A League of Her Own

Monday Headlines: Moving Day/Happy Birthday, Mr. Cub

It's moving day! Everyone grab a box on their way out, and take it to:


If you use that URL tomorrow, it will automatically redirect you to your new digs. Don't forget to bring a housewarming gift. We're registered at Crate & Barrel.

Just because we're moving doesn't mean the Cubs have stopped making news. MLBTR broke the news last week that two Cuban players have agreed to sign.

The Cubs have reached agreements to sign a pair of Cuban players, MLBTR's Nick Collias has learned.  They'll be signing outfielder Ruby Silva for $1.2MM as well as catcher Yaniel Cabezas for $500K.

Silva, 21, is a versatile left-handed hitter who played center field for the champion Havana Vaqueros in the 48th Cuban National series.  He can play all three outfield positions and perhaps even the middle infield.  He's a good athlete who draws praise as a plus runner with a plus arm.  He could begin his pro career in low A ball with the Peoria Chiefs.

Cabezas is a catch-and-throw backstop who reminds some of a young Yadier Molina, though his bat has improved in the last year.

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Friday Cubs Headlines: We're Getting The Band Back Together!


 Yesterday, the Cubs announced that they've signed minor league deals with Augie Ojeda and Braden Looper and have invvited both players to Spring Training.

No, I don't know why.

But with the recent return of Ojeda, Reed Johnson, Kerry Wood, and Todd Wellenmeyer, can Roberto Novoa, Jason DuBois, and Todd Walker be far behind?

One player who refuses to be foisted from his OF position by the return of Brant Brown is Tyler Colvin. He wants the Cubs to know that, just because he had his lungs pierced with a shard of wood, it doesn't mean he's not ready to go:

"It's over," he said, matter-of-factly.

During the Cubs Convention, Colvin was asked about the accident. It's something he will probably be asked about the rest of his life.

"It's expected," he said. "I hate that I have to do it, but it happened."

So, let's move on. Colvin finds himself in the same position he was going into Spring Training 2010. The Cubs have four outfielders -- Colvin, Alfonso Soriano, Marlon Byrd and Kosuke Fukudome -- and three spots.

Cubs manager Mike Quade says he'll rotate the quartet in an effort to keep players like Soriano and Byrd fresh.

"Quade will put a lineup up there that'll win, and we'll keep it going," Colvin said.

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Thursday Headlines: Sczcur Is Not Your Everyday Samardzija

(Photo: Cape May County Herald)

Poor Matt Sczcur (pronounced "Sczcur") has taken something of a good-natured beating from Cubs fans in the past week since announcing he's ditching his football career for a shot at being the next great home-grown Cubs outfielder. Everywhere he turns, it's Samardzija this and Samardzija that.

But apart from a funny name and the two-sports college thing, Sczcur and Samardzija don't share too much in common. Different positions, different backgrounds, etc. While pitcher-WR Samardzija spent his Notre Dame career fawned over by the national sports media, Sczcur has had something of a lower profile at 1-AA football school Villanova. Which is too bad, because it allows great stories like this to fall through the cracks:

Matt Szczur may someday patrol center field at Wrigley Field and thrill Chicago Cubs fans with his baseball skills. On Wednesday, he did something more important. Something likely to help save lives. The Lower Cape May Regional graduate came back to his old high school and helped sign up 191 people to be bone marrow donors.

Not a lot of fanfare, media, or PR junk here - just a guy working for a good cause for all the right reasons. Turns out he's got a pretty good reason to care about bone marrow donation, too.

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Wednesday Headlines: Cubs Welcome Back Another Legend

As was noted in yesterday's thread, another former Cub will be making the rounds at spring training this year. Let's all give a hearty welcome to non-roster invitee Todd Wellemeyer.

Well, spring-training mornings around Fitch Park should be fun as Carlos Zambrano walks through the clubhouse and yells, "Shoulders!" about 10 times every day. "Shoulders" was Big Z's nickname for pitcher Todd Wellemeyer, whom the Cubs are in the process of signing to a minor-league contract with an invite to spring training.

One report had Wellemeyer getting $800,000. The Cubs aren't confirming that, and he'll likely get the 800 Gs only if he makes the team.

 Wellemeyer joins an already motley crew of non-roster invitees this spring.

