Tuesday, January 24, 2006

PICK 'EM

I'm not at all thrilled about the XL show in Detroit this year. If I have to choose, I'll go with the NFC, just so I don't have to hear how great the AFC is by comparison.

So, to divert some attention from this weekend's anti-climatic "let's pretend we're really excited about this one" coverage on TV, here's a quick look at the remaining Big Ten schedule and some predictions. The conference title will come down to the team which can hold serve (which most teams are doing), beat the weak four home and away (Northwestern, Penn St., Minnesota, Purdue) and steal one or two on the road against the top seven, listed below.

* Indicates probable NCAA tourny team . . . Actually, I think they'll all make the tourny.

Teams are listed by current Big Ten record followed by current conference record; ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll ranking; and AP ranking in parenthesis. Only the coaches poll is listed after that.

Illini (5-2; 6; 6)* (8-4 as of 2/20; T-2nd in Big Ten)
Home: Penn St. (L), Northwestern (W), Indiana (21) (W), Iowa
Away: Wisconsin (W), Ohio St. (19) (L), Michigan (20), Minnesota, Michigan St. (12)
Comments: They should win out their home schedule easily, but their road schedule (starting tonight) is a killer. Brutal. Worse yet, they have not proven they can win on the road. Expect two more losses, probably three. A win tonight at Wisconsin is vital for their title hopes which should be decided on 3/4 in East Lansing.
Prediciton: 11-5 (25-5)
Big Ten 2nd place (tie)

Scum-bag Wolverines (5-2; 20; 21)* (7-6 as of 2/20; 4th in Big Ten)
Home: Ohio St. (19) (L), Minnesota (W), Illinois (6), Indiana (21)
Away: Penn St. (W), Iowa (L), Purdue (L), Michigan St. (12) (L), Ohio St. (19)
Comments: They've been hot of late, especially at home (The logical explanation is that they are cheating AGAIN and will be on NCAA probation again very soon.). They need to win out at home (which they won't) and win 3 of 5 on the road (which they might do, depending on the Iowa game). The Illinois game on 2/21 will be huge in the Big Ten standings; they'll win.
Prediction: 11-5 (21-6)
Big Ten 2nd place (tie)

Hawkeyes (5-2; unranked; 23)* (9-4 as of 2/20; 1st in Big Ten)
Home: Michigan (20) (W), Michigan St. (12) (W), Penn St., Wisconsin
Away: Purdue (W), Northwestern (L), Indiana (21) (W), Minnesota (L), Illinois (6)
Comments: They've been good at home, beating Illinois (6), Indiana (21), and Ohio St. (19)--but they're getting a hot Michigan team and Michigan St. might have their number. The stretch from 2/11 -2/25 will determine where they finish (@ Indiana, MSU, @ Minn, @ Ill).
Prediction: 10-6 (20-7)
Big Ten 3rd place (tie)

Badgers (5-2; unranked)* (8-4 as of 2/20; T-2nd in Big Ten)
Home: Illinois (6) (L), Indiana (21) (W), Ohio St. (19) (W), Minnesota
Away: Purdue (L), Penn St. (W), Northwestern, Michigan St. (12), Iowa

Comments: If anyone can win the conference because of their schedule this year, it is the Badgers. They don't have to go to Illinois or Indiana, but will lose at Michigan St. and Iowa. If they can take 3 of 4 at the Kohl/J.C. Penney/Sears Center and all three at the weak sisters' (Purdue, Penn St. N'western), they'd end up 11-5. They won't.
Prediction: 10-6 (20-9)
Big Ten 3rd place (tie)

Buckeyes (4-3; 19; 20)* (8-4 as of 2/20; T-2nd in Big Ten)
Home: Minnesota (W), Illinois (6) (W), N'western (W), Michigan (20), Purdue
Away: Michigan(20) (W), Wisconsin (L), Michigan St. (12), N'western
Comments: From 2/9 to 2/25 they play: @ Mich, Ill, @ Wisc, N'western, @ MSU, and Mich. They'll lose four during this stretch.

