Tagged: Bradley

Crazy couple of days for your Chicago Cubs

My oh my, what a couple of days we have just had here in the world of the Chicago Cubs. In case you haven’t been paying attention, the Cubs have just won their fifth game in a row, which is their longest winning streak of the year. Also in these past few days, the judgment was finally made on Milton Bradley’s appeal of his two game suspension. Oh yeah, one more thing has happened, Rick Telander of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote an article on steroids in baseball, and threw out Ryan Theriot’s name into the mix. These past few days have been something else, but in case you have been out of the loop, allow me to catch you up.

Lets start with Bradley’s suspension, since the news of this came out first. In the post game press conference of Thursday night’s win over the San Diego Padres, Cubs General Manager revealed that the empty suits in Major League Baseball have finally decided to share the ruling on Bradley’s appeal. Even though both Bradley, and the umpire Vanover agreed that there were no threats or foul language, the suspension was upheld, but reduced to only one game. I know the rules of baseball state that contact between a player and an umpire requires a suspension, but the contact that was made was so slight the suspension should not have been made. When the brim of a players helmet hit’s the bill of the umpire’s cap, that should not be considered contact. No matter how any of us feel, the suspension was carried out, and Bradley sat out today’s game against the Houston Astros.

I know what many of you are saying when you are talking about the suspension. Many of you are wondering why Bradley didn’t just take his suspension when he was injured and wasn’t playing, instead of going through the entire appeal process and then sitting out when he was fully healthy. First and foremost, I must admit that I agree with all of you who feel this way. While he wanted to stand up for himself, he needed to put the team ahead of his own self image. Everyone knew that the suspension and fine would not be eliminated completely. No matter how any of us feel, he did fight the suspension and he technically walked away with a victory in the hearing, though not the complete victory he was hoping for. He paid his debt to baseball, and now he can get on with his baseball life and get back to doing what he was paid to do. Help the Cubs win the world series. Hopefully now we can put this matter behind us for good and look forward.

Today the Cubs played the first game of their rain shortened series against the Astros. The first game of the series, which was scheduled to be played on Friday afternoon, was rained out, and will be made up in July. As I already stated, the Cubs won today, even with Bradley sitting out, to extend their winning streak to five games. Today’s game was a roller coaster ride all the way through. The game was scoreless until the sixth inning when the Cubs scored three times, which included a Micah Hoffpauir two run homer that followed a Derrek Lee RBI single. The score would remain that way until the eighth inning when Geovany Soto tacked on what would turn out to be a much needed run to give the Cubs a 4-0 lead heading into the ninth. All secure, or so you would have thought. The Cubs bullpen stepped up and delivered two back to back perfect innings by Angel Guzman and Carlos Marmol. All that would be left would be for Kevin Gregg to come in and get the final three outs. With a four run lead, the fans in the stadium were warming up their vocal chords to sing “Go Cubs Go”. However, they would have to wait a little longer then they would have liked to.

Gregg entered the game, and immediately gave up two solo homeruns on three pitches, and the Cubs lead was now cut in half. The next three men all reached base, two with hits and one by being hit by a pitch. So here we were, bases loaded and up by two runs with no outs. A nightmarish situation for any Cub fan to witness. After Gregg loaded the bases, Cubs manager Lou Piniella had seen enough and called Aaron Heilman out from the bullpen to try and fnish the game off. However, that would not be the case because on the first pitch Ivan Rodriguez singled scoring two men to tie the game. Heilman would get the next two men out before walking Michael Bourn to once again load the bases. Again, Piniella had seen enough and went to the pen again. This time, he called in lefty Sean Marshall to try and keep the game tied. Three pitches later, we were heading to the bottom of the ninth looking for that much needed walk off win.

The bottom of the ninth started out great for the Cubs. First we saw former Cub LaTroy Hawkins on the mound, Cub fans who unfortunately remember him knew this could only mean good things. For the Cubs, they had 31 year old rookie Bobby Scales stepping up to the plate, and he worked a full count, then drew a leadoff walk. Good things always tend to happen when you start off an inning with a walk. Aaron Miles was up next, and against my better judgment laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Scales over to second. I say against my better judgment because I was sure they would walk Alfonso Soriano with first base open and a runner at second. Thankfully, that was not the plan that Hawkins and the Astros had in mind. They pitched to Soriano, and that’s all we needed. After two quick strikes, Soriano popped a single into right field and Scales crossed home plate to score the winning run.

