jeff samardzija beardThe Wife’s dad is in town to visit the grandkids, and there’s a bit of divide-and-conquer going on, with he and The Wife taking The Little Girl to the zoo. Which is fine, because I like my time with The Little Boy. But I also like the zoo. That’s where all the animals are.

  • Some of the local writers focused on an odd bit of Joe Posnanski’s long, interesting, effective piece on Theo Epstein. In the piece, Epstein shared an anecdote about Jeff Samardzija coming to the new guys, including Dale Sveum, soon after they took the reins, trying to convince them to let him become a starter. As part of that anecdote, Epstein told Posnanski that Samardzija said, “I will do whatever it takes to help this team. And I think the best way to help this team is by being a starting pitcher. I’m eliminating everything in my life that gets in the way. I’m dumping my girlfriend. I’m moving to Arizona. I just want the chance to show you that I’m a starting pitcher.” For whatever reason, the focus became that girlfriend part. As Paul Sullivan put it, “Samardzija was forced to clarify a story told by president Theo Epstein that he got rid of a girlfriend in order to commit to making the Cubs’ rotation.” I really don’t see how he was “forced” to clarify anything, especially not a fluffy bit of ephemera, but Samardzija explained that he’d actually broken up with his girlfriend six or seven months before that meeting with Sveum, but doesn’t say that he never mentioned the ex-girlfriend to Sveum or Epstein. So, what does that leave us with? Samardzija probably told Sveum/Epstein that he’d dumped his girlfriend (meaning months before as he started to focus on his baseball future), and Epstein misremembered that – or was just speaking colloquially – as “I’m dumping my girlfriend.” Why am I even writing about this? It’s late March? Oh. It’s late March.
  • Phil Rogers also wrote about the Posnanski piece, highlighting some of Theo’s more interesting quotes. But he preambled that bit with this: “Joe Posnanski has gone from the Kansas City Star to Sports Illustrated, then to the start-up Sports On Earth website and now to NBC Sports, all since 2009. It’s clear he has talent in his field and has learned a lot about the business side of things. He’s writing a weekly Friday column as part of his new gig and is tackling the subject of Theo Epstein and the Cubs today. You’d be foolish to miss it if you care about the North Siders, although don’t tackle it until you’ve got some free time. Joe is not a tight writer, and the cost of cyberspace is still very low. The piece runs about 3,450 words, by my computer’s count, which means that with a few photos you could easily fill a wide open newspaper page with it. Impressive.” I really can’t tell: is Phil ripping Posnanski? Is he annoyed by the ascent? Is it a dead-trees-versus-the-Internet thing? Also – “Joe is not a tight writer” … well, I mean, duh? The expansive, flowery, filled-out language is kind of the point.
  • Rick Morrissey does his part in trying to make a move out of Wrigley Field appear more realistic, which is fine with me. The more realistic a move seems – even if I can’t quite believe it (at least not until the April 1 deadline, and even then … ), it’s good for the Cubs if there’s at least a little collar tugging in Chicago and Wrigleyville.
  • Aramis Ramirez says it wouldn’t have made sense for the Cubs to re-sign him when he became a free agent before the 2012 season. “It would have made no sense for them to re-sign me long-term,” Ramirez told Gordon Wittenmyer. “They’re doing what they have to do. They’re going young. And they’re paying the price. They lost 100 games last year, and that’s what happens when you’re trying to rebuild. But you’ve got to start over at some point. Obviously, what we were doing wasn’t working.”
  • Kane County’s blog has been doing a “Meet the Cubs” audio series, and this week they had an interview with Cubs Director of Player Development, Brandon Hyde.
  • Carlos Villanueva, who had a great start yesterday against the Brewers, puts things as optimistically as possible. “I think it’s a good thing, because I think we’re ready to compete,” Villanueva said, per the Tribune. “It’s easy to say. If you ask me the question ‘Are you going to compete?’ I’m not going to say ‘No, we’re going to be in last place.’ But it’s one thing saying it, and one thing believing it. I really think that we do have a chance. There’s been a lot said about if we get to the All-Star break and we’re not winning we’re going to have a fire sale. We hear that. I don’t want to hear that, and that’s why I signed here for more than one year, because I don’t want that to happen. I’m not old, but I’m not young. So for me … I’m a veteran guy now and I want to win. I had a couple other choices where I could’ve been, and I chose here because I believe in what they’re doing. So hopefully I’m right about that as we can surprise a lot of people.” If you last until 2014, Carlos, I think you could be right. But 2013? I think we’re all going to need some more patience.

