A League of Her Own

December 2010 Archives

Friday Headlines: Anybody Want to Talk about Anything?

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 30: The Times Square New Year s Eve Ball is tested the day before New Year's Eve December 30, 2010 in New York City. The 11,875-pound Waterford crystal ball will descend a 141-foot tall flagpole to mark the beginning of 2011. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Julie is fleeing the country, there's nothing going on with the Cubs and Snooki's not going to be dropped in a ball in Times Square. What does that leave us to talk about? Precious little. But if there's something you've just been dying to share with us, please feel free to open up the discussion in the comments. Otherwise it'll be a long New Year's Eve. Unless Jim Hendry pulls something out of his sleeve like he has the last two years. Please, Jim, do it for us.

Thursday Headlines: Super Big Announcement Day!

Chicago Blackhawks Brian Campbell, Dustin Byfuglien and Dave Bolland wave to fans during the ticker tape parade as the Chicago Blackhawks celebrate during a victory parade and rally in Chicago on June 11, 2010. The Blackhawks defeated the Philadelphia Flyers Wednesday to win the NHL's Stanley Cup, their first championship in 49 years.   UPI/Stephen J. Carrera.. Photo via Newscom
LOHO and the Blackhawks welcome our newest family member
Earlier this week, Julie touted the coming of a new family member. Today, we unveil Pete Gaines. Pete has written for Deadspin and SportsbyBrooks. I've been assured by Julie that he's at least 50% (but no more than 75%) as funny as me, so we should be in good hands. Should you be so inclined, you can follow Pete on twitter, @petegaines. I promised Julie we wouldn't pull that prank where no one comments on his first thread, so please make sure and give Pete a warm LOHO welcome. 

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Wednesday Headlines: Deepest Darkest Winter

Chicago Cubs' Starlin Castro takes a break on first base during a Cincinnati Reds pitching change during the eighth inning at Wrigley Field in Chicago on July 1, 2010. The Reds won 3-2 in 10 innings.   UPI/Brian Kersey Photo via Newscom

You know it's the deep of winter when I turn to Carrie Muskat to provide news for us every day. But the hardest working woman in Cubs beat writing continues to write something nearly every day, and for that I'm grateful. The Dominican Winter League is in its playoffs, and Starlin Castro continues to hit the ball.
Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro went 2-for-4, hitting a two-run double in the fourth, in Escogido's 5-4 loss to los Toros on Monday in the Dominican Winter League. Castro also tried to score with one out in the ninth but was thrown out at home. On Tuesday, Escogido (1-1) plays host to los Gigantes, who are 2-0 so far in the playoffs.

And some other people no one cares about are playing elsewhere.

In Venezuela, Cubs prospect Marwin Gonzalez had a hit, three walks and scored twice in Caracas' 6-5 win over Lara. Also, Cubs pitcher Jeff Gray threw 1 1/3 innings for his third save in Zulia's 6-3 win over Magallanes.

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Will The Ricketts Involve The Cubs On This Renovation Plan?

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 It looks like the Cubs have gone back to the drawing board on Wrigley renovations and are working on a new and improved idea to finance Wrigley's much-needed massive overhaul:

"the Cubs are quietly working to amend their proposal to renovate Wrigley Field. In simple terms, the team would match its previous tax payments to the city -- $16 million in 2009 -- while keeping any tax revenue above the base for park renovations and perhaps construction of the long-planned triangle building. Once the team has what it plans built, the Cubs argue the additional business will increase taxes collected.

"The plan they came up with for this renovation was a non-starter," governor Pat Quinn said Monday on " Chicago Tribune Live" on Comcast SportsNet. "It didn't have public support. They have to go back to the drawing boards."

Let's hope that this time, the Ricketts PR and financial machine decide to at least consult the Cubs, an organization that has been doing business in this town a hell of a lot longer than they have, in developing and presenting their new plan. My souces tell me that the Ricketts, who have their own PR "team," left the Cubs out of much of the last renovation plan, which turned into an unmitigated PR disaster. My guess is that they used the same 'team' that thought it was a good idea for Todd Ricketts to appear on "Undercover Boss."



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Monday Headlines: Anything Happening?

