Tagged: Milton Bradley

It must be great to be a baseball player

This week Rich Harden told the Cubs that he doesn’t want to pitch any more this year.  I don’t believe any reason was given, meaning it’s not an injury issue.  I guess he just doesn’t want to waste the energy for a team not going to the playoffs and go out there and earn the money the team is paying him.  When Harden made his request, the Cubs just said, “O.K.”  While Milton Bradley made some idiotic comments recently, he was right when he said that there are reasons why this team hasn’t won in so long.  What a joke.  Being a teacher I can only imagine what would happen if I went into my principal’s office in May and said “I don’t want to teach for the rest of the month, the school years just about over anyway.  Oh, and by the way, keep my job for me in September.”  I’m sure someone else would be in my classroom come September.  I wonder if Rich Harden is giving back his salary for the last two starts or so that he will miss.  Somehow I doubt it.  If the Cubs wanted to grant his request, fine, but they should have also told him where the door was, take Milton with you, and don’t let the door hit you on the way out.  If he’s back next year, it will be 102 years and counting for the Cubs. 

So, the Cubs have suspended Milton Bradley for the season.  That’s about three months too late.  Eat his salary and get him out of here.
The wager will be collected sometime in October.  I don’t know what Cardinal gear I will be wearing, yet.  I’ll have to have something blue under it so that the St. Louis stuff doesn’t touch my skin, right Dad?  By the way, congratulations to the St. Louis Cardinals for winning the NL Central last night.  They’re my pick to go to the World Series, but watch out for the Rockies.  I’ve been watching a lot of Rockies games this month, and let me tell you, that is a TEAM.
I’m very happy that my son is really starting to get into baseball.  Of course, there’s the fear that he will become brainwashed into being a Cardinals fan, but if that’s the case, then so be it.  Joshua has been throwing everyone through the loop be his identification with the Boston Red Sox.  As I’ve mentioned before, we have the MLB baseball package on DirecTV, so we spend evenings with baseball on TV.  We’ve pretty much been watching the Red Sox games on NESN and the Rockies games after 9:00.  We switch back and forth to the Cubs game, but it’s been painful.  Without being prompted, Josh correctly identified the Red Sox when I asked him who was playing.  Did he hear it on TV, did he notice the bright red Sox logo on the sleeves of their road jerseys?  Whatever the reason, if Josh is asked if he wants to watch baseball, he always says the Red Sox.  I was at Target recently and bought him a Red Sox hat, which he loves.  He now knows who Big Papi is.  I even gave him my old Starting Lineups of Roger Clemens and Wade Boggs to play with.  Hey, he likes baseball.  On my iTunes, I did have the song “Dirty Water”, by the Standells.  I played it for Josh and told him they play this song when the Red Sox win.  He went nuts.  Yesterday, I filmed him listening to this song.

Good Bye, 2009

I do not want to see the 2009 Cubs succeed.  To do so would be to go against every baseball sensibility I have.  It would be to go against any sense of justice and fairness in this world.  To see the 2009 Cubs succeed would be a slap in the face of the baseball gods (sorry, Dusty Baker).  To see the 2009 Cubs succeed would validate stupidity. When a G.M. takes a 97 win team and needlessly overhauls them in the offseason with head-scratching, nonsensical moves, it should not be able to win.  I want to see the Cubs win a World Series, but my God, not this team.  Cub fans deserve better than this ill-conceived team Jim Hendry has put together and Lou Piniella has watched over.  I’ve heard people say the Cubs will actually make the playoffs because they play most of their remaining games against sub .500 teams such as the San Diego Padres and Washington Nationals.  Sure.  I’m so glad that we have the MLB Extra Innings package on DirecTV so I can actually watch real baseball this September. 

Why is Milton Bradley still on this team?  I don’t care if the Cubs buy out his contract and cut him tomorrow, it is painfully obvious that he cannot remain on this team.  Hey, he even said he does not feel comfortable at Wrigley Field.  Who actually thought Milton Bradley would behave differently on the Cubs, a team that has no obvious leaders?  No, to root for the 2009 Cubs to succeed would mean Milton Bradley succeeding.  It may be juvenile, but I can’t do it.
Good luck to Rich Harden and Aaron Heilman after being claimed off waivers.  Hopefully for them, they will indeed end up someplace else so they don’t have to ride out this train wreck.
Now that the Cubs have new owners, the Ricketts family (Isn’t that the name of a disease?  Maybe it’s fitting for the Cubs), we should expect a lot of moves.  At least I hope so.  Do they really know what they’re getting into?  Will they completely sever all ties with the Tribune and start anew, or will it just be business as usual?  The new owners have a lot of work to do.  I wish them well and hope that they can deliver a Cubs World Series with a team that would live up to the image of a champion.

