Tag Archive | "Chicago Cubs"

Making The Winter Rounds In the NL Central

While much of the success that a team has comes from its own preparation, what goes on around them also plays a huge factor. The Cardinals have been among the most successful clubs at concisely addressing their needs this winter, but how has the rest of the National League Central done?

Washington Nationals v St. Louis Cardinals

What is for certain is that the margin for error was slim-to-none last summer in the heart of the National League. While the Cardinals succeeded in winning the division, they finished only three games ahead of the Pirates, and seven in front the third-place Reds. And this feat was achieved only by a September surge that pulled them out of a three-way race that was separated by less than a two games entering the season’s final frame.

Even below the upper tier of the division, the Brewers and the Cubs are both looking to develop a new phase for their respective fortunes. Amid the Ryan Braun Biogenesis fallout and the continued resurfacing in Chicago, both teams finished well outside of the race, but continue to look for ways to tweak the approach.

However, the NL Central has not been a division that has made a sweeping amount of substantial additions. In fact, many faces from each team have departed and the action to replace them has not been as loud as it has been in, say the American League East or West. Thus far, only the Cardinals have made any major additions of note, and when combined with what’s in place already, potential the NL Central gauntlet could be a thing of the past potentially.

Here is how the winter has gone for the Cardinals’ divisional neighbors thus far, and what could be to come before the winter turns to spring…

 

Pittsburgh Pirates (94-68 in 2013)

Gains: Clint Barmes (resigned), Chris Stewart, Edison Volquez

Losses: Marlon Byrd (Phillies), Garrett Jones (Marlins), Justin Morneau (Rockies)

The detail: The Pirates have let both of the main parts they added for the stretch run last year walk, which should come as no surprise. While the presence of Jose Tabata and Gaby Sanchez makes this bearable, the loss of Jones as well leaves a substantial loss in power potential. Add in the pending free agent status of AJ Burnett, and this is a team that has more than a few questions currently. The addition of Volquez is both an attempt to pad this looming issue, as well as to catch the same type of former All-Star lightning in a bottle they did with Liriano last summer.

What’s Looming: Burnett will either resign or retire most likely, and it is a decision that could linger into the spring. Pittsburgh is armed with a young core and could look to add some value priced veterans, but they are likely to take a step back in everyday potency as long as their first base situation is up in the air.

 

Cincinnati Reds (90-72 in 2013)

Additions: Brayan Pena, Skip Schumaker

Subtractions: Shin-Soo Choo (Rangers), Ryan Hanigan (Rays), Xavier Paul (Orioles), Dusty Baker (Fired)

The detail: The Reds have probably seen the most change of any team in the division, which started with the firing of manager Dusty Baker a day after their loss in the NL Wild Card Game. On the field, the expected loss of Choo came, and they flirted with the idea of moving Brandon Phillips as well, but were scoffed by the Yankees before it could go through. Their operation has been based in promoting from within (trading Hanigan to open up a full-time role for Devin Mesoraco), and rounding out the bench this offseason, with additions such as the former Cardinal Schumaker. They are very much a team that is not quite rebuilding, but is definitely retooling their approach on the run.

What’s Looming: As it stands today, the Reds are a wild card, and very much the definition of a third place-level club. They will return the majority of the top half of their staff and every day lineup, but the future of Bronson Arroyo and where he lands next year potentially removes a vital safety valve in their rotation. Billy Hamilton will take over the reins in the center field, and will be asked to slide into the leadoff spot that Choo masterfully performed in last year.

 

Milwaukee Brewers (74-88 in 2013)

Additions: None

Subtractions: Corey Hart (Mariners)

The Story: 2013 stunk for Milwaukee. They couldn’t get a steady effort on the mound, injuries and suspensions killed their offensive potential and they could never crack into the competitive mix in the division. On the heels of it all, they’ve been the quietest team in the division, without much coming or going. This is either a sign that they feel they can compete with a return to full strength, or that they are simply hamstrung by what is available in the market—and what fits their needs.

What’s Looming: The loss of Hart hurts, as they struggled to find a replacement for him last season, and now don’t have a clear successor for him now that he has officially moved on. They have had interest in Mets first baseman Ike Davis, but have been reluctant to depart with any of their young arms to do so. However, with either Sean Halton or Juan Francisco as their only viable replacements, their hand could be forced eventually.

