Archive for January, 2005

Preview of things to come

Monday, January 31st, 2005

Just a little heads up for the readers. Tomorrow morning, I’ll be posting an interview with a former Cubs # 1 pick. Tune in to see who it is that was nice enough to answer my questions. Feel free to speculate here in the comment section.

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Opinion Section Part 2 – 1b

Sunday, January 30th, 2005

With the rumors flying this weekend about the apparent Sammy Sosa trade, I felt it would be nice to give everyone a break and discuss a different position today. Last year, the Cubs upgraded the first base position by acquiring Derrek Lee from the Marlins for Hee Seop Choi. There were tons of writers and fans who were up in arms about this trade at the time, especially due to the hot Choi start and the cold Lee start to last year. In the end, Lee had a better year, but did not quite reach the expectations many had for him as he came to Wrigley Field.

Lee had, in my opinion, a great year. He had career highs in Homeruns, RBI, Hits and Doubles, all while fielding a stellar .996. I can’t really ask for more. After all, when was the last time we had a guy play first base and hit 30 Homeruns? Can you tell me off the top of your head? The answer is 1970, when Jim Hickman did it. All this bashing of Lee last year because he started slow was uncalled for. He had a fine year and I expect even bigger numbers from him this year.

2005 Stats Prediction
BA – .284
HR – 35
RBI – 113
Runs – 102
2b – 37
SB – 10
BB – 81
OBP – .367

What do you guys think about the current 1b position the cubs have? The only way this works is if you let it be known.

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Patience is required

Saturday, January 29th, 2005

Since the Sammy Sosa story broke, everyone has been going insane with reactions and analysis of “the trade”. What bugs me is that this trade has not even been finished yet. People are giving their opinions on a trade that could end up turning out like the first Randy Johnson deal. There is, at this point, a lot of loose ends that still need to be tied. For example, what if Sosa’s back acts up and he fails the physical? What if for some ungodly reason he doesn’t waive his no trade clause? What if for some reason the Orioles cannot satisfy Sosa’s financial wishes? At this point, until I see it in the MLB transactions section as a done deal, I am still holding my breath. You guys should do the same.

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Sammy Sosa Traded?

Friday, January 28th, 2005

WGN radio in Chicago is reporting that Sammy Sosa will be traded to the Orioles within the next few days for Jerry Hairston Jr. and minor leaguers.

What happened to Julio? I am not sure if this is true or not, but we shall see soon. I would think that if WGN radio is reporting it, it’s pretty likely.

Update: – It appears that the deal is done. I will wait to comment till I see exactly what is going to play out.

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The Opinion Section

Thursday, January 27th, 2005

One of my favorite parts of a newspaper is always the opinion section. It is always a cool thing to see what the readers thing on various topics. Well, I have decided to sort of host an opinion section over the next few weeks. I will be posting my thoughts, position by position, on the current Cubs team. With the team looking more and more like it’s set for opening day as each hour passes, I figured now would be as good of a time as any. So, without further delay, we’ll begin with the Catcher position.

I’m happy to have Michael Barrett back this year. When we first signed him last year, I admit I was skeptical. I remember a particular article where he was quoted as saying something to the effect of: “My main focus will be calling a good game and working with the pitchers, not my hitting.” That article scared me half to death. I thought for sure we’d have yet another year with a non hitting catcher. Instead, Barrett seemed to be the exact opposite, hitting .287 on the year with 16 homeruns and 65 RBI. He was clutch and played the most games in a season in his entire career.

This year, I expect a let down. I do not expect a major dropoff, but some sort of dropoff is in the works. I expect an average in the high .270′s with 12 homeruns and high 50′s for RBI’s. Who knows, maybe i’m wrong. Maybe Jim Hendry saw something in this guy that no one else did, sort of like Ramirez. If that is the case, then the numbers last year could just be the beginning to a 20 HR and .300 avg season. No matter what, I like this guy’s intensity and attitude.

This is our guy. This is our big free agent signing for the offseason. I wonder if he knows that involves a lot of hype and pressure. He has the excruciating job of riding the pine and trotting out there ever five days to catch Maddux. Must be tough getting paid 750K to live that life. Blanco is a career .216 hitter who has never hit better than .234 in a season. It seems to me that we could have saved 400K and just signed a catcher to the league minimum.

Those are my thoughts on the catching situation. Now to make this work, YOU have to leave YOUR feedback and opinions on this topic in the comment section. So, what do you think? Are you happy with the catching situation? How would you have changed it this offseason? Make your opinions known.

