Archive | December, 2008

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Len & Bob Bash For Charity on January 15, 2009

Posted on 13 December 2008 by Lou

Keep January 15, 2009 free on your calendar – that’s the night that Cubs TV broadcasters Bob Brenly and Len Kasper will host their annual rock event, with proceeds benefiting the Chicago Cubs Charities. The event will take place at the House of Blues Chicago and tickets are $31 each.

The Hold Steady will headline the event. Len and Bob will certainly hit the stage to jam at some point during the evening as well.

The Len & Bob Bash will kick off the Chicago Cubs Convention weekend – which is set to go from Friday, January 16th through Sunday, January 18th.

Come out and support your Chicago Cubs Charities!

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Cubs Move On From Peavy Collapse

Posted on 12 December 2008 by Lou

Now that the Peavy-to-Cubs Saga is finally over, the Cubs can turn their attention to the more immediate task at hand – namely landing a solid left-handed hitter for the middle of the lineup.

As we have previously discussed, GM Jim Hendry and the Cubs are focused on Milton Bradley. Once you get past his past injury issues and temper-management issues with players, coached and fans, you find a productive out-fielder that can hit for power and get on-base at a high clip. The questions is, can you get past those aforementioned “issues”.

Bradley played in over 120 games last season for the Texas Rangers, so that should eliminate any concerns about his ability to remain productive through an entire MLB season. The Cubs also have depth in the clubhouse, so Lou Pinella has always been good at getting his starters needed rest from time to time during the season. With Alfonso Soriano, Reed Johnson and Kosuke Fukodome already set in the outfield, and Mark DeRosa able to spell some time there as well, it should be easy for Pinella to keep his outfielders fresh during the long, hot Chicago summer.

As for his temper, Bradley has been better of late. Cubs scouts have already had numerous conversations about Bradley with Rangers’ Manager Ron Washington. In addition, current Cubs hitting coach Gerald Perry knows Bradley from his days as a coach with the Oakland A’s. If the Cubs did sign Bradley, one might be concerned that he and Pinella might clash, but it would probably be worth the risk.

Now that Hendry can turn his attention to matters beyond Peavy, let’s hope they get a deal done with a left-handed hitter very soon. Raul Ibanez, a player in which the Cubs expressed some interest a few weeks back, just signed a 3-year, $30 million deal with the Philadelphia Phillies today, so time is of the essence.

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Cubs Pull Out of Peavy Deal

Posted on 11 December 2008 by Lou

It’s official – the Chicago Cubs have pulled out of the Jake Peavy trade rumors.

After mulling over the dollars involved and the number of players that the Padres would get in return for Peavy, Cubs GM Jim Hendry did not think it was in the best interests of the Cubs to make the move. Hendry felt that dealing Mark DeRosa (to the Phillies) and Jason Marquis, Kevin Hart or Felix Pie and the Cubs 2007 #1 draft pick Josh Vitters, was just too much to swallow. Was the whopping $63 million still owed to Peavy a big stumbling point too? We’ll probably never know.

In any event, it’s good to have some closure on the Peavy situation. Now the Cubs can focus on adding that left-handed bat. And remember, the Cubs won 97 games in 2008 – with a rotation of Zambrano, Dempster, Lilly, Harden and Marquis. The Cubs also have great pitching depth with Sean Marshall and Angel Guzman. All 7 of those pitchers will be back in 2009. Keeping the young prospects might also enable the Cubs to pull off a trade before the 2009 trade deadline that could help them advance further in the 2009 playoffs.

Now let’s just hope that Hendry doesn’t stand pat during the entire off-season, or make a bad signing towards the end of the off-season after all the quality players have moved on to greener pastures…

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Cubs Set Sights on Milton Bradley

Posted on 10 December 2008 by Lou

Jake Peavy to the Cubs isn’t the only story gripping Cubs fans on the north side of Chicago.

