Archive | November, 2009

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Ryan Theriot Possibly Moving to 2nd Base?

Posted on 30 November 2009 by Lou

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With the emergence of top shortstop prospect Starlin Castro, rumors are swirling that Ryan Theriot could move to 2nd base to make room for Castro at shortstop.  Theriot did play 2nd base at the major league during the 2007 MLB season.  Theriot played 37 games at 2nd base that season.

I find it hard to believe that the 19-year old Castro is ready to make the jump to the big leagues already.  Castro split time at Class-A and Double-A in 2009 and also played in the Arizona Fall League this October/November.  Although he has risen through the Cubs minor league ranks very quickly, I think it would be a good idea to keep this guy in the minors for at least another season.

Jeff Baker and Mike Fontenot are both arbitration-eligible and hopefully GM Jim Hendry can figure out a way to keep both players on the roster in 2010.  They can platoon, or one of them can be a consistent bench player, and then we can look to 2011 to bring up the Castro sensation.

On a positive note, at least Theriot seems willing to make the switch to 2nd base if the organization asks him to.  He has already started working on 2nd base drills and seems ready to move over to 2nd base if the Cubs think that Castro is ready to make the jump to the bigs.  We’ll keep you posted as soon as we hear anything further…

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Starting Pitcher Report Card – Randy Wells – A-

Posted on 29 November 2009 by Lou

Diamondbacks Cubs Baseball

Let’s take a look at the Cubs starting rotation – despite the awful, disappointing season, the Cubs pitching staff actually performed very well.  The quartet of Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, Ted Lilly and Rich Harden pitched well despite injuries and rookie Randy Wells rounded out the rotation once he was called up to replace Zambrano after his 1st injury problem.

Randy Wells – 2009 Report Card Grade – A-.

Randy Wells was the Cubs most biggest surprise during the 2009 MLB schedule.

2009 stats – 165 1/3 innings in 27 starts; 12-10 record with a 3.05 ERA and 1.28 WHIP; 104 K’s; 46 walks; .261 opponents’ batting average.

2008 stats – NA

We’ve talked about Wells so many times, he pitched so well for the Cubs in 2009.

Wells has already proved to be a fan favorite at the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field. With another year under his belt, let’s hope that Wells can put together another quality effort during the 2010 MLB schedule…

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Starting Pitcher Report Card – Ryan Dempster – B

Posted on 28 November 2009 by Lou

chicago cubs ryan dempster

Let’s take a look at the Cubs starting rotation – despite the awful, disappointing season, the Cubs pitching staff actually performed very well.  The quartet of Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, Ted Lilly and Rich Harden pitched well despite injuries and rookie Randy Wells rounded out the rotation once he was called up to replace Zambrano after his 1st injury problem.

Ryan Dempster – 2009 Report Card Grade – B.

Ryan Dempster was the Cubs 3rd best starting pitcher during the 2009 MLB schedule.

2009 stats – 200 innings in 31 starts; 11-9 record with a 3.65 ERA and 1.30 WHIP; 172 K’s; 65 walks; .260 opponents’ batting average.

2008 stats – 206 2/3 innings in 33 starts; 17-6 record with a 2.96 ERA and 1.21 WHIP; 187 K’s; 76 walks; .227 opponents’ batting average.

After a sub-par start to the season and a frustrating toe injury in July (he injury occurred after a Cubs win when Dempster jumped over the fence guarding the Cubs dugout), Dempster actually finished strong to make his numbers look good.   He was 6-3 in August and September and pitched at least 6 innings in each of those 12 starts.  In 8 of those starts, Dempster allowed just 2 runs or less.  Dempster’s 2008 numbers show that he still has what it takes at the age of 32.  He definitely has 3 solid years left in the tank – he just needs to regain that form in 2010.

