Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Cubs Send Down Cedeno, Designate Koyie Hill

Ronnie Cedeno returns to Iowa for a week before rosters expand and Koyie Hill could be playing for a new team soon. Both were moved off the Cubs roster to make room for the return of Cliff Floyd from the bereavement list and Henry Blanco from the disabled list.

Hill has to pass through waivers where he can be claimed by any team. If he clears waivers he has the option to refuse the assignment to Iowa and become a free agent.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Cubs vs Mets Pitching Matchups

All times central

Friday 1:20pm

Orlando Hernandez (RHP, 7-4, 3.02) vs. Carlos Zambrano (RHP, 14-7, 3.47)

Saturday 2:55pm Fox Game Of The Week
John Maine (RHP, 12-5, 2.92) vs. Ted Lilly (LHP, 11-5, 3.60)

Sunday 7:05 pm ESPN Sunday Night Baseball
Tom Glavine (LHP, 9-3, 4.38) vs. Jason Marquis (RHP, 8.6, 4.22)

note: Glavine will be going for his 300th career win.

The Worst Baseball Team In History

The 1899 Cleveland Spiders went 20-134. In the previous 7 seasons they had a .570 winning percentage and 6 Hall of Fame players in their prime, including Cy Young. The previous season they won 81 games, so what happened?

read more | digg story

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Cubs Pull Into First Place Tie

The Cubs won a wild and sometimes sloppy game on Wednesday night to pull into a first place tie with the Milwaukee Brewers.

Shortly after finding out the first place Brewers had been defeated by the New York Mets, Matt Murton dashed home from third base on a wild pitch in the bottom of the ninth to knock off the Philadelphia Phillies 5-4.

The Cubs moved into first place for the first time this season, and it is the latest date in history for a Cubs team to move into first place for the first time in a season. Hopefully they stay hot for the next couple of months and we should be enjoying playoff baseball, something unthinkable after 2006's disastrous campaign.

In other Cubs news, Kerry Wood is expected to be activated either Thursday or Friday and join the Cubs bullpen. Rookie reliever Rocky Cherry is the likely candidate to be demoted to open a roster spot for Wood.

Wednesday's Box Score

Man Who Attacked Cubs Pitcher Now Hawking Cubs Signs

You know that annoying guy we keep seeing at Cubs games sticking his "It's Gonna Happen" sign in front of the camera? The guy who also keeps popping up outside the ballpark, and is now also selling shirts with the ambiguous catchphrase? Well that guy's name is John Murray. He's also the knucklehead who ran onto the field and rushed Cubs closer Randy Myers.

Mike North on Chicago radio station 670 The Score and guest Steve Stone recently poked fun at the slogan as being ambiguous and allowing for anything. North said, "When I see a Cubs fan holding up a sign that says 'It's Gonna Happen' I think of bad things." But that was before either of them knew of the past of Murray.

On September 28, 1995, Cubs closer Randy Myers gave up a go ahead home run to the Astros' James Mouton. As Myers was being yanked from the game, Murray stormed onto the field and ran up to Myers to yell at him. Myers, a former black belt in karate, performed what teammate Shawon Dunston described as "one of those martial arts moves" and pinned Murray until security arrived. Murray was escorted out of the park and was eventually banned from Wrigley Field for one year.

That incident is often pointed out when the media talks about fan violence in sports. In fact, Sports Illustrated claims Murray said he ran on the field as a dare from his friends. "I was watching the game with some friends," Murray said, "and I told them if Myers gives up another homer to a guy I'm going to run out on the field and yell at him."

A few years later fans across town at White Sox games charged the field on separate occasions and attacked a Kansas City Royals coach and an umpire. Until then it was a simple misdemeanor for going on a playing field during an event.The White Sox lobbied to have the law changed to a felony and won.

Murray, who is now 39, makes a living as a commodities trader and is lucky he was not charged with a felony in 1995. A felony conviction would have cost him any chance to work in securities.

But if you think seeing the stupid sign isn't annoying enough, Murray didn't even come up with the idea with the Cubs in mind. He admits he first thought of the idea in connection with Chicago's bid for the 2016 Olympic Games. And Murray is trying to force feed the slogan wherever he can. He said he is planning on dropping off merchandise at Barack Obama's headquarters. I doubt any politician will be associated with the slogan if they know the full story behind Murray.

As for the Cubs, they are aware who Murray is and of his infamous past. While they have no problem admitting him to the ballpark now, they have asked their television crews to stop showing him on camera during games.

I guess Murray should change his slogan from "It's Gonna Happen!" to "I'm Gonna Disappear!"

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Cubs Trade Rumors - Deadline Day Edition

The Brewers GM Doug Melvin is concerned enough about his bullpens recent blowups that he inquired about Rangers closer Eric Gagne. The last thing the Cubs need is to face Gagne 15+ times a year.

New rumors about players the Cubs could be interested in include Cincy 1b/of/ph Jeff Conine, Devil Rays CF Rocco Baldelli, Giants 1b/of/ph Mark Sweeney, and Giants lefty reliever Steve Kline. I'd have a hard time seeing Kline in a Cubs uniform. When Kline was with the Cardinals he said he would like to see Mark Prior hit in the head by a line drive and die. There's no way in hell I let that bastard near my team.

Jim Hendry said on Monday that he has not talked trade with the Rangers about any player, including catcher Gerald Laird.

The same article says Henry Blanco suffered another setback to his left shoulder and may not return for at least 10 more days.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Cubs vs Phillies Pitching Matchups

Monday 6:05pm ct
Cole Hamels (LHP, 11-5, 3.63) vs. Ted Lilly (LHP, 11-4, 3.46)

Tuesday 7:05pm ct
Adam Eaton (RHP, 9-6, 5.83) vs Jason Marquis (RHP, 7-6, 4.20)

Wednesday 7:05pm ct
Jamie Moyer (LHP, 9-8, 4.75) vs Rich Hill (LHP, 6-6, 3.59)

Thursday 1:20pm ct
TBA vs Sean Marshall (LHP, 5-4, 3.10)

Breaking News: Wood To Be Activated By Wednesday or Thursday

Sweet Lou told reporters that Kerry Wood's Tuesday appearance for West Tennessee will be his last minor league appearance and he will be activated by Wednesday or Tuesday.

Sooner than we expected. It will be nice to see him back, hopefully he pitches as well this year as he did a couple of years ago in his brief bullpen stint.

Your thoughts?

Hendry: Pie Is Not Going Anywhere

Jim Hendry talked to reporters at Wrigley Field on Monday and had this to say:

"Felix Pie has never been talked about," Hendry said. "He's not going anywhere in any deal. There will be no trade of Felix Pie to anyone."

Good. End of story.

Steve Stone Updates

Steve Stone was on the Score radio in Chicago this afternoon. Here's a summary of what he said.

Carlos Beltran had an MRI that showed fluid in his abdominal section, which Stone says is a sign of an abodominal tear and Beltran won't be back anytime soon. Coupled with LoDuca being injured the other day, it's bad news for the Mets. Stone also says the Mets pitchers do not match up well for the playoffs, if they make it.

The Brewers picked up Scott Linebrink on the way down, not on the way up, and the Brew Crew's bullpen is in trouble.

Stone says we'll know everything we need to know about the Cardinals by 3pm ct Tuesday. If they are serious about trying to make a run they will add a pitcher. Stone says their lineup knows how to win but their pitching staff is going to kill them. If Walt Jocketty doesn't make a trade it's not because he doesn't want to, it's because his hands are tied financially.