Take me to your leader

Today’s trade of Ivan Rodriguez to the Texas Rangers reminds me of a missed opportunity for the Cubs.  After Rodriguez’s Marlins stunned the Cubs in the 2003 NLCS and went on to win the World Series, he became a free agent.  At the time I thought it would be a good idea for the Cubs to bring in Rodriguez.  I felt the Cubs could use a strong, smart catcher like Rodriguez to work with the trio of young pitchers the Cubs had, Wood, Prior, and Zambrano.  Rodriguez is also a winner and would quickly become a team leader the Cubs also needed to put them over the top in 2004.  Well, it never happened.  The Cubs went cheap and signed Michael Barrett instead.  We all know how Michael Barrett worked out.  Let’s just say I think it was no coincidence that the Cubs took off in 2007 after Barrett was shipped out.  All this led me to think about the Cubs of the past three years.  Who is the team leader or leaders?  I don’t think the Cubs have any.  The Cubs have a good collection of talented players, but they don’t have any leaders.  You know, the kind of player that will push others, get in others’ faces when need be, driven with a passion to win.  The Yankees have Derek Jeter.  The Red Sox have Jason Varitek.  The Cardinals have Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina.  The Cubs don’t have any such players.  Derrek Lee is a great talent, but watch his body language after a strikeout or an 0-4 performance.  Head down, walking slowly back to the dugout, dejected.  Not inspiring.  Aramis Ramirez, the Cubs most important offensive weapon, seems shy and doesn’t say much.  Soriano and Bradley are all about themselves.  Zambrano is a headcase, who admits his recent injury problems are due to his being out of shape.  Great.  Soto’s a mess.  The Cubs should have signed Pudge this past offseason.  He could have mentored Soto.  Maybe then Soto wouldn’t have become the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.  Ivan Rodriguez to the Rangers leads me to believe we might in fact see the Rangers in the postseason.  Pudge now gets to work with the young pitchers over there as well as Mike Maddux, who is quickly becoming one of the elite pitching coaches if he isn’t already.  The Cubs seem to lack a team leader.  Maybe that’s one reason the Cubs have disappeared in the postseason and are quickly disappearing from this years pennant race.

Let’s face it, the Cubs season is on life support right now with a weekend four game series at Dodger Stadium while the Cardinals have a four game series against the Padres.  The Rockies keep winning, putting the Cubs further out of the Wild Card race.  Now the Cardinals seem to be ready to sign John Smoltz.  I’m sure LaRussa and Duncan will work their magic and get the most out of him whether it be as a starter or in the bullpen.  I believe Smoltz is a pretty good team guy as well.  Oh, and he knows how to help a team to the postseason and win once there.  Good luck, Cubbies.
On another note, I was happy to see that Shane Victorino filed a police report against that imbecile who threw the beer on him.

Mythbuster

It’s only August 11th, but the Cubs are well on their way to being C.U.B.S. (Completely Useless by September).  Sure, the guys that tow the corporate line on TV will say the Cubs are only three games behind St. Louis and they have the best NL record since the All-Star break (well they did before this weekend; they may not have that distinction anymore), but anyone watching the games can’t be fooled.  I feel a need to debunk five common myths about the Cubs right now.

1.  The Cubs are 15-9 since the All-Star Break.  They’re playing their best baseball of the year and are the hottest team in the NL since the All-Star game.

