Saturday, August 20, 2011

Mortal Kombat: Cubs Edition

By: Dustin

This may be a bit dorky, and it definitely exposes my affinity for the occasional shitty movies, but yesterday's announcement of Jim Hendry's firing reminds me of the ending of Mortal Kombat.

In case you haven't seen this cinematic masterpiece -- and I fully admit to having seen it dozens of times -- the whole gang is excited at the conclusion of the film. Why not? Liu Kang has just finished defeating the evil Shang Tsung, apparently saving the world as we know it and definitely saving the soul of his deceased brother and thousands of other unfortunate folks who died at the hands of the Outworld sorcerer.

Just as Liu Kang returns home with new friends Johnny Cage, Sonya Blade and Rayden, the sky darkens and an enormous Shao Kahn towers over them . . . making them aware that they very well might still be fucked.

So, in case you aren't too good with analogies, Liu Kang and his buddies represent the Cubs, while Shao Kahn represents . . . reality.

And the reality is this: the Cubs organization is a damn mess. It's not all Hendry's fault, either. A lot of it is -- and that's why he's officially out on his ass -- but if the Ricketts ownership is smart, it isn't close to done with this organizational retooling.

I'm not going to get into the horrible contracts Hendry has handed out in much the same fashion that older folks hand out that shitty orange- and black-wrapped peanut butter candy at Halloween; you can read that stuff everywhere. If you follow the team at all, you don't need to be reminded of the money spent on the likes of Alfonso Soriano and Milton Bradley.

The Cubs' problems run a lot deeper than just the decision making at the big-league level. This is an organization that seems to be coming up really short in the whole scouting and development process. If you look at who the Cubs have drafted during Hendry's tenure, which has been long enough for more than a few top draft picks to make it to the show, you'll likely come to the conclusion that Chicago's drafts have been wildly unsuccessful.

With injuries, a regular being dealt at what I consider to be a terribly mismanaged trade deadline, and a certain bat-shit crazy pitcher losing his marbles (again), you are now seeing just how little talent the Cubs had down on the farm at the beginning of the season. I know you may like the way kids like Darwin Barney and Tony Campana play . . . but if these are the best guys you have to call up, you've got some issues. Plus, most of the young pitchers to make their way to the majors have been less than impressive.

So talent evaluation at draft time and the lower-level development process seem to be lacking. Sure, Hendry oversees all of this stuff and he is ultimately responsible for hiring these people who, like him, don't seem to be all that great at their jobs, but they get paid and should be accountable like anybody else.

This team is going to spend some money this offseason. I'm sure some fans will insist the team's problems can be fixed in one winter, as long as a capable general manager is in place. It could happen, but don't hold your breath. It's not like Hendry wasn't allowed to throw money at the club's problems. He made plenty of good acquisitions, too, and it never really got this franchise over the hump. You have to be able to bring along some home-grown talent to succeed, unless you have the astronomical payroll that only a few clubs are afforded.

Because of that, I firmly believe this: until the new GM and the relatively new ownership weeds through the losers throughout the organization, a lot of the Cubs' problems will persist. Shao Kahn is still standing over you guys, laughing his ass off. You'd better hope Liu Kang and his buddies are up for a much larger fight.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

UFC Schedule for coming months

By: Clay

By the way, yesterday's "Sniffle Sniffle" was our 500th post. I will celebrate by giving my self a good ol' reach around while I flog my dolphin. Check out what's coming from the UFC this Fall. HUGE cards.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Sniffle Sniffle

By: Clay

Hey Cubs fans, let's learn from this. We fall in love with players too quickly, as does our management and front office.

We placed Zambrano on a pedestal after the 2006 season when he posted monster stats, finished 5th in the Cy Young voting, won a Silver Slugger and became an All-Star for the second time. Big Z's 2006 stats look like this: 16-7, 214 IP, 3.41 ERA, 210 k's. Following the 2007 season, Z received a nice fat contract and hasn't done shit since. But we thought he was worth it because of what he did that season. Now, we couldn't get rid of him quick enough. We always excused his behavior by saying, "Oh, he's just a competitor. He wants to win". Well, I don't believe that's all. This guy has got some serious problems that aren't gonna be resolved by suspensions or trades. He needs some mental help and he needs it as a clause in a contract for any future employment. Or maybe just a prescription for Lexapro.