To answer the question I posed in the post title, no, nothing is happening. But the Trib did post that fantastic picture of hunky prospect Brett Jackson. They also posted an interview, which is less exciting than his photo. First, we'll see what Brett had to say about his excitement to play for a crappy Cubs team.

"You have to think that way and have that confidence as a player," said Jackson, who was 3-for-12 with five RBIs for Mesa before an infection in his foot halted his AFL season. "It's exciting to be in the Cubs organization for all of us, seeing the type of moves that have happened in the past year and seeing many of our friends reach the big leagues.

"That makes us excited about the future and what the Cubs have to offer. ... I look forward to being a part of that.

"But right now, I'm working to be ready for that next step, and certainly guys like Castro and Colvin are great role models for us all."

I eagerly await the chance to see Brett playing center field for years to come.

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Happy Chrismahanukwanzakah!



No matter what you celebrate this time of year, LOHO wishes you all peace, joy, prosperity, and maybe a decent second baseman.

As we all celebrate the next few days with our loved ones, let's hear your Chrismahanukwanzakah wishes for the members of the Chicago Cubs, as well as your fellow LOHOers.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Thursday Headlines: Radio Job Speculation Runs Rampant

Palestinian Christian Issa Kassissieh, dressed as Santa Claus, distributes Christian trees to Christian residents of Jerusalem outside the Jaffa Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem, December 22, 2010. UPI/Debbie Hill Photo via Newscom

With little going on before Christmas, Paul Sullivan took the time yesterday to write about the search for the new WGN radio color man. First, the WGN radio sports director talked about the awkwardness of having to search for a replacement so soon after Ron Santo's death.
"We wanted to do this as respectfully as we could," WGN-AM 720 sports director Dave Eanet said.

"It's not something we wanted to plunge right into. But we're not too far from spring training and there is a vacant seat in the booth. Having said that, we know we're not going to replace Ron Santo."
The first list of candidates is pretty much the same one we've already seen.

Several ex-Cubs-turned-analysts fill the bill, including Mark Grace, Rick Sutcliffe, Dan Plesac, Eric Karros, Gary Matthews and Mitch Williams.

Eanet said the list of candidates will include those who have filled in for Santo in the past, but declined to address speculation on rumored candidates. Dave Otto and Keith Moreland, both of whom filled in for Santo during his absences the last few years, will be interviewed.

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Wednesday Headlines: Don't Expect Brandon Webb Under Your Tree

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - DECEMBER 20: Christmas lights illuminate the Town Hall at La Grande Place on December 20, 2010 in Brussels, Belgium. (Photo by Mark Renders/Getty Images)

I can't imagine you were hoping for a weathered, beaten Brandon Webb with a shiny new shoulder for Christmas, but if you were, things aren't looking good.
The Texas Rangers and Washington Nationals continued to show strong interest in Brandon Webb on Tuesday, while a third reported suitor, the Chicago Cubs, fell off the pace in their pursuit of the free-agent starter.

There's even talk of a mystery NL Central team trying to swoop in on the action. It's probably just as well for the Cubs, as Brandon Webb would likely stand in the way of Andrew Cashner making the rotation. I think we'd rather see him have a go at starting than watch Brandon Webb rehab here and go elsewhere after a year.

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Community Poll: Who Should Join Pat In The Booth?

Tuesday Cubs Headlines: The Most Wonderful Day Of The Year


As if it wasn't enough that Kerry Wood is returning the Cubs, now the Bears have won the NFC North and Pat Hughes has been given a 5-year contract by WGN Radio.

Great day? Or the GREATEST DAY?

Play-by-play man Pat Hughes has agreed on a five-year contract extension to call Cubs games, WGN Radio announced Monday.

"Pat's voice on WGN has spoken to the legion of Cubs fans across the Midwest and beyond for many years -- and we're very fortunate to have such a great broadcaster behind the microphone for a long time to come," Tom Langmyer, the station's vice president and general manager, said in a statement. "We look forward to warmer weather and once again hearing Pat say, 'This ball's got a chaaaance ... GONE!'"

The 2011 season will be Hughes' 16th with the Cubs and 29th in major-league baseball (he spent 12 years with the Milwaukee Brewers before joining the Cubs).

