Wednesday, August 26, 2009

My Thoughts on the Disappointment So Far

For the most part this season, I have been optimistic. After losing 15-6 to the Nationals last night, however, even I have to admit the difficulty of optimism.

So why is this season so disappointing?

There are a few reasons, this season has been a perfect storm of misery.

Like 2004, there have been a ridiculous amount of injuries. The opening day lineup has only been used twice all season. The starting rotation at the beginning of the season has all spent time on the DL with the exception of Sean Marshall, who is now in the bullpen.

Secondly, a huge number of the team is not meeting their normal numbers offensively. Bradley, Soriano, and Soto primarily. These are players (with the possible exception of Soto who is only in his second year) that you have an expectation of what they will give you offensively, so when they don't, it puts a huge whole in the offensive numbers you were expecting with your team.

Finally, the unbelievable ineptitude of the bullpen, especially the failure that is the Kevin Gregg experiment (and I can not stress enough how much I hate, hate, hate Kevin Gregg as a baseball player, I can't speculate on my feelings of him as a person, but as a baseball player, pure hatred), has blown a number of games that were not only winnable, but were practically won.

Things are certainly bad right now, and chances are very close to non-existent when it comes to a playoff run, but the fact remains that if this team starts playing to its potential, there is still a chance for a run. Unfortunately, for that run to take place, nearly everything has to go right for the Cubs as well as go wrong for some of the teams ahead of them, which as the season's remaining games dwindle, becomes less and less likely.

Despite the poor chances of the Cubs making the playoffs this season, I will continue to devote what time I can to watching them and even when I can't watch the games, making sure I am aware of the results. That is just who I am as a Cubs fan, and if it turns out that we are unable to manufacture a miracle this season, then I guess I will have to fall back on that ever popular saying amongst us Chicago Cub faithful, "There's always next year."

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


After two long, long days without any Cubs baseball, the Cubbies return to action tonight against the Cincinatti Reds at 7:05 CST. It feels like it has been forever. Hopefully the couple of days off will have helped the slight injuries that the team has suffered over the first two weeks. Also, the bullpen has certainly needed the rest as they have been getting a lot of work of late, although not doing a great job in the process.

Still, entering week three of the season, the Cubs are in first place in the division.

There is a long way to go, and I'm ready to make the journey.

Go, Cubs, Go.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Opening Week

Baseball is in full swing now, nearly two full weeks in the books. I went to four games opening week, Opening day and the second game of Cubs verses Astros in Houston and then was at Detroit at Toronto on Wednesday (although for only 1 and a half innings as my flight was massively delayed) and Thursday, so it was mucho beisbol for me last week. This week all of my baseball viewing has been on the television (or more likely on my computer screen via

Here are some of the things I've noticed so far...

Carlos Marmol should be closing for the Cubbies and not Kevin Gregg. Marmol has been spectacular, while Gregg has blown 2 saves and been the culprit in a late inning loss when he came in with the game tied. In the two games Marmol has come in with a save opportunity, however, the Cubs have gotten the win without giving up so much as a run. In Gregg's only save, he nearly blew a three run lead. Time to make the switch, Lou.

It is amazing how unique things happen in baseball to this day. Rich Harden went only three innings in his last start, but struck out 8 of the 9 outs and the only out that wasn't a strike out was on a baserunning play. That means that 0 of the outs for Harden's three innings of work he didn't get a single out on a batted ball. No ground outs, fly outs, line outs, pop outs, or fly outs. That has never happened since at least 1954 for an outing of at least 3 innings. Ian Kinsler the other day hit for the cycle, which is rare in and of itself, but he did it in a game that he went 6 for 6 in. The last time someone had a perfect day with that many hits and hit for the cycle? 1894. Despite the fact that there are 30 teams that play this game at least 162 times a year, there are still things happening that are at the very least rare, and occasionally completely unique.

You really don't want to be my AL preseason World Series pick. Last year I picked the Tigers, they then started 0-7. This year I picked the Indians who promptly went 0-5 and lost 7 of their first 8.

Finally, I want to tell a little story about my return from Toronto. As my plane was arriving back into DFW, the cloud cover was 100%. You couldn't see anything but clouds. Then, as we began to descend towards them one little spot opened up perfectly framing a baseball field. It was awesome. After we emerged from the clouds, the first thing that caught my eye on the ground was another baseball field. The Baseball season is here and I am so glad.

The Houston Skyline from Minute Maid as the sun is going down.

