Ryan Maloney, a Cubs fan in New York, said it changed his baseball world and he cannot wait to see what is next.
“Having MLB Network 24/7 has been an amazing resource, as it practically puts the viewer in the Commissioner’s Office with their timeliness in breaking news and updates surrounding the game,” Maloney said. “Having MLB Network on 24/7 has provided younger viewers with an opportunity to allow historic-game footage to serve as the face of the biggest names of baseball past.
“[It’s] a great way to allow fans of all ages to truly appreciate what makes the game of baseball the great game it has developed into today and the people that have contributed to our country’s favorite pastime along the way. The days of getting your baseball news from boutique sports news stations ended a year ago, the day MLB opened its specialty shop in the MLB Network.”
Bloggers take a swing at MLB 2K8
Xbox 360: Celebrating baseball in its purest form
When it comes to playing MLB 2K8 on Xbox 360, all the Denis Leary voiceover in the world could not do this game justice.
MLB 2K8 on Xbox gives you a thrilling gaming experience without losing the integrity and authenticity of America’s favorite pastime. The new pitching feature shows what a true art form pitching is while rewarding for strategy and perfect pitch placement. It pushes you to improve when you fail in those categories and are repeatedly taken deep by Major League-caliber hitters who couldn’t care less if your last pitch got away from you. As with a real game, your success on the mound greatly determines your final outcome.
Hitting with the new Swing Stick 2.0 is awesome. Now there is an amazing amount of control over what you do at the plate, whether you are looking for a particular pitch or executing the timing of your step/swing to put the ball into play. It makes for a fluid batting experience and I was psyched when I finally went yard with the updated format (home run courtesy of Alfonso Soriano).
The first stadiums I played in were the four I have visited: Fenway Park, Shea Stadium, Wrigley Field and Yankee Stadium. The ballpark simulations are truly impressive. I practically felt Manny being Manny at Fenway. The only thing missing at Shea was the Citi Field construction noise. I am pretty sure I saw Lou Piniella reading “Fluent Japanese in 10 Days” at Wrigley and I essentially felt the ghosts of Yankees past in The Bronx. Basically, what some people do on a cross-country trip you can do in your home with MLB 2K8 on Xbox 360.
Experiencing the graphics and sounds of each park is like sending yourself on a tour of every Major League stadium in North America. The biggest surprise for me was the stadium PA announcer audio. Even without a surround sound system, it sounds like his voice is echoing throughout the stadium.
Overall, I found MLB 2K8 to be a fun and refreshing simulation of what it must be like to play in the Major Leagues. It celebrates the sport and presents it in its purest form; check out the list of current Major League records and tell me if you notice anything missing. I highly recommend every baseball fan with a gaming system to pick up MLB 2K8. It is everything you love about the sport wrapped into one exciting video game. — Ryan Maloney
Cubs reach out to fans through social media
CHICAGO — Rhys Maloney, then 7 weeks old, was in the hospital for four nights after having serious surgery in December.
His dad, Ryan, sent updates about how his son was doing on Twitter. Many of the 800 followers of Ryan’s Cubs-focused blog, Prose and Ivy, part of the MLBlogs network, saw the updates and sent him messages wishing Rhys (pronounced “Reese”) well. The Cubs noticed, too.
Cubs public relations and marketing specialist Kevin Saghy is the primary operator of @CubsInsider, the official Twitter feed of the Cubs’ front office. The Cubs created the account in April 2010 — two months after hiring Saghy, the front office’s first person whose job is devoted largely to social media — and it now has almost 19,000 followers.
On Thursday, as part of MLB’s participation in Social Media Day 2011, @CubsInsider and the team’s other Twitter account, @Cubs, will facilitate several activities on social media sites, including a Twitter “hashtag battle” against the Giants. The @CubsInsider and @Cubs Twitter accounts will post various topics asking fans to vote for the Cubs. The winning team’s fans will receive 25 percent off purchases at the online MLB fan shop; fans of the losing team receive 15 percent off.
In addition to posting Cubs news and directing fans to promotions and giveaways, Saghy regularly scans Twitter for updates from Cubs fans and also receives all sorts of messages from those who follow the team. He replies to as many as he can. In December, he noticed messages about Maloney’s son.
“Kevin saw a lot of people sending these messages to me,” Maloney said. “So he went out of his way — he didn’t have to do it — but he direct-messaged me and asked me if my son was a Cubs fan. And I was like, ‘Yeah, of course.’ He heard about the surgery and asked if it would be OK if he sent a care package.
“A couple weeks later, we come home one day and there’s a package there from the Chicago Cubs to Rhys. It was just amazing. There was a handwritten note: ‘Hope you feel better soon. Maybe these items will help speed up your recovery.'”
Also in the package were two hats, one with a Cubs logo and one with a “W” win logo, a Carlos Zambrano bobblehead, a Wrigley Field marquee picture frame and a Cubs light-switch plate.
“The fact that Kevin and the Cubs took the opportunity to use that connection to the fans and to me and my family and do something nice that absolutely is not part of the job description, not required or anything, it just made me feel like the organization is very classy,” Maloney said. “And the relationship with me is about more than the tickets I buy or the merchandise I buy or whether I tune in to watch the game.”
