Francisco Liriano Rumors
The Pirates might now be better than any other organization at fixing pitchers, ESPN's Jayson Stark writes. That begins with Francisco Liriano, who started Game 3 of the NLDS against the Cardinals tonight, but it also includes Charlie Morton, who will start Game 4, along with Jason Grilli, Mark Melancon, and Jeanmar Gomez. Liriano originally agreed to a two-year deal with the Pirates, but when Liriano broke his non-pitching arm while surprising his kids last Christmas, that contract was adjusted to guarantee just $1MM. Liriano's injury caused him to miss the beginning of the season, but it also allowed the Pirates to take their time adjusting his delivery. "The changes that he made -- we couldn't have done that if he'd been in big league camp," says Jim Benedict, a special assistant to GM Neal Huntington. "But because he spent so much time in extended spring training, he had time to get his delivery right and build his arm up slowly." The adjustments they made turned Liriano into a top-flight starter, and gave the Pirates one of the biggest free agent bargains of the offseason. Here are more notes from around the Majors.
- Despite the Dodgers' extremely strong finish to the season, they still haven't picked up manager Don Mattingly's 2014 option, and that's leading to speculation about Mattingly's future, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman notes. Outwardly, the Dodgers have shown strong support for Mattingly, but one source tells Heyman that the Dodgers might need to beat the Braves in the NLDS for Mattingly to be asked to return.
- As far as GM Dave Dombrowski knows, Jim Leyland "wants to keep going" as the Tigers' manager, Dombrowski tells MLB.com's Barry M. Bloom. The Tigers have retained Leyland on a series of one-year deals, and that will likely continue, but, Dombrowski says, "He knows if he wants to manage, he can just keep managing."
- Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette says his club needs to improve its on-base percentage and pitching, reports Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun. The team will likely concentrate on retaining and developing its own pitching, however, rather than trying to work the free agent market. They would particularly like to see their pitchers throw more innings. "That would be the goal: to make the most of the players on our current roster and encourage them to train in a way in the offseason to help them accomplish that," says Duquette. The Orioles would also like to re-sign Scott Feldman.
MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince offers up a list of what he considers to be the Top 10 acquisitions of this past offseason, headlined by the Pirates' signing of Francisco Liriano. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com has also tabbed Liriano as the best open-market pick-up of 2013. Recently, MLBTR's Steve Adams got GM Neal Huntington's take on that signing as well as some other recent offseason acquisitions. Here are a few more notes from the National League's Central division:
- A Reds player told John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer (Twitter link) that pending free agent outfielder Shin-Soo Choo "loves it" in Cincinnati and that teammates have been "working on him"to stay in town. Of course, with several big contracts already on the books, and with Billy Hamilton potentially ready to help at the MLB level, it has been fairly questioned whether the Reds would be in the mix for Choo.
- Cinci GM Walt Jocketty says the team is in fact interested in bringing back Choo, fellow Enquirer newsman C. Trent Rosecrans reports. "We feel we have a good fit for him," Jocketty explained. "We have a winning team that is built to win." The GM implied that the team had hoped to talk extension with Choo's agent, Scott Boras, earlier this year. "We've expressed to him all year [sic] our interest in re-signing him," said Jocketty. "He's wanted to wait or maybe Scott wants to wait until the year is over. We have interest in re-signing. We'll do everything we can to make that happen." Now set to hit the market after an outstanding season, Choo's price tag figures to be higher than it would have been in a mid-year extension scenario. He currently occupies the fifth slot on the 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings of MLBTR's Tim Dierkes.
- After apparently misunderstanding comments from manager Dale Sveum regarding save opportunities down the stretch, Cubs closer Kevin Gregg blasted the organization in the media. As detailed by ESPNChicago.com's Bruce Levine and Jesse Rogers, GM Theo Epstein says that he could release Gregg, and will consider the decision overnight. Epstein explained that the team had no intentions of removing Gregg from his role, but instead wanted to allow recent acquisition Pedro Strop to finish a few games.
