Monday, January 31, 2005

Over Under

So I was going to write another post about Sammy Sosa, and what I think will happen to him this year and for the rest of his career in the AL. But instead it inspired me to do a PTI-style (or Vegas style if you prefer) over under. What do you all think about the following over/unders for Cards/Cubs:

Sammy Sosa career home runs: 660
Sammy Sosa 2005 batting average: 240
Cardinals Wins: 94
Cubs Wins: 92
Mark Mulder Wins: 17
Kerry Wood Wins, of course: 15
Rick Ankiel games started: 10
Rick Ankiel Wild Pitches: 20
Nomar games played: 125
Cubs blown saves: 20
Scott Rolen RBIs: 120
Yadier Molina stolen bases: 1
Aramis Ramirez times left on base: 100
Matt Morris Wins: 10
Glendon Rusch Wins: 10
Pujols Triple Crown Catagories: 1
Mark Prior Cy Young ranking: 3
Corey Patterson strikeouts: 150
Edmonds strikeouts: 150 (<-^--- the race is on, who can get there first?)
Dusty Baker pitching changes: 300 (divided by 162 is...)
Tony La Russa pitching changes: 5000 (at least it seems that way)
Dusty Baker tantrums: 7
Tony La Russa tantrums: 4

Saturday, January 29, 2005

No more Sosa

The Sosa rumors are flying again.

As first reported by one of the Mikes over at OldStyleCubs, there is a deal in the works between the Cubbies and the Orioles. On ESPN.com they only report that Sosa will be moving and the Cubs will pick up 10 out of the 18 million in his salary, with out mentioning who will move to the Cubs. Other sources say the main guy going to the Cubs is Jerry Hairston, Jr, a local boy from Naperville, IL. A lot of us Cards bloggers thought he would be the guy to fill one of the middle infield holes. The Cubs however, would be using him as a corner outfielder and leadoff man. That would give them a starting outfield of Hairston, Patterson, and Hollandsworth/Dubois. Not exactly as big names as Sosa and Alou. Hairston has played a grand total of 52 games in the outfield, so I wouldn't be ready to give him an everyday spot. As a leadoff man he is a promising prospect. His batting average and OBP have crept up each of the last few years, and he has put up good numbers with limited at bats the last two years. But since he backed up Brian Roberts in Baltimore, he is unproven in the field and at bat. The Cubs might also get a couple of prospects in the deal, which they could turn around and try to trade for a more proven outfielder. Or they could use the nearly 6 million that they saved (18 - 10 - Hairston's 1.65 - minor league deals) to add to the Magglio fund.

Overall I think that this is a good deal for the Cubs. Although, I think trading Sosa for 5 million dollars and a bucket of balls would be a good deal. Baltimore is feeling pressure since they missed out on all the other free agents this winter, and since they have to compete with the two big spenders out east. Baltimore seems like it will do anything to bring in a big name, whoever it is. The Cubs are going to take advantage of that by pawning off the steroid-cork-selfish-washed up Sosa. The key to the Cubs really making this a good deal, like I said, is to turn around and use their new resources to get someone else like Maggs, or Aubrey Huff. If they don't it won't make their team much better on a day to day basis, but it will help in the long run.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

269 + 32 + 99 = 52,000,000

Carlos Delgado, coming off his worst season ever, got a truckload of money from the Marlins. They signed him for four years, so he should still be with them after the move to Las Vegas, or wherever. Every deal being signed this year seams insanely large.

The Marlins needed a first baseman almost as bad as the Astros needed Clemens. And they payed dearly to get one of the best hitters of 2003. This allows the Marlins to move dinosaur Jeff Conine to the outfield or bench behind Encarnacion. Delgado has the potential to hit like a mad man and anchor the lineup which should be pretty good. They still have speedsters Pierre and Castillo, Mike "I am almost as good as Scott Rolen" Lowell, and "all grown up phenom" Miguel Cabrera. With Delgado at first, and Lo Duca behind the plate instead of Redmond, the offense should be there. The rotation of Beckett, Burnett, Willis, Leiter and Valdez is not what it has been the last couple years, but it should be pretty good. They lost Benitez the same way the Cards lost Matheny, to a big pile of money out by the bay. That leaves either set-up man for the stars Guillermo Mota, or washed up closer Billy Koch to close. All together I think the Marlins have moved a little away from the great pitching and defense that won it all in 2003 and a little more towards batting.

