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Vine-Line Tid-bits, October 2004

Sunday, October 31, 2004

This should have been "Vine-Line Tid-bits, November 2004

The Chicago National League Ball Club, inc. (a.k.a Chicago Cubs) publishes a monthly magazine named "Vine-Line." On the average, the magazine is a waste of money for subscribers, who are typically treated to articles with little substance, written by authors dependent on the team for their employment. The fact that the magazine is owned by the team it covers should give you a good idea as to how independent the magazine is from the team.

Anyhow, despite largely being a company mouthpiece, Vine-Line's typically have some interesting information that is relevant to Cubs fans. Today, I begin what will be a regularly occuring post highlighting some of the relevant information available in the month's issue of Vine-Line.

Page 4: Roster Tracker - The magazine officially lists the contract status of all men on the 40 man roster as of the end of the 2004 season.

Under Contract
  • Joe Borowski, contract ends 2005
  • Ryan Dempster, contract ends 2004 with team option for 2005 (which has since been picked up)
  • Mark Grudzielanek, contract ends 2004 with team option for 2005 (which was not excersized... the club paid Grudz a $250,000 buyout, and Grudz is now eligible to be a free agent)
  • LaTroy Hawkins, contract ends 2005 with a club option for 2006.
  • Derrek Lee, contract ends 2006.
  • Greg Maddux, contract ends 2005, with an automatic vesting option for 2006 if Maddux pitches 187.1 innings in 2005.
  • Mark Prior, contract ends in 2006.
  • Mike Remlinger, contract ends in 2005
  • Sammy Sosa, contract ends in 2005, with a club option for 2006 (this option is automatically vested if Sosa is traded)
  • Kerry Wood, contract ends 2006, with a mutual option for 2007.
Eligible for Free Agency -The Cubs must determine by Dec. 7 whether to offer these players arbitration. If the Club offers the player arbitration, the player may accept, in which case his salary is determined by an independent arbitrator (the Cubs have not had an arbitration case in 10 years, as it is team policy to settle contracts before this process). If the player declines the arbitration offer, he is a free agent, but cannot resign with his club until May 1. The same is true if the club does not offer arbitration. The Club has an incentive to offer arbitration to players they are interested in because the team receives a compensatory draft pick in June for some free agents who leave, and it also extends the time allowed for negotiations.
  • Moises Alou (Vine-Line doesn't explain why Grudz, who had a team option similar to Alou was listed as under contract, while Alou was listed as eligible for free agency. However, the end result is that the Cubs have declined both options, and paid Alou a $2.5 million buyout to avoid an $11 million salary in '05).
  • Paul Bako
  • Matt Clement
  • Nomar Garciaparra
  • Tom Goodwin
  • Ben Grieve
  • Todd Hollandsworth
  • Ramon Martinez
  • Kent Mercker
  • Neifi Perez
  • Glendon Rusch
  • Todd Walker

Eligible for Arbitration: Players Eligible for Arbitration are unsigned for 2005 and have logged between 3 and 6 years of big-league service. The deadline to tender contracts to such players is Dec. 20.

  • Michael Barrett
  • Kyle Farnsworth
  • Jose Macias
  • Corey Patterson
  • Aramis Ramirez
  • Carlos Zambrano

"0-3 Men": Players in the 0-3 category are unsigned, but are not allowed to sign with other teams unless the team doesn't tender them a contract (deadline is Dec. 10). Essentially, the Cubs can pay these players any amount they desire, provided it is above the league minimum which was $300,000 in 2004.

  • Ronny Cedeno
  • Jason Dubois
  • Angel Guzman
  • David Kelton
  • John Koronka
  • Jon Leicester
  • Richard Lewis
  • Sergio Mitre
  • Will Ohman
  • Renyel Pinto
  • Carlos Vasquez
  • Todd Wellemeyer
  • Michael Wuertz

More Vine-Line Tid-bits Please!

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Washington Baseball

Friday, October 29, 2004

The Expos franchise was awarded to the city of Washington DC on Wednesday, September 29, 2004. The team currently does not have a name, although the Washington Senators is probably a strong contender. On the other hand, this being the 3rd franchise to play in Washington, I would support a different name. (The current Minnesota Twins were the Washington Senators from 1901-1960, and the current Texas Rangers were the Washington Senators from 1961-1971.)

So far, Major League Baseball has only decided to move the team to Washington. It hasn't sold the team. As a result the franchise is still the Expos, although undoubtably the new owners will select a new team name.

Washington's Mayor Anthony Williams has gone on record as wanting the team to be called the "Grays." While I wouldn't mind that name (referring to the old negro league team), I want to suggest something new.

I believe the new team should be called the "Washington Justice." I think the name would be cool, would give the team a fresh start, and would have fantastic marketing potential. (Just think about the potential: The gavel chop... fans sitting on "the bench"... senior citizens discounts, etc.

OK, moving on to the actual reason for this post: I believe that MLB would be well advised to have the Expos and Devil Rays switch leagues. First, Washington has traditionally been an American League city. Switching the Expos/Senators/Grays/Justice to the AL would create an instant rivalry with the Baltimore Orioles, that would actually help both teams. Similar to moving the Milwaukee club to the National League, the Orioles and Washington club would sell additional tickets when they play each other. And they could play each other about 18 times a season if both teams were in the AL East. Furthermore, Washington's proximity to New York, and Boston, and the rest of the AL East (in comparison to Tampa Bay) would foster some additional rivalries.

Moving the Devil Rays to the National League would give a failed franchise with no hope, a fighting chance. The D-Rays are decidedly poor and have no hope of ever competing in a division with the Yankees, Red Sox, Orioles, and Blue Jays.

Below is a table showing the Devil Ray's annual payroll for each year since they were an expansion franchise in 1998. In every year, except 2000, the Devil Rays have had the smallest payroll by at least $10 million. Furthermore, when comparing them to the average payroll of the other four teams, the D-Rays have only come within $30 million of the rest of the division once.

Year
Tampa Payroll
Non- Tampa AL East Avg Payroll
Difference
Next Highest Payroll
2004
$29,556,667
$103,283,196
$73,726,529
$20,460,333
2003
$19,630,000
$94,460,704
$74,830,704
$31,639,000
2002
$34,380,000
$92,913,116
$58,533,116
$26,113,487
2001
$56,980,000
$93,284,629
$36,304,629
$17,299,540
2000
$64,407,910
$75,913,281
$11,505,371
-$18,044,578
1999
$37,812,500
$69,708,601
$31,896,101
$10,352,833
1998
$25,317,500
$58,407,508
$33,090,008
$23,097,500

All of this is to say, by moving the Washington Expos into the American League, and the Devil Rays into the National League, you would create two natural rivalries where none currently exist (Expos and Orioles, and Marlins and Devil Rays). MLB could strengthen 4 franchises, and help a team which is quickly turning into MLB's version of the Los Angeles Clippers.

