Jim & Bob's Palatial Baseball Blog

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Tragedy Plus Time Equals Comedy

Dr. Phil isn't spending all time playing "what if" games about Curtis Granderson.  He's also hard at work rehabilitating Dusty Baker's reputation:
With Dusty Baker in charge of the 2003 Cubs, Kerry Wood led the majors in pitches and Mark Prior led in pitches per start. Prior did this despite only turning 23 that September. Some are now questioning whether Baker retard the development of Cuban phenom Aroldis Chapman. But that question can only be answered with another question -- how good is the Cincinnati bullpen? The Cubs' bullpen was brutal in '03, as was shown clearly post-Bartman. Baker's burning desire to win demands a deep bullpen.

This is hilarious on so many levels.  Those of us who were (a) sentient and (2) paying attention to the coverage of your 2003 and 2004 Chicago Cubs would have noticed many members of the Chicago media pimping these talking points about Baker as the absolute, honest-to-God truth:

  • Dusty ruined the careers of Wood and Prior by running them into the ground.
  • Dusty cannot manage a bullpen. If he did, the bullpen wouldn't suck so much.
  • Dusty's desire to be liked by his players trumps everything else. If he were serious about winning, he'd crack back on them and make them stop saying mean things about Steve Stone and Sully.
Well, that was a lifetime ago, wasn't it?  Dr. Phil has spent most of the spring talking about Dusty and what a great shot he has of winning the Central this year.

The scripts about wristbands, toothpicks, and Dusty's prediliction to use the word "dude" in casual conversation are all forgotten in the stampede to talk about D-Bake's "burning desire to win."

I used to think it was only Cubs players who became superstars the moment they moved to another team. (Check your archives for the Trib's coverage of Eric Hinske, Todd Wellemyer, Sergio Mitre, and Jake Fox. Or, more recently, Milton Bradley.)

Apparently, the leaving-the-Cubs magic also rubs off on managers.  Perhaps if the Nationals get off to a decent start, Dr. Phil will drop his criticisms of Jim Riggelman down the memory hole too.

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And I Want a Pony, Too!

Dr. Phil bemoans the fact that the Tigers traded center fielder Curtis Granderson to the Yankees, not the Cubs.

Impressively, Dr. Phil behaves as a semi-responsible journamalist by acknowledging that perhaps Hendry couldn't pull off the deal because the Cubs don't have players the Tigers wanted.  Will wonders ever cease?

How different would life have been if he had wound up playing for his hometown team?

Granderson pondered that question for a long time this offseason. It could have been a beautiful marriage — in my opinion, one of the best things that might have happened to the Cubs both because of his skill set as a power-speed hitter and plus fielding and his off-the-charts intangibles.

Cubs general manager Jim Hendry worked to make that happen but couldn't force an unnatural fit with the Tigers, who were looking for parts that weren't in the Cubs' inventory. He settled for signing the right-handed-hitting Marlon Byrd instead, a move born of need, not inspiration.

It was Granderson he really wanted.

"Jim did want to get a deal done,'' Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski said. "But if we were going to trade Curtis and [starter] Edwin Jackson, we had to get back players who could help in the major leagues now. The Cubs had players we liked but they weren't the kind that were ready, and that was the kind we had to have.''
That's better than Dr. Phil has done in the past.  In times past, Dr. Phil would have been happy to brush off his "Boy, that Hendry is an idiot for not making this trade" script and called it a day.

Other ways life would be different, if only Hendry could pull off a trade or two:
  • DNA technology could clone Babe Ruth, Walter Johnson, and Honus Wagner. Just think how awesome the Cubs would be with those three guys!
  • We could trade a few prospects to the guys and Ben and Jerrys in exchange for magical chocolate and peanut butter ice cream, the kind that you can eat as much as you wanted without getting fat.  Good for me personally, and good to help Carlos Silva from becoming the Cubs' version of Bobby Jenks.
  • Ponies for everyone!  Woooo!
One other thing...Dr. Phil. mentions Granderson's "hometown team."  As I've been reminded several bajillion times, there are two teams in Chicago.  Would trading for Granderson be "one of the better things" to happen to the White Sox?

