Tagged: Geovany Soto

WISH LIST STUFF

Here is my old list.

1.  Bring Sandberg back to the Cubs organization.

2.  Hire a quality manager.  We hired Dale Sveum.

3. Keep Greg Maddux in the front office.

4.  Go after Prince Fielder.  Sounds like it may happen. We may even go after Pujols.

5.  Make offer to Aramis Ramirez (this one goes hand-in-hand with number 4 and I’ll explain later)  Does not appear likely.

6.  Trade Carlos Zambrano.  (Even is he says it won’t happen again I know it will)

7.  Trade Alfonso Soriano.  Sounds like this could happen.

8.  Sign Kerry Wood again or find him a job with the Cubs.  Might happen.

9.  Strengthen the pitching staff

And here is my new and improved wish list.

1.  Sign Prince Fielder.  He could be the center piece to build around.

2.  Trade Carlos Zambrano to the Marlins.

3.  Trade Alfonso Soriano to any AL team that will take him!

4.  Sign Kerry Wood.

5.  Sign either Paul Maholm or Edwin Jackson.  We need pitching depth.

6.  Wipe the slate clean, don’t sign Prince, trade Soriano & Zambrano.  Then trade Matt Garza to the Reds or Rangers in a huge deal.  Follow that up by trading away Marlon Byrd, Geovany Soto and Randy Wells too.

Whatever direction the Cubs decide to go I hope they start making moves soon.  I just want to know what to expect for the next couple of seasons under Theo and Co..

WHAT’S NEXT?

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?

 

SOME GOOD STUFF

Wow, I’m upset that I wasn’t able to stay up for the entire game last night.  I fell asleep somewhere in the bottom of the 7th inning.  When you get up at 5:00AM everyday, those late night games are a struggle to watch.  But I did get to see Carlos Pena smash his first homer.  I hope that opens up the flood gates and he starts ripping them on a regular basis like he’s capable of. 

Another good thing I’ve been seeing lately is the hitting of Geovany Soto.  The catcher is only hitting .239, but he’s hit 4 doubles in the last 3 games and is hitting the ball hard and taking it to right field.  If he keeps hitting the way he has lately I think his average and power numbers will increase greatly for the month of May.  
Finally, Ryan Dempster did not get the win last night.  Yet, he looked great!!!  He pitched 7 strong innings giving up only 1 run against Ethier, Kemp and the Dodgers.  Kerry Wood pitched a scoreless 8th inning for the win and Marmol got the save.  Niether Wood nor Marmol walked anyone or even gave up a hit.  The Cubs also played good defensively not making any errors.  That’s the perfect recipe for winning ballgames.  Let’s hope this continues!
One last thing I forgot to mention.  Jeff Samardzija is putting together a solid season.  He has 2 wins, 1 hold and a 2.45 ERA in 18.1 innings pitched.  He still needs to cut down on his walks, but he has been more than effective and hasn’t given up a run since April 12th against the Houston Astros.  
Overall, I am starting to get excited again.  We are finally starting to look like a team that can win more than we lose.

PLAYER DEVELOPMENT

The Cubs are finally beginning to invest some real money into player development now that the Ricketts family has taken over as owners.  This is exciting news for me as a Cubs fan.  If you don’t think player development matters take a look at the New York Yankees.  Derek Jeter was a 1st round draft pick in 1992.  Mariano Rivera was signed as an amateur free agent in 1990.  Andy Pettitte was drafted by the Yankees in the 22nd round of the 1990 draft.  Bernie Williams was signed as an amateur free agent in 1985.  Jorge Posada was drafted in the 24th round of the 1990 draft.  Those players helped form a dynasty in the mid to late 90s. 
 
The Cincinnati Reds are another example of player development paying off without the luxury of a large payroll for expensive free agents that your big market franchises have.  All Star first basemanJoey Votto, was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2002 draft.  Jay Bruce was drafted in the 1st round of the 2005 draft.  Drew Stubbs was a 1st round pick in 2006.  Homer Bailey was a 1st round pick in the 2004 draft.  Johnny Cueto was signed as an amateur free agent in 2004 and Aroldis Chapman was singed as an amateur free agent in 2010.  These players were instrumental in helping the Reds to the playoffs in 2010 and should provide the Reds with a bright future.  The Reds also acquired some quality players through trades in Edinson VolquezBrandon Phillips and Scott Rolen
 
The Cubs have done so-so in the last 10 years in the amateur draft.  In 2001, we drafted Mark Prior in the 1st round, Ryan Theriot in the 3rd round, Sergio Mitre in the 7th round and Geovany Soto in the 11th round.  2002 wasn’t as kind though, but we did manage to draft Randy Wells as a catcher in the 38th round.  In 2003 Ryan Harvey was our 1st round pick and unfortunately he never worked out for us.  We also drafted Jake Fox in the 3rd round, Sean Marshall in the 6th round, Casey McGehee in the 10th round and Tim Lincecum in the 48th round but obviously he didn’t sign with us.  In 2004 our draft didn’t work out too well.  We drafted Mark Pawelek in the 1st round in 2005, but he never panned out.  In 2006 we drafted pretty well.  Tyler Colvin in the 1st, Jeff Samardzija in the 5th, Jeremy Papelbon in the 19th (Jonathan’s brother) and a few others that are still in our system working their way up.  2008 and 2009 seem to be decent drafts for us too, but time will tell.  Most importantly we need to draft well, sign amateur free agents like Carlos Marmol (1999) and develop these players better than we have done in the past.  Combine all of that with the ability to spend a lot of money and the Cubs will hopefully start winning on a regular basis and finally bring home a World Series Championship.