Alfonso Soriano up to bat

New Cub Milton Bradley in the field

Rogers Center, home of the Toronto Blue Jays, from outside

Rogers Center, home of the Toronto Blue Jays after beating the Tigers 6-2

Monday, April 6, 2009


Happy Opening Day!!!!!!!!

I will be at the Cubs game today at the Juice Box in Houston to watch Carlos Zambrano and Roy Oswalt going head to head. Talk about a great matchup. It should be a great game.

Here are the earlier prediction posts

And now the NL CENTRAL

The Cubs have won the division each of the last two seasons, and this Cubs team is again favored by most everyone to do so again. The Cubs rotation is not only clearly the best in the Central but is arguably the best in the entire major leagues to go along with a great offense that is now even more balanced. The Brewers provided the most competition each of the last two seasons, but they no longer have CC Sabathia or Ben Sheets and their pitching is now a huge question mark. They still have a potent offense, but the pitching, both starting and relief will make them take a huge step back. St. Louis has somehow with spit and tape stayed competitive the last few seasons, but has been able to really compete at the end of the season. I don't expect much to change for them this year either. Houston seems to be two different teams each year. Among the leagues worst in the first half and a very competitive club in the second. If they hope to have any chance at anything this year, they need to come out of the gate much faster then they have in the last couple of years. Cincinnati looks to be a young and exciting team. They have great young pitching and very talented young position players. They could be this year's surprise contender. The Pirates are, as always, the Pirates.


Chicago 94-68
Cincinnati 84-78
Houston 83-79
St. Louis 82-80
Milwaukee 70-92
Pittsburgh 60-102


Tampa Bay Rays over Los Angeles Angels
Cleveland Indians over Boston Red Sox

Cleveland over Tampa Bay

Chicago Cubs over Atlanta Braves
New York Mets over Arizona Diamondbacks

Chicago over New York

Chicago over Cleveland

MVP-Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers
CY YOUNG-Josh Beckett, Boston Red Sox
MANAGER-Eric Wedge, Cleveland Indians
ROY-Elvis Andrus, Texas Rangers

MVP-Milton Bradley, Chicago Cubs
CY YOUNG-Johann Santana, New York Mets
MANAGER-Bobby Cox, Atlanta Braves
ROY-Cameron Maybin, Florida Marlins


Friday, April 3, 2009


Monday we did AL West
Tuesday we did AL Central
Wednesday we did AL East
Thursday we did NL West

Today we move onto the NL East and we'll finish with our very own NL Central on Monday, aka Opening Day, along with our postseason predictions and our award predictions.

The last two seasons, the Mets have lost the division at the very end of the year. The Phillies have taken advantage of that situation each of the last two seasons. The Braves and Marlins have been hanging around for a majority of the season lately, while finding at the end of the season they don't quite have enough to keep up. And then there is the Nationals.

The Braves have probably done as much as anyone to make themselves better, adding the Dodgers Ace from last season, Derek Lowe, as well as one of the Angels best players from the last few seasons, Garrett Anderson.

The Nationals added Adam Dunn (who is one of the best and most patient hitters in the majors) at bargain prices, so while they probably won't contend they will be much better this year then they have been in the past.

The Phillies are coming off of winning the World Series and that means that they'll have a bit of a target on their back, plus I don't think that the Mets can screw up their amount of talent for a third consecutive season.


New York 90-72
Atlanta 87-75
Philadelphia 86-76
Washington 79-83
Florida 76-86

Remember Monday is Opening Day (although there is a game Sunday night on ESPN between the Phillies and Braves) and it will also feature our final Preview and Prediction Post where we'll finally give our predictions for the NL Central as well as postseason picks and award predictions.

Thursday, April 2, 2009


After the last three days have given us the AL, we move onto the NL.

Just as it has been in the last few seasons, I think that the NL West is going to be one of the lesser divisions in the majors. Any of the teams really have the potential to take this division, because it is totally up for grabs. The Rockies a couple of seasons ago made it to the World Series. The Padres were one of the worst teams in baseball last year, but when their rotation is healthy it is among the leagues best (and it doesn't hurt that they play in a primo pitching park called Petco), but their payroll has been decimated leaving them little for role players. And those are the two teams everyone expects to suck. Los Angeles won the division last year, but they've lost some of their pitching and other then Manny their line up doesn't scare me very much unless they're hot. Ultimately the Dodgers look to be a super streaky team, but that might be enough in this division. The Diamondbacks have a lot of young talent that took them far a couple of years ago, but disappeared down the stretch last season. I like them to contend all year again this season, but I'm still not sure how much they can be trusted when it counts. San Fransisco has been down for a number of years, but unquestionably they did the most to improve themselves this year.