ESPN.com also had a good article about the Expos move to Washington.


I'm apparently turning into a regular Cub Chronicler. Some news and notes from around the Bigs.

That's why they're the Brewers.
From: Despite Fat Wallet, no Trophy again" by Phil Rogers
Chicago Tribune, Oct. 24, 2004
Misnomer

To call the roof at Miller Park "retractable" has become debatable. Because of ongoing problems that cannot be repaired until after the 2005 season, the Milwaukee Brewers will have to limit the number of times they open and close the roof next year.

Engineering experts say the flawed system risks becoming inoperable every time it is opened or closed. "We have a patient on life support," said Mike Duckett, executive director of the Miller Park stadium district. "We will keep the patient alive until we get a transplant."

After next season, the two-wheel system that was installed during construction will be replaced with a four-wheel system at a cost of more than $10 million.

Steve Ethier, the stadium operations manager for the Brewers, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the team will be "creative" to limit the number of times the roof is opened and closed.

"I don't think we will get to the point where we will have to keep it open all of the time or closed all of the time," he said.

The stadium district has filed a claim with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries of America seeking $44 million in damages. Mitsubishi countered with a claim arguing that construction of the roof cost the company $133 million, $87 million more than the initial $46 million deal. That case is scheduled to go to trial in January.

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Steve Stone Resigns as Cubs WGN broadcaster

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Steve Stone resigned today. Chicagosports.com is running this letter from Stone to Cubs fans.

Dear Cubs fans:

Since I put on a Cubs uniform in 1974, I've seen lots of Cubs history. There has been heartache and joy, agony and ecstasy, not to mention 21 managers and 10 general managers.

Through all of these years and more than a few broadcast partners, I have always felt a strong connection to the greatest, most loyal fans in baseball, Cubs fans.

My love for the city of Chicago and the people who came to beautiful Wrigley Field has been a constant. Over three million of you Cubs fans came to the ball park in 2004 and the TV ratings showed you watched the Cubs broadcasts in staggering numbers.

Unfortunately, the 2004 season did not end as we had hoped. It was devastating for all of us who invested our hearts, our time and in many cases our lives, in the hopes and dreams of the Cubs winning a world championship.

I am sure you have read many things about this past season and my involvement in one or two controversies. However, you have never heard my story or my perspective of the events that have brought us to this point in time.

As has always been my personal policy, it is not my intention to divulge the content of private conversations I've had with others. Likewise, I do not want to be forced into sharing my side of the story.

I came to Chicago on the high road with my credibility and integrity. Thirty years later, I choose to leave the same way.

The phrase I used that angered certain people was "I regret nothing." Well folks, I was wrong about that and want to set the record straight. I regret I won't be calling another Cubs game on WGN-TV for the greatest fans in baseball... the fans of the Chicago Cubs.

It's been a great ride. I will never forget you. Most importantly, I thank you all for every minute of happiness, you, the fans have given me.

Best regards,

Steve Stone

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A-Rod Redux

February 19, 2004: "We understand that John Henry must be embarrassed, frustrated and disappointed by his failure in this transaction. Unlike the Yankees, he chose not to go the extra distance for his fans in Boston. It is understandable, but wrong that he would try to deflect the accountability for his mistakes on to others and to a system for which he voted in favor. It is time to get on with life and forget the sour grapes."-George Steinbrenner
LINK
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Bye, Bye, Bambino

Sports Illustrated was right way back in Spring Training. Hell Froze over tonight, and the Red Sox took their first World Series Title since Shoeless Joe Jackson played for the White Sox.

Since I was apparently in the minority of Cubs fans (most wanted the Red Sox to break their curse... somehow believing this will help the Cubs do likewise), I will have to begrudgingly congratulate the Red Sox. They were clearly the best team in this post-season, and probably during the year as well.

I also would like to tell Cardinals fans out there that they had one heckuva team, and hopefully they will divest themselves of Edgar Renteria this offseason.

I was talking to Cardinal Fan Friends Matt and Brad today... and we were working on a deal. I wanted to give them D. Lee, A. Ram, and Sammy for Pujols, Rolen, and Walker... they countered with Woody for Wood(y), Morris for Prior, and I insisted they throw in Steve Kline... talk-radio trades aside... my sympathies go out to Cardinal fans... getting swept sucks.

Prediction Review: I bombed. I missed both ALDS series, the ALCS, and the World Series. However, I called both NLDS and the NLCS... plus I get bonuses for correctly identifying the number of games in the NLDS. Still, I missed 4 of 7 series... which isn't so hot.

And finally, I promise a substantive post this weekend... hopefully I'll finish up my playoff salary review. This week has been a busy one down in my student world, and exams, projects, papers, and interviews have kept me busy.

Posted by Byron at 1:15 AM | Comments (0) | Bookmark and Share | | BallHype: hype it up!

Congratulations Red-Birds!

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Well, the St. Louis Cardinals and the Houston Astros just finished a series that was just as good as the Yankees, Red Sox series which concluded yesterday.

The final score was 5-2, and included some nifty small ball by the St. Louis ballclub. The Astros, played a good series, but this one ended where it belonged... a victory for the St. Louis Cardinals. In fact, the home team won every game this series.

So, the World Series matchup is set... the St. Louis Yankees (as they have been called here throughout this season) will be facing off against the Red Sox... and I will guarantee this to be one of the greatest World Series since 2001... at least.

Both the Cards and Red Sox have suprisingly good pitching, and offenses which can make that pitching a moot point. This series is going to be great. I predict the Cardinals will win in 7.

However, not to dampen any St. Louis optimism out there, but I observe this: The last team to win a World Series without defeating the New York Yankees in the post-season was the 1997 Florida Marlins...

I sure wish the Cubs had made it this year. The electricity at Busch tonight was unreal. Also, I want to encourage my readers to stop by Brian Gunn's Red-Bird Nation.

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Bling Bling I

The Yankees, Red Sox series that just ended was one of the most exciting series I have ever seen (nothing beats the 2001 World Series though). Anyhow, watching some of the star power on the field... I got to thinking about the player salaries for teams making the playoffs. So, some figures: My Source

Sum of player salaries on the playoff roster

  • Yankees - $164 million, $6.56 million average
  • Red Sox - $116 million, $4.46 million average
  • Cardinals - $92.4 million, $3.70 million average
  • Angels - $87.7 million, $3.25 million average
  • Braves - $87.4 million, $3.65 million average
  • Dodgers - $80.6 million, $2.98 million average
  • Astros - $60.1 million, $2.40 million average
  • Twins - $52.2 million, $1.86 million average

Some of the higher priced players not on playoff rosters included Jason Giambi ($12.5 million), Hideo Nomo ($9.0 million), Aaron Sele ($8.7 million), and Andy Pettitte ($5.5 million).


