A League of Her Own

Chicago Cubs Thursday Headlines: Cranky Outfielder, Free To Good Home

Two stranded vehicles sit on the side of Ridge Road just north of Route 126 in Plainfield,
Milton Bradley trade talks stalled


Milton Bradley's still a Cub, and there are no more mystery teams begging for his services? Where do we go from here?

Right now, the Tampa Bay Rays are still the most logical landing place for Bradley. They're also in the catbird seat, with no obligation to help the Cubs with salary relief on a contract that has two years and $21 million left.

Hendry tried to put on his bravest face Wednesday, one day before the winter meetings end.

"I didn't look at it today, to be honest with you," he said of the frantic coverage. "It is what it is. That's the world we live in. I think the last couple years, we always read a lot of rumors that were never even discussed. I'm sure this is the case, too. It's a slow-moving winter meetings so far, and everybody has a job to do, and I think even more so with speculation. People just run rampant with it, and that's just the world we live in.

"We came here prepared to look into two or three options to help our club."

And Bruce Miles finally gives us the skinny on the situation. At least as it stands now:


Other members of the media were kidding the Chicago press corps for being "used" by the Cubs yesterday. They said the Cubs used us to generate interest in Bradley that might not be there. There's a lot of using and being used in the baseball team-media game. One thing is true: There does not appear to be a market for Bradley, and the Cubs are doing everything they can to create one or create the illusion of one.


While the Milty talks have been all-consuming, there are a few other things on the back burner.


The Cubs have laid the groundwork to fill the other items on their wish list, which is finding a center fielder, an experienced right-handed reliever and some bench help. The team will have scouts in Arizona to watch J.J. Putz throw on the side this week. He's coming back from elbow surgery in June for bone spurs.

Hendry has checked the free agent market for outfielders, which include Mike Cameron, a favorite of Cubs manager Lou Piniella.

"The thing that we came into here a little differently than normal is that there wasn't as much volume to look into," Hendry said. "We've had Winter Meetings where we needed more than two or three pieces, no matter who we wanted to trade or not trade. We've looked into all kinds of options."



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74 Comments

millertime said:

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I had this horrible dream last night that the Cubs let Rich Harden (and his 3.39 career ERA, 1.23 WHIP) get away for only 7.5 million a year, when a guy like Randy Wolf just got around $9 mil a year deal for 3 years with his career 4.13 ERA and 1.31 WHIP.

--MGb said:

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What a scary dream. I had my usual bulldog in a tutu, so I think I win.

millertime said:

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So here is a fun question, who is our 5th starter now that Harden is gone?


Also, fun stat I found when I was looking up some of Harden's numbers:

In 2008, when we got him in the trade, his ERA+ was 259. Granted, it was only 12 games, but still. Harden has made 38 starts for the Cubs, and his ERA during that time has been 3.31.

JulieDiCaro said:

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Sadly, I think it's going to be Gorzelanny. Randy Wells is now our number 4.

GAH.

millertime said:

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The...horror. The...horror...

thisyearcub said:

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There's a rumor the Cubs are looking at Ben Sheets, who would make a nice No. 5 if healthy. Big if, but so is Harden.

gravedigger said:

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Can we just keep ilton and move on with the offseason?

JulieDiCaro said:

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Thank God for the Blackhawks right now, or I'd be out on a ledge.

lotus said:

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I'm laughing in that slightly insane way about having Gorzolanny be the starter to replace Harden. And bless him, I absolutely love Randy Wells, but I'm having flashbacks to Rich Hill. I'm not saying Randy is going to be Rich Hill; what I am saying is WE SHOULD HAVE KEPT HARDEN in our lineup.

JulieDiCaro said:

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I've been laughing in that slightly insane way for the last two days.

Uhhhhhhh.

Rich C said:

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The other side of the coin is that when you have a bullpen that was as absolutely horrific as the Cubs was last year, the last thing you need is a 5 inning pitcher. I'm not saying it's right, I'm only saying it had to be a consideration, and it's one I agree with.

JulieDiCaro said:

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Better a 5-inning pitcher than a 2-inning pitcher (Gorzelanny).