Prediction: 9-7 (20-7)
Big Ten 4th place

Hoosiers (4-3; 21; 22)* (5-7 as of 2/20; 5th in Big Ten)
Home: Northwestern (W), Iowa (L), Penn St., Michigan St. (12)
Away: Wisconsin (L), Penn St. (L), Illinois (6) (L), Purdue, Michigan (20)
Comments: They've been bad on the road and good at home. The UConn game will be interesting, but it won't help them when they lose at Wisconsin, Illinois, and Michigan. Illinois will need them to beat MSU on 2/26.
Prediction: 10-6 (18-9)
Big Ten 3rd place (tie)

Spartans (4-3; 12; 12)* (7-5 as of 2/20; 3rd in Big Ten)
Home: Purdue (W), Michigan (20) (W), Ohio St. (19), Wisconsin, Illinois (6)
Away: Northwestern (W), Minnesota (L), Iowa (L), Indiana (21)
Comments: The Spartans have already taken their lumps on the road and actually have an easier schedule on the road than at home. Three consecutive games--Mich, Ohio St., and @ Indiana--will determine the importance of the Illinois game on 3/4 to end the conference regular schedule.

Prediction: 12-4 (24-6)
Big Ten Champs . . . and if you aren't drinking the Green Kool-Aid yet, here's a dose from ESPN which has them in the Final Four . . . again.

Remember, being biased doesn't mean you're wrong, it simply gives you an excuse if you are.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Cubs sign Wade Miller...

The Cubs just inked former Astro/Red Sox pitcher Wade Miller to a one year $1 million deal. Although he had surgery on his labrum last year and isn't expected to pitch until May, I think this is a good signing for the Cubs. However, it's not significant enough to change our expectation that they finish 2nd or 3rd in the division.

Friday, January 20, 2006

IF THE SHOE FITS . . .

It seems the Cubs' parent company is having a similar off-season as the club. From Editor and Publisher via Michelle Malkin:

CHICAGO (AP) Shares in Tribune Co. tumbled Thursday after the media company
reported a 6.1% drop in revenue last month on declines in both its newspaper and
television businesses.

Tribune, whose holdings include 26 television stations, 11 urban U.S. dailies and Spanish-language Hoy, said December revenue fell to $539 million from $574 million a year earlier.

The company's stock fell $1.01, or 3.2%, to $30.80 in afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Tribune shares sank 28% in 2005.

Apparently, advertisers are finally giving up on the Left Angeles Times (Gee, aren't I so clever?), since nobody out here reads that daily rag any more:


Advertising revenue in the publishing division fell 4.5%to $333 million, down
from $349 million. The decline included a 5.2% decrease in retail ad revenue and
a 9.6% decline in national ad revenue, mainly at the Los Angeles Times.
Classified ad revenue edged up 2.5%.

But I know that the addition of Juan Pierre and Jacque Jones will turn this around in a few months:

Broadcasting and entertainment group revenue in December declined 11.9% to $126
million, compared with $143 million last year. Television revenue fell 10.1% on
weak ad revenue in most markets.

And is it me, or does this trend perfectly reflect the Cubs since their Bullish prospects of late 2003?



Down, down, down, down . . .

On the bright side, now would be a good time for a Cubs Blog Army offensive to purchase shares and take control of the club's future. Sorry son, it'll be a state school for you.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Disgusting in Chicago...

Absolutely disgusting results from Soldier Field tonight. Is there a worse way to describe that game than that. I'm at a loss for words. If you told me before the game started that the Bears would score 21 points on 3 solid drives by the Bears offense, I would have bet the farm the Bears would win. As it turns out I would have lost my farm. I guess it's a good thing I don't have a farm, and nobody told me that before the game.

All season long the D has carried us, got us where we were, and as it turns out was the deciding factor in ending the season. That performance was horrendous, absolutely disgusting. I guess all the hype on Ron Rivera being someones next head coach is put to rest. He and the entire Bears defensive staff got their rear ends handed to them in humiliating fashion.

Although I am not a big fan of "moral victories", or "it was a successful season", blah blah blah. I will say it was a good season, not successful, because the ultimate goal is to win the Super Bowl. That having been said, we failed to get it done when it counted, and that disgusts me.