- Even if Gregg holds on with Chicago for the rest of the year, the incident -- along with Strop's audition -- could impact whether the team has any interest in bringing him back next year. Though he has cooled down considerably after a remarkable comeback in the season's earlygoing, Gregg has notched 32 saves on the year. Either way, as Mike Axisa of CBSSports.com notes, Gregg recently triggered a $500k bonus by finishing his 50th game of the year.
On this day in 2007, Terry Ryan announced that he would step aside from his post as the Twins general manager at the end of the season. As MLBTR's Tim Dierkes noted, Ryan's history was checkered at best at the time. Of course, as a read through this site's most recent post would indicate, Ryan is now back at the helm. Though the team has yet to post more than seventy wins in a season since Ryan returned in November of 2011, Minnesota stands at 15th in ESPN's latest future power rankings on the strength of its minor league system. While Ryan has long been said to have his job as long as he wants to keep it, some other GMs may not be so lucky ...
- There are four general managers around the league who could soon be replaced, writes Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com. According to Gammons, two of those -- Jerry Dipoto of the Angels and Larry Beinfest of the Marlins -- have arguably been undone by meddling owners. (Gammons cites Arte Moreno's $365MM investment in Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton, and Jeffrey Loria's propensity for "whimsically run[ning] everything.") Meanwhile, Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik may not survive to see whether the team's top young pitching talent can drive a winner. And Rockies GM Dan O'Dowd -- the game's fourth-longest tenured GM -- has yet to figure out how to craft a squad that can win away from Coors field. (For what it's worth, O'Dowd was in charge for the franchise's lone season with a winning road record, when it posted a 41-40 mark in 2009.)
- It would be ridiculous to consider Rangers GM Jon Daniels among those at risk, writes Baseball Nation's Grant Brisbee. While he surely could have sacrificed future value to win at all costs this season, says Brisbee, Daniels was prudent not to and still delivered a team that should qualify for the post-season.
- Teams must determine whether to make outgoing free agents a qualifying offer just five days after the conclusion of this year's World Series, and those decisions will play a major role in setting the stage for the 2014 free agent market. For non-obvious candidates, writes Dave Cameron of Fangraphs, an important part of the equation lies in valuing the compensation pick that the team would receive if the player declines the offer and then signs with another club. Working off of a rough valuation of international signing slot dollars, Cameron opines that teams could value the dollars spent on a comp pick as much as three-to-four times higher than money the team could spend outside the draft. As he explains, this would imply that there is substantial excess value in obtaining non-marketable draft picks, which could move the needle in favor of making qualifying offers in marginal situations.
- As we prepare to weigh a new class of free agents, CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman ranks the best signings of 2013. His top three are a collection of veterans whose contributions have vastly outweighed the relatively meager financial commitments that they received: Pirates starter Francisco Liriano, Red Sox reliever Koji Uehara, and Athletics starter Bartolo Colon. Next on his list is Boston's David Ortiz, who as Heyman notes was the only player to accept a qualifying offer in the first year of the system.
Last December, prior to suffering a broken right (non-throwing) arm, Francisco Liriano agreed to a two-year, $12.75MM contract with the Pirates. After his injury, the two sides worked out a new contract that guaranteed Liriano just $1MM in 2013 but contained $3.75MM worth of incentives and a vesting option that could be worth either $5MM, $6MM or $8MM, depending on time spent on the DL with the right arm injury.
Liriano's 2014 option officially vested when the left-hander reached 90 days not spent on the DL due to the right arm injury. He is currently guaranteed a $5MM salary for 2014, but that figure will jump to $6MM once he reaches 120 games not spent on the DL with his right arm injury. It has currently been 103 days since his activation, meaning his 2014 salary will jump by $1MM on Saturday, Sept. 7.
As far as this season is concerned, MLBTR has also learned Liriano's 2013 bonus structure, which is as follows:
- 60 days not on DL with right arm injury: $250K
- 75 days not on DL with right arm injury: $250K
- 90 days not on DL with right arm injury: $750K
- 120 days not on DL with right arm injury: $750K
- 135 days not on DL with right arm injury: $125K
- 150 days not on DL with right arm injury: $750K
- 165 days not on DL with right arm injury: $125K
- 180 days not on DL with right arm injury: $750K
It's not quite as simple as that would seem, though. These bonuses are not standard roster bonuses that are awarded for being on the 25-man roster for a certain number of days, but rather bonuses relative to Liriano's health and ability to help the club. Because of that, it's possible that Liriano could make the case that he was ready to return to the club sooner than he did, which could entitle him to additional bonuses.
