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Blackhawks and Cubbies and Bears, OH MY!

Even through the dog days of summer, the sports keep going and, as Sonny and Cher once said, the beat goes on. Even though we are in the off seasons of most sports, there is still a lot of news coming down the pipes about our favorite sports teams.

Hockey

Going for the Gold!

Going for the Gold!

The post-2013 season has the Blackhawks focusing on adjusting to a new roster and being recruited to represent their home countries at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Team Canada has recruited Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp, and Corey Crawford. Team USA has brought Nick Leddy, Brandon Saad, and sharp-shooter Patrick Kane to their team. In 2010 it came down to Kane vs. Toews for the gold and America went home with the silver medal. With this many Blackhawks skating to Russia in 2014, Chicago hockey fans will find a lot to scream at their television about as it will be difficult to root against either team with so many revered players pitted against each other for Olympic Gold. Congratulations to all of the Blackhawks chosen for the 2014 Winter Olympic games!

THE REMATCH

THE REMATCH

Basketball

Comeback Kid

Boozer is not amused

The Bulls, and all of Chicago, are preparing for the much-awaited comeback of superstar Derrick Rose. His manager and brother, Reggie Rose, has been talking with the press about Rose’s recovery and says that Rose is ready to go. Reggie Rose says that he has “no concerns about [Derrick Rose] physically” and that taking a year off may have hurt the Bulls, but it was necessary for the longevity of his career. He believes “Derrick should probably be able to play fifteen to eighteen years,” so taking a year off was a means of making sure he was physically prepared to play basketball for the next two decades.

"Dude, this comeback had better not be a joke."

“Dude, this comeback had better not be a joke.”

The return of Rose is great news for Bulls fans, but sending Nate Robinson to the Denver Nuggets is definitely terrible news for Bulls fans as the heart of the 2013 playoffs is now someone we face instead of someone helping us block Lebron’s shots.

We're gonna miss you, buddy.

We’re gonna miss you, buddy.

So, with the return of Derrick Rose, the departure of Nate Robinson, and the shaky status of Luol Deng’s contract extension, what does the 2014 Chicago Bulls roster look like? The point guards look sharp with Derrick Rose, Kirk Hinrich, and Marquis Teague hitting the court. Rose’s return, if successful, will be a major boost for the Bulls, obviously. The skill and talent of Rose will be a great punch on the court; what will really stand out is that the heart and spirit of the team–both for the team and for the fans–is returning to the United Center. After a year and a half of anticipation, wondering down to the last game against the Miami Heat in the 2013 playoffs if Rose would make a miraculous return, the bright comet of the Chicago Bulls will blaze down the court again and set the competition ablaze. Our shooting guards and shooting forwards are looking sharp. Jimmy Butler is in need of some polish, but there is plenty of time to make sure that he is in the best condition to hit the court. Mike Dunleavy will serve as a secret weapon for the Bulls as the opposition will be on guard against the dynamite talent of Derrick Rose which will keep their eye distracted from the three-point power of Dunleavy. Power forwards Carlos Boozer, Taj Gibson, Malcom Thomas, and Erik Murphy are focused but in need of strengthening. Carlos Boozer is the 2014 Bulls’ Scottie Pippen, reliable with strong offense, but his defense needs a lot of work. Taj Gibson, on the other hand, brings a great defensive game. If the two could learn from each other, we would have two stunning power forwards on the court. Boozer’s on court relationship with Noah creates spectacular offense as well; they are a threat just like Pippen and Jordan when they hit the court together. Centers Joakim Noah and Nazr Mohammad round out the roster. Joakim Noah is the Bulls offense and does well adapting to the style of his teammates while remaining determined and focused. Mohammad does his job well with decent defense and use of fouls, but he is not good in long play. If Noah’s annual injuries flare up again, Mohammad will have big shoes to fill on the court as he is simply not on Noah’s level yet. The Bulls roster looks good, and they’ve proven that they can play without Rose. This year should provide us with amazing basketball as the return of Rose will only boost the ability of the already spectacular Chicago Bulls.

Basketball Biology 101: This is a heart.

Basketball Biology 101: This is a heart.