Cubs fans are also eagerly awaiting the left-handed hitter that Cubs GM Jim Hendry is expected to sign or trade for this off-season. Several names have been mentioned, but right now, the Cubs are currently focused on free agent right fielder Milton Bradley.

Bradley is an interesting choice. He has a .280 career batting average. At the age of 30, he had his best year as a pro this past season – hitting .321 with 22 home runs and 77 RBI’s. Bradley also had the best on-base percentage in baseball in 2008 – .436 with 80 walks.

But injuries and personality have always been Bradley’s biggest issues. He has played in over 100 games in a season only 3 times in his 9-year career and he has had over 400 at-bats in only 2 seasons as a pro. In addition, he has had run-ins with players, managers and fans throughout his career, calling into question his ability to control his emotions and focus on the task at hand – playing baseball.

Some view the addition of Bradly as a positive influence in the locker room – ready to liven things up a little. But with the loss of Kerry Wood to free agency and the potential loss of Mark DeRosa in a trade for Jake Peavy, the Cubs and Lou Pinella will need to make sure they don’t lose that camaraderie in the clubhouse (a la the Sammy Sosa years). One would think that Pinella and Bradley could clash from time to time, and the question is, how will the rest of the team react. Since the Michael Barrett/Carlos Zambrano fight at the beginning of the 2007 season and Barrett’s subsequent trade to the San Diego Padres, the Cubs clubhouse has been as loose and fun as it has ever been (except for a few days in October in each of the last 2 years). With the departure of a Wood and a DeRosa and the addition of a Bradley shake up that positive atmosphere in a negative way? Is Bradley too old or injury prone? Only time will tell.

No word yet on the Peavy front, although ESPN Radio 1000’s Bruce Levine reported that a potential trade with the Padres and Phillies is as close as it has ever been. Stay tuned and bookmark MyCubsToday right now!

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Peavy Deal Still Burning Hot In Las Vegas

Posted on 09 December 2008 by Lou

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It took less than 24 hours for the Jake Peavy-to-Cubs trade rumors to start swirling at the MLB Winter Meetings in Las Vegas. Padres GM Kevin Towers has said that the only team he is dealing with is the Chicago Cubs and that he wants to wrap up a deal before the meetings end later this week. Towers likes to conduct negotiations in the open, so he often says things that likely offends other GM’s, including Cubs GM Jim Hendry. Hendry cannot publicly comment on the status of any trade because the Padres own the rights to Peavy and any such statements could be seen as tampering.

Towers statements are probably done for 2 reasons – to try to draw another team into the mix to do a trade on their own or to offer prospects to the Padres in return for a player or players from the Cubs (with Peavy going to the Cubs).

At this point, it doesn’t appear that another team is willing to trade for Peavy on their own.

The Orioles and, most recently, the Phillies, are teams that could get involved to land a Cubs player in return for prospects, which the Cubs would then ship to the Padres. The latest rumor has the Phillies very interested in Mark DeRosa of the Cubs, in return for pitching prospect J.A. Happ and another prospect. Phillies 2nd baseman Chase Utley is expected to miss at least the 1st two months of the season after undergoing hip surgery after the World Series. And the Phillies have also lost left fielder Pat Burrell to free agency. DeRosa could immediately step in to fill the 2nd base void at the start of the season and then move out to the outfield once Utley shows he is healthy enough to play everyday. DeRosa had a career year in 2008 – .285 batting average with 21 home runs and 87 RBI’s. DeRosa has a ton of versatility – he played 6 different positions during the course of the year, including 96 games at 2nd base and 27 games in left field. I loved DeRosa with the Cubs – he is hard working, he can play everyday at multiple positions, and he is a great presence in the locker room. It would hurt to see him go, but if the Cubs could trade DeRosa to acquire the missing pieces needed to complete the Peavy deal, I think it’s a no-brainer. Peavy is an elite pitcher and would make the Cubs the odds-on favorite to win the NL pennant.