 

Chicago Cubs (66-96 in 2013)

Additions: Justin Ruggiano, Ryan Roberts, George Kottaras, Jose Veras, Wesley Wright

Subtractions: Dioner Navarro (Blue Jays)

The Story: The Cubs have once again been mostly quiet, having their name thrown into the rumor mill before they quickly pull it back out themselves. However, they have steadily gone along adding parts to their shed, rebuilding their bench completely and adding a new closer in Jose Veras as well.

What’s Looming: In the end, they could potentially make the biggest name splash of any team in the division, as they are said to be major suitors for newly available Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka. If the franchise decides to go all in to add him (and he agrees to come to the lowly Cubs over the bigger names on the market), they would have a legitimate ace-caliber arm for the first time in years. Jeff Samardzija’s name has been often floated, but at this juncture, the club’s likely opening day starter as things stand now will likely stay in tow for a bit longer.

 

Posted in Cardinals, MLBComments (0)

Best record important, but St. Louis Cardinals should have Adam Wainwright ready to start playoffs

The St. Louis Cardinals will be the National League Central Division champions as they enter the playoffs, but where they begin the postseason is still an important mystery.

Wainwright

The Cardinals took a one-half-game lead over the Atlanta Braves for the best record in the National League into play Thursday when the Braves face the Philadelphia Phillies while the Cardinals wait to begin their final three-game series of the season at Busch Stadium against the Chicago Cubs.

As was the case in the Cardinals’ World Series championship season of 2011, they will face the worst team in the NL Central while the Braves play the Phillies. However, the Cardinals played the Houston Astros to close that season, and the Cardinals and Braves were fighting just to make the playoffs in 2011.

Now they are competing for the best record in the National League, which would guarantee them home-field advantage through the National League Championship Series.

The Cardinals don’t have Chris Carpenter to send to the mound in the final game of the season as they did two years ago, but they still have one of the best pitchers in the league ready to go in the final series, if necessary.

But here’s the thing. It is not necessary.

The Cardinals could pitch Adam Wainwright on Saturday, which would be his regularly scheduled day to start, or they could hold him back until Sunday if they need a win on the final day of the season to clinch the best record in the league.

However, if he pitches Sunday, that would put him on short rest to start Game 1 of the National League Division Series, and the Cardinals would almost certainly push him back to Game 2.

A third option would be to shut Wainwright down until the playoffs regardless, but that opens up a problem of too much rest if he goes from Monday until next Thursday between starts.

He will instead probably pitch Saturday or Sunday, and at this point Saturday would be the much better option.

Sure, the Cardinals might lost home-field advantage in the NLCS if they don’t win enough games against the Cubs this weekend, but with a playoff spot already in hand, the Cardinals would be more prudent to maximize their strategic advantages for the first round of the playoffs because there is no guarantee they will even make it the next round and be able to use what would be their home-field advantage.

At this point, Wainwright in Game 1 of the division series is more important than Wainwright on Sunday against the Cubs.

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny can still use Wainwright on Saturday and then use a pitcher such as rookie Michael Wacha on Sunday. That setup would still give the Cardinals a legitimate chance to win and gain home-field advantage throughout the National League playoffs, but it would more importantly position Wainwright to pitch the first game of the playoffs.

Plus, a winning performance from Wainwright against the Cubs is far from certain. Wainwright has struggled against the Cubs more than any team throughout his career outside of the Atlanta Braves, which would arouse another whole set of questions for later in the playoffs.

Anyway, Wainwright as a career 4.44 earned-run average and a 7-6 record through the seven full seasons he has pitched in Major League Baseball.

So a win from Wainwright on Saturday and Sunday is not nearly as likely as one might first assume, even though the Cardinals are 28 games better than the Cubs heading into play Friday.

The Cardinals would be smart to let Wainwright pitch Saturday on normal rest and be ready for Game 1 of the playoffs instead of having him pitch Sunday and risk losing that game while also losing him until Game 2 of the division series.

Posted in CardinalsComments (0)

Previewing the Cardinals 2014 Schedule

Yesterday afternoon, the Cardinals released the details of their schedule for the 2014 season. After some of the adjustments made to the scheduling process in the first year of the balanced schedules, there were plenty of new elements to get used to. Constant interleague match ups, two game “natural rivalry” series, an increase in four-game stands and increased divisional play all changed the course of the season and the weight of each ballgame.

stldt_phototour80

Next spring will be the ninth season for Busch Stadium III, as well as the inaugural year for Ballpark Village. But looking ahead inside the park, there are new challenges on the horizon for the Cardinals. Most notably, the interleague alignment will pit the baseball’s two most competitive divisions from this season against each other, as the National League Central will face off against the American League East.  This will undoubtedly create a much tougher road throughout the season, yet create a number of attractive match ups, both a current and historical sense.

