Tagged: Kosuke Fukudome

2013-2014 TO DO LIST

I do this every year.  I come up with a “TO DO LIST” for the Cubs.  Each year, I am a little ambitious in my list.  This year, will be somewhat similar.  So, let’s do this!

1.  The Cubs need to hire a new manager.  Some of the names that have been floated around are Dave Martinez, Rick Renteria, A.J. Hinch, Mike Maddux and Manny Acta.  I would prefer Mike Maddux, but I have a feeling the Cubs will go with Rick Renteria.  Just think, we could have had Ryne Sandberg a couple of years ago, but Theo & Jed went with Dale Sveum.  We see how that worked out!

2.  The Cubs have a lot of holes on their roster.  Free agency cannot fill all of them realistically.  Yet, there are some potential moves that could happen.
Jacoby Ellsbury or Shin-soo Choo are both viable options to sign and become our new leadoff hitter.

3.  As much as I like Welington Castillo the idea of signing Brian McCann is enticing.  His bat in the lineup as a catcher would be an upgrade.  Yet, no matter if the Cubs make a big splash in free agency, we do not have the depth at pitching needed to compete with the Cardinals, Pirates and Reds in the NL Central at this point and time.

4.  Trade options.  Trading for David Price would cost the farm…..literally!  But it is an option.  Heck, trade Starlin Castro and Jorge Soler in a deal for him.  I know it would take more than just those two, but it is a start.  Don’t trade Javier Baez or Albert Almora though.  Those two have too much talent to lose.

5.  Stay patient and wait til our younger players arrive.  Javier Baez, Albert Almora, Jorge Soler and Kris Bryant all have high ceilings and are not that far off from playing in the big leagues.

Basically, the Cubs have a lot of money available to spend.  It’s hard to believe that the Cubs were 3rd in payroll in 2010 at just under $150 million.  Since then the Cubs no longer have to pay the huge contracts for Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, Aramis Ramirez, Kosuke Fukudome, Carlos Silva, Alfonso Soriano, Ted Lilly and Derrek Lee.  The farm system has been restocked with hitters at every level.  Pitching is still a little bit thin, but it is improving.  I truly believe the Cubs are not that far off from competing.  But it’s going to take some work.  The Cubs have too many holes to fill in free agency this off-season.  I say let the young players earn their way to the big league roster and get their feet wet.  Our infield could have Javier Baez at SS or 3B, Rizzo at 1B, Barney at 2B and Castro at SS or OF.  The outfield could consist of Almora CF, Bryant LF or 3B and Soler in RF.

Whatever decisions are made I’m still a Cubs fan.  First things first though.  Let’s hire a manager.  I want Maddux but am predicting Renteria.

WHAT A DAY!

Well, the Cubs have finally parted ways with GM Jim Hendry.  I would like to wish him the best.  He did help guide the Cubs to three appearances in the playoffs under his watch.  He made some great trades early in his tenure.  But his massive contracts to Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Zambrano and Kosuke Fukudome have hurt the Cubs tremendously.  I give him credit for the teams he put together when the Cubs were winning and I hold him accountable for the team he has assembled this year as well.  Thank you Mr. Hendry for your time with the Cubs.  I know you tried.

In December of 2010, I wrote two posts on Jim Hendry as our GM.  Here are the links to both posts.

http://strictlycubsbaseball.mlblogs.com/2010/12/20/a-closer-look-at-jim-hendry-part-i-free-agents/

http://strictlycubsbaseball.mlblogs.com/2010/12/21/a-closer-look-at-jim-hendry-part-ii-trade-history/

 

 

Now comes the hard part.  Who will the Ricketts family choose to replace Hendry.  I hope that Greg Maddux would want the job, but I’m not sure he does nor do I know if he would be able to do it.  I would like to believe that Maddux would be a great GM and lead the Cubs to the World Series.  He was a special assistant to Hendry so I’m guessing he won’t even be considered for the position.  I think the Ricketts family will be looking for a GM with more experience.  Time will tell.

