Cubs Convention Day One: Cubs Eye the Future and Honor a Legend

It is the same hotel and mostly the same crowd but there was a lot of indifference at day one of the 2011 Cubs Convention. The excitement for Cubs baseball still ran through the halls of the Hilton but what could be called optimism for the upcoming season in the past was replaced by questions and looking toward the future … even by the Chicago National League Ball Club.

Between the talk of the future and the upcoming season, the Cubs paid tribute to Ron Santo. From the commemorative patches to the highlight films, the spirit of Cubs legend could be felt by all in attendance.

Here’s the recap from day one of the 26th annual Cubs Convention …

While there was blue and red for as far as the eye could see, it was obvious to everyone that the fan fest was not sold out. The Grand Ballroom was only about 80 percent full for the Opening Ceremonies and the typically packed WGN Radio segments had plenty of empty seats as the two-hour program began. No matter how the Cubs PR department tries to spin it, the convention is not as a big a hit this year has been in the past.

The Cubs are looking toward the future and that is easy to see and hear.

The posters and handouts feature Tyler Colvin, Andrew Cashner and Starlin Castro. Pat Hughes even mentioned what lies ahead in his speech to kick-off the convention. The voice of the Cubs said, “We are excited as all Cubs fans to what the future holds.”

Opening Ceremonies

The kick-off to the 2011 Cubs Convention began just after 5:00 when Pat Hughes stepped to the mic to a loud applause from the crowd. Hughes addressed those in attendance and just hearing his voice was enough to signal the beginning of the baseball season.

Tom Ricketts spoke to crowd in the Grand Ballroom before the introductions. Ricketts said he and the family are doing everything they can to make the Chicago Cubs World Champions. Ricketts added that the family believes organizations win championships. Tom admitted that 2010 was a rough year but pointed out the emergence of several of the young players. Ricketts also put an emphasis on the way the team played down the stretch and brought up the fact the Cubs played just as good as any team in the league.

The Cubs have added high quality and high character additions to the team the finished the season. Ricketts said they feel the team has the right mix of players, the right manager and that 2011 we be a special year.

The Cubs are planning to honor Ron Santo in many ways this season and details of their plans will be released on Saturday.

The Cubs had a moment of silence for Phil Cavarretta and Ron Santo. Pat Hughes was visibly moved during the moment of silence as he was when Tom Ricketts was talking about his friend.

Cubs of the past were introduced and each wore their old Cub number on their backs. It was good seeing Bill Buckner in his familiar 22 and Steve Trout donning number 34.

After the Cubs’ front office and coaching staff were introduced it was time for the 2011 Cubs.

Carlos Pena and Matt Garza received very warm welcomes. Pena supported his number 22 and Garza wore his number 17. Marlon Byrd received a thunderous ovation as did Starlin Castro and Tyler Colvin. The current squad was introduced alphabetically … until the end.

After Carlos Zambrano received a huge applause, Kerry Wood made his way out to the biggest ovation of the night. Wood threw out the ceremonial first pitch as those in attendance kept cheering.

WGN Sports Night

Brian Noonan and Judd Sirott were this year’s hosts and the typically jam packed two-hour radio show was only about 80 percent capacity when the Cubs’ brass took their seat.

The first half hour was spent with Tom Ricketts, Jim Hendry and Mike Quade.

Tom Ricketts described the Cubs Convention as a wonderful event. Ricketts is enthusiastic about the upcoming season and is hoping they can pick-up where they left off last season. Ricketts is happy with the players they have added this winter.

Jim Hendry said they are very encouraged by the way the season ended and with how the kids played. Hendry mentioned the way the Reds and Padres finished the 2009 season carried over to 2010 and they are hoping the same will happen with the Cubs.

Hendry pointed out the Cubs needed to make three or four moves when the off-season began in order to get back into contention. The additions of Carlos Pena, Kerry Wood and Matt Garza accomplished three of the four moves.

Mike Quade said the he is planning to run Spring Training the way he ran the team at the end of last season. Quade said the goal is to try and make the last six weeks of the 2010 season stretch into six months.

The Cubs might make a couple of additions to the roster before Spring Training begins. Hendry said it could be more signings like Reed Johnson, minor league contracts with non-roster invitations to big league camp.

The Cubs GM is confident that adding Matt Garza and Kerry Wood will make everyone else on the pitching staff better.

Jim Hendry said he feels the Cubs are a better team than most around the country realize.

Sirott asked tom Ricketts if the first year as the owner of the Cubs went the way he expected. Ricketts said it pretty much went the way the family thought it would. He added that he is consistently impressed by the knowledge and passion of Cubs fans. Ricketts walks around Wrigley and talks to the fans for the first four to six innings before settling in near the field to watch the end of games.

The Matt Garza trade was briefly discussed. Hendry said the growth of the Cubs system allowed the trade to happen. Hendry called the deal a significant trade and pointed out they are going to keep drafting well, signing free agents and developing players. The Ricketts family is committed to improving the team and has made a huge commitment to the farm system as well as player development.

First it is important to start with good scouting and the hard work that Tim Wilken and Oneri Fleita have done in recent years are coming to the forefront. Hendry explained it is important to develop good players to get them to Wrigley or use in big trades. The Cubs parted with a few really good players in the Garza deal and a few decent prospects as well. Hendry said the key is to trade players when their value is at its highest.

Randy Wells, Andrew Cashner and James Russell were in the second segment.

Randy Wells said he is ready to go and mentioned he welcomed the three new faces to the team earlier in the evening.

James Russell and Andrew Cashner will be living together during Spring Training. Cashner sounded extremely confident and admitted he’s more determined and focused than ever before. Cashner said he’s looking forward to starting but admitted there is a lot of competition for the fourth and fifth spots in the rotation.

