Happy Birthday MLB Network

The MLB Network turns one today and much like my nephew who turned one in November, really only the people that created it understand it’s being celebrated.

New talent will make for an even greater 2010 on the network with Peter Gammons of ESPN fame joining the gang. Hopefully, the new talent the Cubs add this off-season will provide a positive boost as well.  Marlon Byrd may be the biggest acquisition thus far for GM Hendry and the team on the North Side, however the off-season is long from being over.

Hendry is keeping within the budget the owners have asked to stick to and considering so far we’ve rid ourselves of an ineffective bullpen stat line eye sore in Gregg, a second rate dud at second base in Miles and an outfielder who couldn’t stand Cubs fans who resorted to giving out free baseballs to fans in right as souvenirs (unfortunately on fly balls he caught while there were still less than three outs and men on base) and upgraded our outfielder situation by moving Fukudome to right (where he’ll be more of an asset) and mixing in the talented and if nothing else, available, Byrd in centerfield…I’d say so far, so ‘pretty good’ by Hendry this off-season.  Would I count on Byrd to put my chances of a thrilling October with a happy ending for a book deal all by himself?  NO WAY and I’ll have more on Byrd later.  (Regarding the book deal, see the post listed below this one).

There are still more moves to be made and deals to be done.  By GM Hendry for sure and hopefully with an interested publishing company as well.  Time will tell.

For today though, happy birthday to the MLB Network!  Mark Newman, the enterprise editor of MLB.com wrote an article commemorating the network’s first anniversary.  He asked for people to send him their thoughts regarding what it has been like having the network available 24/7 over the past year.  I submitted and am quoted at the end of the piece!  It reads:

Ryan Maloney, a Cubs fan in New York, said it changed his baseball world and he cannot wait to see what is next.

“Having MLB Network 24/7 has been an amazing resource, as it practically puts the viewer in the Commissioner’s Office with their timeliness in breaking news and updates surrounding the game,” Maloney said. “Having MLB Network on 24/7 has provided younger viewers with an opportunity to allow historic-game footage to serve as the face of the biggest names of baseball past.

“[It’s] a great way to allow fans of all ages to truly appreciate what makes the game of baseball the great game it has developed into today and the people that have contributed to our country’s favorite pastime along the way. The days of getting your baseball news from boutique sports news stations ended a year ago, the day MLB opened its specialty shop in the MLB Network.”

If you’d like to read the entire article, you can do so here.  Happy New Year to you, Happy Birthday to MLB Network and as always….Go Cubs Go!

MLB Network 1, Cubs 0

So far this off-season the MLB Network has more key free-agent acquistions than the Cubs do. Patience will definitely be a virtue while we wait to find out what last names will be attached to Chicago’s favorite bags of laundry.

Hendry wasn’t able to do anything significant during the Winter Meetings but that doesn’t really surprise me.  The economy is horrible so everyone’s being careful about every move they make and the consequences those moves may have in the long term.  Also, there’s always those couple key free-agents that the dominos don’t get to fall until those pieces land where they may.  In the past couple years guys like Fukudome, Matszuaka and Johan Santana played the role. This year it’s Halladay, Lackey and arguably Bay.  We know that there are certain pieces we can expect to be there come Spring, but there are 266 free agents still out there looking for a new address.  Anything can happen and it’s going to keep the miserably cold winter extremely interesting this year.

Happy to see Miles and Heilman go.  Never was thrilled with Miles being a Cub, he had huge shoes to fill when he was the replacement piece for fan-favorite and capable utility man DeRosa.  Heilman is just a joke.  He came in with promise when he reached the Mets and then went on to contribute to the horrilbe state the Metropolitans have fallen to.  I live in NY and have seen a ton of Mets games and read a ton of Mets headlines.  Heilman is a disaster and we’re a better team without him.

That somewhat, in some round about way brings me to Castillo.  Luis Castillo is playing for the New York Mets.  I’d like to remind everyone of that.  IF a trade actually ends up going through, whether it’s for Bradley straight up or involving as many as twenty-something teams, IF the Cubs end up with Castillo, be disappointed.  This is not the Luis Castillo that played with Florida.  This is an older, slower, less effective Castillo and he will not do much in getting the Cubs to where they need to be.  Again, living in NY has given me plenty of opportunity to see Castillo let down Mets fans from all over and become the hot target of New York boo-birds.  The Mets last won the Series in ’86 and last appeared in it in 2000.  You think the Mets fans’ level of patience brought out a lot of boos and negative press?  Wait until the fans of the Cubs, waiting 100 years and counting in taking home the trophy, get their hands on an inempt second baseman like Castillo.  We’re far better off with the Fontenot-Baker tandem.  I would prefer to upgrade at second if we can, but Castillo is not the guy.

Love Ted Lilly but I’m a little concerned about how long it will take for him to be effective next year coming back from surgery.  I know we have more pressing needs than a back up plan to Lilly, but it would be great to see if Hendry could work out a deal somewhere that brings in a solid starter as insurance.  I like his confidence in the guys we have, but I’d feel more secure in our shot if we had one more quality guy with the experience and numbers to prove he can handle it. Even more so than Gorzelanny or Marshall can offer.

Congratulations to Peter Gammons, look forward to catching you on MLB Network.  Hoping the Cubs give us a few guys to look forward to catching as well.  Go Cubs Go!