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Tag: Angel Guzman (page 1 of 4)

The Muskbox is Taking Stock of the Bullpen; Prognosis NEGATIVE

In Spring Training, no one can hear you Muskbox.

The always-informative Muskbox is back after a busy end to Spring Training. Since Carrie hasn’t had to write up many Cub wins so far, she’s been busily answering your most probing questions. You’re about to get probed by the Muskbox. MIND PROBED.

Is there any chance the Cubs will be looking for another left-hander for the ‘pen?

‘Nother ‘paw fer da ‘pen?

Having James Russell as the only one makes me feel a little uneasy.
— Michael F., Raleigh, N.C.

James Russell may be the closer before the end of this week.

CARRIE: They’re looking. The only option now is to figure out which right-hander on the current staff can handle left-handed hitters. Last year, Shawn Camp, for example, held right-handed hitters to a .263 average…

“Held”? I don’t think this word means what you think it means.

CARRIE: …but lefties hit .347 off him. Lefties batted .222 off Rafael Dolis at Double-A Tennessee. The Cubs may want Lendy Castillo to only face right-handers. Last year at Class A Lakewood, lefties hit .271 off Castillo, while right-handed hitters batted .184.

In other words, if you think the bullpen has been bad so far, JUST YOU WAIT.

If Carlos Marmol struggles, is there a backup plan at closer?
— Joe S., Lansing, Mich.

Yep. Just never have a lead in the 9th inning.

CARRIE: Not really.

That’s either bad reporting or bad general managing. Guess which one I’m picking?

CARRIE: The Cubs used Dolis in late-inning situations in Spring Training, so he would be an option. The 24-year-old right-hander saved 17 games last season for Tennessee.

They won seventeen games last year? GET THOSE LADS TO THE SHOW!

Scott Maine posted a 1.17 ERA in eight Spring Training games, yet he was sent down. At the time, GM Jed Hoyer said they were looking to acquire another lefty reliever. Why not Scott Maine?
— Candace S., San Diego

They need to acquire another lefty reliever BECAUSE OF Scott Maine.

CARRIE: Maine needs to be more consistent. Here’s Cubs manager Dale Sveum’s take on the lefty: “So far, his velocity has gotten better, but his command is not where you want it to be for that added guy right now. He’s got to get better command of all his pitches and not get behind so much.”

Lord, even Sveum’s analysis is generic.

What has happened with Angel Guzman? I haven’t seen any mention of him for quite awhile. Is he still with the organization?
— Dan F., Columbus, Ohio

And whatever happened to that Dave Swartzbaugh character? I have a feeling he’s going to be a star in this game.

CARRIE: Guzman signed with the Dodgers, appeared in five Spring Training games and was assigned to their Minor League camp on March 24.

This is the reason the Dodgers consistently produce Major League talent and the Cubs are praying Geovany Soto doesn’t end up sucking. It took the Dodgers five games to figure out what the Cubs couldn’t unravel in over ten years with Guzman. THAT HE’S A BIG NERD WITH NERDY NERD GLASSES!

Where is Gerardo Concepcion playing in the Minors?
— Ben R., West Palm Beach, Fla.

It’s surprisingly hard to not read that as, “Where is Gerardo Concepcion playing? In the Minors?”

CARRIE: Concepcion, who turned 20 in February, was listed on Class A Daytona’s roster.

Here’s a boring story from my life. DirecTV is the devil, and they are trying to entice me into buying the MLB package with a free trial. So, the other day I was watching Vin Scully call the Dodgers-Padres game. There are at least two amazingly cool things about Vin Scully.

  1. He doesn’t get pissed when you accidentally call him “Vince Cully.”
  2. Even though he talks absolutely nonstop throughout a game, everything he says is interesting and relevant. He has great background stories and tidbits about not only the Dodgers’ roster, but also their opponents’. Most importantly, he gives personal insight to the players that can’t be obtained from the internet. What I’m saying is that Vince Cully is the polar opposite of every single parenthetical comma Carrie has ever drafted.

All the talk about Brett Jackson and Anthony Rizzo is great, and I look forward to seeing them in Wrigley very soon. But good pitching beats good hitting.

That’s just what the Cubs have been telling you all these years because they’ve had terrible hitters.

Who in the Minors do the Cubs have who looks like he could be the staff ace of the future?
— J.S., Aurora, Ill.

Jeff Samardzija.

