Wednesday, January 25, 2006

I'm Back...What Happened?

My career has been impeding on my life the past week or so and I've been out of touch. Not much happened with the Cubs while I was gone, but there are a couple of issues that desperately deserve my attention.

The Cubs have signed former Astros and Red Sox hurler Wade Miller. Miller is coming off of labrum (shoulder) surgery following an uninspiring and injury plagued 2005. Miller will be earning $1 million in 2006 with another $1 million in incentives on the line.

I like this signing. I like it a lot. There is very little downside and an awful lot of upside. Think about it. If Miller doesn't throw one pitch in 2006, all it is costing the Cubs is $1 million. That's a lot of money to you and me, but the Cubs spend more than that on spilled drinks during the course of the season. If he eats up some innings, he's a great signing. And if he returns to his glory days of a few years ago, Jim Hendry is going to be in line for sainthood. It's a no lose proposition.

In other news, the Philadelphia Inquirer is reporting that the Cubs are in talks with Mike Piazza. Since this bit of news was in the paper it must be true, yet I am skeptical. I can't imagine what the Cubs would do with him. He would be a mighty expensive pinch hitter. Plus, I doubt if he would accept that role.

I like Mike Piazza. I think he's a class guy and has certainly proven himself over the years. There's no doubt he's on the downside of his career, but he probably deserves better than being a pinch hitter for the Cubs. Unfortunately for Piazza, I don't think there are too many clubs out there who consider him a viable everyday catcher.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The Most Hated Man in Chicago

It's official. At the Cubs Convention, the Cubs announcers made it clear that they do not want Todd Walker with the Cubs next year. Now that the Cubs have turned control of the team over to their broadcasters, maybe things will start to happen.

Seriously, what did Todd Walker do to piss everyone off? No one is talking. Or at least they're not telling the real reason Walker is universally hated. Bob Brenly's big comment was, "Defense is more important than offense."

What the heck does that mean? Walker is not that bad. He's not the worst defensive second baseman in the league, that's for sure. Plus, if you follow Brenly's argument to its logical conclusion, the Cubs would be made up of the best defensive players in the game regardless of whether they could hit or not. There's a prescription for success.

The Cubs are a better team with Walker at second base and in the lineup than they would be with any of their other choices (Hairston, Perez or Cedeno). Even so, it seems a forgone conclusion that Walker will be dealt. I just wish someone would come out and explain why.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Is He Is or Is He Ain't The Second Baseman?

The strange but true saga of Todd Walker continues. Since November, media outlets in Chicago have been reporting that he is on the trading block and will not be back with the Cubs next year. Jim Hendry added to the noise when he commented during a press conference that second base was not one of the positions that was set for 2006. Even the Cubs MLB website lists Walker as third on the depth chart behind Neifi Perez and Jerry Hairston, Jr.

But yesterday, while being interviewed on WGN radio in Chicago, Cubs manager Dusty Baker indicated that Walker would be his starting second baseman. What gives?

Blogsters across the Internet have been speculating that Dusty is just posturing to try to give Walker more perceived value. In other words, as a stater, he's worth more than as the third guy on the depth chart. I'm not sure that it really matters. Walker's resume is what it is. He's one of the top hitting second basemen in the league and his defense is slightly below average. He does a good job with the balls he gets to, but his range is a bit lacking. How Dusty postures doesn't change any of this.

Personally, I think the Cubs would be nuts to trade Walker, but the thing that intrigues me is why they want to trade him. On the surface, it seems that Walker is the perfect number two hitter in the Cubs lineup. He is a guy who makes contact, hits for a relatively high average, has some pop, plus he hits left handed. Yet, it seems like a forgone conclusion that Walker will be playing for someone else next year. But why?

I've read everything from Walker being a preachy born-again Christian who disrupts the clubhouse to be an unapologetic and frequent strip club patron which doesn't sit very well with the family friendly Tribune Company, owner of the Cubs. I've also read that Hendry wants to move Walker because he (Hendry) is determined to improve the defense, even if it is at the expense of the offense. None of this really makes sense to me, but obviously something is going on.

