High Socks to ChiSox, and Northside to Southside.

Look out, AL Central: The Chicago White Sox are coming to play. Not just play, they are coming to contend.

Much to my dismay, Yankees closer David Robertson has agreed (allegedly) to a 4 year, $46 million deal with the Chicago White Sox. Not only that, but he has limited no-trade protection. Robertson cashed in big time. It may not be “Papelbon” money like he was hoping, but my goodness he came awful close.

As if the news about D-Rob wasn’t enough, we just found out that Jeff Samardzija, who was previously with the other Chicago team, has landed with the White Sox (allegedly) via a trade with the Oakland Athletics.

HOLY BALLS YOU GUYS.

None of this is confirmed of course, but don’t be stupid. All of these reporters can’t be wrong! (please read that sentence with a smidgen of sarcasm) But for real though. the south side of ChiTown came to play during these winter meetings. As a Yankees fan, I take comfort knowing they will get a first-round draft pick (that will probably get traded away for an “established” player, like, three years down the road…) for D-Rob. However, as a baseball fan, you have to wonder what Billy Beane is doing over there in Oakland. He has traded away many fan favorites and basically dismantled the team from last year. He’s kind of a mad genius, so even though what he is doing seems crazy, I can’t expect anything less.

It will be interesting to see what the rest of these winter meetings will hold…

If it Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix it. Oh, You Did Fix it? Huh.

This year’s trade deadline brought a bunch of change for many teams, but none more so than the Detroit Tigers and Oakland A’s. Both teams should theoretically make the playoffs because both teams have been great all year. Before the trade deadline, these teams were leading their divisions and cruising to an easy postseason berth. What shocked the baseball world was when Billy Beane traded his beloved prospects for a ton of high-caliber starting pitchers, plus Jonny Gomes. We were also shocked when Detroit pulled off a three-team trade for the Rays’ David Price. So, with these two teams on paper becoming world superpowers (kind of), what could possibly go wrong?

Well, let’s start with Oakland since I really really really really want them to FINALLY get to the World Series and so Brad Pitt can finally win the last game of the season. Now that I have accepted the fact that my Yankees will not get to the World Series, I can start choosing sides. Anyway, Oakland sent the home run derby champ Yoenis Cespedes to Boston for Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes, further ramping their rotation, even after their trade with the Cubbies. So what happened? Well, the Angels are now in sole possession of first place in the AL West, and they are not backing off. Oakland is somehow unable to consistently win games. It is worth noting they still have the second-best record in baseball, but this is not what they were expecting. They were expecting to be on a rampage, riding unicorns into battle and slaying their opponents mercilessly.

Let’s talk the Tigers now! With the acquisition of David Price, the Tigers have the most lethal rotation in baseball. I firmly believe they could out-pitch the Dodgers if need be, but ever since the trade, their offense has become sporadic and their rotation is a little shaky. They got walloped by the Twins two games in a row, including a 20-6 massacre. I am unsure if the Twins have scored 20 runs combined all year. Another example is when Price pitched in Tampa. He gave up ONE hit, a homer, and still lost the game. How messed up is that? Anyway, another factor is cause for alarm in the Motor City: Kansas City. The Royals have come out of the woodwork and overtaken first place in the AL Central. Now, Detroit is jockeying for a Wild Card spot. Well then.

So, is there reason to worry about these teams? Nah, not yet. If we get to mid-September and these two teams are in fact NOT riding unicorns and slaying their opponents, then I will worry. Pitching is the key to winning in the postseason, and Oakland and Detroit have that in spades. Once the new players settle in, I think both teams will be fine. However, after the deadline, these were not the results these two teams were hoping for. Like I said, everyone was expecting them to be riding unicorns and slaying every other team, but that is not happening. The unicorns are doing a slow trot, but hopefully this just means they are saving their energy for late September.

Pitching wins the postseason and these two teams have no reason to worry. They just have to get there first.

What’s a Cub Gotta do to get a Win in this Town?

I feel really, really bad for Chicago Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija.

This year, he has 1.46 ERA in ten starts, a 1.11 WHIP, and 51 strike outs. He has ZERO wins on the season, and it is by no fault of his own. Actually, it has been 16 starts since he had his last win. Can you believe it? But such is life for a Cubbie pitcher, I guess. He is pitching like an All-Star and if he were on any other team, his win/loss record would look much different. 

I would think Samardzija has to be pretty upset right about now. I am sure he loves his team, the city of Chicago, and Wrigley Field, but something has to give, right? How can a team with talents like Anthony Rizzo, Junior Lake, Starlin Castro, and others be so bad? Honestly, there is really no good answer except that it’s because they are the Cubs. 

You see, I have a theory about the Chicago Cubs and why they always suck: They have to. This team has to suck in order to keep the fabric of baseball in tact. If they suddenly become good, I am fairly certain that will signal the end of times (A family friend once sang this during the seventh-inning stretch: “Root, root, root for the Cubbies! If they don’t win, it’s the same…). Players and managers come to the team thinking they can change it, but they can’t. Think of the Cubs as being a “bad boy” and new players like the girlfriend who says “I know I can change him!”. The Cubs, of course, do not resemble a “Bad Boy”; they are more like the kid who gets picked last in P.E. and eats Mayo in excess at lunch. 