If you watched the Cubs on TV this weekend you would have heard something like the above statement.  Really?  Out of their 15 wins, 9 of them are against the Nationals and the Reds.  The Nationals are an abomination and the Reds completely quit after the All-Star Game.  The Cubs have lost a series to the Phillies, the Marlins, and the Rockies and have looked horrible in each of these series.  The Cubs are better than the Nationals, Reds, and the Astros.  They are much worse than the Phillies, Marlins, Rockies, and Cardinals.  If the Cubs did make the playoffs, who would they be playing?  Not the Nationals or Reds.  The Cubs can not compete with the Phillies, Rockies, or Cardinals.  Can you actually see them winning a playoff series against the Phillies?  No.  I don’t event want to see them make the playoffs if that’s the case.  Another three and out like the last two seasons.  Why bother?  The White Sox are in the same position in their division that the Cubs are.  But at least if the White Sox make the playoffs, it is conceivable that they could reach the World Series.  They just beat up the Yankees and Angels.  For the Cubs, winning the Central would just be a booby prize.
2.  Milton Bradley is now red hot and has brought his average up to .266 and his on base percentage to .401.

It seems like we should be excited about Bradley.  I’m not.  He’s been a bust.  It seems like Milton goes 4-5 only in games that the Cubs are losing 11-1 or winning 11-1.  His hits are completely meaningless.  It’s kind of like when Juan Pierre led the league in hits in 2006.  You couldn’t find 200 more meaningless hits than that.  Yeah, Bradley has raised his average to .266.  Do people think he needs a medal?  If the Cubs lose 2-1. I’ll bet Milton was 0-5.
3.  The Cubs minor league system has saved their season with stand outs like Jake Fox and Sam Fuld.

These two guys are middle aged minor leaguers.  If the Cubs are depending on them this year, GOOD LUCK.  Aside from their ownership questions, the Cubs could not pull off a decent trade this year because they have nothing to move.  How many of the Cubs minor league prospects are coveted by another team?  Ryan Theriot is the best position player the Cubs have produced in I don’t know how long.  Teams like Boston and Philadelphia can orchestrate big trades because their farm systems are loaded.  The Cubs can’t.  The minor leaguers the Cubs have will produce for the short term, but over the long haul they won’t once teams get their scouting reports on them.
4.  The Cubs will win the division because the other teams are not good.
St. Louis has re-energized their team with the additions of DeRosa, Lugo, and Holliday.  Pujols will always be the man, but now he really doesn’t have to be the man night in and night out.  Someone tell me the Cubs now have a better lineup than St. Louis, with or without Aramis Ramirez.  I don’t see it.  The Cardinals pitchers have quietly put together a great season.  They’ve found a closer, something they haven’t has the last two years.  Dave Duncan is probably the best pitching coach in the business.  Tony LaRussa will out manage Lou Piniella any night of the week.  Right now, as much as it pains me, I’m seeing visions of 2006.  It would not surprise me if the Cardinals won the pennant.
5.  None of the Cub injuries right now (Zambrano, Ramirez) look that serious.

Yeah, I’ve heard that one before.
I couldn’t end this entry without a comment about Patrick Kane.  I don’t think too much of him right now.  20 cents?  Really?  No tip?  I do have one question for Mr. Kane, where was all that toughness in the playoffs against Detroit?

It’s Good to be Back

My family and I had a blast on our week long road trip out East.  While in Philadelphia we saw the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, we ate Philly cheesesteaks (Geno’s is the best!  And definitely have the cheez whiz!), and we did the cheesy touristy stuff like have our picture taken at the Rocky statue.

