Tagged: Chicago Cubs

Love the Home Run Derby! Go Young, Cabrera, and Holliday!!

So, the Home Run Derby is going on right now. 

I just think that this is a great event.  Can’t help it.  I know that some people whine about it being meaningless or messing up guys’ swing, but I think it is great entertainment and I love watching it each summer.

Maybe I love it because guys’ I have rooted for have taken part in the derby over the years.  Sammy Sosa, Andre Dawson, George Bell, Carlos Pena, and, of course, my favorite player of all time, Ryne Sandberg.

So I’ve had lots to cheer for over the years. 

—————————————————————

Who Ya Pickin’?

I decided to chronicle the derby as it goes along.  Why?  Mainly for my own fun rather than anybody’s real entertainment.

Here are my picks to win it:

            Chris Young

          Matt Holliday

            Miguel Cabrera

I went with 3 guys just because it’s my blog and I can do what I want.

———————————————————–

Round 1

Chris Young            Wow, this guy did not look comfortable at all.  He hit one nice dinger, and that was it.  I think he has a ton of talent and is going to be in more All-Star Games in the future, but this was a dismal display. 

Outcome:  

 

 

Matt Holliday        Wow, that was awesome!  He had 9 outs and 1 dinger.  Then he proceeded to fire up the launch pad!  Wow.  He only ended up with 5, but one of those homers was 497 feet!!  He is in second place right now.  We’ll see what happens. 

Outcome:

 

Miguel Cabrera        He really launched some long balls.  Wow.  He sure showed what kind of a hitter he is: complete.  I loved the long ball in the water that Big Papi said, “In the water…you see that?”  Funny.  Overall, a great performance.

Outcome:

 

Other Ruminations

        Corey Hart put on a great display in Round 1.  Honestly, I did not think he would do well at all.  He blasted 13 homers and boy, oh boy, were they long!  He had a 464-foot shot that was just majestic.  Man, was it annoying to listen to A-rod talk while Swisher was hitting.  I do not respect that guy at all, and to hear him try to talk about respect for the game makes me want to puke.  Hanley Ramirez was great.  I have to admit, though, after his disrespect of the game earlier this season, I was rooting against him.  He sure showed me.

 —————————————————–

Round 2

So, all I’ve got left is Miggy.  I suck.

Miguel Cabrera        Damn.  This has been great to watch, but none of my guys did anything!  Right now my wife is rubbing it in that she chose Big Papi and that he might win.  There is a foot rub riding on it!  Miggy really let me down.  Don’t know who to root for now.  Maybe Corey Hart.

Outcome:

 

Other Ruminations

 Ramirez looks good.  Wow.  He is really surprising me.  Not the biggest surprise, though.  Corey Hart’s first round was something else.  I’m rooting for Hart to move on to the finals and win it all.  (Wow, Hart really stunk it up!)

——————————————————

Finals

Ruminations

Big Papi did not disappoint, that’s for sure.  Man, that guy just launched moon shot after moon shot.  Incredible.  Ramirez just had nothing left in the tank (good!) and he could not find a rhythm in that final round.  What I thought was pretty cool was watching Ortiz interact with his kid.  It was really sweet. 

Well, I’ve got a footrub to administer.  I’m a loser…

Obligatory (and fun) 2010 MLB Predictions: National League

Pretty much every blog in the universe remotely related to baseball has been making its predictions for what will happen in the majors in 2010.  Some have done it division by division, and some have done it in one big shot. 

I’ll be subscribing to a combination of both as I go league by league.

I will not be including records because, well, I’m just not that smart. 

I see 2010 as a season that will have more than just a few surprises.  Sure, teams such as the Phillies and Yankees will be right there until the end, but there are other squads that I think possess much intrigue because of their offseason moves and the emergence of their younger players.

More than likely this is an effort in futility, but it sure is fun.

Today I will break down the National League.  Tomorrow the American League.  Tuesday I’ll put out my playoff predictions.

