I Have To Pie

So, this headline would be more amusing if Pie had been traded to Toronto.  Sadly, he was not. However, Pie will now be locking down left field for the Baltimore Orioles.  A great defensive outfielder, along with Jones and Markakis, the O’s will have a strong outfield to grab all of those line drives that batters will be hitting off their horrible pitching.

I admire and respect the history of the Orioles, loved Ripken and Murray as a baseball fan growing up and still have the goal of making it to Camden to catch a game asap.  I will be keeping tabs on Pie throughout the season in a new section called ‘Still Have to Pie’ for two reasons.  1) I’m a big fan and still see amazing potential.  I’ll be curious to see how his career comes about in Baltimore. 2) There aren’t enough bloggers in this community to cover it all.  Seriously, I clicked on the team tag on the MLBlog home page and while some bloggers with sites dedicated to other teams have posted articles about the O’s and are listed there, there are very few Orioles sites.  I’m not sure why that is.  I counted about eight of them and only a few of those had anything added to the pages since last Spring or Summer.  There’s one that I liked a lot that was something about ‘the tough life of an orioles fan’ or something like that (I’ll get the title asap and link to it here for you to check out…it’s really a great read).

Ok, I just got distracted by watching Fallon on Leno.  Looking forward to checking out his new late night talk show. Anyway…my point is, Pie is gone, I look forward to seeing how he does in Baltimore and will keep a section of Prose and Ivy dedicated to checking in on his career there and there should be more Orioles blogs in the MLBlogs community. Simple observation and opinion.  If anyone knows of one I may have missed, let me know here and I’ll check them out.

Note to self: stop blogging at midnight and if the best headline you can come up with is ‘I Have to Pie’, just go to bed.

Go Cubs Go!
 
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Looking Forward to Christmas

Last year at this time I was wondering if the Cubs would deliver Fukudome for the holidays.  They did.  This year, it’s looking more and more likely that the big acquisition will be Milton Bradley (insert holiday board game joke here).

With the Cubs signing Gathright, a speedy left-handed bat with the skills to be our fourth outfielder and specialty of covering center field it looks like my favorite up and comer Felix Pie will soon be sent out to pasture (or at least to wear another team’s uni’s).  Edmonds was fun to watch while he was here and I’m glad we’re holding onto Johnson.  Soriano, Johnson and Fukudome is an unlikely threesome when it comes to our starting outfield for ’09.  More than likely the Cubs will sign Bradley, platoon Fukudome and Johnson in center and have Gathright around to sub anywhere, anytime.  This ability makes me even more nervous that DeRosa will no longer be a Cub come the 2009 season.

I don’t believe Gathright plays second base but his versatility delivers a speedy player with the same value that DeRosa delivers (veteran utility guy) and Fontenot may be getting his shot at second base.  With Furcal no longer an option at short, the idea of moving Theriot over and putting Furcal there is moot which even more so makes the idea of trading DeRosa and using Fontenot full time more realistic.

The Peavy deal seems to have died for good so it looks like the only significant difference we can expect is a power hitting lefty in the outfield…or, as I stated earlier, Milton Bradley.  (Wouldn’t it be great though if we ended up with Manny?  I know.  It’s still fun to joke about though.  Also, wouldn’t it be great if all the news from Hendry and the Padres about Peavy ended up being like when you’re parents use to pretend you weren’t getting something for Christmas that you ended up getting, just to mess with you and build the drama?  That would definitely be cool).

As I write this I’m trying to remember the last time Bradley had a meltdown or a tantrum that made headlines.  I can’t even remember when it was so maybe that’s a good thing.  I understand bringing in a quality guy that Piniella is familiar with like Gathright.  I can appreciate the desire to add a power hitting lefty.  I just hope DeRosa isn’t left out of the equation come ’09 and I’m disappointed in the signs of things to come as far as Pie is concerned.  Also, not so sure that Bradley is the way to go and enough to get us out of the first round of the playoffs (that is of course if we make it in next year).

Two division titles in a row is nothing to sneeze at.  Interested to see what tricks and gifts Hendry has hidden up his sleeve for this year’s holiday season.  With all the ads and talk on the Cubs’ site about the Caravan, can’t help but wonder who the big addition is going to be when it comes to the convention and the caravan Cub roster of representatives.