Arizona 86-76
Los Angeles 84-78
San Fransisco 80-82
San Diego 79-83
Colorado 71-91

Tomorrow we'll move onto the NL EAST

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


Yesterday was the AL Central, Monday was the AL West, today we look at the sure to be hotly contested AL East.

Last years two AL Championship game teams were both from the East, and this year the East is poised to be even better. In what was essentially a two team race last year (although the two teams were also the best the AL had to offer) the Red Sox and the Rays came down to the wire both in the regular season and the exciting ALCS. While the Yankees were forced to watch the playoffs from home precipitating the huge offseason spending spree. Most of the majors went into a cost cutting mode in response to the worsening economy, but not the Yankees. The biggest name pitcher and arguably the best available hitter (although you could definitely make a case for Manny being Manny) both signed with the Yankess as well as a few other big name acquisitions. All in the hopes that the Yankees wouldn't end up on the outside looking in again.

Sadly, for them, however, I think that ultimately they will end up, once again, on the outside looking in, despite having the third best record in the AL.


Tampa Bay 95-67
Boston 93-69
New York 90-72
Toronto 79-83
Baltimore 70-92

Tomorrow we move onto the NL West

Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Yesterday we previewed the AL WEST, today we move onto the AL CENTRAL.

Last year, the White Sox won the division coming from behind by winning a one game playoff against the Twins. Both the Tigers and Indians had disappointing seasons as both were favorites to compete for the division and a lot of people (full disclosure time, including myself) had the Tigers in the World Series.

The Indians ended up with a much better second half then first half, even after trading their superstar pitcher CC Sabathia to the Brewers. In the offseason, they have gotten much better (especially due to the addition of two former Cubs, Kerry Wood and Mark DeRosa).

The Tigers have an offense that can be spectacular, but their pitching, especially in the bullpen, has been very questionable. If their starting rotation can become healthy, it can once again be a strength for this team, and unlike a lot of people, I think that last year was an aberration and that the Tigers will once again compete this year. (I'll be seeing them in their third game of the year this season in Toronto, so I'll have a better idea about them after seeing them in person.)

The Twins and White Sox have each taken steps back (and the White Sox overextended themselves last year anyway) and the Royals are still the Royals, although they have a young team that might be a little fun to watch, although expecting them to pull a Tampa Bay Rays might be a little premature.


Cleveland 90-72
Detroit 87-75
Minnesota 80-82
Kansas City 76-86
Chicago 72-90

Tomorrow will be the AL EAST.

Monday, March 30, 2009


I've decided to spread out my predictions post one a day culminating with the NL Central on Opening Day.

So we'll start in the AL West.

Last season the LA Angels won the division running away, over 20 games better then the second place Texas Rangers who finished just ahead of the third place Oakland A's. The Mariners finished dead last, out of contention almost immediately.

This division will most likely be among the leagues weakest this season. I think that the Angels will once again win the division, but it will be much closer this time. The Rangers and A's will finish just a few games behind, while Seattle will once again finish far behind the rest.

Despite winning the division, I don't like the Angels going very far in the playoffs, especially since I predict that at least one AL team that misses the playoffs will actually finish with a much better record.


Los Angeles 84-78
Texas 82-80
Oakland 81-81
Seattle 71-91

Tomorrow will be the AL Central

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The World Baseball Classic

Japan repeats as WBC Champions with a two run single by Ichiro in the 10th inning and the second World Baseball Classic is in the book.

The US certainly had a better (or perhaps we should say further) run in this installment, and lost in the semi-final to the Country that ended up winning the whole thing, but clearly there are still problems with what could be something that is very special.

A lot of the talk about the WBC these last couple days leading up to the championship hasn't been about Japan and South Korea and who had the better chance to win it, but more about the reasons that Americans didn't seem to be as interested in the WBC as the rest of the world and why the US team wasn't able to dominate.

