Archive for June, 2012

by: Mauricio Rubio Jr.
email: mr@99sportsproblems.com
twitter: @MRubio52

“In the presence of eternity, the mountains are as transient as the clouds.”

Robert Green Ingersoll

I think my fellow Cubs fans forgot. I really do. What TheoCo (Thanks Tony) meant to this organization was a complete overhaul of a broken system that included a faulty way of thinking. Ingrained in our brains is this desire to compete every year, we have in the cortex of our primal baseball brain an instinct to extrapolate results into something larger. We want to so desperately believe in symbolism, in curses, in acquiring free agents to constantly compete, above all we want to believe that every year is the year.

For awhile under the Hendry regime, we were afforded that luxury. For all the criticism that was levied against Hendry, you couldn’t say he didn’t know how to construct a team that could compete for one season.

One season. The old mantra. All we need to do is win one, the ends of bad contracts will just be victory laps. It’s different now, folks. We signed up for a different deal, a completely new way of thinking for us. We are still so very early in a complete make over of a franchise, and yet, we are antsy. Early on, before Travis Wood flashed brilliance and when the bullpen was a sieve, we wondered why Marshall was traded. Later, when the offense stalled and the Cubs were pissing away Dempster’s brilliance, we wondered why Rizzo wasn’t called up.

A myriad of offseason moves by TheoCo were predictably met with “Thanks for nothing, Theo.” Well, hold on to your asses because a bad team is probably going to get worse by the trade deadline. This is fine, this is all part of a rebuild. You know, that thing we all signed up for.

Now, in this section I will be looking at players who are likely to be traded. I will also list teams where I think it makes sense to move them. Trades, however, are weird as hell. There’s a lot of moving parts to them, and really, this is more of a list to watch out for than a list of impending moves.

Let’s take a look at some prime trade candidates.

Matt Garza

Garza is having an awful career year. He is posting career lows in H/9, BB/9, obviously WHIP, and a career high in SO/BB ratio. The problem with Garza is his rather perplexing propensity to just give up the long ball. He’s doubling up his HR/9 rate from last year. He’s given up 12 so far in 2012, he gave up 14 HR’s all of 2011. Garza seems like a prime candidate for an AL East team that is looking to add a piece. He’s already enjoyed success in the division and his ERA is screaming for a regression to the mean. Meaning I think his surface numbers will start matching his peripheral numbers very soon. Garza is not an ace, nor will he ever be one, but he is a solid 2, and I can see a team selling off some pieces to rent him.

Moe’s watch list: Yankees, Red Sox, and the dark horse Orioles.

Ryan Dempster

Dempster is having a plain ole outstanding career year at 35. Age is a factor in this deal because teams will be wary of his numbers considering he’s never been close to this good. Almost every number in his slash line is a career best. He did hit a bit of a rough patch, but it looked corrected in June as he threw 22 scoreless innings. Then he got hurt…which sucks for his trade value. I would put him on yellow alert for a trade mainly because I don’t know if Theo will like the packages he’s offered. I can see either the Tigers or the White Sox moving to get him, and that silliness about switching from the NL to the AL is overblown sometimes. I think Dempster found a zone, albeit only for this year. His stuff is good enough to thrive in the AL. Just don’t expect a King’s Ransom for Demp.

Moe’s watch list: Tigers, White Sox, Dodgers, and Arizona.

Bullpen

I would be shocked if anyone came calling for the ‘pen mates. There isn’t anything of value here. Marmol is doing his Rob Dibble impersonation, and anyone else of note is awful. This is an atrocious bullpen, there are no pieces that you can move here. Once again, if Theo manages to get ANYTHING for Marmol, it’s a win.

Moe’s watch list: lol

Darwin Barney

Prominent show fan Tom Mleko hates Darwin Barney. Well, perhaps hate is too strong of a word. He might just loathe him. I enjoy statistics, I really do. I wanted to be in SABR once (that dream is fading away). Darwin Barney’s statistics are not good, except for his WAR number. For some reason, the defensive component of WAR has Darwin Barney 4th in the NL in WAR (according to BBR anyway). That’s beyond mind-boggling. Darwin does some nice things on the field, but not enough to warrant such a high-ranking. I do think a few components of WAR are broken, and for the while I’m using a weird hybrid of scout categories and raw numbers to determine player value, but that’s another topic for another day. For now, understand Barney can help a big league club in contention by being a super utility guy. He plays solid defense and isn’t completely inept with the bat, he’s simply below average.

Moe’s watch list: Honestly, the only team I have a strong feeling about is the Tigers. This one is wide open.

Bryan LaHair

He’s been awful in June. The strikeout rate is a concern, and May is probably a better indicator of what type of player he is. LaHair is an interesting cat, he is still slugging .500+ even with an awful month. His BABIP has been corrected and pitchers are adjusting to him, he needs to adjust back. A cool down is to be expected, but a meltdown is unacceptable. I believe in his bat, but I don’t think he’s on the next Cubs contender.

Moe’s watch list: I’m going with the Dodgers on this one. If Loney can’t get his head out of his ass they will be looking to add a 1B down the stretch, I think. LaHair might be best available if he can bounce back.

Alfonso Soriano

We know what he is, so let me say a few things about Sori. He’s a butcher afield and inconsistent at best at the plate. He strikes out on bad pitches, and he’s really easy to hate because he can be a hot dog.

I don’t hate him, in fact, I’ve grown to appreciate the professionalism he’s displayed in spurts on the field, and consistently off it. He had the balls to confront Z. He put in work to become a bad OF this year, a marked improvement over the shitty tag he earned in the past. He didn’t run out a liner, he got paid a lot of money, I get it. I just don’t hate him. He’s a symbol of another regime, but I won’t hold that against him. He can contribute to a team, but it would have to be an AL team.

Moe’s watch list: Orioles. It makes sense, you can trot Johnson to left and find somewhere for Endy to go.

Roundup

You’ll notice I left Starlin off the list. I don’t see anyone coming to the Cubs with a compelling enough offer to take Starlin. Remember, he’s 22, younger than Rizzo, Jackson, Szczur and most exciting Cubs prospects. He’s shown great improvement in the field, and I think once he can take the offensive load off his shoulders, his approach will improve.

This team is a good bet to lose 100. Real good bet to be the worst team in Cubs history. I’m cool with that. Maybe 2 guys get traded off from this list, that would also be a victory depending on the haul they bring back. Stop worrying about surface things like W-L record this year, look deeper Cub fans.

Youk and the White Sox

To round all this out, I want to say that I like the Youkilis deal. The White Sox gave up a bad pitcher and a utility guy to take a flyer on an established Vet who is having a bad year. Almost zero risk, and the pay off is potentially huge. I think he’s a good candidate to bounce back because of a change of scenery, I feel that he wore out his welcome in Boston. As a hitter he sees a lot of pitches, which in turn wears down starting pitchers. Youk, Dunn, and Konerko is a pretty good threesome of hitters with a good approach. Konerko is getting recognized for his tremendous approach this year. It’s something else to watch. He never deviates from what he’s looking for. He’s turned into a great hitter to study.

