Baseball Toaster Cub Town
Monthly archives: November 2008


Wood Says Goodbye
2008-11-14 13:45
by Phil Bencomo

Kerry Wood, today:

While Wood was understanding about the Cubs' decision, which Hendry said was made in the best interests of Wood and his family, he did say he would've been amenable to staying and "would have done anything" to stay a Cub. The Cubs told him to go get a three- or four-year deal for more money, but Wood said he would've agreed to a one-year deal to stay.

"That was an avenue we kind of approached," he said. "But they've got some issues they've got to take care of, and at the end I wasn't as important as lot of other aspects of the team. (Carlos) Marmol, we all know what he's capable of doing… it is what it is."

If Hendry wouldn't even sign Wood to a one-year deal, then (a) Kerry was asking for too much, (b) the Cubs have serious doubts, even in the short-term, about Wood's health, and/or (c) Hendry is far too altruistic. A combination of (a) and (b) seems very plausible in light of Tribune Co.'s finances and Wood's inherent injury risk. With more important holes to fill and, I'm sure, limited funds, Hendry couldn't justify, however much he'd like to, spending even the minimum salary Wood was asking for.

I don't doubt that Hendry would have liked to resign Wood, but he is a luxury the team cannot afford. Carlos Marmol should do a fine job as the closer, and Kevin Gregg projects to nearly match Wood in 2009 -- without the injury risk. Wood will get a nice multi-year deal from someone, Hendry will upgrade elsewhere, and the Cubs, as a business and team, will be better for it.

Cubs Trade for Gregg, Part with Wood
2008-11-13 16:35
by Phil Bencomo

From the Daily Herald:

The Cubs on Thursday acquired reliever/closer Kevin Gregg from the Florida Marlins in exchange for minor-league pitcher Jose Ceda in a deal that all but ensures Wood's roller-coaster 10-year run with the Cubs is over.

That and the fact the two sides couldn't agree on terms of a possible new contract.

"I think we all feel that Kerry is certainly deserving of a three- or four-year long-term contract," Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said. "He's certainly done everything this organization has asked.

"We're just in a situation, as Kerry fully understands, that that length a deal for the kind of salary he would command right now is not our first priority."

The Tribune adds that Hendry wisely offered a one-year deal, which was, given Tribune Co.'s financial woes and Wood's injury risk, the only reasonable way to bring Wood back. Wood wanted more security and, well, here we are.

Some Cubs bloggers, caught up in their emotions, are cursing Hendry and blatantly ignoring, even when directly challenged, Wood's long-term risks. I understand how they're feeling -- I love Wood, too -- but the Cubs made the right decision.

Best of luck, Kerry, and thanks for the memories.

Award Season
2008-11-12 13:50
by Phil Bencomo

As expected, Geovany Soto was voted the NL's Rookie of the Year, nearly unanimously. I should be surprised that a BBWAA voter gave Joey Votto a first place vote over Soto, but then, this is the same group that gave fourth place to a non-rookie.

* * * *

Announced today, Lou Piniella won his third Manager of the Year award. From

Piniella finished with 15 first-place votes, eight second-place votes and four third-place votes for a total of 103 points, well ahead of the runner-up, Philadelphia's Charlie Manuel, who totaled 67 points.


The team was successful despite beginning the season with a few experiments. For example, Ryan Dempster was switching from closer to starter and ended up winning a career-high 17 games and finishing sixth in the NL Cy Young voting. Kerry Wood was making the transition from starter to closer and finished with 34 saves.

Regarding that last paragraph, I'd say the Cubs had such regular season success partly because of those experiments. Well done, Lou.

* * * *

Update: Zambrano wins a Silver Slugger.

Cuban's Out. Or Not.
2008-11-11 09:02
by Phil Bencomo

The Sun-Times reported Thursday that Mark Cuban has "zero chance" of receiving the approval from MLB necessary to purchase the Cubs. But I'm not convinced.

Consider the source of the speculation: an anonymous "Major League Baseball source." The entire basis for the Sun-Times report is one person whose proximity to Bud Selig or even a single owner is unknown. One would assume that the Sun-Times trusts this anonymous source. Surely this source has proved accurate in the past, if his or her bold statement is enough to prompt a nearly 700-word article. Especially considering that no other relevant MLB sources are quoted.

What's that you say? Look at the lead paragraph?

"And sources close to commissioner Bud Selig sounded an alarm this week..."

Wait a minute. "Sources"? That's plural, right, not a typo? But I thought ... wait ... let me check.

First quote's attribution: "a Major League Baseball source said this week."

That's one source.

Second attribution: "That same MLB source promised..."

That's still one source.

Oh, I see it now. It's those darned copy editors, of course, missing that little mistake. It should read, "another MLB source promised," because we all know that the Sun-Times -- or any media organization, bastions of truth and justice that they are -- would never sensationalize the words of a single unattributed source in order to sell papers, boost traffic and revive a flagging beat that should now provide fodder for at least a week. It's not like newspapers are, you know, starved for attention or anything, ready to sacrifice integrity if it means printing more papers.

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Sarcasm aside, the story, if true, has interesting implications. Sam Zell, saddled with debt, must wring as much cash as he can from the sale of the Cubs. Mark Cuban reportedly bid more than $1 billion and remains interested in purchasing the club, says the Daily Herald. But what happens if MLB blocks a sale to Cuban, who could very well be the high bidder? Craig Calcaterra says a court may have to decide just that:

I have no idea if Mark Cuban still even wants to buy the Cubs, but if he does, he is basically being told that he's going to have to sue to do it. Or, more to the point, he and Sam Zell are going to have to team up to do it. Given that the only court to ever consider the matter has ruled that the anti-trust exemption does not apply to the sale of teams, such a suit stands a good chance of success in my view.

I don't know if, given the Tribune's current financial position, Zell is obligated to go down that road in order to sell to the top bidder. But from what little I do know of such matters, it wouldn't surprise me.

But all of this depends on Cuban being blocked by MLB, which is, whatever one report based on one anonymous source says, not a certainty.

* * * *

The Sun-Times added today that Tribune Co. has set a November 26 deadline for bidders. Zell's still looking for his billion, but the Wall Street Journal says it's slipping away -- along with Zell's plan to keep only a five percent stake in the team. No word on whether Cuban would be willing to buy a minority stake.