Archive for February, 2011

GirlieView (02/28/2011)

Monday, February 28th, 2011

Good morning! Happy “Baseball Has Begun” day! I suppose we could have celebrated this yesterday but not until after 2:05p.m. central. So we’ll celebrate today instead so we can get in a full day of festivities! A good holiday to all! Don’t miss our discussion question after the Lizzies.

But first, speaking of the Lizzies, thanks to our pal Doc Raker’s suggestion we’ll be having a Lizzie Game this season. The rules are simple, you’ll get one point per Lizzie and three points per Lizard and we’ll keep tabs all season long. We’ll begin the tally with the first GirlieView posted after the season begins, and end with the first GirlieView posted after the conclusion of the World Series (regardless of whether the Cubs are actually involved in said series!) Between now and then I’ll be posting some tips to increase your Likely Lizzie Percentage – LLP (thanks MJ!) and eventually I’ll announce some prizes. No need to sign up or pay-to-play … this isn’t the State of Illinois for heaven’s sake! (ha!! I saved up that joke all week long just so I could crack myself up on a Monday morning!) … all you have to do to play is, well, make a comment! Obviously the more comments you make, the more likely you are to be awarded a Lizzie, thereby increasing your score. More to come on the game in future columns. For now, on to the Lizzies for this past week!

Lizzies

  • My dark horse candidate is Soto.
  • When the Cubs are leading the division at the All Star break, they bust out the playoff fu-manchus.
  • And here is hoping all my prediction are wrong
  • Zambrano couldn’t lead a 5 year old into Disneyland
  • I liken good catchers as the baseball QB. Would be great to see Soto improve and emerge as a leader.
  • being Lizzie-worthy is something that just happens. If you try to manipulate the time frame to include a good week of yours it become too small a sample size. A small sample size may please your wife, but it’s not going to get you thru the season.
  • Of course it is completely up to Liz since she is the all empowered Lizzie ruler, and a wonderful one at that!
  • I’ve got a high Likely Lizzie Percentage (LLP).
  • Tune in tomorrow for more fun, same time same channel.
  • Hi, my name is Sam, and I was a Charlie Hough fan. I acknowledge how my fandom has affected those dearest to me.
  • the Cubs new head coach planted his first stake in the ground bouncing Carlos Zambrano from the opening day starter roll in favor of Ryan Dempster.
  • One can be sure behind closed doors it lit a small fire under his ass.
  • Dempster is that shot of tequila when you need to even things out and Zambrano is a can of Red Bull that pumps energy into the game.
  • From a tactical standpoint I don’t think being the #1 or #2 guy makes any difference…From a clubhouse standpoint it could have a big impact.
  • What I am happy about is that this is perhaps a sign that Quade will do what he wants instead of taking the team down the same path.
  • If Z thinks he’s a #1 and he feels he’s been slighted, then it does matter to him. If Dempster feels he’s earned the #1 and doesn’t get it, it does matter to him. They’re pros, but they’re people, and token honors like this can affect their performance if it sets their minds right. I’m with Quade on this one — I think he made the right call.
  • let’s all shave our eyebrows in support of Quade.
  • Last year I added a beer gut in support of Lou Piniella. Now I have to shave my eyebrows? It’s a lot of work being a Cubs fan!
  • If it’s alright with the rest of you, I don’t want to know what you are all shaving in honor of Q.
  • It’s weird because in my heart, I don’t believe this team will be very good, but I’m dying to watch.
  • If Augie and Wellemeyer both make the roster, we will know that the Cubs are well-positioned to make a run at the 2007 World Series.
  • One could argue that with Woody and Reed on the roster, we are well-positioned to win the 2008 NL Central.
  • Cardinals fans would be angry enough if they lost him in the offseason, but trading him to the Cubs mid-season would be like the team officially giving their fans the bird.
  • The only reason I believe the Cubs and Pujols were ever even mentioned in the same breath is that Hendry is the only NL GM stupid enough to give a 31 year old giant corner infielder 10 years guaranteed.
  • 50 bucks and my right nut says he ends up in Anaheim if or when the Cardinal season is toast.
  • If he refuses a trade AND doesn’t resign with the Cardinals people in St. Louis are gonna hate him, Cleveland style.
  • Do the nice thing, Jim. Give the Cards Todd Wellemeyer, Braden Looper and even throw in John Grabow. Heck, we don’t even need payment for them. Consider it a gift.
  • How do you approach the loss of your ace? With bitter tears shed into empty pint glasses. I see no other way.
  • Crickets chirping in Cardinalville.
  • Cardinals luck would say they pick Prior off the scrap heap and he becomes the superstar he was destined to be.

