Tagged: Randy Wells

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..

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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?

 

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!

THE OPTIMISTIC CUB FAN THAT I AM

The Cubs have been off to a relatively slow start this season.  If you’ve read any of my posts over the last month you probably know that I’ve been frustrated with their play.  However, things are beginning to look up.  We just finished a road trip with a winning record.  Wells and Cashner are getting closer to returning from the DL.  Carlos Pena homered in consecutive games against the Dodgers.  Ryan Dempster had a great outing last time out.  Castro and Barney are exceeding my expectations and look like they could make a great pair up the middle for years to come.  

I’m expecting Aramis Ramirez to start hitting home runs soon if he can get some protection in the lineup.  If Pena’s power burst continues then I think A-RAM will start hitting bombs too.  If that happens, then we could see a domino effect and several guys may start hitting better.  At least, that’s what I am hoping for.  
Alfonso Soriano is hitting homers like we have been wanting him to since he signed with the Cubs.  Now we need to get some men on base when he is batting.  I like him lower in the lineup too.  It gives us a major power threat in the 6th or 7th spot that many teams don’t have.  
This nine game home stand we are about to start tomorrow may be a big boost for us if we can win more than we lose.  I know it’s early still, but this home stand could be huge for us.  Let’s hope we step it up and wins some ballgames!

EARLY OBSERVATIONS

The season is still young and the Cubs haven’t played as well as I had hoped.  We’ve also been bitten by the injury bug with Andrew Cashner and Randy Wells going down.  Here’s my thoughts on the team at this early point in the season.

Marlon Byrd is hitting the ball really well.  I just wish he was in a different spot in the lineup.  He’s batting third and that’s where I would want Aramis Ramirez hitting.  I would like to see Byrd bat, 1st, 2nd or 5th.  I think he would excel hitting in one of those three spots.  It would also allow Ramirez to bat third.  I think ARAM is a proven run producer and would help us score a few more runs hitting there and Byrd would ignite the offense a little better batting in one of the three spots I mentioned earlier.

Darwin Barney has continued to impress me.  He plays solid defense and produces with his bat.  I think he could be a good number two hitter or 8th place hitter. 
Starlin Castro also continues to impress.  He’s maturing before our very eyes.  I am very encouraged with this young man and his play. 

Alfonso Soriano is hitting with some pop.  I know he’s not a stolen base threat anymore, but we could sure use his power if we want to have any success in 2011. 

Carlos Pena continues to struggle at the plate while playing superb defense.  I wish he would stop looking for walks and start hitting the ball.  Myabe that’s my perception, but I think he’s too patient at the plate.  I would like to see him be more aggressive early in the count.

Overall, I’m still hopeful that we can compete in the NL Central.  Realistically, I think we are a .500 team that will finish around third or fourth in the division unless some things start to change. 

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.