CARRIE: There is some talent as far as relievers go (Jeff Beliveau, for example), and Chris Rusin left a very good impression with his Cactus League start April 1 against the Angels. Robert Whitenack was 7-0 with a 1.93 ERA combined at Daytona and Tennessee before needing Tommy John surgery. I haven’t heard about a Roy Halladay-type pitcher in the Cubs’ system, and that’s something Jason McLeod, the scouting and player development director, is looking for.

They have one. It’s just that Carrie hasn’t heard about him.

Is a move to second probable for Starlin Castro with Junior Lake making his way up?
— Jeffery D., Chicago

I love Cubs fans. They finally have a good position player, so they immediately want him to move positions. Plus, WHERE WOULD DARWIN BARNEY PLAY???

CARRIE: Actually, Lake has played third and is talented enough to move to the outfield, so Castro could stay at shortstop.

WHERE WOULD IAN STEWART PLAY??? Side note: I predict we’re going to be pleasantly surprised by Ian Stewart.

I never saw how the bunting tournament that Dale Sveum put on during Spring Training turned out.

You clearly don’t have a Twitter account.

Who did it come down to and who won the competition for the Cubs?
— Ben W., Monticello, Iowa

You need to go outside. How do you NOT have a Twitter account?

CARRIE: David DeJesus won the 64-player tournament, organized by Sveum. In the final, held March 16, DeJesus, who won the position players’ bracket, beat Casey Coleman, who won the pitchers’ bracket.

Including the results of the bunting tournament in the Muskbox was almost as pointless as the bunting tournament itself.

I’d still very much like to get a Ron Santo “Pass10n” T-shirt that Koyie Hill designed.

Holy shit, that exists? I’d love to see Koyie Hill holding a charcoal pencil with his mangled crab hands.

Is there any way the Cubs are going to bring those back for fans to buy?
— Laramie R., Chicago

“Are they sellable? Then YES!”
–Crane Kenney

CARRIE: Sorry, but I’m told there are no plans to sell them again.

Looks like you’ll just have to bedazzle “PASSION” on a regular old Santo throwback jersey.

Intelligent Moves BAFFLE the Muskbox Readers

Brevity is the soul of wit.

After a week of mediocrity in the Muskbox, the dummies are back out in full force. As I have long feared, Muskbox Nation still has no idea that Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are trying to build a franchise capable of long-term, sustained success. The Muskboxers want to WIN NOW, and will accept nothing less than a first-place finish in the National League Central. Theo might want to avoid the Cub Convention this weekend entirely if he doesn’t want to have to answer questions like, “HOW COME TONY CAMPANA ISN’T INVOLVED IN OUR LONG-TERM PLANS?”

This Muskbox is lengthy and girthy. You’ve been warned.

What is going on with Kerry Wood?
— Mark E., Des Plaines, Ill.

Not much. Just chillin’. He still plays guitar on the side. Does charity stuff. Still rocking the goatee. What’s going on with you, man?

CARRIE: The Cubs and Wood’s representatives have been talking since the 2011 season ended and both sides say they want Wood to stay.

The problem is that only one side wants him to stay FOR FREE.

CARRIE: On Sunday, Wood told NBC 5 Chicago that he’ll make a decision by the end of the week. There are other suitors. ESPN reported that the Phillies have shown interest in the right-hander for their bullpen.

Kerry, you are one of my favorite Cubs of all time. But for God’s sake, TAKE THE MONEY, GO TO PHILLY, AND WIN A GODDAMN RING.

CARRIE: Wood, 34, has said he’ll retire if he doesn’t return to the Cubs.

Such unabashed loyalty to the team that took a cheese grater to all of his ligaments.

CARRIE: Hopefully, we’ll know Friday, when Wood is hosting a fundraiser for his foundation at Harry Caray’s at Navy Pier. Theo Epstein, the Cubs’ president of baseball operations, was scheduled to attend.

So, I guess we WON’T see you guys at Shitty’s, then? THANKS FOR RSVPING.

Why don’t the Cubs make more of an aggressive attempt to land Prince Fielder?

They don’t have a big enough boat. “He can’t go down with three barrels! Not with THREE barrels, he can’t!”

I’m sure if they were to offer a five-year deal for around $125 million, we might be able to land a player who we can build a great team around. By losing out, we are just making it harder on ourselves to compete against other teams.
— Austin S., Davenport, Iowa

I think part of the reason that Cubs fans are so dopey is that such a high percentage of them use “we” when referring to the team.


Rotund first baseman PRINCE FIELDER and Cubs general manager THEO EPSTEIN are in heated negotiations for the player’s services. AUSTIN S., of Davenport, Iowa, listens intently. JED HOYER is nowhere to be found.