Lizard

  • If we’re not questioning Zambrano’s sanity regardless of how well he is pitching, then we should be questioning our own.

Baseball Has Begun Day Discussion Question

Yesterday’s game was broadcast by WGN Radio for you to pick up via your handy transistor or your Gameday Audio subscription. Did you listen? What were your thoughts on the game? And by “the game” I mean the announcers, the players, the buzz, or the baseball itself, anything you want to mention. Today’s game will also be radio broadcast, 2:05pm CT on WGN 720 or Gameday Audio, vs. our rival pals from Milwaukee! Enjoy!


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Game Notes – 2/27

Sunday, February 27th, 2011

I can’t promise I’ll be diligent with posting thoughts on every spring game. In fact, I can almost guarantee that I won’t do it, but tonight I’m posting some quick thoughts on what we saw today in the Cactus League opener for the Cubs.

  • I’m really happy to see Starlin Castro hitting 2nd in the order. We reaped the benefits of his speed in the 1st inning when he stole second base off Trevor Cahill to move into scoring position. It’s a bigger responsibility for a young player to hit higher in the order, but at the same time you see better pitches because of the protection around you.
  • At the same time, I can’t figure out why both Mike Quade and Lou Piniella see Geo as a lower part of the order hitter. He hit 7th in the order, ahead of Blake DeWitt, but was behind Alfonso Soriano. I tend to think he’s a more productive hitter than Soriano overall. You may disagree, but at the very least, hit him ahead of Sori against lefties.
  • Gotta give Sori some props for going 3-for-3 in the spring debut. Of all the hitters in this lineup, no one is going to be scrutinized more than Soriano because of his age and remaining amount of money on his contract. I don’t subscribe to the club that totally thinks Soriano is worthless. He can still be one of the hottest hitters in the game when he’s locked in. The problem is that he can also be one of the worst in the league when he’s not. Hopefully 2011 yields more consistency.

  • Really nice outing by Zambrano. He set down two of three in the first inning via strikeout, which is a good thing to see, and didn’t allow a hit or a run in his two innings. Matt Garza on the other hand forgot to bring his pitches and got shelled. Do with that what you will. Thankfully the season stats are all that matter for Garza.
  • Justin Berg, on the other hand, got hit hard and really can’t afford to have many screw ups this spring if he’s going to make this club out of camp. The way I see it, you’ve got very few spots available in that pen and Berg is on the outside looking in. Carlos Marmol, Kerry Wood, Sean Marshall are all locks. If Andrew Cashner doesn’t win a starting spot, he’ll be a lock for the pen. After those four spots, my guess is that, unless he pitches his way out of it (he began that quest today), John Grabow will be the 2nd lefty in the pen, which leaves two open spots to compete for. If you’re one of the guys battling for those two spots, every outing is critical. As much as they will say it doesn’t come into play, an ERA is the first thing you see. Berg could have a string of dominant outings in a row, but when you look at his line, you’ll still see that bloated number for awhile.

Next Game: Brewers (SS) @ Cubs – 4:05pm eastern time

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The Week in Review (2/20 – 2/26)

Sunday, February 27th, 2011

At the time of this post, the Cubs are a little over an hour from taking the field for their 1st  spring training game of the year. I don’t generally get too excited about the spring games, but I’m excited to watch baseball. I just purchased MLB.tv for the first time ever, so I’ll have some access to games I didn’t used to have with the Extra Innings Package on satellite in the past. Maybe that will make spring a little more fun. All that said, let’s catch up on some of the news out of Cub camp before the first pitch:

Mike Quade mentioned that his roster is basically all but set from the position player standpoint with the exception of one more OF and one more infielder. You’d have to imagine the OF in the running for that spot are Reed Johnson and Fernando Perez. If Perez can hit, I like his skill set more than Johnson’s but we’ve not seen the offense from Perez yet.