Also, the I-70 Series vs the Kansas City Royals will remain in the fold, as the two-and-two format will remain in place, with two consecutive series in each team’s home ballpark.

Unlike this year, the team will play a heavier home schedule before the All-Star Break with 48 home games at Busch Stadium before the July 14-17 Mid-Summer Classic, and another 33 after. While announcements on ticket availability, promotions and game times will come in the future, here are a few of the highlights and series of note for the upcoming season.

  • The season opens March 31 in Cincinnati with a three game series against the Reds, before moving on to Pittsburgh for a three-game weekend set.
  • Opening Day in St. Louis is Monday, April 7 versus the Reds for the second consecutive season
  • April 11-13: First home series versus the Chicago Cubs
  • May 2-4: First weekend trip to Wrigley Field
  • Longest Homestand: From May 12-June 3, the team plays only three games away from Busch
  • Interleague visits to Busch: The New York Yankees visit Busch from May 26-28, the Tampa Bay Rays for a two game series July 22-23 and the Boston Red Sox from August 5-7.
  • Interleague Travels: The Toronto Blue Jays June 6-8, Tampa Bay Rays June 10-11 and to Baltimore to face the Orioles August 8-10.
  • I-70 Series: The Kansas City Royals come to Busch from June 2-3, and the Cardinals go to Kansas City June 4-5.
  • Holiday home stands: Memorial Day versus Yankees, Fourth of July (vs. Miami Marlins) and Labor Day (September 1 vs. Pirates)
  • The final home stand of the season is a nine game stand against the Colorado Rockies, Milwaukee Brewers and Cincinnati Reds from September 12-21.
  • The season ends visiting the Arizona Diamondbacks on September 28.

 

 

Posted in Cardinals, FeaturedComments (0)

St. Louis Cardinals will have little excuse not to win NL Central

The St. Louis Cardinals have played as tough of a schedule as any team in Major League Baseball this season. They spent the majority of the first half on the road and then came back from the All-Star Break to face 10 playoff-bound teams in their next 15 series.

CardsWin2012

After six games to open the second half against the lowly San Diego Padres and Philadelphia Philles, the Cardinals faced the Atlanta Braves twice, the Los Angeles Dodgers once, the Pittsburgh Pirates four times and the Cincinnati Reds three times, for a total of 33 out of 48 games.

The Cardinals have survived that difficult stretch, going 25-24 headed into Sunday’s game against the Pirates, and they will soon reap the benefits of completing facing all of those potential playoff teams as the schedule balances out through the rest of September.

St. Louis will have 19 games left in the 2013 season after they finish their final three-game set with the Pirates on Sunday, and they will face just one team with a winning record, the Washington Nationals, who visit Busch Stadium Sept. 23-25.

Otherwise, the Cardinals face the likes of the Milwaukee Brewers, Chicago Cubs, Seattle Mariners and Colorado Rockies through the end of the regular season. Those teams were a combined 63 games under the .500 mark headed into play Saturday.

So the Cardinals will have every opportunity to win the National League Central Division, especially since the Pirates face the AL West-leading Texas Rangers to begin this next week and still have six games against the Reds, which are the third contender in the NL Central.

Of course, a light schedule to finish the season is far from a guarantee of success. Sometimes the worst teams play well against playoff contenders late in the season as they bring up young players from the minor leagues and try to play the spoiler role.

The Cubs could be particularly troublesome, which is a problem considering they come to St. Louis for a three-game series to finish the season.

The Cardinals are 9-7 against the Cubs this season, but luckily those final three games will be played in St. Louis, where the Cardinals were 42-25 headed into play Saturday, compared to a 39-35 record on the road.

Along with the bevy of opponents with poor records, the schedule also helps the Cardinals in that 12 of the final 19 games are at Busch Stadium, and that could also give the Cardinals momentum headed into October.

The Cardinals are in a three-way battle for the division title with the Pirates and Reds, and they have held the first wild-card spot for much of the second half, but it is crucial they at least hang on to that position if they don’t win the division because they have played so much better at home.