THEO: So, listen, Prince. Many of the teams who looked like they had big money to spend on you have already spent that money elsewhere. You are worth Albert Pujols money, and I get that. We can’t afford that kind of money, but I’m making you an offer that stretches us right to the limit of what we can do.


PRINCE: Who the fuck is that?

THEO: Never mind him. Just- Just pretend he’s Jed Hoyer. I’m not going to lie to you, Prince. I’m putting together a team that’s going to be competent over the next couple of years, but we’re not going to win any World Series rings. I expect within the next five years, though, that we will be in a position to win. And I want you here for that.

PRINCE: What you’re saying definitely makes sense.


PRINCE: Um, okay.


PRINCE: I’m going to go now.

THEO: (hangs head)

CARRIE: Fielder’s agents don’t seem willing to budge from a 10-year deal, not five. The Cubs’ trade on Friday for Anthony Rizzo should end the rumors that Epstein is bidding for Fielder.

Is this your first Muskbox?

CARRIE: Rizzo is the Cubs’ first baseman of the future…

He flew in from San Diego on a ROCKET CAR!

CARRIE: …and even if he doesn’t start Opening Day 2012, he’s expected to be a mainstay in 2013 and beyond.


CARRIE: Committing that much money to Fielder at this time doesn’t make sense.

Yeah, well, history’s gonna change.

I got lost somewhere in these future jokes.

I like the Anthony Rizzo trade. We got a top-tier prospect. Does this mean Bryan LaHair will be relegated to the bench, or will he be given a shot at everyday playing time, either in the outfield or at first? I know LaHair has not proven he can hit big league pitching every day, but he did well in 2011 in the Majors after tearing it up in Triple-A. It seems he deserves the chance to succeed or fail.
— Billy E., Albany, N.Y.

You know what the best part about the Anthony Rizzo trade is? THAT WE NO LONGER HAVE TO GIVE A SHIT ABOUT THE PROGRESS OF BRYAN LAHAIR.

CARRIE: Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said Rizzo, 22, needs more development, and that LaHair is the starting first baseman this year.

“What’s ‘more development?'”
-Corey Patterson

“Beats me.”
-Felix Pie

The Cubs traded Andrew Cashner to the Padres.

Is he informing her? Man, even I don’t think that Carrie is THAT bad at her job.

I don’t understand the move. Cashner was a young pitcher with a lot of potential as a starter. He looked to be healing up nicely and could be a good No. 4 guy in the rotation for the Cubs. I just don’t see the point of this trade.
— Christopher T., Chicago

The Cubs’ minor-league system is, one might say, very, very bad. The Padres’ minor-league system is very, very good. Prior to the 2010 season, Andrew Cashner was ranked the fourth-best prospect in a bad system. Rizzo was the best prospect in a good system, so he comes in and is immediately ranked third among Cubs prospects. Additionally, Cashner is coming off an arm injury, and he’s three years older than Rizzo. Also, the Cubs need a first baseman much more than they need another middle reliever. In conclusion, you don’t understand this trade because it’s the best one this franchise has made in ages. Or, perhaps, you’re an idiot.

CARRIE: Even though he is healthy after the shoulder injury that sidelined him in 2011…

…she said, necessarily.

CARRIE: …Cashner was projected for the bullpen (which is where the Padres will use him). Rizzo has a lot of upside and could be a middle-of-the-order, power-producing first baseman.

And (fingers crossed) maybe someday he can be as fat as Fielder and as old as Pujols!

With Sean Marshall traded and Wood unsigned, what do the Cubs plan to do for late-inning relief? Jeff Samardzija improved as the 2011 season went on and Cashner looked good in his late-season relief stint. Will the Cubs give them a chance at the starting rotation, or will they end up filling the late-inning relief spots left open by Marshall and (maybe) Wood?
— Doug E., Palatine, Ill.

Wells, Samardzija, and Cashner for the back of the rotation!!! Dale Sveum just emoted for the first time ever.

CARRIE: You submitted this before Cashner was dealt.

Here is what I love about the Muskbox. The question submission form includes the following language (emboldening added):

E-mail your query to Cubs beat reporter Carrie Muskat for possible inclusion in a future Inbox column. Letters may be edited for brevity, length and/or content.

Once the Cashner trade happened, clearly that part of his question was moot and could have very easily been clipped with the basic nature of the question remaining intact. But NOPE.

