February 2007

Attention Cubs Fans/Writers

As you may or may not know, I also own the website AllCubs.com.  We’ve got a nice community of regulars over there, and I’d like to grow that more in 2007.  Originally I started the site with the idea of a community approach for authors, and recruited about 12 people.  We are now down to one regular poster (though Michael does a fantastic job).  I would like to find some more writers as the season approaches.

Here are the qualifications:

– You write well.  Maybe you’re a journalism/English major, maybe you have done some cool stuff on the web already, maybe you just got skills.  Prove that you can write well.

– You’re not looking for money.  AllCubs doesn’t make any money.  If it does one day, I will pay the authors.  But right now the main benefit to a writer would be an audience of hundreds or even thousands per day.  A nice opportunity to build a sportswriting resume in my opinion.

– You honestly plan to give the site two posts per week of at least a few paragraphs. 

– Something that will make you stand out as a Cubs blogger.  There are a ton of Cubs blogs out there, so I’d like a fresh take if possible.

If this interests you, write me at allcubs@gmail.com explaining your qualifications.  I have to apologize in advance for not replying to all of the emails.  Thanks.


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Schilling To Reach Free Agency

The possibility of a preseason contract extension for Curt Schilling is out; he’ll file for free agency after the ’07 season.  Schilling spoke to WEEI this morning and made the announcement.

This doesn’t rule out Schilling returning to the Red Sox for ’08 and beyond, however.  I’d be surprised if the Sox don’t make an offer, assuming he stays healthy this season.  If Schilling can duplicate his ’06 numbers (204 innings of 3.97 ball) he might be worth a one-year, $13MM commitment.  PECOTA sees Schilling posting 198 innings of 3.84 ball this season, and would pay him $8.6MM in ’08.  Suffice it to say he’ll top that on the open market, even if the Yankees aren’t involved.

Does This Paper Have Editors?

Paul Hagen of the Philadelphia Daily News continues to run wild with misinformation regarding the Phillies’ offer of Aaron Rowand for Scott Linebrink.  I’ve been watching this one from the start; it’s just strange.  Hagen insists on belittling this particular Buster Olney rumor and Internet reporting in general; he already took a shot on February 1st.

Today, he leads with these unflattering remarks:

"Rumors are cheap and plentiful during the offseason. Anybody with a vivid imagination and access to a computer can launch a blind item that will circle the globe in seconds and circulate for weeks.  At first glance, then, the Internet whisper that the Phillies had offered centerfielder Aaron Rowand to the Padres for righthanded setup reliever Scott Linebrink seemed far-fetched."

To which Olney responded today:

"To clarify, it was not an Internet rumor, ever. It was written, originally, as something that was discussed between the two teams."

When is Hagen going to print a correction?  I think he owes Olney an apology, though Buster is handling it with class.

Michael Barrett Interview

Yesterday, Cubs catcher Michael Barrett kindly answered some questions for MLBTradeRumors.com.  Michael has a new website up called Barrett Baseball; check it out.

What’s it like working with Lou Piniella?  Any major differences compared to years past?   

Lou is a professional. He expects a lot of stuff from everyone and that’s a good thing. It’s too early to talk about the differences between this year and last year, but everyone is really excited for the year to begin.

What do you see as the Cubs’ biggest obstacle in making the playoffs this year?

Staying healthy.

Do you have any preference as to which spot you hit in the batting order?

No, not really. I just want to help the Cubs win. Wherever Lou wants me to bat, I’m going to hit in that spot.

Based on what you’ve seen so far in camp, what are your thoughts on new additions Ted Lilly and Jason Marquis?

Those are two veterans who have been around the game for a long time and I’m very excited to work with both of them. They both came in to camp looking like they are ready to go and I can’t wait to see how they pitch in the beginning of the season. I know everyone here is happy to see them both.

Do you ever say anything to opposing hitters to rattle their cages?

I don’t like throwing gas on the fire. If I say anything, the hitter ends up turning that against me and hits a home run. If I say anything, it gets them more excited and focused on performing well. If anything, I’ll say something to the pitcher.

What’s the best clubhouse prank you’ve seen?

Will Ohman walked out of the Cubs clubhouse after a game to find his Yukon on cinderblocks, courtesy of Ryan Dempster. Greatest prank ever.

Jeff Passan Tackles The Gyroball

Very cool article up from Jeff Passan, who has led the way as far as getting correct gyroball information to the United States.  Passan spoke to the pitch’s creator in depth, and even managed to throw one himself.

Passan observed that the pitch "looked like a fastball and moved like a fastball."  Apparently, though, it’s slightly different.  Pedro Martinez may have been throwing it without knowing it.

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Hunter Expects To Leave Twins

If I were a betting man, I’d bet that Torii Hunter will not be a Twin in 2008.  Hunter agrees, though it doesn’t seem like he’ll let it become a distraction.