WRAPPING UP SPRING TRAINING

With spring training almost over, the Cubs are looking pretty good believe it or not.  We are relatively healthy and have had some solid performances by key players this spring.  Here’s my breakdown of some players that impressed or even won a job in spring training and some others that didn’t. 
 
Ryan Dempster, or Dumpster as my Cardinal friends refer to him, was selected as the Opening Day starter by Manager Mike Quade early in the spring.  Dempster has posted a 2.57 ERA in 28 innings at the time of this post.  That’s what you want from a team leader and your number one pitcher. 
 
Randy Wells won the 4th spot in the rotation by having an amazing spring training.  He posted an ERA of 2.10 in 25.2 innings so far and looks more like the 2009 version when he went 12-10 with a 3.05 ERA.  I don’t know if the rumors about him partying last year are true, but it appears he is strictly business this year.  I hope his performance this spring continues as the season starts this weekend.
 
Marcos Mateo has won the final spot in the bullpen by posting a 1.29 ERA so far this spring in 7 innings pitched.  Mateo turns 27 next month and may be a surprise strength for our bullpen.  The way I see it, he came to ST and earned his spot on the team.  I wish more players would do this!
 
Tyler Colvin has had a decent spring seeing action in rightfield and first base.  I would prefer him as our everyday rightfielder, but we still have Fukudome and I foresee them splitting time at the start of the season. 
 
Starlin Castro has had a great spring batting .350 so far and leading the team in home runs and RBIs surprisingly.  I think he’s going to have a solid second year in 2011.  He’s our shortstop of the present and future!
 
Darwin Barney has won the job over Blake DeWitt to platoo
n at second base with Jeff Baker.  Baker will see most of the action against lefties and Barney should play the rest of the time.  DB is batting .362 so far this spring and brings a lot of energy to the field.  Kind of reminds me of Ryan Theriot when he first came up with the Cubs.
 
Unfortunately, Blake DeWitt has had a difficult spring offensively and defensively.  He’s only hit .193 and has played himself out of a starting job.  For now, it appears he will be a backup infielder logging time at second and third base for the Cubs.  I believe he would be better off starting the season in Iowa so he could play everyday.  He’s still young, only 25, and could use a little incentive.  I think he could be the future second baseman for the Cubs with Barney being a backup middle infielder in the near future.  However, if Barney keeps hitting then that won’t be the case. 
 
Marlon ByrdAramis Ramirez and Geovany Soto have all had a decent spring.  These are three key players for the Cubs to be successful in 2011…..especially, Ramirez!  Meanwhile, Alfonso Soriano and newly acquired Carlos Pena have struggled this spring and that’s not a good sign.  Hopefully, both of these veterans will turn the corner once the regular season starts Friday against the Pirates.
 
I like the direction the team is currently heading.  We still need to improve our defense and base running.  Our pitching may end up being our biggest strength this year.  However, we need to score some runs if we want to contend for the NL Central title.

HOPE “SPRINGS” ETERNAL….OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT

Hohokam Park.jpg
 As spring training is about to begin every fan has this sense of excitement that this will be the year their team puts everything together. This is something that I feel we Cub fans go through more than other fans.  When you are a Yankees fan, you can rest assured that your team has a very strong chance of playing in the postseason and hoping for another World Series Championship.  If you are a Pirates fan (sorry to my Pirate friends), you are hoping just to finish above .500 for the first time in almost two decades.  The one thing these fans have in common is hope.  Hope that their team meets or exceeds expectations.  So, I am hopeful for a lot this season.

carlos pena.jpgThe first player that I will mention that I have high hopes for is Carlos Pena.  The one year deal he signed is a combination of a rental and a tryout.  As of today, Adrian Gonzalez, Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols could all be free agents at the end of this season.  It is possible to think we “rented” Pena for a one year deal in hopes of signing one of those three players in the next offseason.  Or we can look at it as a tryout for 2012 and beyond.  If Pena is healthy and hits similar to 2007 numbers (I’m hoping so) then he stands a good chance to make a lot of money after 2011.  Let’s see, I’m hoping he stays healthy, hits well and gives us the option of signing him to a longer deal.  Yep, that’s a lot to hope for in one player.  Yet, I think all of that is possible.  Maybe it’s my stubborn Cub fan mentality or my optimistic viewpoint, but I cannot pretend that I don’t think it’s possible.  He has a chance to do well in Wrigley this summer.

