Hamels or Price? Who the Cubs should target

cole-hamels-69fa5e2efff24ca4The MLB trade deadline is now less than a week away, meaning trade rumors are popping up left and right around the league. In the case of the Cubs, they’ve made it known that they would idealy like to add another arm to their starting rotation. Their starting pitching has been quite good this season with guys like Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester, and Jason Hammel leading the way. Second year starter Kyle Hendricks has also performed well up to this point, but the Cubs would still like to add another solid starter to the rotation. Enter the names Hamels and Price.

It is no secret that the Philadelphia Phillies are looking to trade away Cole Hamels in return for some high end prospects as they move forward with their rebuilding process. And with the Cubs seeking another top arm, along with the fact that they possess multiple appealing trade pieces (Baez, Castro, etc.), the two teams seem like a nice fit to become trade partners.

cole-hamels-69fa5e2efff24ca4More recently, David Price’s name has started showing up in the league-wide trade winds. With Miguel Cabrera out until at least late August, if not longer, and with the Tigers currently five games back of the second wild card spot in the American League, GM Dave Dombrowski is contemplating whether to raise the white flag on the season and trade away some valuable pieces in exchange for young talent. Given the fact that David Price is set to become an unrestricted free agent after this season, he seems like a prime candidate to get dealt if the Tigers do in fact make the decision to give up on this season. The Cubs have naturally been one of the teams said to be interested in Price should he become available due to their desire to acquire more pitching.

So if it were to come down to picking one pitcher over the other for the Cubs, who should they make their top priority?

While on the surface most might disagree with this, the answer is Cole Hamels.

Sure, David Price is is 9-3 with a 2.31 ERA this year and Cole Hamels is 5-7 with a 3.91 ERA. Statistically, Price is the better fit for the Cubs, or any team for that matter. However, when looking at the statistics of both Price and Hamels, you should take into account the team that each one currently plays for. Hamels earned run average is higher than most would like it to be, but he’s pitching for the worst team in baseball.

The reason Hamels is the better option for the Cubs is this: He won’t be a rental player. He’s currently under contract through the 2018 season with a club option for 2019. Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer has made it clear that the team is not willing to part ways with any of their top prospects in exchange for a guy like Price who could potentially sign with a different team next offseason. With Hamels, he’s guaranteed to return to the Cubs for at least three more seasons should they acquire him.

While Hamels’ ERA is slightly concerning, many believe it would improve if traded for two reasons. 1) All of this trade talk has gotten into his head and is playing a role in his performance on the field. Once traded, he’ll feel more comfortable and his statistics could/should improve. 2) If traded to the Cubs, he’ll be working with one of the game’s best pitching coaches in Chris Bosio.

With the Phillies in Chicago this weekend for a three game series at Wrigley Field, it is entirely possible that a deal between the two teams could get done by Sunday night or shortly thereafter. If the Phillies are simply asking for too much in return for Hamels, I would not expect the Cubs to overpay. They may then instead turn their attention towards a reliever and depth starter.

As for the David Price situation, I don’t think the Cubs will agressively pursue him unless they can work out a sign and trade with Detroit. If Price agrees to such a deal, he’d be the better pickup between him and Hamels. Keep in mind, however, that Price has hinted in the past at wanting to play for the Cubs and Joe Maddon (his manager in Tampa Bay). If the Cubs don’t get him at the trade deadline, they will definitely be players for him in the offseason. One benefit to signing him after the season is that they would not have to give anything up to get him like they would in a trade.

The next six days should be interesting on the North Side. The fact that we’re discussing the Cubs as potential big buyers at the deadline rather than sellers is a great feeling.

It’s here: Cubs’ future is now

10-171460575-smallAs is the case every so often, I’ll take a quick break from writing about hockey on here and shift the focus to baseball. Particularly, Cubs baseball. After promoting baseball’s top prospect, Kris Bryant, to the big league’s last Thursday, the Cubs made another big announcement late Monday night by recalling the game’s number four prospect: Addison Russell. It was widely known or assumed that Bryant would be on the Cubs’ roster by May, but things didn’t seem to be as sure for Russell.

