Results tagged ‘ Cardinals ’

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.

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 Cubs’ Managerial Search Is Over! The Unofficial Short List!

As the Cubs’ General Manager, Jim Hendry continues the search for the next Cubs’ Manager, A Diehard Cubs’ Fan explains who will advance to the “short list” of candidates and who has the inside edge of landing the job.

While the Cubs and Jim Hendry have been busy taking phone calls and interviewing potential candidates for the managerial position, in the end, there are only three who will be seriously considered.  Let’s evaluate the front runners at this time.  The “short list” will most likely be the following, in no particular order.

1)  MIKE QUADE

thumbnailCARLOKCD.jpg2)  RYNE SANDBERG

3)  JOE GIRARDI

Jim Hendry has also interviewed Freddi Gonzalez, who withdrew his name for consideration.  Reports have surfaced that he may take over the Atlanta Braves following the retirement of Bobby Cox.

Pat Listach decided to withdraw his name as well.  He wants to stay with the Washington Nationals.  Reports claim that he is also interested in the Toronto Bluejays job. 

Bob Brenly was interviewed but declined to waste Jim Hendry’s time siting that he was not a good fit for the Cubs.  It has been reported that he may seek, and have the inside edge to managing the Milwaukee Brewers.

Eric Wedge was interviewed, but a mediocre managing record will probably exclude him from making the “short list”.  Another factor involved would be the fact that he doesn’t have any ties to the Cubs’ Organization.  Bob Melvin falls into the same category and therefore will not make it to the next step in the process.

Jim Hendry and Cubs’ Owner and Chairman, Tom Ricketts have planted clues as to who they want to hire which leads me to believe that the “Short List” has already been written in stone, even though they would deny it.  What clues?  Let me explain.

Tom Ricketts was quoted to say that he wants a Manager that will be the Cubs’ Manager for life.  He wants somebody who will remain loyal to the Organization and will be committed to winning a World Series Championship.  Ricketts has repeatedly hinted that the Cubs are in the midst of rebuilding and has committed to growing the farm system and developing players from within the Organization.  Tom Ricketts is a Diehard Cubs’ Fan himself and has expressed the desire to listen to the Diehard Cubs’ Fans and finding ways to win.  He wants a Manager that has either played for the Cubs or has been with the Cubs’ Organization, which will be the starting point to narrowing the field down to three candidates.  Preferably, the Cubs are searching for someone who has experienced the 102 year curse of the Cubs, someone that understands the importance of bringing a World Series Title to Wrigleyville, someone who feels the Diehard Cubs’ Fans pain and suffering.  Cubs’ Fans are mostly united in wanting a skipper that has formerly played in Chicago, someone who will have their loyalty and support.

Jim Hendry has stated that he prefers that the managerial candidate have previous Major League managing experience.

Let’s look at the top three candidates and decide where they fit in the grand scheme of things.

1)  Mike Quade came out of nowhere to make the short list.  Following Lou Piniella’s sudden retirement in August, Quade took over the Cubs after all was lost for the season.  The Cubs had nothing to play for but Mike Quade somehow managed to turn a disappointing season into a top-notched team.  The Cubs were 24-13 under Q and finished very strong.  The Cubs were winning series’ and won something like 14 out of the last 17 road games.  The Pitching Staff was reborn and the Cubs were starting to play up to their potential.  Cubs baseball was exciting again, while it lasted.  No one can argue with the job Quade has done to turn the Cubs around.  Jim Hendry and Tom Ricketts have said that they were very pleased at the outstanding job Quade has done.  Mike Quade has managed for many years at the Triple A level.  He has roots in the Cubs’ Organization and that will benefit him when the decision is finally made.  The only drawback to Mike Quade is the fact that he only managed 37 games and has not been tested for a full year. 

2)  Ryne Sandberg has been, and will continue to be a top candidate.  The plan has been, for many years, to let Ryno manage at the minor league level, gain experience, then someday, take over the Cubs as Manager.  He earned Pacific Coast League Manager Of The Year honors this past season at Triple A, Iowa, and has proven that he too can manage.  Sandberg is a fan favorite.  His Hall Of Fame status speaks for itself.  He was everything a Cub should be, and more.  Ryno exemplified what a team player should be and defined what is expected as a player.  As a Manager, he teaches the fundamentals of winning.  The only drawback for Sandberg is the fact that he doesn’t have any Major League experience managing which is why Joe Girardi failed to land the job in the past.

3) Joe Girardi may have the best qualifications of all.  The Cubs have repeatedly stated that there is no need to rush the interview process.  They hope to have someone in place by the November Organizational Meetings.  What are they waiting for?  Jim Hendry has vowed not to let any stone go unturned, which means that he plans to be thorough and cover all the possibilities.  The Cubs are waiting until the end of the baseball season.  Joe Girardi is in the middle of a playoff race as the New York Yankees strive to win another World Series Title.  Girardi is currently under contract and therefore, the Cubs cannot legally contact him until after the season has ended.  With Joe Girardi comes many questions.  Does Joe want to continue to manage the New York Yankees?  If so, do the Yankees want him to return?  It will largely depend on what happens in the post-season.  If the Yankees win the World Series, then New York will probably pay him well to stay.  If the Bronx Bombers fail to win it all, then New York will probably demand that Girardi be gone.  That’s how it works in New York, you know.  The other question that remains to be answered is whether or not Girardi wants to manage the Cubs.  He has stated in the past that he would like to, but what about now?  Is he willing to leave the bright lights of New York for the Windy City?  We will have to wait and find out. 