Baseball

Later, 'gator

Later, gator

After many rumors and a lot of talks, the Cubs have traded Matt Garza to the Texas Rangers. In return the Cubs are getting third baseman Mike Ott and two right-handed pitchers, C.J. Edwards and Justin Grimm. The trade agreement also allows for the Cubs to acquire up to two more pitchers, possibly Neil Ramirez. This is proof that the Cubs are serious about rebuilding. It stands to reason that the Cubs are looking to build a good team that is could possibly begin winning because with all of the talk about revamping Wrigley Field, they should have a team good enough to draw fans into the expensive stadium. This also shows the Cubs are shifting away from keeping fan favorites and abandoning player loyalty and looking to rebuild a functioning baseball team that stands a chance to make the playoffs in the coming years.

Football

BREAKING: If you keep eating that towel, you will not be hungry for lunch!

BREAKING: If you keep eating that towel, you will not be hungry for lunch!

The Bears begin training camp on Thursday! Preseason football will be hitting our television screens in a matter of weeks. Hopefully the Bears will be taking this time to strengthen their offensive line and forcing Jay Cutler to step up his game in order to get the Bears into the playoffs this season. Chicago is hungry for another major sports victory, and the Bears have the talent and the drive to make it happen.

Bear Down!

Bear Down!

Olympians, returned superstars, new players, and new goals; the world of Chicago sports is spinning into very interesting areas. As these sports get revved up and ready to go, remember that one very important event happening this year is the retirement of Mike Ditka’s number in January. Get ready for this monumental year of football and festivities with our Mike Ditka Chicago Bear tee shirt (http://tinyurl.com/oht723e). Grab great sports threads from Clark Street Sports so you can be ready for all of the exciting things happening in Chicago sports!

 

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MLB: Texas Rangers @ Chicago Cubs

Texas Rangers at Wrigley Field: April 16-18

Baseball Fans, the Texas Rangers are making a rare trip to the North Side of Chicago from April 16-18. Cubs fans, help commemorate this unique matchup with this special Interleague Series tee-shirt (available online or  one of our Wrigleyville Locations) between the Texas Rangers and Chicago Cubs at beautiful Wrigley Field.

Cubs vs. Rangers at Wrigley Field

Cubs vs. Rangers at Wrigley Field

Cubs fans, remember to pickup all your favorite Cubs and other Chicago Sports merchandise at one of our Chicagoland Locations or online throughout the baseball season.

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MLB Offseason

The Winter Meetings have now come to an end and were just about half way through the MLB Offseason. With that in mind, I feel now’s a good opportunity for me to examine what has occurred the past few weeks and see who has/has not improved their roster this offseason.

Winners:

Boston Red Sox: The previous two seasons has seen the Red Sox lose a 9 Game September lead, change General Managershire a Manager that had  numerous problems with his players, trade 3 of the teams highest paid players, and then fire Bobby Valentine. With all those problems the past 2 seasons, the Red Sox decided to start over and go back to the old Red Sox formula which helped them win 2 World Series Titles in a 4 years span. The start of the offseason saw the Red Sox bring a familiar face back in former Red Sox pitching coach (and 2009-2011 Manager of the Toronto Blue Jays) John Farrell. With Farrell on board, the Red Sox decided to sign a number of quality “Clubhouse Players” and instead of spending 20 million per year on one player they signed 3 quality players for the same price in David Ross, Mike Napoli, and Shane Victorino. A number of people might criticize the Red Sox for some of the contracts they handed out but they needed to change their Locker Room and one of these players in particular (Mike Napoli) will put up great stats next season. Napoli has fantastic career stats at Fenway Park (.306 Average, 7 HR, and 17 RBI in 19 games) and with him not being an everyday catcher anyone (Boston already features David Ross, Ryan Lavarnway, and Jarred Saltalamacchia), I feel Napoli will get back to his 2011 Season.

