Cubs challenge horrible call!!!!

Well, well well………..where to start.  I already wrote an entry, but my Mac crashed before I could save it.  Doh!!!  I was really dissapointed in 2 of the Cub’s players today primarily.  First off is Carlos Zambrano.  That guy made almost $17 million last year and got 9 wins for the Cubs.  Just to put that into perspective, Tim Lincecum made $650 K last year and he already had 1 cy-young under his belt.  Lincecum won another cy-young last year (consecutive ones) and still is making over $5 million less than Zambrano.  So it’s really hard for me to see the value that Big Z brings to the Cubs when he is getting paid over $34 million for 2 seasons and only gets 9 wins one season and starts out with a 1 1/3 inning 8 run outing the next season.  That money would be better spent on a guy of Lincecum’s ability.  Or perhaps a guy like Felix Hernandez, who is making a total of $10 million this year with a 3.5 million signing bonus included.  I put King Felix and Lincecum in a whole other bracket than Big Z, yet both of them are making far less $$ than Zambrano.  I know this will be hard for many to hear, but it’s time for Zambrano to go.  Even on the Cubs, I put him as the 4th best pitcher, behind Dempster, Lilly, and Wells.  He’s certainly not worth the money he’s making.  Josh Beckett doesn’t even get that kind of money.  I’m not sure who does, but probably someone like CC since he’s a Yankee. If you think about it, Zambrano is earning over $500,000 / game.  Did he earn it in 1 1/3 innings today?  not even close.  I’d like the Cubs to somehow find a trade partner for Zambrano and get a guy that is the caliber of Felix and Tim.  That would free up money to spend elsewhere.  I hope these are the things the Ricketts plan on doing.  

     Next I need to talk about the moves Pinella made for the 25 man roster.  I don’t, for the life of me understand keeping Jeff Samardzija on the team after a 5.87 ERA.  If he thought that was a spring training fluke, he needs to think again.  He has a worse ERA now after giving up 6 runs in his first game this year.  I would’ve rather had a Mitch Atkins in his spot.  But for some reason Pinella makes too big of a deal about having a young bullpen.  Who cares how old they are if they’re effective.  Look at Russell.  Another move I don’t agree with at all is keeping Jeff Baker (who had a horrible spring) over Starlin Castro.  Baker hit like .140 this spring while Castro hit around .350 or so.  Castro is much faster than Baker and can hit much better.  And Castro plays SS meaning he can play all the positions of Baker.  I played SS and since that was the toughest infield position, all other positions came easy to me.  Castro should be starting at SS though with Theriot and Fontenot in a platoon (LH/RH) at 2B. Theriot for some reason is hyped up a lot, but he’s an average defender with average range, has average speed (horrible base stealing %), etc….  The team would be much better with Castro at SS, I don’t care what anyone says.  Another problem that I have is Silva.  I think the only reason he made the team is because of his large salary.  I don’t agree with this.  If you are going to have to pay him that large amount of money anyways, why not put the best team on the field, even if that means he goes to AAA.  The further in the playoffs they go the more $$ the Cubs make to recoup that salary.  It makes no sense.  
     The last thing I want to talk about is the horrible call in the 6th inning against the Cubs.  At that time the Cubs were only down by 3 runs.  That was doable in 3 innings especially if they started out the inning with the first 2 batters successfully reaching base like they did.  If only the umpires didn’t make one of the worst calls in the history of the game calling out Byrd on a catch that wasn’t even made by McClouth and doubling off Ramirez from first even though the ball wasn’t caught.  This play makes me want replays at all times.  People say it’ll slow the game down, but why not make it like football, where they get 2 challenges per game or something like that.  This would make sure calls like this would be made correctly.  Yeah, some of you may say the call didn’t matter cause “the final score was 16-5”, but that isn’t true at all.  This call mattered a great deal.  Picture this for a second.  1st and 3rd (more than likely what it would’ve been) with 0 outs and down by 3.  Soriano comes up and strikes out (like he did).  Byrd steals second taking the double play away.  Soto crushes a 2 run double.  Colvin crushes a HR and it’s now 9-8 Cubs going into the 7th inning.  I’m not predicting that this would’ve happened, but with 2 more outs, it was definately possible.  With the Cubs up 9-8 in the 7th, there is no way they would’ve put their worst reliever in (Samardzija).  More than likely Caridad then Grabow then Marmol.  Those 3 pitchers would’ve more than likely shut down the Braves for the last 3 innings and the Cubs would’ve won.  But the Umpires killed the rally the Cubs had going.  
     In summary, I don’t usually attack people umpires or managers cause they have very hard jobs, but not keeping Castro and making this horrible call against the Cubs greatly inpacted the outcomes of the season and game respectively.  I hope Samardzija gets traded to the Bears, cause he doesn’t have what it takes to pitch in the major leagues.  
Adam H .