Dunn has hit a rough patch and will likely turn in a Dave Kingman-esque season. Currently he’s at a .215 AVG. It would be glorious to see him stay there and hit 50 HR’s. Dunn is one of my favorite players, mainly because there’s no hidden tricks with him. He’s a big guy that’s up there to hit a fucking bomb. That’s it.

The White Sox are going to hang around, Cleveland isn’t going to win this division, and the Tigers need to make moves. The deadline will be interesting on both sides of town, albeit for very different reasons.

Exciting times my friends, exciting times.

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by: Tony Leva
email: tonytrucker1969@gmail.com

He has arrived!!

On Tuesday night, the TheoCo rebuilding project placed it’s first building block in place with the debut of Anthony Rizzo, a.k.a. The Riz. The deal for Rizzo was one of the first major trades TheoCo made since taking over in October. When TheoCo took over, the Cubs were lacking in impact prospects and the first priority was to stock the system with such prospects. Rizzo, a highly touted Boston Red Sox prospect, was dealt by Theo himself to San Diego as the centerpiece of the Adrian Gonzalez deal in December of 2010. The SD general manager at the time was Jed Hoyer, who currently holds that position with the Cubs. When Theo hired Hoyer and scouting director Jason McLeod to form TheoCo (I coined that one too, FYI. I’m a damned machine!), they immediately targeted The Riz and managed to wrangle a trade with the Padres to reunite them all here in Chicago.

As The Riz put up monster numbers for the Iowa Cubs, the team’s AAA affiliate, every Cubs fan was filled with anticipation of his arrival. With every majestic bomb of a homer The Riz hit, the fervor increased until his promotion was the most anticipated event in Cubdom since the lights were first turned on on 8/8/88. Here’s an example of what The Riz was doing down in Iowa. Try not to wet yourself with glee like I did….

The only thing holding him back was the service time issue. A player isn’t eligible for free agency until he has played 6 years in the big leagues. The Riz played 49 games with San Diego last season and accrued a small amount of time towards his free agency eligibility. By delaying his promotion, TheoCo ensured that The Riz will not be free agent-eligible until 2019. That extra season may loom large down the road when the Cubs should be contending with a mostly home-grown team. This is the plan and The Riz is the first brick in the wall. If Roger Waters reads this, go ahead and get pissy for stealing that line. Sue me.

LeBron joins The Club

With the Miami Heat’s winning of the 2011-12 NBA title*, LeBron James is no longer the Best Player to Never Win It All. His winning was inevitable as basketball is the sport best suited to having the best player win a title. It took a year longer than all those fake Heat fans (read: all of them) figured it would, but it happened nonetheless. Meanwhile, a funny thing happened…the world continued to spin on it’s axis, the sun rose in the East and Kate Upton remained scorching hot.


Yeah, so I’m a pig. Sue me after Waters is done with me.
Ed. Note – I love you Tony 

I don’t like how LeBron made his Decision. I didn’t like the Heat’s pre-season celebration before even playing a game with that lineup. I loved when they choked against Dallas last season and lost in the Finals. But he’s still a great player, the best on the planet right now, and he’s probably going to win a few more titles before he’s retired. That’s cool. He’ll never match Jordan for sheer accomplishment or competitiveness. He’ll never match Russell for total titles. He’ll never match Magic for charisma. He’ll never approach Kobe for likeability. That’s also cool with me. LeBron will be remembered for what he always will be….a great player without the killer instinct or drive to win that the greats had.

*Title asterisked because of the shortened season and Derrick Rose’s ACL injury.

Euro 2012

Yeah, like I’m going to talk about fucking soccer. Why? Because they’re flopping pussies.


Suck it, futbol.
Ed. Note – I hate you Tony.

The SaniTERRYum XII: An Essay for Asterisks

The asterisk remains a mysterious mistress in sports. She only shows up on stats and achievements if something out of the ordinary is determined to be by the powers that be. Late game not included. Steroid Era. Pete Rose. Strikes, lockouts and the like. LeBron’s first title? Oh, definitely an asterisk next to that shortened season Miami championship.

This isn’t even coming from the Heat hater, die-hard Bulls fan in me. This is just me keeping it 100. A 66 game season culminating in a ‘chip does not a champion make. Well, technically it does, but with an asterisk next to it in the books…a permanent asterisk. As much as I admire the Spurs, their run in ’99 falls into the same asterisk-ridden category. It’s just not the same if 82 games aren’t played. Hence, the permanence of the ever-lingering, ever-annoying asterisk. You can debate the asterisk all you want, but it’s not going anywhere. It’s as much a part of legitimizing an accomplishment as it is from taking away its legs to stand on in a world of amputees.

Everything LeBron has done in the L has been legitimate. We don’t need to talk about anyone taking their talents anywhere. We don’t need to talk about the receding hairline. We don’t need to discuss the 4th quarter meltdowns of yesteryear. The man is the best player on the planet right now, possessing a skill set mashed with athleticism the NBA has never seen. But I’m sorry, asterisk applied to his first championship. I can hear the so-called Miami Heat fans now:  “It took him so long to get here, and now this fucking jerk off writer from Chicago who’s still bitter about the Derrick Rose injury wants to diminish what LeBron and Co. have worked so hard for?” Hey, don’t hate the player. Hate the game. Asterisk stands.

The LeBron-imposed asterisk would have gone to whomever the NBA crowned champion this year. That comes with the territory of any sports’ lockout, strike, holdout, or any other new way greedy players and owners can find to prevent us, the fans, from enjoying a full, asterisk-free season. And you can bet your bottom dollar, us fans would love to live in an asterisk-free sports world.

On the topic of betting bottom dollars: Pete Rose, in many ways, personifies the asterisk, a walking asterisk, if you will. He has become the victim of an opinionated asterisk, possibly the worst kind of typographical symbol there is. Bud Selig has sort of made it his life mission to keep Charlie Hustle out of The Hall, which makes me wonder: “Does Bud have a running bet with someone somewhere on an over/under for years it’ll take to get the all-time hits leader (among many other records) into Cooperstown?”

“Dive in head first. Like Pete Rose.”

Although Bud’s not alone: On February 4, 1991, the Hall of Fame voted formally to exclude individuals on the permanently ineligible list from being inducted into the Hall of Fame by way of the Baseball Writers Association of America. Rose is the only living member of the ineligible list. Players who were not selected by the BWAA could be considered by the Veterans Committee in the first year after they would have lost their place on the Baseball Writers’ ballot. Under the Hall’s rules, players may appear on the ballot for only fifteen years, beginning five years after they retire. Had he not been banned from baseball, Rose’s name could have been on the writers’ ballot beginning in 1992 and ending in 2006. He would have been eligible for consideration by the Veterans Committee in 2007, but did not appear on the ballot. In 2008 the Veterans Committee barred players and managers on the ineligible list from consideration.

