Tagged: Kevin Gregg

MORE JUNIOR LAKE & MORE

I am feeling ecstatic over the arrival of this young man!  He is a breath of fresh air.  He’s making it hard for management to consider sending him back to Iowa when David DeJesus returns.  I’m betting he stays!

As I was watching last night’s game against the D’Backs, I saw something encouraging to me with Starlin Castro.  He struck out and hit his bat on the ground breaking it.  I normally don’t like players showing their frustrations on the field, but this was a little bit different for me.  Too many times this year I have felt that Castro was too indifferent or didn’t seem to care.  So, when he broke his bat last night I was happy.  It made me believe that he still cares and that competitive fire is still there.

Who’s next to get traded?  Soriano, Gregg, Schierholtz???  We will just have to wait and see.  I’m looking forward to it though.  The minor league system is getting rebuilt in a hurry under Theo & Co. which is a good thing.  We still don’t have an ace in the making in our system yet, but that could change soon.

 

FUTURE OF THE CUBS

I know I like to write and talk a lot about the Cubs future.  I keep focusing on this hope that Theo & Co will put together not only a World Series Championship, but   build a dynasty with multiple championships.  Maybe it gets old to some and amuses others, but I truly believe we are building a foundation to grow on.

Over the last week, the Cubs have traded a minor league player to the Astros, Carlos Marmol to the Dodgers and Scott Feldman to the Orioles.  These trades allowed the Cubs some flexibility for the international signing pool as well as getting rid of Marmol.  Theo & Co. are on pace to exceed that maximum amount allowed this year in the international pool and may be penalized for next year’s pool.  I’m good with that if it’s true that we are getting 2 of the top international players in Eloy Jiminez (OF) and Gleyber Torres (SS).

Add the international signings with the draft strategy that the Cubs are using now that Jim Hendry is gone.  Speaking of Hendry, remember the 2010 1st Round Pick, Hayden Simpson?  Well, he has already been released from the independent Frontier League Southern Illinois Miners.  He pitched 7.1 innings and was unfortunately lit up.  His ERA was 15.95 with more walks than strikeouts.  Anyway, Theo & Co. are drafting with a strategy for the long haul in my opinion.  I like the direction the team is going.  Hopefully, we can sign Kris Bryant, our 1st Round Pick this year, soon.

Add these drafted players along with our international signings and I expect the Cubs to have one of the highest rated minor league systems in all of baseball.  Hopefully, that will eventually translate to wins at the Major League level.

In addition to the moves the moves that have already been made the Cubs  still have Matt Garza, Kevin Gregg, Alfonso Soriano and a handful of other players that are likely to get traded this month.  It will be interesting to see what happens.

Bottom line, I like the direction the Cubs are going.  I’m not completely sold on Theo’s approach, but I’m hopeful that it will work.

WHAT’S HAPPENING

What in the world is going on this season with Starlin Castro?  I have watched the Cubs enough this year and I believe our star short-stop looks lost at the plate and lackadaisical in the field.  I don’t know if Theo & Co. have tried to change his hitting approach in order to draw more walks or if he’s trying to hit homeruns everytime up or if pitchers have finally figured him out and he hasn’t adjusted.  Whatever the case is, I am very concerned with his performance this season at the plate.  His defense has always bothered me.  I believe he is capable of much better play in the field.  His errors occur on simple plays way too often.  Whatever his problems are I want him to correct them soon.

The Cubs minor league system has me excited.  It’s mainly Daytona and Kane County that have the most talent, but Tennessee has a couple of players as well.  The number of players I have bookmarked on http://www.milb.com  continues to grow.  Two of those players have been chosen for the Futures game.  Arismendy Alcantara and Jorge Soler are the two guys.  There is also a fan vote that could put Javier Baez on the roster for the Futures game as well.  

Maybe the upcoming All-Star break will help Castro.  I think he could use some rest.  I imagine the next month Theo & Co. will be active.  Kevin Gregg, Scott Feldman, David DeJesus, Nate Schierholtz, Matt Garza and several others could be traded.  It will be interesting to see who gets traded and who the Cubs call up.  I’m betting Josh Vitters will if he can stay healthy and so will Junior Lake.  

Well, we finish our series with the Brewers today and then travel to Seattle for some West Coast baseball.  I’ll be up late tomorrow night watching the game against the Mariners.

Business of Baseball

With the winter meetings right around the corner I guess it’s a good time to talk some business.  The Chicago Cubs have a lot of work to do….mainly involving Milton Bradley.  It is my opinion, that the Cubs will try to deal Bradley starting next Monday.  I am halfway tempted to make the drive to Indy and tell Jim Hendry what I think.  Then again, I know I wouldn’t even get a chance to say hello to Jim or any other exec so I won’t waste my time. 

