Saying Goodbye: Geovany Soto

Geovany Soto’s career has had its ups and downs. Since his Rookie-of-the-Year performance in 2008, there have probably been a few more downs than ups. Even so, I have to think that Cubs fans everywhere will be a little sad to see Geo go. Some of us perhaps more than just a little sad.

Because, in the end, ups and downs aside, he was just always a total pro.

I join Cubs Nation in tipping my cap to our good old catcher and in wishing him only good and happy things in his career from here on.

My favorite Geovany Soto moment? When he hit a 3-run game-tying home run in the bottom of the 9th with 2 outs against Milwaukee in September of 2008. Close runner up: his inside-the-park home run in Houston. Which is yours?

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Rhyme-o-rama 2012! Part Three

Grab your kazoos and party hats! Cue the confetti cannon and fireworks! Prepare your happy dances!

Opening Day has, at last, arrived.

Although, if you’re a Mariners, Athletics, Marlins, or Cardinals fan you’ve had your moment already. This celebration isn’t for you. Go away.

For the rest of us, let’s let the good times roll.

And what better way to kick off this glorious day than with the conclusion of Rhyme-o-rama 2012?

My remaining and increasingly un-predictiony “spoems” follow. I hope you’ll enjoy.

~

Let’s hope our hearts shall oft be cheered
By the presence of Blake DeWitt and his beard.

Rafael Dolis is as cute as can be
He’ll set up, which is fine with me.

Starlin Castro is here to stay-
We get to watch him every day. (Yay!)

Kerry Wood is my favorite, you see,
So instead of two lines
I am giving him three.

Don’t try to hit ’em where Reed Johnson ain’t,
He is everywhere, see, an outfielding saint.

Geo Soto I’ll shower with flattery,
He’s always a positive end of the battery.

Lendy Castillo and Shawn Camp have somehow made it this far,
I literally have no idea who they are.

Darwin Barney plays second base
By bubblegum power he activates.

Tony Campana, Campana Tony.
His speed is anything but phoney.

Luis Valbuena was acquired last minute,
If there was a prize for most infielders, the Cubs now would win it.

~

Thanks to you all for joining me on this strange, rhyming journey. Enjoy Opening Day, and Go Cubs!

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?

Wildcard Wednesday: “Are the cubs really as wild as they say?”

I’ve been a bit backed up blog-wise this week due to busy-ness and technical difficulties. Let us hope for smooth sailing from here on…

Today I thought I’d just fling around a few thoughts on the Cubs season thus far. It’s only been five days, but there is already plenty to talk about.

NL Central Standings, as of this morning

My scatter-brained thoughts on…

Tyler Colvin: Did you get a load of Tyler at first base yesterday??? He looked like a pro. I never would have expected as much, especially given the standard (years of Derrek Lee and, now, the very adept Carlos Pena) I can’t help holding him to. It was really a delight to behold. He’s had some delicious at-bats, too.

Carlos Pena: Speaking of Carlos Pena! How much do we love him already? Who could resist such gloviness or such smiles? I am happy he is on our team.

The Defense, in general: Much better, so far, than I expected. Starlin’s gems have outnumbered his hiccups. Mr. Pena has been great. Geovany Soto’s arm has saved us a number of times already. Nothing truly atrocious has happened in the outfield. Now if they can only keep it up…

Andrew Cashner: Cash put up a hey of a showing in his first ever major league start yesterday. Of course, given the Cubs fortune, his health is now in question. I am hoping and praying, for his sake and ours, that the shoulder tightness which forced Cash’s early exit proves to be nothing serious.

Matt Garza: Was very enjoyable to watch in his 12-K Cubs debut. Is even more fun to watch in the dugout during games he is not pitching.

Starlin Castro: I’ve tried to be objective when it comes to our young shortstop. I can’t do it anymore. I love this kid. He has thrilled me to my very tippy toes since I first watched him taking batting practice in Cincinnati last May. I can’t recall having as much satisfaction watching any single player as I have had watching Starlin. Of course, it is less than a week into the season. He probably is not going to maintain a batting average of over .500. Just the same, you have to think that we are going to have a whole lot of fun rooting for Starlin this year. And, hopefully, many many more years in the future.

Geovany Soto: Made the best tag ever on Sunday.
Darwin Barney: Runs funny. But so much fun to watch!


Kerry Wood: Boy is it ever nice having him back home where he belongs!

The BIRDS: The droves of seagulls and low volumes of people have made Wrigley Field something of a sight these past few days, dontcha think?

Hopefully it doesn’t come to anything like this…

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

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.