Posted on: November 29, 2012 8:12 pm
The Cubs need pitching. Yes they added Scott Baker and Scott Feldman but those are still just short term assests. They need to build up their depth and bring in starters who can be on the team for the long haul. That is where Rick Porcello comes in. The Tigers have made it known that they are opening to trading their somewhat disappointing former top prospect this offseason and while I dont think he could be acquired for nothing, he should be fairly cheap considering the potential value he could bring. Lets look at what type of value he could provide.
An initial glance at his numbers and one might be inclined to dismiss him as being another back of the rotation starter. That is where I would have to disagree a bit. Before I even touch statistic lets first just look at the basics. Entering the 2013 season he will only be 24 with another 3 years of team control. He is arbitration eligible but due to his overall weak performance likely will remain fairly cheap. Considering his age, that he was a former top prospect in the Tigers organization and his experience relative to his age there is already reason to be intrigued. Now when looking at his stats there is even more to be interested in.
10- 4.92 ERA 4.31 FIP 4.65 K/9 2.10 BB/9 1.0 HR/9 65.9% LOB 50.3% GB
11- 4.75 ERA 4.06 FIP 5.14 K/9 2.27 BB/9 .89 HR/9 67.4% LOB 51.4% GB
12- 4.59 ERA 3.91 FIP 5.46 K/9 2.25 BB/9 .82 HR/9 69.0% LOB 53.2% GB
Looking at his performance over the past 3 seasons a clear trend can be noticed. He seems to be steadliy improving his peripheral stats as he learns how to pitch. When he first entered the league he was young relative to the league and he took his lumps but now has started to adjust. I also think that Detroit rushed him to the Major Leagues which has impacted his stuff, but he appears to be turning into a nice groundball pitcher and with a good infield defense (which Detroit is lacking) he could really improve.
That is partially why I think the Cubs would be a very good destination for him. The Cubs are puting a huge emphasis on improving defensively. The Cubs infield looks pretty good with Gold Glover Darwin Barney who was one of the best defensive players in baseball last season, Anthony Rizzo who looks to be a very good defensive first baseman, Starlin Castro who may be error prone but has all the range in the world and for the moment Luis Valbuena or Ian Stewart who are both solid to above average. If Rick Porcello had that behind him rather than the terrible defensive tandem of Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera he could see a nice improvement.
Porcello seems like he could be the perfect buy low candidate as he seems poised for a breakout given the right circumstances. Not only does he appear ready for a breakout but he is young enough to potentially be apart of the next good Cubs team. The real question is not should the Cubs go after Porcello but how can they acquire him? Would they be interested in Marmol for Porcello if we footed most of the bill? Could he be a piece in a larger Matt Garza trade (unlikely at this point) or Darwin Barney trade? I dont have the answer to that question but I do think that Rick Porcello is worth going hard after because despite the Cubs recent free agent signings, they still need long term pitching help.
-Chris "Da Franchize" Hart
Posted on: November 29, 2012 8:12 pm
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Posted on: August 3, 2011 7:39 pm
It has been a a few days now since the trade deadline ended so I thought it was time for me to put in my two cents. I was very surprised at the amount of activity that occured before the deadline, especially in terms of younger and more long term type players being traded. So what i wanted to do today was take a look at some of the more important deals and break them down and see who won and lost. So lets dive right in and look at NL East moves.
This was one of the biggest deals of the year. Houston is finally admitting defeat and going for a full on rebuilding project which likely means the end of the Ed Wade era. But we will take a better look at the prospects involved when we get to the NL Central. For right now we are just looking at what the Phillies are getting with Hunter Pence. The truth is Hunter Pence is not a star outfielder, he hits for a nice average although he has not been a .300 hitter till this year, he has average power and speed to go along with roughly average to above average defense. So all in all he is a good major league outfielder but is by no means a franchise player. I think Philly is a good fit for him because in Houston he was having to be the Franchise player, when he really was not one. So with Pence the Phillies added a player who has been worth 2.6 WAR this season and is typically a 3-4 WAR player a season and is entering his prime years. All in all this is a solid trade for the Phillies, especially since they didnt give up Domonic Brown.