Still to be determined is who will join Hughes as the radio color analyst replacing the late Ron Santo.


I'm sure WGN is kicking around the idea of having Dave Otto (who I like) or Keith Moreland (who I don't love in the booth) join Pat next season. But, like many of you, I would love to hear Pat call games by himself, a la Vin Scully. Let's be honest, as much as we loved Ron, Pat was carrying most of the weight in the booth by himself, anyway.

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Monday Headlines: We Need Another Christmas Miracle

Kerry Wood officially signed on Friday, and the Brewers spent the weekend trying to upstage the Cubs. They managed to do so by trading for Zack Greinke



The Royals acquired shortstop Alcides Escobar, outfielder Lorenzo Cain and right-handed pitching prospects Jake Odorizzi and Jeremy Jeffress from the Brewers in exchange for Greinke, shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt and cash considerations.

So, Crazy Uncle Phil, should we be fearful of the Brew Crew?

Because of general manager Doug Melvin's acquisition of Greinke from the Royals on Sunday, the Brew Crew could upset the Cardinals and Reds to win the National League Central next season and possibly contend for future titles. The latter is true if free agency doesn't limit them to a short window, as it did after Melvin traded for CC Sabathia in 2008.

There's a huge upside here, so I really want to like what Melvin calls a "now'' trade. But when teams trade their best prospects for veterans, they are chasing -- that is, acting like a gambler who loses money on an NFL Sunday, so he digs even deeper into his wallet Monday night -- and the results are often hide-your-eyes ugly.

I feel much better after that astute analysis of the trade.

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Merry Kristmas, Movie House! Merry Kristmas, Wrigleyville!


Have you been depressed? Suicidal? Thinking about ending it all over the sad, sad state of the Chicago National League Ball Club?

Fear not, LOHO Nation! Your lip is bleeding again. Zuzu's petals have been found, and Kerry Wood is a Cub again!

In what may be remembered as the Pizza Summit, Kerry Wood and Cubs general manager Jim Hendry huddled Friday night in a cramped hallway at D'Agostino's restaurant in Wrigleyville.

The two had spoken earlier that day at Ron Santo's funeral, but their second meeting at the pizza joint during a charity function for the Ryan and Jenny Dempster Foundation, was Wood's chance to make his pitch.

Wood lives in Chicago and wanted to return to the Cubs, which was no big secret. The Cubs also were known to be seeking a right-handed reliever to set up Carlos Marmol and free up Andrew Cashner for the rotation. But the Cubs' budgetary constraints, combined with Wood's strong second half with the Yankees, made the notion of a second marriage a long shot.

Yet the two agreed to a one-year deal for the relatively paltry sum of $1.5 million, giving Wood an opportunity one day to finish his career in a Cubs uniform. There will be a news conference Friday at Wrigley Field to announce the deal.

Not a smitch of temperature! Thank God Kerry was amenable to signing for the change the Ricketts family was able to find in the couch, we wouldn't want to have to cable Sam Wainwright for cash.

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Thursday Headlines: A Christmas Miracle

Remember the Christmas episode of The Brady Bunch when Carol was supposed to sing at the Christmas church service? She then lost her voice, and Cindy asked Santa to give Carol her voice back for Christmas so she could sing O Come All Ye Faithful. Santa came through, and Carol belted it out, giving everyone the Christmas cheer (this rendition was later reprised in spectacular fashion in the TV movie "A Very Brady Christmas").
In yesterday's headline title, I begged Jim Hendry to do something before Christmas. I'm not sure what I wanted to happen, but something beyond my wildest dreams could be happening. Last night, my twitter feed was full of Kerry Wood to the White Sox and Yankees rumors, until quite late, when John Boehner Dave Kaplan reported something no one expected. A Christmas miracle.
The Cubs, who have a major need for a veteran right handed reliever are moving towards finalizing a deal with free agent Kerry Wood. Wood, who spent the first 10 years of his major league career with the Cubs, spent 2010 with the Indians and Yankees and compiled impressive numbers down the stretch as he helped the Yankees make the playoffs.

