Tagged: 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. 

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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.

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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.

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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!)

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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…

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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!

 

Congrats to the Hawk

Howdy folks.  I know it has been a while.  Sorry.  Life.  Who knew?

I am chiming in quickly with my reaction to the wonderful news that Mr. Andre Dawson was elected to the Hall of Fame. 

What took so long?

Hawk’s numbers speak for themselves–I won’t go into those.  But he seemed to be one of the guys who helped baseball transition from bulky power hitters to sluggers who could also run and play defense.  Opposing base runners would not dare run on that gun of an arm in right field.  I can remember many a game where somebody would try to score from 2nd base or go 1st to 3rd on a base hit only to find themselves sent to the bench by Dawson’s mighty arm. 

One of the scariest moments of my childhood occurred when I watched Awesome Dawson get beaned in the face by the San Diego Padres’ Eric Show.  I remember the Hawk’s body lying there, motionless, at home plate while everybody charged the mound on his behalf.  The Cubs loved the guy, and the Cubs fans adored him. 

He was mythic in proportion.  I remember my dad telling me about seeing Dawson at a Cubs Convention in the 80s.  “His body is like a V,” my dad said.  Broad shoulders, strong chest, perfect physique for hitting the ball out of the park or stealing second base.  The guy was something.

I am really happy that another Cub has been able to be enshrined in Cooperstown.  It is long overdue.  Congrats, Hawk, and enjoy it.

Now, how about a certain Cubs third baseman getting some love from the Veteran’s Committee?

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. 

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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+

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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-

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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-

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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)

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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?

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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+

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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

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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

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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)

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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

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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)

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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……..

CC Is Your MVP!! Rays Represent at the All-Star Game! My ASG Recap…

Carlos Pena showed the country last night that we can hit the ball out of the park. 

Carl Crawford showed viewers that we can also bring the ball back in.

 

I was hoping.  I was hoping that CC’s 1-3 night and amazing game saving catch would be enough. 

It was.

Our own Carl Crawford took home the MVP trophy for tonight’s All-Star Game–the first Ray ever to do so.  It was an amazing feat that shows exactly how far this franchise has come the last few years. 

I was excited that tonight’s game was going to showcase 5 Rays and help get the nation more acquainted with our squad of hard workers.  Our guys helped to show the naysayers that this team has alot that will be said before this season is over, playing solid enough defense to lead the AL squad to a 4-3 victory over the NL.

It is no coincidence that fielding has been a hallmark of Joe Maddon’s teams the last few seasons, and to emphasize the point Crawford went blazonly at the fence after Rockie Brad Hawpe launched a long ball towards left center field.  CC did what CC does best–he took away a hit.

 

Only this time, the “hit” he stole was going to be a game-tying home run.

Hawpe hit it to the wrong side of the ballpark.

Crawford exhibited his typical humble personality in his postgame interview.  In fact, he seemed happier to have gotten an autographed baseball from our nation’s president than he did to be the winner of the MVP of the All-Star Game.  He told Chris Rose of FOX that it was his teammates, his Rays coaches, and manager Joe Maddon who helped him to be comfortable enough to go out there and play well. 

Lucky for the AL, he did play well.  In fact, the American League team that makes the World Series (ahem, the Rays) owes Carl a debt of gratitude for giving them home field advantage.

What a great night. 

Congrats to CC on being named the AL’s All-Star Game MVP. 

Congrats to the Rays on demonstrating the “Ray Way” of playing the game.

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ALL STAR RECAP

Overall I would say that the game was a success.  I enjoyed it MUCH more than the Home Run Derby the night before.  There was alot more drama and more excitement.

Plus, I would say the pitchers last night fared much better than the pitchers at the derby….

Here are some things I noticed about last night’s game:

 

PITCHING

Wow.  Somebody get out a stopwatch because those pitchers were trying for some kind of speed record out there.  They got the ball and threw, no hesitation.  Of course, it didn’t help that many of the hitters were swinging away at the first or second pitch. 

 

I felt especially bad for Raul Ibanez.  The guy gets his first All-Star Game nod and swings at the first pitch he ever seeing in an ASG and fouls out to third.  Ouch.  Not many good memories there.

 

FIELDING

Aside from CC’s amazing catch, I thought the fielding was adequate. 

The game was punctuated by great catches in the outfield, one for the AL (Crawford) and one for the NL (Jayson Werth’s snag in the 8th to stop an AL potential rally).

Albert Pujols booted one early in the game, but came back to make a few good plays after that. 

 

Jason Bartlett almost made an amazing play diving for a grounder up the middle. That would really have shown everybody how we play defense at the Trop.

(It was kind of cool in the 9th when Bartlett threw out an Upton–Justin Upton)

 

SUBSTITUTIONS

I know that does not sound exciting, but I felt like the managers were not making a big effort to get guys in during the game.  Especially the pitchers.  It seemed like Maddon and Manuel were managing to actually win the game.  That is great, but doesn’t that detract from the FUN aspect of the game?

 

People tune in to see their guys get in.  The Pirates are not going to have alot of success this season, but seeing Freddy Sanchez and Zach Duke get into the game is kind of neat.  Neither made it. 

I know that I was looking forward to seeing Ted Lilly throw an inning–or part of an inning.  Unfortunately, the only guy who got booed by the always hospitalbe fans of St. Louis did not make an appearance.

In all, the AL used 25 guys and the NL used 26.  That means 7-8 guys on each team made the trip to St. Louis, and that was all.  The fans who bought the All Star jerseys never got to see their favorite players wear them on the field. 

Of course, the job of a manager in a game such as this is tough.  But trying to add more significance to the game (home field advantage in the WS) might just be the thing that is taking away some of its sparkle.

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In all, I had a great time watching the game.  The Rays did well (they got the MVP of the game, duh) and the game moved quickly.  The competition was high and there was a level of fun involved. 

Now it will be time to get back to the business of real baseball.  Something that, I am sure, every player and fan has been itching for since Ben Zobrist caught the final All Star out.

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!

Swept Aside

I’ve got my Rays hat on and am ready for tonight’s game to see if the Rays can sweep the Blue Jays.

Oh, right.

Matinee baseball.

Don’t get me wrong, growing up a die-hard Cub fan I LOVED afternoon baseball.  It was awesome watching the Cubbies during the summer at noon or being able to catch the end of the game right as school ended.  That was fun stuff.

However, as an adult who is trying to remodel a bathroom and kitchen, matinee baseball sometimes is a bit inconvenient.  The Rays were winning while I was hammering, so I couldn’t enjoy the victory.

Ah, well.

I did catch snippets here and there.  I was a little worried about how the Rays would handle the Doc, but it looks like they handled him just fine.  A 3-2 win and a sweep make all things right in the world, and we can worry about Halladay another day.  Hard to believe the Rays have taken down the best pitcher in baseball two times in a row.

I saw Dan Wheeler shut the Jays down in the 9th, looking every bit as dominent as he did at times last season.

While I was a little upset I missed most of the game today, I knew that checking out my friend at The Watercooler would get me up to date.  I think that the broom and the splashes of color, accompanied by plenty of exclamation points in her post about the contest let me know that it was quite a game and quite a win.

Sorry I missed it.

It is no coincidence, in my opinion, that the last three games (all wins, of course) have seen our starters go more than 5 innings each.  James Shields, Scott Kazmir, and David Price all got beyond the 5th and helped to put the bullpen in position each time to tie down the opponent’s offense without having to be overstretched.

The Rays have been pretty seesaw-y as they have now won 7 in a row, lost 4 in a row, and won 3 in a row.  Let’s hope they can push the streak to 4 tomorrow against the A’s.