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Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Baseball America Chat and Top 10 

Baseball America just came out with their top ten list of Cub prospects. The list:

1. Angel Guzman
2. Justin Jones
3. Ryan Harvey
4. Andy Sisco
5. Felix Pie
6. Bobby Brownlie
7. Chadd Blasko
8. Brendan Harris
9. Dave Kelton
10. Jae-Kuk Ryu

You have to be a subscriber to access information on 2-10, and I am not.

BA also had a very informative chat with their executive editor Jim Callis about the Cubs farm system. Check it out.

And finally in a sad note, Augie Ojeda was claimed off waivers by Minnesota. Good luck Augie!

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Bye Bye Hee Seop! 

The Cubs best prospect in years was traded along with a PTBNL to the Marlins for Derrek Lee.

I guess if you have to trade Choi, I'd rather have Lee than Richie Sexson, but it's pretty close. Sexson hits more homers, but isn't as good defensively and isn't as fast. This really makes the projected Cubs lineup extremely right-handed and I think this will be a problem for them next season. Lee had his best year of his career last year with .271/.379/.508, 31 HR, 92 RBI and 21 steals. I'm not sure of his contract situation, but he made 4.5 million last year. I believe he is eligible for arbitration, but would assume the Cubs would try and sign him to a multi-year deal. It's a shame Choi never got the chance to prove what he can do with a full time job, but that's Dustyball. Barring another trade, you would think now the Cubs would go after Vina or Castillo just to give their lineup someone from the left side besides Patterson.

I'm glad the Cubs got good value for Choi, but it just shows what young players are thought of on this club. (not much). But, I guess if you're not going to play the guy, get something of value for him in return (and I don't mean Tony Womack). Good luck in Florida, Hee Seop!

Saturday, November 15, 2003

Cubs Notes 

AFL update:

Jason Dubois: .358/.379/.717, 9 HR, 29 RBI, 27 K & 2 walks in 120 AB. 1 error in 20 games.

Brendan Harris: .302/.358/.469, 3 HR, 19 RBI, 12 K & 6 walks in 96 AB. 1 error in 24 games.

Ryan Theriot: .200, 0 HR, 4 RBI, 6 K, 2 BB in 30 AB. 0 errors in 9 games.

Casey Koptizke: .180/.254/.230, 1 HR, 8 RBI, 14 K & 5 BB in 61 AB. 1 error in 20 games.

John Webb: 4-0, 2.42, 26 IP, 27 H, 7 ER, 6 BB, 18 K.

Jason Szuminski: 0-0, 4.19, 19.1 IP, 24 H, 9 ER, 7 BB, 19 K.


Phil Rogers makes up some more stuff. Let's see if this one goes national.



Gammons 

Peter Gammons speculates that the Cubs may be after a left-handed first baseman such as J.T. Snow.

Cubs GM Jim Hendry is looking for a first baseman (preferably left-handed, maybe J.T. Snow), a second baseman unless he brings back Mark Grudzielanek, the re-signing of Kenny Lofton to have a four-outfielder setup and, most of all, two additions to the bullpen.

First of all, the Cubs already have two left handed first basemen: Hee Seop Choi and Randall Simon. Now, if they can dump Simon off on someone and get Snow for one year for insurance for Choi that would be fine. But, if you get Snow and keep Simon, what exactly would that accomplish? Neither one can hit lefties. Snow is one of the best defensive first basemen in the majors. Unless you're talking about a Snow-Karros combination, this would not make any sense. Of course, the thing that makes the least sense is not giving Choi a chance, which is what will happen.

Friday, November 14, 2003

The Indianapolis Cubs 

The indifferent and mostly pathetic sports town that is Indianapolis jumps on the bandwagon! I guess this means that next season when I go into an alleged "Sports Bar" here and ask if they can turn the Cubs game on, I won't get looked at like I'm a complete idiot and/or they tell me they don't get WGN. (Yes, I'm talking about you BW3 Castleton and Champps).

A ONE, A TWO, TAKE ME OUT TO THE ICE GAME
“HEY-HEY” IT’S CUBS APPRECIATION DAY SATURDAY AT CONSECO FIELDHOUSE

INDIANAPOLIS- The Indianapolis Ice is happy to announce that this Saturday will be “Cubs Appreciation Day,” when the Ice battles the Wichita Thunder at 7:00 p.m. from Conseco Fieldhouse.