Joe Girardi is a former Cubs’ catcher.  His ties with the Cubs run deep, like Sandberg.  The biggest, and most glaring difference between Sandberg and Girardi is that Joe Girardi not only has Major League experience, but has won a World Series Championship.  Joe knows how to handle the pressures of having to win.  Joe knows how to handle the media.  Joe knows how to handle young players and veterans alike.  Joe Girardi, most likely, will have the edge in the managerial search if he makes himself available.  If he does, then look for Joe Girardi to be the next Cubs’ Manager based on his past in the Cubs’ Organization, experience, and success as a Major League Manager.

If Girardi passes on the Cubs, then look for some kind of combination of Mike Quade and Ryne Sandberg to lead the Cubs next year.  Either the Cubs will award the managerial position to Mike Quade for a year while Ryno gets his feet wet at the major league level as the Bench Coach, or Ryno could be hired as Manager and still keep Mike Quade around as the third base coach or as Bench Coach where he can be available to Sandberg for advice.  With so many managerial positions available this offseason, Quade could defect and go elsewhere, perhaps wherever Bob Brenly decides to manage, but he is loyal to the Cubs and whether he wins the Manager position or not, I believe he will stay on with the Cubs. 

As the drama unfolds, watch the New York Yankees carefully as they make a run for another World Series Title.  How the Yankees finish will play a big role in Joe Girardi’s decision to return to Chicago or stay in New York.  The Cubs, of course, would be a far more challenging undertaking.  If Girardi entertains managing the Cubs then he will emerge the frontrunner and the Cubs will risk losing Sandberg and Quade.  Otherwise, it will be a toss up between Quade and Sandberg.  In that case, look for Mike Quade to be awarded the Manager position under a one-year contract while Ryne Sandberg gets his feet wet as Bench Coach.  Then, in 2012, look for Ryno to step up and take charge.

There it is, the Unofficial Diehard Cubs’ Short list!  Of course, this is pure speculation on my part, and only time will tell.  Stay tuned and see what happens!  It should prove to be an interesting process as the Cubs move forward to a new era.

 

 

BIG Z READY TO ROLL!

Carlos Zambrano has been unstoppable since rejoining the Cubs’ starting rotation.  Big Z has been back on track and is ready to roll as the Cubs’ look to sweep St. Louis.  The Cardinals will counter with Chris Carpenter in the series finale.  The Cards are 7 games back and find themselves slipping from playoff contention.

thumbnailCAFBI4YI.jpgAs of late the Cardinals have struggled and the Cubs have enjoyed solid pitching, both from the starting rotation and the bullpen.  Cubs’ pitchers have allowed 2 or fewer runs in each of the past 5 games.  Big Z has a 1.60 e.r.a. in his last six starts and did not allow any runs in his previous start in Milwaukee.  The Cubs are now 12-7 under Mike Quade.

Cubs Beat Cardinals Again!

The resurgence of the Cubs’ pitching staff continues as the Cubs put another nail in the Cardinals season winning 7-2.  Randy Wells pitched 8 solid innings in his hometown to earn the victory.
thumbnailCA2TIMBL.jpg  Wells collected a couple of hits and rbi’s to help his own cause.  It was the fifth straight game that Cubs’ pitchers have held the opposition to two runs or less. 

The Cubs’ offense came alive too!  Led by Xavier Nady, Tyler Colvin, and Darwin Barney, the Cubs managed to come away with 15 hits total.  Adam Wainwright took the loss.

The Cubs are slamming the door shut on the Cardinals’ season and will go for the sweep on Wednesday.

Turning Out The Lights!

The St. Louis Cardinals continue to struggle as the Cubs’ pitchers keep shining.  The Cards fall to seven games back in the NL Central as the Cubs win 5-1 on Monday in St. Louis.

Jeff Samardzija pitched 5 and 2/3 scoreless innings in his first start of the year.  The former Notre Dame receiver spent most of the year in the minors but returned to the Cubs with something to prove.  Samardzija proved that his hard work has paid off as he displayed a new arsenal of pitches, keeping the Cardinals’ hitters off balance.

For the fourth straight game, the Cubs’ starters and bullpen were stellar.  The pitching staff is looking much improved.  The Cubs have been getting quality starts and the relievers have been lights out! 

thumbnailCA0U7BJV.jpgRandy Wells will look to keep the string going as the Cubs face their rival again tonight.  The Cardinals have their backs to the wall and are rapidly falling out of the pennant race.

Cubs Looking To Close Door On Cardinals’ Season!

With only three weeks left in the season, time is running out on St. Louis.  The Cardinals are six games back in the National League Central and the Cinncinatti Reds have shown no signs of relenting.  The Cardinals will open a three game series with the Chicago Cubs on Monday.  Jaime Garcia will be making his first start of the year.  Garcia (13-7 2.69), will be opposed by Jeff Samardzija for the Cubs, also getting his first opportunity to start.  Samardzija spent most of the season in triple A where he went 11-3, with a 4.37 e.r.a., holding left handers to a .186 batting average.

The Cubs will be looking to play spoilers, while the Cardinals look to keep their playoff dreams alive.   

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