Tagged: Padres

Cubs Lose, Cubs Lose! Red Sox Win Adrian Gonzalez

Another day of bitter disappointment and frustration for Cubs’ fans as the Boston Red Sox acquire Adrian Gonzalez from San Diego.  Apparently, the Cubs are more committed to cutting payroll than winning.  I am disgusted by the Cubs’ lack of moves.  It appears that we are in for another long and disappointing season. 

thumbnailCAC10SKZ.jpgThe Padres will receive 3 prospects, a pitcher, a first baseman, and an outfielder.  Surely, Jim Hendry could have put a better package deal together, but he failed to.  How does Hendry retain his job?  He is destroying the Cubs and Tom Ricketts is okay with that.  Apparently, since the Cubs have $103 million in payroll committed to players that do not perform up to expectations, there is no desire to spend any more.  Why can’t these players take a pay cut to improve the team?  It’s not about winning anymore, it’s about money.  Adrian Gonzalez would have been the perfect fit for the Cubs, but they let him get away.  Now, Cubs’ fans will have to settle for a second-rate first baseman.  How can this team treat their fans this way?

We are diehard Cubs’ fans, so I guess we are supposed to be frustrated and disappointed.  The Cubs want to preserve their ‘Lovable Losers’ status.  Personally, I am sick and tired of this team’s committment to losing.  Cubs’ fans want a winner.  We want a World Series championship.  Shame on Jim Hendry and Tom Ricketts.  Shame on the Cubs.  Maybe in another hundred years the Cubs will win, but that will never happen with the new ownership and as long as Jim Hendry is running the show.  Maybe I need therapy to deal with being a diehard Cubs’ fan, because they are driving me crazy!

An Open Letter To Bud Selig Re: Reinstatement of Pete Rose

The BBWAA Hall of Fame ballots have officially been released.  One name that is not among the candidates to be enshrined is Pete Rose, the all-time hits leader. 
thumbnailCAAMARXE.jpg Some names that will appear on the ballots are names connected with steroid use.  There is no forgiveness in baseball, unless your method of cheating was by steroid use.  Why?  Why is betting on baseball a worse crime?  Pete Rose never bet against the Reds so it wasn’t like he “fixed” the games to ensure he would win a bet.  He lied about his gambling at first, but finally broke down and admitted his wrong-doing.  He regrets his mistake.  Players like Sammy Sosa and Rafael Palmeiro denied any wrong doing despite the evidence that proves otherwise.  Roger Clemens will deny his actions till the day he dies and even then, will never admit it.  Alex Rodriguez denied reports of his usage, but finally revealed the truth after the evidence was leaked to the press.  His reward?  He gets to keep playing as if he did nothing wrong.  Why?  Why does a player that tests positive for steroid use gets to get caught 3 times before he faces a lifetime ban?  Why are steroid users allowed to be on the Hall of Fame ballot?  Are they not cheaters?

thumbnailCAF2K6Q0.jpg          Dear Mr. Selig, I don’t understand why Major League baseball has crucified Pete Rose.  Sure, he made a mistake.  He bet on baseball and that is strictly against the rules.  He made a mistake and is truly remorseful.  As the Commissioner of MLB, are you afraid to overturn a previous Commissioner’s ruling?  Why?  Is there no forgiveness in baseball?

In light of the steroid era, haven’t we learned anything?  The steroid users have been glorified.  In 1998, fans of MLB enjoyed the greatest homerun race ever.  Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire slugged it out and the fans went wild.  At the time, we thought we were witnessing history, only to discover that it was all smoke and mirors.  In hindsight, it was a major disappointment.  Then there’s Barry Bonds, who belted 70 homeruns to become the homerun king.  Again, it was all an illusion, wasn’t it?

