Posts Tagged "derrek lee"


A musky Winter Meeting Preview

A musky Winter Meeting Preview


Posted on Nov 30, 2010 in Cubs

The Baseball Winter Meetings are being held next week in the very place that I got married just four short years ago.  No, they’re not being held in the rumpus room at Del Boca Vista, but rather at the Swan and Dolphin Resort at Walt Disney World in Orlando.

And to prove that Kermit doesn’t own the exclusive rights to mocking the dumb things that Carrie Muskat writes, I’m going to pick apart the Winter Meetings Preview she wrote for Cubs.com.  You remember Cubs.com, the place you can go to buy Cubs Convention passes…all winter long, since they don’t seem likely to ever sell that damn thing out this year.

Lefty bat, pitching depth on Cubs’ Meetings list

The Cubs are still searching for Mr. Left.

I see what you did there, and it’s very clever.  If you were eight years old.  You have things growing in your bun that are older than eight.

The Cubs had high hopes for Kosuke Fukudome when he arrived in 2007, but he hasn’t provided the same pop he did in Japan.

It’s true, Kosuke buys all of the soda that the Cubs stock in the clubhouse.  And his kind love to drink some crazy shit.

Milton Bradley was supposed to be the guy in ’09, and he was shipped to the Mariners after one tumultuous season. In the last few years, they’ve tried Jeromy Burnitz, Fred McGriff, Jacque Jones, Hee-Seop Choi, and even Matt Stairs.

Awesome list.  Remind me again why Jim Hendry is still picking out players for the Cubs?

Wait a minute, did she list Fred McGriff?  That was nine years ago.  That’s even older than the stuff growing in her bun.

This offseason, Cubs general manager Jim Hendry is once again looking for the perfect left-handed, middle-of-the-order hitter. If he’s a first baseman, that solves two problems.

Those problems, are of course world hunger and the need for another really good Elvis Costello album.

When Derrek Lee joined the Cubs in 2004, Hendry didn’t have to think about a replacement or even a backup first baseman.

We noticed that in 2006 when Lee broke his wrist and we got the tremendous sight of John Mabry, Phil Nevin and Todd Walker playing first base.  Good plan.

With Lee gone via trade and backups Xavier Nady (free agency) and Micah Hoffpauir (Japan) off the roster, the Cubs find themselves with a big hole.

How big is that hole, really?  Because Lee, Nady and Hoffpauir combined to hit .253 with 20 homers, 75 RBI, 186 strikeouts, 64 walks and an OPS of .720.  Somebody call Nevin, because he might actually be able to do that.

Is there a lefty who can fit in the Cubs’ budget? We may find out at the Winter Meetings, which officially begin Monday in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

Although many fans and even Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano would like to see Adam Dunn’s big bat in the lineup, the team will likely lean more toward a more economical and defensive infielder.

More economical and defensive?  So you mean cheap and glovey?  I’ve got just the guy for you!  How many m’s in Mientkiewicz?

Starlin Castro is coming off a 27-error rookie season. Not only do the Cubs want a left-handed bat, but someone who can catch the ball. Lee, a three-time Gold Glove winner, spoiled them.

He certainly did spoil them.  Without his fabulousness over there at first, why Castro might have made 30 errors, and where would have have left the Cubs?  In fifth place?  You know, right where they ended up?

The Cubs aren’t limited to thrift store shopping, but do have to be more cost-concious.

I see MLB.com is cutting down, too.  They fired everybody who knew how to spell conscious.

They have $103 million committed to players next year, plus Jeff Baker, Koyie Hill, Carlos Marmol, Sean Marshall, Tom Gorzelanny, and Geovany Soto are on the arbitration-eligible list. Those six players combined made $6.125 million in 2010. Expect a final ’11 payroll around $130 million.

First base isn’t the only concern. Although the Cubs appear to have plenty of depth pitching-wise, they would like another innings-eating starter and an experienced right-handed reliever.

Love it.  The Cubs have pitching depth and limited funds, so they’re going to go out and buy some pitching that won’t be any better than what they’ve already got.  But it will be more expensive.  I love it when a plan comes together!

Don’t look for Hendry to be waiting in line to court free agent Cliff Lee.

Hendry won’t be courting Cliff Lee, but he’s open to giving Aaron Harang a hand job.

Why more pitching?

You got me.  You said they had “plenty of depth pitching-wise.”

