Thursday, December 29, 2005

Tejada out... Preston Wilson in?

You never know with regard to these types of rumors - but this one has an air of plausibility. Tim Dierkes over at MLB Trade rumors is reporting that the Tejada for Prior deal is apparently dead (thank-goodness), and also that the Cubs are close to signing Preston Wilson to play Right Field - which then means that Jones will platoon with Murton in LF (a good move in my opinion - I'm just surprised that Hendry's paying someone $5 million per for a platoon situation).

Here's the money quote from Dierkes' piece - he has Hendry and the Cubs pegged:

It seems that the Tejada deal is dead and the Orioles have rejected the Cubs' offer. Cubs GM Jim Hendry is looking in another direction for some added power in the lineup, and Wilson is his type of player. By that, I mean that Wilson is an affordable outfielder with average to below average plate discipline. He's a career .264/.333/.478 hitter.


Exactly.

I guess I should be happy that Mark Prior isn't going to be shipped anywhere. This still isn't an offense that will frighten anyone - which means that the starting rotation (and bullpen) are going to have to be near perfect for this team to compete next season.

Current Peoria Northsider Report Cubs 2006 Playoff Percentage Meter (CPNRCPPM): 30%

And oh yeah - was anyone else annoyed by that awful blue field at the MPC Computers Bowl at Boise yesterday?

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

PAT WILLIAMS IS NO BRAIN SURGEON...

A supposed meaningless game with the Viqueens on Sunday has taken on new meaning, and could get pretty interesting if Viqueens Defensive Tackle Pat Williams doesn't learn to shut his pie hole.

"He's a joke, a complete joke, I haven't had any respect for him since he has been in this league," Williams said about Olin Kruetz in an interview with a Minnesota newspaper last month. Then this past week when the Pro Bowl announcements were made Williams agent acused the Bears players and in particular Olin Kreutz of organizing a black ball among other players to keep Williams out of the Pro Bowl.

What was Kruetz's response, well he called Williams "a fat slob", and when asked what he ever did to Williams, Kruetz just said "I don't know , I guess I made him mad somehow, I guess I stole his cheeseburger."

Wasn't it just a month or so ago that Kruetz broke the jaw of one of his own teammates Fred Miller after they got drunk and went to a shooting range together. If Kruetz would break the jaw of one of his own teammates, what do you suppose he would do to a member of another team. Especially one of the hated Viqueens. Especially one who keeps running his mouth.

Kruetz is widely regaurded as the best centers in football, and one of the meanest men in football. Personally I love the guy and he is one of my favorite players. He is certainly one guy you never want to piss off, as Fred Miller found out earlier this year. He's a throwback to the old days and doesn't take any crapola from anybody.

Needless to say I will be keeping an eye on this match up come Sunday afternoon.

Post-Christmas Thoughts...

Hope everyone has had a blessed Christmas. I've certainly enjoyed the break from school.

In any event, just a few thoughts to share during the holiday break.

1) Prior for Tejada rumors. I don't like this deal. This current rotation (Zambrano, Prior, Wood, Maddux, Williams) already is questionable. If Wood or Prior loses any time to injury, Maddux then becomes the #3 starter - and at this stage in his career he isn't anything more than a serviceable #5 (on a playoff contending team). If this current staff stays healthy all season (a highly suspect proposition), you've still got Maddux and Williams starting 40% of your games - and with this offense that's a formula for trouble my friends. Therefore, losing Prior will only aggravate matters, unless a pitcher of somewhat comparable stature (e.g., Zito) is acquired.

Yes, Tejada's bat is necessary since this team will continue to struggle offensively unless something is done on this front. However, filling holes by creating new ones isn't a solution which promises real progress. If this deal is done (and no comparable replacement for Prior is found), the Cubs will still finish 2nd or 3rd in the division (if Roger Clemens comes back with the Astros, the Cubs will fight for 3rd or 4th).

2) Todd Walker. We'll have to wait and see how this ultimately turns out, but I don't understand why Todd Walker has apparently been consigned to serve as trade bait by this ball club. This man has shown a persistent ability to get on base - something this team desperately needs. He is a contact hitter who has excellent plate discipline (this may actually explain why the Cubs want to get rid of him). He batted .305 last season and posted a .355 OBP. His defense is admittedly nothing spectacular, but is it bad enough to negate the offensive contributions he makes to this team? I certainly don’t think so. I say bring Walker back and let him start at 2nd base.

3) Playoffs?! This team, as it is presently constructed, will not seriously compete for playoff contention next season unless both Wood and Prior return to 2003 form and the lack of offensive production from the OF is addressed in some substantive way (Pierre and Jones don’t qualify as addressing this problem btw).

Lastly, The Red Reporter is hosting a best major league blog award and the Peoria Northsider report has been nominated!

Just kidding. Actually, 2 Cubs blogs made the list – therefore, go vote for Al Yellon’s Bleed Cubbie Blue like I did. Yes – he is wildly unrealistic, but he’s a good guy and he puts a lot of work into his site.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

WHERE IN THE WORLD DID 20 YEARS GO?

First of all Merry Christmas to everyone. It is about 130 in the morning on Christmas morning and I am killing time for a couple hours until I fulfill my regular Sunday morning duty of helping my mom with her ridiculous paper route. I was hoping I would get news that she quit that stupid thing for Christmas, no such luck. So because I am such a loving, caring son, I go help her on Sunday's when the papers weigh more than she does.

In our family we celebrate the traditional exchanging of gifts, for various reasons-the most of which family logistics, on Christmas Eve.

I really hate shopping period, especially Christmas shopping. For my mother and sister, it's the standard gift cards. Screw it I say, let them go get whatever they want and leave me out of it. For my 13 yeard old nephew, I usually go with cold hard cash. My 7 year old nephew is pretty easy, just pick out a few toys and be done with it, prefferably something that flies, explodes, or goes really fast. I am a really cool uncle because I found a few things that do all three at the same time. Then theres my dad...