Mark Teixeira will get a huge free agent contract, which is likely the reason the Rangers traded him. The Cubs wanted to shore up their left handed side of the bullpen and were interested in Ron Mahay, who ended up with the Braves with Teixeira.

Stone says if the Braves get Octavio Dotel then John Schuerholz thinks he can win the N.L. East or is confident the N.L. wildcard will not come out of the Cubs division.

Stone reiterates he Mets are vulnerable. He says the Mets pitching is good enough over the regular season but again, doesn't match up well in a short playoff series. If John Maine faced Carlos Zambrano, Stone thinks the Cubs would take them out.

Ryan Theriot has played a much better shortstop than Stone expected. He complements Jacque Jones in centerfield. He says if Kerry Wood is healthy and only pitches one inning at a time, it's a tremendous addition.

According to Stone, Jim Hendry doesn't have to make any moves, but he could get some insurance for Cliff Floyd.

The wind should be blowing out this entire homestand and Stone expects the Cubs to start launching some balls out of the park. He mentions Derrek Lee and Mark DeRosa as sluggers to watch.

The Red Sox balked at including reliever Manny Delcarmen in a package for Jermaine Dye. Delcarmen would have been a solid building block for the White Sox bullpen. He says they should trade Dye, but if Dye wants a two year deal, someone should offer him a one year deal with a second year option tied to at bats.

Stone says it's not optimistic to think Ryan Dempster can move into the rotation with Wood and Carlos Marmol taking over at the back end of the bullpen. Dempster would have a hard time being stretched out this late in the year. Marmol will eventually be a closer, and Lou Piniella is already using him as a closer, regardless of what inning he comes in. Marmol is being used to make huge stops from the fifth inning on.

A caller asks about the Cubs trading for Jason Bay and Stone stops him in mid sentence saying the Pirates will not deal Bay.

Stone says it makes little sense to trade Felix Pie unless they want to go into next season with Jacque Jones in centerfield again.

Donald Veal, a top Cubs pitching prospect rumored in some trades has taken a step back. "I saw him last year and he was terrific," Stone says, "he's not terrific anymore."

A caller asks why Angel Pagan doesn't get to start in centerfield. Stone asks the caller if he has ever watched Pagan play defense and says he likes Pagan and his speed, but wishes his Pagan would use his speed to run to the ball instead of away from it. Stone says Pagan is not a good defensive outfielder. (I've pointed out before that his career minor league fielding percentage is a horrendous .966. In the majors he seems to have found a way to increase his fielding percentage by just not fielding balls)

Big news here: Stone is asked about the Cubs getting Jermaine Dye. The White Sox demanded Carlos Marmol, and the talks ended there. So much for picking up Dye. Kenny Williams is insane.

Stone says the Cubs will not get Xavier Nady, that the Pirates probably wouldn't deal him and if they would the price would be high.

Stone said he has a feeling Jim Hendry will make a huge signing in the next few weeks, getting Carlos Zambrano's signature on the dotted line. Let's hope he's right.

Braves Loading Up, Cubs Would Be Wise To Do The Same

According to Ken Rosenthal, the Braves have acquired Mark Teixeira and Ron Mahay and are about to pick up Octavio Dotel.

The Mets are about to answer the Braves by adding 2b Luis Castillo from the Twins.

The Braves moves certainly give them a lift over the Mets, who could still add Sammy Sosa to help them vs left handed pitching.

Where does that leave the Cubs? The Jermaine Dye to Boston trade is dead again, according to the Chicago Tribune. Should the Cubs ring Kenny Williams and see if Matt Murton and maybe Rocky Cherry would get the job done? Dye has hit a few home runs lately and might be warming up. Getting a power bat would be a huge move for the Cubs and one of the few spots they could easily upgrade.

The Cubs might be looking at Rangers catcher Gerald Laird, along with reliever C.J. Wilson, according to the Tribune. There's no way I include Felix Pie in a deal for those players.

Cubs Trade Rumor Roundup

The Mark Teixeira deal to the Braves is done and includes Braves catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia going to Texas. That leaves the Rangers shopping incumbent catcher Gerald Laird, who the Cubs have expressed interest in. Lefty reliever Ron Mahay was part of the Teixeira trade, so scratch him off the Cubs list. The Rangers do have several righthanded relievers available, but I haven't heard any rumors the Cubs are interested in a righthanded reliever.

Will Carroll of Baseball Prospectus had this Cubs news today:

"I haven't heard a deal where it actually makes sense, nor can I confirm that an offer was made, but enough people have told me that Felix Pie is on the block that I now believe it."

I'll add that it only makes sense to deal Pie for a top player that will be with the team beyond 2007.

One player the Cubs are suddenly rumored to have interest in is Twins centerfielder Torie Hunter. Hunter has made statements before that he hates the Cubs, plus he will be an unrestricted free agent, so don't hold your breath on this one.

The Cubs interest in Jay Payton appears to have faded, according to this tidbit in the New Jersey Star Ledger:

"(The Mets) like Baltimore's Jay Payton, and may have a better chance to get him now that the Cubs' interest in him seems to have waned."

Jermain Dye is another name that has been linked to the Cubs that might be unavailable now.

The Red Sox are close to acquiring Jermaine Dye from the White Sox, according to a recent report on WSCR-670 The Score in Chicago. The White Sox would be getting Wily Mo Pena and reliever Manny Delcarmen.

We'll have more updates throughout the day, so check back.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Another Great Zambrano Peformance

The Cubs defeated the Reds 6-0 as Carlos Zambrano became the first 14 game winner in baseball on Sunday.

Zambrano allowed no runs on two hits, while striking out six and walking only three batters in 7 1/3rd innings. Big Z also went 3-4 at the plate.

Derrek Lee added his eleventh home run of the season, a two run shot in the seventh inning.

Read the box score.

Separated At Birth? - Jason Kendall And Charlie Manson

Cubs Still Interested In Dontrelle Willis

Will Carroll says the Cubs, meaning Jim Hendry, still view Dontrelle Willis as "the one who got away." Hendry would love to get Willis back, and Carroll suggests a package of Felix Pie, Jacque Jones, and Donald Veal would get it done.

Forget that most teams believe Willis is injured. Forget that Willis is 19-22, with an era in the mid 4's and a whip over 1.50 for the last two years. Oh, and forget that he's getting even worse, 0-7, with an era over 5.00 since the end of May.

Trading Pie and Jones for a pitcher makes no sense. Who will play centerfield? Angel Pagan, with his .960-something career fielding percentage? Pagan is a butcher in the field. He has been his entire career, including his minor league career.

Hendry keeps trying to correct his "mistakes" - like eventually getting Cliff Floyd, who Hendry recruited in college, eventually landing Jason Kendall, who Hendry tried to trade for in 2003, and now trying to bring back Dontrelle Willis. Forget that Floyd's body retired three years ago, that Kendall looks like Charlie Manson and he seems to have mentally checked out of the majors, and forget that Willis seems hurt and if he isn't, just plain sucks. Heck, maybe we can put Aramis Ramirez in a deal and get Hee Sopp Choi and Bobby Hill back.

Trading Felix Pie is ridiculous. Even more ridiculous if it's for an injured player, or a two month rental. Some day Hendry will consider Pie "the one who got away," and he'll try and trade his next star prospect to get Pie back. Enough already. We have a gold glove caliber centerfielder in the minors who is hitting .370. When he is healthy again, call him up. I have a feeling we are going to need him this year, and he might stick around for 5-10 years or more.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Cubs Hold Felix Pie Out Of Iowa Lineup

It looked like Felix Pie was on the verge of being traded, after being pulled from Thursday's game in the fourth inning and not playing since. Will Carroll from Baseball Prospectus reported that Pie and fellow Iowa outfielder Josh Kroeger were both pulled on Thursday and were not injured. It turns out that wasn't accurate. The word out of Iowa is that Pie has a strained quadriceps and is day to day. Kroeger was placed on the disabled list with a strained oblique.

