The Cubs have had a difficult season so far and I can’t help but wonder….What’s Next?!?! We had a lot of trouble with our defense in spring training and that has continued into the regular season to some extent. We had Andrew Cashner and Randy Wells go on the DL in early April. We’ve lost Marlon Byrd, Matt Garza, Reed Johnson, Geovany Soto (he’s back now) and Jeff Baker to the DL as well. Afonso Soriano injured his quad yesterday and I don’t know if he will be the next to visit the DL, but wouldn’t be surprised if he did.
With all of these injuries, the Cubs have won 23 and lost 29 as of this post. That’s six games under .500 and puts us in second to last in the division. However, we are only 7.5 games out of first.
The frustration for me is that we are signing and trading for Doug Davis and Rodrigo Lopez to help our starting rotation. I know they probably weren’t that expensive, but I would rather us go young. We did with Casey Coleman, but he wasn’t getting the job done. We also tried James Russell, but I believe he’s better a relief pitcher than starter and his stats prove it. I know it may be too early, but I would love to see the Cubs bring up Trey McNutt who is pitching great at AA Tennessee.
Overall, I think we need to get healthy to see what we this club can really do this season. And if we don’t, then I would hope the Cubs bring up more of our younger players and let them get a taste of the big leagues and see what they need to work on. I don’t want to hinder their development, but it would be nice to see some of these young players get a cup of coffee. They are our future, right?
Along with about every other baseball fan, I love this time of year. Spring training is finally here! And in addition to baseball, March Madness is about to begin for us college basketball fans as well. Anyway, it’s been a couple days since my last post and I wanted to catch up on a few things.
Kosuke Fukudome is getting a chance this spring to leadoff. The Cubs desperately need to find someone who can fill the role of being a leadoff man for the team and it appears he’s getting the first shot at it. If he succeeds at this role then I would be excited. However, I am not completely confident that this is where he needs to hit. Personally, I think he makes a good number 2 hitter or someone in the lower lineup. Plus, if wins the job of starter in rightfield and leadoff man, that means Tyler Colvin will become a bench player. I would like to see Colvin as our everyday rightfielder.
Leftfielder Alfonso Soriano is looking good in the early going this spring. If he is able to stay healthy and play better than he has the last couple of years that would be huge for the team.
Tyler Colvin has been working on playing firstbase this spring and may be our backup in case Carlos Pena gets injured this season or needs a day off. This is something that I like. I believe Colvin can be an everyday player at firstbase or rightfield. I also believe that Colvin will battle Fukudome for the starting job in RF especially if Kosuke cannot handle the job of leadoff man.
Reed Johnson and Fernando Perez will be battling for a spot on the roster as our 5th outfielder. In this battle, I prefer Johnson at this point. He’s a seasoned vet and just happens to be one of my favorite players.
The battle for the 4th and 5th spots in the rotation have begun. Carlos Silva, Randy Wells and Andrew Cashner are my three favorites to win those two spots. It will be interesting to see how they perform this spring. In this battle, I prefer Cashner and Wells. While Silva got off to a good start in 2010, I’m not convinced he is going to be that successful again. I also like Casey Coleman as a darkhorse in this race, but from what I’ve read he will probably start the season in Iowa.
Another battle going on this spring is for utility infielder. Youngster, Darwin Barney, and veteran Augie Ojeda are the two main guys fighting for this job. I prefer Barney in this battle.
Another utility player that I would like the Cubs to give a chance is Bobby Scales. I don’t think he will make the team out of spring training, but I believe if someone struggles or gets injured he will have a good chance of getting called up. He’s versatile and I would love to have his energy coming off our bench.
That’s all I’ve got for now.
I’ve written a few things about the Cubs potential starting rotation this off-season and I find myself doing it again. However, this time I am wanting to focus on two potential starters in Casey Coleman and Andrew Cashner.
