Well, Carrie Muskrat has opened up the old mailbag to answer Cubs fans’ “burning questions.” I wonder how long it took her to sort through all the fan mail before getting to the really meaty questions, like this one:
How many World Series have the Cubs been in? I know they last won in 1908 and were last in the series in 1945. My dad says that the Cubs were really good a long time ago. I’m hoping Piniella takes them there again. Thanks.
— Zack V., 9 years old, Tampa, Fla.
The Muskrat responded as follows:
The Cubs have played in 10 World Series (1906, 1907, 1908, 1910, 1918, 1929, 1932, 1935, 1938 and 1945), and have won twice (1907, ’08), beating the Tigers both times.
Here would have been my response:
Listen, kid. I know you’re only 9, but I have two pieces of advice for you: (1) Google. Figure out what it is and how to use it. (2) You’ve only wasted 9 years of your life so far. That’s less than 1/3 of the amount of life I’ve wasted rooting for this horsesh#t team. Do yourself a favor and ask Santa for a Twins jersey.
I was really disappointed that the Cubs did not hire Joe Girardi as their manager. What do the Cubs see in Lou Piniella that they don’t see in Joe?
— Nick M., Norman, Okla.
Experience. A proven winner. Someone who understands the importance of the whole organization, top to bottom, from the scouts to player development to the big-league level. Not to say Girardi didn’t, but Piniella impressed Cubs GM Jim Hendry on that topic.
I would have said:
Sentence fragment. Cliched sentence fragment. You want a job from Jim Hendry? Two words: Krispy Kremes. It worked for Rusch, Neifi, and Macias, and it’s still working for Rothschild.
Muskrat continues polluting the internet, as half the reading population has already surfed back to its regularly-scheduled pornography.
How good are the Cubs’ chances of landing A-Rod? And if acquired, would he play shortstop or third base?
— Erik P., Dyersville, Iowa
Carrie responds as follows:
The Alex Rodriguez rumor was prompted by Piniella’s hire, and both Piniella and Hendry say that the Yankee third baseman’s name never came up in their talks. It wasn’t a package deal. As to whether the Cubs will try to deal for Rodriguez … he’s pretty expensive. A-Rod is owed $108 million over the next four years, and his contract includes a complete no-trade clause, so any deal would have to be approved by him. The Cubs might want to spread that money around, because they have other issues to address — see the next question.
A-Rod is pretty expensive? I didn’t realize that, so I Googled “Alex Rodriguez salary” and I only got 438,000 links. Thanks, Carrie! I like how Carrie suggests that the Cubs are going to “spread around” their A-Rod money. I don’t want to ruin the surprise for you, but here is how the $108M (which, by the way, is an irresponsibly inaccurate amount, as Texas is still on the hook for a good chunk of that money) the Cubs could pay A-Rod over 4 years is going to be spent:
- Cubs fail to get a deal done with Aramis Ramirez. Sign Edgardo Alfonzo. ($6.5M)
- Hendry decides Dempster is not the answer at closer (+5 GM points). Signs Antonio Alfonseca (-100 GM points). ($4.0M)
- Goodbye, Hank White! Welcome back, Paul Bako! ($3M)
- Didn’t Gary Bennett hit a big grand slam this year, or something? ($5M)
- Gotta replenish the Jeromy Burnitz retirement fund. ($7M)
- Bruce Chen finds the one team he hasn’t yet been on. ($6M)
- Ramon Martinez is available… ($4M)
- Christ, so is Shawn Estes. ($6M)
- And Latroy Hawkins. ($8M)
- And Todd Hollandsworth. ($5.5M)
- Cubs bring back Nomar, who promptly breaks wrist signing contract, out for season. ($11M)
- Jason Grimsley has always been around pretty good players. I wonder why that is? ($5M)
- We can get Jerry Hairston the Lesser back, and then it will be like we got Nevin for nothing, which is exactly what he was worth! ($5M)
- Juan Pierre will get a healthy raise after collecting a worthless 200 hits after the Cubs were 28 games under .500. ($9M)
- Hendry makes his “big” free agent pitching addition! Jason Marquis! ($12M)
- Finally, the Cubs squirrel away the remaining $11M so they can “make a big move” at the “trade deadline” if they’re “in contention.” The Cubs do make a move at the trade deadline, despite being 18 games behind the Cardinals, trading Rich Hill for Sidney Ponson.