Rich C said:

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Believe me....I'm not lobbying for Tom Gorzelanny. In fact, quite the opposite. Rich Harden could have taken Carlos Marmol's place and I'd have been happy. The Cubs would have no problem trading Bradley (while getting a decent player or two in return) if Marmol were part of the deal, no?

The Braves are trying to unload Lowe or Vazquez, and either of them would look ok in a Cubs uniform. If the Cubs are going to unload Bradley and eat money doing it, why not try and work out a deal for Derek Lowe?

I swear...if I hear the name Luis Castillo again, I'm going to throw myself off a tall building.

millertime said:

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I actually haven't been able to get anything done the last couple days, cause all I've been doing is watch Auto Tune The News. Over and over again.

secdelahc said:

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Whereas I have been the most productive I've been all semester in the past few days.

JulieDiCaro said:

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I'm headed downtown. If the Cubs manage to do anything, someone email me?

secdelahc said:

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Be safe. It's pretty cold out there.

summerguy said:

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Kind of random:

A girl from my hometown just got asked out on a date by Randy Wells.

JulieDiCaro said:

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Is she willing to do an interview?

PJ Brown said:

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I'm not thrilled about Harden either. I understand not wanting to get stuck in arbitration, but given that this team paid 7 or more for Jason Marquis, letting Harden walk for 7.5 short term is an ouchy, a real ouchy.

JulieDiCaro said:

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Especially since we gave the very average John Grabow $4 million!

Proggy said:

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Maybe. But what's being missed here is that a slew of other teams who could have easily afforded Harden's price tag passed on him as well (and in a weak SP market where he was arguably the best pitcher available).

Why is that?

Perhaps because Harden's fragility is every bit commensurate to his immense talent?

Aaaaand, because he wasn't all that good last year?

Aaaaaand, because even when "healthy" and dominant, he's still a five inning SP who can't make 30 starts or 150 IP?

For a team with such limited funds, and the perpetual sword of Damocles hanging over Harden every time he toes the rubber, I'm not so sure it makes much sense to burn what little you have when there's so much risk involved.

Kudos to the Cubs for getting what they did out of Harden while he was here (they miraculously squeezed 38 starts out of him in a year and a half, as opposed to the 26 total he tallied from 2005-2007). That they made virtually zero overtures to keep him is telling imo, especially when they have been rumored to be sifting through the free agent SP market for additional help.

My best guess is that the Cubs have zero faith in Harden's shoulder holding out for much longer. 7MM+ incentives along with a 11MM+ option may not seem like much, but if you honestly believe the player is not going to play, then why pay even that?

JulieDiCaro said:

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Obviously I don't know the details that the Cubs' inner circle does, but I have serious doubts about their judgment. The same people who decided it was a good idea to go into last season with Mike Fontenot as the starter at 2nd with Aaron Miles as the MIF backup plan are now deciding to go with Randy Wells and Tom Gorzelanny at 4 and 5, almost guaranteeing that Wells will hit his sophomore slump and Gorselanny will turn out to be what the Pirates thought he was.

GAH, I hate Jim Hendry SO MUCH!

Proggy said:

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The same Jim Hendry who helped usher in the best decade for Cubs baseball since the 1930s? Five winning seasons out of the last seven and three division titles?

Don't get me wrong here, he's obviously not perfect, but he has been a pretty good GM overall.

JulieDiCaro said:

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He's made some seriously bad decisions over the last couple of seasons. I am not thrilled with him at this point.

Proggy said:

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Such as? (I know I know, Bradley, which I still think was a great "baseball" move at the time, but who else?)

JulieDiCaro said:

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Sorian's horrible 8-year billion-dollar deal. Trading DeRosa and thinking Fontenot was a starting 2nd baseman. Thinking Aaron Miles had any value at all. Giving John Grabow $4 million a year. Signing Kevin Gregg. Trading Pie for peanuts after naming him "untouchable" in trade talks the previous off-season. Naming Ronny Cedeno as "untouchable" the off-season prior to that one. Thinking Ronny Cedeno was an everyday player. Thinking Ryan Theriot is a good shortstop. Giving Fukudome garbage bags full of money. Thinking Tom Gorzelanny is a 5th starter. Thinking Milton Bradley wasn't going to imploide when everyone else knew he would.