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I just fell in love with Baltimore.  The Inner Harbor is just awesome!  The crab and crab cakes were delicious.  We went to the National Aquarium and I have to say I was blown away by it.  I don’t think I could ever go to the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago again.  It just doesn’t compare.  My son had a lot of fun at the Aquarium as well as the Children’s Discovery Museum.
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While in Baltimore, we went to a game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.  I’ve been to ten different major leagues parks and this by far is my favorite.  I love how they incorporated the B&O Warehouse into the design of the park and the use of Eutaw street as a fan walkway.  Before the game we saw the Geppi’s Entertainment Museum next to the park.  Geppi’s is a pop culture museum and it is very impressive.  For someone who has collected toys and comic books like myself, it is a must see.  Next to Geppi’s is a sports museum, but we only went into the gift shop.  Despite being a Cubs fan, Cal Ripken, Jr. was my favorite player while growing up.  When I found a reasonably priced Ripken jersey in the gift shop, I bought it as a souvenir of Baltimore.
Camden Yards had me before we walked through the gates, but the park sealed the deal with me when the ticket taker noticed my 23 month old son and asked if it was his first ball game.  I said that it was.  He then told us to go to the guest relations office and they would give us something.  My wife and I said, “O.K., let’s go.”  We went over there and they gave my son Joshua a certificate with his name on it and the date signifying it as his first major league baseball game.  I thought this was class.  That certificate will be framed in his room along with pictures from the game.  It was great taking my son to his first game.
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Most of the people around us were Red Sox fans, so Joshua cheered along with everyone else whenever to Red Sox got a hit.  He started to get a little antsy, so we started to leave in the fifth inning.  The Red Sox were putting a hurt on the Orioles and ex-Cub Rich Hill.  It was 9-1 when we left.  Before we left, Joshua got to run around all the retired Oriole numbers they have outside the park.
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Actually, it was good that we did leave because the rain came and I guess the game was delayed almost two hours.  There was no way we could stay through a rain delay with a 23 month old.  We were shocked the next day when we heard the Orioles actually won the game 11-10.  I guess we can always say we were at that game, despite not seeing the end.
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On the way back to Illinois, we stopped in Cincinnati and saw a game at Great American Ballpark.  Joshua seemed to have more fun at this stadium.  He stayed in his seat, happy, until the seventh inning.
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The only reason he started to melt down was because they had a car race up on the jumbo-tron and after it ended Joshua started crying that he wanted more racing cars.  I liked this stadium, also.  It is a very family friendly park.  The best thing of all was that our tickets were only five bucks each and parking in a garage two blocks away was only eight dollars.  So for 23 bucks, we got three tickets and the parking.  I don’t think you can buy one ticket for 23 bucks in Chicago.  Parking at US Cellular Field is either 20 or 25 dollars.  Unbelievable. For the record, the Reds beat the Diamondbacks that night 1-0.

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So we had a fun, family vacation.  It’s great to be back home, however.  While on the road, I kept up with the Cubs.  Let’s see, our catcher has smoked pot, Milton Bradley was sent home during a game by Lou Piniella, the White Sox took two out of three from the Cubs, Alfonso Soriano can no longer hit, and Derrek Lee has been on fire.  We also took the first two games from the Brewers before losing badly Saturday.  In the end, the Cubs are .500, but still within striking distance.  It’s good to see Aramis Ramirez beginning his rehab stint with the Peoria Chiefs.

Does it still mean as much?

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sox_logo.jpgIt’s Cubs 1, White Sox 1
Does this series mean that much anymore?  It seems like every year the teams split the head to head matchup anyhow.  This match up meant more when both teams were in the second division.  Then it was about city “bragging rights”.  I can recall an exchange between a Cubs fan and Sox fan I overheard at Wrigley about ten years ago when I went to one of these battles.  The Cubs fan said “Sox suck!”  The Sox fan came back with “Cubs suck”.  The Cubs fan, left with nothing else, shrugged his shoulders and simply said “I know”.  The best thing about the crosstown showdown is seeing all the T-shirts poking fun at each team being sold outside the stadium.  There are some funny ones.  Since the Sox won the World Series in ’05, city “bragging rights” doesn’t seem to mean as much.  That’s just my opinion.  Sure, Ozzie tries to ruffle the North Sider’s feathers by saying that every time he comes to Wrigley he pukes.  Well, not every team can be blessed with a state of the art facility that despite being less than twenty years old, has already been renovated.  Lou says nothing, of course, because he has no answers right now.  Doesn’t it seem like Lou is just counting his days in Chicago, playing out his contract.  Rumor has it the Yankees want to hire him as a consultant.  Hmm…consult for the Yankees or deal with Milton Bradley for two more years?
Was the Cubs power display in the eight inning yesterday a sign of good things to come or a result of Scott Linebrink throwing batting practice?
With the Indians coming to town today, I propose we trade Milton Bradley and the Gatorade Machine for Mark DeRosa and Kerry Wood.
Judging by the weather today, today’s game may be in jeopardy.  The Cubs have about four or five rain outs to make up already.  That’s not good because they won’t have too many off days in the second half.  As the All-Star game nears, the Cubs enter the make or break portion of their schedule.  At 31-31, the Cubs are now closer to last place then they are to first or second place.  Before the break the Cubs have to play three with Cleveland (don’t sleep on Cleveland, they can score runs and the Cubs can’t), one makeup game with the Braves, three with the first place Tigers, three with the White Sox, three with the Pirates (only two games behind the Cubs right now), four with the Brewers, three with the Braves, and four with the Cardinals.  If the Cubs play well in this stretch, they’ll be fine.  If they don’t, they’ll be done.
I’m looking forward to today’s match up of Cliff Lee vs. Rich Harden.  That is, if they play.

