The End.

Since I have not posted since the end of January, this post should not come as a surprise. I am formally ending my blog on the Cubs. Writing about the team was a fun, wonderful experience, but the last six months, I have not had the passion for it that I used to have.

I began the blog as a way to work on my sports writing; something to put on my resume in addition to other work I was already doing. However, as my work has started taking more and more time, combined with a lack of cable, it’s become increasingly difficult to faithfully post.

I probably should have made this post a few months ago, but I’ve been dragging my feet, hoping to find the motivation to continue. It’s not come, so I’m ending the blog now. Thanks to anyone who ever read. I truly appreciate it. And as always…

Go Cubs Go!

 

~Karen

Spring is in the air: Non-roster invitees announced

In nineteen days Cubs pitchers and catchers will report to Mesa, AZ for this year’s Spring Training. Since winter had been relatively mild this year, it is more difficult than usual to believe that baseball is about to hit the ground running. Just in case the idea of baseball gearing up for what I’m sure will be another exciting season isn’t enough to whet your appetite, the Cubs’ front office released the names of their 21 non-roster invitees this afternoon.

The list includes nine pitchers (righthanders Marco Carrillo, Manuel Corpas, Jay Jackson, Rodrigo Lopez, Trey McNutt, Blake Parker and Dae-Eun Rhee and lefthanders Trever Miller and Chris Rusin), three catchers (Michael Brenly, Jason Jaramillo and Blake Lalli), five infielders (Alfredo Amezaga, Edgar Gonzalez, Jonathan Mota, Bobbly Scales and Matt Tolbert) and four outfielders (Jim Adduci, Jae-Hoon Ha, Brett Jackson and Jon Mather.

A few names on the list certainly stand out for a variety of reasons. First is Rodrigo Lopez. The 36-year-old righthander went 6-6 in 2011 with a 4.42 ERA in 26 games (16 starts). His lifetime career stats include a 81-88 record and 4.82 ERA (720 ER/1,3441 IP) in 253 appearances (215 starts). I wish I could say I was super impressed with this decision, but Lopez struggled too much past the fourth inning of his 2011 starts with the Cubs for me to be thrilled.

Speaking of pitchers, there’s Trey McNutt, 22, making the cut. McNutt was 5-6 with a 4.55 ERA in his first full year at Double-A last season. He was the Cubs 32nd round draft pick in 2009 and has three professional seasons under his belt. McNutt’s name often came up last year when the Cubs were shuffling their starters and relief pitchers, but he never made it past Tennessee. I’ll be interested to see what sort of improvement he shows after the off-season.

Trey McNutt, 22, went 5-6 with a 4.55 ERA (48 ER/95.0 IP) in 23 appearances (22 starts) last season with Tennessee, his first full year at Double-A.  The 6-foot-4, 220-pounder was selected by the Cubs in the 32nd round of the 2009 Draft and is 18-8 with a 3.13 ERA (83 ER/239.0 IP) in 61 appearances (53 starts) during his three-season professional career.

Outfielder Brett Jackson is another prospect-invitee I’ll be keeping a close watch on. With six outfielders already contending for spots on the 25-man roster, it is unlikely that Jackson will see the Bigs this season (bar a break-out Spring Training), but the .274 batting average with 23 doubles, five triples, 20 homers, 58 RBI, 21 stolen bases and a .379 on-base percentage through 115 games is encouraging. He is young, fast, has moderate power and seems to be patient at the plate. On the surface there’s very little to not like. However, not all players that seem ripe with potential at the Double-A or Triple-A level pan out once they make it to the major leagues. Given Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer’s “draft and develop” philosophy, I’d wager a guess that Jackson spends most of the season in Iowa with a potential call-up should a spot open due to injury. That being said, he’s only 23 and I can’t see him being put under pressure to rush unless Marlon Byrd and Alfonso Soriano depart before the season’s end.

There are definitely other stand-out players and names on this year’s list of non-roster invitees, but I know relatively little about many of the others. Rather than rushing to copy and paste what Cubs.com says about these players, I hope to do some research and post an informed analysis on the remaining 18 players in the coming days.

Also, it’s important to keep in mind that garnering an invite to Spring Training does not automatically mean that any of these players have spots with the Cubs. There are still trades to be made and contracts to be tendered before February 19 and much can happen between now and then. We’ll just have to wait and see how shines and who falls once March rolls around.

