Tag Archive | "Ryan Theriot"

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Starlin Castro Update – Flying High in AFL

Posted on 21 November 2009 by Lou

chicago cubs starlin castro 3

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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Cubs Trade Aaron Heilman to Arizona Diamondbacks for 2 Prospects

Posted on 19 November 2009 by Lou

The Chicago Cubs traded Aaron Heilman to the Arizona Diamondbacks for 2 prospects today.  The move was done to move an arbitration-eligible player like Heilman – the Cubs still have 7 other players who are arbitration-eligible.  That list includes – Carlos Marmol, Ryan Theriot, Sean Marshall, Jeff Baker, Mike Fontenot, Koyie Hill and Angel Guzman.

Heilman made 70 appearances for the Chicago Cubs during the 2009 MLB schedule – his only season with the Cubs, the team that he rooted for as a kid growing up in Indiana.  Heilman went 4-4 with 1 save and 6 blown saves.  He had a 4.11 ERA and a 1.41 WHIP, striking out 65 while walking 34.

Cubs GM Jim Hendry explained the move this way: “As we move forward in the winter, the way our big league club sets up and the way we have a lot of arb guys, we felt we needed to move some people a little bit before we get to Indianapolis… We feel like we got two solid prospects from the Diamondbacks…  We feel we have some young arms who can take [Heilman’s] place in that part of the bullpen.”  Those arms include Guzman, Esmailin Caridad and Justin Berg.

So just who did the Cubs get for Heilman:

Lefty Scott Maine – 4-5 with a 2.90 ERA and 7 saves in Double A and Triple A during 2009.

2nd baseman Ryan White – .266 batting average with 6 HR’s, 52 RBI’s and a .371 on-base percentage at the Class A level in 2009.

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Infield Report Card – Jeff Baker – B+

Posted on 14 November 2009 by Lou

Cubs Giants Baseball

Let’s take a look at our infield – at least this was a little more tolerable than the atrocious Cubs outfield.  The trio of Derrek Lee, Ryan Theriot and Aramis Ramirez is solid, but when Ramirez went down for 2 months with a dislocated shoulder, the Cubs offensive weaknesses were clearly exposed.  The 2nd base position was a position in flux – Mike Fontenot showed he probably isn’t an everyday player, while newcomer Jeff Baker showed that he could be a viable option for the future…

Jeff Baker – 2nd Base

2009 Report Card Grade – B+.  Baker was a pleasant surprise for the Cubs in 2009.  In a disappointing season, Baker didn’t let the negative outlook/clubhouse affect his play.  He split time with Mike Fontenot at 2nd base, but came into favor with Manager Lou Pinella as Fontenot struggled through the long MLB season.  Baker performed at a high level both at the plate and in the field, and he also showed his versatility by being able to play 3rd base as well, giving the team an extra weapon to give another infielder a little extra rest from time to time (like Aramis Ramirez).  Baker could be a fixture at the Cubs 2nd base position for years to come.

2009 stats – 69 games; 203 at-bats; .305 batting average; .362 on-base percentage; 4 HR’s, 21 RBI’s; 27 runs scored; 46 K’s; 17 walks.

2008 stats (with Colorado Rockies) – 104 games; 299 at-bats; .268 batting average; .322 on-base percentage; 12 HR’s, 48 RBI’s; 55 runs scored; 85 K’s; 26 walks.

Baker came over from the Rockies in early July 2009 and he put forth a solid effort in a Cubs uniform for the rest of the season.  The entire Cubs offense struggled in 2009 (except for Derrek Lee, Ryan Theriot, Aramis Ramirez (when he played), but Baker didn’t seem to let that affect him.  You have to like his good on-base percentage number and the fact the he puts the ball in play.  He averaged just about 3 at-bats a game, however, so we would need to see more from Baker to make sure that he can handle the everyday 2nd base job.  I’m definitely a little gun shy with the Cubs 2nd baseman, especially after Mike Fontenot clearly showed that he couldn’t handle playing everyday after succeeding so well in 2008 in a limited role.

The good thing is that Baker also excelled in the field,  even when he played 3rd base to give the injured Aramis Ramirez an extra day off here and there.  In 49 games at 2nd base – his natural position – Baker recorded a solid .995 fielding percentage, committing just 1 error in 220 total chances.  In 17 games at 3rd base – Baker recorded a respectable .960 fielding percentage, committing 1 error in 25 total chances.

Baker is eligible for arbitration in 2010.  GM Jim Hendry does not like to go to arbitration with his players, so if the Cubs want Baker back, we would likely see some deal signed before the arbitration process kicks in.  Mike Fontenot – the Cubs other in-house option at 2nd base – is also arbitration-eligible.  The Cubs could try to sign both Baker and Fontenot to 1-year deals and then let them battle it out in Spring Training.  That way the Cubs wouldn’t have to commit anything long-term to either player, and if neither player excels in 2010 to warrant a longer-term deal, then the Cubs could look elsewhere for the 2011 MLB season.

