Monday, March 31, 2008

Well, here we go!

Finally, 7 months after my last post, here we are at Opening Day 2008. Among my New Years Resolutions, is the desire to be more regular in blogging, even if it is just a few paragraphs. Based on recent happenings, I can tell you that there will be lots to talk about this year.

In the last month, Mrs. Florida Cubbie has informed me that she is pregnant, so around November 18-21, we will welcome a new Cub fan to the family. The debate of baby names is raging in our home, and we have both agreed to some sort of Cub themed name somewhere in there.

But let's get down to business here and discuss the Cubs. If you are a Cub fan, you are probably well aware of all the changes made in the roster this offseason. Out is Jacque Jones and in is Kosuke Fukudome, the hot-shot Japanese outfielder with a penchant for plate patience and cannon for an arm. Felix Pie gets the starting job at center field, at least for now, with recent Blue Jays import Reed Johnson waiting in the wings and probably platooning with Pie. Left field has a presumably healthy Alfonso Soriano waiting and swinging a hot bat in Spring Training.

Aramis Ramirez, of course, is at third base, and there is no reason to expect anything but stellar defense and a powerful stick at the plate from him. He has slimmed down some and appears to be in excellent shape.

Shortstop is manned by first-year starter Ryan Theriot, who practically got the job by default. Theriot had hot streaks last year, but also had some cold snaps that made a lot of fans question whether he was ready to be an everyday player. I'll say this on Theriot -- he has a fantastic passion on the field and hustles his butt off, and I think that will make us okay there. If he can hit .275 or better this year and play slick defense, then we will be just fine. He has moments of brilliance, but also has times that make you scratch your head and wonder if he has it all there. I like his hustle, and if he can keep his focus, then I think we will be fine.

Despite all the offseason rumors about Brian Roberts being acquired through a trade to be our starting second baseman, Mark DeRosa has the starting job, and I couldn't be happier. Mark is a solid player, versatile, and is a great situational hitter. He is a capable defender, and arguably the team's most valuable player last year, filling in at several different positions to keep the team chugging along during their run to the division title last season. I think this team will be fine with him in the 4 hole.

At first, is the pillar Derrek Lee. Finally, I think he has had enough time to let his wrist heal from the injury two years ago, and worked hard in the offseason to gain confidence in his swing without favoring that wrist. He will be a gold-glove defender as always, and I predict he will have a great season and post MVP numbers and raise his power production from last years numbers.

Rounding out the infield is my pick for the Rookie of the Year award, our catcher Geovanny Soto. He has tremendous potential offensively, and is a very sound defensive catcher. He has a good rapport with the pitching staff and they respect him. I look for him to be a huge contributor to this team this season.

Our pitching staff is not great, but it is very capable. Of course, we have Big Z heading it up, and he is also slimmed up and appears in better shape. Ted Lilly will be an innings eater and if he replicates his numbers from last year, then we will be in good shape also. Rich Hill had a good 2007 and had a lot of strikeouts. He was steady and there is no reason to think he won't duplicate or improve. Ryan Dempster makes the move from closer to starter, and has looked pretty good this spring. Marquis rounds out the rotation and, despite an awkward second half last season, provides a reliable starter who can chew up innings and rely on the offense to support him.

The other notable change is the movement -- nay, the WINNING of the closers job by Kerry Wood. He has looked absolutely filthy this spring, and his velocity and command is eerily reminiscent of the Kerry Wood of old. If -- and this is a big if -- he stays healthy, he could be one of the most dominant closers in baseball.

So, as I sit here taking the day off work, watching WGN and the unveiling of the new Ernie Banks statue, I am filled with hope, pride, and excitement. It's not just a feeling of hoping for a championship, but a sense of entitlement due to hard work and building a team of winners.

So, we'll see how this goes. I am about to start cooking some hot dogs and getting ready to settle in to the recliner for this game.

So, Cub fans, I will be here blogging this yearm 1000 miles from Wrigley. Now, in the meantime I am off to work on Cub names for he baby.

I wonder if she'll go for Alfonso Fukudome Sandberg Shawon Wrigley Grace Ernie, and just how old does a baby have to be before baptism by Old Style?

Go Cubs!

Monday, August 27, 2007

A conversation with Cubs 2B Mike Fontenot

Recently, I had the opportunity to catch up with Cubs infielder Mike Fontenot to discuss things about the season, his career, and life in general.