What’s the BFD here? It’s not like he was betting against his team and then throwing shit intentionally. “I bet on my team every night. I didn’t bet on my team four nights a week. I bet on my team to win every night because I loved my team, I believed in my team.” Those sound like the words of a competitor, someone who truly cares about winning, a real gamer. Why shouldn’t he make a little dough on the side? I mean, MLB players’ salaries barely allow one to scrape by, so by all means…

“Do you wanna know the terrifying truth or do you wanna watch me sock a few  dingers?”
-Mark McGwire to Bart Simpson

We are all tired of performance enhancing drugs taking over the sport we love, hijacking the headlines. When I look at the list of baseball players I grew up watching who are now all but blackballed from ever receiving the slightest bit of consideration to top anyone’s HOF ballot, let alone make it in,  it brings a heaping pile of bullshit on fire to my front door. Absolute flaming bullshit. I’ll always have Ken Griffey, Jr. and Frank Thomas though…

Guys have been cheating the game for ages, but now that we’ve evolved into drug-taking, performance enhancers, now you want to blow the whistle? The eligible players on this year’s ballot is mind-blowing when you step away and realize that most, if not all, will remain Cooperstown outsiders…possibly forever. Bonds. Sosa. The Rocket. Piazza. Big names, and that’s leaving out perennial snubs McGwire, Palmeiro, and the rest of the renounced hardball heroes turned ‘roid ragers. Barry Bonds has more to worry about than asterisks, though. By the way, can someone explain to me how the fuck Royce Clayton found himself onto the ballot?

The steroid and human growth hormone, performance enhancing goes far beyond baseball and stretches into the world of track and field, football, the Olympics, and the, wait for it, Tour de France.

Lance Armstrong: what a let-down after so much build up and feel-goodery. The man beats cancer like 200 times, takes over a French-dominated, absolutely enduring event and hope is restored to the humanity of sports. Then it all comes crashing down amongst allegations of PED peddling. Really, Lance? You? Say it ain’t so! Marion Jones gets an asterisk, jail time, AND community service. She was dubbed the fastest woman alive, but she has been stripped of her medals won at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. I’m sure she would have been just fine with an asterisk next to her name in history, but the asterisk only has so much power. We could all learn a thing or two from LeBron James and Pete Rose: just hustle and work hard to get where you’re going. You don’t need to shoot steroids in your butt.

*Late Game Not Included

 

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This is coming on the heels of a very unfortunate Amar’e Stoudamire moment. One day, a brave soul will step out of the closet while still in a sports uniform. While I like to think that day is close, it’s hard to imagine in the current climate anyone willing to subject themselves to the pain that would ensue in the aftermath of coming out.

Chicago is a unique city, what it is at heart is a loose collection of towns that comprise the idea of “Chicago.” Localized parades here are pretty famous, none is quite the spectacle that the Gay Pride Parade is. It’s loud, it’s queer, it’s fun, it’s fabulous. Here are some images from the day.

by: Mauricio Rubio Jr.
email: mr@99sportsproblems.com
twitter: @MRubio52

There is also a natural and very, very strong empathy with the underdog, with people who have suffered, people who have been pushed around by foreigners in particular, but also by their own people.

– Lakhdar Brahimi

The 2012 Chicago Cubs have a shot at becoming the worst team in franchise history. Given that the team has a reputation as the “Loveable Losers” of baseball, that’s not exactly a small feat. They would be worse than the ’66 and ’62 clubs that each lost 103 games. This, my fellow Cub fans, is what a full on rebuild looks like. You look absolutely awful in the early stages as you let go of guys that just can’t help you anymore. Aramis Ramirez would add a few wins to this club, but he wouldn’t be the difference maker for this team. Big Z would probably also add a couple of wins to the team, but he was such a clubhouse problem that it would be unjustifiable to keep him.

Point is, the team is awful and you’re being forced to appreciate players that are flawed for the meager skills that they can provide a major league team. Campana isn’t a Major Leaguer, but he’s forced to play placeholder for the Cubs as more talent is awaiting either a deadline (Rizzo) or trying to find their stroke (Brett Jackson) at the minor league levels. Campana has one tool, and it’s an outstanding tool, but it’s one that allows him to contribute, albeit sparingly, to a big league club. Cub fans love this guy. Personally, I kinda get it. He is the physical embodiment of the underdog. He’s small, scrawny, and he hustles. Watching him run is fun, but watching him do anything else is an exercise in masochistic fan behavior.

Starlin Castro, however, is a player that fans should legitimately be excited about. They are, for the most part I think. I hope. It’s probably more of a hope than an actual belief at this point because Starlin Castro is getting lit up by Cubs fans this year. The most prevailing and vocal thought is that Starlin Castro doesn’t have the acumen to play shortstop over the long haul, that he would be better served playing either third base or the outfield. Castro also doesn’t walk, and that makes him an awful offensive player and he’ll never walk enough because players never develop after the age of 23.

Ok, so the last part is a bit of an embellishment, but really, Cub fans, you’re mainly new to the whole OBP/taking pitches side of baseball. I know you are because we’re the same fandom that cheered on Soriano and his particular brand of walkless power in 2007/2008. Don’t start lying now, I saw you, you were there, getting delirious over HR balls and spotty defense in LF. I know the obvious rebuttals to that are LF defense isn’t as important, Soriano was hitting 30 bombs a year, and we now have a different understanding of what’s important in an offensive player, don’t hold us to the standard of 4-5 years ago.

Fair enough. All I’m saying is that Starlin Castro is an outstanding young player, and stop hating on greatness. We celebrate the underdog in this city far too often. I saw it with the Caleb Hanie love (actually, any backup QB in this league. Remember the crying over losing Orton for Cutler?), I see it in baseball way too often (Sean Marshall, Wood, Campy, DeRosa to an extent), and sometimes it even permeates to basketball. Fan reluctance to trade Deng for Kobe back when it was a rumor was astounding. This past year the reluctance I saw when the pie in the sky Boozer for Gasol rumors cropped up was baffling. Why do we do this? Why is it that when we the Chicago fan are looking at a talented albeit flawed player, we decide to root for the far less talented and far more flawed player? Do we think it’s fun or something?

Starlin Castro is a flawed, but enormously talented player. We pull out the microscope on this guy and point out all of his faults while losing perspective on what makes him great. We are so quick to move him to another position, to magnify his poor play that we are quickly forgetting that he’s younger than most Cubs prospects you’re excited about in the minors (Szczur, Rizzo, Jackson, all older, all in the minors). He’s making his mistakes on the major league level in front of everyone. If he was still in AA or AAA, people would be excited about his eventual call up and wondering about his future MVP candidacy and if he’ll win a gold glove at short. Instead, he’s proving his hitting ability in MLB and people are mad at him for not being perfect and trying to change his position.

