Archive for October, 2008

The 2009 Free Agent List

Tuesday, October 7th, 2008

Since we keep talking about blowing up the Cubs roster, or at least tweaking it, here’s your list of possible players. It’s not good this year.

Updated 10-7-08

Brad Ausmus (40)
Paul Bako (37)
Rod Barajas (33) – $2.5MM club option for ’09 with a $0.5MM buyout
Josh Bard (31)
Michael Barrett (32)
Henry Blanco (37) – $3MM mutual option for ’09 with a $0.3MM buyout
Johnny Estrada (33)
Toby Hall (33) – $2.25MM club option for ’09 with a $0.15MM buyout
Jason LaRue (35)
Paul Lo Duca (37)
Miguel Olivo (30) – $2.7MM mutual option for ’09 with a $0.1MM buyout
Mike Redmond (38) – $0.95MM club option for ’09 with a $0.1MM buyout
Ivan Rodriguez (37)
David Ross (32)
Javier Valentin (33)
Jason Varitek (37)
Gregg Zaun (38)

First basemen
Rich Aurilia (37)
Hank Blalock (28) – $6.2MM club option for ’09 with a $0.25MM buyout
Sean Casey (34)
Tony Clark (37)
Carlos Delgado (37) – $12MM club option for ’09 with a $4MM buyout
Nomar Garciaparra (35)
Jason Giambi (38) – $22MM club option for ’09 with a $5MM buyout
Eric Hinske (31)
Doug Mientkiewicz (35)
Kevin Millar (37)
Richie Sexson (34)
Mark Teixeira (29)
Daryle Ward (34)

Second basemen
Willie Bloomquist (31)
Jamey Carroll (35) – $2.5MM club option for ’09 with a $0.15MM buyout
Craig Counsell (38)
Ray Durham (37)
Damion Easley (39)
David Eckstein (34)
Mark Ellis (32)
Mark Grudzielanek (39)
Jerry Hairston Jr. (33)
Orlando Hudson (31)
Tadahito Iguchi (34)
Jeff Kent (41)
Felipe Lopez (29)
Mark Loretta (37)
Nick Punto (31)

Willie Bloomquist (31)
Orlando Cabrera (34)
Alex Cintron (30)
Alex Cora (33)
Craig Counsell (38)
David Eckstein (34)
Adam Everett (32)
Rafael Furcal (31)
Nomar Garciaparra (35)
Jerry Hairston Jr. (33)
Cesar Izturis (29)
Felipe Lopez (29)
Edgar Renteria (33)
Juan Uribe (30)
Ramon Vazquez (32)
Omar Vizquel (42) – $5.2MM club option for ’09 with a $0.3MM buyout

Third basemen
Rich Aurilia (37)
Casey Blake (35)
Hank Blalock (28) – $6.2MM club option for ’09 with a $0.25MM buyout
Willie Bloomquist (31)
Aaron Boone (36)
Russell Branyan (33)
Craig Counsell (38)
Joe Crede (31)
Nomar Garciaparra (35)
Mark Loretta (37)
Fernando Tatis (34)
Ramon Vazquez (32)

Left fielders Man About Town psp
Moises Alou (42)
Garret Anderson (37) – $14MM club option for ’09 with a $3MM buyout
Milton Bradley (31)
Emil Brown (34)
Pat Burrell (32)
Carl Crawford (27) – $8.25MM club option for ’09 with a $2.5MM buyout
Adam Dunn (29)
Cliff Floyd (36) – $2.75MM club option for ’09 with a $0.25MM buyout
Luis Gonzalez (41)
Jerry Hairston Jr. (33)
Raul Ibanez (37)
Gabe Kapler (33)
Kevin Mench (31)
Jason Michaels (33) – $2.6MM club option for ’09
Craig Monroe (32)
Greg Norton (36)
Jay Payton (36)
Wily Mo Pena (27) – $5MM club option or $2MM player option for ’09
Manny Ramirez (37)
Juan Rivera (30)
Fernando Tatis (34)

Center fielders
Rocco Baldelli (27)
Willie Bloomquist (31)
Mike Cameron (36) – $10MM club option for ’09 with a $750K buyout
Jim Edmonds (39)
Jerry Hairston Jr. (33)
Gabe Kapler (33)
Mark Kotsay (33)
Corey Patterson (29)
Scott Podsednik (33)

