In the past 12 days I’ve been in eight different states. I finally get home, settle in to see what I’ve been missing and sure enough, I’m greeted by more incomprehensible nonsense from Chicago Tribune national baseball dipshit…I mean expert, Phil Rogers.
In today’s missive, Phil espouses the theory that the 2011 Cubs are going to be a happy bunch, because nobody expects them to be any good. If happiness was tied directly to how shitty you were at your job, Phil would be the happiest guy in the world.
Quade has Cubs playing for fun again
The serious stuff is coming fast.
I wish the “serious stuff” was a train and Phil was tied to the tracks.
But give Mike Quade credit for making the most of March, reminding players baseball is played best when it’s fun, even if it is often a trying occupation. The Cubs aren’t scaring any one in Arizona — they’re treading water, really — but Quade is working to mold them into an actual team, and that’s significant progress over the end of the Lou Piniella era.
Yes, yes, we all remember what a complete failure the Lou Piniella era was. It only included two division titles, the first back-to-back postseasons for the Cubs in 100 years, and his shitty 2009 team was in first place on August 1. Who would want to emulate any of that? Thank god, they have put an end to the folly of pretending they might have a good team. I’m sure Mike Quade appreciates you portraying him as an enabling babysitter, too.
On most mornings, they form a loose circle in right field and get a debriefing on the previous day and marching orders for the upcoming day. There’s a lot of laughing, and sometimes many guys talking at once.
Sounds productive. I’m sure the Yankees and Red Sox do the same thing.
Terry Francona: Guys! Guys! Circle up, it’s time to play grabass!
Dustin Pedroia/David Ortiz/Kevin Youkilis/Johnny Pesky: Indecipherable yelling
Terry Francona: I feel really good about this.
Watching from a distance, you wonder if these are guys preparing to face Tony La Russa and Dusty Baker in the National League Centra. It’s as if the big dilemma for players is finding dates for the prom.
Is the “National League Centra” like a Nissan Sentra? Because even though that’s a boring car, it gets pretty nice gas mileage.
I don’t think Phil is proving the point he thinks he is. Unless he’s trying to make us believe that Lou ran spring camps that were disciplined and professional and Quade is just standing around watching his guys fuck around. If that’s his point, he’s setting it up nicely. Problem is, I don’t think anybody else in the world thinks Quade isn’t running a good, organized camp.
After eight years of high expectations under Baker and Piniella, the Cubs know that they’re not being taken as seriously in 2011. They don’t seem to be taking themselves as seriously, either, although we should add they weren’t exactly loose after the first inning of the fourth exhibition game when Aramis Ramirez almost clocked Carlos Silva.
Remember, he’s trying to make a case that this is a good thing. I can’t decide if Phil is the dumbest person ever or just the worst writer. I think I’ll just go with both.
But the Cubs front office privately viewed even that dugout incident as part of a healthy spring as it suggested Ramirez could be one of Quade’s team leaders.
I think they were privately hoping that E-ramis would kill Carlos, so that one would be dead and the other in prison and they wouldn’t have to pay either one.
Jim Hendry, the general manager who has seen it all in the last 16 years, certainly has noticed a spring in players’ steps that wasn’t there in the middle of last season.
For Christ’s sake, if there wasn’t a “spring in players’ steps” in March before the season’s even started…especially compared to when they were in fifth place in June, there would never be one. Seriously, Phil gets paid to write this shit.
But he argues it’s overly simplistic to suggest the switch from the high-profile Piniella to a regular guy like Quade has allowed the Cubs to have fun playing the game.
What I’m sure Jim said was, “Holy shit, Phil. You are a simp.”
“We played with a lot of joy in ’08 during the season,” Hendry said. “People forget how much fun Wrigley Field was that season when we won 55 games at home. The thing that overshadows that is what happened in the playoffs.”
Did anybody really forget that? Did we all think that the regular season when they won 97 games, clinched at home against the Cardinals, and had several incredible late game rallies was a joyless death march? Yeah, the playoffs sucked. They sucked hard. They only lasted four days and they included Ryan Dempster shitting his pants in game one, every infielder making an error in game two and it ended after midnight in LA as we all threw our TV’s out in the street. What exactly, does this have to do with anything?