Finally, today the Cubs won a great game over our Arch Rival, the St. Louis Cardinals.  The game was won in extra innings with Tyler Colvin knocking in the game’s winning run.  This game was unique though.  I’ve watched a lot of Cub games this year and they’ve seemed a bit flat as a team.  Today was different.  When Colvin drove in Soto to win the game the Cubs celebrated as if they had clinched the division.  It was pure joy and excitement.  I don’t know why it seemed different today, but it did.  Maybe it was a tribute to Hendry.  Maybe it was because the clubhouse downer, Carlos Zambrano, wasn’t there.  Maybe it’s because the Cubs had fun playing baseball today.   Whatever it was, I know I enjoyed today’s game.  The Cubs never gave up and their excitement at the end of the game was refreshing.

Oh wow, just turned on the Little League World Series game between Pennsylvania and Kentucky and there is over 41,000 people in attendance.  WHAT A DAY!!!!

 

 

 

THOME AND MORE

First, I am really excited to see Jim Thome reach 600 homeruns.  He did it the right way in my opinion.  I have never suspected him of using PEDs to reach this historic number.  Thome and Griffey, Jr. are the two players from the steroid era that I believe did not cheat.  Maybe I am being naive, but I believe strongly in both players abilities without the use of steroids or any other PED.  With that said, CONGRATULATIONS!!!! JIM THOME!!!!!

On to some Cub news.  It appears the Cubs are going to keep GM Jim Hendry.  I don’t like it necessarily unless he can regain some of his magic that he used when acquiring Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez.  His history of trades has been decent but his big free agent signings and even one of his big contract extensions have been busts.  Kosuke Fukudome, Alfosno Soriano and Carlos Zambrano are all players that received nice contracts from Hendry.  That’s not good.

I still wish the Ricketts family would make Greg Maddux GM.  Imagine him bringing his brother, Mike Maddux, over from Texas as our new pitching coach.  That would be great!  I trust Maddux and would love to see him as our GM some day soon.

While the Cubs have been playing better baseball as of late I am not sold on our potential roster for 2012.  I know it’s early, but Ricketts and Hendry better come up with a serious game plan for the future.

DOWN ON QUADE

Well, I must admit that I am embarrassed by the Cubs performance this season and especially over the last week or so.  We’ve lost 7 in a row including being swept at home by the Astros and on the road against our Arch rivals.   Two of those losses were extra inning games ended by walk off home runs by Albert Pujols.  Anyway, we aren’t playing very good baseball as a whole and it’s obvious.

I still don’t understand Mike Quade and his lineup.  I believe that Aramis Ramirez needs to bat third.  That gives us our best chance to drive in runs in my opinion.  I know he’s not producing all the well this season, but part of that is due to having little protection in the lineup.

Quade baffled me early in the season when he platooned Fukudome and Colvin in right field.  Both are left handed batters and he let Fukudome play against right handed pitchers and Colvin against left handed pitchers.

Quade frustrated me when he kept batting Marlon Byrd in the three hole.  I think Byrd is better suited to hit 1st, 2nd or 5th in the lineup.  He’s never been known to be a great run producer.  That’s usually who you want batting third…..a run producer!

Quade has also aggravated me with the handling of our starting rotation early in the season.  There was a stretch where he kept leaving starters in too long and not trusting the bullpen setup of Wood, Marshall and Marmol.

I guess I am taking out a bit of my frustrations on our new manager and I know it’s the players who play the games.  But he’s setting the lineups, making the pitching changes and is in charge of this team.  I know that he’s competitive, but I think he’s going to have a long summer.

CONTINGENCY PLAN

With the way the Cubs are playing this season, I think it’s okay to talk about a contingency plan.  Let me explain.  I am not saying that we are throwing in the towel by any means.  However, if another 6-8 weeks go by and we continue to lose more than we win, it may be necessary to start trading players and their contracts.

I think the list of guys that we could put on the trade market is a big one with some good players.  Aramis Ramirez, Marlon Byrd, Kosuke Fukudome and Ryan Dempster being among the biggest names.  I would love for us to be able to move Alfonso Soriano and his huge salary as well, but that would be really difficult.  By potentially moving Byrd and Fukudome we would be opening up spots in our outfield for younger players such as Tyler Colvin, Tony Campana and Brett Jackson.

I would hate to trade Ryan Dempster, but I could see him help a team win a pennant and possibly the World Series.  He just turned 34 a couple of weeks ago and is a great competitor and leader.  I could also see the Cubs trading Randy Wells too.  I don’t think Carlos Zambrano will be traded.  I see him as one of the cornerstone players that the Cubs hope to build a championship caliber team around.