My dad is pretty easy because anything that I think is pretty cool, he would think is pretty cool. He hasn't really picked up on my love for golf, but other than that were pretty much the same. I was surfing the Chicago Tribune web site a few weeks ago and they had an advertisement selling the entire 1985 Bears season on DVD. The cost was about 80$. I couldn't resist because as much as I know he would love that, I think I would enjoy watching those even more. Come on now I can't be the only guy guilty of doing something like that, you know giving someone a gift that you are hoping you might get the chance to enjoy as well.

The first thing I noticed was the packaging these DVD's were in. I was expecting a professional job with each DVD in it's own little box, instead there were all in there own little paper sleeve with a handwritten wk1, wk2, and so forth on each DVD. Also they were coming from some outfit out of New York, which was surprise.

It took me and dad about 5 minutes after we were all done opening the gifts to plop down in front of the TV and watch Da Bears. The first game we picked out was the game against Dallas. The first thing noticeable was the fact that Pat Summerall and John Madden looked so young, well 20 years younger I reckon. John Madden is the man in my opinion. For example in that game Pat Summerall was talking about Bears center Jay Hilgenberg, mentioning that Jay's brother Joel was a center with the Saints at the time, and their dad was also a center in the NFL, then Madden chymes in with a classic line in my opinion "they were the only kids in the neighborhood who played catch backwards." Or on a Payton carry where he was cut under by Bill Bates, who was in his third year in 1985 (didn't he just retire like a few weeks ago). On the replay Madden says " Payton was ready to deliver a load, and Bates got lower than the load to avoid being unloaded upon." What a trip.

The main thing I noticed about that game was how much the 1985 Bears looked like the 2005 Bears. The defense was incredible while the offense was, well they sucked. Granted the Bears didn't have McMahon this game and went with Steve Fuller. Late in the first quarter there was no score, and the Bears offense was yet to get a first down. Struggling against the likes of Randy White, Ed "Too Tall" Jones, and Jim Jeffcoat. Late in the first quarter Bears punter Maury Buford pinned the Cowboys on their own 2 yard line with a Brad Maynard like punt. On the first play the Cowboys tried to pass out of their own end zone and Dan Hampton batted the ball in the air like he thought he was Alex Brown or something. Richard Dent or Adewale Ogunleye caught the ball at the one and fell in the end zone for a defensive touchdown and a 7-0 lead.

After a Bears field goal, "LA" Mike Richardson intercepted a Danny White pass and ran it back for a touchdown. On that play Danny White was knocked out of the game with a concussion, on a crushing blow by number 55 Lance Briggs, or I guess it was number 55 Otis Wilson. The next series the Cowboys went with the great Survivor contestant Gary Hogeboom at QB. On his first pass attempt he was intercepted by Leslie Frazier. I guess that's why Hogebom had to resort to making money on Survivor to get by, because his quarterbacking ability left alot to be desired. The Bears got another touchdown with the help of a crushing block by the Fridge for a 24-0 lead at half.

Nowadays a concussion and you are done for a few weeks, but Danny White was pretty resilient starting the second half and he lasted almost 3 or 4 plays before Wilber Marshall knocked him out of the game again with another Urlacher type shot to the chops. Hogeboom comes back in the game and picks up where he left off by finding a wide open Gary Fencik. The Bears got down to the 1 yard line but had to settle for a field goal after being penalized 10 yards for the Fridge picking Payton up and trying to carry him in the end zone.

I was waxing nostalgic about this whole experience. Like seeing Ron Rivera playing special teams, or Jeff Fisher on the sidelines coaching the DB's. Mostly though for personal reasons, you see in 1984 the Bears played the Cowboys and lost and Madden and Summerall talked alot about that game from the year earlier. What's so big about that game, well the day the Bears played the Cowboys in 1984 was the day that my grandpa (my dads dad) passed away so we thought alot about him. Also from watching the game Walter Payton was clearly the most conditioned athlete on the field, as he probably was in every game he played in. To think that the most conditioned athlete on the field passed away so young was pretty shocking.

It was alot of fun watching that game. I was 10 years old in 1985 and today I am 30 years old, where in the world did 20 years go?

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Prior for Tejada?

From the Baltimore Sun:

According to team and industry sources, the most serious discussions the Orioles are having about Tejada appear to be with the Chicago Cubs, who are dangling a package that includes standout right-handed pitcher Mark Prior... According to two industry sources, there was some preliminary discussion between the Orioles, Cubs and Oakland Athletics on a three-way deal that included Tejada, Bedard, Prior and Oakland ace Barry Zito among others heading to new homes.

The only way I would be at peace with this trade is if the Cubs trade Prior, Patterson, and possibly a medium prospect (not Pie) or money for Tejada and Zito. I can't possibly see that happening.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

WHAT A TRAGEDY...

I heard this morning about James Dungy, the son of Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy being found dead in his apartment early this morning and to say I was shocked would be the understatement of the year. Two lessons to learn from this...

1) I once wore a t-shirt that stated "Football is life, the rest is just details." Nothing could be further from the truth. Life is so much more than football, baseball, a job, anything. Life is loving God with all your heart, and serving others.

2) Life is short, none of us are promised tomorrow, were not even promised the rest of today. 18 years old and this kid, still a teenager, and his life was cut short. The Bible says in Hebrews that "it is appointed for man to die once" . You see our time has been set, or appointed before time began, and no one knows when their time is up. The real thing to worry about is the rest of that verse "and then comes the judgment." The message to learn from this is I do not know when my time is up, am I ready for the judgment that comes afterwards?

I myself am 100% sure that I am ready to face the judgment that is imminent in my life. Not because I am perfect, far from it, I am ready because I have a personal relationship with the One who is. The One who paid the penalty for my imperfections (the candy coated, PC word for sin). The One who paid the penalty for my sin, is none other than Jesus, who is my Savior. I pray that you too would enjoy that personal relationship with Him. You too can be sure of what will happen when you face your "judgment".