CARRIE: Samardzija has said he wants to start, but he has been more successful in the bullpen.

How hard do you suppose Theo laughed when he saw THAT contract?

CARRIE: Maybe we’ll find out at the Cubs Convention.

It would be the first interesting, relevant piece of information that has EVER come out of the Cubs Convention, so MAYBE.

CARRIE: The Cubs’ rotation could be Matt Garza, Ryan Dempster, Travis Wood, Chris Volstad and Randy Wells. Besides Samardzija, the pitchers the Cubs can chose from for relief duty include James Russell, Scott Maine, John Gaub, Chris Carpenter, Alberto Cabrera, Marcos Mateo, Rafael Dolis and new additions Manny Corpas, Andy Sonnanstine and Casey Weathers. Plus, the Cubs need to slot in Rule 5 pick Lendy Castillo.

Garza begat Dempster; and Dempster begat Wood; and Wood begat Volstad; and Volstad begat Wells; and Wells begat Samardzija; and Samardzija begal Russell; and Russell begat Maine; and Maine begat Gaub; and Gaub begat Carpenter; and Carpenter begat Cabrera; and Cabrera begat Mateo; and Mateo begat Dolis; and Dolis begat Corpas; and Corpas begat Sonnanstine; and Sonnanstine begat Weathers; and Weathers begat Castillo.

What are the chances the Cubs will sign right-hander Edwin Jackson…

Zero percent.

…or lefty Paul Maholm?


They are both young and pitch a lot of innings. The Cubs sure could use more pitchers with the ability to go deep in games.
— Paul W., Columbia City, Ind.

I would like to take this opportunity to say that I absolutely love the Maholm deal. One year, $4.25M for a guy who posted a 3.66 ERA last year? As Madea might say, “DAY-UM!”


When will the single-game tickets go on sale?
— Daniel M., Evanston, Ill.

“I have my eye on that October series against the Astros.”

CARRIE: Single-game tickets go on sale March 9 at Wrigley Field and on We’ll post more details as soon as they are available.

Details may be edited for brevity, length, and/or content.

Last season, Tony Campana, in my opinion, was the most exciting Cub to watch.

This season, you, in my opinion, are the worst.

He is surely one of the fastest players in baseball.

He is fast. And don’t call him Shirley.

I have no doubt he could steal 70-plus if he played regularly.

It’s funny because he presupposes that Tony Campana can reach base seventy times in a season.

Where does he figure in the outfield mix this season? Is there a chance he plays every day?
— Michael S., Peoria, Ill.

Fuck. No.

CARRIE: Not likely. Campana has to get on base to steal, and his .303 on-base percentage in 95 games would need to improve. He’s best suited as a pinch-runner and defensive sub in the outfield.

For the Cardinals.

What is the level of interest the Cubs have in Yoenis Cespedes and Jorge Soler? I would love if they got both, but I think Soler would be a great potential long-term solution in the outfield, seeing as he’s only 19 years old. I think he’d be cheaper than Cespedes as well.
— Kevin B., Urbana, Ill.

Quick, Austin S.! How do you say, “WE NEED YOU SO WE CAN BUILD A TEAM AROUND YOU,” in Spanish?

CARRIE: The Cubs are among the many teams keeping tabs on the two Cuban outfielders — and Epstein did watch Cespedes in a workout in the Dominican Republic — but it will come down to the price tag. It’s a big risk to commit $50 million to a player who has never had an at-bat in the big leagues.

EPSTEIN: (looks at Samardzija’s contract) God dammit.

CARRIE: You’re right that Soler, 19, would be less expensive, but his agents also are looking at a mega deal.

He said Soler was nineteen right there in his question. Someone should edit YOU for brevity and content.

Whatever happened to Angel Guzman? Is he still with the Cubs’ organization?
— Steve O., Arlington Heights, Ill.

He’s ranked right behind Anthony Rizzo on their list of prospects. FOREVER Prospects.

CARRIE: Guzman signed a Minor League contract with the Dodgers in December.

-Austin S.

The Elusive Muskbox Emerges from Its Two-Month Hibernation

I missed you...

The Muskbox hasn’t made an appearances since May 23. That’s a long time for a lot of stupid questions to go unanswered. But this will be an interesting experiment. Will two months be enough time to fill a Muskbox with a handful of actual, good questions? Assuming the Muskbox receives only one query a day, at least 52 questions have been asked in the time since the last Muskbox was posted. Assuming the Muskbox chooses around six questions per entry, only 12% of the questions need to not be idiotic for the Muskbox to be a success! Also, the Muskbox has a new home! It’s on Carrie’s personal blog. Yes, the only thing better than a Muskbox is a TOTALLY UNEDITED, UNCENSORED MUSKBOX! Will the Muskbox go places that make even Stieg Larsson throw up in his mouth a little bit? Read on!

