As I sit here tonight about to watch the greatest rivalry in college basketball, North Carolina vs. Duke, it makes me think of the big 3 rivalries in baseball. There’s the Yankess/Red Sox, Giants/Dodgers and my favorite the Cubs/Cards.
First, let me talk about the UNC/Duke rivalry. The first game this year was great even if Duke won. And though I do not like Duke, I have a lot of respect for coach K, their players and their success. I also like how passionate their fans are. But the Tar Heels have been my team since I was a kid and a young Michael Jordan starred for Dean Smith. I’ve seen Roy Williams win two titles since becoming coach and I have a feeling he’ll win a few more before he’s finished coaching.
The Yankees/Red Sox rivalry definitely gets the most attention in baseball. I used to refer to ESPN’s Baseball Tonight as Red Sox Nation. And you can guarantee that these two teams will be televised nationally as much as possible when they play each other. Heck, the MLB Network aired their spring training game just a night ago. While I hear a lot of fans complain about these two teams, mainly Cardinal fans (remember, I live in Cardinal territory), I don’t mind watching these two teams clash.
I believe that the next rivalry, the Dodgers/Giants, is the most unique. It began on the east coast and has migrated to the west coast. WOW, MARSHALL JUST SCORED THE FIRST 2 POINTS OF THE GAME! GO TAR HEELS! Now, back to my post. I don’t know too many fans of either of these teams. Most of their fans I have met here on MLBlogs. I understand this is a fierce rivalry, but it is one that I have never experienced. I have experienced the Yankee/Red Sox rivalry in spring training a few years back for the record. Anyway, I still respect the Giants/Dodgers rivalry and definitely pay attention when these two teams play.
Finally, the rivalry I enjoy best in baseball, the Cubs and Cards. As a diehard Cub fan living in Cardinal territory it can be interesting to say the least. I imagine it would be the same for a Cardinal fan living in Cub territory. I have had total strangers approach me in stores and restaurants to talk trash to me when I’m wearing a Cub hat, shirt, jersey etc. Sometimes, it’s good natured ribbing between fans and other times people are just foolish. Every team has those fans including my Cubs so, I usually ignore these people. Anyway, I love watching the Cubs and Cards play. I’ve been on the metro in St. Lou wearing a Cubs jersey numerous times without any incidents and have had some great banter with Cardinal fans at games. I would venture to say this rivalry is the most peaceful of baseball’s big 3 rivalries.
When it’s all said and done, I think long lasting rivalries are great for their respective sports and the fans. For me, I’ve learned to respect the Duke Blue Devils and St. Louis Cardinals along with an overwhelming majority of their fans. GO TAR HEELS & GO CUBS GO!!!!
This Albert Pujols deal is getting interesting. I was listening to talk sports radio this morning and they were focusing on the idea that the Cards trade Pujols. I don’t see that happening. I believe the Cards will be able to sign him after the season if they are willing to meet most of his demands. If for some reason he does not sign with the Cards then I see him signing with a National League. I cannot imagine Albert going to the AL and having to be a DH even in the later stages of his career. He’s too competitive and wants to be on the field at all times.
The Cubs’ Marlon Byrd is working with Victor Conte. Remember him? The guy from Balco labs that did jail time. Byrd said he is not doing anything illegal and I believe him, but couldn’t he have found someone else?!?! Sorry Marlon, but Conte isn’t someone I would want to be associated with.
Jeff Samardzija is going to be a reliever this season. No question about it. The Cubs have enough guys competing for the 4th and 5th spots in the rotation so Jeff will pitch out of the pen. At least he knows what his role will be this season. He’s out of options so if he doesn’t pitch well he may not stay with the Cubs.
The Cubs traded minor league infielder, Tony Thomas, for 26 year old Robert Coello. The former Red Sox minor league will probably start the year in Iowa and be called up in case of injury. I believe he will be used as a starter in Iowa to start the season, but is also capable of coming out of the pen. Personally, I didn’t care for this trade.
Josh Vitters needs to have a breakout season in 2011 or I fear he may become the next Ryan Harvey. I will be keeping an eye on him and I really hope he stays healthy and hits like he’s capable of.
Finally, Keith Moreland will be taking the place of Ron Santo in the radio booth. I am happy for Keith and believe he will do a great job.
I am still having trouble with my internet provider which is beginning to tick me off. I live out in the country and have limited options for “high-speed” internet without having to spend over $80 a month for service. It sucks!!!! So, while I have been able to read other blogs, I have not been able to post comments, nor have I had much success at writing posts myself. I started a couple only to lose them after not being able to stay connected. Anyway, enough crying about that.
The Cubs look like they are going to sign Carlos Marmol to a 3 year extension from what I’ve read. Great move! The guy hasn’t been a pitcher that long and continues to get better every year. Let’s hope this continues.
