Tagged: Derek Lee

My All-Time Favorite Cubs!

I have been a diehard Cubs’ fan for over 32 years.  Here is a list of my all-time favorite Cubs.

In no particular order, I have broken my favorites down by position.  Former Cub Greats like Billy Williams, Ernie Banks, and Ron Santo are NOT listed since I never had the opportunity to see them play.  However, obviously, they are the best.

In the OUTFIELD, my favorites include ANDRE DAWSON.  Andre Dawson is a Hall of Famer and his numbers speak for themselves. 
thumbnailCASVJS4E.jpgSammy,
thumbnailCAGSWXSZ.jpgon the other hand, lost favor with me when I, along with the rest of the world, discovered that he used a corked bat while hitting 66 homeruns in 1998.  Sammy was exciting to watch, but with the steroid scandal, he became a major disappointment.  I was at Wrigley all summmer long in 1998 and was a witness to history, unfortunately it was all smoke and mirrors for the fans.   Another favorite has been Gary Matthews.  “Sarge” always took charge in the outfield and played hard-nosed baseball.  He was an all-out effort kind of player. My third favorite outfielder, in my time, is BOB DERNIER.
thumbnailCASG8UGU.jpg
thumbnailCAYVE10S.jpg  He was a speedster that not only stole bases, but had a gold glove as well.

At THIRD BASE, the Cubs haven’t had anybody that has stood out until Aramis Ramirez came along. 
thumbnailCA6WKXR1.jpgAlthough he struggled with injuries last season, he has been a solid performer over the past few years with the Cubs.  Hopefully next season, he will return to form.

At SHORTSTOP, my favorite was Ivan DeJesus
thumbnailCAU6D3I4.jpgHe was the lead-off hitter back when I began watching the Cubs.  He played solid defense and stole bases.  He always gave 100%.

At SECOND BASE, there is only one RYNE SANDBERG. 
thumbnailCACA1ZSP.jpgA Hall of Famer, Ryno was simply the best.  He was the most clutch hitter that I’ve ever seen.

At FIRST BASE, while most fans would arguably pick Mark Grace and rightfully so, my pick is BILL BUCKNER.  Back in the day, Buckner was a hitting machine.  In my opinion, he was a better hitter than Gracie.  He was a pretty good defensive player as well.  It is unfortunate that fans only remember the ball that went through his legs at Boston.
thumbnailCAK2MV8C.jpg  The same could be said for Leon Durham in 1984.  Derek Lee deserves special recognition.  I almost picked him and probably should have.  He is probably the best first baseman the Cubs have had in my 32 years as a fan, I just was a big fan of Buckner, that’s all. 

At CATCHER, my favorite was JODY DAVIS.
thumbnailCAIL1KLX.jpg  He was awesome.
thumbnail.jpg  Back in 1984, the Cubs had a good team up and down the line-up.  It was probably my favorite team as a whole.

STARTING PITCHER is none other than Greg Maddux
thumbnailCAXBVF46.jpgHe is the king of the hill.

My favorite CLOSER was BRUCE SUTTER.  He had a split-fingered fast ball that was lights out.  Carlos Marmol recently broke his strikeout record for closers.

thumbnailCA01ENS8.jpgSome of my other favorites include, most notably, JOE GIRARDI, LEE SMITH, DENNIS ECKERSLY, Kenny Lofton, FERGUSON JENKINS, MARK GRACE, Sammy Sosa, Kerry Wood, RICK SUTCLIFFE, LEON DURHAM, KEITH MORELAND, Derek Lee, DAVE KINGMAN, SHAWON DUNSTON, Carlos Zambrano, Alfonso Soriano, and Carlos Marmol.   My FAVORITE CUBS’ TEAM was 1984. 
thumbnailCAFW14WS.jpgIt was a season to remember!
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The Diehard Cubs’ Fan Suggestion Box: Who’s On First?

The Free Agent frenzy is about to begin.  The Cubs have some holes to fill and first base is first on the list for Jim Hendry.  Let’s explore the options and find the right fit.  I have some suggestions that might make sense, so listen up, Mr. Hendry.

Since the trade that sent Derek Lee to the Atlanta Braves, Xavier Nady took over at First Base.  Now that Nady has become a Free Agent, the Cubs have a glaring hole at First.  With First base open, the Cubs have been considering moving Tyler Colvin to First, a position he hasn’t played since college.  On the surface, it seems like a good idea.  The transition would allow Colvin more playing time, but considering he hasn’t played the position in quite some time, it would require a lot of extra hard work and practice to make a successful conversion.  This may take some time.  Until then, the Cubs would probably be better off finding a suitable veteran player that will fit in with the Cubs’ game plan.  That means, of course, signing a Free Agent.