So, far the Cubs made a good move trading Heilman.  We need to trade Aaron Miles too while we are at it.  I have read that the Cubs may shop Jake Fox to some American League teams.  While I understand the business side of this I really like Fox and would love to see him playing for the Cubbies in 2010. 

The Cubs decided not to offer arbitration to Kevin Gregg, Chad Fox, Rich Harden and Reed Johnson.  While I love Reed Johnson I understand we have Tyler Colvin and Sam Fuld that could take over Johnson’s role with the team.  I would also like to see Harden back with the Cubs, but I know he will command more money than the Cubs will be willing to pay. 

The Cubs have a lot of work to do.  There are rumors about trading for Curtis Granderson.  I like Granderson a lot.  Yet, I don’t want to trade away too much young talent to get a guy that strikes out a ton and hits for a low average. 

Some of our minor leaguers that may attract interest from other teams are SS Starlin Castro, 3B Josh Vitters, P Andrew Cashner and P Blake Parker.  These are just a few of our young players that other teams may inquire about in any potential trades.  I would prefer not to trade any of them away personally, but if the right deal comes along……who knows?

 

Finally, the Braves and Phillies made some moves this week that I like.  The Braves signed Billy Wagner.  If he stays healthy the Braves will have an elite closer.  Meanwhile the Phils picked up Placido Polanco to play thirdbase.  Polanco will hit for a good average and play great defense while hardly ever striking out.  Good moves by both teams. Hopefully, the Cubs will make some good moves next week!

Future of the Cubs

I know the World Series is going on and I am actually rooting for the Yankees.  Joe Giraradi is a former Cub if you didn’t know.  So, I will root for him, Jeter and the Yanks.  I guess my loyalty to the National League isn’t that great, but that’s fine with me.  Don’t get me wrong….I have nothing against the Phils.  They have some great talent on their team and may win the Series easily.  But enough about the World Series for now.

The future of the Chicago Cubs has started a new chapter this month.  The Ricketts family are now officially the new owners of my beloved team.  They inherit a team with some great ball players and some that are way overpaid.  Here’s the guys that I think are overpaid and/or don’t produce for the amount of money they are paid.  Carlos Zambrano, Alfonso Soriano, Milton Bradley and Kosuke Fukudome.  There are a few other guys that I think the Cubs could easily part with too.  Aaron Heilman, Aaron Miles and Kevin Gregg are the main ones I am thinking of.  They aren’t paid as much as the first four mentioned, but the Cubs could fill their roster slots with players already in the Cubs farm system for a lot less.  So, the money situation the Ricketts Family inherits is a mess, but hopefully they can start cleaning it up this winter. 

I believe the real future of the Cubs is easily found in the minors.  We have some guys that I think will be the foundation for this franchise in the next 2-3 years.  Starlin Castro, Josh Vitters, Tyler Colvin, Andrew Cashner and Jeff Samardzija.  Here are five guys that have the abilities to succeed at the Major League level.  Samardzija and Colvin each have had some big league experience already and know what they need to do.  Castro and Vitters are still young.  Cashner is making the conversion from college closer to starter.  I see Vitters as a corner infielder known more for his bat than his glove. Castro has the potential to be an all around solid player.  Colvin may be the center fielder of the future for the Cubs.  Overall, I think these are five guys to keep an eye on and let’s see what they do for us in the future. 

I’m Back….and Still Can’t Figure Out What The Cubs Were Thinking

It’s been almost 2 months since my last post.  I would like to say it was mainly due to laziness.  I don’t plan on taking any more breaks either.  But I will start back by trying to figure out why the Cubs brass did what they did last off-season. 

I just don’t understand what the Cubs were thinking last off-season.
They had a team that had just won 97 games in the regular season.  I
know there was pressure to “tweak” the roster so they could perform
better in the post-season, but the moves they made have backfired.
Jason Marquis, Mark DeRosa, Henry Blanco and Kerry Wood are all gone.
That may not seem like much, but it’s had a huge impact and I am going
to attempt to explain why. 

