Cubs Convention Day Two: The Owners, the Management and Remembering Ronnie

Day two of the 26th Annual Cubs Convention was filled with information and fond memories of Ron Santo. The Ricketts Family Forum led off the day and Jim Hendry, Mike Quade and Randy Bush answered question after question on the current team as well as the plans for the future.

Tom Ricketts announced the team will wear #10 patches to honor Ron Santo throughout the 2011 season. The Cubs tribute will also include a statue of Ron Santo set to be unveiled on August 10.

Here is the recap from Day Two …

The Ricketts’ Family Forum

The Ricketts’ Family Forum led off day two of the 26th Annual Cubs Convention. Len Kasper hosted the session. Before Kasper introduced the family, he brought up Friday’s Opening Ceremonies and the great reception Matt Garza and Carlos Pena received. Kasper admitted he was expecting a huge ovation for Kerry Wood but no one, including Kasper thought Wood would be welcomed home the way he was on Friday night.

Kasper introduced the family and added “Network Primetime Star” to Todd. The family received a warm reception from the half full Grand Ballroom.

Len Kasper led off by saying he feels the Cubs are fortunate to have the Ricketts as the owners of the Chicago Cubs.

Before opening up the floor for questions, Tom announced the Cubs will honor Ron Santo throughout the 2011 season. Every player and coach in uniform will wear #10 patches.

The Cubs will unveil a statue of Ron Santo on August 10. The Cubs face the Nationals on the Wednesday night in August.

The family has three goals according to Tom Ricketts … Win World Championship, Preserve Wrigley Field and to be good neighbors in the community.

The first goal, winning a world championship according to Ricketts starts with the organization. The Ricketts family believes organizations win championships.

Tom said the plan is to draft well and develop their talent. The Cubs have hired new scouts to add to the ones already in the system. Once they have the right players they have to develop them. He feels the communication is good throughout the system at the coaching level.

The Cubs facilities in Mesa will soon be improved, which will help in many ways. The Cubs will have world class training facilities in Mesa and have an agreement in place to keep the Cubs in Arizona for the next 30 to 50 years. The Cubs will soon announce their plans for upgrading the facilities in the Dominican Republic.

The Ricketts know that everyone loves Wrigley but the bottom line is that it is a 100-year old facility and it needs work. The family wants to save the field and has a lot of dialogue going to ensure the renovations happen.

As for in the community, the Cubs want to be better neighbors. Tom pointed out the nearly $1.3 million the Cubs gave out in 2010 as a part of Cubs Care. The team intends to ramp up those efforts in 2011 and the plan is for the Cubs to eventually be the number one team in baseball in giving back to the community.

Other than the obvious on the field issues, Tom Ricketts said it was a good first year as owners of the team.

The family is giving Jim Hendry every dollar they can and it is up to Hendry to decide how to allocate it. The big league team had one of the highest payrolls in all of baseball. Tom pointed out it is certainly not the money being spent on players that is the problem; the key is to spend the money on the right players.

The Cubs were not focused on Sabermetrics before the family took over. Ricketts said they have hired people that will help on the quantitative side. He added that the team is shifting in that direction but it takes time and he is making sure they are hiring the right people for the job.

The Ricketts were not confortable coming in when they bought the team and just cleaning house. Tom feels they made the right decision then and are glad they did not make changes from day one. When asked what mistakes he thought were made in Year One, Tom jokingly said that he was drawing a blank but many people could probably point out a lot of things that went wrong. He admitted that he thinks the family did the best they could in Year One.

Laura spoke up at that point and said she thinks the best decision she feels was made by the family was giving Mesa a chance.

The Cubs are discussing how to get the funding to make improvements to Wrigley behind the scenes. Tom feels if the discussions are kept quiet they will have a better chance of getting approved.

The walk-up music added last year was briefly discussed and from the description of the player given by Tom, it sounded like Marlon Byrd approached him about the change. Tom said even if you liked the song you could not hear it because of the bad sound system at Wrigley.

Laura Ricketts said they would like to bring back more of the old charm of Wrigley, while making it fan friendly at the same time. The goal is to preserve and enhance, the same way Boston did with Fenway Park.

The question was asked about the monetary level of commitment the family is making to build the system. Tom explained that every dollar goes into baseball operation from payroll to development. The Cubs have increased the non-payroll budget this year and added more scouts.

