Today’s The Wife’s and my sixth anniversary. I’m pretty sure that’s either the paper anniversary, or the sit-around-and-relax-because-it’s-Sunday anniversary. I think it’s that one.

  • Alfonso Soriano again demonstrated why he’s thought of as one of the best teammates in the game, when he yesterday took Starlin Castro aside to talk to the young shortstop about his mental gaffe on the bases on Friday. “I talked to him yesterday because he’s young in age but he’s not young anymore in the big leagues,” Soriano said, according to Doug Padilla. “He’s 22 years old but is in his third year in the big leagues so I talked to him yesterday. I said you can make an error in the field, throw the ball away, make some catches, but those errors mentally we cannot make it …. It depends on him if he wants to make it to another level or he wants to go down a level. I cannot control his mentality. He’s the only guy that can control that situation. I can help him and maybe give him motivation and things like that but I cannot control those errors mentally because that’s on him.” Soriano believes this is a critical time for Castro’s development, and is trying to make sure he stays on the right path. How many millions is that worth?
  • Dale Sveum also had a talk with Castro, but didn’t want to get into the specifics. “I talked to him for quite a while today but nothing that I really want to share with anybody,” Sveum said. “It’s more of a closed-doors meeting and it went well. He was completely …. I don’t know if remorseful is the right word, but he knew he made a big mistake in a certain part of the game five runs down. You have to be a little more prepared for that situation and do a little better job there so it went good.” Sveum made sure to talk up Castro’s progress defensively this year, though, as well as the fact that whatever he does is a little more spotlighted because of his long-standing profile as a future superstar.
  • Both Travis Wood and Dale Sveum thought Wood’s start yesterday was impressive. Wood was pleased to step up against his former mates, and Sveum was pleased that Wood pulled it off against a right-handed lineup. Wood’s overall line this year isn’t over-the-top, but his percentage of starts that you could generally classify as “good” is quite high. Barring huge changes, he’ll be in the rotation next year.
  • Brett Jackson sat out of yesterday’s game, feeling the after effects of a collision with Starlin Castro the previous day. Dale Sveum described Jackson’s soreness this way: “He felt like he got hit by a truck more than anything, more of a whiplash type of effect with that collision in center field.” Hopefully it doesn’t linger.
  • Shawn Camp and James Russell – who blew yesterday’s game (though Ryan Ludwick drilled a pretty good pitch, a high fastball that would have hit the glove perfectly) – are among the league leaders in appearances this year, and it’s fair to wonder whether the heavy workloads are now taking their toll. Each has seen his ERA rise from somewhere in the 2s as recently as last month to somewhere in the high-ish 3s.
  • Anthony Rizzo with an interview in FanGraphs.
  • At present, the Cubs are the number two road draw in baseball, behind only the Yankees. Just imagine if the Cubs weren’t terrible …
  • Speaking of the Yankees, Derek Lowe has signed with them (not the Cubs), and will pitch out of the bullpen. Thus endeth the weird Derek-Lowe-to-the-Cubs stuff.
  • It occurs to me that it would probably be best to break up Wood and Brooks Raley, who pitches today for the Cubs, in the rotation. After seeing Wood yesterday, and being kept off balance, the Reds are going to see a similar lefty today.
  • 5412


    I am glad you started this thread about Soriano. I have been one of his worst critics for quite some time; however this year I feel differently. I still feel he needs to go as soon as they find a taker; but I told my wife yesterday that I will miss him.

    Before the game Friday I saw him grab Castro and they played catch in front of the dugout. I suspect there are also some on the team who will miss him when he goes also.

    It is funny when you think about it. Soriano talking with Castro about mental errors. Soriano, the guy who got in our dog house for turning almost home runs into lazy singles. Soriano who ran the bases with a baserunning IQ of Jerry Hairston Jr. Soriano who never met an outfield wall he could not shy away from. Soriano who throws to the correct base almost half the time….

    I guess he did all those things before Castro arrived on the scene.