NL East

Phillies                        Nobody’s better in the NL.  They would be better with Cliff Lee AND Roy Halladay, but they are pretty darn strong as they stand.

Braves                        I like their mix of youth and experience.  Their pitching will be a strength for them, especially if Tim Hudson can turn in a strong season.

Marlins                       How can you pick against them?  Nobody knows how they do it, but they win every year.  Ricky Nolasco is back and Josh Johnson is solid. 

Mets               How can you pick FOR them?  The addition of Jason Bay would seem to bode well for the offense, but the recent injury to Daniel Murphy won’t help.  Neither will the fact that they seem to have given up on their pitching.

Nationals         I don’t want to pile on.  They are not a good team.  But their offseason moves and slow dedication to a youth movement points them in the right direction.

Playoff team:

 

NL Central

Cardinals         Makes me sick to say it, but they are darn good.  Their offense will more than make up for any pitching deficiencies.  They have the potential for closer problems this year, though.

Cubs                I love this team, but it seems no matter how much talent they get on the squad they do not win.  Sure, they won the division for three straight years, but that was about it.  Last year was an abomination.  Marlon Byrd, and a healthy Aramis Ramirez, will really help the offense.

Reds                They could be the surprise of the division in 2010.  I like their staff (and the addition of Cuban defector Aroldis Chapman, even though he is in the minors now) and their bats.  Might sound crazy, but I think these guys could push for a playoff spot this year.

Astros             Sure Lance Berkman is hurt, but this team has some talent.  They are getting older at some positions (Carlos Lee, Berkman, Oswalt) and injuries could derail their season.

Brewers          Their pitching is horrendous.  Yovani Gallardo can’t stay healthy and one of their starters, Jeff Suppan, is already out.  Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun are not enough.

Pirates             Andrew McCutcheon will be fun for the entire league to watch and will more than likely represent the Bucs in the All-Star Game.  That’s about it.

Playoff teams:  

 

NL West

Giants              As fans of the Tampa Bay Rays know, pitching wins.  And there are few staffs (provided Barry Zito is actually good this year) as strong as the Giants’.  “Kung Fu Panda” Pablo Sandoval will really shine this year.

Dodgers          Why won’t they win the division?  Health.  I just think that they are going to have some big injuries this year and that Manny will do all he can to distract the team from winning baseball games.  I like their young starting pitching, but it won’t gel enough this year. 

Rockies                       Coors Field seems like a great place to watch a baseball game.  Its offensive stats seem to have calmed down a bit.  The rise of Ubaldo Jimenez and his ability to induce ground balls will help this team have a solid season.

Padres             I love their youth.  Everth Cabrera, Mat Latos, Chase Headley.  I like ’em.  This will be a big surprise if they don’t finish in the basement of the division again.  I think they have some surprises in them.

Diamondbacks            It will be a surprise if these guys DO finish in the basement.  I like Dan Haren and their emerging catcher, Miguel Montero (he’s on my fantasy team!).  But I don’t see a lot to get excited about in the desert.

Playoff team:

 

Well, that was fun.  No doubt, some of my picks might be debatable. 

 

And, if they are debatable, feel free to tear me apart.

 

Let’s play some baseball!

 

Gradin’ the Tradin’: Part II

The first post I put out a few days ago was only to rate the trades that occurred on Friday, the trading deadline day. 

However, I got a few e-mails asking me why I left out one trade or the other.  They got me to thinking….why NOT go through the notable trades from the trading deadline and just before? 

I enjoyed arguing with some of you through comments and e-mail about what you thought of some of the trades.  Good times…

This post might be more for me than anybody since I LOVE trades and how they affect teams.  I think they are something that is utilized by baseball better than any other sport and is part of the reason why this game is so grand.

Again, I’m primarily looking at the team that is the bigger part of the deal, though in some cases I grade both teams.

So without further adieu….here is part deux. 