Cashner is glad to have Kerry Wood back. He said he grew up watching Wood and is looking forward to talking with him.

Russell and Cashner are looking forward to preparing to be a starter. Russell thinks it will be fun. Being stretched out to start will mean more conditioning but the chance to focus on more pitches.

Bob Brenly, Len Kasper and Pat Hughes were in the third segment.

The NL Central has changed a lot over the winter and Hughes pointed out that is imperative to keep up with baseball even during the winter. Hughes really liked the addition of Matt Garza and said, “Matt Garza’s going to be great with the Cubs.” Brenly added he thinks the central got deeper especially in the pitching department.

Hughes thinks the addition of Kerry Wood was huge … and not just because it is Kerry Wood but because he can still get guys out. The backend of the bullpen is very important and the more bridges the Cubs have to get to Carlos Marmol the better.

Len Kasper feels very good about the pitching staff but his concern is the Cubs’ offense. Kasper thinks the Cubs’ success in 2011 will depend on Aramis Ramirez, Alfonso Soriano and Geovany Soto continuing where he left off last season.

The trio discussed the late, great Ron Santo and shared a few of their favorite stories. It was a privilege listening to them and served as a precursor to Saturday’s tributes.

Pat said he is not completely over the passing of Ron Santo and doesn’t think he ever will be. He doesn’t think a day will go by that he does not think about him.

Other Notes from Day One

  • Greg Maddux was not in attendance due to a family matter and will miss the entire weekend.
  • Ryan Dempster was scheduled to be at the Cubs Convention but he and his wife are expecting their third child.
  • On a negative note, Carlos Silva appears to have put on weight this winter.
  • The Cubs will wear #10 patches this season in honor of Ron Santo. Patches are available at the Cubs Convention similar to the ones the players will wear.
  • The convention passes feature photos of several different players this year … Marlon Byrd, Tyler Colvin, Carlos Zambrano, Alfonso Soriano, Aramis Ramirez, Starlin Castro, Andrew Cashner and Carlos Marmol.
  • It was nice to see Aramis Ramirez at this year’s convention

Day one was good, just different … and maybe that is a good thing.

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Just a reminder to check back in with the CCO’s twitter feed on Saturday. If they say it, we will tweet it.

Quote of the Day

"You can’t sit on a lead and kill the clock. You’ve got to give the other man his chance. That’s why baseball is the greatest game." - Earl Weaver
  • BillyFinT

    Neil, I wonder what’s the reaction from Cubs nation or former player on Phil Cavarretta. He is the last living Cubs player who actually got somewhere–the Last World Series appearance in 66 years.

    • Neil

      There was a nice response when Cavarretta was mentioned, that was all.

      The Cubs organization really dropped the ball on Cavarretta.

      • paulcatanese

        Neil,reads as though its a great event and you covered it well,thanks for me not being right there it’s a great help with the blog,I agree with you and Dorasaga about Cavarretta. He was my hero,too bad he wasn’t afforded more coverage.

  • Tony

    Hopefully the Ricketts have taken note that tickets are still available, and that Cubs fans, expect more. The days of opening the door to any business and people just walking in is over, and you have to put out a product that people are willing to spend their money.

    With that said, it is great to read all about the convention and it makes me want ST to get here even faster.

    – This is the first time I have ever heard JH, speak this line – “Hendry said the key is to trade players when their value is at its highest.” I am glad he knows that, because his history is always to wait until a player has little to no value, before trading them. Now, I am mainly talking about players that have made the 25 man roster, and have experience at the major league level, not prospects.

    – I hope everything is ok, with Greg Maddux and his family.

    – James Russell, being stretched out to start. Is this because with Marshall as a setup guy, Grabow, a spot guaranteed by contract, and Maine effective, Russell has more value if they stretch him out in ST? This way they can send him to AAA, to start, and if effective, they have a LH starter to use or trade.

    – Silva appears to have put on weight this winter – WOW – if this doesn’t make you want to see contracts in baseball, where a team can cut the player and not have to pay the whole contract, well then, so does Soriano, Fukuodome, ARam, Grabow, etc

    • paulcatanese

      Tony,I also caught that line by JH and you are right,it’s the first time for him. He must have been reading all the blogs. And I certainly agree on Silva being overweight,I thought he was when he came here.As aheart patient myself it adds up weight+warm weather+out of shape=heart problems.

      • studio179

        Add me to the list who caught the Hendry line about trading high value. As for Mr. Silva. I can’t see how they keep him if he gained yet more weight. We saw last year’s health issues. Reports said the team will let him compete for a starter’s spot ‘IF’ he reports to camp in shape. I would think from a risk factor to him AND the organization, they don’t DL him, they cut ties soon. We’ll see. From a non baseball perspective, Silva is crazy not to take better care of himself.

    • Patrick_Schaefer

      .”Hendry said the key is to trade players when their value is at its highest.” I am glad he knows that, because his history is always to wait until a player has little to no value, before trading them. Now, I am mainly talking about players that have made the 25 man roster, and have experience at the major league level, not prospects.

      Tony the more I think about it, that is why Hendry is trying to trade Gorzellany now, while his value is up- as some other posters have pointed out his career ERA- 4.68 isn’t good, In 2008 he had 6.66, in 2009 5.55 in 2010- 4.09 decent but not great by any means- I think it would be smart to trade while his value is high.