Hendry says he hasn’t noticed a lighter tone to spring training this year.
He hasn’t noticed it, because it doesn’t exist.
But I think he says it because he doesn’t want to sound critical of Piniella, as he treats others with the respect he hopes he will receive.
I think he says it because you’re a boob.
But Hendry is thrilled with Quade since he bypassed Alan Trammell to make him the Cubs’ interim manager last August.
Why does that sentence start with “But?”
Like many others, I backed Ryne Sandberg in the manager’s search that ended with Hendry giving Quade the job on the strength of a 24-13 turnaround after players quit on Piniella.
The only thing dumber than thinking Sandberg should have been the manager is thinking Quade going 24-13 in meaningless games at the end of a bad season means anything. Quade didn’t get the job because he went 11 games over .500, he got it because over 30 years as a minor league manager and big league coach he’s proven he knows his shit. What Quade did in part of August and all of September was prove he could handle being the leader. Once that was established he was clearly a better hire than Sandberg, who has an eighth of Quade’s coaching experience. Unless Ryne was going to use his Gold Gloves and Hall of Fame plaque to trip baserunners on the other teams, how good a player he was is irrelevant to how good he’d be as a manager.
It’s a shame Hendry allowed the franchise icon to leave for a job managing Triple-A team, and there’s no doubt the Cubs would be generating more buzz if they had Sandberg in charge (or even if Sandberg was on Quade’s coaching staff, which is a role he would have accepted).
I don’t understand why anybody cares what triple-A team Sandberg is managing. The Cubs didn’t put him on a sex offender list, they picked somebody else to manage their team. That fact that in an offseason with 11 managerial openings, that Sandberg only interviewed for the one with the Cubs shows that he’s just not a hot commodity as a managerial candidate yet. Get over it.
Support for Sandberg shouldn’t be taken as a knock on Quade.
Phil, nobody really cares who you support.
I just want to see Hall of Famers remain in the game and thought Sandberg had earned the benefit of the doubt working his way up the ladder as a minor-league manager.
In 2007 and 2008 he managed at Class A Peoria, and then the Cubs promoted him (worked him up the ladder) to AA Tennessee, after one year they promoted him to Iowa. They told him he could come back to Iowa this year. What part of working your way up don’t you understand?
But Quade is the kind of guy anyone would want to see succeed. He has paid his dues for 30 years and only recently began to get big rewards.
Seriously, why did this sentence start with “But?” Can Phil ever write a complimentary sentence about Quade without starting it with but?
Quade knows his team has huge question marks but he likes a lot of what he has seen this spring, especially the approach of Ramirez and other veterans in the lineup.
Nobody’s been happier than E-ramis. He normally just sits in the clubhouse listening to his iPod and falls asleep. But this spring? Totally different. This spring, he’s sitting in the clubhouse, listening to his iPod and sleeping with a smile on his face! Progress! The Quade Effect!
“A number of guys are already looking locked in, and that’s encouraging,” he said. “… We have played better baseball since the first three or four days, which were ugly.”
See the secret? Play bad, keep it up until people stop paying attention, then play medicore. Everybody’s happy! Never fails.
The Cubs are going to have ugly days, as their pitching staff is too thin to give them a decent chance to compete, even in an NL Central watered down by injuries to Adam Wainwright and Zack “Mr. Basketball” Greinke. It’s no shock that they are giving up more than six runs per game, the most in the majors. It’s a middle-heavy staff.
Their pitching staff has three pretty good starters, and an impressive back end of the bullpen. It’s no thinner than the Brewers or Cardinals, and it’s better than their offense is. Hell, it’s most of what they have going for them…which is scary.
And Phil cost me a bet. I was sure he was going to refer to Grienke as “shortrib.”
But like Cyndi Lauper says, if you want to rock and roll, you have to let your freak flag fly. And sometimes — like peace — you have to give Quade a chance.
