A few weeks back, the baseball world was up in arms about A-Rod and his quest to join the 3,000 hit club and his pursuit of Willie Mays on the home run list. It inspired talk of asterisks and all that ilk heard since the glory days of McGwire/Sosa/Bonds. Here in Chicago, we have another issue that may require an asterisk; but, it's of much less consequence.
Sorry Mr. Roach, close but no cigar; or was it?
Image courtesy of the Chicago Tribune
The franchise itself dates back to 1869 and began play in 1871 as a part of the National Association - a full 5 years before the foundation of the NL. Except for a few seasons lost due to the Great Chicago Fire (that's how you know you're team is old), they have been going strong ever since. Thus, they have, in fact, rostered 2,018 players at this point in their history - this according to their own records, posted on Cubs.com.
National Association players may not be officially considered Major Leaguers; but, apparently the Cubs consider them family.
All of that aside, since my blog is dedicated to collecting a card of each Cubs player and even takes it name from Northside roster construction, I feel I should weigh in on who will be the 2,000th National League player to wear Cubbie Blue.
Will it be another young, hot-shot prospect following in the footsteps of Bryant, Russell & Schwarber?
Carl Edwards, Jr. (the artist formerly known as C.J.) was just named to the Futures Game roster and has been pitching pretty well as a multi-inning reliever in AAA. The Cubs bullpen has been in a state of flux lately and he seems likely to get an audition soon.
But, maybe an offensive player like Christian Villanueva will jump up and steal the spot. While his stock has taken a bit of a tumble and his main position is currently occupied by some guy name Kris; if the Cubs decide they need some pop off of the bench and Mike Olt's rehab hits a hiccup, Christian is already on the 40-Man...
Then again, it could be someone from outside of the organization. Hot stove season is just around the corner, after all, and the Cubs struck before the fourth of July last season with the Shark/Hammel/Russell deal.
Armando is also on the 40-Man roster and, besides Villanueva, is the only other player on said roster who hasn't reached the Bigs. The hard-throwing Cuban was near the top of the list of potential call-ups before the season started; but, after experiencing some control problems and mild velocity loss, his stock has dropped a touch.
When all is said and done though, as a reliever on the 40-man, you're never more than a hang-nail away from getting the call.
The Cubs might have faced off against him last night, but rumor has it that the Cubs would like to bring in Jonathon Niese to shore up the middle of their rotation. He's not a sexy name, but he wouldn't (in theory) cost the farm and would be much better than hoping Wada can last 5 innings every fifth day.
Meanwhile, Cole Hamels is definitely a sexy name. He's been connected to the Cubs since before they had even signed Lester and would obviously give major street cred to the Chicago pitching staff. While asking prices have been exorbitant, perhaps Andy MacPhail will bring some rationality to the Phillie front office. Papelbon has supposedly been on the table too.
However, the Cubs aren't going to mortgage their carefully planned future for the first year that the window is cracked; Hamels is probably going to Texas and Papelbon is too much money. I feel like the Cubs and Mets have been "talking" longer than a high school couple.
It's my prediction that, while he won't be a stud prospect, the 2,000 Cub in NL history will come from within the organization...
Remember him? The Cubs signed the former star closer to a minor league deal a couple of weeks ago to hopefully provide a boost to the pen come the All-Star break. The transaction has since been somewhat forgotten, largely due to the relief corps getting their act together and the offense taking a tumble.
Unless he gets hurt or his minor league tune up goes over like a lead balloon, my guess is that Soriano the Second assumes the coveted 2,000 spot. Just in case, I've got this 2012 Topps Heritage issue ready to take a spot in my CATRC.
Fingers crossed that we get the Raffy from the first half of 2014 and before and not the Soriano who blew 7 saves and posted an ERA north of 6...
That's my prediction and I am sticking to it. Unless something crazily unpredictable happens like Joe Maddon activating himself to spell Montero behind the plate or Will Ferrell reprises his spring training first base stunt, I feel pretty safe in my pick.
Rafael Soriano will be the 2,000 Chicago Cub*
* In National League play.
* In National League play.
In honor of the recently departed Chris Squire