Most of the NL Central has its eye focused on next year and realistically beyond next year. This division is bad. The Pirates are bad. The Cubs are bad. The Astros are bad. The Brewers aren’t good. The Reds are the only hope this year and possibly for a while. The Cardinals? It could go either way for this proud franchise moving forward. Tony La Russa may be gone. Dave Duncan could follow. And the Albert Pujols contract situation could get really tricky if something doesn’t happen quickly when the season’s over. So, let’s take a look around the division for some thoughts on the future and some memories of the past.
The news just continues to get worse for the Cardinals on their free fall from the top of the N.L. Central. This time, it comes in the form of a 6’4″ 22 year old phenom who may just be the hardest throwing pitcher in major league baseball history. Tim Grimes explains the unbelievable hype that the Reds young star Aroldis Chapman is getting from the fans of Cincinnati. I certainly can’t remember any left-hander in the past decade who can consistently throw 100 mph or more. I don’t know how long it will take Chapman to fix his minor control issues or how long he can last throwing this hard, but there is no doubt that he makes the Reds future so much brighter.
Jim Caple states his case for Pete Rose and the Hall of Fame as we approach the 25th anniversary of Rose’s record-breaking night that made him the game’s all-time hit king. Rose will be honored in Cincinnati despite being banned from the game. Makes sense, right? Caple realizes Rose wronged the game, but so did a lot of other Hall of Famers. It’s time Charlie Hustle and Shoeless Joe are honored/remembered in Cooperstown. It’s the best thing for the game and its history.
The Cardinals were a part of history last night. Unfortunately, in a pennant race and already feeling desperate, it’s not the kind of history a team wants to witness. Trevor Hoffman picked up his 600th save, adding to his all-time record and becoming the first closer in history to reach No. 600. Hoffman is a surefire Hall of Famer and a class act. Congratulations Mr. Hoffman.
Alex says there have been many names thrown into the mix to become the Cubs manager for the 2011 season since Lou Piniella retired. Joe Girardi and Ryne Sandberg have been rumored to be leading candidates for the position, but now it appears that former Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez will be the guy. Personally, I believe Sandberg would be the better fit because of his history with the club, but Chicago is looking for a manager with major league experience. Fredi Gonzalez has had some rocky relationships with his players in the past such as Hanley Ramirez in Florida. Whoever it is that lands the job, they will have a big responsibility to make sure this young team plays up to their potential.
Justin Klugh provides some comedic relief regarding the Cubs search, looking at the possibility that Bonnie Hunt or Ozzie Guillen get the job in a shocking development over Sandberg, Gonzalez, and Girardi. If you want a laugh head over and read his stuff on the Phillies at That Ball’s Outta Here and on Call to the Pen.
While the Pirates fans have little to get excited about as another awful season winds down, there was some excitement coming out of Pittsburgh today. Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby hit a home run during while taking batting practice at PNC Field. He played baseball until he was 13 so it’s not a new game to him. Some are wondering if he could hang in the big leagues. Probably not, but it’s cool to see a hockey player has some ballplayer in him.
Apparently, the Cubs and Astros will be vying for bragging rights in their upcoming series. Somehow, I think both teams have other things to worry about. In other news, Hunter Pence continued his solid year and was named the NL Player of the Week.