Ryne Sandberg’s departure from the organization was the next question asked and how could the family let that happen. Tom said that obviously Sandberg is a treasure of the organization and is always welcome here. Sandberg was not asked to leave; it was his decision to do so. Hendry decided to hire Mike Quade, Sandberg understood and felt it was in his best interest to move on. Tom said, “Our hope is he will be back in the future.”

The next question centered on Jim Hendry still being the Cubs general manager and why he still has a job with the team. Tom explained that when they came in a little more than a year ago they felt it would be unfair to judge him without knowing first-hand what was going on. Tom said he spent a lot of time learning the system over the last year. He has been asking question and going outside of the organization to find out how the Cubs stack up.

Tom Ricketts said over the last year his confidence has grown in Jim Hendry and the job he is doing.

The important part is to look at how the team structures contracts and spending money the right way.

Wrigley 2014 no longer looks like a possibility. The Cubs were planning to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of Wrigley Field and were trying to get the All-Star game as well. The renovations to Wrigley have to be done first, plus 2014 is an American League year.

The Cubs will try to have the celebration in 2016 … the 100th Anniversary of the Cubs moving into Wrigley Field.

The Ricketts family wants to be open-minded about upgrades and changes to Wrigley Field without changing the game day experience. It did not sound like Wrigley will have features of the new parks … but he did not rule out a jumbotron. Tom visited several of the newer parks last season and did not like all of the noise in between innings.

Once the renovations begin they will be done in the off-season, like the Red Sox did with Fenway. It is more expensive to do them in the off-season but it will keep the Cubs from having to play their home games in a different park for a season.

Tom was asked about possible additions to the team before Spring Training begins.

Ricketts said that is up to Hendry but he thinks the team they currently have will be the one they start the spring and Opening Day with … but Hendry will have the ability to add players during the season if needed.

The honeymoon appears to be over between the fans and the Ricketts family … and in their defense, they know it. The Ricketts appear to realize it is all about winning games and building a winning tradition on the North Side of Chicago.

Meet Cubs Baseball Management

Jim Hendry, Randy Bush and Mike Quade discussed the Cubs in the second session of the day.

First up was the players dealt in the Matt Garza trade. Jim Hendry stressed the importance of valuing your own players the right way and which ones can be used in trades … and which ones cannot.

Mike Quade discussed the end of last season and brought up what he discussed with the players when he took over. Quade said it was important for the team to finish well and if the veterans didn’t come through he knew the team would continue to struggle.

Dave Kaplan asked Hendry about the statement Marlon Byrd made about the additions of Carlos Pena, Kerry Wood and Matt Garza. Byrd did not think those additions were possible at the end of the season. Hendry did not look at how challenging it was going to be to make the additions he felt the team needed. He leaned heavily on his scouts and said that both Pena and Garza were on the wish list when the off-season began … and Garza was a dream because they did not even know if he was available. As for Kerry Wood, that all just worked out.

As for who will hit leadoff for the Cubs in the upcoming season, Mike Quade said leadoff hitters are overrated … at least that is what you say when you don’t have a leadoff hitter. The main thing is to just get the top of the lineup on base and let the middle of the lineup drive them in.

The Cubs’ new skipper said he will drive home fundamentals and stress the importance of playing the game right from Spring Training through the season.

Alfonso Soriano’s contract and the decision by Larry Rothschild to leave the Cubs for the Yankees were next up for Jim Hendry.
The Cubs were thrilled to have him when Soriano signed. Hendry explained that Soriano has dealt with injuries since signing with the Cubs and has not been able to give full effort. Hendry feels Soriano still has a lot left and can still hit 30 home runs a year. Hendry explained Soriano is well liked in the clubhouse and they feel he will be a productive player.

Hendry was asked why the Cubs did not receive any compensation from the Yankees for Rothschild. It was Hendry’s decision to let him go and feels it was a good move for Larry and his family.

It remains to be seen if the Cubs can fill corner infield needs with players in their system. The Cubs are not sure if Josh Vitters will be a first baseman or a third baseman at the big league level at this point. Vitters should be ready in the next year to year and a half. The Cubs realize the importance of developing position players … Randy Bush admitted it can be expensive on the open market to fill those needs it they cannot develop their own players.

Hendry thinks Greg Maddux enjoyed his first year in the organization. Maddux got involved in trade talks during the Winter Meetings and he helped Hendry analyze the minor league prospects.

