Archive | December, 2008

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Cubs Sign Versatile Infielder Aaron Miles

Posted on 31 December 2008 by Lou

While moving Mr. Versatility, Mark DeRosa, to the Cleveland Indians, the Cubs signed infielder Aaron Miles away from the intra-division rival St. Louis Cardinals. The contract is a 2-year deal, but financial terms have not been disclosed. With the departure of DeRosa, Miles will likely see most of his time at 2nd base, although he can also play shortstop, 3rd base and all 3 outfield positions. In 2008, Miles played in 134 for the Cards. He hit .317 with 4 home runs and 31 RBI’s. More importantly, Miles is a patient, veteran hitter – as his .355 on-base percentage attests. At the age of 32, Miles has 5 straight MLB seasons in which he has played at least 99 games. He is a career .289 hitter with a career on-base percentage of .329.

Miles will surely play a vital role on the Cubs bench, although the Cubs will experience a huge drop-off from DeRosa’s career-high 2008 numbers if they have to rely on Miles and Ronny Cedeno for “platoon” time at 2nd base. Does the combination DeRosa / Miles moves open up the door for the Orioles Brian Roberts rumors to start again? Guess we’ll have to wait and see?

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Why Jim, Why? Cubs Deal DeRosa for 3 Minor League Pitchers?

Posted on 31 December 2008 by Lou

I was so glad when the Cubs decided not to trade Mark DeRosa back during the MLB winter meetings in order to make the Jake Peavy trade work with the Padres. DeRosa is a solid player at bat and in the field, and he is a great presence in the club house. With his versatility and positive attitude, DeRosa is the consummate “team player”. So why did GM Jim Hendry and the Cubs trade Mark DeRosa to the Cleveland Indians for 3 minor league pitchers?!

Allegedly, it was done to clear some salary space so that the Cubs can go ahead and sign the coveted left-handed hitting outfielder to balance out the Cubs predominantly right-handed hitting lineup. But it’s hard for me to believe that the $5.5 million the Cubs owed DeRosa for the 2009 MLB season would truly the “prevent” the Cubs from signing Milton Bradley or any of the other free agent left-handed hitting outfielders on the market.

One can’t help believe that this could be a precursor to the re-kindling of trade talks with the San Diego Padres for ace Jake Peavy. The Cubs picked up 3 minor league pitchers from the Indians for DeRosa. Padres GM Kevin Towers continually said that the Cubs did not have enough pitching prospects in order to make the Peavy deal work. Will any of these 3 pitchers fit the bill for Towers? (Oh yeah – by the way – the 3 pitchers are reliever Jeff Stevens (5-4 with a 3.24 ERA in 36 games at the double-A and triple-A minor league levels); reliever John Gaub (3.38 ERA in 34 appearances at the single-A minor league level); and starter Chris Archer (4-8 with a 4.29 ERA in 27 starts at the single-A minor league level).

In addition, there are rumors floating around that the Cubs are close to dealing Jason Marquis to the Colorado Rockies for veteran releiver Luis Vizcaino. Again, the Cubs are focused on the fact that this will free up salary cap space to sign a left-handed hitting outfielder. But if the Cubs deal Marquis, they will be left with 4 starters plus Sean Marshall or Angel Guzman to fill the 5th starting pitcher slot. With the injury concerns with Carlos Zambrano and Rich Harden down the stretch in September 2008, do the Cubs really want to go into 2009 with that thin of a rotation?

I’m sad to see DeRosa go, but if it is indeed a single move that leads to 2 or 3 other moves that bring in a Milton Bradley and Jake Peavy, I will be very happy. I guess I’ll have to wait and see before I make my ultimate judgment…

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Lee Smith – Hall Bound?

Posted on 30 December 2008 by Lou

It doesn’t look good for long-time Chicago Cubs closer Lee Smith, but one just never knows. Smith received only 43.3% of the vote in 2008 Hall of Fame voting by the baseball writers of America (one needs 75% of the vote in order to gain access to the Hall), but with the recent inductions of Bruce Sutter (in his 13th year on the ballot) and Goose Gossage (in his 9th year on the ballot), anything is possible.