Well, the research for this post took entirely too long... and my shift at work is over. Time to go home and watch the Cardinals and the Astros play each other in game 7!

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Its a great day to be a long-distance Cubs fan!

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Read below for exciting Playoff News... but something better than a Yankees, Red Sox game happened today in the World of Baseball!

According to the associated press (via ESPN.com), Major League Baseball will be announcing a deal with XM satellite radio tommorrow (actually later today). All MLB games will be available over XM now. This is awesome news for fans living outside of their home team's radio coverage areas. MLB has made fantastic strides in making its product available online, but who wants to tote a computer around to listen to a baseball game? (Not to mention the blackout restrictions on the MLB.tv are so restrictive, they make the package virtually worthless for those living in the area of the team, but outside the television area... I am 5 hours from the Cubs. I can't get Fox Sports Chicago here, but I can't watch the games on the computer because I am in the Cubs home area. The blackout restrictions are draconian! and completely defeat the purpose of having the package (except for the ability to go back and watch games after they are over.)) (enough parenthetical comments?)

WHEW! The above paragraph turned into one violent rant. Anyhow, the term of the deal appears to be an 8 year $470M contract with MLB options of $60M for three additional years. This translates into about $2M more per team each of the next 7 years. (There is probably no chance in heck that baseball will pick up the option for the last 3 years.) Also, on re-reading the story, it does not appear like this is an exclusive agreement between MLB and XM... thus maybe Sirrius will also end up signing a deal as well... Its a great day to be a long-distance Cubs fan!

From: MLB - Report: XM Satellite Radio signs deal with MLB
Associated Press, Tuesday October 19th, 2004

"The deal would be worth $470 million in cash over eight years, with Major League Baseball having the option to extend the arrangement by up to three additional years at $60 million per year. That would make the deal potentially worth up to $650 million."


Second, whoa! The Red Sox won AGAIN! tieing the series with the Yanks at 3. MLB.com says that this is the first time a baseball team has rallied from 3 down to even a series at 3. (I also believe no team has ever come back from a 3-0 hole to win a 7 game series in any major sport.)

Curt Schilling, torn ankle tendon and all, went 7 strong innings to set the stage for a game 7 at Yankee stadium. I don't especially care for the Yankees Red Sox rivalry too much, but post season games between these two teams... especially game sevens promise to be a night of baseball to be remembered.

Of course, this is too bad for NBC, who waited a long time to premiere 'The West Wing'... only to have the season premier go head to head with the Yanks & Red Sox. (My reader's don't know yet... but I used to love 'The West Wing' for the first two seasons. Then, after September 11, 2001 the whole show fizzled, and now its bad, but I watch for sentimental sake.) Anyhow, the West Wing will have one less viewer tommorrow night.

In other news, the Astros and Cardinals will be playing game 6 at 4 eastern (3 central) tommorow. The Astros currently lead 3-2... and I'm hoping they don't win. I HATE THE ASTROS SO MUCH!

A question: If the Cardinals and Astros play a 14 inning thriller, do you think Fox will wait til the 9th inning to pick up the Yanks & BoSox?


Update: 1:18 A.M. CST

Although I typically try to keep to baseball, this article is so interesting I had to come back and update this post. Apparently, Malcolm Glazer (the owner of the Tampa Bay Bucanneers) who tried to purchase the Dodgers last year has purchased about 12% of the Manchester United in the last 3 days, running his ownership stake up to 28.11%. It appears that he may be attempting a hostile takeover of the famous soccer (futbol) team. According to Brittish law, if he acquires a 30% ownership interest, he must offer to buy-out the remaining owners.

Now this is pure speculation, but Glazer's attempt to purchase the Dodgers hit a snag because he didn't have the liquidity required by the NFL to purchase the Dodgers (If mememor serves me correctly). Thus, unless Glazer has freed up a tremendous amount of liquid assets in the last year... Glazer will probably stop short of the 30% threshold.

Despite the significant stake he has recently acquired (he spent about $108M since last Friday), Glazer remains the #2 stockholder, behind 2 'Irish Horse Owners' who have a company called Cubic Expression (28.9% ownership). Glazer first purchased a stake in the company in March 2003.

Some other interesting tidbits: If an owner controls 50% of the team, he can set the board, and if the owner acquires a 75% stake, he can take the company private (force the others to sell them the company.) Of course, the Cubic Expression gentlemen can keep Glazer from reaching the 75% level if they so desire.

The Long and Short of it is this: Read the Article!

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Now that's a suprise

Monday, October 18, 2004

So, Julian Tavarez breaks a bone in his non-pitching hand during the NLCS because he threw a tantrum after a bad outing... No Way! Julian Tavarez? Never would have guessed.

What do you think Kevin Brown will do to top it?

In other news, the Red Sox are down late to the Yankees again. It looks like the Yanks will be making another trip to the series... looks like 7 of 9 since 1996... disgusting.

Update: 10:37 p.m. Well, in their second consecutive 'classic' game, the Red Sox came from behind to win again. Tonight's game went 14 innings with David Ortiz driving in Johnny Damon from 2nd, to win the game. The final score was 5-4, and the Red Sox now trail the Yanks 2 games to 3.

The Astros won their third straight game, on a 3 run walk off home run by Jeff Kent in the bottom of the ninth. The final score was 3-0, and the game featured an 8 inning, 1 hit outing by Brandon Backe (Woody Williams went 7 shutout innings too... but losers don't get the headline.) The Astros now lead the series 3-2.

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Rodan vs. Big Choi

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Earlier this year, I started each month with a recurring post comparing the Hee Seop Choi for Derrek Lee trade. I believe I stopped in August, due to my vacation... and never revisited the subject. Well, its time to go again... in the right corner Derrek Lee (a.k.a. Rodan) and in the left corner Hee Seop Choi (a.k.a. Big Choi). You can credit Dusty Baker for the Rodan reference, and Darren Baker for the 'Big Choi.'

From April 30, 2004 Just Sayin

... I doubt Hee Seop Choi is going to keep on hitting as well as he has (this month). Choi had a fantastic April last year too, earning the NL Rookie of the month award, but soon cooled off. I frankly expect the same thing this year from Choi too. He still has gaping holes in his swing that pitchers will start finding again.

It looks like I was right in April... here are some graphs.