Oh, so many things wrong with that:
- He couldn’t find anybody less relevant than Cyndi Lauper? Edie Brickell? What about Chaka Khan? I would think that Carole King would be more Phil’s speed.
- Has Cyndi ever said “If you want to rock and roll, let your freak flag fly?” Has anybody ever said that?
- Did he try to work in a John Lennon reference at the end?
- Why doesn’t Major League Baseball drug test the sports writers?
- When Phil dies, somebody has to send his brain to Chris Nowinski, there’s no way it hasn’t caved in on one side.
Honestly, what was this column actually about? It started off that the Cubs were bad and had no pressure on them so they’re all happy. Then, the E-ramis-Silva shove “fight” was a good thing. Then he complained again that Ryne Sandberg isn’t the manager. Then he made a left turn to use a terribly unclever Zack Greinke nickname joke. Then he broke out the Cyndi Lauper misquote.
Guys, think how lucky we are to be living in a world where Phil Rogers is educating much of Chicago’s baseball fanbase.
The offseason is a great time to be the fan of a bad baseball team. You can delude yourself into anything. Right now there are Cubs fans who are actually talking themselves into the idea that Tyler Colvin isn’t going to completely blow next year. Offseason delusions are the best.
Well, I let you have your little fantasies for a little while after the World Series. But today’s the day you face the cold, hard, reality.
The 2011 Cubs are going to suck just as much as the 2010 Cubs did. Maybe even more!
Why do they have to suck again? Why can’t they just go out and hire some better players? Because the payroll is going to go down, not up.
The “core” of this team (much of it rotten): Alfonso Soriano, Ryan Dempster, Carlos Zambrano, E-ramis Ramirez, Kosuke, Carlos Silva, Marlon Byrd and John Grabow (remember him?) are owed $100 million for next year. Last year’s total payroll was $145 million and the Rickettses want it to go back (at least) to what it was in 2009 when it was $135 million.
The bulk of the rest of the 17 guys the Cubs need to fill out a complete Major League roster (hey, it doesn’t have to be full of actual Major League players) will make at or around whatever baseball decides the bottom feeders get to make. Last year it was $410,000. It’s like that scene in “Major League” when Jake crashes the cocktail party and the lady says, “Baseball players make a lot of money, don’t they?” He replies, “It depends on how good you are.” Another lady asks, “How good are you?” And he says, “I make the league minimum.” The Cubs version of Jake Taylor, Koyie Dolan Hill, actually makes almost twice the league minimum. Well, of course he does.
The “other guys” who will make more than the minimum include:
Carlos Marmol – He made $2.125 million last year and is going to make at least $4 million this year. The Cubs are tempted, I’m sure, to sign him to a multi-year deal, and as soon as they do that, his elbow will explode.
Jeff Baker – He made $975,000 last year and sat on the bench lighting his farts until Mike Quade took over. Then he was the surprisingly effective lead off man against lefties, so he likely played himself into a platoon with Blake DeWitt this year. He’ll be hard pressed to get much of a raise though, let’s say he makes $1 million.
Sean Marshall – He made $950,000 and was really good as a set up man, so he’s going to at least double that. Let’s put him at $2 million.
Angel Guzman – He was released so they could drop him off the 40 man roster and has agreed to come to camp as a spring training invitee. They’d owe him his current salary ($825K) if he made the team. I don’t think he’s going to do that. But let’s include him at that rate just in case.
Tom Gorzelanny – He made $800,000 last year and pitched pretty well, even though he enjoys being hit by batted balls. He’s going to basically double that amount to $1.5 million.
Koyie Hill – He makes $700,000. Seriously.
Geovany Soto – He made $575,000 and had a good, if injury plagued, season. He’s their catcher of the present and future and it’s probably going to cost them about $2 million to avoid arbitration with him.
Randy Wells – He made $427,000 and they can pay him what they want, so how about $427,000?
Jeff Samardzjia – He made $3 million last year as part of his five year, $10 million contract. In that ten million they gave him two up front as a signing bonus then three million in the middle year. The other years he makes about $1.25 million.