The Red Sox still have two questions they have to address this offseason:

1.  With three catchers already under contract, when will Boston trade Jarred Saltalamacchia?

2. Will the Red Sox trade Jacoby Ellsbury?

Texas Rangers: The Rangers haven’t made any significant moves during the 2012 offseason, so why are they listed under the winners for the offseason? I decided to list Texas under the winners category because they’ve been mentioned in all the key players (Trade and Free Agency) this offseason. The biggest question surrounding the Rangers this offseason has been with 2010 MVP Josh Hamilton whose a Free Agent for the first time in his career. At 31, Hamilton is still an elite hitter but has had to deal with a number of injuries which have forced him to miss a number of game in his career (Hamilton has only played in 135 games only twice in his MLB career). So why have they done such a good job with handling the Hamilton situation? Because Texas allowed for other teams to set the market for him and see what his value was in Free Agency. As that was going on, the Rangers decided to look at Free Agents Zack Greinke and Michael Bourn along with DBacks Outfielder Justin Upton and Rays Pitcher James Shields. With Greinke signing with the Dodgers (and hurting their biggest rival) and Shields being traded to Kansas City, look for the Rangers to now turn their attention to Upton, Anibal Sanchez, R.A. Dickey, and of course Josh Hamilton.

With the Rangers linked to all these teams, this shows that the team that holds all the cards are the Texas Rangers. The Rangers can resign Hamilton or trade one of their young prospects for a veteran hitter/pitcher. With the money the Rangers will save from the Michael Young trade, look for them to make a significant signing or trade this offseason.

San Francisco Giants: Following San Francisco’s first World Series since the Franchise moved to the Bay Area, the Giants decided to bring back a number of players from their former roster that won the World Series. Unfortunately for the Giants, 2010 Rookie of the Year Buster Posey went down with a season ending injury but had Posey not gone down with the injury in April 2011, the Giants might have found themselves back in the playoffs the next season. With that said, the Giants didn’t make the 2011 Playoffs, brought in a number of new faces via trades and free agency (Angel Pagan, Melky Cabrera Hunter Pence and Marco Scutaro) which helped the Giants return to the top of the baseball world in 2012. Following their Championship Parade, the Giants decided to resign all of their key free agents (Jeremy Affeldt, Pagan, and  Scutaro) and go with almost the exact same roster that helped them win the 2012 World Series. With that said, a number of people have been surprised the Giants decided to go in another direction with Brian Wilson as they decided to Non-Tender his contract making him a Free Agent.

I feel this was the correct decision for two reasons:

1. With the Money they saved from not having Wilson on their roster anymore, there now able to sign their key Free Agents this offseason.

2. Romo has the potential of becoming one of the best closers in baseball.

Clark Street Sports: Where Real Fans Shop

Clark Street Sports: Where Real Fans Shop

Losers:

Los Angeles Angels: The winners of last years offseason might be the losers to this years offseason. The Angels decided to revamp their team by letting Torii Hunter, Dan Haren, and Zack Greinke leave via free agency in addition to trading Ervin Santana away to the Royals.

So what have the Angels done so far to account for all these departures:

1. The Angels traded 2010 All-Star Jordan Walden to the Atlanta Braves for Tommy Hanson who had an up and down career in Atlanta that ended with him going 12-5 with a 4.29 ERA during the 2012 season.

2. Following that, the Angels signed Joe Blanton (for the backend of their rotation) and Sean Burnett (to add the lefty reliever they needed) each to a 2 year deal.

These three moves showed that the Angels were preparing to move on from Greinke and go in another direction. With Greinke, Haren, and Santana out of their rotation, I feel the Angels took a step back this offseason and still need another quality pitcher if they want to compete with the A’s and Rangers in the American League West. If this is the Angels 2012 pitching staff (both starting and relief), then I feel the Rangers are the clear cut favorites in the AL West.

Seattle Mariners: The Mariners have a solid pitching rotation highlighted by Felix Hernandez and also includes Jason Vargas, Hisashi Iwakuma, Erasmo Ramirez, in addition to top pitching prospects Taijuan Walker and Danny Hultzen. This shows that the Mariners have a number of quality pitchers, however, if they want to be a contender they need to address their lineup. Currently, the best players in the Mariners lineup are Jesus Montero, Dustin Ackley, and Kyle Seager which shows that their’s not much power in their lineup. With that in mind, I feel the Mariners should look to add two names: Josh Hamilton and Billy Butler. If the Mariners are able to add these two bats to their lineup, then the Mariners would become a legitimate contender in the American League West.