Spring Training–Cubs starting pitching!!!

Welcome to my second edition of “Everything Chicago Cubs”.  In my last edition I talked about how I thought the bullpen for the Cubs is very capable of winning a Championship.  Now it  time for the Starting pitchers.  So without further adu, let’s get right to it.  The Starters coming out of Spring Training are Zambrano, Dempster, Wells, Gorzelanny, and Silva.  Lilly should be ready by May and should bring a large boost (he was the only all star in 2009).   

     First off, we have big Carlos Zambrano.  Well I guess since he lost 15 pounds in the offseason it should be slim Z.  Big Z hasn’t been as dominant as I expect him to be in the regular season.   I think a lot of it has to do with him getting rid of his cutter.  He has pretty much re taught himself how to pitch with one less pitch.  So with a little more experience throughout the season, I believe we will see him get more and more dominant.  This is bad news for other teams.  He will be peaking more than likely at the end of the season.  I think that he has finally decided to take the next step to being a dominant pitcher.  Losing the 15 pounds was only the start.  Calming his nerves and focusing more should help a lot too.  I believe he is in for the best season of his career this year.  My expectations of Big Z are at least 16 Wins with around a 3.40 ERA.  His spring numbers were 4.13 ERA in 24 innings with 15 K’s and 1.21 WHIP.  Not a bad start.  
     Ryan Dempster is a funny speciman.  I remember when he was the Cubs’  Closer and I couldn’t stand him.  Everytime he entered the game, I just knew they were going to lose.  Then he talked Pinella into letting him start.  That was the best thing that ever happened to Dempster, in my opinion.  The first year of him starting with the Cubs(2008), he went 17-6 with a 2.96 ERA and 187 K’s (that was the best year of his career).  He followed that up in 2009 with an 11-9 record and 3.65 ERA and 172 K’s.  Both years he hit the 200 inning plateau.  In spring Dempster was 2-0 with a 2.13 ERA in 25 innings with 25 K’s.  If Dempster can keep his dominating form, I think the Cubs might have something special with their pitching staff.  Dempster and Zambrano are both CAPABLE of getting 20 wins with their stuff.  So is the next guy I’m going to talk about.  
     Randy Wells may have been a  rookie in 2009, but he surely didn’t pitch like one.  He pitched in 27 games ( all starts ).  He didn’t have the strikeout numbers that we’ve been accustomed to with Cubs pitching, but that didn’t matter one bit.  He went 12-10 with a 3.05 ERA in only 27 starts.  He compiled 104 K’s in 165 innings.  He has continued his success this spring going 4-0 with a 3.63 ERA in 22 innings with 13 K’s.  He had 1 rough outing on March 14 against the Angels where he gave up 6 Earned Runs in 3 innings.  Take out that rough outing and he has an outstanding 1.42 ERA this spring.  Not bad for a sophmore. 
     The # 4 pitcher for the Cubs will be Lilly, but is now Gorzelanny.  I’m not sure if Gorzelanny or Siva will end up in the pen, but if it were me, I’d just release Silva and eat the money owed to him.  I don’t see how having Silva in the pen and dropping someone who is already there would strengthen the team.  Hopefully he proves me wrong though.  Gorzelanny is a solid #4 pitcher.  Gorzellany has never really been a shutdown pitcher, but he has his moments.  In 2007 (his last full season healthy….32 starts), he went 14-10 with a 3.88 ERA with 135 K’s.  If he can get back to that, we definately have something going.  This spring he was 2-1 with a 3.32 ERA in 21 innings with 16 K’s.  
     Carlos Silva is someone that I hope does really well, but never really has.  He somehow got a large contract in 2008 and went on to go 5-18 in 34 starts.  He has had 1 decent year in his career in 2005 with the Twins going 9-8 with a 3.44 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP in 27 starts.  If  he can Rothschild can get him pitching like that again, that would be great.  This spring he is 2-1 with a 3.80 ERA in 21 innings.  That is definately seviceable for a starter.  Making the switch back to the NL and having his Mom back in the U.S. will hopefully help.  
     In summary the Cubs have a very good starting rotation that will only get better later this month when their only 2009 all-star (Lilly) returns to the rotation.  If you combine all their spring numbers, they have a 3.40 ERA.  I know that it doesn’t work this way, but if you take away Wells’ 3 bad innings where he gave up 6 runs, the starting staff suddenly has a 2.96 ERA.  And That is something to look forward too.  In the regular season they will have many more starts than in spring training so one bad outing won’t affect their ERA’s as much.  If you combine the pen with the starters the ERA is 2.96.  That includes the 5.87 for Samardzija and 4.13 for Zambrano.  For all the haters out there saying the Cubs have no chance at the playoffs, think again.  These numbers, if continued in the regular season, put the Cubs at the top of all pitching in the majors.  Along with their potent offense, we could be seeing the end of a 102 year draught this year.  GO CUBS GO!!!
Adam H.  