The latest rumor is the Cubs are interested in Baltimore's Jay Payton. Payton has a contract for next season, however, and we do not know if they can take on salary beyond 2007 because of the impending sale.

Payton is having another mediocre year, hitting .270 with 4 hrs, 37 rbi, a horrible .312 obp and an equally horrendous .385 slugging. He's making $4 million this year and will be overpaid again next year at $5 million. I think Matt Murton could easily put up similar, and likely far better numbers than those for 1/10th the salary. And we wouldn't have to give up prospects to get Murton.

If the rumor of going after Payton is real, Hendry has lost his mind.

Ty Wigginton Traded To Houston

The Cubs lost out on infielder Ty Wigginton today when Tampa traded him to Houston for reliever Dan Wheeler.

Astros' G.M. Tim Purpura said Wigginton will be the everyday third baseman. That spells the end for Morgan Ensberg, who will likely be traded.


In other trade news the Reds picked up embattled second baseman Jorge Cantu from Tampa. Cantu was assigned to the Reds AAA team. I'm not sure what they plan on doing with him since they have Brandon Phillips and Juan Encarnacion. Cantu almost certainly cannot play SS. Maybe the Reds plan on moving him to 1b or the outfield.

Tonight's Matchups

Sean Marshall takes the mound for the Cubs tonight while Aaron Harang will be his counterpart for the Reds.

Despite Harang being 6-1 with a 4.23 career era against the Cubs, we've hit him pretty well, including scoring 5 runs off him in 4 innings at Wrigley Field this year. Derrek Lee, Cliff Floyd, Matt Murton, Jacque Jones, Ryan Theriot, and Mark DeRosa all have hit Harang at a .300 or better clip in their careers. Lee, Aramis Ramirez and Murton have hit 2 home runs each off Harang.

Marshall has never faced the Reds. The onlyReds hitter who has faced Sean Marshall before is Jeff Conine, who is 1-2 with a single.

The Brewers have already helped out the Cubs today by blowing a two run lead in the ninth in game 1 of a doubleheader vs the Cardinals. Cards won it 7-6 when Ryan Ludwick singled home Scott Rolen in the bottom of the ninth. Chris Capuano faces 0-10 Anthony Reyes in the nightcap.

Cubs Trade Rumors - Saturday Edition

Paul Sullivan continues to say the Cubs are interested in re-acquiring lefty reliever Ron Mahay from Texas. I don't see that happening unless they release or disable Scott Eyre, although they could send down one of the young right handed relievers, like Rocky Cherry or Sean Gallagher instead.

If you recall the Cubs had Mahay for 2001 and 2002, but basically kept him in the minors. He only appeared in 28 games combined in two years with the Cubs. Btw, Mahay was born in Crestwood.

Joel Sherman of the New York Post repeats what Will Carroll said yesterday, that the Cubs are looking at Rangers catcher Gerald Laird and their relievers, but ads the twist that the Cubs might offer Felix Pie to get a deal done. Trading Pie for a weak-hitting defensive catcher or a journeyman reliever makes no sense.

Speaking of Will Carroll, he says there has been almost no movement on an Adam Dunn deal in the past 24 hours, although reports of what the Reds want to do are mixed.

Carroll ads that the Devil Rays are interested in dealing Ty Wigginton, but there is nothing new on that front. The Yankees are interested.

The Red Sox continue to try and deal for White Sox outfielder Jermaine Dye, someone the Cubs have had rumored interest in. Dye apparently does not want to go to Boston but would if they will guarantee he start at least 5 days a week. If that's a blanket demand from Dye for any team, that might rule the Cubs out because of Cliff Floyd. Another reason the Cubs might be out of any Dye trade is that White Sox' G.M. Kenny Williams is demanding a blue chip prospect. The Red Sox scoffed when Williams asked for OF Jacoby Ellsbury or P Clay Buchholz in return.

Wood Completes Back To Back Appearances

Kerry Wood pitched a scoreless inning on Friday night with Peoria, completing his first back to back appearances as a reliever. Wood pitched one inning, threw 13 pitches and struck out one batter while keeping his fastball between 92-94 mph.

The Cubs will see how Wood's shoulder responds today and if all is well, likely move him up to AA or AAA for further rehab.

In other rehab news, Wade Miller joined the Cubs in Cincy. Miller said he would likely take 6 or 7 days off before his next minor league start.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Update On Adam Dunn To The Cubs

Will Carroll has posted his afternoon update and includes a blurb about the Dunn to the Cubs rumor that's been spreading today.

He says the Reds are reluctant to deal within their division and the Cubs have a hard time taking on salary. I don't buy that second part, especially since Dunn's contract for next year is voided if he is traded. Carroll ads the Cubs were working with another team in a three way trade with Dunn involved. That team might have been the Nationals, but he says the names involved didn't make sense.

Dunn did supposedly tell Austin Kearns he wants to be dealt to the Nats and would sign a long term deal there.

Are Cubs Looking For a Righthanded Starting Pitcher?

With all the rumors flying around, I have to wonder if the Cubs are discussing adding a righthanded pitcher to the rotation. I highly doubt they feel comfortable with Lilly, Hill, and Marshall in the rotation. Lilly obviously is safe, and dealing Hill would be idiotic. At the same time, Marshall shows signs of being a quality big league pitcher, but teams rarely stick with 3 lefty starters. If they were to entertain adding Marshall to a package they might be able to pick up a solid right handed starter, ala Jon Garland or perhaps Aaron Harang, or don't rule out Bronson Arroyo. While Arroyo has struggled this season, he has put together some pretty solid starts against the Cubs the last two seasons. Don't think Jim Hendry hasn't noticed that.

Cubs Rumored To Be After Griffey or Dunn

ESPN 1000's Bruce Levine reportedly just reported the Cubs are talking to the Reds about Ken Griffey Jr or Adam Dunn. He said something I speculated on earlier, that Matt Murton's recall was to showcase him. Levine also claims the deal would likely include Sean Gallagher.

The Griffey part goes against what Will Carroll reported this morning, that the Reds have decided not to deal Jr.

With Felix Pie being pulled from last night's game, he could be part of a deal for either of these guys or perhaps in another deal. Personally I'd like to see him stick with the Cubs.

Sox Deal Iguchi To Phillies

The Phillies moved fast to find a fill-in for the injured Chase Utley. Today they picked up Tadahito Iguchi from the White Sox for pitcher Michael Dubee.

Iguchi is hitting .251 this season and we'll get a look at him in his new uniform starting Monday at Wrigley when the Phillies come to town.

The deal looks like a salary dump for the Sox, who will save about $1.5 million in the deal, unless they sent cash to the Phillies, which has not been reported.

Dubee is an A-ball right handed reliever who is skinny as a rail and not likely to see the majors for a few years. It also allows the Sox to get a good look at Danny Richar, the second baseman they picked up from Arizona a few weeks ago. Richar is hitting a combined .305 with 13 hr's and 61 rbi's between AAA Tucson and AAA Charlotte.

Richar is being recalled for Saturday's game.

Cubs Shopping Felix Pie?