Liriano's minor league rehab stint lasted five starts, which could impact his earnings. He missed the season's first 41 days due to his right arm injury, which means that he will max out at 142 days on the 25-man roster. The eight days that separate that mark from the 150-day cutoff carry significant financial implications. Not only would they earn Liriano an additional $750K in 2013, they would also boost the value of his vesting option to its maximum level of $8MM next season. That $8MM salary would come with an additional $500K worth of incentives, which MLBTR has also learned:
- $150K for 180 innings pitched in 2014
- $200K for 190 innings pitched in 2014
- $150K for 200 innings pitched in 2014
Should Liriano's option vest for only $6MM, those incentives still remain in the contract, and he would be able to earn an additional $2MM based on his number of starts made. In that instance, MLBTR has learned that he would receive $400K for reaching five, 10, 15, 20 and 25 starts in 2014.
In either scenario, the maximum that Liriano could earn next year would be $8.5MM. As far as this year's bonuses are concerned, he's already pocketed an additional $1.25MM. He currently stands to receive an additional $750K on Sept. 7 and $125K more on Sept. 22.
In the end, Liriano has proven to be perhaps the biggest bargain of the 2012-13 offseason, regardless of what his salary ends up being. His 2.53 ERA (2.66 FIP, 2.99 xFIP), 9.4 K/9, 3.5 BB/9 and 52.7 percent ground-ball rate in 121 innings this season are statistics worthy of a true "ace" label, but his contract paid him less than pitchers like Joe Blanton and Brandon McCarthy.
Let's take a quick trip around the National League ...
- The Nationals acquired David DeJesus from the Cubs yesterday, only to place him promptly on waivers, leading to speculation about the team's intentions. Whatever the Nats do, the Cubs are likely only to receive "a nominal amount of cash" back in the deal, reports ESPN Chicago's Bruce Levine (via Twitter).
- Osceola County has decided not to go forward with Washington's planned $98MM spring training complex in Kissimmee, Florida, leaving the club looking for other options. Pete Kerzel of MASNsports.com has all the details on the team's prospects for a new spring home. For now, he says, the organization is content to continue working out of Space Coast Stadium in Viera.
- With the Nats visiting Wrigley to take on the Cubs, president and GM Mike Rizzo talked to Levine about the work of the Chicago front office. The Chicago native credited president Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer with being "so aggressive in the international market place." He explained that the new international spending rules "have put the small-market teams on a comparable level with the richer clubs," creating "a true scouting system" in which "the teams with the better scouts will get the better players." Rizzo analogized the Cubs' efforts to the Nationals' own aggressive, scouting-based spending before the team emerged last season.
- Recent call-up Andrew Lambo of the Pirates has new representation, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes has learned. The 25-year-old outfielder has chosen Beverly Hills Sports Council to replace his previous agency, Wasserman Media Group. As always, you can reference MLBTR's Agency Database to keep tabs on players' representation.
- One of the keys to the Bucs' successes this year -- low-priced off-season acquisition Francisco Liriano -- has excelled due to changes in his delivery that have improved his fastball command, explains Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Liriano's 2014 option appears likely to vest, and Pittsburgh will surely not complain about returning him to their rotation.
The Royals' trade for Ervin Santana was the best move of the offseason, ESPN's Buster Olney writes. Santana has posted a 2.97 ERA with 7.1 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9 in a resurgent season in Kansas City. Right behind the Santana deal, Olney says, was the Braves' deal for Justin Upton and Chris Johnson, followed by the Orioles' signing of Nate McLouth. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.
- Olney's ESPN colleague Jerry Crasnick writes about Francisco Liriano's surprising season with the Pirates. Sure enough, just hours after Crasnick's article was published, Liriano allowed ten runs against the Rockies at Coors Field. But he has still been a big part of the Pirates' stellar year, and for very cheap -- Liriano has a complex contract based on the timing of his return from a broken humerus suffered last offseason, but the deal tops out at $4.75MM for 2013, and includes a reasonable vesting option for 2014. Crasnick also names the Rays' James Loney, the Mets' Marlon Byrd, and others as being among the best cheap signings of the offseason.
