Cubs fan analyzes trade deadline

by John Pearman


NOTE: While I hate the Cubs with all my being, I am a fan of my business partner John Pearman. Therefore, I am airing his opinion about the Cardinals and Cubs at mid-season. These opinions are his own.

When we started the CubsCardsCast podcast in advance of the 2015 baseball season, the purpose was to have a lively discussion around the rivalry that exists between the Chicago Cubs and the St Louis Cardinals. And it turns out we picked a good time to do this. Our teams have been very competitive each year since and the rivalry has been more balanced than any other time in modern history.

2019 is no different. As I write this post the Cubs and Cardinals are tied atop the NL Central with identical 57-50 records. However, on this August 1st morning it feels like these teams are headed in different directions.

The July 31st trade deadline came and went yesterday. The Cubs methodically went out and checked the boxes that required attention leading into the one and only trade deadline this year. The Cardinals did not.

Arguably, the Cardinals roster had more boxes to check than the Cubs. They checked none of them. (I recognize the Brewers are just one game out of first place and very much in the divisional race…but this is CubsCardsCast. We compare the Cubs and Cardinals here. I’m sure there is a podcast out there somewhere trying to gin up the Cubs and/or Cardinals rivalry with the Brewers. If that’s what you’re after, feel free to stop reading and go there now.)

Though Cubs fans may find it difficult to get too excited about two months of Nick Castellanos and the additions of Tony Kemp, David Phelps and Derek Holland. They add depth and address current needs and they improved the roster. Factor in the earlier signing of Craig Kimbrel and the Cubs were one of the more active teams leading up to the deadline.

The bottomline is that the Cubs management looked at their flawed first place team and said we’re going to do what we think is needed to win this year. And despite the many excuses and all the finger-pointing engaged in by the Cardinals management, they clearly didn’t view their first place team the same way.

While Cubs fans should be pleased with the approach taken by their front office and ownership, Cardinals fans should be more incensed than ever. And the reason is that the Cardinals possess the necessary depth of talent that was needed to acquire difference-making players to help carry your team to a successful 2019 season. For a team that has not made the post-season since 2015 you would think there might be more urgency for a team that now finds itself in first place with 2 months to play.

I’m not going to try to convince anyone that Zach Wheeler was the key element the Cardinals needed to win the division. But I would argue that he’s better than Michael Wacha or Daniel Poncedeleon. In fact, few would argue otherwise. It is being alleged that the asking price for Wheeler by the Mets was Harrison Bader and Tyler O’Neill. It is also alleged that the Cardinals didn’t want to part with Bader, back-up catcher Andrew Knizner or prized prospects Dylan Carlson and Nolan Gorman. According to the same source, they were offering O’Neill and Lane Thomas in trade discussions.

So why didn’t they get Wheeler? If they were truly offering O’Neill to other teams then it would seem that they viewed the cost of O’Neill and Bader to be too much to pay for two months of a pitcher that’s just a little better than okay. They’re right. That is too much to pay. And newsflash to the Cardinals front office: the reason you always come up short in your pursuit of every free agent (except Dexter Fowler!!!) and trade possibility is because of your unwillingness to overpay. When a team’s management has confidence in their team’s ability to win, they’re willing to overpay for the elements needed to put their team over the top.

The Cubs have famously done it. In 2016 they gave up their top prospect, Gleyber Torres to rent Aroldis Chapman. And in case you’re not aware…it worked out. In 2017 they gave up Dylan Cease and Eloy Jimenez to get Jose Quintana. That one hasn’t quite worked out as hoped. But Quintana goes to the post every 5 days and has been more than adequate.

The point I’m trying to make is that Harrison Bader shouldn’t be the reason you don’t have Zach Wheeler. You’ve seen enough of him at the MLB level to know what he is and what he isn’t. And your organization likely has the best depth at CF of any team in baseball. Lane Thomas, Randy Arozarena, Dylan Carlson….Dexter Fowler. The Cardinals would be no worse off had they traded O’Neill and Bader for Wheeler than they are now and would likely be better off every fifth day with him taking the place of Wacha, Poncedeleon or Adam Wainwright in the rotation.

