Saying Goodbye: Kosuke Fukudome

And so it begins…

The Cubs are close to finalizing a deal that will send Kosuke Fukudome to the Cleveland Indians. We shall reportedly receive a couple of prospects in return. It’s a move that everyone saw coming, but it is still a bit sad, isn’t it?

Let us try and not remember Fu as another overpaid outfielder who never quite lived up to expectation, rather let us remember him as an unflinchingly polite gentleman with a serious demeanor and a stinking adorable Japanese baby. Remember him not for his spinning swing-and-miss ways, but as one of the best defenders of right field that we have seen at Wrigley in a very long time. Remember his incredible plate discipline. Remember Opening Day 2008. We’ll always have Opening Day 2008!

Kosuke,  you’ve got my very best wishes for good things and happy times in Cleveland. Arigato and sayonara.

***

I regret with all my heart to inform the world that I can no longer use the Muppet video due to copyright issues. We all have to say goodbye to “Saying Goodbye” and instead say goodbye with different songs. This is a sad day, indeed.

Advertisements

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 One

I shall conclude all my prediculating this week with an “in-depth” peek at the Chicago Cubs. Come to think, I’ll probably due some more once October hits, but no worries! That is many months off.

For now the end (mercifully, of both Predictorama! 2011 AND the off-season) is in sight. What better to do with these few remaining days than taking a stab or two at what the future may hold for Chicago’s North-siders?

This is Part One… look for Part Two on Thursday, Lord willing and the creeks don’t rise. To help measure my expectations, I have instituted a “system” of baby sloth hugs. The more hugs, the better, obviously. It’s not an exact science, though, so don’t read too much into it.

~

In 2010, I predicted that the Cubs would be neither as bad and people generally expected nor as good as they secretly hoped. Don’t think it cheap of me, but I pretty much expect the same for 2011. That’s about all I have to say on the team as a whole. I’ll take the rest of this preview player-by-player, going in alphabetical order. Ready? Here we go.

~

Jeff Baker, Darwin Barney, Blake DeWitt: It is hard to say who will see the most playing time at second base. I consulted a magic-8 ball, but it was noncommittal, so I am lumping these gentlemen all together. Their names are conveniently close together alphabetically. I am strongly of the opinion that we need something cool to call this infielding trio. “Killer B’s” has been done… do you think “Bakey, Blakey & Barney” works, or does it sound too much like a law firm of  babies? I am wide open to any better-suited suggestions.

Marlon Byrd: I am prepared to award Mr. Byrd 5 baby sloth hugs per web gem he makes. That should add up to something like 7,000 hugs, right? I forecast a slight drop-off from the offensive stats he put up in 2010. Nothing drastic. Byrd will continue to be the Wyrd.

Additional Note: Baby sloth would highly approve bringing back the post game victory hug that was instituted for a time last season.

Andrew Cashner: I am delighted that Cash was awarded a spot in the starting rotation and have every hope of his holding his own there. I expect we’ll see some flashes of brilliance interspersed with a few rough periods. Don’t lose heart, though. He’s gonna be alright, in the long run.

Starlin Castro: If Darlin’ Starlin continues to play in the regular season like he has in the spring, and improves a bit in the field, I will buy him a pony and grant him infinite baby sloth hugs.

Tyler Colvin: Will easily become the most popular “TyCo” in the Midwest since beanie babies. With any luck, he will hold onto his value better. Speaking of which, what will anyone give me for a Patti the Platypus (near-mint condition)?

Ryan Dempster: I don’t think I’m going out on a limb by saying that Demp will have another solid year. Who could ask for a steadier, more reliable pitcher? Or a more genuinely like human being, for that matter? Baby sloth hugs: lots and lots.

Kosuke Fukudome: I would be no more surprised to see Fu put up respectable numbers than I would be to see him wearing a different team’s uniform by August. Doesn’t really need any baby sloth hugs, as he has an adorable Asian child of his own to embrace at his leisure.

Matt Garza: Matt gets two baby sloth hugs for every different muppet he will remind me of this season. That’ll add up to more than a few. Pitching-wise, I am going to be optimistic and predict 14-15 wins and an ERA in the mid 3’s.