      • Tony

        Patrick – I feel the same way, but I would wait until during the season. I layed out in the last week, that I would go with a rotation of: Dempster, Z, Garza, Wells, Gorzellany, to start the year, then as Cashner, Coleman, start at AAA, in a controlled environment (pitch count), trade off Gorzellany, because he has more value than Wells, to open up the rotation spot for, most likely Cashner. This would maximize Gorzellany’s value (unless he stinks up the joint), and keep Cashner from pitching to many more innings this year, than last year.

        • Patrick_Schaefer

          Good Point! I really like Cashner’s potential, but he hasn’t proven anything to this point! Coleman and Wells are the same type of pitcher, not overpowering rely on -Command and Location- much like Ted Lily and Maddux, but I don’t think either has Maddux potential. I think at best they can be pretty decent number 4 or 5’s

          —I’m worried about Gorzellany stinking it up or getting injured and the Cubs miss the oppurtunity to trade while his value is high–
          –I think they should trade him now–
          So we’ll agree to disagree on that point.
          As far as keeping Cashner’s innings under control that is where Coleman comes in making a spot start here and but keeping warm in Iowa AAA cause he would be worthless in the bullpen.

          Even if Cashner goes back to the pen, we still have Wells and Coleman. Possibly James Russell but I’m not very high on him. Jay Jackson waiting in AAA in Case of absolute Emergency. I like Jackson he still has potential but he doesn’t have an out pitch. Along with Carpenter, McNutt still needs another year I feel.

    • paulcatanese

      Tony,I think that there is somthing in the standard contract that indicates you must keep yourself in good shape.I’m really ot sure but it sticks in my mind. I remember not being able to get sunburn,etc. I will look at my old one and see if I can find that .

      • paulcatanese

        Tony,I breifly glanced at it and paragraph 2-3- and 7 does say something about being in good shape(under regulations) but as I stated its very old 1954 and things may have changed.

  • Tony

    Reading about the lead-off spot in the Sun-Times – – and it made me think that starting Fukudome against RH (not all the time) might be not be a bad idea, especially in the first 6-8 weeks, when he normally plays his best.

    So that made me think, that if he started in place of Soriano or Byrd, what would the lineup look like.

    1. Fukudome RF
    2. Castro SS
    3. ARam 3B
    4. Pena 1B
    5. Byrd/Soriano CF/LF
    6. Colvin LF/CF
    7. Soto C
    8. Dewitt 2B

    This would allow Soriano to not play as much in April, when he normally starts slow, and give Byrd more days off early in the season, since he tailed off so much in the 2nd half and use Fukudome when he is at his best. For this season to have any chance of success, it will take Quade, mixing and matching the lineup and playing time, in the OF and 2B, in a way that puts the guys in the best position to succeed. Playing the hot hand and riding that player during that time, is going to be a big job for Q.

    • diehardcubfan

      Tony, I completely agree with you here. Unless Fukudome gets traded (not likely) then he should start out as the leadoff hitter at the start of the season and see what happens from there. It is just an embarrassment the level of consistent play of our outfield despite the money spent on Fukudome and Soriano.

      I do not currently like the revolving door in the outfield right now as my main concern will be Colvin losing at bats. I would like him to get as many at bats as possible. How Colvin starts out in my opinion will have a big impact on the amount of playing time for each in the outfield. Also, if Colvin can continue to progress would like the Cubs to look at batting him third.

      It also limits our options for the bench. Given that our bench looks pretty set with Fukudome, Baker, Barney and Hill that only leaves one spot. I would have to say that should be Perez provided he has a good ST as we really need some speed somewhere.

      I would love to see Max Ramirez or Castillo beat out Hill be we all know that seems unlikely.

      • Tony

        You are right there is only 1 spot open on the bench, and really that is Perez’s to lose and I really doubt R Johnson, will beat him out.

        I actually like the idea of the OF having options, and playing the hot hand. Colvin will keep getting playing time, as long as he hits, same with Soriano, Byrd, Fukudome. Colvin, even if he struggles, will keep getting starts, but when he is struggling, he should not be in the starting lineup, IF, someone else is hot.

        Now against LH the lineup, I would go with Baker leading off. He hits lefties, that is all he hits, but at least put him in a position to succeed.

        1. Baker 2B
        2. Castro SS
        3. ARam 3B
        4. Byrd CF
        5. Pena 1B
        6. Soriano LF
        7. Colvin RF
        8. Soto C

        HIll vs Castillo – Hill is going to win, and this will have a lot to do with trading Chirinos. They won’t want to waive Hill and go with Castillo, unless Castillo has a “Colvin” type of ST, where he makes it hard to send him to AAA. But from a system depth, they will keep Hill as the back-up and have Castillo at AAA.

        • paulcatanese

          I agree with Baker in the lead off spot against lefties. There is one thing that bothers me though after the first time around in the lineup and say we knock the lefty out of the game,too many times (and not only Quade) managers have a way of keeping them (Baker) in the lineup. As leadoff he would have approx 3 more times at bat ,and agreed Baker cannot hit rightys. I would like to see at that time either DeWhitt or Barney move to second base. That would eliminate 2 or 3 automatic outs in the leadoff position.UNLESS of course there is an abundance of leftys in the pen. Against leftys Baker is lethal and as you say only leftys.

          • Tony

            If the lefty starter gets knocked out, depending on the situation, that is when Baker should get his AB”s against righties. When the situation calls for it, though, you pinch-hit for him and have Dewitt and Barney that can play 2B. The problem with the way the bench looks, we may have only Fukudome for a real bat on the bench against lefites (Fukudome, Barney, Dewitt, Hill, Perez?). Pretty weak hitting bench.

            This is where the last bench spot, might need to go a bat, instead of someone like Perez.

  • The Maven

    That also was a thought of mine. The Cubs may keep Gorzelanny well into spring training or a few months into the season to see if Russell can be effective as a starter.