Smith pitched in 1,022 games during his 18 MLB seasons. Smith saved 478 games – he was the all-time saves leader at the time of his retirement and has since been passed by active players Trevor Hoffman (554 saves) and Mariano Rivera (482 saves). Smith also holds the MLB record for most games finished – 802 games – which is 70 games more than Hoffman. It should also be noted that Smith has more saves than either of Goose Gossage (310 saves) or Bruce Sutter (300 saves). Smith pitched in a different era, and this has come back to hurt him in voting. When 30 saves was the key “saves mark”, Smith did it 10 times in his career. In 1984, only 6 closers reached the 30-saves mark. On average during the last 4 MLB seasons, 17 pitchers have reached that 30-saves mark.

2009 Hall of Fame inductees will be announced on Monday, January 12, 2009. Will the “Hawk” make it? Will Lee Smith make it? We’ll just have to wait and see.

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Will The Hawk Be Voted Into the Hall?

Posted on 29 December 2008 by Lou

After the disappointment Ron Santo felt a few weeks back when the veterans committee failed to vote anyone into the MLB Hall of Fame, we should know very soon whether the Cubs and Andre Dawson will fell anymore disappointment when the Baseball Writers of America release the results of their votes for the 2009 Hall of Fame inductees.

Up on the ballot for the 8th time is Cubs legend Andre Dawson – the “Hawk”. In 2008, the writers only inducted one major leaguer – Goose Gossage. In order to gain access to the Hall, a player needs to reach 75% of the vote for that year – Jim Rice received 72.2 %; the Hawk received 65.9%: and Bert Blyleven received 61.9%. Rice, Blyleven, and first-ballot outfielder Rickey Henderson will be potential players who could steal votes away from Dawson.

Dawson won the NL Rookie of the Year Award in 1977 and the NL MVP Award in 1987. During the magical 1987 season, Dawson hit .287, 49 home runs and 137 RBI’s – all for the worst team in the NL – the Chicago Cubs. During his 21 major league seasons Dawson won 8 Gold Glove Awards and was named to the All-Star Team 8 times. Dawson was also named the Player of the Year by the Sporting News in 1981 and 1987.

Good luck Hawk – here’s to seeing you in the Hall soon!

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Cubs Unveil New Price Structure for 2009 MLB Season

Posted on 28 December 2008 by Lou

The Chicago Cubs announced a new price structure for 2009 Chicago Cubs tickets. While 33% of all tickets will remain steady, the Cubs did increase ticket prices for games deemed to be “Platinum” and “Gold” games (because of the Cubs’ opponent or time of year the game is being played) and for most premium seating inside Wrigley Field.

While this sounds all well and good, in reality, it is a complete joke that the Cubs – the 2nd biggest revenue-making team in MLB behind the New York Yankees – felt the need to increase any ticket prices for the 2009 season. Cubs chairman Crane Kenney tried to justify the increase by focusing on the 14 games in 2009 deemed to be “Platinum games”. Those 14 games include Opening Day (Monday 4/13 against the Colorado Rockies); 3 weekday games in June against the cross-town rival White Sox; a weekend series against the Milwaukee Brewers in July (7/2-7/5); a weekend series against the St. Louis Cardinals in July (7/10-7/12); and a weekend series against the New York Mets in August (8/28-8/30). Kenny claims that if you exclude those 14 games from the price increase analysis, ticket prices for the rest of the seating/games increases by only 6%. Wow – thanks Crane!!!

Taking a look at actual ticket prices, one is amazed at how Kenney justifies the increases. For the platinum games, the best seats in the house (infield club box seats) now cost $100.00 each. The cheapest field box seats cost $70.00 each. Ouch! Bleachers “seats” and upper deck box seats cost $60.00???!!! Unbelievable. Kenney and the Cubs focus on the “cheap prices” for the “bronze games”. Guess how many bronze games there are? If you said 5, you’re right. Those 5 games are 2 day games in April (4/15 against the Rockies and 4/23 against the Reds); 2 day games in May (5/5 against the Giants and 5/14 against the Padres) and 1 day game in September (9/2 against the Astros). Great! Even then, the best seats in the house still cost $60.00 each and bleachers seats still cost $25.00 each. Crazy stuff.