There were some psoitive things about the performance today. One was we might have a pretty decent offense going into next season. Assuming of course that Grossman can stay healthy, big assumption of course, considering he never has. Also we may have found a go to reciever in Bernard Berrian, who was playing great until he got hurt. Berrian has great speed and showed a real ability to hang on to the ball, even when he was drilled. Maybe Muhsin Muhhamad should try and learn a little from this.

Defensively, although they disgusted me today, I don't think much is needed. One clear need is another corner opposite Nathan Vasher. At times Charles Tillman looked lost out there and he had no chance at covering Steve Smith. I mean Smith is a great player but this is not the first game Tillman has choked , the Cleveland loss, and the Bengals game come to mind. Another corner opposite Vasher would be a nice addition. Also I hate to say this because I love the guy, but a replacement for Mike Brown might be needed. This so called "calf injury" that put him out for 5 weeks, and kept him out of the game tonight, I believe, is alot more serious than they are letting on. Remember the torn achilles last year. I'm afraid a backup plan might be needed for next season. Other than that on the defensive side of the ball I think were set. I would push hard for a contract extension for Lance Briggs before he hits the open market and costs us a arm and leg to re-sign him. If we can accomplish these three things in the off season I will be happy.

On offense, I think the needs are more serious, obviously. I think the first order of business is a tight end that can catch a pass half the time. Although Clark caught a TD tonight, that just proves once again that even a busted clock is right twice a day. First, I find a tight end somewhere. Tony Gonzalez I believe is a free agent, would be nice to have. If there is nothing available via free agency, I really Like Leonard Pope from Georgia. That dude is 6'8" and would present huge options for us and match up problems for opposing teams. How in the world do you cover a 6'8" 270 pound tight end. Pope has great hands, and with his size I suspect would be a great blocker. Mercedes Lewis from UCLA, and Vernon Davis from Maryland, are also solid tight end candidates that might be available to us late in the first round.

Secondly, we need depth at O-line. I hated the fact that we signed Garza to a 6 year deal. Garza is a waste of human space if you ask me, and we would have been better off flushing the money down the toilet. I love Kreutz, Brown and Miller are about 3 or 4 years away from drawing Social Security. I guess were stuck with Garza now. If I'm running the show I sign a real left tackle and move Tait back to right tackle.

We obviously need another reciever or two. I like Bradley coming back healthy next season, and the emergence of Berrian has us headed in the right direction. I despise Muhammad, I'd release him, but I relize that ain't gonna happen. Two free agents this season I would love to see the Bears go after, first would be Reggie Wayne. I think he might be signable because I don't see Indianapolis having the money to sign Edgerrin James and him. Also I would love to see the Bears get Antwaan Randle El. He's from Chicaog and he might like to return home as a free agent. Might I add he would solve our horrendous punt return problem as well.

All in all I think the Bears are close to being a serious Super Bowl contender. Were not there yet but really close. I trully believe defense wins championships and although they let us down today I have faith in these guys on D. I was not a big Grossman fan before today, but he played pretty well today and he has won me over. Can he stay healthy? I really believe a serious threat at tight end will make the difference for the Bears on O. I really think Leonard Pope is that guy. On draft day I would consider trading up a few spots if we got a shot at this guy.

I haven't said this about a football season for awhile, but I'm already looking forward to next year.

TOMORROW'S HEADLINE TODAY: "BEARS WIN, MOTIVATED BY SHUTTING UP CHRIS 'STILL LAME AFTER ALL THESE YEARS' BERMAN"

Aside from his gutless "let's pounce on Limbaugh now that he's gone" commentary and blithering idiocy any time he addresses a serious issue, Berman's schtick is as annoying as Bill Walton. Do I need to explain that any further? And--like Walton--he needs to be put out to pasture. I hope beyond hope our beloved Bears will win for the good of humanity so that we are no longer subjected to nicks like Jake "There's No Place" Delhomme again.

Prediction: Bears 16, Panthers 10

Why?