I know there are more, but that's all I can come up with right now.

thisyearcub said:

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I think you mean Rich Hill rather than Cedeno as "untouchable." I don't ever remember Hendry calling E6 that.

As I said below, Hendry's good moves outweigh the bad ones, in my opinion. Plus, he signed Ted Lilly while hooked up to an EKG machine. That's going above and beyond.

JulieDiCaro said:

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I do remember Cedeno being untouchable--it was back in our BCB days. . . so I guess that was what, 2007?

millertime said:

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So do you think the Cubs would be better off if they hadn't signed Soriano?

JulieDiCaro said:

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Oh shut up.

Proggy said:

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And re: Harden.

Again:

Where were the other 30 teams in baseball that could use a pitcher like Rich Harden.

Where were the Red Sox?
Yankees?
Dodgers?
Cardinals?

Are all their inner circles suspect as well? That a team like the Rangers were able to pick him up for what they did without nary a sniff it seems from the Big Dogs (the Red Sox were rumored to be after him, but then, shortly before he signed with Texas, were said to not be very interested, how is that possible?)

Proggy said:

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is telling...(sheesh, hit stupid post comment button early...)

millertime said:

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I agree.

AndCounting said:

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Bob Nightengale has tweeted that the Cubs are close to trading Milton, most likely to Tampa.

My guess is that they've agreed to include the much-maligned and abandoned Devil Ray mascot in the deal.

millertime said:

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Welcome to Wrigley Field, home of the 2010 Chicago Devil Cubs?

AndCounting said:

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I love that so much I want to photoshop it.

JulieDiCaro said:

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Sure we are.

"Close."

AndCounting said:

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Like Ross and Rachel were close to getting together. By the third season of this, the deal will be so consummated.

Dmband said:

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"The same Jim Hendry who helped usher in the best decade for Cubs baseball since the 1930s? Five winning seasons out of the last seven and three division titles? "

What has been so great about it. We still have zero World Series titles, and only 1 NLCS appearance.

Im tired of being happy because of a winning season... this has gone on long enough. Do you think the Yankees, Red Sox, Cardinals, etc are happy with division titles? Why do we expect less?

The collective outcome of Hendry's tenure is a bunch of long, back loaded contracts for aging players and no farm system to speak of.

Dmband said:

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"Such as? (I know I know, Bradley, which I still think was a great "baseball" move at the time, but who else?)"

For starters, he traded Dontrelle Willis for Alfonseca/Clement. The Garciaparra signing was terrible, Gregg, Miles, Bradley, Jacque Jones, Jeremy Burnitz.... The list goes on and on. All aging players that proved to be terrible for the Cubs.

Now, positive moves, by far, was the Ramriez trade, and the signing of D Lee, De-Ro.

millertime said:

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First off, the Soriano deal. Overpaid? You betcha. But in 2007 Soriano was #2 amongst all qualified LF in OPS. In 2008, he was #6. He was hurt last year, and had a bad slump. Also, he was one of the most productive members on the team in 2007 and 2008. If the Cubs don't sign Soriano in 2007, who should they have signed? Somehow, I don't think the Cubs win the division with Matt Murton in LF.

Other positive moves:
Ryan Dempster, Ted Lilly, Jimmy Baseball, Bob Howry, Rich Harden,

Positive "Farm System" moves: Zambrano, Randy Wells, Soto, Marmol.

Plus, there were some average moves. Marquis was overpaid, but he did have an ERA+ of 101. So he wasn't a terrible pitcher. Jacque Jones had WAR of 1.9 and 1.1 for the Cubs. Not great, but fairly average. Certainly not what I would consider "terrible". Same thing with Bradley, who actually had a slightly below average season numbers wise.

I understand it would be great to win a ws, or even 1 playoff games. But to win a WS, you either have one amazing crazy lucky year every couple of decades, or you consistently make the playoffs year after year, increasing the chances that you catch fire some post-season and win it all. World Series titles are hard to come by. Even with an enormous payroll advantage, the Yankees have only won 2 WS this decade. Tied for most with Boston, I believe.