  • diehardcubfan

    Just as I posted 6 days ago, JH has declared that he has made 3 of the 4 moves and the Cubs are back in contention!!! How shocking. Where have we heard that line before?

    Granted adding Wood and Garza are are good additions but Garza cost us a lot. We failed to address the most glaring problem our offense. Pena is not the solution and one still has to wonder what level of production he will provide. Granted he is playing for a contract next year so there is motivation to do better than the mess from last year.

    JH stated you have to trade players when they have value. What a revelation!!! It will take 2 or 3 years though before we will see who got the better end of the Garza deal. JHs track record for finding value though is not good. Given the amount of money spent since 2006 I see no NL championships for the Cubs and only heartache.

    There has also been a lack of all star appearances and only frustration and poor production from the likes of Soriano, Fukudome, Bradley and others and only average play out of Zambrano. Byrd has been the exception when it comes to value.

    One can only hope Brett Jackson has a mercurial rise and a very hot spring and is on the ML roster by July. He then address our problem at leadoff (provided they hit him there) and some of the issues on offense. Jackson though I would be shocked will start at leadoff given the pressure in Chicago and at the ML level in general.

    Now the problem is where do you play him? With Fukudome and Soriano there will be no rush though on Jackson. Our outfield is crowded enough with Fukudome, Soriano, Byrd and Colvin. As others have suggested trading Byrd might be the best option as he does have value. It still remains to be seen if JH understands value.

    That then leaves a big hole at leadoff all year round.

    As for the competition in the starting rotation if Silva is not in shape then unload the dead weight. I was a Silva supporter last year but we have many others ready or willing instead so just get rid of him.

    • paulcatanese

      You are right aboout Jackson,in the leadoff spot if he has instant success it may bolster his confidence and he could pull it off. I would hope he could,there is NO subsitute for speed.

  • cubtex

    Silva added more weight??? Just what you should do with a heart issue!! Cut his fat ass and give someone who cares the roster spot!

  • cubs1967

    if chubby Carlos Silva has GAINED weight w/ all the competition for SP spots…………then he runs gassers day one…………..and gets released day 2.

    WOW—all this for the 30M clueless JH gave nutjob MIlton!


    103rd season and counting…………..this is no grace period.

    P.S. Caverretta is a legend…………this ownership group can’t do anything right!

  • Patrick_Schaefer

    .#CubsCon2011 Quade: Players will be held accountable about 2 hours ago
    #Cubs Quade to stress fundamentals during Spring and throughout year about 3 hours ago
    DUH! That should be every year!

    #CubsCon2011 Quade: Going to find ways to score runs. Going to find ways to win close ballgames about 2 hours ago
    —-I certainly hope so, otherwise we will finish behind the Pirates and Astros in dead last.—-

    #CubsCon2011 Quade: Going to get a quality effort from us everyday or I will not be happy about 2 hours ago
    —The Fans won’t be happy either!—

    RT @CarrieMuskat: #cubs hitting coach rudy jaramillo says carlos pena will go to dallas this week so the two can work on hitting
    —Maybe just maybe he will hit .253 with 38 Hr and knock in 110 rbi, I Must Be Drinking The Kool-Aid LOL—-

    #Cubs Hendry: Thinks Soriano can still hit 30 hr and has a lot left #CubsCon2011 about 3 hours ago
    —Hendry is PRAYING he can hit 30hr and knock in 90 rbi—

    • paulcatanese

      Very pointed post,good. I would add one thing.Quade says if the effort is not max he will not be happy?I’ll bet though he runs the same lineup out the next day,well maybe cause we don’t have lead off hitter no number three hitter,fourth is suspect,Soriano could hit 30 but may not have that many at bats. Scoring runs will be a major job . You were very kind in the post.

  • Aaron

    I just want to vomit after reading your recap Neil…I don’t mean because of you, but based on what was said.

    The ONLY person that got it right was Kasper. He saw what just about every fan saw watching on tv everyday last summer. The Cubs offense was atrocious, and we did NOTHING to improve it. I’d argue that it just got worse with the addition of Pena, and the potential addition of Reed Johnson. Their slash lines are horrendous. I don’t care about leadership, defense, etc. It’s actual offensive numbers we need. You could have the best glove in the world, and be a great leader, but if you’re hitting .262 with a .291 OBP, and .366 SLG with 2 hr, 15 RBI….and get this, an absolutely unforgiveable 5 walks vs 50 K’s….that was Johnson’s line. Or how about Pena’s .196 avg, .325 OBP, .407 SLG, 28 hr, 84 RBI, but a pathetic 95 hits, and 87 walks vs 158 K’s….And yet Kasper is the only one at the convention that actually seems to understand that the odds are stacked sky high against us to even make the playoffs.

    The only way we make the playoffs is if our rotation somehow morphs into the Giants rotation of last year, where just about every pitcher in the rotation had an ERA below 3.50. Last year, the Giants scored 697 runs, and ranked 17th, while the Cubs had 685 runs, and ranked just behind at 18th. The Cardinals, Brewers, and Reds were all ranked ahead of us, and they happen to be the 3 teams we’re chasing in our own damn division.

    Another thing the Giants had going for them was a lights-out pen where several relievers had under 3 ERA’s, and 4 relievers with under 2 ERA’s.