Dempster just finished the 1st year of a 4-year, $52 million deal that he signed before the off-season.  That seems like a lot given the 11 wins, but if he can be a little more consistent early on, and stay healthy, he should be worth the payment over the long run.   Dempster has been a class act with the Cubs.  He has made Chicago his home and given back so much to the community.  Dempster is a fan favorite at the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field and he will surely go down as one of the most popular Cubs players during the 2000′s.  He is a great locker room presence and a good mentor for some of the Cubs younger players, so let’s hope he can help the team win a World Series during one of the next 3 years – we all deserve it…

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Starting Pitcher Report Card – Carlos Zambrano – C

Posted on 27 November 2009 by Lou

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Let’s take a look at the Cubs starting rotation – despite the awful, disappointing season, the Cubs pitching staff actually performed very well.  The quartet of Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, Ted Lilly and Rich Harden pitched well despite injuries and rookie Randy Wells rounded out the rotation once he was called up to replace Zambrano after his 1st injury problem.

Carlos Zambrano – 2009 Report Card Grade – C.

Carlos Zambrano was a major disappointment for the Cubs during the 2009 MLB schedule.

2009 stats – 169 1/3 innings in 28 starts; 9-7 record with a 3.77 ERA and 1.38 WHIP; 152 K’s; 78 walks; .246 opponents’ batting average.

2008 stats – 188 2/3 innings in 30 starts; 14-6 record with a 3.91 ERA and 1.29 WHIP; 130 K’s; 72 walks; .241 opponents’ batting average.

Big Z’s numbers do not justify his status as the ace of the Cubs starting pitching staff or the money he will be paid during the next 3 seasons.  He is scheduled to make $18.875 million in 2010 and 2011 and then $19 million in 2012.  When your ace can’t even get double-digit wins, you have a problem.  Zambrano suffered 2 injuries during 2009 – a hamstring injury while trying to beat out a bunt that cost him 3 weeks in May and then a back injury triggered from over-aggressive swinging that cost him another 3 weeks in August.  This cannot happen.  Zambrano needs to takle better care of himself and he needs to report in better shape at the start of spring training in 2010.  He will be 29 in June 2010 and he can’t rely on the excuse that he is still growing and maturing.  Big Z is a veteran major league pitcher with 8 years of starting major league experience.  He needs to show that on the field.  While he has cut down on his walks in each of the last 2 seasons (he was over 100 walks in both 2006 and 2007), he needs to work on cutting down on the number of hits he is allowing.  The .241 and .246 batting averages against in each of the last 2 seasons are the highest of his career.

Let’s hope that Big Z can right the ship in 2010.  2009 should be in the rear view mirror for all Cubs players at this point.  It just wasn’t meant to be, and now it’s time to focus on getting back in shape and ready for the grind in 2010.  Zambrano had his moments in 2009 and if he can channel that confidence and pitch more consistently (like a Ted Lilly), he will be a better pitcher, and he will make the rest of the staff that much more effective.  He has the ability to do it, not it’s just up to the coaching staff and Big Z to translate that ability into game day action.

Despite his hot-head reputation, Big Z is still a fan favorite at the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field.  If Zambrano can put together a 15-20 win season in 2010, he will be that much more loved on the north side of Chicago for years to come…

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Starting Pitcher Report Card – Ted Lilly – A-

Posted on 26 November 2009 by Lou

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Let’s take a look at the Cubs starting rotation – despite the awful, disappointing season, the Cubs pitching staff actually performed very well.  The quartet of Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, Ted Lilly and Rich Harden pitched well despite injuries and rookie Randy Wells rounded out the rotation once he was called up to replace Zambrano after his 1st injury problem.

Ted Lilly – 2009 Report Card Grade – A-.

Ted Lilly was the Cubs most consistent pitcher during the 2009 MLB schedule.

2009 stats – 177 innings in 27 starts; 12-9 record with a 3.10 ERA and 1.06 WHIP; 151 K’s; 36 walks; .230 opponents’ batting average.

2008 stats – 204.2 innings in 34 starts; 17-9 record with a 4.09 ERA and 1.23 WHIP; 184 K’s; 64 walks; .239 opponents’ batting average.