  • George Altman

    The single biggest mistake Ricketts has made since day 1 was not using a move OUT of Wrigley Field as a real, viable option. Especially, if Ricketts ever wanted to leverage cooperation (e.g. landmark status, more night games, etc.) from the Mayor, Tunney, and Wrigleyville businesses and home owners. It’s not being a dick on his part…’s business. Nothing personal. For reasons I may never fathom, he never chose to do that.

    My fear is that a deal WILL get done, but it won’t have all the current elements Ricketts has envisioned with the $300M renovation. The Cubs NEED as many night games as they want to play, they NEED to replace that eyesore of a scoreboard, and they NEED in stadium advertising (like all 29 other parks). To have an asshat Alderman, self-absorbed local residents, and idiot rooftop owners holding an MLB franchise hostage over their own collective self-interests is galling.

    I have always advocated reducing Wrigley Field to 1,000 50 ft ‘Bomber’ truck demo loads, and building a Miller Park-replica anywhere from Gurnee to Lisle. It’s a pity Ricketts has never fully understood or been willing to use the negotiating tactic called leverage.

    • hansman1982

      “The single biggest mistake Ricketts has made since day 1 was not using a move OUT of Wrigley Field as a real, viable option.”

      You know the reason why there was never a nuclear exchange during the Cold War?

      No President or Premier wanted to be “That Guy” that pushed the button first.

      Tom Ricketts DOES NOT want to be that owner that moved the Cubs from Wrigley.

      • Tommy

        No Joe – not putting you in CF was the single biggest mistake Ricketts has made since day 1.

        • hansman1982

          Dude…that would have been Tony Campana EPIC!!!!

    • Dustin S

      I agree. Even if moving is highly unlikely, you have to use it as leverage. I guess what got me was the city underling laughing it off as an option. In the end it’s a decision for Ricketts whether to spend $300M on badly needed Wrigley improvements vs. ~$1B on a new stadium that also solves about 100 other problems including dealing with rooftops and the city. So the Cubs need to paint the choice more in that light, even if moving is extremely unlikely and it is for leverage. Every new dollar they put into Wrigley and Wrigleyville property just seems to be putting the Cubs more locked into a corner as far as the city and rooftops are concerned.

      I’m starting to feel a bit of the end of Spring Training bleh too. We’ll see if there are any last minute scrap heap pickups. It’s always interesting to see names pop up on the release list that were mentioned in trade rumors to the Cubs in the past few years (Chone Figgins, for example).

      • MichiganGoat

        If its highly unlikely then you have zero leverage. Just saying you’re going to move when no one believes you is not leverage. Ricketts gains nothing but negative press by publicly threatening to move. That’s why he isn’t going to do until things get much much worse (and I’m sure he will do it then).

    • MichiganGoat

      How is the scoreboard an eyesore? I can kind of understand why some people want to remove/move it because a new jumbotron scoreboard would dramatically increase revenue. But how can you be a Cub fan and actually not feel joy everytime you see that amazing scoreboard that reminds us of a day when baseball was simpler. There’s poetry in Wrigley and it all centers around that scoreboard. I promise you anything that replaces that scoreboard will be a greater eyesore. I know that more advertising is coming and I know it is necessary to remain competitive, but how can you be a Cub fan and not want your kids to see the same beauty their grandparents and great-great-great grandparents saw when they went to Wrigley. I’m not a traditionalist but I’m a Cub fan and the scoreboard, ivy, and marquee are the three things I hope never go away.

      • MightyBear

        The Goat is waxing poetic. I like that. Is it the beer? I hope not. I can see it now William Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson, William Butler Yeats and………MichiganGoat!!

        • mudge

          I heard a Goat buzz when I died

        • MichiganGoat

          I do teach English – although it’s in a struggling middle school so my knowledge of poetic (my minor was in poetry) has dimishes so whenever I can wax poetically I like to.

      • John S.

        The scoreboard would be better if it could show all the games on it. As it is now, it can’t even show all the NL teams on it. True, my son and I have fun playing “Who’s not on the Board Today,” but come on! You can’t tell me there’s no way to keep the structure, clock and flags and still bring it into the 21st century so all the scores and more can be shown.

    • frank

      I actually see a Jumbotron as an eyesore. I know it’s a necessity these days, and they serve a purpose for advertising, replays, etc. but the “show time” aspect of a Jumbotron annoys me.