Let’s consider the options that are available on the Free Agent Market.  We’ll try to determine who is the best fit for the Cubs,

First, there have been many rumors surrounding the Cubs having interest in Adam Dunn.  Here you have a left-handed slugger with a ton of power.  Dunn is tops on the list if the Cubs are seeking a clean-up hitter.  He has the power to hit 40-50 homeruns a year.  For Fans of the long ball, he’s your guy. 
thumbnailCAZHE3AZ.jpgBut is he the best fit?

Adam Dunn has a downside and the negatives may outweigh the positives.  Up front, Dunn will be asking for a 4-5 year deal worth upwards of 40 million dollars.  That is another high priced, long-term contract that the Cubs may not have the resources or the desire to entertain.  In addition, Adam Dunn strikes out a ton.  Do the Cubs really want a player with a high ratio of strikeouts?  Offensively, that is a huge weakness.  Also, he has no speed on the basepaths and figures to clog the bases with his inabilty to take the extra base.  Finally, Dunn lacks defensive prowess.  He has struggled since converting from the outfield to first and the Cubs do not need any defensive liabilities.  Sure Dunn can hit the homerun, but does it outweigh the negative factors?  I think not.  Adam Dunn is NOT the best fit for the Cubs.

It has been reported that Jim Hendry, the Cubs GM, is looking for “… the likes of a Nick Johnson“.  This really puzzles me.  Why?  Nick Johnson did not play much last year.  He spent the season on the DL after having wrist surgery.  Besides, when he did play, he was nothing more than a DH.  He didn’t even play first.  When he did in the past, he wasn’t anything special.  His offensive numbers weren’t very good either.  I don’t know why Hendry would have an interest in an injured player like Johnson.  The Cubs acquired Xavier Nady after he had surgery and that didn’t exactly work out did it.  In Nady’s defense, he might actually be healthy in 2011 and have a better year.  The Cubs may consider bringing Nady back but it is doubtful since they really want a left-handed bat to balance the line-up.

The biggest name that surfaces among Cubs’ Fans is Adrian Gonzalez, but the San Diego Padres have picked up their 2011 option and for now, will stay in San Diego. 
thumbnailCAH81SCW.jpgGonzalez has expressed a desire to play in Chicago, but won’t hit the Free Agent Market until next year.  Whether he will become available at the trade deadline is unknown at this time.  Also, he is having shoulder surgery so it may take a while to bounce back.  When healthy, Adrian Gonzalez is arguably the best First Baseman out there.  He is a hitting machine, plays great defense, and is my personally favorite for the job.  Unfortunately, at this time, AGon is unavailable, unless the Cubs can work out a trade, but it is unlikely.  The Cubs have others on the radar.  Who?

To narrow down the field of first basemen, let’s focus on the left-handers that will add hitting prowess in the middle of the line-up.

The San Francisco Giants were World Series Champions this season and were led by first baseman, Aubrey Huff, who will now be a Free Agent.  Huff is a lefty and he is consistent, year in and year out.  He hits around .300 and has power. 
thumbnailCAA26SZX.jpgAubrey Huff is a proven leader in the club house and on the field.  In my opinion, Huff had a lot to do with the Giants’ success this year.  He was a valuable piece to winning.  Aubrey Huff was a bargain when San Francisco acquired him.  He may be one of the best options for the Cubs, provided the Giants’ don’t want to keep him around.  If he becomes available, I would sign him.  He adds leadership that the Cubs definitely need.

Adam LaRoche is a possibility, but in my opinion, he is a better back up than a starter.  He has average numbers, both offensively and defensively.  The Cubs could sign him to an average contract, but I think they may be dissapointed by his production.  I think he is over-rated to say the least.  He would be a last resort.

Lance Berkman doesn’t make any sense.  He is getting older and his offensive numbers have declined dramatically.  He would want too much money and would fail to deliver the punch that he once had.  Not a good fit.

Some Chicago Fans like Paul Konerko, but he is right-handed and doesn’t fit in well with the game plan.  Not really a good idea, although I admit, he is a good player.

Jorge Cantu and Lyle Overbay are options, but I don’t believe would be good fits for the Cubs.

Carlos Pena is another, but he batted under .200 this past season, not exactly the offensive production that the Cubs are looking for.