With Mike Olt getting injured just a few games into the season, the Cubs were all of a sudden left with a gaping hole at the third base position. They got by for a handful of games with what they already had on the big league roster until enough games had passed where they could bring up Bryant without losing a year off his contract. So that problem was quickly and not surprisingly solved.

The other glaring problem with the Cubs’ lineup has been second base. Arismendy Alcantara was supposed to be the guy to hold down that position for the time being, but his early season struggles have led the Cubs to their next big call-up. Addison Russell, who figures to be a shortstop in the long run, had started putting some work in at second base recently, which raised some eyebrows and some questions regarding his immediate future with the organization. Are the Cubs just trying to get him used to another position, or do they want him coming up to Chicago sometime soon to play second base? As it turns out, the front office wants him starting tonight at second base for the big league club.

I think most people, myself included, expected Russell to see his first big league action somewhere between June and July. However, most people weren’t really expecting the Cubs to have such a dire need at second base either.

Everyone knew Kris Bryant would be making his first start for the Cubs somewhere around the 10-12 game mark of the season. As I already hinted at, not many expected Russell to be doing the same. What his promotion tells me is two things:

  1. The Cubs feel he is ready to make the leap from Triple A to the big leagues. In eleven games with Iowa this year, he hit .318 with 1 home run, 9 runs batted in, and an .803 OPS. His fielding has never been a concern.
  2. Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are going for it and feel that this team and its young players are ready to compete for a playoff spot. If they didn’t believe that the playoffs were a real possibility, my guess is Russell would still be in Iowa.

The Cubs have gotten off to a 7-5 start to the season, which is by far their best start in many years. Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro have proven that they are good MLB players, with Rizzo looking like a perennial All Star and a cornerstone piece of the franchise, and Castro continuing to hit while improving defensively. Jorge Soler, who debuted with the Cubs last summer, has adjusted extremely well to the big league game and is off to a great start to the year. Many “experts” have him pegged as this year’s NL 10-171460575-smallRookie of the Year. Then you have recent addition Kris Bryant, labeled by many as the savior of the Cubs franchise. He has played in four games with the Cubs while hitting .429 with 2 doubles and 4 runs batted in. Oh, and his early OPS is 1.150.

Now that you add Addison Russell into the equation and take into account his potential, the Cubs’ lineup is suddenly loaded, and all with young talent. The average age of their infield is just 23 years old.

And don’t forget about the Cubs’ pitching staff. Jon Lester, while off to a forgettable start to the season, is a true ace and figures to turn his game around sooner than later. Jake Arrieta is coming off his best season a a pro in 2014, and is already 2-1 with a 1.74 ERA this year. Then you have Jason Hammel, Travis Wood, and Kyle Hendricks who have all pitched well and provided reason for optimism. Also, the Cubs’ bullpen is no pushover. Prior to Neil Ramirez getting hurt, they had the best bullpen ERA in the National League. I see no reason for their ‘pen to become a weakness.

Most people would say that this team’s weakness is their inexperience and starting rotation. Well I have a response to each.

The Cubs may be young, but they don’t play like it, and they don’t think like it. Epstein, Hoyer, and Jason McLeod draft players who not only possess great talent, but possess great maturity for their age. It doesn’t take a fool to see that while watching the likes of Rizzo, Soler, and Bryant, just to name a few. Secondly, the starting pitching of the Cubs wasn’t bad last year, and only got better this year. If the team continues winning games and is in a competitive position in the standings at the trade deadline, I would expect Epstein to deal for another top of the line starter in exchange for any combination of current (available) Cubs prospects. Starlin Castro and Javier Baez could be potential pieces to any such trade.

Obviously there is still A LOT of season left, but there is more reason for optimism with this team than we’ve seen in a long, long time. If the first twelve games are any indication as to how the rest of the season will play out, it’s going to be one hell of a fun summer on Chicago’s north side.