The other part of this mystery that intrigues me is that everyone apparently knows that the Cubs want to move Walker, but no other teams are jumping at the opportunity. That surprises me considering that Walker can be a contributor on offense without hurting a team too bad in the field. Even so, it doesn't appear that any other teams are showing an interest in Walker.

If it were up to me (and I think we all agree that it should be), Walker would be the starting second baseman with Hairston backing him up. Ronny Cedeno would start at short (assuming the Cubs can't make a move to add a first-tier shortstop) and Neifi Perez would be his backup. Unfortunately, if history is any indication, Perez wil be starting somewhere, and if the media can be trusted (which is doubtful), Walker will be playing elsewhere come April.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Congratulations, Bruce!

In earlier posts, I predicted that relief would be coming to the Hall of Fame in the form of Bruce Sutter and Goose Gossage. As it turns out, I was only half right.

Bruce Sutter was announced today as the newest member of baseball's most exclusive club. Sutter, who save 300 saves in his career, is the first pitcher to ever be elected to the HOF without ever starting a game.

The former Cardinal, Cub and Brave will hold a press conference tomorrow at the HOF. The cap Sutter will wear will be determined by the Hall and will be announced during the press conference.

The next closest nominees were Jim Rice (64.8%), Rich "Goose" Gossage (64.6%), Andre Dawson (61.0%) and Bert Blyleven (53.3%). All-time saves leader Lee Smith garnered 45% of the votes.

It was believed that this was the best chance Sutter, Gossage and Smith would have to make it into the Hall because there were no obvious HOF candidates. Although Sutter made the grade this year, it's going to be tougher for the others next year with former players like Cal Ripkin, Jr., Tony Gwynn and Mark McGwire in their first year on the ballot.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Relief Coming to the Hall: A Review

Tomorrow (1/10) the Baseball Hall of Fame will announce who among the nominees (if any) will make up the Hall's Class of 2006. Over the past few days, I've given my thoughts on who should get their HOF induction speech ready and who can make other plans. Today, I'd like to review those former players who I think deserve a place in the HOF.

If it were up to me (and I think an argument can be made that it should be), the following former players will make up the HOF class of 2006:

Bert Blyleven
Andre Dawson
Rich "Goose" Gossage
Don Mattingly
Jack Morris
Jim Rice
Bruce Sutter

It will suprise me if all of these individuals make it into the Hall this year. In fact, it wouldn't completely suprise me if no one was elected into the Hall in 2006. The voters are notoriously stingy with their votes, and with no first ballot HOFers, the induction ceremonies may be quite short. We'll know tomorrow who's in and who's not.

Is Corey Really Gone This Time?

ESPN is reporting that the Cubs have traded Corey Patterson to the Orioles for two minor leaguers. According to the report, the Cubs will be getting 2B/SS Nate Spears and lefthanded pitcher Carlos Perez.

That's not much to get for a guy who was once one of the most highly touted prospects in the minors. Unfortunately, Patterson's stubborness and the Cubs mishandling of him reduced him to nothing more than a major leaguer with unrealized potential. It's been my opinion that Corey would need a change of scenery if he were to ever become the player many thought he could be. It's just sad that the Cubs ended up giving away a guy that had so much promise.

Relief Coming to the Hall (Part 6)

Here is the final look at this year's HOF nominees.

Bruce Sutter -- Bruce Sutter was so good he was almost unhittable (except by Ryne Sandberg). He saved 300 games, which was third all-time when he retired, behind HOFer Rollie Fingers and should-be HOFer Goose Gossage. He won the 1979 NL Cy Young award and received Cy Young votes four other years. He will forever be remembered as the pitcher who developed the split-fingered fastball, the pitch that helped make him so unhittable. The rap against Sutter is that he didn't pitch long enough; only 12 years. However, during his 12 year career he averaged more than 80 innings per year, often pitching two or even three innings per appearance. Bruce Sutter revolutionized the game with his new pitch and the way he used it. He belongs in the Hall.

Alan Trammell -- Tramell was never the league MVP, but he did receive votes in three different years. He also was named the MVP of the 1984 World Series. He was named to six all-star teams and won four Gold Glove awards. Trammell was really good, but not good enough for the Hall.

Walt Weiss -- Good guy. Nice career. No HOF.