Florida Cubbie: Mike, first of all, thanks for allowing me to interview you. Taking into consideration my disdain for the word "interview", I would like to just call this a conversation.

Mike Fontenot: Anytime, it's a pleasure to talk to fans.

FC: Let's face it though, Font. You would much rather be talking to Erin Andrews or Rosie O'Donnell, am I correct?

MF: Halfway correct.

FC: There's a lot of talk on certain Cub fan blog sites of things that go on in the minor leagues -- conspiracy theories if you will. Speaking of Rosie, one theory is that Cedeno plays poorly inthe big leagues because he has a "certain someone" back in Iowa he wants to get back to see. Any truth to that rumor?

MF: Well, Ronny has a certain aura about him in Iowa. It's not uncommon to have guys be snazzy dressers, but it's odd to see that in a place like Iowa. The women have winter coats there, kind of an extra layer to keep them warm. It's quite nice really, and nuzzling up beside one brings back mammaries -- err, memories of being in the womb. Maybe he has bonded with that feeling and longs for it in his loins.

FC: Font -- do you mind if I call you Font?

MF: Call me anything you want, man.

FC: What about Eugene?

MF: Whatever you want.

FC: Okay, Mr. McMilkySkin. You were acquired from the Orioles in a trade that sent Sammy Sosa to the O's. Is that a career highlight, to be involved in a trade with a player with that star power?

MF: Well, I wouldn't call it a highlight. It's pretty demeaning because it took like, 4 or 5 of my caliber players to make the work. You get used to that in baseball, it's a business. I am thinking of naming my child "Player to be Named Later" so that I know he will have a job in this game.

FC: Milk, I mean, Mike...I have to bring this up. You're pretty white. Like, borderline from being the Chris Mullin of baseball. Do you ever feel, you know, really weird standing next to someone much darker, say Felix Pie?

MF: Wow, that's a low blow. Felix is very dark. I mean, one time in Iowa, we had a night practice, and he was fined for being absent, even though he was right by me. In the minors, when we were on the bus, we would put all the guys who wanted to rest and sleep on the back of the bus. All the guys who wanted to play cards would go up front. If the card players needed light, I would go to the front of the bus, and Felix would go to the back. It was our own little traveling solar system.

FC: So, who would have been, you know...the planets and stuff?

MF: Murton would have definitely been the North Star. Greatest minor leaguer I have ever seen. Soto is a close second, he rakes in the minors.

FC: There's a rumor of Mark Cuban buying the Cubs. What would you think of that?

MF: I'm all for it, I like being pampered. We could use a couple of tanning beds in the clubhouse. Maybe a Supercuts or something to keep Hank's Mexi-Mullett trimmed up nice and tight.

FC: Tell me about the dark secrets of the clubhouse and being on the road with these guys for most of the year. Let's start with Dempster, who is regarded as a funny guy himself.

MF: Demspter is addicted to tech stuff. He carries his laptop on the road, and enjoys talking dirty with himself using text-to-speech software on lonely west-coast flights.

FC: So tech stuff is his hobby?

MF: No, his hobby is blowing saves. (laughs) Actually, I think he is getting a kickback from medical researchers who use his outings as stress tests for patients. It saves money on the treadmill test, they can just tune in the 9th inning and get it done faster.

FC: Tell me about D-Lee.

MF: He's tall. He is like the Sears Tower, and I'm like, a strip mall or something. Run down, low-rent, and generally loved by poor people.

FC: Do fans ever yell out to you by your nickname of "Font"?

MF: Umm, yeah, sometimes. It's not a unique name. Not like McMilkFace or whatever you called me.

FC: Do you ever worry that when someone yells out "Font" that they may be actually a fan of Times New Roman or Sans Serif?

MF: I have no idea what that is, is that an Italian wine or something?

FC: What was your best career day with the Baltimore organization?

MF: The day I heard I was being sent to the Cubs.

FC: Growing up in Louisiana, did you ever eat mud?

MF: It was a staple of the Slidell diet.

FC: You and Theriot have played together a lot. Is there a mental connection that you two have grown to share?

MF: We're not gay, if that's what you are getting at. He's a spaz, man. Riot is a grinder. He gets all the ladies too. He is a poor man's Brad Paisley, but he doesn't sing as good. He tries to win karaoke contests. His sensual and godlike renditions of the Star Spangled Banner made him an instant Iowa celebrity when he was awarded the entire Iowa Lottery. He won like 14 ears of corn. It was crazy.