New York Mets:Mets fans were dreaming of a Wil Myers for R.A. Dickey trade but instead the Royals decided to trade their top prospect to Tampa for James Shields. With Greinke and Shields off the board, the Mets now need to look to trade with the Angels, Rangers, or Tigers and see what they would give up for 2012 CY-Young Award Winner. The Mets already have a solid rotation filled with a combination of veterans (Johan Santana and Jon Niese) and youngsters (Dillion Gee, Matt Harvey, and Zack Wheeler) and because of that the Mets are fortunate enough to have the space to trade Dickey so they can add power bat to their lineup. A few of the prospects the Mets should look to trade for include Mike Olt, Elvis Andrus, C.J. Cron, or another power hitting/middle of the infield player to their roster. If the Mets are able to do this, then the Mets would show a solid core of talent in both their lineup and rotation.

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MLB: MLB Players Who Could be Traded During the 2012 Offseason:

With Free Agents Jake Peavy (Chicago White Sox) and David Ortiz (Boston Red Sox) resigning with their respected teams, the MLB Free Agency pool seems quite limited but there’s still a few significant players to watch this offseason as the Free Agency period gets underway. Below are a list of the top free-agents and which team I feel they will sign with during the offseason:

1. Zach Greinke: (Los Angeles Angles): With Zack Greinke being the only elite level pitcher on the Free Agent Market, there’s no question that he will be the most sought after free agent this winter. The 2009 Cy-Young Award winner will have numerous teams interested in signing him during the offseason and that list will start with Greinke’s 2012 Team: the Los Angeles Angeles. With Bobby Abreu, Dan Haren, Torii Hunter, and Ervin Santana off their payroll, I feel the Angels will have the necessary money they need to resign Zack Greinke to the biggest Pitcher contract this offseason. The other teams that would be interested in signing Zack Greinke this offseason are the Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals.

2. Josh Hamilton: (Washington Nationals): The Nationals already feature a sold core of hitters (Ian Desmond, Bryce Harper, Michael Morse, Jayson Werth, and Ryan Zimmerman) but have been looking for an additional left-handed impact bat to add to their lineup so they can be that much more deeper from both sides of the plate. If the Nationals were able to sign Hamilton, then they could move Morse from the outfield to First Base and feature one of the best offensive and defensive outfields in Hamilton, Harper, and Werth. In addition to the Nationals, I feel the Baltimore Orioles and Hamilton’s current team, the Texas Rangers, would still be interested in bringing him back to Texas.

3. Michael Bourn: (Philadelphia Phillies): The Braves would love to bring back the 2-Time All-Star and Gold-Glove winner however it seems unlikely they would be able to afford his reported asking price. With the Phillies dropping almost 40 million dollars from

last years and in addition to trading 2 of the teams 3 starting outfielder from last years team, I feel Philly will be one of the most active teams during

the offseason. Other teams that will look to sign Michael Bourn are his former team, Atlanta Braves along with the Washington Nationals if there unable to sign Josh Hamilton.

4.  AJ Pierzynski: (Texas Rangers): At 35 (and soon to be 36 years old) the 2-Time All-Star Catcher had his best statistical season of his career winning his first silver slugger award and still looked to be at the top of his game. With that said, as much as Pierzynski has ment to the White Sox organization, it seems like the White Sox have decided to go younger and start last year backup catcher Tyler Flowers. Flowers proved last season that he can do a solid job at calling a game in addition to having a great deal of power from the catcher position. I feel the Rangers will sign Pierzynski who has proven to be a much more durable catcher behind the plate than 2011 Ranger Mike Napoli (Napoli has never caught 760 innings in a season while Pierzynski has caught 1,000 Plus innings 11 times in his career). The other teams that also might look to sign Pierzynski this offseason are the Chicago White Sox, Tampa Bay Rays, and Los Angeles Dodgers.

In addition to the Free Agency Process, there’s 5 other significant players that I feel will be mentioned in a number of trade rumors this offseason.