John Wettland -- Wettland was very good for a rather short time. He pitched for 12 years and was named to three all-star teams. He was named the WS MVP in 1996 and received votes for the AL Cy Young Award in 1999. Wettland had a nice career, but it was not up to the standards of the Hall.

Relief Coming to the Hall (Part 5)

Here we go again...

Jack Morris -- Morris was a heck of a pitcher. He pitched for a total of 18 years and received Cy Young votes in 1981, 1983, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1991 and 1992. He pitched three teams to the World Series (1984, 1991 and 1992). Morris gets a bad rap because he was aloof and some people considered him difficult. Regardless, his on field achievements qualify him for the HOF.

Dale Murphy -- Why doesn't Dale Murphy get more love? He won the NL MVP award twice and received votes in two other years. He played most of his career with some pretty bad Atlanta Braves teams, yet put up some pretty impressive individual stats. He was a good hitter who hit for power and he could field (5 Gold Gloves). Murphy doesn't get the respect he deserves, and sadly, he's not going to get it here either. I haven't been convinced yet, so thumbs down to Murphy's HOF bid.

Dave Parker -- Parker was one of the most feared hitters in his day. He was the NL MVP in 1978 and received votes for MVP five other times. His fielding has been forgotten over the years, but he won three Gold Gloves in his 19 year career. I'll always remember him as the vice chairman of the "We Are Family" Pirates of the mid to late 70s (Willie Stargell was the chairman). Parker is one of those guys that was really good, but doesn't quite make the cut for the Hall. I'm afraid he won't make the cut again this year.

Jim Rice -- This could be Jim Rice's big year. He's been largely shunned by the HOF voters over the past several years, but this year, things could change. For whatever reason, the voters have had trouble warming up to Rice. But his .298 career batting average, 382 home runs and 1,451 RBI seems to be getting some notice. He was very good for a very long time. In fact, he was the best all around hitter in the AL for twelve coonsecutive years. He was also the AL MVP in 1978 and received MVP votes in five other years. Although it's close, Rice gets my vote.

Lee Smith -- Smith holds the record for the most saves in a career (478). He won the AL or NL Fireman of the Year Award or Rolaids Relief Award in 1983, 1991, 1992, and 1994. Although I think we're going to see some relievers/closers get the love they deserve this year, I don't think Smith is going to make the cut.

Next time, Bruce Sutter, Allen Trammel, Walt Weiss and John Wettland.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Relief Coming to the Hall (Part 4)

Here we go again with another five HOF nominees.

Tommy John -- Tommy John had an impressive career, but he will forever be remembered for the surgery that bears his name. I could go into his stats, which are impressive, but instead I'll just cut to the chase and say he doesn't belong in the Hall. He's close, but he's not quite close enough.

Doug Jones -- Jones was a good closer who does not belong in the HOF.

Don Mattingly -- Donny Baseball played all 14 years of his career with the Yankees. He was the 1985 AL MVP and received MVP votes in 1984, 1986, and 1987. He was a good hitter (7 seasons with .300-plus batting average) and a good fielder (nine-time Gold Glove winner). So why isn't he already in the Hall? This is Mattingly's sixth year on the ballot and 2006 may be his lucky year. I've thought a lot about whether Mattingly should be in the Hall or not. I've come to the conclusion that he does belong.

Willie McGee -- McGee was a better ball player than most people remember. He was the NL MVP in 1985 and he won three Gold Gloves during his 18 year career. The greatest baseball game I ever saw was "The Cardinal Game" in 1984 when Ryne Sandberg went 5 for 6 with two home runs. In that same game, McGee hit for the cycle and was named the player of the game before Sandberg hit his first game tying home run. I've always had an affinity for McGee (who Howard Cosell said looked like ET), but I'm afraid his career is not worthy of the Hall.

Hal Morris -- No.

Next time, Jack Morris, Dale Murphy, Dave Parker, Jim Rice and Lee Smith.

Relief Coming to the Hall (Part 3)

Here are my thoughts on five more HOF nominees.

Dwight Gooden -- Gooden was a phenomenal pitcher. At the young age of 20, he won the 1985 NL Cy Young award by leading the league in wins (24), era (1.53), and strikeouts (268). He had a noteworthy career, but it could have been so much more. Gooden could have been a Hall of Famer, but he squandered his talent. No Hall for Dwight.