Saghy says the real-life interaction that has stemmed from @CubsInsider and other Cubs social-media efforts is helping fans relate to the team. When Saghy sees a Twitter message about fans attending their first Cubs game or fans bringing their boyfriend or girlfriend to their first game, he’ll often send them a message asking where they are sitting. When he finds out, he delivers a hat or a T-shirt to their seats.
“I’ve gotten everything from, ‘Hey @CubsInsider, I’m in section 214. I love the chicken sandwich at the ballpark. Can you tell me where the closest one is so I don’t have to walk around and look for it?'” Saghy said. “And I’ll answer that.”
Twitter also allows the Cubs to interact with celebrities. Saghy said the Cubs have received messages from celebs like George Lopez, John Cusack and Billy Corgan.
“We’ll get a picture of them throwing the first pitch, and we tweet it,” Saghy said. “They’ll tweet us and thank us for having them out.”
The Cubs also interact with fans through the team’s Facebook page, which is currently “liked” by more than 1.3 million people. Saghy said the Cubs gave away Opening Day tickets to fans via the site. Facebook also gives people the chance to vote for their favorite weekly T-shirt designs for shirts that are occasionally given out to fans entering the bleachers.
After beloved former Cubs third baseman and announcer Ron Santo died in December, the Cubs posted a Facebook message asking fans to share their favorite stories about Santo.
“We got almost 2,500 comments,” Saghy said.
Saghy’s interaction with fans has grown beyond the Internet and even the ballpark. Last September, Saghy and @CubsInsider held a “#FollowFest” to reward followers of the account and attract new followers. Saghy and fans met over drinks three separate times at Wrigleyville restaurants and bars and shared ideas for improving @CubsInsider.
“I think it’s just important to listen as it is to speak,” Saghy said.
Saghy and the Cubs use their Twitter and Facebook accounts to spread information about charitable things the organization is doing or about promotions and sponsors. But the personal connections facilitated by social media make the biggest impact.
“I really believe, you do nice things for people one at a time, it spreads word of mouth, and that means a lot more than simply trying to broadcast them,” Saghy said.
Maloney said his family could not believe it when they received a package from the Cubs.
“Generations older than me, my parents and grandparents, just the idea that an MLB team would go the extra mile for a fan just to do a nice thing, I think it really showed how classy a baseball organization can be,” he said.
Rhys, who is doing well, might not be able to appreciate it now, but Maloney said there’s no way he won’t be a Cubs fan for life.
“His wardrobe is filling up with Cubs material,” Maloney said. “He’ll be seeing Wrigley Field soon.”
Maybe with a visit from Saghy.
Alex Ruppenthal is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
Chicago Cubs 2011 Season Breakdown
The Chicago Cubs are the kind of life long commitment that they should sell insurance for. Think about the things that you buy insurance for to protect you from. They are for all of the worst case scenarios in life. House burning down, flood, car accident, death. They should immediately add to the list: Cubs fan.
In all of the above situations you are put out, living a situation that leaves you speechless and wondering, how could this happen to me? Why me? And when you are a Cubs fan, that happens all of the time. Follow by a quick look to the fan to your left or right at Wrigley, in a bar, at home, or at an opposing team’s stadium and asking aloud “Why us? Why us AGAIN?”
It would be the most expensive insurance of all insurances sold to baseball fans of course because we as Cubs fans would need it the most. Essentially, all other baseball fans if they too could purchase insurance for rooting for their team, their monthly payments would only exist to cover costs the insurance company would gather in paying out to help out Cubs fans. It is a brutal existence and a little insurance as a fan to add to those occasional and not-so-often insurance runs would be a great thing to have.
This team is called the Lovable Losers, however I’m not sure how many fans ‘love’ their Cubs as opposed to simply being ‘addicted’ to them. Rooting for the Cubs is a bad habit that few are able to break. The highs are so great because they are so rare that you can’t wait to experience another and it drives you crazy that jonesing in between the highs.
The team hasn’t won a World Series since 1908 and hasn’t appeared in one since 1945. The ratio of fans who live to see the Cubs win a World Series to those that spend their life eating peanuts and Cracker Jack and then never getting a chance to even decide whether they want to get back or not…I couldn’t even begin to guess. All you can do is put on your Cubs hat and hope that you do get to see them win the big game in your life time and that things like Brock, black cats, goats and Steve Bartmans stop getting in the way. (Moises Alou would never have caught that ball by the way, just saying).
The Cubs have given us stars like Ryne Sandberg (photo included here), Andre Dawson, Ron Santo, Ernie Banks, Fergie Jenkins, Billy Williams, Mark Grace, and on and on. Addicted or ‘in love’ with their Cubs, fans come back to root them on at Wrigley Field, visit them on the road, watch WGN, listen to the radio and hope for the best. You can learn a lot about the team in many, many places on the web. Just thought this might give you a better insight as to what it’s really like to be a Cubs fan. However, the short answer to the question tell me about the Cubs and what it’s like to be a fan? It’s awesome. (Calling Geico now to deliver my pitch). Go Cubs Go!
“We shocked the world”.
Those words are uttered in only two cases. Absolute disasters, or sports miracles. It’s kind of bizarre, but in no other situation do you ever hear of anyone saying that the world was shocked. Ever. Even with Obama’s election, perhaps some of the world was surprised but no one stated that he had shocked the world, or that our country had shocked the world given our election’s result…and that was a historical Presidential election.