Stop. Just stop. I get it, you read Moneyball and now you understand walks are all important. I’m sure Castro will figure out how to take a walk eventually. It’ll come with age and power, young kids tend to be overly aggressive at the plate, and Starlin Castro loves swinging that bat.

Perhaps I’m taking this to an extreme and catching all Cubs fans in the same net. I’m sure the majority of Cubs fans enjoy Castro, but it seems that the most vocal downplay his talents and play up his mistakes. Without a doubt, some of those fans wrote off the Patrick Kane stories as a young kid making mistakes, but when it actually happens, when a young kid actually goes out there and you see him make his mistakes, it becomes unacceptable for some reason.

We are a culture that loves to build up and drag down. Ask LeBron. Ask Kevin Durant in a few years, same with Derrick. We love them at first, when they have that new shiny label on them, but when young phenoms go through any type of growing pains, it’s seen as some sort of major transgression the player will have great difficulty overcoming.

Overall the message I’m trying to convey is simple. Just enjoy it, he’s the brightest of the few bright spots on the team. Be patient, because much like the Cubs overall, Castro won’t get better overnight.

Hard up for cash, I sold my Friday tickets on a Tuesday.

Mr. Deeds to Druska (Thurs., 6/14; 6:37PM):

Are you going to sox vs dodgers tomorrow night? If so what a sick pitcher matchup. Sale vs Kershaw.

Slick Willy to Druska (Fri., 6/15; 10:08AM):

Are you going to all 3 games of the Dodger series? Tonights pitching matchup is sick.

Oh man, you have to go today, Sale is worth it.

Druska to Jay (Fri., 6/15; 10:53AM):

I don’t suppose you found a taker for that other ticket yet?

Jay to Druska:

funny you should ask. I don’t think I’ll be able to go now. Do you want them?

UM, FUCK YEAH. Due to Paypal and Stubhub bullshit, the handoff was easier than you’d assume.

Adam Dunn jacks a solo bomb in the top of the first. Any ideas that Kershaw was going to make this a pitchers’ duel are erased.

Druska and Mr. Deeds:

– HAHAHAHHAHA Dunn bombjack.

– Yeah dude he is dirty right now. 23 bombs 52 RBIs. Can you say come back player of the year and All Star.

Slick Willy to Druska:

Dunn has 23 homers, the Cubs have 22 wins. Who will have more by the end of the year?

Later on, Konerko singles in Dunn. I’m in the bathroom and I have to hear the greatest play-by-play man in the game call it.

Druska to Mr. Deeds:

Vin Scully: “Konerko singles in Dunn…Konerko and Dunn, not exactly what you would imagine being a relay team…”

Druska to Mr. Deeds (9:49PM):

Dodgers security has told me I can’t stand up for the rest of the game.

Ultimately, the Sox lose to L.A., 7-6. The old fogie BROOKLYN Dodger fans I met who came from fucking Arizona must have loved that.

Saturday, we’re back. I’m sitting with one of 3 Cubs fans I’m willing to watch a baseball game with, Brendan McGowan.

Druska and Slick Willy (Sat., 6/16; 8:54PM):

– Back in the 3rd, I seriously feared for my life…aggressive Los Doyers fans were displeased with me. Luckily the cinder block vendor was nowhere near.

– Man, nothing has changed since the Stow incident I take it.

– Well I’m still breathing so maybe they’ve mellowed out a little

– Whew, you “dodged” a bullet.

Hardest I’ve laughed in all of 2012.

Druska to Slick Willy:

Vin Scully: “So Ramirez gets hit by a pitch…and he doesn’t have a lot of…flesh on him to absorb it…”

That HBP would be the dealbreaker, as Ramirez was singled in later in the inning. The Sox win, 5-4. Then I went to watch Brendan do stand-up at the Hollywood Fringe Festival.

Sunday. Sunday I’m back. It’s a day game, so the whole dichotomy changes. I sit Loge with Vlad, a great north side Sox fan.

Druska to @dilwazr (Sun., 6/17; 12:18PM):

Had to HAD TO bump When the Levee Breaks rolling into Dodgers Stadium just now.

Druska to Mr. Deeds (Sun., 6/17; 12:22PM):

No tailgating at Dodger Stadium…we’re making due.

Druska to Slick Willy:

Konerko’s not playing. My tickets should be half price.

Druska to Raul: (Sun., 6/17; 1:34PM)

Tyler fucking Flowers?!

(Sun., 6/17; 2:06PM)

“the wave” is already going here. Meanwhile Danks is batting. Kill me

By this point, after three straight days of proper pre-gaming and largely lackluster baseball, I kind of lose track of all the distractions and focus on the game.

Bad idea. Reed blows a 1-0 lead in the ninth and Dee Gordon brings it home for the Dodgers in the tenth. The Sox are now 3-3 when I’m in attendance this season; 4-3 all time against L.A.

At least at the end of it all, I remembered to call my dad and grandpa.

 

Mat Festa

Follow my work on Twitter, Facebook, and Tiamat’s Garden.

matfesta@tiamatsgarden.com

[Note: This is a film critique, not a review and is intended for those who have already seen the movie. This will contain ‘spoilers’ and if you have not seen the movie in question – Prometheus – then much of this may not make sense.]

The most intriguing aspect of the series of Alien films is that while each individual movie is well made and enjoyable in its own right when looked at as a whole it’s a tangled mess of contradictory nonsense. The Alien series, which was never envisioned nor intended to be a series, is a mosaic, not a seamless cloth.

In my youth this was a continual source of frustration. Alien was then, and remains to this day what I consider to be one of the finest American made horror films. A movie I would put in the same group as Jacob’s Ladder, Antichrist, or Lake Mungo as a pinnacle of the genre. Whenever a person would mention that they consider Aliens to be the better movie – a sentiment that to this day I still hear frequently echoed – it would send me into a naïve pretentious rage that such an exquisite horror film should not only be followed by but considered inferior to an action flick. It wasn’t until many years later that I began to look at each movie in the Alien ‘series’ individually and only then did I appreciate them each for what they are.

Alien, as I’ve just mentioned, is a masterwork of horror. The atmosphere of dread and isolation is palpable. The pacing is agonizing and the threat of violence is visceral. This is a film that exists is the endless but immeasurably brief moment after you’ve lost control of the car but before the accident occurs. Every inch of your body knows the crash is inevitable and can see it hurtling toward you, but you are helpless to prevent it. However, while the structure and pacing of Alien are immaculate what truly sets it apart from so many other horror movies, and indeed what makes it a truly great film, is how steeped in symbolism and metaphor it all is. This is due largely to Giger’s seductive and repulsive design work. [For a detailed analysis of this see the artist’s own book H. R. Giger’s Film Design.]