The Mets gave up their best player this season for a young and intriguing pitching prospect. The Mets sold high on an older, injury risk type player and actually got a good prospect out of it, so you have to give the Mets props for that. Wheeler is 21 year old starting pitching prospect who is currently at High A. He has great strikeout stuff but also struggles with his command (98 K's and 48 BB in 88 IP). I think he immediatly moves into the Mets top 5 prospects and while he may be a few years away, has a good chance to be a great pitcher for the Mets.
This is easliy a win for the Braves, as they were able to acquire one of the best available outfielders without giving up any of their top pitching prospects. The Braves are getting a plus defender with game changing speed and a solid contact hitter. I was just amazed that the Braves were able to acquire him so easily, because if I were the Astros i would have demanded either Teharan, Minor, Delgado or Vizcaino, Instead the best player they had to give up was Jordan Schafer who has no place on the team now anyways. All in all this is a really good deal for the Braves and they will add Bourn and his 3-4 WAR a season with pleasure.
Several small moves by the Nationals, none of which will greatly impact the 2011 season. They acquire Jonny Gomes mostly for the draft compinsation as he should be type B. Komatsu is a solid outfield prospect who can hit for contact and has good patience with average power and above average speed. He seems like he could be a potential 4th outfielder type down the road for the Nationals. Zach Walters is a young shortstop who has solid all around skills but nothing stands out to me. He is a ways from the majors so he could get better or be a bust. The Nationals added some middle level prospects and a guy who will likely net them a draft pick if he declines arbitration, not a great deadline but they continue to build for the future.
Overall Analysis- The Phillies and Braves both acquired former Astros outfielders that should help them down the stretch and in the future. The Nationals and Mets made moves to help build for the future and the Marlins did nothing. I like all of the moves made in this division, and i think they took advantage of some of their trade partners.
Posted on: July 20, 2011 5:42 pm
I have finished my 3rd entry in the top 20 by position series and today we will take a look at shortstop. This position was almost as challenging as Catcher, as the divisions in talent are not as clear. Again remember these rankings are based on current, past and future production not the current season alone. Also remember that the specific rankings are not as important as getting the players in the correct tiers, so many players are interchangable at specific rankings within a tier. Now lets dive right into the Shortstop rankings.
Tier 1- These guys are truly the elite players at their position and are MVP candidates year in and year out.
1. Troy Tulowitzki (COL)- Clearly the best all around shortsop in the game, provides average, power, speed and superb defense and always an MVP candidate.
2. Jose Reyes (NYM)- An excellent hitter who provides a lethal combo of average and speed with some power. The reason he is 2nd is only because his defense just does not matchup to Tulowitzki's.
3. Hanley Ramirez (FLA)- He may be having a down year and people may question his motivation but when he is on he is one of the best ballplayers in the game. He provides a great combo of power and speed and can easily hit over .300 but lacks good defensive play.
Tier 2- These guys are some of the best shortstops in the game today and are good ballplayers. But they are not the superstars like the guys in the top tier.
4. Asdrubal Cabrera (CLE)- Has really put it all together in a breakout campaign in 2011. He hits for a solid average, has good pop and speed. He is also just 25 so the sky is the limit for Cabrera.
5. J.J. Hardy (BAL)- While he may not have the speed of the guys above him, he may be one of the better hitters of the bunch. He hits for a solid average with good power and is a good defender. He is just entering his prime years so there is several more years of excellent production ahead.
6. Yunel Escobar (TOR)- Being traded Toronto seems to have been a good thing for Escobar as he has become better than ever. He can hit for a good average with solid power and is a solid defender. He is yet another player entering his prime years so there are several seasons of good production ahead.
7. Jhonny Peralta (DET)- Very similar to Hardy and Escobar in terms of production, provides a good average with good power and solid defense.
8. Elvis Andrus (TEX)- Only 22 years old and already one of the best in the game. He provides solid average with blazing speed and great defense.
9. Starlin Castro (CHC)- At 21 years old and his potential he should eventually be a top tier guy. But already he easily is in the top 15 among shortstops. He provides a great average with good speed and power potential (doubles and triples that could turn into homeruns) but his defense is very raw which holds him back.
10. Alexei Ramirez (CHW)- An all around solid talent but is not outstanding in any one category. He is in his prime years so we should se several more good seasons out of him.
