Tagged: Ryan Dempster

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 MESS

What a mess that the Cubs have right now.  We aren’t going anywhere this year and probably not next year either.  We had the chance to deal Carlos Pena to the Yankees, but decided to keep the great fielding, power bat and .225 average.  Starlin Castro was railed on by Bobby Valentine on ESPN recently during a game where the young shortstop was lackadaisical on the field.   Veterans Ryan Dempster and Aramis Ramirez have options for 2012 for $14 million and $16 million respectively.  That’s a lot of money for a couple of guys in their mid 30s.  Quade keeps getting ejected from games…6 for season now and it’s obvious that he is frustrated with this team’s performance.  The bottom line is that this team is a mess and it’s going to take a while to clean it up.

Now for the good news!  Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney seem to be a potentially really good double play combo for the next few years.  Andrew Cashner may be be joining the Cubs in September after suffering a rotator cuff injury in April.  Brett Jackson, Cashner, Chris Carpenter and Trey McNutt are some of our younger players scheduled to play in the Arizona Fall League this year.  Tony Campana has had a positive impact on the Cubs this summer and has a strong chance of making the team in 2012.  Tyler Colvin has been getting regular playing time and has hit the ball hard despite having a terrible average.  Matt Garza is pitching much better than his record would indicate too.

Even with all our troubles we have a lot to look forward to.  It’s just going to take a little time.  I hope the Cubs are patient and make the right moves with our players and future General Manager.

WAY TO GO MARMOL!

I watched a great game for 8 1/2 innings last night.  The Cubs played good baseball.  Then our closer, Carlos Marmol, came in a blew a 3 run lead.   First, he loaded the bases and then he got whiplash when he gave up a grand slam.  As effective as he can be when he’s on he’s equally disastrous when he’s off.  Last night he was off.

I understand even Mariano Rivera blows blows a save from time to time.  Yet, I would be more comfortable with Sean Marshall as our closer.  I say the Cubs should trade Marmol this off-season and see what we can get out of him.

Anyway, Ryan Dempster pitched a good game and it was wasted.  Hopefully, the Cubs will rebound this afternoon and win the series in Houston.

RANDOM RANTS

Well, the Cubs have actually played decent baseball as of late.  We’ve won something like 4 consecutive series.  We are finally playing as I had hoped back in April.  There are still some things that need to be figured out for next season though.

1.  What to do with Carlos Zambrano?  I say he’s gone, but who’s going to take him???

2.  Find out if Tyler Colvin can play everyday?  I think he can.

3.  Find a way to improve our starting rotation.

4.  Are we going to resign Pena again or go after Albert or Prince?

I think our rotation will have Dempster and Garza for certain.  Anything after that is up in the air for next season.  I really doubt the Cubs take Big Z back and it’s probably for the best.  I am hoping that Andrew Cashner will be healthy next season too.  I believe he has a high ceiling and the Cubs could use another good arm in the rotation.  I think Randy Wells will be a back of the rotation guy next season.  I like his competitiveness, but he’s a number 4 starter at best.  We could use another quality starter, but I don’t know who that would be as of today.

I think Tyler Colvin needs to play everyday in order to be effective.  I think this season proved that he is one of those guys that can’t be a successful as a platoon or bench player.  The early season platoon with Fukudome hurt his development.  He was sent down to Iowa and is finally hitting the ball since getting called back up and playing more regularly.

While I like Carlos Pena we need someone that can hit over .225.  His power is undeniable, but how many times have I seen him called out on a third strike with runners on base???  It’s killing me!!!!  Go after Albert or Prince!

Finally, I think Quade should have read my blog back in April.  I wanted the Cubs to bat Ramirez third in the lineup and Byrd fifth.  Well, he kept batting Byrd third and the Cubs struggled to score runs.  Look at the difference now though.  ARAM is hitting third and clubbing the ball like we expect from him.  Should have been hitting there all season!

 

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!

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.