Many would consider the Cubs winning the World Series to be an absolute sports miracle. If the Cubs were to in fact win the World Series, become the champions of the world in the world of baseball…you can bet a LOT of money that someone will use that phrase. Someone will flat out state that the Cubs’ victory over the Boston Red Sox (yeah, that’s right, the Boston Red Sox) surprised the entire world, our entire planet, so much that it is in shock. Chicago? Certainly. Boston? Yes. Canada? Um, ok. Bangladesh? Paris? Sydney? Helsinki??? Intrigued? Perhaps? Shocked? No.
If the Cubs were to win the World Series then yes, someone will say they shocked the world. In reality? They would have made millions of Cubs fans VERY happy and many baseball fans or people who have a heart would happily give them a pleasant smile, perhaps a teary eye and a ‘that’s cool’ sentiment considering the over a century long drought the team has suffered through and well, to not feel something towards a group of people who suffered for so long…yes, you’d have to be heartless to not. However, I feel shocked is a bit of a stretch.
The streak itself lends itself as the only evidence you truly need to NOT be shocked by the Cubs winning the World Series. Over ONE HUNDRED years without a championship. Others have done it much more quickly. The Mets. The Marlins. In fact, every single team that has won a championship has done it within a shorter waiting period of time than the Cubs would have with the current streak at 102 years and counting. Give me a break ‘shocked’. The Cubs are DUE.
You know what I think would be shocking? If the Royals win the World Series in 2011. If the Pirates win the World Series in 2011. If the Orioles win the World Series in 2011. And yes, even if the Phillies win the World Series in 2011 I’d be shocked because how often do you actually meet expectations and nothing goes wrong for your team to stop you from what should have been an easily accomplished, obvious to predict feat? In each of those scenarios, I would be SHOCKED.
If the Cubs win it? Not so much. Surprised? Elated? Thrilled? Speechless? Relieved? Absolutely. But after 102 years and with the roster that we have (that’s right, the roster that we have) I believe in one of the other age-old sayings in sports when it comes to predicting how a season will turn out. And that is: Why not us?
And really, why not us?
As far as I’m concerned, great teams need five key things to win it all and I believe the Cubs have the potential to meet every single criteria. Pitching, youth, veteran leadership, wise management, luck. Some are MUCH harder to come by, but I see no reason why the Cubs can’t land the money ball in every single category.
PITCHING: Our starters were great when it came to quality starts in 2010. Dempster is about as reliable as it gets and a great guy to have in the clubhouse. He’s the rock of the rotation for 2011 now that Lilly is gone and there is no reason to think he can’t be the leader in the starting five. Zambrano is equal parts talent and equal parts imbalance. That’s what many believe, I don’t buy it. Zambrano is extremely talented and capable of doing great things, proven in his overall Cub record, leading the team in the past five Opening Day starts, throwing a no-hitter, being a dominant figure on the mound and the way he finished the second half of last season. If he can start the way he did last year and finish the way he did last year, then Zambrano might just be capable of handling just about anything. And what are the odds that he will go from Opening Day starter, to bullpen, back to rotation with head issues in between mixed with being the center of a lot of team drama? Chances are that’s not going to happen again. I like Z’s chances of having a real quality 2011. Wells is working on showing people that his first year is the real Wells, not the sophomore slump guy we watched in 2010. I like that he can admit that he grew too big for his britches last year. Talent is great but mixed with maturity, it can go a long way.
Silva/Gorzelanny/Russell/ Cashner are practically interchangeable. No matter who ends up staying with the club, they will be the Cubs’ fifth starter and usually .500 seasons out of your number five guy is about all anyone hopes for. I know they are all capable of giving us that if not greater.
And of course, the Cubs’ new toy for 2011…the new piece on the showroom floor: Matt Garza. I was disappointed when I heard we were bringing in another guy this off-season but his name wasn’t Carlos. I really want to lead the league in Carloses (Carlosi? Carli?). I’m kidding….Matt Garza is possibly the missing link the Cubs have been looking for. 15 wins last season, an ALCS MVP and an all-around solid pitcher. Coming from an environment and culture similar to the Cubs where no one expected much, he knows what it is to help get a team from the basement to the penthouse of an incredibly competitive division. I like the Garza signing. I don’t think we gave up too much for him and I’m excited to have him as a key part of the Cubs starting rotation in 2011.
Marshall/Wood/Marmol. Is there a better bullpen trio in the league? Maybe only the Yankees and that’s only because they landed Soriano to match with Rivera. Rivera is a legend, but he’s also another year older. Even if they make the Cubs #2 in the league, I’d take it because in the grand scheme of things, being number two in the league regarding your top three bullpen guys is pretty damn good and nothing to complain about. I love the talent and potential we have to close games out now, starting with a lead going into the seventh and holding it throughout the rest of the game. 2010 was horrible for the Cubs when it came to one-run decisions. This next season? Not so much.
The Cards are strong with their 1-2 punch in Wainwright and Carpenter. The Reds are impressive with their young staff coming off a division title. The Brewers always seem to compete and will do so with Greinke in 2011. It’s not going to be easy, but pitching wins championships and I feel comfortable putting the Cubs staff up against any one else in the Central.