11. Jimmy Rollins (PHI)- Age has regressed his talents somewhat but he is still easily in the second tier in terms of talent. He provides a decent average with a solid power, speed combination and good defense.
12. Erick Aybar (LAA)- He seems to be on the way up and is now in his prime years. He hits for a solid average, has good speed and average power along with average defense.
13. Stephen Drew (ARI)- He's regressed some from last year but he is still in his prime years. He can put up a solid average with decent power and a little speed to go along with above average to good defense.
Tier 3- There were only 2 guys that i thought fit into this teir. Both are young guys who were top prospects and are on the rise. They still have a lot of work to do but have potential to move up into the next tier soon.
14. Alcides Escobar (KCR)- His offense has been a liability for most of the season although he has started to hit better as of late but his defense is phenominal. He is an average contact hitter with virtualy no power but good speed. But as I said his defense is where his value lies, i would not be surprised to see him win some gold gloves in the future.
15. Ian Desmond (WAS)- He has taken a major step back on the offensive side but has improved his defense in his sophmore campaign. He should be able to provide a decent batting average with above average power and good speed to go along with his average defense.
Tier 4- These are the old guys who may have once been higher on the list but due to age and declining production have been knocked to the last tier.
16. Clint Barmes (HOU)- In terms of onfield production he is much better than the guys in this tier. But he is reaching the end of his prime years and his history is somewhat eratic. But he has provided good defense to compliment league average hitting with little basestealing ability.
17. Brendan Ryan (SEA)- His value lies in his defense where he can be a great defender. But his hitting leaves something to be desired with average hitting with no power and average basestealing ability.
18. Derek Jeter (NYY)- He may have gotten his 3,000th hit this season but he is clearly at the tail end of his career. He is now an average hitter in terms of both power and contact but still provides decent basestealing ability. The defense is pretty average as well and with little upside he has nowhere to go but down.
19. Marco Scutaro (BOS)- Another example of an old guy with little left in his bat. He can still hit for a respectable average with some power but virtualy no basestealing ability and his defense has been ok this year, but his career numbers have been eratic.
20. Jamey Carrol (LAD)- As usual there were a number of candidates that could fit in this spot. I decided to go with the most valuable in terms of WAR. He has no upside as he is already 37 years old but he has performed consistently over the past few seasons that he may still put up solid numbers for a few more years.
Summary- There are only a few Superstars at shortstop right now, but the second tier is filled with a lot of very talented players that standout because of the position they play. Look for guys such as Starlin Castro, Elvis Andrus, Alcides Escobar and Ian Desmond to rise to the upper tiers of the position.
Posted on: July 19, 2011 4:47 pm
I have finally finished the second entry in my Top 20 Players by Position series. Today we will take a look at second base. This list was much easier to develop in comparison to the Catcher list. I think that is partly due to it being the second list so i have a better feel for what i want to do with it, but also because i think there is a much more defined crop of players at second base. Remember the players are not ranked only on their current performance but on past and future performance as well. So lets dive right into the top 20 Second Basemen.
Tier 1- These are the superstars at the position, who generally are good in almost every aspect of the game and can stack up against the best at any position.
1. Dustin Pedroia (BOS)- Clearly the top choice as he does everything, hit for average, some power, has good speed and plays good defense. Has contributed to winning a world series and winning an MVP also help him rank as the top at his position.
2. Ian Kinsler (TEX)- Has turned into a multi category stud as he provides excellent power, speed and defense. He is still in his prime so there are likely several more years of solid production ahead.
3. Rickie Weeks (MIL)- It took him a little while to get his career going but now he has figured it out and turned into one of the best in the game. He provides excellent power, has decent speed and has turned into an above average defender on a good team.
4. Robinson Cano (NYY)- Cano gets in this tier on his hitting prowess alone, he may be the best hitter in this tier and is just now in his prime years. But he cannot rank at the top of the tier because he lacks the speed and defensive ability of the guys above him on the list.
5. Chase Utley (PHI)- He gets one here based on his past performance and the hope that he can put a couple more healthy seasons together. Because when healthy he can be one of the best in the game providing power, contact, speed and defense.
6. Ben Zobrist (TB)- While he may not hit for as high of an average as the guys above him he provides solid power and speed to compliment excellent defense and versatility.