Both the Bears and Panthers have outstanding defenses and mediocre offenses, except the Bears are 5th in the conference in Rushing offense. They will run enough to make a difference and the inexperienced Grossman will threaten to throw more than 3 or 4 yards per attempt. On the other hand, Delhomme is a proven and pretty good QB, but if the Panthers aren't able to run, forget it.

So, will Carolina run on the Bears? Nope. Deshaun Foster and his toe will have plenty of time to rest after the game. If you look at his numbers you will see he had his big games against Atlanta, the 14th rated rushing defense in the conference (i.e. 3rd worst). And even New Orleans, one of 2 teams worse than Atlanta in this, held him to 75 yds on 21 carries. Above average rushing D's like Tampa, Chicago, and Dallas all held him to less than that, much, much less. And if you are thinking about his 151 yds against the Giants--as Urlacher said it, "We're not the Giants."

Saturday, January 14, 2006

PA-PA PLAYOFFS!!!

That quote does have a nice ring to it it, doesn't it Bears fans. With a Jim Mora accent to it.

Unfortunately for the Bears they are doomed to failure before the game even starts. Why, you ask? Well it's simple really, they are doomed because I am a die hard Bears fan, which means they will lose in the post season. Let's look at my track record with my die hard teams (Bears, Cardinals, and the Illini) and their playoff performances...

1977-Bears lose their first playoff against the Cowboys
1982-Cardinals do manage to beat the curse and win the World Series.
1984-Bears lose NFC Championship to the 49ers
1985-Cardinals get screwed by the "Dink" in game 6 and blow a 3 game to 1 lead and blow the World Series to the Royals.
1985-Bears also manage to beat the curse and win the Superbowl.
1986-Bears choke at home in the playoffs to the Redskins.
1987-Bears get beat in the playoffs once again.
1987-Cardinals can't manage to win one freaking road game and lose the World Series 3 games to 2, to the Twins.
1988-Bears lose the NFC Championship game at home to the 49ers (again)
1989-Illinois gets hosed in the Final Four and loses to Michigan (who they beat twice in the regular season)
1990-Bears once again lose in the playoffs.
1991-Just when you thought the Bears were done screwing me, they do it once again.
1995-The Wannstedt led Bears win one playoff game in Minnesota only to lose to the 49ers for a third time in the playoffs. Did I mention that I hate the 49ers.
1996-Cardinals once again blow a 3 game to 1 lead in the NLCS and lose to the Braves.
2000-Cardinals lose the NLCS once again.
2001-Well the Cardinals got tired of hosing me in the NLCS so this year, for a little change of pace,they did it a series earlier and lost in the NLDS to the D'Backs.
2002-Back to normal for the Cardinals and they lost in the NLCS.
2004-Cardinals humiliate themselves by getting swept in the World Series and breaking a 80 or 90 year old curse to the Red Sox.
2005-Illinois joins in on the fun once again and comes up a few points shy of the National Championship, losing to North Carolina.
2005-Cardinals continue their streak of breaking my heart by losing once again in the NLCS.

So that brings me to tomorrow. I'm excited about the Bears being in the pa-pa playoffs, but pardon me if I don't seem too optimistic about their chances. After all I am a solid 2-17 in post season appearances by my teams (that's not even counting the many heart aches Illinois has given me in the NCAA Tournament-I just counted their two Final Four appearances). So here we go again.

I know what you Cubs fans are thinking..."well atleast your teams have winning seasons and are fortunate enough to get to the post season fairly regularly." To that I say, I have rooted for teams that have sucked and I knew it, everyone knew it and they lost, that's not near as painful as getting your hopes up then having them dashed right before your very eyes. Not even close in comparing the two.

So looking at tomorrows Bears game, I'm excited but not foolish enough to get my hopes up.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Nothing to see here...

As you know, the Cubs convention kicks off today and it will, no doubt, prove to be a major non-event.

Here's what management can take the weekend to try to explain - Apparently Prior is "peeved" that the club was entertaining trade offers for him, the Cubs are prepared to start the season without Wood (good thing they kept pitching him in August and September when it was clear to everyone but the deluded that the season was over), the team is trying to trade one of the only guys who can actually get on base consistently, and as a result of the preceding and more the team isn't going to finish any better than last years miserable squad.