Why can’t we be friends?

I know this is slightly old news (Cubs.com broke the story on Wednesday), but the Cubs and Red Sox front offices announced this week that they’re formally asking Bud Selig to determine the compensation to the Red Sox for Theo Epstein coming to the Cubs.

I always thought it was a bit strange that Epstein had to essentially determine his own value and I’m surprised that the League hadn’t stepped in to resolve the issue before this. I suppose it’s possible that Selig wanted to wait to see what sort of trades/signings both teams made before forcing a decision? It’s also possible that he wanted to make sure that there wasn’t going to be a work-stoppage in the event that a new CBA agreement wasn’t signed by both Major League Baseball and the player’s union. The latter option seems highly unlikely since the new agreement was signed to little fanfare (compared to its NFL and NBA counterparts, anyway).

One thing I do worry about is now that the Cubs have made so many roster changes, the players they may have originally parted with are no longer on the team. While many people may not always agree with the Commissioner and his judgment calls, it would seem out of character for him to ask (read: force) the Cubs to give up players that they just obtained via trade. Stranger things have happened, though.

I’m not overly concerned about who will ultimately be leaving the Cubs system and heading East, because Lord knows that players tend to bounce around from one Big League system to another before really finding a home, but it does seem a bit strange that it’s taken until a few weeks before the start of Spring Training to get this taken care of. I wish I could be a fly on the wall in Larry Lucchino and Ben Cherington’s offices to know exactly whom they’d like to pluck from the Cubs’ 40-man roster or farm system.

Anyway, all this is to say that I have my doubts that the Cubs will end up making a significant sacrifice as consolation and I wish this issue was resolved a few months ago. The Cubs have done some very interesting things during the off-season, especially regarding the starting rotation and that really ought to be the story here, not this compensation dispute. But hey, apparently sports politics are just like regular politics: the important stuff so often tends to get overlooked in favor of the mundane.

Just Keep Writing

I’ve heard from multiple successful sports writers that the best way to become a reporter yourself is to read a lot, write everyday and then read some more. I’ve got the reading part down, but I certainly have not been doing the writing. I’d like to change that. Habits are difficult to form and easy to break, but I figure I’m not going to become a sports writer by sitting on my butt and wishing for a job to fall into my lap. Time to start doing the leg work. So. Now what?

I’m really going to make an effort. I’ve posted 3×5 cards around my house that say things like “Have you written about the Cubs today?” or “Did Theo say anything interesting?” I’m a visual learner so fingers crossed that the reminders kick me into gear.

That’s about it for now. The “reset” button has been hit for the millionth time and we’re going to start taking this whole “find a real job” thing seriously. Also, Go Cubs Go! Just over a month until pitchers and catchers report; what a beautiful feeling.

The Prince and the Pauper

First things first, I did not mean to go over a month without updating. This will hopefully not be an on-going trend for this blog. Second, let’s talk shop.

As many Cubs fan noticed, the front office was rather silent during the Winter Meetings a few weeks back. I had mixed feelings about the situation. Many of the beat reporters who covered the team seemed disappointed in the decision to merely sit and observe, but to me it made sense.

Reason #1: While I have no doubt at all that Theo Epstein is the kind of GM that kept up on the goings-on of all teams around baseball, the fact of that matter is that while he was in Boston, his Red Sox played the Cubs only a handful of times. He certainly would have taken a good, hard look at the roster and its abilities before accepting the job in Chicago, but at the end of the day, he has a team that is relatively unknown to him.

Reason #2: What the Cubs truly need is a power bat and starting pitching. It is a well-established fact that there is not a wealth of starting pitching on the market right now and with not too many players to trade, it makes sense that the Cubs weren’t forking over an arm and a leg to pursue a player already under contract. Regarding the power-bat, I’m personally rather glad that the team did not sign Pujols. His contract is not completely ridiculous, but I would not have been pleased had the Cubs been the team doling it out.

Reason #3: Who here remembers the big splash the team made in 2007? That was when Soriano got his mammoth contract. Sure Jim Hendry couldn’t have known that Soriano’s lackadaisical playing style in the outfield and spotty bat would become the bane of Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer’s initiation to the Cubs, but still. He should have known better. The point to all this is that I’m okay with Jed and Theo proving they’re patient over impulsive.