Gregg flat out sucked today, which will only add logs to the fire of fans who hate him, and want him out of the closers role. There are no words that I can give to even begin to defend Gregg at this point, because today’s game was inexcusable. How he could blow the game that badly is beyond me. For the past few games, he has been solid and actually looked like he had his job locked down, and then he goes out there and drops this disaster of an outing. The calls for Marmol to be the new closer are already starting, as are a few calls for Guzman to take the job. However, this game will not be the final nail in Gregg’s job as closer. He will have more chances to do the job before Piniella yanks him from the closers job.

Finally, Telander wrote an article on Friday about steroids, and brought up Theriot’s name. During the course of the article, he half heartedly accused Theriot of using steroids. However, he only brought up his name tongue in cheek, and only to make his point that now everyone in baseball should now be a suspect. The downside, he has now marked Theriot as a steroid user, even if he didn’t mean to, he has now tarnished Theriot’s career. Take a look at Theriot’s body and tell me he is a user. He is listed at 5’11” and around 170 pounds, yet he is going to have to walk around with the whispers of steroid use following him. Good job Telander, way to bring down someone to make a point. Just because he is performing above expectations, you had to single him out. Why not call out a slugger who at least looks like a possible candidate. Such players like Albert Pujols from the St. Louis Cardinals, or Ryan Howard from the Philadelphia Phillies. Don’t get me wrong, I am NOT saying that they are users, but they would fit the image of a steroid abuser more then Theriot ever could.

Like I said, these past few days have been crazy, and a lot has gone down. I am sure things will continue to get crazy throughout the season, after all, this wouldn’t be a Cubs season without a lot of craziness following the team around, don’t you agree?

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State of the Cubs: Many different thoughts here

So much to talk about, more then enough time to write about everything on my mind. The only question, is do you have enough time to read everything I am about to post. Don’t worry, if you don’t read the entire post I will fully understand. In fact, I will do you a favor so you can easily find and read about what you want to read. That way, you can skip over the thoughts that you couldn’t really care less about. But here, you will read about all the thoughts that have been building up inside of me over the past few days. These thoughts include: The State of the Chicago Cubs after four games against the San Francisco Giants and Houston Astros, the Lou-P lineup Cubs  Manager Lou Piniella threw out there on Tuesday,  the injury of Derrek Lee, the demotion of Jeff Samardzija, the recalling of Chad Fox, and the Milton Bradley suspension case. All this and probably not much more as I do believe that this is enough information to keep you busy for a while. Here is the part where I am helping you find what you want, the order I will be sharing my thoughts on these subjects, is the order that I listed them out. So without further delay, lets get started shall we?

As I have done at the end of every series, I will give you the state of affairs as far as I am concerned with your Cubs. I did not do one following the Giants series, because I felt things would be easier to cover the series with the Giants and Astros at the same time because they are both two game series. In the Giants series the offense continued to be on display in the first game of the series, and the bullpen looked pretty good if you ask me. Were they perfect? I guess that all depends on your definition of perfect. The bullpen pitched two innings allowing one hit and one walk, which if you ask me (and I assume you are if you are reading this) they did a good job and were pretty damn close to being perfect. The second game made you scratch your head though, especially with the lineup that Piniella threw out there, but I will get to that in a minute or two. The bullpen took a major hit in the second game of the series against the Giants, but that is only because Samardzija pitched unbelievably bad, which in turn made Sean Marshall’s outing look even worse. While we didn’t score a lot of runs in this series (only six) the offense is still showing signs of having some life, and the bullpen is starting to come together.

The Astros series started off great, as the offense exploded for an early lead and the Cubs never looked back. The big star of game one was Reed Johnson who drove in three first inning runs with a bases loaded triple. He also scored two runs himself when he crossed home plate after a wild pitch. This time around, he helped the Cubs win with his bat instead of his glove. The bullpen in the first game held their own and looked good again, granted only Carlos Marmol and Kevin Gregg pitched in the game, but they were both question marks before hand, and might be still. The second game, well that’s still going on as I write this, so perhaps things would be best if I did not include this game in my thoughts. Though after two innings, Cubs are down 2-1 after Ted Lilly gave up a two run bomb in the first inning. Kosuke Fukudome got his first hit of the month of May, and Ryan Theriot got picked off third base. Despite his recent power strike, he still cant run the bases that well. But not everyone can be a perfect ball player. I wont rag on him for that right now. Speaking of Theriot, he just got a base hit to lead off the third. Perhaps I will add to this as the game goes on while I am writing this blog. Still the top of the third, bases loaded no outs, but Hoffpauir popped one up in foul ground at third. Bradley is now up to bat, lets see if he can snap out of this slump in a big way. Basehit by Bradley, not exactly the big hit I was hoping for, but I will take what I can get.