Things can’t get too much worse than they were for the Cubs offense in 2009, so let’s hope we see a bit of a resurgence during the 2010 MLB schedule that helps take a little heat off the Cubs starting rotation and bullpen.  Baker seemed to endear himself to Cubs fans at the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field during his 2009 stint, so if he is back in 2010, I hope he gets off to a great start in 2010 to keep him in good favor with the north side of Chicago…

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Infield Report Card – Mike Fontenot – C

Posted on 13 November 2009 by Lou

Brewers Cubs Baseball

Let’s take a look at our infield – at least this was a little more tolerable than the atrocious Cubs outfield.  The trio of Derrek Lee, Ryan Theriot and Aramis Ramirez is solid, but when Ramirez went down for 2 months with a dislocated shoulder, the Cubs offensive weaknesses were clearly exposed.  The 2nd base position was a position in flux – Mike Fontenot showed he probably isn’t an everyday player, while newcomer Jeff Baker showed that he could be a viable option for the future…

Mike Fontenot – 2nd Base

2009 Report Card Grade – C.  This is kind of a tough one.  I really like Mike Fontenot and he tries harder than just about everyone on the team.  That being said, he failed to show that he could handle the everyday 2nd baseman job and it is unclear where Fontenot fits into the Cubs organization in the future.

2009 stats – 135 games; 377 at-bats; .236 batting average; .301 on-base percentage; 9 HR’s, 43 RBI’s; 38 runs scored; 83 K’s; 35 walks.

2008 stats – 119 games; 243 at-bats; .305 batting average; .395 on-base percentage; 9 HR’s, 40 RBI’s; 42 runs scored; 51 K’s; 34 walks.

The entire Cubs offense struggled in 2009 (except for Derrek Lee, Ryan Theriot and Aramis Ramirez (when he played), so it’s not surprising that Fontenot struggled as well.  The huge rise in strikeouts and the steady walks rate despite more at-bats, led to the corresponding decrease in Fontenot’s on-base percentage (just .301).  That cannot be the case for a contact hitter like Fontenot.  Sure, he may have been facing more adverse hitting situations without runners on base (unlike in 2008), but you have to rise to the occasion, and Fontenot didn’t respond in 2009.  His hitting weaknesses were exposed as an everyday player and that led to some pretty poor numbers for Fontenot.

On the other hand, Fontenot did not let his offensive woes affect his play on the field, even when he played 3rd base to fill in for the injured Aramis Ramirez.  In 70 games at 2nd base – his natural position – Fontenot recorded a solid .989 fielding percentage, committing just 3 errors in 264 total chances..  In 50 games at 3rd base – Fontenot recorded a respectable .963 fielding percentage, committing just 4 errors in 107 total chances.  Given the fact that the team was in shambles for most of the season, you have to give Fontenot credit for staying focused and playing well in the field.

Fontenot is eligible for arbitration in 2010.  Given his poor showing in 2009, one would think that the Cubs and Fontenot could work out a 1-year deal that is acceptable to both sides.  GM Jim Hendry does not like to go to arbitration with his players, so if the Cubs want Fontenot back, we would likely see some deal signed before the arbitration process kicks in.  Jeff Baker – the Cubs other in-house option at 2nd base – is also arbitration-eligible.  The Cubs could try to sign both Fontenot and Baker to 1-year deals and then let them battle it out in Spring Training.  That way the Cubs wouldn’t have to commit anything long-term to either player, and if neither player excels in 2010 to warrant a longer-term deal, then the Cubs could look elsewhere for the 2011 MLB season.

With a healthy Aramis Ramirez back in the middle of the lineup, I hope there will be a trickle down affect that will help guys like Fontenot, Geovany Soto and Alfonso Soriano play better in 2010.  Things can’t get too much worse than they were for the Cubs offense in 2009, so let’s hope we see a bit of a resurgence during the 2010 MLB schedule that helps take a little heat off the Cubs starting rotation and bullpen.  Fontenot is a fan favorite at the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field, so if he is back in 2010, I hope he gets off to a great start in 2010 to keep him in good favor with the north side of Chicago…

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Infield Report Card – Aramis Ramirez – B+

Posted on 12 November 2009 by Lou

Cubs Nationals Baseball

Let’s take a look at our infield – at least this was a little more tolerable than the atrocious Cubs outfield.  The trio of Derrek Lee, Ryan Theriot and Aramis Ramirez is solid, but when Ramirez went down for 2 months with a dislocated shoulder and when no 2nd baseman stood out from among the pack, the Cubs offensive weaknesses were clearly exposed…

Aramis Ramirez – 3rd Base

2009 Report Card Grade – B+.  This is kind of a tough one.  His numbers were solid as usual, but with only 3+ months to grade, it is tough to really analyze Ramirez based upon a full season.  Ramirez did not get the surgery he needed during the season, so he probably was not 100% healthy at any point after he dislocated his shoulder back on May 8th.  On the other hand, when he did play, he produced, so he has to be commended for his dedication and commitment, even when it was pretty obvious that the season was a lost cause by the middle of August.

