Goatriders of the Apocalypse

GROTA News

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GROTA now a partner of the Chicago Now network of blogs

Nope, we didn't buy a new domain.  We aren't bringing on our 24th writer.  We have instead been asked to join the Chicago Now network of blogs.  You can catch us at our new home by following this link:

Goat Riders of the Apocalypse on Chicago Now

Please go there, create an account if you haven't, and join in!  We will still set up reader blogs, and we hope to build the most diverse, inclusive community of Cub fans on the net!  See you there!

Goat Riders of the Apoclypse is soon to be no more

Nope, I'm not joking.

If you've been wondering about the "big news" we've been teasing, wonder no longer.  Effective tomorrow morning, Goat Riders of the Apocalypse will become a dead blog.  This is no joke, nor is it a hoax. 

Um, there's more news to come, and we promise that it's good news. 

Tune in bright and early tomorrow morning to find out what happens next ... but, in all likelihood, tomorrow morning's post will be the final one for this blog. 

The times, they change

Spring Training is a scant twoish weeks away.  The Cubs are preparing to trot out a team with many flaws but big potential - in part because of the many flaws of their primary opponents, the other teams in the NL Central.

So maybe things aren't changing too much, because this is pretty common for Chicago.  And yet, things are definitely taking a new direction, at least on the GROTA front.

First, I'm sure you folks have noticed - and welcomed - the return of Kyle Betts, blogger extraordinare who spends his days in Tribune Tower.  I'm also certain that you haven't noticed my continued absence - that's both a testament to GROTA's great blogging crew, and to my own mundane blogging talents.  I'm pretty much a one trick pony.  Always have been.

The presence of Kyle is, in reality, the beginning of some pretty serious changes here at GROTA.  No, I'm not going away for good, but Kyle has opened a few doors for us.  While I'm not going to get into specifics just yet - the ink hasn't dried, after all - within a few weeks you'll all have a clearer idea as to what I'm hinting at.

But what I can say is this: the next phase of GROTA is going to be a big one, and we need you to make it work.  We need intelligent, dedicated fans who are willing to express themselves loudly and with confidence.  We need people who know how to have civil debates, who can express themselves clearly, and who don't lose their heads whenever a bunch of others tell them that they are wrong.

After all, it's the internet.  You're always wrong. 

We'll have more details for you once it's official, but for now I'll only say this: make sure you visit this blog regularly for the next few weeks.  You'll be pleasantly surprised if you do... and you'll probably not need my gentle encouragement to continue visiting daily after that.

Edited to add: No, we are not having daily free porn giveaways.  And no iPods!  So stop asking already!

In the News

It's been quite some time when I didn't have graduate school  to worry about all the time. Hopefully, I will be able to provide more commentary on things going on in the Cub world. One segment that I wanted to start was, In the News. Once upon a time, in a galaxy far far way (Arkansas), I was a sports writer for four years. I'm drawn to the media, because I was so heavily involved with writing and newspapers. Well, now that I'm just a teacher, and somewhat of a career student, it will be easier to produce a little more regular content other than the Gameday stuff, which gets boring somewhat.



Today in the News:
Headline: Milton Bradley arrested in L.A.
Quote from story:

Police in Los Angeles have arrested Seattle Mariners outfielder Milton Bradley for allegedly making threats against a woman, the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday.

Bradley, 32, was taken into custody at 10 a.m. local time Tuesday and was taken to the Van Nuys, Calif., jail, where he was booked for suspicion of making criminal threats, a Los Angeles Police Department officer told the Times.

Reaction:

Sadly this comes with little surprise with many of the Cubs fans here at this site and probably Ranger, A's, Indians, Dodgers and Padre fans either. Bradley is troubled, and probably should have stayed in Texas where he played well a couple years ago. Crazy just looks better in Texas. Come on, their Manager kept his job after getting busted for cocaine. Bradley's antics, until now, were never close to that. Well, other than that TV announcer thing, but that guy had it coming. In all seriousness, I hope Bradley can find peace one day, because that's just no way to go through life.

