Tagged: Rays

Cubs Get Matt Garza, But Did They Give Away The Farm?

The Cubs made a major move to acquire Matt Garza, one of the best starting pitchers in baseball.  In return, the Cubs traded their minor league pitcher of the year, Chris Archer, and their minor league player of the year, Brandon Guyer.  The highly touted shortstop, Hak Ju Lee was also thrown in.  So did they give away the farm just to get a top-notch pitcher?

It is arguable.

mattgarza.jpgMy first reaction to the news was, “How could they let that happen?”  I thought they were building the farm system, building for the future.  However, after having some time to think about it, I have settled down and have come to the conclusion that the Cubs needed to do something to upgrade the starting rotation.  Perhaps, it was the only way.  Tampa Bay was insistent on receiving the best prospects for Garza.  Perhaps, the Cubs have enough depth in the minors that they can afford to make such a move.  I certainly hope so.  It doesn’t matter now.  What’s done is done.  I am happy that the Cubs landed a big time pitcher.  Matt Garza is definitely a big time pitcher.  He tossed the first Tampa Bay no-hitter last year and has pitched in the post-season.  Coming to the National League will benefit him since opposing teams aren’t very familiar with him.  He won 15 games last season in the toughest league of all.  I can’t wait to see what he can do with the Cubs.  I expect Garza to perform at the highest level.  He will be joining his first baseman, Carlos Pena, which will make both players feel more comfortable coming to the Cubs.   

So was it a good move?  Time will tell, but for the most part, I think it was.  To make a trade for a top-notched pitcher, Jim Hendry had no choice but to give something up in return.  It’s the nature of the beast.  Once Matt Garza shows Cubs’ fans what he brings to the table, I think everyone will forget all about the prospects that were traded.  The Cubs will certainly be in a better position to make a playoff push with Garza on board.  I wish him well.  Welcome to Chicago, Matt! 

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Cubs Finally Make A Move; Sign First Baseman, Carlos Pena!

The Winter Meetings in Orlando have been stalled by Cliff Lee, however, the Cubs have managed to find their first baseman for the upcoming season.  Carlos Pena has agreed to a one-year contract worth about $10 Million.

Jim Hendry was running out of options as the search for a first baseman intensified.  Adrian Gonzalez was traded to Boston, Lance Berkman was signed by the Cardinals, and Adam Dunn will join Paul Konerko on the White Sox.  With available Free Agents dwindling, Hendry had to do something, something fast.  Hendry has been talking to Carlos Pena and Adam LaRoche, but has decided to go with former Tampa Bay, first baseman, Carlos Pena.

carlospena.jpgPena is the top defensive first baseman in this year’s free agent market.  He is a Gold Glove Award winner.  Despite his offensive struggles, Pena still managed to hit 28 homeruns last year.  He only batted .196, which has some Cubs’ fans nervous, but by coming to Chicago, Pena will have the opportunity to work with Cubs’ Hitting Coach, Rudy Jaramillo.  A change in his batting approach should improve his swing.  Poor hitting is fixable, especially when a hitter is willing to learn and make adjustments.  With a one-year deal, Pena will be motivated to make vast improvements to increase his market value next year.  I think Jim Hendry made the right decision by signing Pena.  In my humble opinion, Carlos Pena will be a good fit for the Cubs.  He will improve a defense that struggled last season, he adds a left-handed power bat to the middle of the line-up, and he is a leader in the club house.  The Cubs are in desperate need for all of those things.  While I have criticized Hendry for not making any moves up to this point, I will admit that he has done the right thing in signing Pena.   He will be a welcomed addition.

In other news, the Cubs have shown interest in some pitchers this week.  According to MLB Trade Rumors http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/chicago_cubs/index.html, the Cubs have had discussions concerning Zack Greinke, Matt Garza, and Brandon Webb.  There are talks of a trade with the Rangers for Chris Davis, a potential power-hitter, and Darren O’Day, a side-armed reliever with an ERA under 2.00.  It has also been reported that the Cubs are shopping Tom Gorzellany around to create an opening in the starting rotation. 

Good news!  The Winter Meetings are starting to heat up, but the Cubs are just getting warmed up.  I can’t wait to see what happens next.  With pitching a top priority, look for Jim Hendry to target a pitcher to solidify the starting rotation next.

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.

Carlos Pena; The Best Defensive First Base Option For The Cubs

As the search for a first baseman continues, the Cubs need to consider a first baseman who can play solid defense and hit for power.  Is former Rays’ first baseman, Carlos Pena, the right fit for the Cubs?

The Cubs have struggled defensively and need a first baseman that can be relied upon to improve the defense.  The Cubs are seeking a first baseman with defensive prowess, a left-handed bat for the middle of the order that can provide power.  Let’s examine what free agent, Carlos Pena, brings to the table.

cpena.jpgLast season, Carlos Pena had a down year at the plate.  He batted a meager .196 but still managed to belt 28 homeruns and knock in 84 runs.  On the surface, a low batting average might eliminate most players from consideration, but a change in hitting coaches might put Carlos Pena back in the saddle again.  In a contract year, Pena can expect to make less money until he can prove that 2010 was a fluke. 

Pena’s career numbers are better.  In 10 Major league seasons, he has hit .241, which is not very impressive, but he averages 35 HR’s and 98 RBI’s per season.  If he could improve on his batting average, then he would be far more attractive to sign.  That is his biggest downside, other than he does strike out too much.

Defensively, Carlos Pena is a gem.  He has a fielding % of .994. 
carlospena.jpgHe won a Gold Glove in 2008.  The only question is, does his defense and power outweigh the holes in his swing?

Carlos Pena may accept a 1-year contract to improve his numbers and might agree to an incentive-based contract, which is appealing from the Cubs’ point of view.  He is a Scott Boras client, for what it’s worth, but Boras will often agree to incentive-laden contracts to improve the stock of his clients.  MLBTRADERUMORS has an article about Carlos Pena‘s free agency.  You can read it at http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2010/09/free-agent-stock-watch-carlos-pena.html.  You can decide for yourself, if Carlos Pena would make a good fit for the Cubs.

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.

Doc Halladay Tosses No Hitter!

In his post-season debut, Roy Halladay, becomes the first pitcher since Don Larsen’s perfect game in 1956, to throw a no hitter in the post-season.  Behind Halladay’s masterful performance, The Philadelphia Phillies win Game 1 of the NLDS against the Reds 4-0.

In my previous post, The Secret To Beating The Phillies, I outlined what the Reds needed to do to win against Philadelphia.  The Reds failed by all accounts.  The Phillies scored first.  Volquez failed to deliver a quality start.  The Phillies scored more than 3 runs, and of course, Doc Halladay went more than six innings.  All factors that are indicative of Philly success.  I advised the Reds to jump on the first pitch.  They did not.  Halladay was consistently ahead in the count and the Reds’ hitters appeared to be intimidated.  Of course, what could they do?  Doc Halladay was unhittable!

thumbnailCAHL1JYV.jpgCongratulations, Roy Halladay!  I tip my cap!  Thanks for the memories!  It was an awesome game to watch!

Maybe the Reds should read my previous post and take notes.  They will need all the help they can get playing against the Philadelphia Phillies and The Big 3!