—————————————————–

Deal:  Reds trade Edwin Encarcion et al to the Blue Jays for Scott Rolen

Analysis:  It seemed that Encarnacion never really got it going in Cincinnati.  He hit a load of dingers last year, but the average the last few years was never really what Dusty Baker wanted (.209 in 2009).  I don’t see him being the 3B of the future for the Jays, unfortunately.  However, from what I’ve read about the two young pitchers who were also sent to the Jays, the real value might be there.  These two pitchers might make an impact on Toronto this season, which would make the Jays winners here.  The Reds get an aging 3B who might be able to help out a little next year.  While the Reds play in a strong offensive park, the fact is that Rolen is 34 and has seen his best years pass him by.

Grade:  Reds–C+   Jays–B+

 —————————————————–

Deal:  Jerry Hairston, Jr. to the Yankees for a Single-A catcher

Analysis:  This just doesn’t seem like a big deal to me.  Of course, the Rays are notorious for making the “not a big deal” trades that end up getting them a bunch of wins.  Maybe the Yankees have been taking notes.  They already went into the Rays’ playbook to make a deal for Eric Hinske earlier in the year, after all.  Hairston, Jr. has speed and versatility.  For those reasons he might be a nice guy to have on a team.  A National League team.  I don’t see him helping the Yanks out too much.  Then again, New York didn’t give up much, either.

Grade:  B-

—————————————————– 

Deal:  Brewers deal to get Claudio Vargas from the Dodgers

Analysis:  The Brewers needed a starter.  A good starter.  They needed somebody to help them contend with the Cubs, Cardinals, and, suddenly, the Astros.  Instead they dealt for a bullpen guy in LA who they actually had not that long ago and dumped because of his ineffectiveness.  They didn’t give up much, but they didn’t get much, either.

Grade:  D-

—————————————————– 

Deal:  Cubs get John Grabow and Tom Gorzelanny from Pirates

Analysis:  This is a case where I think both teams won out.  The Pirates got a young hurler in Kevin Hart and a strong piece of the bullpen in Jose Ascanio.  The Cubs needed a starter in Gorzelanny (he’ll start this week) to fill in for Ted Lilly and they needed a strong lefty in the ‘pen in Grabow who will take the place of the Tommy John-bit Neal Cotts.  Grabow will complement Sean Marshall in the bullpen and add some stability to a shakey group.

Grade:  A for both teams (especially because of the mad kung fu skills of Gorzelanny)

—————————————————– 

Deal:  Royals get Josh Anderson from the Tigers

Analysis:  This guy was got for cash.  That’s it.  Typically these deals are non-issues.  This one fits in with that characterization.  So why are we talking about it?

Grade:  Who cares?

 —————————————————–

Deal:  The Giants get Freddy Sanchez from the Pirates

Analysis:  The Pirates are becoming to be old hat in these trade discussions.  With that said, the Bucs are doing the right thing.  Sanchez was scheduled to make $8 mill next year.  That’s too rich for a team with so many holes.  I was hoping that the Rays would get this guy–he’s one of my faves–so that they could move Ben Zobrist’s rocket arm and huge bat to right field.  Alas, not to be.  This move will probably lead to the Giants releasing Rich Aurelia and his salary.  Sanchez will help the Giants.  The Pirates got a pitcher in Tim Alderson who will help them–in the future.

Grade: B+

—————————————————– 

Deal:  Phillies land Cliff Lee from Indians 

Analysis:  C’mon, do we have to talk about this one?  I was hoping the Rays might get active here, and they were, but not as active as the Series champs.  They got Lee, gave up some guys they’ll miss, and promptly saw him throw a complete game shutout.  ‘Nuff said.

Grade:  A

—————————————————– 

Deal:  Mariners get Jack Wilson from Pirates for a bunch o’ guys

Analysis:  The M’s got the shortstop they had hoped they had in Yuniesky Betancourt.  When they realized Betancourt was a flop defensively, they shipped him to Kansas City–where he’s struggled.  Wilson is a solid piece of the future puzzle for the M’s and will get them some wins in the future.  The guys the Pirates got will be helpful, but not too helpful right away.  Ronny Cedeno is flopping right now and catcher Jeff Clement was not sparking the way the Mariners wanted.  I thought that the addition of Clement might lead to the Bucs moving Ryan Doumit–to the Rays.  Not so.  Oh well.

