I woke up this morning and for the first time all winter, I am suffering from a bad case of Offseason Blues. Perhaps it’s because for the first time all winter, I had to pull out the shovel to clear away that horrid white stuff off my driveway. Or perhaps it’s because the sub-zero windchill temperatures slapped at my face as I did so. I just need a reminder that the crack of the bat and roar of the crowd is closing in and chasing this winter crap away! So, here’s just a little post on my thoughts with a little bit of everything going on with the team right now.
1. FAREWELL TONY CAMPANA
He was that member of the team you couldn’t help but just love. He wasn’t good with the bat at all. He seemed to have a problem getting the ball out of the infield. He really wasn’t good with his arm, which made it somewhat of a dilemma to put him in the outfield. But, that kid could RUN! However, on a MLB roster, you really can’t keep a guy on the roster for that specific reason only, with no other tools available to tap into. That being said, kudos to the Cubs brass for getting more than a bag of baseballs for Tony! Perhaps Arizona can work with Tony and find a way to develop the other things he needs to stay in the game, such as hitting the ball and throwing the ball. Tampa Bay turned Sam Fuld into a borderline player into Superman, so stranger things have happened!
It’s safe to say that we will have to see if this trade turns out to be huge or not, as the kids the Cubs got are two 17 year old Domincan kids. Erick Leal could be in the USA this year and was 6-2 with a 2.44 ERA in 14 appearances for the Domincan Summer League last year. He also had 70 strikeouts in over 70 innings. Jesus Castillo is expected to stay in the Domincan Republic and play in the DSL. He was 2-4 with a 5.40 ERA in 14 appearances. Again, at 17, it will be a long time before we see how these kids fit into the “plan”, if at all, but we’ve seen some great things come out of the Domincan Republic, so in the future, this trade could prove to be huge! One day, I hope to look to the mound and say, “Remember when we got this kid for Tony Campana?”…and the person next to me says, “Tony who?”
2. MATT GARZA
It wouldn’t be a Cubs Spring Training without a report of one of the key players suffering an injury that makes Cub fans hold their breath and think the worst is upon them. What really intensifies that fear is when it happens in the first bullpen session facing live batting, not only of the spring, but the first time since mid-summer when Matt Garza was put on the DL for the remainder of the season last year with a right elbow injury! He had his MRI and it was GREAT news for the Cubs and the fans in waiting who were expecting the worst., but it ends up it’s just a mild lat strain. He will just have to take a week off and see how he feels from there. Another postive thought about the situation is the injury is not to his elbow or shoulder, so hopefully it doesn’t keep him out too long. It’s too early to tell whether this will affect the regular season yet. It does make you wonder, however, that with another injury added to Garza’s list, does this really hurt the Cubs chances of getting anything in return for him if the trade talks heat back up? We shall see. IF this injury puts him on the DL for the start of the season, does this open the door for Jeff Samardzija to get his first Opening Day start, or will Edwin Jackson get the nod? (I know, it’s early, but again, I’m CRAVING baseball right now!)
3. DUSTY BAKER-GET OVER IT ALREADY!
I know, I know, he’s not with the Cubs right now, but in a recent article he laments how he wishes his story ended differently in Chicago. He once again brought up how the Cubs wouldn’t spend the money to give him a contender while he was in the manager seat, but as soon as he was sent packing, they opened the pocketbooks and spent the big bucks. ”At the time when I was sent out [by the Cubs] I wasn’t ready to go then. When I was there they quit spending money and they quit reloading. Then right after I left they started spending money again. I would have loved the year we went to the NLCS to have added on and reloaded even more but the Tribune Company was in trouble and they quit spending. In one year we lost Moises Alou and Sammy Sosa and that is a lot of home runs and RBIs to lose. We also had some guys hurt and I was told to play some young guys to see what the young could do. That’s the kiss of death because the record still counts against you and it goes on your record. It was all good, it’s all for a purpose. I’m much stronger because of the experience. It made me stronger. Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. You fill in the blanks.”