Rich "Goose" Gossage -- During his career, Goose Gossage was as intimidating as they come. The stat that sticks out to me is that Gossage allowed nearly one full run less per nine innings than the great Mariano Rivera. He also averaged more than twice as many inning per appearance than Rivera has averaged during his career. Of all of the great closers, the numbers favor Gossage as the best. The only one that doesn't (and it's a biggy) is the number of saves. Gossage only has 310 saves, compared to 390 by HOFer Dennis Eckersly and 436 by Trevor Hoffman. But things were different when Gossage was pitching. Relievers/closers pitched more innings and in worse situations than closers do today. Gossage should be in the Hall already. Maybe this will be his year.

Ozzie Guillen -- Ozzie was a fan favorite on the Southside and is more beloved than ever now that he has managed the White Sox to a World Series championship. But no matter how much he is loved, Ozzie is not a HOFer.

Orel Hershiser -- Hershiser won the NL Cy Young award in 1988 and received votes in 1985, 1987 and 1989. He was one of the most dominating pitchers in the NL in the mid and late 80s. The thing I'll always remember about Hershiser is when he threw 59 consecutive scoreless innings in 1988. This is Hershiser's first year on the HOF ballot. I like Hershiser, but this is not his year.

Gregg Jefferies -- Jefferies had a nice carrer, but the HOF is not in his future.

Next time, Tommy John, Doug Jones, Don Mattingly, Willie McGee, and Hal Morris.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Relief Coming to the Hall (Part 2)

Today, we'll consider the HOF qualifications of five more nominees.

Andre Dawson -- Out of everyone on this year's ballot, Andre Dawson most deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. He was one of the toughest, gutsiest and most talented guys to ever play the game. This his Andre's fifth year on the HOF ballot and I'm at a loss to explain why he isn't in the Hall already. The one stat that will always describe Dawson for me is the fact that he was the NL MVP in 1987 on a Cubs team that finished in last place. Cubs HOF second baseman Ryne Sandberg probably said it best in his HOF induction speech when he said,

"No player in baseball history worked harder, suffered more or did better than
Andre Dawson. He's the best I've ever seen. I watched him win an MVP for a
last-place team, and it was the most unbelievable thing I've ever seen in
baseball. He did it the right way, the natural way, and he did it in the field
and on the bases and in every way..."

Gary DiSarcina -- Nice career. Twelve years in the Bigs, all with the Angels, but no HOF.

Alex Fernandez -- Another nice career, but he doesn't belong in the Hall.

Gary Gaetti -- I like Gary Gaetti. I watched him play with the Twins, Cubs and Cardinals, and I was always impressed with his gutsy, hard-nosed play. Gaetti is more than your run-of-the-mill big leaguer, but he's not HOF worthy.

Steve Garvey -- Garvey was a good ball player. He won the NL MVP in 1974 and was in the top ten in MVP voting in 1976, 1977, 1978 and 1980. He also has the highest fielding percentage among first basemen in MLB history. Garvey's stats and records are nothing to sneeze at. Even so, to me, Steve Garvey is not a Hall of Famer.

Next time, Dwight Gooden, Rich "Goose" Gossage, Ozzie Guillen, Orel Hershiser, and Gregg Jefferies.

Corey Still A Cub...For Now

The "imminent deal" that KIRO radio in Seattle was repotring would send Corey Patterson to the great Northwest in exchange for Gil Meche never materialized. From my vantage point, it appears that the Cubs suddenly received more interest in Patterson than they thought they would, which delayed any trades from happening.

Right now it appears that there are at least four teams in the running for Corey's services; the Orioles, Mariners, Rangers and Nationals. The Rangers and Nationals seem like odd suitors since they each have a plethora of outfielders already. But no matter where Corey ends up, it is unlikely that the Cubs will get much for him in return. Corey's trade value is at an all time low and everyone knows it.

Trade Me, Don't Trade Me!

Two of the more interesting stories this off-season have been the trade demands made by Manny Ramirez of the Red Sox and Miguel Tejada of the Orioles. Manny felt he was being disrespected by the Boston media and Tejada stated that he was upset with the direction Baltimore was heading and he wanted to be traded to a contender. Now comes word that both men have changed their minds and want to stay right where they are.

