What a year the 2013 Cubs had! They avoided 100 losses, they fired their dull manager, they hired a new dull manager, and they watched Tony LaRussa get voted into the Hall of Fame. On this, the day after you drank alcohol and probably said something stupid to a hot girl, let’s give out some inaugural year-end awards. WELCOME TO THE ESSIES!
Best Cub Player: Travis Wood
Despite the fact that Cubs fans ever-so-patiently waited through another rebuilding year, it’s nice watching some occasionally honest-to-goodness talent at Wrigley Field. Scott Feldman pitched well and (along with Steve Clevenger) landed the Cubs some apparent talent in Pedro Stop and Jake Arrieta. Matt Garza’s solid pitching and miraculous ability to stay uninjured for three consecutive starts may have helped the Cubs land their third baseman of the future. But those guys are gone, Wood is still a Cub, he made 32 starts, and the majority of those starts were great. Despite my love for SeanBearPig, it made sense for the Cubs to swap him for Wood. The trade really paid off for the Cubs in 2013. THEY WERE ACTUALLY WATCHABLE WHEN WOOD STARTED.
Best Cub Debut: Junior Lake
Remember when Junior Lake came up and people were comparing his numbers favorably to Yasiel Puig’s? Probably not. Because that was probably on Sportsnet Central and no one was watching. But Lake had a 1.274 OPS after his first seven games, so everyone in Chicago was FREAKING THE FUCK OUT. Lake finished the year with a respectable-enough .760 OPS and allowed Epstein to dump his entire outfield. HE’S JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU, DAVID DEJESUS.
Most Disappointing Season: Starlin Castro
Castro came into the 2013 season after back-to-back All-Star seasons. Cubs fans were hoping his plate discipline and pitch recognition would improve. It didn’t. It got worse. Castro had a .167/.204/.250 slash line in the month of June. Woof. I’m not saying the regression of Castro (and, to a lesser extent, Anthony Rizzo) is the reason Dale Sveum was fired. Other people are saying that. And I just might agree with them.
Most Successfully Played His Way off the 2014 Roster: Dioner Navarro
Dioner Navarro was once a super-hot-shit catching prospect for the Yankees. Then, he became a journeyman backup catcher. He’s built like fat Geovany Soto, but he can actually hit, so the Toronto Blue Jays signed him away from the Cubs about a month ago. Congratulations and best of like to Dioner, as it was actually a lot of fun watching him rejuvenate his career in Chicago.
Most Boring Winter Meetings: The 2013 Winter Meetings
Good lord, I don’t think Yellon could even manage to muster more than 10,000 words about this year’s Winter Meetings. The Cubs acquired Justin Ruggiano for Brian Bogusevic and…that’s it. I wasn’t expecting fireworks, but that- That was tedium.
Biggest Albatross Unloaded: Alfonso Soriano
I loved Alfonso as a Cub, but Epstein was finally able to actualize Chuck’s wettest dream when he shipped Soriano off to the Yankees just before the 2013 non-waiver trade deadline for a halfway-decent pitching prospect. Alfonso became the Yankees’ entire offense, and they were basically getting him for free. I hope Alf has a ton of success in 2014 back where it all started. Oh, by the way, this was also the year that Epstein turned Carlos Marmol into someone who was not Carlos Marmol. Only four years after the Cubs should have actually traded him. Oh, well.
Best Facial Hair: Carlos Villanueva
GIF courtesy of Fangraphs.
Biggest Waste of Money: Kyuji Fujikawa
$4.5M this year for 12 innings of shitty pitching and a 67 save percentage. Oh, and he’s under contract for next year with a buyout for 2015. I like that Theo occasionally reminds us that he’s not perfect.
Guy You Most Likely Forgot was Even on the Roster: Brent Lillibridge
Yes, it was just this past season that we “had” to watch Lillibridge collect a lone single in twenty-four at-bats. His OPS+ was -77.
Best Replacement of Keith Moreland: Anyone But Todd Hollandsworth
I was so excited when Moreland “quit,” but then when I heard Hollandsworth might be an option to replace him, I was right back to my usual state of rampant disappointment. Fortunately, Ron Coomer got the job. I have no idea how he’ll do, and I feel like at some point Pat will walk in on Coomer stuffing his face with Jed Hoyer’s birthday cake and have to yell, “Coooooooomerrrrrrrr!” but at least he’s not Hollandsworth.