It'll be an interesting and fun group of non-roster invitees: Scott Moore (another guy on his second tour of duty with the Cubs after originally coming from the Tigers along with Bo Flowers and Roberto Novoa for Kyle Farnsworth in Feb. 2005); Reed Johnson (ditto that on the second tour of duty); Bobby Scales; Angel Guzman and Bryan LaHair.

Has anyone seen Les Walrond?

Those, of course, are in addition to former first-round bust Luis Montanez. Maybe Kevin Millar will come around again, too.

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Tuesday Cubs Headlines: Jeff Samardzija Is Fighting For Your Love


 We've got 22 days until pitchers and catchers report, and Cubs news  is harder to come by then ever,  So I knew you guys would be glad when I came across this article at Cubs.com about how committed Jeff Samardzija is to making you happy.

CHICAGO -- Jeff Samardzija is so excited about how his offseason is going and how well he's throwing that he told two reporters to come down to Arizona to watch.

This will be a key spring for the Cubs pitcher.

"I'm kind of taking a different approach to it this year," Samardzija said. "You don't want to sound selfish, but I'm taking care of what I can take care of. I'm sure the list is up to seven or eight guys trying for the starting rotation. It's the same song every year."

I suspect that the two 'reporters' were his mom and dad. Also, I'd like to point out that mostly what Jeff has been able to "take care of" the last two years has been providing multiple souvenirs for the bleacher crowd. But perhaps I'm being too harsh.

The list of candidates for the five spots in the rotation was reduced by one when the Cubs dealt Tom Gorzelanny to the Nationals. This season will be different for Samardzija because he's out of options. Samardzija, who turned 26 on Sunday, is aware of his status.

"I really don't care, to tell you the truth," he said about the need to make the 25-man roster. "I'm very, very excited with how things are going and me being down there [in Arizona] since early November. How I'm working out, how I'm throwing the ball, how I'm throwing off the mound already, I'm very, very excited.

"I know at the end of the year, it'll be a different story than what it is now. A lot is to be written, but I'm excited. I feel great, I really do."

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Monday Headlines: Back to Baseball, Folks

(Photo Courtesy Chicago Tribune)

Now that the improbable playoff runs of any likable football team are over, we can get serious about the fast-approaching start of spring training. Unfortunately, there's not a whole lot of news out there for us to drown our tears in. Bruce Levine examined the contract situations of Carlos Marmol and Matt Garza, and what we can expect both of them to be paid in the future.

The bigger picture is whether the sides can come to an agreement on a three-year deal. A two-year contract would not be beneficial for the Cubs. Marmol has one more year of arbitration left in 2012. After that season, he'll be eligible for free agency. The Cubs would give Marmol a three-year deal if they could save some money over the average life of the three years. 

A good starting point for an agreement might be $18-$20 million. In 2011, Marmol most likely will get around $4.8 million when the sides decide to agree. Projecting next season, Marmol may get $7-$8 million, if he repeats his 2010 performance.

And for Garza?

The process of signing Garza is a bit different. The newest Cubs starting pitcher has two more years of arbitration left after 2011. As a comparison to pitchers in his class, Garza will make $5.9 million in 2011. His projected salary number in 2012 may be $10 million if he continues to put up 15 wins and throws his usual 200 innings. It may be up to $13-$15 million in 2013 if he stays consistent.

The Cubs may want to reconfigure all three seasons -- 2011-13 -- and offer something in the area of $23-$25 million.

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Community Alert: Hendry Is Signing Football Players Again

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 The lat thing I want to do on this frigid Friday morning is startle anyone.


Villanova's two-sport star Matt Szczur explained his decision to forgo a possible NFL career for a chance to become a Cubs outfielder Thursday.

Szczur, a speedy wideout who led Villanova to the NCAA football subdivision title in 2009, agreed to a $1.5 million deal with the Cubs after becoming a fifth-round pick in 2010 and playing in short-season Boise and Class-A Peoria last year.

Szczur said Cubs general manager Jim Hendry told him he wanted to see him as the starting center fielder in 2014, with Brett Jackson in left and Tyler Colvin in right.


"For him to say that, I totally believed him," he said. "He wasn't beating around the bush. That helps out a lot."

Baseball America ranked Szczur as the Cubs' No. 7 prospect, though two of the higher-ranked prospects, Chris Archer (No. 1) and Hak-Ju Lee (No. 4), were traded to the Rays in the Matt Garza deal.