Lilly has been one of the Cubs most consistent pitchers since he joined the organization back in 2007.  He has thrived pitching in the “lighter-hitting” National League and looks to have some solid years left in the tank.  Lilly has a solid walk-strikeout ratio and really stepped up to the plate in a down 2009 season for the Cubs.

The 2010 MLB schedule is the final year of Lilly’s 4-year, $40 million deal that Lilly signed in 2007.  That seems like a bargain right now given some of the awful contracts that GM Jim Hendry has burdened the Cubs with over the last few seasons.  Lilly is coming off of 2 surgical procedures in 2009 and at the age of 34, it will be interesting to see how the Cubs address his pending free agency after the 2010 MLB schedule. During the last 3 seasons, Lilly has won 44 games (the most of any Cubs starter during that same span) and made 95 starts.

Lilly has been a class act with the Cubs.  He has made Chicago his home and given back so much to the community.  If 2010 ends up being Lilly last season in a Cubs uniform, it will be a sad day for Cubs fans all across the country.

Lilly is a fan favorite at the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field and let’s hope that Lilly has another solid season left in the tank for 2010…

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Sam Fuld in Center Field in 2010?

Posted on 25 November 2009 by Lou

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Unlikely, but Sam Fuld should get a decent look at the Cubs 2010 center fielder.  Fuld is a scrappy player who gives 110% each and every day.  After not appearing on the Cubs major league roster during the 2008 MLB schedule, Fuld played in 65 games in 2009.  He only got 97 at-bats in a reserve role, but he batted .299 with a .409 on-base percentage.  Fuld is a patient hitter (17 walks) who doesn’t strike out a lot (10 K’s).  He doesn’t have a lot of pop in his bat or RBI production capabilities (1 HR, 2 RBI’s) which is something that Manager Lou Pinella desires, but he will get on base and isn’t a liability in the field at Wrigley Field.

The Cubs are also trying to work our a deal with Reed Johnson who is a free agent.  To have Johnson as the starting center fielder with Fuld as the 4th outfielder would be an ideal situation for Pinella and the Cubs.  It’s unclear if GM Jim Hendry will be able to work out a suitable deal with Johnson who is looking for a longer-term commitment.

There have been calls for minor league prospect Tyler Colvin to get a shot at the center field job in 2010, but he still has some minor league development that will take precedence in 2010.

So while I don’t think that Fuld will earn the starting center field job in Spring Training 2010, look for Fuld to get a lot of playing time in 2010.

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Derrek Lee – 9th in National League MVP Voting

Posted on 24 November 2009 by Lou

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Derrek Lee had a solid year for the Chicago Cubs in 2009, but finished 9th in National League MVP Award voting.  Albert Pujols of the Cubs biggest rival – the St. Louis Cardinals – was the unanimous winner, followed up by Hanley Ramirez of the Florida Marlins, Ryan Howard of the Philadelphia Phillies and Prince Fielder of the Milwaukee Brewers.

Lee’s 111 RBI’s were a career high.  His .306 batting average led the team.  Lee clubbed 35 HR’s, the most since 2005 when he hit 46 HR’s and finished 3rd in Most Valuable Player award voting.

Lee became the 5th player in Cubs history to have at least 2 seasons with the Cubs in which he had a .300 batting average and hit at least 30 HR’s and 100 RBI’s.  The other 4 players to do so – Hack Wilson (4 times); Ernie Banks (2 times); Billy Williams (3 times); and Sammy Sosa (3 times).

Congrats on a GREAT year D-Lee – please keep it up during the 2010 MLB schedule…

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Advertising & Marketing on the Cubs’ Minds

Posted on 23 November 2009 by Lou

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The Ricketts Family and the Cubs have added new advertising billboards to the back of the bleachers in left field.  The Cubs have yet to erect any signs there, but they are exploring opportunities that will be respective of the agreements that it has with the rooftop buildings on Waveland and Sheffield Avenues surrounding Wrigley Field.