Comparative OBP: Derrek Lee, Hee Seop Choi

Both players had very similar on-base percentages through July. However, after Choi was traded to the Dodgers in a deadline deal (Choi and Brad Penny to LA for Paul LoDuca and Juan Encarnacion), Choi's production and playing time took a nosedive. Choi finished the seaon with a .370 OBP, while Lee had a .356 OBP. However, Lee had 605 AB to Choi's 343. Also of note, the OBP composition from Choi was .251 in Avg and .119 in Walks etc. Lee's OBP included a .278 Avg.

Comparative SLG: Derrek Lee, Hee Seop Choi

As is becoming typical of Choi's career, Hee Seop started out red-hot as a slugger in April, but quickly cooled off for the rest of the season (as in frozen stiff... with no real power.

Conversely, Lee started out fairly slow in April and May, but started to sizzle in June and the middle of the season. He finished the season down, but well ahead of Choi. Lee finished with a .474 SLG (.827 OPS), while Choi finished with a .429 SLG and .784 OPS.

Cumulative HR: Derrek Lee, Hee Seop Choi

This chart just shows the number of home runs at the end of each month for each player. While Choi had 9 in April, he finished with just 6 more the rest of the season. Lee on the other hand had 2 in April, and 30 the rest of the season.

Cumulative RBI: Derrek Lee, Hee Seop Choi

Similar to the home run chart, this chart shows cumulative RBI's over the course of the season. Once again, the majority of Choi's production was in April, while Lee got hot in the summer months.

When you simply look at the averages, Choi and Lee are somewhat comparable. Lee appears to be a better hitter, while Choi is more proficient at taking walks. However, once April is over, Choi is spent and becomes a liability to his club. (This is not to say Choi will never overcome this pattern... but in 2 big league seasons, Choi has taken a suprisingly similar path.)

However, before finishing... there is (at least) one more relevant chart:

Comparative Salary: Derrek Lee, Hee Seop Choi

Discuss

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Stone to Stay

Friday, October 15, 2004

Its late, and I have to be up early... again. But the Tribune is reporting that Steve Stone will stay. The story is unattributed, and sounds like it has two different sources (a 'broadcast source' and 'sources')... but it says: "Stone's return is virtually certain."

Excerpt From:
Cubs won't toss Stone: Analyst awaiting official word after contentious year

by Ed Sherman, Chicago Tribune 10-15-04

"While sources indicate Stone's return virtually is certain, John McDonough, the Cubs' vice president of marketing and broadcasting, declined Wednesday to discuss the specifics of the analyst's status.

"At this point we're trying to step back a bit and get some perspective," McDonough said. "Hopefully, everything will be resolved in the near future."

Stone is under contract, with the Cubs and WGN-Ch. 9 holding an option for next year. They have until Nov. 3 to notify Stone of his status.
"

The Trib is also reporting that Pat Hughes will stay with Ron Santo on WGN radio, rather than jumping over to WGN-TV to replace Chip Caray as has been speculated by Cubs fans. Here is the link: Hughes' decision: stand Pat with Santo, by Ed Sherman.


Playoff Update:

I sure hope you're not only relying on me to keep you up to date, but for history's sake... here we go:

Yankees are up 2-0 over Boston, and Curt Schilling hurt his ankle and is doubtful for the rest of the series.

The Red Birds of St. Louis are putting a mighty whipping on the spacemen spiffs of Houston. Cardinals 2, Astros 0.

Both series are now heading on the road, and the Yanks & BoSox will be taking aim at the Monster, while the Cardinals and 'Stros are at the juicebox.

Prognostications:
Its still too early to start changing any predictions (Yanks & Cards in 6)... but with Schilling's injury I'm starting to wish I had gone with Yanks in 5... plus, we already established by NL only specialty. As for the Cards and Astros, I'm still feeling confident we'll see six. I think the Astros will win 2 of 3 at home and LaRussa's squad will finish them off back in St. Louis in game #6.

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Waived

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Delighting in the misfortunes of others is evil.
Being happy that someone lost their job is not compassionate.
I am apparently both evil, and cold-hearted.
Oh, yeah, I already knew that.

Wendell Kim has been let go...

... and All Cubdom Rejoiced!

The Story

Life in the big-leagues is tough. It is not for those with thin skin, and it is not for those without the perserverance to get back up off the mat when you've been knocked down. I trust Wendell Kim will catch on with someone else, but I hope not as a third base coach.

The opposite is also, unfortunately, true for some individuals. The recent death of Ken Caminiti is a sad reminder that some individuals cannot cope with the enormous pressures to succeed in the bigs. Caminiti's early death, and public admission that he used steroids to improve his performance will hopefully deter players from believing that steroids are a wise decision to get an 'edge'. All actions in life have their consequences, and some consequences aren't particularly pleasant.


Completely changing topics: The Astros won their first post-season series in team history last night. ESPN ran a graphic stating that the Astros tied the Brooklyn Dodgers for the most playoff appearances before winning a series (8). So, despite my utter hatred for the Astros, congratulations. Unfortunately for my October team, the Braves lost their 4th NLDS in 5 tries since 2000, and haven't been to the World Series since 1999.

As far as Clairvoyance is concerned, I ended up hitting the NL matchups right on the head (we won't talk about the AL). For the NLCS, I foresee a Cardinals victory in 6 games. I explained it to my friends Matt and Brad this way: The Cardinals are better than the Astros. They are markedly better than the Astros, but they aren't 4 times as good as the 'stros... so therefore they will win in 6... and that's how I am going to explain it here. The Cardinals are twice as good as the Astros, not 4 times as good. (By the way, I've still got the Cardinals beating their AL foes in the Series... 6 games if NY, 7 games if Boston... Manny misplays something off the Monster.

In the AL, I am going to predict a Yankees win in 6 games. Although we have already established that I don't know anything about the AL, I think the Yanks will beat the Sox... as they do every time, but I don't think we'll be blessed with a 7 game series this year... so it has to be six, because a 5 game series would be too dominant a showing by one team, and a sweep would be too far out of character for either team.

As far as what I want? I want the Cardinals to sweep the Astros... I hate the Astros so much... and in the AL, I don't want the Red Sox to win a World Series... so I guess I'll be cheering for Armageddon.

Posted by Byron at 4:41 PM | Comments (0) | Bookmark and Share | | BallHype: hype it up!

Waived

Delighting in the misfortunes of others is evil.
Being happy that someone lost their job is not compassionate.
I am apparently both evil, and cold-hearted.
Oh, yeah, I already knew that.

Wendell Kim has been let go...

... and All Cubdom Rejoiced!

The Story

Life in the big-leagues is tough. It is not for those with thin skin, and it is not for those without the perserverance to get back up off the mat when you've been knocked down. I trust Wendell Kim will catch on with someone else, but I hope not as a third base coach.

