Should the Cubs Try to Sign Albert Pujols? The Insiders Answer.

The question is simple. Should the Cubs try to acquire Albert Pujols in light of the negotiating deadline in his rear-view mirror? He’s reportedly asking for something in the neighborhood of $300 million over 10 years. That’s a really nice neighborhood. Anyway, I asked this question to a group of Cubs insiders to get their opinions, and here are their answers:

Carrie Muskat, Pujols is under contract with the Cardinals. Making an offer now would be tampering.

Paul Sullivan, Chicago Tribune: Yeah, the Cubs need to give $30-million contracts to more old guys.

Phil Rogers, Chicago Tribune: Only if they can sign Tony LaRussa as well and trade the Wrigley Building for the Gateway Arch. But it’s unclear whether St. Louis would go for that.

Rick Morrissey, Chicago Sun-Times: I’ll answer that question with another question: would you trade Flintstone vitamins for anabolic steroids? Would you plant an old, overripe watermelon in the ground and use a falsified birth certificate for fertilizer? Do you read my column instead of prescription drug warning labels? I’m not saying he’s juicing and lying about his age and doomed to suck. I’m just saying.

Rick Reilly, ESPN: Signing Albert Pujols to a $300 million contract would be riskier than tightroping across the Grand Canyon on the final thread of talent still remaining in Alfonso Soriano’s career.

Bruce Levine, ESPN Chicago: Should they sign the best player in baseball? Of course. But can they? The last I heard, the Ricketts family had to ask to borrow money just to clean the bathrooms at Wrigley.


Steve Rosenbloom, Chicago Tribune: Do the Cubs need another overpaid diva from another country? The question answers itself.

David Kaplan, WGN Radio: Albert Pujols is the best in the business. If you have a shot to bring him to the North Side, you take it. I want a World Series for the Cubs as much as anybody, and no one can ensure that that happens better than Jose Alberto Pujols. And when Prince Albert hoists the World Series trophy in the parade through Wrigleyville, and he needs a new best friend to share the moment with? I’ll be there.

Editor’s note: the following contributors did not return requests for comments. Answers were supplied on their behalf: Carrie Muskat, Paul Sullivan, Phil Rogers, Rick Morrissey, Rick Reilly, Bruce Levine, Judd Sirott, Steve Rosenbloom, David Kaplan

What Was Ailing Aramis?

That Charlie Horse is a beast to get to.

In the latest (and as I recall only) episode of Aramis Ramirez‘ True Confessions, the secret of the abominable first half that plagued the Cubs’ 3rd baseman and emasculated the Chicago offense came to light . . . kind of. Aramis Ramirez was hurt, but he’s not going into details.

I’m not going to say specifically what it was, but I wasn’t healthy. . . . Not only the thumb, just injuries in general. I wasn’t healthy, put it that way. It’s tough enough to play when you’re healthy.

I’m not denying Ramirez was hurt, but I’m deeply troubled by his simultaneous transparency and secrecy. If he had never said anything about it, I wouldn’t care, but since Aramis brought it up, I need specifics. And since he’s not going to say what was holding him back, I have no choice but to come up with my own diagnosis. Here are ten possibilities for what may have been holding Aramis back.

10. Ramirez is a nanosophobe, and his fear of dwarves crippled him until Ryan Theriot and Mike Fontenot were traded. Ramirez’ OPS before the Theriot trade: .700. Since: .830. Actually, that one’s so believable, I’m tempted to just stop right here. But I must press on.

9. He sneezed while stepping out of a hot tub after a long night of browsing the Internet. None of that actually hurt him, but after thinking about how his former teammates had been shelved by such mishaps, his sense of mortality overwhelmed him. Then he got better.

8. Jock itch.

7. He was pregnant. He hid it well as all pregnant men do, and then he delivered during his DL stint in June. After the understandable recovery period, he’s been hitting the snot out of the ball, all for his beautiful baby quadruplets.

6. He really hated how Lost ended. Every time he saw a baseball he thought of that one Samurai-looking Other who didn’t add a single shred of explanation to what was going on in that temple.

5. Enlarged testicle. As much as you may think guys like to brag about that, it’s not a source of pride when one of your grapes swells into a lemon, especially when you black out from pain every time you make lemonade.

4. Headaches. Not Percy Harvin migraines or anything, just like . . . caffeine headaches, you know? He switched to decaf (see #7) and really should have eased into it, because the sudden switch had his temples pounding. Well, not pounding exactly, just sort of a mild but incessant throbbing. It was worse when he stood up, so when he got in the batter’s box, he just wanted to sit down as fast as he could. Three strikes and it was sweet relief with a nice cold towel to the forehead back in the dugout.