John Grabow: I honestly believe that John G. will exceed expectations this season. I’m not saying he won’t eat a few kittens along the way, but I have a generally positive feeling. 12 baby sloth hugs, one for each hold I predict John will record.

Koyie Hill: I hear more lamentations about Koyie than any other individual on the team. I’ll stick up for him, not just because I like him, because I don’t find it entirely fair. There aren’t more than half a dozen really good starting catchers in the major leagues. It’s almost funny that people seem to  expect so much from a back-up. I can only owe it to the fact that we were spoiled for several years with Henry Blanco, who was exceptional for a second string guy. I am sorely tempted to do a bit of a study on back-up catchers. I may well do it, if I continue to be provoked by peoples treatment of Koyie. Really, I would just implore that folks be a bit more realistic. That’s all.

I grant Mr. Hill one baby sloth hug per insult he receives this year. I hope they are less than in 2010.

~

 

All the kings horses and all the kings men, couldn’t put Kosuke together again.

I have a small shelf that hangs on the wall and holds a variety of knick-knacks. Earlier this week it fell down and all its contents with it. Not much harm was done (Carlton Fisk, a ceramic fish, survived unscathed) with one exception. THIS is what happened to my Kosuke Fukudome bobblehead:

I really hope this doesn’t portend the kind of season the Cubs are going to have.

*

Here’s signing off for the weekend.

Apologies for slacking off this week. Hopefully everything will be normal again, come Monday.

P.S. There’s no way of proving it, but I totally wrote this post backwards.

“I’m gonna go to the game. They could win. It could happen.”

I was in attendance of Monday’s contest between the Cubs and the Washington Nationals up in DC. What follows are a lot of random thoughts and details of the experience. If they seem boring or trifling to you, just keep in mind that I’ve left out a lot (like being waved, nodded, and smiled at by several different Nationals players who we did not recognize.) But let us commence…

Talking about my collecting of autographs makes me feel not-cool at the best and just plain creepy at the worst. I suppose I could just NOT talk about it, but as this hobby (let’s call it a hobby… hobby is a nice word) makes up half the fun of going to MLB games for me, it’s a bit hard to avoid.
The routine in my family involves arriving to the ballpark a good seven hours before game-time and camping out at the player’s entrance. The sister and myself arrived at that very destination in Washington DC at noon on Monday. It was just the two of us there, and it proved to be a day worth remembering. Our creepy autograph stalking could hardly have been better and the game itself could hardly have been better.

As we walked from Nationals Park back to the Metro station after the game, there were a number of squealing and whooping Cubs fans (probably inebriated) surrounding us. Someone in front of us (probably a Nats fan) muttered that you’d think it was the World Series. Some people consider it stupid to celebrate meaningless wins in the midst of horrible seasons… I won’t comment on that extensively, but I have got to admit that it was an undeniably fun and enjoyable day. I had a blast. And if that is wrong then I can’t say I want to be right.

Here are some blurbs for each player on the Cubs roster inspired by observations made on Monday. Only I didn’t really have anything to say about Carlos Marmol or Aramis Ramirez, so they aren’t part of the list…

Justin Berg & James Russell: James and Justin. Justin and James. A lot of people seem to get them confused, which I don’t get. However they do both seem nice and I proclaim each to be adorable in my sight.

Andrew Cashner is sorta fun to watch in the outfield during BP. Threw lots of baseballs to the crowd… Cash is a people pleaser.

Nothing but *applause* for Casey Coleman. The kid threw a heckuva game.

Ryan Dempster: Dempsty is always awesome. Al-ways.

Thomas Diamond emerged from a cab outside the stadium carrying a messenger bag and I totally did not recognize him ’til he was almost gone. Yes, I am ashamed of myself. Sorry, Thomas.

Was the mystery man with a round face and light colored hair Tom Gorzelanny? I think it probably was.

Sean Marshall is still really tall.

Marcos Mateo seems jolly.

My sister doesn’t like Randy Wells. I do. She also doesn’t like Tyler Colvin, so I think everyone knows who’s in the right on this one.