The opposite is also, unfortunately, true for some individuals. The recent death of Ken Caminiti is a sad reminder that some individuals cannot cope with the enormous pressures to succeed in the bigs. Caminiti's early death, and public admission that he used steroids to improve his performance will hopefully deter players from believing that steroids are a wise decision to get an 'edge'. All actions in life have their consequences, and some consequences aren't particularly pleasant.


Completely changing topics: The Astros won their first post-season series in team history last night. ESPN ran a graphic stating that the Astros tied the Brooklyn Dodgers for the most playoff appearances before winning a series (8). So, despite my utter hatred for the Astros, congratulations. Unfortunately for my October team, the Braves lost their 4th NLDS in 5 tries since 2000, and haven't been to the World Series since 1999.

As far as Clairvoyance is concerned, I ended up hitting the NL matchups right on the head (we won't talk about the AL). For the NLCS, I foresee a Cardinals victory in 6 games. I explained it to my friends Matt and Brad this way: The Cardinals are better than the Astros. They are markedly better than the Astros, but they aren't 4 times as good as the 'stros... so therefore they will win in 6... and that's how I am going to explain it here. The Cardinals are twice as good as the Astros, not 4 times as good. (By the way, I've still got the Cardinals beating their AL foes in the Series... 6 games if NY, 7 games if Boston... Manny misplays something off the Monster.

In the AL, I am going to predict a Yankees win in 6 games. Although we have already established that I don't know anything about the AL, I think the Yanks will beat the Sox... as they do every time, but I don't think we'll be blessed with a 7 game series this year... so it has to be six, because a 5 game series would be too dominant a showing by one team, and a sweep would be too far out of character for either team.

As far as what I want? I want the Cardinals to sweep the Astros... I hate the Astros so much... and in the AL, I don't want the Red Sox to win a World Series... so I guess I'll be cheering for Armageddon.

Posted by Byron at 4:41 PM | Comments (0) | Bookmark and Share | | BallHype: hype it up!

Pitchless Playoffs

Monday, October 11, 2004

Following the final day of the regular season, when all 8 playoff spots had been settled, I evaluated the teams that made it to the post-season and I thought to myself... where is the pitching?

Due to Oakland, and Chicago missing the playoffs, it seemed like baseball was missing some of its premier pitchers in October. No Hudson, no Zito, no Mulder. No Maddux for the first time in 12 years. No Wood, Prior, or Zambrano. No Johnson, and no Schmidt.

But, despite the absence of some big names on the mound, I wondered if this year's playoff pitching staffs were truly weaker than in years past.

I began by compiling data for the past ten years of playoffs. Not only is the 10 year mark a nice even number, it also includes all playoffs since the introduction of the wild-card and central divisions.

In those 10 years, eighty teams have made the playoffs, and only 12 (15%) of those teams have had an ERA above their league average.

  • 2004 New York Yankees 4.69 ERA (4.63 AL Avg.)
  • 2001 Cleveland Indians 4.64 ERA (4.47 AL Avg.)
  • 2001 Houston Astros 4.37 ERA (4.35 NL Avg.)
  • 1999 Texas Rangers 5.07 ERA (4.86 AL Avg.)
  • 1999 Indians 4.90 ERA (4.86 AL Avg.)
  • 1998 Rangers 5.00 ERA (AL Avg. was 4.65)
  • 1998 Chicago Cubs 4.50 ERA (4.24 NL Avg.)
  • 1997 Seattle Mariners 4.79 ERA (4.57 AL Avg.)
  • 1997 Indians 4.73 ERA (4.57 AL Avg.)
  • 1997 San Fransisco Giants 4.41 ERA (4.21 NL Avg.)
  • 1996 Baltimore Orioles 5.15 ERA (5.00 AL Avg.)
  • 1995 Colorado Rockies 4.97 ERA (4.18 NL Avg.)

Of these 12 teams, none of them won the World Series (during that year... although the Yanks might change that), and 3 of them were Wild Card entrants.

The best team ERA in comparison to its league's average was the 1997 Braves who finished with a 3.18 ERA, compared to a 4.21 league ERA. (A 1.03 difference. The lowest team ERA belongs to the 2002 Braves with a 3.13 ERA)

The worst team ERA in comparison to its league's average was, not suprisingly, the 1995 Colorado Rockies. They finished .79 ER per 9 greater than the league average of 4.18.

OK, back to the original point of this post. How do this year's postseason pitching rotations stack up? To determine this, I calculated the cumulative difference between each staff's ERA and the league avg ERA for all 8 teams in the postseason, and then divided by 8. This gave me the average ERA below the League Average for each set of 8 playoff teams.

Example:Teams A, B, C, and D are AL teams with ERA's of 1.5, 2.5, 3.5, and 4.5. The AL Average was 3.5. Teams E, F, G, and H are NL teams with ERA's of 1, 2, 3, and 4. The NL average was 3.

AL: (1.5 + 2.5 + 3.5 + 4.5) = 12 - (3.5 x 4) = 12 - 14 = -2.
NL: (1 + 2 + 3 + 4) = 10 - (3 x 4) = 10 - 12 = -2.
-2 from AL + -2 From NL = -4 / 8 teams = -.5 ERA from League Average.

The Results are listed in two tables below. The first table is ordered chronologically, and the second table is ordered by rank.

Year AL NL AVG RANK
2004 -0.335 -0.413 -0.374 7
2003 -0.395 -0.355 -0.375 6
2002 -0.620 -0.528 -0.574 1
2001 -0.523 -0.410 -0.466 3
2000 -0.285 -0.430 -0.358 8
1999 -0.335 -0.683 -0.509 2
1998 -0.285 -0.520 -0.403 5
1997 -0.253 -0.438 -0.345 9
1996 -0.297 -0.538 -0.418 4
1995 -0.390 -0.155 -0.273 10

 

Year AL NL AVG RANK
2002 -0.620 -0.528 -0.574 1
1999 -0.335 -0.683 -0.509 2
2001 -0.523 -0.410 -0.466 3
1996 -0.297 -0.538 -0.418 4
1998 -0.285 -0.520 -0.403 5
2003 -0.395 -0.355 -0.375 6
2004 -0.335 -0.413 -0.374 7
2000 -0.285 -0.430 -0.358 8
1997 -0.253 -0.438 -0.345 9
1995 -0.390 -0.155 -0.273 10

So, as you can see. I wasn't entirely wrong to say that the pitching is weak this year (7th out of the 10 year sample). However, the impression that last year's playoffs (6th out of 10) featured significantly better pitching is bunk.


Playoff Update:

The Red Sox and Yankees exposed the fact that I don't know anything about the AL... (I got the team names right.) The Red Sox swept the Angels in 3, and the Yanks polished off the Twinkies in 4. With the two set to square off for the second straight year in the ALCS, get ready for the national media to forget about the NL... especially if the Astros win tonight.