Right fielders
Bobby Abreu (35)
Casey Blake (35)
Cliff Floyd (36) – $2.75MM club option for ’09 with a $0.25MM buyout
Brian Giles (38) – $9MM club option for ’09 with a $3MM buyout
Ken Griffey Jr. (39) – $16.5MM club option for ’09 with a $4MM buyout
Vladimir Guerrero (33) – $15MM club option for ’09 with a $3MM buyout
Gabe Kapler (33)
Jason Michaels (33) – $2.6MM club option for ’09
Fernando Tatis (34)
Brad Wilkerson (32)

Milton Bradley (31)
Pat Burrell (32)
Adam Dunn (29)
Cliff Floyd (36) – $2.75MM club option for ’09 with a $0.25MM buyout
Jason Giambi (38) – $22MM club option for ’09 with $5MM buyout
Vladimir Guerrero (33) – $15MM club option for ’09 with a $3MM buyout
Raul Ibanez (37)
Manny Ramirez (37)
Juan Rivera (30)
Mike Sweeney (35)
Frank Thomas (41)
Jose Vidro (34)

Starting pitchers
Kris Benson (33)
A.J. Burnett (32) – can opt out after ’08 season
Paul Byrd (38)
Roger Clemens (46)
Matt Clement (33)
Bartolo Colon (36)
Ryan Dempster (32)
Shawn Estes (36)
Josh Fogg (32)
Freddy Garcia (33)
Jon Garland (29)
Tom Glavine (43)
Mike Hampton (36)
Mark Hendrickson (35)
Livan Hernandez (34)
Orlando Hernandez (43)
Jason Jennings (30)
Randy Johnson (45)
John Lackey (30) – $9MM club option for ’09 with a $0.5MM buyout
Jon Lieber (39)
Braden Looper (34)
Rodrigo Lopez (33) – club option for ’09
Derek Lowe (36)
Greg Maddux (43)
Pedro Martinez (37)
Sergio Mitre (28)
Jamie Moyer (46)
Mark Mulder (31) – $11MM club option for ’09 with a $1.5MM buyout
Mike Mussina (40)
Carl Pavano (33) – $13MM club option for ’09 with a $1.95MM buyout
Brad Penny (31) – $8.75MM club option for ’09 with a $2MM buyout
Odalis Perez (32)
Oliver Perez (27)
Andy Pettitte (37)
Sidney Ponson (32)
Mark Prior (27)
Kenny Rogers (44)
Glendon Rusch (34)
C.C. Sabathia (28)
Curt Schilling (42)
Ben Sheets (30)
John Smoltz (42)
Tim Wakefield (42) – perpetual $4MM club option
Kip Wells (32)
Randy Wolf (32)


Brian Fuentes (33)
Eric Gagne (33)
Eddie Guardado (38)
Trevor Hoffman (41)
Jason Isringhausen (36)
Brandon Lyon (29)
Francisco Rodriguez (27)
Salomon Torres (37) – $3.75MM club option for ’09 with a $0.3MM buyout
Kerry Wood (32)

Middle relievers
Jeremy Affeldt (30)
Luis Ayala (31)
Joe Beimel (32)
Joe Borowski (38)
Doug Brocail (42)
Shawn Chacon (31)
Juan Cruz (30)
Alan Embree (39) – $3MM club option for ’09
Scott Eyre (37)
Kyle Farnsworth (33)
Casey Fossum (31)
Keith Foulke (35)
Tom Gordon (41) – $4.5MM club option for ’09 with a $1MM buyout
LaTroy Hawkins (36)
Mark Hendrickson (35)
Matt Herges (39) – club option for ’09
Bob Howry (35)
Jon Lieber (39)
Jason Johnson (35)
Damaso Marte (34) – $6MM club option for ’09 with a $0.25MM buyout
Trever Miller (36) – $2MM club option for ’09 with a $0.4MM buyout
Guillermo Mota (35)
Will Ohman (31)
Darren Oliver (38)
Chan Ho Park (36)
Horacio Ramirez (29)
Al Reyes (38)
Dennys Reyes (32)
Arthur Rhodes (39)
Juan Rincon (30)
Glendon Rusch (34)
Rudy Seanez (40)
Brian Shouse (40)
Russ Springer (40)
Mike Timlin (43)
Ron Villone (39)
David Weathers (39)
Kip Wells (32)
Matt Wise (33)
Jamey Wright (34)

MLB4U and Cot’s Baseball Contracts were used in the creation of this list.

