Rhyme-o-rama 2012! Part One

For the past year or so, I have done a series of pre-season posts under the moniker of “Predictorama!”, in which I tried my hand at forecasting the future year in baseball. Results were usually somewhat strange, and required more than a modicum of brainpower to dream up. Bottom line: lots of work for comparatively puny results.

I was ready to trudge through another year of wringing the psychic juices from my wet rag of a mind, but then I had another idea…

Instead of boring old humor and time consuming photo-shop projects (image doctoring is really not my gift) what if I did this year’s prognostics in poetic form? A rhyming couplet for each player on the Cubs 25-man roster. Because that wouldn’t be more complicated at all.

And that is how this year’s “rama” came to be “rhyme-o” as opposed to “predict-o”.

This is the first installment. Please laugh with me and not at me.

~

Before looking to the future, let’s take a very quick look glance back…

A limerick to summarize 2011
There once was a team called the Cubs
With players that mostly were scrubs
They did what they could
But they weren’t very good
And the fans long bemoaned all their flubs.

For the team as a whole in 2012, I predict the same thing I do every year. I’m the non-commital sort, you know.

Some folks believe the Cubs will stink;
I say we’re better than they think.
Still others hold the Cubs are dope;
I fear we’re stinkier than they hope.

And before we get to the players, an itsy bitsy ode to Dale Sveum.

For Our New Manager
At the helm’s our new skipper
His name is Dale Sveum
Should the Cubs hit the cellar
He’ll shoulder the blame!

To wrap up the first installment of Rhyme-o-rama 2012, here are a few for the players.

Sir Ian Stewart inherits third base,
We hope that he will not fall flat on his face.

Matt Garza is super, and rare are his blunders,
But is he Man Or Muppet, is what I still wonders.

Will Carlos Marmol get any scarier?
Or might he defeat that mental barrier?

He may well be traded, from what I have heard,
But there’s still no denying it: Byrd is the Wyrd.

Christopher Volstad is very tall
I’ve nothing else to say at all.

~

Tune in next week for more exciting rhyming action!

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Seeing Double: Cubs & Muppets edition

I have had this post in the back of my mind ever since Matt Garza came over to Chicago. Matt’s uncanny resemblance to various muppet characters is something I haven’t been shy about pointing out. But what about the rest of the team? It doesn’t seem fair to pick only on Mr. Garza, even if his muppety qualities are so strong. Today, therefore, I will be throwing a few more fellas under the bus… the Electric Mayhem tour bus, that is.

Keep in mind that some of these resemblances are physical, some are based more on personality. I think you can figure it out.

***

Darwin Barney – Rowlf the Dog

Justin Berg – Floyd Pepper

Kyle Smit (MiLB) – Beaker

Jeff Baker – Muppet Newscaster

(It’s the jawline.)

Carlos Marmol – Lew Zealand

Ryan Dempster – The Great Gonzo

Mike Quade – Dr. Bunsen Honeydew

Tony Campana – Bean Bunny

Carlos Zambrano – Animal/Sweetums

Kerry Wood – Kermit the Frog

GM For a Day

It had reached that time of year when fans the nation over begin to put their GM caps on and think/talk about what moves they would make if they were in charge. GM caps aren’t nearly as fun to play with when your team is mired in sub .500 mediocrity, but it is something to do nonetheless.

The following is a just-for-fun looksee at what I would consider doing if I were the Cubs GM for a day. You will see that, even as sentimental as I am, I do not share real GM Jim Hendry’s somewhat alarming stance on fire-sales and rebuilding.

This may be the most heartless post I’ve ever written.

***

Dempster, Ryan: While I am trying not to let my heart interfere with my head in my pretend 1-day tenure as Cubs general manager, I can’t help it with Dempsty. I couldn’t possibly let him go anywhere. (See also: Wood, Kerry.)

Garza, Matt: I never would have traded for Matt in the first place. Unless some other team was daft enough willing to part with 3 of its top ten prospects, I wouldn’t let go of him this year. It just seems pointless.