Tier 2- With the exception of Brandon Phillips everyone in this tier is on the way up. These are guys who are missing a thing or two from their game that keeps them from being one of the elite players in the league.
7. Howie Kendrick (LAA)- While his numbers this season matchup with those in the top tier his career numbers dont matchup with the guys above him. He may be in the top tier next year if he keeps up this pace of solid average, power, speed and great defense.
8. Brandon Phillips (CIN)- He still provides excellent defense but his offensive numbers are on the decline. He is no longer a 30-30 threat but he can still hit for a nice average and provide a 15-15 season with outstanding defense.
9. Danny Espinosa (WAS)- If he continues his pace he will win Rookie of the year and has helped lead the Nationals to a respectable record thus far. While his average is not great, its skewed by a rough start of the season and he provides excellent power and speed with plus defense.
10. Neil Walker (PIT)- One of the contributers to the turn around in Pittsburgh, he provides a solid average and power with some speed. At age 25 he still has room for growth and could move his way up the list.
Tier 3-This tier contains 3 young guys who have been considered top prospects that are now producing at the major league level along with 2 veterans that have dissapointed thus far.
11. Gordon Beckham (CHW)- Still has the potential to be a star at the age of 24 but has not lived up to it yet. While he may not be the star some thought he would be already he is a solid second baseman. He is mediocre all around with above average defense based on his UZR.
12. Dustin Ackley (SEA) He moved very quickly through the Marniers farm system and has already looked at home at the major league level. He should provide a good average with solid power and some speed to compliment solid defense. His age of 23 leaves plenty of time to improve on his already good production.
13. Kelly Johnson (ARI)- Has regressed from his outstanding 2010 season, but while his average and OBP have dipped he is still providing excellent power and has some speed.
14. Dan Uggla (ATL)- Another all star who has seen his batting average plummet. But he is still providing some pop with a .175 ISO (Isolated Power). I am being extemely generous with this spot based on his performance this season but i have a feeling he can turn it around and when he does he can be one of the best hitting second basemen in the game.
15. Jemile Weeks (OAK)- Another interesting prospect who has made it to the majors and performed very well. While he may provide little to no power he should hit for a good average and provide tremendous speed on the base paths.
Tier 4- These guys may be every day startes but none of them will every be much more than that.
16. Darwin Barney (CHC)- In terms of actual production in 2011, Barney has been one of the best second basemen in the game. But in terms of his skill set he does not matchup with the guys ahead of him. Barney is a grind it out type player who will hit for a good average and play solid defense but he wont hit for much power and wont steal many bases.
17. Mark Ellis (COL)- Ellis looked to be on his way down but after being traded to Colorado has shown some new life. When he is performing he can hit for a solid batting average with decent power and speed and above average defense. But his age and overall declining performance push him to this spot.
18. Alexi Casilla (MIN)- He is a decent young second basemen who's best attribute thus far in terms of production has been stolen bases. He can hit for an OK average and play average defense but provides little power. His age and speed are what push him to this spot.
19. Jeff Keppinger (HOU)- After missing some time due to injury Keppinger has played fairly well. He is already over 30 and will never produce the numbers to get out of this tier but he is a usefull starter.
20. Robert Andino (BAL)- This was the toughest spot to fill, there were a number of guys i could have gone with here but decided to go with the youngest one. Again he is the definition of an average players as are most of the guys at this point on the list.
Summary- The top 3 tiers were the easiest to rate, but when i got to the 4th tier there was a significant dropoff in talent. Again as i said in my last post the specific ranking is not as important as getting the guys in the right tier. Many of the guys within tiers are interchangable at a specific number ranking. Thanks for reading and let me know what you think.
Posted on: July 18, 2011 1:31 pm
It has been over a month now since my last post, but now i am begining a series of posts that should give you some content to read for a few weeks. PLEASE READ THIS INTRO BEFORE YOU READ THE LIST! I am ranking Players at each position based on Talent and Production, but i am not ranking the players by their 2011 numbers. It is more of an overall evaluation of the players, some will have moved down or up due to current production but Players like Buster Posey will still rank high due to their potential. I also love to read feedback and appreciate any advice you can give on how to improve my rankings. Just a little bit more info on how i do my rankings, i order the players in tiers. So while the specific ranking is important a lot of the players in the same tier are interchangable at the spots within their tier. So lets dive right into my 2011 Catcher Rankings.