Headline: Cubs Sign Marshall to two-year deal, while agreeing to terms with Tom Gorzelanny.

Quote from story:

Gorzelanny, who will take a physical exam Wednesday in Washington, received $2.1 million, a raise from the $800,000 he made with the Cubs last year.If Gorzelanny passes the physical, the two teams will make official a deal that will send the left-hander to the Nationals for three minor-league prospects. Washington would then pay the pitcher's salary.

Garza, whom the Cubs obtained in a trade with Tampa Bay earlier this month, agreed to a one-year deal worth $5.95 million, up from the $$3.35 million he made last year.Marshall, who has a home in the north suburbs, gets a two-year contract worth $4.7 million. He'll earn $1.6 million this year and $3.1 million in 2012.

Reaction:

Wait a minute here. Didn't the Cubs trade Gorzellany yesterday or the day before? I guess that trade is not quite done. One or two things are holding it up. First, it is possible that the Nationals forgot they were trading for the lefty and found a way to back out of the deal once they realized the Cubs would have to release him before the start of the season. So, why give up three guys. Bruce Miles did have a nugget saying that Tom would take his physical today.

One last thing:

Does anybody have any good references to help the understanding of advanced metrics for baseball? I dabble in some of them, but I didn't know if there was a good site that really breaks each one of them down. I would like to to start using more of those figures in my analysis on this site, and I wanted a good starting off point. Please leave any comments about this in the comments section.

Break in the Action

I would like to interrupt this banner offseason for the Cubs to announce that, as of today, I'm officially done with my second Graduate Degree. This was 18 months that I couldn't give my all to GROTA.


Here is a round up of things that has happened in the last 18 months:

  • I lost a job, only to have it offered back to me when a teacher decided to let a student reliever himself in the back of the classroom. It may seem false, but it's totally true.
  • The Cubs have gone through two ownership groups and two mangers, yet Jim Hendry and Crane Kenney still have jobs with the Cubs.
  • The Cubs over .500 streak last just three years. It was good while it lasted.
  • We saw the end of the Derrek Lee era come to a close, and replaced him wth a guy that hit .196 last season. UPGRADE!!!
  • Todd Ricketts went undercover for CBS. Ratings success? Maybe. Confidence builder for the organization? Not so much.
  • The Washington Nationals just pulled a Cub signing with Jayson Werth. We all know how this one ends.....How much longer is he signed?
  • We saw the rise and fall of Carlos Zambrano. I don't know which way he's heading now.
  • The Cubs finally brought up an exciting player in Tyler Colvin.....oh wait, I mean Starlin Castro. Does anybody else project a Jeff Francoeur career path? Power, speed and solid defense. Check, Check and Check. OBP skills? Eh, not so much.
  • I wrote countless papers for Grad School, not including all the editing and grading of my own students. Off the top of head, probably over 500 pages in 18 months.
  • Our first child, Ben, was born on June 1st, 2010. We knew life would change, but nothing prepared me the joy that he has brought our family.
  • On that note, none of the books I read about having a child prepared me for the fact that he had Down Syndrome, but now I feel almost like an expert now. I think that should be an added chapter in some of those books. Hmm...that gives me an idea.
  • We moved houses after our first semester and we just now finally getting around to actually putting the house together.
  • Did I mention Jim Hendry is still the GM? How's that possible after two different rebuilding projects. He's got to have some photos.
  • We've seen Milton Bradley come and go. I'll never forget him throwing the ball in the stands and the good times he brought us all.
  • The San Francisco Giants won the World Series with the likes of Aaron Rowand, Barry Zito, Edgar Renteria, Aubrey Huff and Juan Uribe. Shocking, just shocking. So, I guess there is hope for the Cubs.
  • On second thought, they did trot out some of the best pitchers in the game.

I would like to thank all the writers here at GROTA that offered support during this time. GROTA has gone through a lot of changes, and hopefully we'll be here bringing a little humor and insight of the Cubs for years to come.