  • ColoCubFan

    Brett, how long do you think the rules regarding designated hitters in only one league are going to hold out? It really screws things up now that the two leagues are on a continual mix of games.

    • ColoCubFan

      Oh yeah, the 6th anniversary is wood, so no sleeping on a soft couch!

  • Cubs1967

    wow-the Cubs are tne number 2 draw in MLB on the road! there’s alot of money in that for the Ricketts. better be using if for payroll next year. all this talk of “baseball ops” is BS. the FO has tripled. international FA can’t be overpaid anymore. the regualr draft has hard slots.only one place for the extra dough to be going; check the pockets Tommyboy. then check the W_L record. you don’t have to suck to rebuild. see the A’s as an example.

    • ssckelley

      Are you suggesting they go back to the Hendry days and spend money to just spend it? I see the Cubs spending money, the majority of it on the farm system and they have made no secret they would spend even more money to get solid prospects in return for veterans. I like what they are doing, it is not resulting in wins at the major league level but eventually it will. What you are seeing on the field today is the result of money spent foolishly and a bad farm system. You cannot fix that overnight.

      • Nate Corbitt

        Well said.

      • art

        agree 100%.

    • Nate Corbitt

      The free agent class this off-season is rather underwhelming. I’d rather not spend a ton of money on middling players when we aren’t going to compete until at least 2014 or 2015.

      • J R

        I bet the only free agent spending the Cubs do this offseason is on future trade bait players, just like they did with Maholm. They could care less about winning in 2013, that’s pretty obvious.

        • hansman1982

          If you look at Theo’s success he found a lot of Maholm type players whom he could get for cheap and overpeformed. In a good year you hold on to them and maybe add a piece or two at the deadline. When you stink it up, you sell those guys.

          • J R

            Exactly Hansman

        • Nate Corbitt

          I highly doubt money is the issue. I honestly think that if there were some free agents out there that Theo and Co. felt could be long term options, they would go after them. But with the big name pitchers signing extensions, and the biggest hitter out there being Josh Hamilton, they feel like money could be better spent elsewhere. Do you really want them shelling out a Soriano-like contract to Josh Hamilton?

    • Drew7

      Are you this cynical all the time? I mean, you’re always really, really angry…

    • MikeL

      They aren’t going to spend money just to spend money this off season. Besides, the free agent is fairly week this year. You obviously don’t understand the way they plan to rebuild and I hate to tell you, but the 2013 Cubs will probably be about as bad as the 2012 Cubs, maybe slightly better. The only time the Cubs were this dedicated to building through their farm system was in the late 90s and early part of the 00s. They never won a title, but they remained competitive by trading valuable minor league pieces and developing their own players. They probably would probably still be competitive if they had stayed dedicated to the farm system after 2002 or 2003. There won’t be any quick fixes…..if you don’t like it, go root for the White Sox.

  • Spoda17

    I think it is safe to say Sori isn’t going anywhere… and I’m not sure I am upset about that…

  • J R

    I realize that Soriano is known as Mother Teresa in the Cubs locker room.. But the dude needs to go. To me, it would be incredibly frustrating if at the trade deadline next yr we are in the same place with him as we are now.

    • hansman1982

      Why does he NEED to go? Is he underperforming his contract? Yes, but is he providing you $7-10M in value (the absolute most we could hope to get in return)? Most definitely and at the same time he is helping our young potential superstar. There is a lot of value there and there are many worse things than Soriano playing out his contract here.

      • Carew

        I for one hope he doesn’t leave…unless you can get a solid return. I agree with ya, you can do a whoooooole lot worse

      • J R

        I get all that. And I wouldn’t give him away for nothing. I just feel like with Sori, you are playing with fire the longer you would on to him. Can he really maintain this decent play? I have my doubts.

        • J R

          *the longer you hold on to him.

