First, I want to let everyone know something. I like to refer to Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod as “Theo & Co.” Theo is the former GM of the Red Sox, Jed Hoyer was his assistant GM in Boston and Jason McLeod was the scouting director of the Red Sox. These guys were working together in 2007 when they originally drafted Anthony Rizzo. Since then Jed & Jason went to San Diego and Theo came to Chicago. Shortly after that, Theo was able to bring Jed & Jason to the NorthSide and begin working on the building a World Series Champion in the Chicago Cubs.
The work has been slow and methodical. There have been plenty of trades, waiver moves and free agent signings. Andrew Cashner was traded in a deal to bring Anthony Rizzo to the Cubs….a move I was initially skeptical of. Theo & Co. made me upset when trading Tyler Colvin for Ian Stewart in a deal with the Colorado Rockies. While the Rizzo trade has been great, the trade for Stewart has been a flop!
There have been several other trades (too many to mention) as well. Overall, I would give Theo & Co. a B- when grading their trades. Yet, when it comes to free agent signings I will give them a B+ grade. Here are just a few signings: Carlos Villanueva, David DeJesus, Scott Feldman and Nate Schierholtz. I can see all of these players and more being traded in the future as the Cubs continue to build a perennial contender.
Finally, Theo & Co. are working on the upcoming draft. With the #2 overall pick I am confident that the they will draft a pitcher with a high ceiling. I cannot wait to see what they come up with.
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.
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.
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!!!!
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!
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.
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!
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!