Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Tribune

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Ohh boy, is THIS great?

why...Flounder? Brappp! Why not?

Can I buy ten thousand marbles, pleeeze?

It's coming....

A few more thoughts on the sale to the Ricketts clan


While we should probably remain concerned about the fiscal abilities of a new owner that took nearly six months to scrape together the necessary cash to seal the deal, it remains freshing to finally have a face to associate with the ownership of the Cubs. Maybe Tom Ricketts will indeed be a super-fan bent on building a winning franchise, or perhaps he'll be an amateur meddler of the Pete Angelos mold and will run the team into the ground. Probably he will be somewhere in the middle -- a little heavy-handed on some things, but overall better than what we've had from the Tribune these last 28 years.

Like a bunch of Cub fans, I previously wrote Ricketts a rather lengthy "open letter" loaded with this fan's perspective on the things the team needs. Rather than re-post it word for word, or write another one, I think I'll just highlight the two most important things.

First -- I sincerely hope that Ricketts surrounds himself with extremely knowledgeable baseball people with a long track record of success. If blogging about the Cubs these last six years has taught me one thing, it's that in many ways the organization's stance on player development and playing strategy is antiquated. You would think that a team desperate to win for the first time in 102 years would try to be perhaps a little more innovative, but "hits not walks," "five-tool prospects," and a ton of other idiotic creeds have dominated the organization for far too long.

Second -- If the Ricketts family does what they need to do regarding Wrigley Field, then we may have to tolerate a year or three of diminished expectations and lower payroll. I know, the vast majority of Cub fans out there are in love with Wrigley Field and would sooner set themselves on fire than see it changed, but the ballpark is old, it's unpleasant, and it's falling apart. One of the first things a new owner will need to consider is the renovation of the ballpark -- perhaps resulting in the complete tearing down of the upper deck -- and it might take one, or two, or even three years to do. In the meantime the Cubs may need to play their games at US Cellular, which nobody wants, or perhaps Soldier Field, which nobody but me has even suggested. Either way, get ready for a few years in the wilderness, because it's this or watch Wrigley disintegrate and eventually get condemned.



And I still am betting that when the temporary relocation occurs will be when the Cubs win a championship. It'd be just too fitting not to happen.

Regardless, we'll get to find out in the near future what the Ricketts' plan is. Hopefully they'll be ambitious. I think we're all burned out on the status quo.

Cubs sale completed

Pending court and MLB ownership approval, the Chicago Cubs will soon belong to the Ricketts family, who spent 845 million for the privilege.  It's been a long  time in coming.

Back when the team's sale was first announced, many of us had hoped it would be a guy like Mark Cuban who would step up and buy the team.  Cuban is the sort who would put product before profit, and while he probably wouldn't go into the red to win he would almost certainly spend more than most.

Still, Tom Ricketts is a Cubs fan.  There's no doubt that he wants his new team to break the drought, although he's going to have a very, very long process ahead of him.  In the next few years he's going to have to deal with some big, untradeable contracts, a crumbling ballpark, and a fanbase that continues to grow more alienated.  Or he could just wait two years and sell the team again and probably make a cool 200 million dollar profit -- the downturned economy may have delayed the family's purchase of the team, but it also aided them in buying the Cubs at a relatively big discount.

Regardless of his plans, we're all still probably a little concerned about what Tom Ricketts will do next.  It seems doubtful that a guy who was barely able to scrounge up the money to buy the team will be able to grow -- or even maintain -- the third largest team payroll in baseball.

Hopefully his next move will be to answer those issues, to calm us in the face of concerns, and his public silence should soon be broken. 

Give me a break Rosenbloom

When I graduated with my journalism degree part of me thougth it would be great to meaningful columns about baseball. There is something grand about weaving wonderful stories about players and the game they play, but every so often a writer just ticks me off.

Today while my students were watching To Kill a Mockingbird, I read through various sites about the Cubs. I came across a little article by Steve Rosenbloom. His stuff has always been shallow, and I'm not sure, in this day and age, why he still has a job.

Today's article deals with Milton Bradley, and his decision to stand up for himself and appeal his suspension. His short lashing of Bradley states, says that Bradley should've done the noble thing and just took the punishment when he was dinged up. He calls out Bradley for hurting the Cubs by waiting.

This part really cracks me up:

Instead, he’ll miss today’s game against Houston when the Cubs’ offense needs every bat it can find, especially Bradley’s, especially after his home run against San Diego that alerted NASA, especially with Aramis Ramirez out and Derrek Lee looking for his first hit in 10 days.


All because Bradley “had to stand up for myself.’’

Ok, other than his love for the word especially, what is Rosebloom saying here? First off, the Cubs scored 11 runs yesterday without Lee, Bradley and Ramirez. They were still able to draw walks and get extra base hits. Did he miss yesterday? Second, we all know that Bradley is going to miss time, so we might as well get used to it. Luckily, Kosuke Fukudome and Micah Hoffpauir have played well during this time.

I know the media loves to pick on Bradley, but did Rosenbloom see the play where Bradley got tossed? I have no problem letting a player appeal, because it is his right to do so. Isn't this America? Don't we have a chance to stand up for ourselves? Does anybody get the point of this article?

The only thing I can up with is that it Milton took his coco puffs one time and didn't forgive him for it. More likely, Rosenbloom is just the lastest writer that thinks that Milton's bad reputation must be called out all the time. This is just another example of a paid journalist being too full of themselves to write meaningful work. Is there any wonder why people visit places like GROTA instead of reading newspapers?

Long day, no content

I've had one of the busiest work days in recent memory, which consisted of me working through my lunch and not taking any breaks during the day - oh, and I stayed half an hour later than I was supposed to, too.  Consequently, no GROTA updates.  But cheer up, good news, I'm here now!