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If I Were King

Monday, October 6th, 2008

As will soon become obvious, there are plenty of reasons why I’m neither the Manager nor the General Manager of the Chicago Cubs. But Joe Aiello asked me to play “King For A Day”, so here goes.

For the purposes of this Off-Season drill, I will assume that the Cubs Organization, under its new ownership, has beaucoup bucks; enough $$ to do all the things I suggest without blinking an eye.

Since we have two totally different performances (2008 Regular Season and 2008 Post Season) upon which to base our decisions, there will be a degree of cognitive dissonance inherent to the process. Fasten your seatbelts.

Lou says we need good pitching, good defense and timely hitting. I agree, and we’ll address each of those requirements in that order.

I have confidence in the starting rotation of Ryan Dempster, Rich Harden, Ted Lilly and Carlos Zambrano. From what I’ve seen recently Angel Guzman, Sean Marshall or Jason Marquis could be the #5 starter in 2009.

Now we get into the intangibles. Guzman looked good during his two innings in Milwaukee. I could go with him as the #5 starter based upon that. Marshall looked good in LA against the first 3 batters he faced, but then he gave up a double to DeWitt and was gone in a flash. Maybe there are some historical negatives in his resume that I’m missing. Marquis was superb against the Mets, but since then not so good.

For now I call Guzman our #5 starter and bump Marquis and Marshall to the bullpen in the hope that one or both will become the middle reliever we desperately need.

Carlos Marmol was lights out Saturday night mowing down five in a row. Neal Cotts fired three Ks in the LA’s eighth inning Saturday, but walked the only man he faced on Thursday. Decision time for King Cubbie Dude. OK, Marmol and Kerry Wood will alternate the Closer role. Cotts and Samardzija stay in the bullpen and may serve as set-up men. Gaudin, Hart, Howry, Wells and Wuertz become expendable. I keep Wells and Wuertz if I can.

Just for insurance, and to help in the eventual 2009 postseason, I sign CC Sabathia and Jonathon Broxton.


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Geovany Soto remains my catcher with Henry Blanco as his backup.

Aramis Ramirez remains at 3B, Ryan Theriot at SS, Mark DeRosa at 2B, and Derrek Lee stays at 1B. Cedeno, Fontenot, Hoffpauir and McGehee stay in supporting roles. Daryle Ward is gone.

Since I have lawyers, guns and money at my disposal, Rafael Furcal may be joining our infield. Albert Pujols, too.

I really like Alfonso Soriano’s arm in left field. Did you see his throw to 3B Saturday night? That was surgically precise, if there is such a thing. Unfortunately, Alfonso’s arm is attached to the rest of him, and I’m just not that fond of the rest of him at the moment. So the Fonz is gone and Manny Ramirez joins us in left field. That was easy. Kosuke Fukudome is our new center fielder. Jim Edmonds is retiring. Reed Johnson and Felix Pie will platoon right field. Unless Manny can’t make it, in which case either Reed or Felix moves to left.

The lack of offense killed us in the postseason. Of this there is no doubt. As King, I have tried to fix that problem by hiring Manny Ramirez, Albert Pujols and Rafael Furcal. In addition to those acquisitions, however, I’m gonna bust a move in a different direction.

Rather than hire guys with a history of hitting and then cross my fingers hoping they continue to hit here (I’m not mentioning any names), I’m going to invest big time and create a cabinet level hitting department. I can’t get Ted Williams to head it up, but dammit, somebody is out there who can coach and instruct and motivate and get our guys to provide the offense we need. I’m gonna find that person and build around him. And it’s gonna work. The 2009 Cubs will be a hitting machine: pre, regular and post season.

As you can see, I don’t believe in the “Fire Everybody, Start Over” method of team building. We have a good team. I want to keep the good parts and improve where there’s room for improvement.

I may travel to Arizona in February to personally oversee the implementation of my plan to dominate the world of professional baseball. I’m considering it.

So, for now, that’s my plan and I’m sticking to it!