FC: Wow. Enough to feed the team almost.

MF: Almost! He is a mysterious being, often shrouded in secret musings about such odd topics like "If someone owns a piece of land, do they own it all the way to the center of the earth?". He once sent an email to the UN Ambassador to the country of Botswana asking to change the name of their country to "Autobotswana". I guess he likes Transformers.

FC: In light of recent troubles with athletes, does it concern you about the role of athletes as role models for children?

MF: Nah, most parents do a good job with their kids, but I try to be positive. After the Michael Vick deal, I started "Bad Bloomz Kennels" andhave begun breeding dandelions for fighting and gambling purposes.

FC: Dang, that's ruthless.

MF: No, I breed them so they don't use pistils. I don't allow weapons and handguns.

FC: Interesting. And that appeals to you?

MF: Well, it helps me stamen out of trouble. I can petal my wares to buyers who are looking for that kind of thing.

FC: Let's do a little word association. I'll say a word, you tell me the first thing you think of.

MF: Shoot...

FC: Error.

MF: My computer.

FC: Pimento Cheese.

MF: Sweet Lou's breath.

FC: Natural Light.

MF: Tony LaRussa's breath.

FC: Noodle

MF: Either catching catfish back home in Louisiana, or Jacque Jones' arm.

FC: Steve Goodman

MF: That movie "The Babe". Man, he was awesome, looked just like Babe Ruth. I liked him as Dan Connor in Roseanne too.

FC: about "lazy"

MF: Stuart Scott's eye.

FC: Mike, I know you have to get ready for the game, so thanks for your time and good luck.

MF: Thanks a lot, it has been fun. Tell all the guys at that I read all the time and they can lay off the personal attacks. I have feelings too, you know.


[Note: This interview is fictional, and never happened. This was written as humor and/or satire, and does not represent the opinions, thoughts, or words of Mike Fontenot.]

This piece was inspired by the minor league players of the Iowa Cubs. Many of the players claim Mike Fontenot is the funniest teammate they have ever had, so I chose to poke some fun with it.

Until next time, GO CUBS!

Florida Cubbie

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Great Expectations

There is something different.

I used to view a good winning streak of a few games as unexpected. I was happy with splitting series, and content with not getting swept by teams with great records.

Suddenly, I find our team not just getting on small streak, but beating teams in contention with regularity, and winning series in ways that are mind-boggling.

Make no mistake, this isn't a lucky break here and there. This team is working as a coherent unit and manufacturing wins. We have a lot of talent on this team, a wily mix of veterans and rookies. Some veterans have World Series and playoff experience, even a World Series ring or two. Our rookies have Championship level experience in college ranks, and you can feel the hunger for a Championship for this team. These guys want to win it.

Consider this:

1. Our crop of key stars on this team -- Soriano, Ramirez, Lee, Zambrano -- have been relatively quiet, with the exception of Zambrano, who is having a Cy Young year. Lee has suffered a power outage, with only 12 homeruns through August 5th. However, he hasn't been a quiet hitter. He sports a robust .327 average, and over 25% of his hits this season have been doubles. He's got 58 RBI's, and could likely finish the season with over 100. In spite of his homerun dropoff, he is still hitting the ball well and finding the gaps. Soriano is pretty much what we expected, but also not what we expected. It is asking a lot to have him repeat his season of magic last year with the Nationals, but we would have at least thought he would have more than 18 homeruns at this point. He strikes out a lot, and is often impatient at the plate, which is somewhat of an understatement in itself. However, he is a threat when he is on base, and has been lifting his average lately. When he's on, he is on. Ramirez is having a good year, and is one of the more clutch batters in the lineup. His .318 average mixed with 68 RBI's has made him a huge part of this offense. In addition, he is having a gold glove year at 3B with only 5 errors.

2. Our rookies, who generally have had some degree of growing pains as they come up to the big show, are playing with piss and vinegar. Ryan Theriot has been a little firestarter, and is defining himself as a grinder. The kid does everything he can to get on base, and manufacture opportunities for the team. Mike Fontenot has been a nice addition to the team, and played very well. He has cooled off somewhat since his incredible callup, and is hitting a reasonable .308 with 28 RBI's in just the 48 games he has played.