The rest of the guys, like Starlin Castro and Blake DeWitt and the bullpen guys like Andrew Cashner and Justin Berg or whoever, will all come in at or right around the minimum of $410,000.
If the Cubs try to fill their three stated needs of a first baseman, a starting pitcher and a righthanded reliever, they can fill their other 22 spots at $113 million. That leaves $22 million bucks to sign three guys. Hey, that’s not so bad!
Except, rumors are the payroll isn’t really going to be $135,000,000, it’s going to be closer to $130,000,000, and it’s entirely possible that the Rickettses are freaking out about some very bad signs they’ve gotten from the fans this offseason.
Season ticket renewals are down. That’s not tragic because there are people waiting to scoop them up, but it’s not a good trend. At some point, there won’t be anybody waiting to buy those seats.
And the Cubs Convention is flopping. That’s a horrible sign. In the past, not only has the Convention sold out within the first day or two of the tickets going on sale, but it’s actually grown from year to year. This year they are trying to sell the same number of passes as last year and after more than a week, there are still passes to buy. And not only are there passes left (at the ludicrous price of $60 per) but the Cubs haven’t even sold out all of the rooms that Hilton and Towers sets aside for them. Eventually the convention will sell out (even if the “sell out” includes the Cubs quietly giving away some of the passes), but if you can’t drum up interest in a January event to the most delusionally optimistic fanbase in the world, what happens to ticket sales when the team is 20-35 in June?
The $130 million payroll might be optimistic at this point. But let’s stick with it.
That would give the Cubs about $17 million to spend.
If it were up to me (thank god it’s not). I wouldn’t waste my time on signing a veteran righthander for the bullpen. Even if that veteran righthander was an all-around awesome guy like Kerry Wood looking for a discounted deal to return “home.” This team’s going to blow, and it’s bad enough to pay John Grabow (hold on to your butts) $4.8 million this season (seriously.) You spent all last year watching your rookie bullpen arms get lit up, and then somehow they got it together late in the year. Let’s act like they learned something. (They probably didn’t.) But signing bullpen veterans is always a crap shoot. It seems like a waste of money.
So that leaves you with $17 million to spend on a first baseman and a starting pitcher.
Let’s look at who’s available:
Adam Dunn – Made $12 million last year. He wants a four year deal worth at least $15 million a year and even that might be less than he expects. He does want to play for the Cubs. When you consider that next year the Cubs lose the big salaries of E-ramis, Kosuke and Silva (worth a combined $40 million) you could envision them being able to offer Dunn four years, $60 million and just push the big money into the middle years. Something like $10M, $17.5M, $17.5M, $15M. That would leave them seven million to pay a starter and/or reliever. Dunn gives them what they’ve wanted for a long time. A dependable power producing lefty bat. He also brings terrible defense at first and bad knees and a back back. This is the kind of move the Cubs have been making. They sign a guy likely to break down in years two or three to a four year deal. As much fun as it might be to have him bashing homers when he’s healthy, this just isn’t a smart move.
Victor Martinez – He made $7 million last year. He’s intriguing because he’s a switch hitter with power who can play first (fairly well) and catch (not so well). His offense is worth a lot more at catcher, though.
Carlos Pena – I have a hunch this is your first baseman next year. He made $10 million to hit .196 and strike out 170 times. He’s always had a low average and struck out a fair amount, but in the past he walked enough and enough of hit hits were for extra bases to more than make up for it. Plus, he’s a great defensive first baseman. But he’ll be 33 and is coming off a bad year. The reason I think he fits the Cubs is that he’ll likely be forced to take a one year deal at far less than he made last year to reprove his worth. I just seriously question how much worth there really is.
Paul Konerko – He’s going to get a lot of money somewhere to be a 1B/DH.
Aubrey Huff – If the Cubs are lucky, the guy they sign will end up being this year’s Aubrey Huff. He didn’t sign with the Giants until January and had to take a third ($3 million) of his 2009 salary to get a job. Then he hit pretty well and played first better than they thought. His price went back up.