CARRIE: It’s been tough to sqeeze the Cubs Inbox onto, so I’ll try to keep up here.

Five words. We made it five words in.

CARRIE: Send your questions to

I just now developed a theory. Does not sanction the Muskbox? Carrie has used a Gmail address to solicit questions for the Muskbox since its inception. And now, there’s no “room” for the Muskbox on INTRIGUE!

With Bryan LaHair crushing the ball in Triple-A and Carlos Pena struggling with consistency, are the Cubs giving any thought to bringing LaHair up to the big league team?
— Nick I., Evansville, IN

Wait, why are we thinking of benching the team leader in home runs and the runner-up in RBIs? Oh, I bet it’s because we want to see the “kids” like LaHair. The 28-year-old kid.

CARRIE: LaHair could get a look depending on what happens at the trade deadline.

Like if the entire team mysteriously vanishes over the Atlantic, leaving behind naught but a burst of static, a Hello Kitty backpack, and a MYSTERY!

CARRIE: Pena has drawn interest from teams in contention (Angels, for example). LaHair will likely be up in September when rosters expand.

Up here to battle Tyler Colvin for time at first base, no doubt. I can’t WAIT for September!

I don’t understand why Darwin Barney was moved to the No. 8 spot.

Because he’s not very good? Look, I’m rooting for the Cubs to have a home-grown middle infield. Barney plays the right position, he knows how to run the bases, he has long at-bats, and from all indications, he’s a smart ballplayer. He’s the non-retarded version of Theriot. But he’s just…not…that GOOD. Barney hitting 8th for your team is perfectly acceptable. He’s better than a lot of eight hitters. But Barney hitting second on your team? Ugh.

He hit .290 in the two-hole. I see the logic in the move when Fukudome is in the lineup but when Reed Johnson is, I don’t get it. Johnson has a career .341 OBP, identical to Castro’s.


I realize Johnson is hot right now but what’s going to happen when he cools off?
– Ryan S., Rochester, MI

He’ll be Darwin Barney.

CARRIE: There’s a couple reasons.

“But all of them are trumped by Barney being the eighth-best hitter in the starting lineup. Ninth when Zambrano is pitching.”

CARRIE: One, Barney is coming back from a knee injury. If he’s batting second, he’ll be expected to run more. They’re trying to avoid stress on the knee. Two, Starlin Castro has done better hitting one-two. With Fukudome doing well as the leadoff man, moving Castro up a notch seems to help him. Three, Barney can help turn the lineup over in the bottom of the order. His role changes depending on pinch-hitters behind him. As for Johnson, his starts are primarily against lefties.

If I told you prior to the 2011 season that Reed Johnson would have the highest OPS on the Cubs at the All-Star break, you’d say, “Yeah, that sounds about right.”

I was looking through some of the Cubs’ Minor League rosters…


…and was happy to see Angel Guzman has logged innings at Daytona and Peoria. I also noticed he’s starting each game he appeared in. Are the Cubs grooming him to be a starter again or is this part of his rehab?
— Henry F., Batavia, IL

And so continued the Great Angel Guzman Cocktease.

CARRIE: Guzman, coming back from shoulder surgery, is starting in the Minor Leagues as part of his rehab.

I, who missed parenthetical interruptions, am glad the Muskbox is back.

CARRIE: It’s easier to control when he can pitch if he starts the game rather than having him enter a game in relief. This way, he’s guaranteed two innings, or however many pitches they are limiting him to.


CARRIE: If he returns…


CARRIE: …it will be as a reliever.

And if he doesn’t, it’s because you didn’t believe in him hard enough.

CARRIE: -Carrie Muskat

Thanks for clarifying.

The Muskbox FINALLY Addresses All of Your Burning Questions About…Scott Moore

Of all the obscure former Cubs who were once traded for Kyle Farnsworth and Steve Trachsel, and who you didn’t even realize were reacquired by the Cubs, Scott Moore is that specific one. And he’s actually the subject of a question in this week’s Muskbox. Scott. Moore.

I’m stunned the Cubs would spend $10 million on Pena and not Derrek Lee. Lee’s average took a dip last year, but nothing compared to Pena. What’s going on here?
— Dave A., Madison, Wis.