        • fortyonenorth

          “And I wouldn’t give him away for nothing”

          I don’t get, but that’s what teams seem to be offering. No need to pay 90% of his salary and get a few fringe prospects with 2% chance of making the bigs.

          • Dustin S

            As much as I hate to say if they can’t get more than a C prospect I have to agree. He isn’t really blocking anyone (yet). But I still don’t get why a playoff race team hasn’t made a fair offer. Soriano has been a little picky on his destination teams though too which hasn’t helped.

    • ssckelley

      I used to feel this also that Soriano needs to go but seeing his performance this year and how well he has assisted with the younger players I see some value keeping him around if they cannot make a good deal. If you can get a decent prospect or 2 in return then trade him but there is no sense just giving Soriano away. Next year the Cubs will need a right handed power hitter and he is blocking no one in the minors so if the right deal does not come along you might as well keep him and let him play.

      • J R

        My feelings for Sori have changed this year a lot too. He is a different player. I think the reason I want him traded is that I don’t see him staying healthy and continuing to play well. So I think his value is at an all time high. With that said I think other teams feel that too, and that’s why they are only offering garbage. I guess we should just hang on to him if were only going to get a player like Volstad or Bowers back. But I don’t think I can handle another year of Soriano trade rumors…

  • art

    he still does those things.

  • Steve

    Hopefully the trade with the Braves is a win / win. Mahalm has been great for them… Last night he was amazing in his shutout vs the Mets.
    If Vizciano can come back and be a solid contributor, then it’s smiles all around, which makes future trading with them a lot easier.

  • ferrets_bueller

    A random thought: I wonder what it would take to acquire Choo from the Indians this offseason.

    • nkniacc13

      atleast a major league ready talent thats controllable for 3plus years and a prospect. Atleast thats kinda what they were asking for at the deadline

    • Brett

      I wondered for a moment, too, but the thing is, there is probably a team out there that feels strongly that they just need one more piece like that for 2013, and they’ll give up more than it would make sense for the Cubs to give up.

      • ferrets_bueller

        Most likely. And considering how great of a player Choo actually is, someone like Ruin Tomorrow Jr. of the Phillies probably will overpay.
        But if we could land him for a decent price…I say do it.

  • clark addison

    If someone had told you when Soriano signed that he would have this kind of a season at age 36, you would have thought he was worth every penny.

    Sure, he hasn’t been the same player since his leg injuries his first year with the Cubs. And laissez-faire managers let him get away with poor fielding and showboating in the past. But he’s turned the corner defensively this year, even considering his bad wheels. He’s running the bases better than any season since coming here, and I haven’t seen any evidence of showboating.

    He’s our only consistent power source, and is a positive mentor to the Latin players. He’s not blocking any prospects at this time.

    Bottom line: Unless we can get a really good return, it’s best to keep him.

    • Coachstone

      If we trade Sori then we start LaHair everyday in left and we get worse and probably don’t save much money. He may not be worth 18 million a year but if we are going to pay him that (or almost all of that) I would rather see him playing for us.

  • Fastball

    I have a Soriano Fathead in my office. We need him and I think Theo knows it. Hell he has stolen 3 or 4 bases this week. He is wearing a different cleat for the past week and his feet feel better which helps his legs feel better.

  • The Other Brett

    Happy Anniversary, Brett. It’s my anniversary today as well, except that we are at year one instead of six. I feel accomplished to have made it a year and she hasn’t yet kicked me out! Have a good one and go Cubs go!

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  • http://It'searly Mike F

    Theo and Jed have sold chicken sh t as chicken salad. Soriano is no role model and mentor. Sure he’s a nice guy and off the field quality guy. But he doesn’t understand situational baseball, is not fundamentally sound, and has always been accused of exactly what he’s mentoring Castro of. Two immutable facts are in play here that point the spin is so off. First, with the Cubs willing to pay most of the 40 M owed Soriano to get him to go play elsewhere there aren’t many takers. And the one’s that came forward, were rebuffed by Mr. Saint. So let’s be clear the FO is willing to pay him one hell of a lot of money to just go. Second, Castro is still not playing to his ability and is hitting 30 points below his average.