3. Bullpen. What on earth can you say about the good job our bullpen has done? They have been incredibly effective at holding down the opposition in the last few innings, and the starters have confidence in turning the ball over to them. Ohman is iffy at best, most times, and Howry is spotty. For the most part, Lou has done a great job in feeling out the bullpen and putting in the guy who gives us the best opportunity to win. With the addition of Wood back, if healthy and strong, it s like adding another great arm at the trade deadline. Even though we are all cautiously optimistic, Wood's rehab outing have been great, with zero pain or complications, and he seems to have his mechanics right. We can only hope.

4. Lou Piniella. People can say what they want, but he has brought a new culture to this team. Lou will not stand silently and be a part of the "Loveable Loser" mantra. Lou brings excitement and a genuine sense of responsibility to the team. If you don't do your job, he has made it no secret that he will find someone who will get the job done. Players are motivated, and with every win under their belts, they gain confidence and believe in the team. Managers can bring that to a team, and sometimes it's all it takes.

5. Hope. What is stronger than that? The fans are feeding off this team, and the team feeds off the fans. It's a cycle that perpetuates over and over again. We no longer expect to be an average team, drinking beer, and basking in the sun of Wrigley Field. Now, we tingle with anticipation of drinking beer, basking in the glory of playoffs, and the hope of marching to the World Series.

We hope. We play. We're coming.

Florida Cubbie

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Go 'head Mr. Kendall...

Well, here we are.

Knock, knock, knockin' on Heaven's door.

Cubs are right there, winning games, and the Brewers are trying like hell to not lose one, lest we tie for first.

The Cubs are having an awesome last month or so. Brewers, not so much.

Brew Crew has lost 9 of their last 14, and Cubbies have probably won 10 of their last 14.

Jason Kendall, who I wasn't too high on initially, has seemed to be finally getting comfortable. He is settled in and has come up with a few timely hits and some key RBI's.

In his honor, I have rewritten the words to the song Mr. Wendall by the 90's group Arrested Development.

Sing along kiddies, and GO CUBS!

*start music*

Here, have a shinguard,
in fact no brotherman here, have two
Two shinguards means nothing for me,
but it means a big deal to you
Be strong, serve Cubs only,
know that if you do, beautiful Wrigley awaits
That's the poem I wrote for the first time
I saw a man with no average, no ribbies, no HR's.
Mr. Kendall, that's his name,
A's traded him cause they thought he was a no-one
Never thought twice about his lack of homeruns,
until I had the chance to really get to see one
Now that I know him, to give him playing time isn't charity
He gets a weekly hit, I buy him some cleats
And to think Cubs spend all that money on big prospects,
still most of them can't even compete

Go ahead, Mr. Kendall
hey hey hey hey-a-a-a yeah
Go ahead, Mr. Kendall
hey hey hey hey-a-a-a yeah
Yeaaaahhhh Mr. Kendall

Mr. Kendall has freedom,
a freedom that you and I think is dumb
Free to be without the worries of a high batting average
or driving in too many runs
His only worries are wild pitches
and an occasional harassment by the baserunner and a stolen base
Washed up we call him,
but I just saw him get his first hit since May
Cubs fans, are we really fans, yes or no?
Who are we to judge?
When dozens of players could be easily traded
we took the man who is the opposite of Pudge
Mr. Kendall has tried to warn us about our ways
but we don't hear him talk
Is it thanks to him we've got this far,
and we goin' far, cause on him we walk (and steal)
Mr. Kendall, a catcher, a human in flesh,
but no passed-ball
I feed you dignity to catch with pride,
realize that you'll be hitting .250 in the fall

Mr. Kendall, yeah yeah yeah, Lord, Mr. Kendall

Go ahead, Mr. Kendall
hey hey hey hey-a-a-a yeah
Go ahead, Mr. Kendall
hey hey hey hey-a-a-a yeah
Yeaaaahhhh Mr. Kendall

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Personal Sacrifice and a Cubs Championship

I originally posted this at BleedCubbieBlue this morning, but got kind of busy, and in spite of my injury, not sure how much typing I will be able to do later today, so I am being lazy and reposting it here.

It's an oft-said thing, to sacrifice something for something else. But what if it were true? This Cub fan takes the events of the last few days and ponders on whether it is worth giving up or hanging on.