Darwin Barney and Casey Coleman are over achievers according to Mike Quade. Barney is a good kid and is a utility player but he would like to me more. Quade pointed out that Coleman will not light up a radar gun but is very poised. Barney and Coleman will get good looks during Spring Training.

There was not one person in the organization that was not interested in Matt Garza according to Hendry. It was never a question of how bad they wanted Garza but could they do it. Hendry said he knew it would end up hurting to acquire Garza (in terms of players they would have to give up).

Mike Quade was asked about how he would line up his rotation. Quade has no idea but Ryan Dempster, Carlos Zambrano and Matt Garza will be the top three. Quade said whoever is pitching that day will be his “ace”. As for the starter on Opening Day, Quade indicated the pitcher’s history on Opening Day will also be figured into the decision.

Quade was asked about how he will handle Carlos Zambrano if he reverts back to his old ways. Quade said maybe he’s an idiot but he does not think they will see the ‘bad’ Z again. If it happens, they will deal with it then.

Quade said 2010 was just a miserable year and the team has to be better prepared and to play better as a team. Quade assured everyone that they will get a quality effort from his team on a daily basis and if not, he will not be happy. The Cubs are going to find ways to score runs and find ways to win close ballgames. Quade admitted he has to handle each player differently but stated that every player will be held accountable.

The Cubs look for players that can handle the second deck or playing in tough situations … like at Wrigley. Hendry thinks the Cubs have done a good job in free agency, for the most part and admitted making one mistake. Garza and Pena are high character guys that can play under tough conditions. Matt Garza is a winner, a gamer and wants to be in big ballgames according to Hendry. Garza told Hendry he wants to pitch the Cubs into the postseason.

Hendry was asked about Koyie Hill’s new contract. Hendry said $850,000 might sound like a lot but Hill does a lot of things that people cannot see from the stands. The Cubs do not agree that Hill’s spot could be filled by a player making the league minimum. Hill is big behind the scenes and had a lot do with the success of the young pitchers down the stretch. Hill also helps Geovany Soto. Quade added that he will take a little experience on the bench for a little more money any day.

Mike Quade expects Carlos Zambrano to pitch and perform the way he did at the end of the year … plus the Cubs need for him to perform well. Quade described Zambrano as being relatively calm when he returned and expects the same this year.

The Cubs have appeared to let players call the shots in recent years when it comes to injuries and not spending time on the DL. Hendry was called on, what many feel has been a problem. Hendry qualified his answer by saying Mark O’Neal is one of the best trainers in the league. Hendry applauds players, like Derrek Lee, that do not want to take days off. Some injuries might have a negative impact on a player’s performance and when they do, the team will step in. But just because someone struggles it does not mean they are hurt.

Ryan Theriot’s comments were the next topic of conversation. Quade said he takes what Theriot says with a large grain of salt … but admitted he may have it in the back of his head the first time the Cubs face the Cardinals this season.

As for all the day games at Wrigley that is what makes the Cubs special according to Quade. The day games should not be a disadvantage, the Cubs have to make it an advantage. Quade added they have to “make the toughness of Wrigley fuel us, not hurt us.”

The Cubs are going to have to prove the end of 2010 was not a fluke … and the Cubs new skipper knows the real work is about to begin.

Meet Cubs Business Management

The Meet Cubs Business Management session was half over by the time the second tribute to Ron Santo finished up. But there was plenty of info worth passing on.
Crane Kenney, Wally Hayward (Executive VP, Chief Sales and Marketing), Mike Lufrano (Senior VP of Community Affairs), Carl Rice (Senior Director of Facility Management and Information Technologies) and Colin Faulkner (VP of Ticket Sales and Services) fielded questions during the session.

A couple of early points … The Red Sox have over 67 signs inside of Fenway Park which generates revenue. In an online survey, 60 percent said they would be in favor of a jumbotron at Wrigley if it does not interfere with the centerfield scoreboard. AT & T spent $5 million in improvements to the wireless service at Wrigley Field.

Crane Kenney said the Cubs are not going to sell the naming right to Wrigley Field. The Cubs pay the highest entertainment taxes in the country … 12 percent to the city and county. The original proposal was to take some of the existing tax money to use on the renovations at Wrigley … not additional taxes. Kenney admitted the original plan was not well received. They are trying to find a solution that the city, county and state will be good with.