    I’m so sick of the “yes-men” in the Cubs organization. Why can’t someone just call it for what it really is?!? Ricketts has no balls. If I was an owner of an organization spending over $145 million in payroll, and even more with scouting, etc., and we finish in 5th place in our respective territory while spending about $50 million more than each of the other organizations, I’d want to start firing some people. Why can’t the Ricketts grow some balls, and just say, “2010 was extremely disappointing, and will NOT be tolerated going forward. We appreciate the efforts of everyone in the organization to make it a success, but we need to see results given our investment. We will not tolerate complacency in this organization, and everyone should be on alert to produce what we hired them to do, which is win a World Series, and at the very least, be a perennial playoff team”

    If our owner came out and said that, my mind would be at ease, but you hear Hendry spewing all this garbage about how they finished last year. Who gives a flying f$## how they finished?!? The season was already over for most teams they played downt he stretch, and the playoff-bound teams they did play against, they lost the series to:
    Braves: Aug 20-22 lost 2 of 3 *full disclosure, this was Piniella’s last series managed
    Reds: Aug 27-28, lost 2 of 3
    Giants: Sep 21-23, lost 2 of 3

    So…yeah, they beat up on teams that were not playoff bound at all like the Nationals, Pirates, Mets, and Marlins, but they also lost series to the Astros.

    So…it seems like there’s a bit of revisionist history going on about what truly happened down the stretch. They seem to act like it was this big epiphany and full of young talent of what’s to come, when in fact, Quade hardly used young offensive talent down the stretch, and the only “young talent” that I can think of mentioned by Hendry and Quade is the pitching, and as we’ve mentioned on here several times…….

    PITCHING WAS NOT THE PROBLEM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    And while I love Hughes, I also take issue with his comments about the future. We have one of the oldest lineups in the game. I’d feel a LOT better about the future if Hendry would’ve made a signing such as Cabrera, Franceour, Chris Carter, or even the still available Lastings Milledge, instead of the dumbass, Chad-Fox-esque move of signing Reed Johnson, who is oft-injured, and coming off a horrendous year. That’d be a sign that he actually gets it where so many other teams have already figured out, that you build your lineup around youth.

    I’m glad I’m not attending, as I’d likely have no hair afterwards from pulling it all out….plus, it’s quite likely I’d be escorted out of there for boldly questioning Hendry’s moves.

    I just wish someone there had the balls to ask the tough questions….I hope not everyone attending is a lemming.

  • Aaron

    Also, wanted to throw this nugget of info out to you guys:

    Apparently the Yankees are considering dealing Chamberlain, who seems like the right-handed version of Marshall, where he’s been passed back and forth between relief and starting ever since he came in the league. The article states they want a “viable” starting option for him. I’m not quite sure what that means. Are they saying, “Garza-like” or are they saying Gorzelanny or Wells-like? Since Pettitte is retiring, I wonder if they’d consider a young lefty like Gorzelanny, whom Rothschild is already familiar with?

    A rotation with: Z, Dempster, Garza, Cashner, and Chamberlain would be pretty damn exciting.

    • Bryan

      Aaron…interesting, I was thinking exactly the same thing, and was ready to post a similar perspective. That NY article also states that Chamberlain’s value is pretty low currently, so a great time for JH to pounce with perhaps an offer of Gorzellany (and add Grabow) for Joba. But wait, we’re talking Hendry…this is too obvious of a deal for him.

      Would also agree with your prior post. Amazing how the convention brings out all the kool-aid drinking fans that never ask the tough questions, or demand better management and better on-field results. Every year, we hear the same blah-blah-blah from management. It’s a great marketing event for the Cubs, but the agenda never delivers anything of substance.

      • Aaron

        That was my point too about the convention. While you certainly don’t want any convention or pep rally (as the Cubs Convention has turned into) to be negative….you do also want to be realistic, especially coming off 2 bad seasons in a row. It’d be an ENTIRELY different deal if the Cubs had made the playoffs the past 2 years. But they haven’t, and they’ve looked extremely ugly in not doing so. So, you want to keep the atmosphere somewhat subdued, otherwise, the expectations go up, and you’re actually setting your fan base up to fail. Hopefully that makes sense to everyone on here.

        I hate to be a downer….As I see it, I’m just a messenger of the truth. What is truth, you might ask? It’s reality. Reality, baseball-wise, is rooted in stats. Stats don’t lie. It gives you a great barometer to judge a team and their moves by.

        The stats thing is pretty funny too, because even old-school people like Hendry (and some Hendry apologists on here) can’t deny it any longer. You don’t have to rely on the eyeball test any longer. In the past, that’s how scouting worked, because they weren’t able to keep accurate records through the minors, and video analysis wasn’t used either….but now? We have everything we need to analyze players.

        You want to know what a player is truly worth to his team? Check his WAR

        You want to know how well a hitter does in critical situations? Check his slash line and stats with RISP and 2 outs…or, in general, you can also just check his slash line and stats with RISP overall to see how clutch he really is

        You want to find a pitcher that’s not going to get himself into sticky situations? Check his WHIP

        About the only thing old-school scouts were going off before were total numbers (ie.-hits, runs, doubles, hr, RBI, and for pitchers, ERA, wins and losses, walks, and K’s)…but Beane, Bill James, and others revolutionizing the industry by putting more weight on statistical analysis, the main things people are focusing on now are OBP, OPS, WHIP, and WAR, and I think that’s a phenomenal development, as as I’ve been studying stats for pretty much my whole life, and I firmly believe there is going to come a day when scouting departments will be filled with numbers-guys versus “baseball guys”. I also feel that the days are numbered on the traveling scouts, as teams will place greater weight on the pure numbers versus what a scout says the player did while he was at the game. I also believe that we’ll start seeing stat auditors out there when something like that happens, where they’ll make sure the stats recorded are accurate enough for teams to go off. At that point, it’s quite likely you’ll see Assistant GM’s or GM’s themselves attending games of amateurs they’re looking to draft, or players they want to trade for, as a check and balance system. I definitely believe that day will come, as economic times such as these will force teams to be more efficient.