- Astros manager Bo Porter isn't planning on returning to Washington to manage the Nationals after Davey Johnson retires at the end of the season, Brian McTaggart and Chris Abshire of MLB.com report. "I'm the Houston Astros manager," says Porter. "I'm 100 percent entrenched into getting our situation here to where it is we want to be. The situation in Washington is completely out of my hands and -- I'm going to give you my famous one -- out of my jurisdiction." Porter is in the midst of a multi-year contract with the Astros, McTaggart and Abshire note, and could only leave for the Nats if the Astros decided to trade him or just let him depart. Neither scenario seems likely, however.
- Jeff Samardzija has struggled recently, but the Cubs don't think his contract situation has anything to do with it, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Samardzija allowed nine runs on Thursday against the Phillies, four starts after allowing nine against the Angels. "We’ve had some dialogue at different times, but nothing’s really changed on that front, so I don’t see why he would start pressing now as opposed to other times," says Cubs GM Jed Hoyer. Before the non-waiver trade deadline, Samardzija's name occasionally appeared in trade rumors, but it never looked particularly likely that the Cubs would deal him. The two sides reportedly will discuss a contract extension after the season is over. Samardzija is eligible for free agency after 2015.
As we turn to August, here's a look at the players who have vesting options for the 2014 season..
- Kurt Suzuki, Nationals: $9.25MM option vests with 113 starts in 2013. The Nats were relying on Suzuki during the first half of the season when Wilson Ramos was sidelined, but Ramos returned to action on July 4th, sliding Suzuki back down the depth chart. The 29-year-old is 45 starts shy of the needed mark with 52 games remaining, so Suzuki's chances aren't too strong. if/when the option doesn't vest, it'll become a club option worth $8.5MM with a modest $650K buyout.
- Jamey Carroll, Twins: $2MM option vests with 401 plate appearances. Carroll has 185 PAs in 53 games this season. The veteran has had more than his needed total in each of the last three seasons with 500+ plate appearances in each of the last two years, but he'll have his work cut out for him in 2013.
- Wilson Betemit, Orioles: $3.2MM option vests with 324 plate appearances (combined 700 between 2012 and 2013). Betemit underwent arthroscopic knee surgery on March 26th and he'll begin a rehab assignment on Tuesday. Needless to say, his option won't vest.
- Lance Berkman, Rangers: $13MM option vests with 550 plate appearances. Berkman has 282 plate appearances to his credit and the good news is that despite whispers that he might call it quits after his latest hip troubles, he pledges to return this season. Unfortunately for him, his rehab assignment isn't scheduled to get underway until the end of this week and 550 sounds like a longshot.
- Roy Halladay, Phillies: $20MM option vests with 259 innings pitched (combined 415 innings pitched between '12 and '13). This was a longshot to begin with, but shoulder surgery earlier this season makes this one impossible.
- Brett Myers, Indians: $8MM option vests with 200 innings pitched in 2013 and a passed physical after the season. After logging 21 and 1/3 innings in 2013, Myers was sidelined with tendinitis and a mild ligament sprain in his right elbow and has yet to return. When he does come back, it's possible that the Tribe will move him to the bullpen.
- Barry Zito, Giants: $18MM option vests with 200 innings pitched. Zito has racked up 111 and 1/3 innings through 21 starts this season. Zito probably won't get to lock in his sizable 2014 salary.
- Johan Santana, Mets: His $25MM option could have vested with 215 innings pitched or winning the 2013 Cy Young Award, but he won't have a chance at that thanks to a season-ending tear in his pitching shoulder.
It's also worth noting that Pirates pitcher Francisco Liriano has a $8MM club option for 2014, but it can vest at any of three levels - $5MM, $6MM, or $8MM - based on the number of days he is not on the DL this year with a recurrence of his right arm injury. It's not known how many days the hurler must steer clear of right arm trouble in order to trigger each level of his option, however. The left-hander made his season debut on May 11th and has a 2.02 ERA with 9.3 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9 through 16 starts this season.