Kenney pointed out that the Red Sox do not pay any amusement taxes and use that money to pay for the renovations at Fenway … and St. Louis suspended their entertainment tax to pay for their new stadium.

Remembering Ronnie

The Cubs celebrated Ron Santo the player and the broadcaster on Saturday.
The first session, “On the Road with #10” featured Pat Hughes, Andy Masur, Cory Provus and Judd Sirott. The panel shared great memories and hilarious stories to the standing room only crowd.

Pat Hughes began the hour by saying, “Welcome to this session, it’s all about Ron Santo.” And it was. Pat began the hour by asking for a moment of silence for Santo then for the crowd to show their appreciation.

The entire room gave Ron Santo one more standing ovation.

Pat, Andy, Cory and Judd told about their first meeting with Santo and how much of an impact he had on each of their careers. Santo was described as a genuine person and Sirott pointed out that people do not realize how inspiring Ron was to people with diabetes.

Santo always had time for people and enjoyed every minute he had with his fans.

Pat said the Cubs were Santo’s drug, they made him go. The Cubs were his team.

The tribute to Ron Santo, the player, featured Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, Ferguson Jenkins, Glenn Beckert, Randy Hundley, Jose Cardenal and Milt Pappas.

Billy Williams described Santo’s death as a great loss and explained how great a friendship the two had since 1959. The two came through the system together and always hit either third or fourth in the Cubs’ lineup. Williams and Santo played the more games than any other teammates in Major League history.

Billy added that a lot of people listen to Cubs’ games because of Pat and Ron. Williams explained, “Because of you (the fans), he went past nine innings.”

Ernie Banks said he learned toughness, love and friendship from Ron Santo. Mr. Cub added later, “This team, the Cubs was his whole life.”

Milt Pappas, who is still very bitter about his near-perfect game and even called the umpire out, said, “Why that man is not in the Hall is unbelievable. The Hall should be putting people in, not keeping them out.”

Randy Hundley said he, and everyone on the panel, were very lucky to have had him as a friend. Hundley thinks he would have been a joy to see Ronnie walk across the stage and receive his plaque at the Hall of Fame.

Listening to all of the wonderful stories was just a reminder of how much Ron Santo meant to all of us and how much he will be missed. Thank you Ron!

While day two was informative, it was the stories, the laughter and remembering Ronnie that made it special.

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Day three will be short and sweet with the final two sessions centered on the minor leagues and the young Cubs.

The highlights from Sports Central will be included in Day Three’s recap of the Down on the Farm and The 25 Club. Carlos Pena, Fernando Perez, Sean Marshall, Koyie Hill, Oneri Fleita and Tim Wilken spent time on the two-hour show with Dave Kaplan and Jim Memolo.

Quote of the Day

"And if I have my choice between a pennant and a triple crown, I'll take the pennant every time." - Carl Yastrzemski
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  • Patrick_Schaefer
    • paulcatanese

      Patrick ,I would be estatic if that could happen.I think we would have to give hiim Wrigley as well ,but there is no comparison between A-Rod adn Albert. If ANYONE is worth that ridiculous amount of money it would be Pujols,he’s worth three hitters in any lineup. Would like to see it.

    • diehardcubfan

      Unless we can unload Soriano and his contract I just can’t see how we can afford Pujols. I think it will just cost us too much.

      • paulcatanese

        What!,didn’t you hear JH? Soriano is going to hit 30 hr and 90 rbi’s this year. All kidding aside I hope he does,possible,but not probable.

        • Gary J

          If we’re looking at next year’s salary room – we’re freeing up enough for him (or close) with the contracts for Pena and Fuku coming off the books. Depends on how contentious the contract stuff gets between Pujols and the Cards I’d say… because then he may want to sign on just to stick it to the Cards 30 times a year.

          • paulcatanese

            Boy, you and Tony, I hope so,that would be great,I could finally see a World Series on the horizon.

      • Tony_Hall

        There is room for Pujols starting next year in the payroll.

  • Tony_Hall

    Neil – Articles like today, is what makes this the best Cubs site on the internet. I feel like I was there, with all of the detail.

    Great Job!

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Thanks Tony.

      • Matt12882003

        neil are the cubs done making moves or is there another void theyre trying to fill before st

        • Patrick_Schaefer

          Look for some more minor league signnings like the Reed Johnson one with invites to spring training. A possible Trade of Tom Gorzellany. Maybe a bullpen arm, Bench bat.

        • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

          Matt, I would think more minor league signings like Reed Johnson … I know Patrick already mentioned that. Hendry said as much over the weekend.

          Gorzelanny is on the block and I heard rumblings of a possible multi-year contact in the works for Carlos Marmol over the weekend.

    • Gary J

      Totally agree – Neil you’re da man!

  • The Maven

    It sounds like Quade and Hendry are already lining up excuses not to play Coleman and Barney if the occasion arrives.

    • Patrick_Schaefer

      Yeah, I like both of these guys. DeWitt has a higher upside as far as power goes thats for sure.
      Coleman is viewed as more of a 5th starter but if he is overacheiving then ride that out.
      Coleman won’t light up the radar guns, yet neither does Wells, Lily, Maddux, there are a lot of good pitchers who don’t light up the radar guns but show good Command and locate their pitches well in the zone and don’t walk a lot. You don’t have to have a 92 to 98 mph fastball to be successful in the MLB.
      I don’t think that Coleman will be the next Greg Maddux but he could be a very solid major league pitcher. He has the best changeup in the Farm system, an above average sinker ball, a cutter and he is very poised on the mound.
      Remember Silva last year when his sinker was on he started the year great, he didn’t walk a lot of guys but produced a lot of groundball outs. That is what Coleman could do for this team, and eat a lot of innings.

      • The Maven

        With that, you can forget about any experiment of Starlin Castro playing second or third if the Cubs are out of it in the second half. I can hear the excuses now….

        “… we don’t want to give Castro too much to think about”

        “… Barney hasn’t shown enough at this level”

        “… we don’t want to weaken ourselves at two positions”

        “… we’re happy with the progress of our propects at those positions”

        Mark it down, you heard’em here first!

    • paul catanese

      Thats too bad,I feel that Barney played well when he was in the lineup. Isn’t that what is supposed to happen? The same goes for Coleman I don’t get it why Quade say they were over achievers, what a dumb statement!! I’m beginning to think that he is overmatched for the job of manager.

  • cubs1967

    hmmmmmmmm…..was Kasper drunk wehn he said the Cubs fans were lucky to have PK McCaskey and family as owners………WTF??…….nothing like laying it on heavy………….wouldn’t we all like to buy a house and summer(spring)home and then find out we can’t afford it so we ask the neighbors(tax payers in AZ and IL) to pay for our homes………

    half full———that sounds like no one was interested in the BS…..

  • cubs1967

    I see this “lucky” to have ownership screwed even the Cubs convention up by letting fake tix get thru for ARam’s autograph………hmmmm—that has never happened before and you would think for a guy who has NEVER shown up before they would get it right.
    I understand they are gonna make it right for the fans who lost out…………
    ON a side note; at the Bulls game last nite and they showed ARam in the crowd to a mix of cheers and boos(I did cheer due to Cub fan loyalty rules),,,,,

  • paulcatanese

    Neil,I agree with Tony, great comprehensive article. I feel as though I were there.

  • Patrick_Schaefer

    .#CubsCon2011 Sean Marshall: Half of the guys are going out to Mesa after Convention to get jump on ST about 15 hours ago
    Good Sign, I hope A Ram is one of them.
    RT @CarrieMuskat: #cubs hitting coach rudy jaramillo says carlos pena will go to dallas this week so the two can work on hitting
    Let’s hope Jaramillo can right the ship.

    • diehardcubfan

      Many of the guys went out early last year and it didn’t help much so in my opinion it is still debatable if it will help or not.

      As Quade noted until he can fix the fundamentals piece we will not get better. We still need more speed and athleticism also.

      • Patrick_Schaefer

        The heart of the order showed up at the last minute, A Ram, Lee, and Soriano. Soriano had a decent year but as a group they sucked.
        Colvin, Soto and others had good years and they showed up early.
        I hope A Ram shows up early.
        I like the fact that Pena is already working with Jaramillo.
        We can only hope.

        • paulcatanese

          I have reservations about Rudy and the Cub hitters and what rubs off. I don’t think one can teach old dogs new tricks,unless they really want to improve. Too many times have I seen them under the heat of battle return to their bad habits, and they have a surplus of them. How does one combat 190 some strikeouts? Plus instant recognition of the strike zone?When they do not see instant results will they have the patience to make it work? There are a lot of questions here that will have to be answered,I hope Rudy has them.