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Wednesday Headlines: Arbitration Schmarbitration

(Chicago Tribune Photo by Brian Casella)

Remember last year when Ryan Theriot went all the way to his arbitration hearing and lost? Don't expect that to happen with any Cubs player this year. Every arb-eligible player is now signed, with the exception of Carlos Marmol.

General manager Jim Hendry took a big step Tuesday toward ensuring that won't happen when he agreed to terms with pitchers Matt Garza, Sean Marshall and Tom Gorzelanny, who is in the process of being traded to Washington.


Although closer Carlos Marmol filed for arbitration, Cubs insiders appeared confident the two sides will agree to terms before a hearing can take place next month. Marmol is seeking $5.65 million, while the Cubs are offering $4.1 million.

Geo Soto also signed.

The Cubs also made official their one-year, $3 million deal with catcher Geovany Soto, who also avoided salary arbitration.

And today could be the day we say our final goodbyes to Tom Gorzelanny.

Gorzelanny, who will take a physical exam Wednesday in Washington, received $2.1 million, a raise from the $800,000 he made with the Cubs last year.

If Gorzelanny passes the physical, the two teams will make official a deal that will send the left-hander to the Nationals for three minor-league prospects. Washington would then pay the pitcher's salary.

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Cubs Convention 2011 Is In The Books: A Look Back

First thing is first today: A huge LOHO CONGRATULATIONS to our own Doc_Blume, who welcomed baby boy Sebastian Blume to the world today.  Best wishes to the Blume family--save the kid some heartache and make him a Yankees fan.


Photo courtesy Chicago Tribune

Before we get to the Cubs Con recap, we're getting some more information on the prospects the Cubs got in return for our last starting lefty, Tom Gorzelanny:

The Cubs will receive Michael Burgess, a 22-year-old outfielder with a strong arm, Class A right-hander A.J. Morris, a fourth-round pick in 2009, and Class A left-hander Graham Hicks. None were rated among the Nationals' top 10 prospects.

Somehow, I feel like James Russell just got promoted.

I know that some you you hate, nay LOATHE, Twitter, and I promised to put up my Twitter feed from Cubs Con this weekend. The following encompasses mostly the first two sessions of Cubs Con Saturday morning, which were "The Ricketts Family" and "Meet the Management." This is the case because, after "Meet The Management," I basically walked and around got food and was basically worthless as a reporter. I'm sure you understand.

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Cubs (Finally) Trade Tom Gorzelanny To The Nats

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Yes, you.

 I feel like we've been talking about the Cubs trading Gorzelanny since the day after they acquired him.

Today, it finally happened:

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs have traded left-handed pitcher Tom Gorzelanny to the Washington Nationals for three minor league prospects -- two pitchers and an outfielder, according to two major league sources.

The trade is pending a physical that Gorzelanny is expected to take on Tuesday.

The Cubs felt it was necessary to make this move because of payroll constraints, and they felt comfortable with their depth on the pitching staff after acquiring starter Matt Garza from the Rays.

As I said in the post below, when Gorzelanny was introduced at Opening Ceremonies on Friday night, Tim and I both cocked our heads to the side and said "Rhu?" like my dog when she really really wants to understand me, but just doesn't. I was hoping he'd get traded while he was AT Cubs Con. .  like in the middle of an autograph session or something. . . and just get up an leave.

Alas, the Cubs never do anything that interesting.

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Monday Headlines: Cubs Con Sails into Sunset

(Photo Courtesy Chicago Tribune)

The Cubs Convention drew to a close Sunday, just as everyone in Chicago was getting ready to watch the Bears. As witnessed by the boundless enthusiasm of convention attendees in the above photo, Cubs Con 2011 was a smashing success. Today's stories are filled with highlights from the Convention, so we'll take a little from here and there. First up, Mike Quade shares that he'll be benching Starlin Castro for making mistakes again this year.

Manager Mike Quade promised accountability from his players for "performance and effort," while first base coach Bob Dernier said baserunners would "concentrate, have intelligence and be accountable."

Bob Dernier can say that just by virtue of Ryan Theriot being off the roster for a full season. Quade also let us know that we won't see any dugout fireworks this year.