Meanwhile, teams like the Mets, Dodgers, and Houston (apparently the Astros are making a play for Aubrey Huff) are all of trying to get better while Hendry and company sit on their hands and spin this offseason as "solid."

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to plot out the trajectory charted by Hendry et al for this season. Barring some substantial offensive moves and a healthy starting rotation, this team will struggle to finish fourth.


Anyway - on to a real Chicago team - the Bears. Seems that most of the experts are picking against the Orange and Blue Sunday, even though Chicago beat Carolina at Carolina Chicago earlier this year. The consensus from both ESPN and Sports Illustrated is that Carolina will win the game.

I hate to say it, but I'm a little apprehensive about the game as well. I think it will turn on how many turnovers the Bears offense commits. If Rex Grossman tries to single handedly win the game and turns the ball over in the first half - I think Carolina will win. I'm also hoping we don't see a reprise of the defensive performance that we saw against Pittsburgh.

Monday, January 09, 2006

ADIOS Corey!

We're gonna miss your glove, but not that bat. May you refind your form of 2003 somewhere down the line.

HOKIE IN THE POKIE?

As if stomping on your opponent's leg wasn't enough for the erstwhile Virginia Tech signal barker to go along with pot possession, reckless driving, and speeding on a revoked/suspended license, Marcus Vick was arrested on three counts of brandishing a firearm at a Suffolk, VA McDonald's. The 21 year-old Vick pulled a piece on three others, one a 17 year old, a few days after declaring for the draft.

One official at the Virginia Department of Corrections said that both Red Onion and Wallens Ridge State Prisons will take serious looks at Vick during private workouts, though both would prefer more a pocket passer.

"His mobility could come in handy," said one inmate.

Witnesses at the scene say Vick was overheard yelling, "Supersize This, Punk!" as he pulled the weapon.

Friday, January 06, 2006

News from our Neck of the Woods

It looks like our favorite red-headed catcher will be walking into town. Jody Davis will be managing the Peoria Chiefs - the Cub's class A affiliate.

HOW 'BOUT THEM ILLINI...

I got home from work about 1130, and amazingly I was able to manage to get through 8 hours at work, and not hear anything about the Illinois/Michigan State game. So I got to pop in the DVD I taped the game on and watch. At this point I would like to say that I think DVD recorders are the greatest thing invented since sliced bread. Needless to say I was pleased with the outcome. Illini 60, Michigan St. 50.

After the game I immediately jumped online to see if our good friend and fellow blogger Mike had anything to say regaurding the game. I must admit I am not surprised to see silence coming from Mike. Maybe he was busy tonight or something, I don't know. Then again maybe Mike is just ticked off, I know I would be if my Illini had lost 4 in a row to the Spartans. However, it is the other way around as Mike's Michigan St. Spartans, and their two National Championships that Mike likes to brag about, have now lost 4 straight to our Illini, so that's why I'm not surprised to see nothing from Mike.

However it was our friend Mike who said this just a few weeks ago, "I'm looking forward to watching the Spartans dominate the Big 10 this year." Being the Bible scholar that Mike is, he will recognize this verse, "pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall."

With that verse in mind, I digress.

My thoughts on the game, and the Big 10 season that is underway. First of all, Illinois better find someone else besides Dee Brown to score. Augustine was again a no show in a big game, just as he was in the National Championship game against North Carolina. The Illini defense is suffocating, and dare I say it maybe better than last year. Led by Peoria's own Brian Randle who absolutely shut down Maurice Ager, who was about 15 points below is season average.

The schedule doesn't favor Illinois early on as they travel on the road and head to Iowa this weekend. Followed by games against Indiana and a very good young Michigan team. However, the schedule Michigan St. has early on makes that look like cupcake city. If I remember right they play at Wisconsin next and winning at the Kohl Center is no easy task. They also play Indiana, and a very solid Ohio St team on the road. Absolutely brutal first 4 games, 3 of which are on the road. I guess that means Michigan St. has a lot of home games down the stretch, and that will be to thier advantage. The last game of the regular season being at the Breslin Center against Illinois.