Most Coveted Non-Cub Player: Andrew McCutchen
Andrew McCutchen is the coolest goddamn guy in baseball, and he helped lead the Pirates not only to an above-.500 record, but also their first playoff appearance in over 20 years. His efforts earned him the 2013 NL MVP Award, even though he was better in 2012. His Pirates did us all the favor of knocking of Dusty’s Reds in the Wild Card game, though sadly they couldn’t knock the Cardinals out of the playoffs. He’s also just absolutely slaying it personally.
Biggest Dickhead Team: Boston Red Sox
Isn’t the “WE’RE SO ANTI-YANKEE THAT WE ALL HAVE TO HAVE RATTY BEARDS” shit just a little pathetic? Thanks for beating the Cardinals. Now please go away.
Ryan Dempster Award: Brian Wilson
This is how you treat the CEO of the team who made you? I don’t care if it’s wrong to root for a guy’s elbow to explode. I’m rooting for this guy’s elbow to explode.
Worst Fans: San Francisco Giants
Every team has its fair share of idiot fans, but holy shit, Giants fans. You don’t deserve to celebrate those titles. Also, just so you’re aware, no one else on the planet gives a shit about West Coast baseball. Also, IT’S A GODDAMN GAME.
It’s been a long time since the last installment of The Muskbox, meaning you’re probably less dumb now. Almost as long as it had been since the last podcast. You’re welcome. Welp, about to dumb it up all in here again with the return of the podcast AND The Muskbox. This week’s installment is all about the future. So hop into your time machines and get ready to box! Read more
Yes, Googling “shit on a shingle” was pretty nerve-wracking.
This week’s Muskbox straight-facedly asks whether Alfonso Soriano should “sit a spell.” When I was in college, my dorm’s rector was from Virginia, and he was full of hilarious old Southern colloquialisms like that one. The ones in my headline are all the ones my brain remembers. God dammit, brain, REALLY? Anyhow, this Muskbox is a doozy. Because it’s somehow ALWAYS a doozy.
It seems like every game I hear Len Kasper and Bob Brenly mention how Soriano is “hobbling on that bad left leg” after every time he grounds out or any time he makes a play in left.
Bob usually follows it up with, “And isn’t it just like that selfish layabout to hurt his team by continuing to play left field? And computers are better than umpires! And don’t you hate when guys wear their sunglasses on top of their hats? We never did that in MY day! And I won a World Series because of strategy, not because of Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling! Now, here’s an obscure modern music reference that makes me seem like I’m NOT 100 years old!” God dammit, Bob Brenly, just shut the fuck up.
Why wouldn’t the Cubs put him on the DL, move LaHair to left and bring up Anthony Rizzo for a few weeks? Is it because Soriano is finally starting to hit home runs? — Steve G., Irving, Texas
Yeah, it’s about time he FINALLY started hitting home runs! Those 340 he hit before entering this season were all DO-OVERS!
CARRIE: Soriano does have a sore left knee, but it obviously hasn’t affected his hitting, considering his 6-for-13, three-homer series this past weekend against the Twins.
It’s affected his groupie-banging!
CARRIE: He was joking with Cubs officials after Sunday’s game to move this week’s Interleague series against the Tigers to Detroit, so he could be the designated hitter.
CARRIE: The knee hinders Soriano when he’s running, and it’s tough for him to stop.
So the crack Cubs coaching staff introduced him to this new technique called SLIDING.
CARRIE: But since last Tuesday in Milwaukee, he no longer wears a knee brace, and the Cubs’ medical staff has put together enough strengthening and stretching exercises to keep him in the game. Soriano has been the team’s only source of offense since May 15, with 12 homers in 25 games — more than any other Major Leaguer in that stretch. Chicago needs him in the lineup.
Yes. YES. For the stretch run.
What pace is Rizzo on compared to LaHair’s 38 homers last year at Triple-A Iowa? — John P., Swifton, Ark.
God, I really hope your parents didn’t intentionally name you after Jonathan Swift and then forget to teach you anything about the English language.
CARRIE: Through 58 games at Iowa this year, Rizzo is batting .363 (78-for-215) with 20 home runs. Through 58 games last season at Iowa, LaHair was hitting .356 (73-for-205) with 16 home runs. Rizzo notched his fifth multihomer game Sunday, hitting a pair.
That’s amazing that she just listed the stats instead of actually trying to predict Rizzo’s pace. You know. Like the question asked.