        I could look at an entire region’s player stats, and tell you what players a scout should be looking at. When you identify a player at that point just by going off stats, then you have the AGM or the GM go out and watch that guy, as stats alone right now cannot take into account the type of competition they’re facing.

        It’s like high school baseball….In almost every case, if you have any hope of being an MLB star, you probably need to have a .400+ average, with a .450+OBP.

        In college, that needs to be about .350+avg, .400+OBP….Are there anomalies? You bet your ass there are. Some players turn pro, and gain a tremendous amount of muscle. Some also have better coaching…..Conversely, you might have some players that produce up to the levels I just mentioned, then get complacent, and never amount to anything…..

        But from a pure scouting perspective, if you look at stats alone, you can begin to narrow down the legit prospects from the pretenders. And that saves a TON of time, because then you can focus your energies that way.

        Scouting, at this point in time, relies heavily on word-of-mouth. Scouts build relationships with coaches, and that’s how they learn about a lot of players.

        I can look at most drafts, and tell you which players are going to make it, and which guys might not make it. I’ve been wrong on multiple occasions, but I’ve been right more times than I’ve been wrong, and I’ve done so just by looking at stats.

        • Gary J

          I’d argue that assessment a bit.

          Stats are a major indicator – but many times in the draft a lot of it has to do with competition level in college (there’s a difference between the opposition that Appalachian State faces vs. Auburn for example) and in high school (big difference between a larger school’s competition vs. a smaller school in the rural areas). A lot of the time the kids looking to go to the “next level” (or their parents) will transfer them to a school with a higher level of competition in order to showcase them… and it backfires at times. But many kids are with families without the means to move them to a new district or maybe a college kid likes where he’s at.

          For the draft, stats are a really good indicator of how much better this kid or that kid is in comparison to his peers – but raw ability is also huge… and that’s not something that always shows up in stats.

          One of the benefits of getting a kid into the minors is that – in general – competition level is leveled quite a bit. A player stays in rk level, then moves up the ladder until he hits a level that the organization feels is best for his development – be it confidence or ability they are looking to work on.

          But even then stats at those levels are only part of the story. A player turning in a 1.37 era or hitting .340 is obviously a big candidate for a jump up in level (or two) – but what about the kid throwing 97mph but with a questionable ERA? What about the speedster hitting .310 but with a couple dozen bunt hits? Are they able to compete at a higher level? That’s where the scouting comes in – where the evaluation of the scouts becomes just as important as the numbers on the stat sheet.

          Stats are a barometer… not the end all be all. If that was the case then why would the Cubs even want Archer in the DeRosa deal two years ago? His stats were pedestrian – or even crappy truthfully. But there was something that the Cubs scouts saw and once the Cubs coaches got a hold of him he went from ERAs of 7.71, 7.45, 5.88, 4.29 to 2.81 and 2.34 in the Cubs system.

          The Cubs scouting got ripped for getting this guy in the first place because he was obviously a bum and yet a year and a half later they’re getting ripped again for trading away the best player in the entire organization.

          (Personally I think it’s somewhere in between, but I wish him well and we’ll see in a couple of years… or maybe he moves up to the show and requires a couple of years seasoning before he blossoms… or maybe he never makes it at all…. but that’s a separate conversation :-)

          And what about when the stats are skewed? How about a player playing through an injury and producing at less than their level? That happens ALL the time. A shoulder injury robs power. A thumb injury robs bat speed. A knee injury robs speed… and that’s just Fonzie and ARam (insert rim shot here). What about a pitcher that is awesome for 4 starts and then gets shellacked and his ERA jumps two full points?

          When dealing with young players – scouting and “gut feel” and coaching and “I see on film what this kid is doing wrong and it can be fixed”… all these things enter into it.

          There are countless players out there that do stellar in the minors at some level, and when they move up, they’ve reached their ceiling. many adapt – but just as many don’t. For players that can’t make the transition all the way to the show, the term “AAAA player” has emerged to describe them. Stats great in AA or AAA, but in the show they flame out.

          Stats are just another tool to be used – and yes – it’s a major indicator. I use them myself as a tool for comparison. And it’s really useful with the hundreds of kids in the minors and thousands of kids in prep school or college or the Dominican or wherever… it can certainly help in directing attention… but stats are just that. A tool. They should be part of a well organized scouting effort – not the sole justification. Because often stats do in fact lie.

          • Aaron

            That’s why I put these comments listed below in the post, as it wasn’t meant to be an across-the-board type of post that’d fit the profile of every player, but simply as a barometer for you to have better time management with your scouts, etc:

            “When you identify a player at that point just by going off stats, then you have the AGM or the GM go out and watch that guy, as stats alone right now cannot take into account the type of competition they’re facing.”

            “Are there anomalies? You bet your ass there are. Some players turn pro, and gain a tremendous amount of muscle. Some also have better coaching…..Conversely, you might have some players that produce up to the levels I just mentioned, then get complacent, and never amount to anything….”

        • Gary J

          And just wanted to give you props too – you’re right on the money with the new trend in statistics. The “deeper” stats are better indicators than those used it the old days. OBP, OPS, WHIP – love em all. I’m not 100% sold on WAR as I think it’s a bit subjective, but it’s another tool no doubt.

          Thank you Bill James :-)

        • paulcatanese

          What gives me the idea that you like stats? Thats okay
          Aaron it takes a ton of work to do what you do and then put it into words that make sense (not all the time) I give you 95%.In reality when my son signed back in the 80’s they were just going to Central Scouting,kind of like what you mean. They would give their reports to teams and then they would make their judgements. Similar to what you are saying but not as sophisticated as what you are doing.