I sat in the emergency room Sunday evening, and thought about the events of that day. Technically, I lay in the emergency room, staring at the ceiling above and listening to the conversation between two women in the "room" next to me, separated by only a musty looking curtain that had to be picked up on consignment. It reminded me of something I could see in my grandma's house as a young child. Their conversation about palmetto bugs, spiders, and the heebie-jeebie factor of each one, coupled with the hydrocodone and natural endorphins in my blood, lulled me into a sedate and tranquil rest.
I began thinking about baseball, and ultimately, the Cubs. I wondered what the result of the game was. I wondered about the Brewers, and Braves, and Padres, and every other team and scenario to help us improve a game. Pick up a game here, a half-game there, and the trade deadline. All of these thoughts ended abruptly when a jolt of pain shot down my arm. I opened my eyes to a nurse, pouring cold saline water on my thumb. She had a sweet smile and a soothing voice, but she was bringing the pain.

Prior to this day, I had never cut off a thumb before. In fact, I had never cut off any part of my body, generally because I have a very good relationship with my body. It allows me to put two feet on the floor every day and stand up, walk, eat, drink, and attempt to have sex with my wife fairly regularly. (For the stat heads, I am under the Mendoza line on my "batting average")

But this fateful day, when my left thumb and butcher knife got together for a one-on-one confrontation, the knife was the clear winner, and I sat pondering the pain, the throbbing, the fact that I won't be playing guitar for a while. I won't ever be a professional hitchhiker. I may offend someone with a "thumbs up" gesture. I might never throw a perfectly horizontal Frisbee path again. Hell, I might not ever be able to review a movie accurately.

But it wasn't all that bad. When it's all said and done, I will only be short about a 1/2" or so, and let's face it, according to my wife I am quite used to that, so that's no devastating blow.

And the last two days I have been able to stay home, elevate the hand, and watch Cubs baseball and SportsCenter until I am absolutely convince that Stuart Scott has had a stroke on the left side of his face and no one is man enough to tell him. It's not a lazy eye he has...that damn thing is just sorry.

I digress, however.

As I have reveled in blogging, ESPN,, and of course BleedCubbieBlue, I have found my mind wandering. One of the things I proudly proclaimed to my wife, much to her unbelievably predictable apathy, was the following:

If asked on Sunday if I would cut the end of my thumb off if the Cubs would be guaranteed a World Series victory this year, then the answer would be a resounding YES.

And my wife looked at me like I had just grabbed an 11-year old boy's ass.

Well, maybe I wouldn't want to cut it off again, as that is pretty traumatic, but would I give up the end of my thumb for a WS Championship? Abso-frickin-lutely. Only if Jessica Biel were doing the cutting off. Or that chick from the RGX Body Spray commercials. They are both yummy.

This led to some intrigue by Mrs. Florida Cubbie, who took advantage of my newfound honesty to posit some scenarios of her own, which were going nowhere fast:

Mrs: "Would you divorce me for a championship?"
Me: "No. Hell no. Never."

Mrs: "Would you sacrifice a hand or foot?"
Me: "Possibly. Left foot only. "

Mrs: "For the NL Championship?"
Me: "No way. All or none, baby."

Mrs: "Would you sell our house for a World Championship?"
Me: "Yes, way under market value"

Mrs: "Would you offer to sell me for sex to rich men several times a week?"
Me: Hell yes, if there were a market.

Damn, she threw me a curve ball. Now I have a black eye to go with my shortened thumb.

Either way, she went along with me on several of the questions, and we have agreed that if the Cubs go to the World Series, we will do whatever it takes, including a 2nd mortgage, to get tickets to a game. Wise? No. The right thing to do? Yes.

So, I don't know if this has ever been kicked around here, but it made me wonder...

What would you do for a World Series Championship? If God, Allah, Buddha, Spaghetti Monster, or whatever deity you may or may not believe in offered you the chance to sacrifice something for a Championship for the Cubbies, would you? And what would it be?

Ideally, maybe something bad that has actually happened in your life this year, that you really wish didn't happen (i.e. losing a thumb), but in hindsight maybe you would say, "Hey...I'd take this if I knew we would win it all!"

Yes, I am still bored today, but a big THUMBS UP to all who feel like participating! Even if you aren't a Cub fan, apply this same philosophy to your team.

I am not necessarily proposing anyone cut off a digit. It's painful, although there is a lot to be said for Lortab.

And a lot to not be said. Anyone who can become addicted to this stuff has deeper issues than chemical dependency. Like, addicted to stomach sickness.