Everything that I have ever heard about Tony Dungy is that he is a man of devout faith, and a dedicated family man, and I lift him and his family up in prayer. For peace and comfort, and a double portion of the grace and love of God. I pray for faith in the wisdom of God in his life, to know that God's plans sometimes are tough at first sight, but for him to know that "all things do work together for good to those that love God and are called according to His purpose." God is in control of his life, and as ridiculous as it seems now, this will all work out for the best because God promises, and that is set in stone.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

FROM THE RED STATES

Well I imagine the STL Police Dept. is now placed on a high state of alert because the St. Louis Cardinals just signed Sidney Ponson to a 1 year incentive based contract. Ponson, who was just released from jail about a week ago now finds himself in a Cardinal uniform.

I have mixed feelings on this deal. On one hand Ponson has tremendous upside, alot of talent , and if we get the Ponson of 2003 then this would be a tremendous signing for the Cards. However, Ponson has a history of not being able to stay away from the booze. He's had several DUI's and was just released from jail for punching a federal judge. This is a huge gamble for Walt Jocketty, especially if he is now planning on trading Jason Marquis for a much needed outfielder, that means we are counting on Dave Duncan and his magical pitching dust to resurrect the pitching career of Ponson the way he has done for the likes of Chris Carpenter, Daryl Kile, Kent Bottenfield, Dave Stewart, and Bob Welch from years past.

The Cardinals have a long history of taking guys with a troubled past and turning their careers around. Jim Edmonds was considered a problem child in Anaheim, Scott Rolen was productive in Philly, but also had a reputation as a trouble maker. Even going as far back as George Hendrick in the early 80's. This is a low risk signing, only giving him a one year deal, laced with incentives so if Ponson goes off the deep end then were not really out too much. But if he realizes that his career is on the line and pitches up to his talent level then a big contract is a year away, but if he bottoms out then this time next year he might be coaching the Bad News Bears.

I think it is a safe gamble with the professionalism of this team with the likes of Pujols, Edmonds, Rolen, Carpenter, and Suppan that Ponson will fall in line. With our defense and the new ballpark which from the sounds of it will be a pichers paradise, Ponson could have a big year in St. Louis.

We might be looking back on this deal as another one of those little deals that make Jocketty one of the best in the business. We better, especially if we trade Marquis for an outfielder because if that happens we go from just taking a chance on Ponson to needing him as our 5th starter. Then if Anthony Reyes is not as good as advertised and combine that with a drunken, beligerant Ponson, than 40% of our rotation is screwed, as well as our 2006 season.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

That sound you just heard...

was the sound of the Cubs 2006 season flushing down the toilet. You see, the Cubs just inked Jacque Jones to a 3-year deal:

MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota Twins right fielder Jacque Jones declined arbitration with the club, then agreed to a deal to play for the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday.

Jones' agent, Dan Lozano, said the Twins were only offering a one-year deal and that his client has several multi-year offers on the table. Jones accepted a deal with the Cubs for three years, but financial terms were not disclosed.

The Twins offered arbitration so they would be assured a 2006 first-round draft pick when the 30-year-old outfielder signed with another team. Jones made $5 million last season, but almost assuredly would have received a raise had he accepted the offer.

Jones was drafted by the Twins in 1996 and broke into the majors in 1999. He led the team with 23 home runs last season and hit .249 with 73 RBI.


Why are prospects for next season swirling down the johnny as a result of this signing?

Because it signals most of all that Jim Hendry just doesn't understand the extent of the problems with this team as it is currently constructed and managed.

This is not a team on the cusp of playoff contention in need only of minor improvement (and it is arguable how much improvement [if any] Jones provides over the underwhelming Jeromy Burnitz).

This is a team that is deeply flawed - and deeply flawed on a number of levels. It is especially flawed in terms of offense (or lack thereof) - but it is also a team that has a very questionable starting rotation. That's never a good combination. It's certainly not a team that will contend.

Here's the bottom line - Jacque Jones isn't the answer to what proved to be an absolutely horrendous (from an offensive standpoint) OF last year. The offensive production was downright offensive last year, if you get what I mean. And Jones isn't going to substantially improve things.

In fact you can write this down - because it comes from a baseball realist - this team as presently constructed will struggle to finish third in the division next year (and that's assuming no injuries).

You don't like that prognosis? Go over to fantasy land and get your fix of continually deferred hope. For my part, I don't deal in fantasy - only reality - and sometimes it really does bite folks.

I suspect that Jim will tell us in the near future just how "satisfied" he is with the team as presently constructed. Just like last year in fact. He was satisfied with what he had then - in fact he was pretty sure the club could "survive" when Wood, Williamson, and Garciaparra returned in early August. And that turned out splendidly as we all know.

And to be honest, I don't know why he wouldn't be "satisfied."

After all, who isn't satisfied with fourth place in the division!

IT'S QUIET . . . TOO QUIET

With all of the Cubs news being Nomar to the Dodgers (They're now the team to beat in the NL West), I'm wondering what Hendry might place in Dusty's Christmas stocking (If Dusty isn't using them underneath his hunting boots).

"No thanks, I'll take the coal" -

Jose Macias: A minor league contract and invitation to Spring training.

Jacque Jones: Put up lines of .254/.315/.427 and .249/.319/.438 the last 2 years. A RF who might give Patterson a run for his money in the K department (OK, maybe not quit, but too many). But he plays great D. Then again, so does Corey.

Jeromy Burnitz: Treading water . . . or drowning. An improvement over Jones in the power department and OBP, however. Plus, ya gotta love the old school socks.

"Not Quite an Xbox360" -

Starting Pitching: There is still some SP available via free agency--go get you some Jim. I'm not very confident about health or performance. Wouldn't it be wonderful to have too much starting pitching? But, don't spend next year's Christmas budget overpaying like Toronto did.

Jose Vidro: It seems Walker isn't wanted anymore. Although I think his left-handed offense would be great at the number 2 spot in the order (with Cedano at SS), Vidro would be a fine replacement if the Nats move Vidro so that Soriano can play second base. Hopefully, Vidro's knee problems are a thing of the past.

Soriano: Alfonso isn't happy about suggestions of him playing LF or being in the NL . Not likely to be a Cub, however.