With a week of preproduction on the pilot, a couple days of shooting and a week of 14 hour edit days put in this week, I’m exhausted.  Looking forward to enjoying some fudge, getting some rest and hanging with the family over the holidays.  And of course, once again, looking forward to seeing what Hendry has in store for all us Cubs fans on the ‘Nice’ list.

Go Cubs Go!

What’s with the DeRo Fire Sale?

Shot a couple of segments for a pilot for a new television show I created with a friend of mine today.  The day started at 3am for me and it was a long shoot day.  The shoot went great though.  The comedy we wrote for it ended up playing really well, the actors were great, the crew was phenomenal and the director and production company behind it were nothing but supportive and 100% committed to getting the best episode taped possible, regardless of the fact that our call time had them up at 2am. (That’s early for anyone, but especially Executive Producers and Presidents of production companies, believe me!)

Editing it all next week and I can’t wait to see the footage and how it all comes together in post. We have had some strong interest in the show we shot a pilot for back in January and after nearly a year of development with various networks, we came up with a related premise and cranked it out today.  It will be interesting to see what happens with it all for sure.

Speaking of which, it will also be interesting to see what happens to DeRosa.  Winter meetings wrapped and Peavy has yet to sign on the dotted line.  Sabathia and Rodriguez both found new homes and will call New York City home for several upcoming seasons.  From here on out the other pitchers will start finding out where their loyalties will begin to lie and really only the Cubs are still rumored to be in the fight for Peavy.  It’s just doesn’t feel right to be going through all of this to get Peavy when we have to sacrifice DeRosa.

Whether he ends up a Twin or a Philly, I’m still not one-hundred percent sold on losing such a versatile player as DeRosa. People get injured all the time and to have DeRosa’s ability to play numerous positions and deliver a quality bat with a quality backup (Fontenot, Cedeno) puts the Cubs in a very good place to be…especially with an already strong rotation.  We’ve won back-to-back division titles yet have been swept out of the playoffs two years running.  Because of our starting pitching?  I don’t think so.  Did we get there because of guys like DeRo stepping up and filling holes and making it happen?  Yes, I do think so.  So maybe a utility, versatile player like DeRosa is more valuable than a pitcher of Peavy’s caliber?  I don’t know.  I don’t know which would mean more to the team in terms of playoff success in the long run.

Thoughts?

All I know is, I like the rotation we have even without Peavy.  Piniella seems to feel the same way.  I know DeRosa was practically the MVP of the Cubs in ’08 and his versatility is hard to replace.  Throw in Pie and a couple others and maybe its too pricey?  Again, I don’t know.  I’m not sure how I feel about this.

Anyone?  Anyone?

Also, before I go try to get some much needed rest, today I saw that ‘Prose and Ivy’ made it to number 58 on the MLBlogs Top 100 Fan Blog list for the entire 2008 baseball season/year.  Thanks to everyone who stops by on a regular basis!  This community is a great place for baseball fans and with all the great blogs that are on the site, I’m just grateful for those of you who decide to stop to read this one.  Go Cubs Go!


‘O’ Here We Go Again

When it comes to Felix Pie’s potential and what he can on the major league level, fans are split with how much he could ever do for the ballclub.  What if I told you Pie could be the guy that gives the Cubs an end of the 2009 season stat line that looks like this?