Then came Aliens, an action movie. While Aliens does have all the trappings and failings inherent to the genre – minimal plot, one-dimensional characters (with the possible exception of Ellen Ripley, the one carry over character from the first movie and only connecting thread through the ‘series’ as a whole) – but that having been said it is an incredibly well made action movie. The pacing and structure and wonderfully adrenaline inducing and the characters, while insubstantial, are relatable enough that you actually care about what is happening. From a visual and conceptual standpoint the aliens themselves are already a world apart from the creature of the first film. What was in Alien a physical manifestation of sexual anxieties in Aliens was reduced to swarms of insects, and even the very idea of what the aliens themselves are was drastically changed, but more on that later. Lastly, speaking from a purely artistic point of view, while the aliens themselves are a far cry from Giger’s creation the actual creation and execution of the creatures on screen is a sight to behold. Made in the blessed days before rampant cgi the costuming and animatronics that bring the aliens to life on film, especially the intricate queen in the finale, are creature fx at their finest.

Alien 3 is a much harder film to pin down. The original release of the movie was greatly marred by frequent changes in production, scripting, and directing, but the version released years later, called the “assembly cut” is the best version and supposedly the closest to what the film was originally intended to be. On the surface it would seem to be an attempt to recapture the horror origins of the first film. The setting is remote, desolate, the threats abound, coming not only from the alien itself but also for Ripley herself (again the protagonist) from the majority of the other characters with whom she is trapped. In a much broader sense though the monster/horror aspect of the film is really just a backdrop to a fairly unique character study. The nearest film equivalent could be, oddly enough, is The Name of the Rose. A collection of curious, unique minds – those that would seek out the lonely devotional life of monasticism or the inmates who chose to stay in a prison after it is abandoned – hemmed in by an ever increasing threat – an unknown murderer or the alien beast. All the necessary beats to make a suspenseful film are there but what truly holds it together and makes it such an interesting film is the nuances of the characters themselves and their reactions (and increasing mutual antagonisms to one another) in the strange harshness of the situation.

As for Alien: Resurrection I don’t know what else to say beyond that it’s a Jean-Pierre Jeunet monster movie. If you haven’t seen his other works that there is little I can put into words that will accurately describe or do the faintest justice to how deliciously quirky, bizarre, silly, and beautiful they are. Watch The City of Lost Children. Then try to imagine the mind that created that making a monster movie. That’s Alien: Resurrection.

Now, as for the film at hand, Prometheus is simply put a movie with wonderful ideas pathetically executed. This was the first foray Ridley Scott has made back into the series since it’s inception. Although it was originally not intended to be a prequel to the original once that decision was made a great deal of the film was devoted to recreating various aspects of the original, nearly all of which came to the detriment to the movie as a whole.

The first and most obvious flaw is that which would occur when making a prequel to any film more than thirty years after the original: retconning. [For the sake of clarity from here on the aliens whom were sought out in Prometheus will be referred to as ‘Engineers’ as they are in the film, and the aliens of which are the subject of the rest of the series I will simply call ‘Aliens.’] Retroactive continuity changes are rampant throughout the entirety of Prometheus, from the minor easily excusable ones – the visual differences in the surface of the world on which the derelict Engineer ship was discovered – to the completely nonsensical – the Engineers weren’t killed by the aliens (what they did die of is never explained), the pilot of the Engineer ship (commonly referred to as the ‘space jockey’) not only didn’t die from an alien chest-burster but died miles away from the location where his body was in Alien, the Aliens seemingly didn’t even exist on the Engineer ship where hundreds of their eggs are found in the original, and so on. The most frequent bit of retconning though is one that is an increasingly common occurrence as prequels of this nature are being made so long after the fact of their originals: new technology. The simple fact is cgi is bright, flashy, and attention grabbing. For all intents and purposes you can animate virtually anything that you can imagine, and when it comes to the sci-fi genre depictions of exotic technologies are the first instinct of the purely superficially minded filmmaker. The problems it creates in Prometheus are:

  • 1. The technologies depicted (large scale holograms, recording and real-time viewing dreams, etc) did not exist in the time of Alien, which occurred at a much later date in the continuity.
  • 2. The portrayal of the technologies in question is so far flung and exotic that when it comes time to show that of the Engineers – supposedly a far more advanced culture – there is little to nothing available to distinguish them. And most importantly of all:
  • 3. The addition of these adds nothing whatsoever to the film. The only feeble argument that could be made for the dream viewer would be for the development of Elizabeth Shaw’s character, but nothing comes from it that could not be brought out (and much more elegantly) through ordinary exposition.

As I mentioned above many of the problems that occurred in Prometheus were in trying to recreate aspects of the original Alien. There were numerous small instances throughout the film but there are two which stand out prominently in mind:

  • The crew: In Alien the basis of the ship’s crew was simply “truck drivers in space.” Strange though it may sound this was an elegant solution to several problems. Having the characters be such ordinary working class people grounded the fanciful futuristic setting and made it relatable and understandable. Again having an ordinary group of people working a completely unrelated job stumble across the derelict ship, and thus the alien, simply by accident made their unpreparedness and the threat presented all the more potent. In Prometheus however the same aesthetic of “truck drivers in space” is sought for most of the supporting crew, but here – on a highly funded archeological expedition traveling to an uncharted world specifically to seek out an intelligent alien civilization, apparently, though never specifically stated, the first in history – it makes no sense whatsoever.
  •  Flamethrowers: In Alien the crew was completely isolated and had to scrounge together whatever tools and bits of the ship they could manage to fashion a means of defense; a crude flamethrower being one of these. This became a prominent visual theme during the panicked encounters with the alien and is brought back in Prometheus. While a flamethrower admittedly does look neat it is probably the most ridiculously impractical weapon ever created and would be the last thing you would think to bring on such an expedition. This may seem like minor nit-picking but I think it’s evidence of how a mistake so seemingly minor can go so far to pull a person out of a scene.

All that having been said there was also a great deal I deeply enjoyed about the film. More than any other film in the Alien series Prometheus holds true to the subtle philosophy of life being birthed from death. In the original Alien as conceived by O’Bannon, Shusett, and Giger the alien feeds off of its prey’s blood once it has them cocooned. As they grow weaker and the cocoon envelopes them their bodies become the egg from which a ‘face hugger’ will emerge to latch onto another victim who will die to birth the next generation, and thus the cycle continues. This was changed in Aliens to the more easily understandable simple structure of a queen based insect colony. In Prometheus however everything the Engineers do to create life comes at the expense of life. In the very first scene of the movie it is shown than an Engineer will kill himself so that his body may break down and become the seed to germinate life on that world.