I’ll start with Coleman. If you don’t already know, the 23 year old right hander is a third generation Major League Baseball pitcher. His grandfather, Joseph Coleman, pitched from 1942-1955. His father, Joe Coleman, pitched from 1965-1979. And now it’s Casey’s turn. His grandpa won 52 career games, his father won 142 career games and Casey has won 4 games in his brief big league career. Casey pitched 57 innings last year going 4-2 for the Cubs. He made 12 appearances with 8 starts. During Casey’s 8 starts he won 4 and loss 2 with a 3.36 ERA. Not bad numbers. His last 4 starts were great including 7 shutout innings against Houston on October 1st, his last start of the year.
Considering how well Casey pitched in the rotation last year I think he will make a strong case for the 4th or 5th spot in the rotation this spring. I am guessing the Cubs will send him to Iowa if he doesn’t make the rotation over Wells, Silva or any other pitcher competing for a spot in the rotation. If he does get sent to Iowa, I anticipate he will be the first pitcher called up to be a starter.
Next I want to say a few things about Andrew Cashner. Andrew is a tall 24 year old right hander with great stuff. He pitched 54.1 innings out of the bullpen for the Cubs in 2010 compiling a record of 2-6 and a 4.80 ERA. He did manage to strikeout 50 batters which is a very good sign too. Cashner was primarily used as a starter in the minor leagues, but was brought out of the Cubs bullpen last year after being called up. His numbers in the minors were excellent, but I have read he needs to work on his changeup if he wants to be a starter in the big leagues. I think the Cubs will be faced with a big decision this spring with Cashner. Do we try to make him a starter or reliever? If the Cubs want him to be a starter, I believe he will start the year in Iowa to work on his pitches….mainly his changeup. However, I can see him making the big league team as an arm out of the pen. I do not want the Cubs to handle Cashner the same way we did Jeff Samardzija. Let’s define what role Andrew is going to play (starter or reliever) and stick to it. I believe he will make the Cubs out of spring training as a reliever, but could see him eventually become a starter at some point in his career….not this year though.
Cashner and Coleman give me confidence in our younger pitchers. I think both of these guys have the chance to make an significant impact for the Cubs in 2011 and beyond. Keep an eye on both of these guys Cub fans. I know I will.
Going into Spring Training I am confused by the overload of pitchers the Cubs have to choose from. I know that may sound odd to say, but I do have my own biased reason behind these words. We’ve invited several pitchers as non-roster invitees that we are trying to catch “lightning in a bottle” with, but I would rather see us let our younger pitchers compete for a spot on the team’s pitching staff over these guys. Braden Looper, Todd Wellemeyer and Scott Rice are three pitchers that I don’t think will make the team nor should they. Looper and Wellemeyer are veterans trying to land with a team and Rice is a career minor leauger trying to do the same. Rice is a lefty and younger than both Looper and Wellemeyer and is the only one of these guys I would like the Cubs to hold on to. Let him start the year at AA or AAA and see what he can do as a lefty reliever.
We also have Carlos Silva, Randy Wells, Andrew Cashner, Jeff Samardzija, Casey Coleman, James Russell and Thomas Diamond that will be competing for the 4th and 5th spots in the rotation. Obviously, Dempster, Garza and Zambrano will be the top three starters for us. I expect the competition for those two spots in the rotation to be fierce. And any of these guys that doesn’t make the rotation will be competing for a spot in the bullpen as well.
Arms out of the bullpen will be Sean Marshall, Kerry Wood and Carlos Marmol for certain. However, we have several players trying to land a spot in the pen as well such as, Justin Berg, John Gaub, John Grabow, Scott Maine and Jeff Stevens. I think our bullpen may be really young in 2011.
We also have a few of our minor league pitchers that are non-roster invitees this spring as well. This includes Chris Carpenter, Trey McNutt and Jay Jackson. I think Jay Jackson is the closest to being ready for the big leauges of these three. I imagine he will start the season in Iowa though.
I know there is a handful of pitchers that I have not mentioned. But the bottom line, is that we have a lot of guys competing for a limited amount of spots. I know this happens every year, but I wish the Cubs would let the young guys fight it out and not worry about Silva, Looper or Wellemeyer. I believe the talent is there with some of our minor league pitchers is we would just give them the chance to play in the big leagues.