Enjoy Cubs fans – that’s what you get for your team winning the NL Central Division 2 years in a row. They may not be able to win in October, but at least you get to pay a LOT of money to see a team that wins a LOT of regular season games…

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Cubs To Battle Yankees in New Yankee Stadium

Posted on 27 December 2008 by Lou

Major League Baseball has announced that the Chicago Cubs will play 2 exhibition games to open the new Yankee Stadium in April 2009. The games are set for 7:05PM on Friday, April 3rd and 1:05PM on Saturday, April 4th. Bleachers tickets for each game with cost only $0.25! Amazing.

It will be the 1st time that the 2 teams have played since a 3-game interleague series at the “old” Yankee Stadium during the 2005 MLB season.

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Cubs Start Transition From Diamond To Rink In Wrigley Field

Posted on 26 December 2008 by Lou

The NHL and the Chicago Cubs just started the transition from a grass baseball diamond to an ice hockey rink inside the fabled walls of Wrigley Field this past week.

And like the Cubs playoffs performance the last 2 years – 6 games, 6 losses – things did not go smoothly for the crews getting ready for the Winter Classic to be played on January 1, 2009. Read all about the exciting day here!

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Wanna Skate Inside the Friendly Confines?

Posted on 25 December 2008 by Lou

Ever think you’d be able to ice skate inside the walls of the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field? Probably not, right?

Well get ready to lace up your skates – the Chicago Blackhawks will play the Detroit Red Wings in the NHL’s 2nd annual Winter Classic on January 1, 2009 at Wrigley Field. But the Chicago Cubs have just announced that they will open up the rink to 1,000 neighborhood residents to an open skate from 9am to 4pm on Sunday, January 4th. How cool is that???!!!

For $10 each, neighborhood residents in the Wrigleyville area were offered the opportunity to join in the open skate on January 4th. All the tickets are already sold out. The open skate will be broken up into 6 sessions, each lasting 45 minutes. Each person skating must bring their own skates and cameras are allowed to record the once-in-a-lifetime experience at Wrigley Field.

What a great idea by Cubs management and a great way to spend the post New Year’s Day weekend.

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Winter Classic Is Quickly Approaching – January 1, 2009 At Wrigley Field!

Posted on 24 December 2008 by Lou

January 1, 2009 – Wrigley Field, Chicago – Chicago Blackhawks hosting the Detroit Red Wings – are you ready for some outdoor NHL hockey action, Wrigleyville-style?

The 2nd annual Winter Classic is fast-approaching. The game is already sold out, with the attendance expected to be right around 41,000 crazed (and cold) NHL hockey fans. The Blackhawks and Red Wings are 2 of the Original Six hockey teams and the Winter Classic game will be the 701st match-up between the 2 teams. No other NHL teams have played more games against each other. The Red Wings have won both meetings between the clubs this year – both shootout victories and the teams have combined for a total of 20 goals in the 2 games. We should expect another high-scoring, exciting game between the 2 teams, but with the ice being different outside and with the unpredictable weather-element, that could all change quickly.

In the January 1, 2008 Winter Classic, the Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Buffalo Sabres 2-1 in a shootout. Penguins’ rookie super star Sidney Crosby scored the game-winning goal. 71,217 crazy fans sat in a snow storm to take in the inaugural Winter Classic at Buffalo’s Ralph Wilson Stadium.

The City of Chicago is gearing up for the Winter Classic. Wrigleyville area bars and restaurants, usually known for their pre- and post-game Cubs celebrations during the hot summer will be able to show off their winter beer selections and food menus. The January 1, 2009 Winter Classic is sure to be a memorable at the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field!

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Winter Classic comes to Wrigley

Posted on 23 December 2008 by David McCormick

Setup is almost complete for the Winter Classic at Wrigley Field on Jan 1. The Blackhawks will play the Red Wings in what could be a cold and snowy game. We found some pictures of the setup from the Tribune check them out below.

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