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A Moment of Silence Please

Wednesday, January 26th, 2005

For Brian Hipp and his Wisconsin Badgers home win streak which came to an end last night thanks to The # 1 team in all the land. 20-0 Illinois Fighting Illini. Sorry Brian. Don’t forget, my paypal address is joe@viewfromthebleachers.com. Please put it to good use my friend. We’ll see ya in Champaign for the sweep.

Oh, and by the way, in case you hadn’t heard, the Fish landed Delgado. Mr Hendry, please be at your phone because a guy named Omar may be calling.

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Best Blog 2004 Interview

Sunday, January 23rd, 2005

This year the winner of the poll was “And Another Thing“, which is written by Al Yellon. I caught up with Al and asked him a few questions. Here are his responses.

When did you start your Cub’s Blog and how did you get the idea?

When I started my blog, I actually didn’t specifically intend it as a Cubs blog. I was just going to write about stuff that interested me. Over time, of course, I realized that *most* of what interests me is the Cubs, so that’s become the focus of my blog.

What does your blog offer that no one else offers? (why should people read yours?)

I go to every home game, have missed only a few in the last 8 years, plus about a dozen road games a year. I can give the perspective, then, of someone who’s in the ballpark, not only talking about the baseball being played, but the *experience* of being there.

How long have you been writing in general?

I’ve been writing for many years; I have written some articles that have been published in SABR (Society for American Baseball Research) publications, as well as writing a history of televised baseball in Chicago that was published in the Cubs’ program magazine in 1987.

Do you have any favorite posts that you have written in the past?

The post I wrote when the Cubs clinched the NL Central title in 2003, was one that was totally from the heart. So was the one the day after they lost the NLCS. I think I got more e-mail for both of those, thanking me for writing how people were feeling, than for any other posts.

What is your favorite Cub’s memory?

After the Cubs clinched the division in 1984, they came back and played a meaningless last game of the regular season on Sept. 30. They won it in dramatic fashion in the bottom of the 9th, and no one wanted to leave the park. The players came back on the field for a “victory lap”. You have to remember, in those days, before athletes started “stylin” for ESPN, this sort of thing just wasn’t done. It was a special moment for us and I believe for the players too.

What is your prediction for this year?

Everyone’s downgrading the Cubs’ prospects because they haven’t made a splash in the free-agent market. But sometimes the best deals are the ones you *don’t* make. There is still a lot of time before Opening Day, and I expect Jim Hendry to still make a deal or two, the contents of which will surprise us.

Do you have any other sports interests besides Cubs?

I follow the fall/winter Chicago sports teams, but mostly casually. Baseball and the Cubs are my interest.

How long have you been a Cub fan and what made you choose them?

Well, most of the people who read my blog know about how old I am, so I’m not giving away any secrets when I tell you that I went to my first game on July 6, 1963 — my dad took me. That’s a special day for any kid, but then, the fact that the Cubs were on TV every day when I got home from school, that hooks you. By 1967, when they started their run of good seasons, I was already hooked.

What books can you recommend for me to add to my growing list of must reads?

Right now, I’m reading Leigh Montville’s biography of Ted Williams. It’s terrific. I haven’t read Stuart Shea’s “Wrigley Field: The Unauthorized Biography” but I think that’ll be next on the list. For non-baseball books I would recommend Ron Chernow’s biography of Alexander Hamilton and Joseph Ellis’ bio of George Washington. Hey, what can I say — I like history, particularly American history.

Who is your favorite columnist to read and why?

Well… I can’t really say that I like any of the Chicago columnists that much. Rick Morrissey is OK, so is Mike Downey. Don’t even get me started on Jay Mariotti.

I guess my favorite to read is Jayson Stark on ESPN.com. He shares my sense of humor and approach to the game.

Congrats go out to And Another Thing for winning the competition this year.

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A Cub Conversation

Friday, January 21st, 2005

It is early March 2005 in Mesa, Arizona. In a spacious locker room lit with bright fluorescent lights, several Chicago Cubs stand at their wide blue lockers in various stages of dressing for the coming game.

SAMMY SOSA

Cheerio, old chaps. Looks like a lovely afternoon for a test match, eh wot?

KYLE FARNSWORTH

He takes a large bite out of a rat and talks with his mouth full.
Farnsworth like pitch. Farnsworth make ball go fast.