Those waiting for an in-your-face dugout reaction from Quade after a player miscue or perceived lack of hustle can forget about it. Quade admitted he was once that way as a young manager in the minors but realized it's not the right approach to getting someone's attention. "Did I make my point? Yeah," Quade said. "But did I make a jerk of myself? Probably. ... Lose some respect? Absolutely."

Quade prefers an open line of communication between him and his players, and won't treat veterans like Alfonso Soriano exactly the same as the kids. "Are you going to deal with 'Sori' the same way you deal with (Blake) DeWitt?" he said. "No."

Does this mean he gives Soriano the silent treatment and DeWitt spankings?

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Cubs Con Day 2

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Kerry thows out the first pitch at last night's Opening Ceremonies (Photo courtesy Chicago Tribune)

 As I've been tweeting all day, this post is going to be a disjointed list of thought/things that have happened so far:

1) The Meetup last night was a huge success; thanks to all who stopped by, including our friends at the Cubs PR and Marketing department, the brains/funnybone behind The Heckler, Brad, ESPN100's Sarah Spai, my podcast partners Tim and Adam, flyball, baturkey, and many more. We had a grand ole time and ran up a very, very large tab.

2.  If you want to read my live tweets/updates from the morning sessions at Cubs Con, you can follow my twitter stream here: http://twitter.com/juliedicaro. You should also follow http://www.twitter.com/Aisle424 for updates from Tim.

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Happy Cubs Con Day, Kids!


Photo courtesy Chicago Tribune and some incredibly, incredibly patient Cubs.

Guess what day it is?

Go ahead. . .  guess!

Today is the day when Cubs fans from all over huddle together for warmth, dream of spring, and wait in line for hours on end for an autograph from Dwight Smith.

Of course, we here at LOHO will have correspondents staked out all over the Chicago Hilton & Towers, live tweeting the entire convention for those of you who can't be there, including the always-entertaining "Meet The Management" Session. Given that Sam Fuld has recently been traded, this should be high comedy.

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Kerry Wood Headed To Booth No Matter What Cubs Say

Screw You, Buddy!
(Kerry Wood responds to Dan Bernstein's WSCR report.)

If you, like me, happened to tune into WSCR-AM yesterday afternoon, you probably noticed that Boers and Bernstein's topics of conversation centered around two strange premises. First, that the Bears would almost certainly lose to the Seahawks and Chicagoland would go nuts. Strange, yes, but a) this isn't a Bears blog and b) it's standard riling-up stuff for sports radio, so, y'know, whatever. Secondly, however, was that Kerry Wood - returning, conquering Cub hero - had made a SECRET BLOOD PACT with the Cubs to become a Cubs broadcaster after his retirement, whenever that should occur.

(No blockquote because, duh, it happened on the radio.)

It seemed like a win-win situation for all. Beloved Cub actually gets to retire as a Cub, a rare occurrence (see: Grace, Mark) and the organ-I-zation gets to capitalize on his popularity with the fans. Hire a mercenary radio guy for a couple years to keep the seat warm, then BOOM - Kerry Wood all up in your radio. What's not to love?

Everything, apparently, if you're the Chicago Cubs and/or Kerry Wood, who came out last night with denials on full blast. Why?

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The Return of Reed!

Reed Johnson

 Washed up? Check.

Stupid facial hair? Check.

Desperation move by the Cubs to win back the fans? Check.

Kinda sucky? Check.

I don't care. The Cubs have agreed to a minor league contract with Reed Johnson and invited him to camp. And I'm irrationally exuberant about it. After all, now that Sam Fuld is gone, we need someone to crash into the ivy.

And yes, we all know that my love of Reedz orginated when Flyball and I ran into him near the batting cages and he was wearing a very tight t-shirt that showed off his very big muscles. So what? We all have those Cubs who don't deserve our


Who is yours and why?

Wednesday Headlines: The End of Koyie Hill?

(Chicago Tribune Photo)

The Cubs made a strange waiver claim Monday, adding catcher Max Ramirez to the 40-man roster.

The Chicago Cubs today claimed catcher Max Ramirez off waivers from the Boston Red Sox.

Ramirez was claimed off waivers by the Red Sox from the Texas Rangers last Wednesday, January 5. He split the 2010 campaign between the Rangers and their Triple-A Oklahoma City affiliate. Ramirez played 56 games with Oklahoma City, batting .286 (54-for-189) with nine doubles, three home runs, 29 RBI and a .373 on-base percentage. In 28 games in the big leagues last year, Ramirez batted .217 (15-for-69) with three doubles, two home runs, eight RBI and a .341 on-base percentage.