Visually this is Ridley Scott at the top of his game. Although not without its flaws – the holograms are needless and over used, and the cesarean scene is just outright ridiculous – this is a visually stunning film. The crash of the Engineer ship towards the climax has such a physical mass to it you can feel the massive bulk of it in your marrow as it tumbles achingly slowly to the ground. There is an incredible array of creatures and while they are all unique the variations on a theme of the original alien and face hugger are easily visible. I was delighted to learn that Giger himself was brought in to consult on how his designs would be extrapolated out into other species. This is however another of the films problems though. There is no consistency whatsoever to the behavior of any of the creatures or Engineer related experiments. Often they seem to be made completely randomly without any attempt at logic.

By far though the most captivating part of the whole film is the character of David the android played by Michael Fassbender. After the initial shocking revelation of Ash’s character being an android in Alien their existence is entirely taken for granted throughout the rest of the series. In Prometheus on the other hand the first introduction we have to the characters is through David, and we spend a good deal of time with him before any of the others come into play. While all the human crew members are in a cryogenic sleep during travel David spends that entire time awake, alone, for over two years. During this time he not only does the needed research for the expedition but reads, watches movies. Supposedly emotionless and existing only in programming he tries continually to find himself, creating his own personality. In the most poetic of touches he draws greatly from the Laurence of Arabia (which he frequently quotes), a film about Laurence’s own quest of self-discovery. Sadly on the other hand as captivating as David is he comes at the expense of all the other characters, about whom we know virtually nothing and get only the vaguest caricatures and hints as to who they are.

In keeping with the uniquely diverse tradition that the Alien series has made for itself Prometheus is first and foremost a sci-fi movie, and given the subject matter had the potential to be a truly philosophical one. Unfortunately, while the subtleties were all in place the larger pieces were so terribly mismanaged that it ultimately falls apart. The first impression I was left with after watching the movie was that it felt like a first draft, not a finished work. Having read some of what Scott and others involved have said about the production it would seem that a large portion (30 minutes to an hour) of footage was removed from the original cut for the theatrical release. The addition of this could go a long way toward filling the gaps that felt so glaringly exposed in the movie as it is. An extended cut has already been announced and I’ll reserve any ‘final’ judgment until having seen it – Ridley Scott has proven himself far too great a filmmaker over the years to outright dismiss any of his works so easily – but as it stands now Prometheus is a movie of excellent ideas but terribly fails in realizing its ambitions.

[audio http://awmr01.podbean.com/mf/web/tm8rv/Episode_016.mp3]

iTunes Linkage

  • 00:35 – Andy fucks up
  • 02:30 – First place White Sox
  • 09:00 – Giving Seattle fans some Chicago love
  • 10:30 – Young Guns
  • 15:40 – Lucky Dog
  • 16:50 – Concussion talk
  • 23:20 – Bears Talk
  • 27:37 – Raul’s summer beer advice
  • 31:48 – NBA Jam and BJ Armstrong, Where are They Now
  • 37:26 – The Cubs are indeed, awful
  • 39:00 – Because I’m Mexican
  • 43:50 – “I fucking hate softball”
  • 46:40 – Top Ten Individual Seasons
  • 01:04:07 – Origins of Mudbone

by: Tony Leva
email: tonytrucker1969@gmail.com

For the seven of you who read my column (HI MOM!), I’m sorry I missed writing something last week. Sometimes, stupid real-life gets in the way. Let’s open the insightful sarcasm door and see what’s on the other side…..

Jorge Soler & the Cubs Draft

When Theo Epstein was hired as the Cubs’s President of Baseball Operations, his plan was to build from the ground up, talent-wise. Unfortunately, the new draft rules dictate a spending limit for both the First Year Player draft starting this season and for international signings, which kicks in next year. One of Theo’s strengths with the Red Sox was building through the draft by overdrafting players and then paying them more money than their slot dictated. Basically, he could draft a player who had big upside that wasn’t planning on signing a contract and offering big bucks as incentive. That is no longer possible. Nor is overpaying international players. This season was the last time a big money deal could be offered to those players, of which two were considered prizes, both of whom are Cuban….26 year old Yoenis Cespedes and 20-year-old Jorge Soler. Cespedes signed with the A’s before spring training, but Soler needed to establish residency outside of Cuba before signing a deal. It became quite the story.


Jorge and the Seven Dwarfs doesn’t sound like a typical story, does it?

Why the big deal about Soler? Scouts have been raving about him for a few years now. He projects as a 5 tool guy…he can hit for both power(1) and average(2), run(3), throw(4) and field(5). While he may not develop all those tools, the consensus is that he’ll be a plus outfielder defensively and will hit for legit power on the major league level. He has a great work ethic and loves the game. Add in the fact he’s already 6’3″ and 225 lbs at 20 years old and you have a guy who most scouts projected as a top 10 draftee if he were eligible for the draft this season. It’s obvious why he was a much sought-after commodity that inspired a bidding war. The Cubs, Yankees, Red Sox, Blue Jays and Dodgers all were in the mix to land him. But the new-look Cubs front office went the extra mile…something winners do….and signed him to a 9 year deal worth $30 million. Basically, they signed the last, best guy that could be signed under the old rules. This is huge and a big indicator of the new direction and attitude the team has taken. The Tribune never would have even considered a move like this, let alone gone that extra mile and got it done. Well done, TheoCo.

Before the Soler signing, the draft took place. Going into the draft, TheoCo said their priority was to draft “impact”. With the #6 pick, they drafted 18-year-old Albert Almora, an outfielder with a big skill set that is exceeded by his makeup….a measure of a player’s attitude and work ethic, not this….

Almora is already a major league-caliber defensive outfielder, but is still 3 or 4 years away from Wrigley. Then, the team picked 7 straight pitchers, filling the system with what it was lacking….pitching prospects. This was a solid approach and shows the team’s commitment to building for the future. An actual plan for the future….I may wet myself with pleasure!!

Lance Armstrong, Cheating Douche

This week, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency filed formal charges against seven time Tour de France champ Lance Armstrong. Since anyone can remember, Armstrong has been suspected of cheating, whether it be blood doping, PEDs, Erythropoietin, also known as EPO, blood manipulation and everything under the sun. According to USADA, more than 10 cyclists as well as team employees will testify they either saw Armstrong dope or heard him tell them he used EPO, blood transfusions, testosterone and cortisone from 1996 to 2005. I don’t know about anyone else, but if there are ten people willing to testify, that’s a REALLY bad indicator. It’s tough enough to get ten people to decide on what kind of pizza toppings to get, let alone decide to perjure themselves.