          • Aaron


            I think what you’re referring to is Regional and then the Cross Checkers.

            An Area Scout will be the first line. This is how I was first scouted by the Pirates. They sent a scout to look at our catcher and 6’5″ shortstop, and happened to throw a gun on me while I was doing my bullpen work, and that set the wheels in motion. From there, the Regional came in, and from my understanding, had I not blown out my shoulder, their Cross Checker was going to make his way out to catch one of our games in preparation of the draft.

            What I was suggesting is getting rid of all of that, and let the AGM’s and GM’s do their work.

            I’ll also say this about scouts….While I love them (especially the stories I was told by them), and respect the work they do. The scouts aren’t what they used to be in baseball’s Golden Era. I’m not trying to throw a blanket statement, and say all scouts are like this, but I know quite a few that have absolutely no idea what to look for. They spend a lot of time talking to coaches and working back channels rather than actually “scouting”.

            You’re an old school guy, so you’d appreciate the term “scouting” and where it derived from, which is how scouting should be. There are so many scouts in the old days that would spend countless hours personally trying out kids, and working with them, tweaking little things to make them better ballplayers. They’d throw them BP, or act as pitching coaches. In a sense, they were the first “roving instructors” out there. They truly “scouted” and would go to rural farms just to take a look at guys.

            But nowadays, you see most of them with clipboards, just taking notes about what’s going on in the games, and most of the time, you see them leave early. The Pirates Area Scout was an old school type of guy, and so was the Regional, and I appreciated that.

            I used to see a use for scouts, but so many of them nowadays are lazy, and they really don’t take interest in improving skills in players to make them more well-rounded prior to entering the pro ranks. And while I understand that my suggestion takes that personal aspect out of it, a lot of them aren’t doing it now anyway, so it doesn’t really matter if more weight is given to statistical analysis first, then the eyeball test.

            Also, another element I forgot to mention is during the past 5 years, while I’ve been a college pitching coach (not anymore) and a personal pitching instructor, I’ve gotten to know a lot of scouts, and even thought of becoming one myself…but in my conversations with several of them, a vast majority didn’t even have recent baseball experience, or even college baseball experience. In fact, one guy I met, was young, and hadn’t even played baseball since junior high. Not only that, but was a teacher (not even a coach) prior to getting the scouting job. He was the most extreme case, but I met quite a few that hadn’t played since high school. Some were teachers and high school coaches. While, conversely, I met a guy kind of like me, that was on MLB radars for the draft, but he destroyed his wrist and broke his leg in a collision that ended his career. He did some sales after school, then worked channels through scouts he knew to land his current gig.

            Anyway, sorry for the personal story and history….but the point is, the scouting universe has changed dramatically, and my hope is that it’ll continue evolving and be more efficient in the future.

          • Gary J

            Thanks for the scouting insights and for sharing the personal story.

          • paulcatanese

            Boy ,are you right.I agree whole heartidly with you. That was two of us that blew shoulders. And the politics involved were unreal,but thats another time.I could say more about that but why,it’s past. I will say this though,te oldest son signed with the twins and after one half season decided football was his life and the other son (pitcher) suffered the consequences of that decision.He ended up in Italy for Grosseto.If the scouting was on stats he would have signed.He pitched div 1 at Tulane.Thanks for the response.

          • BillyFinT

            It’s hard to imagine what you’ve gone through, Aaron, after witnessing a sort of injustice for people not deserving their place (scouts who work the channels, not really go out there and do their daily work). Kind’a sad.

            You actually raised a good question of “What is scout?” Should they go out there and do that extra? Are they supposed to work with their local prospects and time them and such? I need to start thinking about those.

            And those assessment of raw talents involves stats, too. Scouts clock the pitchers with a radar gun, measure a high school kid’s height, his build, time how fast he runs. Stats are everywhere. Scouts need stats all the time. The question is, how much of those are “made-up”? instead of an objective way of measuring? The high school second baseman who hit 450 OBP–how does he compare to his peers? Had his advocate (the area scout) looked those up??

            Stats don’t lie. The folks who use them lie.

            Lastly, anomalies are like 2% of the world. Stats summarize its glory and fall; they explain those 98%. But we all love to believe “my guy” is that 2%.

            Albert Pujols hit great back in high school and then college. The stats show that. I was doing a little online research of how he got drafted. He didn’t enter the national scouting discussion, the “airplane talk” or something. Scouts from different organizations trade information with each other. Apparently, the regional scouts and their interviews with local kids and opponents of Pujols (back channel?) believe their words: Pujols is an adult playing kids. He’s one of those lying Dominicans who misreported his age. Those stats aren’t his real talent. Just disregard him.

            Oh yeah, Pujols moved to America when he was a kid with his family. His parents didn’t think their kid will pursue a dream of baseball, so of course they would also consider lying about their son’s age. But who cares about this discrepancy? The scouts knew which opinions count.

            As long as more scouts stop checking the stats, there will be more kids who lost their opportunities like Pujols almost did. Because despite what the stats say, Pujols was perceived as the anomaly. Sad, indeed, sad.

          • paulcatanese

            Good article.and as a footnote I didn’t know the story about Pujols,thanks.And he will go down as one of the greatest in the game when he’s thru playing.

      • Richard Hood

        At this point if you would offer more than a some garbage contract for Joba you are kidding yourself. He can’t get anyone out, He walks almost 5 people per nine innings and the kicker is he gives up homers like they are bonus checks. He isn’t a stopper type reliever or the Yankees would not have traded for Wood last year. He is not a starter or the Yankees would not be trying to trade for one.

