Even though this is admittedly only a hobby of mine, I still feel as though I have let down those that actually read this, to an extent, so here goes some of the new information regarding the Chicago Cubs…
First, the team is looking to finalize minor league affiliations this week, including extending the agreement by two years with the Northwest League Runners- Up, the Boise Hawks. The big decision is expected to be swapping low A affiliation from the Peoria Chiefs to the Kane County Cougars. Kane County is only about 30 miles west of Chicago, so the logistics of the matter seem to be the biggest reason why.
Brett Jackson could be available tonight for the Cubs in Houston, but he is not in the starting line up, unless a late change happens. David DeJesus is tabbed to lead off, and play in center, flanked by Bryan LaHair in right and Alfonso Soriano in left.
Speaking of Alfonso Soriano, he has a very real chance at hitting 30 HR and driving in 100 runs for a terrible offense. He stands at 28 HR and 94 RBI, the RBIs being his best mark since joining the team in 2007. Equally as important, Sori has been excellent in left field all season long, and is worthy of at least a consideration of a Gold Glove. His reputation precedes him enough that there is almost no shot he gets that award, but his defense has been as good as his offense. And his leadership brings a ton of value to a young team, learning how to be a professional. Dale Sveum seems to go out of his way just about every day to compliment Soriano on everything he does. Like him or not, he has earned his contract this season. This off-season could bring some suitors for Soriano, as long as the Cubs are willing to eat much of the $36 million he will be owed over the last two years of his deal. With the improved defense and strong numbers, the Cubs could get a strong return on Soriano from a team looking to add a right handed bat that can play the outfield. He still figures to have the most value as a DH for a deficient AL team.
Sahadev Sharma wrote a great piece for ESPNChicago.com on Jorge Soler, and his comparisons to Sammy Sosa, linked here.
Lastly, with today being 9/11, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention what happened 11 years ago. That was obviously a senseless act of death and destruction that never needed to happen. The way Americans all over the country, though, rallied around each other was the most inspirational thing I have seen in my 27 years. There are a lot of acts of courage, bravery, heroism, and selflessness associated with that day, and those days immediately afterward. It remains my hope that those times return to this country, sooner rather than later. Baseball played a huge role in the healing process. I remember very fondly, Sammy Sosa flying the Stars and Stripes after a home run during the first game at Wrigley after the attacks. Even though the Cubs were not a part of the World Series that season, it remains one of the premiere sports memories of my life, as the Yankees and Diamondbacks fought in an epic seven game battle, with President George W. Bush throwing out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium before game three to chants of “U-S-A, U-S-A!”, and culminated by Bob Brenly’s D-Backs getting a walk-off hit from former Cub, Luis Gonzalez. Baseball was a major contributor to the return to “normalcy” after what happened on this day, 11 years ago. Ballparks filled, the flag flew resolute, and versions of “The Star Spangled Banner” were belted out as passionately as they had ever before. On this day, I hope that we take the time to remember the men and women, sons and daughters, husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, that lost their lives on that day…and PLAY BALL!