That being said, things need to pick up a bit. Prince Fielder is still on the open market and the Cubs stand to make quite a steal if they can get him locked down and under contract.  I’ll be very disappointed if he receives the sort of mammoth contract that Soriano got, but I don’t think a 4-6, $120-million contract would be completely unreasonable. Apparently Fielder is trying to command more years than the Cubs may be willing to give, so I don’t have my hopes too high that he’ll be playing on the North Side for more than a few games in 2012, but stranger things have happened.

At this point all we can do it wait and see.

Welcome!

How many more days until we see this again?!

It’s here! After wrestling with the idea to switch over to WordPress from Blogspot, I finally bit the bullet on Wednesday and re-created my Cubs blog at this new site. Then last night I spent the better part of two hours transferring all the posts over to this blog. And I now feel fully prepared to start writing and discussing the Cubs on this new medium.

As many people know, the Cubs have made some pretty significant changes over the last three or four months. Jim Hendry and Mike Quade were fired (thank goodness the Ricketts family was smart enough to not let those both happen during the season), the front office named Boston born-and-bred wonderboy Theo Epstein the President of Baseball Operations with Jed Hoyer as his general manager and as we speak, Dale Sveum (the former Milwaukee Brewers hitting coach) is being introduced as the manager.

And that’s all just been since September!

While I lost the inspiration to write about the Cubs during the 2011 season, I did not lose my interest. I view this change to WordPress as a fresh start: a chance to fall in love with writing about the team again and perhaps also do a better job of holding myself accountable.

My writing will be rusty at best, corny at worst. My facts will occasionally be incorrect (I’ll try to fix that as soon as I discover it) and my information may not always be original. I still ask that if I say something that you think is funny, witty, dumb or brilliant, let me know! Sometimes a little validation goes a long way in motivating a writer. We’re a little over three months away from pitchers and catchers reporting to Mesa and there’s so much to discuss before then! I hope that you’re as excited as I am.

Long overdue update (11/16/11)

So it’s been a while. A very long while, in fact. I’d love to give some legitimate excuse that would explain away my hit-and-miss attitude towards this blog for the last five or six months, but I really don’t have a very good one. The last post I wrote was August 6. I guess that was sort of the last time I really cared deeply about the team. Or cared enough to invest the energy to write something.

Rather sad considering I profess myself to be a “die hard fan.”

So why the motivation to start posting now, after three months of radio silence? It’s rather selfish, really. I need it for my resume. Sad, but true (isn’t honesty the best policy?). I can honestly say that I’ve wanted to post and even started writing posts in my mind multiple times for the last three months, but never followed through. Yeesh. That doesn’t reflect well, does it? But now, I would like to use this blog as a part of my body of work to hopefully help push me toward a reporting job. Selfish motives aside, there are a few things that I’ve been mulling over that will result in some significant changes.

First, and most importantly, Go Cubs Go is moving to WordPress. I have not created the new blog address yet, though I will post the link as soon as I have (probably tomorrow afternoon). Over the last 12 months, Blogspot has been driving me crazier and crazier (actually a large part of the reason that I hadn’t posted anything for so long…) and since I’m going to try to pick this up again, I’m going to do it in a space that I like and prefer.

Second of all, I’m going to start small. I’ve been perfectly content to just sit back and let the pros do all the talking and absorb what they’re saying rather than doing my own hoof work and processing what I think about the Cubs and then crafting those thoughts into an intelligent post. Baby steps, though. I’m committing to start at a minimum of one post a week, with an increase to two or three posts starting the week of the Cubs convention in January. We must walk before we run sometimes and I don’t want to set an unrealistic goal for myself right before the holidays.

Third, I’m going to try to write with a more stream-lined journalistic style, rather than just the stream-of-consciousness that has dominated the last year and a half. Some things have changed in my personal life throughout the last month and those changes are making me take this whole writing career thing a lot more seriously. The writing will probably be a little clunky to begin with, and I apologize in advance for that. Please stick with me as I attempt to rediscover my creative voice.

I think that’s everything. Like I said, I’ll post the link to the new blog as soon as it’s available. If there is anyone out there still reading this, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I don’t deserve your dedication, but I will try to earn it from this point on.