Apparently the current Cubs roster, the clubhouse is more relaxed and free of tension. So I doubt they would want to welcome him back if he does return. One option that could work is to trade Zambrano to San Francisco for Barry Zito. The Giants would also have to send about $46MM to help cover Zito since he is under contract through 2013. And I CLEARLY remember Cubs fans, including myself, hoping that Zito would sign with the Cubs after the 2006 season. At this point both guys are back end of the rotation guys.

They are a few other scenarios that could work out and you can read them here(

As much as I would like to win with Zambrano, it just can't happen. The Cubs had a window of opportunity to with with the core group of Z, Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, Sammy Sosa, Kerry Wood, Ryan Dempster, Alfonso Soriano and Kosuke Fukudome from 2003 to 2008. The window has closed on these guys. Some have moved on, other remain because of unmovable contracts and poor performance. We have to move on from these guys. Let's build around Starlin Castro, Sean Marshall, Carlos Marmol and Matt Garza before it's too late. We can't keep this bad contract shit up and we sure as hell don't want to be the Yankees by keeping guys around years after they should have retired (Posada, Jeter, Rivera...).

I don't really now what to say. Same Old Shit. From me. From the Cubs players. From the front office. From the Fans. I don't know why we bitch about it. Apparently we like the misery because we aure as hell aren't doing anything about it.

We choked in 2003, underperformed in 2004, had the league MVP in Derrek Lee in 2005(I will NEVER let that go), and then laid too big, stinking piles of shit in the 2007 and 2008 playoffs...with basically the same core group. See? There i go feeling sorry for myself. Thank Science it's football season. I'm in the mood to watch the Bears O-line give up a handful of sacks each game and see some kickoffs go out of the endzone. Well looky there, more things to bitch about.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Uh, Wha...?

The Cubs just beat the Reds last night to win their sixth in a row? Seriously, when did they win the other five?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Now What, Captain Shit Dick

By: Clay

The Cubs were desperate to move the majority of their bad contracts, get younger, set themselves up to make offers to Pujols or Fielder in the offseason and compete in a winnable 2012 NL Central division. So what happened? Fukudome was sent to Cleveland, The Pirates asked about Geo Soto(not for sale according to Hendry), were linked to Aramis Ramirez and took a look at Carlos Pena(as did the Diamondbacks). The Cubs dangled Carlos Zambrano in front of the Yankees, who laughed and decided they would take their chances with Bartolo Colon. Marlon Byrd was also available but the rest of the league already knew what the Cubs didn't and that is that Byrd is a fourth outfielder, not an everyday player.

While deals can still be made through waivers, I would assume most of these guys to be around for next season.

Carlos Pena is cheap enough and hasn't really done anything to prove he is worth a larger contract from another team. The power came about Mayish but the avg is still shit. However, he is a cheap enough option that if the Cubs can't sign Prince Fielder or Albert Pujols in the off season, Pena could do the trick at first.

Carlos Zambrano almost figures to be a part of the 2012 Cubs unless the Cubs decide to settle VERY low on a trade. The Cubbies will certainly have to shell out the vast majority of what is owed to him if a trade did go down. On the bright side, if Big Z does stay on the North Side for the 2012 season, his '13 option will not happen(Option guaranteed if Cy Young (1st or 2nd in 2011 or 2012 top 4) and healthy] at completion of 2012 season). Booyah.

The defense Aramis Ramirez plays is just like that of a young Scott Rolen. NOT! A-Ram will not be around for the 2012 season. His 2012 option looks like this: Option becomes guaranteed if player wins one MVP from 2007-2011(sadly, no), places 2nd or 3rd in MVP twice from 2007-2011(...uh-uh), or wins LCS MVP(sigh), or is an AllStar 3 times from 2007-2011, or is traded and exercises 2011 opt). Aramis would have, and I guess still can, get a $1 mil bonus if he gets traded this season. I'm not sure if that applies after the trade deadline but I don't see why it wouldn't. Prospect Josh Vitters doesn't seem to be making much progress and more than likely will not be ready to play third at the major league level for 2012. However, I don't see any reason as to why he isn't getting a shot right now since this season is shit. More on that later.