Don’t worry, Erik. The Cubs won’t be getting A-Rod. After all, they can’t keep Cesar Izturis off the field, can they? He was traded for a future Hall of Famer! That means he’s good, right? Anyhow, let’s see what Jeff C. says.
I’ve been reading about how the Tribune Co. is planning on beefing up the payroll by trying to make a few big offseason moves. Some of the names I’m hearing are A-Rod, Carlos Lee, Alfonso Soriano, Jason Schmidt and even Ichiro Suzuki. I’d like to know our realistic chances of landing a name like Ichiro or Soriano, and what it would take from the Cubs to get a player like that.
— Jeff C., Aurora, Ill.
Carrie tells Jeff, who clearly is unfamiliar with the Cubs, the following:
Hendry says that he’ll get an increase in payroll, he just doesn’t know how much. It may depend on the players. The Cubs have some holes — they need starting pitching and another good hitter. Piniella, his staff, the scouts, and the player development and baseball operations people will gather on Nov. 6 for their organization meetings to figure out who they want to focus on this offseason. Last year they targeted Scott Eyre and Bob Howry, and got both.
Not even Carrie can shine this turd. Let’s see. Outside of Zambrano and (possibly) Rich Hill, the Cubs need some starting pitching. Yep. All they need is 60% of a rotation. As long as they get Barry Zito, Jason Schmidt, and 2003 Mark Prior, they might win 80 games! It’s obviously going to happen, since they were able to land Bobby Howry and Scott Eyre last year! What a coup! Fortunately, they only need “one hitter” according to Carrie. That’s true. Unfortunately, that one hitter is Ted Williams. Carrie, we have terrible or unknown players at the following positions: CF, RF, SS, 2B, SP3, SP4, SP5, closer. That’s almost 33% of the starting roster that needs to be replaced, and oh, by the way, every single one of our backup players sucks ass. A Cubs increase in payroll comforts me about as much as nuclear testing in North Korea.
Are you worried about Larry Rothschild being the pitching coach? Not one pitcher has gotten progressively better since 2001. Bringing Rothschild back, it’s hard to see us having any of our great young pitchers turn into anything over the next three years.
— Ty D., Omaha, Neb.
I just went ahead and edited Carrie’s response for her, since her copy editor missed some key factual errors.
knows that he’s has never been held accountable. Tigers manager Jim Leyland liked Rothschild so much, he wanted him to come to Detroit and offered a three-year deal. Of course, Leyland also batted Neifi leadoff for a good chunk of time this year. Piniella gave Rothschild his first blowjob in the big leagues in 1990 with the Reds. As for progress, Carlos Zambrano has gone from a young reliever to the ace of the Cubs’ rotation, largely because he can’t speak English and fortunately doesn’t understand a goddamn word that Rothschild says. Rich Hill showed improvement a terrible dropoff in his ability since he didn’t get coached at all when he got from his first callup to his second stint. You can ‘t blame Rothschild for Mark Prior getting sideswiped by Marcus Giles in 2003 or taking a line drive off his elbow, since you’d probably rather blame his soggy old ass than God.
Here’s a depressing question for you:
Since the St. Louis Cardinals are in the World Series with an 83-78 record, I was wondering what team had the worst record and won the World Series.
— Richard D., Columbia, Ky.
In case everyone needed a reminder of how wide open the National League was this year, there it is. The Cardinals go 5 games over .500 and are tied 1-1 in the World Series. What a shame that the Cubs couldn’t wait to get out of spring training and crap the bed for 162 games.
I just read a quote that said, “Hendry finally interviewed former Cubs second baseman Ryne Sandberg over dinner in Chicago and stressed he was looking for a manager with experience. Sandberg’s next task is to gain the necessary experience.” My question is, will that experience be gained via the Cubs in Spring Training or will he go elsewhere? Ryno is great, and the best player the Cubs have ever had, in my opinion. I want him to stay within the Cubs family.
— J.B., Nashville, Tenn.