Alright, lets talk about the lineup that Piniella threw out there on Tuesday against Giants Ace Tim Lincicum. Since Tuesday night I have heard numerous fans complain about the lineup, and have read many comments that have been posted saying that Piniella screwed the Cubs and their fans by not starting the best players for that game. The argument was that they were facing a great pitcher, and needed their best hitters in the lineup. I can completely understand that train of thought, but at the same time, I can fully understand what Piniella was doing. Lets take a look at who he sat, and I will give you my thoughts on why they were sat down. First and foremost Alfonso Soriano and Theriot, did you realize that neither of them have gotten a day off  before that game?  They played in every single game the Cubs played without a break, outside of the days the Cubs were off. If they were not sat down then, they would not have been given a day off for at least five more days, because you don’t want to sit players against your division rivals. The next five games were against the Astros and Milwaukee Brewers. I have no problem with them getting that game off. How about Aramis Ramirez, he just sat out for about a week and a half with an injury, he should have been fully rested right? Yeah, rested for sure, but he was just coming off an injury, so why push him too hard. Maybe he could have played, but why not rest him after his first game back just to play things safe, especially with leg and back injuries. The reason Geovany Soto was taken out of the lineup should be obvious, day game after a night game, catchers will very rarely catch both those games. Bradley though, I can not give one good reason why he wasn’t playing. Fukudome could have stayed in center, Hoffpauir could have played at first giving Lee the day off with Joey Gathright playing in left. But hey, I cant justify everyone who sat out with good reasons.

For the second time in a week, Lee had his neck spasms flare up on him, and he sat out both games against the Astros.  This is a tough case to read, as there are different stories coming out about this injury. Piniella has stated that Lee might have to go on the disabled list, but today during the second game of the Astros series Lee commented on how he should be ready to go on Friday when the Cubs travel to play the Brewers. Hopefully Lee is able to play, because he is finally starting to heat up at the plate, and we could use his bat in the lineup. Nothing against Hoffpauir, but if push comes to shove, I would rather have Lee out there. With his bat heating up, and his gold glove caliber defense at first base, he is a threat to win a game for you. Hoffpauir may give you the bat that you would be missing, but his defense is far below what Lee can provide.

After his blow up on the mound in the second game of the Giants series, Samardzija has been sent back down to the minor leagues, rejoining the Iowa Cubs. I honestly think that this move is the best thing for him, as he is a starting pitcher and not a relief pitcher. With him starting, he has the time to work on and develop all of his pitches, as a reliever he can not do that with only one inning of work every other day. No, his future with the Cubs is as a starter and that is where he should stay. Keep him in Iowa the rest of the year, let him work as a starting pitcher. That is where he will be the most help for the Cubs in the future. Bringing him up and throwing him in the bullpen will do nothing but retard his development.

With Samardzija being sent down, a familiar face returned. Long time veteran Fox was recalled, and was place in the bullpen. You might remember him from his time with the Cubs in 2005 where he was attempting a comeback, when his elbow gave out on him during an inning of work. Or, you might remember him from 2007 when he was attempting another comeback. This time his shoulder was giving him problems. Maybe the third time is the charm for Fox, as he is making a third attempt at a comeback. His numbers have looked great in triple A, so lets hope that they carry over now that he is in the majors again. We could sure use his arm at the tail end of the bullpen.

On Wednesday, Bradley had his appeal of his two game suspension heard. Personally I think that he is an idiot for taking this to a hearing when there was plenty of time for him to serve this without hurting the ball club. There was a good week to two weeks where he was just being used as a pinch hitter. He could have served the suspension during that time, and the Cubs would have been fine without him. However, with him taking the ordeal all the way to the hearing, he will miss at least one game, if not two against the Brewers. Face facts, he will not get the suspension dropped completely. The best case scenario is for the suspension to be reduced by a game. Missing one game is better then two, but why not just serve the damn thing earlier when you are not facing a division rival? Don’t get me wrong, I agree that the suspension is complete ********, but don’t think that he should have fought the ruling the way he did. Just my two cents.