If he finalizes his deal with the Cubs, Wood should provide tremendous support to Cubs closer Carlos Marmol and will form a very formidable back end of the bullpen with left-hander Sean Marshall.
What could any of us possibly want more than Kerry Wood under our collective tree? And before you start thinking that Kaplan's just yanking our chain, Ken Rosenthal confirmed it.

Kerry Wood could be going home.

The free-agent right-hander is working toward an agreement with the Chicago Cubs, the team that gave him his professional start, according to a major league source.

The Cubs likely would use Wood as a set-up man for closer Carlos Marmol, enabling them to move right-hander Andrew Cashner to the starting rotation.

Take it away, Carol.

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Why I'm Still Not On Board With espnW


 Back in October, I wrote this piece expressing my indignation and disappointment at the creation of espnW. Clearly, the topic was a controversial one, and my thoughts on the issue were quoted in the New York Times, Jezebel.com. Ms. Magazine, and New York Magazine, among others.

Today, espnW writer Sarah Spain tweeted the following: "No disrespect to @juliedicaro meant there, but she's earned a lot of pub 4 a post on something she knew nothing about & hadn't launched yet."

Of course, Sarah is 100% right. Back when I was interviewed by the NYT about espnW, it was nothing but an idea on the horizon. The website hadn't launched, but espnW President Laura Gentile wasn't doing the concept any favors with statements describing an espnW planning retreat as a place  "where we talk about women finding self-esteem in sports and about getting a pedicure." 

 I didn't weigh in on espnW.com when it first came out, because I really hoped they would prove me wrong and we could all go about our business. Unfortunately, that turned out not to be the case.

Back in October, I had this to say about espnW:

The idea that women need a "girlier" version of sportis programming insulting. This is the same idea that has caused sports marketing geniuses to try to sell baseball to women, who already comprise more than 40% of the fan base, by creating sparkly pink hats and bedazzled t-shirts.

The idea that sports need to somehow be feminized to attract women is completely off-base. Like the Jennie Finches, Julie Foudys, and Lindsay Vonns of the world, women today are the daughters of Title IX. We grew up playing sports, just like the guys, and we still love sports, just like the guys. We don't need pink jerseys to buy sports merchandise and we don't need espnW to cajole us into watching sports programming.

The idea that we want our own ESPN for sunrise yoga and "learning how to ride a Harley-Davidson motorcyle" is, in a word, stupid. And by the way, I already get Lifetime. 

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Wednesday Headlines: Jim Hendry, Please do Something before Xmas

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Fun holiday photoshopping, as always, brough to you by the fabulous @plamorte.

The Cubs are still in a holding pattern, apparently still waiting on Brandon Webb and Matt Garza.

--The Cubs continue to look at former Diamondbacks standout Brandon Webb, who has been beset by shoulder problems the last couple of years. To sign Webb, the Cubs would prefer a low base with incentives.

--Matt Garza is still very much in play for the Cubs, who are still trying to get a hand on the Tampa Bay Rays' appetite for moving the pitcher. Last week at the winter meetings, Rays manager Joe Maddon said Garza would be pitching for Tampa next year. Of course, managers say a lot of things (as we know from the last couple we've had on the North Side) based on their own self-interest. It's still a story worth following.

And Hendry seems real about dealing, with only a couple prospects off-limits.
--As we wrote last week, the only prospects the Cubs won't move are Brett Jackson and Chris Archer. All the others would be on the table in trade talks. That includes Josh Vitters and Jay Jackson.
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Phillies To Play Red Sox in 2011 World Series

Texas Rangers pitcher Cliff Lee looks to the score board in between pitches against the San Francisco Giants during the third inning of game 5 of the World Series at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas on November 1, 2010. The Giants defeated the Rangers 3-1 winning the World Series 4 games to 1. UPI/Kevin Dietsch Photo via Newscom

I didn't see that one coming either, Cliff.

The Philadelphia Phillies, who only a year ago dismayed their fans by trading away Lee in the name of organizational depth, rallied to reach an agreement with the ace left-hander and emerge with the deepest rotation in baseball, sources said Monday night. Sources indicated the deal was for five years and $120 million, with a vesting option for a sixth year that would pay him a maximum of $135 million, less than he could have gotten from the Yankees or Rangers.

