Did you know that the Cubs and Sox start a three game series tonight? Apparently they do, and with the return of three more mildy interesting games comes a second chance for baseball genius Phil Rogers to pass on doing an All-City team, because nobody gives a shit.
Back in May, when these two teams last hooked up, Phil declined to pick his awful annual (and prestigious) best of two team. Surely nothing much has changed, right?
Phil picked his team, but before he gets to that here’s about 1,000 words on trading Alfonso Soriano.
Contact a Hollywood agent, quick. It’s time for someone to do the miniseries “Trading Sori: Inside the Cubs’ Quest for the Holy Grail.”
It’s like The Thorn Birds except Laura Ricketts is playing the Rachel Ward role.
The conversations about the Alfonso Soriano situation that have taken place recently and will take place for who knows how long would be a fascinating look at the business side of baseball.
Yes, fascinating. The kind of thing that a newspaper reporter might get some access to, especially if he was a “national baseball writer” but not if he was also a complete hack.
Unfortunately, there’s no way Cubs President Theo Epstein is giving Michael Lewis or anyone else a look behind the curtain. He doesn’t operate that way. So all we can do is speculate about the ongoing dilemma.
You know who could sweet talk his way into some access?
The Cubs want to wipe the slate clean and start over, and Soriano — like a dog with a bone — wants to hang on to the position he has occupied since 2007.
I’m pretty sure that either one of my dogs could be trained to at least jog to first if they hit a liner in the general vicinity of the third baseman. Just saying.
Anytime Soriano messes up in left field or on the bases, fans scream for Chairman Tom Ricketts to cut him a check and make him go away. But two things are wrong with that theory:
Look out, here comes a Phil Rogers theory. The Galapagos titters with anticipation.
Ricketts isn’t releasing a guy he still owes more than $45 million and…
If you’re so sure that Ricketts wouldn’t eat all that money you don’t need your “and…” or anything after it.
at this point he probably couldn’t even if he tried.
Baseball’s collective bargaining agreement stipulates that releases must be performance-based, and over the last month Soriano has made an argument that he — not shortstop Starlin Castro — should represent the Cubs at the All-Star Game in Kansas City, Mo.
You are not allowed to waive a player if he’s playing well? I can’t believe that’s a thing. If you waive a player you still have to pay him, so what’s the damage to the player? He has to go play for somebody else and still get paid?
Regardless, if this is really a rule, it’s Alfonso Soriano we’re talking about. Wait two weeks for one of those death spiral 2-22′s with 17 strikeouts and then cut him.
From May 15 through Friday, Soriano was hitting .305 with 12 home runs in 105 at-bats, thanks in part to switching to a lighter bat. He has improved in left field and has such a great attitude that manager Dale Sveum said he respects him as much as any player he has been around.
I’m going to agree with Phil or Dale or whoever here. Soriano’s only problem this year is that he’s an old player on a team going nowhere. He’s hitting well, his defense isn’t hilarious anymore, and he’s playing on a bad knee. I have no problem with Alfonso or his effort. I also don’t think the Cubs need to trade him to open a spot in left for Bryan LaHair to move to when Anthony Rizzo rides in on his golden unicorn next week and starts hitting five run homers.
I think both Soriano AND LaHair should be traded. Both of them are playing over their heads right now, and both of them are old. They also both seem like cool guys who you’d like to see play on good teams instead of the festering puddle of Cub we’ve got right now.
“Nothing bothers me,” Soriano said two weeks ago. “I believe in myself, and I love what I do. I understand sometimes this game is up and down. Sometimes you have a bad week, but it’s a long season.”
Thanks for reminding us it’s a long season, Alf. We’d almost forgotten.
Will Soriano’s ability to hit the ball out of the park interest a team like the Indians or even the Rays as the designated hitter?
Ooh, Phil’s giving us riddles!
Probably not, but you’re going to hear a lot about his market in the next six weeks.
Oh, bullshit. That wasn’t much of riddle.