That about sums up this edition of my Cubs thoughts for the day and night. However, I would not be doing the game a favor if I did not even mention what happened to Manny Ramirez. For those who do not know (and if you don’t I must ask where you have been all day) Man-Ram failed a test for PED (performance enhancing drugs) and will be suspended for 50 games. This does mean that he will miss the series with the Cubs at the end of the month. So if you bought tickets for the end of May series hoping to see him, you are out of luck. Ramirez joins Alex Rodriguez, Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds and many others in being labeled a steroid using baseball cheater. Honestly, while I am glad to see that they are cleaning up the game, I would be lying if I did not admit that I am a little bit sad. As I mentioned in my post about A-Rod when he tested positive, the game loses a lot of luster for me with these big names failing the tests. How much of what we see is real and genuine. Sometimes,  I honestly wish that the steroid era was never uncovered and no one was the wiser.

 

Alright, that about covers everything I had in mind to cover with a bonus thought. Hopefully you made your way til the end, though if you didn’t, I cant say that I blame you. This is a lot of information to read, but I do hope what you did read you enjoyed. As always, feel free to comment, argue a point or share your thoughts. I always enjoy reading the comments you make on my blogs, however few there are. Until next time, lets root on the Cubs together.

Thoughts after the series with the Colorado Rockies

Even though the Chicago Cubs lost today, and split the opening series at home with the Colorado Rockies, we are off to a great start. Sure, being 6-2 would look a heck of a lot better then being 5-3, but I will take this record. Even with the loss, I do feel that there are some aspects that can be looked at as positives. Yes, there are a few negatives that can be found as well in this series, and I will get to those too. In fact, since I like to end things on a positive note, I will start out by pointing out what I feel might be a concern for us at the moment.

One negative, would be the piling up of the injuries with the Cubs lineup. Catcher Geovany Soto, right fielder Milton Bradley and third baseman Aramis Ramierez all missed both games of the opening series with various nagging injuries, which vary in severity. Sure, Soto got behind the plate today, but I do not believe that his shoulder woes are over, at least not yet. Cubs Manager Lou Piniella has stated that Soto will be given at least a game off this weekend, which could be viewed as normal rest for your catcher. Whether or not his shoulder is fully healed, publicly we will never know unless he takes himself out of a game again. With him just coming back from his injury, you wouldn’t expect his bat to come back right away, but his .100 batting average is something to keep an eye on. Just hope he is not going through one of those “Sophomore Slumps” that we hear about.

Ramierez missed these past two games due to issues with his back stiffening up, which has been an injury which he has dealt with in previous years. While Piniella said that he was available to pinch hit if needed on Wednesday, he never did make an appearance. Having his bat out of the lineup hurts our offense, but all signs point to him being back on Thursday for the first of a four game series with the hated St. Louis Cardinals. While Mike Fontenot has done a pretty good job defensively at third base in his absences, I would still rather have Ramierez at the hot corner.

The injury to Bradley, which we should have all known was coming, kept him out of both games and will likely keep him out of the first couple of games against the Cardinals. The groin muscle is a very tricky injury to figure out when you are safe to return to game action. You have to be very careful when returning with this injury, because if you come back too soon a tweak can turn into a pull, or even worse… a tear. So with Bradley having an injured groin, the Cubs are better suited to sit him an extra day or two just to be on the safe side. I would hate to see him come back in Thursdays game, only to severely re-injure himself landing on the Disabled List for a few more weeks. Even though he only has one hit (which just so happens to be a homerun) in17 tries, his bat is missed in the lineup, especially the way he works the count and draws walks.

Our offense is another worry, as they just have not seemed to click on all cylinders. This may be in part to Derrek Lee’s, and Bradley’s very slow starts. When your three and four hitters are not hitting the way you expect them too, your offense will not soar as expected. Through in the fact that our slugging catcher Soto has been out for a week, that didn’t do our offense any favors either. On the bright side, players are coming back from injury, and are starting to play better.

