The Economics of the Cubs Dodgers Deal

If the buzz leading up to the trade that sent Ted Lilly, Ryan Theriot, and cash to the Dodgers for Wallach, Smit, and DeWitt, the primary snag prolonging the negotiations was the matter of just how much if any cash should be smuggled along with Lilly’s things. The number everyone was throwing around was $4 million. Ignoring the talent of the various pieces being swapped, I wanted to look at how much the Cubs are saving by making this deal.

I don’t know how anyone ascertains exactly how much is left on a player’s deal, but looking at the regular season alone, the Cubs had about 36% of their games left to play. I know that’s not perfect, but it’s close enough for me: it would leave Lilly with $4.37 million remaining on his contract and Theriot with $947 thousand (MLB Trade Rumors put them at $4.24 million and $918K). Like I said, it’s not perfect, but I’m okay with that margin of error for the sake of argument.

What I do know is that a lot of Cubs fans really liked Ted Lilly and/or Ryan Theriot, and the idea of jettisoning them to LA for a younger version of Theriot and paying the Dodgers to take Lilly strikes many fans as Hendriotic. But it’s not quite that simple or depressing.

The Cubs will pay the Dodgers $2.5 million and (by my crude calculations) pay Blake DeWitt less than $150,000 for the remainder of this year (and a cost-controlled salary for the foreseeable future); the two prospects will also cost the Cubs a negligible amount. That’s the money the Cubs have to say goodbye to as a result of the deal: $2.7 million or so.

Even using the slightly reduced numbers for Lilly and Theriot’s remaining contracts (about $5.16 million), that relieves the Cubs of about $2.6 million of payroll. Yes, it could potentially cost the Cubs the two compensatory draft picks they would have received if they had offered Lilly arbitration and lost him on the free agent market (or they’ll have to yield picks of their own if Hendry re-signs him). But there’s no guarantee Hendry would have offered Lilly arbitration.

As it is, the Cubs have an extra $2.6 million or so heading into next offseason. Obviously it would be best spent on the first of three installments paid an overpriced and injury-prone free-agent outfielder’s signing bonus, but we can only hope that dream comes to fruition.

I’ve really just wasted my time on this, haven’t I?

Kerry Wood Is a Yankee

The Yankees adding Kerry Wood to their bullpen greatly increases his chances of getting a World Series ring, though I don’t know that it does much to increase the Yankees’ already solid chances of doing so this year. Best of luck, Kerry. I wish this was your attempt at a 2nd ring, but . . . yeah.

I believed then. I believe now, he’ll finally be a champion, though no more responsible for it than Joe Girardi.

Lilly and Theriot to Become Dodgers, Cubs get Blake DeWhatnow?

UPDATE II: It’s Kyle Smit, not Smith and Brett Wallach, not Walch. I interpreted Smit’s name as an abbreviation and Walch as the entire name . . . got those two mixed up.

UPDATE: Jayson Stark is saying the Cubs will, along with Blake DeWitt, receive minor leaguers Brett Walch & Kyle Smith, and the Cubs will pay $2.5 million of Lilly’s remaining $4 million in salary. I feel it’s my duty to pretend to care, and I’ll update when I muster up enough feigned emotion to do so.

About a million people are tweeting that the Cubs and Dodgers have completed a deal sending Lilly and Theriot to LA in exchange for infielder Blake DeWitt and prospects. I’ll update when it becomes officially official.

Sometimes You Just Have to Laugh

The Chicago Cubs are a professional baseball team. In the majors.

The best news for the Cubs on Friday was that Carlos Zambrano got hugged.

The best news for Cubs fans on Friday was that Jim Hendry knows they suck and has for quite some time.

The second best news for Cubs fans (and it was a hard-luck runner up) is that several teams (all of them in the NL West, for some reason) have interest in Ryan Theriot. Being on their team. I know, right?

The Cubs haven’t won a World Series since the year the Baseball Writers Association of America was founded (1908). Think I’m jaded against the beat writers? Now you know why.


The Artist’s Cafe on Michigan Ave. in Chicago has a Crispy Fried Chicken Platter that comes with french fries and onion rings.

The leading candidate in the 2011 managerial search is Gallagher.

This is the absolute worst time to trade Carlos Zambrano.

I like hearing all the trade rumors. It’s like playing “let’s pretend the Cubs have different players,” but without having to watch them actually play.

Before you complain about paying over $250 so your family can watch the Cubs lose in person, consider that the Ricketts family paid $845 million.

I’m no fan of raging alcoholic rowdiness at Wrigley, but isn’t curtailing alcohol sales to Cubs fans like taking away anesthesia during heart surgery?

Andrew Cashner needs to go back to the starting rotation. In Iowa. Right now. No offense.

The Cubs bullpen.

The Ted Lilly as Chuck Norris meme has this going for it: the Cubs are as unwatchable as any movie or television show starring Chuck Norris.