Sincerely,
Chris (AKA Yarbage)

It's been a long time, GROTA

When I started this blog, along with Rob, Byron, and Jason way back after the 2004 season, I knew that, sooner or later, the real world would steal my time and my posting contributions would drop.  I just didn't know how quickly it would happen.

Nevertheless, I'm sure  you've noticed that I haven't been around.  Probably you haven't missed me too much.  But I've been one busy hombre -- I am doing regular photoshop images for another baseball blogger, which eats up some of my time, and I've also been writing a whole lot of non-baseball stuff in my spare time (some of which has already seen print.)

And that's all my hobby time -- my "real life" time is equally busy, as I am now teaching regularly.  In other words, the time for Cubs baseball, and for baseball blogging, has dropped to a minimum. 

Of course, I still want GROTA to stick around.  We probably will never be a daily blog again, even if I keep adding writers by the half dozen.  But every once in a while, the Cubs will certainly do something worth commentary, even from us busy writers who have too much going on in the "real world" to spend a lot of time thinking about the Cubs.

Regardless, this might be the last post I make for a while.  Maybe I'll post again if/when the Cubs make a big free agent signing, or a trade, but who knows?  I'm burned out on baseball.  I don't feel as emotionally invested anymore.  I think it's just a part of getting older.

In any event, I'll be back... sometime.  In the meantime, there should always be something going on here, at least when "big stuff" happens like Quade being signed instead of Ryno.  I've truly loved writing at GROTA.  This is one of the coolest ideas I've ever had, and I'm amazed that a half decade later, it's still here.  Let's give it a half decade more!

(at which point the cubs will have won a World Series and this blog will be redundant...)

GROTA End of the Year Roundtable: Part 1

 We here at GROTA have been sluggish with our posting as of late, but we've been working behind the scenes to produce an end of the year round up. We will post these as often as we can get them written. Have comments? Post them below and let the discussions begin. The questions were given by the all the writers and I combined them into some kind of unifying bond.


Ok, here is part 1 of the end of the year round table. It's pretty lengthy, due to the longwindedness of many of our writers.


1. The 2010 Cubs were flawed from the start. Aging veterans combined with an inexperienced bullpen led to a disastrous start to the season. Who is more to blame, Jim Hendry, Tom Ricketts or Lou Piniella?
 
 AJ: Gotta be Lou. Tom’s job is to keep the team profitable, and Jim’s job is to get Lou the players he needs (I guess signing John Grabow over Matt Capps was probably his biggest mistake this past offseason, but that Milton-for-Silva trade is a decent counter).


Meanwhile, Lou’s job was to get the most out of the roster of players he was given, and it seems he failed to do that. Why not ask Aramis to consider a DL stint after two months of putrid hitting (look at the difference his 15 days off finally made!)? Why continue to hit a struggling Derrek Lee third in the order? Why keep a hot young bat in Tyler Colvin’s on the bench? Why bat your OPS leader in Geo Soto 8th?


Having said that, Lou was an incredible manager for this team, and just what we needed after trusting Dusty for too long. But after three years of varying disappointment, it appears Lou was going through the motions from day one of the 2010 season. I wish he had retired sooner.


Sayers40: The problem with the 2010 stems from a commitment made by Jim Hendry and the Chicago Tribune trying to increase the value of the Cubs after the putrid 2006 season. Hendry sold out big time trying to turn the team into a champion. It worked, in so much as it got the Cubs into the playoffs of 2007 and 2008 but we have been paying for it since.


Rob: Ricketts is just the owner, and a first year guy at that.  He allegedly has "baseball men" in charge of the on-field product, so even though he's a big Harry Caray-glasses wearing doofus, he can be excused from this ass-whipping.


Hendry overestimated the quality of his pitching prospects, his so-called "proven" veterans, and even his experienced core guys like Theriot.  However, a career lifer like Mike Quade was able to take the same team (minus DPLee and Theriot a/k/a Bunny Foo-Foo) and finish the year strong.  Whether this speaks for the untapped potential of the Cubs roster, or the stinkiness of the rest of the league, I don't know, but it was overwhelmingly damning to the job that Lou Piniella turned in since the 2008 Playoffs.