Cub celebs for the night will be former power-hitting first basemen, Leon “The Bull” Durham and current infield whiz, Ramon Martinez.

“The Bull” played ten big league seasons, but spent the majority of his career with the beloved Cubs. He was the Cubs mainstay at first base from 1981-1988 and amassed 138 home runs and 485 RBI during his eight seasons in the “Windy City.” He set career highs in average (.312), hits (168), doubles (33) and stolen bases (28) during his 1982 season with Chicago and was named to the National League All-Star team in 1982 and 1983. Durham makes his offseason home in Cincinnati, OH and has spent the last three seasons as the Hitting Coach for the Toledo Mud Hens of the International League.

Martinez, a six-year pro, is one of manager Dusty Bakers’ favorite players as he followed Baker from the 2002 World Series Finalist San Francisco Giants to the friendly confines of Wrigley Field. Martinez was arguably the most versatile player on the Cubs roster this season, as he saw action in both the infield and outfield and is a superb defensive player with a career fielding percentage of .978. He has also played in the postseason in three of his last four years (two with the Giants, last season with the Cubs) and is a career .325 batter with runners in scoring position.

The Cubs past and present players will be on hand as the Ice transforms Conseco Fieldhouse into the “Friendly Confines” and attempts to help exorcise the demons of America’s favorite team—the National League Central Division Champion Chicago Cubs.

Wear your Cubs gear and you might be selected to participate in our World’s Biggest Cubs fan contest and get there early and sit in our special $10 Bleacher Bum section. If your name is Sammy Sosa or Ernie Banks, or if you were alive the last time the Cubs won a World Series title (1908), we’ll even let you in FREE!

The night will also include our version of the “7th Inning Stretch” and two lucky fans will win a trip to a Chicago Cubs game next season with a special pre-game lunch at world famous Sluggers.

FA catchers available 

We all know the Cubs have to improve their options behind the plate with only Waterbat unfortunately returning. And just to recap his stellar season: .233/.310/.369/.680 OPS, 9 HR, 36 RBI, 39 BB, 91 K, 15 GIDP in 352 at-bats.

Let's take a look at all the free agent catchers and how they compare to what we have (which isn't much):

Brook Fordyce: Very similar stats to Waterbat last year, except batted 40 points higher, struck out half as much, but also walked half as much. Virtually the same defensive stats, as well. Hit lefties well (.345/.371/.524 in 84 AB), but struggled against righties (.250/.292/.322 in 264 AB). Pretty much a WB clone except Waterbat was consistently bad against lefties and righties. Last year's salary: 3.5 million.

Bill Haselman: A guy that's been around forever, but spent most of 2003 in Pawtucket (.225 6/24 in 280 AB). Hits lefties well (.301 in 529 AB), but can't throw (2 arm surgeries in the last 3 years) and can't hit righties. There seems to be a pattern here.

Sandy Alomar: Good lord, no.

Matt Walbeck: Drafted by the Cubs way back in '87 and traded to Minnesota for Willie Banks in '93. Was named manager of Detroit's A team in West Michigan. Good luck Matt!

Mike Difelice: I sure hope not. (625K last year)

Brett Mayne: Mayne bats left, makes good contact, but is horrible against lefties (.207/.254/.279 the last 3 years). Against righties the last 3 years he's been .267/.332/.347. Not horrible, but not good. Mediocre defender. Threw out 26 of 82 baserunners (31%). Last year's salary: 2.75 million.

Tom Prince: This guy's still around?

John Flaherty: Batted 100 times last year, did nothing, hasn't done anything since '99. 750K last year.

Pat Borders: hasn't batted more than 150 times since '98. 500K last year. And he's 40.

Gregg Zaun: Switch hitter, hits righties (.292/.350/.408, last 3 years) better than lefties (.234/.300/.379, last 3 years), but has all his power against lefties (11 HR vs. 2, last 3). Not a good fielder, but threw out 14 of 30 runners last year. 1.2 million last year.

Brad Ausmus: Good fielder, great arm. Can't hit. .248/.361/.385 against lefties and .238/.290/.316 against righties the last 3 years. 5.5 million last year. I hear he's headed for San Diego.

Keith Osik: Righty, had a good year last year (for him). Hit .378/.465/.514 in only 78 AB against lefties and .225/.319/.289 against righties in 204 AB. Pretty good fielder, threw out 18 of 57 runners. Made 455K last year.