P.S. I also plan to petition MLB and insist that, henceforth, all Wrigley Field Postseason Games will be day games starting at 1:20 pm CST. Who the hell ever heard of starting an October game at Wrigley at 9:00 pm? Bad Karma. Screw the Extremely Annoying BiCoastal Media Jackals.Ring of Death download

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Trade Carlos Zambrano – My Offseason Plan for the World Series

Sunday, October 5th, 2008

That got your attention, didn’t it? The truth is, I’m dead serious. I’d like to present to you my plan for the offseason as we head toward winning the World Series in 2009. In begins with a drastic move, a bold move that demands teams take notice of Jim Hendry and the Cubs. The move? Trading Carlos Zambrano.

All year we heard that the Cubs needed a move to bring in another starter and we did. Rich Harden came in, pitched well, and in the end it was our hitting that let us down in the playoffs. Say what you will about how pitching wins in the playoffs, but the Cubs have done everything humanly possible to disprove that age old theory in the past two years. We’ve seen the team beat itself and virtually go hitless. Now, I’m proposing we fix that issue with a move to bring in some of the hitting needed.

Move # 1 – Trade Carlos Zambrano and Mark DeRosa to the New York Yankees for Robinson Cano, Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy.

The snag with this move is Zambrano’s no trade clause. If you can get him to waive that to have the opportunity to play for the pinstripes, this deal works. In my mind, and obviously I may be wrong on this, Phil Hughes value is lower than the Yankees would have hoped. He struggled in both the Major Leagues as well as AAA this season and forced the Yankees to turn to guys like Carl Pavano and Sidney Ponson. He and Kennedy would give the Cubs two promising young arms to begin to build around. They would be able to slot into the rotation near the back and compete with the likes of Sean Marshall and Jason Marquis for those last few spots in the rotation. Cano would allow the Cubs to have a left handed bat in the lineup that doesn’t strikeout a good amount of times. He hits for above average power and has the potential to one day be a 25 – 30 homerun guy. He’s coming off a down year and because of the need for starting pitching, becomes expendable for Brian Cashman, who loves to move the farm and leave the team with a thin prospect pipeline.

For the Cubs, moving Zambrano makes sense for the simple fact that many may not agree with. He’s now an injury risk. He wasn’t himself down the stretch and was forced to get a cortisone shot to even pitch. For years we’ve seen him take the ball each and every day and never had injury concerns…until 2008. It’s time to move him before he becomes an all to familiar problem for Cub fans. We’ve had our share of arm injuries to franchise pitchers, and I’m not in the mood for another. We had a chance to move Mark Prior back in the day for Erik Bedard and Miguel Tejada. In the end, we got nothing for him. Let’s not let that happen with Zambrano.

On the Mark DeRosa front, it would be tough to lose him. He’s one of the most likeable Cubs and was one of the most valuable members of this team over the past two years. He’s versatile and has nothing but a good attitude about he. Sometimes you have to give up to get something in return, and DeRosa would be an appealing replacement for Cano in the lineup.

Move # 2 – Sign Raul Ibanez to a one year deal with a mutual option for a second.

Ibanez doesn’t get much praise as a quality left handed stick, but the truth of the matter is that he has driven in 100+ runs over the past three seasons, all while playing for a bad Seattle team. At 37 years old, he’s not going to warrant a long term deal. He would provide another quality left handed bat in the OF and could play RF for the team next year as well as fill in for Soriano in LF and Derrek Lee at 1B. What would that mean for Fukudome? Just wait and find out.

Move # 3 – Resign Kerry Wood, Ryan Dempster and Reed Johnson and pick up the option for Rich Harden.

Transsiberian film

These guys all deserve to come back and it’s important to reward them for a job well done all year. All four were welcomed surprises to the team this year and I feel all will be important in the 2009 run as well. Some may worry that Wood and Harden will break down or that Dempster and Johnson were just flashes in the pan. With any move comes risk, but Wood and Harden still have electric stuff. Dempster played a vital role as the ace and seems to have figured out his issues with tipping pitches. Johnson found a role on this team in the platoon and that can help Felix Pie in the long run.

Conclusion – The Cubs have the tools to make it to the World Series in 2009. I liked this team coming into 2008 and I don’t think it needs much tweaking. Sometimes you just go cold at the worst possible times and for the Cubs it’s happened to the bats the past two years. In my mind we were the best NL team this year and in the end, we went home early. Tough break.