The NL results might indicate a little bit more knowledge on my behalf. I correctly predicted the Cardinals in 4 over the Dodgers, and if the Astros win tonight against the Braves, I'll have been correct on my NL predictions.

Posted by Byron at 2:50 PM | Bookmark and Share | | BallHype: hype it up!

Calling all (unlisted) Cubs Bloggers

Saturday, October 9, 2004

If your blog is not listed, please email byron@thecubdom.com or leave a comment on this post so I can add you to my list.

Sometimes, the creativity is gone. In fact, at thecubdom.com... writer's block is more the rule than the exception... so a good number of my posts are dry, lacking wit, and include some form of a chart.

The Writer's Block isn't the problem, its that this week has left me too tired to even crank out a dry numbers analysis... so I have been working behind the scenes.

New features: The page template has been redesigned to be more friendly for small monitors. Our 800 x 600 market segment was getting their content squeezed between navigation bars at left, and 'sell-out' advertising on the right (which is paying server fees... not buying me Pizza). Hopefully, the new design will ensure the small screened / low resolution cubdom fans get a fair shot at reading the content. (The drawback being the funky off-center heading at top.)

Of real importance however, is that I have spent several hours updating my "Cubs Blog Army" listing... mainly scouring the similar lists on other pages. I think I have the most comprehensive list out there, but I want everyone who wants a link to get a link (exception: those foul mouthed Cubs blogs). So, if you have a blog, or know of a blog not on the list, please submit it so I can add it to the list... email (byron@thecubdom.com) or comment on this message.

Similarly, I found a few new blogs that I had not previously seen... that appear to update regularly:

Anyhow, check these guys out if you have never seen them.

Posted by Byron at 4:59 AM | Bookmark and Share | | BallHype: hype it up!

Acceptance

Tuesday, October 5, 2004

Denial

Anger

Bargaining

Depression

Acceptance

Well, I think I have made it through the first four steps... I'm sure I'll suffer some relapses into stage 4... I always do in the winter... but its time to get going with step 5. Acceptance. Its what you do when whats done is done... and us Cubs fans are pretty good at it.

As some of you know, this website was not originally intended to be a blog... I couldn't help myself, because I love telling people what I think... but I don't have superior ability to see nuanced situations in games... nor am I a great writer... but with the offseason comes my true purpose for the Cubdom. Its business time folks.

While most people will say I am a kill-joy for discussing business related moves in the season, its all we have in the winter, and the full attention of baseball fans is left to watch the 30 clubs leverage their financial and operating strengths against their oponents. The offseason is when pennants are won and lost, and thecubdom.com's sole proprietor is ready to get going.

On this site, I am going to begin my analysis of 2005 by attempting to divine the Cubs likely budget for the upcoming season. Then I will use this budgetary framework to identify how much money we will have available for the team in '05. The only problem with this approach is that Major League Baseball teams keep their financial numbers very close to the vest. So, we will begin by examining the known facts (attendance, ticket prices, broadcast ratings, etc) and extrapolating revenues and expenses. I will then try to peg a profit calculation on the Cubs, use the Tribune company's earnings growth rates, and try to see if we can't estimate an operating budget for the '05 Cubs.

Let's begin. All year long, I have been using Team Marketing Report's Fan Cost Index to estimate average ticket price for the Cubs. However, I have gone back and used a weighted average approach to find the true number.

The Facts:
  • This past year, the Cubs had 3 different pricing schedules, Value, Regular, and Prime.
  • There were 8 value dates, 45 regular dates, and 28 prime dates.
  • The Cubs announced attendance for 2004 was 3,170,154.
  • Wrigley Field had a published capacity of 39,345 before adding 213 dugout level seats at the beginning of the year... thus a capacity of 39,558.
  • The Cubs announced ticket prices can be found at this link.
  • The Cubs media guide breakdown of seats at Wrigley is available in this post.
Assumptions:
  • I assume all of the announced dates, prices, capacity, and attendance numbers are accurate.
  • I assume that 500 standing room only tickets were sold per game for 70 games during the season. Furthermore, I will assume the average price on these tickets was $10.00. I cannot find documentation of this, but I believe Wrigley Field standing room only ticket prices were $8, $10, and $12 for value, regular, and prime games, respectively.
  • Since to my knowledge the Cubs only failed to sellout the three games against the Expos, and those were nearly sold out, I assume the Cubs sold 100% of their tickets. I believe my standing room only assumption is conservative on both the number and average price of tickets sold, so the 100% assumption is convenient if not accurate.
  • I could not find prices for the family, and group sections. Nor could I find prices for the Mezzanine suites. I have assumed family and group section seats are the same price as bleacher seats, since they are actually in the bleachers. The small number of these seats (107 and 119) means they only account for about $500,000 over the course of the season if they are at bleacher prices. A reduction of 10% would then only be about $50,000... which is small enough I won't worry about it. I arbitrarily pegged the Mezzanine suite seats at $50, $100, and $150 for the three pricing schedules.
Revised Average Ticket Price Estimates

Using a weighted average method, essentially multiplying all of a particular seat types by its price by the number of games at that price for all of the price types, I got the following 3 average ticket prices.

  • On Value dates, the Cubs have an average ticket price of $14.30, and recognize about $573,000 in ticket receipts for a sellout.
  • On Regular dates, the Cubs have an average ticket price of $27.97, and recognize about $1,120,000 in ticket receipts for a sellout.
  • On Prime dates, the Cubs have an average ticket price of $36.79, and recognize about $1,474,000 in ticket receipts for a sellout.

For the season, following my assumptions above, I believe the Cubs collected $96,261,000 in ticket receipts. (My average ticket price is therefore $30.04, well above TMR's $28.45).

However, not all of this money can be kept by the ball club. I know that 10% of these receipts are actually tax, and are passed along to the City of Chicago and the State of Illinois.

Well folks, thats all for today. I will continue with other forms of revenues in the next few posts, and then we will start estimating expenses after that.


Playoff Update:
  • NLDS Game 1. Cardinals 8, Dodgers 3. Cardinals lead series 1-0.
  • ALDS Game 1. Anaheim 3, Boston 9. Red Sox lead series 1-0.
  • ALDS Game 1. New York 0, Twins 2. Twins lead series 1-0.

Posted by Byron at 10:41 PM | Bookmark and Share | | BallHype: hype it up!

