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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Eig: Chicago Baseball Preview: The Most Dismal Season in 30 Years?

How soon they forget The Failing Frailing Years!

Seriously, this baseball season could be the worst Chicago has seen since 1980, when the Cubs lost 98 games, the Sox lost 90, and the two teams combined to finish 53 games out of first place.

I’d rather root for the Royals, Nationals, or Marlins this year than the Cubs or Sox. Those teams have new players worth watching, some works in progress that should be interesting to follow.

But with the Cubs and Sox, what have I got to be excited about? Sure, the two new managers—Robin Ventura (see “Robin Ventura Talks White Sox”) on the South Side and Dale Sveum up in Wrigleyville—might be fun to watch, but should we really expect either of them to transform their inept charges into champions? Please. That’s like a career criminal counting on a new parole officer to turn him around or a two-year-old banking on a new daycare instructor for potty training. Good luck to you, Messrs. Ventura and Sveum, because you’ve got some messy work ahead.

Let’s look at the Cubs first. They’ve lost their best power hitter in Aramis Ramirez and made no big free-agent moves. Ian Stewart and David DeJesus are nice players, but they’re not going to do wonders for the T-shirt vendors on Addison. The starting rotation is mediocre, and the bullpen is a potential disaster. In the same division, the Cardinals, Brewers, and Reds will be stronger than the Cubs. Even the Pirates might knock around the boys in blue.

Meanwhile, the White Sox said goodbye to their ace pitcher, Mark Buehrle, leaving them with an unproven cast of hurlers and a lineup of hitters who haven’t been hitting. Adam Dunn was the Titanic in cleats last year, and Alex Rios wasn’t much better. Their only reliable slugger, Paul Konerko, just turned 36. If he starts to fade, they’re all going down with the ship. Kenny Williams, the GM, says the team will not be spending more money to improve its roster. As for the new hitting coach, Jeff “Mickey” Manto: Over his nine-year career he hit a paltry .230.

Repoz Posted: March 20, 2012 at 12:47 PM | 75 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: cubs, history, white sox

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   1. Bob Evans Posted: March 20, 2012 at 01:17 PM (#4085257)
.230 wow that's even worse than Charlie Lau
   2. The Long Arm of Rudy Law Posted: March 20, 2012 at 01:23 PM (#4085265)
Their pitching coach was 1-5 lifetime with a 5.27 ERA and a nearly 1:1 K to BB ratio.
   3. McCoy Posted: March 20, 2012 at 01:27 PM (#4085268)
Svuem is adamant that their goal is winning the World Series this year.
   4. Sweatpants Posted: March 20, 2012 at 01:37 PM (#4085277)
Their pitching coach was 1-5 lifetime with a 5.27 ERA and a nearly 1:1 K to BB ratio.
Better than Leo Mazzone. And he was a pitcher, so better than Dave Duncan, too.
   5. Fernigal McGunnigle has become a merry hat Posted: March 20, 2012 at 01:45 PM (#4085288)
Ian Stewart and David DeJesus are nice players, but they’re not going to do wonders for the T-shirt vendors on Addison.


When you're calling the guy who hit 156/243/221 in Colorado a "nice player"...

Does Manto's career BA really mean anything? Maybe by talent he was a sub-Mendoza line hitter, but his incredible knowledge and insight got him an an extra 40 points of BA. Just think if he can get those same 40 points of BA for his current charges. Why, Adam Dunn would hit .199!

But seriously, a guy with no talent who managed an above-replacement career would seem more likely to know how to get the most out of a player's abilities than would a great talent who got by on that talent alone. (Not sure if this applies to Manto, though I see he was only a 14th round draft choice.)
   6. Graham & the 15-win "ARod Vortex of suck" Posted: March 20, 2012 at 01:55 PM (#4085305)
The Cubs are not going to be that bad.
   7. The Kentucky Gentleman, Mark Edward Posted: March 20, 2012 at 02:12 PM (#4085332)

This is what I am looking forward to as a Sox fan:
- Chris Sale's transition to a starting pitcher.
- Addison Reed.
- John Danks is fun to watch pitch.
- Gordon Beckham & Alexei Ramirez's defense.
- Dayan Viciedo.
   8. depletion Posted: March 20, 2012 at 02:15 PM (#4085339)
two-year-old banking on a new daycare instructor for potty training

For the record, a good daycare instructor can make a heck of a difference in potty training.
   9. Walt Davis Posted: March 20, 2012 at 02:40 PM (#4085365)
Here's what I'm looking forward to on the Cubs ...