First and foremost, Lee has seemingly snapped out of a long stretch of bad baseball. In case you didn’t notice, he had a few multi hit games in this series, getting five hits in seven at bats. Perhaps his bat is waking up like some of us thought. One thing to consider, is perhaps his being shifted to the four spot in the line up may have had something to do with his awakening. Now I don’t think that he can stay in the four spot, at least not if Cubs Manager Lou Piniella wants to keep his bats alternating right and left all the way down. So perhaps when Ramierez gets back from his injury stint, Piniella will move Lee down to the five hole and let him take over batting third. Imagine the possibility, Ramierez will have Alfonso Soriano and Kosuke Fukudome in front of him to drive in, that would be a great boost for our offense.

Speaking of Fukudome, he continues to play well. He is looking like he did at the beginning of last season, which I believe is great news. I know what you are saying though. You are probably thinking “Who cares what he looks like now, he did this last year. He is going to fade again.” While that is true, he was hot at the start of last season, and faded into the oblivion as the season went on. As the pitchers got more tape on him, they figured him out. They started pitching to his weakness, which he was unable to adapt to. They had figured out Fukudome, which was making him utterly useless to us down the stretch because he could not readjust. This season though, I look at his early success with more enthusiasm for those same reasons. They did not forget how to pitch to him, they are still doing what the scouting report tells them to do. I honestly believe that he has figured something out, and has made the proper adjustments. I think that he has finally figured out how to play baseball in the United States. He is showing great patience again, which can be seen by his drawing walks. He is driving the ball, and getting good hits and getting on base. Fukudome has seemingly out things together, and I am putting more stock into this seasons early success then I did in last seasons.

 

Soriano is scorching hot at the plate right now. Leading off ball games he now has five hits out of his eight at bats leading off a ballgame. In case you aren’t keeping tract, never fear, I am. He has two lead off homeruns, and three singles to go with two strike outs and a pop out. I know that he has his detractors out there, those who say that he should not be hitting leadoff. You want him batting in the middle of the order where he will have more RBI chances. I can fully understand that, but when you can start off the game with a 1-0 lead, what can you complain about? Think of this as well, go back to Saturday night in Milwaukee. If he was not in the leadoff slot, we don’t win that game. He hit the go ahead home run which won the game. Do you honestly think Ryan Theriot would have done that?

 

In their first starts of the season, Ted Lilly and Rich Harden went completely different directions. Lilly returned to his roots getting bombed for four homeruns, while Harden cruised striking out 10 batters in just six innings. While you can argue that Lilly was just throwing strikes working to contact because of the big lead, you don’t like to see your starting pitcher give up that many bombs. Some even wrote it off to his not getting much work in Spring Training and continuing to work off some rust. In their second outings, they once again traveled in different directions. Lilly took a no hitting into the seventh, but with two outs gave up a hit and then walked the next batter before being pulled for the bullpen, who kept the game as a one hitter. Harden on the other hand, was shelled, allowing four runs while striking out eight in just three innings of work. The bullpen stepped in for the final six innings.

 

Since we are on the subject, I would like to conclude with thoughts on our bullpen. Over the past three games, our bullpen has looked a lot better then they did, which wouldn’t be too hard to do. In the last 11 and 1/3 innings pitched by the bullpen they have allowed just two runs while giving up six hits and six walks. While they are still not great numbers out of the bullpen when it comes to hits and walks, the runs allowed is great to see. Sure there will be some rollercoaster rides along the way, but there are a few pitchers in that bullpen that I am really starting to like. Carlos Marmol, Aaron Heilman and David Patton have all earned my respect and I like what they can do for us. The other four though: Luis Vizcaino, Angel Guzman, Neal Cotts and Kevin Gregg all have a lot to prove to me though. Even though Vizcaino has looked fairly decent in his limited opportunities, but he isn’t screaming confidence at the moment, despite his perfect ERA.

 

That about sums things up for my thoughts after the Cubs Home Opening series with the Rockies. Thoughts, ideas, concerns are always welcomed.