  • Tommy

    “I had a couple other choices where I could’ve been, and I chose here because I believe in what they’re doing.”

    Nice quote from Villanueva, though I think the biggest reason he’s in Chicago has to do with the largest contract offer. (see how I didn’t use the word ‘but’ there. eh, though is the same thing anyway, isn’t it?)

    Either way, I hope it works out for both sides!

    GO CUBS!

  • MichiganGoat

    The girlfriend does not exist at least that’s what everyone is hoping for

    • MightyBear

      You know those Notre Dame guys like to make stuff up.

  • Clark Addison

    Rogers’ criticism of Poznansi’s writing is like a Yugo criticizing a Porsche.

  • cubfanincardinalland

    I think that is the sign of the apocalypse, when Phil Rogers starts critiquing his fellow writers of prose.

  • MightyBear

    MLBTR mentions David DeJesus as a trade candidate with KC. They say the Royals are looking for a left handed hitting outfielder to platoon with Francoer. Do the Royals have andy 3b that are close to major league ready in their system? They could trade DeJesus and put Sappelt in CF until Jackson is ready.

    • bails17

      No…not really. Either way…DD is not going to net a “close to MLB ready” type prospect. Best be would be a couple of lower level, high upside type guys IMO.

    • Kyle

      This rumor has popped up a few times this offseason and it makes so much sense, I’m a little surprised it hasn’t happened yet. This is one of the few, truly obvious fits on both sides that I’ve seen from a trade rumor this year. DeJesus is almost superfluous for us and would help the Royals a ton.

      Supposedly, we want one of their younger relief pitchers for him.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        The problem might be that the Royals have a bizarre love for Franceour. (Of course, he is [or was] a darling of a certain segment of the “old school”: but even they have got to have figured out that he is awful by now!)

        • Kyle

          There’s just got to be an outfield trade coming. We’ve got four guys who are borderline starting quality and a very good platoon guy out there. That’s an inefficiency that this front office surely can’t stand when they could get some excess value out of it elsewhere.

          It becomes even more of a logjam when you decide you want to give Brett Jackson his next chance. In fact, I can’t help but notice that Brett Jackson hasn’t been cut yet, right? Hmm….

          • DocPeterWimsey

            Oh, I agree. But just because you haven’t had a date in a year, it does not mean that one is coming! As you note, the KC trade makes sense to us, but KC has done a few things over the last couple of years that didn’t make a lot of sense to many people. What the Cubs need is a team that has a chance to contend, but really has a black-hole (a la the Cubs in the OF last year!) where one of these guys offers a good chance of markedly improving the teams run-differential even if he is not spectacular himself.

            I’m sort of drawing blanks there, but that might be because the coffee and amphetamines haven’t kicked in yet this afternoon….

            • Kyle

              I think KC *is* that team. They are going for it and they may be dumb, but they have to know the hole they have in the outfield.

              (And honestly, I don’t think they are dumb).

              • DocPeterWimsey

                They’ve done some smart things and some dumb things over the last couple of years: and in all probability, the only decision that anybody will remember in 5 years time will be dealing Myers. But they do have a blind spot where Franceour is concerned, for whatever reasons, and that might be why they just do not see him as a hole.

          • George Altman

            Since Brett Jackson is an ‘auto-renewal’ player with previous MLB service time, there was no rush to option him prior to 3/16 (like Lake) despite his recent shoulder soreness. Lake now can be paid at his minor league ‘split’ salary while he is on the Iowa DL and accrues no MLB service time.

            Jackson is going to accrue service time and would have to be put on the MLB DL if he is unable to start the season healthy at Iowa. Therefore, no need to formally option him until the end of spring training.

  • fromthemitten

    not gonna lie unless I was dating Allison Brie or Marina and the Diamonds I’d totally dump my gf to make the Cubs rotation

    • MichiganGoat

      You mean you’d dump your inflatable gf 😉

      • MightyBear

        LOL That wasn’t poetry but it was funny.

  • Die hard

    If Theo had any loyalty he would left that part out

  • Jono

    Im surprised no one is questioning samardzija’s sexual orientation

    • N8theGr8

      Had he said that he would dump his boyfriend to make the rotation, then just maybe.

  • Tommy

    I still can’t spell the guys name.

  • August

    “Cut-the-Mullet” to make the rotation. That would have denoted seriousness.