Whaddya say, Dr. Phil?
In Alex Rios, Juan Pierre and a rejuventated [Andruw] Jones, [Ozzie] Guillen would have himself three center fielders -- four if you count Mark Kotsay, a regular there as recently as 2008 for the Braves.
Certainly no need for a "power-speed hitter" with "plus fielding and off-the-charts intangibles" when you've got that quartet of center field excellence.

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

He Sure Puts the "Twit" in "Twitter"

It's an obvious joke.  But if I didn't make it, someone would.

One thing's for certain -- Guillen's Twitter feed can't be any more vacuous and pointless than Sully's or Dr. Phil's.

Or -- let's face it -- any other Twitter feed.  Except for Jane's.  And Kathy's.  Chicks who rock are always cool.  Even when doing lame things. Like Twitter.


It's Especially Tricky the Way It Works

Time for another round of that famed Sesame Street game "One of These Things Is Not Like the Others!"

Here's the Chicago Tribune's Mark Gonzalez:
It was more than just a 3.71 ERA that White Sox closer Bobby Jenks needed to trim.

For Jenks, the bigger transformation involved his diet habits in an effort to change his daily life and enhance his baseball longevity.

"Honestly, it was a lot of everything," the 6-foot-4 Jenks said of the alterations he made to drop his weight to 275 pounds. "Not drinking helps. But really it was a lifestyle choice I wanted to make — not just for myself but for my family.

Really, the drinking part was hard. But once you did it, it was easy."

The Sox's front office has been delighted at the way Jenks, 29, has responded. Four springs ago, following his breakout rookie season, Jenks reported to camp noticeably overweight and had to spend extra time with conditioning director Allen Thomas.

"In the past we've had to do two things — we had to get him in shape and his arm in shape," pitching coach Don Cooper said. "Right now it's just the arm because his body is in shape. It's great to see Bobby taking more responsibility and control of his career and life."

Jenks pitched through the 2005 postseason with a sore hip but managed to stay healthy until 2008, when he experienced discomfort behind his left shoulder blade. Last year he was sidelined because of kidney stones and missed the final 10 games because of a right calf strain.

As a result, Jenks embarked on measures to strengthen the shoulders, back and legs. He has also cut down on non-healthy food.

"Everyone knows not to eat certain things that aren't good for you, and the hard part is actually going to do it," Jenks said.
Good for Jenks.  As a guy who has made similar changes to his lifestyle, I appreciate how difficult it can be. But it's worth it.
Dr. Phil has another heart-warming story of a guy who's worked himself into shape:
Consider the highly motivated Andruw Jones. He arrived at the White Sox camp early and sassy, at one point calling himself the best center fielder on the property.

That seems unlikely, as Jones was only moderately adequate in the outfield for Texas last season. But the man has won 10 Gold Gloves and came to Glendale in good shape (minus the spare tire he packed in the last season or two of his 12-year stay in Atlanta). He's expected to get most of his playing time as part of a DH platoon, but if he could play well in the outfield he will give Ozzie Guillen a chance to use Carlos Quentin as the DH, lessening the chance he will have a recurrence of plantar fasciitis.
Ooohhhh...sassy! I like it!

And finally, it's our old buddy Sully, talkin' about the Cub's formerly pudgy catcher.  These are the first two paragraphs of his story:
After losing 40 pounds during the offseason, Geovany Soto looks like an air-brushed impression of his old self.

But losing weight means being under suspicion in the modern age. Soto laughed Tuesday when asked about talk show speculation he had been using performance-enhancing drugs.

"To me, (the rumors are) kind of ridiculous," Soto said. "I wasn't strong. I was just fat."
Sully shows superb self-restraint -- he waited almost two dozen words before he brought up the "speculation" that Geo's been doping!

To sum up:  the first thing we hear about Jenks is how he did "a lot of everything" to drop down to a sub-Fielder weight.  The first thing we hear about Jones is how he's "highly motivated."

And the first thing we hear about Soto is he's "air-brushed" (i.e., fake) and "under suspicion" for juicing.

So...which thing is not like the others?  The Soto piece, of course!

It's just another example of that damnable Tribune bias in favor of the Cubs.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

You'll Put Your Eye Out

This is mean, but funny. Of course some yahoo from Assbackwards, Arkansas is going to be the one to defend keeping a gun in his locker. Come on, what could possibly go wrong with something so innocent as keeping a firearm in an area filled with a group of intense professional athletes?