        He is another over hyped product of the Yankees system. Melky Cabrara remeber him. Every Cubs fan wanted to trade Zambrano for him last year and Atlanta ended up with him. He was there 4th OF and they let him walk.. NYY young guys for the most part are garbage every once in a while they get a great one and you guys still think they are better than anyone elses. There are reasons that the Yankees never really trade anyone that ends up with them at the worse end of a deal. Ask the Braves even knowing what kind of year Vasquez had if they would want to do that trade over.

        • Aaron

          Joba is a lot like Samardzija. They both started out with a good amount of success in relief roles. Both their teams lost in the Division Series, and both were hyped prospects.

          The difference is, Chamberlain continued that success his 2nd year, and Samardzija did not. They’ve both also bounced from relief to rotation, though Samardzija did that primarily in the minors, while Chamberlain did it at the MLB level.

          Samardzija is a head case though, and doesn’t have near the control over his secondary pitches that Chamberlain has.

          Plus, you must consider that Chamberlain is in the AL East, and the NL Central is nowhere near as competitive as that. I’d expect Chamberlain to do a far better job in the NL than the AL, especially the AL East.

          If I were the Yankees, knowing Pettitte is retiring, I’d strongly consider a trade of Gorzelanny for Chamberlain.

          That’s a trade I could certainly live with. The trade that I couldn’t live with (and is FAR more likely with Hendry) is Gorzelanny for a Fernando Perez type of player or a Jeff Stevens type of pitcher. That’s the more likely outcome, and in that case, I’d rather hang onto him and let the best man win in Spring Training.

          • Patrick_Schaefer

            Joba Chamberlain- I read a while back that he lost 3 to 4 mph average on his fastball between 2008 and 2009. In 2009 he posted a 4.75 ERA, in 2010 a 4.40 ERA out of the bullpen. He is 25 still has upside but he is looking more and more like a number 5 starter at best or a 6th to 7th inning reliever. He is highly overhyped imho.
            I think he is also arbitration eligible for the first time this year also. Now I am not saying I wouldn’t like him in a trade but I definitely think another mid-level prospect or 2 would make the trade. Gorzellany’s value is hogh right now Joba’s isn’t.

          • diehardcubfan

            I think you and Gary J are right on Joba. He could still have upside but not worth Gorzo at this time.

            Not sure though if the Yankees are just willing to give him away. Our pitching situation though will only get more and more crowded if we add him.

            As Aaron noted Samardzija and Joba are similar but do not think that the Yankees would be willing to trade Joba for Jeff given Jeff’s contract obligations and arbitration eligibility in 2012.

            Adding Joba would also only further cloud Cashner’s future.

            Given that you only really need 4 starters at the start of the season, if the Cubs got Joba they could send him to the minors after ST to get him some innings and starts under his belt before they need him in May.

            I just do not see the Cubs going after Joba.

        • Gary J

          I’d love to add this guy – his stats have been hit and miss in the bigs – but he’s got a huge amount of raw talent and he’s still too young to count him a bust yet. If we could get him for Gorzo?…. wow.

          Might just need a change of scenery. In NY he was touted as the next coming of Clemens and Ryan all rolled up into one – someplace else (even a big market) he’d just be another player.

          I don’t think that’d get the deal done though – but I’d be excited to add this kid to the squad.

    • carmelo

      Rothschild being familiar with Gorzelanny is one reason a trade like that WON’T be made—–ask yourself why would Gorzelanny be on the tading block, and it’s not about money.

    • Gary J

      I was figuring that Joba would be stretched as a starter in the spring once they signed Soriano for the pen because if Pettite doesn’t come back – their rotation has some real experience and performance issues. They have the firepower to outscore teams and the pen to hold a lead – but beyond CC they don’t look great.

      This rumor makes sense for the Yanks – and as their offense ages, playing for “now” is a good decision for them.

      I’d hate to be the GM that pulled the trigger to ship this guy away. And I’m with you – Gorzo actually does seems like a fit.

      I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this rumor gets some legs.

  • paulcatanese

    If MR Ricketts is happy about the trades they have made so far,it tells me that his intellect about the game is indeed suspect. Garza,,,,, thats it,one difference maker,, maybe.I cannot believe he cannot see that,as he must be a smart business man,maybe just not about Baseball.

  • Gary J

    @Aaron – Just wanted to say that I’m not picking on you on purpose LOL – your posts are always so well thought out and detailed that there’s simply often more to respond to if I have an opposing viewpoint… or if I have a similar viewpoint for that matter. Keep up the good work (even if I don’t agree with some things).

    And as always (haven’t seen this line in a while) keep it classy Cubs fans! :-)

  • Agustin

    Gorezelany would get humiliated, abused and bullied in the Al East. Lets be honest he is an ok pitcher, slightly above average. If he can be traded for some value, I say go ahead while his value is still peaking.

  • Zipdog

    Several years ago, I began reading CCO when you folks were covering the Cubs Convention. Mrs. Zip and I cannot thank you enough for all the great stories, information, and entertainment that CCO has brought over the years.


    • Neil

      Zip, first good to hear from you and thanks. I will have the recaps from today up as soon as possible. Lots of info and great tributes to Ron Santo.

  • Westpoin

    On a negative note it appears that Carlos silva has put on weight over the winter. Lol Great doesnt he already have heart problems

  • paulcatanese

    Bears7 Seattle 0 3 minutes into game. GO BEARS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • paulcatanese

    No question about it Santo deserves a statue. How about one for Cavarretta? It would not be a glut of statues outside the park and everyone who has had a part of History with the Cubs deserve it, and Phil was the player who got to the World Series.