One of the staples of the clubs managed by former manager Tony La Russa was their ability to play well on the road. The 2013 Cardinals still have a winning road record, but they have not played well away from St. Louis at all in the second half, going 9-15 since the All-Star Break, so home-field advantage could be particularly important for this ballclub.

They’ll have every opportunity to win that advantage given their remaining schedule, and they’ll have no one to blame but themselves if they have to open the postseason with a one-game wild-card playoff in Pittsburgh or Cincinnati.

Posted in CardinalsComments (0)

Sandberg finally gets the call

Over the weekend the Philadelphia Phillies parted ways with long time manager Charlie Manuel. Longtime Chicago Cub fan favorite Ryne Sandberg was named as the interim manager of the Fighting Phils. After years in the minors, as well as third base coach for the Phillies, Sandberg will finally get his chance to audition for a managerial chair in the big leagues.

RyneSandberg

Ryno was originally drafted by the Phillies and later traded to the Cubs where he made a name for himself and built a Hall of Fame resume. Sandberg became a perennial All-Star, Gold Glove winner, and MVP for the Chicago Cubs. He is arguably the best second baseman in history at his position, and in 2005 was inducted into the Hall of Fame with one of the best speeches in recent memory.

After his playing career, Sandberg ventured into the managerial ranks and became the manager of the Cubs Class-A Peoria Chiefs in 2006. Around Chicago, it was a not so secret rumor that Ryne was grooming himself to one day lead the Cubs at the corner of Clark and Addison.

In his first season as manager, he took the Chiefs to the Midwest League Championship Game. After two seasons, he was promoted to Class Double-A Tennessee and the following year was promoted again to Class Triple-A Iowa. In 2010, he was named Manager of the Year in the Pacific Coast League and in turn making the rumor mill grow louder on the North Side.

Following the 2010 season, Sandberg was a strong candidate to replace Lou Piniella as Cubs manager. It was viewed as Ryno’s job to lose and it would create a perfect storm for fans to have a manger they would adore and love, even if the team’s record was subpar. Eventually the job was given to Mike Quade, a not so popular choice.

After the decision, Sandberg headed back to the minors to manage another season, only this time it was for the Phillies top affiliate. Once again, Sandberg turned out another winner, leading the squad to their first ever playoff appearance, the International League Championship series, and being named 2011 Minor League Manager of the Year by Baseball America.

During the 2011 off-season, the Cubs again had another vacancy at the manager position. Sandberg’s name resurfaced again but not quite with the same buzz. The job was eventually given to current skipper Dale Sveum. Sandberg stayed in the Phillies organization and was named third base coach for the big league team.

Ryne held that position until this weekend where he now was named interim manager of the club. However, he did receive a not so good welcome has his first games were against the hottest team in the league, the LA Dodgers and ace pitchers Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw. It took the Phillies three games before they could score a run for their new manager.

It will be interesting to see how Sandberg fairs for the remainder of the season and what his fate will be during the off-season. Will he be granted the full time role by the Phillies, or will another team try to snag him away? One thing is for certain, Sandberg has the pedigree, and he has developed a style that wins. His resume boasts that greatly.

As for Chicago Cub purists, how do they feel? The general consensus is that Sandberg fans are happy that Ryno finally got his shot, although it is not wearing Cubbie blue. Sandberg #23 jerseys and t-shirts are still widely popular at the friendly confines. Sandberg’s jersey is retired by the Cubs and if you are curious to see what a true reaction will be of Cub fans, the Phillies come into town for a weekend series August 30-September 1.

Posted in Minors, MLBComments (0)

Flopps: The 8 Bit Baseball Card

I am a sucker for this stuff, I admit.

Flopps

Craig Robinson is the author behind one of the best infographic style books I have ever read, Flip Flop Fly Ball.  Where the book left off, the website took over.

Craig continues his great work over at his site keeping track of what hat he wears everyday and all kinds of graphically represented statistical anomalies.  We’ve featured some of that work here on i70 before, bring you galleries of his Lego Baseball Players and his infographic on Albert Pujols.  Just last week we brought you other 8-bit baseball players from another site.

Today we bring you a sampling of Craig’s newest creation, Flopps.  The Flip Flop Fly Ball baseball cards dedicated to all things baseball.  Browse the images in the slideshow below and then head on over to the site to see the entire collection.  (Don’t miss the Steve Bartman card below)

Use the “next” and “previous” buttons below the slides to browse through all the images.