That being said, 2 other financial pieces could hold up the Cubs end of the bargain. The Cubs owe starting pitcher Jason Marquis $9.8 million in 2009. Unless they can find a place for Marquis somewhere, it would be tough for them to consummate the Peavy trade. In addition, Peavy is owed over $60 million over the next 4 years. Acquiring Peavy would really throw the Cubs way over budget for the next few years, so the Cubs would likely need to get some approval from the final 3 bidders who recently submitted their final bids for the purchase of the Cubs. Whether all these pieces can come together in such a short period of time is unclear.

In any event, it appears like a Peavy trade is within the grasps of Jim Hendry and the Cubs. Will it get done? Who knows. But more importantly, if it does get done, will it help the Cubs avoid an October collapse for the 3rd straight year. Good luck waiting and we’ll keep you posted here at MyCubsToday.

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Santo Denied Entry to Hall of Fame Again

Posted on 08 December 2008 by Lou

Once again, it’s a familiar tune in Chicago – “Wait Until Next Year”. Ron Santo was denied entry to the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee. Santo only received 39 votes, or 60.9% of the vote, coming up 9 votes short for entry. An individual needs to gain 75% of the Veterans Committee votes in order to gain admission. In 2007, Santo received 57 votes (almost 70% of the vote) and came up just 5 votes shy of the tally needed for entry.

Because of medical issues that Santo has suffered with diabetes, time is of the essence for Santo. Although Santo was diagnosed with the disease as a teenager, he never told the Cubs about his ailment until 1971 – during his 11th season with the Cubs. He played for the Cubs from 1960 through 1973 and with the cross-town Chicago White Sox in 1974 and then retired from the game he loved. Santo has been in the Cubs radio broadcast booth for WGN Radio since 1990 – the 2009 season will mark his 20th year as the Cubs color broadcaster.

As for his stats, they speak for themselves. Santo was only a career .270 hitter, but he won 5 Gold Glove Awards and made 9 All-Star Game appearances. Santo was the picture of endurance during his playing days – he still holds the National League record for consecutive games played for a 3rd baseman – 364 games from April 1964 through May 1966.

Santo does not hide his disappointment with the Veterans Committee for not granting him admission to the Hall. Over the years he has been a bit outspoken, and some say that this has led to his exclusion from the game’s highest honor. His comments this year after the vote was announced probably won’t help: “It’s so ridiculous that nobody gets in again. I can’t understand it.” Here’s hoping to brighter Hall of Fame pastures for Santo in 2009.

No post-1043 player was elected by the Veterans Committee to the Hall, but the committee did vote in Joe Gordon who was on the pre-1943 ballot.

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Cubs Could Be Center of Attention at MLB Winter Meetings

Posted on 07 December 2008 by Lou

It should be an exciting week for the Chicago Cubs at the MLB Winter Meetings in Las Vegas.

Will the Hall of Fame Veterans Committee finally vote to induct Cubs great 3rd baseman Ron Santo into the Hall of Fame?

Will the Cubs finally complete the Peavy to Cubs blockbuster trade?

Will the Cubs sign, or trade for, that much-needed left-handed bat in the middle of the lineup?

All of these questions and more should be answered over the next few weeks leading up the to the new year. Carrie Muskat gives her take on where the Cubs are headed in this solid piece.

Stay tuned for the latest rumors and updates at MyCubsToday!

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Greg Maddux To Retire

Posted on 06 December 2008 by Lou

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Future Hall of Fame pitcher Greg Maddux is set to announce his retirement on Monday. Baseball will surely miss this gutsy competitor.

Let’s take a quick look at his stats:

4-time Cy Young Award Winner – the 1st time in 1992 with the Cubs when he went 20-11 with a 2.18 ERA. Then he left the Cubs to go to the Atlanta Braves where he stayed for 11 seasons. He won the Cy Young Award 3 times as a Brave (from 1993-1995), and won at least 18 games in 6 different seasons as a Brave.

