Archive | November, 2010

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Ice Rink Back @ Wrigley Field — Gimme a Break!?!? Wrigley Field 11/30/10

Posted on 30 November 2010 by Lou

Driving by Wrigley Field this morning, I saw the ice rink construction already underway.  What went through my mind – disgust, frustration, anger?  Pretty much all of the above.  We continue to hear how the Ricketts Family needs the city and state to help fund the renovation of Wrigley Field to keep baseball on the north side.  We also see the Ricketts family raking in thousands of dollars with the Northwestern-Illinois Allstate Wrigleyville Classic 2 weeks ago.  Now we’re seeing another money-maker grace the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field with the ice skating rink going up.  At the same time, we continue to hear how the Cubs need to slash payroll and keep the total salary more in the $130-135 million range instead of the $140-145 million range.  Gimme a freaking break.  This is turning into the Chicago Tribune all over again in just one year of ownership by the Ricketts Family.  Now I know that GM Jim Hendry has screwed the Ricketts with several bad contracts (Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, Milton Bradley-Carlos Silva, Kosuke Fukudome), but at this point, what’s another $10 million?  That extra $10 million could be used to land the likes of an Adam Dunn instead who would man 1st base for the next 3 years and slug around 40 home runs out onto Sheffield or Waveland each season.  Instead we’re going to end up with a Xavier Nady-Tyler Colvin-??? platoon.  This is a complete joke.

The Ricketts Family better right this ship soon, or we’re going to see even more people trying to hawk their tickets on the streets of Clark and Addison for pennies on the dollar in 2011 and beyond.  I wonder how many “Holiday Pax” the Cubs actually sold in the last 2 weeks.  My guess is that I can count the number on one hand…

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Starlin Castro Named to Topps Major League Rookie All-Star Team – Wrigley Field 11/29/10

Posted on 29 November 2010 by Lou

Starlin Castro was named to the Topps Major League Rookie All-Star Team today.

Castro batted .300 on the season and was one of the Cubs most consistent hitters since he was called up on May 7th against the Reds in Cincinnati.  In that game, Castro hit a 3-run home rum in his 1st at-bat and he also had 6 total RBI’s – a major league record for a player in his 1st game.

Let’s hope the 20-year old Castro continues to grow and mature in front of our eyes at the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field during the 2011 MLB schedule.

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Bryan LaHair — Cubs Dark Horse Option at 1st Base? – Wrigley Field 11/26/10

Posted on 26 November 2010 by Lou

Could Bryan LaHair be the Cubs dark horse option to take over the starting 1st baseman role for the 2011 MLB schedule?  LaHair racked up some pretty sweet numbers at Triple-A during the 2010 campaign.  He hit .308 with 25 home runs and 81 RBI’s. He also had 30 doubles and he is a left-handed hitter.  At 28 years of age, he has bounced around a little bit, but was the Mariners 39th round pick back in the 2002 First-Year Player Draft.  He signed with the Cubs in December 2009 and just signed another minor league contract to stay with the Cubs through 2011.  The Cubs expect LaHair to get plenty of playing time at 1st base this spring and if he continues to rake like he did last year, he could end up on the Cubs major league roster on opening day.  It would be a great story and I would love that left-handed power bat in the middle of the Cubs lineup with Starlin Castro, Tyler Colvin, Marlon Byrd and Aramis Ramirez…

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Happy Thanksgiving — Wrigley Field 11/25/10

Posted on 25 November 2010 by Lou

Happy Thanksgiving from your friends at MyCubsToday!  We hope you and your family have a happy and safe holiday!

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New Pitching Coach Update — Could it be Greg Maddux? Wrigley Field – 11/24/10

Posted on 24 November 2010 by Lou

Could Greg Maddux be the next Chicago Cubs’ pitching coach?  With the departure of long-time pitching coach Larry Rothschild to the New York Yankees, the Cubs have indicated that they will promote someone from within the organization to be the team’s next pitching coach.  Could that person be Greg Maddux?

While in theory it would be great to have a Ryne Sandberg Manager / Greg Maddux Pitching Coach Dynamic Duo, in reality, that is just not going to happen anytime soon.  Maddux took the assistant to General Manager role because it gave him a lot of flexibility to be able to spend time with his family at this stage in his life.  It is unlikely that Maddux will give that up right now to take on the difficult task of being a major league pitching coach on a daily basis.

Look for the Cubs to go with one of the following – Mark Riggins is the Cubs minor league roving coach who has a ton of experience and has pretty much worked with every single Cubs minor league pitcher for a long time.  Riggins could be the front runner.  The Cubs current bullpen coach Lester Strode is also a top candidate.  The Cubs could also go with one of the current pitching coach’s at the minor league level – Mike Mason at Triple-A Iowa or Dennis Lewallyn at Double-A Tennessee.  Look for the Cubs to make an announcement shortly after the Thanksgiving holiday next week.