The new billboards will limit the view of the roof the “Budweiser Building” – dubbed that because of the Budweiser sign that has graced the roof of the building for years and years.  There is no rooftop on that building but there is an indoor area where fans watch games for a price.  The owner of that building has indicated that Horseshoe Casino now owns the rights to advertise on the roof the building, but that has come into questions with the Cubs recent move.  That roof is always featured prominently on television broadcasts and now the Ricketts Family believes that it should have its own sponsor who will get that prime viewing area on broadcasts on the new left field bleachers billboards.

Shocker…

In related marketings, the Cubs also hired a new chief sales and marketing office – Wally Hayward – who will be in charge of the new position within the organization.  Hayward was instrumental in the City of Chicago’s bid for the 2016 Olympics.  Although it was ultimately a failed bid, the Cubs believe that Hayward’s corporate sponsorship strategy is one of the best in the business.  The Ricketts Family will welcome any sort of creative marketing ideas and corporate sponsorships it can get given the sale price they paid to buy the Cubs organization..

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Cubs Prepare 40-Man Roster for Rule 5 Draft @ December Winter Meetings

Posted on 22 November 2009 by Lou

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The Chicago Cubs finalized their 40-man roster prior to the Friday deadline in anticipation of the Rule 5 Draft at the Winter Meetings in December.  The Cubs added the following players:

Pitcher John Gaub – 2.83 ERA at Double A Tennessee (28 2/3 innings in 26 games) and 1.72 ERA at Triple A Iowa (31 1/3 innings in 26 games).  At the Iowa, Gaub struck out 40 and walked just 16.

James Adduci – .300 batting average, 4 HR’s, 51 RBI’s and 35 stolen bases in 131 games at Double A Tennessee.  He had the 3rd most hits of any player in the Southern League.

Pitcher Blake Parker – started season at Double A Tennessee (12 1/3 innings) and 3.00 ERA at Triple A Iowa (58 K’s in 51 innings in 45 games).

Pitcher Rafael Dolis – 25 starts with a 3.79 ERA at Class A Daytona.

Catcher Wellington Castillo – .232 batting average, 11 HR’s and 39 RBI’s in 95 games at Double A Tennessee.

We’ll keep you posted if any of these players stand out in Spring Training, but most likely all 5 will continue their development in the Cubs minor league system during the 2010 schedule.

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Starlin Castro Update – Flying High in AFL

Posted on 21 November 2009 by Lou

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We’ve talked about him a few times already this October, but it looks like Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro is primed to be a stud major league ballplayer very soon.  Castro finished up his Arizona Fall League season this week and impressed just about everybody he faced.  In 26 games in the AFL, Castro batted .376.  He was the youngest player on any team in the AFL and has moved his way through Single A and Double A ball very quickly.  Overall, he played in 153 games during the 2009 baseball season.  He racked up a whopping 570 at-bats, batting .312 with 4 HR’s, 7 triples and 28 doubles.  He also stole 37 bases.

Darwin Barney is set to start at shortstop for the Cubs club at Triple A Iowa.  Castro will likely start the season at the Double-A level, but could move from there depending on how well he plays to start the season.  Oneri Fleita – the Cubs player devlopment director – would like to see the Cubs welcome Castro to Spring Training so that Manager Lou Pinella and the coaching staff can see him play with the rest of the club: “He’s very talented and really on some kind of fast track.  Quite frankly, we haven’t had a player go through the organization like this in a long time.  I think the last one was Mark Prior, and pitchers are a little different… Me, personally, I’d like to let the kid be a kid and let him go to Spring Training.  When he’s ready to go, he’ll tell us.  We’ll know what we’ve got.”

Great news Cubs fans.  It feels like we haven’t had an all-star caliber player move through the minor league ranks and perform at the major league level for a long-time in a while.  Carlos Zambrano is probably the most recent player to do that and be a productive member of the Cubs major league team for a long time.  It would be great to Castro shine at the major league level at Wrigley Field very soon (we’ll have to figure out a plan for Ryan Theriot).  Let’s keep our fingers crossed.

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