Will Carroll of Baseball Prospectus teases us with the news that outfielders Felix Pie and Josh Kroeger were pulled from Iowa's game in the fourth inning last night, and were not injured. Are the Cubs including the pair of prospects in trade talks? I would think they would only part with these guys in a major trade. Griffey? Dunn? I could see Hendry going after Dunn, even though Dunn would probably be a butcher in RF. Perhaps Murton was recalled this weekend to show him off to another team, perhaps even the Reds.

Every Cubs fan already knows about Pie, who is hitting .371/.414/.593 at Iowa, but Kroeger has been a flat out hitting machine this year after bouncing around two organizations. Always a big, strapping kid, at 6'3", 220 lbs he's still young at only 24, so there's hope his turnaround is legit. This season between AA West Tennessee and AAA Iowa Kroeger is hitting a combined .351/.424/.598 with 20 hr's and 75 rbi in 339 ab's. Coming into this season Kroeger had a solid minor league career line of .284/.338/.446. Kroeger was drafted by Arizona in the fourth round of the 2000 draft before being claimed on waivers by Philadelphia last season.

UPDATE: Will Carroll says the Reds have decided not to trade Griffey Jr. They will deal Dunn but no team has met their asking price.

Dunn makes more sense for the Cubs based on the restrictions the team is under with the impending sale. It looks like the team cannot take on salary beyond this year. Griffey's contract runs past this season. Dunn's technically does but his deal for next year is automatically voided if he is traded. Personally, I'd rather see Pie get the everyday CF job than deal him for Dunn, especially if Dunn leaves after only a couple of months.

Just speculating, but would Hendry try and nab Jon Garland and Jermaine Dye in a package including Pie? Pie for Dye seems like a ridiculous move, but if they could add another quality starting pitcher it would help this year and shield them if they lose Zambrano to free agency for next year. That is, if they are allowed to take on salary beyond this year. Garland's strike out to walk ratio this year is alarming though. It's 1.35:1, although his career ratio is 1.57:1. For comparison, Ryan Dempster's career K/BB ratio is 1.60:1, and Ted Lilly's is 2.19:1. Zambrano 1.94:1.

Cubs Interested in Rangers Catcher Gerald Laird?

Will Carroll of Baseball Prospects claims the Cubs are not happy with Jason Kendall and have asked their scouts opinion on Rangers catcher Gerald Laird. Carroll says the Rangers probably wouldn't deal Laird unless they got another catcher, and reports are they have a tempting offer from Atlanta that includes catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia in a package for Mark Teixiera.

It seems like if this is true, then they do not have much faith in Henry Blanco returning. The good news is that if they go after Laird they finally are choosing their target more wisely. Laird has never been much of a hitter (career .255/.308/.383) but he has always been an excellent receiver, especially at throwing out baserunners. In his four years in the majors Laird has thrown out runners at approx. a 40% clip. Three of his four seasons have been 41-43% with this season right on at 41%. Only Cincy's David Ross at 42% has had better success throwing out runners this season in the majors. Contrast that with Jason Kendall's past four seasons at 32%, 15%, 24%, and 16%. Laird is about the equal to Kendall at stopping passed balls and wild pitches, although not as good as Koyie Hill has been.

I still think it will be interesting to see if they bite the bullet and release Kendall, especially after Hendry excitedly announced the trade live on Chicago television during a game. That would mean the last two deals Hendry made the team has basically nothing to show for them, releasing Rob Bowen from the Barrett trade and now considering dumping Kendall. At least they picked up a once highly thought of minor leaguer in the Barrett deal.

Carroll agrees with me that Kendall is done:

"Jason Kendall's cooked. Last season's modest OBP was, if anything, the indication of the end, as his reflexes at the plate died and he reaped the transient benefit of caution. Now he can't command respect at the plate, or hit anything with authority, which leaves the Cubs with (at best) the weak reassurance that at least they didn't give up that much to get him, and that the only thing at stake now is the playing time they'll burn on him. The sooner they don't fix this, the worse it gets."

Former Cub Lofton Traded To Cleveland

The Rangers sent Kenny Lofton back to Cleveland for minor league catcher Max Ramirez. Some Cub fans wanted the team to reacquire Lofton for the stretch drive, but we can scratch his name off the list of possible candidates.

Wood Has Another Solid Outing

Kerry Wood pitched one inning for class A Peoria on Thursday night. He threw 12 pitches, struck out two batters and allowed one hit. Jim Hendry will be at Wood's next appearance, Friday (tonight), to evaluate Wood. If Woodie feels good tomorrow expect him to be moved up to AA or AAA and make a few more appearances. He won't be making many, if he stays healthy and reports no pain the Cubs will activate him soon.

"This is going to be a first real step toward seeing where you are really at," said Cubs general manager Jim Hendry, who planned to be in Peoria tonight to watch Wood. "Once you go back to back and feel good the next day, then you can readjust and maybe look at it a little differently as far as what it might take to get him back here. The day after will be just as important or more important than the actual event (tonight)."

Cubs Call Up Murton, Cherry

The Cubs have recalled OF Matt Murton and RP Rocky Cherry from AAA Iowa in time for tonight's game. Murton was hitting .425 over his last 10 games.

No announcement yet on who they are sending down. I would speculate it will be Jake Fox and Sean Gallagher or Billy Petrick, although with the boneheaded moves Ronny Cedeno has made in his short time up he could be in the mix.

To make room for Murton and Cherry, the Cubs sent down pitcher Billy Petrick and outfielder Jake Fox.

Cubs - Reds Pitching Matchups

Friday 6:10 pm CT
Rich Hill (LHP, 6-6, 3.58) vs Bronson Arroyo (RHP, 4-11, 4.58)

Saturday 6:10 pm CT
Sean Marshall (LHP, 4-4, 3.25) vs Aaron Harang (RHP, 10-2, 3.45)

Sunday 12:10 pm CT
Carlos Zambrano (RHP, 13-7, 3.65) vs Matt Belisle (RHP, 5-7, 5.28)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Cubs Go For Sweep, Get A Break

The Cubs look to sweep the Cardinals tonight with Jason Marquis toeing the mound vs. another of the Redbirds converted relievers, Braden Looper.

The Reds did us another favor earlier today, knocking off the Brewers. That means the Cubs could pull to within one game of Milwaukee with a win tonight.

Looking ahead, the Cubs are in Cincy for a 3 game series this weekend, then return home for a four game series beginning Monday vs the Phillies.

It looks like the Cubs caught a big break for that Phillies series, as all-star second baseman Chase Utley will not be playing. He broke a bone in his hand after being hit by a pitch Thursday and is expected to be placed on the disabled list on Friday. Utley could miss a month.

The Phillies offense is flying high, they are in the National League top three for team average, runs, doubles, triples, home runs, rbi, and walks. The good news is Philadelphia is dead last in team era, 4.85, compared to the Cubs 3.81. Only two teams have allowed more runs than the Phillies: Florida and Cincy. We have three games vs. the Marlins the last week of the season and 9 games left vs. Cincy including the three this weekend and the final three games of the season. The schedule is in our favor, we just need to keep playing well.

Cubs Consider Trading For Ty Wigginton

First off, this rumor is courtesy of the Tribune's Phil Rogers, who likes to make stuff up, so keep that in mind.

