Archive for February, 2013

Morning News: Garza Health Update

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

All good news today. Matt Garza’s MRI on his ribs revealed no significant damage, although they will have him rest a week before re-examining him. At this point, there’s nothing that would indicate he shouldn’t be ready when the season starts. At worst, it would push him off a presumed slot on Opening Day.

Baseball America revealed their top 100 prospects yesterday, and four Cubs made the list. The big three made it with Javier Baez at 16, Albert Almora at 33 and Jorge Soler at 34. That’s about ten slots higher than most other publications have put the trio. Joining them is pitcher Arodys Vizcaino at 83.

The publication also listed ratings for the quartets’ tools on the 20-80 scouting scale. For each of the prospects, their top tools are: (1) Baez’s power and arm (65); (2) Almora’s defense (75); Soler’s power and arm (70); and Vizcaino’s fastball and curveball (70).

More details have come out about Jesus Castillo and Erick Leal, the two young pitchers the Cubs received in return for Katie’s crush, Tony Campana (good luck to Katie in Arizona, by the way). They both are projectable arms with at least one advanced secondary pitch, especially for 17 year olds. They’re lottery tickets, but a lottery ticket is much better than organizational filler.

Last but not least, it’s my wife’s birthday today, so happy birthday to her!

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Morning News: Fast Tony Hits the Road

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

The Cubs traded base stealer extraordinaire Tony Campana to the Diamondbacks Monday. In exchange for the diminutive backup outfielder, the Cubs picked up two seventeen year-old pitching prospects. Despite his speed and his giant glove, Campana never proved to be enough of an asset to merit consistent playing time. And with all the outfielders the Cubs added this offseason, it’s no surprise they sent him packing. What will be a surprise–and a pleasant one at that–is if they really got anything in return for him.

Here is some info on the players coming back to the Cubs, from Diamondbacks international scouting director Carlos Gomez back in 2011 when both players were signed as amatuers.

Jesus Castillo – “He’s about 6-2, 165, 170 pounds. He’s long, lean and all kinds of projectable. He has a loose, cool rhythm about him, really free and easy. His fastball ranges from 82-89 mph, but he pitches 85-86 right now. I think he has a chance to throw a lot harder. His best secondary pitch is his changeup and the breaking ball isn’t bad. The spin is there, but it needs work and consistency. He gets really good extension, almost jumps off the mound. We think he can start; we see starter’s arm action and delivery from him.”

Erick Leal – “He’s 6-3, 180 pounds. He has a nice delivery, a nice arm action, and the highlight again is the breaking ball. He’s a kid who can spin it. It’s 74-76 mph already and his fastball is 86-88. He has the physical size, the delivery, a breaking ball and a present, useable fastball for his age. He’s one of those guys who looks like he might have slipped through the cracks. A lot of that same type of guy was going for more earlier in the year. His delivery is pretty balanced, but he drives pretty aggressively out front; he really gets over his front side well. You can tell the extra breaking ball spin he gets is a function of his finish.”

Coming off his best season in a Cubs uniform, Alfonso Soriano is still facing incessant trade talk, and he’s not backing away from the prospect of a move. As he’s said before, he’s only interested in waving his no-trade clause for an Eastern or Central division team, but that his first preference would be to stay and win with the Cubs. Soriano’s value is as high as it’s been since he signed with the Cubs, and a strong start to the season would only drive up the team’s asking price. If he’s really serious about staying in Chicago, I recommend he goes back to playing routine singles into doubles, jogging out of the box, and cowering away from the outfield walls again.

According to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale (so who knows if it’s really true–but still), the Cubs tried to hire former super utility player Mark DeRosa to replace Bob Brenly as their TV color commentator. Instead of taking the job in the broadcast booth, DeRosa signed to play for the Blue Jays. I can’t blame DeRosa for trying to extend his playing career–especially when the next-best option was to spend half the year with Len Kasper.

The dreaded pop-up machine has claimed its first victim of the new season.

While I’m not naturally inclined to feel sympathy towards any Brewers players, I do feel sorry for their first baseman Mat Gamel, who re-tore his recently-repaired ACL over the weekend. I tore my ACL and had to have it replaced. It’s a miserable injury I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

Tonight the Blackhawks face off against the Canucks with history on the line–a win or an overtime loss would give them sixteen straight games with at least one point to start the season, tying an NHL record.

Sad news for any Lakers fans out there–longtime owner “Dr.” Jerry Buss died Monday. Buss belonged to the elite fraternity of men who were so rich and successful that no one could tell them how bad their hair looked. Seriously, do an image search–it was a rat’s nest of Trumpian proportions.

Several weeks ago I alerted you to the story of a woman facing arrest and fines in Florida for riding a manatee. Now a man is in similar trouble for posting pictures of himself and his two daughters playing with a manatee calf. For the moment, let’s set aside the stupidity of the law itself and get to the real heart of the issue–who exactly is out there trolling Facebook for pictures of people with manatees and turning said people into the law? That’s the person who needs to be locked up.