The Playoffs

Monday, October 4, 2004

Well, the season ended yesterday, disappointingly. But today's post brings us the final installment of an on-going update:

The Season Ended (yester)Today: drumroll please:

National League

  • NL Central Division Champions: St. Louis Cardinals 105-57 *best record in baseball.
  • NL Eastern Division Champions: Atlanta Braves 96 - 66 *13th consecutive title
  • NL Western Division Champions: Los Angeles Dodgers 93-69
  • NL Wild-Card Winner: Houston Astros 92-70

American League

  • AL Eastern Division Champions: New York Yankees 101 - 61 *7th consecutive title
  • AL Wild-Card Winner: Boston Red Sox 98-64
  • AL Western Division Champions: Anaheim Angels 92 - 70
  • AL Central Division Champions: Minnesota Twins 92 - 70 *3rd consecutive title

The Matchups

St. Louis Cardinals vs. Los Angeles Dodgers: This LDS will feature a team which clinched its playoff spot on the next to last day of the season (LA) with one that was assured of going to the playoffs in early August. While the Cardinals have been repeatedly attacked (by myself and others) for having weak pitching... so do the Dodgers.
Prognostication: Cardinals in 4.
My Rooting Interest: I am actually cheering for the Cardinals. I am cheering for them to win the World Series... I feel bad for disrespecting this team.

Atlanta Braves vs. Houston Astros: This LDS will feature the most dominant regular season dynasty of all time pitted against a team which made the playoffs on the last day of the season. Interestingly enough, the Braves were left for dead at the beginning of the season (by myself and others), while the Astros were presumed dead midway through this year. Both teams overcame significant obstacles, and little media coverage to claim their spot in the post-season.
Prognostication: Astros in 5. This team is incredibly hot and reminds me a lot of the 2004 Marlins.
My Rooting Interest: Go Braves! I started rooting for the Braves in the post-season when they got Maddux... and now is no time to start. Plus, I hate the Astros more than I hate the Cardinals.

New York Yankees vs. Minnesota Twins: The Twins and the Yankees will meet for the second straight season in the LDS. Last year, the evil empire won in 4, on their way to yet another World Series appearance. For the Twinkies, this division title is especially sweet because they had to let some key components of their '02 and '03 teams go. Making the playoffs again this year is further proof that low budget teams still have a fighting chance in baseball... an uphill climb, but a fighting chance nonetheless (provided you are not in the AL East... in which case you have no chance. Its time to start writing about the St. Pete curse.
Prognostication: Twins in 4. This is like the 15-2 upset in the NCAA final four. One happens each year, and this time its the Twins turn.
My Rooting Interest: I don't like the Yankees, and I don't want to watch them in another World Series. Plus, I think the Twins are due this year.

Anaheim Angels vs. Boston Red Sox: The Reds return to the post-season for the second straight year (and 4 out of 7). The Angels return two years after winning the Series. Both teams spent mega-bucks to get to the playoffs, and they both have fantastic star qualities. While I like the Angels players (and Manager) better than those of the Red Sox, I feel a special kindred with Red Sox fans... except they are all petty %$^&* (meanies). It will take me a long time to forgive the fans, media, & management of Boston for the hack job they did on Nomar on his way out the door. Still, I genuinely believe that if the Red Sox could win the World Series... then we could too.
Prognostication: Angels in 5.
My Rooting Interest: Red Sox... if they can do it, so can we.

If I were King: (Line stolen from John Williams WGN Radio)

The Cardinals beat the Dodgers... what a fantastic matchup by the way. The Braves beat the 'stros. Then the Cards defeat the Braves, where they meet...

The Twinkies vanquish the evil empire... maybe Torii Hunter can run over Jorge Posada and start: "The Hunter's Curse" prohibiting the Yankees from ever reaching the series again. Then, the Red Sox defeat the Angels, believing they finally have a clear path to the World Series... no Yankees and all.

In the ALCS, the Twins put the smack down on the Red Sox... maybe a lost flyball in the Twinkie-dome ceiling can take its place with the Buckner incident (just as long as its not "unfrozen caveman baseball player Johnny Damon" who is immortalized as a goat... and you thought I had forgiven you Boston... smite Boston :)

The Twins and the Cardinals then square off in the "middle-America series" where the Cards win in 7.

Happy playoffs everyone.


Cubs News: Chip Caray is leaving for Atlanta, Steve Stone's future is in doubt, and Nomar will consider staying in Chicago.


Game # 162: Cubs 10, Braves 8. Meaningless.

Cubs Win! Cubs Win! Cubs Win! Holy Cow!
Posted by Byron at 3:08 PM | Comments (0) | Bookmark and Share | | BallHype: hype it up!

Post Mortem 2004

Saturday, October 2, 2004

Trust me, losing isn't lovable

I never wanted to write this post, but I've known for a while that I would have to. In fact, I've wanted to say several of the things I will be ranting about for sometime now, but I held off because you always want to give your team the benefit of the doubt... but with the final nail in the coffin, and mathematical elimination upon us, it is time to come clean... to vent... to let it all out... to clear the air of all the rotten, putrid, hurtful things I have needed to say for a while.

Another one run loss today proves again: This team had no heart. Certain players were exemplary, while others just mailed it in... and with all the sand on the bottom half of the hourglass, its time to name names:

GET OFF MY TEAM!

  • Moises Alou: Alou was a cancer this year. For a guy with 37 home runs, 100+ RBIs and Runs, and an OPS above .900 to warrant a spot on the 'get off my team' list is pretty sad. However, Alou's horrible baserunning, defense, and demeanor created a negative atmosphere around this team that was unexcusable. Alou's constant whining about the umpires was ridiculous, mostly unfounded, and uncalled for by a league veteran and supposed clubhouse leader. Moises Alou take a long look in the mirror... and get off my team.

  • Sammy Sosa: I have never been a big Sammy Sosa fan. In 1997, I went to a game and my family and I waited outside the players entrance to get autographs. When Sammy came out, he signed autographs for a bunch of fans, but I didn't bother to walk over 10 feet and get one. I felt at the time, and still do feel that Sammy is a one dimensional, selfish player. Now, for any hall of fame caliber player who has spent 13 seasons with your team, you are going to have moments when you embrace the player (about 544 of them at least)... but I have always admired Sammy from a distance. This year, Sammy's performance declined and I refuse to give him a pass. Sammy Sosa... get off my team.

  • Kent Mercker: The broadcasters have nothing to do with what happens on the field. Any player who can't look themself in the mirror and say: "I screwed up" is a player that should look for employment elsewhere. Kent Mercker... get off my team.

  • Wendell Kim: Time to wave goodbye little buddy.

Thanks for stopping by... now skedaddle

  • Jose Macias: I cringed whenever you made it into the game. You have some tools, but not enough to justify a return engagement in 2005.

  • Tom Goodwin: This is a sad day because I know you are a positive influence in the club house... but you seem to have run out of gas. I think its time to hang 'em up.