    So while I applaud Theo and Jed for the marketing and I mean that, I wouldn’t drink the Kool Aid. The last thing Starlin Castro needs is mentoring from Soriano, unless you really want him taught to underachieve.

    • ssckelley

      So what do you want the FO to say? We all know it is a bad contract, the existing FO had nothing to do with it. Perhaps they should run Soriano into the ground as much as some of us fans do.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      The reason why Jed & Theo succeeded so well in Boston is because (in part) they realized that “situational baseball” is fundamentally bad baseball. Winning offenses preach one philosophy: look for a pitch you can drive and drive it. (Teams preaching different approaches for different situations tend to have bad offenses, or at least underperforming ones.)

      So, really, it’s you who would be the bad influence!

  • http://It'searly Mike F

    No, I think they have said the right thing and done the right thing, namely try to market and move him. My criticism is with the fans who have piled hate on Hendry for the poster boy of the failed past and now suddenly think Alfonso is something he’s not- namely a outstanding player. The fact is despite great work from McKay he is still a defensive liability without a position, less so maybe than at his worst, but still a liability. The correct spin is not to talk about the limited range and some of the mishaps now, but they are still there and have been there in recent games.

    He still is not a guy who has earned his money, just that the talent around his pretty reduced and by contrast he doesn’t look as bad. And yes, he’s had something of an up-season, but look at some of the talk above. Soriano is the poster child for a failed regime and more than any single move, brought down the regime. And in the end Theo is looking to pay 90%-95% of that contract to get him to go away. In any other industry, Soriano would be stamped a failure and failed decision and the last thing he would be called on to do is mentor.

    That’s not a criticism of Theo and his staff, they are seeking correctly to get him out of here.

    • DCF

      Mike I think you’re confusing things.
      Literally everybody in baseball, including fans, managers, players, groundskeepers…. know that the contract the Cubs gave to Soriano was and is a failure. He never was the superstar he was paid to be. However, he had a career pretty much in line with the numbers he had put up before the Cubs came along handing out gazillions for a stupid contract.
      Looking at it this way, the underachiever is the FO, not Soriano.

      Besides that, you must not judge his performance today on his contract. Players decline with age and nobody could expect him to be worth $18 millions at age 36 and beyond. It’s basically a backloaded contract like virtually every other big contract.

      And on his limited range: I don’t follow defensive metrics all that close, but AFAIK, he’s not horrible by any means. He’s probably slightly below average, but that’s not too uncommon for the team’s best hitter.

    • ssckelley

      Mike, I am not piling on Hendry in fact I do not think Hendry is the blame for the Soriano contract I think it was more the Tribune. Back then they were putting all their chips in hoping the Cubs would win one and make the team worth more to sell. They did not care that the new owners would still be spending 18 million per year on an aged player with declining skills.

  • GJD – Jon

    I’ve been watching Soriano for years. After watching all of his gaffes, at a much older age, it seems a bit ironic that he is tutoring Castro on how to avoid gaffes. Live and learn I guess, but it’s just something that’s going to happen to a guy that young.

    He will improve.

  • mudge

    I remember Mark DeRosa, in better times, saying Soriano was THE guy in the clubhouse, the spirit of the team, who brought a positive feeling and kept everybody loose. This isn’t just “marketing.”

  • droppedsomething

    If Soriano is still the “spirit of this club”, then it explains quite a bit. I’m with many folks on this site…he may be a fine person and even a great teammate; but he’ simply not a winner and the type of role model anybody needs…certainly not Castro. BTW, DeRosa has totally disappeared since leaving the Cubbies. He was brought over to the Nats this year to add a veteran presence and he’s been a total non-entity. In other words, the Nats have won despite DeRosa (and without him for the most part since he’s been on the DL for large chunks of this season)…and the Cubs would do well to learn to win without Soriano.