It’s not all that much more fun writing about the Cubs than it is watching them. But I can’t complain. I mean, I can complain about the Cubs, but I won’t complain about writing about them because . . . well, because I’m lying. Complaining about the Cubs is a lot more fun than watching them lose.

If the worst of your problems is being a Cubs fan, you live a charmed existence.

George Ofman Joins Us for a Trade Deadline Edition of WTF

WGN’s George Ofman took a break from fielding the calls from angry/delusional Cubs fans to call into our sarcastic corner of Cubdom on Wrigley Talk Friday with Julie from LOHO and Tim from Aisle 424. He had some intriguing perspectives on the Cubs’ next manager, the return of Carlos Zambrano, and recent developments from the talks between the Cubs and Dodgers about a deal that would send Ted Lilly and Ryan Theriot to the land of Mannywood. Two big shockers: the Cubs have known they were out of it as long as we have, and Hendry had a chance to pull the trigger on a deal that would have sent Ryan Dempster to La-La Land. Listen in the sidebar player or here.

Many thanks to George, who blogs on That’s All She Wrote and tweets under his eponymous handle.  Kudos to Julie for bringing in a steady stream of great guests, including next week’s guest, former Cub Doug Glanville. Stay tuned!

Reserve Your Cubs World Series Tickets Now!

This is the year! Seriously. Kind of.

Major League Baseball has a brand new innovation this year that makes it possible for even us lowly Cubs fans to reserve our place in line for World Series tickets . . . in 2010! I wish I was kidding. Well, I wish I wasn’t being sarcastic about not kidding.

For the low, low price of $20 ($10 for NLDS and $15 for NLCS) any fan can reserve the opportunity to buy World Series tickets at the home ballpark of his or her choosing (plus a $1 per order transaction fee, because it wouldn’t be MLB if they didn’t charge you for the convenience of buying the right to buy something).  So you can go right now and be assured that if the Cubs make the World Series, you’ll have a chance to buy a ticket at face value. No strings attached. No chance in hell attached, either, but that’s your gamble.

As Cubs fans, this is a joke. I mean, this year, this is an absolute waste of money. Had the playoffs not been a (crack) pipe dream since mid-June, it would be a nice opportunity to avoid the scalpers and get a real shot at playoff tickets with an additional surcharge as small as $10 per ticket.

But if you’re an enterprising mind, and you don’t mind going piecemeal at 2 tickets per household, nothing’s stopping you from buying the right to postseason tickets to any other team. Might as well buy reservations for White Sox World Series tickets. Or Cardinals, Reds, or any other rival whose fans you’d like to skewer with delicious price gauging.

This is all in theory, of course. I’m not advising anyone of doing anything unethical. But hypothetically, I know some good victims. Actually, there are probably Cubs fans who, as you read, are getting swindled into reserving seats for their place in history. Might as well make your money, too.

UPDATE: Be sure to check out Tim McGinnis’s take as a season-ticket holder over at Tales from Aisle 424.

Article | First Things: The Perfect Game

Article | First Things: The Perfect Game:

“These—and I shall close on this thought—are the great moral lessons that only a game with baseball’s long season and long history and dramatic intensity can impress on the soul: humility, long-suffering, dauntless love, and inexhaustible faith in the face of invincible misfortune. I could no more abandon my Orioles than I could repudiate my family, or my native heath, or my own childhood—even though I know it is a devotion that can now bring only grief. I know, I know: Orioles fans have not yet suffered what Boston fans suffered for more than twice the term of Israel’s wanderings in the wilderness, or what Cubs fans have suffered for more than a century; but we have every reason to expect that we will. And yet we go on. The time of tribulation is upon us, and we now must make our way through its darkness, guided only by the waning lights of memory and the flickering flame of hope, not knowing when the night will end but sustained by the sacred assurance that whosoever perseveres to the end shall be saved.”

If you thought I took baseball seriously (I do) or that the fans kind enough to comment here feel strongly about the Cubs (they do) you should read this description of baseball as the perfect game. (h/t to my Russian friend, Elena, to whom I taught everything I could about baseball and who taught me everything I know about the Russian language)


Bracelets always help make decisions easier.

Derrek Lee exercised his no-trade clause to void a deal that would have sent him to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, California Past the Second Hot-Dog Stand. He told reporters that he agonized over the decision, but ultimately decided to stay with the Cubs for the remainder of the year because it’s better for his family to do so.

Doug Glanville recently posted his thoughts on just how hard it is on a ballplayer to change teams midyear, and I’m sure there’s a lot of truth to that. But what if there wasn’t? What if it were simply a change of wardrobe and an increased chance of winning? If you were in Derrek Lee’s place, and changing teams had absolutely no effect on you outside the world of baseball, would you do it?