There are too many questions regarding the rotation.

Huh?  Well do they have depth or no?  Because just having bodies doesn’t give you depth…girth maybe, but not depth.  And I know you’ve been telling Alan all these years that girth is more important than depth, it’s just not true is it, Carrie?  Is it?

Carlos Silva, acquired last December from the Mariners for Bradley, surprised the Cubs with his strong start.

Surprised them with a strong start, then didn’t surprise anybody when he flopped over and beached himself at mid-season.

Will he do it again?

Which, start strong or beach?  Probably both.

Randy Wells will be entering his third season, which means no more talk about a sophomore jinx. Will he be more consistent?

No more sophomore jinx for Randy Wells.  Now it’s right on to junior suckage.

Lefty Tom Gorzelanny wants to start but may be better suited to a relief role, similar to what Sean Marshall has done. Would he accept that?

You make a great point, Carrie.  Last year Gorzelanny had a 4.22 ERA as a starter but only a 1.42 ERA as a reliever.  Marshall-esque!  Oh, except for the fact that he pitched 130 innings as a starter and six as a reliever.  Kind of hard to tell.

The Cubs do have youngsters waiting in the wings in Casey Coleman, Chris Archer and Chris Carpenter

Holy shit, the Cubs got Carpenter!  Wow.  Why would the Cardinals let him go?  What morans!  What a coup for the Cubs!  We got Carpenter!

(not the Cardinals’ ace, but a 25-year-old right-hander who was a third-round pick in 2008).

Shit.

The reality is, they will likely start in the Minors in 2011.

Why do you tease us so, Carrie you keyboard vixen you?  You tempt us with the future glory of guys like Chris Coleman, Craig Archer and Charley Carpenter (or whatever the hell their names are) and then you pull it out from under us.  Sadist!

There was a youth movement in the bullpen, with 12 rookie pitchers utilized in 2010.

Something was moving down there, either some youth or some bowels or both.  Any team can use 12 rookie pitchers, not any team can be awesome while doing it.  The Cubs, for example, proved they could be terrible while doing it.  I’m not sure what your point is, but I do see a knitting needle sticking out of your hair.

There’s also been talk about veteran Kerry Wood returning to the bullpen, but he’s coming off a season in which he was paid $10.5 million.

There has been talk, yes.  Twice a week, Bruce Levine walks into a coffee shop in Northbrook, takes off his shirt and regales the quickly departing crowd with tales of Kerry Wood’s returneth to Wrigley Field.  Yay verily!

At that price, he’s not in the Cubs’ budget.

No shit.  At that price he’s not in anybody’s budget.  Honestly, the Indians had to be on crack when they signed him to that contract.  He’ll be lucky to make 40 percent of that this year.

Cubs manager Mike Quade knows he’ll have several young faces in the mix when he opens his first Spring Training camp in Mesa, Ariz., this February.

The Cubs depth at cherub is going to be off the fucking charts!

Given a two-year deal after guiding the team to a 24-13 record in the final six weeks, Quade has plenty of energy, a good work ethic and baseball smarts.

Fear not, the Cubs will suck those three things out of him within a week.  He’ll be drooling on himself like Preston Gomez by the end of the first homestand.

But right now, he faces the same problem Lou Piniella did at the start of the 2010 season, which is how to find playing time for talented outfielder Tyler Colvin.

Yes, because it’s so hard to find a spot for talent in this lineup.

May I digress for a moment to point out something about “talented outfielder Tyler Colvin?”

He’s just not that fucking talented.  He posted a Corey Patterson-like .316 on base average.  He struck out 100 times in 358 at bats.  Talented is the guy playing shortstop.  Average, fungible, run of the mill is Tyler Colvin.  He might get better, but he couldn’t get on base in the minors, either.  He has nothing in his track record to show that he’ll ever be better than he was last year, and he wasn’t all that great last year.

The Cubs’ first choice is to keep Colvin in the outfield, even though he has played some first base in high school and college.

The Cubs are pretty keen.  They’re going to keep the outfielder who’s only played outfield in recent years, in the outfield.  Give them as much credit as you can for doing the completely obvious.

Kudos.  Hosannas.

They could open the 2011 season with Colvin, Fukudome, Alfonso Soriano and Marlon Byrd trying to squeeze into three spots.

It’s pretty terrible to have four guys to play three spots.  Especially since three of them blow.