Since I'm mentally exhausted, it'll just be some quick links with brief commentary.  Later tonight I'll write the Mike Stanton Player Preview, since Rob apparently forgot.

First, to the shock of every overthinker who owns Cubs swag, Carlos Marmol insists that the WBC blown save won't have an effect on him.  I'm actually amazed that this possibility has gained any amount of traction, and I'd rather think that it's a case of the media creating a story rather than reporting on one.  Should Yankees fans have worried about Mariano Rivera after he blew the World Series in 2001?  I think not.

Carlos Zambrano showed his marbles in a recent game against Team Japan.  He faced Kosuke Fukudome twice, and having told him what pitches he'd be throwing was still able to get him out both times.  Unfortunately the Cubs lost the game 3-2, so they will not be advancing to the next round of the WBC. 

Speaking of Fukudome, the Sun-Times has an article about how, scarred from the failure to perform last year, Kosuke left America for a Japanese monastery this past winter.  He apparently spent the cold months meditating over his losses while perfecting the physical discipline necessary to kill his father's murderer and to become ... the Kung Fu baseball master.  Or something like that.  I didn't actually read the article.  The Sun-Times sucks.

Ownership troubles look to prevent the Cubs from acquiring Peavy any time soon.  Not only are the Cubs likely to have a new owner in the Ricketts clan within the next month or so, but the Padres are also in the process of selling the team.  Only it turns out that the next theoretical owner might be short on factual cash.  But chin up, Cub fans.  On top of already rooting for the best team in the NL, a lot of things can happen between now and August 1st.  Even if the Padres ownership issues aren't resolved, there'll be plenty of teams fallen from competition whose top stars might look good in a Cubs uniform.

In an entirely un-Prior like experience, Prior-like Cubs ace Rich Harden threw in a game for the first time this Spring.  There was no towel in sight and his fastball topped out at 92 MPH. 

Goat Friend Bruce Miles breaks my heart by writing a fear-mongering article about the Cardinals.  Miles also reports that if Guatemala and Belize go communist, then Mexico will be the next domino to fall and we must sacrifice all of our freedoms because if we don't then Bin Laden's terrorist network will get us.  How could you, Bruce?

Up later tonight: Mike Stanton's someday-soon pointless Player Preview!

Update: Screw it.  We'll do a Player Preview Double Shot tomorrow.  I'm going to bed.

It's the annual "they're losing a lot of Spring training games" post

I wonder if anybody has ever gone back and worked to actually correlate Spring Training results with how the regular baseball season pans out?  I know that there have been some years of epic fail on the Cubs part that turned into good seasons of baseball ('89 rings a bell). 

Regardless, I'm sure most of us felt pretty good when the Cubs started the Spring undefeated.  Since then, they've tanked a lot.  Paul Sullivan reports that the Cubs have lost six straight and eight of their last nine, and, the sparkplug he is, Lou Piniella is not a happy old man.  In fact, you could probably call him grumpy.

I'm not worried about it.  Spring Training has to be taken with a grain of salt.  A lot of the players getting their butts kicked are players who won't be around in April anyway.  A lot of the pitchers who will be around and are getting their butts kicked aren't unleashing their best stuff right now.  And a lot of the hitters who aren't hitting to save their lives are pretty likely to crank it up before the end of the month.

Anyway, at this moment the Cubs are 5-7 in the Cactus League.  I'm pretty confident that they won't be 2 games under .500 by the time they travel to New York City, but however they do the only important thing is that they're healthy and ready.  But sometime tomorrow I'll be taking a closer look at how players On the Bubble are doing in order to help paint a clearer picture of what the team may look like on opening day.

The Beat Report: Cubs lose, Rich Harden, and Cuts

Sorry about the lack of posts recently, but it was a crazy week at work. Well, lets get to the links.

A few of the newspapers talk about handling Rich Harden with care. The Sun-Times’ Gordon Wittenmeyer rehashes all the stuff we heard about Harden sine he came over. By now we know that he has a shoulder problems, and had to be handled with care.

This has to be the 100th story about Harden’s problems. We all know that Harden is at best 50/50 to make 20 or more starts, but I’m sick of hearing about it. I think the Cubs have done the best they can by bringing in a guy like Aaron Heilman to go along with Sean Marshall.

Wittenmeyer also points out in the notebook that the Cubs made their first three cuts. Gone are Rocky Roquet, Ed Campusano and Andrew Cashner. Nothing really surprising here, and the Cubs need to get all the guys competing more time in game action.

Over at the Daily Herald, Bruce Miles does another Q and A on the Cub bullpen. Nothing shocking here, because of course Kevin Gregg and Carlos Marmol are the keys to the pen. Really? That like saying the key to the Yankee pen is who works with Mariano Rivera. For the most part, unless Marshall doesn’t win a rotation spot, Neal Cotts will be the only lefty in the pen. I’m not too concerned about the lefty/righty matchup unless Cotts totally blows right out of spring.

In game action, the Cubs lost 4-3 yesterday to the Dodgers. Ryan Dempster gave up 2 runs in 3 innings, while Randy Wolf and Jeff Weaver shut the Cubs out for 5 innings. The one concerning trend is Derrek Lee still doesn’t have an extra base hit. I’m too worried yet, since there are still 30 days until opening day. It is just a trend that needed to be pointed out.

The Tribune’s Paul Sullivan tells us that Dempster likes what he sees from Marshall, Heilman, and Jeff Samardzija. Most likely two of these guys will end up starting at some point this year when Harden goes down for a few weeks, unless the Cubs pull the trigger on Jake Peavy, which doesn’t seem likely.

Those are all the links for today.

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