Grade:  Mariners–B+    Pirates–B

—————————————————– 

Deal:  White Sox get Mark Kotsay, Red Sox get Brian Anderson

 

Analysis:  No doubt, the White Sox won this trade–right now.  The White Stockings got a premiere pinch hitter who can play almost any corner position.  He is a veteran who can fit in immediately with is new team and pay dividends as they push for October.  The Red Stockings got a supreme underachiever in Anderson.  He might develop, though, into a guy who might be the utility outfielder Rocco Baldelli is supposed to be.  With JD Drew on his way out (c’mon, folks, he’s hurt, like, ALL THE TIME) this might be a good add–next year.

Grade:  White Sox–B+    Red Sox–B+ (potentially)

—————————————————– 

Deal:  Giants get Ryan Garko for Single-A pitcher

Analysis:  Garko was a fan fave in Cleveland, but he was going to be up for big money in the off season.  So he was shipped.  He was taking playing time away from guys the Indians really wanted to see and they did not view him as a piece of the future.  He has a gift for being offensive–in a good way–and should help the Giants offense get going.  The guy Cleveland got will be good two years from now.  That’s something to be happy about in Clevelend–and there isn’t much these days.  However, the move will give more AB’s to superstar-in-the-making Matt LaPorta

Grade:  B

—————————————————– 

Deal:  Matt Holliday goes to St. Louis

Analysis:  Waste of time to talk about.  He’s hitting .529!!! 

Grade: A+ (and it sickens me to say that)

—————————————————–

Sorry if the pics got a little weird there at times.  I’m as distracted by the strange moments of our favorite sport as anybody.

I think that runs down most of the more notable trades that have occurred the last few weeks (and a couple of not-so-notable trades). 

I think that this time of year is the most captivating of any sport out there.  Teams are fighting for division titles.  Others are scrambling for wildcard berths.  Franchises are deciding whether to buy or sell.  Squads are scouting for both this and next year–and with a do-or-die attitude.

It’s just great.

And the waiver-wire trades are going to get going soon too.  Teams have to make waiver deals before August 30th if they want that guy to be eligible for the post season.

And the countdown begins.

 

And if anybody asks me about the Julio Lugo deal……..

To the North! Cubs and Cardinals

I just wanted to take a few moments to comment on the HUGE upcoming series between the Cubs and Cardinals.

It seems when you read things and watch tv that these are two teams headed in totally opposite directions: The Cardinals are dominating the division while the Cubs are languishing in mediocrity.

Yet, when you look at the standings and see that the Cubbies sit only 3 1/2 games behind the Cards, the picture starts to clear a bit.  In fact, when you consider the significant injuries the Cubs have suffered this season and the fact that they sport one of the worst offensive infields in the majors, the picture clears even more.

The Cubs are not as far off of winning their third straight division title as people may think.

Granted, the loss of Geovany Soto and Ryan Dempster the last few days doesn’t help, but Soto has been seemingly “lost” all season so far and Dempster has underachieved.

I think that the Cubs have alot of great baseball left in them and that it will manifest in the second half of the year.  The Cardinals have played some great baseball so far and stand only 3 1/2 games in front of the North Siders.

This is going to be a great series.  Consider that these two teams a big time rivals (one of the best in sports, in my opinion) and this is going to be some memorable baseball going into the break.

I’m ready for the game!

Pat the Bat

It was a mob scene at home plate as one of the more beleaguered Rays came home after ripping a game-winning home run in the bottom of the 11th inning.

And I missed it (Dog paws hit the channel up button; by the time I fixed the situation and turned it back, Pat was being mobbed.  Sheesh!).

That’s ok, though.  Thank goodness for replay.