3. He traded places with Jodie Foster one Friday after both of them had been complaining to one another about how much easier the other one had it. A magic spell allowed them to switch bodies (and lives). As it turns out, Jodie Foster can’t hit for crap. On the plus side, the level of understanding between Foster and Ramirez was heartwarming and hilarious.

2. He became addicted to prune juice and couldn’t take a full swing without . . . you know. After his two-hit, three-pair-of-pants performance on opening day, he had to choose between the juice and offense. And while he couldn’t hit with any regularity, he . . . well, you know.

1. Complications from the removal of a third nipple. It took months of counseling to convince him that his nubbinectomy didn’t rob him of his hitting mojo. Same thing happened to Koyie Hill. Some guys never recover.

Cubs Lose on Octuple Play

Official score on that play: 4-6-6-3-6-6-2-5-2

In what has to be the crowning achievement in the franchise’s legacy of fail, the Cubs dropped the final game in the four-game sweep at the hands of the Padres by grounding into a game-ending octuple play in the 7th inning. Cubs manager Lou Piniella was flummoxed.

“Look, I’ve been around a long time in baseball, and I’ve never seen anything like this. I don’t know what to say to these guys, I really don’t,” said the weary manager who was ejected and called out two thirds of the way through the play.

With the bases loaded and one out, Cubs second baseman Blake DeWitt hit a soft line drive that skipped in the dirt just before his Padres counterpart Jerry Hairston Jr. caught it. He flipped to short to retire Jeff Baker at second, but Tyler Colvin, who thought the line drive would be caught, was tagged out returning to second as well. The return throw beat DeWitt to first for the seemingly unnecessary fourth out of the inning, the third of what turned out to be eight on the play.

Then things got weird.

On third when the play started, Aramis Ramirez wandered out behind second base when something in the stands distracted him. His explanation for the embarrassing next out was vague at best.

“I saw something shiny out in left field. I don’t know. It was hot out there. I guess I just miss D-Lee. It’s hard being the only guy on the team who gets referred to by your first initial and the first syllable in your last name. A-Ram is sad. It helped a little to see the Riot, though.”

As Ramirez was tagged out, he was inexplicably joined by his former teammate Ryan Theriot. Theriot was in the starting lineup for his new team just seven hours later (in what turned out to be a masterful 2-hit shutout of the Rockies in LA).

“I just sensed there was going to be something special going on back here. I just heard about the whole TOOTBLAN stat, and I dig it,” said Theriot in reference to the Wrigleyville-created stat Thrown Out On The Basepaths Like A Nincompoop. “I can feel them coming, you know? Had to get mine. Great to see the guys again, too. You miss that when you leave.”

Theriot actually slid in right behind Colvin, but was trapped underneath the rookie, who thought Theriot was just “some kind of bug.” After laughing about the extra out at first, Adrian Gonzalez threw back to short when he saw Ramirez and Theriot congregating off second base.

“It was strange, you know? I was pretty sure we already had three outs, but I couldn’t hear the official call because the umpires were doubled over in laughter. I figured, better safe than sorry. It paid off.”

Ramirez and Theriot were both tagged out at second and offered no protest over the matter. The same couldn’t be said for Lou Piniella, who came sprinting out of the dugout to argue with home plate umpire D. J. Reyburn. He became so furious, he abruptly ended the argument and attempted to slide safely into home. The throw to catcher Yorvit Torrealba beat him. The catcher then fired a snap throw to pick coach Mike Quade, who had joined in the mock-baserunning protest, off of third base.

When the dust settled and the umpiring crew stopped laughing long enough to confer on a final decision, second-base ump Ed Hickox observed that the barrel of DeWitt’s bat had splintered in two, revealing a hallowed-out shaft filled with cork. He ruled DeWitt out a second time.

“We talked about it, and we figured a new inning had begun so that second out of his was fair game.”

According to crew chief Gary Cederstrom, the play technically carried into the 8th and 9th innings, citing rule 4.10(g) that states “The game shall end if a team a) shows blatant ignorance of the number of outs, the object of play, and the overall rules of the game, b) attempts to continue to advance along the base paths after three outs have completed an inning of play, c) records a sufficient number of outs so as to complete their allotted 27 outs per nine innings, and d) has scored fewer runs than the opposing team. If the score is tied or the opposing team has scored fewer runs than the offending team, the opposing team will be granted an extended inning consisting of the number of outs remaining from their allotted total.”

Lou Piniella has to be considering moving up his retirement date after this episode, a new low for the Cubs organization and a blemish on the otherwise stellar managerial career of the Cubs’ skipper. When asked if he would call this a Cubbie occurrence, he countered, “A Cubbie occurrence? Nah, this isn’t a Cubbie occurrence. That play, this season? It’s apocalyptic.”