There were lots of complaints (especially after the semi-final loss to Japan) about the manager, Davy Johnson. People complained about how he left Roy Oswalt in too long as he got shelled for 5 runs in the 4th inning effectively ending the US's chances. There were complaints about Evan Longoria pinch hitting as the tying runner after Mark DeRosa's (DeRo!!!!!) two run triple brought the US back to within 2. Critics felt that since Japan had no left handers in the bullpen Johnson should have sent up Shane Victorino to bat as a left hander. Longoria struck out and Victorino came in in his place to play center field in the bottom half of the inning so the critics pointed out what a useless waste Longoria's at bat was. These are legitimate concerns if this were in the regular season, but what has to be remembered (and it pains me to say it, but Joe Morgan did make some of these points during the game) is that for these US players it is Spring Training and they all are on a regiment to get ready for the season, ready for their jobs and livelihood.

The Astros would have been pissed if Roy Oswalt didn't get in at least 60-65 pitches regardless of what the Japanese batters were doing off of him. The Rays would have been angry if they sent off Evan Longoria to the WBC causing him to miss at least 3 days of camp and then he didn't even get one at bat. (Longoria joined the team for the semi-final as an injury replacement). The other countries don't mind as much if they piss of the MLB teams. Venezuela for instance told the Texas Rangers that Max Ramirez would be getting a majority of the time for them behind the plate (work that he needs as he hopes to win the backup catcher job for the Rangers). Instead, Ramirez saw very little playing time in the WBC and the Rangers were upset. But there isn't much that they can do against Venezuela. USA on the other hand is a lot more likely to feel the teams wrath and be disposed to pay attention to their demands.

Davy Johnson was effectivaly managing the US team as if it were a spring training club. He had to get everyone a specific amount of work and keep the major league teams happy. I'm sure that it wasn't an easy line to walk, making sure everyone got their work and trying to win the World Baseball Classic.

As long as this is the attitude that the major league clubs (and make no mistake, the majority of the players as well) USA will be hard pressed to compete with many of the other countries who not only have a lot of major league talent as well, but also are far more committed to winning the WBC.

Personally, I greatly enjoyed the WBC, but I acknowledge that there are a lot of problems with it as currently constructed. The timing is horrible as many players are not in a position to be able to compete at a high level, that is what this time is generally for to prepare them so that they are ready to compete when the season begins. Derrick Lee complained at the pressure put on players to get them to participate. The people behind USA pretty much smeared Lee for not joining the team as an injury replacement when he was currently not even able to play for the Cubs due to an injury.

I believe the WBC could be an awesome event, but some problems need to be worked out first. They have four years in which to perfect it before we try it all again.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Lance Berkman's Thoughts on the NL Central

Lance Berkman, or the Big Puma (yeah, I know, pretty lame for a nick name), was on the Mad Dog show today on Sirius XM before his Astros took on the Cincinnati Reds and gave a great interview. Included in that interview, he gave his thoughts on how the NL Central would end up this year. Here are some of his thoughts...

(I was in the car, so I didn't get to write down exactly what he said as he said it, but these "quotes" are exactly how he put things if not worded exactly how he said them)

On the Cubs...

"Clearly the Cubs are the favorites. Not only on paper, but what they did in the offseason as well, with Bradley. They have great starters, a great bullpen, and great balance in the lineup. Everyone will be trying to replace them as the best."

On his own Astros...

"I really like our lineup, we're going to score runs. I think our pitching can be good baring injuries, but obviously that's our big question mark. Mike Hamilton and Russ Ortiz might both be great if they can stay healthy. I mean Ortiz won 17 games a year with a 3 era for five seasons. Then Wandy Rodriguez and Brian Moheller, and he was great for us last year. Pitching is our question mark, for sure, but I think we can be good. Definitely we're right there in that next tier of teams."

On the Cardinals...

"With Tony LaRussa, they'll always compete. And with a guy like Pujols and with Chris Carpenter coming back from injury, they could be good. And obviously with Tony LaRussa as their manager, they'll compete. LaRussa's teams always compete."

On Cincinnati...

"I think they're going to be real good. Obviously the pitching. They have great young arms, and they have a lot of young talent. I think they're going to be good, right there with us."

On Milwaukee...

"I think they're going to take a step back. They lost guys. They're not going to be what they where last year, I'd put them below us and the Reds and the Cards."

And on Pittsburgh...

"Well. They're the Pirates."

You can't argue with him there.

Very interesting thoughts, and I agree with a lot of them. Just thought I'd share the thoughts of Houston's Berkman on our division.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Cubs Baseball on WGN Tonight and other thoughts

You read that right! Cubs baseball returns to WGN tonight with a split squad (meaning that only half the club is making the trip as the other half played the Indians and Woody and DeRo earlier today) matchup against the cross town rival White Sox! I am very happy to get to see Cubs baseball on television once again as the last time wasn't so happy. (Game 3 of the NLDS against LA if you must know).