I think the key will be, can Michigan St. split the first 4 games. I think if they can split and go 2-2, even if they're a game or two out they have a great shot to win the Big 10. However, if they go 1-3, or lose all 4 it might be too much to overcome early on. Absolutely brutal schedule early on.

I'm looking forward to Big 10 basketball this season, and I think the Big 10 is back to being on top in the NCAA. The ACC gets all the pub, but top to bottom I think the Big 10 is better.

I guess now I get fired up for the Bears in the playoffs. Hey, that happens every 7 or 8 years or so. With that in mind I am praying the the Bears game is next Sunday and not Saturday. I say this because if it is on Saturday I might have to do something that I have never done, call in sick to work. I can honeslty say that I have never called in sick to work. Sure I have taken a few scheduled days off, but in my life I have never missed a day of work when I was scheduled to be there. Being at a new job with no vacation time, and sometimes being forced to work on Saturday's, should that happen, and should the Bears have to play on Saturday, I might come down with a case of the dreaded orange and blue flue. I would hate to ruin my perfect attendance record for a football game, but like I said the Bears only make the playoff's every 7 or 8 years.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Greatest Team ever?

Of course you know that this post cannot have anything to do with the Cubs with a title like that.

I am referring to the recent ESPN series on the 2005 USC Trojans. I have to admit that I thought that this series that ESPN ran in the run-up to the Rose Bowl which compared the 2005 USC squad to the "ten greatest college football teams of all time" was a joke - especially May's and Herbstreit's perspectives.

These two clowns had USC beating every one of the top ten except one (Herbstreit picked the 2001 Miami squad to win a head-to-head between the two, while May picked the 1995 Nebraska Team as the lone team able to beat the mighty Trojan squad of 2005).

I thought (while the series was unfolding and Herbstreit and May were slobbering all over this current USC team) what an irony it would be if this greatest team ever couldn't even win their upcoming contest against the Longhorns from Texas.

The whole thing seemed premature at the very least, since USC still had to beat Texas in the Rose Bowl. Since ESPN didn't run a concurrent series comparing Texas to the 10 greatest teams of all time, it's apparent who they expected to win.

Was Texas justified in feeling slighted before the game was even played? I certainly think they were, and even though I expected USC to win the game - I'm glad that ESPN (and especially Herbstreit and May) got egg on their face as a result of this farce.

Perhaps this will teach them to be a bit more reserved with regard to presumptively anointing modern teams as "the greatest ever" - especially while they still have games to be played.

Oh - and if any of you would like to purchase this toy for me - I promise to use this space to say really nice things about you for at least the next year.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

O's Reject Trade Offer for Tejada

The Baltimore Sun:

Two club sources said yesterday that the Orioles will not accept the Boston Red Sox's offer of All-Star outfielder Manny Ramirez, pitcher Matt Clement and cash for disgruntled shortstop Miguel Tejada

If the Orioles rejected this offer there is absolutely no way the Cubs are going to land Tejada. I might be eating my Nikes in a few weeks, but this just isn't going to be happening. These rumors are ridiculous. Here are some offers I think the O's would take for Tejada [some serious, most not-so-serious]:
  • the Cub corner infielders
  • Mark Prior, Rich Hill, Ronnie Cedeno, Felix Pie, and money
  • the children (or at least DNA) of 200 die-hard Cub fans who have "blind loyalty" encoded in their genes - the O's would just have to program them for the orange instead of the blue and could form an army of fans that would pack Camden Yards regardless of won/loss record
  • $120M and a pack of assorted nuts from Nuts on Clark
  • Rich Hill and Carlos Zambrano [as long as they can keep him away from e-mail]
  • Steve Stone (didn't he used to play for the O's - oh, wait, the Cubs fired him) and Ronnie "Woo Woo" Wickers
  • the recipe for Steve Bartman baseball stew
Additional suggestions are warmly welcomed in the comments section.