Grabow, John: Free to a good home.

Marmol, Carlos: There was a time when I would have considered Carlos #2 as untouchable. I don’t any longer. I suppose all that 9th inning stress has gotten to my head. I am not saying that I would trade Carlos, only that I wouldn’t rule it out. And I would demand a LOT in any possible trade situation (more than he is worth.)

Marshall, Sean: Sigh. It would be difficult for me to pull the trigger on any deal involving Sean, but I hope that in the end I would be able to do what was right for him and the Cubs.

Russell, James: If John Grabow and Sean Marshall aren’t around I guess that would make James the new go-to lefty in our bullpen.

Samardzija, Jeff: He’s done OK this year, certainly better than anyone expected. I would just keep Jeff where he is and ride out that contract.

Wells, Randy: Most of these fellows fit into one of three basic divisions. One, the guys somebody may want. Two, the guys that nobody want. Three, the guys people want but can’t have. I’m afraid that Randy might be a two.

Wood, Kerry: Maybe Kerry should be a one, but he’s a three as long as I’m GM.

Zambrano, Carlos: I wouldn’t even consider Carlos #1 as trade bait. If only to annoy Paul Sullivan.

Hill, Koyie: I heard a rumor that someone might be interested in Koyie. If it’s true, he’s theirs. But it probably isn’t.

Soto, Geovany: Not for sale. Catchers, even half decent ones, are too hard to come by.

Baker, Jeff: If I were the GM of a team that was in contention, I would want Jeff Baker. As Cubs GM, I would hesitate to part with him. Players as versatile and inexpensive as Jeffy B. are worth hanging onto, even in a bad year.

Barney, Darwin: Not going anywhere on my watch.

Castro, Starlin: Crown prince of all the untouchables.

DeWitt, Blake: Blake has never really seemed like a fit on the Cubs. I would send him some place where he could be more useful.

Pena, Carlos: I love Carlos Pena. I always have. I’ve enjoyed watching him as a Cub. But he is still probably the first guy on the proverbial chopping block.

Ramirez, Aramis: The times, they are a-changing. I’m willing to say goodbye if he is.

Byrd, Marlon: Yet another prime trade candidate who I’d miss.

Campana, Tony: Should probably be in triple-A getting more seasoning and playing time, but if half the trade propositions I’ve suggested went down, he’d probably have to tough it out in Chicago.

Fukudome, Kosuke: Sayonara, Fuke. (I seriously feel so mean all of a sudden.)

Johnson, Reed: I couldn’t let go of Reed. So much for that head/heart business.

Soriano, Alfonso: Rumors, schmumors. Fonsie isn’t going anywhere, whether we like it or not.

*Jackson, Brett: I would appease the people (myself included) who would like to have a peek at Mr. Jackson in Chicago before the 2011 season expires.

*Flaherty, Ryan: How do you feel about third base, Mr. Flaherty?

***

So, how ’bout it? What would you all do if you had GM powers for a day?

Predictorama!: Your 2011 Chicago Cubs, Part Two

A most happy MLB Opening Day to one and all! The Cubs turn doesn’t come until tomorrow afternoon, but there are several games (real games!) being played to hold us over for 24 hours. There is also this, part two of my Cubs prediction party, as promised. Get caught up with Part One, if you missed it!

~

Picking right up where I left off…

Reed Johnson: I anticipate bookoos of Reed-inspired baby sloth smiles from innumerable  game-saving web-gems and a copious amount of hit-by-pitches. It’s good to have him back, isn’t it?

Carlos Marmol: Give Marmee one sloth hug for strikeout, minus one for every walk. I think he’ll come out well enough ahead. I’m calling Carlos #2 makes the NL All Star team. Or, if he doesn’t, we will all consider it injust and be wild with fury.

