Baseball Diamond News

Sunday, January 30, 2005

OF Situation not looking so good.

Well I am all for getting rid of Sammy Sosa, but only if it means bringing in a better or equal product. It is not looking like that will happen. Hairston is not the best option at LF, so he will be splitting time at 2b with Walker and that doesn't really help us too much. The prospects the Cubs are supposedly getting are Crouthers and Fontenot are really not project to be anything better than end of the bench material. This then would leave us with 2 problems in the OF, LF and RF. Well LF looks like it will be Hollandsworth and Dubois which might not be too bad. As I think Dubois minor league numbers warrant him a shot during camp and if he does well then I think this might be a decent platoon. The problem is what might happen in RF. There are reports that the Cubs might be close to signing the dreaded Jeromy Burnitz if this trade goes through. UGH!!!! I don't know why they would want him or any team for that matter, but now I won't be able to razz him with my buddy Jack so it is a double whammy. It then becomes a triple whammy if we want to go as far as saying that Sosa would be going to my favorite AL team the Orioles which makes me mad that would I have to root him on again.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Sosa Traded?

According to ESPN.COM Sosa has been traded to the Orioles for Jerry Hairston and 2 prospects. I will write more after more details come out.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

IBL Team Update

Well this week my turn to pick finally came up at 1-18. COL Francis was still on the board and I just could not pass on him. I am trying to make the playoffs next year and he really won't be much help, but his future is very bright and with Oswalt and Zambrano at the front of the rotation, I am hoping he can slide in there in the future along with Haren (who I drafted last year). Had he not been hammered in his 1st two starts last season I am positive he would not have been around at my pick.
Then 3 picks later at 1-21 I decided to move up 6 spots by trading my 2-4 and 4-1 for 1-21 and 4-23 with PHI (who just won the CS), congrats Rusty. With that pick I drafted pitcher PIT Gonzalez to shore up my pen along with Benitez, Colome, Cordero (TEX), Cruz (OAK), Reitsma and Mateo. Picking a left-handed reliever in the first round is something I usually would never do, as I rarely use lefties and already drafted one in Francis. The reason I did it is because I did not have a reliable lefty in the pen last year and it came back and hurt my team and next season Gonzalez going to have a great card.
My major needs at the moment are: I could use 1 more front end SP, Speed, 1 more RP, a defensive leftfielder, 3rd catcher, and a switch-hitter off the bench. My problem is my next pick is not until 3-21 so I have a long time (about a month) and I won't be able to fix the SP with that pick. So I have decided to go with a 4 man rotation this season until something comes along. With the #3 pick I might look for either speed or the extra man in the pen. After that pick I own picks 4-2, 4-23, 5-5, and 6-1 which will either be used to draft the people I need or traded for players to fit my needs.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Cubs invite 12 more players

Sorry this is late, been busy and the snow here in Chicago had me shoveling instead of writing.

The list of non-roster invitees includes pitchers Jimmy Anderson, Eddie Oropesa, Raul Valdez and Jermaine Van Buren; catchers Casey Kopitzke and Jose Reyes; infielder Danny Klassen; and outfielders Peter Bergeron, Angel Echevarria, Adam Greenberg, Calvin Murray and Rene Reyes. This does not include the 3 guys I have talked about earlier.