Joe Maddon to the Cubs?

940-couture-loganLet’s take a break from hockey for a minute and focus on another Chicago team: the Cubs. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports just reported that Joe Maddon has agreed to become the next manager of the Cubs, which if true, is huge. Maddon is a 2-time AL Manager of the Year winner with the Tampa Bay Rays, and is known for really creating a good clubhouse atmosphere and for knowing how to handle young players.

Before we get any further, let me just say that there are numerous reports out there right now that are saying no deal is in place between Maddon and the Cubs, but that there is still a very good chance Maddon ends up in Chicago. During the World Series, Major League Baseball enforces a “news blackout” which prevents any teams, players, etc. from announcing anything that might take focus away from the World Series, which might be why some reporters are denying that a Maddon deal is done. There is a very solid chance that the two sides have in fact agreed to a contract, but they won’t make anything official until Thursday or Friday (once the World Series is over).

So now let’s look at what this would mean to the Cubs if Maddon is next year’s skipper.

Like I already said, he’s a 2-time Manager of the Year recipient while in Tampa, he’s been to the World Series once (and lost), and he’s somehow kept the Rays in the thick of things in the AL East for the past 6-7 years despite having a low payroll. He knows how to manage young players, which the Cubs are stocked with, and he creates a very good atmosphere in the clubhouse. He’s been known to dye his hair after win streaks and have his players dress up in weird costumes on travel days. Aside from being a smart manager, he’s a player’s manager, and that is a good thing.

What this potential signing does is send a message to all of baseball that the Cubs are getting real serious about winning in the very near future. It’s no secret that they’ll be in the market for at least one, if not two high end pitchers this winter, and signing Joe Maddon will only increase a free agent’s desire to join the team. Look for the Cubs to target guys like Jon Lester and now James Shields, who both have connections (potentially) to the Cubs. Lester played with the Red Sox in Boston while Epstein was still in control there, and the two sides won the 2007 World Series together. James Shields played with the Rays from 2008-2012 and had Joe Maddon as his manager each of those years. If the Cubs could sign both of those guys to go along with Jake Arrieta, they would have a very potent top 3 in their starting rotation to go along with what should be a dangerous offense. If you really think about it, there aren’t too many players in the Major League’s that won’t want to be a part of the Cubs over the next few years. Everyone is going to want their name to be on the Cubs’ roster that one day wins the World Series, and it’s looking like the possibility of that actually happening is better now than ever before.

Clearly the Joe Maddon signing is not official, but in all likelihood he’ll be the Cubs manager come Opening Day. It kind of makes you feel bad for Rick Renteria who gained a lot of confidence from the Cubs’ front office this past year. He’ll be out of a job if Maddon comes to town, but it’s a move that the Cubs essentially have to make in this situation. It’s not every day that you get the chance to sign one of the game’s best managers.

Cubs’ managerial options


                          Theo Epstein

After managing the Cubs for just two seasons, Dale Sveum was fired by the team a few weeks back for his lack of player development. While that was an issue with Sveum, I don’t know that I totally agree with the Cubs’ decision to fire him after just two seasons in which he was given two crap teams to work with. I guess in the minds of Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer, the regression shown by Castro and Rizzo this season was enough to let Sveum go. So that leaves the Cubs without a manager right now, and many, myself included, are speculating as to who might be the team’s next skipper.

It was no secret that if Epstein had his way, he was going to hire Joe Girardi to manage the Cubs. Unfortunately, Giriardi decided to re-sign with the Yankees for four more years due to family reasons. With that, we can take him off the list of potential managers. The candidates left on that list are, and in my opinion should be (in no particular order):

  • A.J. Hinch
  • Manny Acta
  • Rick Renteria
  • Tony Pena
  • Dave Martinez
  • Mike Maddux
  • Brad Ausmus

Personally, I would like to see either Tony Pena, Mike Maddux, or Manny Acta hired as the Cubs’ new manager. Dave Martinez, currently the Rays bench coach, is not a bad option either, but honestly I don’t know enough about him.