THE ROSTER: Our starting line-up, while somewhat premature considering it’s only January 14th and pitchers and catchers don’t even report until a month from now, is pretty much figured out for the most part. Not in any particular batting order, just a simple run-down of Cubs starters by position:
C – Geovany Soto – Talented young catcher, one of the best in the National League. Coming off an off year last year but recently signed an extension with additional money/increased salary. He’ll be looking to show the Ricketts and the fans that the Cubs didn’t make a mistake in signing him and avoiding arbitration. Also, all we have behind him is Koyie Hill really, so Soto, you have no choice. You need to be awesome…no relying on Koyie. Thanks.
1B – Carlos Pena – Our latest Carlos addition to the Cubs. Pena batted under .200 for the season in 2010. He was one of many one-year contracts that were doled out in the off-season (do that many people think they have a shot at Pujols?) and he is expected to bring the power bat necessary to replace Lee’s spot in the order. His glove is supposed to be reliable and his power numbers shouldn’t suffer at Wrigley. I like the signing, I think it has a lot of potential to work out and I believe his BA will rebound. God, help us if it doesn’t. I’m tired of anyone thinking Colvin is a good option at first and Lee’s already been exiled to Baltimore. This has a lot of potential to work and if he stays healthy, I believe it will.
2B – Blake Dewitt – I don’t expect much out of DeWitt and I believe Baker may even replace him come June or July. However, with the other guys in this line up, second base is a place that we really just need the flash and reliability of the glove on defense, not necessarily a whole lot of RBI. Just get on base and set the table for the guys we’re paying to knock in the runs Dewitt and we’ll all be happy.
SS – Starlin Castro – The club already has ads sporting Castro against Jeter, so yeah, the organization is high on Castro. All of the Cubs Con materials feature the youthful stars of the team and Castro, after finishing in the top 10 for the NL in hitting his rookie campaign is among the top of them. No sophomore on the team is expected to do more than Castro is, I believe the expectations on him are even higher than Soto’s were. Hopefully he lives up to them and continues to learn under Quade’s leadership.
3B – Aramis Ramirez – If Ramirez stays healthy (and I understand it’s a big IF) then he will be fine. He is playing at the end of his current contract and if he truly wants to stay in Chicago as a Cub, then 2011 is the time to prove the Cubs should pick up the 2012 option. He picked up his own option for 2011. The team has the call in 2012. Rami can put up big numbers healthy. I’ll be rooting for the trainers once again this year to see that it happens.
OF – Soriano, Byrd, Colvin, Fukudome – No, I don’t think we’re playing softball. I simply believe left to right we’ll start Sori, Byrd and Colvin and Fuke will sub in where needed. I believe we’ll be seeing Reed Johnson at Wrigley a bunch this year as well. Chances that five outfielders stay healthy and produce are very slim, however, I like our chances with the guys we’ve got. They all bring something different to the table and they are a talented bunch at that. Hopefully Byrd can repeat his All-Star caliber performance of 2010 in 2011 (it wouldn’t hurt for Sori to make a return to the All-Star stage as well. Just saying).
New manager: Mike Quade – Quade took a team playing for absolutely nothing and had them playing basically .600 ball. He proved to be a great leader in teaching the young stars on the team and the vets respect his long journey and knowledge he’s gathered throughout his life in the game. As of Opening Day, the entire team will be behind the idea of having him as their manager. Some more than others as some of them even went as far as publicly backing his selection before it was announced. Quade is going to get a chance to do something he’s always wanted to do and the players believe he can get them what they’ve always wanted to get. The same thing the city has always wanted to see. A title. A championship. A ring.
Given all the unknowns that happen to every single team throughout a baseball season, luck becomes a great factor, indeed. However, luck is out of our control as it is every other team in baseball so as for things we can control, I think the ingredients and potential are there. Let’s hope the execution and results show up as well.
Respect to the rest of the Central, the National League and the Red Sox (that’s right, the Red Sox…I don’t even think the Yankees are making the playoffs in 2011). I think it’s going to be a tough road to get there, but after 102 years…come on…we don’t expect it to be easy…and we’re due. Why not us? A Cubs fan predicting the Cubs will win the NL Central and then go on to win the World Series.
I know. Shocking.
Projected order of finish in the NL Central (rest of the league to follow in a post much closer to Opening Day):
1. Chicago Cubs
2. St. Louis Cardinals
3. Cincinnati Reds
4. Milwaukee Brewers
5. Houston Astros
6. Pittsburgh Pirates
MAY 26, 2011
Marlon Byrd: “I’ll Be Back”
Call him “The Byrdinator”.
Chicago Cubs outfielder Marlon Byrd recently took to his blog (The Byrd’s Nest) and promised to be back following the devastating pitch he took the face over the weekend.
Thanks for the get well messages. I’ll be OK and come back playing as hard as ever! – Marlon
And two…if I’m Boston Red Sox pitcher Alfredo Aceves, I’m a little more hesitant opening my door for fear of getting a Terminator-like shotgun blast to the chest.