I honestly believe Lou felt the 2008 team would win a pennant, if not the World Series.  Something inside him died after that, and he put the team on auto-pilot.  He could not possibly have been less interested in earning his money the last two years, and for that, he deserves the blame for the abortion that was the 2010 Cubs.


Mike:  Well I can't believe this is Ricketts fault.  He's not making the roster.  I'm going to give this 50/50 to Lou and Hendry.  Jim's gotta find a better way to put this pen together.  It can't be the way it was in April, and it can't be handing out big multi-year deals to guys like Grabow, Remlinger, and Eyre.  There's got to be a healthy medium.


Kurt: As an architect, you hire the greatest building crew in the world, but if you give them cardboard and plywood, they won't exactly build something amazing.  I can't blame Lou Piniella for getting too little out of what little he had.  I can't blame Tom Ricketts for a hire that occurred back in the days when he was a still watching games from the bleachers.  (I can blame him for keeping that hire around, though...)



The failures of the 2010 Cubs center squarely on the shoulders of one Jim Hendry.  Hendry has had an awful long time to build a team the right way (ie., through developing a deep and rich farm system) and he's been given the bankroll to fill holes with talented names.  He has done neither.  Instead, he's just pissed away a decade of top draft picks and he's signed incredibly talented (but undeniably flawed) "superstars."  This is the not-surprising end result.


Peter: There is very little blame that can be directed away from Jim Hendry after this season.  From the start of the season the holes in the team were both glaring and damning: we had no bullpen, the roster was filled with declining veterans, and key roles were being filled by young and unexperienced talent.  While the development and performance of the latter may have some bearing on Lou's view of young talent, the fact is that Big Jim built this team.  As they say, if you make the bed have to lay in it.



Chris: Say what you want about Lou, but in the end the ax needs to fall on the GM. I know bad managers can lose games, but players win and lose. Jim Hendry is the man behind the curtain and the problems are right there for him. There is just too much money tied up in very few players. Jim gets his third chance to rebuild, but I don't see how he can build another winner as the Cubs are constructed. He's at fault with this mess and he probably won't survive the next season.

Introducing a New Member of the Cub Family

I took my leave of absence from GROTA back on June 1st and a lot has happened in a month. I've been trying to get in a routine for a while, and I was just unable to update about our first child.

First off, the little guy to the right is Benjamin James Yarbrough. He was born on June 1st and weighed just 6 pounds and 12 ounces. My wife had an emergency c-section three weeks early, which was scary enough. Then, to our surprise the doctor's told us that Ben had Down Syndrome. Needless to say, it was a shock, because we had all the normal tests done and we were told that Ben was negative on everything. While the news wasn't what we were expecting, we wouldn't change anything now. It just shows that life is always unpredictable.

The main reason that I'm so late in getting an update for all the readers (not to mention fellow writers) was that Ben had to stay in the NICU for over two weeks. For parents that have had this happen before, I can only say that I hope it never happens again. There is no worse feeling than having a baby and being discharged before you child. Ben is doing much better, but there are still some issues we are working through because of the Down Syndrome. But as you can see here, he is looking much better already. He also looks happier, maybe it's the Alabama shirt. At least my other team wins championships every now and then.

We finally made it home a couple weeks ago, but it has been really hard juggling all that was going on in my life. My plan was to come back to GROTA starting this month, but that will be on a hold for a few weeks I think since this genius here decided to take 12 hours of grad school this summer. That might have been the dumbest move since picking the Cubs to win 90 games at the beginning of the season. What was I thinking? Ben could come closer and all he does is eat, sleep and poop.

I wanted to say thank you to Rob to reaching out to me after Ben was born. I just had to come to grips with all that happening before I could give the update to everybody. These last few weeks have been really stressful, but I wanted to reach out to everyone. If there is a positive to this situation it is that I picked a great season to not be able to watch, even though the last two nights have been fun as I cranked out numerous papers for class. If you have any questions, please leave a comment and I will respond as soon as I can.