Pitchers and Catchers are close to reporting, but several Cubs are already in Arizona. Jeff Samardzija has been there for a while now and I am expecting a great spring from him. I anticipate he will make a strong case to be in the rotation for the Cubs in 2011.
I always like to think of trade ideas for the Cubs along with potential free agent signings. I’ve already mentioned several times in other posts that we should trade for Chris Davis, Darren O’Day and possibly Michael Young from the Rangers. I still want us to get Davis and O’Day, but I have a few knew trade ideas.
First player I have in mind is Justin Upton of the D’Backs. This kid, he’s young folks, is a good player that oozes talent when he sweats. I would love to see him added to our outfield of the future.
Another player I would like to get is Kevin Kouzmanoff. He’s got a great glove and I believe his bat would play well in Wrigley Field. I know Aramis is getting older and I’m not sold on Josh Vitters as our future at third at this point. I must point out though, that I am hopeful that Vitters turns the corner this season and breaks out with his bat.
I wanted us to trade for Adrian Gonzalez this winter, but the Red Sox beat us out. I guess we can sign Albert if he miraculously doesn’t stay with the redbirds. While I am trying to be optimistic about the Carlos Pena signing this offseason I am also thinking of ways to upgrade for 2012.
Finally, it’s almost Valentine’s Day. I’m not big into holidays like this. I don’t get holiday pay or off work and I end up having to spend a bunch of money on flowers and such. Not that I mind it. My wife is great! But even before I met my wife, I’ve never been fond of this holiday. The middle of February has always been about pitchers and catchers reporting! That should be a holiday!!!!
As of late, I have been trying to take the time to look at other blogs in the MLBlogosphere. I’ve read some great posts and interesting ideas. The two teams I’ve been focusing on the most are the Reds and Pirates. Both teams have some passionate fans that are very knowledgeable about the game. I encourage others to do the same.
After looking at one Pirates fans blog, I was writing a comment about his team. I was joking in the comment when I said that the Pirates are suffering from the “Curse of Bonds”. Ever since he left, they haven’t had a winning season. With that said, the Pirates have a lot of young and talented players, a beautiful park and a promising future. I wish the Pirates well this season!
Speaking of curses, I hope the Cubs are able to break theirs sometime soon. It’s frustrating!
I predict that the Cardinals will sign Albert Pujols before spring training. If they don’t, then they will suffer a curse similar to the Curse of the Bambino that haunted the Red Sox.
Why in the world did the Cubs sign Todd Wellemeyer?!?!?!?! Jim, you were doing so well this offseason until this move. Why?????????? We don’t have Dave Duncan as a pitching coach!
Did you see the “Confessions of a She-Fan” is leaving MLBlogs? I hate to see her go, but she will have a new site that covers more than just baseball. I know I will have it posted to my favorite links as soon as it comes out.
Finally, being the nerd that I am, I bought my first fantasy baseball magazine today. Actually, I bought two. Sporting News and Yahoo. I wanted to compare the two and see which one I liked best.
If you’ve read any of my posts over the last month or two you would know that I wanted the Cubs to trade for Adrian Gonzalez and Matt Garza. Well, the Red Sox made a deal for Gonzalez trading away their top pitching prospect Casey Kelly. It was a great trade for both teams in my opinion and I only wish the Cubs would have made the deal. During the winter meetings in December, we discoverd that the Cubs and Rays had talked about a potential deal for Garza. Immediately I was excited. I wanted Garza bad! The only thing I didn’t want the Cubs to do is overpay. Well, the trade saw the Cubs send 5 players to the Rays for Garza and two other players. Here’s my “expert” analysis!
Garza will be under team control until 2013. He’s due a raise this year via arbitration. It’s been estimated to be around $5-6 million a year. He just turned 27 in November and isn’t in his prime yet. He had a 15-10 record in 2010 with a 3.91 ERA in the AL East. He’s going to be be with the Cubs for a few years at least and should do well in the National League. He makes the Cubs rotation significantly better and is a good start to improving the Cubs for the future. Remember, we have a ton of money coming off the books at the end of this season. Can you say, SPENDING SPREE?
Chris Archer pitched great for the Cubs in single A and double A in 2010. He’s 22 and some say has the making of a top of the rotation starting pitcher. However, we didn’t draft him. We got him in the Mark DeRosa trade after the 2008 season. At the point in his career, Archer had never posted an ERA below under 4.29 in the minors and his career minor league record was 5 wins and 18 losses. Losing Archer doesn’t bother me too much, but I hated to lose him after the success he had in 2010.
Hak-Ju Lee is a 20 year old shortstop from Korea. He’s got the making a leadoff hitting, slick fielding future All Star! This loss really hurts me, but we have Castro at short and you must trade talent to get talent.