***A tip of the hat to Ryan from Prose and Ivy for still being a Cubs fan and reading Byrd’s blog regularly.***
Looking Back at the Matt Garza Trade
Image courtesy of ESPN Chicago
Written by Aaron Somers from Blogging From the Bleachers
Just over seven months ago the Chicago Cubs and Tampa Bay Rays completed one of the bigger trades of this past offseason. The deal sent starting pitcher Matt Garza along with outfielder Fernando Perez and minor league pitcher Zach Rosscup to the Cubs in exchange for five players – outfielders Sam Fuld and Brandon Guyer, catcher Robinson Chirinos, shortstop Hak-Ju Lee, and pitcher Chris Archer.
When the deal was completed on January 8th it was widely viewed as one that could prove to be a win for both sides. Tampa Bay was giving up the most experienced starter on their staff but were receiving a quality collection of players in return. Meanwhile, Chicago received a top shelf starting pitcher for what they felt included none of their top prospects. Most critics and media members alike seemed to agree.
There was a minority who felt that Cubs had drastically overpaid, however. The thought was the package as a whole was was too much, but specifically the inclusion of both Lee and Archer was too risky for a player of Garza’s caliber. Ryan Maloney of Prose and Ivy, one of the top Cubs blogs out there, summed up the situation pretty well the day after the trade:
The Cubs make one move and I already think next year is going to be the year. It’s pathetic really. When will I ever learn? Probably never. I guess that’s part of the fun though in being a baseball fan, right? Especially in being a Cubs fan. No one utters This is the Year or Wait Until Next Year like a Cubs fan. As if (Carlos) Pena wasn’t enough (and really, he wasn’t … merely replacing (Derrek)Lee’s bat in the lineup wasn’t exactly what I thought was the move necessary to put us over the hump), then the Cubs go and bet the farm on Garza.
About that. People saying the Cubs bet the farm? I think it’s overblown. We gave up a couple of top prospects and a talented, hard nosed outfielder we have no plans on ever really using again. Otherwise, we kept top pitching in addition to (Josh) Vitters and a number of other young top prospects in the organization, safe and sound. Enough about the Cubs betting the farm on Garza … although if we did, I might be ok with that. I’m just glad we didn’t have to.
Seven calendar months and half a season later, let’s take a look at how the trade has worked out for both sides and whether the early thoughts on the deal still hold true.
The Rays’ Haul
Of the five players received from the Cubs, Fuld was the only one who had reached the Majors for any length of time prior to the deal. The 2004 draft pick (10th round) made his MLB debut in 2007 with the Cubs, appearing in 14 September games in which he went hitless in 9 plate appearances. Fuld would not appear in the Majors again until 2009 and over the next two seasons he’d hit .264/.370/.360 in 146 plate appearances. Used principally as a fourth or fifth outfielder, Fuld played sparingly and didn’t seem to factor into the Cubs’ long term plans. With a strong 2011 Spring Training he managed to make the Rays Opening Day roster and with the sudden retirement of Manny Ramirez he was able to take advantage of the unexpected playing time.
Fuld got off to a torrid start to the season, batting .289/.358/.433 with 10 stolen bases through the end of April. He has slowed down some since, but has already set career highs in nearly every offensive category. The defensive efforts, however, are what have truly been what Fuld has become best known for. He’s spent time in the 2011 season all across the Rays’ outfield and has made highlight reel diving catches at each position.
Guyer, a 5th round draft pick in 2007, moved slowly but steadily through the Cubs minor league system, reaching Double-A for the first time late in the 2009 season before repeating the level in 2010. In 159 games he batted .292/.344/.487 with 14 HR and 72 RBI in 615 plate appearances. He also stole 37 bases. Tampa Bay has kept him at Triple-A for the bulk of the 2011 season where he’s continued to swing the bat well. In 318 plate appearances he’s hit .318/.389/.509 with 10 HR and 47 RBI. The strong play even earned him a brief appearance in the Majors in May. In two games he went 1 for 6, homering in his first at bat.
Chirinos was once looked at in some circles as a possible future backup in Chicago but his stock has taken a step back in recent years. Signed originally in 2001 out of Venezuela, the catcher rose slowly through Chicago’s farm system until reaching Double-A in 2007. Since that year he’s appeared in fewer than 100 games each of the past three seasons. Offensively he’s done well – batting .276/.363/.463 with 17 HR and 93 RBI in 624 plate appearances over 169 games – but his inability to stay on the field has brought about numerous question marks with regards to his future. At 27, he’s really too old to still be considered a prospect. This year he’s batting .269/.343/.387 in 266 plate appearances in Triple-A.
Lee was signed as an International Free Agent in 2008 out of Korea as an 18 year old. He impressed enough in 2009 and 2010 to earn a spot (#92) on Baseball America’s Preseason Top 100 Prospects list before the start of the 2011 season. Tampa Bay assigned the now 20 year old to High-A where he’s responded with a .330/.399/.458 line with 20 stolen bases in 326 plate appearances. He could potentially be the biggest piece of this deal for the Rays in the long term if he continues to develop as some expect. The Cubs, while not looking to do so, could afford to deal him considering the young nucleus they’ve developed in their current middle infield will be under team control for a number of years.