That’s it for the off-season. Here is my opening day roster for the season.

Catcher (2) – Geovany Soto, Koyie Hill

Infield (6) – Derrek Lee, Robinson Cano, Ryan Theriot, Aramis Ramirez, Mike Fontenot, Ronny Cedeno

Outfield (5) – Alfonso Soriano, Felix Pie, Reed Johnson, Raul Ibanez, Kosuke Fukudome

Starters (5) – Rich Harden, Ted Lilly, Ryan Dempster, Jason Marquis, Sean Marshall

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Relievers (7) – Chad Gaudin, Michael Wuertz, Jeff Samardzija, Carlos Marmol, Neal Cotts, Kerry Wood, Angel Guzman

Down on the Farm

In addition to the 25 man roster, we’re presented with a bright future with possible reinforcements down below. Here are some notables.

  • Micah Hoffpauir (1B / RF)
  • Wellington Castillo (C) – Hit .292 / .362 / .414 in AA in 57 games
  • Casey McGehee (IF)
  • Josh Kroeger (OF)
  • Jake Fox (1B)
  • Ian Kennedy (SP)
  • Phil Hughes (SP)
  • Rich Hill (SP)
  • Mitch Atkins (SP)
  • Donald Veal (SP)
  • Jose Ceda (MR)
  • Jose Ascanio (MR)
  • Kevin Hart (MR/SP)
  • Dumas Garcia (MR)
  • Andrew Cashner (MR)
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Sunday, October 5th, 2008

I’m floating in a dream sequence. It’s not the least bit unpleasant. There is music. These are the words I’m hearing:

There’s a place for us
Somewhere, a place for us
Peace and quiet and open air
Wait for us,

There’s a time for us
Someday, a time for us
Time together with time to spare
Time to learn, time to care

We‘ll find a new way of living
We’ll find a way of forgiving

There’s a place for us
A time and a place for us
Hold my hand and we’re halfway there
Hold my hand and I’ll take you there
Somehow, Someday, Somewhere

You might recognize the words to the song “Somewhere” from West Side Story, with music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. The particular version I’m hearing is by Tom Waits from the “Blue Valentine” project. (Hey, it’s my dream sequence and I can pipe in what ever music I want.)

In MY dream, however, the play is titled “North Side Story”, and the place is, of course, Wrigley Field. Someday is this past baseball season. Or the one before that. Or any season before that. Or next year. In my dream, time is pretty fluid.

The Chicago Cubs’ 2008 Postseason ended a few hours ago, but I’m feeling OK. My secret is something which I will refer to in the comedic sense as “A Paradigm Shift”.

Simply stated, I’m not thinking of this very short postseason as a big disappointment. Rather, I’m thinking of the 2008 Regular Season as the most spectacular Chicago Cubs Baseball Season of my life. I’m serious. And it works for me. I’m just happy that I was here to enjoy it.

The way I (choose to) see it, we were doing just fine, and things were chugging along magnificently, until these Extremely Vulgar BiCoastal Media Jackals appeared out of nowhere, crashed our party, and brought everything to a screeching halt. Full stop.

Because up until then, it was our party. They hijacked our party and it became their disgusting “Celebration of BS Fest”. And that’s where I get off. In case I wasn’t sure before, when I saw an entire stadium full of people waving white “Hankies”, that’s when I knew for sure that I was in the wrong place. And the directors at TBS are showing this as if to demonstrate that “something is really happening here”. Which only emphasizes that “nothing is happening here”.

I’m not going to play “The Blame Game” in trying to explain why the Cubs’ postseason ended so prematurely. I suppose there are some lingering questions which a reasonable person might reasonably ask one’s self. Such as:
– What happened to Sean Dempster in Game 1? Answer, I don’t know.
– What happened to our entire infield in Game 2? Answer, I don’t know.
– How come our leadoff man went 0 for 5 in Game 3? Answer, I don’t know.
– How come our leadoff man went 1 for 14 in the Playoffs? Answer, I don’t know.
– How come the #2 hole in our lineup went 2 for 12 in the Playoffs? Answer, I don’t know.
– Could the Cubs’ Hitting Coach use a little additional help? Answer, I don’t know.
– How come Ted Lilly and Kerry Wood and Reed Johnson saw no action at all in the Playoffs? Answer, once again, I don’t know.

