Baseball Toaster Cub Town
Monthly archives: July 2006


Maddux to Dodgers
2006-07-31 13:09
by Derek Smart
Again, via MLB Trade Rumors, Ken Rosenthal reports that the Cubs have sent The Professor to Los Angeles. No firm word yet on the return, although CBS Sportsline says it's Cesar Izturis. Reaction to come when certainty arrives (and if you think I got misty over Walker, just you wait).
Jim Hendry Eagerly Awaiting Shipment of Lightly-Used Batting Practice Balls and Shiny, Shiny Beads
2006-07-31 12:57
by Derek Smart

Via the always entertaining MLB Trade Rumors, CBS Sportsline is reporting that the Cubs are about to deal Todd Walker to the Padres. The word on the return swag is that the Cubs are getting Jose Ceda, a 19-year old pitcher from the Padres' Arizona Rookie League squad, who posted a 5.09 ERA over 23 innings, allowing 20 hits, 13 walks, and striking out 31. Beyond that, I know nothing, so anyone with more knowledge, please add to the collective consciousness below.

I feel badly for Todd. I don't think there's been a moment for a year, probably longer, when the organization has treated him with any sort of respect, and now that the team finally sends him on his way, he's going to a club that's likely to drop him headlong into their sucking-chest-wound of a hole at third base - a position Walker hasn't played in the Majors since 1997.

Pardon me if I get a tad misty here, because even though we all have seen this moment coming for months now, I've liked Todd Walker from the moment he arrived, liked him from his mediocre defense, to his solid bat, to his 9:30 shadow. He had his flaws, but I always thought he cared, always thought he worked, always thought he tried, and in the end, that's all that you can ask of a guy. Here's wishing Todd all the luck in the world, and my sincere regrets that it had to end this way.

Monday Thoughts
2006-07-24 08:32
by Derek Smart

Say, I haven't done bullet points for a while. What the hell.

  • If there has been a bright spot this year, it's been the couple of young arms who've come up and shown that, while they may not be up to contributing to a championship squad right now, they look to have the chops to do so down the road. For a team whose aspirations of contention are likely several years away, assuming things go well, knowing that you've got starters who can be a positive part of that, and relatively cheaply, is of tremendous value.

    That is, of course, until they start getting hurt. The bad news is, both Sean Marshall and Carlos Marmol went down with injuries during their starts this weekend. The good news is, neither suffered an arm injury, and both owies appear to be of the freak variety, Marmol's being a bruise of his hand suffered during an at bat, and Marshall's being a strained oblique.

    Naturally, Marshall's is the more worrisome of the two, obliques being the notoriously odd healers that they are, and my big concern is that he could be rushed back, and as a result, suffer a more serious injury as he compensates. I wish I could say I had confidence in the organization's ability to be prudently cautious in these situations, but I think we've all learned better.

  • The sleeper has awakened, indeed. Aramis Ramirez was appalling in the early going, but this weekend served as a punctuation remark on his recent revival. Since June 1st, he's been hitting .293/.346/.569, which is almost exactly what he hit last year (.297/.354/.569), and right in line with his Weighted Mean PECOTA projection of .293/.356/.540.

    The question is, to what purpose? Not that it isn't nicer to watch a ballgame with a real threat of offensive violence on the field, but with the odd out clause in his contract, a significant uptick in his production over the final months of this year increases the possibility that he tests the market this offseason. Would the club re-negotiate an extension to keep him around? Would they let him go? Would they entertain even wackier scenarios?

    My fear here is that the worst-case scenario will happen - that Ramirez will walk, and the Cubs get nothing in return - mostly because of a fear to act. Sure, the Cubs have had a long-standing issue at third base that Ramirez capably eliminates, but if he appears likely to vacate the position anyway, the team has an obligation to figure out how to get actual value for him, rather than quavering in a corner, staying clear of any public backlash (after all, if Aramis heads out, he can be spun as greedy, when the real culprit is the inattentive, inactive front office).

    There is a real need here for the powers that be to do a thorough assessment of the likely outcomes in this situation, and once assessed, to act boldly. Daring, audacious deeds are the only available option that can turn this franchise around, since as we've already seen, the club's fallback action of standing at attention while a stream of fear runs down their collective leg has proven less than effective.

  • The Cubs did get something for Scott Williamson, although the value is dubious, and truth be told, by the time we know whether the parts received in the deal were worth anything, we'll have all forgotten where they came from.

    Normally, I wouldn't be steamed by a deal like this, after all, relievers aren't the precious commodities that some GMs think they are, so to me, getting anything that has potential value down the road for a bullpen part you don't really need and aren't likely to keep around anyway, is at the very least, solid.

    However, we have an example of the power of desperation in the form of the recent Nats/Reds deal that makes me think the Cubs really missed an opportunity. If a couple of relievers and a defense-only shortstop were all it took to nab Austin Kearns and Felipe Lopez, what was preventing the Cubs from offering a similar package?