After BP, there was a gentleman next to me who was genuinely put out with Carlos Zambrano for not stopping to sign autographs and engage with the fans. I always see/hear people like this a pro ballgames, and I am always a bit amused and bit incredulous. I am neither defending nor accusing Carlos. I’ve been to plenty of games, and never personally seen him sign an autograph for anyone. That doesn’t mean he’s never done it. It just puzzles me that people can be so selfish as to not understand that there are 162 games in a season, and at every single one there are thousands of people vying for the attention of players. There is no possible way for every fan to go home with an autograph or a free baseball. Obtaining such coveted freebies is all about being in the right place at the right time. Just because a player doesn’t respond to the masses screaming for attention, that does not make him an inferior human being. OKAY?!?!?

Koyie Hill’s autograph (at least the one he graciously gave me) consists of just his first name. Perhaps he’s trying to be like the Cher of baseball. It’s Koyiejust Koyie.

We saw Geovany Soto’s face through a cab window, and he looked sad.

Jeff Baker… He may not be the most valued or exciting player on the roster, but you’d have a hard time convincing me he wasn’t one of the nicest. In all seriousness, I like Jeff enough by this point to warn anyone who would dare to insult him that you’re gonna have to deal with me.

Darwin Barney has a cheerful face. Doesn’t he?

I love Darlin’ Starlin Castro more every time I see him. Watching him play is an absolute pleasure and his boyish enthusiasm has melted my heart. I want to adopt him.

Blake DeWitt does NOT look the same in street clothes. At ALL. That’s my only excuse for not knowing who he was at first. As with Thomas Diamond, I am ashamed of myself. I’m sorry, Blakey Bear.

I WANTED TO SEE SAM FULD, WHAT IS MICAH HOFFPAUIR DOING HERE???? … Kidding, kidding, of course! I’ve always been fond of Micah.

I have Marlon Byrd’s autograph! *Giddy giggles*

Kosuke Fukudome didn’t spit in my face or run away when the Sharpie I offered him proved to be dried up. Thats’ a proper gentleman.

Xavier Nady did not arrive at the ballpark between the hours of 12 and 4. Was he really late, or really early? You decide.

Alfonso Soriano: The same as always.

+ Corey Miller: Bullpen catchers just seem like cool guys to me.

~

Week Two In Review

Week Two of the Major League Season: In which there was Wrigley’s home opener, errors, home runs, #42’s, and some disturbingly fine weather.

Around the Majors

Outstanding Gloviness: The two coolest defensive plays of the year so far are both by starting pitchers. This week it’s Pittsburgh’s Paul Maholm. I’m putting my money on Jorge De La Rosa for next week!

Fashion Statement: The Braves and Padres donned throwback uniforms in yesterday’s match-up. If I never mentioned it before, I LOVE throwbacks. Love, love, love ’em. So any time two teams have a throwback day, you’ll be hearing about it.

Atlanta’s spiffy powder-blue duds.

“Sigh” Young Award: I bestow this week’s trophy upon Milwaukee’s LaTroy Hawkins. With many thanks.

Houston, we have a problem: It took the Astros until yesterday afternoon to tally their first Win. No 0-162 season for the ‘Stros this year! 1-161 still looking like a possibility, though.

“Blast” of the Week: Did you see Aubrey Huff’s inside-the-park homer? My favorite part is Mark DeRosa pretty much lying tummy-down on the grass to emphasize the need for a slide (although it wasn’t really necessary.)

Disabled: Brian Fuentes, Brian Roberts, Jimmy Rollins, Esmailin Caridad

As For The Cubs…

Superhero of the Week: I wish there were more candidates… I’m going ahead and awarding this one to Kosuke Fukudome for his game-winning hit Wednesday.

Kitten Eaters of the Week: Alfonso Soriano, Jeff Samardzija (two weeks in a row for the Shark. Not a good thing, but I’ve had enough of the “trade him to the Bears” jokes already.)

Called Up: Jeff Gray… woo-hoo.

On The Right Track: Theodore Lilly pitched 4 innings in Iowa on Wednesday. He will make another minor-league start next week and hopefully be back with the Cubs before the end of the month.

Hug of the Week: Marlon Byrd. I just wanted to hug him about six different times, didn’t you?

Signs of the Apocalypse: Derrek Lee was ejected from yesterday’s contest by home-plate umpire Angel Campos. This is about as common as an ivory-billed woodpecker sighting. And the only thing rarer than ivory-billed woodpeckers and D-Lee ejections? Eighty-degree weather in Chicago in APRIL.