Aramis Ramirez 3.jpgThe next thing I am hoping for is a healthy season from Aramis Ramirez.  We need his stick in the lineup.  If Carlos Pena is to have a good year then he needs Ramirez to protect him in the lineup.   I anticipate a big year from Aramis.  He could be playing for a new contract since the Cubs have an option on him for 2012 worth $16 million.  If the Cubs don’t exercise their option on him after 2011 it will cost them $2 million to buy him out making him a free agent.  I could see that happening and then Aramis could sign a multiyear contract to finish his career with the Cubs.  Anyway, he struggled with hitting and injuries last year and still managed to club 25 homers with 83 RBIs.  I hope he’s healthy this year.

Carlos Zambrano 3.jpgMy next hope is a big one.  A mentally sound Carlos Zambrano.  I can’t believe I am typing this, but I still think he can be successful for a full season and win 20 games.  I know, I know…he’s bound to blow up at some point in the season……he’s going to have one of his classic high-speed-comeaparts…..he’s going to abuse a gatorade container or get in a fight with a teammate.  All of that is possible without a doubt.  But it is also possible that he pitches all season the way he finished 2010.  It’s possible that he wins 20 games and surprises everyone in baseball by staying focused all season long.   Look at his career stats.  He hasn’t had a losing record during a season since 2002.  He’s got a career 3.50 ERA.  He’s eclipsed 200 innings pitched 5 times.  He’s won more than 15 games in a season 3 times.  He’s struck out over 200 twice.  So, it’s not like he’s never won or been successful.  It can happen!

For the Cubs to have a successful 2011 there are a lot of things that must go right.  Zambrano, Ramirez and Pena are just the tip of the iceberg.  Starlin Castro must have a solid sophomore campaign.  Geovany Soto needs to repeat or improve off of last season.  Alfonso Soriano needs to stay healthy and produce on the field.  However, I truly feel that with all the things we need to have go right, it is possible.  I am not asking these guys to do something they haven’t done in the past.  I am not asking for the impossible. I just want them to stay healthy and produce like they are capable of.  That’s why I have HOPE!

BATTING LEADOFF????

My beloved Cubbies don’t have a leadoff man for the upcoming season.  Ideally, you want someone who knows how to get on base and has enough speed to steal some bases.  Well, we really don’t have a guy that fits those categories that will be an every day player.  We don’t have any true base stealing threats at all.  Some of the players that will have a chance to bat leadoff are Marlon Byrd, Blake DeWitt, Kosuke Fukudome, Jeff Baker and Starlin Castro.

Marlon Byrd is one of my favorite choices of the players I just mentioned.  I know he’s not much of a base stealing threat nor is he known for getting to first base by base on balls.  Even though his OBP last season was a respectable .346, it’s not what you would want from your leadoff hitter.  Here’s why I would consider him at leadoff though…..he does whatever the team needs of him and doesn’t complain.  That’s a very simple reason and something that other players could learn from. 

 
The case for Blake DeWitt is a pretty weak one.  His OBP is lower than Byrd’s, fewer stolen bases and not much speed for a middle infielder.  He did have a high of 8 stolen bases in the minors though in 2006.  But Byrd stole 41 bases in single A ball in 2000.  Why Quade is considering him at leadoff is beyond me.

Next is Jeff Baker.  I’m guessing that Baker and DeWitt will be platooning at second base.  Baker bats right and DeWitt bats left.  The only reason I see Baker also hitting leadoff is to leave the rest of the lineup alone.  Baker has never been a base stealing threat in his career.  He’s a poor option to leadoff in my opinion.

Starlin Castro has more promise than any of the other players, but I dont want to put that type of pressure on him at this point in his career.  I like him batting in the 2 hole anyway.  He’s got some speed, but doesn’t know how to use it just yet.  I think he could hit leadoff if needed to and would be as successful as Byrd if given this responsibility.

Kosuke Fukudome isn’t a bad option.  His OBP has been in the .370s the last two seasons.  However, he fades each year as the season progresses and he strikes out too much for me.  I like him better as a someone to be traded before spring training!  Plus, if Fukudome is playing everyday then that means Tyler Colvin is probably sitting on the bench.  I guess we could put Tyler Colvin at leadoff, but I would like to have him bat around 6th personally. 

Anyway, here’s my lineup for the Cubs that I think would produce the most runs this season.  And remember, the Giants proved last year that you don’t have to have a true leadoff hitter to win the World Series.

1.  Marlon Byrd-CF

2.  Starlin Castro-SS

3.  Aramris Ramirez-3B

4.  Carlos Pena-1B

5.  Alfonso Soriano-LF

6.  Tyler Colvin-RF

7.  Geovany Soto-C

8.  Blake DeWitt-2B

9.  Pitcher