Because that’s exactly the scenario facing every Cubs fan in the world. Switching teams would be painless. I could become an Angels fan right now, and the only thing it would cost me would be the price of a new hat, some t-shirts, and the pro-rated deal to watch the remaining Angels games on Seriously, I could turn this into an Angels blog overnight or whatever team I choose.

You could do it, too. If you want to trade yourself to the Yankees, here’s the Replacement Level Yankees Weblog to get you started. Become a fan, enjoy the wins, and put the mock-agony that is being a Cubs fan in your rearview mirror. You’re welcome.

Don’t bother telling me how different it is, because I’ve already established that it’s a lot different. It’s harder on a baseball player to switch teams. It would be easy for you. That’s how it’s different. Yet you still don’t want to do it. Actually, if you have, I won’t hold the decision against you any more than I blame Derrek Lee for not switching teams.

I’d like to know, now that the Astros have tossed yet another shovelful of dirt onto the Cubs’ coffin, will you switch teams for a shot at cheering for a winner? Put on the bracelet and decide, and then get back to me with your thoughts on Derrek Lee’s much tougher choice.

Zambrano Fails to Apologize to Starving Children

When do they get their dinner, Carlos? And when do they get their apology?

I said yesterday that Carlos Zambrano said all the right things in his apology to the fans and his general statement that everything about his dugout tirade was wrong, but that was before I had all the facts. It has since come out that Zambrano has yet to apologize to the Cubs as a congregation. He hasn’t even embroidered all his shirts and jerseys with the scarlet A for Anger as ordered by Pastor Morrissey.

Sure, Zambrano has apologized to players individually, but what about the team as a whole? What about the Wrigley Field ambassadors? What about the children? Never mind the convenient fact that Zambrano has been separated from the Cubs by an average of 1,000 miles since he was suspended. That doesn’t change the fact that he’s apologizing in the absolute wrong order.

The first person he needed to apologize to was obvious, but whether he did that or not is between him and DeRosa. After that, he should have apologized to Derrek Lee. Okay, he did that, too, but only once? Another 99 are in order, and they should all be in public and/or under the supervision of a priest. Next comes his teammates, coaches, agents, and every innocent bystander.

Next he should have apologized to the media, starting with the white guys. Sullivan, Morrisey, Telander, Wittenmyer, Kaplan: these guys feared for their lives when Zambrano’s rage boiled over. No, he didn’t hurt anybody—this time—but he looked like he wanted to. The fact that he made his apology in an interview with Pedro Gomez won’t be lost on them. You could cut the racial tension with a knife, which is exactly what the Chicago sports media is afraid of.

But the most overlooked group on Zambrano’s apology waiting list, with its chronology screwed up beyond even Quentin Tarantino’s comprehension, are the millions of starving children around the world. While they looked on in horror, the biggest, whiniest, most spoiled child of them all went out to dinner with the manager of the opposing team. Zambrano stuffed his petulant face with dinner, completely deaf to the rumbling empty stomachs of those less fortunate than himself.

But himself is all Zambrano thinks about. He’s sorry. He was wrong. He is embarrassed by his actions. He is trying to improve the way he handles his anger. Selfish, racist, diva. This apology was all about him. The families of the victims of the Hindenburg disaster? Never even crossed Zambrano’s mind.

Zambrano: I’m Sorry, Cubs Fans

Carlos Zambrano is sorry, and he wants the world to know. The statements he made (quoted in that ESPN Chicago article) are pretty much exactly what people are looking for from a guy after an embarrassing episode. The video is more an apology to the fans, which, again, is exactly what the Cubs organization is expecting from Zambrano.
They’re also expecting him to pitch better, so we can only hope there’s some connection between his composure in general and his abilities on the mound. I’ve always doubted that to be true, but I hope I’m wrong. Will writing in his anger journal every time he gets mad really help him locate his cutter?
Hey, maybe it will. No one who watches the Cubs with any interest can deny that emotional investment in this team has its share of physiological effects. Fans get nervous during games, so players undoubtedly do too. The difference in most professional athletes, or any public performer for that matter, is that they can harness the nervous energy as a catalyst, propelling them to even better levels of performance than they would otherwise achieve. That’s why we cheer, isn’t it, to provoke such a response? 
Anger isn’t usually so beneficial, but it can be. Vin Scully has said that Jackie Robinson played better when he was angry. His vitriolic reaction to the hatred he faced fueled his performance without causing him to explode. Most human beings don’t respond that way, but some do (my only other example is Wesley Snipes in White Men Can’t Jump, so I’ll move on). I don’t think anyone suspects Zambrano of being one of those rare exceptions, at least not anymore. 
From what Zambrano is saying, much to the pleasure of Jim Hendry and the rest of the Cubs’ front office (and potential trade partners, I suppose), he’s taking his anger management therapy seriously and views it in a positive light. Some people, with Ron Santo as their most vocal leader, think Zambrano’s anger and lack of composure is the only thing stopping him from being an all-world pitcher. If they’re right, the next couple of months should be a lot of fun to watch.