Writing About the Chicago Cubs and Looking at the Team’s Past
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Jim Hendry is no longer the Cubs general manager. While nobody short of Cubs fans really expected the Cubs to be in the mix for the division this year, it’s been a while since the team even competed for a playoff spot. With that, Hendry did help build the three playoff teams that the Cubs had during his nine years in the front office.
For now, Randy Bush will be the interim general manager. He’s been the assistant general manager. That general manager with also get to determine Mike Quade’s fate so it’ll be interesting to see if the Ryne Sandberg stories start back up. Newer owner Ricketts wants to focus on player development so I’m surprised the Cubs haven’t pulled off more deadline deals then they have to start shoring up the farms system even more.
The Cubs got a win and it was against a good team and a good pitcher. Rodrigo Lopez was solid on the mound and Roy Halladay looked mortal as the Cubs beat the Phillies 5-1. Lopez gave up a run on five hits with three strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings. Three relievers then shut down the Phillies from there.
Carlos Pena and Aramis Ramirez both went yard in the win. Pena went three for three and he drew a walk in an impressive day.
If the Cubs played in the division with the Phillies, they’d already be 21 games back. The win puts the Cubs at 39-58. Wonder what they’ll do come trade deadline although I know Aramis Ramirez said he was going to stand pat. Still Cubs tickets will sell just like they always do and we’ll have to wait one more year for another chance at the promised land.
The Cubs are sinking fast. They lost their second straight to the Reds and their eight straight overall. That puts the Cubs at 23-36 and in a division with three good teams, I don’t think the Cubs are coming back anytime soon.
Doug Davis took the loss and he’s now 0-5 with a 6.38 ERA. The Cubs have one of the rougher pitching staffs in the National League and with guys like Davis in the rotation, you can see why. John Grabow also had a rough time and he gave up four runs in his one inning of relief.
Edinson Volquez was pretty effective against the Cubs. Darwin Barney went three for four and Blake DeWitt went three for four two doubles, a run and an RBI. The rest of the team had four hits.
It doesn’t get any easier because after we’re done with the Reds, it’s off to Philadelphia for a four game series. Ryan Dempster gets the ball tomorrow.
The Cubs got back to the .500 mark this past Saturday but their time at .500 didn’t last long because since then they’ve lost three straight. They finished up with a loss against the Dodgers then dropped two straight against the Rockies before yesterday’s game was rained out. They’re in fifth place at 10-13 but the good news is the top team barely has a winning record so the Cubs sit just 2 1/2 games back. There’s still plenty of ball left to play so the Cubs can get themselves back into this.
While his batting average isn’t much to write home about, it’s nice to see Alfonso Soriano hitting the ball out of the park again. His seven home runs and sixteen RBIs leads the team. Darwin Barney is off to a nice start with a .329 average and thirteen RBIs while Starlin Castro is hitting .350 with 17 runs. The Cubs team batting average is nice at .280 but they’re closer to the middle in slugging and down near the bottom in home runs.
Of course the pitching has been downright horrible. The big trade guy, Matt Garza, leads the team in ERA but it’s just 4.11 and he’s 0-4. Still, I like the 41 strikeouts and only nine walks. Carlos Zambrano is 2-1 despite a 5.28 ERA and Ryan Dempster has been downright awful.
The Cubs head out west to Arizona for a four game set and hopefully Dempster can right the ship tonight. Any wins at this point can help push them up that NL Central ladder. You wonder if the Cubs keep this up, whether it’ll be easier or not to get Cubs tickets later in the season. I like some of this team’s pieces, but I don’t know if they have the staying power.
Randy Wells continued his solid spring with a nice start in the Cubs 3-2 win over the Giants yesterday. He gave up a run on just two this in six innings with seven strikeouts. Marcos Mateo also had a nice outing and he struck out two and walked one in a shutout tenth inning.
Marlon Byrd went two for two with a run and a walk. Bobby Scales went two for four with a run and an RBI while Scott Moore doubled, walked, drove in a run and scored.