The Rangers, the team Lee helped to the World Series in October, offered Lee a six-year, $138 million deal with a vesting option for a seventh year that could have hiked the deal to $161 million. The Yankees also offered six years and $138 million, with a seventh-year player option for an additional $16 million.

Operating in stealth mode through the weekend, the Phillies added Lee to a staff that already held Roy Halladay(notes), Roy Oswalt(notes) and Cole Hamels

I have basically two thoughts this morning: 1) Kudos to SI's Jon Heyman, who took a lot of abuse this week for insisting that a "mystery team" was "in hard" on Lee. Turns out he was right. 2) Hahahahaha to Jason Werth for having to face a rotation with Lee, Hallady, Hamels, and Oswalt a billion times a season.


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Monday Headlines: Just Stay in Bed

I posted the above video in case you hadn't yet gotten to see the amazingness of the Metrodome roof collapse. It also gives us something to talk about, as there was precious little happening in Cubs news over the weekend. Ryan Dempster was in Chicago all weekend, and the Around Town guys from the Trib got to talk to him about Carlos Pena. Dempster is sooooo stoked about Pena coming to the North Side.

"I am so excited to play with a guy who gets as excited by making a great fielding play as he does by hitting a three-run home run," said Dempster, who was spotted Saturday at the Loyola-Kansas State game.

Friday night, they ran into Jim Hendry. You'll never guess where.

Cubs general manager Jim Hendry attended the Dempster Family Foundation fundraiser Friday at D'Agostino's Pizza in Lakeview and told us he expects more signings in December than the last two years.

Dempster knows how to get Hendry to commit to a fundraiser. My one question of this tidbit from Hendry: he has to mean for the league in general, right? He's not going to go buck wild with signings these last couple weeks of the year, is he?

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Chicago Cubs Weekend Headlines: Wither Matt Garza News?


Photo courtesy Chicago Tribune

Cubs fans got a chance to say goodbye to Ron Santo yesterday, as everyone's favorite third baseman made one last trip to Wrigley Field. FAns could be seen running alongside the car as Ronnie drove through Wrigleyville, and the crowd at the corner of Clark & Addison broke into a rousing rendition of "Take Me Out To the Ball Game" as the car circled Wrigley.

With that said,I've completely hit the wall when it comes to talking about Ronnie's passing and funeral. It's just too sad. But if you missed any part of the funeral or trip up to Wrigley, you can view a lot of is online here.  

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Links Available for Ron's Funeral

WGN has Ron's funeral and subsequent final trip to Wrigley available for viewing online.


So Long, Ronnie: Cubs Lay Ron Santo To Rest


Photo courtesy Chicago Tribune

 After last night's public visitation, Ron Santo will be laid to rest this  morning at 9:00 am at Holy Name Cathedral. If you can't make the funeral, you can watch it on WGN TV or blow Ronnie one last kiss as he makes one last tour of the city he loved.

On Friday, a procession starting at Holy Name and ending outside Santo's workplace, Wrigley Field, will follow his funeral. Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts, baseball commissioner Bud Selig and Santo's broadcast partner, Pat Hughes, are scheduled to give eulogies at the funeral.

At Thursday's visitation, an estimated 300 people were bundled up in line at one point, undeterred by snowfall and below-freezing temperatures. Parked in front of Holy Name was a black hearse with two red, white and blue flags with the No. 10 on them.

Hours before the visitation opened to the public, friends and former teammates of Santo's were allowed into the cathedral to pay their private respects. Among those attending were former Cubs
Ernie Banks, Milt Pappas, Glenn Beckert and Joe Girardi. Pat Brickhouse, widow of Cubs broadcaster Jack Brickhouse, also attended the private visitation.

The Tribune has a really great photo gallery of the visitation up.