I don’t blame him for talking about it, as everywhere he goes, reporters seem to want to ask him about it. What I DO blame him for…. as his team was falling apart out on the field against the Marlins after “that one play… with the foul ball and Alou”, He did NOTHING to get out there and calm his team down, slow the game down. From Prior’s wild pitch to the ball A-Gon booted, he sat on the bench in the dugout, chomping on his custom made toothpicks. He didn’t send Rothschild out to give Prior a breather, he didn’t go out himself and pull him. Heck, his kid was famous for almost getting plowed over at home plate as the batboy, send HIM out to distract things! (Okay, that’s a bit extreme and unreasonable, but it would’ve been SOMETHING to stop the train that was starting to run that team over.) That inning, Dusty, in my opinion, was your first step out the door in my eyes. That was your chance to end your story differently. It is not very often that one can look back on their life and pinpoint a moment in time that had they made a different decision, their entire life would be different. THAT moment, Dusty, was not only a decision (or lack, thereof, that would’ve changed your life, but the lives of MILLIONS of Cub fans who were desperately clinging to YOUR decisions to help end our pain. YOU sat in the dugout and chomped on your wood and did nothing, WE sat in our living room, bars, stands, etc, screaming at you to DO SOMETHING. Well, Dusty, things ended badly for all of us, not just you.
4. BOB BRENLY & WGN-TV
I was very sad the day I heard that “Len and Bob” would be no more. He took his talents and honest critiques of the game on the field to Arizona. Bob and Len had become part of my summer routine over the past few years. It wasn’t until the story came out in the past few days that let us know that he was all but back with the Cubs until the very last minute. Heck, Brenly even took his family out to celebrate his coming back to the Cubs! (Part of his interview with Paul Sullivan):
"It was unbelievably tough to leave," Brenly said Saturday during a visit to Cubs camp, where his son, Michael is a non-roster invitee. "Long story short, we thought we had a deal done, and actually went out and celebrated with my family and ran up a pretty good tab at Joe’s (Stone Crabs). "Woke up the next morning and there were some issues with the contract. One thing led to another and that kind of opened up negotiations with the Diamondbacks and it rolled downhill quickly. The Diamondbacks were willing to give me the years and the money that WGN and Comcast (Sports Net) could just not guarantee. Not a bad Plan B."
It wasn’t about money, which some believe it was. It’s no secret that Bob made A LOT of money! With the Cubs cutting back on payroll all over, it just seemed to make sense. However, it came down to two years. Two years and a big complicated mess. The Cubs said they could not give him more than a two year contract because the contract with WGN-TV is up after 2014 and they plan to open up bidding rights to cover the games. Heck, who can blame the Cubs for this plan after seeing the Dodgers get an agreement with Time Warner Cable that $7-8 BILLION over the next 25 years. (Yes, BILLION). I didn’t realize that not only do the broadcasters have contracts with the Cubs, but WGN-TV and CSN both pay them as well. It only makes sense that WGN-TV wouldn’t offer more than a 2 year deal as part of their contract if they aren’t sure if they will even be carrying the games after that. What somewhat puzzles me is that they gave Brenly’s replacement, Jim Deshaies a 4 year deal, unless it’s not a “guaranteed contract” after the two years. (Again, I’m not one who really understands the whole behind-the-scenes stuff when it comes to contracts and negotiations, so I’m sure there is reasoning behind it somewhere). I wish Brenly well, and perhaps he can be Tony Campana’s biggest fan, or biggest critic while in Arizona! He still has an interest in the Cubs, as his son, Michael, is still in the Cubs minor league system.
As far as the WGN-TV thing goes, it would be a very sad day to see the relationship end between the Cubs and WGN-TV. How many people say they got their love for the Cubs by watching the Cubs on WGN? How many people rely on WGN-TV all over the country to be able to get their Cubs-fix? Perhaps it’s not such a big problem there, with the internet and MLB packages available. CSN could pick up all of the WGN-TV games, but that may interfere with their partnerships with the White Sox, Bulls, and Blackhawks games. Honestly, I enjoy the CSN broadcasts more than the WGN broadcasts as there is much more pre-game/post-game analysis. I’ve heard whispers of a Cubs Network, similar to the Yankees’ YES Network, however, that would have to be a way down the road as the contract with CSNChicago doesn’t expire until 2019.
