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Much Ado About Center Field…..

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016

The signing of Yoenis Cespedes brought about a barrage of articles calling for the demise of Dexter Fowlers free agent status.  It appears that at any point in the near future Fowler will have found his squad and what appears to be a healthy payday in the process.

I liked Fowler just fine…I don’t want him for the sum he will command or the duration of the contract, but on a short term basis, sure!

That being said, just about everybody has kicked the Dexter Fowler tires this off-season.  The Giants and Mets were said to be smitten, until they got more smitten with Span and Cespedes respectively.  The White Sox are said to be in, as well as the Angels but there are cash issues afoot for the Angels and the Sox just don’t sign large deals, especially for guys who do not light up the marquee.

The Cubs could sign him, but in what is becoming a large Bugaboo in free agency, they need the draft pick they will get if he signs elsewhere. The signing of Heyward and Lackey sucked two draft picks away from the Cubs and you could almost see the pain in Theo’s eyes as those picks slid away into the night.

However, I sit here wondering, is Heyward enough when you potentially have a reformed catcher playing left and Soler in right?

I would sleep better in late August if the center field option were one of sheer defensive pedigree.  I don’t doubt, based on history, that Heyward will be a fine outfielder, but I would love a “run it down and crash into the wall” kind of defender out there.  If I may be so greedy, one that can hit too?

Here is where I ask the baseball gods for a gift….

Many of you know by now that the Cubs have been rumored to be in trade talks with the Rays.  It’s hard not to find at least one update per day on the still simmering hot stove regarding the Cubs young, but expendable players, some Rays pitchers (who I would like to have too) and the occasional random position player thrown in.  Here is where I tell you who I want…..

Kevin Kiermiaer.  Yup, the gold glove outfielder for the Tampa Bay Rays.  He doesn’t light up the scoreboard with his hitting, it is respectable (actually hit .263 two years in a row….on the button?), but won’t fill the shoes of Soler at the plate.  However, his defense is probably some of the best in center field and I think he is attainable.  He is also controllable, which is how we like to roll in Wrigley these days.  It’s crazy, I look at Twitter everyday expecting to see a trade between the Cubs and Rays, my biggest of hopes?

To see Kiermaier’s name involved.  So bizarre, call it a feeling, but the guy is the greatest sleeper pick ever!

Anyhow, that’s my take, what should the Cubs do with center field? Should we stand pat and roll into 2016 with what we have, which is not a bad option, or should we make one more deal? Who do you want?

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Then and now, what a difference six months makes….

Wednesday, November 18th, 2015

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? The last post I wrote was a “Five Burning Questions” back in May.  My questions were along the lines of….

1)Who is your MVP so far?

2)Who would you trade at the deadline?

3)Who is a disappointment?

4)Who’s a better broadcaster?

5)Do you play Daily Fantasy Baseball?

For the record, my answers…

  • MVP choice was Rizzo or Bryant. Absolutely no mention of Arietta at all, which is funny, but not totally inaccurate as I have trouble giving pitchers an MVP, but a nod would have been appropriate.
  • I would have “traded anybody in the organization except Rizzo and Bryant”….again, interesting…apparently Schwarber, Arrieta, and Russell were expendable?
  • Soler was a “disappointment” because he couldn’t hit the curve…likened him to Pedro Cerrano from the movie Major League.  While Soler did not achieve the lofty status I set out for him (I tried to go contrarian and project ROY), he still did quite well.
  • Announcer was between Jim Deshaies and Steve Stone…..I chose Deshaies…answer hasn’t changed.
  • I still play Daily Fantasy Sports and eventually won $2500, on a $3 entry, by taking second place in a tournament on Draft Kings in July.  Yah, I hate the commercials too, but its fun to win money.

Anyhow, looking back is interesting.  I didn’t think there was a chance in hell we would go to the NLCS.  It was like playing bonus rounds or something.  No expectations, no “it’s now or never”, just a nice cocktail by the water and a cool breeze.

 

Buy or Sell

I wanna play a new game called Buy or Sell. I list a topic and you decide to Buy (i.e., yes I like that, I am buying!!!) or Sell (no, that idea sucks, I am selling ASAP)

 

1) Sign Rich Hill as a Free Agent

I know, I hit you in the teeth with this one, but the guy was lights out last year in his short but effective stint in the majors! I am not even sure he is reclamation project! Here are some stats…

29 Innings,– 11.17 K/9 — 2.50 xFIP

not even gonna do the whole W/L , ERA, cause they make it look better…..anyhow…Buy or Sell?

 

2) Trade Jake Arietta while the iron is hot!

There are grumblings that this could be the right move.  There are reasons why I agree…..however, its only because I am a pessimist at heart when it comes to future performance.  The next step is we pay him… and by god, I am not so sure its worth it because of said pessimism.  That said we can recap this next year at the same time and see where we are at….I hope its celebrating a World Series victory.

By the way, I tip my cap to Bruce Levine who wrote this little tidbit back in 2013.

 

Buy or Sell?