Some may be surprised by the name Tony Pena. Here’s why I like him:

  • He has managerial experience. From 2002-2005, he was the manager in Kansas City. He won the 2003 AL Manager of the Year award.
  • He has been Joe Girardi’s bench coach in New York since 2009 (Yankees won the World Series that year).
  • He is a former catcher.
  • He is Dominican/Hispanic.

The Cubs want someone who has experience managing at the Major League level. If they hire a rookie manager, then they’d be going down the same road they went with Dale Sveum and his firing would seem pointless. Pena has that experience, and while his tony-pena-540x362record in Kansas City wasn’t great, he proved he can do the job by turning that team around in 2003 and winning AL Manager of the Year. I think being on Girardi’s staff in New York and winning the World Series there is a good credential as well. Also, the fact that he is a former Major League catcher (and a very good one) is a bonus in my eyes. Catchers have always been looked at as being the smartest baseball players because of their responsibilities behind the plate every single game. Add in the fact that Pena won four Gold Gloves as a catcher, and you have yourself a premier catcher who knows the game inside and out. My point about him being Hispanic is a very valid point. The Cubs are developing a number of top baseball prospects at the moment. Two of their top minor league prospects, Albert Almora and Jorge Soler, as well as current Major Leaguer Starlin Castro, are all Hispanic (granted, Almora was born here in the U.S., but he is still Hispanic). Plus the fact that more and more Hispanic players are entering the MLB and are becoming the league’s best players gives even more reason to hire a Hispanic manager. I feel Pena might be able to connect better with Hispanic players and prospects more than some other managers.

1306350614Manny Acta is another candidate that I wouldn’t mind seeing hired as the Cubs’ manager. He has managed the Nationals and Indians in the past, and won the 2007 NL Manager of the Year award, as well as the 2011 AL Manager of the Year Award. Like Tony Pena, Acta is from the Dominican Republic and would have that instant connection with Hispanic players.

A wild card shot here, and a very intriguing candidate is Mike Maddux, the current pitching coach of the Texas Rangers. Maddux was a candidate back mike-madduxbefore the 2012 season after the Cubs fired Mike Quade as well. He is a former pitcher and has ties to the Cubs organization as his younger brother, Greg, was a pretty good pitcher for the North Siders back in the early 90’s and then again from 2004-2006. Some believe that if Mike is hired as the Cubs’ manager, he may bring on Greg to be part of his coaching staff. I would be perfectly fine with that scenario. The one major drawback to hiring Mike Maddux would be the fact that he has zero managing experience at any professional level.

Clearly, there are a number of ways the Cubs could go here in addition to the possibilities that I just mentioned. One question I have, however, is this: Are the Cubs looking to hire the manager that will be here when they “go for it” and try to win the World Series, or are they looking for another temporary manager like Dale Sveum who will run the team until they feel they can compete? The answer to that question lies within the amount of confidence Epstein and Hoyer have in their current prospects. If they feel it may be another three years before the top dogs are ready to be brought up to the Major League level, then they may go the “Dale Sveum route.” If Epstein and Hoyer believe the Cubs are just another year or two away from competing, then we’ll see them hire a more proven manager.

I’m looking forward to this decision.

City approves Wrigley renovations

imageToday, the city of Chicago made the final approval regarding the Wrigley Field renovation plans. It sounds as though the renovations could begin as soon as this October. In total, the cost of this renovation project is estimated to be around $500 million.

With this renovation, a large jumbo-tron will be placed behind the left field bleachers, the Cubs’ clubhouse will be redone, an underground hitting cage will be added near the home dugout, another “party” deck (similar to the one in right field) will be added in the left field corner, the concourses will be redone, and a new restaurant and club level could be added to the stadium. Also, a hotel will be built on the west side of Wrigley off of Clark Street. Some other more minor alterations could/will be made as well.