 pie close up swinging bat.png
10 11 ERA 2.85 IP 173.2 146 HR 17 BB 59 SO 166

Would you be happy?  I mean sure the 17 HR’s would still be less than preferred, but 173.2 innings pitched?  Come on, for anyone never mind a center fielder, that’s impressive!  Of course that’s ridiculous and it wouldn’t be Pie giving us those stats.  How can  Pie deliver these stats for the Cubs this year?  As a key part of a three-team trade between the Padres, O’s and Cubs which in the end, lands the Cubs starting pitcher: Jake Peavy.
Familiar trade rumor partners surfaced today with the Orioles mentioned as the potential third team involved, necessary to complete a trade of Jake Peavy from the San Diego Padres.  Sweet Lou mentioned recently that fans shouldn’t expect any more deals to go down for starting pitching as we’re good to go there compared to other areas of the team.  Zambrano, Harden, Lilly, Dempster and Marquis/Marshall have everyone feeling rather comfortable, including Piniella.  This of course was before our old trade rumor partners of Winter Meetings ’07, the Orioles came calling with Garrett Olson up for grabs and all they want in return…Felix Pie.
Wow.  Now, I have been a huge fan of Pie since he came up and I truly STILL believe he has a huge upside.  However, the platoon of outfielders we have right now can more than handle center field for ’09 and if Pie can get us Jake Peavy?  A guy who averages 12 wins a year, loves pitching in the national league and in 2007, put up a 19 spot in the win column and averages over 180 strike outs per season?  That just may be more than I could possibly ever expect from him in the long run, especially considering pitching wins nowadays.  
We send Pie to Baltimore.  Baltimore send Olson to us.  We send Olson to San Diego.  San Diego sends us Peavy.  It’s no DeRosa for Roberts.  It’s better.  We keep DeRosa (last year’s Cub MVP if you ask me, co-MVP anyway with Dempster) and get a rotation of Zambrano, Peavy, Lilly, Dempster, Harden.  Sign another strong left handed hitter and throw him in the middle of the lineup and dare I say, I’d be even more excited about this team’s chances than I was last year’s.  And I thought last year was THE year.  I know Cubs fans say that all the time and I’m guilty of hoping that certain previous seasons were…2008 however, I truly thought was.  Give me this rotation in 2009 and I have no words prepared as of now to describe my excitement.
It’s all still rumors of course, nothing official.  Given the fact that Piniella said we’re done with Peavy talks, I’m skeptical to say the least.  And given my new approach to being a fan (no expectations) I’m not getting my hopes up.  Worst case, we keep a player I think has a lot to offer in the near future.  Best case, we get Jake Peavy.  Enough said.  Can’t wait to see how this thing plays itself out!  Go Cubs Go!
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And So It Is

Three days away…Wrigley Field…Game 1, NLDS.  