5. ALFONSO SORIANO
As Sori starts his seventh year in a Cub uniform, some things never change. Such as the Soriano trade talks. (check out the SunTimes article in the link.… good stuff)! With just two years left on his eight-year, $136 million contract, he never seemed to live up to the expectations of many Cub fans. He came over from the Nationals as a 40-40 man, so perhaps he started out as a Cub with some pretty unreasonable expectations to begin with. He wasn’t exactly a young chicken when he put the pen to the paper with the Cubs brass back in 2007, so the chances of that 40-40 man showing up year after year were slim to none, however, many Cub fans expected that because of the number of zero’s that followed the dollar sign in his contract. You can’t blame Sori for the amount of money that the Cubs gave him. Any person in their right mind isn’t going to say “No, you can’t pay me that! That’s too much money!”. He’s never NOT tried to live up to it. Teammates, coaches, managers, etc. have always preached about how he is one of the hardest working guy in the clubhouse. With a conversation I had with the Cubs trainer, Tim Buss, at the convention this past January, HE even praised Sori for his work ethic. He told me that they have to work together even harder because of the fact his body is so much older than the other players and they HAVE to keep his body (and especially his knees) conditioned to keep him on the field.
He has the heart. He signed here to be on the World Series winning team. That has been his goal from day one. However, reality may be sneaking up on him. He realizes his age is narrowing his playing days down.
‘‘My point is I signed here to win the World Series,’’ he said. ‘‘I don’t want to go somewhere else and win. But,at my age, I don’t want to be part of a losing team. . . . If we have a bad start, I have to think about moving somewhere else.’’
He does have the right to say no to a trade, and actually exercised that option last year when the Giants were somewhat interested in him. He said “no” so quickly that the talks didn’t even get to the point where players were named as part of the trade. That, Cub fans, should speak volumes. I do believe that he is the only player left on the team that was part of the 2007-2008 playoff runs, and I would like to see him get the chance to see his dream come true, however with his time clock ticking, and the Cubs recent plan, I don’t see it happening. I hope Cub fans can embrace what could be Sori’s final months as a Cub. He gave us his all. Although, I said it earlier, stranger things can happen. He did say if the Cubs are playing well, he’s not going anywhere! And he has every right to say that.
6. NO ADDITIONAL LIGHT GAMES AT WRIGLEY THIS YEAR
I’m not going to get into this too much, but I do have some thoughts on it. Politics and baseball just frustrate me. In the Tribune article last week, Ald. Tom Tunney did not even introduce legislation to propose additional night games at Wrigley, which The Rickett’s Family was hoping for. As of right now, the Cubs can have 27 night games scheduled, and can add an additional 3 to accommodate National TV, as needed. To the City of Chicago, will you PLEASE back off and let the Cubs do what they need to do to move forward? And to the residents of Wrigleyville… You moved to Wrigleyville with the knowledge that Wrigley Field is there! If you don’t like the noise, the traffic congestion, the atmosphere around Wrigley, then why in the heck did you move there? Seriously? If you buy a house next to an airport, don’t bitch about the noise of the planes overhead! If you buy a house along a highway or freeway, don’t bitch about the noise of the traffic! YOU made the choice to live there. Deal with the things that go with the neighborhood or move.
7. KATIE IS IN ARIZONA
Following up on a story I wrote earlier this week, fellow Cub fan Katie Cernek is currently in Arizona in the final round of competition to be selected to be a part of the 2013 MLB Fan Cave. She was voted in by fans to be a part of the Top 30 contestants. MLB flew her out to Arizona for the last stage of the competition. She seems to be having the time of her life, but who wouldn’t be! 🙂 Although, her trip started out with a heartbreak as while she was on her way to Chicago, she found out one of her current favorite Cubs had been traded to Arizona. (She talked of her love for Campy in the article).
“Katie: Well, it was Tony Campana! He was always the ultimate underdog; from battling (and beating!) cancer as a kid, to playing baseball at a Major League level is an incredible feat. He is definitely an inspiring person off the field. It’s just too bad he hasn’t figured out how to hit out of the infield yet. “
Maybe Kaite (who is in the bottom row, third from the left) can share her love for Tony Campana there!
Again, you can follow Katie and her adventures with the MLB Fan Cave tryouts on Twitter, Instagram for some pretty neat pictures, MLB Fan Cave facebook page, MLB Fan Cave Twitter page, or #MLBFC & #FanCave30 on Twitter.