Albert Pujols

Picture 1 of 14


Albert Pujols is one of the greatest hitters in recent memory. Perhaps he will forever be remembered as he is depicted here, in a St. Louis Cardinals uniform.

Posted in Cardinals, Classic, Featured, MLB, RoyalsComments (0)

Fox Sports Girls Bring Life To Network Launch

There’s a new sheriff coming to town in the 24-hour sports network business, and Fox Sports is taking quite a swing to get it off the ground. Fox Sports 1 is being positioned to make an immediate impact in all areas of sports broadcasting, as well as taking the fan experience in brand new direction as well.

August 11, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA;  Fox Sports robot at Busch Stadium.

As a part of the nationwide launch, the network as literally taken to the streets all across the country, and in an impressive style. The Fox Sports Girls from across the entire country have come together to promote the new network, via a 45-foot long, 56 passenger bus, and are leaving no stone untouched along the way.

To properly spread the word, they are taking a cross-country, 3,800 mile, 13-day express bus trip, from San Diego to Boston, where they will ring in the August 17th network launch at the upcoming UFC fight night, as well as a New England Patriots preseason NFL game. With stops all along the Fox Sports network, including cities such as Houston, Austin, San Antonio, Detroit and Cincinnati, the Girls are an impressive welcoming party for getting the word out on Fox Sports 1, which will launch in place of the Speed Network on most St. Louis-area cable plans. As they have gone across the country, they have picked up both momentum, and more of the Girls, along the way.

And while the Girls themselves are the main attraction along the trip, they are far from the only scene-stealers on the site. That honor would go to Cleatus, the long-time face of Fox Sports who has come off the screen and is very lifelike now. Standing at 6’9 and complete interactive, the network’s mascot is a sight to behold and is “muscle” for both the Girls and the network alike.

In all, 21 Fox Sports Girls will be represented by the time the tour hits Boston this weekend. Along the way, they have had variety of different experiences, with variety including a recent stop in St. Louis to take in a Cardinals/Cubs game, followed immediately by a shift to Kentucky, where they spread some cheer with the troops at Fort Campbell Military Base, as well as got down and dirty with a little basic training as well. “They are going to put us through PT and kick our butts a little bit”, says Teryn, who represents locally for Fox Sports Midwest.

Spirits are high for the activities; however they are far from just a bunch of pretty faces. In just a few minutes with them, you can find that these are real sports fans. Teryn was plenty excited to discuss Allen Craig’s season for the Cardinals, while ribs were exchanged over the Astros and Angels between American League West rivals in Asha and Kaime of Fox Sports West and Southwest, respectively. The stop in St. Louis was a first for many of fan ambassadors, and the excitement in the air for the Cardinals/Cubs matchup was not lost on them. “I’ve heard about all of the great fans here, and there’s nothing like seeing this rivalry up close”, says Kaime.

Yet don’t be fooled by the looks and sports talk either, they are also well versed in what is to come from the new network, and why fans should get excited about what’s coming to them soon. “‘Fans First’ is the big theme behind it all”, stresses Kaime. “We are the fans connections to our individual networks, so it’s great to get out and see the fans because sports wouldn’t be the same without them.” And by the indications of the network, fan familiarity will happen quickly.

Along with a 24-hour sports slate, there will be original programming such as Fox Sports Live, that is set to feature analysis from Donovan McNabb, Gary Payton and Andy Roddick among others, as well as personalities such as Erin Andrews. Long-time television staple Regis Philbin will be featured as well on “The Crowd Goes Wild”, a program that will blend his unique combination of first-hand experience and knowledge.

Fox Sports 1 is showing a promising package out of the gate, and what is being promised both immediately and in the future proves this is only the beginning. “From the start, there will be live sports as well. We will have college football and basketball, MLB, soccar and Nextel Cup racing”, Jordana of Fox Sports Florida explained. “And we will have the US Open (PGA) in 2015, so that’s something to look forward to.”

And as for the girls, the trip, while sometimes grueling, has been an exhilarating mix of work, travel and friends. “With the group of girls we are lucky enough to have, it’s made everything we do so much easier”, explains Asha. “We’ve gotten to see so many things, and bringing the network directly to the fans has been great.”

 

Fox Sports 1 launches this Saturday, August 17th. Check local listings for availability.

You can find more about Fox Sports 1 at FoxSports.com. To follow the rest of the bust tour, follow Fox Sports Girls on Twitter at @FoxSportsGirls and on Facebook at Fox Sports Girls. Locally, Kayla and Teryn of Fox Sports Midwest can be found on Twitter at @FSMidwestGirls and Facebook at Fox Sports Midwest Girls.

