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October 2009 Archives

Family guy

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The Cubs are now a family-owned team, and the guy who seems to be driving the family's agenda, Tom Ricketts, said all the things yesterday that Cubs fans wanted to here: The new owners are committed to getting the Cubs a championship; there is no curse on the Cubs; they will stay most out of the way and let baseball people do their jobs.

Ricketts' mere presence suggests a changing of the Cubs from a corporate entity into a family business, but will that really be the case? The club should not be confused with a mom-and-pop store that cares about its customers more than a corporate behemoth. This team was just sold for several hundred million dollars, and at the end of the day, it's a business that will be owned by people who have business success in their blood.

Aside from endorsements for GM Jim Hendry and manager Lou Piniella to continue their work for another year, there was not much real baseball talk at yesterday's coming-out party for the Rickettseseseses... The World Series has barely started, so it may be a while before the real baseball moves begin, but much of the coverage of yesterday's press conference suggested that the Cubs will not be spending much money over the off-season. I can only hope that means they will unload Milton Bradley's salary in favor of Chone Figgins or Bobby Abreu, though more likely it could mean a fairly inactive off-season for the Cubs--not exactly the best way to begin the charge toward a championship.

Off to see the Wizard

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White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, known in these parts as "the Great and Powerful Oz," (though he sure didn't earn the "Great" part this year) is set to make his debut as a World Series TV commentator tonight on Fox. A lot of jokes are being made about how the censor will earn his pay with Ozzie on board. I predict he will be on good behavior (though I still wouldn't rule out some cheesy Fox skit or stunt during the telecast that play's on Ozzie's propensity to earn bleeps).

Hopefully, someone will remind him before he goes on the air that he needs to slow down and speak as clearly as possible, though that might also drain him of some essential Ozzie-ness. Ozzie is a lot of fun, and usually even more fun when he says what's on his mind, but I and probably many other fans judge most of his post-game press conferences on their emotional volatility rather than the content of what he is actually saying (or might be saying? What did he say?)

I do wonder what Ozzie will have to say about former-Sox player/current Yankee Nick Swisher. Speculatuve quote: "Sure, he's good now, but he was a f------ piece of s--- for us."

Cubs fans may not find much of interest in the World Series, though Yankee manager and former Cub Joe Girardi is someone we like to think of as a Cub in spirit, even though everything he learned about winning at this level happened when he played in New York (and don't forget the Cubs had a chance to land Girardi as manager and went with Lou Piniella instead). Meanwhile, Scott Eyre has a chance to win a second consecutive World Series ring--who would have predicted that in the summer of 2008 when the Cubs gave up on him?

Ru-dy! Ru-dy! Ru-dy!

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The Cubs reportedly have been talking to Texas Rangers hitting coach and widely-respected guru Rudy Jaramillo, and now Sports Illustrated says the Cubs and Jaramillo may be closing in on a deal.

That would be the best news the Cubs have gotten since Milton Bradley was benched. Incidentally, it could also mean Bradley's days with the Cubs may not be over if they believe Rudy can get good things out of one of his former pupils (Bradley played for the Rangers before the Cubs). Jaramillo also potential could be a savior for Alfonso Soriano, who also used to take Jaramillo's hitting advice when he played for Texas.

After Bradley's terrible year and Soriano's career-worst year, I still wouldn't mind if both of them were somehow shipped out of town, but Bradley will be a hard sell, and the Cubs probably will not try to move Soriano at all.

Can a bonafide hitting guru helps the Cubs reach their offensive potential? It seemed like that's what Gerald Perry did in 2008, and then he took the blame for poor performance in 2009. It seems like hitting coaches are always in the hot seat. Greg Walker has survived as the White Sox hitting coach for years, despite calls for his head on a seasonal basis. Jaramillo may be in a different class than many others though: Before declining the Rangers' latest contract offer, he had been coaching hugely productive line-ups in Texas going back to the mid-1990s.

Cubs file for bankruptcy protection

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The Cubs filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, a move that had been expected in order to allow the organization's sale to the Rickettseseses... to move toward completion. All I want to know is if this will get in the way of Cubs' efforts to sign their new right fielder Bobby Abreu, new multi-position stud Chone Figgins and new No. 4 starter John Lackey.

All three of those guys are in the L.A, Angels, who are about the enter the ALCS and give the Yankees a run for their money. So, I guess they won't be available for a while, which is exactly why the Cubs might want them--and why the Sox should want them, too. My guess is the Cubs will take a look at all three, but might be (finally) gun-shy about big free agent contracts.

I like the chances that the Sox might actually end up signing Abreu to take over in right field after Jermaine Dye lost his job with a dreadful late-season slump. Both teams really could use Figgins, though I wonder if both will be part of a group of teams that drive up the bidding before the Red Sox swoop in and sign him.

Quick with the pen

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So, the hated Piranhas now know what it's like to win Game 163. When the Twins beat the Tigers 6-5 in extras last night--a game that I have to admit was more epic than last year's Game 163 Blackout win by the Sox--it proved what we Sox fans had been saying all season: Detroit just isn't that good, and the division can be won by another team. But, we also assumed that other team would be the Sox, and watching the Twins prove our claim to be true provides no satisfaction at all. If anything, it makes the season seem like even more of a disaster.

While the Piranhas moved on, the White Sox were busy with the pen--both the ink pen and the bullpen. Yesterday, they signed on to 2010 options for possible closer Matt Thornton and aging starter Freddy Garcia. I actually doubt that Thornton will be the closer, though I'm also waffling about current closer Bobby Jenks being with the Sox at all next year.

Meanwhile, Garcia wins the right to come to Arizona next spring and compete with Daniel Hudson and Carlos Torres and maybe some new arrivals for the No. 5 starter job. Contrary to how the year ended, I don't think Garcia has that spot locked up at all. In fact, I sort of wonder how long it will be before he is hampered by an injury and gets criticized for a lack of intensity (the latter being an old complaint that dogged Garcia after he allegedly tested positive for pot in 2006).

I still wonder if the Sox will throw another proven arm into the starter mix, or come up with other ideas at closer. Perhaps Tony Pena should have been the closer mix toward the end--he really under-performed for the Sox, but was considered a closer candidate the last couple years when he played for Arizona.

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