The Cardinals management and ownership appear to be acting out of fear. And not the right kind of fear. They should fear losing the division…a division they find themselves leading on August 1st. However, they appear to fear that Bader and/or O’Neill will find success elsewhere and are concerned about how that reflects upon them. These aren’t players that are essential to the Cardinals ability to win. The Cardinals have Marcell Ozuna returning to play LF. They have Fowler in CF currently. They appear to prefer Jose Martinez to O’Neill for some reason when they’re forced to choose. So why not give up O’Neill and Bader for Wheeler?

This is just one example. In reality, the Cardinals have the personnel and talent in their organization to have been players for Madison Bumgarner, Zach Greinke (yes, he had a no-trade clause…and YES, he said he was willing to waive it for the right deal), Marcus Stroman, Matt Boyd or Trevor Bauer. The Cardinals didn’t do what it takes to deliver a difference-making talent to help their 2019 team win. Or how about a left-handed bat or two? What you’re getting from the left side from Fowler, Matt Wieters, Kolten Wong and what’s left of Matt Carpenter isn’t scaring anyone. Another box that Cardinals management didn’t check.

Left-handed relief? Andrew Miller and….? This wasn’t even a difficult or costly need to fill. Look at what the Nationals gave up to get left-handed set-up man Roenis Elias. The Cardinals have a dozen prospects exactly like the ones traded. Instead the Cardinals are turning to Zac Rosscup.

With two months to play the Cubs aren’t yet planning any parades, but they’re in better shape today than they were yesterday. And the team they find themselves tied with atop the NL Central are not.

August 1st may prove to be the key demarcation date this season for the Cubs-Cardinals rivalry…and if that does indeed prove to be the case, the Cardinals management is clearly to blame.


Bush’s DOJ could have destroyed Obama’s first term, but didn’t

by Dan Curry


Shortly after Barack Obama was elected president and before he took office, he and key members of his transition team were vulnerable. Unknowingly, they were walking right into wiretaps of now imprisoned IL Governor Rod Blagojevich, who was under federal investigation for trying to sell a U.S. Senate seat (Obama’s).

This operation was overseen by the George W. Bush Department of Justice.

Had GWB and his brass determined Barack Obama was a threat to the Republic, he could have actively tried to ensnare Obama in the trap using some phony pretense. He could have sent government spies to gather information. He could have ordered FBI agents to amble over to the transition office to chat with Rahm Emanuel, Valerie Jarrett and other key Obama figures, and try to catch them in a lie.

He could have leaked some of the damning results to the press and put the entire incoming administration under an ethical cloud.

But guess what? Bush’s DOJ, instead of pressing forward, pulled the plug on the Blagojevich investigation and arrested him Dec. 9, 2008. The stated reason was concern that Blagojevich would actually award a tainted U.S. Senate nomination (Obama’s seat) that would be hard to pull back. Another factor, and perhaps the main reason, is that the wiretaps were threatening to singe Obama’s team.

In other words, Bush protected the legitimacy of Obama’s election by protecting him from a legal scandal. The exact opposite of what Obama’s DOJ did to the incoming Trump administration.

Obama’s DOJ and national security apparatus put Trump campaign and other officials under investigation in 2016 based on an unproven and absurd opposition research smear “dossier” paid for by Hillary Clinton and the DNC. Despite massive efforts, law enforcement and the anti-Trump media still haven’t verified any of the document’s main assertions.

On the way out the door, Obama also laid ever trap he could — declassifying documents, ratcheting up the largely phony Russia narrative, sending FBI agents to trap incoming Trump officials days after he took office, and leaking nearly every document in Washington to his obedient, incurious lapdogs in the press.

Meanwhile, Bush’s DOJ backed off and spared Obama. But the heat was so close that U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald interviewed Obama, Rahm Emanuel, and Valerie Jarrett in mid-December 2018, a bit of news probably less than 1 percent of Americans know about. Despite dogged efforts by Judicial Watch, reports from those interviews remain sealed by the DOJ. Also, curiously, the Chicago Tribune refuses to release audio of the Blagojevich wiretaps it appears to possess, maybe because they are embarrassing to Obama.