Our bullpen is relatively young with the exception of Kerry Wood and John Grabow.  I want to keep Wood for multiple reasons.  It’s already evident, that he will give the Cubs a home town discount and it’s good to have a veteran leader in the bullpen.

The Cubs are going to have a chance to sign a big name or two this upcoming off season.  Whether it’s Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder or someone else, the Cubs have a ton of money that they will be able to spend after this season is over.  I look for them to go on a spending spree!

Finally, we have Aramis Ramirez who could also be traded.  I don’t want to lose him, but he’s being pitched around a lot this season with little protection in the lineup.  His power numbers are suffering due to this.  In the right lineup, I think he would return to form and help any team win.

When it’s all said and done, I don’t want the Cubs to be sellers.  I won’t us to be buyers!  I want us competing for the division title and a spot in the post season in 2011.  I still think if our team is able to start winning.  I still believe we can win the NL Central.  A lot must go right, but it’s not impossible!

DEFENSE WINS GAMES TOO!

Wow, last night we scored 5 runs and still lost. I didn’t think our pitching was all that bad. However, our defense was miserable! I know that the wet weather didn’t help us any, but the Reds only made one error compared to our four. So, there is no excuse for yesterday’s loss in my eyes.

On a bright note, Carlos Pena is heating up and raised his average to .231 with five homers. Hopefully, that hot hitting continues and spreads to our other power hitters.

We also optioned Tyler Colvin to Iowa. I think this is a good move for Colvin since he’s not getting much playing time. I understand that it’s hard for Quade to find playing time for everyone, but he wasn’t giving Colvin much of a chance this season after Tyler had such a good performance in spring training. To start the season, he was platooning Colvin with Kosuke Fukudome in right field. Kosuke batted played against the right handed pitchers and Tyler batted against the left handers. Considering Colvin is left handed himself, this wasn’t a good idea in my opinion. Then Colvin was regulated to the duties of pinch hitter. He hasn’t gotten consistent at bats and needed to be sent down to get some regular playing time. I hope he does well in Iowa and returns to the Cubs soon.

I am still getting familiar with the switch to word press. I wonder if there is a way to have my comments posted automatically without me having to approve them first? If anyone has an answer for me please let me know. Thanks!

RANDOM STUFF

The Cubs took two of three from the Astros, but it wasn’t easy.  In the two wins, both starting pitchers were left in too long, in my amateur opinion, and the Astros almost came back and won each game.  I’m hoping Quade recognizes this and makes the appropriate adjustments.  In the game we loss during the series, it was a horrible display of baseball by the Cubs.  Lack of hustle, poor hitting and terrible defense.  That’s all I’ve got to say about that!

I am still not happy with Marlon Byrd batting third.  He’s off to a good start this season, but should be batting somewhere else in the lineup in my opinion.  I think the number three hitter in your lineup should be your best run producer.  I believe Aramis Ramirez is best suited batting third. He’s a proven run producer in his career.  Meanwhile, Byrd is batting .353, but only has four RBIs!  With runners in scoring position this year he’s hitting .214.  We need to make a slight change in the lineup so we can score more runs!
Kosuke Fukudome’s hamstring is bothering him and it’s allowing Tyler Colvin to play every day.  This is good news and I expect Colvin’s bat to wake up!  
Darwin Barney has been excellent this spring and seems like a good double play partner with Starlin Castro.  Everyone expected Castro to be playing well, but I don’t think very many people even knew who DB was before the season started.  I’ve said it before, but he reminds me of Ryan Theriot when he first came up with the Cubs.  That’s a good thing!
Former Cub, Sam Fuld, is turning into a human highlight reel for the Rays in Tampa.  He’s playing great defense, stealing bases and hitting the cover off the ball.  I’m glad he’s getting a chance to play and that he’s playing so well.  Even though he’s no longer with the Cubs, I will keep rooting for you!
The abrupt retirement of steroid user and cheater, Manny Ramirez, seems like a fitting end to his career.  I believe he had great talent, but I wonder how much of his talent was due to his steroid use.  
The Cubs are gearing up for a weekend series against the Rockies in Denver.  I hope we can win another series and that Matt Garza has a good game tomorrow night.  I hope he sticks with his fastball more than he did last outing against the Brewers.