Alex Rodriguez: (New York Yankees): The Yankees expensive 3rd Baseman had another injury plagued season and showed that he’s still having some durability issues as A-Rod hasn’t played in 140 games in season since the 2007 season and in three of those season he played in under 125 games. Even with all his injuries and problems throughout the MLB Playoffs, I still feel A-Rod will be a Yankee when the 2013 season starts. On the other hand, will the Yankees at-least test the Trade Market… absolutely. So which teams will the Yankees talk with A-Rod about: before the Blockbuster Trade on Tuesday I would have said the Miami Marlins, but now I feel there’s only two teams that would consider trading for the former 3-Time AL MVP Winner: Chicago White Sox (however, with Rick Hahn now the GM, the White Sox might have a new perspective on A-Rod) and drs. In the end, I feel Rodriguez will once again be in Yankee Pinstripes when the 2013 Baseball season begins.

Chase Headley: (San Diego Padres): The Padres have a ton of solid prospects in their organization and with the Giants, Dodgers, and Diamondbacks in their division, I’m not sure there ready to win now so I feel they should look to trade their best asset; Chase Headley. Headley had by far his best season, Hitting .286, to go along with 31 Home Runs and an NL High 115 RBI’s while playing in arguably the toughest hitting ballpark in all of baseball and because of this he’s a finalist for the 2012 NL MVP Award. In addition to having such a great season, Headley is just hitting his prime (28 years old) and has 3 more Arbitration Eligible Seasons left on his contract. Because of his age, contract status, the chances of him replicating this season and the state of this franchise, I feel the Padres should look to trade Chase Headley this offseason. Some of the places that have enough assets to acquire Headley and look to trade for him are the Tampa Bay Rays, Texas Rangers, and the Oakland Athletics. In the end, I feel the Padres will ask for too much and not trade the 28 year old 3rd Baseman whose also proven he can play First Base and Left Field.

Gavin Floyd: (Milwaukee BrewersWith White Sox 2012 Third Baseman Kevin Youkilis most likely departing from the South Side of Chicago this offseason, its very clear that the Chicago White Sox have a significant void to fill at the hot corner that they’ll look fill via a Trade (the Free-Agent Market is quite thin). With that said, a number of teams are looking for veteran pitchers that haven’t had any significant injuries in the past. Fortunately, Floyd fits the criteria as he’s thrown over 180 innings for of the past 5 seasons showing that he can take the ball at any time. Because of this, I feel the White Sox will either trade Floyd straight up for a 3rd Baseman or trade Floyd for a number of prospects that they can then flip the prospects for a third baseman. I feel the White Sox number one option would be moving Floyd and a few other prospects for either top prospects Anthony Rendon (Washington Nationals) or Mike Olt (Texas Rangers). So why would Texas or Washington be in such a hurry to trade one of their top prospects? Because both teams have a log jam at third base in Ryan Zimmerman (Nationals) and Adrian Beltre (Ranges). Zimmerman, (who agreed to a new contract last offseason), and Beltre, (who hit .321 to along with 36 Homers and 102 RBI and has 4 more years left on his contract) might feel they don’t need one of these elite level prospects and instead might look to acquire a quality veteran pitcher. Both teams have the two different options for these two players: either move one of the top prospects in baseball so they can fill other holes on their roster or have them change positions because nethor will be playing 3rd Base in the near future. In the end, do I foresee the White Sox acquiring one of these two young 3rd Base prospects…no and because of this I feel they will trade Floyd to the Milwaukee Brewers for a number of prospects to help improve their farm system. With that in mind, I also feel the Colorado Rockies, Los Angeles Dodgers, St. Louis Cardinals, and Texas Rangers will also make a run at Floyd.

Matt Garza: (Chicago Cubs): The Cubs 28 year old right hander had an up and 2012 season that unfortunately ended with him on the DL from July 21st until the completion of the Season. With Garza being in the prime of his career, a proven winner, and having no significant injuries in the past, its a forgone conclusion that a number of teams will look to trade for Garza this offseason. So what teams will look to trade for Garza? I feel the list for Garza will include the Baltimore Orioles, AL Champion Detroit TigersKansas City Royals (who feature a great Bullpen and Offense but need to upgrade their starting rotation), New York Yankees, and Texas Rangers. In the end, I think Garza will start the season with the Cubs so they can show he’s recovered from his triceps injury and then decide wither or not to trade him depending on where the Cubs are in the standings around the July 31st Trade Deadline.