In the meantime, we’re calling him the All-City left fielder over the White Sox’s Dayan Viciedo, who also has picked it up since a slow start. Viciedo’s timely hitting and enthusiasm have played a role in the Sox’s standing as American League Central leaders, and you certainly can argue for him over Soriano.
I admire Dayan Viciedo and all those other ladies who have made Title IX such a success…. Wait, what?
Along with first base, the corner outfield spots are ripe for debate. But OPS usually tells the story, and Soriano had an edge of 75 points over Viciedo (.823-.748) entering Saturday.
Seventy five points of OPS is a lot. And it’s telling here because it reminds us that Dayan Viciedo isn’t any good. Sure he’s got “timely hitting and enthusiasm” going for him, which is nice. What also would be nice if he could produce in more than one month.
Vicideo’s April stats: .206/.217/.368/.585
Viciedo’s May stats: .351/.376/.619/.995
Viciedo’s June stats: .150/.209/.225/.434
You what that reminds me of? The White Sox.
Just like fat Diane, they’re mediocre and one good month has made them seem more useful than they really are.
Here’s a look at the rest of the Tribune’s All-City team:
Oh, stop making us wait, the anticipation is killing us.
Paul Konerko: Few things in baseball are cooler than batting titles, and the scholarly veteran is positioned to battle for one this season. He was hitting .399 on May 27 — a mean feat given that he gets almost no infield hits — and at .362 is maintaining a solid edge over Josh Hamilton and Mark Trumbo. In terms of OPS, Hamilton and Joey Votto are the only hitters delivering more.
Even though he’s a White Sock, I have no problem with Paul Konerko, but he’s not going to win the batting title. He’s not going to win it because he’s 36 and he’s never hit more than .313 in a season, and because his average has dropped every month, down to .268 in June. Then again, Mark Trumbo isn’t going to win a batting title either, because he’s Mark Trumbo.
It’s a surprise that Bryan LaHair hasn’t been far behind all season. He deserves to be in the All-Star conversation, as Votto is the only National League first baseman who has hit better, and to his credit he has turned all the Anthony Rizzo talk into so much white noise. That couldn’t be easy to do.
Some Cubs fans (the ones who are getting angry when this team loses because they’re idiots) are getting mad at Dale Sveum for his lineup against lefties because LaHair’s never in it. They can’t fathom sitting one of your best hitters like that. But LaHair is 3-28 (.107) with 16 strikeouts against lefties. So shut up.
Darwin Barney: Another good debate, actually, as Gordon Beckham has done things in a bigger way for the White Sox. He makes great plays in the field and lately has begun driving the ball. But Barney is Chicago’s most underrated player, possibly even by his own organization, as he has been out of the lineup seven times already. He has struggled against left-handers and hasn’t been as patient as the Cubs want but overall has been a productive hitter (.728 OPS) for his position.
Barney’s OPS is 70 points higher than Beckham’s. Seventy. And Darwin can’t hit.
Beckham is fifth among major league second basemen in homers but in most other stats still is trying to get out from under hitting .153 in April.
Hitting .261 in May and .262 in June is a nice trend. If he keeps it up, by September of 2015 he might be useful.
Starlin Castro: There are plenty of reasons to criticize the kid — he can’t always count to three, for instance.
Burn! Good one, Phil! See how dumb Starlin is. That never happens to anybody. Ever.
But every now and then you have to stop to praise him.
Seems like a novel idea. Every once and a while you should say something nice about your best player.
Derek Jeter is the only regular shortstop outhitting him this year,
That’s because Starlin is really good.
and he’s right there with Dee Gordon and Jose Reyes in stolen bases.
That’s also because he’s really good.
He’s 22 and on pace to get his 500th career hit in August, as he has collected them at a pace of 1.2 per game.
You get the idea yet?
Alexei Ramirez, who hit 21 home runs as a rookie and won a Silver Slugger in his third season, somehow has regressed into being a good-glove, no-hit guy. A very weird development.