Brandon Guyer, who turns 25 later this month, has the potential to be a solid outfielder in the major leagues. However, we already have Tyler Colvin in RF and 22 year old Brett Jackson working his way up the minors. Losing Guyer wasn’t that huge of a loss.
Robinson Chirinos is a 26 year old catcher that hit the cover off the ball in 2010. But remember, he did this playing against younger players and this wasn’t his first time playing for double A Tennessee. He spent parts of the 2007, 2008 and 2009 seasons with the double A affiliate too. I’m glad we were able to package him along in this deal. I hope he does well.
Sam Fuld is a 29 year old outfielder that is a 4th outfielder at best. The Cubs received outfielder, Fernando Perez, from the Rays in the 8 player deal and he pretty much is a 4th outfielder at best as well.
The other player involved was left handed pitcher, Zach Rosscup who turns 23 in June. He’s pitched well in rookie ball for the Rays and could be the difference maker in this trade.
Overall, we gave up a lot of talent for Garza. I hated to do so, but we kept Starlin Castro, Andrew Cashner, Brett Jackson and Chris Carpenter. And just because a guy has potential doesn’t mean he’s going to be successful in the major leagues. Remember Corey Patterson, Felix Pie, Sean Gallagher and Ryan Harvey are just a few prospects that the Cubs were hoping would become stars. So, while we traded away talent none of them have a proven resume like Garza does. I give Jim Hendry credit for trading for a young and talented pitcher. Remember, pitching wins championships and I think this is a good move for the future of the Cubs.
BOTTOM LINE: THIS WAS NOT A GREAT TRADE, BUT A GOOD ONE FOR THE CUBS!
Every offseason I pine over players that I want the Cubs to pursue. In the winter after the 2008 season, I wanted the Cubs to go after Jake Peavy. Can you blame me? I guess it’s a good thing we didn’t get him. He’s only made 33 starts in 2009 and 2010 combined. This year I wanted the Cubs to attempt to trade for Adrian Gonzalez. I think he’s a stud and would have solved a lot of problems the Cubs have….lefthanded power, firstbase, good glove and clubhouse leader to name a few. Anyway, he’s now on the Red Sox and I see him signing an extension with them by next spring. The next player I am drooling over is Matt Garza. Ever since I read the first trade rumor that the Cubs may be interested in him I have been thinking how great he would be in our rotation. If we trade for Garza I hope we keep minor league shortstop Hak-Ju Lee unless we plan on signing Jose Reyes at the end of the 2011 season. He’ll be a free agent then. I’m not a big Reyes fan, but he would fill our need at the leadoff spot in our batting order. Personally, I would like to get a deal done for Garza without trading Lee.
As for firstbase. I know we signed Carlos Pena to a one year deal and it’s possible that he ends up being playing first for us more than next year. However, if he doesn’t work out and we don’t resign him after next year I think we need to strongly consider Prince Fielder. Fielder is young and provides a ton of power from the lefthand side of the plate. He’s not known for his defense and I’m not sure how good of a leader he is, but it’s an option.
Needless to say, I want Garza pretty bad, but am beginning to think it’s not going to happen. Only time will tell. Until then, I need to be patient and trust that Jim Hendry will make the right moves at the right time.
The Kosuke Fukudome experiment has not worked out as planned. He has not been terrible, but not nearly as good as the Cubs needed him to be. The contract was a risk and it has backfired to some extent. I expected 15-20 homeruns per year and instead we’ve gotten 10, 11 and 13 homeruns in his 3 major league seasons. I was hoping for a .280 average. Unfortunately, he’s hit .257, .259 and .263. He’s not a huge threat to steal bases or drive in runs. While he does well drawing walks he also strikeouts more than I expected. Despite playing stellar defense, Fukudome has not lived up to expectations. I remember his electric start in 2008 and how he’s faded ever since. I think we were expecting him to be some kind of savior. In reality, I think he would make a good number 2 hitter with his ability to work the count and even bunt when needed. But the 4 year $48 million contract was too much and this is the last year of the deal.
With that said, I think it’s time to trade Fukudome. Trading him would ensure that Tyler Colvin would be the everyday rightfielder for the Cubs in 2011. Colvin needs to play everyday and Fukudome would be an overpriced 4th outfielder. I don’t know who would be interested in Kosuke, but I didn’t think anyone would want Milton Bradley last year either. My first suggestion is to trade him to the Red Sox. It’s obvious they aren’t worried about spending money (Carl Crawford contract). That would give them insurance when J.D. Drew gets injured next season because everyone knows he will. To be honest, I don’t care what we get in return as long as it doesn’t strain our budget.
Outside of Boston, I don’t have any good ideas where to send Fukudome, but I do realize we need to trade him now. No since keeping him on the bench or taking atbats away from Colvin. If you’ve got any good ideas of where to trade him I would like to know….Thanks!