So yeah, I'd be happy with a winning season, because it means the team is on the right track. This current collection of "back loaded contracts for aging players (btw, all players age) and no farm system" won the division 2/3 years, finished 2nd last year despite missing Aramis for 50 games, and Soriano being hurt, and is probably going to contend for the division again next season. The Cubs are having the type of success that very few teams have had recently. Better than: Toronto, Baltimore, Cleveland, Kansas City, Oakland, Mets, Washington, Milwaukee, Cinnci, Pitt, San Fran, San Diego.

Proggy said:

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Surprise, surprise, Marquis was NOT overpaid.

He outperformed what he earned by a few million. He was worth 15MM between 2007-2008, and he earned just over 11MM.

I think maddog had a good post on ACB a while back. For all the talk about Hendry consistently overpaying, he has, in the aggregate, gotten more value for what the paid money-wise and it's really even all that close.

Proggy said:

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not really all that close (I HATE NOT BEING ABLE TO EDIT POSTS!).

thisyearcub said:

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Are you kidding on Willis? Have you watched him the last two years?

Look, Hendry has made some great moves, and some bad ones. I think the former outweighs the latter and overall, he's done a solid job. There's no such thing as a perfect GM.

And yes, it has been great that the Cubs have been competitive. They've put themselves in place to contend, rather than just crap the bed all season. Sure not having a WS title and not getting swept in the playoffs twice in a row sucks, but Hendry has constructed a team that can make the playoffs. Once you're in, it's a crapshoot (with the exception of a few years, including Yankees in 2009-there was no beating them).

I don't know why people pile on Hendry so much. It could be worse. A LOT worse.

Dmband said:

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I forgot Neil Cotts.

Dmband said:

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Just reported on the Score that the Tweet we got excited about was basically made up...again.

Perhaps if we didnt bench him at the end of the season, teams might not be trying to bend us over regarding this trade...yet another great move by Hendry...

millertime said:

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Perhaps if fans and media didn't over hype how terrible Bradley is because of his "clubhouse cancer attitude" and how much Bradley causes teams to always lose, teams might not be trying to bend us over regarding this trade either.

JulieDiCaro said:

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Or maybe if the GM didn't send him home for the last 3 weeks and tell everyone how much he sucked!

millertime said:

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Or maybe if Obama would just fix health care already!

Dmband said:

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Yes, of course, Willis has been bad the last few seasons, but the season the trade was made, he won the ROY and was one of the most dominating pitchers in baseball en route to a WS title. He also contibuted countless times with his bat as well. He had a 22 win season in '06...We got Alfonseca and Clement...you cant tell me that wasnt a terrible move.

Look, all Hendry does, year after year, if overpay in the FA market. The examples are out there..

I hate to say this, but look at the White Sox. KW has been able to successfully transition an aging team to younger players, and has attracted quality vetern players (I think Rios is going to be very good for them, and obviously Peavy). Meanwhile, they've brought up Beckham, Ramirez, Floyd and Danks...They essentially rebuilt, while still staying somewhat competitive last season.

Thats the difference between a good GM and Hendry. IMO.

thisyearcub said:

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Clement was an All-Star with the Cubs. The Cubs had unbelievable pitching already in '03 when Willis won ROY, I don't know if keeping him would have made it THAT much better. So yeah, considering what happened to where he flamed out, I don't think that was a bad move.

And buddy, every GM overpays in the FA market. That's baseball right now. As for Williams, I'll wait and see on Rios before commenting. That doesn't seem like a great move for the money though.

Proggy said:

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Actually I can tell you it wasn't a terrible move.

Clement was a 4.4 WAR pitcher in 2002 (while Willis was still in the minor leagues). And only 0.1 WAR worse than Willis, i.e. basically the same in 2003-2004.

The only year the Cubs would have significantly benefited by having Willis was 2005. 2003-2004 was a wash. And after that excellent season, Willis has quickly gone down the tubes.