I’m not blaming anyone.

The thing is, there was this enormous positive energy generated during the regular season. And then, in what seemed like only a heartbeat, all of that positive energy was redirected by events into an even bigger negative energy. But, as Albert Einstein demonstrated, energy doesn’t go away. It just changes form. Or it doesn’t.

So we can use this enormous energy, currently negative, and rechannel it into something equally but oppositely positive, like say, an artistic creation or a web site creation, or something. Or, as Duke Ellington said, you can sublimate the energy from a negative experience, using it as the inspiration to create a positive musical composition.

Or, if you are not careful, the negative energy can auger in deeper, dragging you downward to depths of depression from which you might not recover. I would not recommend this last course of action.

Like I said, I’m not gonna dwell on the Playoff Series. That was somebody else’s party. A Hankie party. I’m going back to my dream sequence, reliving the most spectacular Chicago Cubs regular season of my life.

I will leave you now with these thoughts, which have served me well over the past 12 hours or so, and beyond.

Do not underestimate the value of lowered expectations.

All good things come to an end.

Nothin’ Lasts Forever (by Delbert McClinton).

And never forget – tears are a form of wealth – you earned ‘em.

Rugrats in Paris full
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Until the Levee Breaks

Saturday, October 4th, 2008

 I posted an early version of someone’s work to Eddie Vedder’s tribute to being a Cubs fan, “All the Way” a few weeks back.  I lamented that it wasn’t the greatest work I’d ever seen, but for the time being it was good.  I’ve spent the last few evenings working on this, for my own sanity, and now I’ll post in hopes that it brings the Cubbie faithful some peace before this evening’s storm.   Hopefully, I’ll see everyone Tuesday night.  I’ll be the one screaming his head off, because by that point, I know we’ll be going “All the Way.”

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Friday, October 3rd, 2008

First, let me thank you all for reading. And let me thank you for commenting. I have been enjoying posting my thoughts. Your comments add a certain spice to the whole thing that I find myself enjoying.

Second, I salute your enthusiasm. It is admirable, and I envy you that indulgence. However, let me assure you that youth and enthusiasm are no match for old age and treachery.

Third, for those of you neophyte Cub fans who maybe haven’t been through this before, it is now that we separate the True Cub Fans from the Namby-Pambys. Wanna give up on being a Cub Fan and become a Tibetan monk? Go ahead. Do you find yourself, after only 2 postseason games, reevaluating the choices you’ve made in your life? Well, if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. Nobody said it was gonna be easy.

Fourth, if you are literally shaking with frustration and looking for something to destroy, may I submit to you The Cubbie Dude’s 4 Step Program For True Cub Fans:
1. Lay off the caffeine.
2. Take a chill pill.
3. Consider anger management classes.
4. Seek professional help.

Fifth, I just this week finished reading a book titled “Your Brain On Cubs”. I recommend it highly to anyone interested in knowing the scientific basis as well as the psychologic and neurologic explanations for being a True Cub Fan.

Sixth, adopting a personal mantra might help, particularly in difficult times. Here are two of my favorites: “Take it like a man”, and “Never underestimate the value of lowered expectations”.

Seventh, if you are not averse to music therapy, I recommend “Relaxing Music for Difficult Situations, I” by Stanley Jordan. I plan to be listening to that soundtrack during the game tomorrow.

Eighth, breathe deeply.

Ninth, remember what Lou said (I’m paraphrasing here): “This is not life or death. This is not life AND death. It’s a game; it’s entertainment.”

Tenth, keep in mind that as a True Cub Fan you follow in the footsteps of those who have gone before you, and you are blazing a trail for those to follow. This is a sacred trust. Not all are up to the challenge.

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The Last Fight

Friday, October 3rd, 2008

As I rode in on the train today, my iPod shuffled onto Velvet Revolver’s “The Last Fight.” Quite simply, it put the Cubs season into perspective for tomorrow night. As the chorus begins, “This fight, could be the last fight.”

