• Reliever Dave Smith, who was an Astro for 11 years and saved 199 games in a Houston uniform before signing with the Cubs as a free agent before the 1991 season, died Wednesday of a heart attack at age 53.
Smith, second on the Astros' all-time saves list behind Billy Wagner, was a two-time All Star for Houston, but he was mostly awful for the Cubs. He went 0-6, 4.95 in 46 games in 1991 and '92. Smith pitched his final game for the Cubs and his final game as a big leaguer on June 8, 1992.
• Rob Neyer turns his attention to the almost Cub, Jake Peavy, asking to what extent Peavy's outstanding numbers are the result of his pitching in the hitters' graveyard known as Petco Field.
Is Peavy going to post the same ERAs with some other team as he has with the Padres? No, he's not. Not consistently, anyway. But unless his employers are expecting that, they shouldn't be at all disappointed. If you adjust Peavy's ERA over the past five seasons to account for his home ballpark -- granted, in something of a crude fashion -- he still winds up seventh best in the majors, right between Roy Oswalt and Carlos Zambrano. Is there any team that wouldn't be thrilled with any of those three?• Ryne Sandberg will manage the Cubs' Double-A team at Tennessee in 2009, a promotion from Class-A Peoria, where Sandberg over the last two seasons, Sandberg led the Chiefs to a 131-146-1 record.
• Finally, an item about a billionaire MLB owner who finds himself in a non-baseball financial mess so awful, it seems inevitable it will affect the operation of the billionaire's team, and—here's the good news—the team isn't the Chicago Cubs.