"Better than a Christmas Goose" -

Starting Pitching to trade for a SS (Tejada) or quality RF (Abreu, Huff): If the Cubs do sign a SP and end up paying too much, maybe he could be used as bait with either the Rays, O's, or Phils (see next entry).

Huff, Tejada, Abreu: Nothing further to be said.

I'm off to Chicago tomorrow to see the relatives and to help my son make his first snowman, among other things. I wish everyone a wonderful Christmas, celebrating the birth of the Savior.

" . . . behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, 'Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 'She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.' Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: 'BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL,' which translated means, 'GOD WITH US.'" (Matthew 1: 20-23, NASB)

THE BEARS WITH AN OFFENSE?

One day a few years ago, I got to work and I did the same thing I do every morning when I get to work, grab a cup of coffee and open my newspaper to the Sports Page. This day was a little different than most because the Bears had hired a new coach. I was reading an article by Mike Nadel, bashing Jerry Angelo for screwing up the hiring of Nick Saban and settling for some stiff from the Rams, Lovie Smith. The Defensive Coordinator from the Rams, the Rams are known for their offense, "who in the hell is Lovie Smith" I thought to myself. "What kind a sissy goes by Lovie?" I could only think of Thurston Howell III from Gilligan's Island and how he used to call his wife Lovie all the time.

Well I have been pretty outspoken on my disdain for Bears GM Jerry Angelo, especially on this blog. In fact I have stated that I thought that the Bears would never win anything until this guy is fired. Now, I am not hopping on the Jerry Angelo bandwagon, but I am jumping full force on the Lovie Smith bandwagon, this guy is a really good coach. I give credit where it is due, and Angelo got this one right. Hey, even a broken clock is right twice a day.

There are some things I dislike about Lovie, chief of which is his overly passive demeanor on the sidelines. He reminds too much of Dick Jauron "the way out." When I say overly passive, here's what I mean - it seems he has the same demeanor whether we are winning by 30 or losing by 30. We suffered through the Bobby Wade punt return fiasco all season, and I like to imagine what Ditka would have done to Mr. Wade in that situation. In fact, I wish Lovie was more like Ditka in that regard. Now I give Lovie credit, he eventually did send Wade packing but geez it took bout 6 weeks too long. I would have loved to see Ditka run out on the field and beat the snot out of Wade, after the 5th or 6th time he fielded a punt on our own 2 yard line.

I hopped fully onto the Lovie bandwagon when he put Rex Grossman into the game last night. Now if some readers will recall I was calling for Lovie to just go with Orton when Rex got hurt in the pre season, and he did. It is clear though that when he is healthy, Grossman is the better QB, and he gives the Bears an added dimension on offense. You know, there is actually now a threat that we might throw the ball more than 5 yards down the field and might actually complete one or two of these passes a game. We have an offense!!!

Now granted, I preface this by saying that we are not the Colts, and we are not capable of putting up 30 or 40 to outscore a team. We don't have to be though. Nevertheless, I don't think it is too much too ask for 1 touchdown a half. 1 TD a half - that's not too much to ask, and I think we are capable of that with Grossman in the game. That's 14 points a game. Now I figure the D is good enough to get us a couple field goals via a turnover or two. We have an offense that is capable of converting on third down every once in awhile to extend drives and give the D a little rest. How great would this D have been this year with the help of even a pathetic offense? 17 points a game is now a reasonable goal, and any game we get 17 points, I will take my chances with our defense.

The question is - Rex Glassman has never made more than 3 starts without getting hurt, so it wouldn't surprise me if we go into the playoffs, again with Kyle Orton under center. What does this benching do to his confidence? Well I agree with Lovie and say screw it, go with the guy that gives us the best chance to win, and if Orton can't handle a little adversity, then he will probably not last long in the NFL anyway.

The Bears were winning last night when the change was made, winning in much the same way we have been winning all year, in spite of our offense. I think Lovie realized that we have a Super Bowl D, and with just a little offense we can win this thing. He threw caution to the wind and went for it. That's what I love most about Lovie Smith, he's got stones the size of Texas.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Interesting Review of Cubs blogs...

This happened over a week ago, but in case you missed it, Kurt over at Cub Fan Nation has posted an interesting review of many of the Cubs blogs, and this little minnow of a Cubs blog actually received attention:

The Peoria Northsider Report - An interesting blog that gets overlooked. These guys are insightful, analytical, and colorful (in more ways than one), but, as much as I hate to say it, their blog looks kind of dull. I wish they would put together a few bucks, buy a domain, and design their own site. Looks aren't everything, but I believe they help.


We are small potatoes in the Cubs blog world - no doubt about it. We receive probably 1/20th of the daily traffic that a site like Chuck Gitle's Ivy Chat gets - and probably 1/40th of the daily traffic of the eternal optimist. We’re content with that – nothing earth shattering going on here except a few friends exchanging friendly barbs back-and-forth. We’ll leave the really insightful stuff to the whales of the Cubs blogosphere.

By the way, Kurt's review of The Cub Reporter expressed my own sentiments exactly:

The Cub Reporter - This site remains the most popular (and I believe it continues to grow in that regard), but I rarely read it anymore. I feel like it has lost its' personality. Also, to be honest, I remain a little offended that they cut other Cubs blogs from their links. It's one thing to cut the inactive sites, it's another thing to discard the others for reasons I can only assume are "snotty." So, these days, the Cub Reporter is not a must read. In fact, I think it sort of sucks. (Don't get me wrong, guys. I still think the Cub Reporter is better than CFN or GROTA. But it's not at the same level it used to be.)


I especially agree with the sort of sucks part.

Daily must reads for me are (in order of importance): 1) Desipio (this guy is one of the funniest cats around); 2) Ivy Chat (Chuck, I don’t think you belong in a sewer, although Kurt’s comments had me laughing for a while :-); 3) Bleed Cubbie Blue; 4) 1060 West; 5) Cub Fan Nation (our new best friend); and 6) the aggregator over at SportsBlogs.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Tejada isn't coming to the Cubs...