There are several others that I will not mention, mainly because they have too many question marks, are either declining or simply don’t provide the offensive fire power or defense that the Cubs need at firstbase.

Finally, I have a suggestion for Jim Hendry. 

thumbnailCACT0XAX.jpgConsider Victor Martinez.  Here is a switch-hitting, explosive bat that provides a .300+ batting average with a great deal of power.  While he considers himself primarily a catcher, Martinez also plays firstbase.  Here is my suggestion. 

Sign Victor Martinez.  HE CAN PLAY FIRSTBASE AND BACK UP CATCHER.  He not only brings a switch-hitting bat for the middle of the line-up, he can double as Geovanny Soto’s back up catcher. Victor Martinez brings a valuable commodity, VERSATILITY.  If there is a downside to VM, it is that he is looking for a 4-year deal.  Even still, he would be worth it, in my opinion.  Here is something else to consider, when Victor Martinez has catching duties, Tyler Colvin could gain valuable experience playing First base, backing up Martinez.  It would make for a smoother transition.  In addition, the Cubs would have TWO versatile players in their line-up, Victor Martinez AND Tyler Colvin.

In my assessment, the Cubs have two very good options that I would encourage Jim Hendry to consider.  While Tyler Colvin should increase his versatility and practice playing first, he has not proven himself there yet.  So I have narrowed the field down to Aubrey Huff AND Victor Martinez.  Dollar for dollar, they possess the most value.  Both are consistently good, providing strong numbers and a strong presence in any line-up.  Adam Dunn pales by comparison and so do the others.  If the Cubs’ Front Office is paying attention, I hope that they would seriously consider Huff or Martinez.  Both would bring a lot to the table.  Both would be good fits for the Cubs. 

Let the Free Agent frenzy begin.

Next blog:  I will tackle the Pitchers in the Free Agent Pool.

The Braves In The Land Of Giants, Pandas, Poseys, And Freaks!

It’s October and there’s a full moon as Atlanta will brave the journey to the land of Giants on this night.  The Braves had better beware because there are dangers lurking just around the corner.

In his final season, future Hall of Fame Manager, Bobby Cox, and the Atlanta Braves squeaked into the post-season winning the Wildcard, but are the Braves prepared to face the most dominant pitching staff of the National League?

San Francisco won the NL West with tremendous pitching.  In the month of September, the Giants’ pitching staff touted a dwarfed ERA of 1.78.  During the final month of the season, opposing batters’ hit only .182.  The Giants will open the series tonight with “The Freak”, Tim Lincecum. 
thumbnailCAJ3HBL1.jpg The 26 year old, Cy Young Pitcher, went 16-10 with a 3.43 ERA.  He will be making his post-season debut.  Lincecum led the National League this year with 231 K’s.  Despite struggling in August, He made some adjustments and finished strong in September where he went 5-1 with a 1.94 ERA.  Make no mistake, Tim Lincecum is ready for the Braves.

Atlanta will have Derek Lowe on the mound.  Lowe has won 5 consecutive starts and has gone 5-1 with a 1.98 ERA in 8 career games at AT&T Park.  It should be a good pitching match up.  While the Braves’ lineup try to figure out “The Freak”, Derek Lowe will try not to freak out when he faces the Giants’ hitters, like “Kung Fu Panda”, Pablo Sandoval, and Aubrey Huff.  The Giants have staked the claim for Rookie Of The Year honors with the emergence of Buster Posey.  The Giants’ catcher ranked 1st amongst National League rookies with a .305 batting average, 2nd in slugging per centage (.505), 3rd in on-base per centage (.357), 4th in RBI’S with 67, 5th in multi-hit games (38).  Posey finished the year with 18 HR’s in 108 games played.  He is the leading candidate for NL Rookie Of the Year as he helped the Giants overcome a 7 1/2 game deficit in mid-season.

The Giants are 63-19 when scoring first this season and 69-12 when they score 4 or more runs in a game.  In addition, San Fran is 61-4 when leading after the 5th inning, attributable to a fantastic bullpen.  As a team, the Giants have 37 come from behind wins.

Atlanta lost Chipper Jones earlier in the year, but added players like first baseman, Derek Lee and Rick Ankiel.  The Braves have had a road record of 35-46 in 2010 and have struggled as of late.  However, in Bobby Cox’s final season, the Braves will be trying to send their skipper out on top.  It should be a good series.  The Braves will need to find an answer to the Giants’ pitching staff if they are going to have a chance.  We’ll see how it goes.  Rock on!