Thursday, September 15, 2016

Coulda Been a Cub

Yesterday evening, the Josh Collmenter-era officially came to an end in Chicago... before it even began.  Signed to a minor league deal by the Cubs just a tad bit more than a month ago, the club traded him to the Atlanta Braves for cash considerations.  In one fell swoop, Josh has gone from the best organization in baseball to the worst (record wise), before one could say "tomahawk chop."

The former top of the rotation arm and 2015 Opening Day starter for Arizona has had his control betray him over the past two seasons.  After being demoted to the bullpen, he was eventually cut by the D'Backs in August and has since gone on to post a solid 2.25 ERA in four starts with the Iowa Cubs (although, he had a 9-to-8 K/BB ratio).  

Personally, I fully expected the Cubs to try and make Josh this year's version of Trevor Cahill - sign a former Diamondback starter with control problems and bring him up in September on the premise that he might have something left in the tank come playoff time.  However, it wasn't meant to be.

Sadly for me, this means that I won't get the chance to add this lovely, gold parallel from 2013 Topps into my Cubs All-Time Roster Collection binder.  Happily for Josh, this means that he'll likely get another shot in the Bigs, as it appears he'll get a spot start assignment for the Bravos this weekend. Here's hoping he can make the most of it.

However, the dollar I wasted on this parallel at my LCS won't be all for naught, as it will be added to a different binder from my extensive trading card library.  This transaction seems like the perfect time to discuss said binder too - my "Coulda Been a Cub" collection.

The idea behind this gathering of cards is simple - a player who sees Major League action and spent time in the Cubs organization without ever actually suiting up on the Northside, i.e. Josh Collmenter. This way, I can stock up on cards of fringe guys who the Cubs sign/draft/claim on waivers without feeling like I wasted money or time if they never get the ultimate call.  Plus, I get to justify acquiring more baseball cards.  It's a total win/win!

For instance, here are another few guys who have been added to this binder just in 2016 alone:

6/12/16: Selected off waivers from the Oakland Athletics
9/10/16: Claimed off waivers by the Texas Rangers

R.J. was involved as a sweetener in two major trades (Huston Street and Derek Norris), but still has yet to cash in on his prospective potential.  For the Cubs organization, he was lit up like a Christmas tree (7.71 ERA) at AA Tennessee.  Here's hoping he can straighten things out with Texas.

12/14/15: Signed as a Free Agent with the Chicago Cubs.
6/8/16: Released by the Chicago Cubs

Jean was released amidst a mild Des Moines scandal in which he was caught urinating on the car of a restaurant/bar employee, hammered drunk, and then verbally assaulting said employee.  Previously, he'd been a World Series winning bullpen arm with the even-year wizards from San Fran.  Way to "piss away" an opportunity, Jean!

2/26/16: Signed as a Free Agent with the Chicago Cubs.
5/23/16: Released by the Chicago Cubs

Shane was really hurt by the surprise signing of Dexter Fowler at the start of spring training.  The day after he inked his contract, he was essentially made superfluous.  Still, at least the Cubs afforded him the opportunity to rehab in their system before sending "the Flyin' Hawaiian" on his way.

12/4/15: Selected off waivers by the Chicago Cubs from the Seattle Mariners.
12/10/15: Selected off waivers by the Baltimore Orioles from the Chicago Cubs.
12/23/15: Selected off waivers by the Chicago Cubs from the Baltimore Orioles.
3/24/16: Traded by the Chicago Cubs to the Baltimore Orioles for player to be named.

Edgar was "Olmos" a Cub, but I guess the Orioles just wanted him around a little bit more.  What an offseason roller-coaster ride that must have been for Edgar, who first reached the Bigs in 2013 with the Marlins.  I think I'm going to pitch a ride to Six Flags called 'The Waiver Wire...."

 11/25/15: Traded by the Colorado Rockies to the Chicago Cubs for Wander Cabrera.
3/10/16: Released by the Chicago Cubs.

The Cubs thought enough of "Sexy Rexy" here during the offseason that they traded a marginal prospect for the guy; that said, after one disastrous Cactus League appearance, they quickly kicked him to the curb.  I'm going to say it was mostly because they thought he was gross - just look at those salt deposits/sweat stains on his hat!  

Anyway, you get the idea behind this book now.  This binder is also where you'll find my "zero year" cards - aka, Cubs cards of guys who never actually turned out to be Cubs (but still reached the Majors).  

For instance:

Both of these guys were lost in big trades with Florida teams, with Guyer going to Tampa Bay as a part of the massive Matt Garza deal and D-Train traveling to Miami in the Matt Clement trade.  Guyer hurts a little less than Willis, seeing as our outfield is currently pretty stacked; however,t he pitching rotation was pretty thin throughout the years Dontrelle was leg kickin' the crap out of the NL.

Justin Bour has been a surprising breakout star for the Marlins at first base since the Cubs let him go in the 2014 Rule 5 draft.  Of course, his path was pretty well-blocked by some dude named Anthony, so that soothes the loss quite a bit.  Although, Bour has been quite the Cubs-killer so far in his MLB career.  Meanwhile, Sisco was another player lost to the Rule 5 proceedings, the former first round pick was selected by the Royals going into 2005 and hung around in their bullpen for a couple of seasons.  Despite having been out of the Bigs since a brief 2007 cameo with the White Sox, according to the internet, he's still pitching in Korea.

Also, can we just take a moment to appreciate the knothole design of the "First Year" subset in 2003 Bowman Heritage?  This is by far my favorite throwback set released thus far.  This design was based on a concept for Bowman's 1956 card set, before they were shuttered by Topps' purchase.  It also looks quite similar to the 1958 oddball release by Hires Root Beer:

No Cubs in this set, but check out future Chicago skipper Don "Popeye" Zimmer.
Image courtesy of

So, there you have it - my "Coulda Been a Cub" binder.  If things had just gone a little bit differently, had a trade not gone through, a pitcher not been injured or a Dexter Fowler not signed, any one of these men could have suited up in blue in the Windy City.  As the old adage goes, "thems the breaks."

In the meantime, I don't think Cubs faithful are going to take much time to mourn the loss of Josh Collmenter, if anyone has even noticed.  After all, today is the day that the team can officially clinch the NL Central Division, their first division title since 2008, and also be the first club to claim a playoff spot in 2016.  Either a win over the Brewers or a Cardinals loss will do the job.  This year has been one helluva ride!

Too bad Josh (and R.J., Jean, Shane, etc.) didn't get to be a part of it.


  1. The "almost a Cub" binder is a great idea, I might have to do that with the Reds too.

  2. I like your idea for this collection. I may have to write a blog post this weekend about a couple of ideas I've had...

  3. Pulling the Jean Machi is a common occurrence in Morgantown.

    Great idea by the way.

  4. I can think of a few Almost Jays...

    I did find while doing one of my "Now With..." posts on the 80s OPC cards that There was a player who signed with one team just to be traded to another team before the season started.. I admit I used to do that a lot on Baseball Mogul but I hadn't heard of it happening in real life.. lol

  5. That Olmos Donruss Elite card ... my goodness.

    Don't give up on Collmenter appearing in a Cubs uniform yet. Topps could do what they did with Cahill and the Dodgers last year when they put him in a Dodger uniform even though all he did was pitch in the minors for a month for L.A.

  6. The Cubs also traded Chris Archer to the Rays in the Garza trade along with now Rangers catcher Robinson Chirinos.