Considering the fact that steroids not only tarnished the game, it destroyed the integrity of America’s past time.  So why do players like Palmeiro get rewarded by appearing on the Hall of Fame ballot?  I don’t get it.  MLB has always taken the stance that baseball is a pure sport, a sport with integrity.  Let’s face it, baseball has been stained by steroids.  Players looked for an extra edge and found it.  They cheated, pure and simple.  The problem that I have is that if a player fails a drug test, he gets suspended for 90 days or whatever it is.  then, if he tests positive again, it’s a 180 game suspension.  The third offense results in a lifetime ban.  So why is it, that Pete Rose received baseball’s death penalty for one mistake made after his playing days were over?  Pete Rose played the game the way it should be played.  He set the example for everyone.  He never used steroids or cheated in any way, shape, or form as a player.  As a manager, he bet on his team to win.  Big deal.  Why is his case a greater crime than steroid use?  I think there is something wrong with that picture.

Here is my proposal, Mr. Selig.  I have an idea that might actually prove to be the right thing to do.  I hope that you read this post and seriously consider what I am about to suggest.  Why?  It is the right thing to do and I am confident that you are a man of integrity.  Here’s my idea. 

Since Pete Rose bet on baseball while managing the Reds, then he should be banned as a manager.  However, since Pete has alot to offer, he should be allowed to coach, mentoring young players and teaching them how to play the game the way it was meant to be played and teaching them about the dangers of cheating.  Pete Rose should be allowed to participate in the game of baseball in some capacity.  He was the greatest hitter ever.  Have some respect and give him his due.  Pete Rose has paid the price for his mistake and is sorry.  He should be forgiven.  Perhaps a little forgiveness would bring back some of the integrity that has been lost in Major League baseball.

In addition, Pete Rose deserves to be in the hall of Fame, period!  His numbers speak for themselves.  His success came the old-fashion way, he earned it.  He worked hard to get where he had gotten.  He deserves to be on the ballot to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.  It doesn’t mean that the writers will vote him in, although I think he deserves it.  He should at least have the opportunity to be on the ballot.  It’s time to be a leader, Mr. Selig, and give Pete Rose a reprieve.  It has been long enough.  Don’t you believe in giving people second chances?  Steroid users get second and third chances.  Pete Rose needs only one second chance and you are the only one that has the power to forgive.  There is no forgiveness in baseball, but maybe there should be.


thumbnailCARERZJN.jpgPete Rose
was my favorite player when I was a youngster.  He inspired me to play baseball.  He inspired me to hustle.  He inspired me to dive head first into whatever base I was trying to reach.  He inspired me to aspire to becoming a big leaguer some day.  Pete Rose was awesome.  My very first MLB game was at Riverfront Stadium and Pete Rose was playing third base.  He was the reason I wanted to see the Cubs and the Reds play.  Rose captivated my imagination and made me realize that a player had to work hard and give 100% all the time.  He inspired a strong work ethic in me.  Watching Pete Rose chase Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak was unbelievable.  Every game was exciting.  That was what made baseball so great.  He chased the 3,000 hit milestone.  Then, the incredible 4,000 hit milestone.  He finally broke Ty Cobb’s record for most hits all-time.  It was amazing.  Pete Rose kept me interested in baseball, no, more like obsessed.  Pete Rose deserves some credit.  He deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.  Have a heart and reinstate his eligibility status.  It’s the right thing to do.  If it wasn’t for Pete Rose, I would not be the diehard baseball fan that I am today.   I hope that somehow you read this, Mr. Selig.  I have the utmost respect for you and your integrity and I trust that you will consider doing the right thing.   Thank you,  Scot Blust.

Is Lance Berkman The Answer At First For The Cubs?

The free agent dominoes are about to fall.  Victor Martinez has signed with Detroit and Aubrey Huff has re-signed with the Giants.  The Cubs still need a first baseman and have talked to Lance Berkman‘s agent.  So is Lance Berkman a good fit for the Cubs?  Let’s consider it.

There is an upside and a downside to Lance Berkman.

First, let’s examine the downside.