Manny, speaking to a reporter for, said that he loves Boston and does not want to be traded. However, as with most things involving Manny, there remains some confusion. After the report of his trade demand retraction hit, Manny's agent made a statement indicating that Manny "has no recollection" of speaking to any reporters.

In Miggy's case, he spoke to Orioles GM Dan Duquette today (in a 3-way call with Luis Matos) and indicated that he had a change of heart. He also indicated that he now wants to stay in Baltimore and wants to help build the Orioles into a contender. Although Tejada may now be staying, Baltimore is far from contending anytime in the near future.

Although I think the Orioles are doing exactly what they should be doing (i.e. keeping Tejada), I was hoping that the Cubs could swing a deal to bring him to the North Side. I still view shortstop as a gaping hole for the Cubs and would love to see them bring in a top caliber ball player to fill the hole. Now that Tejada appears to be out of the picture, I'm not sure where they turn.

On a related note, the Chicago Sun Times reported today that Neifi Perez will likely be the Cubs starting second baseman in 2006. I assume this also means that Ronny Cedeno will get the starting nod at short.

First, I don't think a middle infield of Ronny Cedeno and Neifi Perez bodes well for the Cubbies chances. Second, what about Todd Walker (see previous post)? I'm not one of those reactionary Cubs' fans that is ready to slit their wrists every time the Cubs make a move, but I have to admit that the prospect of Cedeno and Perez being the Cubs shortstop and second baseman respectively does depress me a bit. I fervently hope that Jim Hendry can perform some magic to further improve the upcoming edition of the Cubs. Otherwise, the 2006 season could be a long one.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Relief Coming to the Hall

A rather weak Hall of Fame ballot this year may mean that some deserving relief pitchers will finally get into the Hall, or at the very least get the consideration they deserve. There are also a few position players that have been overlooked recently who may finally see the light of day.

Over the next several days, I'll be considering the HOF nominees and giving my thumbs up or thumbs down on each. Today, I'll be considering the nominations of Rick Aguilera, Albert Belle, Bert Blyleven, Will Clark and Dave Concepcion.

Rick Aguilera -- When he was at the top of his game, Aguilera was a heck of a pitcher. He had two seasons with more than 40 saves and six seasons of more than 30 saves. He still holds the the career saves record for the Minnesota Twins with 254 saves and he is 13th on the MLB all-time saves list. However, Aguilera won't be one of the relievers who will (or should) get in to the Hall this year.

Albert Belle -- Albert Belle was a force to be reckoned with. During the mid-90's, Belle was a perrenial MVP candidate. He was a home run hitter and a run producer who had more than 100 RBI in each of nine consecutive seasons. To this day, Belle is second all-time on the Indians HR list. While he was impressive, Belle is not a first ballot Hall-of-Famer. He won't make it this year.

Bert Blyleven -- This is Blyleven's ninth year on the HOF ballot. During his career, he put up some mighty impressive numbers. He had 287 wins. Of pitchers not in the HOF, only Tommy John has more victories. He had 242 complete games. Granted, things were done a little differently in Blyleven's day than they are done today, but still, that is an impressive number. To give you some perspective, Roger Clemens has only thrown 118 complete games in his stellar career. He also threw 60 shutouts in his 22 year career. But the number that impresses me the most is 3,701. That is the number of strike outs he recorded. When he retired, only Nolan Ryan and Steve Carlton had recorded more. Since then, two sure-fire HOFers, Clemens and Randy Johnson, have passed him and Blyleven is now fifth all-time in strikeouts. For me, Bert Blyleven could go either way. However, I won't straddle the fence. I say, "Put Blyleven in the Hall."

Will Clark -- In 15 seasons, Will Clark was as competitive as any ballplayer in Major League Baseball. He was a good hitter, but not a great hitter. He had some power, but not a lot of power. He was a good fielder, but not a great fielder. I always liked Clark's attitude, but his play is not deserving of the Hall.

Dave Concepcion -- Concepcion was an intregal part of the Big Red Machine back in the 1970's. He played a total of 19 seasons, all in Cincinnati. Although he was an integral part of the Reds, he did not have a Hall-worthy career.