Archer, the final piece and surprisingly the only pitcher in the deal, was widely considered to be the key piece to the deal. Originally drafted in the 5th round of the 2006 Draft by the Cleveland Indians, the Cubs first acquired Archer (along with relief pitchers Jeff Stevens and John Gaub) in a December 2008 trade for Mark DeRosa. In 53 starts (251.1 innings pitched) over the 2009 and 2010 seasons with the Cubs organization he went a combined 21-7 with a 2.55 ERA. Like Lee, he was named to BA’s Top 100 Prospect list prior to the start of the 2011 season (#27). In 17 starts (89.2 IP) with Tampa Bay’s Double-A affiliate he’s 4-4 with a 4.72 ERA, 8.3 K/9, and 1.639 WHIP. Long term he profiles as a mid-rotation option and in a few years could slide in nicely in the Rays’ rotation behind David Price, Jeremy Hellickson, and Matt Moore.
The Cubs’ Haul
Perez, a switch hitting outfielder, was originally drafted by the Rays in the 2004 Amateur Draft (7th round). Between a September 2008 callup and a brief stint with the Rays in 2009 he appeared in only 41 games. He spent time at all three outfield positions, primarily playing center field, and batted a mere .234/.301/.351 with just 5 extra-base hits in 107 plate appearances. Perez found himself in Triple-A for the entirety of the 2010 season, batting .223/.280/.299 with 4 HR and 32 RBI in 426 plate appearances – numbers not far from his career minor league line. Since being acquired by the Cubs he has spent the season with their Triple-A affiliate, batting .238/.312/.337 in 282 plate appearances. On July 10th the Cubs released Perez, creating an opening on their 40-man roster.
Rosscup has made 11 appearances (9 starts) for the Cubs High-A affiliate with relatively solid results thus far. The lefty has thrown 49.2 innings on the season with a 4-2 record, 2.54 ERA, 1.248 WHIP, and 50 strikeouts (9.1 K/9). At just 21 years of age, it would seem logical to think that the Cubs won’t rush him along in his development.
Originally a 1st round selection in the 2005 Draft, Garza first arrived in the Majors with Minnesota the following year. He went 8-13 with a 4.47 ERA in his first 24 career starts before the Twins dealt him to Tampa Bay with Jason Bartlett and Eduardo Morlan for Brendan Harris, Jason Pridie, and Delmon Young in November 2007.
With the Rays, Garza blossomed. Over the next three seasons he made 94 starts, averaging just under 200 innings per season. He’d post a 34-31 record with a 3.86 ERA, 1.251 WHIP, and 7.1 K/9. He became one of the more reliable pitchers in the American League and arguably the co-Ace of the Rays staff (along with Price). On July 26, 2010 he pitched the lone no-hitter in Rays history against the Detroit Tigers.
Ultimately the Cubs hoped that Garza would complete a starting rotation that could potentially rival many of the other rotations in the National League. However, injuries to Randy Wellsand Andrew Cashner have stunted those plans. Plus, Carlos Zambrano and Ryan Dempstersimply aren’t the pitchers they used to be. Garza could have held things together some, but despite solid peripheral statistics he’s largely struggled due to poor run support. In 16 starts (95.0 IP) he’s 4-7 with a 4.26 ERA, 1.337 WHIP, and a career high 9.4 K/9.
Wanting the perspective of a loyal Cubs fan, I sent Ryan an email and invited him to share some thoughts on the trade and the first half season. Here is what his response read:
Garza was either going to be a great deal for the Cubs despite the number of players in the system we gave up for him, another big name the team acquired during the offseason that got my hopes up and yet again came up short living up to the expectations, or he’d fall somewhere in between.
I was excited about the trade when it happened. I was disappointed to see us lose Sam Fuld, however everyone else included in the trade was merely a prospect. I believe in analyzing young talent and trust the scouts’ opinions of what the kids in the minors may be able to do for the team when they hit the big stage. Thing is, until they prove they belong at the Major League level, all it is is speculation. Garza had proven he can compete at the Major League level and had even thrown a no-hitter with Tampa Bay. Fans didn’t seem to appreciate Garza being touted as an “Ace”, however to me it didn’t matter. We already had our Ace in Dempster for the season and a quality rotation with Garza listed as the third pitcher in the rotation. To me, Garza didn’t have to live up to the Ace hype, merely deliver at an above average level when it comes to number three starters. I had all the confidence Garza could do that.
So far this season, Garza has yet to compete at a high level on a consistent basis. The team has seen more than half the lineup hit the DL though, so there is no way Garza has received the amount of offensive support he was projected to receive when dealt to the Cubs. He has given us a couple of gems, kept us in a few games and had a couple of forgettable outings. Overall, I am pleased with having Garza as a number three guy in the rotation and look forward to seeing what he can do in the second half with the team off the DL and ready to deliver in a daily lineup closer to what Hendry and Quade had in mind to start the season.
To simplify, the Cubs found themselves in a good position with the acquisition of Garza. He had helped anchor the Tampa Bay pitching staff but would only be asked to solidify the middle of Chicago’s rotation upon his move to the National League. In theory, he could be even better with a little less pressure on his shoulders. But the lack of an offense around him has been detrimental to that success. There was still hope for what could come, fans like Ryan don’t give up so easily on a player like Garza.
