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Friday Rumormongering

There's not a whole lot to say about the Cubs' 95th loss of the year (making this the fourth 95+ loss season since 1999) -- a rather boring 5-2 loss to the Rockies -- so let me get the juices flowing with two juicy rumors I heard this afternoon.

  • Though there was apparently a verbal agreement, as Will Carroll reported, between Aramis Ramirez and the Cubs on a new contract, the deal was never signed and it now appears that Ramirez is going to test the free agent waters. The verbal agreement apparently was made before Ramirez had his hot-hitting September.
  • One of the Cubs' top free-agent targets is going to be Gary Matthews, Jr. -- and he might be signed to play right field, if Juan Pierre is retained for CF, with Jacque Jones either platooning with Matt Murton in LF, or Jones moving full-time to LF and Murton placed on the trading block.
I pass these along with no judgments whatsoever. Well, one judgment. I am of two minds about retaining Ramirez. He's a monster of a hitter, no question about it, even with his slow starts. He's had a tremendous offensive season, and it would be difficult to replace his bat. But all of us have noticed his occasional lackadaisical attitude on the field and on the basepaths, and to retain him, Jim Hendry would have to tear up his deal and probably pay him in the range of $14 million a year for the next four years. Is that worth it? Maybe, IF the club is still willing to allocate money to sign a starting pitcher, and address other problems.

If Ramirez walks, I put the question to Dave, Jeff and Howard: how about signing Nomar Garciaparra (who is apparently going to be allowed to walk by the Dodgers) as a free agent to play 3B for a year or two while Scott Moore gets some needed Triple-A experience?

All three said "Absolutely!", and I agree. Nomar had a very solid offensive season this year, stayed (for the most part) healthy (played in 121 games), and based on the month he spent playing 3B here last year, could handle the position. In addition, it would be a VERY popular move among Cubs fans; Nomar did not leave under a cloud, no bridges were burned, and I keep seeing his Cub jersey being worn at the ballpark.

This is all food for thought, nothing more.

Len & Bob were in the LF bleachers today, broadcasting from the corner near the well (displacing the season-ticket-holder group that normally sits there), but seemed to have no impact at all. They sneaked up the set of stairs closest to the broadcast position, rather than the stairs behind us where most of the rest of the broadcast crew walked up and down several times. I had hoped to give Len & Bob BCB cards. I spotted Brenly wearing a goofy-colored bright green cap, apparently in an effort to "fit in".

Bob. Pal. Listen -- you're a former major league manager and a good broadcaster. You don't have to sit in the bleachers and look like a drunk frat boy. Just sayin'.

Just sayin' this too -- Carlos Zambrano had one of his bouts of wildness in the sixth inning, after throwing five very solid innings and going into the sixth with a 1-1 tie, and the two walks, one unintentional and one intentional, along with an error and a hit batsman with the bases loaded, allowed the Rockies to score three runs (only one earned) on no hits. So, Z finishes with a loss, a 3.41 ERA, and 210 strikeouts, which at this writing is second in the National League (Jake Peavy leads with 215).

As good a year as Z has had, that's not enough for the Cy Young Award -- it's likely to go to Brandon Webb, who will pitch Sunday in a game that could mean something in the playoff chase, and who might wind up leading the league in wins by himself (unless Derek Lowe also wins on Sunday). There were some complaints in the game thread comments about Z throwing 128 pitches in a game that was ultimately meaningless -- but in reality, now he has five months to rest, so I don't see that as being a huge problem, and by the time he next takes the mound, he will likely have both a new manager and new pitching coach, which ought to help cut down on his walks, at the very least.

Other than that and Ryan Theriot's three hits (raising his average to .336), there wasn't anything really significant to today's game... just another faceless loss in a seemingly endless string of faceless defeats.

It was cold today; Dave remarked that this September has been quite a bit colder than last year's was, and that has reflected the baseball mood, too. Game time temperature was 59, and of the announced 33,721, it seemed as if there were about 20,000 in the park, an impressive number considering:

  • the Cubs are sucking;
  • the weather was sucking;
  • the opponent was hardly a marquee draw.
Strange sight seen: a fan in the lower LF corner seats wearing a Marquis Grissom Montreal Expos jersey -- and a San Diego Padres cap. No, it wasn't Grissom himself.