Derrek Lee – Uh…no.
Adam LaRoche – Of the free agent first basemen, LaRoche might be the best combination of hitting ability (some power, decent average, gets on base–didn’t get on as much last year though, but the D’backs do that to all of their players), fielding ability (he’s good), signability (he was a monster down the stretch in 2009 for the Braves and still had to take a $3 million pay cut to sign with Arizona–for $4.5 million) and weird beardishness. The biggest problem he’s had? He’s terrible in April. He’s a career .211 hitter in April with a .701 OPS. Awful. He’s Derrek Lee only white and lefthanded.
Russell Branyan – Oh god no.
Lance Berkman – We don’t like him because we remember during the great Cubs collapse of 2004 that he not only pretended to be hit by a Mike Remlinger pitch that didn’t hit him, but he acted like he’d been seriously hurt by it. Fuck him.
Lyle Overbay – Basically he’s a less versatile version of Chad Tracy at this point.
Troy Glaus – He’s a mongoloid and he’s bad. (As opposed to the good mongoloids.)
Mark Kotsay – He’s the kind of gritty that Hendry loves, but Jim clearly likes his grittiness in a much shorter package.
Fernando Tatis – He’s still alive. I checked.
Nick Johnson – He is apparently dead. And thankfully, the Cubs aren’t after him. Yet.
Cliff Lee – If the Cubs could find someone to trade Carlos Zambrano and Ryan Dempster to and they had a bake sale, and…oh, never mind.
Hiroki Kuroda – He won 11 games with a 3.39 ERA last year and I still wouldn’t go near him even if he were smothered in Nippon Ham.
Andy Pettitte – He and God will have a long chat about whether or not he should pitch another season for the Yankees. At this point even God is tired of this conversation.
Carl Pavano – The Twins got 17 wins out of him for $7 million. If they’re smart enough to not try to do that again, let’s hope Hendry is too. (He’s not.)
Javy Vazquez – He’s good, he’s bad, he’s good again, he’s terrible. Screw him, let somebody else try to figure him out.
Brad Penny – He’s a fat, overpaid douche who went on the DL after hitting a home run in May and never came back.
Jon Garland – Maybe the Cubs could sign him and Ed Lynch could trade him to whatever used car dealership Matt Karchner is working at these days? Both he and the next guy should pay the Padres for the privilege of pitching at Petco another year.
Chris Young – See Garland, John.
Vicente Padilla – What team wouldn’t dream of pairing him with Carlos Silva in their rotation?
Rich Harden – Great pickup for Texas…once they stopped trying to you know, actually use him.
Brandon Webb – This is the kind of guy Hendry loves to take a chance on. But he’s done. He barely broke 80 in his minor league rehab starts.
Kevin Millwood – He’s been bad and overpaid for a long time. How has he never been a Cub?
Erik Bedard – Jeff Passan called him the “new Mark Prior.” Even Prior could be upset at that.
Justin Duchscherer – Good when he’s healthy. That just never happens.
Aaron Harang – I have a vague memory that he was good once (not THAT good) and then Dusty ruined him. Hee hee.
Chris Capuano – He has a great pickoff move and he pitches like he wants to try it on every hitter.
Jeff Francis – No. Just, no.
Jarrod Washburn – Couldn’t win in the cavernous Comerica Field and then wasn’t healthy enough to pitch all last year. So, great?
Doug Davis – He’s come back from a lot, but this time it’s his elbow.
Wow, what a great list that is. Is there anybody on it you actually want to pay several million dollars? Casey Coleman can lose just as many games for a fraction of the cost. And he’s so tiny he’s much cheaper to ship from town to town.
Here’s what I think will happen this offseason.
- They’ll trade Kosuke to somebody willing to pay five or six million dollars of his contract. That’s a lot of contract eating for the Cubs, but it still saves them $5 or $6 million. That will open right field for Tyler Colvin full-time, and by June we’ll wonder if we’ll ever see the glory of his .316 on base average from 2010 again.