However, there has been some increased speculation of late that maybe the Cubs should consider trading Garza before the July 31st trade deadline. The market is weak, so a pitcher of Garza’s caliber would likely be intriguing to a number of teams. More importantly, the Cubs are near the bottom of the NL Central, 12.0 games behind division leaders Milwaukee and St. Louis at the All Star Break. The team has largely disappointed in 2011, much like the past few seasons. The organization has started to see the development of its young players paying off in the likes of Starlin Castro,Darwin Barney, and others but there are still a few holes that will need to be addressed before the Cubs are a contender once again. Trading a player like Garza could help address some of those concerns.
Considering the public speculation, this was a topic that I asked Ryan about as well. His rationale was simple:
I would not deal Garza this season. With Wells and Cashner going down after their first starts and 99% of the pitchers who were called up to take their place showing that they are not ready to compete at the major league level, we need to hold on to the guys we know can. There are areas we could use some help with. A strong backup catcher and backup third baseman (starting third baseman if Aramis Ramirez is dealt) to name a couple, plus stronger number four and five guys in the rotation. Thing is, you don’t give up a quality number three to bolster your four and five spots and a backup catcher is important but not as important as a strong starting rotation.
While I largely agree with Ryan’s perspective, I think another factor that must be considered is the actual cost in keeping Garza a Cub. He is earning $5.95 Million this season according to information from Cot’s Contracts. This season was his second time through the arbitration process. As a Super Two, Garza will go through arbitration four times instead of the usual three. So, he is under team control for at least the next two seasons. Taking a guess we could assume that the team would be looking at paying roughly $16-18 Million through arbitration for the next two seasons.
In the grand scheme of things that figure might not be so daunting to the Cubs. After this season Pena, Ramirez, Reed Johnson, Kosuke Fukodome, and potentially Dempster could all potentially leave via free agency (or declined options). Those five players combine to make over $50 Million in 2011, leaving the Cubs with room to potentially be aggressive this coming offseason. They have been rumored already to be a possibility for Albert Pujols.
The possibilities of a big-budget offseason combined with key players returning from injury and some of the organization’s upper prospects continuing their development, keeping a pitcher like Garza might just be the best move an organization like the Cubs could make. Sure, they could recoup three or more quality prospects if they decided to move him now. But maintaining a solid piece of the rotation, especially one at a reasonable cost, just might be the most valuable course of action to take.
* A big thank you to Ryan of Prose and Ivy for sharing some thoughts for this post. Head on over and check out his site for some great writing on the Cubs.
Article from Blogging From the Bleachers
Baseball Bloggers Alliance Facebook Interview
At the end of the award voting, I decided that since the Baseball Bloggers Alliance had come along so quickly, it might be nice to get an idea of who was actually in the group. To that end, I’m working through the roster and asking ten questions of each member. The first five are standard, while the last five are a little more personalized. Hopefully this will help us get a feel for our fellow members. So, here’s entry nine in a recurring series.
Website: Prose and Ivy
Question 1: How and why did you get into blogging?
My two main interests are comedy and sports. I’ve been writing and performing comedy for over 12 years. I stopped ‘performing’ when it came to organized sports after my senior year of high school (not including intramurals or club sports in college, I suppose). So basically, I never had a real outlet for my ideas/opinions/thoughts on sports.
I love baseball and when I saw the opportunity to have a blog on MLB.com, I jumped at the chance. Thought it would be a fun opportunity to joke, vent, rant, etc when it came to one of my favorite things in life. And then, when they made the site free, even better. : )
Question 2: Do you have any blogging projects planned for the off-season?
Over the off-season I plan on continuing to write and follow the trade rumors and signings as they happen. The moves that effect the Cubs directly, as well as some of the bigger signings that effect the team indirectly. In addition to that, I will continue a key feature on Prose and Ivy where I interview Cubs fans, much in the same nature as you are doing here for BBA members. The feature is called “Prosecards from Cubs Nation” and it’s been a blast getting to know Cubs fans from all over and here about their thoughts and experiences rooting for the Cubs. Will definitely continue that feature right up until Spring Training starts and into the 2010 regular season.
I also have a blog talk radio show where I discuss Cubs baseball and post the shows to Prose and Ivy. I haven’t recorded a show since the season ended, but that is something I’m looking to jump into again and post to the site just after the new year.
Question 3: What’s been your most enjoyable experience as a blogger (particularly well-received post, a high-profile link, a connection you wouldn’t have had otherwise, etc.)?
My most enjoyable experience as a blogger was when I was given the opportunity by MLB.com to review an X-Box game for MLB.com/Entertainment. They were looking for people to review MLB 2K8 and the write-ups would be featured on the site with an official MLB byline. That was all I needed to hear. I let them know I’d like to review the X-Box version of the game if possible and after they said it was a go, I went right out and bought an X-Box. Had the system for about a week, long enough to review the game, but short enough so that Best Buy would believe I had purchased it as a duplicate gift and take it back. Well worth the two trips to Best Buy and the opportunity to be prominently showcased on MLB.com.
Question 4: How did you find out about the BBA and what attracted you to the group?