So what is a team to do with the likes of Jeff Samardzija? There have been rumors a-plenty that he will be prime trade-bait at the non-waiver deadline in July. The Cubs figure they can get some good prospects in return for the very good pitcher, and they are probably right. There are a large number of teams who need a guy like Samardjiza, and you can bet Samardjiza is secretly hoping someone snatches him up. He can flourish in an environment that actually lets him get a win. The Cubs should let him spread his wings and fly because that is what he deserves. I can just hear Jeff Samardjiza saying, “It’s not you, it’s me. And by that I mean I need to get the f*** out of here”. 

I mean, 16 starts since the last win? That’s preposterous.

 

 

Spring Training is Awesome (and so are my Mini-Reviews)

Spring training is awesome.

It’s the one time of the year where you can sit back, watch a game, and not have to worry about the politics of baseball or how crappy your team is doing. We have had two full days of spring training games and I have been able to watch a few, thanks to MLB TV. Seriously, best investment ever. No joke. And no, they are NOT paying me to say that.

Anyway, I got to see seven teams play so far and because I am an over-achiever and part-time mind reader, I am going to talk about what I saw from the teams and what kind of indicators I got that will play out in the regular season. So, don’t take too much stock in this, but as a blogger, I am now obliged to give my opinion without a care because that’s how the Internet works.

All right, let’s get crackin’:

Philadelphia Phillies: Okay, so I only saw part of this game, but I think the Phillies might actually do better this year. I am hopeful, but c’mon, they have to deal with the Nationals and the Braves. I think a third-place finish is a totally acceptable goal.

Toronto Blue Jays: Color me impressed. The Jays actually didn’t suck in the partial game I saw. Jose Bautista spanked a homerun like he was a pimp and that ball was his…erm…I’ll just stop there before I get in trouble. Okay, anyway, after last year, the Jays can only go up, right? Well, I liked what I saw in the few innings I watched. Because as we all know, a few innings is totally a good way to gauge the rest of the season (enter sarcastic tone).

Pittsburg Pirates: After watching them whoop up on my Yankees, I can say that the Pirates will be good this year. Good enough for play-off run? I dunno. They will have to contest with that Cardinals and that shall be no easy task. It would be fun to see them do well this year, but we gotta stay realistic: I don’t know that they are any better than the teams they could potentially face in the post-season.

New York Yankees: Well. They actually didn’t play that terribly these past two games against the Pirates, but they most definitely did not play up to half their potential. Seriously. It was as though none of their core players were playing (which is totally the point of spring training games) and I think that really bummed out the offense. I think we will need to watch a few more games before judgments are made. They can be a super great team, so long as the lingering question marks go away. Yes, the bias is oozing out of me, don’t hate.

Arizona Diamondbacks: Beating up on the Dodgers is a wonderful feeling, but losing to them the next day is a bummer. Arizona got Kershaw’s number on Tuesday and didn’t let up, but in the split-squad game, the latter part of the game slipped away from those Diamondbacks. That trend really hurt them last year. Of course, they did the exact opposite against the Cubs this afternoon. A slow start led to a poppin’ finish. So, yeah. This year the D-Backs should finish above .500, but I don’t know how well they will do in the post-season, if they make it that far. Prado’s bat was explosive and Goldschmidt pulled through in the clutch, just like always. I really REALLY want them to pull off something special.

Los Angeles Dodgers: Obviously the biggest thing about the Dodger’s spring training is Zack Greinke. First, he spouts how unexcited he is for the Australia trip, and now, he might not even have to go. This afternoon against Arizona, he felt something pinch in his leg and was taken out preventatively after 4 or so pitches. So will the Greink-ster have to go to the land down under? If he has his way, probably not. Milk it, buddy! The Dodgers looked hot and cold these past two games, so I am projecting they will still be great this year, but maybe not quite as good. Like, they will be in the post-season, but probably not the World Series. But the best part of these games was listening to Vin Scully call the game. The dude is funny in an I-don’t-mean-to-be-funny-I-am-just-old kind of way.

Chicago Cubs: Oh, Cubbies. You get a brand new park and a home run to christen it. Except the homer wasn’t yours. It belonged to the Diamondbacks. You guys set the record for Cactus League attendance and had so many fans cheering for you to win! And you lost. I hate to say it, but dudes, you’re not making into the post-season. This whole spring training game pretty much sums up your life: it started strong and everyone was filled with hope, and then it all fell apart. But we still love you. We have to, if only because we feel sorta bad for you.

So there you have it, folks! My mini-analysis of these wonderful (and evil…Dodgers) teams is complete. I will try to have more mini reviews as I watch these games.

Sit back and enjoy spring training, because it is awesome. We get to see players we normally wouldn’t and we get a taste of baseball before the games actually matter. Enjoy spring training because the season will be here before we know it and I will become consumed with baseball. But now, I have to do homework because I have time. In a few weeks, I will not have time because I will be watching baseball. Sorry Mom and Dad for the inevitable tanking of my grades.

Priorities.

RECOMMENDED ARTICLE

http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/major-league-baseball-execs-open-to-signing-gay-player-021014

With football prospect Michael Sam coming out of the closet, the NFL is poised to sign its first openly gay player. I, for one, couldn’t be happier. If the guy is good, it shouldn’t matter who he goes home to after the game. Is the NFL ready? I hope so. Is MLB ready? I hope so. I think this article gives me hope that a person’s sexuality should not matter when it comes to getting drafted. If he can hit a baseball or pitch like a fiend, it should never matter.