Happy New Year

As 2010 winds down and New Year’s wishes are a plenty, I’m sure that there is a big wish come 11:59 tonight:  The Cubs winning the World Series.  They have the team to do it and starting tomorrow, Opening Day’s countdown has unofficially begun. 

Starlin Castro will experience his first Opening Day.  Mike Quade will be at the helm for the full season.  Matt Garza might be in the line-up it’s going to be a great year!

 

Happy New Year everyone!!!

—Mark Gauthier

 

Brandon Webb signs with the Rangers

2006 Cy Young winner Brandon Webb, has signed a one year deal with the Texas Rangers pending a physical.  The Cubs were rumoured to be in the hunt for Webb along with the Washington Nationals and Cincinatti Reds.

It makes sense for Brandon Webb to sign with the Rangers since Cliff Lee signed with the Phillies sending the Rangers into panic mode. However, signing a pitcher who hasn’t played in over a year is sort of odd for the Rangers.

The good news for the Cubs is that Matt Garza is still in the mix. Garza will make close to 6 million this season and although it is pricey, I’d love to see Garza in the rotation come Opening Day.

—Mark Gauthier

A Winter Reflection

There’s a certain peacefulness to the game.  It wouldn’t happen if baseball was played indoors, all domed parks aside.  It’s a calming game that never relies on clocks.  There’s a reason that baseball is played during the summer and not in winter besides the obvious reasons, but when you’re at a ball game on an 80 degree summer day when the sun is warming your beer moments after you take the first sip, you can hear the conversations from the dugout(if you’re close enough), the smacking of the ball as it lands snuggly into a player’s mitt during warm-up.  The pop of the bat when the ball is hit at the “right” spot and watching it soar into the stands.

A friend of ours went to a Yankees game last year and caught a foul ball.  He was so excited and watching his eyes light up when he was telling the story, well it was as if time were erased from his face and he was a kid again.  He caught a ball at Yankee Stadium, the new Yankee Stadium! on national television!

That’s one of my favourite baseball stories.

—Mark Gauthier

Looking at Tyler Colvin

I hope everyone had a great Christmas, stuffed with lots of turkey, peacefulness and joy. 

Tyler Colvin had an outstanding year.  The 25 year old from Augusta Georgia hit 20 HR and 56 RBI’s with a batting AVG of .254.  Now, last season was his rookie year and it was very impressive.  In fact his stats are decieving because he played 135 games and really he wasn’t used to full effect because of the rotation of Kosuke Fukodome.  I agree whole heartedly with Strictly Cubs Baseball, let the kid play.

Fukodome has a huge contract and the Cubs I think, are obligated to let him play, but expect Mike Quade to get full effect out of Colvin this year.  Late last season, Colvin was hit by a stray bat and the injury looked worse than it was, but he did take the remainder of the season off giving the injury time to heal.

So, this season the outfield is going to look a heck of a lot like Soriano, Byrd, and Colvin.

In the immortal words of a famous broadcaster,”Holy Cow!”

—Mark Gauthier

Baseball Cards

Everytime we visit the States, I like to pick up a few packs of baseball cards.  You know, to keep the collection going.  There’s not too many places in Canada that have baseball cards anymore except for specialty shops.  It’s not really about the value of the card I’m interested in although this year we did buy a Stephen Strasburg card, but the connection to the card and the moment they played.  I listened to the Syracuse game when Strasburg was making his debut and all the hype surrounding the kid.  ESPN was there and a lot of other networks.  It was pretty big stuff and exciting.   

We didn’t know if we were having a boy or a girl.  We wanted to keep it that way because there aren’t enough surprises in the world.  Either way, the child was going to be a Cubs fan. Ok, if he ends up a Yankees or Cardinals fan we’ll still love him. 

My intention was to collect a couple of rookie cards to commemorate the year of his birth. I ended up getting Neftali Feliz and Buster Posey.   It didn’t matter if they failed this year or it won’t matter if they never live up to their hype; what matters is that in 2010 we had our own rookie of the year and we wanted to have these rookie cards to show that there was that part in time that was big.  Getting Starlin Castro’s card was important because hitting that Home Run on his first At Bat was special because I listened to Ron Santo get all excited.  It was pretty neat.

That’s where the true art of collecting lies.  Not about completing sets, the dollar value or what condition the card is in.  A Reggie Jackson card doesn’t have the same value to me as Starlin Castro’s card because I was there in the moment.

In a few years time when our son is bigger and we want to argue stats I can whip out those baseball cards and feel really old. 

  —Mark Gauthier

 

Solving 2nd Base

First off, Thank you MLB Blogs for featuring The Cub Den on your homepage.  Thank you to every blogger who has joined in on the banter and making The Cub Den a success.  This is fun and allows me to wake up in the morning and enjoy my baseball fix.  Thank you so much!

 

Ok, 2nd Base.  There are a lot of available second basemen on the market.  Orlando Hudson still hasn’t signed and he’s one of my favourites.  He made $5 million last year, so he could be out of the Cubs range unless they move Fukodome, however I could be wrong.  His OBP is .338 and he got 6 HR with a .268 AVG so I think he might be over priced but he is reliable.  He probably won’t get $5 million this year, I think he would fit into a Cubs uniform quite nicely.   Then again he had 37 RBI’s which is a great stat to have!!

 

—Mark Gauthier

Carlos 4: The Nice Guy

I like Carlos Pena all ready.  He took an ad out in a Tampa newspaper, the St. Petersburg Times as a “Thank You” to the fans for having him there. 

This was a classy move for him.  When he joined the Rays in 2007, they were a dismal team, but he helped turn them around before making an incredible run for the World Series.

Roy Halladay took a page ad out of the Toronto Star thanking the fans for his time in Toronto.

Whether these guys intent is pure PR or heartfelt, it’s still a classy move.  They didn’t have to do that and they did.  It makes fans cheer even more for the game.

Well done Carlos!

—Mark Gauthier

The Beauty of the Game

On Saturday I was doing some Christmas shopping and out of no reason at all, I found myself in the sporting goods section at Canadian Tire.  There were still baseball equipment lying around amidst the hockey gear and curling equipment.  I picked up a baseball and tossed it up and down catching it.  I got excited.  Not really about baseball or the Cubs, but the night before I was at a hockey game.  Our local Kingston Frontenacs the junior OHL team were playing and some kid scored his first goal.  It was a beauty on a breakaway and I got excited about that kid and his goal.  His parents were watching.  I was happy for them just as I was happy to see little three year olds following their dads through the rink as they were tripping over their untied shoelaces carrying foam fingers and shouting, “Can I have french fries!”

I bought the baseball.  I know our little guy is far too young to play any sport, hell, he might even have two left feet, but for now it’ll be in his stocking Christmas Day, waiting for the right time when he will be able to throw it across the yard and through the front window and someday, perhaps; he’ll hit it that ball over the Ivy.

—Mark Gauthier

Phil Cavarretta dead at 94

 

Former Cubs great Phil Cavarretta has passed away.   Phil played 20 seasons with the Cubs setting a franchise record.  He died Friday in Lilburn GA.  He was 94.

Mr. Cavarretta had the highest batting average by a left handed hitter at .355. He won the MVP that season.

He led the Cubs to their last World Series appearence in 1945 and is believed to be the last living person to have played against Babe Ruth.

He is survived by his wife Loraine, four daughters and a son.

—Mark Gauthier