I simply cannot comprehend how this team has managed to botch Games One and Two, as badly as they have. I’m trying, oh lord how I’m trying, to grasp what I’ve seen over the last two nights. I’m digging deep into my subconscious, trying to find explanations into why they performed so, badly when the law of averages should have this serious at least tied at one. How does Mark DeRosa mishandle a sure handed double play? How does D Lee have a short hop roll his arm and out of sight? Why the heck is Fukudome even in the lineup? And please, I don’t ever want to see Big Z on the brink of tears again. I like him emotional, just not like that.

Hand it to the Dodgers. They’ve out performed and most certainly out executed the Cubs thus far. They also haven’t had some unlucky bounces. With the series moving to La La Land, I’m hoping the pressure of all this 100 year nonsense, isn’t quite as heavy. Perhaps a change of scenery will clear their minds, and get this back on track to the way it’s supposed to be. Deep down, I really believe this is, and always was, going to go five games. Although, with last night’s loss, my gut instincts are a bit shaken.

Things I don’t understand thus far:

  • Lou playing Fukudome. I know he likes his defense, but he’s killing us in the batting order. Get Fontenot in. NOW. And moving him to the number two slot in Game One? Hello? WTF. Why is moving the lineup around now? Stick to what worked. Or is this how he managed Seattle?
  • Theriot. Please use your glove. That’s why they give it to you. Simply knocking that ball down was the best and only play you had. It would of keep runners in a force situation.
  • Soriano hits a lead off single. Then takes second on a wild pitch. Where’s the sac bunt? It’s early, you get a run to gain some momentum, and regain some confidence. Instead we watch Theriot strike out. I thought that was a bigger gaffe than anything else.
  • Errors, or Errahs as Mr. Stockton calls them, happen. They tend to happen in bunches. I guess we saved all ours up for the playoffs.
  • For whatever reason, I never noticed how balanced the Dodgers lineup is in regards to lefties and righties. Why do we continue to suffer with mostly right handed batters?

I’m not watching on Saturday. I can’t stomach it. Call me fair weather, but with the amount of games I watched over the course of the last six months, I deserve better. Which is what I’m going to do. I’d rather spend time at the local Octoberfest, at least I know I’ll leave happy.

Someone brought up what the point is of the best record, if you’re just going to blow it in the playoffs. This has been my biggest complaint about the moronic five game Division series. It gives the Wild Card or “lessor Division winner” a huge advantage. Mr. Selig, it’s time to make it Seven Games. Make it fair to the teams that truly are the best in the bigs over the course of six months. Not some flash in the pan team that gets hot at the right time, ala the 2007 Colorado Rockies.

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Now It Gets Interesting

Friday, October 3rd, 2008

The Cubs got spanked again tonight. Or did they spank themselves?

Carlos Zambrano came to play. And so did Chad Billingsley. Let’s look at the top of the second inning.

Into the 2nd inning, Carlos was throwing strikes and it was a pleasure to watch. Andre Ethier broke up Zambrano’s no hitter with a single to right. Then, oops, The Dodge-ohs had runners at the corners with no outs. You can credit the hit and run with creating the situation. Or you could say Ryan Theriot muffed it. Or both. But you can’t blame Z or Ronny Cedeno for that. It should have been a double play.

With one out DeRosa fumbled a double play ball. Safe all around and the run scored. You can’t blame Carlos or Ronny for that one, either. Dee Lee fumbled the third double play ball of the inning. Everybody was safe and the bags were loaded. The pitcher, Billingsley, fanned, bringing up Furcal.

Furcal bunted his way to first, driving in a run. Russell Martin doubled to the right center field wall, driving in 3 runs. LA’s lead was now 5-0. Manny Ramirez struck out, for the second time tonight, ending the inning.

Realizing that you cannot assume the double play, but just saying “What if ?”: The ball that Theriot didn’t get anyone out on might have been a double play. That’s two outs the Cubs didn’t get. The ball DeRosa didn’t get might have been a double play. That’s two more outs the Cubs didn’t get. The ball that Dee Lee didn’t get might have been a double play. That’s two more outs the Cubs didn’t get, for a total of 6 outs the Cubs didn’t get in the 2nd inning.

Add to that the three outs that they DID get, and the Cubs’infield gave LA 9 outs that inning. That’s not good. But you can’t blame Carlos Zambrano for it. No, we can thank Ryan Theriot, Mark DeRosa and Dee Lee for that inning.