Jimmy Anderson slimmed down last season and made a brief appearance for the Cubs last year and did not do much for them. His past history shows that he is not much of a pitcher and I don't think he has much chance to make the team, but might be helping out Iowa this year.
Eddie Oropesa was awful last year and with Ohman, Randolph and Remlinger he is just in camp to take up a few innings in the beginning of spring and that's about it.
Raul Valdez is a guy I don't know much about. If I am correct the Cubs signed him from Cuba from all indications I have read. Hopefully he works out better than most of the Cubans that have come over.
Jermaine Van Buren has been in the minor leagues since 1998 and spent 2003 in the Independent league. Last year the Cubs took a flyer on him and he did well in their system, but I wouldn't expect much out of him this season. He is still young and he did a great job in AA, but I think another year in high minors wouldn't hurt the man.
Casey Kopitzke was drafted by Cubs in the 27th round in 1999. Since then he has done exactly what you would expect from a 27th round pick. Nothing. Last season in AAA his OPS was a miserable .524, which would be almost bearable for a pitcher.
Jose Reyes was signed out of the Domican in 2002 and he also had an OPS of just .579. The one thing Reyes has going for him is that he is only 20 years old and has many years to mature. The Cubs more than likely are inviting him to camp to get some experience and motivation for future improvement.
Danny Klassen has been a journeyman throughout his career and the only value he has is that he can play multiple positions. The problem is he plays none of them too well nor can he hit worth a lick.
Peter Bergeron is a guy that intrigues me. He was a top prospect a few years back for Montreal, but never fulfilled his promise. Last season he battled injuries and it showed. If Dubois or Kelton fails to make the team and Hollandsworth is handed the job in LF, I think Bergeron would make a nice 5th outfielder if he can show he can hit in camp. If he struggles in camp than he might be a Tom Goodwin Lite and that is not a good thing.
Angel Echeverria used to play for the Cubs in 2002 and then went over to Japan and played for Nippon. While I had him on my IBL team because he kills lefties in small doses, I don't think he would be able to help the Cubs much this year. Though if he worked on his defense and Dubois and Kelton both stink up the field, he could platoon with Hollandsworth out in LF, but with the way Baker manages, platooning is not much of a possibility.
Adam Greenberg was drafted in 2002 and has been very steady in the minor leagues. He has done nothing spectacular down there, but has been steady enough to get invited to spring training. He also went to the Arizona fall league and put up steady numbers, but once again nothing spectacular.
Calvin Murray is a Baker guy who even with Baker's favoritism didn't make the team last season. This doesn't bode well for him and once again I think he is only in spring training to be an extra body.
Rene Reyes is an OF from who came up with the Rockies. He has some power, but it has never translated into anything productive in the major leagues. His only shot I think is as a midseason call up during an injury. Besides that I think he will be headed to Iowa with many other of the invitees.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Patterson, Barrett, Farnsworth sign contracts

The Cubs made some other signings today by coming to 1 year agreements with both Farnsworth and Patterson. Patterson’s deal is for 2.8 million this year and Farnsworth’s deal is worth 1.975 for the year. Hopefully Patterson can reduce his strikeouts this year by about 50 or so and increase his walks by about 30. If Patterson can achieve this he makes himself a much more valuable offensive weapon because by walking more it will allow him to use his speed and steal a few more bases and give the Cubs more opportunities with runners in scoring position. I love Farnsworth’s arm, but that is about the only thing I like about him. His attitude and his maturity need to improve this season along with the ability to pitch well on a consistent basis.
Barrett agreed to a new 3 year deal for 12 million dollars. This is a good deal because I think that we can expect more of the same from Barrett over the next couple years. I especially think this because we signed Blanco for 2 years to help relieve Barrett so he doesn’t wear down. Near the end of last season Barrett was struggling and could have used about 10-15 more days off, but with Bako as the only backup last year, Barrett was forced to play. The one thing I would like Barrett to work on during Spring Training this year is throwing out would be base stealers as he struggled at that aspect of his game last season.

Scott Williamson

The Cubs today signed Scott Williamson to a minor league contract with an invite to Spring training. This is a signing that I absolutely love. I know that he has a history of major elbow problems and they probably will continue the rest of his career, but who cares. When Williamson pitches he is usually unhittable. He had a bad time in Boston in the 2nd half of 2003, but I suspect that was more of his arm bothering him than his skill. Last year in his 28 innings there he was unhittable giving up an unbelievable .423 OPS.
If healthy having Williamson, Hawkins, Dempster, Ohman, Remlinger, Borowksi and whom ever wins out with Leicester, Wuertz, Wellemeyer, Randolph, Fox, Farnsworth (assuming they keep him after his leaving the pen/game on last day of the season) will be one of the best pens around to go with a great rotation. The pen has been a weakness that over the last few seasons the Cubs just could not overcome, hopefully now they can.

UPDATE: Scott Williamson will not be pitching until the end of July or early August since he had elbow surgery again in mid-October. I still think this is a great signing as it is a very low risk with potential of a very high return.

Contract Update: Williamson's contract will pay him the minimum in 2005, and if he is activated, it will increase to $500,000. There is a $2 million club option for 2006.


Well the Cubs have announced that they are only going to put numbers on the back of uniforms this year. They are going back to the way the used to have the uniforms. I really don't have much to say about it, but seeing the last few days have been very slow, I decided I needed to post and this is the newest information I have on the Cubs. I guess the only negative is that now I might have to look up how to spell Garciaparra when spelling out his name then just closing my eyes and seeing the back of his uniform.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Chad Fox signed

Well today the Cubs went out and signed Chad Fox to a 1 year minor league deal. Unlike the Cody deal, I actually like this signing. While this is a very low risk signing, it has potential to have a very valuable return. When healthy, Chad Fox is very reliable out of the pen, but the problem is over last 3 years he has mostly been injured. It is not known whether he will be the pitcher he was in 2001 or will he just be injured an ineffective like he was last year for the Marlins.

Cody Ransom

In the Daily Herald it says the Cubs have come to an agreement with utility IF Cody Ransom to a minor league deal. He previously played for the SF Giants and appeared in 16 games in 01 and 02 with Dusty Baker. Since then he has not done much. Last season he hit .250/.320/.382 and was 2-4 in SB's. Ransom also had a 2.4 RAR (Runs-Above-Replacement) which is easily replaceable and I hope that Cubs management sees he should not make major league squad. Ransom has shown a little bit more power (not much more), but has never put up superb numbers in the minors either. Ron Shandler predicts Ransom to hit .233/.294/.369 next year in 124 pa's and -1.6 RAR which the Cubs definitely don’t need on the bench.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Coach Scott Skiles

I know this is a baseball log, but as a long time season ticket holder and die-hard Bulls fan, I have to say this, I WAS WRONG. I had been moaning since last season that he should be fired and the Bulls should sign a real coach. Well Scott has proven me wrong and not only his he not a good coach, if the Bulls keep playing like this he is Coach of the Year hands down. After the 0-9 start the Bulls are a legitimate playoff team. The Bulls have decided to play defense and somehow Skiles has awoken Curry and he is finally playing like people thought he could. Now it might be a little early to say this, but I think the Bulls finally will make the playoffs again and if they keep playing this way they might even advance a round.

Simulation league

Well the off-season is chugging along in IBL and after evaluating my team I am not sure that I will have a good season. I think I was fooling myself early on, but now I am becoming more of a realist. There is a lot of work I need done on my team and I just don't think I can achieve it. A few trades have gone sour and now COL has drafted the player I was hoping to move up and get OAK Crosby. I had been trying to keep a low profile about my interest on him, but now it doesn't matter. Now I have decided not to trade down I have to wait for the next 5 picks until my turn. My major needs are a LF vs. rh's, a #3 SP, a SS vs. rh's and a lefty relief pitcher. I am not sure what position I will fill with my next pick as I may just pick best person available since it is first round.
Also if anyone reading this remembers the old board game Pursue-the-Pennant and wants to join IBL we do have 1 opening as the owner of LAS had to quit after the season was over due to time constraints and we can always use some co-owners. Just send me an email if interested.

MLB New Steriod Policy

MLB and the players have agreed to a completely overhauled steroid policy. I would like to say that I am very happy that the Union agreed on much stricter policies for testing of the players. Under the new rules it is good to see that a first time offender can be suspended for up to 10 games, I just hope if a big time player comes up positive they suspend him for 10 games. Also there can be random testing throughout the season and the off-season. This hopefully will curtail the use of steroids in baseball and put some of the fans at ease. Also players that don’t use steroids now have more proof to back themselves up because in the new system if caught they will be suspended in the old system 1st time offenders got counseled and the public didn’t know about it. I know there always will be a way to beat the system, but as long as the system is not so easy to break, it is a plus for everyone involved.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Burnitz Update

Well according to the Houston Astros have started talks with Jeromy Burnitz to take over the CF spot now that Beltran has departed. All I can say to this is I hope they sign him. This not only would eliminate any chance of him becoming a Cub, but also would help to hinder one of our competitors. If he does sign with the Astros he won't handcuff them as much as if they had signed Beltran, but you get what you pay for and signing Burnitz to start in CF is not an improvement. As I stated in an earlier column, outside of Coors field, Burnitz was not much above replacement level player. Lastly if Burnitz signs with the Astros I can still go to the games with my buddy Jack and heckle him from the bleachers without feeling bad.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Cubs Trade for Randolph

Today the Cubs took a step to improve their bullpen. They acquired left-handed reliever Stephen Randolph from the Diamondbacks for a player-to-be-named-later. This is not a bad trade for the Cubs as it doesn't really cost them much as the PTBNL is probably not going to be much more than a midlevel prospect at best. By no means I am saying that this is a good trade either. The Cubs pitching coach will have his work cutout for him in Randolph as the major knock on him is that he has a hard time throwing the ball over the plate. Last season in 81.2 IP's he walked 76 men. If he can improve his control then he will be an improvement over Mercker, but with the showing Ohman put on in Winter League, this move mystifies me. I am not sure if Randolph is here for insurance for Remlinger getting hurt, Ohman failing to get out big league hitters or the Cubs just feel that they need 3 lefties in the pen.