 

Posted in Cardinals, Featured, I-70 Baseball Exclusives, I-70 Special Reports, MLBComments (0)

Very Impressive Weekend for the Cubs

Chicago Cubs fans know that their team will always keep them on their toes. In the last week the team traded away ace pitcher Matt Garza for a handful of prospects, and also traded away slugger Alfonso Soriano in a peculiar deal. That same trade left only Jeff Samardzija as the only remaining member from the 2008 team that won 97 games. Also, the team welcomed prospect Junior Lake to the mix. A brief summary of Lake, he is tall, strong, and quick. In a single game, he showcased his speed with two bunt singles and then showed the power with a crushing home run. Soriano himself said he saw a younger him in Lake. The changing of the guard was unfolding.

AlfonsoSoriano

If that was not enough, the Cubs had to make a weekend trip to the World Series Champion San Francisco Giants to end a ten game west coast trip. Not much could have been expected from that. But then in true Cub fashion, they kept the faithful on their toes and ended up sweeping the champions in arguably their most impressive three consecutive games in the last two seasons.

Friday night saw a great effort by Edwin Jackson nearly lost. Jackson was cruising for six innings until finding trouble in the seventh. Trailing 2-1 and down to the final strike, Anthony Rizzo hit a rocket down the first base line through the legs of Brandon Belt that scored two runs to take the lead and ultimately win the game.

Saturday’s game saw another great pitching performance by unlikely Chris Rusin who pitched seven shutout innings. But the pitching performance may have been by Pedro Strop. In the eight, Strop loaded the bases without recording an out and due up were MVP Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval, and Hunter Pence. Cub fans likely had to turn away at that time. But with two infield ground outs to force runners at home and a strikeout of Pence, Strop got out of the inning without allowing a run. Nate Schierholtz proceeded to smack a home run in the top of the ninth and the Cubs won 1-0. That also happened to be the final score of three other Major League games that day as well.

No way could the Cubs sweep the defending champions on the road, right? Wrong. Sunday, saw lone all-star Travis Wood launch a homerun of his own and also pitch seven strong innings. Strop did his thing again in the eighth and Kevin Gregg recorded his third save in as many days with the Cubs winning the finale 2-1 and capping off the winning streak.

The way the team seemingly banded together out by the bay was impressive. It was a collective effort and everyone did their part. It was a team to tip your cap to. The Cubs now come back to Chicago to face the last place Brewers. A key point in the clubhouse will have to be keeping the momentum going. All the great work done out west will be all for not if they cannot beat the Brew Crew.

Following that series, they face the red hot Dodgers, struggling Phillies and a few divisional games. If the team can put a few weeks of good play together the record is getting close to the 500 mark. It is still a long shot, but can this unlikely bunch catch the Reds or Pirates and at least be in the consideration for a Wild Card spot? This past weekend was a great building block for that. Stay on your toes.

 

Posted in Fantasy, MLBComments (0)

Cubs Continue Moving and Shaking

One of the most intriguing teams over the next few weeks will be the Chicago Cubs. It will not necessarily be for wins and losses out on the field, but what they may or may not do in the front office. The team better have unlimited phone minutes as the Cubs may lead the league in trades this year and bolstering several teams around the league along the way.

AlfonsoSoriano

The Cubs have already made several trades this year, and the latest involved ace starter Matt Garza being moved to the Texas Rangers. In exchange, the Cubs will receive five prospects. They will receive third baseman Mike Olt who was one of the highest ranked prospects in all of baseball last season. In addition, they will receive pitchers C.J. Edwards, Justin Grimm, and two players to be named later.

The deal fits the pattern of the North Side philosophy which is moving contracts, getting young talent, and building a farm system for the future. Daily in Chicago, the question is who will be next? Could it be Alfonso Soriano or Kevin Gregg? Stay tuned. The 2015 lineup card is shaping up nicely.

In other organizational news, the Cubs and number two overall pick Kris Bryant agreed to a $6,708,400 bonus deal. That’s the largest bonus in the 2013 draft and the biggest in the two years under the new draft rules.

Baseball America’s 2013 College Player of the Year, Bryant led NCAA Division I with 31 homers, more than 223 of the 296 teams at that level this season and more than any player has hit since college bats were toned down three years ago. He also topped Division I in runs (80), walks (66), total bases (187) and slugging (.820) while batting .329 and setting a San Diego University career record with 54 homers.