Yes, the Cubs traded Robinson Chirinos last week, but still have Koyie Hill and Wellington Castillo behind Geovany Soto on the 40-man. Does a Major League team usually keep 4 catchers on the 40-man? Do the Cubs like Ramirez better than Hill or Castillo? You might have guessed that he's out-of options, as he's been claimed off waivers twice in the last week. What should we expect from Ramirez?

Before the 2010 season, Baseball America wrote that Ramirez is "a plus hitter who works the count and drives the ball to all fields" when healthy. However, the publication described the catcher as a below-average defender with below-average arm strength and well below-average running speed.

Seems the perfect foil for the light hitting Hill.

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LOHO Leaving Chicago Now to Launch G9 Sports

So here's the big announcement:

After a lot of  soul-searching and thought, my trusty sidekick gravedigger and I have decided to start our own blog network. Pat has graciously offered his time and talent in our newly-created "graphics department," which he is heading up.

The new network, G9sports.com, will be much like other networks in that it will feature a homepage, a designated homepage for each sport, and individual team blogs for each and every professional sports team (and, down the road, some college teams). But G9 Sports will be different in one major respect: every single blog on the network will be run by a woman.

For the last month, Mark and I have been scouring the internet looking for the smartest, wittiest, sassiest female sports bloggers around. To date, we have about 30 girls signed up and it's a pretty impressive list, if I do say so myself. These aren't girls who want to cover everything pink and bedazzle it. These girls are serious, die-hard, uber-knowledgeable sports fans who happen to be women. Honestly, until I became active on Twitter, I

I had no idea there were so many of us out there. Like Rose O'Donnell said in this site's namesake movie: "Always made me feel like l was wrong. Like l was some sort of a weird girl or a strange girl... ...or not even a girl, just because l could play. I believed them too. But not anymore. l mean, look. There"s a lot of us."

Indeed there are a lot of us. . .  a whole lot of us. "G' for "Girls," and "9" as a nod to "Title IX," without which many of us wouldn't be interested in sports to begin with. Can you dig it? I knew that you could.

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Monday Headlines: Garza Trade Official

(Chicago Tribune Photo)

The trade to end all trades became official on Saturday, and Matt Garza didn't think Jim Hendry would pull it off, either.

"I was kind of caught off guard," he said. "My name was out there with a numerous amount of teams, and I just kept training. My job was to get ready for the season, whether it be in Tampa or wherever. Now, I'm getting ready to show up in Mesa, Ariz., in tiptop shape and ready to go for the season."

Despite the whiff of desperation emanating from this trade, Jim Hendry wants you to know he's not going all in for 2011.

"This wasn't a trade -- and I heard a few things and I read a few-- that we're trying to win right now," Hendry said. "Matt is 27; he's going to be a Cub for a while. We look at this as a great trade for the present and the future."

And though they had to include Sam Fuld, we're getting a faster version of him back in Fernando Perez.

"He's one of the fastest guys in the game," Hendry said. "He's a flyer. He was well on his way to looking like his career was going to take off after the World Series run, and then he had the severe injury to his hand and wrist. He's much healthier now that he's only hitting right-handed."

I'm sure it will be really fun to watch him run speedily on weakly hit ground balls.

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Cubs Fans Mid-Winter Tweetup Hopping; Cubs Con. . . Not So Much

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Last year's Cubs Con Meetup got crowded.

Has this EVER happened before?

Tickets to the 2009 Cubs Convention sold out in 24 minutes. Two years later, $60 tickets to the annual fan fest remain available two months after they went on sale and just a week before the three-day convention kicks off Friday.

The slow ticket sales raise some interesting questions. Is this a sign that the team's popularity is starting to wane after two years without a playoff appearance? Have fans decided that if the Cubs are not going to spend lavishly on free agents during the off-season then maybe they should keep their pocketbooks closed, too?

Cubs officials say the convention remains popular. They expect ticket sales to the 26th annual event will equal, if not surpass, last year's total. The convention has sold out for several years, attracting about 15,000 fans a year.

While the convention may still sell out, the Hilton Chicago, which has hosted the festival for 20 years, is not feeling the love from fans.