Carrie inadvertently indicts Hendry:
I think Sandberg will be back in the Cubs camp this spring. He was a surprise candidate for the top job. Hendry didn’t know the former second baseman and Hall of Famer was interested until the last minute.
J.B., do you honestly think the Cubs would let a Hall of Famer go elsewhere early in his career and have an amazing career with another organization? I don’t know where you would get such an idea. No organization could be that stupid. And, Mr. Hendry, can you please get off your dead ass and do some actual work? First, Nevin and Maddux had to trade themselves away from your disaster of a clubhouse, and now you fail to realize that one of the best players in Cub history, whose number you see hanging from a flagpole 81 times a year and who practically begged for the job, was interested?
Juan Pierre said that he wanted a manager who likes to run, and I was wondering if Lou “likes to run.” What are the chances of re-signing Pierre?
— Andy B., Muncie, Ind.
Carrie spills this answer onto her keyboard:
Piniella does like to run — Ichiro stole 56 bases in 2001 for the Mariners under Piniella. But Pierre is a free agent for the first time and might take advantage of that and test the market.
Carrie, sweetheart, if Lou Piniella was telling Ichiro when and when not to run, the Cubs are even worse off than I thought. There are certain people who should have the all-time “steal whenever the hell you want to steal” sign. Ichiro is one of those people. Juan Pierre, who steals on speed alone and is, in fact, a terrible base stealer, is not. Pierre back in a Cubs uniform next year will be almost as ugly a sight as Piniella and Rothschild.
When will the Spring Training schedule be released, and are the Cubs going to play in Las Vegas again?
— Dan C., Las Vegas
Carrie “answers” this question, I guess.
I don’t know about Vegas, and I don’t have a date for the schedule. The Cubs didn’t release the 2006 spring schedule until early January.
Why in the name of God did you choose to answer this question, then? I have some advice for Dan C., if he makes it to Vegas. Pick the Cubs to finish 5th in the NL Central. Go ahead and put your mortgage on it.
It seems to me that the Cubs always managed to get two quick outs, but most of the damage was done with two outs. Is there any way to find out how many runs Cubs pitchers gave up with two outs as opposed to one or no outs?
— Ryan T., LaGrange Park, Ill.
Carrie is good with statistics, as long as they are only “counting” statistics and don’t involve any sort of calculations. Observe.
Cubs pitchers gave up 321 runs with two outs, second-highest in the National League (the Nationals were first, serving up 334 runs with two outs). For a point of reference, the San Diego Padres (244), St. Louis Cardinals (250) and New York Mets (268), all playoff teams this year, gave up the fewest number of runs with two outs.
The Cubs ranked eighth in the NL in runs given up with one out (305), and were second to the Cincinnati Reds in serving up runs with no outs (208 runs). Overall, Cubs pitchers were second in the NL in runs allowed, behind the Nationals.
She could have saved time by just saying, “Yes. It’s called ‘The Internet,’ you jackass, and if I could find it, you should be ashamed of yourself for not being able to do so.”
I heard that the Cubs attendance was somewhere around 3 million. What was the highest annual attendance for a team that finished in last place? I have a feeling it might be the Cubs.
— John P., Jackson, Miss.
Carrie excitedly gets to talk about more counting stats!
The 1993 Colorado Rockies hold the distinction of drawing the most fans for a last-place team. The Rockies drew 4,483,350 fans that season despite a 67-95, sixth-place finish. Four teams that drew 3 million fans won fewer than 66 games: the 1993 Marlins (64-98), the 1994 Rockies (53-64 in strike-shortened year), the 1998 Diamondbacks (65-97) and the 2001 Orioles (63-98).
The Cubs’ final 2006 attendance was 3,123,215, second-highest in franchise history.
Carrie. You forgot the word “paid” in your assessment of the attendance. Wasn’t the actual attendance at the games embarrassingly bad in the last few weeks? If you were a good reporter trying to answer this question honestly, shouldn’t you report what the concession sales were like, since that’s probably a far more accurate representation of the actual attendance?
Well, I’ve pissed myself off enough for one day. I’m looking forward to the next insightful entry in the “How the hell am I a sports reporter?” contest!