Spring Training–Cubs Bullpen!!!

     Hello everyone and welcome to the 2010 MLB season.  The Cubs this spring showed me that all of us Cubs’ fans have a lot to look forward to.  I know there are a lot of naysayers that say that the Cubs will be 3rd in the NL Central at best, but I tend to disagree.  Yes I may be a bit biased, but I’ll explain where I’m coming from shortly.  

     Let me first start off by congratulating all the players who made the 25 man roster.  They all very much earned their spots and some people that didn’t make the team also earned their spots, but that’s a topic for another day.  
     O.K. now for the good stuff.  I saw a pitching staff that was better, in my opinion, than ANY other staff on the Cubs for many, many years.  I was very excited watching them all perform.  We had a setback with Guzman, that I expected to really hurt, but all the youngsters stepped up nicely.  Let’s go over the pitchers in the pen really quick.  
     First off lets start with Carlos Marmol. I know that he tends  to walk a lot of batters and that’s not what you want out of a closer.  With that being said he has 2 plus pitches (95+mph fastball and a GREAT slider).  These pitches when his command is there are almost un-hittable.  I really feel like having a guy like Greg Maddux in camp and helping throughout the season will help with his control problems.  His spring WHIP this year was dramatically less than his WHIP from last year (1.46).  I liked what I saw in spring, but I’m sure the numbers will get much better when it’s a game that matters and his adrenaline is pumping.  Spring numbers were 3.65 ERA in 12 games with 20 K’s.  Not a bad start.  
     The primary Setup men for Marmol are going to Grabow and Caridad.  First of all, I think that Grabow was a significant off season signing for the Cubs.  It’s been awhile since they’ve had a veteran LH reliever with his skills.  I do think they may have paid him a little much, but it’s not our money so that’s o.k. I’ll make the rest of the comments shorter than with Marmol.  Grabow hasn’t had the best spring, but I’m sure he was working on things and his numbers will improve.  With that being said he’s still posted a solid 3.75 ERA in 12 innings with 8 K’s.  However; his 1.50 WHIP is unacceptable in the regular season especially for the $$ he’s making.  looking at his past spring numbers (4.32 ERA in 08 and 3.86 in 09) and comparing them to the regular season (2.84 ERA in 08 and 3.36 in 09) I don’t think there is much to worry about.  Caridad is going to be solid and in my opinion would make a great closer.  His WHIP is more what a closer should have and he gets the job done.  Marmol could then move back to the eighth inning guy he thrived at before.  Caridad so far (this spring) has a 0.00 ERA in 12 games (14 innings) with 12 K’s.  He also has a 1.07  WHIP.  His strikeout numbers aren’t that of Marmol, but his control is outstanding.  This is a move for the future, not this year (unless Marmol struggles again).  
     They have 2 more lefties in the pen in Marshall and Russell.  Russell has been outstanding this spring.  He has posted a 0.69 ERA in 13 innings with 11 K’s and a 1.00 WHIP.  Marshall Has also been outstanding this spring.  He has posted a 1.13 ERA in 16 innings with 17 K’s and a 0.88 WHIP…………..I can’t think of a better trio of lefties in the entire major leagues for a bullpen than Grabow, Marshall, and Russell.  Pinella will finally be able to use more matchup pitchers than in the past.  
     The last 2 pitchers in the pen are right handers Justin Berg and Jeff Samardzija.  Samardzija hasn’t been all that impressive in the spring, but I think he was pressing a little trying to win the 5th starter spot in the rotation.  Now that he knows his role, I believe things will change for the better.  He posted a 5.84 ERA in 12.1 innings with 9 K’s and a 1.54 WHIP. Berg, on the other hand, had a great spring in limited action.  In 10 innings he posted a 2.70 ERA with 5 K’s and a 0.90 WHIP.  
      In Summary, I think that the Cubs definately have a Championship Caliber Bullpen, even though it is full of a lot of young kids.  The combined ERA this spring for their pen (guys on 25  man roster) was 2.53. I’d say that will definately get the job done.  I know these numbers were for spring training, but who’s to say that can’t roll over into the regular season.  GO CUB GO!!!.  
Adam H.
Coming soon:  Spring Training–Cubs Starting pitching!!!