Shocking, really that a guy with a career .313 on base average and a 90 career OPS plus isn’t a very good hitter. Somebody break into regularly scheduled programming with this news.
Robin Ventura: Seriously, will the man just put down his Sharpie and pick up a bat? At 44, he has to have more to offer than his trio of Orlando Hudson,Brent Morel and Eduardo Escobar, who entering the weekend had combined to hit .171 with one home run in 216 at-bats.
The Cubs’ Ian Stewart has been very good defensively but has hovered too close to the Mendoza Line for All-City recognition.
THIS IS WHY THE CUBS SHOULD HAVE HIRED RYAN SANDBURGS! HE COULD PLAY THIRD BASE ON THE ALL-CITY TEAM! I HEARD RONNIE SANTA ON THE RADIOS ONE TIME SAY THAT RYAN STARTED HIS CAREER AT THIRD AND MOVED TO SECOND BASE SO THAT THE CUBS COULD TRADE FOR MIKE SCHMITT!
Catcher: A.J. Pierzynski
Phil, you just broke your format. I’m sure it’s a tribute to the unconventional player AJ is. Either that or your chubby fingers make it hard to type on the Texas Instruments laptop the Tribune issued you.
Following Konerko’s example, he’s getting better in his mid-30s.
He’s not really. He’s still the same decent average, terrible on base percentage guy he’s always been.
He never has driven in more than 77 runs…
And he probably still won’t.
in a season but currently projects to reach 100, and he hasn’t sacrificed any average in going up a gear in driving the ball. He also has given himself a chance to throw out 30 percent of base-stealers for only the second time in his career. He should be the AL starter in the All-Star Game, although you will hear arguments for Matt Wieters.
Who the hell else is catching in the AL? Do most teams just use a sock puppet?
The Cubs can only hope Geovany Soto’s disappearing act is attributable to the knee injury that has put him on the disabled list. He will play a lot when he’s activated, but only to build a trade market. Steve Clevenger and Welington Castillo make him a luxury item.
That’s one shitty luxury item.
Alejandro de Aza: Like the Cubs’ LaHair, De Aza is a late bloomer taking full advantage of his opportunity. The 28-year-old entered Saturday with .375 on-base percentage, fourth-best among baseball’s regular leadoff hitters, and is scoring as many runs as any of them. He’s solid in the field, steals bases and can pound a pitcher’s mistake for extra bases. Will he hold up in September?
Since the Tigers are going to drive by the White Sox sometime in July (with Delmon Young pressing his butt cheeks on the window), I don’t think it’s going to matter what De Aza does in September.
Hard to imagine he will feel more pressure than when he was handed a big league job after years of shuttling between Triple A and the major league bench.
The Cubs have used five center fielders, with no one starting half the games.
What’s the Mather with Cubs centerfielders? Come on, Phil, how did you contain yourself from using that?
Alex Rios: Like Adam Dunn and Jake Peavy, Rios is back from the near-dead as a player. He has continued his every-other-year pattern by raising his batting average 70 points if not quite hitting for the power that general manager Ken Williams hoped when he claimed him on waivers. He’s a solid part of a good team.
I love that the “solid part “only makes $37 million the next three years.
David DeJesus has been excellent for the Cubs, with a lack of power the missing piece in his game. His .378 on-base percentage batting leadoff ranked third in the big leagues through Friday.
I don’t know that excellent is the word I’d use. Adequate, maybe. Or weenie-armed.
Adam Dunn, Tony Campana and Reed Johnson: Dunn is on pace to break Albert Belle’s White Sox record of 49 home runs. His startling turnaround provided a huge lift out of the gate for his teammates, who were relieved to see him hit five homers in April and ecstatic when he added 11 in May. He hasn’t cut down on his strikeouts — in fact, he’s on pace to shatter Mark Reynolds’ record of 223 in a season, with 250 within reach — but his performance pretty much illustrates how the Sox have improved to 4.8 runs per game from 4.0 a year ago.