Well, not a one of the other twenty-nine teams in the MLB has shown any interest in Derrek Lee, either. And he’s only looking for a one-year deal for $8M-$10M. And he considers the NATIONALS his best destination. He had a down year, and his opposable thumb no longer works. I like Derrek Lee just fine, but wanting him back is ludicrous.

CARRIE: Pena gives the Cubs that much sought after left-handed bat for the middle of the order. Both he and Lee are Gold Glove caliber first basemen and quality individuals. But Lee is 35; Pena is 32. Lee has averaged 24 homers over the last four seasons; Pena has averaged 36 in that span. Lee will be coming off thumb surgery; Pena is healthy. Pena’s batting average has dropped the last four years, but Lee went from .306 in 2009 to .251 with the Cubs in ’10.

Lee comes before semi-colons; Pena comes after them.

Now that the Cubs have signed Kerry Wood and he’s going to be the setup guy, does that increase the chance of Andrew Cashner going to the rotation since we don’t need a setup man anymore?
— Josh P., Los Angeles

If they don’t need a setup man anymore, THEN WHY DID THEY SIGN KERRY WOOD?

CARRIE: Yes, but Cashner needs to show he has command of three pitches if he’s going to take a spot in the rotation.

Or do a hell of a Harry Caray impression. Or beat the shit out of his starting catcher. Or save a group of rag-tag kids from the Fratelli brothers.

CARRIE: New Cubs pitching coach Mark Riggins said the right-hander was throwing his changeup when he was in the Minor Leagues and had confidence in it. But when he was called up to the big league team and used as a reliever, Cashner stuck with two pitches.

One of them “wild.”

CARRIE: Wood won’t be the only setup man. The Cubs have reliable lefty Sean Marshall and are hoping John Grabow comes back strong.

Other things the Cubs hope will come back strong:

  1. The TGIF lineup
  2. Hypercolor t-shirts
  3. Wham!

During the summer, I would schedule my drives to and from Chicago around Cubs games to listen to Pat [Hughes] and Santo.

“Sure, I lost my job due to chronic tardiness, but, dammit, IT WAS WORTH IT.”

My favorite Santo moment came in, I believe ’09, when Santo and Hughes interviewed a member of the Bears who went to the Pro Bowl as a “Pro Bowler.” Santo thought the transition from football to professional bowling was bizarre, and this misunderstanding led to the funniest interview I’d ever heard. I discuss it all the time and have searched for the sound bite with no success.
— Steven Y., Ames, Iowa

Piracy is wrong, Steven.

CARRIE: I believe Dave Duerson was the guest, and I haven’t been able to find an audio clip of that specific show (I do have requests out to the WGN Radio people).

In Santo’s defense, Duerson is one hell of a bowler. His wife told me he once rolled a perfect game. And that she- uh- fell down some steps. And that she always wears sunglasses indoors.

CARRIE: To hear some of Santo’s highlights, you can check out our tribute to Santo or go to WGN Radio’s website. We’re still waiting for details on what the Cubs will do next season to honor Santo, but they’re expected to add a patch to the uniform.

I’m sure it’ll be something classy like a #10, but I really wish it would be a toupee.

CARRIE: No word on who will join Hughes in the booth.

A never-ending stream of celebrity Seventh-Inning Stretch conductors.

With all the talk this offseason about player movement, specifically in the pitching department, what are the plans for Angel Guzman? After surgery last season, is the club still looking at him as a viable option or planning to shop him around?
— Jeff O., Tulsa, Okla.

Jim Hendry dials his cell phone.
HENDRY: Hi, is this Neal Huntington? Jim Hendry here. So, listen, I have a guy I think you might be interested in.
HUNTINGTON: Oh, yeah? Who?
HENDRY: Angel Guzman.

CARRIE: Guzman, who had shoulder surgery last spring, didn’t start playing catch until mid October and was not expected to throw off the mound until February. Maybe.

Possibly. Potentially. Unlikely.

CARRIE: Anything he could give the Cubs in 2011 would be a bonus.

Except maybe syphilis.

I had a chance to see Josh Vitters and Brett Jackson play at Class A Daytona.

You lucky sonofabitch!

What position do the Cubs project Jackson to play? He looked pretty good in center and might have the speed to be a leadoff hitter. Which one of these two might be playing for the Cubs in the near future?
— Terry L., Kissimmee, Fla.

At this rate, both of them will be in the Opening Day lineup. Somehow, the Cubs have to answer the Zack Greinke trade.