Beltran signs with Mets

Well the Cubs pursuit of Beltran fell way short as he agreed to a 7 year 119million deal with the Mets yesterday. Well in an earlier column I was very critical of the Cubs not going after Beltran and offering a low contract just to say they did. On that thought my opinion of why they offered him the contract has not changed, but I am glad they did not listen to me and offer him a lot more money. I do think that Beltran did get signed to a contract worth too much money and had the Cubs given him that contract they probably would not have been able to make anymore moves in the year if needed due to financial constraints. Also down the road the Cubs need to give extensions to some of their players and without this long-term contract they have much more maneuverability.
What I think Cubs need to do now for LF. Well I still think the Cubs should go out and give Magglio Ordonez a1 year incentive based contract and put him in LF. I figure if he plays 120 games out there and Kelton and Dubois both split the rest of the time off the bench it will be an adequate replacement for Alou out there next year. This also gives playing time to both or either of Kelton and Dubois which will help us determine if either can help step in for Sosa in 2006.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Mark Grudzielanek

The Cardinals today went out and signed former Cub Mark Grudzielanek today. I wish him the best of luck except the times the Cardinals play the Cubs. In 2003 Mark played his heart out and was a big factor on the Cubs overall improvement. In 2004 though Mark caught the injury bug and had to miss 2 months of the season due to Achilles tendon problem. When he came back he hit righties well, but really struggled verse lefties which left him a little useless because the Cubs wanted to play Todd Walker more verse righties and Mark vs. lefties.
For the Cardinals I think he will perform admirably and end up outperforming the 2b he replaced Tony Womack. The Yankees overpaid for Womack and I am positive that his 2005 season will be on par to his 2oo3 season. A good thing for Cubs fans is that Renteria is no longer in STL and replaced with SS Eckstein whom I have never been high on.

Beltran Update

Well it looks like the Cubs have made a formal offer to Carlos Beltran according to Dave van Dyck. The only problem is that it is rumored that we are the lowest bidders and the least amount of years. Come on Tribune and Hendry, don't make these kind of offers just to say well we tried. This is not trying. If the Cubs really aren't going to try to sign him, then they should put their efforts into Magglio Ordonez and see if he will sign a 1 yr deal. By offering Beltran what they did, they now have to wait for his answer and which mostly likely will be no and in the mean time lose out on valuable time to sign an OF replacement of value.
I do understand that 75 million dollars for 5 years is not chump change and that the Tribune is a publicly traded company and has a responsibility to its share holders to spend money wisely, but don't you think winning a WS would make the Cubs more money than the Tribune can imagine. Think of all the memorabilia they could sell with Word Series Champs on it, or the end of the Curse (which I don't believe in), or heck even on the tickets from the game (they already make a ton of money scalping regular season tickets, imagine what they could sell WS tickets for). If the Tribune company does not want to make the Cubs a real contender instead of a pretender, they should sell the team then if they think it is a financial burden (which it is not or they would have sold it years ago).


Sorry for this being late, but this snow here in Chicago has even delayed my writing.

I would love to congratulate Ryne Sandberg for his HoF success. On Tuesday it was announced that Ryne had made the jump he needed to enter the HoF along Wade Boggs. Unfortunately, the 3 other guys I thought deserved to be elected in did not make it: "Goose" Gossage, Bert Blyleven, Bruce Sutter. All 3 of those guys garnered more votes this year than they have in the past and with the 2006 1st balloters pretty weak, their chances are pretty good that like Ryne they can make jump in votes also.

I remember the day the Cubs acquired Ryne Sandberg I was in my living room with my dad reading the Chicago Tribune. It had said the Cubs traded Ivan DeJesus for Larry Bowa and Ryne Sandberg. I was upset because as an 8 year old my ability to scout wasn't the greatest and I thought Ivan was the man (though he hit .194/.233/.274). My dad went on to tell me that getting Larry Bowa would help out our defense (though now that I am older I know that his error rating was so good because he couldn't get to any balls). There was no mention of Sandberg besides him being more of a throw in with the trade.

Well how wrong were my dad, me and the Phillies (thanks Phillies). Ryne provided us with 15 great seasons of baseball. In those years he hit, played defense, and was the ideal citizen. I remember being at my buddy Adam's house back in 84 and watching that game against the Cardinals in which he hit 2 hr's and the Cubs eventually went on to win it. Moments like these happened throughout his career.

Once again Ryne Sandberg Congratulations from all the Cub fans and baseball fans in the world.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Please NO Burnitz...