As much as I would like to see Tejada as a Cub, I just don't think it's going to happen. To begin with, Baltimore hasn't given any indication that they're at all inclined to trade him. All we know is that Miggy wants a trade. Big deal. Manny Ramirez has wanted a trade for the last three seasons and as of this writing, at least, he's still with the Red Sox.

And that brings me to the second point. I've heard repeatedly from folks in the blogosphere that the O's would never trade Tejada within their own division. But would they really be so hesitant to trade Tejada to a divisional rival if they received a comparable talent in return? Would they be so hesitant to trade Tejada, say, if they received Manny Ramirez in return? I don't think they'd be hesitant to make that move at all. Nor do I think the Red Sox would be hesitant to trade their own superstar to a divisional rival either.

In fact, news reports out of Boston indicate that the Red Sox have, in fact, made the offer to trade Ramirez to their divisional rival for Tejada:

The Red Sox called the Orioles yesterday and offered Manny Ramirez for shortstop Miguel Tejada, according to an American League source. However, it is way too early to know if the Red Sox or any other team will be able to pry the disgruntled superstar from Baltimore.

The Red Sox’ call came a day after they created a vacancy at shortstop by trading Edgar Renteria to Atlanta, a transaction followed shortly by Tejada’s announcement that he wanted to be traded from the Orioles because of their dim future.

Tejada also informed a source close to him that he welcomed a trade to the Red Sox, who have been trying to deal their own disenchanted superstar, Ramirez, since the season ended. With Tejada having four years and approximately $49 million remaining on his deal and Ramirez with three years and $57 million left, the stage would seem to be set for an epic swap.

“The Orioles will explore trading for Ramirez,” the source said. “It’s a logical move to make, but I don’t know how likely it is right now.”

The source indicated the Orioles would need the Sox to throw in a starter or reliever before the deal could be considered more seriously. Multiple teams contacted the Orioles yesterday and presented enough intriguing offers that even the prospect of Ramirez launching home runs at Camden Yards did not stand out.

“Some of the other teams match up as well as the Red Sox, which is why it doesn’t look likely,” said the source.


The only obstacle, in fact, that I would see, would be Manny - who may not want to play for the O's any more than Miggy does.

For Miggy to come to the Cubs, 1) the O's will have to indicate a willingness to trade him, 2) he will have to agree to a trade to the Cubs (and by all accounts he seems most interested in playing for the Red Sox), and 3) Hendry will have to put together a deal that the O's can't refuse.

I just don't see it happening.

Friday, December 09, 2005

The Communist Organization that is the St. Louis Cardinals...

I guess it would be safe to say that I am not too happy with the way this off season is going. In light of winning the division 5 out of the past 6 years, and drawing 3 million year after year, culminating in a record breaking 3.5 million last season (and they're looking to break that # this year in light of the new stadium). So what does this organization do? Apparently not only maintain their current payroll - they appear to be cutting payroll.

A few years ago the owners of my team b@#$@ed and moaned about needing a new stadium to increase revenue, so they could afford to put that money back into fielding a winning team. So now that Busch Stadium is a pile of rubble, that appears to be what the team itself is, a pile rubble. This is treason at it's worst, bordering on fraud and illegal, at the very least highly unethical.

Apparently Walt Jocketty and these owners are adament about overthrowing the free market system. They refuse to exceed their budget to meet what the market demands. The refused to add the extra million a year to land Burnett, they refused to pay the extra million dollars a year to re-sign Grudz. They are standing strong in their budget philosophy, regaurdless of what the free market dictates. They would rather field a 3rd or 4th place team than get involved in the spending that the free market establishes. You slice it up any way you want and that my friends is Communism at its best.

Now I am not saying we should be the Yankees or anything, but come on, a million dollars could have landed us the prized free agent pitcher on the market. Another million and we could have kept Grudzie, now we're looking at Aaron Miles as our starting second baseman - Aaron "freaking" Miles. Wasn't he the point guard for Kansas a few years back? All because they refuse to get involved in the free market. What do I call it? Communism my friends. Plain and simple, it's Communism that would make the likes of Joseph Stalin, and Fidel Castro proud.

The St. Louis Cardinals have become a Communist organization.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

We May Have Found Our Shortstop...

Miguel Tejada wants to be traded, and the Cubs need a shortstop. He's got four years left on his contract, although he's due $56 million over that period - which is slightly more than what the Cubs were reportedly offering Furcal.

My fear is that we will end up seeing a Manny-for-Tejada deal (recall that the Sox already shipped Renteria). In any event, perhaps losing Furcal wasn't that bad after all - if Hendry can work this one out:

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic -- Baltimore Orioles shortstop Miguel Tejada said Thursday he's unhappy with the team's direction and wants to be traded.

"I've been with the Orioles for two years and things haven't gone in the direction that we were expecting, so I think the best thing will be a change of scenery," Tejada told The Associated Press during a telephone interview in his native Dominican Republic.

Tejada signed a $72 million, six-year contract with the Orioles before the 2004 season.

He hit .304 with 26 home runs and 98 RBI this year, but Baltimore finished 21 games behind the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox in the AL East.

"I've done many things with this team and I haven't seen results, and the other teams are getting stronger while the Orioles have not made any signings to strengthen the club," said Tejada, the 2002 AL MVP while with Oakland.


Wouldn't it be something if the Hendry pulled this one off?

This would go a long way toward bolstering this team's chances next year.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Pierre to Cubs

It looks like it's official:


DALLAS -- The Chicago Cubs are expected to land their leadoff man Wednesday, according to a high-ranking baseball official. The Cubs, who lost in the bidding for free agent Rafael Furcal, reached agreement with the Florida Marlins late Tuesday on a trade that would reportedly net Chicago center fielder Juan Pierre in exchange for a package that includes Double-A pitching prospects Ricky Nolasco and Renyel Pinto. Cubs.com

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

What Will It Take to Get Bobby Abreu to the Cubs?

In light of this story, it seems they don't have any lack of ambition:

According to National League sources at the winter meetings here, the Cubs asked the Phillies yesterday what it would take to pry away two-time All-Star rightfielder, Gold Glove winner and reigning Home Run Derby champion Bobby Abreu.