After all, Obama had talked to a key union official on election night who promised to relay BO’s preference that Blagojevich appoint Jarrett to his Senate seat. Emanuel talked to Blagojevich directly multiple times. The incoming White House attorney produced a laughably flimsy report “clearing” all Obama officials of wrongdoing and that was good enough for the Obama-adoring press, which dropped the matter forever.

Keep in mind that although the public didn’t know about the wiretaps, it knew that Blagojevich was heavily under an expansive federal corruption investigation that likely was going to indict the flamboyant governor. So, Obama was negotiating for a valuable Senate seat for his good friend Valerie Jarrett with a man that his incoming DOJ was about to indict. A minefield of quid pro quo opportunities, indeed, and one that Obama never should have gone anywhere near.

But, as usual, a minefield that Obama walked right through without scrutiny.

Eight years later, Obama showed none of the class and decency Bush had bestowed on him. Bush didn’t try to undo the will of the people by corruptly contorting the nation’s legal and national security machinery to undo the results of an election. Obama did just that.

Such an obvious abuse of power can only survive with a corrupt liberal press, which pretends the above events never happened even though we all witnessed them.

When is Barack Obama going to be held accountable for anything?


What Cardinals need to do in off-season...

by Dan Curry


The following outline, I trust, will not be followed by the Cardinals front office in the coming weeks. Nonetheless, this is my conception of how the team should be reshaped. This assumes the Cardinals will not go after Giancarlo Stanton. I know some in the St. Louis and national media believe the Cardinals will be serious suitors for the slugger. However, I doubt the FO will want to swallow $200 million to $295 million in one gulp.

Objective 1

Reshape roster so Cards are positioned to compete for NL Central and win 90+ games.

Objective 2

Maintain vast majority of young pitching prospects — the Cards only current strategic advantage.

Objective 3

Retool everyday core lineup to get younger, more left-handed hitting, more athletic and more defensively proficient.

TOP POSITION PLAYER TRADE, FREE AGENT TARGETS: Christian Yelich, Kyle Seager, Eric Hosmer, Didi Gregorius, Marcell Ozuna, J.D. Martinez, Mike Moustakas, Justin Upton, Giancarlo Stanton, Brandon Belt.

PLAYERS WHO SHOULD BE OR WILL LIKELY BE TRADED: Matt Carpenter, Dexter Fowler, Randal Grichuk, Stephen Piscotty, either Tommy Pham or Tyler O’Neill, Aledmys Diaz, Carson Kelly, Jedd Gyorko, Junior Fernandez, Austin Gomber, Sam Tuivailala.

Moves:

  • Trade Fowler. I know he has a no-trade but I guarantee he’ll agree to go someplace. Will need to eat some salary but need the money to sign free agents and he blocks better defensive players and doesn’t really hit well enough for corner OF.

  • Trade Carpenter. He is starting to decline and will be 32 next year. Get something for him while he’s still good. Great pickup for certain AL teams.

  • Sign Eric Hosmer. He’ll be 28 next year so would be getting 4 years younger at 1B. He’s having career year at about .870 OPS and should be a good hitter for three or four years. Winning player.

  • Trade for Christian Yelich. Cards should pull out the stops to make this happen. He’s a LF hitting OF who can play a good CF or LF. He’ll be 26 next year and is already a low .800 OPS guy who could settle in at .900 during his upcoming peak years.

  • Trade for Kyle Seager, or alternatively, sign Mike Moustakas. Both dangerous bats and decent fielding, LH third baseman.

  • Another alternative: Trade for Didi Gregorius, the Yankees LH SS and move Paul DeJong to 3b. Yanks have top prospect Gleyber Torres waiting in the wings to play SS and might be willing to deal Didi.

  • Resign Nicasio as closer and add at least one other quality reliever via trade or free agent.