Say he hits free agency and asks for a four-year deal to cover his age 32-35 seasons.  PECOTA would offer him a $34MM deal.  PECOTA would then be turned down and counteroffered 4/52 or so from Hunter’s agent.

The 2007-08 offseason is notable for its selection of center fielders.  Hunter, Ichiro Suzuki, Eric Byrnes, Mike Cameron, Andruw Jones, Corey Patterson, and Aaron Rowand are all set to hit the market.  Teams with openings could include the Orioles, Red Sox, Twins, White Sox, Athletics, Rangers, Braves, Marlins, Phillies, Astros, Cardinals, Pirates, Reds, and Padres.   

Odds and Ends

Drays Bay scored a big interview recently – they talked to possible 2007 #1 draft pick David Price.

Also, SethSpeaks has an interesting interview up with Twins reliever Pat Neshek.

Kevin Goldstein has his top 100 prospects list up at BP.  Look out for the Devil Rays.

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Troy Renck Interview Part 2

Troy Renck is the Rockies/MLB beat reporter for the Denver Post.  You see his name here often with exclusive rumors and info from his columns for that paper.  Troy was kind enough to answer a bunch of my Rockies-related questions for MLBTradeRumors.  Below is the second half of the interview; you can read the first half here.

Which pitcher is more likely to be traded this spring, Josh Fogg or Byung-Hyun Kim?

This will play out slowly, not unlike how the Rockies originally ended up with Kim two years ago just as camp broke. Kim is cheaper and his funky arm angle can neutralize a hitter’s park. He hasn’t shown consistency as a starter and is only comfortable in the bullpen as a closer. Fogg’s contract — $3.625 million — complicates any trade. The Rockies brought up his name when acquiring Lopez from the Orioles, but quickly pulled him back. 

There was a lot of interest in Chin-Hui Tsao after the Rockies non-tendered him.  What do you think of that decision?

From the outside looking in, Tsao’s departure is a headscratcher. He only got $100,000 guaranteed from the Dodgers. But having watched his rehab play out last season, it was clear that Tsao wanted a fresh start. He’s the most talented Rockies’ prospect I have ever seen. But it just didn’t seem like he was every going to escape the black cloud if he stayed in Denver. I’d like to see him have a career given his talent, hardly certain given his two serious surgeries on his shoulder and elbow. Anyway, he definitely wanted a fresh start somewhere else.

The Rockies have more young talent than ever.  In your opinion, when does it all gel to create a playoff team?

The farm system, barren for years, is starting to churn out impact players, like Garrett Atkins and Matt Holliday. The key will be able to win and regenerate the young talent as the kids start to make money. If the payroll remains low and Todd Helton isn’t traded, the Rockies are going to face some difficult choices on which young players to keep this offseason. So, it’s difficult to answer when they will make the playoffs because of the roster issues looming. If they win, attendance theoretically increases, inflating the payroll. That would point to 2008 as a playoff year. But it’s too fluid right now for me to predict that with any certainty.

Ichiro Could Reach Free Agency

John Hickey of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports today that Ichiro Suzuki believes it is possible he will become a free agent for the first time after this season.  Ichiro is unsure of his feelings on that idea, and Hickey points out that this is not him saying he wants out.

Ichiro’s agent, Tony Attanasio, brings up the midseason trade possibility:

"If it appears to them that they can’t sign Ichiro, they might have to trade him. If they didn’t, they’d risk just getting a draft choice for him."

However, the two sides have had preliminary discussions about an extension.  The issue may not be money, though – Ichiro said recently that if the Mariners offered him a billion-dollar contract, he’d have to think about it.  That’s why the Ichiro-to-Boston type rumors will be in full force this summer.  The White Sox and Cardinals could be other possibilities.  And if he’s willing to switch back to right field, even more possibilities will emerge.  The Yankees will have an opening there if they decline Bobby Abreu‘s $16MM option for ’08.

Adam Dunn’s 2008 Option

This time of year we hear a lot about guys entering their walk years or guys with questionable team options for 2008.  Is Adam Dunn one such player?

The Reds have a $13MM option on him for ’08.  Obviously, they’ll take the wait and see approach after Dunn slipped to .234/.365/.490 last year.  PECOTA thinks he’ll bounce all the way back to .267/.390/.574 this season.

For ’08, they have him hitting .267/.398/.581, perhaps his peak season at age 28.  He could be worth $18MM according to BP’s projection system.  Unless Dunn completely flops this season, the option should be exercised.  Even if he reaches the midpoint of his projection and ’06 performance, it’s probably a smart move.  How many teams wouldn’t sign Dunn for one year and $13MM?

As far as Reds of the future, Jay Bruce will probably end up in right and Joey Votto at first.  That still leaves room for Dunn and his 40+ HRs in left.