2009 stats – 82 games; 306 at-bats; .317 batting average; .389 on-base percentage; 15 HR’s, 65 RBI’s; 46 runs scored; 43 K’s; 28 walks.

2008 stats – 149 games; 554 at-bats; .289 batting average; .380 on-base percentage; 27 HR’s, 111 RBI’s; 97 runs scored; 94 K’s; 74 walks.

If you process his “half-season” numbers out over a full year, you’d be loving life.  30 HR’s, 120+ RBI’s, 90 runs scored, high batting averages and on-base percentages, plus a strikeout number under 100 which is surprising for a power hitter.  In fact, in Ramirez’s 7 season with the Cubs, he has never struck out more than 94 times.  Pretty damn good.  At the age of 31, Ramirez still has a lot of good years left in him.  When healthy, Ramirez is the Cubs’ best hitter, even better than Derrek Lee.  Ramirez makes opposing pitchers respect everyone else in the lineup – he produces for the club even when he draws a walk or makes pitchers throw a lot of pitches to get his pitch counts up.  The Cubs clearly suffered from Ramirez’s 2-month absence in 2009.  The Cubs led the league in runs scored in 2008 and those numbers severely dwindled in 2009.  Sure, several other key players were either bad (Milton Bradley, Alfonso Soriano, Geovany Soto, Mike Fontenot) or had been traded (Mark DeRosa), but I really feel like Ramirez is the pulse of the Cubs offensive unit. So Aramis goes, so the Cubs go.

Ramirez should be healthy and ready to go for the 2010 MLB schedule.  With a healthy Aramis back in the mix, I have a good feeling that the Cubs offense will start to click again.  Theriot is solid at the top of the lineup, Kosuke Fukudome showed a greater comfort level in 2009 than he did in 2008, and if the Cubs can find a good replacement for Milton Bradley (someone that actually tries every day), the lineup should be able to produce at an acceptable level – maybe not as good as 2008, but definitely better than 2009.  Soto and Soriano can’t be any worse than they were in 2009, so there should be a lot to cheer for in 2010 with the Cubs.

Ramirez is a fan favorite at the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field.  Ramirez has 2 more years left on the 5-year, $75 million deal that he signed back in 2007.  The Cubs and Ramirez also have a mutual option for the 2012 MLB season, so hopefully the 2 sides can figure out a way to keep him in a Cubs uniform for at least another 4 years with some sort of 2-year or 3-year extension.  Health and consistency will be 2 keys for Ramirez in 2010, so let’s hope his off-season regimen gets him strong and ready for 2010.  That will make him a very popular man on the north side of Chicago…

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Infield Report Card – Ryan Theriot – B

Posted on 11 November 2009 by Lou

chicago cubs ryan theriot 1

Let’s take a look at our infield – at least this was a little more tolerable than the atrocious Cubs outfield.  The trio of Derrek Lee, Ryan Theriot and Aramis Ramirez is solid, but when Ramirez went down for 2 months with a dislocated shoulder and when no 2nd baseman stood out from among the pack, the Cubs offensive weaknesses were clearly exposed…

Ryan Theriot – Shortstop

2009 Report Card Grade – B.  One of the few “bright spots” for the Cubs in 2009, although it was not as good as it could have been.  For the past 3 seasons, Theriot has been one of the most reliable and dependable players on the entire Cubs roster.  Theriot has played at least 148 games in each of the last 3 seasons, with a career-high 154 games in 2009.  At the beginning of the season, Manager Lou Pinella emphasized that he would try to spell Theriot as often as possible with back-ups like Aaron Miles, but it wasn’t meant to be as both Mike Fontenot and Miles consistently struggled at 2nd base.  And when Miles spent a fair amount of time off the field with injuries, Theriot was stuck logging a lot of innings – 1,311 total.

That could be part of the reason why Theriot’s season was just good and not great.  The other reason could be the lack of explosiveness throughout the rest of the lineup.  Who knows – if people ahead of him and behind had hit better, his numbers would have probably been great.

2009 stats – 154 games; 602 at-bats; .284 batting average; .343 on-base percentage; 7 HR’s, 54 RBI’s; 81 runs scored; 93 K’s; 51 walks.

2008 stats – 149 games; 580 at-bats; .307 batting average; .387 on-base percentage; 1 HR’s, 38 RBI’s; 85 runs scored; 58 K’s; 73 walks.