When it comes to the infield, Augie Ojeda is in the mix, but I would think the edge goes to someone like Darwin Barney. He didn’t do great last year, but did have his moments and has the versatility to back up multiple positions.

Tyler Colvin will see innings at first base this spring and could break camp as the 4th  outfielder / backup first baseman. Anywhere to get him at bats works for me.

Baseball America released it’s Top 100 prospects list and there were two names on the list. Brett Jackson (OF) came in at 38th  and Trey McNutt (SP) was listed as 48th.

Marlon Byrd recently spoke up about Jackson, saying “I see him being ready very soon. He has to put together another good season this year and stay healthy — that’s the main thing — and keep learning. He has to keep learning. A lot of guys with his talent — I was the same way. You dominate in the Minor Leagues but you don’t learn how to get ready for the big leagues and you come up and struggle. That’s what I’ve been trying to get across to him is I don’t want him struggling when he comes up. I want him coming up and staying up for good. With his work ethic and his athletic ability, there’s no reason he won’t be the center fielder of the future.”

Angel Guzman is scheduled to throw live batting practice on Wednesday. That’s huge for a guy that had a terrible tear. People basically said his career was over, but Guzman has been battling back and I’d love to see him come back this year. He was just coming into his own as a regular contributor when he injured himself.

That’s all for now. Enjoy the first game if you’re able to see it. I don’t know how much we’ll break down individual games this spring, but we’ll definitely be ready come opening day.

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Lose a Prime Piece of Your Rotation? Call Jim Hendry!!!

Friday, February 25th, 2011

I mentioned yesterday that the Cardinals lost Adam Wainwright because his arm fell off. It’s been revealed that it will require Tommy John surgery to re-attach said arm, which means he’s done before the season even has a chance to get started. He never even got a chance to run the towel drills and take his spring training runs. So sad. Jason Stark wrote:

If there’s a word that describes Adam Wainwright’s impact on the Cardinals better than any other right now, it’s this:

Irreplaceable.

Jason, Jason, Jason…Don’t you know that the Cubs are a generous team, led by a generous GM? Don’t believe me? Just look at history. Hendry was generous to Carlos Zambrano when he asked. He was generous with Kosuke Fukudome. He was extremely generous with Alfonso Soriano. Think it’s only older players? Nope, just ask Jeff Samardzija who’s been making millions in the minors since 2007.

John Mozeliak needs to get his butt on the phone and see if Jimbo couldn’t extend some charity his way. This could be the very reason why Jimmy stockpiled on the SP’s this off-season. He sensed the opportunity to be a giver and now is the time it will play out.

Do the nice thing, Jim. Give the Cards Todd Wellemeyer, Braden Looper and even throw in John Grabow. Heck, we don’t even need payment for them. Consider it a gift.

In all seriousness, I wonder how the Cardinals approach this loss. This division is not a lock for any team. I don’t see a clear cut, set in stone, favorite. When that’s the case, you have to make a move to try to recoup some losses and try to compete. Obviously they’re not going to come looking for our names, but it would be nice.

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Thursday Thoughts

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

As we inch closer to March, I find myself craving baseball. I’m sure you’re the same way. I actually pulled up a game from 2010 at random on MLB.tv the other day just to watch a few at bats in an effort to get the feelings to subside for another month. It’s weird because in my heart, I don’t believe this team will be very good, but I’m dying to watch. That said, just a few notes that I wanted to comment on and get your opinion on.

Ryan Dempster is the opening day starter. It’s not the route I would have gone, but I certainly can’t argue with it. I think I would have probably thrown Garza out there, but when you get down to it, it’s really a stupid discussion anyway. Once the first game is over, everything just settles into a routine and guys take the ball when it’s their turn. No rotation stays the same throughout the course of the year. I tend to believe Garza will be our best starter this year by far, followed by Dempster and then Zambrano. That’s how I would have structured my rotation, but Quade’s the man that needs to make those calls.