KERRY WOOD

petting Farnsworth on his head.
Yes, my pet, yes. Throw the ball fast. HAHAHAHA!

SAMMY SOSA

Ha! Pip Pip, lads! You bowlers are a scandalous lot!

ARAMIS RAMIREZ

Hey, boys, what color uniform are we wearin’ today?

Enter Jose Macias and Corey Patterson, completely naked and swinging bats wildly through the air.

JOSE MACIAS

Yeeeeeeehaw! Swing! Swing! Can’t wait to take some hacks!

COREY PATTERSON

Can’t walk your way off the island, right, Jose?

JOSE MACIAS

I’m Panamanian, you idiot! We’re an isthmus!
He swings at Corey and, of course, misses

GARY MATTHEWS

Good cut, kid! Gotta take your cuts if you wanna get on base! Attaboy!

A locker opens and Jim Hendry’s large head pokes out.

JIM HENDRY

You’re fired, Matthews!

ARAMIS RAMIREZ

Anybody know what color uniform we’re wearin’ today?

Dusty Baker, with a tiny Wendell Kim statue hanging around his head, enters.

DUSTY BAKER

Don’t worry, Jose, you can play 7 positions. You don’t have to hit. In fact, none of you have to hit as long as you admire my toothpick!

SAMMY SOSA

I hope none of you chaps mind too much, but I’ve taken the liberty of booking a string quartet to play for us before every game. Perhaps it’ll inspire us a bit so we’ll all play like silly mid-ons. What say you?

A light illuminates a previously dimly lit corner of the clubhouse, revealing the quartet. They immediately begin playing “La Vida Loca.”

Mark Prior, his calves bulging, strides purposefully over to the quartet. From his calves come tentacles that strangle the musicians.

SAMMY SOSA

I say, old chap! How terribly cheeky! Those lads cost me a pretty shilling, they did!

Farnsworth runs over and starts devouring the corpses as the tentacles recede into Prior’s calves.

A bespectacled old man shuffles in, his eyes knowing and thoughtful.

GREG MADDUX

Bako? Where’s Bako?

HENRY BLANCO

Not Bako, Blanco!

GREG MADDUX

Ah, there you are, dear boy. Bako, I’m going golfing. Would you carry my clubs?

HENRY BLANCO

Blanco! Blanco!

ARAMIS RAMIREZ

Blanco? Oh, okay, white uniforms today. Thanks, Bako!

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My Opinion

Wednesday, January 19th, 2005

So there was a flurry of signings yesterday, none of which came as a shock. The Cubs usually make it a practice to not send players to arbitration. Usually a one year deal is worked out to buy both parties some negotiation time. With that in mind, here are my opinions on the signings.

Kyle Farnsworth
I like this signing for two reasons. The first is, I am not ready to give up hope that this guy is going to reach his potential. I think this may be his last chance as a Cub, and he knows it. With that being said, I feel like this is his year. This is the year he puts it all together. I have said it before and I’ll say it again. You may think I’m crazy, but I would go on record right now and tell the press that Kyle Farnsworth is my closer if i was Dusty Baker. Give the guy a shot in the arm. Give him all the pressure situations and see what happens. He’s never had that shot, so why not. Maybe setup just isn’t his thing. Some guys flourish in the closer role (Gagne) and some guys are lights out as a setup guy but struggle closing games (Hawkins). Maybe Farnsworth is that kind of guy. Maybe the setup role just isn’t his cup of tea. With no better option than a question mark Joe Borowski, and a question mark Ryan Dempster, doesn’t a kid that throws 100mph deserve a shot. After all, he’s a question mark too, just like the other two.

The second reason I am glad he’s here next year is the fact that my wife comes into the room to watch when he’s pitching. So, at least I know she’ll have something to come into the room and at least watch an inning for every now and then.

Michael Barrett
I like this guy and i’m happy he’s our catcher. I don’t see him having the kind of offensive year he had last year, but you never know. I didn’t expect Ramirez to show anything but he did. Maybe Jim Hendry has seen something in Barrett and Ramirez that no one else did and he’s capitolizing on it.

Corey Patterson
Last year was his mulligan year. He was coming off a tough offseason of rehab and a letdown from the previous year’s start was expected. This year, I expect big things from Patterson. Make good on the hype Corey or the Cubs turn their hopes to the next Patterson.

I apoligize for the many spelling errors that are probably laced into this post, but I am at school and wanted to get something up quickly. Please pardon me this once.

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