Winter Meetings

With the winter meetings coming up, what will the Cubs do?  Aside from a first and second baseman, the Cubs need some kind of spark to power the team.  Last year, Castro committed over 20 errors, but hey, he’s a rookie we can forgive him.  I still think he should have been rookie of the year.  Sorry Buster, my loyalty comes first.

Marlon Byrd had a crazy year and I think the outfield is locked in with Soriano, Byrd and Colvin.  However, question marks are plenty because this isn’t the same team that was 07-08.

The Cubs have $103 million all ready spent on players which on paper all ready bought them the world series.  Unfortunately, people don’t read papers and decide who the champs are.

Fukodome is a bust.  Soto was rookie of the year and hasn’t played his best since.  I still have hope for him.  I’ll give him one more year.

Pitching is the strongest and I think that won’t be a problem with the young arms, Dempster and of course Carlos Marmol to bring it all home.

This is the contract year for Ramirez and Soriano.  I expect them to do big things and carry the team.

Expect the Cubs to go cheap. 

—Mark Gauthier

 

The Magic of Wrigley

I’ve never been to Wrigley Field.  I’ve chewed Wrigley’s gum, watched the ivy grow on the wall, but never walked into the park looked up at the marquee and thought,”This is it.”

I hear the hot dogs aren’t the greatest, but I can believe that watching the game, the hot dogs go down easy.

Is it because it’s an old park?  Is it because of careful marketing that Wrigley has become such an institution?  The beauty of baseball is part of the places they play.  Unlike hockey where the arenas are essentially the same.  A sheet of ice surrounded by 20 000 seats.  It’s not much different anywhere you go.  It used to be, The Forum in Montreal, Maple Leaf Gardens, The Spectrum and the Gardens in Boston was the seventh player on the ice, but not anymore.  Perhaps Madison Square Gardens is the only one left.

No, I think that Cubs fans have something special.  Not only do they have the privilage of watching the team play in a beautiful park, but I know even watching the games on television, it’s a chance for me to hang on three more hours to that part of my childhood when baseball was about the sun getting in my eyes or the floodlights illuminating the neighborhood in the background.

It’s funny how children change the perspective.  I used to think I wanted to go to Wrigley and see the Cubs play.  Now, I can wait, perfectly content to tune into WGN and watch the game. The only way I’d ever want to set foot at Wrigley is with my wife and our son to be there.  I want to see our son’s eyes light up at the marquee and say to my wife,”This is it!” and singing off key at the top of our lungs,

“..and if they don’t win it’s a shame, cause it’s one, two, three strikes you’re out at the old ball game!”

—Mark Gauthier

A Canadian Fall Classic

There is a tradition in Canada.  It happens once most of the leaves have fallen on the ground.  Actually, the last Sunday in November.

Two teams combat on a frigid field for Lord Grey’s shiny chalice.  One representative from the east and a representative from the west.

It is a league which at one time had two teams with the same name.  Now, this wouldn’t be abnormal in a 28 team league, but this league only has 8 teams.  In the true Canadian fashion,”No problem, we’ll just spell the name differently.”  Don’t believe me?  Check out South Park

The Canadian Football League has hibernated some NFL legends like Joe Theisman, Warren Moon and Doug Flutie.  It has also sheltered some not so legends like Dexter Manley and Mark Gastineau.

This is a game which is played with three downs, not four.  It has a wider field and an extra man.  Instead of a touchdown it is called a rouge(They still call it a touchdown.)  It is played with a bigger ball which led to a 1996 ad campaign,”Our balls are bigger”

Today, is the 98th 98th Grey Cup game.  Today, I am not a Cubs fan.  Today, I am Canadian.

All right, I’m still a Cubs fan.

—Mark Gauthier

 

Can Maddux be Pitching Coach?

I haven’t weighed in on the situation of Mad Dog taking over the reigns from Rothschild.  I’m torn because Maddux is a legend.  There’s a huge responsibility for him to take over as pitching coach.

Everytime he steps up to the mound to pull a pitcher out of the game, he not only has to hear the crowd take shots at him, but he has to look at the flag that bears his name.  If I were in that position it would feel awkward.

When Wayne Gretzky took over the job as coach in Phoenix, were the players ready to perform under such a legend?  It was hard and the pressure took its toll.

Right now Maddux is the assistant to Hendry.  Honestly, I don’t know what that job entails.  I can only imagine it isn’t picking up his laundry.

This is Quades team and I trust every decision he’ll make.  I’m sure Greg has plenty of influence all ready within the Cubs organization.

I like Greg Maddux, but I don’t think he’s the right man for the job.

–Mark Gauthier

In Praise of Carlos Marmol

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving.  I just wanted to praise one of Chicago Cubs prize closers.

Carlos Marmol has got to be one of the best closers in the business.  Not enough accolades has been given to him.  His strikeout per inning rate is 15.99 which is the highest by a reliever in history!  He broke Eric Gagne’s record which was set in 2003 at 14.98 when he was with the Dodgers. 

Marmol’s ERA is a low 2.55 with 138 strikeouts.

Now, he’s got a crazy delivery which should gain more control over time but you know what?  It works for him. Another fault he walks too many batters, but his ability to strikeout makes up for it.  At 28 years old, he’s got plenty of baseball ahead of him yet. 

This is one Cub that needs a raise and shouldn’t be leaving Chicago anytime soon.

Way to go Carlos!

–Mark Gauthier

To Catch a Cub

The average North American black bear has been clocked at speeds of in excess of 40 miles per hour.  The average North Side Chicago Cub isn’t nearly that fast.

Maybe I’m way off base, I let that one slip–sorry.  Yes, I know the Cubs need a first baseman and there are some really good choices out there such as, Berkman and Konerko but here’s a thought that I’ve been mulling over yesterday…

I think the Cubs also need a first baseman who can steal bases. 

It’s a lost art not seen since Rickey “Man of Steal” Henderson who compiled over 1400 stolen bases in a Hall of Fame career. 

Today the game has focused on hitting and pitching and after this past season the pitching was outstanding!  So maybe if the Cubs can select that first baseman who can get on base and make the pitcher pee his pants before every pitch.  Maybe the Cubs need a cheap first baseman and instead trade for someone who can steal.

A player who can move on the bases is what they need.  Speed scores points.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

—Mark Gauthier

Josh Hamilton wins AL MVP

There must be something in the ginger ale.  After leading the Texas Rangers to their first World Series, slugger Josh Hamilton was awarded the American League MVP yesterday.

Much has been written about his battle with addiction and this was his year.  He compiled 32 homers and had a .359 batting average with 100 RBI’s.  This was all after missing most of September with two broken ribs.

 

Congratulations Mr. Hamilton!

—Mark Gauthier