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Bits 'N Pieces
by Derek Smart
As the deadline to offer arbitration to free-agents looms, things are starting to gain some clarity in Cubland. Of course, with this clarity comes my insatiable need to comment. Here are some things that caught my attention this morning.
Were I imbued with greater intestinal fortitude I could let this pass on by, but you know, I'm not that strong. From today's Sun-Times:
Free-agent left fielder Moises Alou was bitterly disappointed to hear from the Cubs on Monday that they had decided not to sign him to a reduced contract or offer him salary arbitration
"I thought at least they'd make an effort to sign me to something fair. I'm very disappointed. I'm upset to know they didn't want me. How do you let a guy go who led the team in RBI and home runs last year? I got [roughed up] by the business of baseball."
"I want to thank the Cubs for giving me three of the best years of my career. Usually guys that change teams all the time are considered guys with bad attitudes or lousy people. Ask other people: I'm a good guy who gives all he has, and I wanted to stay in a city with great fans and great neighborhood bars."
Great neighborhood bars? Sure, there are a ton of them here, but it strikes me as a lousy reason for a professional baseball player to stay in particular city. Granted, his comment allows me to add a third level of meaning when I say that Alou seems "pissed", so I appreciate it on an aesthetic level, if not a practical one.
Alou may be liked, even loved by his teammates, but he's pretty much worn out his welcome in Chicago. If he was only whiny that would be tolerable, but he's a lousy defender who runs the bases poorly, doesn't hit much outside of Wrigley Field, and will be 38 next year. That's not a guy I want to see the Cubs invest in, even for one year. Thanks for the memories, Moises, but it's time to move on.
Everything was making fantastic sense to me until I hit Bako's name. Isn't there a backup catcher around to whom Greg Maddux is comfortable throwing who also happens to bring a bat to the game? Or failing that, a better glove and arm?
I have nothing personal against Gabor, he seems nice enough, but he's also a thoroughly replaceable talent. If you read the Transaction Guy regularly, you'll notice that Christian has a thing about the money reserve backstops get paid, and I'm right there with him. Offering arbitration to a player like that, even if you're going to strike a deal before going to hearing (which they almost certainly will) makes no sense, and when he gets paid nearly $1M next year (he made $865K in 2004), it'll make even less.
I'm going to keep my comments about the theoretically impending deals for Nomar Garciaparra and Todd Walker minimal until they are an undeniable reality. However, hearing that both of these names should be on the Cubs' roster by day's end lifts a considerable weight from my heart, defensive liability aside.
It also would make me a little less wary of Neifi! (only a little, though), as starting two leather-challenged middle infielders suddenly gives the no-hit glove-man a purpose in the late innings. However, I'll say it again, if Neifi! starts more than 20 games next year, something has gone horribly wrong.