Dodgers.  Cubs.  
Awesome.
161 regular season games, full of exciting drama, big hits, breakthroughs, milestones, career-best seasons and a long list of other highlights in this 2/3’s of the 2008 Cubs’ season.  
In the first third, Spring Training, the organization found itself coming off a successful run at a  division championship the year before, which was unfortunately followed up by a not so successful sweep in the first round of the playoffs by Arizona.  That wasn’t how it was supposed to go.  No one in the front office, the dugout, or the bleacher seats thought the Cubs were built to be swept in the NLDS.  But that is exactly what happened and for an organization short on opportunities to claim another World Series title, one that they’d waited for nearly a century to obtain, everyone in the front office knew that there were some serious decisions that needed to be made.  These decisions made up a huge chunk of a dramatic offseason and a Spring that included four key storylines: the rotation, the closer, the outfield and the “second baseman”.  
Come Spring Training one the key issues was figuring out who our five starters were going to be when the games counted starting March 31st.  And there was a great battle to figure out who those five would be.  Some guys came out of the gates quickly to prove themselves to Piniella and company and stayed the course.  Ohers had an up and down Spring and some were a huge disappointment.  Z and LIlly were no-brainers, but the rest were up in the air.  Would the old favorite Lieber make the squad?  What about Marquis?  Can he even bring anything worthwhile to the table this year?  Or what about Dempster?  Should we really consider our closer, Ryan Dempster as a starter this year?  It would make room for Wood to potentially become the closer if the organization so chose.  All very important question that were being bounced around the clubhouse, media and fan base.  In the end, Zambrano and Lilly were teamed up with Dempster, Marquis and Rich Hill.  
Come the regular season, Zambrano and Lilly were pretty much what you’d expect but Dempster was amazing at home.  One of the greatest home field pitchers in the game developed in Dempster as he became a guy to truly challenge Z for the ace role, especially when you’re talking consistency and reliability at Wrigley.  Hill faded fast as it became more painful for fans to watch him and thankfully, the organization found a way to land one of baseball’s greatest steals, in a trade for Rich Harden.  This group would become one of the best rotations in baseball by season’s end.
The closer situation was interesting from Spring on as well.  Simply making such a huge decision as taking your closer and bringing him into a starter role, one he hadn’t held in years is news enough.  But to have a competition in Spring to see who would replace him…and to add to it that one of the contenders is fan-favorite, uber-talented yet often-injured Kerry Wood, made it one of the biggest stories of the Spring, spilling into the regular season.  The trio of Howry, Marmol and Wood pushed each other all Spring for the job.  The organization seemed to be hoping, pulling, pushing for Wood to grab the job as they gave him many opportunities to step up and grab it, even one instance where after an injury they figured well let’s just see if he can successfully pitch two days in a row and that will pretty much seal the deal.  Two days in a row?  I was thinking we’re going to need our closer a lot more than two days in a row (hopefully).  Maybe that wasn’t the best final test to give him the job.  I always wanted Marmol to land the job as I thought he had had the best Spring.  As it turned out, the job did go to Wood and he had an All-Star season with the ninth inning all his, one of the best in the game.  And the eighth belonged to Marmol.  You couldn’t ask for a more powerful late inning duo as they proved to be a key element to the Cubs clinching the Central for a second straight season.
And of course, you need great position players to back these pitchers up, right?  So then what to do about the outfield?  Aside from Soriano, nobody was a lock to land an outfield job with the Cubs.  Ok, maybe Fukudome.  But no one had ever seen him perform in a MLB game.  Sure, the Cubs had scouted him in some of the greatest international baseball there is, but still…he hadn’t faced MLB pitching on a regular basis.  While Fukudome was a pick up that excited millions of Cubs fans at the time, including myself, he was still an unproven (and expensive) commodity.  A virtual unknown.  He ended up with the right field gig and came out with a bang, hitting a double in his first MLB at-bat and then with a game tying three-un home run in the bottom of the ninth at Wrigley against the Brewers on Opening Day.  While his regular season’s first half made him a legitimate All-Star, for some reason the second half of the season saw Fukudome struggle his way to less playing time and even some time on the bench.  Pickups like Jim Edmonds (the most unlikely I’d say…he was a CARDINAL) and Reed Johnson proved to be huge difference makers in the outfield and the Cubs were able to send young, full of potential center fielder Pie to the minors for the Summer until late season call-ups.  It gave the organization a great record of wise decisions up front and then smooth strategic dealing when it was needed.
And of course, the second baseman.  Rumors, rumors, rumors.  Brian Roberts.  Mark DeRosa.  Mark DeRosa, Brian Roberts. Uma, Oprah.  Oprah, Uma.  Letterman’s joke went over like a fart in church (don’t think I like this analogy actually…I’ve heard people fart in church and it is rather funny) and who knows how this trade would have ended up in the Cubs Win/Loss columns.  Roberts would have lead off and although Soriano struggled here and there throughout the season, he ended up being an All-Star and a huge offensive catalyst for us.  DeRosa is more valuable a player than Roberts will ever be.  The things DeRosa does on the field and the amount of positions the guy can play….this team would not be where it is right now if it wasn’t for Mark DeRosa.  Thought I’d be okay with a trade in the Spring….really glad it didn’t happen looking back.
Which brings us, to looking forward.  On Wednesday, Game 1 of the NLDS kicks off.  Ryan Dempster, closer converted to starter with 17 wins this year will be on the mound, in the stadium where he dominated all year for the Cubs.  We’ll get the Dodgers first up and I think this is going to be one amazing series.  Joe Torre’s first post season with the Dodgers, alongside his former nemesis, Manny Ramirez.  The Dodgers are going to be a huge challenge for the Cubs and it’s going to come down to more of what got them here.  Great pitching, great management, great decisions…in fact, next to all of those ‘great’s, you can also include ‘timely’.  We find a way to continue our great and timely everything that we’ve managed to come up with in the Spring and Summer, then the last third of this season, the Fall could be a classic, in more ways than one.  GO CUBS GO!!!

Mets 7 – Hoffpauir 5

Final score: Mets 7, Cubs 6.  Will any of what occurred in the past four days matter come October?  Who are the Cubs going to play in the NLDS?  This race has been so entertaining, I don’t even want to be able to know the answer to that until after all the games end on Sunday.