Please explain why manager Dale Sveum is not playing LaHair.
Have you seen his head? Dale Sveum hates la hair! PUNNNNNNN!!!
We are putting Jeff Baker out two or three days a week instead of LaHair.
I am doing no such thing.
Also, 2-3 days of Jeff Baker means 4-5 days of LaHair. Meaning he IS playing. Aren’t Chinese people supposed to be good at math?
Let’s see — LaHair is batting over .300 and Baker is south of .250. Fielding, LaHair has the edge. So explain to me if we are in a development year, why we are not developing LaHair. If he has problems against left-handed pitching, he’s not going to get better watching from the bench. — John F., Wanning, Hainan, China
Eh. His English is still better than the dude’s from Arkansas.
CARRIE: Sveum is trying to find an edge against left-handers.
It’s pointless. The lefties of the world will rise up and destroy the foolish red-scissor-using aristocracy! Rise up with me, my brothers! Rise up, southpaws! Rise up and cast away the bonds of right-handed can openers and those stupid credit card signature pads with the pen tethered to the right side! United, we will prevail! Might makes left!
CARRIE: Baker is struggling this year, hitting .214 (9-for-42), but he has a career .302 average against lefties.
Plus, he has the jowels of a young Matt Holliday!
CARRIE: LaHair is 3-for-27 against left-handers this season, and he is batting .131 (8-for-61) in his career against them. The Cubs have scuffled overall vs. left-handers — batting .223, the second-lowest mark in the NL — and are 3-13 so far against southpaw starters. They’re looking for any kind of edge.
Maybe they should try to arrange it so the only left-hander they face is Travis Wood.
I am much more impressed with Tony Campana in the outfield than David DeJesus.
And I am impressed that your brain keeps reminding your lungs to breathe. Because you, sir, are a fucking idiot.
I would rather see an outfield with LaHair in right and Campana in center. DeJesus just doesn’t hit enough to pay regularly in the outfield.
DeJesus is not having a great year. He is, however, having a MUCH better year than Tony Campana. God dammit, I KNEW this was going to happen once that little shit started getting regular playing time. He sucks at hitting. He sucks in the outfield. He has exactly one skill and, frankly, it’s probably the LEAST useful skill for a baseball player to have. Just because he’s better at it than basically everyone else in the MLB doesn’t mean he’s a good baseball player. Fuck. YOU’RE GOING TO EMBARRASS US IN FRONT OF THEO EPSTEIN!
Campana would be an ideal leadoff man. — Harold H., Culloden, W. Va.
You know who would be a better leadoff man, due to his ability to actually get on base? David DeJesus.
CARRIE: We’ll have to agree to disagree.
YOU MADE ME AGREE WITH CARRIE, YOU MISERABLE SON OF A BITCH!
CARRIE: Campana does rank among the National League stolen-base leaders with 18, but his on-base percentage is .226, while DeJesus has a .378 OBP when leading off (DeJesus’ numbers are down in the No. 3 spot, where he’s 4-for-23).
I know this Muskbox is a few days old, but .226? That can’t have been right. Had to have been .326, right?
CARRIE: Sveum will start Campana in center in larger ballparks, because he does cover a lot of ground.
Which is totally useful, so he can take a SUPER-SPEEDY crow-hop before throwing an eight-hopper to home plate.
CARRIE: His speed is a tremendous asset off the bench.
And even more tremendous ON the bench!
CARRIE: DeJesus also had a solid May, hitting .317, and you don’t see many teams running on him when he’s in right. They can run on Campana.
Soriano is a better outfielder than Campana. I HOPE YOUR HEAD JUST EXPLODED, BOB BRENLY.
What are the chances Ryan Dempster is traded to a playoff contender before the Trade Deadline? As much as I love Demp, I think it would be a win-win scenario. — Jacob C., Chicago
If you could see my face right now, you would be reminded of the scene from A Christmas Story when Ralphie bets his dad that he’ll never guess what Ralphie got him for Christmas, and his dad looks away dreamily and says, “A new furnace?” Oh, here’s the audio.
CARRIE: Considering where the Cubs are in the standings and this being the last year of Dempster’s contract, it could happen.
Also considering Theo Epstein’s low tolerance on a roster for bullshit clown mascots (see Millar, Kevin).
CARRIE: What team wouldn’t want a starter with a 2.31 ERA who is holding opponents to a .206 batting average?