Soriano, who turns 35 in January, accepted moving to the No. 6 hole and that he needs days off to stay fresh.

Keeping him fresh was a great idea and really worked out well.  He was so fresh that he didn’t hit over .245 in any month after May.  That kind of freshness needs to be doused with Febreeze.

Byrd also was banged up at the end of the year and may need more breathers.

Too bad you don’t have an extra outfielder.

Colvin could be asked to sub at first, and Quade can then rotate everybody to provide enough at-bats so everyone’s happy and productive.

Knock it off.

It could work.

But it won’t.

But Hendry still needs to find the right lefty.

Repeat pun.  And scene.

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At and around the trade deadline the Cubs, wallowing in fifth place, traded away their best starting pitcher, their opening day shortstop, a second baseman, their All-Star first baseman and their manager retired because frankly, going home to a sick mother was a more attractive option than watching the team he was managing.

And since then, the Cubs have gone 14-7 (.667) which is just a little bit better than the abysmal 51-74 (.408) they had played to that point.

So what’s the difference? How are they suddenly better?

The short answer: they aren’t.

The thing about the “fire sale” that the Cubs had at and around the trade deadline is that it was mostly just a smoke sale.

Of the players they traded (Ted Lilly, Ryan Theriot, Mike Fontenot, Derrek Lee) the only one they actually miss is Ted Lilly.

Theriot was awful this year.  His punchless .284 average (it came with a miserable .320 on base average and humiliating .327 slugging average) wasn’t doing the team any good.  (He’s slugging .308 for the Dodgers.  Suckers!) He lost his shortstop job to Starlin Castro barely a month into the season and honestly, he should have been sitting on the bench, not wasting at bats and waving at routine ground balls.

Fontenot is a bench player, and a non-versatile one at that.  He’s got decent power for a midget, but is barely adequate at second, horrendous at short and laughable at third.  You could find four passable replacements for him at a strip club in any town with a AA baseball team in it on any random July night.

Derrek Lee had suffered through a miserable season due to injuries and oldness, and except for an occasional outburst of competence for a two game stretch here or there, the Cubs were getting nothing out of him.  When the Braves miss the playoffs it’s moves like trading for a guy the day after he got an epidural that will have made the difference.

As for Piniella, he’d stayed a year too long.  But not the way you think.  He was perfect in 2007 kicking a rebuilding team into shape, and in 2008 he got 97 wins out of a really good team.  But he and (especially) Jim Hendry overreacted to his team’s righthandedness before the 2009 season and some bad moves turned into more bad moves and the 2010 Cubs were just bad.  When the 2009 team flopped, the Cubs should have started over, but like most teams they tried to patch it one more time.

The Cubs aren’t necessarily better now, at least in terms of overall talent, but here’s the sad thing…they really aren’t that much worse, if they’re worse at all.

Theriot has been replaced by a platoon of Blake DeWitt and Jeff Baker.  DeWitt has struggled, hitting only .235/.293/.346/.639 as a Cub.  But Baker, getting starts against lefties, is mashing the ball .361/.425/.444/.869.  I hope you like it, because despite efforts by Seabiscuit’s Jockey and the horrendous Gordon Wittenmyer to prepare you for the Darwin Barney era at second next year, you’re far more likely to end up with this same DeWitt-Baker combo.  And DeWitt won’t always hit this poorly.  He had a 99 OPS plus with the Dodgers, so he’s a league average second baseman.

The other thing you might want to get used to is Xavier Nady playing first base.  He likes it in Chicago and he’ll be cheap.  Oh, and believe me, next year’s Cubs are going to be cheap.  (And bad.)

Since Lee was traded to the Braves, Nady has posted a .337/.349/446/.795.  It’s not exactly Adrian Gonzalez, but it sure isn’t worse than Lee .241/.341/.367/.708.

And as I wrote on Tuesday, Zambrano has been tremendous since he came back from the Loony Bin, with last night’s win over the Cardinals he’s 5-0 with a 1.05 ERA in his last 28 days.

It also hasn’t hurt that the Cubs schedule has been less than challenging.  Of the 21 games in the Mike Quade era, only six have been against teams with .500 or better records.  Three of those were against Cincinnati (the Cubs lost two) and the other three were against the team with the worst record in the NL over the past month (the St. Louis Cardinals!  The Cubs won them all.)

That’s not to say Quade hasn’t done an impressive job.  The Piniella Cubs this year weren’t beating teams with sub-.500 records, so even that’s an accomplishment.