 

3) Trade Kyle Schwarber for Starting Pitching

Okay, first of all, I love the “new” Baby Bull.  I also happen to know if we trade him, the pitcher we get in return will throw a pitch that causes his arm to fly off into the seats behind home plate and Schwarber will become the next Babe Ruth….in that order.  I don’t care if Kershaw himself is involved…..or wait, maybe I do???  Cue the theme music to “No, No Nanette” please!

Buy or Sell?

 

4) Pay the house for David Price

Not even gonna expand, topic has been bludgeoned…..buy or sell?

 

 

 

Kris Bryant …your 2015 NL Rookie of the Year!!!!

…..and last but not least on our show, a quick question:

Kris Bryant was just named the NY Rookie of the Year for 2015, surprisingly enough (tongue in cheek) we have had only 6 total Cub Rookie of the Year award winners.  The list of Cub Rookie of the Year honorees prior to Bryant is as follows:

1961 – Billy Williams

1962 – Ken Hubbs

1989 – Jerome Walton

1998 – Kerry Wood

2008 – Geovany Soto

If you had to slot Bryant in to 1 -6 ranking, where would he fall with these others?  In other words this is based on his expectations vs. the others finished accomplishments.

 

That’s it for now….leave your comments on the Buy or Sell game and come up with some of your own for fun.  Everybody can contribute their answers and we’ll tell you whether you’re crazy or a genius…the feedback is free!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Five Burning Questions : The Two Month Mark

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015

Every so often you will hear somebody say, “a manager knows what type of team he has by the end of May.”

I, for one, would love to hear a serious response from Joe regarding his assessment of the 2015 Cubs to this point.  I mean, one day it looks like they could battle the best and then some days the youth really starts to show.  It would be unfair to assess this type of team up to this point and give them a label.  I prefer to think of this years Cub team as a fine wine…it has aged well in storage for a few years and is probably ready to drink, but has it reached it’s potential for even the 2015 season let alone further down the road?

At any rate, it begs for another series of Five Burning Questions and here we go!

(Imagine a drumroll…)

Question 1: Who is your Cub MVP through the first two months of the season?

Mine is Anthony Rizzo. Until the trip to Petco, which is pretty much kryptonite for Rizzo, he looked great.  More importantly he is taking on the leadership roll of this young team, which is funny, because he too, is still quite young.

Question 2: Which Cub, that has consistently been in the lineup (pitchers included), has you concerned?

It hurts to say this, because I chose him as Rookie of the Year, but Soler has me a bit worried.  His potential is off the map, but he can’t hit the off-speed pitch.  He is like Jobu from Major League.  I am waiting for chicken bones and stuff.  He has made some nice fielding plays, and has a pretty good arm, but until he learns to hit a breaking ball, my guess on ROY is going nowhere fast.

Question 3: Who will be traded by the deadline?

This can be anybody in the organization aside from Bryant, Rizzo, or most of our starting pitching in my opinion.  I have been saying for years that Castro’s time as a Cub has been limited , but every year he sticks.  It is tough to find a good Major League shortstop.  We would have to get starting pitching back, but I feel this is one area we have a surplus in is up the middle.

Question 4: Who is the better broadcaster, Jim Deshaies or Steve Stone?

Unlike many here, I don’t mind Len and Jim.  Their horrible wit is sort of growing on me.  If you have the MLB package and get around to it, listen to some of the other dry sacks out there.  I would rather watch turtle poop slide down a log.  That being said , I actually like Jim better than Steve Stone.  Stone was always too much of an arrogant know-it-all and really irritated me.

Question 5: Do any of you play daily fantasy baseball?

You have seen the adds all over TV for sites like Draft Kings and Fanduel.  I am curious to know, with all the stat heads we have roaming this site, if any of you play Daily Fantasy Baseball?  If you do, what are your thoughts?  I started a little last year and have to admit, did not like it all that much at first.  However, I decided to start over with the 2015 season. I started to learn how to use the stats and my goodness if I wasn’t an advanced metrics guy before, I am becoming one now!  If you like the statistical/probability side of baseball this may be for you!  I play at Draft Kings and I like their format.  If you have been curious and want to give it a try, here is a link .  My username is chester0711 if you want to take me on in a head-to-head game some time (no high dollar stakes please, still just having fun with the small buy-ins).

That’s it for now. Throw your answers in the comments below and lets have some healthy debates!

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They Told Me It Would Be Better Someday

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015

Being a fan of this team prior to the second half of 2014 was akin to being passed through the lower GI of baseball.  To say the practice of being a Cubs fan from 2010-2014 was a grind is a massive understatement.  The Cubs previous five seasons were usually decided by this point in April and to be honest, even if they mess the sheets this year, I feel as though we got some sort of bonus time as winners.

Originally, when I grabbed this spot prior to the start of the month, I kind of thought I would be writing a piece about patience and dealing with young talent.  I thought I would be saying things like “give the kids a chance” and “He’s only XX years old and it’s April.”

As a Cub fan, I don’t want this April to end…ever.

Today I’m going to share some thoughts  regarding our newly constructed ball club on the north side of Chicago.  I have three things I need to spew and then you feel free to spew forth your three things and then we will all have spewed three things we have noticed so far.  We have all probably gushed enough over the performance of this team over the past month, however, as the month ends we need one more gushing.  Why? Because we deserve to gush, it’s been a while, ya know what I mean?