Tier 1- The Elite Catchers in the League who can hit just as well as the elite players at other positions.
1. Brian McCann (ATL)- With Injuries to Joe Mauer and Buster Posey, McCann has become the top catcher in the game. He is alone in the top tier of catching because nobody even comes close in terms of consistency, total production and value to their team. McCann is an all around stud at a position that is severly lacking in that category.
Tier 2- The Top catchers who are the best at their position but may not stack up against the elite players at other positions.
2. Buster Posey (SFG)- Despite the injury Posey still has tremendous upside and his offensive production is tremendous at a position that lacks good hitters.
3. Miguel Montero (ARI)- Has provided solid offensive production the past 3 years and is just now in his prime years.
4. Matt Weiters (BAL)- A 25 year old catcher with a ton of upside and already a better hitter than most catchers in the league.
5. Carlos Santana (CLE)- Another 25 year old catcher with tremendous upside and has already put up some good numbers.
6. Alex Avila (DET)- In terms of production this year he could be at #2 but this has been his breakout year so I am just showing some caution. But he is also another young catcher (24) with some upside.
7. Joe Mauer (MIN)- How far the man has fallen, from 2 time MLB THE SHOW coverboy and 2009 AL MVP to hitting under .300 with no homeruns and an injury plagued campaign. He may no longer even play catcher on a consistent basis. But his talent alone keeps him in the 2nd tier, but if he permenantly moves to 1st then he will be off the list next year.
Tier 3- Good Catchers but are usually missing something in their game that prevents them from being at the top at their position.
8. Ramon Hernandez (CIN)- Nice season thus far and a very expierenced veteran who has helped the Reds the past few years.
9. Mike Napoli (TEX)- A solid power hitter who lacks in batting average but his wOBA is in the top 5 among catchers to compliment his tremendous power.
10. Chris Iannetta (COL)- Another guy who can hit for power and has a solid wOBA but does not hit for a good average.
11. Geovany Soto (CHC)- He is having a down year but when he is on, he gets on base and hits for good power.
12. Wilson Ramos (WAS)- Another young catcher (23) with upside who may not be elite in any one category but good in most of them.
13. Jonathan Lucroy (MIL)- Yet another young catcher who hits for a nice average but his wOBA and power are mediocre
14. Yadier Molina (STL)- A veteran catcher who hits for solid average but has average to low power and wOBA.
15. Russell Martin (NYY)- Another veteran catcher who should be in the prime of his career who has shown some pop and speed and an average wOBA but has hit for a low average.
16. Jarrod Saltalamacchia (BOS)- Another young player (26) who had mostly dissapointed until this season. The fact that he was a former top prospect and his current production indicates to me that he may have turned a corner so i have put him this high. His average and wOBA are average and he has shown some decent pop.
17. J.P. Arencibia (TOR)- He has shown great power but he has hit for a miniscule .222 average and a .311 wOBA. But he is young (25) and has upside so he could move up this list.
Tier 4- Average players at their position who are everyday starters.
18. Carlos Ruiz (PHI)- On the wrong side of 30 years old and is very average in every category. He has nowhere to go but down.
19. Kurt Suzuki (OAK)- Has the most potential in this tier at age 27 but he plays in a tough hitters park and has suffered a tough offensive season.
20. A.J. Pierzynski (CHW)- Once one of the top catchers is 34 and while he hits for a nice average his wOBA is decent at best and has little power.
Summary- While the position may be starved of truly elite talent, there is a ton of young players on the rise and i would not be surprised to see some of them sneak up into that top tier soon.
Posted on: June 16, 2011 6:17 pm
So we are quickly approaching the All Star break and i have seen a lot of writers making up their lists of who should be on the teams. So I thought i would make my own list and see how many people make some sort of complaint that their favoriet player should make the cut. i will say that I am a big reader of Fangraphs.com and that my picks are very similar to Dave Cameron's on Fangraphs with the exception of a few players. I am not going by who is winning the votes, only by who I think should be playing. I will list the starters first then the reserves for the NL Rosters today.