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Thursday Headlines: Cubs Hoarding Carloses

May 14, 2010 - St. Petersburg, FLORIDA, UNITED STATES - epa02157685 Tampa Bay Rays first baseman Carlos Pena reacts after striking out against the Seattle Mariners during the sixth inning of a Major League Baseball game in St. Petersburg, Florida, USA, 14 May 2010.
Imagine I had the skills to photoshop him into a Cubs uniform

Your Chicago Cubs introduced their starting first baseman of the future yesterday. And by future, I mean next year. The Cubs somehow managed to not completely piss off the entire fan base, and managed to get the reported one-year deal done. Carlos Pena, what have you to say?
"I think when I looked at all of my options, and the teams that were interested, I just thought this was the perfect fit for me," said Pena, who has 230 home runs lifetime, including 46 in 2007 with Tampa Bay. "And I also like the fact that this is a platform year for me, you know, to come in, be part of a great organization, have the opportunity to just go out there and play my game.

"And who knows? After a great season, then the future will look even brighter."

Scott Boras, can you get all super agenty on us?

"This contract, really, the premise of it was a lot like what we did last year with Adrian Beltre and the Red Sox," Boras said. "You have a quality organization, and they had a fit and a need, and you also had a player that had exhibited extraordinary abilities. I think everybody in the game knows that when a man can hit an average of 35-plus home runs over the past four seasons and has a lifetime average that is 40 points above what his prior seasons was, that the metrics will make the adjustment. And the average of both his power will be present and certainly with also the presence of (hitting coach) Rudy Jaramillo who worked with Carlos when he was a younger player really had all of the flavor of what we call a pillow contract.

"There's a lot of comforts. It's a one-year situation. It's a dynamic that you can't really expect the marketplace to address."

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Wednesday Headlines: Carlos Pena, Come on Down

April 14, 2010: Carlos Pena for the Tampa Bay Rays at bat during a game against the hometown Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, Maryland. The Rays beat the Orioles 9 - 1.

The Cubs have finally agreed to terms with the first baseman of their dreams. Carlos Pena is primed to sign a free agent contract that will surprise you, and maybe in a good way.
The Cubs have reached a preliminary agreement with free agent first baseman Carlos Pena on a one-year deal with about $10 million, according to sources, and hope to finalize the deal this morning during a schedule meeting with his agent, Scott Boras.

I'll be as giddy as a schoolgirl if the deal turns out to be one year. All the talk yesterday centered around two to three years. But what does spending $10 million on Pena mean for the rest of the offseason?

With so much of their limited payroll flexibility now tied to one addition, the Cubs are expected to look harder at harder at trades than the free-agent market to fill the pitching needs - unless they can move a significant portion of a larger contract, such as the $13.5 million left on the final year of outfielder Kosuke Fukudome's contract.

Rampant trade speculation time!

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Winter Meetings: Recent Rumors

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LOHO's Super-Secret Winter Meetings Bunker

So far this evening for your speculating pleasure, we have the following rumors:

The Rangers and Cubs are discussing a trade that would send Chris Davis and Darren O'Day to Chicago, according to Ed Price of AOL FanHouse (on Twitter).

Davis, 24, has the makings of a slugger, but has struggled to realize his potential. He has 39 homers in 872 big league plate apperances, which projects to 25 or 30 over the course of a full season. Davis has a .248/.300/.459 line in parts of three major league seasons and he strikes out in 32% of his plate appearances.

The Rangers claimed O'Day off of waivers from the Mets in 2009 and saw him develop into a valuable cog in their bullpen. The sidearmer has a 1.99 ERA with 7.6 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 in 117 2/3 innings for Texas.

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Cubs Tuesday Headlines: Do We HAVE Anyone At The Winter Meetings?


Not the Cubs' GM

 I understand that the Cubs  expected to be less-active this winter than in the past.

I understand that the Cubs are trying to cut payroll and are not players for the Cliff Lees and Derek Jeters of the world.

I understand that making a move solely to keep the fans happy is not the wisest course of action.

However, I am beginning to worry that the Cubs don't understand that we are going to need someone to at least STAND NEXT TO FIRST


I get it, it's only December, plenty of time to make some moves, yada yada yada. On the other hand, Jim Hendry must be hiding behind potted plants for the Cubs to be  as invisible at the Winter Meetings as they've been this year. I've never seen a team so completely off-the-radar during the aptly-named "free agent frenzy."