The answer: Mark Prior.

The Cubs didn't say yes.

But they didn't say no, either; at least, they haven't so far.


Keep dreaming Phillies fans.

That story also goes on to discuss the potential for a more reasonable trade:

If the Prior deal doesn't work out, the Phillies might try one that includes Abreu and Cubs workman starter Jerome Williams - but with serious sweeteners that could include lefty prospect Rich Hill, 25. Hill's status could be shifting from untouchable to movable. He went 11-4 with a 3.31 ERA and 194 strikeouts in 130 2/3 minor league innings last season, though he was 0-2 with a 9.13 ERA in 10 big-league appearances.


I could live with a trade like that. The outfield is (and has been) the #1 concern in terms of offensive production. In fact the offensive production of the Cubs outfield was downright offensive, if you get what I mean.

If this organization doesn't seriously address that substantial problem - you are going to be looking at another 4th place finish in the division Cubs fans.

Also (and I could be wrong about this, of course), I think the Cubs should rethink their position on Garciaparra - especially after the Furcal disaster.

Yes it's risky - but if the risk pays off and he does stay healthy (that injury last season was freaky) he would be a fine hitter to have in that lineup.

The Yankees are apparently a possible destination for Nomar.

Why not? They've already got 2 all-star ss's on their lineup. Maybe Cashman can work toward fielding an all ss team - remember that Izturis will probably be available sometime early next season as well in light of the Furcal signing.

On another note, the Phillies are not going to offer arbitration to Kenny Lofton. The Cubs ought to take a flyer on him - I think it's low risk and he hit very well last season. I think he's still got some gas left in him - and I still have memories of 2003 whirling around in my head I guess.

And by the way, while I'm at it - Jim Hendry needs to go to the Omar Minaya school of general management, because this is second straight season he has been out-general-managed (I think I just invented that word - sounds cool though huh?) by the Mets GM.

The Mets have steadily built a playoff contending team while Hendry has let the Cubs stagnate. This is shaping up to be another sorely disappointing offseason folks.

MY CONSPIRACY THEORIES ABOUT THE BURNETT SIGNING

Ok, I love the St. Louis Cardinals, but I will say this...if you want a good laugh you should go over to the Cardinals message board and read some of the posts over there. You will hear everything from "I have a source inside the organization" or my personal favorite, "I have a buddy, that saw AJ Burnett last night at St. Louis' Lambert International Airport."

While I certainly agree with the reputation we Cardinals fans have, as the best fans in baseball, the Cardinals message board here lately certainly proves that we are not above (how do I say this?) spreading a little fertilizer around. There, is that PC enough? So here is my theory on this whole deal, because frankly I'm getting sick of waiting. First I preface this by saying, I do not have a college buddy, who's brother's ex-wife's cousin is a secretary in the Cardinals organization (you may laugh, but some dude used that one a few days ago). This is just my theory, so take it for what it's worth...

A few things we know for sure, 1) AJ Burnett grew up in Arkansas as a die hard member of Cardinal Nation, 2)AJ's wife does not like airplanes (I can't blame her on that one) so therefore does not like to travel and wants to remain close to home, 3) although I'm not positive I'm fairly certain that AJ does not want to play where the distances marked on the outfield walls are written in meters instead of feet, 4) AJ's agent Daniel Braunecker, is new to the agent business and AJ Burnett is his first real big name client.

So I have taken all this information (that I know for sure) and established my personal theory that AJ's agent is trying to make a name for himself in the agent business and he is trying to establish himslef as a guy that can get big contracts for any player - a Scott Boras wannabe if you will, and he is delaying the signing, trying to drive the offer up from the team AJ really wants to play for (the Cardinals) by putting them in a bidding war with at least two other teams (the Natinals and the Blue Jays). In the past few days we have also heard the Cubs and the Angels as possible suitors for Burnett.

Where Braunecker is failing, is if he is going to do that (which I suppose is an agents job) he should at least get a couple of teams that have as much to offer as the Cardinals. I would be concerned if we were bidding against the Yankees or the Red Sox , or any team that can offer what the Blue Jays can't, and that is the opportunity to pitch on the biggest stage in baseball, and that is the playoffs and the World Series. You see it is highly unlikely that in his 5 years in Washington or Totonto that he will ever get a shot to pitch in the playoffs where with the Cardinals it is certainly no gaurantee, but far more likely given that the Cardinals have been in the post season 5 out of the past 6 years, and are not in the same division as the Yankees and the Red Sox, or the Braves in the case of the Nats.

Supposedly the Blue Jays have offered a guaranteed 5 years and 50 million, which I tend to believe since they just gave BJ Ryan a million dollars per career save, to be their new closer, so I would say it is a safe bet to say that they would also offer AJ a million dollars per career win. The Cardinals are appearing to be standing firm on their 4 year 40 million dollar offer, with a option for a 5th year. It appears Walt Jocketty is calling Braunecker's bluff, and for that I applaud him. It's about time some GM's stood up to these players and agents. Some of these contracts are just ridiculous because the MLB players have too much power. So I agree with Walt and say fine if you want the 5th year guaranteed, and a few extra bucks to go pitch in basbeall purgatory, then fine chump, I hope you enjoy Canada.

More White Sox Shenanigans

URBANA, Ill. -- Rare copies of a sports newspaper that was credited with uncovering the infamous 1919 Chicago White Sox gambling scandal are missing from a University of Illinois library.

ESPN story

Sunday, December 04, 2005

I DON'T BLAME HIM . . .

If the Dodgers are going to pay Furcal an average of over $13M per year for 3 years, I'd take it too, regardless of any stated affinity for winning (knowing how many big question marks the Dodgers have) and friends (Sorry, Andruw, Aramis, and Neifi).

But I do have mixed feelings if this is true. While I would like to have a good SS and leadoff hitter like Furcal in Wrigley, $13M per year is a little steep for what he brings to the table. But, on the other hand, it is only a 3 year commitment.