Adam Wainwright’s arm fell off to the point that it may need to be rebuilt. Believe it or not, Dusty Baker wasn’t even involved. I kid on that one only because he actually commented on it as if people were going to somehow blame him. I think Dusty got a bad rap. I don’t think it was his fault that Wood and Prior got hurt. Things happen. People get injured. This Wainwright injury just made the NL Central a little more wide open. Suddenly the Cardinals don’t look nearly as imposing.

Finally, Mike Quade talked a little bit about what we will see in terms of non-pitching roster spots:

Quade said he sees only two openings on the non-pitching side of the roster on a team that finished 10th in the National League in runs scored, 11th in the NL in getting on base and next-to-last in the majors in fielding last season.

With versatile infielders Jeff Baker and Blake DeWitt each getting a piece of second base, right fielders Kosuke Fukudome and Tyler Colvin both projected to make the 25-man roster, Koyie Hill slotted in as the backup catcher and all the other starting jobs locked up, Quade said he’s looking for another infielder capable of playing short and a versatile fifth outfielder to fill out his 13-man position-player roster.

The top candidates for the infield job are prospect Darwin Barney and non-roster veteran Augie Ojeda. Non-roster veteran Reed Johnson is in the outfield battle with newly acquired Fernando Perez, the fastest player in camp.

Talk amongst yourselves on that one. I don’t know what to do with that, but it may not be all that fun looking at the baseball lines courtesy of BetUS this season. Speaking of betting, I’m really looking forward to the new games we have for you this year. We’ll have prize winners every week of the season and I’m working on securing a really nice grand prize for the final season winner. It’s going to be a really cool year here at VFTB. Stick with us as we work through spring training. You’ll be glad you did.

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Chet’s Corner: The Bull and The Clown

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

Mike Quade is slowly making his mark with the Chicago Cubs.  While it didn’t seem huge, and in the grand scheme of things might just be a small ripple in the 2011 season,  the Cubs new head coach planted his first stake in the ground bouncing Carlos Zambrano from the opening day starter roll in favor of Ryan Dempster.  Zambrano held the spot for the past six seasons. 

It is said the prideful Zambrano took it in stride.  One can be sure behind closed doors it lit a small fire under his ass.  However, who knows what the result of that fire will be.  Will we see the controlled fireballer who tossed a no-hitter late in 2008, or the mess that took place on opening day last year in Atlanta and spilled out into the rest of the seasons first half?  Will it be the 8-0 Zambrano of 2010′s second half or the one that makes us wonder about his sanity?

There are many players on this 2011 Cubs team that are teetering on the precipice.  Will this be their last big contract or is there some spark left in the tank?  Zambrano is one of those players. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that if he has another disaster ridden season that he will command top of the rotation attention in the future.  Many of you are saying, “take it easy on the guy, he went 8-0 to end the season last year” , I say so what……do it when it matters.  Do it when the pressure is on and the games mean something, not when we are at the bottom of the table.  Why would I say that?  Because this is when Big Z has imploded in the past.  When the stakes are high his emotions rise as does his pitch count.   I am not saying he is without success in these situations too,  he has had some, but it seems like it has been a while.  This season may provide some answers as to what Carlos’ future may hold.

I love the fact that Quade gave Dempster the official “staff ace” tag.  I like how he did the deed right out of the gate.  No messing around, just get to it.  I actually like the way he did it, and the fact that it took a nanosecond of spring training to do it, more then the decision itself.  I have to believe the choice was based on character and leadership more then anything else.   Not too mention a good bit of consistency.  Dempster has been the rock in the rotation for the past few years.  He does things the right way and he makes for a good ambassador.  Without being a stuffy jerk or a jackass gallivanting around town at all hours, he still manages to have his fun and take care of business.  He is known as the locker room prankster or clown but also leads the team on runs through the foothills of Mesa .  Nice balance if you ask me…..sounds a lot like a leader.

Understand this,  I am a fan of both of these pitchers.  Dempster is that shot of tequila when you need to even things out and Zambrano is a can of Red Bull that pumps energy into the game.  They can both shine in their own ways.  Dempster  to start the season is no saving grace but the concept does perk my ears.  Quade is trying some new things, some will work and some will not.  Let’s hope this little experiment gets the team off on the right foot.