355 Wins – 8th all-time and 1 more win than Roger Clemens

3.16 ERA with 109 complete games

3,371 strikeouts and 999 walks – the only other pitchers with 3,000 strikeouts and less than 1,000 walks are Fergie Jenkins (a Hall of Famer), Curt Schilling, John Smoltz and Pedro Martinez. And Maddux is the only one out of the group to have 300 wins.

18 Gold Glove Awards – from 1990 through 2008 – the only season he did not win the award was 2003 when Mike Hampton won the award.

To top it all off, Maddux is a great person and a great clubhouse guy. He has always been great with young players who are willing to absorb any knowledge that Maddux has to offer. Major League Baseball will surely miss a player and person of Maddux’s pedigree. Here’s to toasting a Hall of Fame induction to Maddux in 5 short years.

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Len Kasper Voice of the Cubs Through 2011

Posted on 05 December 2008 by Lou

Len Kasper will continue to be the “Voice of the Cubs” – at least for 3 more years. The Cubs announced that Kasper will remain as the play-by-play broadcaster on TV through the 2011 MLB season.

Kasper is thrilled and so are Cubs fans. After stints doing TV play-by-play for the Milwaukee Brewers (1999-2001) and the Florida Marlins (2002-2004), Kasper joined the Cubs television ranks for the start of the 2005 MLB season. Four years later, the relationship is still going strong. Kasper and color-man Bob Brenly have a very unique and fun relationship on and off the field. With Brenly inked through 2012, the Cubs will have a formidable broadcast duo for years to come.

Kudos to the Cubs for rewarding the solid work by Kasper, and kudos to Kasper for developing a love for the Cubs and the city of Chicago.

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White Sox Trade of Vazquez Helps Cubs in Pursuit of Peavy

Posted on 04 December 2008 by Lou

With the Cubs and GM Jim Hendry staying eerily quiet after the Kevin Gregg acquisition and Ryan Dempster signing, let’s talk about a trade involving 2 other teams that could impact the Cubs.

The cross-town rival Chicago White Sox traded Javier Vazquez and left-handed reliever Boone Logan to the Atlanta Braves for 4 players. All 4 players are prospects (not MLB-ready players just yet). The 4 players are catcher Tyler Flowers, shortstop Brent Lillibridge, third baseman Jon Gilmore and left-handed pitcher Santos Rodriguez. Lillibridge was one of the Braves top prospects until he hit a mere .220 in 90 games for the Braves Triple-A squad in Richmond this past season. Flowers is the next best prospect after hitting .288 with 17 home runs for the Braves Advanced Class A team in Myrtle Beach.

As for the Braves, Vazquez will serve as a solid, consistent veteran in the #2 or #3 spot. The Braves are in the process of reconstructing their starting rotation and will now take aim at free agent A.J. Burnett, to whom they have just offered a contract. Vazquez was always criticized in Chicago for not having what it takes to win the big game. The 2008 season was his worst as a White Sox – going 12-16 with a 4.67. The Braves hope that Vazquez will return to form when he makes the change of scenery back to the National League. Health has never been an issue for Vazquez – winning at least 10 games and pitching at least 198 innings in each of the last 9 MLB seasons. That should bring a welcome sigh of relief to Braves Manager Bobby Cox and Braves fans who have endured numerous injuries to starting pitchers over the last few years.

The Braves acquisition of Vazquez likely means that the Braves pursuit of San Diego Padres ace Jake Peavy is over. Does that mean Peavy will end up a Cub? One never knows. The Cubs would still need to get a 3rd team involved in order to solve the Padres’ pitching demands, and the increase cost of acquiring a Peavy might scare away potential bidders involved in the Cubs sale. On the other hand, with a starting rotation of Zambrano, Peavy, Dempster, Lilly and Harden, the Cubs would have the best starting rotation in baseball and would be the odds-on favorite to win the 2009 NL Pennant. That doesn’t necessarily translate into a drought-breaking World Series Championship, but you’d have to like your chances with that starting staff.

So if the Cubs do end up getting Peavy, thank the Braves and White Sox GM Kenny Williams for lending a helping hand…

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