My sneaking suspicion is that Dusty and Neifi conspired to sabotage this deal so that Neifi would get the starting SS job he so richly deserves . . .

Saturday, December 03, 2005

MAYBE BRUCE WEBER CAN RECRUIT?

Well some excellent news for everyone here on the Northsidereport, except for Mike, but the Illini have landed a verbal commitment from the 4th ranked H.S. player in this years junior class. Not to mention what the backlash of this signing might do. Heres the quote from Scout.com...

"Eric Gordon, the 6-3 shooting guard, of North Central High School, in Indianapolis, Indiana rejected offers from the likes of Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, and Arizona, and on Friday gave Bruce Weber and the Illini a verbal commitment to attend the University of Illinois. The junior, is the 4th ranked player in the class of 2007, and is Illinois' highest ranked recruit since landing Marcus Liberty in 1988. "

"My first priotiy is Derek Rose", Gordon said at his news conference to announce his decision. Derek Rose the 6-2 point guard from Chicago Simeon High School, is the top ranked point guard in the class of '07, and the 7th ranked player nationally. Teammates on their AAU team that won two championships in Las Vegas, and Texas, Rose and Gordon are close friends and it has long been rumored that both would attend the same school. The long tradition of success at Illinois from Chicago Simeon players, and the signing of Gordon, gives Bruce Weber a leg up on signing Rose."

Well maybe I should take back what I siad about Bruce Weber's recruiting ability. There was never any doubt about Weber's coaching ability X's and O's wise, the question was could he recruit. Certainly his failure to land Jon Scheyer, when he is being coached by his own brother did nothing to enhance his recruiting reputation. This deal though could be huge.

It looks like the season we had last year is starting to pay off. Thinking about it, most of the players we got signed now were recruited before last seasons success. This is the first recruiting season since our run last year, and it is off to a great start, and will be even better if this Gordon kid can get his buddy Derek Rose to join him in Illini orange. That would be two of the top 10 in this years junior class, that would be huge. A great backcourt for a few years to come. I would like to say 4, but if these kids are that good, it would seem unlikely to have them both for 4 years.

You know what they say, "once you go orange, you never go back."

Friday, December 02, 2005

When will the madness cease?!

Please tell me that the Yankees didn't just agree to pay Tightpants $17 million over three years.

Please tell me that the Rangers didn't offer an even bigger $21 million contract over the same time period that Tightpants turned down.

Tightpants is getting paid over $5 million per?

Am I the only one baffled by this?

It appears that Howry and Eyre were bargains in light of this type of insanity.

FROM THE RED STATES

I am going to say this right here, and right now, and quote me on this, Walt Jocketty better know what the H-E-double hockey sticks he is doing with this offer to A.J. Burnett. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported yesterday, and confirmed by Tony LaRussa, that my beloved Cardinals have offered Burnett 4 years, with an option for a 5th year, and 41 million dollars, and could grow to over 50 million should the option be exercised. 50 million dollars for a guy who won 12 games for the Marlins and is a career .500 pitcher. It's not like Burnett won 12 games for the pathetic Royals, or Pirates-no he won just 12 games for a pretty good Marlins team. The same team that saw Dontrelle Willis win 22. Not to mention the injury concerns with Burnett.

Granted Burnett has tremendous potential, and arguably the best arm in baseball, and 10 million per season would be bargain basement should the guy ever reach his potential. I though, think we just offered 10 million per season to Kerry Wood.

If Burnett agrees to terms with the Cardinals and the rumors are true that that makes Marquis expendable and opens the door for this reported Marquis, King, and a prospect for Bobby Abreu then I think it would be a good deal. As long as the prospect in question is not Anthony Reyes. However, if we sign Burnett, then are unable to unload Marquis for an outfielder from somebody, then were stuck financially and could be looking at Taguchi and Rodriguez as are starting left and right fielder.

It's a gamble and could pay huge dividends, but could also really screw this franchise for the next 5 years. We already got huge commitments to Rolen, and Pujols. Not to mention what this contract could do to the Mulder contract that is imminent, next off season.

I got to trust Jocketty, who is one of the best and assume he has all this worked out in advance of the offer to Burnett. He better.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Aubrey Huff in RF?

The Cubs just completed one trade and are possibly on the verge of a 2nd - they sent Jermaine Van Buren to Boston for a player to be named later, and they also are apparently entertaining offers from the Rockies about Todd Wellemeyer.

Are these precursors to an eventual trade which ships the PTBNL's to Tampa for Aubrey Huff in Right Field? Tampa knows they can't afford Huff next year - and perhaps they get to take their pick with regard to some young prospects among the ptbnl's.

I suppose hoping for Manny to be involved rather than Huff is just a little too much?

In any event, there are 2 large gaping holes in the corner OF spots and either type of move (but especially the latter) would certainly make a significant difference.

Stay tuned.

HT to the astute baseball moonbat for the news items concerning Wellemeyer and Van Buren.

PUT UP OR SHUT UP TIME FOR BEAR FANS ON THE NORTHSIDEREPORT...

Most of our readers might recall that I predicted before the football season that I thought our Bears might go 8-8. Might, meaning that I thought that would be the best we could hope for. Well here we sit, 11 games into the season and we are 8-3. One need to look no further than my NCAA Tournament Pool picks of the past few seasons to understand my lack of skill in handicapping sports. After all 3 of my 4 Final Four picks did not last through the first weekend last year (Kansas, Georgia Tech, and Syracuse) and 2 didn't even make it out of the first round (Kansas and Syracuse). So my NCAA bracket was pretty much worthless after the first two days of games, unless of course I ran out of toilet paper or something.

Then of course you might remember that I predicted my man, reinging NL MVP Albert Pujols to beat Derrek Lee in all 3 of the Triple Crown stats, so much for that prediction. By the way the pictures of me in the Cub hat have been taken, so don't blame me for them not appearing on the Northsidereport.