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Morning News: A Smattering of Sports ‘News’

Monday, February 18th, 2013

Garza ‘mildly’ injured again
The Cubs are out in full force downplaying Garza’s latest ailment, a mild lat strain. Sure it doesn’t sound serious now, but let’s just say Cub pitchers seem to have a way of not staying healthy. Garza claims he wasn’t even giving maximum effort – 80-85% at the most, but he’ll be re-evaluated Monday and hopefully sometime soon the Cubs ace will be back to normal…wait and see.

Jeter’s ‘terrible’ offseason
Try to feel bad for the multi-millionaire who is the defacto mayor and most eligible bachelor of the nation’s biggest city. He had a rough few months recuperating.

Two stories you SHOULD’VE heard about by now…
Races have officially been canceled for the legless man who killed his supermodel girlfriend; can’t imagine the starter’s pistol will sound the same to that guy ever again. Whether you believe the bits and pieces of his story as the eek out, there seems no doubt that she’s dead and he’s to blame.

But fighting for the news on Friday and over the weekend was the Russian meteor that proved all those Cold War movies were a crock…the Russians didn’t have eyes on the bogey that blew out windows all over Chelyabinsk. So Spies Like Us was closer to reality than we thought!

Ryan Braun, the dirty, dirty cheater
Plenty of places around the internet haven’t yet seen fit to condemn the obvious PED user, Ryan Braun. They are fools. Braun’s name continues to show up on lists that ONLY include other users. Just like many other users, Braun has more than a few barely plausible excuses for each new list that contains his name. Even if by some miracle Ryan Braun has the worst luck of any honest individual…never mind, not possible.

Roger Clemens’ Mistress Dies
Just a weird story all the way around.

NBA All-Star Game
Best thing about the game last night (besides the fact that it’s over)…this picture.

Survival
It’s easy to survive the Australian Outback if you have some contact solution and are willing to drink your own pee. No word on if either of those would help you wash down the Bloomin’ Onion at the American Outback.

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Go: Two Truths and a Lie

Saturday, February 16th, 2013

So remember awhile back Joe posted “Two Truths and a Lie” and then never told us which was the lie? Here are mine. Two Truths and a Lie. I will give the answer tomorrow or Monday. And I’ll really give it (hint hint, Joe!)

Lizzie’s Two Truths and a Lie

1. For the first 16 years of my life I was stalked by a woman who claimed she gave birth to me and left me in a basket on someone’s porch.

2. If it weren’t for an ill-timed injury, I may have qualified for the 1984 Olympics.

3. My mother nearly lost an eye to a cornea-eating amoeba.

Which is the lie?

And, if you’d like, post your own Two Truths and a Lie so we can guess! (Don’t forget to come back and tell us the lie!)

Do you have a question you’d like us to feature in the Go! column? Send it to lizzie@viewfromthebleachers.com and she’ll see what she can do!

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The Cubs Rotation is Finalized….Almost

Friday, February 15th, 2013

Sorry for the lack of news lately. It’s not the Cubs fault, I had a case of anti-spring training flu that caused me to dry heave violently at the thought of writing about fake games for the next 45 days. I’ve taken some Dramamine and I think I’m good to make it to opening day. On to a small piece of news. The rotation is set….almost.

If you’re wondering the source of my spring training nausea, it’s due to the fact that we make roster decisions based on a small sample size of games that a lot of time takes place against a populous of players with a small sample size of Major League experience. These stats dictate who makes the opening day roster. Thankfully, Dale Sveum saved us a tiny bit by naming Scott Feldman to his opening day roster rotation, joining Matt Garza (assuming he is not traded), Edwin Jackson, and Jeff Samardzija. That leaves one spot open for competition among the other names. My guess is that the early favorite in the race is Travis Wood because he throws left handed and pitched well enough last year to earn a shot. Scott Baker figures to not quite be healthy enough for the gig as of opening day as he continues to come back from an injury, and Carlos Villanueva seems like he may be better suited as a long man out of the pen. There figure to be others lobbying for a spot, but that seems to be where we stand at this point, and I’m OK with that.

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Did Somebody Say “Arizona?”

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

Arizona.

To some, it means scorpions and deadly spiders. To some it means saguaro cacti and bobcats. To Cubs fans, Arizona is the gateway to happiness. Sort of (if it means losing 101 games in a season, a person’s happiness could be in jeopardy, but I digress).

To a select thirty people, Arizona means opportunity. The excitement of the season looms ahead, but so does the opportunity of a lifetime. Say hello the the MLB FanCave Top 30.

After two weeks of relentless campaigning via twitter, Facebook, and various other media outlets, the Top 30 Finalists were announced yesterday, here. Those of you who may be friends with me on Facebook or follow me on twitter were victims of the constant reminders to vote and spread the word.

To those of you who voted, thank you! Because of you, I’m going to Arizona next week for the next phase of the contest. I’m not quite sure exactly what we’ll be doing the whole time, but I am completely sure it is going to be legendary.