Rogers claims Cub's Scout Ken Kravec was at the Orioles-Devil Rays game today, and his intention was to scout Devil Ray's Ty Wigginton, the former Met/Pirate thirdbaseman who now is a jack of all trades. Wigginton turns 30 in October and has played 1b, 2b, and 3b this year while putting up respectable stats - .275, 16 hr, 49 rbi. His obp is low and he is not a contact hitter, which makes him perfect in the eyes of Jim Hendry (which is one of the reasons we haven't won a world series in 100 years because our lineup has been full of these type of hitters for the last century). Wigginton would offer insurance at first and third, especially if Mark DeRosa's health limits his availability in the second half. But Wigginton has played only 14 games in the outfield is his career, so I wouldn't expect him to be much help in RF. But perhaps the thinking is that if Wigginton can help out at 2b/3b/1b, that could free up DeRosa to play more OF. Just speculation, but it makes sense. Wigginton's career fielding stats show he is an average big leaguer at 1b and 2b and below average at 3b.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Hooray! Jason Kendall Benched - Sort Of

Sweet Lou has decided to split the catching duties between Koyie Hill and Jason Kendall, at least for the time being.

"He's probably trying to impress," Piniella said. "We'll give him some time to work with [hitting coach Gerald Perry]. I'm going to play Kendall and Hill every other day for a little bit and see if we can get Kendall's bat going that way."

This is similar to what Lou said about Michael Barrett just before he was dumped, but I'd be shocked to see the Cubs make the logical move and get rid of Kendall when Henry Blanco is finally ready to return.

Speaking of Blanco, he continued his minor league rehab on Wednesday with Peoria. No word on a projected return date, but I think he can only stay down there for 10 days unless he gives the team permission for a longer rehab.

Hill caught Wednesday's gem by Ted Lilly and continues to be a spark plug when he catches, despite his lack of hitting. Heading into the game Cub pitcher's ERA with Hill was 2.58. With Kendall, Cubs pitchers era is 4.10. Continuing with the comparison, baserunners try to steal against Hill less than half as many times as against Kendall, .48 attempts per game compared to 1.08 for Kendall, the worst of any Cub catcher this season. Hill's wild pitch plus passed balls per game total is .190, Kendall's is a horrendous .650, also the worst total for any Cub catcher to step behind the plate this season. I don't care what Hill hits, if his defense stays near those levels and the pitching staff responds like they have, he cannot be cut.

Cubs Trade Rumors

A few Cubs trade rumors, including speculation on my part:

Several sources claim the Cubs are interested in White Sox RF Jermaine Dye. Dye is making a paltry $7 million this season, meaning only $3 million or so is left, which the White Sox might even pick up a little depending on the players the Cubs would send their way. I'm not sure a Dye trade makes the most sense for the Cubs, but as long as they aren't giving up a huge piece of the future, it might be worth a shot since they are getting no production from RF now. Floyd is hitting .222 with no home runs and 3 rbi in July.

One site claims the Cubs are about to trade for Adam Dunn. Not surprisingly it's the same site that has claimed to have inside information from Dunn's people about the same trade for three years. The site is always posting outrageous, one sided trade rumors with the Cubs the beneficiary. They never come true. Ignoring the fact that this rumor has been circulated with the same inside "personal source" for three years, It's not going to happen. Dunn can't play defense. He would have to play RF for the Cubs, that's not going to happen.

Kansas City is said to be shopping Reggie Sanders. Sanders missed a good chunk of the season before being activated July 17th. He's hitting .333 in 21 games overall. He could be a solid, inexpensive pickup for the Cubs, although I haven't heard any rumors they are interested in him, but keep it in mind.

A Kansas City player who is rumored to be on the Cubs radar is pitcher Zack Greinke. Greinke was a starter his entire career who couldn't put it all together. After another mediocre start, 1-4, 5.71 era, he was moved to the bullpen and has responded well, going 3-1 with a 3.54 era as a reliever. Still, he's only 23 and KC would be crazy to deal him unless they got a better prospect back. I don't see the Cubs being able to offer that.

The Cubs are also rumored to be interested in Royals reliever Octavio Dotel, who has a mutual option with the Royals for next season that either side can void. With the year he is having, Dotel is sure to void the contract and look for a more long term deal. Dotel's ability to close makes him a much more expensive potential addition for teams looking at bullpen help.

I would speculate the Cubs will pass on picking up relief help and instead cross their fingers that Kerry Wood can return soon and give them a lift the rest of the season. It's not like they are desperate for relief help, even if Wood doesn't pan out. Their biggest need is to wake up the power bats, whether their own or with a trade. Their 7 home runs in July are a national league low.

Cubs Interested in Jermaine Dye?

I've always been a fan of Jermaine Dye and thought the Cubs should have signed him before the 2005 season instead of Jeromy Burnitz, but Jim Hendry was hell-bent on getting a lefthanded bat instead of the best bat available. It would be fitting now for the Cubs to go out and get Dye when he is having his worst season and his health limits how much he can play the field, but the Chicago Sun-Times and the Daily Herald both speculate the Cubs have interest in Dye, and even quote Jim Hendry on what a good relationship he has with Kenny Williams. Dye wouldn't be much of an upgrade with the Cubs if he continues playing at his current level. He's hitting .229 with 16 hr and 47 rbi this season. He hasn't even gotten hot lately, hitting only .229 in July. And despite what Phil Roger's says, Dye has not been hot lately. He's hitting .238 in his last 7 games played.

I guess Dye could "platoon" with Cliff Floyd in rightfield. Each could play 3 innings, leave the game with their daily injury, then Angel Pagan could play the last 3 innings.

As Many As 40 Bidders For Cubs, Says Source

About 15 different parties plan to make bids for the Cubs in September, and another 25 groups are being weighed by major league baseball. The sale of the team and assets is expected to top $1 billion according to sources.

Reuters says the bids are expected to come in after the September 3rd Labor Day holiday and a winner will be selected in October. The winner will then need to be approved by major league baseball. I can easily see the red tape lasting into next spring, handcuffing the team's ability to sign free agents, including their own. Carlos Zambrano might be caught in the whirlwind and not want to wait for a new owner to decide to make an offer. Hopefully this plays out before the November free agent period begins.

I'd have to say that 15-40 bidders has to be the most ever for a major league franchise, possibly any sports franchise in history.

Cubs News Roundup

Kerry Wood continued his rehab with a solid one inning performance for Peoria on Tuesday night. Wood through 12 pitches in a scoreless inning and his velocity was 91-94mph. Wood walked one batter, had two groundouts and a flyout. He will make back to back relief appearances Thursday and Friday of this week to see how he responds.

Henry Blanco caught in the Tuesday night Peoria game, and is 2-6 with 3 rbi in his first three games.

Wade Miller will make a rehab start with AA West Tennessee on Wednesday night.

Hendry says Angel Guzman (Elbow) probably won't start pitching in the minors again until the middle of August.

Ronny Cedeno's recall came at the right time with Mark DeRosa leaving Tuesday night's game with tendinitis in his hamstring. Hopefully he'll respond to treatment and not need to go on the disabled list. If he is disabled I would expect Matt Murton to be recalled from Iowa instead of another infielder. (Jim Hendry confirms in today's Daily Herald that Murton hasn't fallen off his radar - he says if the Cubs don't trade for another bat Murton could be recalled)

As I predicted earlier today, Scott Moore was optioned to Iowa to make room for Cedeno. The Cubs decided to keep Jake Fox on the roster. With DeRosa and Floyd banged up Fox might see some action in the outfield this series.