C- Brian McCann (ATL)
1B- Joey Votto (CIN)
2B- Rickie Weeks (MIL)
SS- Jose Reyes (NYM)
3B- Placido Polanco (PHI)
OF- Matt Kemp (LAD)
OF- Andrew McCutchen (PIT)
OF- Ryan Braun (MIL)
P- Roy Halladay (PHI)
This is one of the first times that i dont necesserily hate the voting results i have seen thus far. I have the same starters at Catcher, Third and some outfielders. Rickie Weeks is second behind Phillips right now and Votto is second behind Pujols (who i have ommitted from my all star team GASP!), and Reyes is second behind Tulowitzki as well. So most of my lineup is in the top 2 places in the voting so far. I really dont think any of my starter picks are that controversial, i considered starting Ryan Roberts at 3rd but statistically could not justify it. I think where readers may get upset with my picks is for the reserves and pitchers.
SP- Cole Hamels (PHI)
SP- Cliff Lee (PHI)
SP- Shaun Marcum (MIL)
SP- Daniel Hudson (ARI)
SP- Clayton Kershaw (LAD)
SP- Jamie Garcia (STL)
SP- Tim Lincecum (SFG)
RP- Jonny Venters (ATL)
RP- Craig Kimbrel (ATL)
RP- Joel Hanrahan (PIT)
RP- Fernando Salas (STL)
I almost didn't include Cliff Lee because i wanted to put Tommy Hanson on this list so bad. I know that's where me and Dave Cameron differed on this is that I went with Marcum over Hanson cause they were probably the last 2 starters in on my roster. Also i gave Marcum the edge since i decided to go with both Atlanta releivers Venters and Kimbrel. I almost put Sean Marshall but i did not think the Cubs deserved to have to players on this All Star team and I think there is one player that stands out as the Cubs best this season, also Marshall's past few games have been rough.
Reserve Position Players-
C- Miguel Montero (ARI)
C- Yadier Molina (STL)
1B- Prince Fielder (MIL)
1B- Gaby Sanchez (FLA)
2B- Danny Espinosa (WAS)
2B- Brandon Phillips (CIN)
SS- Troy Tulowitzki (COL)
SS- Stephen Drew (ARI)
SS- Starlin Castro (CHC)
3B- Ryan Roberts (ARI)
3B- Chase Headley (SDP)
OF- Lance Berkman (STL)
OF- Hunter Pence (HOU)
OF- Matt Holliday (STL)
I think the biggest argument people will have with this lineup is why has Albert Pujols been left off the list, and they would have a somewhat valid argument. The fact is that he has played below the level of the players above him at his position on this list and combined with the requirements of filling the roster i could not find a spot for him. That is not to say he is not an all star caliber player but there were other players i would rather see on this team than him. Like i said my roster is very similar to Dave Cameron's at Fangraphs.com with the exception of Starlin Castro, Shaun Marcum and Craig Kimbrell being on the team and the exclusion of Albert Pujols, Tommy Hanson and Sean Marshall. If you have any feedback i would love to hear it because these are just my opinions and i love to see the other sides of arguments as well.
Posted on: June 2, 2011 8:31 pm
If you have ever read my blogs or listened to my podcasts you should know that im a diehard Cubs fan. That's not to say that i only root for the Cubs, i like to consider myself a baseball fan first a Cubs fan second. But usually i tend to talk about the Cubs more than other teams, so at some point you had to assume i would talk about this horrendous Cubs season. I wont be surprised if they lose 100 games this year, the pitching staff has been garbage and the offense has been inconsistent to say the least. So the question is, how can a team with a payroll well over 100 million dollars be this bad? Thats what i wanted to take a look at today.
Before i make any big conclusions about this team i first want to just examine this years team based on production. The Cubs number one enemy has been injuries, starting with the pitching staff. At the outset of the season the rotation looked promising, Ryan Dempster had been a model of consistency, Carlos Zambrano had looked promising at the end of last season and the addition of Matt Garza formed a formidable top 3. The back end of the rotation consisted of Randy Wells who had been dissapointing in 2010 but still servicable and promising young righthander Andrew Cashner. After the first week of the season Wells and Cashner were both on the disabled list and the Cubs were searching desperatly for starting piching help. They decided to get help from the farm using intriguing lefthander James Russell and Casey Coleman who had seen some time at the major league level in 2010. Both players struggled mightly although Coleman did show some flashes. While the back end of the rotation was in shambles Ryan Dempster decided to become one of the worst pitchers in baseball. So the Cubs were only getting production out of Garza and Zambrano. The rotation has started to come together somewhat now as Wells has returned from injury, Dempster has improved and Doug Davis may be the answer as the 5th starter but now Garza has been hurt. If the Cubs can get all of their pitchers healthy we could see the staff at least become servicable.