Next up for the Cubs are the Angels. Andrew Cashner gets the start in the afternoon game.
Well, this wasn’t a good start. Carlos Zambrano pitched two shutout innings to open things up for the Cubs but then the A’s rattled off 15 runs in the next seven innings. Garza gave up five of those while Justin Berg gave up seven. Not a good start and thankfully it doesn’t count.
The offense did do some damage though. Alfonso Soriano went three for three with a pair of RBIs. Marlon Byrd went two for three with a run and an RBI while Starlin Castro went two for three with a run.
Randy Wells gets the start today against the Brewers. Game time is 3:05. Also worth noting is single game Cubs tickets are on sale. I’d like to come in for a weekend series but I have to see what’s available and when.
The Cubs inked Geovany Soto to a one year, $3 million deal and in the process, they avoided arbitration with the backstop. Soto hasn’t been able to find the stick that helped him win the Rookie of the Year back in 2008 but his 2010 wasn’t nearly as bad as his 2009 season. It’ll be interesting to see how he’s recovering from shoulder surgery since that’s what cut his season short last year.
The Cubs still have four guys they have to contend with that are arbitration elgible including the newly acquired Matt Garza. Sean Marshall, Carlos Marmol and Tom Gorzellany are also on that list.
The Cubs put a major contributor into their starting rotation when they traded a bunch of prospects to the Rays for Matt Garza. When the dust settled, the Cubs got Garza, Fernando Perez and Zachary Rosscup and they gave up Chris Archer (top pitching prospect), shortstop Hak-Ju Lee, Brandon Guyer, Robinson Chirinos, and Sam Fuld.
Garza looks like one of those guys where the numbers don’t really tell the story. 2009 looks disappointing with an 8-12 record but he also saw a spike in his strikeout rate that year (which came back down to earth in 2010). I do like the durability (200+ innings the past two seasons) and he had a career best 2.8 walks per nine innings in 2010. And he’s only 27 years old.
If you want to know more about the minor leaguers in the deal, this is a good profile. Perez is 27 so I’m not too excited there but Rosscup could find a spot in the pen some time down the line.
In short, I like what the Cubs have been doing. They have some burdensome deals but they’re still trying to get better. It’s going to be a tough division, but just in case the Cubs surprise everyone, I’m buying my Cubs tickets early.
Kevin Goldstein published his list of the Cubs top eleven prospects and while there’s no real blue chips in the system, there’s a little bit of depth. In all, he gave three players four stars with 2009 first round draft pick Brett Jackson topping the list. Goldstein says he won’t be a star, but this is a guy who can do a lot of things well and could help out the Cubs when he makes his debut which will be most likely this year.
Number two is the top pitching prospect in the system, Trey McNutt. The right hander pitched for three different teams and looks to be a major steal by the Cubs because they got him in the 32nd round. He struggled when he got to Double-A but it was his third stop and Goldstein thinks that’s where McNutt will start the 2011 season.
Chris Archer may not have McNutt’s upside, but he’s closer to major league ready. He’s already gotten his share of outs in Double-A but Goldstein thinks Archer could be an early call up. Josh Vitters (former top prospect, now needs to climb back up the ladder) and Hak-Ju Lee round out the top five.
Aramis Ramirez will be a Cub for another year as he picked up his own $14.6 million option for 2011. Man the Cubs payroll is going to be high and you hope they have something better to show for it then they did last year. Ramirez’s numbers are down although that’s due in part to his health. If he could stay healthy, maybe he could back to form.
The Cubs have a $16 million option next year and I don’t see that happening even with the hefty $2 million buyout. The Cubs have to get out from under some of these deals if they’re going to better compete in the NL Central.
The City of Mesa overwhelmingly approved a new spring stadium complex for the Chicago Cubs in last night’s election. With most of the votes in, the measure got a 63% positive response. There’s some land that has to be secured so a deal hasn’t quite been finalized but this appears to be the biggest hurdle the team faced. Most of the funding for the complex will come from an increase in the local hotel tax.
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