It is huge that the Cubs were able to get this project officially approved by the city. While I am upset to see some of Wrigley’s old-time traditions disappear, I understand that these changes are necessary in order to put a winning team on the field. This is just one of many steps to what will hopefully result in a World Series championship.

When I think about this renovation plan, I can’t help but think of what the Red Sox did with Fenway Park back in the early 2000’s. Fenway underwent a major renovation to bring in more revenue through advertisements, and the ballpark was updated to make it feel a bit more modern and cleaner. As a result, the Red Sox made more money, were able to sign key free agents, and won 2 World Series titles in a span of 4 years after not having won one since 1918. Clearly, this is what the Cubs are hoping for as a result of Wrigley’s renovations.

While I am sure some people are upset with this plan to renovate Wrigley, this is truly in the best interest of the franchise. If they want to become competitive again and have a chance at winning the World Series, this renovation needs to be completed. Today was just the first step in reaching that ultimate goal.

Time to trade Castro

I have seen enough from Starlin Castro. This guy started his career looking like he would become a perennial all star, but those visions are quickly disappearing. This Cubs team is not winning anything this year, they won’t win anything next year, and who knows what may happen in the years after that. The key to their success in the future is going to be building a very good farm system and developing their top prospects into good MLB players. If you trade Starlin Castro right now, you would help yourself achieve those long term goals.

Castro has shown through his first three and a half MLB seasons that he is capable of being a very good hitter. He had 207 hits in 2011 and batted .307 for the year. Those are very respectable stats. However, he has not gotten any better since then. In fact, he’s only gotten worse.

I challenge anyone to give me an area of Castro’s game in which he is better at today than he was the day he stepped into the Majors. Good luck finding one. He started his career as a weak defensive player, and maybe he has gotten better there over the last 3 years, but hardly. Here’s a good stat for you:

Of all active MLB players, Starlin Castro already ranks 38th in career errors, and he’s only been in the league for less than four total seasons! In his first three and a half seasons in the big leagues, Castro has a whopping 98 errors at shortstop. That is hard to comprehend.

What put me over the top regarding Castro is what took place in yesterday’s (Friday) game at home against the Pirates.

Starlin came up in the bottom of the 8th inning with the Cubs trailing 6-2 and doubled to left-center field. He then proceeded to get picked off of second base by Pirates catcher Russell Martin in the ensuing at-bat, and Castro looked like he had no clue what just happened. 

Here’s my point. There have been WAY too many times since Castro came into the big leagues in which he has been caught not paying attention to what is going on in the game. Just complete dumb, mental mistakes.

Last month in a game against the Angels, Mike Trout hit a hard ground ball to Castro at shortstop. Castro took his time fielding it and was in no rush to get the ball to first base. What happened? Trout beat out Castro’s throw for an infield hit. It was as though Castro had absolutely NO CLUE who just hit him the ball (If you are unaware, Mike Trout is arguably the fastest player in the Majors). If a guy like Mike Trout hits a ground ball to you, you better get that ball to first base as quickly as possible. In this case, either Castro was unaware of who was batting, or flat out made a lazy effort. Either way, this was unacceptable.

Recently, Castro has been criticized for not running hard from second base to home plate on a ball hit to left field in which he should have scored on. Instead, he was thrown out at home and the Cubs lost the game 1-0.

Things like that are what have put me over the top with Castro. Winning teams do not have players who are lazy. They don’t have players who are unaware of the situation in the game. Castro has proven time and time again that he is both of those. Even though I strongly believe that Castro has some of the best talent in the Majors, his attitude and continuous mental mistakes are not what this Cubs team needs moving forward.

Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer should trade Castro now and get as much as they can in return for him. I’d be willing to bet that at least a few teams would give up a few top prospects and draft picks for Starlin Castro.

If you’re wondering what the Cubs would do with that open spot at shortstop, look no further than Javier Baez. Baez is the Cubs’ top prospect right now, and he is a shortstop. I’m not saying that the Cubs would promote Baez to the Majors right away if they do trade Castro, but Baez will be Major League-ready in the next 2 years. Even if the Cubs don’t trade Castro, I believe Baez will push Castro out of the shortstop position whenever he does make his MLB debut.