The Cubs, apparently.
CARRIE: Imagine what his record would be if the Cubs scored some runs in his starts.
//”A new furnace…”
CARRIE: It’s a similar scenario to 2010, when the Cubs dealt Ted Lilly to the Dodgers. Matt Garza also has drawn interest from teams. An American League scout told me Sunday he’d love to have Soriano in his lineup.
Wait, a scout said that? He wants him in which lineup? His bowling league?
CARRIE: The countdown until the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline is on.
I never seem to hear Josh Vitters discussed as a possible callup to solve our third-base issues. Is that possible, plausible this season, or do the decision makers prefer Vitters spend a full season at Triple-A? — Joseph H., Lake Ariel, Pa.
It’s possible, plausible, persuasive, and presumptive!
CARRIE: Sveum was asked about Vitters this weekend, and he said the third baseman was doing better.
“I was actually asking about delicious VITNER’S potato chips, locally owned since 1926!”
CARRIE: “He’s been swinging the bat really well lately,” Sveum said. “He [doesn’t have] great command of the strike zone. He puts the ball in play, doesn’t strike out a lot for that kind of hitter. He still has to develop defensively. He’s got to get better defensively before we think of [promoting him].”
Did Sveum really say he DOESN’T have good command of the strike zone, or is this another Muskbox typo?
…is there any chance Reed Johnson could take over as the Cubs’ player blog writer? I really enjoyed his blogs when he did it a couple years ago. — Melissa J., Plover, Wis.
I really thought this was going to suggest that Reed be the starting center fielder, but Melissa threw me a huge bender. Sly minx.
CARRIE: Reed and I have talked about it, and yes, we will likely revive “Reed Between the Lines.”
REJECTED BLOG NAMES:
Smacked with a Johnson!
I Never Learned to Reed: The Reed Johnson Diaries
Reed Johnson Presents: The Byrd’s Nest
Reed Johnson’s Family Muskbag
When will MLB Commissioner Bud Selig reveal which stadiums will host the 2013 and ’14 All-Star Games? I know Wrigley Field is competing for ’14 in order to honor the stadium’s centennial. — Felipe A., Chicago
Hey, Bud has a busy schedule. When he’s not lecturing Hawk Harrelson or ignoring the rapidly-steady decline of the quality of umpiring around the MLB, he’s-
Holy shit, what DOES Bud Selig do?
CARRIE: Citi Field in New York will host the 2013 All-Star Game…
Ronnie died just in time.
CARRIE: …which would mean 2014 would be an AL year (Major League Baseball usually alternates). The Cubs may try to twist Selig’s arm and host the game in 2016, which is 100 years after the team moved into Weeghman Park, now known as Wrigley Field. Plus, the renovations may be done then.
Wait, if they could twist his arm to host it in 2016, why the hell wouldn’t they twist his arm to host it in 2014?
When will the rained-out game against the Reds be played? Have they rescheduled it yet? — Beth G., St. Louis
This question is so hilariously simplistic. This must be what tech support guys go through all the time. “Hey, um, my computer has, like, a box on the screen, within another box, with an ‘X’ in the corner. What does that mean?”
CARRIE: The Cubs and Reds will play a day-night doubleheader Aug. 18. Tickets from the May 1 game that was postponed by rain will be honored for the day game.
Dammit, I already threw mine out recycled mine. GOING GREEN!
Why does Cubs radio announcer Pat Hughes always take the fifth inning off every game? — Gary S., Davis, Ill.
FINALLY! Someone asks the tough questions!
Oh, wow. Long have I made light of the Pat Hughes Fifth-Inning Steamer, but it’s actually true! Pat Hughes takes a full inning to take a dump. He’s a man of many poetic words, and one of those words is “UNNGGGH!”
Is sixteen games into the season too early to take stock? Marlon Byrd and his .070 batting average are no longer Cubs. Ryan Dempster, the (shudder) longest-continuous-tenured Cub, and Kerry Wood, the longest-tenured Cub who everyone doesn’t hate are both shelved with injuries. Alfonso Soriano has eleven hits so far, and not a one of them went for extra bases. David DeJesus and Matt Garza are wondering just what the fuck they’re doing in Cubs uniforms. The best hitter on the team is Bryan LaHair. The recently-exonerated Starlin Castro is already setting pace to prove that, yes, he can actually hit. He’s third in the NL with 23 hits so far, he’s fifth in batting average at .365, and under the aggressive Dale Sveum, he’s already nabbed seven bases. He stole 22 all last year.