Starlin Castro
Starlin Castro
Starlin Castro

and, at some point, Jackson and Rizzo. Maybe we'll get the Marmol of old, he was always fun.

The Cubs are not going to be that bad.

I don't see any reason not to think so. We've got crap at 2B, probably 1B and quite possibly 3B. We're hoping the OF will be average but there's no obvious upside there. Garza's solid and the rest of the rotation are BIP mediocrities pitching in front of a not good defense. And since they're going nowhere, most likely any players having decent seasons (e.g. Byrd, standard reliever, Maholm, etc.) and possibly/probably Garza will get shipped out. That's fine, get some return and give somebody like Jackson a chance to play but playing the kids in August and Sept usually doesn't do much for the W-L column in that year.

I'm not expecting 100 losses but I'm not expecting 70 wins either.
   10. Brian C Posted: March 20, 2012 at 02:51 PM (#4085376)
I'm expecting the Cubs to end up somewhere between 45-110 wins. There's no way they're as bad as the 2003 Tigers, but I also have a hard time seeing them being as good as the 2001 Mariners. #iamalwaysright
   11. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: March 20, 2012 at 02:53 PM (#4085379)
Seriously, this baseball season could be the worst Chicago has seen since 1980, when the Cubs lost 98 games, the Sox lost 90, and the two teams combined to finish 53 games out of first place.

Well, in 1948, the Cubs lost 90, the Sox lost 101, they both finished last in 8 team leagues, and they did it in only 154 games. If there'd still been a postseason City Championship Series at that point, it would've been known as the Sewer Series.
   12. The Long Arm of Rudy Law Posted: March 20, 2012 at 03:03 PM (#4085390)
The worst season for the "better" Chicago team was in 1949 when the Sox and Cubs had .409 and .396 winning percentages. The Sox finished ahead of the Browns and the Senators that year though.
   13. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: March 20, 2012 at 03:15 PM (#4085399)
The worst season for the "better" Chicago team was in 1949 when the Sox and Cubs had .409 and .396 winning percentages. The Sox finished ahead of the Browns and the Senators that year though.

The Senators that year won 9 straight games on their first western trip and came back home to a wildly cheering crowd at Union Station. Their quickly issued yearbook was called "Our Wondrous Nats". On June 5th they were 25 and 20 and in 3rd place. After that they also won 25 games, but lost 84. Ouch!
   14. Greg K Posted: March 20, 2012 at 03:18 PM (#4085400)
I also have a hard time seeing them being as good as the 2001 Mariners.

You're not trying hard enough!
   15. zonk Posted: March 20, 2012 at 03:23 PM (#4085409)
Yeah, I think they're both gonnna blow pretty badly...

But - I am looking forward to a few things.

The Cubs/Sox series will be extra fun if only because it will pretty much be both team's WS. Fans on both sides of town know their respective teams aren't likely to be too good, so we'll basically be geared up to kick the crap out of each other.

Hopefully, we'll start to see some crowd dissipation in wrigleyville... It's been a good 15 years since you could hit a weekend game without feeling like you were at mardi gras without as much nudity. The crowds definitely started to thin last year as the summer wore on, and I suspect they will even more so this year. I very much look forward to walking to the ballpark and having a legit chance at scoring $10 seats on the street.

Starlin should be fun to watch.

Sometimes there's a strange beauty to futility. If I could earnestly enjoy following the exploits of Chico Walker, I'm sure I can atune myself to the wonder that is Joe Mather.
   16. The Long Arm of Rudy Law Posted: March 20, 2012 at 03:30 PM (#4085414)
The oldest member of the 2001 Mariners gave up four runs on six hits in an inning a third against the Reno Aces yesterday, in case the Cubs want to reconstruct that team.
   17. Ned Garvin: Male Prostitute Posted: March 20, 2012 at 03:44 PM (#4085426)
Jeff “Mickey” Manto


Unless you slept through the 1990s, everyone knows that the correct nickname is Jeff "Super" Manto. There were t-shirts!
   18. SteveM. Posted: March 20, 2012 at 03:48 PM (#4085431)
The Cubs are not going to be that bad.


Yes they will be. I am usually optimistic as opening day gets nearer, but for the first time ever I am questioning whether or not to buy MLB Extra Innings. This may be a 100 loss team.
   19. Gamingboy Posted: March 20, 2012 at 05:44 PM (#4085526)
Unless you slept through the 1990s, everyone knows that the correct nickname is Jeff "Super" Manto. There were t-shirts!