Now carrying a loaded weiner, that's dangerous.

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

You Said "Weiner"

As if they don't have enough trouble on the field, the Kansas City Royals now have problems with their mascot. Seriously, how hopeless do you have to be as a franchise to have this kind of problem?

Perhaps this can be considered as a public service. Perhaps Sluggerrr (damn, that is one stupid name) was merely trying to ensure that Coomer would no longer have to watch Jose Guillen play right field, or Willie Bloomquist play anywhere. I would strongly recommend this defense to Sluggerrr's counsel.

Remember, this is a franchise that actually traded for Yuniesky Betancourt last year. Think about that. The Royals actually looked at all of their options and decided to offer two warm bodies to a team which was about to dump this guy into Puget Sound. And do you know what's really sad about this? Betancourt really IS the best option they have at shortstop right now. This is like realizing that James Inhofe is your best option for climate science.

Poor Royals fan. Another year of watching the Glass House Gang make a mockery of major league baseball.

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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Good news for White Sox fans

Johnny Damon signs with the Tigers. Thus sparing us the sight of Damon side-by-side with Juan Pierre in the outfield.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

What I Learned Tonight

Taking part in an auction draft (even a practice one) and re-stringing a catchers mitt at the same time is really really hard. Don't try it.

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Don't Quit Your Day Job

This is what happens when a franchise is both bad and unlucky. Bergesen, who already has had the misfortune of missing half of his rookie season after taking a line drive off of the shin, is now officially a member of the strange injuries Hall of Fame.

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A Wang and a Prayer

I suppose that this isn't the worst gamble in the world, but I'm not sure if it's something that's going to help a terrible team like the Expos Nationals.

Now, in the Monopoly money world of major league baseball, $2 million is chump change . But Wang is a guy who desperately needs a great defense behind him to survive, and it's hard to imagine getting that from the Nationals. My guess would have been that he would have signed a minor league deal with a non-roster invite.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

In Denial, or Just Ignorant?

The headline on Ken Rosenthal's piece today asks a question I thought offered an obvious answer:

Why is Jermaine Dye looking for work?

I'll go out on a limb and sugest a few reasons. It may be the fact that he's 36 years old with a growing list of infirmities. Or perhaps because heis reportedly looking for both a starting gig and a salary somewhere in the neighborhood of where it's been recently ($11.5 million last year, according to ESPN).  Or possibly his post-All-Star Break OPS of .590.

Or some combination of the above.

I laughed out loud at this bit:
Just last offseason, the Phillies signed left fielder Raul Ibanez — who was a year older than Dye is now and also a below-average defender — to a three-year, $31.5 million contract.

Dye said his offer from the Cubs was for less than one-tenth of that amount.

The Cubs proposed a one-year $3 million contract, Dye said, not the $3.3 million deal that they gave to another free-agent outfielder, Xavier Nady.

While Nady, 31, is five years younger than Dye, he played in only seven games last season before undergoing a second Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.

“No doubt, I’ve probably slowed down a little bit (defensively), but not enough to not be getting (attractive) offers,” Dye said.

“I’ve already expressed a willingness to play first base or left field if need be. I’ve taken groundballs at first base a couple of times a week the last five years in Chicago. That transition will be pretty easy.”

Is Dye going around whining to reporters that those mean ol' Cubs signed a (slightly) younger outfielder on the cheap instead of giving him a multi-year deal?  Or is he bent because he would have jumped at the offer if Jim Hendry had ponied up another $300 K?

[Side note to Jermaine:  it is exemplary of you to say you're ready to jump in at first base or left field. However, that may not be as strong a selling point to the Cubs as you think, since we've already got those two positions covered by guys that aren't going anywhere soon.]

I don't begrudge Dye's desire to get a few more years of baseball before he has to hang 'em up. But he's been around long enough to know the business side of the game doesn't leave a lot of room for sentiment.

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Tuesday, February 09, 2010

The Brewers are going to have a statue of Bud Selig displayed in front of Miller Park.

I hope that he will be posed with his hand reaching into a taxpayers pocket.