Saying Goodbye: Carlos Zambrano

As usual, as soon as I get around to posting about one bit of Chicago Cubs news, something else comes up that totally supplants it. But I’m gonna go ahead and act like this is still fresh off the presses, if that’s alright with the world at large.

My feelings on the trading of Carlos Zambrano to the Florida Marlins are not all that strong. There were many weeks to brace for it, after all. One thing I can say (and I say it with a stout heart) is that I am of the party that are willing to overlook his past indiscretions and wish Big Z the absolute best in his future career. It has made me rather sad to hear so many hate-laced speeches directed at a guy who was a Cub for eleven seasons. He was here through bad times, and good times, and more bad times. He had his share of troubles, it is true, but it couldn’t hurt to show the man a shred of respect (especially since he’s on his way out.)

Even the naysayers have to admit that things will be a lot more boring in the world of Cubdom without Z to spice them up. To me, he has always been a fascinating sort of character; a Jekyl and Hyde of sorts. I’ll miss the Mr. Hyde half of him, as well as the more dynamic aspects of having him around.

To Mr. Zambrano himself I say: good luck in Florida. And, to Florida I say: Good luck with Mr. Zambrano. The combination of he and Ozzie should be about as fun as a barrel of butterflies. Just imagine the possibilities if they could get hold of, say, AJ Pierzynski and Milton Bradley as well!

Because Carlos provided such a vast number of Kodak moments throughout the years, he gets a whole slideshow all to himself. Enjoy.

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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

Wildcard Wednesday: In which I address some elephants in the room

I hope my readers (assuming I have any left) will forgive my inconsistent ways here over the past few weeks. The lack of posts is attributable partially to general busy-ness and partially to the fact that I have sunk into a state of very sad indifference as regards the Chicago Cubs (and, consequently, the baseball world at large.) It is difficult to uphold a passion for writing about everyday minutiae in a season like this, and even more significant events haven’t inspired much excitement in myself. Many bloggers continue to canvas all these things, and do it well. I commend and am wildly envious of them. I wish I could keep up and avoid being driven by acrimoniousness at the same time, but I can’t.

I hope, with this brief post, to dispense of the topics I have lately ignored. I would also like to excuse myself from ever feeling obligated to address carious current events in the future. Three-fourths of the time I would rather write on more light, nonsensical subjects. Cutting edge coverage of anything has never been an intrinsic part of this blog, so I assume that no one has come to expect any such thing. I wanted to clear the air, just the same, and I feel better now that I have.

Now, for the nitty-gritty…

Issue One- Jim Hendry: I was enough out of the loop that I don’t think I even found out about Mr. Hendry’s dismissal until the day after it happened. If I hadn’t been preoccupied, I would have given him his own “Saying Goodbye” post. I believe that nine years warrants as much. I regret that I didn’t get around to that.

Once people are gone, I don’t usually find it difficult to let bygones be bygones and remember the good things that he brought to the table. With Jim Hendry, I am perfectly willing to forget about Milton Bradley, et al, and recall the positives that came from the result of his general management tenure. He netted us two franchise-face type guys in Aramis Ramirez and Derrek Lee for next to nothing. We witnessed three play-off appearances under his guidance, too. If these things aren’t worth remembering with appreciation, I don’t know what are.

The issue of who our next GM will be is exactly the sort of topic that I couldn’t care less about. Well, let me clarify that. I DO care very much who our next GM will be, I do NOT care to enter into speculation and conjecture during the searching process. Enough other people are doing that, and I have nothing to add to the conversation.

Issue Two- Starlin Castro: Apparently, Starlin suffered from some sort of concentration lapse during Sunday’s contest with the Cardinals (I didn’t actually see it, so I am just repeating what I’ve heard.) Unluckily, the game happened to be on ESPN and Bobby Valentine’s censure of our young shortstop’s mental error somehow blew up into national news. Cubs fans didn’t need to hear Bobby Valentine’s observations to make us aware of Starlin’s occasional deficiencies. We know. We are being patient with him, because he is still very young, and because his potential is ginormous, and because he is oodles of fun to watch play. It is my further opinion that baseball fans in general to not need to hear Bobby Valentine’s observations about anything. Our remotes have mute buttons for a reason, and I earnestly implore my fellow-fans to spare themselves a lot of grief and employ them any time they are forced to watch a game on ESPN (or FOX.)

Issue Three- Earthquake!: It might not have had any bearing on Major League Baseball, but I can’t resist mentioning yesterday’s unexpected East Coast earthquake. In retrospect, I was disappointed that it didn’t hit my home hard enough to skew pictures on the wall or make anything topple off of shelves. Perchance you missed it, here is a collection of haunting photographs documenting the devastation.

Issue Four: I was at the Nationals-Diamondbacks game on Monday. This isn’t really significant, but I thought I’d mention it anyway.

Issue Five: I have been sitting on this link for over a month now. Since it is Wednesday, I’m gonna go ahead and throw it at you now. A very amusing take on the Cubs season thus far from Prose & Ivy.

Issue Six- Carlos Zambrano: This issue pains me above all others, and I don’t really have much to say about it (shocking, eh?) As a loather of drama, one would think I would be all for dumping Big Z however possible, as soon as possible. But I’m not. If Cubs brass decide that enough is enough and cut him loose (as Tom Ricketts hinted might be the case), there is nothing I can do about it. And I could hardly blame them. Z’s behavior has been unpardonable at times. I would still be sad to see him go. Especially in such a way. He has been a Cub for eleven years. Eleven. That’s a long time, people. And even if it is time to go our separate ways, I can’t be one of those people who will wipe the guy out of their memories like it’s a chalkboard.

So. If anything happens with Carlos, you can expect a big fat sentimental “Saying Goodbye” post in his honor. He deserves at least that.

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.

 

 

2011 Cubs Convention Recap

A good chunk of this post ought to have been put up yesterday. Since that didn’t end up happening, however, I’m just gonna cram it all in today. Double your pleasure, double your fun!

I’m going to plunge right in and try to hit on the highlights. If you’re interested in a more comprehensive recap, look no further than ChicagoCubsOnline.com. They’ve got days 1, 2, AND 3 covered, with actual play-by-play of many of the seminars. So three cheers for the folks at CCO and their fantastical work!

The boys in blue look on during Opening Ceremonies on Friday. Continue reading