Next time, Andre Dawson, Gary DiSarcina, Alex Fernandez, Gary Gaetti, and Steve Garvey.

Goodbye, Corey

The Internet is abuzz with repotrs that Corey Patterson will be traded before the end of the day. Initial reports were that he is going to Baltimore in exchange for a minor league pitching prospect. Then the talk changed to Patterson being part of a package going to Baltimore that would bring Miguel Tejada and Eric Bedard to the Cubs. Now comes word attributed to KIRO radio in Seattle that Patterson will be going to the Mariners in exchange for pitcher Gil Meche.

Wherever Corey goes, I'm sad to see him go. Not because I think he's such a great player, but because in Corey, I see yet another promising prospect screwed up and then thrown away by the Cubs.

In Corey's case, I don't know who is to blame. I think Corey has to accept some of the blame himself. He was either unwilling or unable to change his poor batting habits. But I think the Cubs, particularly Dusty Baker, have to take some of the blame for misusing him. Corey was never cut out to be a lead-off hitter, but the Cubs relentlessly pushed him in that direction.

Corey needs to go elsewhere, there's no doubt about that. It's just a shame that he was never able to reach his full potential with the Cubs.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

The KIng of Wrigley Field

"Jody, Jody Davis, the catcher with no peer.
Jody, Jody Davis, the king of Wrigley Field."

Back in the day, when Harry Carey was still alive, he had the habit of singing silly songs during the broadcasts. One of his "greatest hits" was the "Jody Davis song," sung to the theme from the Davy Crockett show.

Anyway, the Cubs announced today that Davis, always a fan favorite, will be managing their Class A team in Peoria, IL. Davis has been managing Little League and high school teams over the past few years. He also managed the Calgary Outlaws to a championship in the Canadian Baseball League in 2003.

What's the Deal with Todd Walker?

Why do the Cubs seem to be hell-bent on trading Todd Walker? Shortly after the Juan Pierre trade, Jim Hendry talked about the positions that were set at that time, but he failed to mention second base. Hendry's comments lead several folks in the Chicago media to conclude that Walker was on his way out of town. For his part, Hendry didn't do anything to set the record straight.

So if the Cubs do want to move Walker, I have to ask "why?" During his time with the Cubs, Walker has been one of the more productive second basemen in the league. He is a career .290 hitter (hit .305 in 2005) and he is a valuable bat from the left side of the plate. He seems like the perfect guy to hit second behine Pierre. I've heard criticism about his defense, but I never have considered Walker a liability in the field. In 413 chances in 2005, Walker had 6 errors. Not outrageous by any measure.

I've heard rumors that Walker is a born-again Christian who is rather vocal about his beliefs. This apparently has caused some problems over the years in the clubhouse. However, its hard for me to believe that the Cubs would want to trade him solely for this reason. At least I would hope that isn't the reason.

I've also heard that, because Walker is such a productive second baseman, he has a lot of trade value. This is an age old debate, but when is the best time to trade a player? Certainly it isn't when the player is all washed up because at that point they don't have much trade value. On the other hand, it doesn't make much sense to trade the player when they are the top of their game either. When a guy is playing really well, don't you want him playing really well for your team?

The time to trade a player is when you can get back in return what you need for your team without hurting your team too badly by losing that player. In Walker's case, what could the Cubs get for him? Could they get what they need? Probably not.

Hendry has said that he would like to get another good starting pitcher (always in short supply) and in my opinion, the Cubs need a quality starting shortstop. I don't think most teams would be willing to give the Cubs what they need for Walker alone. He might work as part of a package deal, but most teams would likely be more interested in the Cubs' pitching prospects than in Walker, who will turn 33 this year.

On the other hand, the Cubs are fairly well set up to replace Walker at second if he goes elsewhere. Jerry Hairston is listed on the depth chart for the Cubs as a left fielder, but second base is his natural position. There is also a chance that if Walker departs, either Neifi Perez or Ronny Cedeno could play second (whichever one doesn't play shotr). I don't like this option, but it is an option nonetheless.