Also, yesterday marked the release of this years slate of MLB video games including MLB 09 The Show (available on PlayStation 2, 3, and Portable) and MLB 2K9 available on pretty much everything. I was going back and forth on which to purchase (as I have both a XBOX 360 and a PS3). MLB The Show is supposedly the better game (and I don't have many games for the PS3 as it is mainly my Blu Ray player), but 2K9 on the 360 has the ability to continuously update the rosters with any signings or trades, keeping it current. That was too awesome to turn down, so I ended up going with 2K9. After playing a few games last night I have no complaints about my choice, I think that this is the best version of baseball that 2K has put out so far, far and away better then last years version. So even if The Show is the better game, I can't imagine that it is that much better then this years 2K product is. And the updating of the rosters more then makes up for any deficiencies that 2K9 does have.

Finally, I thought that I would let you know that I have tickets to see the Cubs and Astros on Opening Day as well as the second game of the season between these two rivals! I'm very pumped about that! I promise to try and get some good pics for the blog. Also, on Thursday April 9th, I should be going to see the Detroit Tigers take on the Toronto Blue Jays in Toronto, so that should be fun.

Closer to home, this Saturday I'll be seeing my first live baseball of the season as I check out the #11 TCU Horned Frogs (Go Frogs!!) hosting Wichita St.

Baseball is here my friends. (As I write this, Pat and Ron are on my speakers as the split squad Cubs are tied up with the Indians 4-4 in the 6th inning.) Baseball is here!!!!!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Loving that teams are back in action today as Spring Training Baseball begins.

Today the Cubs are looking to get some unimportant revenge against the Dodgers who knocked them out of the playoffs last season.

Sure the games mean absolutely nothing, but Damnit if it isn't nice to get baseball back.

Many of the games are being carried on radio and a couple are getting the MLB.TV treatment (Cleveland/Giants and Red Sox/Twins).

Either way, it's just exciting to hear the announcers and the names of big league players once again as we make our way towards April 6th and Opening Day!!!

I'm so glad that it is baseball season once again.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Spring (Training) Is In The Air!

Pitchers, Catchers, and Position Players have all reported to camp. Spring Training is officially underway, baseball is truly on the horizon.

And all they can talk about on MLB HomePlate (Sirius 210, XM 175) is A Rod.

We get it, he's a cheater, let's talk about baseball!

First of all, I hate how much coverage gets heaped on the Yankees anyway, there are 29 other teams out there. (And believe it or not, they aren't all the Red Sox.)

Recently Adam Dunn signed a two year deal with the Washington Nationals. And Ken Griffey Jr is in the process of signing a deal with the Atlanta Braves. Haven't heard too much coverage on either of those deals though.

Look, the steroid issue is important, and the fact that the player many considered to be the best in the game (personally, as much as I hate to admit it, I would probably give that title to Albert Pujols, damn Cards) has tested positive for steroids is a big black eye to the sport, the game is more important then any one player, be it A Rod, Clemens, or Barry Bonds (and with his trial about to begin, trust me, we're going to hear a lot from him in the coming weeks).

All I ask is that we not let A Rod and steroids dominate the news. Let's talk about various teams chances. Who is going to win the American League East? Can the Rays repeat? What about in the West? The Angels have taken a huge step back, but have either the Rangers or the A's taken a big enough step forward to compete? Where is Manny going to sign? When is Manny going to sign? And for how much? There are far more stories that should be (and deserve to be) getting our attention. Let's see some coverage on that as well.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Steroid Talk

It has gotten so old as A-Roid is the latest name we've heard. There will be others.

And in my opinion, the sooner the better. I hope that the other 103 names from the 2003 Survey will soon be released and then perhaps we can finally start to put this behind us.

3 Days until pitchers and catchers report. (Let's focus on that good news.)

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Not Just Rooting for the Laundry

There is a famous Jerry Seinfeld bit where he talks about fans just rooting for the laundry, as in, they root for the uniforms, not the players. And, of course, as it is with all good comedy, there is truth to the joke.

I'm a Cubs fan, I root for the Cubs despite the fact that a third of the team will be different this season from last season.

That being said, I do attach some feeling to some of the players as well and continue to root for them after they leave the laundry behind. That's why I'll be rooting for the Indians to have a good season. They have two of my favorite players with them this season, Kerry Wood and Mark DeRosa (both Cubs last year).

