Tagged: Pirates

NOT WHAT I WANTED

The Cubs didn’t get an Opening Day win as I had hoped.  For some reason, the Pirates seem to have our number.  I wish that Mike Quade would tweak his lineup some from yesterday.  I think Aramis Ramirez is our best run producer and should bat third.  I think Carlos Pena has the most power and should bat fourth.  Marlon Byrd would make a great fifth place hitter and follow him up with Soriano and Soto.  I also think Colvin should be starting over Fukudome, but that’s just my opinion. 

I think Dempster pitched well for four innings but things kind of fell apart after that.  I think he will do much better his next start and avoid a four run inning. 

I loved the play of Starlin Castro yesterday.  He hit the ball, fielded the ball and was aggressive on the base paths scoring the first run of the season.

All I can say about yesterday’s game is the Pirates beat us.  Two of their younger players, Neil Walker and Andrew McCutchen, provided the power they needed as the won 6-3. 

Congratulations to the Pirates and here’s hoping the Cubs will fare better the rest of the season.

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OPENING DAY?

Okay, it’s Opening Day for some teams, but not all of baseball.  I’m torn about this.  I love it because baseball has officially started, but I hate the fact that tradition is no longer an important part of this day.  I still believe that the first game on Opening Day should be played in Cincinnati.  I think every team should open on the same day.  I also think that the President should throw out the First Pitch in Washington or somewhere else on Opening Day.  I believe all Opening Day games should be played in the daytime as well. These are just a few things that I wish MLB would focus on and reconnect with it’s rich history and tradition.  

While I will watch today’s games with plenty of interest my Opening Day won’t be until tomorrow when the Cubs and Pirates do battle.  

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.

ODDS AND ENDS

Wow, the Cubs cannot seem to field the ball this spring.  We’ve played 4 games and have committed 14 errors.  That’s not a good sign.  What’s worse than that.  Carlos Silva blowing up at Aramis Ramirez.  Maybe it was overblown, but you can’t have guys going at it this early in the spring.  The grind hasn’t even begun yet.  I hope this is not a sign of things to come. 

Speaking of Silva, the errors didn’t help but neither did giving up the homeruns.  I will definitely be keeping track of his next couple of starts.  He may not make the rotation if Andrew Cashner and Randy Wells pitch good this spring.
I’m curious to see what Rudy Jaramillo will do for Carlos Pena this year.  We need a huge year from him.  I think he could be the difference maker for our offense this season.  
I still cannot believe what Hank Steinbrenner said about players building mansions.  It was obvious he was directing his frustrations at Jeter.   In my opinion, Derek Jeter is one of baseballs classiest players.  Foolish comment Hank!
With everything going on with the Mets financially, I would love to see Donald Trump buy them.  I know this is not going to happen, but I would still like to see D.T. as an owner.  As a matter of fact, I would like to see Mark Cuban as an owner too.  
I think the Pirates will not finish last this year.  I also believe they are a step closer to finishing above .500 in the near future.  Andrew McCutchen has quickly become one of my favorite players to watch.  And one thing I’ve noticed on MLBLOGS is that there are a lot of die hard Pirate fans still out there waiting for their team to start winning again.  I wish them the best of luck.
That’s all I’ve got for today….until another Cub erupts in the dugout or something like that.

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!

RAMBLINGS OF THE DAY

As of late, I have been trying to take the time to look at other blogs in the MLBlogosphere.  I’ve read some great posts and interesting ideas.  The two teams I’ve been focusing on the most are the Reds and Pirates.  Both teams have some passionate fans that are very knowledgeable about the game.  I encourage others to do the same.

After looking at one Pirates fans blog, I was writing a comment about his team.  I was joking in the comment when I said that the Pirates are suffering from the “Curse of Bonds”.  Ever since he left, they haven’t had a winning season.  With that said, the Pirates have a lot of young and talented players, a beautiful park and a promising future.  I wish the Pirates well this season!

Speaking of curses, I hope the Cubs are able to break theirs sometime soon.  It’s frustrating!

I predict that the Cardinals will sign Albert Pujols before spring training.  If they don’t, then they will suffer a curse similar to the Curse of the Bambino that haunted the Red Sox. 

Why in the world did the Cubs sign Todd Wellemeyer?!?!?!?!  Jim, you were doing so well this offseason until this move.  Why??????????  We don’t have Dave Duncan as a pitching coach! 

Did you see the “Confessions of a She-Fan” is leaving MLBlogs?  I hate to see her go, but she will have a new site that covers more than just baseball.  I know I will have it posted to my favorite links as soon as it comes out.

Finally, being the nerd that I am, I bought my first fantasy baseball magazine today.  Actually, I bought two.  Sporting News and Yahoo.  I wanted to compare the two and see which one I liked best.

Winter Meetings….what did the Cubs accomplish?

Last week I was excited about the winter meetings held in Indy.  I was thinking the Cubs would deal Milton Bradley and try to find a center fielder.  Well, that still hasn’t happened.  At this point, I feel like Bradley’s contract has the Cubs all tied up in knots and unable to make a decent deal.  Hendry took a risk on Bradley and it has not worked out.  Bradley did not produce on the field and was unable to handle the criticism that accompanied his lack of hitting.  We need to trade him soon. 

Mike Cameron.jpgNext we have the search for a centerfielder.  I have read with great interest that the Cubs are considering Mike Cameron.  He will be 37 next year but plays great defense and could a welcome addition to the Cubs in 2010.  I suggest the Cubs sign him to a 1-2 year deal.  Maybe the second year could be a player’s option or club option.  I know he played for Lou in Seattle and that may be something that would help lure him to the Cubs.  It would also allow Fukudome to play rightfield. Whatever the Cubs decide I believe that a veteran player like Cameron can perform well and help this team in 2010 the same way Jim Edmonds did in 2008.  I think there are several players in the mix to be bench players next year that will be able to play in the outfield.  Sam Fuld and Tyler Colvin are two young guys that have had a small taste of the big leagues.  We also have Micah Hoffpauir who can play the corner outfield positions as well as firstbase.  So, the Cubs do have a few options for the outfield, but having a veteran like Cameron would be huge in my opinion.

 

Matt Capps.jpgFinally, there is the possiblity that the Cubs will sign reliever Matt Capps.  This would be a great addition to the Cubs bullpen if they are able to do so.  He has valuable experience as a closer and would be a great setup man for Carlos Marmol. If Marmol is unable to handle the duties of closer then Capps could take over for him.  I read this morning that the Cubs and D’Backs seem to be two of the teams going after the former Pirates pitcher.  Let’s hope Jim Hendry is able to sign him to a deal and improve our bullpen.  The Cubs don’t need major changes just a few tweaks here and there and I think we will be back at the top of the central division. 

 

So, basically, the Cubs didn’t accomplish much during the winter meetings. Hopefully, Hendry is close to trading Bradley and signing Cameron and Capps.