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Tuesday Trivia: Name That Pitcher

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

Leave all your guesses in the comment section. I’ll try to update periodically throughout the day. Good luck. Here are your clues:

  1. I was not born in the continental United States
  2. I pitched in three different decades, but only appeared for four different teams
  3. I was an All Star one time during my career and gave up all my team’s runs in my appearance.
  4. I never received a Cy Young vote, despite winning more than 150 games in my career.
  5. I led the league in batters faced twice and innings pitched once.
  6. My career winning percentage was .500 with an ERA of 3.75

Help me remember my name.

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GirlieView (02/21/2011)

Monday, February 21st, 2011

Good morning! Happy Presidents’ Day! I like writing a column on Monday, many good holidays to celebrate! We can also celebrate the fact that by the time I post next Monday’s column, the Cubs will have played their first Spring Training game! It’s vs. Oakland on Sunday at 2:05pm CT and will be broadcast on WGN Radio. Don’t miss the Presidents’ Day discussion question following the week in review.

Because we’ve got three new commenters qualifying for Lizzies this week, I thought it might be a good time to define them for people who aren’t familiar. “Lizzies” are awarded to the best quotes of the past week, found in the comments section or in other writers’ columns. I pick them myself, hence they are  highly subjective and I’m ok with admitting that. :-) I give Lizzies to comments I think are funny, poignant, timely, or those which make a point I’d have liked to make had I thought of it first!! I don’t award Lizzies to myself. The Lizard is the best of the Lizzies … the big winner of the week! There are no prizes. It’s just for fun. Enjoy!

Lizzies

  • The only benefit from trading Z is that he makes more money and that would free up cash for other things.
  • If we get Bob Newhart in the deal I send off Silva.
  • Both?
  • Tanner, Earl Weaver, Sparky Anderson and Tommy LaSorda were all in the same class in my book. True leaders that had longevity and respect from everyone, players, management and fans alike.
  • “I got ‘em boxed in like a turtle’s pecker.”
  • Who is Justin Bieber?
  • I think he’s one of the Muppets.
  • Isn’t Bieber the quarterback of the Patriots?
  • The Cubs are going to win 105 games in 2011. It’s spring training baby, shoot high, reality will hit soon enough.
  • It’s because when I wear [Fukudome's] jersey people always try to read the name using English phonetics with hilarious results.
  • I’m really having trouble imagining this season without Ron Santo.
    there doesn’t seem to be any drama like in years past .
  • Got one massive pile of pitchers to pick from now, Quade does.
  • I have nothing to say about this trade except to say that I have nothing to say about it.
  • Pitchers and Catchers report………say it again with feeling……. PITCHERS AND CATCHERS REPORT!!!!……..oh, that felt good.
  • like a starving animal trolling a Chicago alley for some kibble, we accept spring training with open arms.
  • Now if we could only get the offense to come around.
  • [Moreland is] knowledgeable, affable, and humble. And he hates Joe Morgan, but then, who doesn’t.
  • Keith has a -1.0 WAR (Wigs Above Ronnie)
  • More relevant is WAS, or “Wins Above Jeff Samardzija.”
  • It’s called the Cremaster index.
  • If there’s a position where you can hide a potent bat, LF is a fine choice. Having said that, the “hop” is simply intolerable.
  • If Quade is smart, and I think he is, he’ll rotate his outfielders in a way that maximizes their strengths and limits their weaknesses.
  • Let’s hope that they both stay healthy and perform well. Let’s hope that Quade knows how to read them and what to do with them. Let’s hope that the Cubs can pull off a great season in the midst of so many uncertainties.
  • My biggest beef with Soriano is his bad pitch recognition and the fact that most pitchers know not to throw him a fastball on the first pitch.
  • Would a new pair of glasses help him?
  • I know a guy.

Lizard

  • Hope is what ST is all about.

Presidents’ Day Discussion Question

While we honor our early leaders, let’s talk about leadership on the Cubs this season. Who do you feel will emerge as the team’s leaders? I don’t mean the coaching staff, I mean among the players. And, do you feel having good leaders on the roster is essential for a successful season?


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GO: Live and In Person

Friday, February 18th, 2011

The Cubs’ 2011 schedule is posted on cubs.com. If you could pick any three games to see this season (home or away) which would you choose and why?

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