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San Francisco Giants: Bruce Bochy Hello Hall-of-Fame

Following a Kick return for a Touchdown by Desmond Howard in a game between Michigan and Ohio State during the 1991 season, notable commentator Keith Jackson uttered the words “Hello Heisman” as Howard did the Heisman pose in the Michigan Stadium end zone. With that in mind, I wanted to use a similar variation of that line for current San Francisco Giants Manager Bruce Bochy “Hello Hall-of-Fame. With the Giants winning their second championship in the past 3 years, manager Bruce Bochy has proven to be one of the best postseason in-game managers in baseball since he started managing during the 1995.

Bochy, a former catcher, started his managerial career during the 1995 season with the San Diego Padres where he spent the last 4 seasons of his playing career. During his tenure as manager of the Padres, Bochy finished in first place 4 times and in 1998 he led the Padres to the World Series for the first time since 1984 when Bochy was a player on that team. However, following the 2006 season, with new management taking over their front office, San Diego decided they wanted to go in another direction so Bochy decided to move up the California coast to another member of the NL West; the San Francisco Giants. In San Francisco, Bochy’s first season was surrounded by a number of significant events in the 2007 All-Star Game being played in San Francisco along with Barry Bonds quest for Hank Aaron’s Home Run record of 755. Following the 2007 season, the Giants decided to go in a different direction as they allowed Bonds to move on and instead decided to build their roster around pitching and defense. The new direction seemed to fit more of Bochy’s style that he managed with in San Diego.

So with that, the Giants decided to build through the draft, (Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, Madison Bumgarner, Buster Posey were all former 1st Round Picks) add a few under the radar free agents, (Aubry Huff, Gregor Blanco, and Ryan Vogelsong), along with making a couple of quiet, but effective trades (Pat Burrell, Cody Ross, Angel Pagan, Hunter Pence, Marco Scutaro, ) to help add to the depth on their roster.

So what make’s Bruce Bochy such a great manager? Two Reasons:

1. Unlike other teams, the Giants don’t have a great deal of offensive star-power: The Giants have won 2 of the last 3 World Series, and during both Championship runs had to go through 6 different teams that featured a number of elite offensive players in their lineups. Going back to the 2010 Playoffs, the Giants faced the Braves (Chipper Jones (1999 MVP), Brian McCann (2010 All-Star Game MVP), Martin Prado) Phillies (Ryan Howard (2006 MVP), Jimmy Rollins (2007 MVP), Chase Utley, Shane Victoriano, Jayson Werth), and Rangers (Nelson Cruz, Josh Hamilton (2010 MVP), Michael Young, Elvis Andrus, Ian Kinsler) and during the 2012 Playoffs they faced the Reds (Joey Votto (2010 MVP), Brandon Phillips, Jay Bruce, Scott Rolen, Drew Stubbs), Cardinals (Carlos Beltran (9th Most Postseason Home Runs), David Freese (2011 NLCS and World Series MVP), Yadier Molina, Matt Holliday), and the Tigers (Miguel Cabrera (2012 Triple Crown Winner), Prince Fielder (2011 All-Star Game MVP), Austin Jackson, Jhonny Peralta). Not that the Giants didn’t trot out a number of solid hitters (Posey, Pablo Sandoval, Scutaro, Pence) but the Giants hitters don’t have the star power that the other teams they faced feature.

2. Bochy and the Giants aren’t afraid to make bold moves in the Playoffs: The majority of managers wouldn’t ever think of ever making some of the moves that the Bochy and the Giants front office made over the past 3 seasons. Once again, I want to go back and look at the Giants 2010 Season and then move forward to some of the decisions they made during the 2012 season. During their 2010 Playoff Run, the Giants decided to trade starting catcher (and former World Series Champion (2002)) Bengie Molina to the Rangers for a minor prospects. This move was made so the Giants could have top prospect (at that time) Buster Posey start at catcher and Aubry Huff move to first base. Posey went onto win the 2010 Rookie of the Year Award and became the face of the Giants offense. An additional key move the Giants decided to make during their first World Series run was putting Pablo Sandoval and Aaron Rowand on the bench during the Playoffs along with having former Cy-Young Award winner Barry Zito (the highest paid player on their roster) not apart Playoff roster. Finally, following a game 3 loss to the Rangers, Manager Bruce Bochy decided to change-up his lineup by moving Aubry Huff to DH and added Travis Ishikawa and Nate Schierholtz to their lineup. It seemed that at every significant time during the 2010 Playoffs, Bruce Bochy was making all the correct calls throughout these crucial moments.