The bottom line here is that Starlin Castro is not getting any better at baseball since he first came up three and a half years ago. This is by far his worst year at the plate (.236, 4 HR, 26 RBI), and his fielding is not where it should be for a MLB shortstop. His value is still high enough to where the Cubs could get something good in return if they trade him, and that is exactly what they should do.

Quit the booing at Wrigley

wrigley-fieldYesterday was the Cubs’ home opener at Wrigley Field, and already the Cubs fans in attendance were voicing their displeasure with certain players on the roster. Clearly, this is not the same group of Cubs fans that used to be in the stands at Wrigley every afternoon.

I understand that booing is part of sports. It is natural for fans to boo the opposing team. That happens at every stadium in every sport. What is not natural is for fans to boo their own team. Sure, there are a number of fan bases that do this on a daily basis (which doesn’t make it right), but Cubs fans have never been a part of that group, until now that is.

Yesterday during the player introductions prior to the first pitch, Carlos Marmol was booed like crazy by the Cubs fans in attendance. He was then booed as he ran in from the bullpen heading into the eighth inning. This wasn’t the only booing that took place yesterday, but I won’t get into all the rest.

Being a Cubs fan like I am, I know that Carlos Marmol has had his struggles in the past, to say the least. This past weekend he blew a save in Atlanta and then surrendered a walk-off home run to Justin Upton in the bottom of the ninth. Prior to that outing, he had a couple of very shaky appearances in Pittsburgh during last week’s opening series with the Pirates.

Having said that, you don’t boo a player during the home opener team introductions or when they take the mound in the eighth inning as a relief pitcher. Does anyone have any idea how much more difficult that makes it for a player to succeed when he’s booed before throwing a pitch in front of his own fans? Cubs fans went to a new low yesterday with their booing, and it needs to stop.

Wrigley has gotten a reputation in past years as being a big “drunk fest,” and that may be accurate. Obviously not everyone in attendance is drunk or consuming alcohol, but a large portion of the fans are, especially in the outfield. These “drunk” fans are mostly young people in their 20’s and 30’s who show up just to party. They are not true fans. It is these people that are ruining Wrigley’s reputation, and it is these people that are leading the booing and making their own team turn against them.

I guess the opposing argument to mine regarding the booing would be this:

The players on the field are getting paid millions of dollars to perform, and so when they don’t perform, they deserve to get booed.

I can’t say that I completely disagree with that. At the same time, however, when a pitcher or any other player is out there giving it 110% and not succeeding, they shouldn’t get booed. If a guy is being lazy or their head isn’t in the game, causing them to make mistakes, then they should get booed. You don’t, however, boo a guy who is giving it everything he’s got, and you don’t boo your own player(s) as they get introduced or take the field.

It is sad that Dale Sveum had to comment on this matter in his postgame interview yesterday after just one home game. To sum it up, he said that it’s tough to perform when you get booed in introductions or when you take the field. I couldn’t agree more.

Any true Cubs fan knows that this team is in a rebuilding process. The Cubs are not going to be good this year, or next year. If people are showing up at Wrigley Field expecting this team to win on a daily basis and boo when they lose, then those fans are simply not intelligent. Don’t go to Cubs games if you’re expecting them to perform like a first place team.

Hopefully this will be the last time I write about this, because it makes me sick to know that so many dumb fans are taking over that park and ruining its reputation.

Stay optimistic about the Cubs’ future

While this has not been a good year for the Cubs in terms of their record, there is no reason to believe that things won’t change in the next few years or so. Just look at Anthony Rizzo.

