Baseball Toaster Cub Town
Return From the Belly of the Beast
2004-12-28 09:15
by Derek Smart

I've had an interesting two weeks.

It all started on the afternoon of the 15th when I began to feel a bit woozy and experience some faint aches. Within 24 hours I had a fever of 103, and muscular pain and weakness that made sitting up for more than 5 minutes at a time an exercise in torture resistance. With no discernable payoff to such activities, I chose to remain recumbent.

Despite my protestations of "Plague!", the doctor informed me that I had textbook influenza, then told me to take the anti-viral prescription he filled out for me, keep popping Tylenol, and get the hell out of his office before I passed the little beasties on to him.

I did as I was told, and within a few days was nearly fully recovered (although, oddly enough, it took another couple of days before I had enough strength in my hands to make typing a bearable endeavor). So, as if my suffering wasn't adequate, just as I was feeling like myself again, Ciepley ate me.

It wasn't a total loss, as I was able to get a quick snapshot off in the name of science.

I have no idea why Gabe Kapler was wearing the uniform from his time in Jacksonville in 1998 (maybe he's been down there all this time, with his doppelganger getting the ring in Boston this year), but he seemed nice enough. He was also very helpful in my escape, although I'll spare you the gory details. I'll just say, Alex is fine, but he'll rue the day he failed to pick Kapler's bat out of his teeth.

In any case, it doesn't look like I missed much during my down time, but there were a couple things worth commenting on, so away we go!

  • The Cubs got around to signing Todd Hollandsworth yesterday for a very reasonable $900K. It could supposedly hit $1.2M if he's on the active roster for a certain amount of time, and according to the AP, go as high as $1.7M if certain performance criteria are met.

    It's good news that the club was able to get things settled with Holly, and not just because of his amazing, unlikely to be repeated pinch-hitting feats last season. It's looking more and more like a free agent left fielder isn't in the cards, and if that's the case, internal options would likely be used, and a platoon of Hollandsworth and Jason Dubois wouldn't be the end of the world.

    Hollandsworth as a reserve is a better idea, but he's a nice insurance policy against right-handers should other options fall through.

  • When you're willing to do something the Mets aren't, it's time to get back on the meds. Apparently Brian Sabean lost his prescription, because he guaranteed the second year that Omar Minaya wouldn't give Moises Alou. Without even getting into the $13M+ he'll be paid over those two seasons, I see a couple of issues.

    First, there's the defense. The Giants now have an everyday outfield of Barry Bonds, Marquis Grissom, and Alou, with Moises getting the nod in right. This would be bad enough were the corners reversed, but having seen Mo throw the last couple of years, I'd say there'll be a lot of guys going first to third on sharply hit singles to starboard. Add in the additional doubles and triples, and you might see some very torqued off pitchers by the bay.

    The other issue I see is that a large amount of Alou's offensive value in 2004 came from his 39 home runs. As we've mentioned before, a disproportionate number of those, and of his production in general, came in Wrigley. Mo's new home had a .899 HR Park Factor in 2004, good for 22nd in the Majors, whereas his old home's 1.329 was second only to the crosstown US Cellular Field in long ball frequency.

    Granted, single year Park Factors aren't truly indicative of long term trends, but it certainly helps in this instance to point out a potentially devaluing factor. I know he's playing for his dad, but toss in Mo's age and general pissiness (double entendre intended, thanks!), and this looks like a risky signing at best.

It's good to be back, gang. I hope everyone had/has a wonderful holiday, and here's to the hope that the coming year brings us all some good cheer in the form of the World Champion Chicago Cubs.

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