Finally, a tip of the cap goes to the Kane County Cougars, Class-A farm team of the Chicago Cubs, who welcomed their 10 millionth fan recently. According to Minor League Baseball, the Cougars are the first Class-A team in Minor League Baseball history to reach 10 million fans. The Cougars are also the 6th-quickest Minor League Baseball franchise to reach the historic mark. Well done Cougars!

Posted in College Baseball, Fantasy, Minors, MLBComments (0)

Five reasons the Cardinals should say no to Jake Peavy

There have been numerous reports recently that the St. Louis Cardinals are interested in White Sox starter Jake Peavy. At first, I thought to myself “That would be great!” The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized that it was just the “Shiny New Toy” part of my brain talking. Once the rational part of my brain took over, I realized they should take a pass on the former Padre, and here are five reasons why:

JakePeavy2

 Cost. Unlike the recently-dealt Matt Garza, Peavy is not a free agent after the 2013 season. Garza will cost the Texas Rangers either three or four players for, at most, three months of value (unless they re-sign him during the offseason). The current collective bargaining agreement prevents the Rangers from collecting any draft-pick compensation if he departs as a free agent after the season. If Peavy is under contract for 2014, it stands to reason that the White Sox are going to expect as big a return (if not bigger) than what the Chicago Cubs obtained for Garza. That’s an exorbitant price for a 3X-year-old starter who is due to make $14.5 million in 2014 (which would make him the 2nd-highest paid pitcher on staff). And did I mention his injury history? That brings me to reason #2:

Injury-prone. Peavy was once a workhorse of several competitive Padres teams. But since 2007, he has made more than 30 starts (the standard of a consistent, healthy starter) exactly once – in 2012. He hit the DL with elbow trouble in 2008. When the White Sox traded for him in 2009, he was on the DL with an ankle injury. In 2010, he ruptured the tendon that ties the latissimus dorsi muscle to the rear of his pitching shoulder and missed significant time in 2011 as well. He has already missed several weeks in 2013 due to a rib injury.  Giving up multiple prospects (Carlos Martinez has been rumored recently) for a player with such a spotty health record? PASS.

Playoff-tested? Not so much. In the Walt Jocketty days, Peavy might have been the perfect trade-deadline acquisition for the Cardinals. But Peavy’s playoff history does not sparkle. He reached the postseason twice, in 2005-06 while with the Padres. Both seasons, the Padres faced the Cardinals; both times, they pounded him like a drum In those two starts, Peavy lasted a combined 9 2/3 innings and surrendered 19 hits, 13 runs, three home runs and struck out just five hitters. He hasn’t been close to the playoffs since then. Once again, PASS.

Lateral move? Although Peavy is a former Cy Young Award-winner, does he really represent a big upgrade over their current fifth starter? Pitching for an awful White Sox team this season, Peavy’s park-adjusted ERA+ is 104 (a tad above replacement level). St. Louis’ current fifth starter, Joe Kelly, has an ERA+ of 95, but most of his appearances this season have been out of the bullpen. In his past four appearances (all at least five innings), Kelly has pitched to a 2.49 ERA – which is more than acceptable for a fifth starter on a strong offensive club. If he falters, the Cardinals have Martinez, Tyler Lyons, Michael Wacha, and others ready to fill in. Peavy might stay healthy and pitch effectively, but how ill would club management (and fans) feel if they traded away Martinez, for example, only to watch Peavy go down with an injury in his third start? Think about Mark DeRosa in 2009. I don’t think any Cardinal fan is anxious to re-live that deal.

Other alternatives: I would argue that the Cardinals would be better off bolstering their bullpen. Acquiring a reliever such as Jim Henderson, Luke Gregerson, Glen Perkins, or the like would be less expensive in trade, yet it could have just as powerful an impact on the pitching staff. Remember how well Edward Mujica worked out last season? Adding another arm (or two) would alleviate pressure on young flamethrower Trevor Rosenthal and the other young arms in the pen.

While he’s not the power strikeout machine he was in his Padres heyday, he could be an effective pitcher for a contender. He could even show flashes of dominance on a good day. But, given the health risks, expensive salary and talent cost, is he worth the gamble? I don’t think so. I hope John Mozeliak agrees with me.

Posted in CardinalsComments (0)

Buy OOTP Baseball 14 PC & Mac