Around the Horn: Milton Bradley

Lets be honest, if Kosuke Fukudome had not failed as miserably as he did last year, chances are good that Milton Bradley would not be a member of the Chicago Cubs. While the Cubs used the idea of getting more left handed as a reason to add Bradley to the mix, they were not lying to us. The Cubs needed someone that they could count on to bat from the left side whom they could count on, since they had obviously lost confidence in Fukudome (For those of you who are still upset that Mark DeRosa was traded, here is who you can really pin the blame on). So the search began for that left handed batter who Cubs Manager Lou Piniella could add to the middle of the order, breaking up Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramierez. Cubs General Manager Jim Hendry and Piniella felt that Bradley fit that role better then other left handed candidates Adam Dunn and Bobby Abreau. The addition of Bradley has upset many fans, all of whom question whether or not he will help the team, or break up the strong chemistry that the team has had the past few years.

With Bradley signing with the Cubs in the off season, he will be playing for his seventh team in his 10 year career. The reasons that are pointed to for his frequent change in address include his attitude, his immaturity and his lack of ability to stay healthy. Throw all of these together and you have yourself a very troubling situation with a professional ballplayer. All of these reasons have a percentage of Cub fans yelling and screaming at Hendry for making a massive error in judgment in signing Bradley to begin with. Add in that he was signed for three years and $30 million, and you have a number of very ********** Cub fans.

In his nine year career, Bradley has only played a total of 100 games three times. That is a very troubling statistic when you think about it, especially here in Chicago where we are used to key players (especially pitchers) missing huge chunks of the year due to injuries. Thankfully the Cubs were smart enough to add in an escape clause to Bradley’s three year deal. The deal stats that if Bradley spends more then 75 days on the disabled list, the third year of the deal is terminated. If that is the case, Bradley’s 3 year $30 million contract turns into a two year $18 million contract with a buyout of $2 million, which breaking things down would mean he cost us $10 million over those two years. If he survives the season in one piece, his final year will cost us $12 million, but look on the bright side, if the final year kicks in, Bradley is staying healthy and helping us win games. If Bradley follows his yearly average, then he will just squeak in the number of games needed to guarantee the final year of his deal. He has roughly played an average of 90 games a year on average.

While his injury history may be a concern for some, others are more worried about his anger issues that he has allowed to boil over throughout his time in the big leagues. Over that time, Bradley has gotten into battles with teammates, managers, fans, police officers, reporters as well as broadcasters. None of which would make any Cub fan feel any better about the current situation. Cub fans, while are the most forgiving, are among the quickest to show anger towards a player who they feel is putting forth a less then full effort. If Bradley got into a fight with a fan in Oakland who threw a bottle on the field, which was thrown in his present location in the outfield, what will he do when the drunks we call Bleacher Bums start throwing their usual garbage onto the field. Or worse yet, if he does not get warned (or informed) of the Bleacher Bums tradition of throwing the enemy home run ball onto the field. If he sees a baseball heading towards him from the stands, that might be the last game for him on the Cubs for a while if he reacts the same way after the bottle throwing incident. When you talk about his actions with the media in previous cities, and how he had a war of words with them, you have to note that Chicago media is tough, and will press you until they get what they want. Some reporters may want to push Bradley to see what will happen, grill him about this or that to get an answer.

A lot of his explosions, while not excusable, could be classified as understandable, at least to a point. How would you react if racial slurs were thrown at you? Would you do something if someone threw an object at you? If you can honestly say you would have calmly turned the other cheek and walked away from those situations, then you are the better man. You are able to control your emotions, as Bradley was unable to. But don’t paint him as a bad guy because he has an explosive temper, and over powering emotions. Those actually make Bradley more of a fit with the Cubs when you think about it. Piniella has been known his whole career as an explosive easy to anger manager who will erupt at the drop of a hat. While he has been more of a calming mind for a majority of his time with the Cubs, he is far better known for his explosions at umpires, players and reporters. Sounds like some of the same things as Bradley, minus the altercations of course. Then we have the overly emotional Carlos Zambrano on the team. He is the most emotional player on the club, who in most of his career has been very quick to anger. He has pointed fingers at his teammates in the field if something didn’t go as planned, and just two years ago he got into a heated debate with teammate, and catcher for the game, Michael Barrett. While those past incidents have happened at a much slower pace and number then Bradley’s incidents, you can not justify Piniella’s or Zambrano’s actions, and completely crucify Bradley for the same emotional outbursts.

Will this addition work out for the Cubs benefit? If I had the answer to that, this discussion would be a lot shorter and a lot less interesting to read. All we can do, is support our newest member of the Cubs and hope he does what he was brought in to do. If Bradley is able to stay healthy, he will be an excellent addition to the middle of the Cubs lineup. If he is able to put up numbers even close to what he did last year, our middle of the order production should be among the leagues best.