Whenever there is some actual, bona fide talent waiting in the Minor Leagues, the argument against bringing them to the Major Leagues is that they can’t be rushed. I absolutely hate that argument, but for now I’ll concede the point that these fully-grown men who have been under a microscope since they were twelve years old are so fragile that they will wilt under the MLB media and forget everything they’ve ever learned about baseball if they get off to a start as bad as, oh, say, Marlon Byrd’s. But what if there’s absolutely no rush at the Major League level?
This 2012 Cubs team is bad. They have a legitimate chance to be one of the worst Cub teams in my lifetime. Less than a tenth of the way into the season, and this team is already making my 76-86 prediction look hilarious. They are already SEVEN games behind the NL-Central-leading Cardinals. If the Cubs don’t lose a game for the rest of April, and the Cardinals don’t win a game for the rest of April, the Cubs will only tie them for first place. The odds of that happening are slim, as the Cubs have to play the Cardinals and Phillies in those seven games. What I’m saying is that there is absolutely no one in the Cub organization who reasonably thinks this team can compete this year. Even Ronnie Woo-Woo is thinking about scalping some of his free tickets and, oh, say, getting a fucking job and contributing something to society like actual human beings do.
So, if the expectations are literally and honestly zero from everyone in the Cub organization. If Theo’s Think TankTM will be transparent with the fans and admit that, yes, this is a total rebuilding of the clusterfuck of an organization that Jim Hendry left behind. If the fans would be willing to watch a couple of sub-.400 winning percentage seasons. If Soriano really is toast, Geovany Soto is bad again, LaHair isn’t worse in left field than Soriano is, and DeJesus is as pointless as a Phil Rogers column. Why CAN’T Anthony Rizzo, Brett Jackson, Matt Szczur, and Welington Castillo play this year? No, not this year. I’m sure most of them will be playing this year. Like, right now.
We all know you’re committed to fixing this thing, Theo. Just admit that you’re committed to sucking until it’s fixed.
The 2012 Nut-Punch Ends in…FIVE MONTHS AND TEN DAYS? God dammit.
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.
He doesn’t get pissed when you accidentally call him “Vince Cully.”
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.
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!”
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.
I suspect that there will be a significant number of Cubs fans as pissed about Aramis Ramirez signing with the Brewers as some Cardinals fans were about Albert Pujols signing with the Angels. I suspect that because I’m not a dumbass, and I know there are stupid fans of every single professional team in sports. Unlike Mark DeRosa and Ryan Theriot, Aramis Ramirez deserves and should get a standing ovation the first time he returns to Wrigley Field in a Brewers jersey. Sadly, he’ll probably be booed. Don’t be those fans.
This week’s Muskbox was written prior to the Ramirez signing, so there’s nothing about that in there. I just had to bring it up, because I’m really going to miss Aramis.
With a surplus at first base for the Angels now that Albert Pujols has signed, what are the chances the Cubs could go after Kendrys Morales? — Stephen H., Cedar Falls, Iowa
CARRIE: Even though they added Pujols, Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto said last week they will find a place for Morales as well as Mark Trumbo.
HITTERS GONNA HIT.
CARRIE: Morales, 28, has not played since breaking his left ankle celebrating a walk-off grand slam on May 29, 2010. The Angels were expected to offer him arbitration on Monday.
CELEBRATERS GONNA BREAK.
Where do the Cubs stand on bringing back Carlos Pena? He is much cheaper than the other options and did everything asked of him.
JIM HENDRY: Can you try not to hit a home run until May? CARLOS PENA: DONE.
CARRIE: Plus, he is a team player, he is well worth say three years, $30 million to fill in at first while we restructure the system and team. — Aaron S., Des Moines, Iowa
He’s a “team player” and a “clubhouse leader” who “plays the game the right way!”
CARRIE: You convinced me until your offer.
In fact, I don’t think you have the authority to be throwing around offers AT ALL!
CARRIE: The Cubs would welcome Pena back but only for a one-year deal. Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have both stressed they want to pay for future performance, not past. Pena has hit at least 28 homers in each of the last five years…
Another way of saying that is, “Pena has hit fewer home runs in the last two seasons than he has since 2006, when he played only 18 games.”