Campana and Johnson largely have shared center field since Marlon Byrd was traded, and both have done well enough to make you wonder if they would get overexposed with more playing time. No one’s more fun to watch than Campana, who made the Cubs’ play of the year when he flew over the glove of Astros third baseman Matt Downs last month.
In 2008, Dunn led the National League in strikeouts with 122 while splitting time between the Reds and D’bags. He has already struck out 104 times this year. Holy shit.
Campana sucks and Reed Johnson is 35 years old and has a bad back. Wow, these teams sure have some depth, don’t they?
Chris Sale, Jake Peavy, Ryan Dempster, Jeff Samardzija: Dempster is the only usual suspect to crack the team this time around, and both the White Sox and Cubs have improved their rotations from a year ago. Sale’s move from the bullpen has gone much better than anyone had forecast, and he survived a temporary return to the bullpen to pitch his way into consideration to start the All-Star Game. He has been Big Unitesque, dominating hitters the same way Randy Johnson did in his prime, and could be on his way to becoming one of baseball’s 10 true No. 1 starters.
Peavy was great out of the gate and continues to have a renaissance season, one that could prompt the Sox to try to extend his contract, not deal him.
“…to extend his contract, not deal him.” Muahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!
Dempster quietly has been among the NL’s ERA leaders, bouncing back from a poor 2011 to show he has shelf life remaining.
And literally while I was writing this Dempster went on the DL. Proof that even when things work out for the Cubs, they don’t work out.
Samardzija’s the biggest surprise in town, moving from the Cubs’ bullpen to flash promise of being a true front-of-the-rotation piece. Like Sale, his durability and consistency will be tested as the season goes along.
Somehow, Philip Humber threw a perfect game and didn’t make All-City.
Well, it’s a pretty elite group (stifles uproarious laughter.)
Addison Reed: He was the reason Williams felt he could trade Sergio Santos, and he didn’t need long to show why. He got a chance to ease into the role with Hector Santiago opening the season as Santos’ replacement, but he looks plenty solid with the quintessential closer combination of a mid-90s fastball and hard slider.
Considering the Cubs have no one to get the final three outs, but never have a lead to protect anyway, this is quite the prestigious honor for whatever the hell an Addison Reed is.
Nate Jones and Matt Thornton: If Jesse Crain had not spent time on the disabled list, he would be here.
Sure, you can’t put a guy on the DL on your lofty All-City team (Ryan Dempster).
But Ventura has been blessed with a deep bullpen, and it revolves around Thornton. He still may be a candidate to be traded, even with the Sox at the top of the AL Central, but his steadying presence and durability remain huge assets. Thornton does seem overly dependent on a fastball at times, but it’s still a good fastball — not as good as Jones’, however.
Jones has hit 100 mph this season and complements that with a plus curve thrown from an unusual delivery. Like Reed, he has yet to deal with true adversity, which will provide the biggest test.
Shawn Camp, signed after the Mariners released him in spring training, and James Russell have been stalwarts for the Cubs’ bullpen, which got thinner when Kerry Wood retired.
It really hurt the Cubs bullpen when a guy who couldn’t get anybody out had to retire.
Robin Ventura: Dale Sveum grinds every night to get the most out of his overmatched Cubs team, and Ventura seems to do little more than fill out the lineup card. But Ventura and his coaching staff worked hard in spring training to set a positive tone and to correct some past deficiencies, such as the pitching staff’s lack of interest in runners on base, and the results have shown in a major way.
Maybe the fact that Robin doesn’t really manage is why the Sox have had one winning month so far? Just a crazy thought.
Both Ventura and Sveum are smart baseball men who have dispositions that should help their players survive the dog days. They look like solid choices to take over for Ozzie Guillen and Mike Quade, respectively.
Hey Dale, put that on your resume. Phil Rogers says you’re a “solid choice” to take over for Mike Quade. Wow, now that is a high bar to clear.
So Chicago has one team headed for (even for them) a historically shitty season and the other is in first place, and they pretty much evenly divided up the phony All-City team? Don’t start trading your meth for playoff tickets yet, Sox fans.