Berkman made 14.5 million dollars last season.  For a player coming off of orthroscopic surgery and having a disappointing season following his return, Berkman cannot expect to be signed to a big contract this year.  He is 35.  Berkman realizes that he is viewed as a declining player, but blames his poor 2010 performance on his knee surgery.  Last season, between the Astros and the Yankees, in 122 games, Berkman batted .248 with 14 HR’s and 58 RBI’s.  Berkman wants the baseball world to know, that the injury-plagued season of 2010 does not reflect his abilities.  He believes, after getting healthy, that he can return to form.  He also understands that he will need to prove himself.

berkman.jpgThe upside to Lance Berkman is his bat.  When healthy, Berkman has been one of the best hitters in baseball.  In his 12 year career, Berkman has hit .296 with a .409 on-base per centage.  His career fielding per centage at first base is .995.

Lance Berkman is a switch-hitter, which is an advantage.

Due to his disappointing season this past year, the Cubs could get a discount.  Berkman knows he will need to prove himself so he is likely to accept a short-term deal on a smaller contract.  Financially, the Cubs could afford to take a chance on him for the 2011 season.

The Oakland A’s have had interest in Berkman, but want to use him as a DH, which is something that Berkman is shying away from.  He wants to play first base.  He prefers to remain in the National League where he feels more comfortable.  With the Yankees, Berkman struggled against the AL pitching because he wasn’t familiar with them, which makes a difference.

I can only conclude that if Lance Berkman is healthy and can regain his hitting prowess, and will agree to a short-term deal for less money, then he may very well be the best fit for the Cubs at this time.  With the knee in question, which affects his hitting, the Cubs will have to decide if Berkman is worth the risk.  Any deal would need to be contingent on passing a physical examination to prove that he will be healthy.  If he is, he’ll be back in business.

Personally, I would rather take such a risk with Adrian Gonzalez, who had shoulder surgery recently.  If a deal with the San Diego Padres can’t get done to bring Gonzalez to Chicago at this time, then Lance Berkman may be a short-term solution.  Stay tuned!

The Cubs Need A Spark… The Search For A Lead-Off Hitter!

This week, the GM Meetings are under way in Orlando.  Now is the time to start entertaing trade possibilities.  Will Jim Hendry make a move to acquire a legitimate lead-off hitter?  With an offense that has struggled to score runs, the Cubs could use a “spark” at the top of the order.

In 2010, the Cubs juggled the batting order relentlessly in pursuit of somebody to fill the lead-off spot.  Ryan Theriot began the year leading off, but was traded to the Dodgers.  Kosuke Fukudome took his turn, but stuggled with his bat.  Alfonso Soriano was moved down in the order and his days of leading off are over.  Other players were given the opportunity to ignite the offense, but nobody fit the role.
thumbnailCACZI4JA.jpg  Starlin Castro was the best available option, but hasn’t developed much in the stolen base department.  Hopefully, he can work on it and find success.  For the time being, he really isn’t ready for that responsibility.  The Art of Stealing bases requires an astute student of the game.  It requires a player to read the pitcher, the catcher, and the defense.  There is more to it, then just taking off for second base.  It is an art, to be sure.  Tyler Colvin, Blake DeWitt, and Jeff Baker, have all led off for the Cubs, none could pull it off.  A lead-off hitter requires the ability to get on base and put pressure on the defense.  It requires the ability to steal bases.  It is a huge responsibility that requires knowledge, talent, and skill.  Not just anyone can be inserted at the top of the order.  It requires a special player, a player with athletic prowess and brains.

  Ricky Henderson was probably the best lead-off hitter ever.  He knew how to get on base, then once there, he knew how to rattle the pitcher and defense. 
thumbnailCA9BYNVB.jpg
thumbnailCAC5QLP8.jpgRicky Henderson got on base and made things happen.  He didn’t wait to be bunted over.  He didn’t wait for somebody to get a hit.  He didn’t wait for anything.  He was off to the races.  He set his goal and went after it.  He would steal second, but Henderson didn’t stop there.  Very often, he would steal third base as well.  The defense was in disarray and the pitcher lost concentration.  Ricky Henderson was a very effective lead-off hitter.  He set a record for walks drawn.  He set a record for stolen bases.  Ricky exemplified what a lead-off hitter should be.  That is why he is in the Hall of Fame today.  The Cubs need such a lead-off hitter.  The Cubs need a spark to ignite a sleeping offense.

