Baseball Toaster Cub Town
Baseball Content After the Jump
2006-01-01 18:46
by Derek Smart

As I begin writing this Sunday evening, my daughter is playing with her favorite Christmas present, which she only got yesterday. We go to Oregon every year to visit all the grandparents over the holiday, and as a result, much of what the toddler received was going to be shipped, rather than shoved into seventeen separate suitcases (the grands do like to go overboard) and left to the whims of airport baggage handlers.

Anticipating this, my wife and I planned to wait until after we got back to purchase the large "toy" item we intended to give her (storage is at a premium in our condo), thus hoping to lessen the impact of missing things that she had become attached to during the trip out west, and with our schedules and automobile situation being what they were (the battery was dead when we got back), Saturday was the first chance we had to hit a store.

We had decided a while back to get her a riding toy (some sort of plastic contraption that she would sit on like a bike, but would cause to move with the Flintstones-style pushing of her feet). It was a need manifested by her intentionally sitting on various things as if she would pilot them around the room, a behavior which only increased during our stay in Oregon - "Uh... your daughter's riding Noah's Ark again." Clearly, it was time.

When we got to the store we found a number of choices, settling upon this model, as she's fascinated by farm things at the moment, and with all the "Little People" items she received from others, it fit into the gestalt. What we neglected to notice in our rush to supply our daughter with a toy we thought she would enjoy, was that this rider not only performed the basic function, it also made noises. Musical noises. Loud musical noises. So loud as to drown out your thoughts of killing the scurvy bastard who thought it was okay to manufacture this thing without volume controls or an on/off switch.

Naturally, she adores it.

So if, in the days and weeks to come, you notice phrases creeping into my work having to do with circling a red barn, or how I love all the animals on the farm, or if you hear tell of me curled up in a ball, rocking in a corner like Leo Mazzone on a crack binge, all the while covering my ears and yelling "You know where you can stick that chicken coop, buddy!" you'll at least know why.

On the baseball side, I haven't done bullet points in a long time, so with me sans subject matter for a longer post, what better time than now to break out an old friend.

  • There's been some rumble about the Cubs offering a deal to Marquis Grissom, but buried at the bottom of this Tribune piece from Saturday is the fact that it should be a non-guaranteed contract. A deal that gave Grissom a roster spot and actual money would be one of many cherries on top of the &#$! sundae that has been the Cubs' offseason, but an NRI isn't so bad. He had a number of injury issues last season, and if those are healed, he could be a reasonable center field backup, as well as a theoretical platoon parter for Jones, since he's done a good job of hitting lefties throughout his career.

    Sure, there's a possible issue that if he made the team he could take away time from Matt Murton in left, being a veteran and all, but the good news on that score is that, while he was most recently a Giant, he was never a Giant during Dusty's watch, so he doesn't have the advantage of being one of "Dusty's Guys." In any case, it's an okay flyer to take, as long as he's viewed entirely as a spare part or outfield depth to be stashed in Iowa.

  • The Grissom thing brings up an interesting question, though, which is what qualities must be possessed by someone who can be the very necessary platoon parter for Jacque Jones, while not posing a realistic threat to the playing time of Matt Murton? I think it's a very narrow band that we're dealing in, as he has to be good enough to get deployed as intended, being useful in that regard, yet not so good as to tempt Baker into starting him after Murton's first 0 for 10 stretch.

    Someone like Craig Wilson doesn't fit, because Dusty wouldn't use him for the same reasons he seldom used Wilson's younger allegory (I think I just paid a royalty to Bill Conlon), Jason DuBois. Guys whose only major offensive capability is hitting lefties for power while striking out a ton and mucking up defensive plays of all shapes and sizes aren't going to get work in Baker's lineup.

    Which is why I'm somewhat heartened by the Cubs' supposed interest in Eduardo Perez, who I think fits the bill perfectly. Think of him as the right-handed version of John Mabry, if John Mabry were a better player. Perez can man all four corners like Mabry, only he's better at every position, and over the last three years he's hit lefties to the tune of .288/.397/.561/.958 (his work in that time against righties, though - .239/.303/.351/.654 - explains why he won't be starting for anyone).