8. 15 YEARS, AND STILL MISSING HARRY!
Mark your calendar for Thursday, February 28th at 5:30pm. That will be the annual worldwide Toast to Harry. You can “Tweet your Toast” with the hashtag #ToastToHarry. Yesterday marked the 15 years since Harry passed. I showed my love for Yarac Yrrah in the blog I wrote last night. Be sure to check it out and post your name backwards in the comment box!
9. LET THE GAMES BEGIN!
The first Spring Training game will be this Saturday at 2:05pm. WGN Radio will cover the game against the LA Angels. Here is a complete Spring Training schedule with broadcast information. (4th column is TV broadcasts, the 5th column is radio/internet broadcasts!)
|Saturday, February 23||@LA Angels||2:05 PM||WGN 720|
|Sunday, February 24||vs. San Francisco||2:05 PM||MLB.com|
|Monday, February 25||@LA Dodgers||2:05 PM||MLB.com|
|Tuesday, February 26||vs. Colorado||2:05 PM||MLB.com|
|Wednesday, February 27||vs. LA Dodgers||2:05 PM||MLB.com|
|Thursday, February 28||vs. Oakland||2:05 PM||MLB.com|
|Friday, March 1||vs. Arizona||2:05 PM||MLB.com|
|Saturday, March 2||@San Francisco||2:05 PM||WGN 720|
|Sunday, March 3||@LA Angels||2:05 PM||MLBN (delay)|
|Sunday, March 3||vs. Milwaukee||2:05 PM||MLB.com|
|Monday, March 4||vs. Cleveland||2:05 PM||MLB.com|
|Tuesday, March 5||@Colorado||2:10 PM||MLB.com|
|Wednesday, March 6||@Texas||2:05 PM||MLB.com|
|Thursday, March 7||vs. Chi White Sox||2:05 PM||MLB.com|
|Friday, March 8||@Cincinnati||8:05 PM||MLB.com|
|Saturday, March 9||vs. Cleveland||2:05 PM||WGN 720|
|Sunday, March 10||vs. San Diego||3:05 PM||MLB.com|
|Monday, March 11||@Arizona||3:10 PM||MLB.com|
|Wednesday, March 13||vs. Colorado||3:05 PM||MLB.com|
|Thursday, March 14||@LA Dodgers||3:05 PM||MLB.com|
|Friday, March 15||@Chi White Sox||2:05 PM||MLB.com|
|Saturday, March 16||vs. Kansas City||3:05 PM||WGN, MLBN (delay)|
|Saturday, March 16||vs. Texas||3:05 PM||WGN 720|
|Sunday, March 17||@Oakland||3:05 PM||WGN|
|Sunday, March 17||vs. Texas||3:05 PM||WGN 720|
|Monday, March 18||@San Diego||3:05 PM||MLB.com|
|Tuesday, March 19||vs. Texas||3:05 PM||MLB.com|
|Thursday, March 21||@Seattle||9:05 PM||MLBN (delay)||WGN 720|
|Friday, March 22||@Milwaukee||3:05 PM||WGN||MLB.com|
|Saturday, March 23||vs. LA Angels||3:05 PM||WGN||WGN 720|
|Sunday, March 24||@Cleveland||3:05 PM||MLBN (delay)||WGN 720|
|Monday, March 25||vs. San Francisco||3:05 PM||CSN, MLBN (delay)||MLB.com|
|Tuesday, March 26||vs. Cincinnati||9:05 PM||MLB.com|
|Wednesday, March 27||@Kansas City||8:10 PM||MLBN (delay)||WGN 720|
|Thursday, March 28||vs. Seattle||2:05 PM||CSN, MLBN (delay)||MLB.com|
|Friday, March 29||@Houston||7:05 PM||MLB.com|
|Saturday, March 30||@Houston||1:05 PM||MLB.com|
Okay, that’s enough rambling for now. The snow is still covering the ground outside. The wind is still howling outside my windows. However, in the four hours it took me to compile this post together, it brought me four hours closer to the crack of the bat I crave to hear, which, according to the schedule above, will be in 97 hours and 55 minutes… and yes, I am counting.