The fact that Michael Young wants to be traded is no surprise to me. He’s been a good team player in Texas, but I think he’s finally decided that enough is enough. With the signing of Beltre he’s now requested a trade. I would love to have him on the Cubs to play 2B this year, but I know it’s probably not going to happen. Instead, I’ve read that the Rangers have been talking with the Rockies about a trade. I also read that there are 8 teams Young would consider being traded to. One of those teams is the Cards. That would be a huge move for the Cardinals and really strengthen their lineup even more. I hope they are too focused on Pujol’s deal to make such a trade.
Cubs are supposedly still working on a long term deal with Carlos Marmol. I hope they get it done soon. From my understanding, he will have to have a physical before reaching a deal with the Cubs. Remember, Marmol started his career as a catcher and has only been pitching professionally since 2003. That leads me to believe that he will continue to get better.
Yahoo fantasy baseball is suppose to open some time today. I’m looking forward to it. It’s another indicator that spring is almost here.
With pitchers and catchers reporting soon it means the Cubs competition for the 4th and 5th spots in the rotation will truly begin. The contenders will be Carlos Silva, Randy Wells, Andrew Cashner, Jeff Samardzija, Casey Coleman and James Russell. Russell is the only left hander in this group and that could give him an extra edge. However, I see Russell having more of a role similar to what Sean Marshall had in 2008 and 2009. I think Wells and Silva will get first shots being veterans. Cashner, Samardzija and Coleman will have to pitch really well in the spring to win a spot in the rotation. If they don’t, I would like to see them sent to triple A as starters rather than trying to convert them into relievers.
Finally, I walked into the local Target store over the weekend. They had a whole aisle dedicated to the St. Louis Cardinals. Hats, jerseys, shirts, shorts, baby clothes, sports bottles and much, much more. Unfortunately, they did not have one Cub item. That’s okay though. I have plenty of Cub gear to wear.
Jim Hendry and the Cubs filled the needs we had this offseason by signing Carlos Pena to play first base, Kerry Wood to bolster the bullpen and trading for Matt Garza to strengthen the rotation. I don’t think we will make any more major moves, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see another trade or two go down. I can see us trading Carlos Silva, Randy Wells and/or Tom Gorzelanny to make room in the starting rotation for Jeff Samardzija, Andrew Cashner and/or Casey Coleman.
Now that I am looking ahead I want to take a look at potential free agents after this upcoming season. I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself, but there are a lot of players out there that we could sign to make our team one of the leading contenders in 2012. We have a lot of money coming off the books at the end of this season and there are some big names that would be available that I would love to see playing for the Cubs. So, here’s my list of players in no particular order. If I’ve missed a player or two let me know.
Okay, I know that thinking we could land Albert Pujols is more of a dream than even close to reality. But this is my dream and I’m in control of it. Albert is the best player in baseball. It sucks for me because he plays for our Arch rival, the Cardinals. Yet, you have to love watching him hit. I’ve been to several games at Busch Stadium, I live a lot closer to St. Louis than Chicago, and the ball just sounds different when he hits it. So, if for some amazing reason, Pujols is a free agent after this season I say we load up an offer that would dwarf Alfonso Soriano’s deal. However, I see the Cards signing him before spring training, but I could be wrong.
If Pujols isn’t available, I say we go after Adrian Gonzalez. He hasn’t signed an extension with Boston yet, and he’s a stud too. He’s been an obsession of mine for quite some time now. He’s a great hitter and I think he would hit 40+ homers in Wrigley every year. Plus, he plays great defense. He’s two years younger than Pujols and a lefty. I don’t see this one happening either. Instead, I see Gonzalez pounding out homers and playing gold glove defense in beantown for several years to come. With Pedroia and Crawford batting in front of him I think he’s a potential leader for RBIs in the American League if not all of baseball.
Since I don’t think we have a realistic chance to sign Pujols or Gonzalez, I will give you my first serious potential free agent. It’s obviously Prince Fielder if you’ve looked at the picture to your left. If you can’t tell, I think the Cubs need to focus on first base at the end of this season. I am not completely sold on Carlos Pena as the long term solution at first base for the Cubs. Fielder is younger than Pujols and Gonzalez and would provide us with power from the left side of the plate. His defense is no where close to the previous two firstbasemen, but I can live with that if we are able to sign him. Just imagine Fielder, who will be 28 in 2012, as our everyday first baseman for the next 5 or 6 years. He would definitely give the Cubs a power bat in the middle of the lineup.