Speaking of the perennially banged up Floyd, (who again was slow moving after sliding home for no reason on Tuesday - where was the on deck hitter to tell him to stay up?) Jim Hendry said he may have to consider making a trade for another outfielder if Floyd cannot stay healthy and produce more. My opinion, don't waste any time, just go find another outfielder. Cliff might be a nice guy, but one can't help but think his body is past it's baseball expiration date.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Cubs vs. Cardinals Pitching Matchups

Tuesday: 7:10 pm (all times Central)

Carlos Zambrano (RHP, 12-7, 3.69) vs. Kip Wells (RHP, 4-12, 5.75)

Wednesday: 7:10pm

Ted Lilly (LHP, 10-4, 3.58) vs. Adam Wainright (RHP, 9-7, 4.18)

Thursday: 7:10pm

Jason Marquis (RHP, 7-5, 3.92) vs. Braden Looper (RHP, 7-8, 5.09)

Cubs Recall Cedeno

According to the Chicago Tribune, the Cubs have recalled shortstop Ronny Cedeno from AAA Iowa. He is expected to be in uniform for tonight's game in St. Louis. No word yet on the move to free a roster spot but the Tribune speculates it will be Jake Fox. I think Scott Moore is more likely. Fox was brought in to start in RF vs lhp, Moore was more of an emergency call up while DLee was suspended and Daryl Ward got hurt.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Sad News, Minor League Coach Killed By Line Drive

Former big league third baseman Mike Coolbaugh was killed when he was hit in the head by a line drive in a minor league game on Sunday. Coolbaugh was the batting coach and first base coach for the AA Tulsa Drillers, having just joined the team on July 3rd.Coolbaugh was standing in the first base coaching box during a game in Arkansas against the Travellers when he was struck in the head. He collapsed unconscious to the ground and was later pronounced dead at a local hospital. He was only 35.

Our condolences go out to his family.

Coolbaugh was a perennial prospect who struggled to get a chance in the show, but he had a tantalizing minor league career, so teams would take a look at him. Personally he was one of the guys I always rooted for, he was kind of a real-life Crash Davis from Bull Durham, a guy who beat around the minors and put up some pretty big numbers in his career. His best minor league season was with Huntsville in 1997. That year he hit .308 with 30 hr and 132 rbi. Coolbaugh had brief cups of coffee with Milwaukee in 2001 and St. Louis in 2002. He only had 82 big league at bats and was a .183 career hitter with 2 hr and 7 rbi. But his minor league career totals include a .269 average, 256 hr and 991 rbi over 16 seasons.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Release Jason Kendall

He's only played two and a half games for the Cubs, but I've already seen enough. Jason Kendall is through. Done. Kaput. His playing career should be over. The guy has no offensive skills at all. He can't hit the ball more than 35-40 feet. And his defense has been as bad as expected. In case you missed it, Kendall's daydreaming behind the plate led to Daryl Ward tearing his calf muscle yesterday and going on the disabled list. Jim Hendry really screwed the pooch on this trade. Hopefully he wakes up and Lou tells him to cut Kendall when Blanco is ready to return. If they actually consider designating Koyie Hill for assignment over Kendall they are nuts.

Cubs vs Diamondbacks Preview

The pitching matchups for this series:

Brandon Webb (RHP, 8-7, 3.42) vs Jason Marquis (RHP, 6-5, 4.03)

Micah Owings (RHP, 5-5, 4.92) vs Rich Hill (LHP, 6-6, 3.70)

Yusmeiro Petit (RHP, 1-2, 3.22) vs Sean Marshall (LHP, 4-3, 3.43)

More Injury Updates

Daryl Ward tore his calf muscle and went on the d.l. today. He's expected to miss at least 3 weeks. That's a tough injury for the team. Ward's been a solid pinch hitter and a good fill in at 1b and occasionally in rf.

To take his place, infielder Scott Moore was recalled from Iowa and is in the lineup at first base today. Moore was hitting .266 with 16 hr and 61 rbi at Iowa. He was hot lately with 5hr in his last 5 games. Moore normally plays 3b but we've seen him play 1b before and he looks fine.

Cliff Floyd is day to day (what a surprise) after his collision with Giants pitcher Matt Morris at first base yesterday.

Ryan Dempster was activated after his second rehab appearance yesterday. Sean Gallagher was sent down to make room.

Wade Miller was officially transferred to Iowa's roster from Peoria so he can make a rehab start today. He should make a couple more starts before the Cubs have to decide what to do with him.

Card's Carpenter To Have Tommy John Surgery

The Cardinal's ace pitcher Chris Carpenter will miss the rest of 2007 and part of 2008 after he undergoes Tommy John surgery to replace an elbow ligament. Carpenter suffered an injury on opening day and later had bone spurs removed from his elbow. After a July 8th rehab start, Carpenter suffered stiffness and swelling in the elbow, eventually leading to the TJ diagnosis.

It's another blow to a team that got hot at the right time to sneak into the playoffs and win the World Series last year, then let most of their rotation leave as free agents. The Cardinals personnel moves the past two seasons have been puzzling. After a ten year run as a playoff contender every year the Card's owners appear to be going for profits instead of wins. Coupled with the decline of the Astros and the permanent suck-fest known as the Pirates, and the always in disarray Reds, that leaves only the Cubs and Brewers to fight for the division crown the next few years.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Ward, Floyd Injured

No surprise that Cliff Floyd got hurt again today and had to leave the game. It happens once every three innings, so right on cue Floyd runs into Matt Morris at first base and goes down. Cliffy did get up, stay in the game and score from second base on a wild pitch before exiting after the third inning.

Daryl Ward left the game with a calf injury thanks to Jason Kendall. A pop up between the catcher and first base resulted in Kendall standing there with his hands at his side, daydreaming while Ward was forced to run in and dive. He didn't make the catch and left the game for Mark DeRosa. I'm sure we'll see Jake Fox get some time at either first or right field in the next 24 hours. Before the game Lou Piniella said Fox would start vs lhp and hit sixth. Arizona arrives for 3 games starting Friday and their lone lefty starter, Doug Davis, will not pitch this weekend. Still, with Cubs players dropping like flies, Fox should get some action.

Cubs Trade Izturis, Call Up Fox

The Cubs traded Cesar Izturis to the Pirates for a player to be named later and called up AA outfielder/firstbaseman/catcher Jake Fox, who is having a monster year. At West Tennessee Fox is hitting .284 with 18 hr's and 60 rbi. He's a righthanded bat who caught almost exclusively until this season when he started playing the corner outfield spots and firstbase.

I don't know why the Pirates would want Izturis unless they have a deal to dump Jack Wilson in place with another team.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Cubs Injury Updates

Ryan Dempster pitched one inning in his rehab appearance at AAA Iowa on Tuesday. The Cubs closer threw twelve pitches, nine of which were strikes and reached 94mph on the radar gun. Dempster reported no pain and will make one more appearance on Thursday. If all goes well he could be activated as soon as Friday.

Wade Miller will make a start at Iowa on Friday as well, and Henry Blanco will follow him by beginning his rehab on Saturday at Iowa as long as his shoulder and neck continue to improve.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Dempster Update

Ryan Dempster is expected to make a rehab appearance on Tuesday in the minors and if all goes well he will be activated on Friday for the start of the Diamondbacks series.

Koyie Hill Is Superior Defensive Catcher

While Koyie Hill himself will admit he has never been considered a defensive catcher, compared to Michael Barrett and Jason Kendall, Koyie Hill is a defensive wiz.

As a Cub this season Barrett allowed 0.64 stolen base attempts per game played (SBA/G). Kendall has allowed 0.88 SBA/G, even worse than Barrett.

Hill's SBA/G is .46, roughly half of Kendall's.

What about wild pithes and passed balls?

Barrett with the Cubs allowed .440 wild pitches and passed balls per game (WP+PB/G)

Kendall is .370 WP+PB/G

Hill is .230 WP+PB/G

How has Barrett done since joining the Padres?

