Archive for January, 2007

Keystone Cubs?

Monday, January 22nd, 2007

Again, the baseball Gods seem to opening up a can o’ whupass up on my poor head. Recent indications from Cubdom are that Hendry and Piniella believe that Alfonso Soriano has undergone an amazing transformation. Soriano has indicated to the Cubs faithful that he will be willing to try center field. So be it. The Cubs brass will “will” Soriano to be a good center fielder, therefore it shall happen.

Let’s project ourselves forward to May, with an outfield that consists of Floyd/Murton in left, Soriano in center and Jacque Jones and his powerful arm in right. And we thought that Alou, Patterson and Sosa were comical? I can just see the balls flying over Cubs left and center fielders heads, and Jones making accurate ten-hop throws to second…

It’s easy to hide one guy out there who doesn’t have the best defense but the Cubs are going to have to replace the infield with Georgia red clay and water it down every inning. That way we can slow down the opposing team’s baserunners. What if Michael Barrett expressed an interest in playing center, should we do it?

C’mon Hendry and Sweet Lou – put on your thinking caps. Let’s get a center fielder or go with a defensively adequate but offensively-challenged Felix Pie. But no Soriano in center please, we don’t have time for experiments, it’s time to get the job done. Cubs fans have waited long enough.

Like what you see here? Never miss new content. Follow Us:

Instant Classic

Monday, January 22nd, 2007


Thatís how Peyton Manning described the game of his career, a 38-34 come-from-behind thriller over his nemesis Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, the game that sends his Indianapolis Colts to the Super Bowl in two weeks to face the Chicago Bears. ( Mastrick’s Bears’ Super Bowl preview here)

Witnessing their Colts fall behind 21-3 early in the 2nd quarter, the home crowd seemed shell shocked as fears of repeat disappointment of past AFC Championships loomed on the horizon.


This time it was different. Manningía final drive before halftime revealed a chink in the Patriotís armor, a tendency for the big defensive line to get tired. So instead of calling a myriad of timeouts which would have given the Patriotís D a chance to recover between plays, Peyton and company trudged on in a relentless pursuit of history. They settled for a field goal, cutting the lead to 21-6 with the prospect of getting the ball first in the second half.

Just after the intermission, the Colts picked up where they left off, establishing a rhythm that would result in 32 points in the 3rd and 4th quarters against a Patriot defense that ranked among the elite in the NFL this year.

But it was the Indy defense that would come up big. With time running out and leading 34-31, all Brady had to do was get a fresh set of downs or two to ice the victory and the 4th Super Bowl appearance for his Pats in the last 5 years. Bob Sanders, perhaps the Colts MVP in the playoffs, tipped the ball on 3rd and four, forcing a punt and giving Peyton one more chance to exorcise a few demons that have plagued him for his entire professional and collegiate career.

With a minute left on the clock, rookie Joseph Addai waltzed into the end zone, giving the Colts their first lead of the evening. It was all they needed as another defensive gem, an interception, sealed the deal and kept Brady from one of his patented miracles.

Tony Dungy and the Colts will be joining close friend Lovee Smith and the Bears in Miami, a historic moment as no black coach has ever been in The Game. And to think, now there will be two. Both classy gentlemen. Both classy organizations.

This is definitely going to be something special.

Like what you see here? Never miss new content. Follow Us:

The Bears have a Super Sunday!

Sunday, January 21st, 2007

Recognizing that this site is predominantly a Cubs baseball site, we also must tip our hats to the Bears for winning the NFC Championship today in chilly Soldier’s Field. I was really concerned about the upstart Saints – they are truly an explosive offensive team and they’re only going to get better. Look for them to be thorns in the Bears sides next year as well.

The Bears defense never really gave Drew Brees and the Saints’ high-powered offense enough time to get on track, although at one point the score was 16-14 Bears and it looked like the Bears’ Super Bowl chances were unravelling. An amazing touchdown catch by Bernard Berrian and a sprint by Thomas Jones into the endzone proved to be the decisive factors as the Bears went on to win in a 39-14 romp amidst the falling snowflakes.

This Bears team has what it takes to win the Super Bowl against either of the two AFC finalists who remain at the time of this writing. Provided that the Bears defense is just as opportunistic and aggressive, we also must hope that Grossman won’t make crucial mistakes (he didn’t last week or this week) and let’s pray that Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson can get the job done again on Super Bowl Sunday!

Da Bears. Da Conference Champions. Da Super Bowl.

Like what you see here? Never miss new content. Follow Us:

Signed, sealed, delivered

Friday, January 19th, 2007

He’s yours! The Cubs and Jim Hendry just hoodwinked the NFL, costing some team a middle of the first round-quality wide receiver. No, the player pictured at right is not Randy Johnson, Jr., it’s former Notre Dame pitcher and wide receiver Jeff Samardzija, who opted today to forego the NFL and concentrate his efforts on baseball instead. In return this 6-5 righthander will receive $10 million for five years, with club options for two years.