I will come out with some wild predictions a little closer to the season, but for now, I will just say that the NL east should be interesting, and by interesting I mean disappointing.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Tim Kurkjian

Tim Kurkjian just wrote an article on ESPN, in which he and Andy Van Slyke both discuss thier heterosexual man-love for Scott Rolen. Being a Rolen lover myself, I found it to be a good read. Here it is. That bring the things that Rolen does as well or better than anyone in the league up one more level. So we have:

Best fielding third baseman, maybe the best at any one position in the league
Top three hitting third baseman (Beltre and A-Rod)
Top five baserunner, according to Kurkjian
Best at taking the guy out at second, according to Kurkjian

Not a bad list for a ballplayer to have. In addition, he is the major league baseball player that looks most like Julia Stiles. So, Scott my man-crush from southern Indiana, keep on trucking.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Marquis and Ankiel

My buddy Walt wrapped up all the loose ends over the last couple days signing deals with Marquis and Ankiel before arbitration. Marquis came at a reasonable 3 million and Ankiel came as a steal at 400,000 dollars. Obviously Scott Boras is to busy covering up the Magglio injury to worry about extruding as much as possible out of Ankiel's short comeback last season. Both contracts have significant incentives in them that can boost them up about a quarter million each.

I like the Ankiel deal a lot, the Cards are giving him his last chance to comeback this year and use the left arm of god for good instead of evil. Even though the deals is only for one year, if Rick performs well, the Cards should be able to resign him next year when some of the larger Cards contracts end (Izzy, Sanders, Walker.) And if he freaks out, or gets hurt again it is easy to cut him loose. One of the bonuses he can earn is for winning comeback player of the year. Barring a Raul Mondesi resurgence, Ankiel has everything in place to do that. With Morris gone for the first month or so, Ankiel will be in the rotation making a case to stay there. If he pitches a few great games in April, there is no way La Russa will move him to the pen. So he could end up being a quality starter for less money than either Eldred or Mike Myers. Even in the pen he should be a better lefty than Myers.

The Marquis deal is fine, I wouldn't have minded seeing a second year and maybe a club option for three. As it is the entire pitching staff is going to be free agents next year. Morris signed for one year 2.5. If I remember correctly Suppan signed for two years last year and makes 4 million this year, he might have an option year in 2006. Carpenter just excepted a one year extension for 2 million. Marquis is now on a one year deal for 3 million. Only the new hotness (thanks Mike) Mark Mulder is signed through 2006. In addition, Izzy's crazy big contract is finally ending.

So the good news is that the Redbirds now have a 6 man rotation (Ankiel included in case there are more injuries) playing for under 18 million dollars, and that includes five 15 game winners and the left arm of god. WOW! Compared to the Cubs, who are spending over 18 million for just Wood and Maddux and are stuck in arbitration with Zambrano, that is pretty damn good. Compared to the 22 million that Clemens is asking for, I am very happy.

The bad news is that Walt has a lot of work to do for 2006 and beyond. Then again, Wainwright and Reyes will be waiting to fight for a spot.

30 days until pitchers and catchers report.

Monday, January 17, 2005

No news is good news

The less that happens the better for the Cardinals. The Cardinals roster is good enough to bet set. Certainty it is a lot better than it was at this point last year. The Cubs and Astros still have work to do, and the longer they wait, the happier I get.

The only thing left to be desired for the Cardinals right now is some power off the bench. From what I can tell the bench right now should be Taguchi, Luna, Mabry, Diaz, and Cedeno. Of those, Mabry had some power last year, but really hasn't over his career and nobody else is much of a home run threat. (Of course Taguchi hit one onto Waveland this year, but with the wind out at Wrigley, I think Jim Abbott could hit a dinger.) None of the spring training invites that could sneak onto the roster have any power either. I was hoping Wilton Guerrero was a swing for the fences and either strikeout or homerun type of guy. However, based on his stats he does not have Vladimir's power or even Pedro Guerrero's power. Considering the power guy last year was Marlon Anderson, with his career high of 11 homers, I am fine if the Cards bench focuses on getting on base in front of the big guys.

Moving on to the other teams, it does not look like the Astros are going to get Soriano. While a lot of the sabermetric people out there hate Soriano for his free swinging and so-so fielding, I am still glad he is staying in the AL and the Stros will be using Vizcaino. As for the Cubs, the takers for Sosa look to be slim. According to my buddy Mike at OldStyleCubs.blogspot.com the Expos, I mean Nationals, offered them Termell Sledge for Sosa, as long as the Cubs pick up both salaries. Of course that is a laughable offer, but it is a good indication of the interest in Sosa throughout the league. It is fairly similar to the trade rumors around Randy Moss, if Randy Moss were older and less talented.

