It's a big week in Cubdom, with the kickoff of the team's annual caravan Wednesday and the convention this weekend at the Chicago Hilton. We'll be there for all of it, with live tweeting, which should be fun for some of the Saturday management sessions. Every first-timer has his or her jaw drop when they get a load of the convention. Can't see the looks on the faces of Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, Jason McLeod and Dale Sveum when they see fans with license plates around their necks and flashing lights atop their Cubs helmets.
As you know, the Hall of Fame results are in. Congrats to former Reds great Barry Larkin on being the only player elected. My ballot had Larkin, along with Jeff Bagwell, Jack Morris, Tim Raines, Alan Trammell, Lee Smith and Edgar Martinez. Morris came close, with 66.7 percent of the vote. He had 53.5 percent last year. Morris was second in this year’s voting, followed by Jeff Bagwell (56 percent), former Cubs closer Lee Smith (50.6), onetime White Sox outfielder Tim Raines (48.7) and former Tigers shortstop and Cubs coach Alan Trammell (36.8).
As far as the Cubs go, talk is that they're close to signing lefty Paul Maholm, whose option was not renewed by the Pirates. The Cubs' 40-man roster is at 40, so they'll have to make a move if they do sign Maholm.
UPDATE: Late Monday night, Maholm announced his own signing with the Cubs on Twitter and said he would be at the convention this weekend.
Despite a 6-14 record last year, Maholm had a 3.66 ERA. The FIP was 3.78, with the xFIP being 4.03, so he beat the expected FIP. Could be worth a flyer.
If you haven't done so already, check out Barry Rozner's latest column, on Kerry Wood:
Wood, who did former GM Jim Hendry a personal favor last year by signing a one-year deal worth $1.5 million, said at the end of the season he'd likely retire if he couldn't play for the Cubs again. But Wood may want to pitch some more, and he may be asking for something in the area of $4 million. He should. At the same time, new Cubs president Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer have no loyalty to Wood as they seek to retool with younger pitchers. If Wood does go elsewhere, I’d chalk it up to “just business.”
I was looking at some of the stuff for the Cubs convention. During the kids press conference session, one of the participants is Todd Walker. That's Todd Walker of second-base "fame" of a few years ago. He was the hot subject of one convention, when fans clearly made him the people's choice. Then-manager Dusty Baker had to comfort one young fan, who was afraid the Cubs would trade Walker. I liked dealing with Walker a lot. It comes as no surprise to this reporter that he's part of something that includes a "press conference." Ol' Walk would do a press conference in his sleep.
The fun day always is Saturday, when Cubs fans get to grill (or what passes for grilling) Cubs management. Epstein gets his own session, "Behind the Scenes with Theo Epstein," at 9 Saturday followed immediately by "Meet Baseball Management," featuring Hoyer, assistant GM Randy Bush and Sveum. You get extra credit if you use the word "calculus" to any question asked to Theo. Even when the Cubs were losing and people seemed fed up with former GM Jim Hendry, the questions tended to be friendly for the most part.
Radio announcer Pat Hughes will host a panel celebrating the recent election of Ran Santo to the Hall of Fame. Billy Williams, Glenn Beckert and Randy Hundley will join members of the Santo family for the session.
The Ricketts family again will host their own session, with Tom, Laura, Pete and Todd on the panel.
Sveum and his coaching staff will meet the fans, with TV analyst Bob Brenly hosting. Do you think BB will ask about fundamentals and how badly last year's team played?
Business president Crane Kenney and marketing chief Wally Hayward will have their own session along with other members of the non-baseball side of things. You can ask about tickets and plans for Wrigley Field.
Hope to see you there this weekend.