As for the 2012 Playoffs, Bruce Bochy and the Giants once again showed why they are on top of and prepared for any situation that comes their way. Bochy’s problems started at the beginning of the season when on April 15th, 3-Time All-Star Closer Brian Wilson was forced to miss the remainder of the season with Tommy John Surgery. With Wilson on the shelf for the remainder of the season, the Giants were forced to go with a closer by committee situation which included Santiago Casilla (25), Sergio Romo (14) , and Javier Lopez (7). In addition to that, San Francisco also saw the division rival Dodgers acquiring a number of significant players throughout June, July and August to help bolster their lineup and rotation. To the Giants credit, they didn’t panic and instead made a few key under the radar trades in acquiring Colorado Rockies infielder Marco Scutaro and Phillies outfielder Hunter Pence. Just 15 days after the MLB Trade Deadline, All-Star Game MVP (and at the time NL Batting Leader) Melky Cabrera was suspended 50 games for testing positive for a banned substance. The Giants already featured a lack of depth in their outfield and with this occurring. it made it that much more important that the Giants traded for Pence at the deadline.

Once the Playoffs started, even with all his struggles throughout the 2012 season, most people felt that 2-Time Cy-Young Award Winner Tim Lincecum (2008 and 2009) would stay in the rotation for the entirety of the MLB Playoffs. That wasn’t the case as Lincecum only started 1 game during the 2012 MLB Playoffs (NLCS Game 4) and instead the Giants decided to use him out of the bullpen where he worked 13 innings while only giving up 1 run. With Lincecum out of the rotation, and 2010 Postseason hero Cody Ross in Boston, the Giants needed for two people to step up and fill their spots. Ironically it was the 2 players that were little used during the Giants 2010 Championship run: Pablo Sandoval and Barry Zito. During the 2012 NLCS, the Giants need Zito to step up and win a crucial game 5 so the series would be sent back to San Francisco. Fortunately for the Giants, Zito delivered as he threw 7 2/3 innings of scoreless baseball sending the series back to the Bay Area. So what about the hitter that stepped up, it was Pablo “the Panda” Sandoval who had the second most hits in a single Post Season (24) and joined Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson, and Albert Pujols in hitting 3 Home Runs in a World Series Game. With Zito’s dominant pitching, Sandoval’s hot bat, and a team that refused to give up (down 2-0 to the Reds; won 3 straight in Cincinnati and down 3-1 to the Cardinals; won 3 straight games vs he defending World Champs), the Giants used these three aspects to bring another Championship to the City by the Bay. In my opinion, both the 2010 and 2012 MLB Playoffs showed why Bruce Bochy is one of the best in-game managers of all time and why he’s deserves to be considered a future Hall-of-Fame Manager.

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October 3rd, 2012 will be Alfonso Soriano’s Last Game as a member of the Chicago Cubs.

The 2012 Trade Deadline has passed and Alfonso Soriano is still a member of the Chicago Cubs. With that said, this past Trade Deadline was the first time Soriano’s name was mentioned in legitimate trade rumors since the 2006 MLB Trade Deadline when he was a member of the Washington Nationals.

So why will the Cubs trade Soriano before the start of the 2013 season?

3 Reasons:

1) Soriano has shown  that he still has something left in the tank: Quietly, Alfonso Soriano has put together a strong 2012 season on the North Side hitting .270 with 19 HR and 64 RBI on the year. For any other player, those stats would equate to a productive season however, because his first 2012 Home Run came on May 15th, it shows that had Soriano hit a few Home Runs in the month and a half of the season, he could have been in the top 10 for Home Runs on the season. To put this into perspective, Soriano has hit 19 Home Runs in his last 70 games while Home Run Leader (Adam Dunn) has 31 HR’s since Opening Day. Because of this, I feel Soriano has a few quality  year left in him as he can be a productive player to a number of lineups. With that said Soriano’s has a one problem: he struggles to playing in the field which I feel limits him to only American League team. This leads me to my second reason why I feel Alfonso Soriano will be traded…

2) A number of American League teams need to upgrade from their current DHThere’s a handful of teams that feature quality DH’s…and a number of teams that need to trade for a player of Soriano’s skill set .