As of Friday, fans had not reserved as many rooms this year as in the past, which is the reason convention passes are still available, Cubs officials say. The team is trying to sell the hotel's allotment of tickets.


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Weekend Headlines: All Things Garza

(Chicago Tribune Photo)

You may or may not have heard about a trade the Cubs agreed to yesterday. You can rest assured the Chicago media did, and we're lucky enough to have gotten the columnists involved. If you're like me, you've been dying to know what Phil Rogers feels about the Garza trade, and our wait is over. You'd expect Crazy Uncle Phil to make a bold assertion right out of the box, proclaiming this trade either the greatest trade ever or the end of the world. You'd be wrong.

For the first time since Tom Ricketts closed the deal for his family to buy his favorite team, the Cubs have taken a possibly significant step forward in trading for Matt Garza. There's something to be said for breaking a streak, but as usual, fans are advised to hold their applause until the end.

Hedging our bets are we? Sounds like cautious optimism from our dear uncle. But no amount of players involved in the trade could keep him from focusing on public enemy #1.

Adding Garza,27, to a rotation behind Ryan Dempster and Carlos Zambrano hardly seems enough to close the gap significantly between the Cubs and the National League Central's first-division teams, the Cardinals, Reds and Brewers. But Garza has a powerful arm along the lines of Zambrano before his decline and thus has the potential to do what Zambrano did not -- develop into a reliable, long-term ace.

Phil made it about a third of the way through his column about the Garza trade before he started bashing Carlos Zambrano. If you'd like a discussion about how Carlos Zambrano's actually been better the last couple years than he was previously, please check out Doc's blog about it from yesterday. He's no Zambrano apologist, and even he agrees that Crazy Uncle Phil has some issues.

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Cubs Acquire Matt Garza from Rays

(Tribune Photo)

Only one day after the Chicago Cubs denied that a deal was in the works for Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Matt Garza, it appears that Garza is, or is close to being, a Cub at last. I guess that'll be the last time I believe anything the Cubs say; I should have known better. Here's what Dave van Dyck has to say for now:

The names apparently will include minor-leaguer right-hander Chris Archer, obtained in the Mark DeRosa trade with Cleveland, and shortstop Hak-Ju Lee. Both are considered the Cubs' top prospects at their positions, but Archer is at least a year away from the majors and Lee is stuck behind Starlin Castro. Among other names floated in the proposed deal are Brandon Guyer and catching prospect Robinson Chirinos.

While the cost seems a bit steep (in addition to the names above, Sam Fuld is also reportedly headed south) - I was at peace with a youth movement over the next couple years, but that youth is now on a Greyhound bus to St. Petersburg  - this much is certain: the Cubs now have one of the finest collections of #2 starters in all of baseball. So, overall....yay? Maybe false hope for the season is better than no hope at all; I guess we'll find out.

Friday Headlines: Your #1 Source For Baltimore Sports News

(Pic from YouTube. If you mumble it, "Bobblehead" sounds like "Baltimorehead.")

If there was any doubt that this is, ah, not The Most Exciting Offseason the Cubs have ever experienced, try this on for size: the biggest news today in the Cubsosphere (I just made that up!) is that semi-beloved former Atlanta Brave Derrek Lee is now officially a Baltimore Oriole. While I certainly wish D-Lee all the luck in the world as an Oriole (until they meet and get crushed by the Cubs in the 2011 World Series, of course), Cubs fans might cringe at this bit of information (from the Baltimore Sun, your #1 source for Chicago Cubs news):

He hasn't swung a bat this offseason, but expects to be cleared soon.
Yikes, For a guy with a reputation for notoriously slow spring starts, that can't bode well for the poor Orioles. In a division like the AL East, good luck moseying slowly out of the gate this Spring.

Here ends your regularly-scheduled Maryland current events update. Back to Chicago!