Mets are hanging in there…Marlins are up next for them and they are no slouch.  Then again, they’re no Cubs either.  
3 games left.  Mets are behind the Phillies by 1 game in the East and tied with the Brewers for the Wild Card.  Again, tied for the Wild Card…three games left.
This is one of the greatest playoff positioning battles I’ve ever seen going into the final weekend of a season.  All three teams battling to get in to the final two spots in the NL are playing at home this weekend…each with varying degrees of difficulty in their opponents.  Mets get the Marlins, again no slouch.  Phillies get the Nationals…somebody from Philly organize this year’s schedule in case it came down to the wire again like last year?  I mean, the Nationals??? Come on.  The Nationals may surprise people every now and again but let’s face it, if I’m the Brewers…I am not happy about this situation one bit.
Sure I’m at home…on the same field the Cubs borrowed and threw their nearly perfect, first no-hitter in club history in over forever ago.  Facing the team with the best record in the National League…who will show up as the away team…yet playing in a stadium often considered Wrigley North.
Forget Houston being rescheduled to play home games in Milwaukee…this hardly seems fair.
So here the Cubs are.  Already captured the NL Central, earlier than they ever have.  Best record in the National League, home field advantage through the NLCS (if they make it that far).  And as if that weren’t enough…they now get the added bonus of possibly playing spoiler for the Brewers.  
Wow.
The Mets were great this week.  If it wasn’t for their bullpen blowing leads, they may have faired better.  Considering we weren’t going full lineup in every game gives me very little concern about the Cubs in looking at these past four games.  Although I suppose Zambrano does raise some concern.  He didn’t look so hot on Wednesday and of course the start before that he got ROCKED.  Nobody is going to care about Z’s no-hitter come October, especially anyone in an opposing team uniform.  Dempster’s going to kick things off, but we are definitely going to need Z to be closer to no-hit form as opposed to ‘last two starts’ form.  As always with the Cubs, this is about to get (even more) interesting.
I love that we’re in a position to take a look at some guys in figuring out our postseason roster though, a luxury teams like the Mets, Phillies and Brewers don’t have.  Man, what an audition Hoffpauir had tonight!  5 for 5, 5 RBI’s and 2 HR’s.  I was IMPRESSED by him in Spring Training, unfortunately there just weren’t enough roster spots to fit him into for pretty much the entire regular season.  Once we had a chance to call some guys up, Hoffpauir and Pie were the two guys I hoped would get called up.  I expect them both to be on the roster for the NLDS and when called upon, while more so Hoffpauir than Pie, I expect them both to be ready and prove to be contributors in the clutch.
Three more games to the 2008 regular season.  Mets, Phillies and Brewers playing for a division …a wild card…an opportunity.  The Cubs on the other hand…playing in hopes of being champions…contributors…and quite possibly, spoilers.
159 games played.  And yet still, 3 more needed to make sense of it all.  GO CUBS GO!!!
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Advantage: Cubs

By beating the Mets in the house the Amazin’s built, the Cubs clinched home field advantage throughout the NLCS.  Now whether they make it that far remains to be seen.  However, with the home field advantage Wrigley has been so far this year for the Cubs…that is definitely more great news this club can enjoy, in addition to repeating as NL Central champs, clinching the division on Saturday against the Cardinals.

Marquis pitched a great game today going deep into the seventh inning and provided the game winning grand slam. I always find it weird to see a pitcher hit a home run, even as a national league fan. Of course, I always welcome it regardless.
 
You can tell its audition season as of late with Pie getting more playing time lately. I admire the fact that Lou is still playing everyone, keeping them ready and trying to built momentum going into the playoffs.  Pie has delivered as of late and I believe he will be a great cog to have if we need him in the postseason.  Before the season I thought he was the next great CF this league may see.  He still could be I suppose, but after watching Edmonds and Johnson take over center this year, it truly shows how much Pie still has left to develop as a player before he contributes at that level on a regular basis.  
 
One thing Fukudome will provide in the postseason for sure is his glove.  He’s a smart fielder and made another nice play tonight against the Mets.  His bat may have cooled off and the NL may have ‘figured him out’, but his glove is one thing you can’t do anything about.  He’ll be a great defensive component if nothing else in the playoffs.
 
I’m glad Lou is keeping Z in his regular spot in the rotation.  After getting hit hard last time out and having such a drastic difference in outcomes in his two appearances after being out for two weeks, Zambrano really needs to be in there on his regular rest.  Everyone else has been shuffled slightly to shape up and prepare our four man rotation for the playoffs.  That four man group of course will feature Zambrano, Lilly, Harden and Dempster.  Four great seasons right there…let’s hope it continues when the calendar flips and we hit October 1.
 
Speaking of which, still not sure who we’ll be playing which is why Lou hasn’t named a Game 1 starter for October 1. I can’t say I like the Cubs’ chances any more or less when it comes to the Mets or Dodgers.  Both teams have been hot and cold as of late, both have big time play makers in their lineups and I feel like their pitching staffs are pretty much equal performance and health-wise at this point, very late in the season.
 
55-26 at home this year.  Best overall record in the National League locked in.  Playoffs start October 1.
 
Advantage: Cubs.  
 
GO CUBS GO!!!
 
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