What bugs me about this whole thing is that Armstrong, a cancer survivor, did so much good to raise money for cancer research and the like, but did it while likely being a complete phony and a hypocrite. He preached hard work and dedication, all the while cheating his ass off. So many sick and dying people looked to a complete fraud for inspiration. Think about all those people who bought those LIVESTRONG bracelets, donating money to the cause, believing in a guy who was constantly breaking the rules and figuring out how to beat drug tests. Think about the people who breathed their last breaths thinking about what Armstrong had meant to them during their struggle that they knew they were about to lose. It makes me sad to think so many invested themselves emotionally in this guy. People who were dying, people who were sick and the families of those who were sick were defrauded by a guy who called himself “Champion”.

I only hope that this guy will own up to what he did and be man enough to live with the consequences.

by: Mauricio Rubio Jr.
email: mr@99sportsproblems.com
twitter: @MRubio52

First and foremost, we are nerds. The three OG’s and the new guy running this multimedia sports/lifestyle project are all nerds in something. I think all of us might even be 5 tool nerds. A lot of our tools overlap. Raul is a musical technician, and I mean that in the literal and figurative sense. He literally is a technician, but I haven’t met anyone who knows as much about one thing as Raul knows about music. Well, actually Tony might fit that crown. Tony’s like that guy who can reference everything in the sports realm. In fact I’d be hard pressed to find a baseball sage quite like Tony. I dunno if anyone knows as much about baseball as him. You know though, Andy does know a lot about a wide variety of different sports, which is pretty crazy in it’s own right. I’m pretty sure the first time we met it ended up in a discussion about 3 different sports in under 2 hours.

Where Andy and I overlap is in our affinity for baseball, and our particular fondness for baseball video games. Now, you’re all aware of MLB The Show. Matt McIrish did a pretty good review on the game. Nothing quite summed up the reasons for starting this entire adventure quite like the text message exchange I had with Andy.

Now, I don’t claim to be anything but a fan of baseball. In our little circle, however, I’ve gained two reputations.

  1. “Moe (yeah there’s an e at the end. Moe’s Tavern, that’s where it comes from) never sleeps.” – This one is mostly true. I’m usually awake. I am awake at some pretty odd hours. I don’t quite know how to explain why I’m often awake, just take it as a fact. I do sleep, it does happen, just you know, late at night.
  2. “Moe is THE guy to go to for fantasy baseball advice” – I guess. I dunno, I just pay attention really, that’s it. I read different sources of information, I watch as many games as I can. I use the internet quite a bit to gather information on baseball players, because you know, I think it’s fun. I think I know more than the average bear about MLB, but that’s as far as I would go with it.

How does this all relate to MLB The Show ’12?

You can’t do that to me at 10 pm. I love building franchises in video games. Seriously, more so than playing the actual game, I enjoy building up a team from the ground up. And that’s exactly what Andy was doing, he was restarting with the Royals. Andy was entering a franchise fantasy draft, which is where you empty every single MLB roster and draft players snake style. It’s pretty awesome, one of my favorite modes in baseball games. You have to fill out the minor leagues too, and this is a full on, multi-season mode.

I know what some of you are probably saying seeing that list and seeing me go McCutchen. Let’s look over Andy’s entire roster and see what we were thinking.

Starting Pitchers

Strasburg- We both have an insane man crush on Strasburg. Who wouldn’t? The kid pumps gas at 96+ consistently and has two absolutely nasty offspeed pitches. His change is severely underrated and that slider/slurve…man, that’s just not right coming from a starter. Andy bought high on both he and Gio early. This kinda drives the point home about how talented the Washington Nationals are, if it needed to be driven home some more. Strasburg is the anchor of this particular rotation, and I don’t think any other superlatives need to be thrown his way.

Gio Gonzalez – In 2012 Gio is giving up 5.3 H/9. Let that sink in a bit. Then realize that he has an 11 K/9 rate. Yeah. The Nationals’ one-two punch in real life is what you would draft in a video game. And it’ll work. Gio is a solid #2 pitcher. He’ll never have the control to be an Ace, but that’s perfectly fine. #2’s are really, really good.

R.A. Dickey – Knuckleballers are hard to predict. Dickey is the last of them. There aren’t any Knuckleballers in the minors of note, I kind of think the pitch dies with Dickey. I can’t really say anything with confidence concerning the emerging Met’s Ace, so I’ll concentrate on the discussion surrounding him. I rarely watch PTI, but when I do I seem to catch them at their worst. It’s odd. I heard a snippet where Wilbon said A-Rod’s grand slam total should be taken into context because he played in the steroid era, when offense was really inflated. I would get that if he tied Frank Robinson for the record, he played in the pitching dominant 60’s. Rodriguez, however, tied Gehrig. As in Lou. As in Lou played in arguably the most offensive era in the history of baseball. That’s another discussion for another day. The most recent snippet applies to Dickey and his Cy Young chances. Now, it’s too early to say anything regarding the Cy Young, I get that. Wilbon however, said it’ll be tough for a knuckleballer to win the Cy Young because A. It’s never been done before, and B. Knuckleballers fade away as the season progresses, using Phil Niekro as an example. Now, there is a very real bias against the knuckleball, but it has very little to do with them fading away late in seasons. Niekro, when he was the runner up in 1969, posted a 2.16 ERA and a .92 WHIP in Sept./Oct. In fact, his lowest monthly ERA for his career is in…Sept./Oct. I don’t know where the fade away myth started, but I really think it’s false.

Lance Lynn – I think you’ll notice a theme here with Andy’s team. He likes to go young. Lynn is pitching lights out this year. I don’t look at Pitcher Wins, Lynn’s peripherals are strong this year. Good K/BB rate, solid WHIP, and he is suppressing hits. Lynn is hitting his ceiling now, and in the game I don’t expect him to be anything quite like he is IRL right now, but eventually when his stuff matures, it can be this good consistently.

Aroldis Chapman – Oh fuck yes. He’s built to pitch, long arms, long legs, strong shoulders. It shows with the 100+ fastball too. Velocity is out of this world, and his pitches still maintain decent movement on them. He’s a freak, he shouldn’t be closing games either. He’s a starter.

Dylan Bundy – I regret telling Andy about Bundy. He scooped him up in our keeper league and now he has a giant man crush on him. It’s warranted, he has legit stuff, but it’s pretty far away. Solid stash pick.

Mike Montgomery – This is how you know Andy is a White Sox fan. Mike is a solid Royals prospect, but he hasn’t found the stuff in AAA yet. That level is handing him his ass right now. It’s likely that he never finds it.

Filler

Matt Barnes
John Barbato
Omar Poveda
Zach Cates
Garrett Gould
Michael Ynoa
Shaeffer Hall
Jason Knapp
Jeff Locke

Meh, mainly organizational soldiers.