With Brett Jackson and Brandon Guyer still developing, Starlin Castro is the closest thing to a lead-off hitter that the Cubs have.  However, it appears that Castro is better suited for the #2 hole, which brings us back to the question of WHO will lead off next season?  If Jim Hendry is to acquire a true lead-off hitter, then he will most likely need to trade for one.  But who?

I have compiled a short list of candidates that Jim Hendry may be interested in trading for.

thumbnailCASB5AES.jpgRajai Davis, of the Oakland A’s, an outfielder that swiped 50 bases last season.  His OBP was .320 and his batting AVG was .284.  Oakland is in search of power hitters.

thumbnailCABP6CS0.jpgBrett Gardner, of the New York Yankees, another outfielder, stole 47 bases.  He had an OBP of .383 and a .277 batting AVG.  He was the spark that ignited the Yankees’ offense time and time again. 
thumbnailCASAG0VA.jpg Gardner gives 150% all the time.  The Yankees are in need of a solid, left-hander to anchor their bullpen.

Chone Figgins, of the Seattle Mariners, had 42 stolen bases, a .340 OBP, and a .259 batting AVG. 
thumbnailCA2PCH2H.jpgFiggins is a third baseman, but played second base last season, and has played in left field as well.  The Mariners are searching for power hitters.

Will Venable, of the San Diego Padres, another outfielder, had 29 steals, .324 OBP, and a .245 AVG.  He appears to have more potential than his numbers reflect.
thumbnailCAUOWQOF.jpg  The Padres are looking for more power, not to mention, prospects.

Michael BournE, of the Houston Astros, recently won a gold glove and led the NL in stolen bases with 52.
thumbnailCA3852RL.jpg  He batted .265 with a .341 OBP.  Houston needs pitching and power.

Former Cubs, Corey Patterson and Angel Pagan, turned in solid numbers last year, but whether the Cubs are interested in their return, is another story.  Patterson stole 21 bases and Pagan stole 37.

The 5 players listed are my personal favorites to lead-off.  The Cubs need a spark at the top of the order and will need to make a trade to make it a reality.  Who will lead-off in 2011?  Will Jim Hendry make a move to improve the top of the batting order?  Will Starlin Castro learn the Art of Stealing bases?  What do you think the Cubs should do about the lead-off situation?

Should The Cubs Pursue Adrian Gonzalez?

The Cubs have a hole at first base and Adrian Gonzalez is at the top of every Cubs’ fans wish list, but how realistic is it for the Cubs to acquire him?  The Cubs have expressed interest in Gonzalez and he says that he would like to play in Chicago, so is a deal imminent?

With a massive hole at first base, the Cubs have a difficult decision to fill the void.  Speculation of who will play first base next season has been swirling.  The Free Agent market is full of available players that could fill the need for the Cubs, but it isn’t clear what Jim Hendry is planning to do. 

thumbnailCAH81SCW.jpgAdrian Gonzalez has one more year left on his contract and the San Diego Padres have made it clear that they will not be able to re-sign him to a long-term deal.  Gonzalez is reportedly seeking a long-term contract worth over a hundered million dollars, something comparable to the deal Mark Teixeira struck with the New York Yankees.  The Padres will most likely trade Gonzalez sometime between the winter meetings and the July trade deadline.  A trade would bring something in return as a consolation to his departure.  Adrian Gonzalez will be a free agent following the 2011 season.