One of the players that I will always root for is Matt Murton. He is going to be a hell of a player when he gets the chance. Last season with the Cubs he was clearly not going to get a chance to be an everyday player. There were too many players ahead of him in the outfield. He got traded to the A's in the deal for Rich Harden, and while I was sorry to see him go, I thought that he would finally get a chance to play. Well, the A's didn't really give him much of a chance and his numbers weren't too good in the part time position that they used him in.

Yesterday, they traded him to the Rockies, meaning he'll have a chance to prove himself to his new team in spring training and play in a park that caters itself to offensive power. I'm telling you right now he's going to have a monster season.

In his only full year to get playing time with a big league club (the Cubs in 2006) Murton batted .297 playing in 144 games and 455 at bats. He hit 13 homers and had 62 RBI. He had a .809 OPS (the number you get when you add your slugging to your onbase percentage, OPS stands for Onbase Plus Slugging and it is considered the best statistic to gauge offensive prowess). This was in his first (and as of yet) only full season in the bigs. It stands to reason that it will only get better (and those numbers are already pretty good). Add in the fact that he'll get 81 games in Colorado at Coors and I predict a break out year for him this season.

In fact I'll go even further and predict that he'll be in the All Star Game.

Not enough of a limb for you? I'm predicting that he's going to have a season of a .300+ avg., 30+ homeruns, 100+ rbi, and a .900 OPS. Those type of numbers are MVP consideration numbers. In fact, why not, if the Rockies are in the NL West race at the end of the season, I'll go ahead and predict that Murton will be in MVP consideration.

I really believe that he's going to be a hell of a player and have a hell of a season. While I'm sad it isn't for the Cubs, I'm not too upset, because I think that Rich Harden is going to have a Cy Young type year, so it was a good trade for us.

Either way, I'm rooting for the kid, and not at all because of the laundry.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

I Need Baseball!!!!

Well, the Super Bowl is over, meaning that Football has once again moved on.

I love football, and I thought that this was a very entertaining Super Bowl, but I am ready for the start of the baseball season.

Luckily, it is only 10 days (that's right just 10!) until pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training.

It is less then a month until teams start playing spring training games and in just over a month, we will have the 2nd World Baseball Classic.

March 7th the US and Canada will get the WBC rolling in Toronto, and I can not wait.

It has been an interesting Offseason, still is (after all Manny Ramirez, Ben Sheets, Bobby Abreu, and Adam Dunn all remain unsigned), but I'm tired of the talking and ready for some action.


Sorry, needed to get that out. But seriously, I can't wait.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Wait, What?

These last couple of days have confused me greatly. I thought I had a handle on what the Cubs were trying to do this offseason, but lately I have to admit I am not at all sure.

A few posts ago we talked about whether the Cubs have gotten better, well there have been more moves since then.

Ronny Cedeno and Rich Hill are now both gone. No big deal there, they were both out of options and unlikely to be big members of this club.

Rich Hill was traded to the O's last night for the infamous PTBNL (player to be named later). Surely we could have gotten a little more for Hill. Sure he struggled mightily last season and in winter ball, but he was outstanding the two seasons before that. Surely some team would have believed that they would be able to solve his problems (Texas Rangers maybe with Nolan there) and could have offered a little more.

Meanwhile Ronny Cedeno was traded to the Mariners (in Seattle where there was a 4.6 earthquake this morning, hope everyone is okay) for Aaron Heilman. Heilman is another pitcher who had a down year last year, but looked strong before that. Heilman last season was plagued by injuries, and I think that he will definitely have a bounce back season this year. If the trade had been Ronny Cedeno and Rich Hill for Aaron Heilman, I think I would still be okay with the way that this offseason is looking, but it wasn't. In fact it wasn't just Ronny Cedeno moved in the trade for Heilman. Garrett Olson was as well.

Olson, you may recall, was acquired recently by the Cubs from Baltimore for Felix Pie. It has been reported that Olson was highly coveted by the San Diego Padres. The Padres, you may have heard, are interested in possibly trading the ace of their staff and 2007 Cy Young winner Jake Peavy. The Cubs were the favorite to acquire said pitcher, as you might have been aware. Therefore, it became logical that once the Cubs acquired Olson he would soon be headed to the west coast. That was expected. What wasn't was that it would be in a trade to Seattle for a guy that projects to be bullpen help and compete for the 5th spot in the rotation.

Wait, what?

We traded a guy that was to be instrumental in the trade for a staff ace for a guy that might or might not become the number 5 guy?