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Thursday Headlines: Obligatory Hall of Fame Post

(Pic from MLBlogs.com)

Yesterday, a small museum in rural New York revealed it will be inducting two new members, or so I'm told. Following the goings-on of small museums ruled cruelly by old white men is not normally one of my hobbies, but if Phil Rogers thinks it's a big deal, you can bet I'm going to at least give it a look:

Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven will join long-time general manager Pat Gillick in being inducted into baseball's Hall of Fame next July. There was no surprise there, as both were near-misses in 2010.
Pat Gillick! Wow. Maybe this IS a big story, after all. Still, after the first sentence of the article, I saw no Cubs connection and was ready to move on to the huge story of the Cubs Caravan stopping in Rockford today. But then I saw this shocker:

The most intriguing development in the 2011 vote was found a lot further down the ballot. Rafael Palmeiro, who amassed 569 home runs and 3,020 hits in a career that began with the 1986 Cubs drew less support from voters than the likes of Dave Parker, Don Mattingly and Dale Murphy.
Now this...well, this changes everything.
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Wednesday Headlines: Did Gordo Get the Scoop?

(Chicago Tribune Photo)

Gordon Wittenmyer's back after a month off with a bombshell. Posted at 2:32 am Central, Gordo says the Cubs are on the cusp of acquiring Matt Garza via trade.

The Cubs appear to have moved past the Texas Rangers and into the driver's seat in efforts to acquire Tampa Bay Rays 15-game winner Matt Garza -- a potential move that could put the Cubs back into the ­National League Central title conversation for 2011.

A major-league source said Tuesday the Cubs were close to trading for the power-pitching right-hander, just as the Rangers were committing a big multiyear deal to third baseman Adrian Beltre and appeared to be pursuing free-agent closer Rafael Soriano. Those efforts come after the Rangers fell short in their efforts to use the money to keep big-ticket free-agent pitcher Cliff Lee.

Gordo doesn't give us any hints as to who might be going to the Rays, though.

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Tuesday Headlines: Just Some Stuff

(Chicago Tribune Photo)

Carrie Muskat has kept headlines afloat over the holidays, but Bruce Miles is back from vacation, and has information we actually have interest in. First up, Mr. Miles says that Jim Hendry is still hot on the trail of a new starting pitcher

The Cubs still are looking for a starting pitcher, but nothing appears imminent as far as a trade or a free-agent signing goes. Either way, it could make for a lively fan session with the GM during the Saturday part of the convention program.

Lively fan session, indeed. The Cubs Con recap from Julie should be extra fun this year. Speaking of Cubs Con, all sings have indicated that the new radio color man would be hired before the convention this year. Mr. Miles isn't so sure.

I also don't expect any quick announcement on a successor to the late Ron Santo in the Cubs radio booth. There are a lot of candidates and two entities _ the Cubs and WGN radio _ as part of the process.

Sorry, Doc. It might be awhile before you get your good news.

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Monday Headlines: Back to the Grind

(Chicago Tribune Photo)

Over the holiday weekend, the Trib's Hall of Fame voters posted their ballots for scrutiny online. I figured there would be no better one to examine than that of one Crazy Uncle Phil. Phil had a tough time with this year's ballot, especially with the newcomers.

Roberto Alomar, Larry Walker (check him out -- what a complete player!), Jeff Bagwell and maybe even Rafael Palmeiro will receive votes. Add in lingering holdovers like Bert Blyleven and Lee Smith and strong candidates new to the ballot in the last few years and it is one of the toughest ballots I have tackled in the 15 years I've been voting.

I'd like to point out that Roberto Alomar was on last year's ballot. You'd think that's something he might remember. So, Phil, how are we going to handle this sticky steroids issue? In case you didn't see it, commenter FrankS made a reasonable argument for the inclusion of steroid users in the New Year thread. One I happen to agree with. Let's see what Phil thinks.

I'm not voting for players who have been linked directly to steroids, so I won't vote for Palmeiro, whose play (especially his hitting) I respect highly. I'm not going to vote for Bagwell, but that's because I feel his resume isn't quite strong enough, not because of steroid suspicion. And if I'm not voting for Bagwell, I can't keep voting for Harold Baines (most hits of any eligible player not in the Hall) after four years of support, so he's off my ballot.

So any direct link is out, innuendo is fine, but Jeff Bagwell wasn't quite good enough to spite the innuendo. I think I understand. The rest of the Trib writers ballots can be viewed from this page.

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Happy New Year from LOHO!

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 01: Fireworks light up Sydney Harbour during the midnight fireworks session as Sydney Celebrates New Year's Eve on December 31, 2010 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Jeremy Ng/Getty Images)
Find Kiwibob in this photo from Sydney's celebration

Happy New Year to each and everyone one you LOHOers. Even the ones who don't comment. Anyone making resolutions? Any resolutions you think the Cubs should make?

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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