Prior to being called up to the big leagues this season, Anthony Rizzo was being called “the next Babe Ruth,” “a future Hall of Famer,” “the second coming,” and so on. I’m not saying that he didn’t deserve those praises, but those are some tough expectations to try and live up to. As tough as it is to succeed at the Major League level, Anthony Rizzo is doing just that. In the 29 games since being called up, Rizzo is hitting .321, with 8 home runs and 20 RBI, including this past Sunday’s walk-off home run against the Cardinals. Not many players could have lived up to the hype that surrounded Anthony Rizzo prior to his Cubs debut, but Rizzo has done that and more.

Aside from Rizzo, the Cubs have guys like Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney already producing at the Major League level. In the minor leagues they have players such as Brett Jackson, Josh Vitters, Jorge Soler (a recently signed Cuban outfielder), and Albert Almora (their number 1 pick in this year’s draft). While those guys still have yet to prove themselves at the Major League level, their futures look pretty bright.

Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein went into this season’s trade deadline with a sole purpose of acquiring young talent, especially in the form of pitchers. Monday night, Reed Johnson and Paul Maholm were dealt to the Atlanta Braves for 2 minor league pitchers, one of which was rated the Braves number 3 prospect last season. Also on Monday night, they traded Geovany Soto to the Texas Rangers for another young pitcher. Today, Ryan Dempster was traded to the Rangers as well, but the details involving the trade have not fully come out yet.

As I have stated before in previous blogs, I have total confidence in Epstein and Hoyer. They know what they are doing when they trade for, sign, and develop young prospects. Just look at what they did in Boston if you need proof. Odds are that the Cubs will not be too good next season, or the next season, or maybe even the next season. But if you give Epstein and Hoyer time, there is no reason to believe that they won’t fulfill their promise of putting a winning team on the field. In the mean time, we can all sit back and watch the whole future develop right before our eyes in players such as Rizzo and Castro.

Stay optimistic Cubs fans.

They don’t do the “Wave” at Wrigley Field

Over the years, Cubs fans have taken pride in the fact that they don’t do the wave during Cubs games. It’s a senseless, distracting, and annoying disturbance to a ballgame when fans do try and start the Wave.

I have been to a countless number of Cubs games at Wrigley Field, and not once have I ever seen anyone try and start the Wave. Cubs fans go to games to watch baseball, not to amuse themselves by creating their own source of entertainment. When at Wrigley Field, people should respect the park and its rich history and tradition of baseball by paying attention to the game. Why do you think Wrigley is the only park without a jumbo-ton? It’s because Wrigley Field is an old-time, traditional baseball stadium where people go to watch baseball.

I have been to 17 different MLB stadiums, and I can tell you that in over half of those stadiums, I have seen fans try and start the Wave. Last summer, I took in a game at Fenway Park. I went into Fenway expecting to see some of the greatest baseball and sports fans in the world who respect the game and its integrity as much as any other group of fans on the planet. Well, guess what? They did the Wave that night, and I have seen them do it again on TV since then. I lost a lot of respect for those fans that night. Just this past weekend I was in St. Louis to check out the new Busch Stadium. Cardinals fans are often referred to as some of the “best baseball fans in America.” Can you guess what I’m about to say next? Yep, they started the wave in just the second inning, and continued to try and start it all the way through the end of the game! In crucial parts of the game, fans were actually trying to start the Wave. I couldn’t believe it.

With the Cubs not being such a great team this year, less fans have been showing up at their home games.  A few nights ago, I was talking to someone who was recently at a Cubs game at Wrigley, and they said that a small group of fans in right field actually tried starting the wave. They were never able to get it going (because the rest of the fans actually had heads on their shoulders), but this still disturbed me, and it prompted me to write this blog post.

To all Cubs fans who may read this at one point or another:

Please, stay respectful to the game, the Cubs, and Wrigley Field by never starting the Wave. It has been an unwritten rule ever since the Wave was invented that it shall never be seen inside the walls of the Friendly Confines. Regardless of how good or bad the Cubs might be, starting the Wave at Wrigley Field is always a bad option.

I would give anything for the Cubs management to put signs up around the park that read, “Wave Not Allowed.” If anyone tries to start it, they should instantly be ejected from the game. It’s a complete and total distraction and annoyance to everyone in the park and on the field when fans begin doing the wave.