There were two nicknames, both of which were really only used on the New York State thruway.
   20. Walt Davis Posted: March 20, 2012 at 07:44 PM (#4085609)
Well...

Soto > Dan Wilson -- hey, I think that's actually true
Rizzo could match Olerud's 136 OPS+
Castro breaks out and matches Boone's 153 OPS+ while the 6-headed hydra 2B matches Guillen's 87 OPS+
Stewart can match Bell's 92
Soriano should actually beat Al Martin
Byrd has had one season nearly as good as Cameron's 123
DeJesus topped Ichiro's 123 just 2 years ago
Bryan LaHair could put up a 160 OPS+ in the 6-9 games the Cubs will use a DH

Garza = Garcia
Dempster has one last season of Sele in him
Maholm = Moyer
the rest are non-sucky
Marmol, Wood, BPJ and a couple of lucky lefties all match their career bests

Y'know, if everything goes right, the Cubs could win 116 games this year ... then lose the one-game WC play-in.
   21. SouthSideRyan Posted: March 20, 2012 at 08:07 PM (#4085619)
When did half the Cubs fans on this site lose their damn minds? The Cubs are not going to lose 100 games.
   22. madvillain Posted: March 20, 2012 at 08:29 PM (#4085628)
This is what I am looking forward to as a Sox fan:
- Chris Sale's transition to a starting pitcher.
- Addison Reed.
- John Danks is fun to watch pitch.
- Gordon Beckham & Alexei Ramirez's defense.
- Dayan Viciedo.



This and the staff turnover. No Greg Walker and No Ozzie make me happy. I was sick and tired of both of them before last year even started.

If everything goes right the Sox can win the central. If a few things go right maybe they can win 80 games. If nothing goes right, well, the draft rules changed in their favor.
   23. Walt Davis Posted: March 20, 2012 at 10:11 PM (#4085677)
When did half the Cubs fans on this site lose their damn minds? The Cubs are not going to lose 100 games.

Why not? Look at ZiPS

The only position players projected to hit better than average are Soto and Castro, everybody else is below average (not necessarily by much) and the bench is potentially awful. The only player with an above-average defensive projection is, surprisingly, Soriano.

The only starter projected above average is Garza, Dempster is average, everyone else below and there is not much depth.

There is one above-average reliever, one average (Wood, not reliable) and piles of crap.

So 4 above-average players, none of whom are anything close to dominant, about 5-6 average players and 30 pieces of crap on the 40-man roster. Sure, if they stay entirely healthy ...
   24. McCoy Posted: March 20, 2012 at 10:22 PM (#4085684)
. . . . they'll win 72 games.
   25. SouthSideRyan Posted: March 21, 2012 at 01:15 AM (#4085736)
You're going to have to explain to me how Soto and Castro are projected to hit above average but either LaHair or Jackson/Byrd (depending on whether you're position adjusting) isn't.

It sounds nice and doom boner to say only Soriano is projected above average defensively, how many guys are projected below average defensively? I've got Castro and LaHair. (I don't see defensive ZiPS on fangraphs so I'm going off of Dan's original projections. - DeJesus and Stewart were acquired after the original projections, but fangraphs back them up as average at worst at their respective positions, and DeJesus had a great year with the glove last season)

Finally, you're going to have to explain to me how ZiPS projects Dempster as average, but Travis Wood and Paul Maholm as below average.

So if we're projecting by ZiPS(your choice), it comes down to a below average offense, a slightly below average to average defense and an average to slightly above average rotation.

Exactly how many games do you have the bullpen blowing for this team?
   26. Walt Davis Posted: March 21, 2012 at 04:15 PM (#4086215)
Well, I'd forgotten DeJesus isn't in the ZiPS projections, he's probably above-average defensively too.

Wood and Maholm -- I don't think we have a projection for either of those or Volstad (not bothering with the spreadsheet). Maholm's ERA+ the last 3 years is 91 and he's an aging BIP pitcher -- that's below average. Wood's a decent pitcher, still young. He could be average. Volstad looks like a disaster to me but you never know. Wells was looking kinda toasty but maybe that was just injury recovery.

We won't see Jackson until mid-season, barring injury. Stewart has 2 WAR in 1400 career PA and was awful last year and, by Chone, is below-average defensively in a small sample. Byrd is turning 34.

The main problem with your analysis is that it assumes perfect health. When your starters are below-average and your bench is terrible and your minors aren't full of non-embarrassing options and your 7th and 8th starters are McNutt and Coleman ... you're in trouble.