Since we traded Hak-Ju Lee to the Rays in the Matt Garza deal, it appears we will no longer look to move Starlin Castro to second base. So, we could easily sign another Brewer to play for the Cubs in Rickie Weeks. Attempting to sign both players may increase our chances instead of trying to sign only one of them. Weeks is a tremendous athlete with power and speed. He’s a better option at second than Blake DeWitt in my opinion and would give the Cubs another good player under the age of 30. He’ll be 29 in September of this year.
So far, I think we should seriously consider Prince Fielder and Rickie Weeks. That would cover first and second base. Starlin Castro is our shortstop and we could re-sign Aramis Ramirez to play third. There aren’t any thirdbasemen that interest me that will be free agents after this season. I would like to think we could hold on to Ramirez until Josh Vitters is ready.
The only outfielder that interests me is Grady Sizemore. He’ll be 29 in August this year and when healthy, is one of the better players in the game. With Marlon Byrd signed through the 2012 season I don’t see this one happening. However, Sizemore is a legitimate 30/30 threat and would give us another lefthanded bat in our linuep. We have Soriano signed through 2014 and I doubt we are able to move him unless we take on a huge chunk of his contract. Tyler Colvin is our rightfielder for the future. He’s also lefthanded and possesses some power, but I want to see what he does in a full season for us. We also have Brett Jackson who I see as our centerfielder of the future. While signing Sizemore sounds applealing, I doubt it happens. The main reason for this doubt is the Indians have a club option on Sizemore for 2012 at $8.5 million. I see them exercising this option. So, don’t count on Sizemore being a Cub.
There are a few starters I would love to add if the price was right. I personally have a mild interest in Edwin Jackson and Wandy Rodriguez. The only pitcher that I think would make a big impact is Roy Oswalt. Adding him to our rotation would be great. Maybe a 2-3 year deal would work, but I have a feeling he will stay in Philly.
Overall, I think we will have some moves to make after this upcoming season. We need to build our team for the long haul. Adding Weeks and Fielder would be a step in the right direction.
Things have been slow since the Cubs signed Carlos Pena back in December. I expect Jim Hendry to try and make a move or two before pitchers and catchers report in February. I have read that we shopped around Tom Gorzelanny and Kosuke Fukudome. I also know we inquired on Matt Garza during the winter meetings. I would love for the Cubs to trade for him, but I am thinking the Rays are going to hold on to him for now. I also know we talked to the Rangers about acquiring Chris Davis…..a good move in my opinion. AIso, I personally feel we need to trade Randy Wells in a deal soon and open up a spot in the starting rotation for one of our younger pitchers. So, look for a deal or two to be made involving any of the names mentioned above. At least that’s what I anticipate at this point.
Speaking of younger pitchers, I believe the Cubs need to make a decision on Andrew Cashner soon. Is he a future starter or reliever? I think he will be great at either, but we can’t do to Cashner what we’ve done to Jeff Samardzija. For those of you that don’t know what I’m talking about here’s a quick summary. Samardzija was a starter before getting called up to the Majors in 2008 and used as a reliever. In 2009 he was used primarily as a reliever for the Cubs, but as a starter in the minors once again. In 2010, Samardzija pitched in 7 games for the Cubs with 3 of them being starts. In the minors, he made 35 appearances with 15 being starts. I think doing this has hampered his progression. It’s been 3 wasted seasons for Samardzija and we can’t afford to do the same thing to Cashner. I hope we’ve learned our lesson. I still believe Samardzija can be a successful major league pitcher and I know Cashner can too. I say we let them have a shot at the starting rotation this spring. If they don’t pitch well enough then send them to Iowa as starters and let them work on their pitching.
That’s all I’ve got for now. I plan on writing something more in depth on Samardzija, Cashner, Casey Coleman and a couple other young pitchers soon.