- They’ll sign Carlos Pena to play first, and this won’t seem like a bad idea until we find out they’ve given him a three-year $30 million deal, when nobody else was offering him for than one year at $5 million.
- They’ll sign Kevin Millwood to “eat innings” but he’ll mainly just “eat Twinkies.” And if he eats Carlos Silva’s Twinkies they’ll be a fight. Millwood will buy a lot of Twinkies with the two year guaranteed contract they gave him for no apparent reason.
- They’ll spend good money after bad in the bullpen and bring back a beloved former Cub. And I’m sure they’ll do it just in time for the first night of the Cubs Convention. Ladies and gentlemen…Juan Cruz for three years and $12 million!
Here’s your opening day roster:
Catchers (2): Geovany Soto, Koyie Hill
Infielders (6): Carlos Pena, Blake DeWitt, Jeff Baker, Starlin Castro, E-ramis Ramirez, Darwin “F’ing” Barney
Outfielders (5): Alfonso Soriano, Marlon Byrd, Tyler Colvin, Sam Fuld, Brad Snyder
Starting Pitchers (5): Ryan Dempster Carlos Zambrano, Tom Gorzelanny, Kevin Millwood, Carlos Silva
Bullpen (7): Carlos Marmol, Andrew Cashner, Sean Marshall, John Grabow, Randy Wells, Jeff Samardzija, Juan Cruz
Where do you line up for season tickets? I’ll take 12!
What would I do?
I wouldn’t waste any money on Cruz or Millwood, and my first baseman would be the first lefthanded hitting one who will take one year and $5 million to sign.
Then I’d spend the summer talking up my prospects and trying to convince the San Diego Padres that since they admittedly have to trade Adrian Gonzalez to trade him to me. Think you can’t afford him? He makes $5.5 million in 2011. And you have $40 million coming off your payroll for 2012, so you can give him the big, fat, raise he’s going to need to stay. The worst thing the Cubs could do (and will do) is to lock up first base for more than one year. It’s worth a shot. And there isn’t anybody on that free agent list worth giving more than one year. Well, except for the three you aren’t going to sign (Dunn–because he needs a place with a DH spot available even though he thinks he never wants to do it–Konerko or Victor.)
And the best part of my plan? Your opening day roster isn’t any worse than the one Hendry’s going to cobble together and mine only costs $118 million. Of course mine isn’t any damn good either.
So there’s that.
When the Cubs re-signed E-ramis Ramirez in the offseason after the wonderfully enjoyable final Dusty Baker year, it seemed like folly that they would give him a player option after the 2010 season. Surely, E-ramis, one of the best third basemen in the game would at the very least exercise the option to get a new deal from the Cubs, if not to get the hell out of town.
But yesterday, E-ramis let the deadline to opt out of his contract pass, guaranteeing him $14.6 million for next year, but not attempting to find more money out in the open market.
So typical of the Cubs, that they get what they wanted. But not why they wanted it.
Truth is, E-ramis was the Cubs best player as recently as 2009. When he fell down and went boom on his shoulder early in that season in Milwaukee it was the first in a series of events that would doom the then two-time defending NL Central champions. Most of the others had to do with either Milton Bradley acting like an ass or Carlos Zambrano pitching like one.
When E-ramis did play that year he was still awfully good. He managed to get in half a season, and in 82 games he hit .317 with a .905 OPS. It marked the sixth straight season (every full year as a Cub) that he had an OPS of better than .898. So everything seemed to be cool. He was “only” going to be 32 this season (it’s a Dominican 32, so it could be anywhere from 32 to 48).
And in the spring everything seemed great. He played well in Arizona and was ready to go. And then…he sucked. He sucked in ways that we didn’t think were possible for him. He is, after all, one of the most consistent, and best hitters in the National League. So when he hit .152 in April, we were concerned, but not panicked. When he fucked up his thumb and then continued to struggle in May, hitting .173, we went into this mode:
He finally went on the DL and got his thumb healed, and then he played OK, but not great.
He hit .265 in June, then .313 in July, .301 in August and then slid back to .240 in September.