So are the Cubs interested in trading for a hitting machine like Gonzalez?

thumbnailCAJOCFRR.jpgHere’s the problem.  If the Cubs traded for Adrian Gonzalez, the Padres will be looking for as many prospects as they can.  They will be asking for the sun, the moon, and the stars.  In exchange, the team that lands Gonzalez will acquire his services only temporarily.  Remember, after the 2011 season, AGon will be gone as he files for free agency.  So does it really make any sense to trade away the farm system to acquire a player for one year or less?  No. Unless a team is making a run at the playoffs, it just doesn’t make much sense, so a trade for Gonzalez is highly unlikely.  The only positive to such a trade is that it would be easier to lock Gonzalez in to a contract should he decide to stay in Chicago.

If the Cubs are serious about signing Adrian Gonzalez, then they will most likely wait until next year when he becomes available on the free agent market.  However, there are question marks surrounding the Cubs’  Ownership’s willingness to spend that kind of money on free agents.  If the Cubs are waiting until next year to sign Gonzalez, then that still leaves a glaring hole at first base for the 2011 season.  The Cubs would still need to sign a free agent to play first next year or move Tyler Colvin there for the time being.  As of now, it is unclear what the Cubs will decide to do.

If the Cubs sign any free agent to a contract of 2-years or more, then Adrian Gonzalez will remain a dream.  Should the Cubs install a temporary fix for first base, then the door should remain open to acquire Adrian Gonzalez at a later time.

Adrian Gonzalez is a left-handed hitting machine, just look at his career numbers.  In 7 seasons, he averages 170 hits per year, 32 HR’s, and 99 RBI’s.  Those numbers reflect his hitting at Petco Park.  At Wrigley Field, Adrian Gonzalez would probably hit over 40 homeruns per year, have a batting average in excess of .300, and he would surely drive in well over a hundred RBI’s a season.  AGon would definitely be the cure to what ails the Cubs.  He is a perennial All-Star and a Gold-Glove first baseman.  He is the complete package.

Adrian Gonzalez is definitely my favorite candidate to play first base for the Cubs.  Hopefully it will work out that he comes to Chicago.  He would be welcome in my book. 

A Tribute To Sparky Anderson

A legend has passed away today.  Sparky Anderson will be remembered for his World Series Championships in Cincinnatti and Detroit, but I will never forget my very first MLB game in 1977 between the Cubs and the Reds.  Sparky was managing The Big Red Machine and I got to see the legend with my own eyes.  I was only 9 at the time, but even then, I knew that I was witnessing a part of history, a legend.

thumbnailCALHKW4M.jpgAs a nine year old, I was all about baseball.  I lived and breathed it.  I collected baseball cards and made trades like a GM would, using my keen insight and intuition to determine what players would hold their value and who I could afford to part with.  Back then, I could rattle off every stat for every player at any given time.  There wasn’t much about baseball that I didn’t know at that age.  I only wish I could have played the game as well as I would have liked, becoming a professional baseball player was my dream, but that’s another story.  Anyway, I was really into the Reds at the time.  The Big Red Machine was the ultimate team, in my opinion.  Sparky Anderson was the Manager, arguably the best in his time.  There was something special about him, you could just tell.  He was like the grandfather everyone wished they had.  I remember having his baseball card and refusing to part with it.  It didn’t matter that I had duplicates, because I knew that I had something special.  I had Sparky Anderson.  Well, my child’s intuition was correct in that assumption.  Sparky turned out to be a Hall Of Famer and deservedly so.  When I saw Sparky in person while attending the game between the Cubs and the Reds at Riverfront Stadium, I was in awe. 
thumbnailCA6LUK6U.jpg At the time, I don’t think I fully appreciated his managing prowess as I do now, but intuitively, I knew.  It was an honor to be in his presence. 
thumbnailCAAF4EFT.jpg Sparky Anderson exemplified what a Manager should be.  He was a kind-hearted man and a fierce competitor.  He was wise, intelligent, and a keen strategist.  He understood the game of baseball and knew what it takes to win.  He was a leader and a motivator.  Sparky Anderson was beloved by all, especially me, because Sparky was the kind of coach that I would want.  Even though I am a Diehard Cubs Fan, have been since 1978, there will always be a special place in my heart for Sparky.  God bless his soul.  He will be missed.

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!