Walk with me……

Thought #1:

If Kris Bryant never hits a dinger but keeps hitting the way he has this month, I will take it.  With exception of his first game, which I am beginning to wonder if that was even Kris Bryant or a proxy of some sort filling in, the guy has been nothing but pleasant to watch at the plate.  His play at third, which I kind of expected to be a disaster, has been more than enough for me to feel he can stay at that spot.

Thought #2:

Dexter Fowler doesn’t get enough credit for his play thus far.  Now Dex hasn’t blown anybody away, but he may be the best leadoff option since Juan Pierre in a Cub uniform.  He has very quietly cobbled together a nice first month and does his job of setting the table for the other guys behind him.

Thought #3:

I like the Jumbo-Tron and the new signage, but when they finally open those bleachers it’s gonna be pretty cool.  The April crowds have never been great but with no bleacher creatures it makes Wrigley seem quite docile.  When I watch on TV it feels like a minor league game for the most part.  This will sound crazy but if this team can keep it going, the opening of the bleachers mid-season may provide a nice little emotional boost for home games down the stretch.  Imagine showing up at the ballpark mid-season and all of the sudden gaining 10,000 new rowdy fans every home game.

Anyhow, I feel like I wore the rose-colored glasses for years and they’re finally in style.  I am glowing like a pregnant woman in her second trimester.  Go Cubs!

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Game 12 Notes – A Good Win On A Weird Night

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015

Cubs (5) @ Pirates (2)

W: Jake Arrieta (2-1)

This was a long night of baseball and it was filled with some weird incidents.  Instead of waxing poetic about the Cubs first week of the season I will get right into the game notes…

First thing is first, Arrieta pitched a beauty of game, but the way the first inning went, it looked like it was going the other way.  After the first inning he kept the ball from leaving the infield with exception of a hit or two. Kris Bryant had a nice night at the plate going  3-4,  BB, 4 RBI’s (in fairness, he also hit into a double play with RISP and 1 out but we’ll let that pass for now).  Soler went 4-4 making his presence felt yet again.  This team is getting fun to watch people, fun, fun, fun.

  • The first three innings were slower than erosion. There was a 45 minute rain delay to start things off.  A woman was hit in the head with a foul ball behind home plate, it was  fouled straight back and actually hit the net and then hit her while she was being seated in the first row by the usher.  It looked awful and made for a 25 minute delay, last report was that she was okay, which is what’s important.  To cap it all off Arrieta stepped on his own hit and was called out.  That sounds weird and it was the first time I have actually witnessed this, but he took one of those wild pitcher hacks at a pitch and slapped it straight into the ground.  He then proceeded to step on the ball clumsily and was called out. Only a pitcher could accomplish this feat, but if it were a true Cubbie Occurrence Arietta would have sprained his ankle and spent a few weeks on the DL, instead he want on to throw a gem of a game….so we got that going for us.
  • I am wondering if the Pirates want their money back on Jung Ho Kang?  Outside of being unable to hit MLB pitching thus far, he managed to throw a ball into right field that could have started a big inning, but it didn’t because we like to hit into double plays with runners in scoring position.  That being said he has been a disaster since spring training started.
  • Pirate catcher Francisco Cervelli reminds me of Francis (AKA, Psycho) from the movie Stripes…just a thought.
  • So back to that full moon thing, there was a double challenge tonight!  In the top of the 5th Rizzo was called safe on a bang bang play at home.  The play was challenged by the Pirates and they won, he was called out as a result of the challenge.  Joe Maddon immediately re-challenged the play, as it appeared that Cervelli was blocking the plate.  I have to agree, it looked like classic blocking the plate, but Joe West and company did not, he remained out.
  • More strange stuff, Bryant hit the ball and scored on the same play, but it was not a homerun.  The hit itself would have made it to the seats in 90% of the ballparks in the league, but Pittsburgh’s left center field is cavernous.  Literally, I think there is a cave back there somewhere.  Nonetheless, he crushed a 99 mph fast ball and continues to prove he is Major League talent.  Find a highlight for yourself somewhere as it would take me too long to explain what happened.  It’s worth the watch though….
  • In the 8th inning the stadium started to erupt in Hyena calls. The Cubs were at the plate and it went on for most of the inning. I can’t make this stuff up.  The Five Thousand in attendance were having some fun.

THIS DAY IN CUBS HISTORY

www.NationalPastime.com

1959 –At Wrigley Field, Stan Musial breaks up Glen Hobbie‘s no-hitter with a two-out seventh inning double. The 23 year-old right-hander settles for a one-hitter, going the distance in the Cubs’ 1-0 victory over the Cardinals.

1966 – The Phillies obtain Larry Jackson and Bob Buhl from the Cubs in exchange for future Hall of Fame hurler Ferguson Jenkins, outfielder Adolfo Phillips, and first baseman/outfielder John Herrnstein. The pair of right-handers will post a 47-53 record collectively for Philadelphia as Chicago’s new moundsman will win twenty or more games for six consecutive seasons starting in 1967.

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