Love the increase to the home run and RBI numbers, but I am very concerned about the higher strikeout numbers and lower walk numbers.  That’s not the combination you want for an on-base percentage guy who isn’t a power hitter.  That being said, because the offense struggled so much in 2009 (9th worst in all of baseball), maybe Theriot was trying too hard to do too much.  Bottom line, though, in a solid lineup (like 2008), Theriot is the real deal.  He will get on base for you, he does not make base running errors and he comes to play everyday.  He is an above average fielder – .976 fielding percentage at the toughest position in the infield.  He had career highs in assists (441), double plays turned (90), total chances (632) and innings played (1,311), so his fielding was exceptional.  But he also had a career-high in errors by one with 15.

Theriot has really settled in as a fan favorite at the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field.  Theriot loves Wrigleyville and the Chicago area and it looks like he has found himself a home away from home from his Louisiana roots.  I really believe that if the Cubs can find a more consistent bat in the middle of lineup, that will help everybody out, including Theriot.  And with a healthy Aramis Ramirez back in the lineup each and every day, that will also help Theriot.  Look for Theriot’s on-base percentage numbers to go up a little in 2010 as the Cubs offense comes back to life with a solid 2010 campaign…

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Infield Report Card – Derrek Lee – A-

Posted on 10 November 2009 by Lou

Brewers Cubs Baseball

Let’s take a look at our infield – at least this was a little more tolerable than the atrocious Cubs outfield.  The trio of Derrek Lee, Ryan Theriot and Aramis Ramirez is solid, but when Ramirez went down for 2 months with a dislocated shoulder and when no 2nd baseman stood out from among the pack, the Cubs offensive weaknesses were clearly exposed…

Derrek Lee – 1st Base

2009 Report Card Grade – A-.  One of the few “bright spots” for the Cubs in 2009.  If not for his bad start (.198 batting average as late as May 16th) I may have even given Lee a “Straight A”.  From that point on, Lee was by far the Cubs most consistent hitter in 2009.  Given the fact that he was playing in a mostly “inept” lineup for most of the season, it makes his numbers look even better.  If not for neck spasms that periodically flared up during the season, Lee’s numbers may have been even better.

2009 stats – 141 games; 532 at-bats; .306 batting average; .394 on-base percentage; 35 HR’s, 111 RBI’s; 93 runs scored; 109 K’s; 76 walks.

2008 stats – 155 games; 623 at-bats; .291 batting average; .361 on-base percentage; 20 HR’s, 90 RBI’s; 93 runs scored; 119 K’s; 71 walks.

Lee’s 6th season with the Cubs was his 2nd or 3rd best with the Cubs.  The home run and RBI totals were close to his best with the Cubs as the 111 RBI’s were a career-high.  His batting average and on-base percentage were both the 3rd best of his career with the Cubs.  In addition to his stellar hitting, Lee was the anchor that held the infield together.  Lee is always one of the best defensive infielders in the game and his .995 fielding percentage proved just that.  Lee had 94 assists and just 6 errors in 1,231 innings played.  Not bad.

The 2010 MLB schedule is the final year of Lee’s 5-year, $65 million deal that Lee signed in 2006.  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.  At the age of 35, it is unlikely that the Cubs will offer Lee a long-term deal to stay with the ball club at the end of the season.  It’s a shame.  Lee 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 Lee’s last season in a Cubs uniform, it will be a sad day for Cubs fans all across the country.

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

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Starlin Castro – Star in the Making

Posted on 04 November 2009 by Lou

chicago cubs starlin castro 2

Starlin Castro is on the fast track to the major leagues.  At the ripe young age of 19, the Cubs want to take it slow with Castro.  But Castro is playing so well in the minor leagues, he is making it very difficult for GM Jim Hendry and Manager Lou Pinella not to be too giddy about the prospects of Castro playing at the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field very soon.

During the 2008 MLB season, Castro played at both Class A (.302 batting average) and Double A (2.88 batting average).  The Cubs felt that he handled the progression so easily that he was ready for the Arizona Fall League.  The AFL showcases some of the best prospects from just about every club, so for Castro to be there this soon, you have to be impressed.  Castro is the youngest player in the AFL and he started off the 1st week of the season with a .500 batting average.

Cubs minor league infield coordinator Franklin Font had this to say about Castro – “He’s one of those special players in baseball.”

Cubs player development director Oneri Fleita heaped even more praise on Castro: “I haven’t had a player go through the system who has done what he’s done… I think we would have been happy if he hit .250 in Daytona.  He’s certainly surpassed any expectations we’ve had.  To finish at Double-A and get a chance to play in the [Southern League] playoffs – and he contributed to them winning.

Get ready Cubs fans – Castro could be pushing current shortstop Ryan Theriot to 2nd base if he continues to develop like he has so far…

chicago cubs starlin castro 1

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