  • Paul Bako: You play hard, its not personal, we just need better production from the second string catcher. Your defense has declined significantly as well.

Its time to part ways

  • Matt Clement: I really like you, but you completely choked down the stretch. The contract is up, and I hope you enjoy your stay in Pittsburgh. You are a class act, its just time to move on.

  • Mark Grudzielanek: Sometimes fate is just wicked. You get traded to the Cubs as a washed up, over paid player. You play your heart out, post excellent numbers, and then get a significant paycut. You take the pay cut, and your team signs another player at your position who is better than you. While insisting you are the starter, the fans are smart enough to realize who gives them a better chance to win, and despite a .300 AVG, you are run out of town in favor of the new guy. Sorry Grudz, but we can't have both you and Walker next year... and we're keeping Walker. We will welcome you back if Walker leaves... but make sure to stick it to us in contract negotiations.

Blessings to you and your family!

  • Michael Barrett: I'll admit it. Before the season started I would tell anyone who would listen that the Cubs had downgraded behind the plate. I was wrong. Your defense could be improved, but you are a team player. If there was a man on first, who needed to move over to second. I would pick you as the first player I wanted at bat. You are aware of game situations, and you play the game 'the right way.' Michael, thanks for being a Cub and Blessings to you and your family.

  • Greg Maddux: Last August (2003) I told my best friend that the two most important free agent acquisitions the Cubs could make during the 2003 winter was Ivan Rodriguez, and Greg Maddux. This winter, I was disappointed that the Cubs didn't get Pudge (and I still am), but I was thrilled to bring you back into the fold. I have doubted along the way. I have been overly critical of your bunting abilities, while not recognizing your defensive accomplishments. I have occasionally criticized your pitching, and had some doubts early in the season. However, your stretch drive performances have been remarkable, and you won 15 games again this year, topping 300 for the career. On top of your successes, you are willing to take responsibility for your failures. Unfortunately, this is a refreshing difference between you and your teammates. Greg, thanks for coming back to Chicago. Thanks for working with 'the Franchise' and Woody. Thanks for helping Clement and Z. Greg, enjoy the winter, work on your golf game, and blessings to you and your family.

  • Aramis Ramirez: Your play at third base has not gotten nearly the praise you deserve. You are the best hitter on this team, and you played great defense all year. You have learned how to avoid striking out, but need to work on hitting the ball in the air more (5th in baseball in GIDP). We really love having you in Chicago and would like to see you stay a long, long, long time. Please listen to Jim Hendry who will offer you an enormous long term deal this winter. Aramis, please enjoy your winter and blessings to you and your family.


Why we lost out

Injuries.

This team was good enough to make the playoffs despite the injuries, but the apparently comfortable confines of the trainers room are the number one reason this team went down in flames.

Joe Borowski: the most significant loss of the season. In 22 games, Joe lost 4, and blew 2 saves. When his injury was finally diagnosed, his departure moved LaTroy Hawkins to the closers role. The move created a gaping hole in the Cubs pen, and led to another 12 blown saves (9 for Hawkins, 3 for Remlinger). In short, Borowski's injury not only left the Cubs without a reliable closer, but also hurt the rest of the pen's effectiveness.

Shortstops:

Games started at shortstop
Player NameGames Started
Ramon Martinez57
Nomar Garciaparra40
Alex Gonzalez35
Rey Ordonez17
Neifi Perez12

Offensive Inconsistency: Despite averaging 4.87 runs per game, the Cubs scored 2 runs or less 41 times this season (25% of all games). The Cubs finished 14th in the NL in bases on balls, 11th in OBP, and 6th in Average. This offense was inconsistent because it relied too heavily on the long-ball, (235 of them through 161 games), but didn't have the speed to win games when the wind was blowing in. This team finished 11th in stolen bases with 65 on the season, and half of those were Corey Patterson.

Not why this team lost:

Dusty Baker: Dusty made some mistakes, in fact a lot of them, but I will not blame this season on Baker. If we grossly underachieve again next year... I'll personally get out the axe, but the Cubs will play their first meaningless game in 2 years tommorrow. You do not run a manager out of town with that kind of track record.

The Day that stands out:

Friday, May 28, 2004

The Cubs lost both ends of a doubleheader to the Pittsburgh Pirates. In the first game, Michael Barrett hit a seventh inning grand slam to give the Cubs a 5-4 lead going into the bottom of the ninth. Joe Borowski then gave up 5 runs to the Pirates who won with a two out walk off grand slam by Rob Mackowiak.

In the second game, the Cubs lost 5-4 when LaTroy Hawkins gave up a two run homer to Mackowiak in the ninth, and Francis Beltran gave up a solo shot in the tenth to Craig Wilson.

One day, two losses, two bullpen collapses, one season in a nutshell.

Posted by Byron at 9:43 PM | Comments (0) | Bookmark and Share | | BallHype: hype it up!

Sick

Trust me, losing isn't lovable

I have been avoiding this post for about 11 hours now. I am completely sick, there is a gaping hole where my heart should be... and I'm watching the 2004 Chicago Cubs run down the block... still beating heart in hand.

With the Cubs 5-4 loss to the Braves Friday, and the Astros and Giants winning, the Cubs elimination number is reduced to one. There are two days remaining in the season, and an Astros win, Giants win, or Cubs loss will do the season in for our beloved Cubs. In other words, the Cubs have to have 6 game outcomes go their way... in order to finish in a three way tie for the wild-card...

But, its never over til the fat lady sings... thats what I am trying to tell myself.

The Steve Stone criticism monster has reared its ugly head again. Apparently, Stoney questioned a number of Dusty Baker's extra inning moves in Thursday's loss to the Reds. He also made some comments on the radio, that have been taken negatively by the club, even causing Jim Hendry to say that the Stone's criticism was personal. According to the Chicago Tribune, Stone met with Hendry, Andy McPhail (team President) and Dusty Baker on Friday to discuss the situation.

However, before the media uproar started, I caught something during Wednesday's Cubs broadcast which made me rewind the game (I love my DVR) and write down what Stone had to say on an envelope.

From Wednesday, September 29, 2004 Cubs broadcast on WGN
Game Situation: Bottom of 5th inning, 1 ball, no strikes, 1 out, Aramis Ramirez batting, Moises Alou on 1st base.
Steve Stone: "... but on a ground ball on the infield, Alou's gonna have to break up two. (to) Keep this inning alive for Lee."
Chip Caray: "Ground ball up the middle. Six. To Four. To Three."
Steve Stone: "Well he (Alou) peeled off nicely and the double play accomplished."
Posted by Byron at 3:43 AM | Comments (0) | Bookmark and Share | | BallHype: hype it up!

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