Barrett's SBA/G has skyrocketed, as could be expected with an older pitching staff who do not even attempt to watch baserunners. Barrett's SBA/G as a Padre is 1.82! (as a Cub it was 0.64 this season, so he is allowing 3 times as many stolen base attempts per game with the Padres)

Barrett's WP+PB/G as a Padre is actually down, to .320, from .440.

You can check out all of these stats and run anything you can imagine at The Hardball Times.

A quick glance at comments from A's blog Athletics Nation about the Kendall deal brings some ominous remarks:

"Earth's Worst Hitter(TM) is gone!"

"I like Kendall, admire his work ethic, appreciate his work with our pitchers, but his batting was atrocious."

"addition by subtraction. this will automatically make our lineup a whole lot better." (the same thing we said when Barrett was traded and it turned out true, I hope Kendall doesn't sink the Cubs)

"We actually got something for Kendall? I was shocked that anyone would want him."

"Rick Sutcliffe just said, "Wow, the Cubs just got a whole lot better." Um, he's actually seen Kendall play in Oakland, hasn't he? He's not just remembering him from his Pirates days?"

"That was the best news for this season"

We'll end on a high note:

"It was a great pick up for the Cubs.

Their catchers are atrocious and Kendall has been a great second half hitter. He has great bat control and does not strike out too much. Watch what happens when he is on a team that uses the hit and run.

The Cubs just locked up the Central.

The hottest team in baseball JUST GOT BETTER."

Cubs Pick Up Washed Up Jason Kendall

Typical Cubs move, picking up a former all star who is washed up. Catcher Jason Kendall was acquired from the A's for Rob Bowen, who was designated for assignment earlier today, along with minor league pitcher Jerry Blevins (who had a 1.02 era in A and AA combined). The Cubs also get cash from the A's since Kendall is making $13,429,623 in the final year of a disastrous contract the Pirates signed him to.

Kendall is hitting, brace yourself, .226 with a .261 obp and a horrendous .281 slugging percentage. He has 2 home runs and 22 rbi.

Kendall is hitting .176 vs lhp and .246 vs rhp. Kendall is hitting .219 during the day and .230 at night. So he consistently sucks.

In recent seasons Kendall has watched his power completely disappear. He had 0 hr and 53 rbi in 2005 and 1 hr 50 rbi in 2006. The last time Kendall hit more than 3 home runs in a season was 2003, when he hit a whopping 6. He has only reached double digit hr totals 3 times, none since 2001, despite catching 140+ games every season.

Kendall has also slipped defensively. All the positives from dumping Michael Barrett are now thrown out the window. Kendall has a very Barrett-like 7 passed balls this season. Kendall has throw out 15 of 74 runners this year, a 20% clip. That's below his underwhelming career numbers of 29%.

The bottom line is unless Kendall discovers the fountain of youth and reverses his decline of the last few seasons he's not going to hit much better than any combination of Soto/Hill/Bowen/Blanco, but he's making $13 million and is a poor defensive catcher. He's 33 and has caught an average of 145 games per year for 11 years, minus the half season he missed in 1999 when he destroyed his ankle stepping on first base. Smart move, Hendry. Initial reports on ESPN were that Sean Marshall was a part of this trade. Thank God that's not true. Worst case scenario the Cubs delt a waiver wire catcher they were going to lose and a low level situational lefty. They are taking a chance on Kendall's revival. I just hope his poor defense doesn't put the whammy on their mojo. I can live with poor hitting catchers as long as they are good defensively. Kendall is a poor hitting catcher who is poor defensively as well.

The only bright spot is that Kendall has hit .297 in his last 25 games. Hopefully that's a sign of things to come, but even if he does hit for a respectable average for the Cubs, he's just a singles hitter at this point of his career. I would expect Geovanny Soto will be sent back to Iowa to clear a roster spot. It wouldn't sense to keep him as Kendall's back up since Kendall will start 80%+ of the games.

Cubs-Giants Pitching Matchups

Monday 6:05pm central time
Lincecum vs Hill

Tuesday 7:05pm
Zito vs Marshall

Wednesday 1:20pm
Cain vs Zambrano

Thursday 1:20pm
Morris vs Lilly

Brewers Ace Ben Sheets On DL

Double break of good news for the Cubs today. The Brewers put ace Ben Sheets on the disabled list with a sprain of his middle finger on his pitching hand. He is expected back in two weeks, although Tigers pitcher Joel Zumaya has the same injury and has been out two months.

In other news the Giants are giving Barry Bonds the night off and he is not in the starting lineup for tonights game.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Wade Miller Update

Miller is reportedly throwing 87-89 mph in his first Peoria start on his latest rehab assignment. That's a huge improvement over the 80-83 mph he was throwing earlier this season with the Cubs. Miller also struck out the side in the first inning. Perhaps Miller will offer another right-handed option for the Cubs left-handed heavy rotation, especially if Rich Hill or Sean Marshall continue to struggle.

Final line: 3 ip, 4 hits, 2 runs, no walks, struck out 5.

Henry Blanco Setback, Other Injury Updates

Cubs catcher Henry Blanco suffered a left shoulder injury and will not be starting a rehab assignment anytime soon. In other injury updates, closer Ryan Dempster is expected to start a rehab assignment soon and will probably only make one minor league appearance before being activated. The Chicago Sun-Times confirms the news on Dempster and adds that Wade Miller will make his first start at Peoria today. Kerry Wood needed only 12 pitches to strike out the side in his first rehab appearance in rookie ball. If Wood can stay healthy he might be ready in as little as three weeks. Finally, former Cub Matt Clement is rehabbing with his current team, the Boston Red Sox. Clement recently threw 20-25 pitches off a mound and is at 70%, according to manager Terry Francona.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Promising Note For Second Half

From Fox Sports:

"The good news for the Cubs is they'll enjoy the easiest schedule in all of baseball the rest of the way, with 41 of 75 second-half games at home and only 24 contests against winning teams. The bad news is that the division-leading Brewers will play the second-easiest schedule the rest of the way. And the Cubs have only three more head-to-head games with Milwaukee, so, for the most part, they'll need to make up the deficit elsewhere."

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Mark Cuban Jumps Into the Cubs Bidding

According to the Chicago Tribune, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has officially turned in his formal application to purchase the Chicago Cubs. The good news is that the Tribune is technically the one selling the Cubs, and they are a publicly owned company. That means that they are required to sell the team to the highest bidder. But before you get your hopes up, MLB can still rig the bidding because only they can pre-approve the bidders. If Bud Selig and Jerry Reinsdorf really do dislike Cuban as much as rumored, they can simply deny his application. Personally, Jerry Reinsdorf has no business making a decision on who buys a team he is in direct competition with, regardless of who the final owner is.

Pie Sent Down, Soto Called Up

The Cubs have sent Felix Pie to Iowa and recalled catcher Geovany Soto. This gives the Cubs 3 catchers, which they won't stick with for long. I would speculate that they want to take a look at Soto and determine quickly if he is ready to play in the majors before they risk losing Koyie Hill or Rob Bowen to waivers.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Michael Barrett Update

Since trading for Michael Barrett the Padres are 2-8 in games Barrett starts and 6-1 when Josh Bard starts.

Kind of the reverse of the Cubs fortunes.

Btw, since the trade the Cubs are 5-3 when Rob Bowen starts, and 7-2 when Koyie Hill starts.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Blanco, Miller Close To Rehab Assignment

According to WGN Radio, Cubs manager Lou Piniella said before today's game that catcher Henry Blanco and pitcher Wade Miller may start minor league rehab assignments as soon as next Sunday, shortly after the all-star break resumes.

