Those of you who were around for the 24-hour Trade Deadline Blogathon (for those of you who weren’t, yes, I really did that), you know that I have a particular affinity for Chick-Fil-A. Well, my affection has doubled this month. Anyone else had that insanely delicious peppermint chocolate chip milkshake? It is, of course, horrible for you, but I find myself making weekly excuses to go get myself one (“I had a light lunch today,” “I rode the exercise bike for 25 minutes today,” “the shake is only around for the holidays, damn it!”). It may be the best tasting thing I’ve ever had. Refined, my palate is not.
- New Cub Ian Stewart is saying the things you’d expect a guy in his position to say. First, on replacing Aramis Ramirez: “I’ve replaced some guys who have had good careers at that position. It’s not something that I’m going to be thinking about – ‘Hey, I’m replacing this guy and I have to do as well as him or better.’ I realize what [Ramirez] did for that organization there and I’m sure you guys and the fans appreciated it. I just hope I come in and do well and get the same support he got over there.”
- On his prospect for success in Chicago, Stewart is optimistic, primarily because he expects to get consistent starts. “It just doesn’t seem like all the time I was given the best opportunity to play,” Stewart said of his time in Colorado. “With the situation now, with Aramis Ramirez gone and one of the guys maybe that had a chance to play third [DJ LeMahieu] going to Colorado, that spot is kind of open. I think this gives me a great opportunity to be that everyday third baseman and get the at-bats I need to be successful. Change of scenery? I don’t know, but in the long run, being in a spot where I’m going to be able to play every day is going to be the best thing for me.”
- On his abysmal 2011 season, Stewart doesn’t want to blame injuries, but … he says it was the injuries. “There was a lot of adversity that went on with me last year,” Stewart said. “I’m not a guy who has always been hampered by injuries in my career. Lingering injury issues have never been my problem. And for whatever reason this year it was. I’m not trying to make excuses for the poor season I had but injuries do play a part in a guy’s season and how the season turns out …. At the major league level I had been struggling with the wrist injury. In my opinion, the [problem] was bringing me up and back between the major and minor leagues and never getting settled. I know it’s not the same as the major leagues, but I had success down at Triple-A. The issue wasn’t the wrist because after I hurt it in July it just became a lost season.”
- Stewart is expected to speak to hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo soon, and may begin work with him before position players report to Spring Training. That would be swell.
- Tony Campana won the Tony Conigliaro Award, presented to a ballplayer who has overcome adversity (Campana beat cancer as a kid). I still think he needs to learn how to bunt and to take a few pitches, but there’s no way not to cheer about something like this. Well-deserved, Tony.
- The Cubs were among the Winter Meetings’ winners, but only by virtue of the rest of the NL Central getting weaker.
- Yesterday the A’s traded young starter Trevor Cahill and reliever Craig Breslow to the Arizona Diamondbacks for pitching prospects Jarrod Parker and Ryan Cook, as well as outfield prospect Collin Cowgill. The return for the A’s is quite good (Cahill is young and has had one great year, but he’s also had two merely average years), and, in that sense, could help the Cubs in their efforts to maximize a return for Matt Garza should they elect to move him. On the other hand, the move takes one more team off the market for a top-line pitcher, and leaves Gio Gonzalez hanging out there for the Cubs to compete with (or to try and acquire, if they decide to go in a completely different direction – though I remain suspect of the Cubs’ ability to put together a package sufficient to net Gonzalez).