Sean Marshall: If he can replicate the outstanding numbers he put up last year, our bullpen isn’t going to be too shabby. 1 baby sloth hug for every time Sean’s curveball gives me goosebumps. 25 more if VCU wins the NCAA championship.

Marcos Mateo: I totally typed in “Juan Mateo” at first by accident right there. Does anyone else remember that game in 2006 when Juan was- for some reason- used as a pinch runner in extra innings and scored the winning run? And Derrek Lee proclaimed something like “that’s the slowest I’ve ever seen a human being run”? You remember the little things in seasons like that…

Anyway, if Marcos can do something that amuses me half as much as his brother did then, I shall be delighted.

Carlos Pena: It is hard to say exactly what kind of numbers Carlos will put up, or what kind of year he will have. It is easy to say that he will certainly charm us all with his winning smile, and good defense (maybe even a walk-off home run or two.) He isn’t going find baby sloth hugs hard to come by, no matter what his batting average is.

Aramis Ramirez: Probably not going to win any more silver sluggers or golden gloves. Sigh. Sometimes reality and time aren’t fun.

James Russell: One consolation baby sloth hug for every time James is going to be shuffled from Chicago to Iowa. The same goes for Justin Berg, and anyone else like that.

Jeff Samardzija: Every bullpen seems to have at least one designated kitten-eater… one guy that elicits groans before he has even tossed a warm-up pitch in the bullpen. I’m calling that that guy is gonna be Shark in 2011. 3 sympathy baby sloth hugs for him, but he can’t collect them until he cuts his hair.

Alfonso Soriano: Either Mr. Soriano has been flying under the radar lately, or people have run out of things to say about him. I, for one, have hardly given him a thought this spring. But Sori isn’t just the Canadian word for “sorry”… it’s still our left-fielder, too. I am hoping he quietly has a half-decent season, provided the injury bug doesn’t bite. 4 baby sloth hugs per home run, minus 2 for every groan-inducing defensive play.

Geovany Soto: This is one guy who I genuinely look forward to watching every day… one of the few I don’t feel like I have to cross my fingers for. I foresee good things (good health, potent bat, possible all star selection if he isn’t barred out by Brian McCann and Buster Posey.) 5 bonus baby sloth hugs for every stolen base, triple, and/or inside-the-park home run Geo hits this year. 100 Bonus baby sloth hugs if he ever does a handspring on the base paths.

Randy Wells: I’ll feel better about Randy when I know he’s found a good woman.

Kerry Wood: Kerry will always be allowed as many baby sloth hugs as he wishes, regardless how he performs. I predict a solid year from my all-time favorite Cubs, with just one negligible DL stint.

I’m happy he’s home.

Carlos Zambrano: Two baby sloth hugs per hit recorded. I don’t know what to say about Big Z anymore. I mean, his bat is easier to rely on than his arm. I am going to err on the side of superstition and not predict anything. I just hope… no, wait… I don’t. My lips are zipped.

 

 

Wildcard Wednesday: “Thank God for Arizona, in splendid sunshine dressed”

Happy Wednesday, one and all, and a belated happy beginning-of-spring-training! All I’ve got for you today is some photos I’ve scavenged up from around the web and a few thoughts on the spring’s early goings-on.

*

A familiar face at Yankees camp.

A first glimpse of Matt Garza in Cubbie blue, courtesy Tim Sheridan.

It seems the Cubs have gotten new warm-up jerseys for this year. I like the old ones better.

Buzz!: Mr. Carlos Marmol and the Cubs reached an agreement on a three year deal worth 20-million smackeroos this week. Congratulation, Marmee. Please, please live up to this.

Tyler Colvin is ready to go. Notice the patch on his sleeve.

Buzz!: Carlos Silva has no intentions of yielding “his” spot in the starting rotation. Says he, “For [the other candidates] it’s open, or whoever is competing. For me, there’s only one spot open. I am one of the starters, you know what I mean. Whatever they think, they think that, not me.” Confidence is nice, but you still gotta go earn it, Carlos #3.