I guess what I meant was, if something bad has already happened to you this year, and you had the option of taking it away or going back to before it happened, and fixing it, or just letting it go on as is and guaranteeing the WS championship, would you do it?

Fer instance...losing part of my thumb sucks -- no pun intended. But, as much as I would like to have it back, I am already through the worst part. Would I go back and redo it all? Nah...

Besides, I have already made up some good lies to tell folks as the years go by to make me look really tough.

Top 10 Lies Florida Cubbie will tell about his thumb to appear tougher:

10. Lost it in a bar fight, blindfolded, with a machete-wielding guy who thought I was Brad Pitt.

9. Stopped a bank robber by putting my thumb over the barrel of the gun, a la Bugs Bunny.

8. Got drunk at the Daytona 500, stood trackside during lap 133 and tried to thumb a ride.

7. Climbed out on the wing of an airplane with a stalled engine and spun-started (WTF?!? Is that proper english?) err...spin-started the prop before climbing back inside to land the plane myself, therefore saving an entire family of incredibly rich nymphomaniac blind pantie-models.

6. On a dare, laid my thumb on a train track to see if it would derail the train. It did.

5. Blocked a Chuck Norris kick with it.

4. While waiting for a Jacques Jones relay throw to dribble in to the infield, a starving carnivorous earthworm popped up from the ground and had a quick bite of lunch.

3. Stopped a radioactive nuclear meltdown at a power plant by plugging the hole in the reactor with my thumb -- for 9 days.

2. Mocked Roger Ebert in the presence of his twin brother, Richard, the 6-Time world champion ninja assassin.

1. Tried to retrieve a Hostess Twinkie cake out of Prince Fielder's mouth.

So, I can live with my injury, but it sure would make my year a lot better if we can take it on home and close it out, and revel in the streets of Wrigleyville for weeks in a drunken stupor, until just hearing a Steve Goodman song raises our blood-alcohol level to .28

Ahh...those will be the days.

Rock on, y'all are the best.

Florida Cubbie

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Kendall, Trade Deadline Rumors and other goings-on

Well, I never thought I would be saying this, but I was pretty disappointed in the Cubs dropping two in a row to the D-backs. Just a couple months ago I was happy with winning two in a row against anyone. It's amazing what a good run will do for a team and it's fans.

I have to admit I am having mixed feelings on the Jason Kendall acquisition. Now, don't get me wrong, I absolutely have the utmost repsect for Kendall, who is the definition of a grinder. An old-school hard-nosed ballplayer who busts his butt for the team. I will always welcome one of those guys to my team. However, when you look at his offensive numbers, you wonder what we really benefit from picking him up. I'mno idiot, and I know that pitcher rapport is a big deal. Pitchers love having him behind the plate, but is that factor alone worth it? We have some promising young catchers in the organization in Koyie Hill and Geovany Soto, and Hill has been playing good lately, as did Soto in his brief stint. What I find myself wondering is at what point on the scale does pitcher rapport and "grinder status" outweigh young talent and development. Would I take a little more offense and stronger arm to throw out baserunners (Hill and Soto) or pitcher rapport and veteran leadership (Kendall).

As of right now, Kendall is 1-11 since joining the Cubs, and had a couple defensive miscues that allowed a couple runs to score. Hill has gone 3-9 in that same span, and driven in 6 runs.

While Soto's 1-7 in 2 games this year for the Cubs is not impressive, I believe he needs some time in the show to get his feet wet. The young man is tearing it up in AAA, and likely will be the catcher of the future for the Cubs.

Let me reiterate, I am not downing Kendall, I love the guy and I am glad to have him. I believe Hill and Soto are good pieces to the puzzle, and I would rather see those two battle for the position. A little healthy competition goes a long way to solidify positions, as has been apparent with the the recent departure of Cesar Izturis, after having been outplayed and outhustled by Ryan Theriot.

What I wonder, is would we have been better off to look for a piece of the puzzle that would better suit us as a whole? Perhaps some bullpen help? Another outfield option in right field? I get the feeling that we took Kendall just because he was available. Just because he is a good name doesn't necessarily mean we should have taken him.

However, be that as it may, we have him, and I welcome him. I would love nothing more for him to gete back into his NL groove and tote a robust .300-.320 average and be the gritty grinder we all know. I think his bust-ass mentality will rub off and rejuvenate some of the guys on the team. We already have scrappy young guys who are natural-born gamers, and that's what this team will need to make it's run down the stretch. Fontenot and The Riot have been impressive, as has Hill to a lesser degree. Ramirez has been on fire the last month, and the team is playing with a lot of confidence.