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Cubs Arbitration Moves? – Wrigley Field 11/23/10

Posted on 23 November 2010 by Lou

It’s arbitration time in major league baseball, and for the 1st time in a while, the Cubs will likely have a quiet day of rest.  The Cubs have only 1 arbitration-eligible player – Xavier Nady – and because he does not have a ton of interest on the free agent market, it doesn’t really make any sense for the Cubs to offer him arbitration.  So, the Cubs won’t have to make any moves before tonight’s deadline.

The cross-town Chicago White Sox, however, will likely offer arbitration to 1st baseman Paul Konerko and reliever J.J. Putz.  The White Sox will likely not offer arbitration to either A.J. Pierzynski or Manny Ramirez.

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Illinois Races Past Northwestern 48-27 @ Wrigley Field – Saturday 11/20/10

Posted on 22 November 2010 by Lou

Illinois cruised past Northwestern 48-27 on Saturday at Wrigley Field with an impressive rushing attack led by Mikel LeShoure. LeShoure rushed for a school-record 330 yards and 2 touchdowns to pace the attack.  All total, the Illini racked up an amazing 519 rushing yards. Wow!  Amazingly, even though LeShoure had a 70-yard run, that was not the longest play from scrimmage.  Northwestern’s Mike Trumpy had an 80-yard touchdown run at the end of the 1st quarter that cut the Illinois lead to 21-14.  Trumpy rushed for 129 yards and also had 2 touchdowns.  An Illinois field goal at the end the 1st half gave the Illini a 27-24 halftime lead.  Illinois outscored the Wildcats 21-3 in the 2nd half to win the game.

Most of the talk before the game centered around the fact that the teams ran offensive plays in only one direction on the field – from west to east – because of safety concerns.  After the field was assembled and painted earlier in the week, team officials and the NCAA realized that the back of the end zone in the right field bleachers was way too close to the outfield wall.  Because of safety concerns, the teams and the NCAA opted to run offensive plays in a direction opposite the right field wall.  Pretty damn funny if you ask me…

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Larry Rothschild Bolts to Joe Girardi, Yankees in Surprise Move – Wrigley Field 11/19/10

Posted on 19 November 2010 by Lou

In a surprise move, Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild left to become the pitching coach for Joe Girardi and the New York Yankees.  This is a huge surprise as Rothschild just exercised his option to remain the Cubs pitching coach through the 2011 MLB season about a month ago, and he seemed excited to be back for another year on the North Side (it would have been his 10th season as Cubs pitching coach).  Now new Manager Mike Quade will be under the gun to find a new pitching coach for the Cubs in short order.

Yankees Manager Joe Girardi had this to say about luring Rothschild to New York – “Larry brings a wealth of invaluable experience to our team and to our pitching staff.  He’s a championship pitching coach, and I’m excited to add larry’s abilities to our staff.  He is above all else an excellent teacher, who brings a professional attitude and a keen sense of preparation to his craft.  I’m very much looking forward to working with him moving forward.”

Rothschild had plenty of praise for the Cubs organization – “I’d like to thank Jim Hendry, the Ricketts family, Crane Kenney and the entire Cubs organization for their outstanding support and allowing me to pursue this opportunity with the Yankees.  My reasons for pursuing and accepting the opportunity are personal and family-based, as the Yankees hold spring training in, and travel several times a year to, my hometown of Tampa.  The chance to spend increased time with my family was something I wanted to explore and I am grateful for the opportunity to have done so…  My nine years with the Cubs were tremendous and I’m proud of the pitching staff I leave behind.  I wish Mike Quade, the Cubs and their great fans the best and look forward to returning to Wrigley Field in June.”

Crazy stuff continues to happen on the North Side.  While some may see this as a negative, I am happy with the move.  This staff has not done enough to bring a championship to the Cubs organization.  Rothschild has had plenty of great arms under his tutelage – Mark Prior, Kerry Wood, Carlos Zambrano – and he never was able to make them consistently dominant for several years at a clip.  After 9 years relying upon Rothschild, I think it is a good things that the Cubs will have a new pitching coach who will give a fresh perspective on the Cubs arms on a going-forward basis.  Especially with some young guys who have a lot of talent – Andrew Cashner, Jeff Samardzija, James Russell – you would hate to see Rothschild not take advantage of their full potential.

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Allstate College Football Classic @ Wrigley Field – Annual Event?