If it is true that the Cubs want to trade Todd Walker, it seems like it is for personal reasons more so than for what Walker can bring in a trade. What those reasons might be are a mystery to me.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Is Miggy Coming to Chi-Town?

Rumors are swirling that Orioles SS Miguel Tejada, who demanded a trade a few weeks ago, may be coming to the Windy City. This may be correct, but he may be surfacing on the Southside instead of at Wrigley.

Rumors have it that the Orioles wanted Mark Prior (among others) in exchange for Tejada and that Cubs GM Jim Hendry was considering the deal. In the meantime, the Red Sox jumped into the fray and reportedly offered Manny Ramirez and Matt Clement for Tejada. I find it hard to believe that Boston would trade ManRam within the division, but that's what has been reported. It now apears that deal has faded away, but the Cubs deal remains alive.

Now comes word from that the White Sox have made two different offers to the Orioles to snag Tejada. The offers are two variations that involve Jose Contreras, Juan Uribe, Ryan Sweeney and Alex Woodson.

I find it surprising that Baltimore would be interested in this deal if the rumors are true that the Cubs would be willing to offer Mark Prior, Neifi Perez or Ronny Cedeno, and one or two pitching prospects. Prior is far superior to Contreras in both age and ability. Uribe is only slightly better than Perez, and Cedeno has the potential to be much better than both. In addition, the Cubs prospect would likely be Rich Hill, Angel Guzman, Jerome Williams or some combination of these three, all as good or better than Alex Woodson. Why would Baltimore be more interested in the White Sox deal than they are in dealing with the Cubs? If Baltimore is smart (which no one is claiming), they would be much better off dealing with the Cubs.

In fact, let me take this one step further. If Baltimore is smart, they won't trade Tejada at all. He is one of the best shortstops in the bigs and considering what Rafael Furcal just signed for, Tejada's contract is not as ridiculous as it once was. I know he demanded a trade, but it seems like something could be worked out short of giving in to his demand.

Supposedly, the "Tejada situation" will be resolved one way or another by the end of the week. As a Cubs fan, I would love to see Tejada anchoring the middle infield at Wrigley for years to come. As a realist, I wouldn't be suprised for Tejada to be the shortstop in Baltimore in 2006 and beyond.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Ojeda, Can You See?

The Cubs picked up three veteran players today and offered them minor league contracts. The most notable of the signings was Marquis Grissom, who spent the past three seasons with San Francisco. If Grissom is too old to play on a Giants team who's average age is 59, I'm not sure what he's going to do for the Cubs.

If there's still some life left in Grissom's bat, he could be a valuable bench player. My hope is that Dusty doesn't fall in love with Grissom for what he has done in the past, as Dusty is wont to do. If he does, Marquis Grissom may end up being the starting left fielder for the Cubs in 2006

The Cubs also picked up Mike Restovich, a former Twins outfield prospect who played sparingly in 2005 for the Pirates and Rockies. Restovich was once highly touted, but never really blossomed into the player the Twins hoped he would be.

The final veteran to be signed to a minor league contract was SS Augie Ojeda. Ojeda, a former Cubs utility player, spent 2004 with the Twins.

Ojeda has never been a superstar, yet I always liked him. He spent four years with the Cubs (2000-2003)and always seemed to be the kind of guy who came to play, even though he knew he probably wasn't going to play.

My irrational emotions aside, Ojeda never was much of a hitter. His best year with the Cubs was in 2000 when he hit .221 in 77 at-bats. So does it make sense to just write-off Ojeda? Not so fast, my friend. Maybe there's more to Augie Ojeda than meets the eye.

In 2004 with the Minnesota Twins, Ojeda hit .339 in 59 at-bats. His on-base percentage was .429 and his slugging percentage soared to a career high of .458. So maybe Ojeda is the type of player the Cubs need hitting second behind Juan Pierre. Well, I seriously doubt it.

Following his stellar season, or rather 59 at-bats, Ojeda went missing from the radar. I can't find any stats for him in the major or minor leagues in 2005. From what I can tell, Augie was working at Home Depot last year.

So chances are, Augie Ojeda isn't going to be playing much for the Cubs in 2006, at least not at the major league level. Even so, good luck, Augie. It would be great to see you contribute to the Cubs in 2006.