If Blanco gets well enough to be activated it will leave the Cubs with the dilemma of which current catcher they have to designate for assignment. Neither catcher has options left. Koyie Hill is most likely going to stay over Rob Bowen. Hill has played better defense and the Cubs are 12-4 when he starts, but both Hill and Bowen would have to pass through waivers and accept being assigned to Iowa. Hill might be able to pass through waivers and likely would accept the assignment, but Bowen, despite his mediocre play this season is more likely to be nabbed by another team. He's only 26 years old and is a switch hitting catcher with a little pop and decent defense. It also would mean that Jim Hendry would likely lose the main piece in the Barrett trade less than a month after making the deal, so maybe Hill would be sent out to save face.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

A Roundup of Cubs Notes and Rumors

Jacque Jones will be given an opportunity to take over the starting CF job, at the expense of Felix Pie. If Jones shows any life with the bat Pie is a likely candidate to be returned to Iowa next week so the Cubs can get back to 12 pitchers.

From the same article, catcher Henry Blanco worked out in full gear on Friday at PNC Park, making throws to second and third and blocking pitches in the dirt. Blanco is optimistic he will return this season and avoid season ending surgery on a herniated disc in his neck.

When the Padres were talking trade with the Cubs last month, one of the players they inquired about was Felix Pie. The Cubs immediately squashed the talk and told the Padres Pie is "as untouchable as it gets."

This is just my personal idea, but if Jones doesn't work out in the outfield mix, and the bean counters continue to squash any attempt by Jim Hendry to eat part of Jones' 2008 salary in a trade, why not try and deal Jones to the Yankees for Bobby Abreu? Abreu is making $10 million this year, and has a 2008 option for $16 million, which no team will pick up, and instead will be on the hook for a $2 million buyout. With some creative thinking the Cubs and Yankees could rework some cash in the deal so the Yankees end up paying next year's buyout. The salaries themselves would be close to a wash. Abreu would be due approx $5 million the rest of this season, plus the $2 million buyout, and Jones would be due approx $7 million between this year and next. The Cubs would simply be moving that money onto this year's payroll, something Hendry keeps insisting he is being told he can add to. Any deal would probably require the Cubs to package a prospect with Jones, but probably not a top level guy, depending on how hotly pursued Abreu is by other teams. Abreu has been mediocre at the plate this year, but has shown signs of life in the last month (.290/.408/.470 in June).

Carlos Zambrano is as good as gone, unless the Cubs front office does an about-face and green-lights Hendry to re-offer the contract Z was close to signing this Spring. The Cubs ownership situation is not likely to be worked out and approved until next February, at the earliest. Z will get a basketful of contract offers on the first few days of free agency this November and would be insane to wait around for a Cubs offer that might not come from whoever ultimately becomes the new owner. (Which, btw, is looking like Bud Selig and Jerry Reinsdorf pal John Canning) I'll add that this coming offseason is likely to look bleak for the Cubs as long as the ownership change is not completed in a timely matter. Any pending free agents on the team, and free agent targets, will probably not be offered contracts until things are settled. That means the 2008 roster could have more than a few holes in it that will send Hendry or whoever is the GM to the bargain bin.

Cubs Player Contract Status Through 2008:


Scott Eyre (player option for 2008)
Cliff Floyd (player option for 2008 if vested, or else club option)
Cesar Izturis (club option with buy-out for 2008)
Wade Miller
Daryle Ward (club option for 2008)
Kerry Wood
Carlos Zambrano

Ryan Dempster (thru 2008, then FA)
Bob Howry (thru 2008, then FA)
Jacque Jones (thru 2008, then FA)
Will Ohman (thru 2008, then FA)
Henry Blanco (thru 2008 + club option with buy-out for 2009)
Mark DeRosa (thru 2009, then FA)
Jason Marquis (thru 2009, then FA)
Derrek Lee (thru 2010, then FA)
Ted Lilly (thru 2010, then FA)
Aramis Ramirez (thru 2010 + 2011 player option and 2012 mutual option)
Jeff Samardzija (thru 2011 + mutual options for 2012 and 2013)
Alfonso Soriano (thru 2014, then FA)

Mark Prior
Neal Cotts
Michael Wuertz (if he has at least 150 days of mlb service in 2007)

List courtesy of Arizona Phil

New Japanese Pitch?

Will this pitch be sweeping the nation's ballparks in the near future?:)

Friday, July 6, 2007

Former Cub Neifi Perez Banned 25 Games

Former Cub and current Detroit Tiger Neifi Perez has been suspended 25 games by Major League Baseball for testing positive for a banned stimulant.

Perez is hitting .172 with 1 home run and 6 rbi this season.

Major League Baseball does not release the names of players who test positive for banned amphetamines the first time, which means Perez has tested positive at least twice in the last year.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Lee and Soriano Named To NL All Star Team

Derreck Lee and Alfonso Soriano were named to the National League All Star Team as reserves on Sunday. Soriano was edged out of the starting lineup at the last minute by a surge of votes for Barry Bonds. Still, it's nice to see two Cubs make the team. And the good news is, Carlos Zambrano has a chance to join them through online voting by the fans. You can vote for or against Big Z on the MLB home page, just look on the left side for the orange All Star Game Final Vote sign.

Bobby Jenks is the lone representative for the White Sox. The complete list of All Star starters and reserves can be viewed here.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Petrick Returns, Cherry To D.L.

The Cubs placed Rocky Cherry on the disabled list on Sunday and recalled Billy Petrick, who had been demoted in favor of Cherry one day earlier.

Cherry reported discomfort in the back of his right shoulder after pitching two innings in a 13-4 loss to the Brewers Saturday.

Get Tickets to See The Police at Wrigley Field! July 5 or 6th. Hurry! Tickets Are Going Fast!

Former Cub Farnsworth Gets Into It With Joe Torre

The Newark Star-Ledger keep us updated on our favorite karate trained, clubhouse napping pitcher.

Kyle Farnsworth stormed off the mound Friday after being yanked in the eigth inning and threw his glove to the dugout floor. He was confronted by Joe Torre after the game, who told him, "Don't ever do that to me again." Farnsworth claimed he didn't feel he was showing Torre up. I'm surprised it's taken this long for Torre and Farnsworth to clash. Too bad Farny has never learned self-discipline, and another pitch or two.

Kerry Wood News

Fox Sports Has This Kerry Wood Update:

"RHP Kerry Wood threw off the mound for the second time this week during a 12-minute session. Before this week, Wood, who has been on the disabled list all season with shoulder problems, had not thrown off the hill since spring training. The Cubs have no timetable for his return, but since he is stretching out as a reliever, it wouldn't take as long as trying to build up to 80-90 pitches. But the Cubs want him to be able to throw on back-to-back days before they would consider bringing him back up."

Did Bud Selig Veto Jones Trade?

From The New York Daily News:

"According to various baseball sources, it was Bud Selig who kiboshed that trade of Jacque Jones from the Cubs to the Marlins last week - and not a matter of the Cubs simply having second thoughts. Seems Selig deemed the money the Cubs were to absorb on Jones' contract as excessive. Apparently, the pending sale of the Cubs has prompted a "no more debt" edict from Selig, which may explain why there have been no further contract talks with free agent-to-be Carlos Zambrano. The fact that John Canning Jr., the billionaire CEO of Madison Dearborn Properties and a close friend of Selig's (with an 11% stake in the Brewers) has emerged as the potential frontrunner in the Cubs' ownership sweepstakes may also explain why the commissioner doesn't want any more onerous contracts at Wrigley in the aftermath of the Tribune Co.'s wild spending spree last winter."