          • Patrick_Schaefer

            .http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/d/dunnad01.shtml Adam Dunn
            199 strike out last year.
            http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/p/penaca01.shtml Carlos Pena 158 strike outs.
            Carlos Pena will always strike out a lot, he brings a lot of power and takes a lot of walks, like Adam Dunn.
            Pena can be effective even striking out a lot in 2009 he had 100 RBI even though he hit .227! He hit 39 home runs and 25 doubles and walked 87 times.
            If he can get his average back up to even .250 and hit 35 home runs 25 doubles and still walk 87 times he will be effective.

          • Gary J

            I’d say Pena heading to work on his hitting a month and a half before spring as “wanting to improve” – and as for his recognition of the strike zone it’s actually pretty good. And Pena didn’t have 190 Ks… you’re thinking of Dunn there. But still 160 Ks is nothing to sneeze at…. but he still walks 90 times a season – which is where his OBP comes in. If you combine the stats about his Ks and those of his slugging/batting average mix – I’d say that it’s not a strike zone recognition that’s the issue but rather situational hitting issues. His slugging is consistently about double his batting average… of his hits roughly half are either off the wall or over them.

            I have only seen personally a handful of games the guy’s played in, but maybe swinging from the heals 100% of the time is part of his K numbers. Dunno. I’m actually looking forward to see if his average comes up this year and having a basher in the lineup even if he turns out to be the second coming of Kingman :-)

          • paulcatanese

            Okay,okay,I goofed you and Patrick are right.My own fault,I really dont go to the stats before I post.

  • Patrick_Schaefer

    Bears are looking good!

  • Joenp3

    Len Kasper…there has never been a butt created he wouldn’t kiss to keep his talentless career on track…

    • cc002600

      I have to agree with you.
      I’m not a huge fan of Kaspar.
      I find him extemley boring. Very plain vanilla, no personailty, never willing to say anything controversional. He puts me asleep.

  • Gary J

    can any of the attendees help a brother out with a #10 patch? :-) (although I’m sure they’ll be for sale on the Cubs site before long)

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Gary, from the way I understand it the Cubs will be selling the #10 patches during the season.

  • Joenp3

    Ricketts/Hendry and The Cubs Legend/Icon, Ryne Sandberg…
    Should have, in the beginning, either said “Ryno” we’d like to see you in farm system for a couple more years, OR “Ryno” you are the new manager we aren’t going to interview anyone else.
    What they did was a disgrace and an insult to not just Ryne, but every CUBS “Fan”…
    What’s next…Hey Ernie! Stay out of Wrigley?

  • Cheryl

    Good summary. I like that the Ricketts have hired more scouts, As for the training in Mesa now, it does show a commitment. Where it will produce and how Quade handles the Spring Training will be interesting.

  • Gary J

    A few comments on stuff I saw here from Neil and a couple of comments from the Trib…

    Looking forward to seeing Theriot on his butt a few times in the upcoming year… sounds like the the pitchers have plans to drop him at least once a game (and one comment of maybe once an at bat)

    Like the comment from Hendry about the Soriano money – in hindsight it’s crippling the payroll, but at the time it looked like a coup. Maybe a little more money to bring him to Wrigley – but a perennial all-star? I was thrilled. Injuries are to blame for his performance more than lack of talent evaluation.

    And also kudos to Hendry for accepting blame for the Milton Bradley fiasco… there’s a lot of 20/20 hindsight going on there too – but THAT was definitely an evaluation mistake. Thinking the guy was maybe finally mentally stable… ummm… oops? :-)

    And giving the extra money to Hill… on the field I don’t buy it – but if he’s really that good an influence in the clubhouse and the pitchers… OK I can see it. It’s really only less than a minimum salary extra over what it would cost for a minimum salary guy. Not a huge impact. But if he get arbitration next year and gets a raise over $1.5 mil I’ll complain a bit more :-)

    And one funny comment from a Trib article… during a session with Z and a couple others…. “One fan asked Zambrano if he had any plans of opening up a rehab center for Gatorade coolers. – “Maybe,” Zambrano said with a laugh. “Let me think about it.”

    GREAT coverage though Neil – and noticed that there were quite a few of the questions that the folks here on the boards were wanting asked.