Okay, Jim, I trust you, I do. But I haven't understood these moves.

Seriously, if we aren't getting Peavy, why the hell did we trade DeRosa?

I'm not going to like that trade if it doesn't ultimately result in us getting Jake Peavy.

(Although I am going to be rooting for the Indians a bit this season, seeing as they have Mark DeRosa and the greatness that is Kerry Wood).

There are still two weeks until pitchers and catchers report (oh my God, only two weeks until pitchers and catchers report *squeal*) so there is still time to make this offseason make sense.

You better get on it Hendry.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

From Rags to Ricketts

So, the cubs are on their way to going from rags (as in owned by a newspaper group, The Tribune) to Ricketts (as in owned by Tom Ricketts, and I honestly cannot believe I am the first person to right that, at least that I've seen, come on, from Rags to Ricketts was begging to be used). The question is, is that a good thing?

I'm actually pretty optimistic about the whole deal. It seems Ricketts is a Cubs fan, he actually met his wife in the bleachers. And as much as I was hoping for Mark Cuban (after having seen first hand what he's done with the Mavericks) I realize that Ricketts could come with the same ideals that make Cuban great, i.e. he's a fan.

Of course, being a fan can be negative as well. It might mean you want to take too much control of the sport decisions. This usually only leads to disaster (exhibit A: Dan Snyder owner of the Redskins). But if you put smart people in charge of the sport operations, letting them make the (in this case) baseball decisions and you just pay the money and provide oversight, then it really gets no better.

Mark Cuban was a fan of the Mavs long before he bought them. He came in, trusted the basketball people, and provided an atmosphere that was far more conductive to winning then had previously been in place.

Ricketts might do exactly the same thing for the Cubs.

While I'm not a proponent of buying your championship, it certainly helps to have the ability to go out and acquire that missing piece. Sure, maybe you have 4 great starting pitchers, but there is a certain recent Cy Young award winner out there ostensibly available and who has stated that he would love to play for you. Under the old owners, that kind of money would be unrealistic, even if the baseball people say it would be a game changer type of move. Under the new owner, who is also a fan, the decision is a no-brainer, especially if the baseball people are behind making such a move.

Obviously Tom Ricketts has the opportunity to win over a lot of Cub fans with one move; bring in Jake Peavy. If Peavy joins this staff (as I've stated before on this very site) the Cubs have what is most likely the best starting five in the history of baseball.

It automatically strengthens the bullpen, because there are less games where they are needed to go long (all 5 starters are potential aces), there is less pressure on the offense (all 5 starters are potential aces), and there is less pressure on the defense (because all 5 start... okay, you get my point).

In other words this is the type of move that says, "We are for real, and we want to win". If Ricketts makes this type of move he immediately legitimizes his role as owner for these hungry fans.

Ultimately, I think that Ricketts might be the best choice for owner, even better then Mark Cuban. Because even though I love Cuban and think he would've been amazing, I'm judging that off of what he's done with the Mavs, a team he was a big fan of even before buying the team. That isn't the case with Cuban and the Cubs, but it is the case with Ricketts and the Cubs.

I'm trying to stay level headed about this new ownership, but I'm currently very optimistic. I'm hoping that Ricketts does away with any need for me to be optimistic by telling Hendry to go get that Peavy deal done.

I know that will fully win me over. (For the record, I have already made the trade on MLB2K8)

Monday, January 19, 2009

Offseason Moves. Are We Better?

Kerry Wood... Gone.

Mark DeRosa... Gone.

Jason Marquis... Gone. (thankfully)

Felix Pie... Gone.

Hello Kevin Gregg, Aaron Miles, Joey Gathright, Luis Vizcaino, Milton Bradley, and Garrett Olson.

Kevin Gregg is no replacement for Kerry Wood, but Carlos Marmol might be as servicable a closer as K Dub was. Overall the bullpen doesn't look as good, but with the fact that Andrew Cashner is in the minors, I could see him making the impact that Samardizja did last season, so if Samardizja can be what Marmol was last year, then the bullpen isn't severly hurt by the loss of Kerry. Only my feelings are hurt as I loved me some K Dub.

Mark DeRosa is a huge loss. HUGE. He was a great hitter, a great defender, and more then servicable and many positions. That isn't easily replaced.

That being said, I like the fact that Fontenot will be getting more playing time. I think that he's going to be a great player and can replace some of DeRosa's offense.

Miles, on the other hand, won't be able to hit the way DeRo could, but he can replace some of his versatility.