In the 4th, Z got the 1st two batters out. Then Aramis Ramirez joined the infield fumblers club, putting the pitcher on. I just hope the Cubs got all the errors out of their system tonight.

The Cubs’ pitchers seemed to think their ante to get into the game tonight was to each let at least one run score. Kerry Wood allowed one, Carlos Marmol allowed two, Neal Cotts allowed one, and Manny Ramirez got the obligatory homer off Carlos Zambrano. Let me make this very clear. Cubs’ pitchers: You do not have to allow runs!

I have to say that Kosuke Fukudome was tearing it up in the field tonight. He played Matt Kemp’s double off the right field wall masterfully in the 7th. It was a perfect pickup and throw which saved an additional run or two. Nice play, Fuku. And, in the top of the 8th, Fuku made a very nice play on Furcal’s single. The throw was late to the plate, but it couldn’t have been done any better.

Unfortunately, Fuku struck out three times tonight, twice looking. He’s gone. He’s through. Lou said it. You can put a fork in him, he’s done. I don’t think we’ll be seeing Fuku in the batter’s box again this year.

So now it gets interesting.

Game 3, in LA on Saturday, presents a true must win opportunity for the Cubs. Rich Harden will be pitching, and he’s just the guy for the job. He’s rested and he’s ready to go. He will not let us down. Fuku won’t be in the lineup. Geovany Soto and Mark DeRosa will be that much more healed up. As I said, I hope the Cubs got all of their fielding errors out of their system tonight. The Cubs’ pitching staff have pretty much all ante’d up now, so we won’t have to go through that again.

All the Cubs have to do is beat the Stinkin’ Dodgers in one game. Then do it again. And then do it once more. It’s not rocket science. They can do it. The Dodgers took two from us. We can certainly take three from them. Ted Lilly will be rested and ready to go in game 4. Ryan Dempster & Carlos Zambrano will be rested and ready to go in game 5. Nothing to it.

Now it gets interesting.Bad News Bears ipod

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Worried? Yes! Pannicking? No!!

Thursday, October 2nd, 2008

There are two ways to look at last night. One school of thought is to be pessimistic and feel like the end of the world is upon us after the dismal performance turned in by basically the entire team. The other school of thought is to look at it from the viewpoint that it’s merely one game in a series of five, a series that the winner only has to play a game over .500 ball to win. Since I have no idea what school of thought you subscribe to, I figure I’ll present some material for both.

The End is Nigh:

  • TBS ran a stat that was something like 24 out of 28 NLDS series, the team that has won the first game has won the series.
  • Alfonso Soriano looked completely lost at the plate and appeared willing to swing at any pretty little breaking ball that looked his way. That played out to the tune of two K’s and three men left on base.
  • Every pitcher that entered the game gave up a run, and one of them wasn’t even Bob Howry.
  • The loss yesterday puts big time pressure on a guy like Zambrano who really doesn’t need any extra pressure at this point.
  • Home field advantage now goes to the Dodgers as they steal one from us at home. We’ve played terrible with the bat in LA this year, which adds more pessimism to the mix.
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Come on, it’s only a game:

  • Taking a look at the rotation we have coming for the next three games, it’s as good if not better than what we ran out there last year for games 1-3 against Arizona. Zambrano, Harden and Lilly come next and swapping Harden for Hill is alright with me. Why panic yet?
  • Kosuke Fukudome did his job defensively with a nice play going over the mound in foul territory and making a catch. He also hit the ball really hard but was credited with reaching on an error. He shouldn’t be in the two hole, but he played acceptable for a seven or eight hitter.
  • Mark DeRosa didn’t appear to show any effects of the calf injury that kept him out for the last series, and he even provided a big home run to get the Cubs on the board early.
  • Neither Kerry Wood or Carlos Marmol came in yesterday so they are fresh and ready to go if needed tonight.
  • The crowd seemed to suck last night so we should still get some momentum from a good crowd tonight.
  • The Dodgers are pitching a 24 year old kid tonight. There is a chance he may get caught up in the moment and come out looking like Jeff Samardzija looked last night. He could over throw, which may allow us to get to him early.

Regardless of which way you fall right now, it’s a must win tonight. Am I worried? Yes, but am I panicking? No Way!!! I Still believe we’re going to win the World Series this year and tonight is just the first step on that journey.

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