With the Dunn, Gonzalez, and other palatable options at first base off the market., it's looking increasinglly like Carlos Pena is the Cubs' current target-of-choice to take over at first base. And even THAT race isn't looking good for the North Siders:

Carlos Pena is the most prominent available free agent who fits the Cubs' description, and Hendry will meet with his agent, Scott Boras, this week. But even with a .196 average last year for the Rays , Pena is being pursued by the Blue Jays, Nationals and Orioles, which could force the Cubs into a bidding war they likely can't win.


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Monday Headlines: Jerkface Red Sox Steal Adrian Gonzalez from Cubs

San Diego Padres First Baseman Adrian Gonzalez works out before the game with the Arizona Diamondbacks at Petco Park in San Diego on August 24, 2010. The Padres beat the Diamondbacks 5-0. UPI/Roger Williams Photo via Newscom

It appears as though an Adrian Gonzalez to Boston trade is all but done, meaning the Cubs have little-to-no options at first base. Or, shall we say, palatable options. The Cubs continue to think they need to sign a starting pitcher whose arm is barely attached. Their biggest fan died last week. So what's not to love about the start of the Winter Meetings?
Would-be targets Adrian Gonzalez (all but traded from the Padres to the Red Sox), Lance Berkman (signed by the Cardinals), Jake Westbrook (re-signed by the Cardinals) and Javier Vazquez (signed by the Marlins) are off the board. The Cubs either were unable to compete as aggressively dollar-for-dollar or unwilling to compete as aggressively prospect-for-prospect as the teams that landed those players.

So, what are we to expect this week?

Will free agent Carlos Pena be as good as it gets in replacing Lee at first base? Is a former Cy Young winner with a rehabbing shoulder -- Brandon Webb -- exciting enough for you?

Hendry has said that he doesn't believe he needs to make a splash. Without a lot of room to work under his payroll ceiling, he might not have a choice.

But Hendry's at his best when he's talking trade. And while Gonzalez no longer is on the market, look for Hendry to talk to as many GMs about trades as he does player agents about their clients.

Oh, good. All we have to do is hope that Hendry can make one of his miracle trades! Please let it be more Derrek Lee than Juan Pierre.

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Chicago Cubs Weekend Headlines: Funeral Arrangements For Ronnie


Ronnie is honored at the UC last night before the Blackhawks Game. (Photo courtesy Chicago Tribune)

 Let's get through the sad Ronnie news first. Ron's funeral will be held Thursday, December 9, at Holy Name Cathedral. Public visitation begins at 4:00 pm. I plan on making my way down there, and if anyone else is game, maybe we can get a little group together for the visitation.

The memories of Ron Santo continue to pour in, and memorial pages have been set up at the Chicago Tribune, at MLB.com, and on Facebook. Of course, we've got our own "tell a great story about Ron" post going here, so make sure to stop by and listen to some of the hilarious stories (some with audio!).

If you feel the need to do something more concrete to memorialize our beloved Ronnie, consider going to JDRF's donation page and donating $10 for #10. As someone who raised $50 million for JDRF over the course of his life, I have no doubt that, if Ron could make one last request of us, this would be it. As I said yesterday, we here at LOHO are going to donate our "page clicks revenue" for December to JDRF in memory of Ron, so make sure to stop by daily and click, click, click!


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$10 for #10: Donate $10 to JDRF in Ronnie's Memory

Click to donate. And let us know you did.

In honor of Ron's ongoing fight against diabetes, LOHO will donate the proceeds from December's readership to JDRF That means you should all click on the site early and often!

Ron's funeral will be held on Thursday, December 9 at Holy Name Cathedral. Public viewing begins at 4:00 pm. 

RIP Ronnie: Cubs' Legend Ron Santo Dies at 70

We all knew this day was coming, even as we hoped it wouldn't:


Legendary Chicago Cubs player and broadcaster Ron Santo died Thursday night in Arizona. He was 70.

Friends of Santo's family said the North Side icon lapsed into a coma on Wednesday before dying Thursday. Santo died of complications from bladder cancer, WGN-AM 720 reported.

"He absolutely loved the Cubs," said Santo's broadcast partner, Pat Hughes. "The Cubs have lost their biggest fan."