Thanks,
Chris

I've been a bad, bad man

I owe you guys an apology -- unlike every other writer on this blog, I have not even been remotely pulling my weight lately.

Without making excuses, I'll fill you in on what I've been up to...

On top of working first in a high school for returning adults seeking their diplomas (read: the people who couldn't hack it in a regular high school the first time around) I've started working for a government housing organization while doing digital work for a couple of news sources as I've been working on some non-baseball-related writing material.  Phew.  Try to say that in one breath.

In the meantime, I managed to lose access to my photobucket account (hence the recent absence of all images on the blog) and, while I've been keeping up with the Cubs, it's probably fair to say that they have been the fifth or sixth priority in my life.

While I can't promise that that's going to change -- I mean, c'mon Cubs, give me something to work with here! -- I'm going to be back to providing the basic images that makes this blog unique while posting as often as my busy little fingers will allow me to.

I know this season has been a bitter mixture of painful, frustrating, and boring, but we are on the brink of something big -- the exit of Lou and some of Hendry's worst mistakes.  And maybe Hendry himself.  Assuming Ricketts isn't a bleacher mark.  There's so much drama! 

In the coming months, as the Cubs continue their slide into mediocrity, we'll be looking at some of the more philosophical issues -- ie, stats vs. guts, who to trade and what to expect in return, and so-on.  I'll do my best to make my favorite arguments once more, whenever time permits it.  In the meantime, I can only thank the other guys on this site -- everybody has been pulling their weight admirably.  I'm happy that I'm no longer the guy who posts the most; I'm hardly cut out for it anyway.

So, if it's not "Go Cubs," then I guess I can say "Go Us."  Or something.  Because crap, they suck.

Eli's Coming

(No, not Manning.) 

If you've ever seen the incredible television show Sports Night, a show that lasted only two seasons before its creator moved onto bigger and better things (see: The West Wing), then you may have seen the episode in which co-anchor Dan Rydell senses a looming portent, represented to him by the Three Dog Night song, "Eli's Coming."  Bad things were happening, and contrary to the saying, there was no "calm" before the storm -- there are always signs to warn us of what is to come.

The Cubs, then, stand before a portent.  Sold recently to Tom Ricketts, the Cubs are now witness to the soft destruction of WGN and the Tribune Company (as exampled by the demise of the near-thirty-year show "Sports Central," as an aging and salary-bloated team tries to hang on for one last run before the rebuilding steamroller trucks on through.  Ricketts, meanwhile, is too focused on the added revenue of a neon Toyota sign  to fix the team (why we are upset the existence of this is ridiculous and indicative of how Cub fans have the wrong priorities), not to mention the stinky bathroom trough situation. 

These are all signs -- of what, you be the judge.  But for a team always focused on disaster, failure, and heartbreak, maybe the only true portent that we can heed is one that warns of looming victory.  But probably not.

Nevertheless, as the media world collapses like a bronze statue with clay feet, blogs like GROTA, A League of Her Own, and Aisle 424 will continue to serve you, if only sporadically because blogging regularly is a soul-sucking procedure.  I mention them because both blog's authors recently posted here.

However, if you are a blogger who is too tired to weather it alone, if you want to post in a place read by thousands daily, if you want a little bit of a fame rub (I said a little bit, we're hardly the Rolling Stones over here), then join us.  Shoot me an EMail, post here in the ShoutBox, do whatever you want to do.  We're looking for a few regular/part-time writers.  Why, you ask?

The reason is simple -- our last batch of writers have moved on.  One writes for Baseball Prospectus now.  Another is working at the Tribune.  I'm not saying we're the reason why -- I'm sure we're not, these guys were talented long before they stroked some keys at GROTA -- but we couldn't have hurt, either.

Join us.  The portent is here.  Can the Apocalypse loom far behind?

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