So again, be smart Cubs fans. Be proud of the fact that your team plays at Wrigley Field, and NEVER do the Wave.

Cubs Assessment

Believe it or not, we are already 23 games into the Cubs’s season. Unfortunately, much like we, or at least I suspected, they are in last place in the Central Division with a record of 8-15.

I’m pretty sure that no one had high expectations for this team heading into this season, which is a good thing. The Cubs are not a very good team this year. They have very little power in their lineup, their pitching rotation is sub par (with the exception of Garza and Samardzija so far), and their bullpen is a near disaster. But, there have been some bright spots up to this point.

Bryan LaHair has been on a tear to start the season. He is hitting .390 with 5 home runs, and 14 RBI. His 5 home runs lead the team, and he is tied with Starlin Castro for the team-lead in RBI. There were a lot of questions surrounding LaHair heading into this season, with a lot of people wondering if he could perform in the MLB at the level that he had been performing at in the minors. Well, so far he is not disappointing anyone.

Starlin Castro has picked up right where he left off last year at the plate. He is hitting .333 with 14 RBI, and 10 stolen bases. One thing that I would like to see him do is hit for a little more power. Many people have compared Castro to Hanley Ramirez of the Miami Marlins in that both are built similarly from a physical standpoint, and that both have the potential to hit for power. Ramirez has proven that he can hit for power, but Castro has yet to do so. If he could end up averaging anywhere from 15-20 home runs per season as a shortstop over the length of the remainder of his career, his value would sky rocket. Another thing that Castro needs to improve on is his fielding. Last year, he ended the season with 29 errors, which is unacceptable at the major league level. This year through 23 games, he already has 7 errors. He must cut down on his mistakes in the field.

Matt Garza has pitched like an ace through is first 5 starts of the season. He is 2-1 with an ERA of 2.67, 36 strikeouts, and a WHIP of 0.89. Had he gotten some more run support, or had the bullpen not blown the lead in a couple of his 5 starts, he might have one or two more wins. A lot of teams were coming to the Cubs this off-season with trade offers for Garza, but they held onto him because of the potential that he has to pitch like the way he has been so far.

Tony Campana is back in the big leagues. Although he has only played in 9 games this year, he has had a big impact on just about each game he has played in because of his speed. In those 9 games, he is hitting .370 and is 7 for 7 in stolen base attempts. Just the other night in Philadelphia, he had an infield single, and also bunted for a hit. It has gotten to the point where any ground ball he puts into play, he has a legitimate shot at beating it out for a hit. Infielders on opposing teams literally cannot afford to bobble the ball or make any kind of mistake when trying to throw out Campana at first base. Once he is on base, he is the ultimate threat to any pitcher or catcher. Campana is one of only a few guys in the big leagues who have pitchers and catchers totally distracted while he is on base because of his incredible potential to steal any base at any time.

The Cubs are not going to go anywhere this season, and none of us fans should expect them to. Even despite the stellar play of the guys I just mentioned, this team still has way too many holes, with the biggest being their bullpen who can’t seem to hold any kind of lead. For those of you who like to take optimistic points of view on things, like me, here is a theory for you to keep in the back of your mind.

No one has any high expectations for the Cubs this year, including their management and front office, and the players are aware of this. Therefore, they are going out and playing with the “we have nothing to lose” mentality each day. When athletes go out and play relaxed with no pressure on them, they end up performing pretty well. I know this from experience. Because of this, there is a good chance that the Cubs might end up surprising a few people with their record this year. I have seen some analysts say that the Cubs might reach 120 losses this year. If they continue to go out there and play relaxed with no high expectations of them coming from the  fans or management, they might just win a few games and have a decent season considering the circumstances. That’s just my theory, and you can take it or leave it.

I am looking forward to the remaining 139 games on the Cubs’ schedule because I am very interested to see how some of their top prospects perform at the big league level once they are inevitably called up. Hopefully we are all in for a pleasant surprise.