One would think, that with my lack of skill in predicting sports I would learn to just shut up. It seems though that I, like the Apostle Peter, have a knack for opening my mouth and inserting my foot. Maybe I should just learn to shut up about predicting sports and just stick to doing what I do best, and that's predicting the sex of newborn babies. It seems I do have a skill ofor doing that since all of my friends and family who were expecting a baby, and to this day I have never guessed wrong. My friend and fellow poster Chris will attest to this ability, since I successfully predicted his latest child to be a boy. Not such a great skill I reckon, since in every case I have a 50-50 shot.

It's difficult for me to not predict the outcome of sports, so when the football season rolled around, I couldn't resist. You might recall I predicted the Bears to start fast with an easy schedule early on and then struggle in the middle and late part of the season. So what actually happened, of course the Bears started out 1-3, so much for the great start. They now, however have won 7 games in a row, so much for struggling in the middle and late part of the season. With all that being said, the Bears could still finish 8-8. Of course in order to do that they would have to lose every game the rest of the season, which would not surprise me one bit, considering this is the Bears we are talking about.

So, what's the point of this post, you ask? Well simply put, since I atleast have the guts to climb out on the limb, I'm challenging my fellow posters and our readers, who might be Bears fans to cowboy up and join me out on the limb, with this question...can the 2005 Bears win the Super Bowl with this team as it stands right now? So if you got a pair of cajones anywhere near as big as the dude Chris posted about that was tazoerd in the groin, and kept fighting, then I'm challenging you to respond to this post and make a prediction, on the record, and we will see just how many Jimmy the Greek's we have here at the Northsidereport.

So since I posted the question, it would only be fair for me to be the first to answer that very question. Can these Bears win the Super Bowl this year?

There are a few things I would like to establish before I predict. First of all, I am from the old school, as I think that the old saying "offense sells tickets, and defense wins championships". It is clear that the best defense in the NFL is our beloved Bears. Heres a few stats to back this up. The Bears rank first in the league in (this is not a typo, I did say first) ...

Total defense
Passing Defense
Scoring Defense
Passing Yards
3rd down efficiency %
Passing Td's
Rushing Td's
Red Zone Defense
Opponent's QB rating

Not too mention we rank second in rushing defense, other than that I am not to familiar with any other defensive statistic, but whatever stat you want to toss out there, I'm sure our Bears are at or near the top. It's clear, we have the best D in the game.

Many people have bashed the Bears offense this season, and rightfully so. They are pretty mediocre and to call them mediocre would be like pooring a gallon of perfume on a big pile of, well I'm sure you get the picture. We have a rookie QB, and no team with a rookie QB has ever managed to get to the Super Bowl, much less win the darn thing. We have no deep threat on offense. Muhsin Muhammad is good, but let's face it he is not exactly a threat to score when he touches the ball. We have no tight ends, atleast none that are worth a squat. What we do have, is a decent offensive line (shockingly) and a decent running game.

Add all this up, is it enough for the Bears to win the Super Bowl. Well recent history of the Super Bowl will say yes. The Baltimore Ravens in 2000, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2002, and even the New England Patriots in 2001 were all teams with excellent defenses and mediocre offenses. Remember in 2001 the Patriots had Tom Brady, but he was not Tom Brady, NFL MVP, he was just Tom Brady 7th round draft pick from Michigan. Also let's not forget the 1999 Tamp Bay Buccaneers, who had an suffocating defense, but were led by a rookie QB (Shaun King) and a decent running attack (sound familiar) and they were :43 seconds and a Ricky Proehl TD away from the Super Bowl.

Also. let's keep this in mind, the NFC is wide open this year, with no team really standing out as a dominant, unbeatable team. The Bears are in the hunt for not only the playoffs, but atleast a home game in the first round, or a bye week and a home game, heck they are just one game out of having home field advantage, with the Seahawks having to play Indianapolis still, the last game of the season. There is no offense in the NFC that I feel will be able to manage two TD's against our D, especially if we get to play in Soldier Field. One TD might be pushing it at home, knowing that in 6 home games we have given up just 5 TD's, and two of those were to a pretty good offense in Cincinnatti, but only after the offense turning the ball over 5 times on our own end of the field, did they manage to score. So I'm saying it, with this suffocating defense, and Kyle Orton managing the offense, these Bears are going to the Super Bowl.

Wait a minute, you say, the question was not can they get to the Super Bowl, but can they win it. Hang on, I'm not done yet...

It appears to be the Colts year. Peyton Manning and his boys appear to be clicking on all cylinders. An undefeated season is not out of the question, and maybe pretty likely that they will go undefeated. So I am predicting the Bears to match up with an undefeated 18-0, Indianpolis Colts in the Super Bowl. Like I said it appears to be the year for the Colts, and in a match up with the Bears they would probably be a 14-17 point favorite to win. However it appeared to be their year in 1969, and how did that work out for them? So I am predicting Kyle Orton guarantees a victory over the Colts in the week leading up to the game, then backs it up with 3 touchdown passes, and the Bears D with pressure from their 4 defensive lineman pound Peyton Manning into a bloody pulp, which leaves 7 guys back there to shut down the likes or Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne, and in the greatest upset since Broadway Joe Namath and the J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets, the Beras in the 20th Anniversary of the 1985 Bears, shock the world and upset the mighty Colts.

Ok there I said it, hopefully the same curse that plagued Kansas and Syracuse last year (that of ourse is the curse of Randy predicting them to win) will not stop our Beloved Bears. So who here has the cajones enough to join me out on the limb and predict, for the record, what the Bears will do.

Giles off The Market - Re-signs with SD...

Brian Giles is officially off the free agent market having reached a preliminary agreement to resign with the Padres.

You've got to hand it to that Padre management though. Last week the team rejected a 3-year $25.5 million proposal from Giles' agent:

Late last week, it appeared that Giles would leave the Padres after the team rejected a three-year, $25.5 million proposal from his agent, Joe Bick.


You see, the team rejected that offer because they apparently wanted to offer him more money than he was originally requesting!

Right fielder Brian Giles reached a preliminary agreement Wednesday night to re-sign with his hometown San Diego Padres for $30 million over three years.


Brilliant!