Additional buzz:

-The Cubs traded infield prospect Tony Thomas to the Boston Red Sox for right-handed pitcher Robert Coello yesterday.

Coello was drafted as a catcher, but was converted to a pitcher in 2007 while in the Angels organization. He made his major league debut with Boston last September. He made relief appearances in 6 games, compiling a 4.76 ERA. He has pitched 242.0 innings in the minor leagues and racked up 286 K’s (to 109 walks) to go along with a 2.98 ERA and 1.19 WHIP.

-Brett Jackson launched a home run on Tuesday that broke the windshield of a passing car outside of Fitch Park.

-Kiddo James Russell had the following pearl to offer when asked about himself and fellow Texan Andrew Cashner: “We’re young and dumb and ready to throw strikes.” That’s what I like to hear.

-Albert Pujols. Sigh. I’m not one for speculation, but if I had to, I’d speculate that Mr. Pujols and the Cardinals will end up working it out in the end.

Think of what I’m saying, they can work it out and get it straight or say goodnight. They can work it out. They can work it out! Life is very short and there’s no time for fussing and fighting, my friend.

Cough. Anyway, it isn’t that I wouldn’t like to have Albert on our side or anything. Even so, signing players to contracts for lots of years and obscene amounts of money hasn’t really worked for us and I think it would be a very rash thing to do (on the chance that the opportunity should present itself.)

 

 

Your 2010 Chicago Cubs: A Look Back

I can’t count the number of times during 2010 when I heard someone say, “[Fill in the blank] has been the only good thing about this Cubs season.” Or, “[Fill in the blank] has been the only bright spot this year.” The funny thing is, there were about  five or six different things that filled in the blanks. Truthfully, there were at least five good things about the Cubs 2010 season.

Now that the season is over, I imagine that the average Cubs blogger will be dwelling on the bad things (Heaven knows there were plenty of them) and what needs to be done to remedy them. I want to dedicate at least this one post to the not bad stuff.

Here they are, in no particular order:

1. Sean Marshall

Our lefty set-up man was solid as a rock, compiling a 2.65 ERA in 74.2 innings pitched, with 22 holds. He was also the Cubs nominee for the Roberto Clemente award. Hard to beat that.

2. Carlos Marmol

Some people would complain that Mr. Marmol’s control is too erratic for him to ever be considered a good closer. Personally, I think 38 saves in 43 opportunities is pretty solid, and I’ll take that 52-to-138 walk-to-strikeout ratio. 138 strikeouts is a record number for a reliever in one season. Also, his WHIP was 1.18 and opponents only hit .147 off of him. Yep. I’ll take that any day of the week.

3. All the ‘C’ rookies

Tyler Colvin. Starlin Castro. Andrew Cashner. Casey Coleman. The Cubs may not have led the National League in many categories, but I’ll wager no one else came close in production of young talent with names that begin with the letter “C.”

4. Ryan Dempster

Remember when he was the closer that everyone hated? Me neither.

5. Geovany Soto

He was a bit mishandled early in the season, but if you were not pleased with the bounce-back from 2009 that Geo had, then pooh-pooh to you.

6. Marlon Byrd

I saved the best for last. Dear Marlon… clear-cut team MVP, our lone All-Star representative, instigator of the celebratory outfield hug, center-fielder extraordinaire. I severely chastise myself (and any other fans) who may have ever doubted him, because he was one of the best things about the Cubs in 2010.

“Winter is on my head, but eternal spring is in my heart.”

I had hoped I’d be able to scrounge up a little audio by this point. No such luck. Next week, perhaps. Instead, here are some more springy photos for our eye-feasting pleasure, which have been scavenged from various sites across the web.

Angel Guzman gives a pat on the head to fellow relief pitcher Carlos Marmol. The real question: Why is he wearing a batting helmet?

Newbie Marlon Byrd shows the fans a little love

Mike Fontenot and his hair

Pitching coach Larry Rothschild and air-horn… this might be the picture of the spring so far.