Pat Burrell snapped the Rays’ 4-game losing streak and sent the fans home happy tonight with his heroic blast against Toronto Blue Jays hurler Brandon League.  He came into the at bat 0-3 and hitting only .218.  While the average might have climbed just a little bit, the spirits of the Rays faithful soared with his big hit.

It could be that things are starting to improve for Burrell.  As he said in his postgame interview with Todd Kalas, “Maybe tonight, you know, it’ll start turning around.”  What an exciting proposition that would be.  To see Pat the Bat putting up the numbers expected of him to help jumpstart an offense that has been quite anemic as of late.

These are the types of games that not only end losing streaks, but start winning streaks.  An injection of excitement from a veteran was exactly what this squad had been missing.  In the past it had come off the bat of such guys as Eric Hinske, Cliff Floyd, and Jonny Gomes.  And everytime it was followed by some good baseball.

Let’s hope that this will be the case again.

——————————————————–

Cubs note: Does everybody know how Ryan Dempster broke his toe?  He jumped over the railing at the end of last night’s Cub win.  Could be shelved 3-4 weeks.  Not good, not good…

Oh Happy Ray!!

MLB All-Star Game 2009 logo

 

This Rays fan is ecstatic with the selection of every deserving Rays position player to the All-Star Game roster.  I was getting a little worried as they made the announcements of the AL reserves because no Rays were being mentioned.  Every year the manager of the team always gets a little leeway when it comes to selecting players from his own team to the roster.

I was worried Joe Maddon might buck tradition and leave off guys from his own team in favor of being as fair as possible.

What was great is that “fair” was exactly what happened today.

The Rays got an unprecedented (for them) amount of players put onto the team with the selection of Evan Longoria, Carl Crawford, Jason Bartlett, and Ben Zobrist.

Every one of those guys should be an All Star and it is great that they will represent the reigning AL Champs in St. Louis next week.

It’ll be interesting when it comes out more directly which of those guys were player selections and which of them were Maddon selections.  Either way, they made it on the merit of their play, not simply due to their time in the league over the past years. 

I was a little surprised that so many Red Sox were put on the team (again, I don’t know right now which were chosen by Joe and which were player selections) not because of the team’s lack of success but because of some incidents in the past with the Rays and Red Sox.

Good for Joe taking the high road and getting the deserving Sox on the team.  It would be hard to argue leaving any of them off.

What is even more exciting is the potential of getting Carlos Pena onto the team as well through the final man fan vote.  I’ve already started voting.  This might not be the most deserving of guys, so I’m just closing my eyes and hoping we can get one more Ray on the roster. 

But this was truly a day for the Rays.  Not only will the game be a pure treat to watch this year, with no ill feelings whatsoever about who should have made it, but today brings alot of pride to the area and to the team that has waited a long time for it. 

————————————————-

On a side note: It was quite a hit to see only one Cub put on the team after they set the record last year for most players from one team on an All-Star roster.  But they got what they deserved.

An Exciting New Series

I’m looking forward to Game 1 of this set against the Rangers. 

I think part of it was the boring ol’ rainy Thursday I just had to endure (though watching the Cubs take down the Brewers last night was satisfying–D-Lee was mashing!).

The Yankees won and the Red Sox have a surprisingly difficult matchup with Seattle tonight.  Boy, those M’s are really taking it to the opposition this season, aren’t they?  So the Rays need to win to at least keep up with the Yanks.

But tonight the Boys in Blue are going to have their hands full with a strong Rangers squad. 

We’ve got Kaz going in his second start after his loooong DL stint.  He’s taking on Tommy Hunter, a kid making just his third start of the year.  I’m hoping that Kazmir can get us into the 7th inning before Joe Maddon has to call on the bullpen.  For Kaz, it is always about the first inning, so look for that to really set the tone for the rest of the game.

It’s always fun to see your team play a group you only really see on Sportscenter.

I’m excited about the game for a slightly geeky reason too: I’ve got some fantasy guys in tonight’s game.  Zobrist, Longo, Frank Francisco, and Nelson Cruz.  That always adds a little energy to any game I watch.  Sorry purists.