The Cubs feel confident that Alfonso Soriano will be moved to an AL DH position by the beginning of the 2012 season, of course eating a LARGE portion of the salary. This is part of the reason they don't mind keeping Marlon Byrd around. Seriously, they've started him this long so they may as well keep him to replace Soriano. Plus, the Cubs organization likes the type of player that Byrd is.

As far as the rest of the team goes, I see Geovany Soto, Sean Marshall, Starlin Castro, Matt Garza and Carlos Marmol as the "untouchables". Decent starting catchers are hard to come by and I don't see any reason to move Geovany Soto until the Cubs are sure about Wellington Castillo. Seriously, no one wants Koyie Hill to start. Hopefully it isn't too late for the Cubs to realize that Sean Marshall should be starting. I don't even have to address why Castro is safe. Marmol is lights out most times and is signed through 2013. And considering the other options *cough* Grabow, Samardzija, Kid K *cough*...nuff said. If only Matt Garza got run support. What a Beast.

Jeff Baker I could go either way on. I like that he plays every position but guys like that are a dime a dozen as evident by the St. Louis Cardinals roster.


Reed Johnson is an ok 4th outfielder. Please Cubs fans, he doesn't need to start. He isn't good enough to be an everyday player. Your brains are clouded by Old Style and Roosevelt Brown.

Darwin Barney...will come back down to earth. But while he's hot, fine by me.

Randy Wells, Rodrigo Lopez, James Russell, Ramon Ortiz. Would YOU want these guys on your team? Fuck no.

Tony Campana, DJ LeMahieu, Lou Montanez...Who are you guys and what's wrong with our farm system. Is it too soon to bring up that Gretzky kid and have him lay down some bunts?

Ryan Dempster is a bit of an ass. He campaigned for Mike Quade last season and then to turn his back on Quade and throw a fucking tantrum about a month ago when he was pulled after 87 pitches... come on man. The roster had injuries up and down the list and Dumpster had just missed a start with back soreness. Dempster has been a great pitcher for the Cubs when compared to other Cubs pitchers during his tenure. When it's all said and done, Dempster is a above average closer and an above average starter. Then again, we can say the same for Armando Benitez and Carl Pavano. And who really wants those two as their teams closer and number one starter?

As for Mike Quade, he is managing game as if his career depends on it...because it does. Unfortunately, Quade is banking on wins and losses as the deciding factor for future employers, when he should actually be showing that he can develop and win with young talent. Let's face it, Quade wasn't given a team he could win with (which is why I think Ryne Sandberg wasn't given the job), therefore, he hasn't been given a fair chance to be judged by the players and fans. I say bring him back next season and maybe just get rid of Jim Hendry.

It's gonna take some money and a few bold moves to make the Cubs a contender for the 2012 NL Central. They posses the foundation to build a winning team. Also, I believe it's time for a new stadium. As great as Wrigley is, it's such a pain in the ass to get to, maneuver around in and the most obvious reason is because the Cubs can't FUCKING win there!

2011 Allen and Ginter Mysterious Figures

This is definetly my favorite A&G mini set of all time, The World's Most Mysterious Figures!

2011 Allen and Ginter Step Right Up

2011 Allen and Ginter Uninvited Guests

2011 A&G P of P

...And We're Back, With 2011 A and G!

By: Clay

Buying Allen and Ginter is automatic. There isn't any way around it. It's tops(pun intended!(boy, that sounded gay)). I've come to the conclusion to save money by only collecting A&G and getting rib of the majority of my other collections and sets. So if you're interested various Topps and Upper Deck, I can let you know what I have. Anyway, back to A&G, I opted to not purchase any hobby boxes for this year. I did all my buying on ebay and saved a ton. I saved a LOT! I bought three last year and only pulled one card was worth selling, which actually did cover the cost of one box. Other highlights from 2010 A&G included a Carlos Zambrano RIP card, which I ripped, only to find a mini Rick Porcello. Damn. I also pulled a Sig Hansen redeption card.

Let's take a look at some relic's from 2011 A&G...