CARRIE: Jackson, 22, is quick enough to handle center and may be the leadoff man of the future. He’s been on the fast track since he was selected in the first round of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft. Who will get there first? That’s determined not just by talent, but opportunity. For example, if Aramis Ramirez is injured, the Cubs would need a third baseman, and Vitters, 21, could get the call.

You see, Major League Baseball teams have a minor-league system in order to provide support for the Major League club. From time to time, when players get injured, or hurt, the general manager will decide to replace that player with a player from the minor-league system rather than sign a player out of free agency or trade for a replacement player.

I read that the Cubs signed former prospect Scott Moore, who they traded to the Orioles a few years ago.

Where did you even read this? Are you on Scott Moore’s Christmas card list?

What will his place be next year? Does he even have a chance to make the big league team?
— Justin M., Memphis, Tenn.


CARRIE: Moore, whom the Cubs acquired from the Tigers in February 2005 in the Kyle Farnsworth deal, is a non-roster invitee this spring. The infielder appeared in 18 games with the Cubs in 2006-07, and he was dealt to the Orioles in August 2007 along with Rocky Cherry for pitcher Steve Trachsel.

Sean Marshall is STILL sticking needles in his Jim Hendry voodoo doll because of that trade.

CARRIE: He’ll be trying to win a spot on the roster as a utility player. A left-handed batter, he can play third and short. Does he have a chance? He’s in the same situation as Jackson and Vitters. It depends on talent and opportunity.

Wait, Scott Moore can play short? Then WHY THE HELL DID THE CUBS EVER SIGN NEIFI PEREZ?

Uncle Mike’s Friday BROWSing: The “Please Stop Using Ry-NO Jokes” Edition

It is with unbearable sadness that I inform you that Ryne Sandberg will not be in a Cub uniform next year. Let’s take a moment of si- All right, Roundup time. The assistance of your tips is like a brilliant bench coach who offers the insight that Ryno may or may not have.

  • Angel Guzman is gone! Nope, wait, there he is.
  • Does anyone else thing the idea of a Rally Thong is weird, sad, and a little desperate? Meaning right up Ryan Dempster’s alley?
  • Rob Neyer says what we’ve all been thinking about Bud Selig’s suggestion for more playoff teams. “You’re a fucking idiot, Bud.”
  • The Rangers may have lost the World Series, but at least there’s some good news for Ron Washington and Josh Hamilton.
  • Mark DeRosa played in only TWENTY-SIX games for the San Francisco Giants. Which leads me to my question. WHY THE FUCK DOES ANYONE LISTEN TO MARK DEROSA?
  • Using finger fossils to find out that Neanderthals slept around is WAY less exciting than you would have thought.
  • The Batmobile WOULD make a pretty sweet van.
  • Plot twists famous movies should have had. Inception is made out of PEOPLE!!!
  • One would think that falling through a roof would be the most dangerous part of your day, but NO.
  • I assume it cut down itself.
  • The universe is one hell of a cool place. You geeks should stop by and visit some time.
  • It’s so weird that he’s unemployed.

    /logs on to ChatRoulette

  • I’m claustrophobic, so spelunking seems like a terrible idea to me. Especially if you’ve ever seen the movie The Descent, which I will stand by as being one of the most terrifying movies ever made. I know it’s past Halloween (but don’t tell the producers of The Simpsons that fact), but this video is creepy and cool.
  • If you’ve never harbored a desire to play the video game in the The Last Starfighter, I just don’t want to know you. (HT: CT)
  • TWEET OF THE WEEK: Thank God Ozzie Guillen is tweeting again. Only he could sum up the sadness of Sparky Anderson’s death. “sparky anderson awesome man u are legend” AWESOMEST DEATH EVAR, SPARKY!!!
  • NIGHTMARE FUEL OF THE WEEK: Your whole existence is a LIIIIIIIIIIEEEEEEE!!! Alternatively, what the fucking fuck, Snickers?
  • FEED READ OF THE WEEK: Topless Robot. Several of you have sent me brilliant links from this site. It should be read. Often.

