Write Derek at drksmart @ gmail.com
Write Phil at phil.bencomo @ gmail.com
by Derek Smart
I haven't done anything with bullets for a while, and Fridays just seem so right for such beasts. Ready! Aim! Fire!
Buried in both the Daily Herald's and Sun-Times' articles on the Pierre and Ohman signings, is the small but interesting news that the club is close to agreement on a minor league deal with none other than former Cardinal, Jason Simontacchi.
There's little doubt in my mind that he not only won't make the club, but barring multiple simultanious injuries during the season (not far from the realm of the possible, I know, but it's only February, so allow me a small window of time when I don't have to ruminate on such unpleasantries), he won't sniff the 40-man all year.
Still, with Simontacchi at least nominally in fold, that makes for quite a few shoulder surgery rehab projects the club has this season. A couple of years ago, signing Tommy John convalescents was baseball's new black, and now it seems that injured elbows are being themselved out of the picture by scrapped shoulders. Oh, Chris Carpenter! Look what thou hath wrought!
I think it's interesting to watch the evolution of Todd Walker's status over time. First, his deal is re-upped and he's on the block; next, he's not even listed by Jim Hendry when speaking of middle infield depth; then, he's mentioned by Dusty Baker as the likely starter at the keystone; and now he's repeatedly mentioned as being one of the three men who will compete for the job come Spring.
It seems to me that the club had a lot of confidence going into the offseason that they'd be able to trade Walker alone, or in a package, for something that they actually wanted, and now that they've been unable to drum up the kind of interest they'd hoped for, there's some serious backpedaling going on.
I find it odd that, after the debacle of dealing Sammy Sosa, where sherpas plying their lonely trade in the Himalayas knew how desperate the Cubs were to dump him, the team wouldn't manage to be a little more circumspect about trumpeting their intentions regarding Walker (and, of course, Corey Patterson). The lesson's there to be learned, gentlemen. I suggest you get to your books.
Anyone else into these? A friend of mine at work has done me the great (dis)service of wakening my inner nerd's inner nerd, and by the beginning of next week I'll be the owner of this, this, and this, with my eyes already on this and this, once they become available. Nothing like adorning one's cubicle with children's toys to signal to your co-workers "Don't Touch!"
A while back, I requested predictions for the kind of dollars the Cubs' arb-eligible players would settle on, offering as incentive the always inviting, "People's Ovation and Fame Forever." Your response was as generous as the prize, and while there are a maximum of three of you who likely care (and I imagine I'm overestimating even then), I'm still going to take a moment to relate the current state of things. The standings, gentlemen, with our predictions and their overall distance from reality in thousands of dollars:
So, as it stands, I actually have a theoretical lead in this little ditty. The problem is, there was actually one other player we all submitted figures for, who has yet to have his day. Here are the numbers we all put forth on that score.
For those of you who don't recall, the Cubs' submitted figure was $6M, while Zambrano's was $7.2M. That means (and I'll spare you all the formulations, as I imagine you can do them yourselves), despite the current standings, that the sin of underestimation in Big Z's case has removed myself and Uncle Charlie from the ranks of the competitive, and Will's previous overshooting has rendered even an "arb win" fruitless.
Therefore, I implore you all, People, to heap your Ovation and Fame upon none other than The Boar, for he hath predicted far better than we. Congratulations, Boar, and long live your financial stylings!