Mark DeRosa leaves, and Milton Bradley signs

Ok, it has been a few days since the Chicago Cubs have traded Mark DeRosa to the Cleveland Indians. Many people (myself included) feel that DeRosa was the Cubs best player last year, and even called him the MVP of the team. DeRosa, who some people were against his signing when he first got here, quickly became a fan favorite in his time spend on the North Side. He could play just about any position, usually jumped around between any one of 6 different spots in the seasons he spent with us. DeRosa always seemed to come up with the clutch hit when we needed him to, and was one of the biggest reasons why we won 97 games last year. While I am sad to see him go, some changes had to be made after the last two years of failures. Granted, we played great during the regular season, but come play off time, they just could not get the job done. Hell, they couldn’t even get the job started, or so it would seem.

While DeRosa was a great player while he was here, sadly he was one of the few players that we could move, and could realistically replace with a much needed lefty bat. Other players would be much harder to move, without eating much of the salaries that they are owed, and doing a lot of convincing to the player to accept the trade. Most of our players are being paid high salaries, and worse have no trade clauses attached to them. Lee, Soraino, Fukudome, Ramirez. Those are the high paid talents on our roster, and they all have a say in whether or not they get traded, and where they get traded to.

Lee’s power numbers are rapidly decreasing, and his value is going down. I don’t see too many teams knocking on the Cubs door looking for him. Soriano has an enormous contract. The Cubs would have to eat a lot of it to even get another team interested. If they have to do that, they might as well keep him considering if they sign another player, it will wind up costing us more then just to keep Soriano when you factor in the money we will be eating every year. Fukudome? Are you kidding? Who would want him after watching him and his massive flop last year. That leaves Ramirez. The one player who actually has some trade value. Plenty of teams would love to have him at third base for them. Problem is, if we trade him, who do we replace him with. Will we get a fair return in our investment? He would be a big loss to the team.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not glad that DeRosa is gone, in fact, I am rather upset about it. He became one of my favorite players in his time here. I will greatly miss him. While I am upset that we got so little in return for him from the Indians, I can understand why he was moved. You had to free up money somehow and somewhere. Sadly he was one of the only guys we could move. When you have a salary cap of 140 million, and escalating contracts, someone has to be the fall guy. Sadly DeRosa had to be the fall guy. As is Marqius. As I noted in another blog, I think that it is a mistake letting him go, but I wont get into that again. This is all I have to say on the DeRosa trade at the moment. I can not see this trade just being to free up money. So I will let Jim Hendry do some more wheeling and dealing before I comment fully on this move.

On a side not, they signed his replacement seemingly minutes before they traded DeRosa away in Aaron Miles. When you think about it, he is a poor man’s DeRosa. He can do all the same things as DeRosa, just not as good in all aspects. His role on the team, I can not say I am sure about. I don’t know if he was signed to play second base, or to be a sub coming off the bench. Time till tell on this one I guess. But Miles can play 7 positions, all the ones DeRosa can play, as well as center field.

That brings me to Milton Bradley. Sources are citing that he has agreed to a deal with the Cubs for 30 million over 3 years. While he is the lefty bat that the Cubs needed, I am unsure about this move. His career numbers are not all that great. Add that into his injury history, and its a bleak picture. All this rolled up with him being a headcase makes me cautiously optimistic about this move.

My thanks to a poster on fogpog.com, a great fan sit for Cub fans,  for compiling some stats for me on the Cubs newest player.

Bradley will be 31. As a player Bradley: Has played over 130 games in a season 1 time. Has played atleast 100 games in a season only 3 times. Has hit at least 20 homers in 1 season(22). His career high for RBI in a season is 77. Never scored 80 runs in a season.

Those are not stellar numbers in any aspect, and have to make any Cubs fan unsure of the move. If he is able to stay healthy, and actually play anything close to a full season, then the Cubs may have gotten a steal. But looking at those career numbers, you have to be a little worried that the Cubs may have made a mistake in signing him. Especially to a 3 year deal. But again, if he stays healthy, he can be a great threat for us from the left side of the plate, driving in a lot of runs, and hitting a lot of homeruns. But again, that is if he stays healthy.