Granted, it's always nice to have the young player making league minimum putting up the same numbers as the vet making more, but at the time the deal went down, Willis was a wild card due to his mechanics, and, due to his young age, not expected to contribute as soon as he did.

Plus when you consider that it could be the Cubs on the hook for all that money to Willis while he toils in the minor leagues presently (assuming they would have re-signed him), I think they made out all right in regards to Matt Clement.

Dmband said:

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Miller-

I agree with you on Bradley, but I will say it wasnt just fans/media...

It wasnt fans/media that called him a "piece of shit" (Lou) and it wasnt fans and media that suspended him from the team either...

Dmband said:

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Dude, Willis led the league in W's in 05 and posted a 2.63 ERA....and Im not even factoring how many games Alfonseca flat out LOST for us.

You're right though, I will concede most GM's overpay, it just seems like we get less bang for our buck consistently. For one reason or another, players seem to regress when they get here...now I cant say thats Hendry's fault, but for once it would be nice to overpay for a FA that actually at least hits for his career averages...

Proggy said:

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Did DeRosa regress?
How about Lee?
Has Ted Lilly gotten worse?
What about Jason Marquis?
Michael Barrett?
Aramis Ramirez?

Up until 2009, Soriano was playing above his career norms. Chances are good that, healthy again, he'll get back there.

Dmband said:

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No but:

Garciappara did
Alfonseca did
Burnitz did
Jones did
bradley did
Hawkins did

Miles, Hielman, Gregg, Cotts, Borowski all bad.

I'll give Hendry the ARAM deal, obviously DLEE and Lilly.

There's not a team in the league that would take Soriano for that money right now.

Proggy said:

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I'm not sure what you're arguing anymore. That some of Hendry's moves haven't worked out?

Nobody is disputing that.

Yes, there are plenty of Hendry moves that haven't worked out. However the ones that have outweigh the bad imo and that is reflected in the W-L since he's come on board. Again, 5 winning seasons out of seven, three division titles, three postseason appearances. Teams don't get there by making more bad moves than good. If they did, then GMs would be irrelevant.

Also, take a good look around the league, and at the GMs you do admire, and you will find that you can put together very similar lists that go on and on of players that did and did not work out.


Dmband said:

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Also, how does the future look for this team? ARAM and Lee arent getting any younger...theriot just turned 30 (I think)....Dempster, Lilly, Fukudome, Soriano, Gorzelanny, Big Z...all aging vets....

Soto and Wells and Marmol....thats what we are working with along with Castro...and I would say at least 2 of those guys are pretty big question marks...

AndCounting said:

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If only the Cubs could acquire players who were getting younger. Dammit, Jim, get on that!

clyder1 said:

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Hey, lighten up on Hendry, afterall he got rid of Harden, Heilmann & Fox and signed a rule 5 pitcher.
At least the Cubs lead all of sports in "dumb moves by a GM". Third highest payroll in baseball and it's been what 101 years & counting.

Proggy said:

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Agreed. This is an aging team. That will have to be rectified in the near future.

However, this no farm system to speak of that you speak of is on the mend. According to BA's Callis the Cubs have leaped up in pretty short order from having one of the worst farm systems in the league to about middle of the pack. While not where it should be yet, it's getting better. And fast.

Re: those names. Yes, some of them are getting older. Theriot does't count as he's not making much and can be discarded very easily (and will be very soon, by Castro). Lee, Lilly, and Ramirez can all be free agents after 2010. Fukudome is up the following year (Gorzelanny and Zambrano are not 30 yet). Which means the Cubs stand to have quite a bit of money coming off the books over the next couple of seasons and can easily reload.

AndCounting said:

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One thing about Hendry's performance the last several years that can't be ignored is the strain of the neverending (oh wait, it's over) sale of the team and the fact that the Cubs were owned by a company in severe financial turmoil. The Chicago Tribune has been looking up at junk bond status for years. The surge in spending (read: Soriano) when the team first went up for sale was just as much a selling tactic as it was a baseball move, designed (and not by Hendry) to drive up the market value of the franchise. Hendry has been left with a state of perpetual financial uncertainty which has apparently continued into the Ricketts regime, at least for now.