We will be arriving in Phoenix on Monday afternoon/evening and the festivities carry on until Thursday when we return home. Sometime after that they will announce the Cave Dwellers. The Cave Dwellers will then move to New York to participate in the final portion of the contest.

In non-FanCave related news, Brett Jackson debuted his new batting stance. The Cubs posted a picture of him on Instagram. You can see it here. It looks a lot different from his stance last year; his back elbow is considerably lower than it was last season. We will see if that carries over into hitting off live throws and then into game situations.

Non-Baseball News

And, there is sad, sad news in the realm of Olympic athletes. Oscar Pistorius has been charged with the murder of his girlfriend. Pistorius competed in the 2012 Olympics. He is a double-amputee.

You can read the story here.

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Morning News: Pope Hunting

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

You’ve probably heard by now that Cubs’ closer Carlos Marmol has been accused of domestic abuse by a woman from his hometown in the Dominican Republic. Marmol gave his side of the story to the media at the Cubs’ training facility Monday. The short version is that he believes the woman and her representation are looking for a payoff, and that he’s actually the victim. It sounds like the Cubs are backing his side as well. I would have thought the players might have learned something from Starlin Castro’s legal entanglement last offseason, but clearly not everyone did. Here’s hoping Marmol is telling the truth, and that there’s not more to the story.

Matt Garza is eager to reestablish his value with the Cubs, and expects to earn a new contract with the team. With the abundance of arms Theo and Jed have brought in, it seems unlikely that Garza has a long future with the Cubs. I mean, realistically, how good would he have to be to make the front office ignore all offers and instead invest in him for the future? Whatever that level of performance might be, it seems hard to believe Garza will achieve it, especially on a team with so many other needs. Still, if he can pull it off, I’d be happy to keep him for the right price.

The Indians capped off a busy and expensive offseason by signing Michael Bourn to a 4-year, $48M contract. At various times, it seemed the Cubs had an interest in Bourn–along with most of the other teams in baseball–but with a surplus of outfielders already, there wasn’t much likelihood they would make a late push to sign him.

Remember the how everyone was calling for protective head gear for pitchers after Brandon McCarthy’s life-threatening injury last season? The new helmets/caps won’t be ready by the beginning of Spring Training, and might not be ready at all this season. Not a surprise when you figure it took them more than a century to add the fold-down ear flap for games in extremely cold weather.

Michael Vick signed a new, 1-year contract to stay with the Philadelphia Eagles. The deal–which could be worth as much as $10M–replaces the 6-year, $100M contract Vick signed in 2011. Ah, the NFL, where contracts don’t mean squat. No word yet if Vick will start in the new offensive scheme brought in by new head coach Chip Kelly, but he would seem like a slightly more apt fit than the Eagles’ other quarterback Nick Foles.

I don’t believe in karma, jinxes, or curses, but I’m a little hesitant to bring up just how well the Blackhawks have played to start the lockout-shortened season. With stellar performances from Patrick Kane and others, they still have not lost a game in regulation this season. Now watch–they’ll probably lose tonight and I’ll spend the rest of the week kicking myself for saying anything at all.

It seems the Pope has reached his expiration date.

Aspen stinks.

This one is super-weird: the fake beef in European supermarkets might not even be real horse. I suppose it’s a good reminder to only buy from legitimate horse meat vendors.

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Morning News: Campana gets the boot…at least for now.

Sunday, February 10th, 2013

Cubs News
Dale Sveum is holding another bunt tournament this year; the intrigue for 2013 is that a member of the Cubs’ front office (potentially Theo or Jed) will be the 64th participant in the manager’s tourney.

Also, Campana was DFA’d to make room for Hairston. The deal with Scott Hairston is for two years, $5 million.

Much of the roster has already reported to camp in Mesa; even Carlos Marmol was scheduled to report on Sunday after dealing with his domestic abuse charges in the Dominican.

Canada Sucks
I’m not really a dog lover at all, but outlawing pit bulls is just ridiculous. However, more ridiculous is splitting your family up or driving multiple hours to work each day just so you can keep a dog. It’s a freakin’ dog. No word on whether Buerhle has asked for boarding references from Michael Vick.

Sorry CAPS…
Disneyland has become the most racist place on earth. Allegations of racism in the last few days have people wondering if the White Rabbit and Donald Duck intentionally spurn some of Disney’s guests. For clarity sake, I should note that the White Rabbit cast of the Black child, while Donald Duck turned down the White child…though both kids were black. Perhaps The Onion has gone mainstream?

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Go: First

Saturday, February 9th, 2013

Tell us about your first visit to a Major League baseball park. How old were you? What do you remember best?

This Go question was submitted by Allan (thanks Allan!)

Don’t forget to vote for our own Katie in the MLB Fan Cave contest!!!

Do you have a question you’d like us to feature in the Go! column? Send it to lizzie@viewfromthebleachers.com and she’ll see what she can do!

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