I can’t remember how I heard about the BBA, however I think I heard about on another blog or was approached by Daniel himself, I can’t remember. The most attractive part of the group is the alliance the blogs share, in that, if you are a fan of a blog on the list, and looking for more quality baseball information…if you look at the list of blogs the BBA members recommend, you will be forwarded on to another blog in the group. It’s great for referring readers along to other BBA blogs and a great place to get quality bloggers together to share ideas regarding how to improve their sites.
Question 5: What do you want to see out of the BBA in the coming year?
BBA representatives on sports talk shows. TV and radio, both. I think that would be an amazing jump for the BBA on networks like ESPN, MLB Network, as well as local sports news shows around the country. Might be a bit far fetched, but we’ve already received recognition on ESPN with one of the Yankees blogs being selected to represent NY (AL) in the covering the playoffs this year from the fans’ perspective. Seemed to me like a great step in the right direction to achieve what I mentioned above.
That and maybe keychains. Yeah, strike that. Definitely keychains.
Question 6: How would you describe the Wrigley Field experience?
I would describe the Wrigley Field experience as incomparable when you see it in person for the first time. If my friend Justin is reading this, that means you can’t compare it to anything. It’s like no other stadium in the big leagues and only Wrigley and Fenway can actually say that, both for unique, distinct reasons. No jumbo-trons showing you the same blooper reels from 1982. An energy of a fan base just chomping at the bit for a championship banner to raise on Opening Day the following season.
Being at Wrigley feels like attending a reunion filled with family members you’ve never met before. People you look forward to spending time with as you know you have a ton in common, whether you know their names or not. Before you know it, you’re having a beer together laughing about shared family stories and happy you had a chance to share that time together at the world’s greatest ballpark. Like favorite cousins by the end of the day related not by blood, but bleeding Cubbie blue (cheesy, but accurate).
The Wrigley Field experience is also kind of like a weird montage from a High School Musical film where when you see it for the first time you wonder, how on Earth do all of these people know the words to that song and why are they all singing it simultaneously? I mean, that doesn’t happen in real life. Does it?
Wrigley’s basically amazing. You see the names on the jerseys like family members you share the same memories about. Sandberg, Banks, Smith, Grace, Lee, Davis, Dawson. A feeling that you’ve shared the ups and downs and simply can’t wait to get to your seat, have something to eat and enjoy watching your favorite baseball club compete day in and day out. It’s possibly the greatest way to spend three hours on any given day, bar none*. (*pun intended. the bars are a bonus. it’s the team and the stadium that makes the day great.)
Question 7: Is it tough not to be fatalistic as a Cub fan, to not just expect something to go wrong?
Yes, but that’s all part of it. At this point, it’s part of being a Cubs fan. You expect the worst which is what will make the day the Cubs win the title that much sweeter. It would mean, finally, something didn’t go wrong. (Then of course, I believe you may cue the action sequences of the film 2012 to follow very closely behind. Pretty much right after ‘Cubs win! Cubs win!’. Consider yourself warned.)
Question 8: How did you become a Cub fan?
I think a lot of people either become a fan of team because their parents rooted for them, their friends rooted for them, or they end up with a favorite player and then the team follows suit. For me, it was Ryne Sandberg. I grew up in Connecticut with no professional baseball team to be found among the up-turned collars and Eastland knots. Most of the games I attended growing up were at Shea Stadium down the turnpike and into Queens so I saw a lot of National League ball. Ryne Sandberg was my favorite player. The Cubs attachment followed soon after and it’s been an interesting ride (to say the least) since it did. As always…Go Cubs Go.
Question 9: Do you enjoy having a MLBlog?
I definitely enjoy having an MLBlog. MLB.com is the go-to place for all things baseball (obviously) and MLBlogs is a great opportunity the league has given the fans. The system gives you the opportunity to add a lot of cool features to personalize it so it really feels like you’ve made it your own. I would highly recommend it. (That and chocolate frosties at Wendys. Those things are awesome.)
Question 10: What’s up with that blog address?
I probably should have just gone with the words prose and ivy in the url, would probably be easier for people to find. But…I didn’t. The url iswww.onedayatwrigleyac000000.mlblogs.com. The w’s I had nothing to do with and in a way, I feel they’re a little redundant. We’ve seen what one ‘W’ can do, let alone three. The mlblogs part comes with the territory. The onedayatwrigleyac000000 part was all me. It basically refers to the sign at Wrigley that refers to the Year of our Cubs (the AC “Anno Catuli”) and keeps track of the number of years it’s been since the Cubs won their division, league and the Series. The day the Cubs win it all (including their division that is), the sign would read AC000000 as in Anno Catuli and then zero years since the last division title, league pennant and Series title. Lofty goals for sure, but then again, it’s not all about the seventh inning stretch and Lou throwing a fit now is it. Ask me again when we have more time and I’ll tell you how I came up with the “.com”.
Headshot/Promotional photo for press:
BLOG TALK RADIO APPEARANCES
March 24, 2012
NL CENTRAL 2012 SEASON PREVIEW – GUEST APPEARANCE ON UCB RADIO
MAY 26, 2011
GUEST APPEARANCE ON METS PUBLIC RECORD (appearance begins at the 15:20 mark)
MAY 12, 2011
MARCH 26, 2011
NL CENTRAL 2011 SEASON PREVIEW, ROUND TABLE WITH NL CENTRAL BLOGGERS