And, so, the long dark tea time of the offseason begins. There are only two ways to get through it. HJE and booze. What will you choose?
-Uncle Mike

The Muskbox DEMANDS Recognition for Castro

The Muskbox must be in late-season crunch mode. It appears that all of your stupid questions will be answered in the order in which they are received. If you would just please form an orderly line behind the man in the mask, Carrie will field each question in turn, starting with those in this week’s Muskbox. If you’re wondering, “Is my Josh Vitters question going to be answered?” I can safely say, “YOU BETCHA!”
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The Muskbox Returneth to the Relevance It’s Always Enjoyed

There’s no slumpbuster like a Muskbox slumpbuster. Thanks to the idiocy of people who read and the continued nightmare that is the 2010 edition of the Chicago Cubs, the Muskbox continues to shine. In this week’s Muskbox, a guy from Valparaiso asks about a player from Valparaiso, an Iowan is sick of watching Darwin Barney play in person, and some Swedish guy would rather watch the Cubs than bikini models. It’s a weird time to be alive, people.
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NOW Can Tommy Boy Finally Evaluate Jim Hendry?

If there’s one sports radio refrain that annoys me, it’s, “Tom Ricketts is being SO SMART AND CAREFUL about his evaluation of Jim Hendry.” Bullshit. The Cubs are now halfway through their first season under Ricketts’ ownership. They’re 39-50, with the third-highest payroll in all of Major League Baseball. The only two more expensive teams are the 56-32 Yankees and the 51-37 Red Sox, both of whom play in a far tougher division than the Cubs do. The Cubs are saddled with the following virtually untradeable contracts: Alfonso Soriano, Kosuke Fukudome, Carlos Zambrano, Aramis Ramirez, Jeff Samardzija, and John Grabow. Jim Hendry built this team.

I don’t understand why some people are acting like Ricketts is evaluating Hendry in a vacuum. Yes, Ricketts didn’t own the team until last fall, but it’s not as though he’s Leonard from Memento. It’s not as though Hendry’s entire body of work couldn’t have been known prior to Ricketts taking control of the team. Hendry has been the general manager for over eight years. Certainly, someone in the front office wrote down the things he’s done in those eight years. He’s exhibited a pretty clear pattern of (1) making trades which have either worked out well (Lee, Ramirez), worked out terribly (Pierre), even if the idea was good (Nomar), or been completely baffling and pointless (Trachsel); (2) handed out far too many years at free agents, whether they’ve worked out (Soriano) or not (Marquis); (3) given a no-trade clause to every asshole who’s asked for one (Samardzija); and (4) torpedoed the trade value of several of his players just before he ships them out of town (Farnsworth, Patterson, Sosa, Pie, Bradley, possibly Zambrano). Why would Ricketts assume that Hendry would change his managerial style going forward?

How long did it take Hendry to replace Derrek Lee during the 2006 season, and why did we have to wait that long for Phil Nevin? Why did Greg Maddux have to trade himself for Cesar Izturis? Why hasn’t there been a backup third baseman on the roster for the past couple of seasons? Why wasn’t Dusty Baker fired after the debacles that were the end of the 2004 season, all of the 2005 season, and all of the 2006 season? WHY IS DARYLE WARD GONE?

A popular counter-argument has become, “It’s not Jim Hendry’s fault that Aramis and Lee aren’t hitting.” No shit. It’s also not Lou Piniella’s fault, yet a disturbing number of fans have decided to crucify him. But it is Jim Hendry’s fault that the oft-injured Angel Guzman was expected to play a crucial role in the bullpen. It is his fault that, once again, there was no legitimate backup for Aramis Ramirez. It is his fault that- well, Jeff Samardzija.

Some fans argue that a switch now won’t help the team. Why not? If this isn’t Hendry’s team moving forward, it stands to reason that a new G.M. should take over prior to the trade deadline. 2010 is over. I’m frustrated to the point where I don’t even care if Hendry is the G.M. in 2011. But cut the wishy-washy nonsense. There’s no reason a decision on Hendry couldn’t have already been made. And if it has been made already, God help us all.

A Double Shot of Muskbox

I didn’t get around to the Muskbox last week because of the emotional and mental toll from ripping Milton Bradley. I could- nay, should allow myself a break from the Muskbox madness. But that wouldn’t be fair to you. Instead, you get a double shot of Muskbox with a chaser of failure. And I die on the inside twice as much as normal this week.
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The Muskbox Has No Idea When to Fuld ‘Em

Has any player ever gotten more mileage out of a single catch than Sam Fuld has? I’ve heard Cubs fans speak less respectfully of Wilie Mays’ catch. Sam Fuld strives to be David Eckstein, only in a less-useful position. However, since Jim Hendry decided to spend $34M on an outfield of platoon players, each week we have to listen to Cubs fans worry about whether or not Sam Fuld will make the Chicago Cubs. AND YET YOU KEEP FOLLOWING THEM. Who is the real villain?
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