Eddie Perez: Career year last year, .271/.304/.420, but doesn't take a walk (17 in 350 AB). Has hit .293/.328/.423 against lefties the last 3 years in 123 AB. Much less against righties (.246/.278/.373) in 354 AB. Maybe he'll end up where Greg Maddux goes.

Todd Pratt: He's 36 and right handed, but does have a .353 career OBP. Only batted 125 times last year but reached base 40% of the time. Can't throw out anyone (5 of 33) but is a good receiver of the ball. Last year: 850K.

Kelly Stinnett: Bats right, .254/.336/.398 against lefties the last 3 (118 AB) and .239/.316/.402 against righties (348 AB) the last 3. Threw out 9 of 29 runners and is a decent fielder. Last year made 1.3 million.

Joe Girardi: Makes a fine coach.

Chris Widger: No.

Benito Santiago: He's 39, his arm fell off last year (8 of 52), but he can still hit. .313 OBP last 3 years says this wouldn't be an improvement over Waterbat. Let him go.


Well, that's it. Oh wait, I forgot Lopez and Pudge. Well, obviously they're the top 2 available (Pudge #1, Javy #2), but will the Cubs sign one of them? Javy would be a bad idea, coming off a career year, looking for big money and a long contract (he's 33). He's rumored to go out West somewhere. Pudge on the other hand, if he stays healthy, would be the best catcher the Cubs have had in a long time. If you can, I would sign him for 2 or 3 years. He's only 32 and although his arm isn't what it once was, it would be nice to see him in the 2 hole.

So if I were to rank them according to who I'd like...

1. Pudge
2. Javy
3. Ausmus
4. Pratt
5. Osik
6. Mayne
7. Zaun
8. Everyone else.
9. Bako
10. Girardi


There you go! Not much help past the first two. Hopefully, the Cubs can get something done here or by trade or the suffering will undoubtedly continue.

Pierzynski traded 

One of the guys rumored to be coming to the Cubs was instead traded today to the Giants. AJ Pierzynski was dealt for pitcher Joe Nathan and 2 minor leaguers (pitchers Boof Bonser & Francisco Liriano). Nathan had a nice year and was outstanding after the break and will definitely help out the Minnesota bullpen helping them replace Hawkins and Guardado. Too bad, because this guy would have really helped out the Cubs and given them some more balance in the lineup.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Cubs Notes 

Phil Rogers of the Trib thinks the Cubs should trade for A-Rod. His suggestion? Alex Gonzalez, Zambrano, Farnsworth and a couple of the good arms in double A or below for the best player in the game. Obviously, the Cubs being the Cubs are not going to trade for A-Rod but it's a nice fantasy. With this fantasy trade though, they would have to find a way to replace Zambrano and I would be concerned about the prospects they would give up. A-Rod's contract is huge and one wonders if the team would be better off pursuing someone like Tejada and having more money to resign some of their players for the future, especially with the increase in A-Rod's salary in '05 and '06. Peter Gammons said the A-Rod-Manny Ramirez swap has about a 1 in 5 chance of happening and the Nomar for A-Rod rumor was made up on talk radio.

The Cubs are now rumored to be looking at Fernando Vina. Vina's OBP has been horrible and has dropped the last four consecutive years. Grudz is a better fielder and even when he regresses to the player he should be, he would still be a better one year sign. And of course, Cub fans hate Fernando Vina and his silly facial hair.

Hee Seop Choi went 2-3 with 2 runs scored and raised his average to .340 in the Venezuelan League.

Mark Prior finished third in the Cy Young voting behind Eric Gagne and Jason Schmidt.

Out of 1438 random tests, 5 to 7 percent of MLB players tested positive for steroids. I'd like to know if that was 1,438 tests on 1,438 different players, or the same tests on the same group of players. Next year, players that test positive will be identified and won't that be fun!

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Cubs Notes 

A couple of minor items worth a few comments:

Will Ohman was released on 10/31. He was drafted by the Cubs in the 8th round of the '98 draft and compiled a 1-1 record with a 7.80 ERA in 15 innings with the Cubs in 2000-01. He had Tommy John surgery last year and missed all the 2002 and 2003 seasons. Thankfully, his only career victory was against the Cardinals.

Josh Paul was also released. Paul was left off the postseason roster, but did a fine job warming up pitchers in the bullpen in the playoffs. He started the season with the White Sox, got released, signed by the Cubs and went 0-6 in 3 games in September. He'll catch on with someone and get a spring training invite, I'm sure.