Many of you can recall that Samardzija spent time at both short season Boise and Low A Peoria this past season. Jeff has a plus arm, throwing in the mid to high nineties. Some highlights from his 2006 performances in both the minors and the Big Ten: At Boise, Jeff had a very nice 2.37 ERA in 19 innings pitched. He was then promoted to Peoria, where he compiled a 1.09 WHIP in 11 innings. At Notre Dame Samardzija posted an 8-2 record, improving his career stats there to 21-6 with a 3.82 ERA. He held collegiate opponents to a .256 batting average.

I project this guy to be a strong middle of the order pitcher or possibly a late innings guy. He will fit in nicely with the next wave of quality Cubs arms, joining Mark Pawelek, Donnie Veal and Sean Gallagher as guys that should hit the bigs in the 2008/2009 time horizon.

Like what you see here? Never miss new content. Follow Us:

How Bad Were We? – Centerfield

Wednesday, January 17th, 2007

In case you’ve missed the first part of this series, here are some links for you to read through.

Part IThird base
Part IICatcher
Part IIISecond base
Part IVShortstop
Part VFirst base
Part VI2003 Cubs vs. 2005 White Sox
Part VIILeftfield

Also, just in case you missed in, be sure to download the interview we did with Len Kasper last week that previews the Cubs 2007 season. You can find it at The Big League Baseball Report. Remember to sign up via iTunes, E-mail, or RSS when you’re there so you can always be updated when the new podcast hits the airways. Alright, let’s VORP the CF position for us.

1. Grady Sizemore – 69.1
The Indians have gotten themselves a winner with Sizemore. He was drafted in the 2000 draft by Montreal in the 3rd round. Yet another good youngster in that Expo farm system. From there, he was dealt to Cleveland in 2002 in a fairly big trade for both teams. There were some names involved that at the time, may not have been household names, but have since blossomed into very productive Major League players. The trade that went down looked like this:

Cleveland Receives

  • Grady Sizemore – CF
  • Cliff Lee – SP
  • Brandon Phillips – 2b
  • Lee Stevens – 1bMontreal Receives
  • Bartolo Colon – SP
  • Tim Drew – P (He is the brother of J.D. & Stephen Drew and was a 1st round pick in ’97)Remember that Montreal finished 2nd in the division that year. They were making this deal early in an effort to catch the Braves for the division.

    2. Carlos Beltran – 68.5
    I remember the days when the Cubs were actually rumored to be going after him. How I wish that would have come true. Imagine what our lineup may have looked like with him in there protecting Lee and Ramirez. Things may have turned out differently these last few years. The funny thing is, Beltran, for all the stink people raised about his salary, only made $11.5 million last year.

    Just for fun, here is the specifics of the deal that brought Beltran from KC to Houston:

    June 24, 2004: Traded as part of a 3-team trade by the Kansas City Royals to the Houston Astros. The Oakland Athletics sent Mike Wood and Mark Teahen to the Kansas City Royals. The Houston Astros sent Octavio Dotel to the Oakland Athletics. The Houston Astros sent John Buck and cash to the Kansas City Royals.

    3. Vernon Wells – 58.9
    Wells is a product of Toronto’s farm system. He was a first round pick in 1997 in a draft that was loaded with talent in the first round. It’s the same draft that produced Tim Drew from earlier in the post. Just to give you an idea of the names that were in that draft, here they are. All of them were first round picks with the exception of the last name, who was picked in the 16th round.

  • J.D. Drew – PHI (Did Not Sign)
  • Troy Glaus – ANA
  • Vernon Wells – TOR
  • Michael Cuddyer – MIN
  • Jon Garland – CHC
  • Lance Berkman – HOU
  • Adam Kennedy – STL
  • David Eckstein – BOS4. Gary Matthews – 50.0
    Somewhere, at this moment, Mini Sarge is laughing all the way to the bank. He cashed in big time on a fluke season and will benefit the rest of his career due to baseball contracts being guaranteed. Here is the scouting report on him courtesy of STATS Inc.

    Matthews never had done much against righthanded pitching until hooking up with Rangers hitting instructor Rudy Jaramillo. Matthews grasped Jaramillo’s simple tenets of separating the parts of a swing and saw his average jump from the left side after hitting .240 that way in his first five seasons. Matthews has the special talents necessary to patrol Arlington’s huge center field. He also has the arm strength to play right. He is slightly above average as a runner.

    5. Andruw Jones – 49.3
    Jones can turn on a fastball. The ball makes a different sound jumping off his bat, and his strength can produce prodigious longballs. Yet as productive as his numbers can be, Jones frustrates the Braves with his inability to take his game to the next level. A streaky hitter, he struck out a career-high 147 times last year and owned an .833 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage), which ranked just 17th among NL outfielders. Despite spending eight-plus seasons in the major leagues, Jones continues to be fooled by breaking balls down and away. ~ STATS Inc.

    12. Juan Pierre – 18.0
    Jim Hendry came out with egg on his face for the deal to get Pierre. Thank God he didn’t re-sign him. Pierre would have fit this team if we had gone out to get Furcal to bat behind him. That was what worked in Florida with Castillo. Hendry couldn’t get it done and we suffered for it. In addition, we lost a couple of pitchers, mainly Ricky Nolasco, that could come back to bite us. I don’t think they’ll bite as hard as Jon Garland did, but it will leave a mark.

  • Like what you see here? Never miss new content. Follow Us: