Archive | December, 2010

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Cubs to Acquire Matt Garza from Rays via Trade?!?! — Wrigley Field 12/9/10

Posted on 09 December 2010 by Lou

The Cubs and Rays are in talks to trade pitcher Matt Garza for prospects in the next couple of days.  The 2 sides have met twice to discuss the terms of the deal, so this could happen any hour now.  The Rays are in “dump” mode, as they have parted ways with Carl Crawford who signed with the Red Sox and Carlos Pena who signed with the Cubs.  They are also looking to trade a few pieces to acquire prospects who are right at the edge of being able to perform at the major league level (for a fraction of the cost).  The Cubs have some nice prospects that they are willing to part with in order to acquire a starting pitcher like Garza who would slide into the rotation next to Carlos Zambrano and Ryan Dempster.  That would also allow the Cubs to move another starter (say Tom Gorzelanny, Randy Wells or Carlos Silva) to acquire a veteran reliever to go along side lefty set-up man Sean Marshall and closer Carlos Marmol.

Garza is only 27 years old – he went 15-10 with a 3.91 ERA and 1.25 WHIP in 32 starts in 2010 pitching in the tough AL East.  He has playoff experience is a fierce competitor.  Garza is also durable – he has made at least 30 starts for the Rays in each of the last 3 seasons.

Pena had this to say about his former Rays teammate — “Matt Garza is one of those pitchers that wherever he goes is going to be an incredible asset.  It’s no secret that he is extremely talented and the sky is the limit for a guy like him.  I think he’s got Cy Young potential, to be honest with you.  His stuff is electrifying.  I think anybody would like to have a guy like that.”

WOW – I’m actually excited about something that GM Jim Hendry might do this winter.  The Texas Rangers and Milwaukee Brewers are also mix on this, so the Cubs are going to have to give up 2-3 good prospects to land Garza, but it would be worth it for an established pitcher like him…

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Cubs Agree to Terms with Left-Handed Hitting 1st Baseman Carlos Pena – Wrigley Field 12/8/10

Posted on 08 December 2010 by Lou

The Cubs have agreed to a 1-year, $10 million deal with left-handed hitting 1st baseman Carlos Pena.  Pena is a great person in the clubhouse, but at 33 years of age, he could be on the downside of his career.  During the 2010 MLB season, he did hit 28 HR’s with 84 RBI’s, but he also had a career-low .196 batting average and he struck out 158 times in 484 at-bats. These numbers are down from his earlier 3 seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays — in 2009, Pena hit .227 with 39 HR’s and 100 RBI’s and a .356 on-base percentage; in 2008, Pena hit .247 with 31 HR’s and 102 RBI’s and a .377 on-base percentage; and in 2007, Pena hit .282 with 46 HR’s and 121 RBI’s and a .411 on-base percentage.

Out of all the options (or lack of options) for GM Jim Hendry and the Cubs, this was my lead candidate.  Being a great clubhouse guy is important, plus it will be nice for the Cubs to have a power-hitting left-handed hitter in the lineup.  If you can accept the fact that he is going to strike out a lot in big situations, but still put up solid numbers at the end of the season, you will be thrilled with the Pena signing.  Pena will also be reunited with Rudy Jaramillo – his hitting coach when he started in the Texas Rangers organization.

The Cubs clearly couldn’t afford Adam Dunn or lure Paul Konerko away from the South Side White Sox, so Pena was the next best option.  Let’s hope he stays healthy and has a bounce-back year in terms of a better batting average and on-base percentage.

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Chicago Cubs Name Mark Riggins New Pitching Coach — Wrigley Field 12/7/10

Posted on 07 December 2010 by Lou

The Chicago Cubs have named Mark Riggins their new pitching coach.  Riggins, 53, has been the Cubs minor league pitching coordinator since 2008 and has had a lot of experience with most of the pitchers projected to make the Cubs starting roster in 2011.  Previously, Riggins spent 29 years with the St. Louis Cardinals organization — as a minor league pitcher, minor league coach and manager and minor league pitching coordinator.  Riggins was a major league pitching coach for only 1 season in the big leagues – during Joe Torre’s final season as Cardinals manager back in 1995.

Riggins beat out Lester Strode who has served as the Cubs bullpen coach for several seasons now.  Strode will stay on as the Cubs bullpen coach under Manager Mike Quade.  The Cubs found themselves with a pitching coach void when Jim Hendry left for the New York Yankees less than a month ago.

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Winter Meetings Start This Week – Cubs Need to Find An Answer at 1st Base — Wrigley Field 12/4/10

Posted on 04 December 2010 by Lou

While the Cubs continue to mourn the loss of Ron Santo, they’re also turning their attention to their 2011 needs as the Winter Meetings start next week.  Tops on the list is a 1st baseman.  The Cubs traded Derrek Lee at the end of last season and also decided not to re-sign Xavier Nady who played well at the end of 2010.  The Cubs had hoped to lure Adrian Gonzalez away from the San Diego Padres via trade, but the Red Sox beat them to the punch by pulling off a trade for the 29-year old stud today.  No shock there that GM Jim Hendry is a few steps too slow once again.

That leaves a few very mediocre 1st baseman free agents on the market for several teams to compete for.  That is a not a good sign for the Cubs who are being cost-conscious this winter.  Let’s hope they don’t have to overpay for one of these guys – Carlos Pena, Adam LaRoche and Lance Berkman.  I like Pena the best out of the mix.  He strikes out a ton, but he hits a ton of HR’s and is a good clubhouse presence.

The other option is to move Tyler Colvin to 1st base.  Especially if the Cubs cannot move Alfonso Soriano or Kosuke Fukudome this off-season, moving Colvin to 1st base would be a great way to make sure he gets enough playing time in 2011.  We’ll keep you posted as soon as anything breaks next week at the Winter Meetings.

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MyCubsToday Mourns the Loss of Beloved Icon Ron Santo — Wrigley Field 12/3/10

Posted on 03 December 2010 by Lou

MyCubsToday humbly mourns the lost of the Chicago Cubs biggest fan — Ron Santo.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to Santo’s family during this difficult time.

Ron Santo played 14 of his 15 major league seasons for the Chicago Cubs.  He was named to 9 All-Star teams as a star 3rd baseman.  He was a career .270 hitter with 342 HR’s and 1,331 RBI’s.  Santo hit at least 30 HR’s in 4 straight seasons from 1964 through 1967.  He also drove in at least 100 runs 4 different times during his career, including a career-best 123 RBI’s in 1969.

He played along side Hall of Famers Ernie Banks, Billy Williams and Fergie Jenkins, but was never fortunate to be inducted into the Hall of Fame himself.  The last 21 years, San has manned the Cubs radio booth along side Pat Hughes.  Santo was one of the most colorful color-men in the game today and never tried to hide the fact that he was cheering for his home team Cubbies in each and every game.

We’ll have a lot more tributes for Santo over the next few weeks, but this quote from Ernie Banks sums it up perfectly: “It certainly is a sad day for everyone who knows and loves Ron Santo.  Ronnie has been a friend of mine for more than 50 years and is like a brother to me.  Ronnie’s entire life was dedicated to his wonderful family, the Chicago Cubs and their outstanding fans.”

We’re going to miss you Ronnie!

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Cubs, Jeff Baker Agree on 1-Year Deal — Wrigley Field 12/2/10

Posted on 02 December 2010 by Lou

The Chicago Cubs and infielder Jeff Baker have agreed upon a 1-year, $1.175 million deal that will keep Baker on the north side during the 2011 MLB schedule.  Baker played in 79 games for the Cubs in 2010, hitting .272 with a .326 on-base percentage.  He played 1st base, 2nd base and 3rd base in the infield and also right field during the course of the season.  Baker is a solid reserve infielder for the Cubs and is a good presence on the bench and in the locker room.

The Cubs also tendered contracts to the following players – Closer Carlos Marmol, left-handed pitchers Sean Marshall and Tom Gorzelanny and catchers Geovany Soto and Koyie Hill.

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Will This be Lee Smith’s Year to Make Hall of Fame? – Wrigley Field 12/1/10

Posted on 01 December 2010 by Lou

Will this be Lee Smith’s year to make the Hall of Fame?  Lee racked up 47.3 percent support on the 2009 Hall of Fame ballot.  This is his 8th year on the ballot and he is slowly creeping closer to that 15-year eligibility mark.  Lee led all of baseball in career saves for 11 years, but Trevor Hoffman just passed him a year ago.  Although closers have not been given their due by voters, recently, that trend has changed.  The voters have voted in several closers of late — Dennis Eckersley in 2004, Bruce Sutter in 2006 and Goose Gossage in 2008.

Let’s hope 2010 is Smith’s year!!!

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