No, this is not a small-market team. The Cubs will have a top-5 payroll for the foreseeable future. They have lots of payroll but very limited flexibility. Hendry has been trying to acquire mid-level free agents (DeRosa, Fukudome, Bradley, Lilly) in the hopes that they'll make big-time contributions while re-signing proven performers (Lee, Ramirez, Z, Dempster) usually at less than market value.

Compared to the other GMs I've seen run things at Wrigley, Hendry's done really well. I'd like to see how he does when the financials stabilize and he's allowed to compete for some more top-tier free agents/Roy Halladay-type trade acquisitions.

AndCounting said:

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All I originally intended to post: "I think Hendry will wind up treading water in the offseason and making some good midseason deals to allow the Cubs to compete down the stretch."

I'm annoyed at my own randomness.

clyder1 said:

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please see the reply left above. thanks

clyder1 said:

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What don't you understand? We are the third highest paid team in baseball! Hendry spent the money stupidly! There is no more adding on until he finds an equally stupid GM to take Bradley and we still pay part of his salary (thanks Hendry) so it doesn't free up his entire salary. Hendry report card so far: Kept - Bradley & Fontenot (useless).
Lost - Harden, Heilman & Fox (got nothing in return). Good - got rid of Miles (but that was Hendry's stupid signing in the first place). Missed out: Figgins, Granderson, Putz among others (those were known targets). Still counting - Hendry stupid $igning of Soriano & Fukudome. Injury forthcoming - Wells! He was not even considered to be able to make the team last year (was a so so prospect) and all of a sudden he catches fire and had a great year. He pitched more innings and went deeper into games than he has ever done in his life! The injury is coming (can you say Prior or Woods)? There is a guy to trade and maximize value.

JulieDiCaro said:

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Uuuuuuuhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. (Krusty noise)

I'm too tired and mad to respond to any of this.

Gzeeb said:

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Everyone now days talk numbers, numbers, numbers...Yes it shows what a player has done through out their career, but by no means does that show what a player will do when you sign him..There are so many variables to be considered to make them the only reason to sign a player...Several players over the years have had career years and then receive huge contracts only to level back off to where they should be...George Foster is one to that comes to mind..George had a monster season for the Reds & parlayed that into a multi year big money deal..As we all know that didn't work out to well for the Mets..Should you consider numbers? To a certain extent years..Should that be the primary reason to sign a player no..Hendry definitely over payed for some players who have not lived up to their contracts..Now the Cubs are stuck with them...It should be a cautionary tale to general mangers around the league and believe they are paying attention..That's why there are no takers for Little Milton..The only way to get rid of the bum is to eat the salary & be shed of him....And mark my words if they want to get rid of him that will exactly what they will do..I do believe that Hendry isn't looking at the cubs being a winner next year..As he says the Cubs are looking beyond 2010..The Ricketts don't appear to want to put a first class team on the field..They are looking for ways to make more money for the family through adding billboards and turning Wrigley into a Yuppie Friendly park with eating spots and beer gardens...Looks like the same old song and dance wrapped up in a pretty new package..I believe that the Ricketts hope we are to dumb to notice...

clyder1 said:

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I agree except that it is the same old song and dance wrapped in a pretty new package. IT'S THE SAME OLD SONG & DANCE IN THE VERY OLD AND UGLY LOSING WRAPPER. The only thing new is Hendry's grand rule 5 acquisition, that ain't pretty!

Death2FlyingThings said:

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The Cubs should keep Bradley and sign Vincente Padilla. Then put their lockers on either side of Z, right next to Lou's office.

clyder1 said:

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If only Terrell Owens played baseball, Hendry could sign him and put him next to Bradley!

gravedigger said:

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ESPN has a big thing abotu Peter Gammions with pictures of him from several angles. I thoguht for certain he was dead.

But he;'s not.

gravedigger said:

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how did i reply on the wrong page?

Maroussia said:

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It will be great to watch Tampa Bay Rays,i have bought tickets from http://ticketfront.com/event/Tampa_Bay_Rays-tickets looking forward to it.

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