As we enter July, let's check on the players who are hoping to lock in their options for the 2014 season..
- Kurt Suzuki, Nationals: $9.25MM option vests with 113 starts in 2013. The Nats planned to have Suzuki split time at catcher with Wilson Ramos, but Suzuki has started 59 games (counting tonight's game against the Brewers) behind the plate thanks to Ramos' hamstring troubles. Ramos is currently rehabbing in the minors, however, and he could be back in action for the club on Thursday, according to the latest update from Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. Suzuki is slashing just .226/.286/.332, so it stands to reason that Ramos will see the lion's share of starts if he stays healthy. If Suzuki doesn't reach 113 starts, the Nats will have an $8.5MM club option with a $650K buyout.
- Jamey Carroll, Twins: $2MM option vests with 401 plate appearances. The veteran has had more than his needed total in each of the last three seasons with 500+ plate appearances in each of the last two years but has just 146 PAs so far.
- Wilson Betemit, Orioles: $3.2MM option vests with 324 plate appearances (combined 700 between 2012 and 2013). Betemit underwent arthroscopic knee surgery on March 26th and just resumed baseball activities late last week. Couple that with Manny Machado holding down third base and it's hard to see Betemit's option vesting.
- Lance Berkman, Rangers: $13MM option vests with 550 plate appearances. So far, Berkman is has 268 plate appearances through 64 games this season. Berkman scared the baseball world when he took a tumble down the stairs of the team plane and tweaked his troublesome right knee, but the injury is said to be minor and shouldn't cost him serious time. In 2011, his last full season, the slugger racked up 587 PAs.
- Roy Halladay, Phillies: $20MM option vests with 259 innings pitched (combined 415 innings pitched between '12 and '13). This was a longshot anyway, but shoulder surgery in May makes this an impossibility.
- Brett Myers, Indians: $8MM option vests with 200 innings pitched in 2013 and a passed physical after the season. After logging 21 and 1/3 innings in 2013, Myers was sidelined with tendinitis and a mild ligament sprain in his right elbow and is still working towards his return. When he does come back, the Tribe will move him to the bullpen.
- Barry Zito, Giants: $18MM option vests with 200 innings pitched. Zito has 91 and 1/3 innings to his credit through 16 starts this season. He'll still need some things to go in his favor, but so far his chances of locking up 2014 are still alive.
- Johan Santana, Mets: His $25MM option could have vested with 215 innings pitched or winning the 2013 Cy Young Award, but he won't have a chance at that thanks to a season-ending tear in his pitching shoulder.
Pirates pitcher Francisco Liriano has a $8MM club option for 2014, but it can vest at any of three levels - $5MM, $6MM, or $8MM - based on the number of days he is not on the DL this year with a recurrence of an injury to his non-throwing arm. However, it's not known how many days he has to avoid missing time due to his right arm trouble in order to trigger each level of his option. Liriano returned to action on May 11th and has looked strong in ten starts. The left-hander has a 2.23 ERA on the year with 9.9 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9.
With nearly half the season in the books, the Washington Post's Barry Svrluga took a look at the offseason's biggest bargains. He starts his list with Marlon Byrd of the Mets, who signed a minor league deal but has contributed 12 home runs and a .258/.309/.493 line in 237 plate appearances.
- The next player to get a nod in the article is the Pirates' Francisco Liriano, who inked an incentive-driven deal with Pittsburgh. He has been nothing short of stellar thus far, carrying a 2.30 ERA over 54 2/3 innings and 10.0 K/9 against 3.6 BB/9. Liriano's excellence has combined with a stunning earlygoing for Jeff Locke, continued renaissance for A.J. Burnett, and now the emergence of top prospect Gerrit Cole to give the Buccos a surprisingly excellent rotation.
- Of course, the Bucs just became the first MLB team to fifty wins after decades of poor performances. While the team may not necessarily have any obvious areas that require immediate attention, then, one must wonder whether it will contemplate any bold moves to seize the opportunity this year. As MLB.com's Tom Singer writes, Pittsburgh will be very interesting to watch as the trade deadline approaches. Manager Clint Hurdle explained: "You always need to look and see if you can add to the team strength. ... You pay attention to chemistry, and try to do the right thing."