Well according to the Daily Herald the Cubs might turn their interest Jeromy Burnitz. I beg of them not to do this. Burnitz stats last year were inflated due to the fact that he played in Coors. Jeromy has not been a steady threat since 1999 and a little bit of the 1st half in 2003, but that didn't last.
Let's take a look at Burnitz's stats last year. At home he hit .322/.386/.670 and then on the road he hit.244/.327/.775. This extreme split does help Burnitz's cause of showing him to be useful to anyone, but Colorado. I saw some post somewhere, where someone said that he like Burnitz and he could revert back to his old form, but he in wrong side of 35 to show any major improvements. In Ron Shandler's book Baseball Forecaster 2005 he predicts Burnitz to hit in the tune of .248/.327/.496 and in the Bill James Handbook 2005 he predicts him hit .246/.327/.477. Both of these projections are quite similar and both show that while he will have some power, he also will be underperforming for a LF. Now I may be just some guy writing on the web with his whacky ideas, but Shandler and James are both proven in their field and both have a very low opinion on what the future holds for Burnitz. So all I can do is hope that Hendry has some good people around him that will help him determine not to sign Burnitz.

Lastly if the Cubs sign Burnitz how can I make the 3 block trek to the park with my pal Jack and shout at the top of our lungs at Burnitz (a tradition for us) and telling him how overrated he is and how he sucks.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Bert Blyleven

Bert Blyleven is a guy who gets lost in the crowd when it comes to HoF. He was a pitcher who was on many bad teams and also received poor run support, but still ended up with 287 wins. The next thing people say is that he never won the Cy Young. Well that is true, but he did end up with 3701 K's, 60 shutouts and 254 complete games. Bert also had a 344 Runs Saved Above Average (RSAA) which ranked him 17 all time. He was one of the best guys during his generation and had he not been hurt in 1982 he might have added on those 13 wins he needed to get to 300 and then he would almost automatically make the HoF. Rick at Rick's Beat has a nice article supporting Bert and his HoF bid and is well worth reading.

I remember watching him pitch as a youngster when he was in Cleveland and Minnesota and he was always was a top of the line pitcher. I was much younger back in those days and my ability to evaluate talent might not have been the best, but examing his stats also backs up what I remember. I truly hope he makes the Hall of Fame this year. Good Luck Bert.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Sim League Draft Update

Well as the draft slowly continues in IBL, the 1st two picks have been made. Mauer was the #1 pick overall with Grienke going #2. The draft goes pick by pick with no time limit until Feb. when we start making lists for 2 rounds at a time. The draft is consisted of all players that either were in these categories: 1) FA's at end of last season in our league, 2) had no card last season and was not on team, but has card this year (either 30 PA's, or 20 IP), 3) Did not make usage last year or too much usage (75%-133%), or 4) cut after last season.
My team (Cougars) picks at #18 in the round so I have some time to think and scout who I want to draft as I will be looking for a young OF prospect with low PA's or a future replacement for Alfonzo or FLA Gonzalez.
The league should start getting busier now because as of 1/1/05 trading has resumed until Feb 1 and during this time there usually are a lot of trades made. My team is usually a big off-season mover, but this year we are thinking of taking it easy, but that might change if the right offer comes along.

Web Page Suggestions

I am going to do a major overhaul on this webpage within the next month or so. I am very unhappy with the way it looks, so if anyone is reading this I would appreciate some feedback on what I should do to improve this webpage.

Jason Dubois

Well as the off-season moves along, the Cubs still haven't solved their outfield problem. So, I decided to write about a guy we might be seeing a lot of next season Jason Dubois. In every level of his 3 year minor league career he has displayed power and the ability to hit for a high average. Though in 2003 he had a little slump in Tennessee, but he recovered well last season. When Jason was recalled last year I was hoping that he would have a bigger role than water boy, but with Dusty Baker as manager I expected it (as we all know Dusty favors veterans over rookies). Due to this I dismiss his 25 PA's with the Cubs last year as just fodder though he did do well in the last game of the year when Sammy decided he was too good to be bothered to be at the park.

Jason Dubois decided to go to Mexico this off-season and work on his game (with encouragement from the Cubs). Jason has been in Mexico with the Mazatlan Deer and in early December, wrote and article about him and how he was doing. In the article it said he was hitting for a lot of power and was red hot, what it didn't say was that he was striking out about once in every 3 pa's (thanks to Basebaball America). This is an alarmingly high rate to strike out at and though it would be nice to see his power on the team, if he doesn't cut back on the k's, major league pitchers will have a field day with him.

In Bill James 2005 Handbook it predicts Jason to have a very productive season for a rookie. By no means is it a spectacular .277/.343 /.522, but it is better than the ones forecasted for Alou whom signed an expensive deal in SF. If by some chance he is to be the Cubs opening Day LF, and he could bat this well as a rookie, I'd be very happy, the problem is I don't think he can. I do think in the very near future he can be very productive OF, but until those strikeouts are reduced I don't think the above numbers are achievable.

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