The Cubs, and everyone else also seem to want to wait on Magglio Ordonez until they know something new about his injury. I do not understand how that is a good strategy. There are only two possibilities. First, he has no knee or as the rumors say, can only run in straight lines. In that case, the Cubs would not want him to be their everyday outfielder. Second, he is healthy enough to play like he has his whole career. In which case they will have waited to long. Good Scott Boras outfielders are about as cheap right now as Chicago is warm and if you are reading this from somewhere else, be happy you can feel your toes. So there is little chance the Cubs will be able to sign a healthy Ordonez (besides Rey) at less than 8 million or so a year, which is a huge risk. If I were the Cubs, after crying a lot, I would offer him a real low salary, incentive rich deal, similar to Nomar, now but with maybe a third the value of Nomar. That way if he can run they are geniuses and if he can't they have a very solid, very expensive pinch hitter. The other option would be to offer him a reasonable contract depending on a rigorous physical, so Boras can not cast a shadow over his health.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Fitz and "The Pujols Game"

One of my readers, who call's him self only "Fitz," has a pretty good blog of his own, when he's talking about baseball. He put up this post about the best regular season Cards game of the season, and maybe of my life. He put it into words better than I can, so just read it and think about what can happen when the wind is blowing out on a nice summer day at Wrigley this year.

With 36 days till pitchers and catchers report the Cards added a few people to the spring training team/AAA squad/bench if they are lucky. Abraham Nunez and Milton Guerrero (Vlad's brother) are on the list. Also some 25 year old Rockies minor league starter named Chris Gissell who had a good year in the minors. With another early injury while Morris is out, he may end up getting a look in the big leagues, if he is deemed more ready than Wainwright or Reyes. There are also some relief pitchers in the mix, but since the Cards bullpen is already over capacity, that should just give Memphis a boost.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Roids

Well, it's only January and the Cards seem to be complete. The Cubs and Astros are not improving themselves in anyway. There is not a whole lot to talk about, but one interesting thing is that the MLB and the players association have a new steroid policy. They are going to explain it sometime tomorrow. Looking at the Cards there are very few people I would question about steroids. Larry Walker may have used them at some point, but he has always been big, so I wouldn't bet on it.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Time to Surrender

So, just when Cards fans think they are in the clear with Beltran going to the Mets, the Cubs signed Stephen Randolph and clinched the division. When I was watching the bottom line on ESPN, I saw "The Chicago Cubs have signed..." and I thought Oh No it's all over, then I saw "...Stephen Randolph." I thought, "Who the hell is Stephen Randolph." apparently he is a lefty reliever, the Cubs couldn't just sit on their hands while the Cards got Mike Myers.

According to ESPN the Astros are trying to trade for Soriano. Apparently the Rangers need to free up some money to sign Carlos Delgado. Sounds dumb to me, I would take Soriano over Delgado any day of the week. Plus they got an underrated Teixeira at first, why do they need an overrated Delgado. For Houston it's a good deal if they don't give up too much. Obviously, the Stros need bats with Kent and Beltran gone, Biggio and Bagwell getting old, and Berkman out for a while. Soriano would help both on offense and defense. If they don't pull off a deal of this magnitude and if Clemens retires, I will be ranking the Astros down with the bottom three of the division instead of the top three. Looking at the list of people they have signed, let's just say I am not afraid.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

The Beltran Clock

So Carlos has about four hours left to consider the Astro's offer. Since the Cubs are the low bidder so far, it seems that the Cards may be four hours away from escaping an entire year of Beltran in the NL Central. That would be nice. I am somewhat torn about which team I would like to get Beltran. If the Yankees get him, he will be far away in the AL. However, I really would not like a team to exist that is that good. Considering the Cards got to the series last year, I consider them top contenders to get there again and the Yankees may be the team from the AL. Plus, the Cards do play the Yankees this year in the regular season as they line up with the AL East for interleague. So what do you think who should I root for: the Pond Scum, or the Evil Empire?

By the way, yippee for signing La Russa for three more years. It's to bad the Cards did not win the series and get La Russa to coach for free, since that was his promise.