I noticed when Ohman (in our house called "Oh, man..." usually) came in to pitch the other night, if it was just a chance to showboat him for a trade. Other bloggers and analysts have theorized on this also, so I can't imagine that this was just a coincidence.

Now, let's check out some trade deadline rumors, and I'll give you my input on them, for what it's worth.

  • Sammy Sosa - No. No way. Nyet. Non. Nada chance-o in hell-o does Sammy come back to Chicago. Not for nostalgia, not for help, and damn sure not for outfield. Sammy was a great period of time for Cub fans in Chicago, and that is the way we want it to stay. Good memories. Sammy has made a strong case for Comeback Player of the Year award, but not for Chicago Comeback Player. Good luck, Sammy, I really do wish you all the best, but it won't be back at Wrigley.
  • Jose Contreras - Contreras gave up 10 earned runs on 10 hits in only 7.1 innings pitched Friday against the Red Sox. Needless to say, he earned the loss in it. That makes his record 1-8 with a stout 7.56 ERA in his last 10 starts. His velocity is way down this year, and his command is having major issues. I would avoid this guy like herpes.
  • Ken Griffey Jr. - Hey, I am not even going to bite my tongue on this...I would love to have Griffey roaming right field at Wrigley. But the only way I see this happening is if Mark Cuban buys the team and spends the money to pay Griffey. I don't see Griffey going anywhere before the trading deadline, but I would expect the Red to try to move Dunn before the deadline to a contending club. I wouldn't even put Griffey on the Cubs radar unless the new owner makes it clear that they want to spend a lot of money. There is a lot of marketability there, and who wouldn't want a Soriano-Pie-Griffey outfield? Or for that matter, this infield...
  • Alex Rodriguez - Absolutely not going anywhere until this season is over, and I really don't expect him to go anywhere next. Since we are focusing on the Cubs, let me make this clear. Jim Hendry isn't getting A-Rod unless Cuban buys the team or some other free-spender. But....I do salivate over a Lee-Theriot-Rodriguez-Ramirez infield. Wat the Cubs do in this post-season have a lot to do with what big name free-agents may want to come play on the North side.
  • Kenny Lofton - Not likely that Lofton will even be traded prior to the July 31 deadline, but if he does, I would look for the Brewers to make amove for him. They are a young team, and as the season runs out, they are going to need to try to get some veteran leadership on that team to mentor the young players on their roster.
  • Zach Greinke - I heard this rumor the other day, and it kind of intrigues me. Greinke is a reliable righty to add to any bullpen. He pitches a lot of fastballs, and has a pretty wicked slider that he likes to throw if he is behind in the count to get back in the count and even it up. He is not overpowering by any means, but he isn't exactly a pushover. He doesn't spend a lot of time on the DL, and at his price, probably around $500K, would be a good arm to add to the pen, which we will need down the stretch. However, with Wood making great progress in rehab, and thinking he could be back with the club in a couple weeks, I would imagine the Cubbies will hold off on this deal.
  • Eric Byrnes - I don't think the Cubs would go after Byrnes, at least not if he is looking for a 5-year, 45-million dollar deal. He has decent numbers, hitting over .300 this year with 14 HR. Of course, it would be contingent on him being willing to move to RF, but if we are gonna spend that kind of money, would an owner rather have Griffey out there? No doubt Byrnes is more durable, and the bleacher bums would love his rough and tough blue-collar style out there. However, I don't think Byrnes is even on the Cubs radar, and likely won't go anywhere this season. He will be a big item come winter though.
  • Chad Cordero - No. Dempster is still the man in Chicago, and if he isn't, it would likely go to Howry or Marmol, who has been electric lately. I don't see the Cubs anytime soon paying for a closer.
  • Brad Lidge - Same as above, except add to it that the Astros have said they aren't moving Lidge.

On tap for this week is the Cubs trying to gain ground on the Brewers, currently 3 games ahead of us in the NL Central. We kick off a series with St. Louis tonight with Zambrano on the mound, as Milwaukee battles the Reds. Let's pull for Griffey to have big nights.

As always, feel free to email me with any questions or comments, or just to get my thoughts on anything. I will have a mailbag soon and post any comments and responses.

So, let's play ball!

Florida Cubbie