The offense has been much better than the rotation but still somewhat inconsistent. The top of the order has been a bit of a surprise, Fukudome and Castro have both led off and i like Castro better at the leadoff spot but both have been quite effective. The big surprise has been Darwin Barney who has managed to maintain a .300+ batting average in the 2 hole. While he may not provide much in power he is a nice contact hitter who has far surpased expectations. The 3 hole had been Marlon Byrd's main slot but with his injury Castro has been plugged in there. Castro seems to be struggling a bit in the 3 hole so i think a change needs to be made. Aramis Ramirez has been hitting 4th but has only produced 2 HR and was injured hit in the face by a grounder so he could miss some time. Carlos Pena has hit 5th and after a tough start he has started to produce as expected. The 6th spot has been one of the more productive spots as Alfonso Soriano has been having a very good season although he injured his quade this past week and could be out for a while. We will likely see Blake DeWitt hit here for a while. Now that Geovany Soto is back from the DL we will see him hit in the 7 hole. While he has not hit much yet he should pick it up soon. In the 8 hole we will likely see a combination of Tyler Colvin and Tony Campana playing here. Colvin has done absolutely nothing thus far and Campana is not much of a hitter but has game changing speed. The offense had been hitting pretty well until a recent rash of injuries that are taking hold just as the rotation is starting to come together.
The bullpen seems to have been the strength thus far. Until Carlos Marmols 6 run blown save the other day, he had been one of the better closers in baseball. The duo of Sean Marshall and Kerry Wood in the 7th and 8th innings has been very good, possibly one of the better dous in baseball but like Marmol that have not had a ton of leads to work with. Jeff Samardzija has been a servicable middle reliever this year that has surprised me somewhat. Outside of that the middle releif has been mediocre at best.
The worst aspect of this team next to the rotation has been the defense. The Cubs are second to last in all of baseball in fielding percentage behind only the Astros. Its not that the make errors every night but that when they make one error they tend to make 2 or 3 and sometimes 4 all in one game. The blame gets put a lot on Starlin Castro as he is a very young shortstop and is still prone to mental lapses. It also seems like that the errors will all occur in one play and are questionable calls sometimes. That being said they need to improve in this area greatly and that should get better as the season goes on.
This off-season may be one of the more important ones in the Cubs history. I may be one of the few Cubs fans saying this but we need to avoid going in on Albert Pujols. While he may be one of the greatest hitters of all time, giving him a lot of money on the downside of his career could be a move that could destroy our chances of being competitive for a decade. Of the options available i would rather have a 28 year old Prince Fielder or avoid a big sigining and instead focus on lowering payroll and building a better farm system. Hopefully the Ricketts family will make the right move and remove Jim Hendry and install a much smarter GM who values scouting and player development more and will incorporate statistical analysis much more. If not it could be another 100 years before we win a world series.
So to sum it up like many of the previous seasons, Injuries have destroyed the Cubs chances but this team was not going to win the divison to begin with. The only good thing about being bad is we get a chance to see the farm system in action. Then again the Cubs have a fairly average farm system. If the Cubs finish with 90 or more loses Jim Hendry will likely be done as the Cubs GM. The Cubs need to focus on rebuilding and developing a deep farm system rather than trying to be competitive on a year to year basis. There are promising young players at both the major league level and at the lower levels of the farm system. If they commit to rebuilding by the time the guys at the lower levels of their farm system come up they could be a perenial playoff team. But it will not be an easy task and they really need to get a good general manager. All of their issues aside they did make the right choice in bringing in Mike Quade as manager. He has created a stable clubhouse that when a good team is in place should be able to go deeper into the playoffs. Its going to be a rough season and probably couple of seasons for us Cubs fans but if the organization makes the right moves they could be in much better shape 3-4 years from now.