P.S. the answer to the last trivia about the last Cardinal with dingers from both sides of the plate in the same game was Geronimo Pena. (Thanks 365 day pull off calendar)

Friday, January 07, 2005

The Fury of the Cubs Fan

Well, although I have written more than a couple Cubs bashing posts on this blog, that last one about Sandberg and the Hall-of-Fame really seemed to irk the little bear lovers. Read the comments on the Hall of Fame post to see what angry Mr. Parker thinks of me. And while I could be the bigger man and just let it slide, maybe talk about the wonders of Larry Walker hitting second, where is the fun in that? And keep in mind, that I have nothing against the people in Chicago, I live with them, and the Cubs fans I know are good people. But, I am not going to let this guy bad mouth me on my own website with out a response.

First off, you should rethink bashing McGee for his lower fielding percentage. A lot of time that just means he hustles for balls and goes all out, instead of letting a toughy get by to avoid the error. Sure, this might make his numbers look worse than non-divers Sandberg and Grace, and hold McGee to only three Gold Gloves. But, it could also be part of the reason he got three pennants and a ring. Sure his slugging percentage was much lower than Ryno's but he didn't hit the long ball, no one on those teams did. In fact, in 1982 the whole team only hit something like 65 home runs. (You can check that number, I would rather not waste the time.) And much to the sabermatrician's chagrin, Whitey Ball won the World Series. Willie did lead the league in batting a couple times, and won the MVP when the Cards went to the series in 85. And as much as Cubs fans want to deny it, leading your team to success is helpful for your legacy and hall-of-fame consideration.

Second, as for my displaced-anger-at-the-Cardinals-for-the-World-Series-performance-theory I would be more upset if I were a Cubs fan for their world series performance. Did you know that the Cubs didn't have a single hit in the world series, actually they haven't for over 50 years.

As for Sandberg, I am not denying that he is a great player and a Cardinal killer. He is a borderline Hall-of-Famer. Considering the people that are in the Hall-of-Fame already, he should be in too, he is better than a lot of them. What I was saying is that the Hall-of-Fame is to easy to get into. If I ran it people like Sandberg would not be in. Or there would be a tiered system where he would be in the Hall, but not on the same level as Hank Aaron, for example. And comparing your list of four Cubs greats to four Cards greats I would take my chances with the Redbirds in every matchup Musial/Banks, Ozzie/Ryno, Brock/Williams, and especially Gibson/Jenkins.

So Mr. Parker, you may look up more stats then me everyday, have fun with that. I will take that time, go back to "those good ol' folks down in Missouri" and celebrate all the good times we've had from Stan the Man, to Grud the Stud.


Thursday, January 06, 2005

Mark Grudzielanek

The Cardinals are complete. I got my wish and the Cards signed the best remaining free agent second baseman, Mark Grudzielanek. While some Cards fans I know will be angry due to the ex-Cub factor this is still a great move. He is only around for one year at 1 million bucks, which is a steal considering it is less that Vizcaino or Jose Hernandez. He is a better hitter than the other unemployed guys, Alex Cora, Roberto Alomar, and Miguel Cairo. So to me it was the best the Cards could do with out giving up some guys in a trade. All that is left to debate is how the team now will compare to last year.

In the field, Womack has a slightly higher range, but Mark's arm is a lot stronger so he should be good at turning two. As far as hitting, Grud the Stud hit .307 last year with a .347 OBP, about the same as Womack. What the Cards lose in speed they gain in power as Mark's slugging was fifty points higher.

However, it is probably more appropriate to compare Grudzielanek to Renteria and Womack to Eckstein, since that will be the corresponding spots in the batting order. Surprisingly, Grudzielanek actually had a higher OBP and slugging than Edgar last year. So, the sabermatrician would take Mark's bat. However, over their careers Renteria has had a slight lead in both categories. If Grudzielanek had played as many games as Edgar, he would have hit at least as many dingers, but since Todd Walker played half the games in Chicago that didn't happen. Grudzielanek only had 23 RBI in 81 games, but he lead off most of the time, so that's not a fair comparison. Edgar is magic on the basepaths, while Grudzielanek has a surgically repaired Achilles. Still, for the 9 million dollars a year less, I will take Grudzielanek and his 300 average in the 7 spot.

As far as Eckstein and Womack it is the opposite story. Womack had a better year last year in OBP and slugging, but over their careers Eckstein is better. Obviously, Womack is better on the basepaths. If you could promise me that Womack would hit like he did last year, I would definitely prefer him to Eckstein, but I have a hunch that he will not hit .300 in the nine spot for the Yankees. So, while the lineup should be a little weaker at leadoff it may be the best option available. Eckstein and his no strikeouts contact hitting method should work well with La Russa and his love to hit and run. If he can learn some more patience (3.8 pitches/appearance), he should see good pitches with the big four right behind him.