Jason Marquis may not put up dazzling numbers, but he gets the job done
every fifth day.  What I mean by that is he is one of those guys who
pitches and gives his team a chance to win almost every time out.  As of
today, he is 14-8 with a 3.47 ERA for the Colorado Rockies, who look
like they have a good chance to win the wild card.  Considering the Cubs
injuries to their starting rotation this season they sure could have
used him.  And it doesn’t hurt that the team he’s played for has made the
playoffs every season during his major league career.  But trading him
away for Luis Vizcaino was a mistake, especially considering the Cubs
don’t even have Vizcaino anymore. 
The Cubs also decided to trade away super-utility man, Mark DeRosa.
Not only was DeRosa capable of playing almost any position, but he did
it without complaining or letting it affect his hitting.  With the
injury to Aramis Ramirez this year, the Cubs really could have used
DeRosa at third base.  Or, DeRosa could be the starting second baseman
and Fox could play third when Aramis is out.  Or, DeRosa could play
leftfield or rightfield when needed.  He’s got a good bat and plays
solid defense wherever the you put him.  To make matters worse, he’s now
on the Cardinals.  I wish DeRosa the best, but I would love to have him
back in a Cubs uniform. 
The loss of Henry Blanco may not seem like much to most fans.  But to
me, it was a huge loss.  The Cubs let him get away via free agency last
off-season.  Here’s a guy that was a mentor to Geovany Soto.  Soto went
on to win the Rookie of the Year award and I would like to think that
Blanco was a factor in that.  Plus, he hit well when he did get to play
last season. 
Finally, the Cubs let go of Kerry Wood allowing him to sign with the
Cleveland Indians.  That made me mad.  I understood that baseball is a
business, but Wood had been with the Cubs since 1998.  As the Cubs first
round pick in the ’95 draft, Wood quickly became one of my favorite
Cubs.  While his career has been plagued with injuries, there is not
doubt that he possessed the talent to be a good starter early in his
career and a solid closer now.  So, the Cubs let him go and then go and
trade minor league Jose Ceda for Kevin Gregg.  As much as I want Gregg
to succeed he hasn’t been consistent as the Cubs closer.  So, the way I
see it, the Cubs gave up Kerry Wood and Jose Ceda (and his 98mph
fastball) for Gregg.  Another move that hasn’t worked too well. 

Equally important is the chemistry the team had last year.  The loss of
these four guys wasn’t just a loss on the field but in the dugout,
bullpen and clubhouse.  There is no doubt that this year’s team does not
have the chemistry of the ’08 Cubs.  I believe that loss combined with
injuries to Soto, Ramirez, Ryan Dempster, Ted Lilly, Reed Johnson and
Carlos Zambrano is the reason why the Cubs are struggling to stay above
.500. 
It will be interesting to see what moves the Cubs make the remainder of
this season and this upcoming off-season.  Will the Ricketts family give
Jim Hendry a blank check book?  Will Lou Piniella stick around for
another year or will Ryne Sandberg be the new Cub manager?  Will the
Cubs even finish this season over .500?   We’ll just have to wait and
see.

Bitter Sweet Return

Kerry Wood Cleveland Indian.jpgIt was a sad winter for me when I realized the Cubs would no longer have Kerry Wood.  Woody has been one of my favorite Cub players since he came up in 1998.  I still remember where I was when he struck out 20 Astros in one game.  I love his desire to compete.  When the Cubs made him their closer I was happy.  I knew that he could get the job done and he did.  For whatever reasons, the Cubs went in a different direction this offseason.  Now we have Kevin Gregg.  I am not a huge Gregg fan personally.  We traded away Jose Ceda and his 98 mph fastball to get Gregg.  I still wish we would have resigned Woody and then we would still have Ceda.  But I have said it many times before….Jim Hendry gets paid the big bucks to make those decisions. 

Anyway, as I watched yesterday’s game, and the Cubs rallied late I knew that Wood was going to get to face his old club.  I hated seeing him on the mound at Wrigley in another uniform.  When Derrek Lee cam up to bat and then blasted his homer it was truly a bitter sweet feeling for me.  Of course, I want my Cubs to win.  Yet, I also want Kerry Wood to succeed.  In the end, the Cubs won and I am excited about the fact they have won 2 straight games coming from behind.  But there will always be a part of me that will root for Kerry Wood. 

In addition to Wood returning, there was also the return of Mark DeRosa.  I love DeRosa’s versatility and willingness to play anywhere on the field.  He is the type of guy that every team needs in their clubhouse.  I am happy to see him playing so well this season.  That’s another move by Jim Hendry that I don’t care for.  The Cubs could really use him with Aramis Ramirez out right now.  I know Hendry felt the Cubs had too many right handed hitters in the lineup, but for crying out loud why trade DeRo?!?! 

When it’s all said and done, I will always root for Wood and DeRosa.  Especially, Woody.  I watched his career from day one.  I was rooting for him throughout all the ups and downs, the injuries, the losing seasons, and the transformation from starter to closer.  Maybe someday he will be back in a Cubs jersey pitching for the home team.