    Granted, I have no way of knowing if my proposal would have flown, but I'd think that Williamson plus one of Scott Eyre or Bobby Howry in combination with either Ronny Cedeno or (gasp!) Neifi!, could have gotten something done. Maybe throw in an Aardsma or Wuertz while you're at it.

    Okay, so Cedeno isn't defense-only, and Neifi! is a little too defense-only, but you get the idea. The specifics of a proposal aren't important. What matters is that these guys (Kearns and Lopez) were available, would have helped fill some holes in the long and short term for the Cubs, and could have been had on the relative cheap. These sort of opportunities need to be explored and pursued, and while I may not have evidence they weren't, I definitely don't have evidence they were.

State of the Town
2006-07-20 11:25
by Derek Smart

I'm not gone, it just seems that way.

Having been conspicuous in my absence of late, I thought it important to assure those of you kind enough to still occasionally stop by that, despite appearances, none of the following things have contributed to my recent run of silence:

  1. An unfortunate accident involving a box of Kleenex, a fossilized butterfly, and a cement mixer
  2. The ill-advised dumping of 10,000 metric tons of baking soda into Lake Michigan
  3. The ire of the Russian mob
  4. Pixies
  5. Simple Chronic Halitosis
  6. That thing, you know, where you press on the little pit behind your jaw and below your ear, and you hit that nerve and you, like, can hardly see for about five minutes afterward 'cause it hurts so much
  7. Tort reform
  8. The films of John Agar
  9. A diet composed entirely of beer, barbecue sauce, and 'Lil Smokies
  10. Cats

That's not to say there haven't been reasons, but they are of the deathly mundane variety, most having to do with greater than usual time-pressures from work and family life, and a corresponding lack of motivation to overcome them, primarily due to the lackluster state of my chosen subject.

In other words, I've been a busy fella, and since the Cubs as writing material have been, to be diplomatic, an uninspiring group, the thing that's fallen to the wayside when push came to shove has been this little ditty. Sometimes life gets in the way of endeavors such as this one, and that's been the nature of things here in recent days.

That said, I think I'm entering a period of more frequent contribution, even if the principal object of discussion remains a fetid pile of dung. Hopefully, that's good news (the more frequent contributions, not the dung), because even with things as they are, I've missed the work, and even more, the occasional interaction it inspires.

Thanks to those of you who haven't given up on me. I hope to justify that loyalty in the days to come.

Out of Context Theatre
2006-07-13 13:24
by Derek Smart

Jim Hendry, in a piece today on

"You're not going to take that chance and sign a guy for three months and trade away three good prospects," Hendry said.

"However," continued Hendry, "if you're signing a guy for six months, it's totally worth it."

Storm The Castle
2006-07-05 07:33
by Derek Smart

Here's the quote that everyone is likely to focus on today. I'll use the Mouthpiece version:

"I'm evaluating everything," Hendry said. "When you're having this kind of a year … I'm evaluating all situations. When you're 20-plus games below .500 … we certainly want to give us a chance to see if we can make a run here before the break, see if we can do well the rest of the week. I'll spend a lot of time over the break [evaluating], not just the way the [coaching] situation is, but also with your own players."

Here's the reaction of noted intellectual, Phil Rogers:


Jim Hendry has seen this, and he's still evaluating?

It's a red letter day here at Cub Town, because I'm in full agreement with Rogers, as I imagine all vaguely sentient Cub fans are. The idea that Hendry could still be evaluating a season whose tailspin has gone into a tailspin would be laughable if it weren't so unsettling.

Of course, the idea that the evaluation process continues isn't the most egregiously disgusting notion, it's the concept, ridiculous on its face, revolting at its depths, that to "make a run here before the break" could change anyone's mind, that a five-game winning streak could negate the weight of evidence accrued over 83 games of barbarous incompetence - let alone the testimonial rendered by the two previous seasons' failures.

I understand what folks mean when they defend Baker, saying that he isn't the root of the problem, that the awful roster he has to work with is no small part of the bargain, and they're right - this team is not constructed to be successful, no matter who is at the helm.

However, it's no accident that what is now the height of speculation about impending changes in the team's coaching staff coincides, not only with the continuance of a stretch of appalling baseball, but with the arrival in town of the newly resurgent former whipping-boy, Corey Patterson.

This morning's feeding frenzy has as much to do with Good Corey's return to Chicago as anything else. It is the blood in the water, the trigger for the final rounds of denunciation of a coaching staff that has shown time and again that it is incapable of taking potential and molding it into production.

The argument for ridding the team of Dusty and Co. has little to do with the club's current record, and everything to do with their basic failure to understand and utilize their players' skillsets, their abject bungling of the most rudimentary of strategic devices, and most damning of all, what has proven to be a fundamental inability to get young players to the next level - to not only teach when necessary, but to have the patience to do so.

The evaluation process is over. This group of men has failed. If they are not elsewhere by July 14, it's time to storm the castle.