The Relievers

Joe Nathan – He just keeps on pumpin’ doesn’t he? Nathan, by all accounts, was done in 2011. Fast forward to 2012 and he’s got a .81 WHIP for Texas. Interesting pick for a franchise draft, I don’t see him sticking around too long, but typically what you do to make a closer is get a starter who wasn’t good enough and stick him in the slot. Heath Hembree – Whatever he did at AA Richmond he better start replicating at AAA Fresno. His K rate got slashed during the promotion, and he walks 4 guys per 9. He’s a solid prospect, but he needs to start missing bats again. Danys Baez – The rare reliever that doesn’t strike anyone out, walks people, and gives up tons of hits. He’s meat grinder fodder, likely to be sent down to Andy’s farm system.

Octavio Dotel – You know what Dotel’s business card should be?

That’s everyone he’s pitched for.

That just screams Professional Relief Pitcher.

Antonio Bastardo – His stuff is nasty, and it’s closer worthy. However, I usually don’t bet on guys with huge asses, and this guy has the biggest ass I’ve seen on a skinny guy in a long time. I actually do think he’s Carlos Marmol part duex, meaning that he’ll have high value for a while before all the wheels fall off and he’s done. Nathan-Dotel-Bastardo is a pretty solid end of the bullpen.

Tim Byrdak – Byrdak is another example of how random relief pitchers are. Since 2007 his WHIP has fluctuated wildly while his ERA has remained the same. Usually that means he’s a situational guy who comes in to face a few batters. Over the past two years, however, he’s posted the highest K/9 rates of his life at age 37/38. Random.

Tony Sipp – Sipp is a member of the “Bullpen Mafia” that annoys the shit out of me. Everyone wants to hop on that “WINdians” bandwagon. Fuck the Indians, they play in a wide open division and have a lot of talent, but for some reason they can never close the deal. Will they do it this year? It’s possible but I wouldn’t bet on it. They’re turning into the Royals a bit, where we keep waiting for them to do…something. Win, win the division, don’t choke away 5+ game leads. They were frauds last year and I think they’re big frauds this year. Tony Sipp can kiss my ass.

Louis Coleman – I have a soft spot for pitchers who miss both the bat and the plate. Coleman loves walking guys. He’s a solid option if Dotel should fail this year. The Royals play this game all the time. They tease with solid talent in the rotation, they lead give you hints of competing, then they lose 10 straight home games and fall completely on their face before June. I’m tired of picking anyone other than the Sox/Tigers to win the Central.

Filler

Tony Watson
Coty Woods
Fernando Nieve
Cory Burns
Jeremy Horst
Fernando Cabrera
Ervis Manzanillo
Michael Dunn
Bandon Gomes
J.R. Graham
Nate Jones
Chris Ray

Chris Ray and Nate Jones are interesting, but the attrition rate on RP’s is high…real high.

Outfield

LF:

Raul Ibanez
Brandon Short
Brendan Katin

CF:

McCutchen
Trout (LF)
Ryan LaMarre
Ryan Kalish
Tyson Gillies

RF:

Harper
Domonic Brown
Jarrod Dyson
Brett Carroll
Dave Sappelt
Mike Zuanich
Zoilo Almonte

Alright, we’re going to do this all as one unit because it was built with insane OF defense in mind. I would imagine that the permanent starting rotation of OFers is going to be Trout, McCutchen, and Harper. That’s three plus outfielders with plus speed running down balls that would normally be gappers. If I had it my way, I would start Trout in left, McCutchen in center, and Harper in right.

OF defense is severely misunderstood these days because we grew up in an era that didn’t care about it for so long. Know what made Ichiro’s defense so intriguing? That man could throw. Yeah, we expected the speed, we’ve seen speed throughout the 90’s. But a guy in right that can absolutely gun down suckers trying to go 1st to 3rd on him? It’s been a while. RF is typically where the best arms live. The guys with the best defensive IQ/Range play center, and left is typically where you stick your worst OF. Not on this team. Trouty doesn’t have the defensive IQ to play center yet, and it’s possible he never will. As it stands, however, he can still make up for his lack of know-how with raw speed. It’s sick to see him track down a ball.

That’s what the team is built around really, OF defense. It’s a rare gap-to-gap attack that can run down most anything. Given the flyball tendencies of the staff, I really like the concept. I can talk about how Domonic Brown never lived up to potential, or how Raul Ibanez can handle left while Andy waits for Trout to be ready, but seriously, it’s not necessary.

Infield

C:
Russell Martin
Brayan Pena
George Kottaras
Erik Kratz
Tyler LaTorre
Kevan Smith

1B:

Dunn
Rizzo
Xavier Scruggs
Ronald Guzman

2B:

Beckham
Tyler Bortnick
Tommy LaStella

3B:

Hanley Ramirez
Brett Lawrie
Will Middlebrooks
Ryan Rohlinger
Stepen King

SS:

Renteria
Hak-Ju Lee
Thomas Field
Edwin Maysonet
Pedro Florimon
Jiovanni Mier

The starters for year 1 should be:

C: Martin
1B: Dunn
2B: Beckham
3B: Lawrie
SS: Ramirez

Anthony Rizzo would be a compelling start at first, slotting Donkey to DH, but for now I think that the DH comes from a loaded OF. Will Middlebrooks  is likely to complicate the 3B position because he’s awesome. Legitimate power threat, he can play some OF, but there’s no room for him there. I figure you trade Brett Lawrie instead and roll dice with Middlebrooks. Gordon Beckham can probably go after the season too. His defense is stellar, but his bat is just sad at times.

If I were making the lineup:

  1. Mike Trout – LF – Has the speed to hit leadoff, but if he falls in love with the long ball he’s likely to add mass and thus, lose speed. For now, he’s got the on base skills to hit leadoff.
  2. Andrew McCutchen – CF – He can be anything he wants right now. He has a solid eye, but more importantly he has the power/speed combo that would be killer in the two slot.
  3. Adam Dunn – 1B/DH – Before 2011 he was an OBP/HR machine. He’s back to doing that in 2012, and it should work out well for Andy’s franchise.
  4. Bryce Harper – RF – The power is real, and his contact rate is better thus far than I expected. Kid can hit too. Decent speed, but not good enough to hit 2.
  5. Brett Lawrie – 3B – Lawrie has a lot of power potential, and he’s delivering on it. I love his bat.
  6. Hanley Ramirez – SS – His speed has left him a bit, and he’s starting to try and be a power hitter at the end of his pure athletic peak. Now’s the time to add good power to the repertoire, and I think he’ll like the 6 spot to his liking.
  7. Raul Ibanez – DH/OF- Really, just a place holder for Rizzo. If we assume Rizzo is up with the big club, I put Rizzo in for Ibanez and switch him and Hanley in the order.
  8. Russell Martin – C – Andy needs to upgrade the position. Martin was run into the ground during his LA days and was never the same since. Catcher workloads are already hellish, but they become ungodly when the manager expects you to go out there every day. Your body just can’t survive catching 140+ games.
  9. Gordon Beckham – 2B – Pass.