Cardinals Trivia courtesy of my little calendar: Who is the last Cardinal player to hit home runs form both sides of the plate in a single game? Winner gets 4 bonus points

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Hall of Fame

For Cubs Fans, one down, a bunch to bitch about. The Cubs upped their post-WWII hall of famers to four today with Ryne Sandberg barely getting in. Looking at the list of players that did not get in there are a lot of Cubs up there. Since a lot of the voters consider championships a positive when judging a career, several Cubs just miss the cut. You hear a lot of "That guy should be in" talk from Cubs Fans, usually starting with Ron Santo. Now if Ron Santo was as good at baseball as he is bad at annoucing he would have gone first ballot. Andre Dawson, Lee Smith (who played alot more in blue than red) are two of the guys that are still eligible for voting that people complain about.

At the bottom of the list is Willie McGee. While he may be my favorite baseball player ever, I still have to admit he is not a hall of famer. He won an MVP a handful of Batting titles and Gold Gloves, and had fairly similar numbers to Ryne Sandberg, minus the home runs. Sandberg got in because he was a second baseman, as an outfielder or first baseman he probably would not have. Willie does have a championship and two pennants, but that is not enough to make up for the fact that he did not hit home runs, and finished with 2254 hits, not the 3000 that gets an auto ticket to Cooperstown.

I am a guy that almost always is against letting people into the Halls-of-Fame. So I definitly would go against a borderline guy like Sandberg. When you have a thousand people in a Hall-0f-Fame, it seems less special. Funny note, the last guy who got in with a closer vote than Sandberg was Cubby Fergie Jenkins, the man who invented giving up the long ball. I guess even the "Great" Cubs aren't that good.

Monday, January 03, 2005

New Name; Moves; Beltran

I was inspired by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and decided to spruce up my website's name. From now on Cards Fan in Cubs Land will be: "Bobo Hilario Presents: The Cardinals Fan of Cubs Land." If you do not pick up my sarcasm you should please leave my website, try being a Cubs fan.

How dumb is the name changing thing? Disney sure loves their marketing don't they? There are now two pro sports teams that are "of Anaheim" which is two more than any other city.

Anyway, back to Cardinals, there is still no news on the Alomar front, hopefully that decreases the chance that there is a deal in place. There have not been many moves at all since Christmas. Apparently the three team deal with Randy Johnson is going to happen, but with less players and broken up into pieces. Instead of actually making a three team deal the D-Backs will do the trade with the Yankees and then move the prospect(s) to LA for Shawn Green. It seems like the Dodgers and D-Backs are changing their minds a lot, so I will believe the deals when the I see players in new jerseys.

The Beltran drama keeps chugging along. The Mets seem to be a major player, which is cool by me, anywhere out of the division is good and I don't want the Yankees/Red Sox juggernauts to get any bigger.

Still, I can't help but think that Beltran has become very overrated. Sure, he was great in the playoffs and as a Blues fan I can tell you that good playoff players are hard to come by. But in the regular season Beltran was not great. The Scott Boras built hype seems to have covered up the fact that Beltran only hit .268 last year and struck out 101 times. He is a terrific fielder, wonderful on the basepaths, and hits with power. However, he is so inconsistant that 12 million dollars seems like a more reasonable amount per year than the 17 Houston offered, or the 20 Boras wants.

I wouldn't be surprised if Beltran turns out to be a Bernie Williams caliber player. Bernie was a Boras-client-high-payed-switch-hitting-gold-glove-all-star for 5 or 6 years. And as much as I would like to see the Cubs empty out their savings, I would prefer to see Beltran take his talent out east and leave the Cubs and Astros with major holes in their outfields.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Ankiel problems?

Apparently Rick Ankiel felt a little tweak in his left elbow a couple days ago. So his winter ball is over. A doctor back here in the US checked it out and said he was fine. I hope this is nothing, because the Cards will most likely need the "Left Arm of God" at the start of the season with Morris still recovering. If this escalates to a major problem it could just be another pain in the neck for Ankiel's long road back to the majors. I'm sure all the Cards fans are with me thinking that we have waited long enough to find out if he can still do it like he did his rookie year. So, Rick "Left Arm of God" Ankiel, you have 47 days to report to Florida in shape and ready to impress. I, for one, believe he's going to compete for the fifth spot once Morris gets back. If he keeps a spot all year, he should have a better year than Haren, and if he moves to the 'pen, he should have a better year than Calero.