I’ve been on vacation for the last week and a half, but now I’m back and I’m ready to get this season started.
I’ve been on vacation for the last week and a half, but now I’m back and I’m ready to get this season started.
This morning I was in a waiting room…….waiting. Waiting the worst kind of wait, the kind of
wait that has no time period. It could be 5 minutes or 5 hours…Ok, I knew it
wasn’t gonna be five hours, but you get the point, I really wasn’t sure how long
I was going to be there. This is the kind of wait that drives people nuts. I’m not talking about – “I can’t wait til 9
when my favorite show comes on” – type of wait. I’m not talking about – “I can’t
wait til the season starts” – wait. I’m
talking about – “I’m trapped in this room waiting for someone to come get me
and I can’t focus on anything until it happens” – type of wait.
Usually when I know I’m going to be in those situations I bring
a book with me. It doesn’t do me much good most of the time because the unknown
period of the wait ruins my concentration. I generally end up reading each page
twice because I can’t focus while………..waiting.
This morning I didn’t bring a book, I had just finished a previous one
and trying to start a new one under those conditions would be like trying to
watch Pulp Fiction without the sound,
you can do it, but it wouldn’t make sense.
So after waiting for a couple minutes I decided to pick up a
magazine, ESPN the Magazine. As I flipped the pages I ran across a feature called
The contributors to the magazine would take a ‘What If’, and
in 5 steps get us from then to now. Two examples are; What If…….. John Elway
had agreed to sign with the Baltimore Colts, and What If…….baseball had named
Texas Rangers owner George W. Bush the commissioner instead of Brewers owner
I’d give a couple more examples, but my – “If I can get
through this wait without jumping up on the chair and screaming ‘My turn, my
turn” – wait was over after just 8 minutes and I didn’t have time to read
anymore of them.
So I thought I’d give it a try here myself.
Steve Bartman didn’t touch the ball and Moises
Alou caught it.
1- The Cubs go on to win the game, the NLCS and then the
2- Instead of winning the WS, the Florida Marlins lose their
fans and end up moving to Washington DC in 2005 instead of the Expos. Ryan
Zimmerman plays in Montreal and no one knows who he is.
3- Dusty Baker becomes a hero in Chicago on the same level
as Mike Ditka and stays with the team the next 8 years. Kerry Wood and Mark Prior
still undergo arm surgeries, as do Randy Wells, Ted Lilly, Sean Marshall and
4- Lou Piniella gets the Yankees managerial job instead of
Joe Girardi. Piniella and the Yankees win two World Series together and Lou is
a lock for the Hall of Fame. Girardi ends up with the Pirates and gets fired
after the 2010 season. No one is trying to outbid the other to hire him.
5- Only friends and family know who Steve Bartman. 2003′s
most popular Halloween costume in Chicago is not “The Bartman”, it’s “The SARS
– If you have a “What If……….” that you would like answered, send it to Wrigley Regular@comcast.net
Over the past four seasons, no Cubs players have been talked
about more than Carlos Zambrano and Alfonso Soriano. For Zambrano the talk has
been about his antics and confrontations both on the diamond and in the dugout
with teammates and umpires, his bouts with anger issues, and oh yeah, his play
on the field. For good or bad, Zambrano has been the central figure around
which the Cubs media has circled.
Almost just as much talk has been focused on Alfonso
Soriano. His play, his defense, his contract, his spot in the batting order;
all of it has led to continual chatter. And during this time Soriano has seen his
popularity with Cubs fans steadily decline. The question is, has all the
negative energy directed at Soriano been warranted?
Let’s look at some numbers.
Over the past four seasons Soriano has averaged just over 26
HR’s (106) and 13 SB’s (52). To put
those numbers in perspective, his HR total is tops on the team for this period
of time by 13 and he is second in SB’s to the now departed Ryan Theriot.
Looking at it further, he is 11th in the National
League in HR’s since joining the Cubs. Now certainly HR’s aren’t all that make
a good ball player, far from it, but being able to drive the ball over the wall
and into the seats can make up for other deficiencies.
Defense has not been Soriano’s specialty. He clearly has
issues with balls hit deep over his head near the wall. We’ve seen Reed Johnson
and Aaron Rowand give up their bodies to make a play, but Soriano is not going
to run into a wall, brick or otherwise, to make a catch. But let’s at least
give some credit when due, Soriano has 42 outfield assists during his time with
When you look outside the overall numbers, the two biggest
issues have been his place in the batting order and his contract. When Soriano
came to the Cubs, he was a leadoff man. And that’s where he wanted to stay. In ’07 he batted from the leadoff spot in 125
of his 134 starts. He put up solid numbers that year with 33 HR’s and 19 SB’s.
The next season (2008) he also predominantly batted leadoff, but that year he
hurt his hamstring muscle and only played 109 games.
In the late fall of ’08, Lou Piniella suggested that Soriano
move down in the order for the 2009 season, his running game was basically gone after the
leg problems and his OBP was not what you should expect from a leadoff guy. The ‘suggestion’ didn’t really go over to well
and Alfonso started Opening Day in the leadoff spot. He played 70 games in the
1 hole with just a horrible .295 OBP before Lou finally made the switch and
moved Soriano down in the order. Last year Soriano never hit leadoff and spent
most of the season batting sixth.