TAKE OUT YOUR SCORECARDS FOR TODAY'S LINEUP . . .

ESPN has a graphic of
projected starters for both the NL and AL sorted by division which makes it easy to compare the moves in the NL central so far. Just a few notes on this.

*They're smart enough to have Walker as the starting 2nd bagger, Even though Dusty and Mike Kiley would most likely place Neifi ahead of unshaven trade bait.

*Cinci and Pittsburgh will be Cinci and Pittsburgh once again.

*The Cards have slipped a little on offense and in their pitching (their pen is almost completely new) from last year as they stand. Rolen wasn't exactly the 2004 edition last year when he did play, but if he has another year like that one they'll win about 90-95 games this year. The Bigbie/Rodriguez and Encarnacion outfield is an unknown, but will certainly regress from last year's corners.

*Houston's offense is anemic, but their starting pitching is still decent, even without Clemens. I'm more inclined to think they won't make any incredible runs like they did last year. No Clemens insures this.

*Milwaukee could surprise everyone, but still seems like a .500 team.

*So do the Cubs. Unless Prior, Wood, and Z have big years. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 15-18 wins apiece and making 90% of their starts. Plus Maddux and the number 5 need to be around .500. Fortunately, the bullpen should be an improvement and it'll be nice to have the roles defined going into spring training.

My line up right now would be:

Pierre
Walker
Lee
Ramirez
Jones*
Barrett
Murton
Cedeno


*He should be platooned (with Grissom?) and moved down the order when the K's rise and the OPS falls--or never gets off the ground.

I don't think a few games over .500 is out of the question with healthy pitching and decent 1 and 2 hitters (I'm resigned to the fact that we won't have any further improvements . . . errr . . . overpaid changes in the outfield. Oui, oui Jacque, I speak of you). They're in a weaker division and might be slightly better among the position players. But that's not enough. The problem is, we need great healthy pitching.

Augie!!!

Augie Ojeda has signed a minor league contract with the Cubs. Augie is quite the Cubs phenomenon. To my recollection, I haven't seen a Cub that hits so poorly be loved so dearly. I guess this goes to show that if a player has a name that makes a good bleacher chant fans are willing to shed their favor upon a defensive specialist.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Grissom Expected to Sign with Cubs

The Sun-Times reports:

The Cubs will make an announcement today, but barring something unexpected, it won't be about a trade for Baltimore Orioles shortstop Miguel Tejada. They are expected to reveal that veteran outfielder Marquis Grissom has agreed to terms on a minor-league contract for 2006.

Is this the power we were expecting Hendry to get? This team is looking completely different from the lineup of the last couple years - not just in names, but in the profile of each player.

ND-OSU...

Well I'm bummed about the ND game - I was hoping for a different outcome as an ND fan. I have only 2 comments after having watched the game:

1) Is there anything more hideous looking than the Irish defense? That defense is p-a-t-h-e-t-i-c! The secondary is a disgrace. Every game we see the offense desperately trying to overcome the points given up by the defense. I hope we see more from the D next year.

2) I hope and pray that Weis can find someone to replace the kicker Fitzpatrick. Extra Points should be automatic at a D-1 school like ND (as should FG's inside 40 yards). This guy almost cost ND the Stanford game and he did blow a 34 yard FG against either MSU or USC (I can't remember which) that would have been the difference in the game. Anyway - please tell me that the Irish can get a reliable kicker for next season's championship run (they should be pre-season top 10).

As for the Cubs - I like the rumors I've heard lately from the MLB Trade Rumors site about the Cubs interest in Zito. Getting him would firm up a questionable rotation and raise the 2006 Peoria Northsider Probable Playoff Meter 30 percentage points - it would then level off at a whopping 60%.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Pirates Looking at Sosa

It appears the Pittsburgh Pirates are interested in Sammy Sosa. ChicagoSports.com has the story. Hasn't anyone learned from the last two years? If I were the Pirates, I'd probably rather resign Lloyd McClendon and have him play right field.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

THE BEARS, THE DRAFT, AND JERRY ANGELO...