Hughes noted that with all the medical problems Santo had--including diabetes with resulting leg amputations, his heart and bladder cancer--"he never complained. He wanted to have fun. He wanted to talk baseball."

We'll have today's headlines up later, but for now, let's all share our favorite Ron Santo moments: in the booth, on the field, off the field.

As for me, i'm not old enough to have seen Ronnie play live baseball, so my two favorite moments came while he was in the booth. The first was the infamous "toupee burning" incident at Shea stadium. For those that missed it, Ronnie's hairpiece caught fire under an electric heater mounted above the booth in Shea stadium. What made this moment so funny, aside from the fact that nothing has ever, EVER gone right for Ronnie at Shea Stadium, was his comment about the hairpiece afterwards: "Damn, that was my number two. Well, maybe number three now, with the singe marks."

I was laughing so hard I had to pull my car over on the side of the Ike.

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Surprise! Illinois Doesn't Want to Give The Ricketts $200 Million

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Expecting Illinois to give you $200 million to fix up your own property when it's $13 billion in debt is kind of like expecting Kosuke Fukudome to put the team on his back and lead them to the NL pennant.

Nonetheless, the Ricketts obviously thought their financing plan was worth a shot, and hoped to ram it through the fall session of the Illinos General Assembly.

Alas, there is no joy in Wrigleyville. The mighty Ricketts have struck out:

The organization's plan to use amusement-tax growth over the next 35 years to fund a $200 million renovation of the nearly century old stadium on the North Side is dead, sources told the Sun-Times Wednesday.

Ricketts has been trying to figure a way to revamp the stadium while using some sort of public funding, such as the amusement tax growth backstopped with a 2 percent hotel tax, but city and state legislative leaders are wary of saddling tax payers with the burden of paying for the renovation if growth slows.

Legislators told the organization to head back to the drawing board as their plans won't make it through the Fall veto session.

Other ideas include creating a tax increment financing (TIF) district around Wrigley, or broadening the 1 percent tax on downtown restaurant meals that was used to finance McCormick Place.

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Thursday Headlines: Back to Boring

July 27, 2010 - Houston, Texas, United States of America - 27 July 2010: Chicago Cubs Catcher Koyie Hill.

All offseason, there's been this unspoken about dark cloud hovering over LOHO, and no one's had the heart to talk about it. We've all been worried that Koyie Hill might not be around next year. Don't fret, as according to Bruce Miles, he should be tendered a contract!

It's Dec. 1, so where's all the action been? It's one of the slowest-developing baseball off-seasons I can remember covering. Anyway, here's a small bit of news to get things started: I expect the Cubs to tender contracts to all of their players by Thursday's deadline to do so.

That means arb-eligible guys Tom Gorzelanny, Jeff Baker, Koyie Hill, Sean Marshall, Geovany Soto and Carlos Marmol will be offered contracts. The only questions were the first three players on that list, but you can put them down as back in the fold. GM Jim Hendry likely will try to work out deals soon for Gorzelanny, Baker and Hill to avoid arbitration. Marshall and Marmol will be in line for nice raises, as will Soto after a nice bounce-back year. We'll see if the Cubs go to hearings on either.

So we get to keep Good Old Toe Thumbs around, with the added bonus of a cheaper, better hitting backup catcher relegated to Iowa. It's a win-win.

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Wednesday Headlines: Cubs to See More of Theriot, in a Good Way

We can give thanks today to the St. Louis Cardinals, who yesterday traded for Ryan Theriot to become their starting shortstop.

Theriot immediately alienated any of his remaining Cubs fans by opening his big mouth. He was interviewed on KFNS in St. Louis (hat tip to MillsChC for the link) and said: "I'm finally on the right side of the Cubs-Cardinals rivalry, I think." Ryan, your love of the microphone is the gift that just keeps on giving.

And what sparkling things are the Cards saying about their presumed starting shortstop? Take it away, John Mozeliak.

Theriot projects as a traditional top-of-the-order hitter considered a defensive downgrade from Ryan at shortstop. However, the Cardinals heard similar descriptions of David Eckstein when they signed him in December 2005. The club then won a world championship with Eckstein as World Series MVP in 2006.

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