Here’s a list of Teams that don’t need to upgrade from their current DH: Chicago White Sox (Adam Dunn), Detroit Tigers (Victor Martinez), Kansas City Royals (Billy Butler), Boston Red Sox (David Ortiz), and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (Kendrys Morales if they decide to not trade him to a team that needs a first baseman).

So that takes 5 teams off the list, what about the other 10 AL Teams (remember Houston will be moving to the American League starting in 2013). In the past, Soriano has said he doesn’t want to play for a West Coast team which eliminates three AL Teams: Oakland, Los Angeles Angels (even though he said he would play for the Dodgers so I feel he’d add them to his list), and Seattle. In addition to that, I’m not sure the Texas Rangers or New York Yankees need him on their roster as both teams already feature strong lineups while already having a significant amount of older players on their respective rosters: Derek Jeter (38), Alex Rodriguez (37), Mark Teixeira (32) for the Yankees and Michael Young (35), Adrian Beltre (33), Nelson Cruz (32), and possibly Josh Hamilton (31) if they resign him. Lastly, a few other teams won’t be interested in acquiring Soriano as these teams would look to either rebuild (Astros) or play the younger players in their Farm System (Blue Jays). After taking 11 American League teams, there’s 4 realistic options left for Alfonso Soriano to be traded to during the offseason.

Below are the four realistic trade options for Alfonso Soriano:

Minnesota Twins: I believe there’s a realistic landing spot for Soriano because I think the Twins will look to trade Justin Morneau (if he passes his physical) during the offseason to a team that needs a quality First Baseman. In addition to that, I also feel Minnesota will look to play Joe Mauer at First which will force them to acquire an additional quality bat in their lineup… enter Soriano. Alfonso would give them the DH they’ve been looking for since deciding to let David Ortiz leave over a decade ago.

Cleveland Indians: Cleveland has a number of quality bats in their lineup: (Carlos SantanaAsdrubal Cabrera, Jason Kipnis, and Michael Brantley) but might have a hole at DH as Travis Hafner’s scheduled to be a Free Agent following the 2012 season. The Indians are a possible landing spot for Soriano as a trade here would allow for him to stay in the Midwest and would give this team an additional bat they’ve been missing.

Baltimore Orioles: Outside of the Angles (if they decided to trade Kendrys Morales), I feel the Orioles are the most likely team to trade for Soriano. Baltimore has a few key impact hitter’s on their roster in Adam Jones, Matt Wietersand top prospect Manny Machado. That’s a nice start, but I still feel the O’s are missing at least one more additional power bat in their lineup, and that’s where Soriano would fit in. With his power bat added to their lineup, I feel the Orioles would be provided an additional dimension to their lineup.

Tampa Bay Rays: The Rays have a number of quality hitters on their roster in Evan LongoriaDesmond Jennings, and Matt Joyce. Like division rival Baltimore, Tampa Bay’s lineup’s includes three quality bats but they still need to add additional depth to fill out the rest of their lineup. Soriano sounds like a good option for the Rays but there’s one key problem with this situation… Manager Joe Maddon likes having a rotating DH so Soriano would have to play he field a few time a week. If Soriano and the Rays both feel he’s able to play the field a few times a week, then this would become a realistic option for the Rays and would provide them the bat there currently looking for.

And finally, the third reason and final reason I feel October 3rd, 2012 will be Alfonso Soriano’s last game as a Chicago Cub:

3) The Cubs will look to take on the majority of his contract: During the past week, the Cubs made it clear they want to see what’s in their Farm System by playing Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro, Brett Jacksonand Josh Vitters everyday. 

Below are the 5 most likely teams to trade for Alfonso Soriano:

1) Baltimore Orioles

2) Minnesota Twins

3) Cleveland Indians 

4) Tampa Bay Rays

5) Los Angeles Angeles 

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