Well anyone who has followed this blog with any sort of regularity will know my disdain for Jerry Angelo, as I have made it no secret of the fact that I think the Bears won't win jack until he is fired. My favorite website for crying out loud is www.firejerryangelo.com, it's a great read for those interested in some of the bonehead moves he's made, since taking over our Bears.

I think his moves in the free agent market leave alot to be desired. John Tait last season was the big acquisition, and I guess he is ok, but for the money were paying him, I expect Pro Bowl. Muhsin Muhammad was the big signing this year, and I am beginning to think this dude couldn't catch a cold if he was standing outside, buck naked, in Alaska, with his hair wet. All I see him do is whining on the sidelines about not getting the ball, then he proceeds to average 3 or 4 drops a week. Our friend Jerry Angelo has yet to acquire a veteran back up QB, and that has all been forgotten thanks to Kyle Orton. Have the Bears even had a tight end since Emery Moorehead.

A few things I will give Jerry credit on, he really hosed the Dolphins on the Marty Booker for Adewale Ogunleye trade, however I think that just fell into his lap since Ogun was a hold out in Miami and the Dolphins were just trying to dump him to get anything for him. I think we also threw in a draft pick on that one but we still got the upper hand of that deal. Also two moves he made this year that is starting to pay off, 1) he didn't put Rex Grossman on IR and kept his spot on the roster in hopes of having him late in the season, and 2) he did the same thing with Bernard Berrian, who is really starting to develop into a decent reciever, and I think he has surpassed Moose as our best.

The one thing that I have noticed about Jerry, and I guess the main thing that irk's me about this guy is his draft picks, especially first rounders. Let's take a look at the first round picks Jerry has made since taking over in 2002...

2002-Marc Colombo
2003-Michael Haynes and Rex Grossman
2004-Tommie Harris
2005-Cedric Benson

The draft that really bothers me is the 2003 draft. We were holding 2 first round selections and remember we passed on Byron Leftwich, traded down and got Michael Haynes. I think it is safe to say that the Michael Haynes is a bust. He might develop for someone else, but he will never be more than a back up DE as long as he stays in Chicago. Rex Grossman was the 22nd pick, and all we really know about Rex is that were counting on him this post season, and that the past 2 years when we have counted on him, he has broke it off in us. I took a look at the 2003 draft and, in Jerry's defense, that draft was a joke. Really weak especially in the first round as Carson Palmer is the only guy really doing anything. Great names such as Dallas Clark, Andre Johnson, and Charles Rogers were taken in the first round, and that's just the names of the few guys I have heard of.

Now speaking of Jerry's draft picking ability, I will say this for him, he can really find the diamonds in the rough. He has some outstanding picks from the 3rd round on. Look at some of these guys and what round he got them in...

Alex Brown, 4th round, 2002
Terrance Metcalf, 3rd round, 2002
Adrian Peterson, 6th round, 2002
Lance Briggs, 3rd round, 2003
Ian Scott, 4th round, 2003
Justin Gage, 5th round, 2003
Bernard Berrian, 3rd round, 2004
Nate Vasher, 4th round, 2004
Leon Joe, 4th round, 2004
Kyle Orton, 4th round, 2005
Chris Harris, 6th round 2005

So in back to back to back years we got two Pro Bowlers, Lance Briggs, and Nate Vasher, and a possible Pro Bowler in Alex Brown. We also got a starting defensive lineman in the 4th round in Ian Scott. Not to mention a possible defensive rookie of the year this year (or might atleast get some votes) in Chris Harris, a 6th rounder. Not to mention Kyle Orton in the 4th round this year, who really saved our bacon. I mean he didn't light it up in the regular season, but come on had he not done so good in the pre season Lovie might have stuck with Chad Hutchinson. Dare we even think what might have been with this season had that happened.

So knowing this about our boy Jerry, and knowing that we will be picking so late in the first round this year (anywhere from 25-32, hopefully 32 because that means we will have won the Super Bowl) it wouldn't offend me if we just traded out of the first round altogether. Then we won't have another whining, 1st round, superstar, holding out of camp, crying about how much money he should be getting.