What Quade has done is similar to what Buck Showalter has done in Baltimore.  He’s got them playing hard (well, most of them), which means a lot in September, especially against the Pirates, Mets and yes, the Cardinals right now.  Old crusty scouts say the worst months to evaluate players are March (spring training) and September.  And the same holds true for managers, I suppose.  So even though the Cubs are playing .667 ball under Quade, there’s no way in hell this is a good team.

They’re likely to open next season looking a lot like they do now.  With an outfield of Alfonso Soriano, Marlon Byrd and Tyler Colvin, and an infield of Xavier Nady, DeWitt/Baker at second, Starlin Castro at short and E-ramis Ramirez at third, with Geovany Soto at catcher.

The starting rotation depends on whether or not they decide to trade Zambrano.  If they do, they’re likely to make a run at bringing back Ted Lilly.  I don’t think they’d add Lilly’s salary to what they already have, so it’s probably Carlos or Ted.  That gives you a rotation of Ryan Dempster, Zambrano/Lilly, Tom Gorzelanny, Carlos Silva and a fifth starter to come from Randy Wells, Jeff Samardzija, etc.  So yeah, they’re going to blow.

I get the honest impression that the Cubs could do (and likely will do) worse than Mike Quade as their next manager.  For all of the blather about how Ryne Sandberg has paid his dues by going down to the Cubs minor leagues and working his way up, Quade must just laugh.  Quade won’t be the sexy pick.  (Quade won’t be the sexy anything.) But with Joe Girardi unlikely (at best) to be available, with Fredi Gonzalez off to Atlanta, and with the rest of the candidates unimpressive retreads, he might be the right one.

But what the hell does it matter?  If the roster is what I think it’s going to be next year, the best thing that can happen to Sandberg is to be passed over.  If you thought 2010 was bad, brother you ain’t seen nothing yet.

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A month after professing his undying love for the Cubs and refusing to forsake them for a team with a chance at the pennant, Derrek Lee agreed to be traded to the Atlanta Braves.  Presumably he had to sign the agreement while lying face down on a massage table, probably holding the pen with his mouth as someone stuck the piece of paper up to the face hole.

Lee’s going to the Braves is surprising, because a) he’s sucked this year, b) his back is so fucked up he hasn’t played since Sunday and c) the Braves normally don’t do stupid shit like this.

But, these are the same Braves who thought trading for Rick Ankiel and The Farns at the trading deadline was a good idea.  They’re obviously all on crack down there in the ATL.

Our good friend Paul Sullivan has all of the juicy details, so let’s just rip off his story, shall we?

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Let’s dump some of these losers


Posted on Jul 12, 2010 in Andy

I have one of those lame Cubs fact a day calendars on my desk and every morning, I tear off another day, I read the fact or the trivia question and then I unsuccessfully try to slit my wrists with the little piece of paper I’ve torn off.  Today, the trivia answer was Claude Passeau, and the question, apparently was “Who pitched the last time the Cubs didn’t suck?”

It’s July 12.  The Cubs are in fourth place.  There is a little hope they might finish third (not that it matters) and no hope, at all, that they’ll finish first or even second.  This, despite the fact that the teams currently in first and second both suck.  That’s how bad things are.

But, the Cubs, for the first time since the waning days of the Claude Passeau era, look poised to try to dump some of these losers onto other teams so that they can bring in a whole new crop of losers to take their place.  In the land of the Cubs, this is considered progress.

So let’s look at who should be traded, where they might go, and who the Cubs can replace them with.

Hey, nobody said this would be fun.

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Scientists find Cubs offense


Posted on Jun 1, 2010 in Andy

A pessimist would look at the 2010 Cubs and point out that any team that can only beat Pissburgh once every seven games should probably consider disbanding.  An optimist would look at the same team and shoot himself in the head.

But good news!  The Cubs offense has finally been found.  It’s pictured here, in Guatemala City, Guatemala.  Who knew?

As for those of you who are complaining that Tyler Colvin isn’t getting enough starts, I have a suggestion for you.  Teach him how to play first, second or third base.  I know the whole lefty throwing thing and lifetime spent in the outfield could be complicating factors, but the only three guys who hit with any regularity on this team are playing in the outfield.

And if one of you suggests that the Cubs move Alfonso Soriano back to second base…I hope your house burns down.

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