CARRIE: …but his batting average and on-base percentage numbers have dropped each year (yes, they did go up slightly last season, but the trend has been down). He also hit .216 with runners on, .175 with runners in scoring position in 2011. Pena is a good defensive player, but he’ll likely only be back if he is willing to accept a one-year contract.
That’ll show those Marlins!
The Cubs are rebuilding, but why not take a chance with Prince Fielder? We need a first baseman. Any reason why we shouldn’t take the chance on a great young player besides the potential huge contract? — Karen B., Jacksonville, Ill.
If they’re going to drop the money that Prince Fielder is going to get, he’d better damn well play better than “a chance.”
CARRIE: That potential huge contract is the No. 1 reason the Cubs would take a pass.
If Fielder was, say, FREE, the Cubs would be interested.
CARRIE: Epstein met with Bryan LaHair in Dallas last week during the Winter Meetings. The Cubs could have used LaHair’s 38-homer season in Chicago.
LaHair is a year and a half younger than Prince Fielder, and has 227 fewer MLB home runs. So, yeah. I GUESS I’d like to see LaHair at first next year.
CARRIE: “We’re not giving [LaHair] the job, and I’m not saying we’re not looking to upgrade at first base,” Epstein said last week. “If it ends up with [LaHair] playing a significant role or getting a significant opportunity, I think we’d all be comfortable with that.”
“Hey, at least it’s not Tyler Colvin.”
Are the Cubs interested in making a change with their closer? They could bring in a new pitcher to close games and move Carlos Marmol back to being the setup man. — Chris L., Des Moines, Iowa
I really, REALLY wish they’d traded Marmol in 2009. But that’s refreshing that we’re actually worrying about a reliable closer being a factor in 2012.
CARRIE: If the Cubs had a closer-in-waiting, that might be an option. Right now, it’s Marmol’s job. Let’s see if new pitching coach Chris Bosio can straighten out Marmol’s mechanics.
And if not, at least it will be exciting seeing how many dudes Carlos drills.
Rather than trade Marlon Byrd, who appears to be a great teammate and mentor to young players, could he be moved to left field? This would allow Brett Jackson to patrol center, David DeJesus in right and have Alfonso Soriano as either the fourth outfielder, or, better yet, a DH on another team. — Scott P., Amherst, N.H.
That’s an expensive fourth outfielder. Also, Jim Hendry has left this roster an absolute disaster.
CARRIE: In his Byrd’s Nest blog post (“Passing the torch,” Sept. 7), Byrd said he’d be willing to move if Jackson was ready for the big leagues. Jackson also has played the corner outfield spots. The Cubs won’t know if Jackson is ready, though, until Spring Training.
Byrd is going to set up a pitching machine and rocket fastballs at Jackson’s face until he’s BIG-LEAGUE READY.
Well, he's not super-white, but he looks pretty gritty.
I was out all day, so I hope I beat all the other blogs to that headline. Jed Hoyer Theo Epstein has made his first signing since joining the Chicago Cubs. Right fielder David DeJesus joins the Cubs to give them the left-handed power that Jim Hendry has sought for YEARS. (HT: Pre) The 32-year-old has spent the majority of his 9-year career in Kansas City, and had a disappointing 2011 season with the Athletics. He’s a career .284/.356/.421 hitter, which makes him about a thousand times better than Tyler Colvin and Tony Campana combined. Plus, he plays a pretty terrific right field. I know everyone was hoping for Epstein to come in and figure out a way to sign both Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder. But it’s the little moves like this that are going to improve the team. Or at least make them watchable until they’re ready to compete. I like it, especially since he comes pretty cheap, according to our good friend PAUL SULLIVAN.
DeJesus to earn $4.25 million each of the next two years, with $6.5 million option and $1.5 million buyout. Affordable and hustles.
Based on two or three different factors, I’m pretty sure DeJesus is NOT related to former Cub Ivan DeJesus. But he’s a welcome addition, anyhow.
There are times when my mind wanders to the question, “What is Kyle Farnsworth doing right now?” Usually, I assume the answer is, “Pouring itching powder into David DeJesus’ jock and giving Mike Aviles a swirly.” But I would have been wrong yesterday. Because yesterday, Farnsworth was getting eaten by his own dogs. Read more
This week’s Muskbag somehow manages to revisit Rich Hill. No one revisits Rich Hill. Rich Hill isn’t even going to have visitors at his house for Thanksgiving. But the Muskbag has all the Rich Hill coverage you could possibly want. Read more