Fan Goggles or Forecast Guru

Happy Monday, CCO Readers, and I hope this is the week Jim Hendry finally gets his final roster set for Spring Training, so we can all stop speculating on the “who” and start focusing on the “how”. As in, how do the Cubs get to the World Series in 2008!

Today I ask that we all take a deep look within ourselves, and determine if we are truly the realistic, practical, and insightful baseball geniuses that we think we are, or if we are just hopelessly-biased-kool-aid-drinking Cubbie shills. If you go to sleep at night, telling yourself you are the former, yet you can’t, for the life of you, figure out why the Yankees won’t trade Derek Jeter (and cash) to the Cubs for Ronny Cedeno and Donnie Veal….well….you know better.

Fan Goggles!

Regular CCO Readers will likely remember the origin of fan goggles, but for you newer readers, the definition of fan goggles is simply a sports fan that grossly overrates the players on his favorite team, usually expects something for nothing in trade scenarios, and often thinks every player in the farm system is the next coming of Alex Rodriguez or Roger Clemens (before he was taking needles in the butt, of course).

While some of you are definite repeat Goggle offenders, I believe each and every one of us slips on the Goggles from time to time. So while CCO-regular Aaron, for example, is easy to pick on for his relentless, unwavering, and unabashed praising of seemingly every Cubs minor-league player in AAA, AA, A, and Siberian rookie ball, I can also easily identify Fan Goggles on the likes of Neil and even myself!

Neil: Through all of 2006 and most of 2007, Neil regularly professed excessive man-love for Sean Marshall on a scale which even Marshall’s parents couldn’t fathom. Every fifth game we would hear how Marshall gave up 5 runs in 7 innings, yet Neil would point out that Sean only gave up 2 hits and 1 run over 5 and 2/3 on an inning, and how that projected out to basically Cy Young-esque numbers for the year. Honorable mentions for Neil would include Ron Santo and Matt Murton.

Jason B. from AZ: Speaking of Matt Murton, a year ago I wrote a column in which I penciled in 2007 as Murton’s breakout year, and I expected 20-25 HRs from him. I also expected the 2007 team to be a HR juggernaut, and to eclipse the power numbers of the 2004 team. Ummm….yeah….not even close on either point. I didn’t realize I had Goggles on at the time….just thought maybe there was a touch of fog in the desert that day.

Aaron: I have to preface this with the fact that Aaron’s opinions are always well thought-out, and he has been a respected and loyal CCO Reader/Poster. He also is pretty good with predictions….see his comments from a year ago:

“I’d expect the following guys to be traded or let go at the end of the year: Ward, DeRosa, Jones (if he’s not traded beforehand), Barrett, Izzy, Cedeno, Dempster and Ohman (if they’re not traded beforehand), Prior, Miller (if not beforehand).”

Wow….that was pretty dead-on. Jones, Barrett, Ohman, Prior, and Miller are all gone. Dempster and Cedeno are both good candidates to be traded before this season starts as well. Aaron is obviously an ambidextrous fan, able to both wear Fan Goggles while also being able to flip down the visor of a Forecast Guru! Well done, Aaron!

But….he followed that bit of prophecy by strapping on his custom-made/special-edition pair of Farm Goggles, by saying the following would be playing in 2008:

“Guys that I think you’ll see in their place are: Pie, E Patterson, Coats, Fox, AROD, Cherry, Veal, Guzman, Gallagher, Samardzija.”

I think, at best, we will see 2 of these guys on the 2008 roster….probably Pie and Gallagher (if they are not traded).

Forecast Guru….

As Aaron proved above, not every prediction or trade scenario made by Cubs fans is without merit. In fact, it has been scientifically proven that the CCO Readers are, on average, much more likely to flip down the Forecast Guru visor than the average drunk Cubs fan on the North Side. (note: This scientific study was commissioned by Jim from Tinley Park, so it must be accurate.)

Last year, I flipped down my visor when I defended our bullpen, and believed it would be a strength in 2007. Even after a rocky start by Eyre and Howry, the bullpen was definitely a rock down the stretch. I feel I can confidently emulate LaDainian Tomlinson, flip down my visor, and proclaim the bullpen, barring injuries to Kerry Wood and Carlos Marmol, will be even better in 2008. This may be the last year in a Cubs uniform for Eyre and Howry, but they are proven veterans, and should have a solid year as a whole.

With his visor firmly down, Neil recently proclaimed he would not trade for Erik Bedard if questions lingered about his medical records….why give up a bunch of trading chips for a guy that might be hurt and not produce? Neil also put out a very realistic trade scenario to obtain Brian Roberts, by trading away Jason Marquis, Eric Patterson, Marshall, Cedeno, and a couple more farm guys as well. If I was Andy MacPhail, I would definitely take that trade. In fact, even a guy like me, that views the farm only as trade assets, feels like maybe the Cubs are giving up too much in that trade, to only get back one player! To get quality, you have to give up quality, though, and that is why that trade scenario may come true, and firmly cement Neil as a Forecast Guru!

Final Thoughts….

CCO Readers….time for you to point out when you saw others wearing Goggles and/or when you were guilty of strapping them on yourselves! Also, who do you believe is a Forecast Guru, and when have you correctly predicted player success and/or trade scenarios like a pro?
Let’s be civilized, of course….this exercise isn’t intended to create message board bashing, which the CCO has always strived to stay away from, but rather to take into account all the ramblings of the past 4 months, and figure out where the truth lies in all the conjecture.

Until next time, CCO Readers, wear your Goggles (or flip down your visor) with confidence, let your opinions rain down with optimism, and start planning how you will get Cubs tickets for the 2008 World Series, because this year is, finally, their year. Let’s go Cubs!

Quote of the Day

"Don’t ever permit the pressure to exceed the pleasure." - Joe Maddon