Also, Vince Coleman was added to the minor league staff. You can't teach speed, but you can teach how to steal, and Coleman was one of the best. He will work with outfielders, baserunners and the fireworks team.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

AFL update  

Some of the Cubs good young prospects are playing in the Arizona Fall League for the Mesa Solar Sox. Let's take a look at where they stand:

Outfielder Jason Dubois is tearing the league up with an AFL leading 9 HR. He was recently named AFL player of the week and should start next year in Iowa. Brendan Harris, who's been playing third base is batting .318 in 88 at bats. The Cubs should probably be grooming Harris to be a second baseman, but we all know it probably won't matter anyway because if he ever gets to the majors, an 0-4 day will put him back on the bench in favor of The Veteran Who Has Experience. He has played 2 games at second and another 20 at third and has made only one error.

John Webb, a starter/reliever type who played in AA this past year is 3-0, with a 2.57 ERA in 22 innings. More importantly, only 4 walks to 16 strikeouts. {11/12 update: Webb is now 4-0 with a 5 inning, 5 hit, 1 run, 2 walk and 2 strikeout performance yesterday. Webb is on the 40 man roster, so he will be interesing to watch in spring training and AAA}. Ben Christensen, who proves how bad karma works, gave up a few runs in his only appearance so far. After suffering an arm injury, Christensen hasn't really been out of A ball since he's been drafted and his stats have backed that up.

Infielder Ryan Theriot, catcher Casey Kopitzke (who hits like a typical Cubs catcher) and pitcher Jason Szuminski are three of the other Cubs prospects playing for the Solar Sox with less than impressive numbers so far.

You can check out AFL stats for all these guys, here.

Scott Podsednik (and Brandon Webb) get robbed! 

Scott Podsednik of the Brew Crew should be the NL Rookie of the Year. Podsednik, who didn't start to play regularly until the middle of May put up these numbers:

154 games, .314/.379/.443, 9 HR, 58 RBI & 43 stolen bases on a pathetic (except when playing the Cubs) Brewers team.

Dontrelle Willis:

14-6, 3.30 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 161 IP, 148 H, 142 K, 58 BB and batters hit .245 off him. Of course, Dontrell did go 9-1 with a 2.28 ERA before the break and when teams finally got a book on the guy, he went 5-5 with a 4.60 ERA in the 2nd half.

I don't even think Willis was the best rookie pitcher in the NL:

10-9, 2.84 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 181 IP, 140 H, 172 K, 68 BB and batters hit .212 off Brandon Webb of the Diamondbacks. That .212 average against was 3rd in the NL behind Kerry Wood and Jason Schmidt and he carried the Arizona staff when Schilling and the Unit were hurt. Webb also had an amazing 15 starts where he gave up 3 runs or less and either got a no-decision or a loss.

I think many of these media guys cast their votes on hype, not reality. Unfortunately, ESPN doesn't do stories on guys like Scott Podsednik and playing for the Brewers sure doesn't help.


Speaking of the Brewers, I ran across this quote from their president, Ulice Payne on ESPN.com:

President Ulice Payne predicted Oct. 21 that the Brewer will finally break .500 next year. "I believe in our guys and they believe in themselves," Payne told 2,700 fans during a forum at Miller Park. "I believe that momentum will continue on into next season." The Brewers have had 11 consecutive losing seasons and finished last in the NL Central the past two years. Payne compared the Brewers to the Cubs, who were divisional champs this season after losing 95 games in 2002.

Um, Ulice, when you're going to trade your two best players and your payroll is at 30 million, you're probably not gonna get there. Also, I don't think Ben Sheets, Matt Kinney, Doug Davis, Wes Obermuller and Wayne Franklin are Wood, Prior, Zambrano, Clement and Estes. Wait, yes, they are at least as good as Shawn Estes. Oh well, you'll always have good brats.

Monday, November 10, 2003

Hello! 

Welcome to Eat at Joe's-a discussion on baseball, the Chicago Cubs and whatever else I feel like talking about. I will try and update this site daily with information, interesting links and anything I think would be valuable to you, the faithful reader. As for now, this is my first ever try at one of these, but I figure since I make it a daily habit to read so many of these types of blogs, I would see if I could offer some insight by publishing my own. Thanks for reading!

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