Posted on 18 November 2010 by Lou

Northwestern will play Illinois in the 1st Annual Allstate College Football Classic at Wrigley Field on Saturday November 20th.  Will this become an annual event as a home game for Evanston’s Northwestern Wildcats at the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field?  If Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts has anything to say about it, Northwestern or some local college football team will be playing at Wrigley Field every fall.  Ricketts hopes that Northwestern and Illinois will agree to renew the game for the 2011 season as soon as possible.

Northwestern Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald has expressed some reservations, including the fact that the team had to give up a “home game” at Ryan Field in order to play at Wrigley Field.  Sure Northwestern was allocated a significant majority of the 42,000+ tickets sold for the game (somewhere in the 30,000 number), when you’re playing another area team like Illinois, Fitzgerald expects there to be plenty of Illini alumni screaming like crazy at the Friendly Confines on Saturday.  Fitzgerald had this to say about the game – “Why don’t you ask me that on Saturday or Sunday.  I don’t know, it’s been a lot of fun to this point.  I’m just appreciative of our administration handling all the logistics.  We’re just going to show up and play… For the unqieness and opportunity our guys get, the answer is yes… But I want to play at home.  This is our home field, play in front of our students and fans here.”

It should be a lot of fun.  Let’s hope the Cubs and Northwestern can figure out a positive way to make this happen every year.  College football at Wrigley – what a glorious thing…

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1st Baseman Top Priority for GM Jim Hendry, Cubs – Wrigley Field 11/17/10

Posted on 17 November 2010 by Lou

Landing a  new 1st baseman from the free agent pool is GM Jim Hendry’s top assignment this winter.  With the late season trade of Derrek Lee, the Cubs found themselves in the hunt for a 1st baseman option for the 1st time in a very long time (Lee has been the Cubs starting 1st baseman since the start of the 2004 MLB schedule).

The top free agent 1st baseman is Adam Dunn.  But he is expected to get a contract in the neighborhood of 3-years, $40 million which is well out of the Cubs projected budget.  The Cubs have about $105 million already committed to current players.  Taking into account arbitration-eligible players whom the Cubs will likely pay additional money to, the payroll with jump to around $125 million.  Tom Ricketts has indicated that they want the budget down in the $135 million range (down from a National League-high $144 million in 2010), so that leaves somewhere around $10 million for Hendry to play with for new players.  Given Hendry’s propensity to love to shell out tons of money without a care in the world, he is going to feel like he has his hands tied this winter.

Other 1st base options include several left-handed hitters – Lance Berkman, Lyle Overbay, Carlos Pena and Adam LaRoche.  Hendry had this to say about the search – “We’re obviously going to be adding someone there.  We did a lot of work at our organizational meetings.  There’s a lot of different ways it coudl go.  We’ll just have to see how it flows… We’ve never had a problem sorting out who to prioritize. I think the more out there, the better.  Obviously, somebody that plays 1st base at this level has to be able to swing the bat.  Some of the guys are good hitters and better defenders.  Some of the guys are real good hitters and not as good defensively.  There’s probably enough guys out there available to fill the needs of the teams that need somebody at that position.  It’s supply and demand.  A lot of teams already have good 1st baseman.  And there are 3 or 4 others like us, looking for one.”

I kind of like Berkman as a “safe” option and Pena as the “risky-upside” option.  Berkman hit .248 with 14 HR’s and 58 RBI’s in 2010.  Despite the down numbers, he still walked 77 times with only 85 K’s in 404 at-bats.  He is a patient hitter who will make pitchers throw strikes and could be a valuable asset to young players like Starlin Castro and Tyler Colvin in the locker room.

Pena  has a career .241 batting average and .351 on-base percentage. But in 2010, those numbers were way down – .196 and .325.  That being said, he still managed to hit 28 HR’s and rack up 84 RBI’s with 87 walks and 158 K’s.  Pena would probably drive fans nuts with his K’s and all-or-nothing swings, but you have to like the power numbers and you have to think the average numbers can’t get any worse than they were in 2010.

LaRoche has a career .271 batting average and .339 on-base percentage.  He had a decent 2010 – .261 batting average with 25 HR’s and 100 RBI’s and he is the youngest of the bunch at only 31 years old.

Overbay has a career .274 batting average and .358 on-base percentage.  He had a down year in 2010 and he is 33 years old.

One person we know it won’t be is Micah Hoffpauir who had been on the Cubs roster each of the last 4 seasons.  Hoffpauir is headed to Japan to play for the Nippon Ham Fighters during the 2011 baseball season.

It should be interesting what Hendry decides to do.  I have been questioning Hendry’s decision-making for years now, so I have a feeling we’re not going to like who he goes with at 1st base in 2011.  Maybe that will be the final straw for the Ricketts Family to finally realize that they need to cut ties with this out-dated GM…

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