Everyday lineup possibilities

Possible 1 Possible 2 Possible 3
Bader/Sierra CF Bader/Sierra CF Bader/Sierra CF
Yelich RF Wong 2B Wong 2B
Pham RF Yelich LF Yelich LF
Hosmer 1B DeJong SS DeJong 3B
DeJong SS Hosmer 1B Hosmer 1B
Seager/Moustakas 3B O’Neill RF O’Neill RF
Wong 2B Seager/Moustakas 3B Gregorius SS
Molina C Molina C Molina C
Pitcher Pitcher Pitcher

Starting pitchers

  • Martinez
  • Weaver
  • Wacha
  • Reyes
  • Wainwright/Flaherty/Gant/Hudson
  • Scrapheap veteran for backup/long relief

Relief pitchers

  • Free agent/trade
  • Nicasio signing
  • Cecil
  • Brebbia
  • Alcantara
  • Hudson
  • Sheriff
  • Gant

Why won’t Tribune release secret Blagojevich tapes?

by Dan Curry


Why is the Chicago Tribune holding back release of its trove of sealed 2008 FBI wiretapped conversations between then-Governor Rod Blagojevich and top Democratic figures in Illinois?

Does the material potentially embarrass figures like Barack Obama, Rahm Emanuel, Valerie Jarrett and others?

Those conversations — both audiotapes and transcripts — remain sealed under a federal court order.

But the Tribune long ago obtained a copy of some or all of the sealed material and has been releasing it as it sees fit. It dropped a bomb on Democratic candidate for governor J.B. Pritzker this week, revealing he was wheeling and dealing with Blagojevich in 2008 for various appointments. The story — and audiotape — will undoubtedly hurt Pritzker in the months ahead but what about the other tapes and transcripts, which the Tribune acknowledged it possesses.

Federal law enforcement officials captured the candid talks on secret wiretaps as they investigated Blagojevich and his administration for public corruption in fall 2008. The Tribune obtained the recordings, as well as transcripts of calls to others.

Ironically, Blagojevich and his lawyers have been trying for years to make public the transcripts and recordings, said to be in excess of 500 hours of conversations. Most recently, the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in 2014 declined to unseal the material upon request of Obama DOJ prosecutors. Other non-Tribune media has been rebuffed in its efforts to obtain the sealed wiretap material.

One of the authors of this week’s Tribune story, Jeff Coen, was a co-author of the excellent 2012 book, Golden: How Rod Blagojevich talked himself out of the Governor’s office and into prison, that references wiretap material it obtained outside the court record. While on their book tour, the authors admitted they had access to the sealed court material but declined to reveal their source.

A small fraction of the wiretap material was admitted into evidence in the 2010 and 2011 trials and was released publicly. Blagojevich was convicted of trying to sell Barack Obama’s old Senate seat and of other public corruption counts. He was sentenced to 14 years in prison, which he is serving in Colorado.

The Tribune earlier released another explosive bit of sealed wiretap material that captured Blagojevich saying he believed convicted influence peddler Tony Rezko sent Barack Obama’s 2004 Illinois Senate campaign a $25,000 donation for “street money” that never was disclosed by Obama’s campaign. Obama and Rezko denied the allegation and the Tribune authors’ book says the feds chased down the lead and it came up empty.

It is well documented that Obama’s transition team in 2008 was in direct and indirect contact with Blagojevich during the wiretap period, angling for a Valerie Jarrett Senate appointment at one point, and, later, for other considerations. These conversations were enough to cause the FBI to interview Obama, Emanuel and Jarrett before Obama became president. Judicial Watch is suing to obtain the FBI 302 reports on those interviews.

Why is the Tribune acting as sole judge and jury as to what is in the public interest regarding these conversations? It ought to release all the material and let the public decide. It is both the right thing to do journalistically and economically because the material will generate tons of traffic.

With the public rightly wary of liberal media bias, it is in the Tribune’s best interest to release the material and dispel the notion it might be protecting some powerful Democrats from embarrassment or worse.