angel Guzman, David Patton, Esmailin Caridad and Justin Berg.

We’ll keep you posted as soon as we hear anything new out of Cubs camp…

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