Overall, the DeRo trade hurts the Cubs some. They aren't as good in that area as they previously were.

In the outfield, however, the addition of Milton Bradley will be massive. He's a true 5 tool player when healthy. Unlike Abreu and Dunn (the other options for a left handed hitting outfielder), Bradley is the exact opposite of a defensive liability when he's healthy. All of the talk about Bradley's "behavioral problems" are overblown. He just wants to win and has never down anything on or off the field that isn't to some extent understandable.

His addition to the lineup will more then make up for DeRo's numbers also.

So overall, at this point, the Cubs are slightly better or (at worst) just the same as last season, but certainly not any worse. Let's take a look at the starting pitching.

I don't think that the loss of Marquis is that big. If Sean Marshall or Chad Gaudin is the one who replaces him it will be an upgrade. If it's Garrett Olson, I figure that we're in about the same spot. Zambrano will be better next season, Lilly will be much better then he was last season, and a full season of Rich Harden will be a huge boost. Ryan Dempster probably won't be as good as he was last season. All of this adds up to just as good or (at worst) just a little bit worse.

Therefore, at this point, the Cubs are as good a team as they were last season when they won 97 games, so it hasn't been a horrible offseason.

The thing is, though, it could get much better. The DeRosa trade netted us 3 pitching prospects. The Pie trade netted us 2 pitching prospects, including one that we know San Diego is very interested in. What does this add up to?

A very good chance that the Jake Peavy deal could be alive and well and could happen before Spring Training. If it does, this starting rotation instantly becomes the best starting 5 in baseball history.

Jake Peavy
Carlos Zambrano
Rich Harden
Ted Lilly
Ryan Dempster

Everyone of those guys is a potential number one starter. Everyone of them. If the Cubbies do get Peavy then this offseason will have seen them get better. And when you won 97 games last season, better is a very impressive thing to be.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Why I'm A Cubs Fan

"It's a hard knock life for us"-Annie

So, the last two seasons have seen the Cubs winning the National League Central only to get swept out in the first round of the playoffs.

Let's face it, that's been painful.

As was 2003 and the failure of 2004.

As was the embarrassment of 1989 and the near miss in 1984.

And with the exception of 1998 (when we were also swept out of the first round, but lets face it, we didn't really expect to be there that year) every other year has also been a huge disappointment.

So, why do I (and so many other loyal fans) continue to root for this franchise?

Simple answer, because we can't help it. There's just something about the Cubs that reaches into our souls and makes us believe. Something that connects us to this franchise in a way that is only comparable to the way some people feel about their Alma Mater (Go Frogs, by the way). We Cub fans are more connected to our franchise then the normal fan is connected to their franchise. I truly believe that to be the case.

I have no doubt that there are fans as hard core connected to their teams as the average Cub fan is to the Cubbies, but they are the exception, not the rule. With the average Cub fan, such idiotic connection is the rule.

And I recognize that for the majority of the time that I've been a Cub fan (since I was a wee little boy in Chicago back in the early 80s) it has been idiotic to maintain such a connection.

After all, for a majority of that time, the ownership of the Cubs knew that regardless of if they put any efforts into winning, and then if those efforts resulted in any winning, we the fans weren't going anywhere. We would still believe that NEXT YEAR would be the year. And if that failed there would always be a new NEXT YEAR.

Even recognizing that didn't keep us from returning and somehow hoping against hope.

Lately, of course, there is a slight difference. The Tribune Company is selling the Cubs, and recognizing that they can get more money for a winning franchise, the purse strings have been loosened and the Cubs have made a concerted effort towards winning these last couple of seasons that is literally unheard of in the history of the franchise.

This has resulted in something unprecedented since the last time the Cubs were a dynasty (you know, 100 or so years ago), the Cubs made the playoffs in consecutive years.

The other thing that this concerted effort to win has brought me is an understanding of why it is that I remain, year after heartbreaking year, a Cubs fan. That is the realization that some year at some point, it is going to happen. The Cubs are going to win a World Series again. It will happen some day, the odds are simply to large for it not to. The Arizona Cardinals are in the NFC Championship game for goodness sake; anything is possible. So when the Cubs do win, it is going to feel sweeter and mean more because of the heartbreak and frustration that we have become so used to.

And for that reward, sometime in the (hopefully) not to distant future, I remain faithful and loyal to the franchise that means so much to me.

After all, couldn't THIS YEAR finally be NEXT YEAR?