    Getting Perez would be a pickup that, while far from redeeming the Jones signing, would at least make it easier to swallow. It would also be a strange but fitting moment in an offseason that's completely backwards, as my previous read on Hendry has been that he does good work on the big stuff, but misses the boat on things like the bench. Bringing Perez on board would be the second useful addition to the bench (and the third useful move, if one counts the Macias DFA) in a winter where nearly everything else has gone wrong. Curiouser and curiouser.

    UPDATE: Well, there goes that. According to the St. Petersburg Times, Perez signed a deal with the Indians to do for Ben Broussard what he could have done for Jacque Jones. Opportunity lost. A small one, granted, but another in what is becoming an ever longer line.

  • As long as I'm at least peripherally speaking of the Jones signing, let me be clear that I've taken absolutely no pleasure or solace from some of the equally bad or worse outfield deals that have gone down since. Do I think the Cardinals signing Juan Encarnacion to essentially the same deal as Jones was a worse move? Absolutely. Was the Orioles inking of Jeromy Burnitz to a two-year, $12M deal incredibly silly? Of course. But until you can explain to me how those other deals make the Cubs a better team - not just make their competition worse, but make the Cubs themselves better - I'll continue to be unmoved by the stupidity of others.

  • It appears the Pirates are interested in signing Sammy Sosa as an upgrade in right. Not only is it sad that a player of Sosa's previous stature might be reduced to being a cross-your-fingers, say-a-prayer, second-choice-after-Eric-Byrnes style upgrade on the likes of Craig Wilson and Jody Gerut, but think of the daily scene in the locker room as Sosa is minding his own business, getting dressed, and he inevitably spots Solomon Torres. I hope Brad Henderson has experience with treating post-traumatic stress disorder.

Just a quick heads up: no guarantees here, but I've started a kinda-non-baseball, yet at least baseball-inspired project that I might put portions of on this site on occasion, particularly during the rest of the offseason. I'll try to be obvious about it so that those of you who find yourselves uninterested - which may well be all of you - can detour around it, but I hope to have something up in the next week or two. Assuming I actually get it going, it'll be something of an experiment for me, so I thank you in advance for your patience and indulgence.

2006-01-01 23:54:05
1.   Ken Arneson
I can sympathize. My house is cluttered with literally hundreds of Little People. And dozens of other various related buildings and vehicles, including that Noah's Ark. But fortunately, not that ride-on toy.

I thought that now that my youngest was in kindergarten, we'd be done with them, but alas, she received a brand new set of Little People farm animals for Christmas.

2006-01-02 17:56:43
2.   Voxter
Has it occured to you that Grissom may come reccomended by Dusty's Guys, thereby acquiring a de facto Stamp of Approval from Great Father Baker?
2006-01-03 13:14:01
3.   Derek Smart
"I thought that now that my youngest was in kindergarten, we'd be done with them, but alas, she received a brand new set of Little People farm animals for Christmas."

Ah, so it never ends, then. Good to know. I'll get my room in the psych ward reserved post-haste.

"Has it occured to you that Grissom may come reccomended by Dusty's Guys, thereby acquiring a de facto Stamp of Approval from Great Father Baker?"

It has, but then I like my blinders. They're purty, and comfy, too.

2006-01-04 14:22:43
4.   hernan
what's wrong with a jones/grissom platoon in RF? it could be OK offensively (at least close to league average), and it will significantly improve the team in the 2 areas that were most lacking in 2005: defense and baserunning. by the way, grissom's 2004 splits against lefties and with runners on base look great.

now, if Dusty gets Jones in the lineup against lefties, or Grissom against righties (replacing Murton)... we could have a long year. and it would be real stupid to underestimate Dusty's "ability" to get "proven veteran good guys who simply suck" in the lineup consistently.

do you guys have info. on cedeno's and/or murton's performances in winter baseball? PLEASE some god, spirit, energy field, or something...persuade Hendry away from getting another SS. from what I've seen, read and heard, Cedeno has a chance to become the next Michael Young (last stats I saw had him hitting .355 in venezuela).

happy new year everyone!

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