That said, I’m glad he had nowhere else to go. You can bitch and moan about his defense (lord knows Bob Brenly does) and you can question his work ethic (Barry Rozner has a macro on his computer that turns aramisloaf into three paragraphs), but when healthy he can hit, and the Cubs don’t have that many guys you can say that about right now. Granted the “when healthy” thing has been a huge issue the last two years. And before that, he always seemed to be nursing something.
Another concern is that his power numbers are in pretty clear decline. His slugging average has dropped every year since 2004. Until last year they hadn’t been huge drops, but they were very real.
2004 – .578
2005 – .568
2006 – .561
2007 – .549
2008 – .518
2009 – .516
2010 – .452
Those were offset by an on base average that had improved over the years, until it went from a career high of .389 in 2009 to a Corey Patterson-esque .294 in 2010.
Will E-ramis bounce back? I don’t see why he wouldn’t. He’s still “only” 33 (snicker, snicker) and this is a contract year for him. There’s no chance in hell that the Cubs are going to pick up his $16 million team option for 2012 so he’s got to produce to get a big deal either with the Cubs or (more likely) with some other team.
One of the things he has in his favor is that the Cubs have no in-house solution to third base. They drafted Josh Vitters (ahead of Madison Bumgarner and Jason Heyward) in the first round in 2007 with an eye on him being ready to take over third next year. He’s still a long way off.
In four minor league seasons, Vitters has really only had two good runs. Fortunately for the Cubs, they have been the last two years. In 2009 when he was still young for the Midwest League, he tore it apart. After a slow start he ended up hitting .316 with an .885 OPS and 15 homers and 46 RBI in 70 games. The way he finished his run there made you think he was about to make the leap.
But then he struggled at high-A Daytona. He hit only .238 with five homers in 50 games.
He started last year at Daytona and hit well, .291 with three homers in only 28 games and he got promoted to AA Tennessee. A 20 year old playing AA is a good sign. Not so good when he can’t handle it, though. Vitters broke a finger and ended up hitting only .223 in just 63 games. He’ll start 2011 in AA, and he does not seem poised to pull a Starlin Castro and show up in Wrigley in May.
The huge red flag with Vitters, of course, is his inability to take a walk. If you liked Tyler Colvin’s inability to get on base, you’re going to LOVE Josh Vitters. In four minor league seasons he’s walked…
Wait, let me emphasize something here. In four minor league SEASONS, he’s walked FORTY-NINE times. That’s seasons. Forty-nine walks. Holy fuck. What do the Cubs teach down there?
Well, I guess if E-ramis leaves after next season and Vitters still isn’t ready, there’s always Bobby Scales.
E-ramis might be tradeable this season. His no-trade clause in his contract has expired (don’t get too excited, he’s a 10-5 guy now so he didn’t need a clause any longer), but it does not appear that if he’s traded during the 2011 season that his 2012 salary becomes guaranteed. That was a huge deterrent last year (that and him sucking) to any trade. If you traded for him his player option for 2011 kicked in AND his team option for 2012 did, too. That meant you were taking on whatever he had left in 2010 at the time of the trade and more than $30 million for 2011 and 2012. It appears that if he’s traded in 2011 that a team is only on the hook for the rest of that season and a $2 million buyout for 2012.
Let’s hope the Cubs play well enough that they don’t want or need to trade him. But since that won’t happen, it’ll be interesting to see if he moves before the July 31 deadline. It would still require trading him to a team he wants to go to.
I suppose Darwin Barney could take over third. That is when he’s not too busy making adorable little lip sync videos like this:
OK. All that said, I just want my E-ramis back. I want the clutch hitter with the flair for the dramatic back. He’s the one Cub who doesn’t suffer tight ass in big spots (during the regular season at least). And I just love watching the dude hit. It took a long time for the Cubs to find a real third baseman, and frankly, I’m just not ready to go through another 30 years of them fucking that up.
So how about E-ramis do everybody a favor and come back, put up big numbers and sign one more deal with the Cubs?
Is that really so much to ask?
(Yes. Yes it is.)