He has also had a massive attitude problem in his career. He has been on 7 different teams in his 10 year career. he has had fights with his managers, team mates, umpires and broadcasters. The broadcaster part brings back bad memories from the 2004 season. I do not know what to expect out of Bradley in the coming season, but I will be rooting for him, as I will be every other person in a Cubs uniform.

Thoughts? Comments? Response? I would love to hear what you think on both the DeRosa trade as well as the Bradley signing.

Bradley, Dunn and Marquis thoughts

Sorry for not posting a blog lately, but there hasn’t really been anything to write or talk about lately. So, without any news, there is nothing to write about. However, there are some things that are on my mind that I wouldn’t mind sharing. So if you have the time, to read, then I have the time to write them all out. Hopefully you enjoy the following thoughts.

Milton Bradley is known to be the Chicago Cubs top target this offseason. Bradley is exactly the kind of player that the Cubs could use in their lineup. He provides the left handed power that they desperately need. A left handed bat that can split up a right handed heavy lineup. He plays a decent enough defense, and will not give the pitching staff fits when they see a fly ball headed to the outfield. Bradley could very well be the player that pushes the Cubs over the top and leads them to a World Series title.

On that same note, Bradley is exactly the kind of player that the Cubs should want to stay as far away from as possible. Bradley is a ticking timebomb that could go off without notice. He is a nutcase who could blow up, tearing apart all the chemistry that resides inside the clubhouse. On top of that, they already have one player in the clubhouse who is certifiably nuts in Carlos Zambrano. All we need is for Bradley to misplay a ball in the outfield, setting Zambrano off. It has happened before, it will happen again. Picture this, Bradley drops a routine fly ball, Zambrano snaps on him, Bradley snaps back. Then we have a free for all in the outfield as Zambrano and Bradley go at it, with the other players trying to break them up. In 2007 Zambrano and Michael Barrett kept their fight to the dugout, and then the clubhouse. With two nutjobs on the field, they might not be able to keep the struggle out of public view.

If the Cubs turn away from Bradley, that might lead them to Adam Dunn. Dunn has gone on record saying that his first choice would be to play for the Cubs. That might be because he has put up monster numbers every time he comes to Chicago. However, if he joins the Cubs, he wouldn’t be facing their pitchers. So who knows if he would have the same impact as a home player instead of a visiting player. However, Dunn is exactly what the Cubs need. A left power bat that can hit 40+ homeruns every year. In Wrigley it might be even more, though we did think the same thing about Alfonso Soriano. Dunn is the lefty power bat that can bat in the middle of the order, and can split up all the right handed bats that currently reside there. Dunn also walks a large amount of time, which makes his one base percentage very nice to see. Though, he does strike out more then his fair share, which will turn some people off. But the power numbers that will come from our corner outfielders will be off the chart.

The downside to Dunn being signed by the Cubs would be the defense. Dunn os one of the worst defensive outfielders in the game. In order to make it work, you might have to move Soriano over to right field, and throw Dunn in left. That, however, would only really be a bandaid. Our pitching staff will have nightmares everytime they see a fly ball. You would have to have a centerfielder who can cover more ground then they should be asked to in order to have a shot at having even an average defensive outfield arrangement. If they can find a way to minimize his defensive laps, he could be the best fit for the Cubs for years to come.

Jason Marquis name has once again come up in trade talk, this time with the Colorado Rockies. The Rockies seem to like Marquis because of his career numbers when pitching there. Not just his pitching lines, but his offensive stats as well. he has done well on both sides of the ball in his time spent at the ball park. In five career starts at Coors Field, Marquis is 3-0 with a sparkling 2.51 ERA. On top of that, he is a .231 hitter in that ball park. I know what you are thinking, .231 isn’t all that great. Thats true, except we are talking about a pitcher, not a normal hitter. So those numbers are pretty good. I can see why they are interested. Especially if the Cubs eat half of his nearly 10 Millions dollars that he is owed in 2009.

However, I feel it would be a mistake to let him go. While he is not a great pitcher, and has his moments of great failure, he is probably one of the best number five pitchers in the game. He can eat up innings, he can go .500, all the things that you want a number 5 pitcher to do. Plus it keeps Marshall in the bullpen as a long man/emergency starter. That is something that every club needs. While Marquis isn’t a great pitcher, you would be hard pressed to find a better replacement, without over paying someone.