- In spite of the rotation's excellence thus far, then, one wonders whether it could be an area that the club looks to improve. While the staff currently sports the league's second-lowest ERA, it ranks 11th in FIP, 18th in xFIP, and 20th in WAR. (All links to Fangraphs leaderboards.) Locke, in particular, looks destined for some pretty heavy regression, with his 2.06 ERA belied by a 3.85 FIP and 4.11 xFIP. In addition to possible regression, Pittsburgh's starting depth has been tested already. As Singer reports, the Pirates could be looking at long absences for starters Wandy Rodriguez and James McDonald. Rodriguez, in particular, would be a major loss if he misses substantial time. He reportedly has been shut down after experiencing forearm tightness following a toss on flat ground.
- Another team that has experienced pitching injuries, the Dodgers, has made an internal move to try and shore up its late-inning woes. The team announced on Twitter that it has brought up right-handed reliever Jose Dominguez. As Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times explains, the 22-year-old has a legitimate 100+ MPH heater. After two drug suspensions earlier in his career, the Dominican native will look to make a bullpen acquisition unnecessary for the Dodgers.
- Sticking with the relief side of the rubber, the Cubs' Kevin Gregg has emerged as an unlikely trade candidate. As MLB.com's Carrie Muskat writes, Chicago already seems to be sizing up replacements for their newly minted closer. Of course, Gregg blew his first save this evening, which could take some of the luster off of his outstanding start. (Gregg's potential replacement, Blake Parker, went on to pick up his first big league save.) But as MLBTR's Steve Adams recently explained, Gregg's results have largely been supported by his peripherals.
- Another obvious trade candidate, the Marlins' Ricky Nolasco, also struggled in his latest showcase. Nevertheless, as Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald writes, Miami has already lined up Nolasco's rotation spot to be occupied by Henderson Alvarez as soon as Wednesday. Manager Mike Redmond says that Alvarez is "going to be on his way" to Miami and that the team will "figure out what we're going to do as far as where we're going to fit him in."
- The Marlins may be forced to return top Rule 5 pick Alfredo Silverio to the Dodgers after the 26-year-old outfielder had to undergo a second Tommy John surgery, writes Spencer. The former prospect had his career derailed by a car accident, but was hoping to re-establish himself in Miami.
From earlier today in the two Central divisions, Cubs GM Jed Hoyer sat down for a podcast with ESPN's Buster Olney, the Brewers are looking to the future and Jake Peavy is willing to be traded anywhere if the White Sox see fit to move him. Here are some other items from both the AL and NL Central...
- Francisco Liriano's 2014 option with the Pirates will vest for $6MM if the southpaw can avoid spending 120 days on the disabled list this season, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports. Liriano signed a complicated deal with the Bucs in February that only guaranteed him $1MM in 2013 but could've been worth as much as $12.75MM if Liriano stayed healthy. His stint on the DL this season already cost him around $1.625MM this season and an extra $2MM for 2014.
- Cardinals right-hander Chris Carpenter threw to live batters on Monday, The Associated Press reports, and may repeat the process if his shoulder doesn't become numb. Carpenter was thought to be out for all of 2013 and was pondering retirement due to ongoing shoulder injuries, but the former Cy Young Award winner has taken several positive steps in his comeback.
- The Twins had some interest in Quintin Berry before the Royals claimed the outfielder off waivers earlier today, 1500ESPN.com's Darren Wolfson tweets.
- Scott Kazmir credits his development of secondary pitches and better pitching strategies for his return to the Major Leagues, Howard Megdal of Sports On Earth writes. Kazmir has a 5.13 ERA in eight starts with the Indians this season but his secondary numbers are good enough that MLBTR's Steve Adams believes he could earn a decent free agent contract this winter.
- "Lots of changes figure to occur" with the Royals if the team can't get on track, Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star writes as part of a reader mailbag. If they make a big move like trading Ervin Santana, Dutton figures K.C. would look to acquire a slugging corner outfielder or a second baseman in return.
- Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago covers several White Sox and Cubs topics and rumors in his live chat about Windy City baseball.