A knee-jerk reaction

So the Cubs have fired hitting coach Gerald Perry.  The same Gerald Perry who was given credit for guiding the Cubs offense to a .278 average in 2008 and a .271 average in 2007.  The Cubs offense has been a complete disappointment this year, hitting only .246 as a team.  Even the Washington Nationals are hitting .259!  I believe that this is just a knee-jerk, desperate reaction to the disappointing season the Cubs are experiencing.  If Perry had great success in 07 and 08, then what’s different in 09?  The team is replacing Perry with Von Joshua, because they believe that since Joshua worked with the AAA players currently on the Cubs roster, then he can have better luck at getting guys like Bobby Scales (.241), Andres Blanco (.212), Micah Hoffpauir (.261), and Mike Fontenot (.236) to hit better.  As if the young guys have been the only problem.  What about Alfonso Soriano hitting only .229?  Aaron Miles hitting .200?  Milton Bradley hitting .227?  These aren’t young guys that Joshua coached in the minors.  Why put all the blame on Perry?  At what point do you look at the players?  Perry was heralded as a big reason behind the team’s division titles the past two years?  What is the difference now?  Let’s look at some of these players.

Mike Fontenot hit .305 last year in 243 at bats.  He hit .278 in 2007 in 234 at bats.  In each of those years he mostly played shortstop and second base.  This year he’s hitting .236 in 182 at bats.  By the all star game he will be close to the at bat totals he had for each of the last two seasons.  Plus he’s played exclusively at third base this year because of Ramirez’s injury.  So, the numbers prove that Fontenot is better as a part time player playing one of the middle infield positions.  The Cubs have a utility player playing every day out of position.  His fielding percentage is .951 this year, the lowest of his career.  That could affect a player’s batting average.
Alfonso Soriano, a .279 career hitter, is hitting .229 this year.  There is talk that he has an injured knee that might be hampering his play.  His defense hasn’t been great this year.  His .953 is the lowest as an outfielder.  Is the injury to blame?  It’s obvious what’s wrong with Soriano.  He cannot lay off the ball that is two feet outside and in the dirt.  A 59 foot pitch in the dirt gets him every time.  I’m sure Gerald Perry has told Soriano to be more selective and not swing at garbage.  If he doesn’t listen, whose fault is that?  Will he magically start listening to Von Joshua?
I don’t know what to say about Milton Bradley.  Bradley has said, “I give 250 percent every day.  If you can’t see that, then something’s wrong.”  I guess something’s wrong.  Bradley’s been in and out of the lineup all year because of his myriad injuries.  Could that have some bearing on his average?  The guy gets hurt jogging to first after a walk.  Bradley’s nickname should be Buyer Beware.
Most of the minor leaguers the Cubs have brought up do not look like major leaguers.  Bobby Scales was a great story, but the fact is that he is 31 and there has to be a reason he did not make the majors sooner.  The other teams are not dumb.  They get advance scouting reports on these guys.  They know their weaknesses.
The loss of Ramirez is also a big part of the offensive woes.
All of this leads to my final point.  At what point does the finger point at Lou Piniella?  Piniella actually told reporters over the weekend when asked about the teams offensive woes that he had no answers and did not know what to do.  He said he juggled the lineup, but that didn’t work so he didn’t know what to do.  Does that inspire confidence in a team when the manager basically comes out and says he doesn’t know what to do?  I get angry because this town blasted Dusty Baker for saying the exact same things.  Dusty used to get made fun of on talk radio for saying things like, “I don’t know, dude” when asked about the teams woes in 2006.  How is Piniella’s response any different?  Why is Piniella getting a free pass?  Piniella seems to be going through the motions.  Why wasn’t Bradley benched the day after his blunder filled day Friday especially after he got defensive and said he gives 250 percent?  More and more it seems that Piniella is losing control of the team.  Is the answer firing Gerald Perry.  Piniella said he didn’t know what to do, so the firing of Perry does seem like a knee-jerk reaction of a desperate team.
The Von Joshua era begins tonight as the Cubs and White Sox battle in the first edition of the 2009 Cross Town Classic.  I predict Soriano hits a home run and the move will be immediately heralded as genius.  But how will it turn out by October?