The entire “leadoff” issue created a lot of conversation
about Soriano from the end of the ’08 season until Lou finally removed him from
that spot late in the summer of ’09. Nearly 12 months of should he/shouldn’t he
be leadoff. During this time most of the blame fell on Soriano. He wanted to
bat leadoff, he didn’t want to move, and he was being the obstacle. But he was
not the one making out the lineup card, Lou Piniella was. I really put the blame
on Lou. For over a year he kept suggesting that Soriano should move down in the
order, as if Alfonso was just going to walk into his office and say “bat me
sixth today coach”. Piniella was the manager; he is the guy that makes out the
lineup card. If he wanted Soriano to bat sixth, all he had to do was right it
down. When Lou finally did move Soriano down, he was very defensive to
questions about the change, in the end he basically just said that I’m the
manager and this is what I think is best. Unfortunately, he was 6 months to
late with his decision.
The last issue is the biggest issue, Soriano’s contract. Over
the past 4 years the Cubs have paid Soriano a reported $60M. Over the next four
seasons, including 2011, they still owe Soriano $72M. Last season Soriano was
the 3rd highest paid player in the National League.
Let’s face it, most Cub fans do not believe that Soriano has
lived up to his contract. And that’s the biggest problem. When Soriano signed
an 8 year/$132M deal, he was coming off a 46HR/41SB season in Washington. That’s
what we wanted here, that’s what we thought we paid for, and we haven’t gotten
it. And now most fans will always look at Soriano through the prism of his
contract and what he did before he was a Cub and not what he’s done since he
became a Cub.
But if you could magically wipe his contract from your mind,
Soriano has probably been the Cubs best player over the past four seasons, at
least in total. From what I’ve read and the numbers I’ve seen this spring,
Soriano is supposedly in better shape than he has been in two years and he’s
hitting the ball all over the field.
I for one am still a fan of Soriano, and I am expecting him
to have another good season.
The spring hasn’t started as well as many Cubs fans had
hoped it would.
Chicago has gone 1-4 in their first five games (although
they are winning right now as I write this), they have had a fight in the
dugout, a team meeting by the manager, Matt Garza was lit up in his first appearance
and new first baseman Carlos Pena is 1 for 9.
I just hope that they are following the Bad News Bears script, dysfunctional at the beginning, but putting
it all together over the summer on their way to the championship game.
My only concern is that Buttermaker, I mean Quade, is being
just a little too loose with these guys. He’s acting like he’s one of the
players. He’s been taking ground balls with the infielders and shagging balls
in the outfield. Look, I know that the players don’t want a totalitarian
running the show like they had with Piniella, but you can’t go totally the
other way and stand on the field all day clapping hands and cheering on the
players like a Jim Essian. His
laissez-faire response to the dugout scuffle between Carlos Silva and Aramis
Ramirez can be interpreted by some as a manager that has no control over
players and that they (the players) have no consequences when they do break the
I’m not trying to be an alarmist this early in the spring,
but I’m also not thrilled with early results. Let’s face it, the Cubs were
horrible under Lou Piniella last season but seemed to turn it around under
Quade. The last 6 weeks of the year gave fans a lot of high hopes going into
this spring. Then you add the signing of a power hitting first baseman, a
proven starting pitcher arrives via trade, and a veteran Cub favorite comes
home to shore up the bullpen. People are excited. The last thing we need is a
losing spring. And I’m not talking about a 12-14 record, which would be fine,
just don’t drop an 8-22 on us.
I’ve been busy the last week and a half and I’ve only made
one post and really haven’t had a chance to get around to everyone else’s post,
but that will change tonight starting with this post.
Instead of touching on one topic I’m going to go Larry King
style and just put down a bunch of random thoughts to catch up on some of the
things I’ve missed this past week.
Spring training games started, it’s good to see baseball on TV.
Coco Crisp was arrested on
suspicion of DUI. Why do people continue to do this?
Carlos Silva and Aramis Ramirez got into a dugout scuffle
after the first inning, somewhere Carlos Zambrano is smiling.
The Cardinals have already lost Adam
Wainwright for the season. The Cubs NL Champion odds in Vegas remain
unchanged. That tells you more about the Cubs than it does the Cardinals.
Justin Morneau of the
Twins has still not been cleared to play after sustaining a concussion last July;
the brain is a complicated machine. Remember this when drafting Josh Beckett
for your fantasy team.
Every time a new Dancing with the Stars cast is revealed I
proclaim it to be worse than the season before, and this season is no different………
yet I’ll probably still watch.
passed away last week. The HOF member played against the Cubs 287 times hitting
The Cubs are looking to hire a new public address announcer at
Wrigley Field. “Batting second …. Starlin Castro….. Number 13…… Castro” Sounds
good on paper, wish I had a voice to match.
If you get a chance, pick up Deadly Spin by Wendell Potter.
It’s a little dry, but it will help explain why shouts of “death panels” have
trumped actual facts in the health care debate.
not the start I wanted to see.
Did I mention I’m happy spring games have started?
Hathaway was fine, James Franco….ugh!
Bring back a professional next time please.
I pre-ordered Inside
Job last month, now I really can’t wait to see it.
Albert Pujols, age 30, has a ‘Wins
Above Replacement’ total of 83.8. Joe DiMaggio had a career total of 83.6. Mr.
Ricketts, ……… find $30M and sign this guy.