They won 71 last year. You can argue that wasn't reflective of the true talent and I'd agree with you to a point. But that team lost its two best hitters, its second most-talented starter and its best reliever and replaced only the starter (probably not at the same talent level but probably at better production level). Here are Cub OPS+s from last season, some in smaller samples:

ARam 136 -- gone
Pena 123 -- gone
Johnson 122 -- fluke
Castro 111
Fuku 105 -- gone
Sori 104 -- turning 36
Byrd 96 -- turning 34
Soto 96 -- hope he stays healthy again
DeWitt 95 -- not on the 40-man at the moment

LaHair for Pena loses about 20 points of OPS+; Stewart for ARam about 40; DeJesus for Fuku/Johnson 2011 probably about 10; ZiPS projects Byrd to hold steady and Soriano to lose 10. 2B looks just as sucky as last year. There is the advantage that maybe Rizzo breaks out and Jackson is there if Byrd/Soriano collapses but they'd also not be the first two rookies to struggle in their ML debuts.

You are quite possibly looking at a lineup with only one starting position player posting an OPS+ over 100 and he's only projected to a 104. Chances are it will break differently and 3/4 guys will poke their noses over 100 but it ain't pretty.

On the pitching side, it all depends on health in the rotation. But there wasn't anything unusual about the (lack of) health of the Cubs rotation last year. Number of starts for the 2011 Cubs, followed by 2010 and 2009:

34, 31, 24, 23, 17, 16, 9, 5, 2, 1
34, 32, 23, 21, 20, 18, 8, 3, 3
31, 28, 27, 27, 26, 9, 7, 4, 2

Now if we get 2009 instead of 10-11, that shouldn't be a disaster. But in any year, you can pretty much expect at least 20 and usually one full rotation slot to be filled by 6th-9th starters. The Cubs are doing OK at 6th starter (should at least be in the 80-85 ERA+ range) but look every bit as woeful 7-9 as they did last year. (Who is the odd man out in the rotation?)

Then there's the bullpen. If dominant Marmol and healthy Wood return, it won't be a disaster.

Pena and ARam took 47 runs above-average with them and LaHair/Stewart are likely to combine to about average, maybe a bit above. Throw in Soriano decline, Johnson regression to mean, etc. and we're talking a minimum of 40 runs less to a max of about 60. 6 fewer wins. Basically the Cubs will be trotting out the same offense as Houston or Pittsburgh did last year (around 610 runs or fewer). It's clearly possible the pitching will improve but I don't expect it to so call it 750 runs given up. 610 RS and 750 RA gives me a pythag of 400 or 64-65 wins. Maybe I'm pessimistic on the pitching and/or the pitching stays healthy and they'll improve to 700 runs there and now you're at 69-70 wins.

The main thing the Cubs have going for them is that I believe the Mets and Astros are both genuinely worse and the Pirates probably aren't much better (too bored to look at SD and Col). We won't see 3 100 loss teams this year, doubt we'll see 3 95-loss teams this year either.

I suppose it's possible the talent flow out of the NL (Pujols, Fielder, the Phillies DL) may have changed the context substantially such that the Cubs relative talent levels aren't much worse than last year. I haven't tried to make any adjustment for that. (Did any major talent flow from the AL to the NL?)
   27. Kiko Sakata Posted: March 21, 2012 at 04:26 PM (#4086222)
your 7th and 8th starters are McNutt and Coleman ... you're in trouble.


Last year, Coleman was 5th on the Cubs in games started (17). Among guys who started over half their games, the 2nd-highest season ERA+ for the Cubs last year was Rodrigo Lopez (16 GS in 26 G) with an 88. The Cubs getting better starting pitching this year should be as easy an improvement as any team in baseball could have made.
   28. McCoy Posted: March 21, 2012 at 05:04 PM (#4086264)
Well, for years I kept projecting an improvement out of the SS spot based on the fact that it was so horrible the year before that it couldn't happen again and for years the Cubs kept right on proving me wrong.

Outside of Garza I don't think we can be comfortable with any of the starters we have on our staff. They all have serious question marks attached to them.
   29. SouthSideRyan Posted: March 21, 2012 at 10:49 PM (#4086459)
Cubs ZiPS projections

Maholm and TWood are both projected with better stats than Dempster, who the original projection put right at average.
   30. SouthSideRyan Posted: March 21, 2012 at 11:01 PM (#4086468)
[27]And Lopez, who was the Cubs 2nd best starter last year (vomiting with rage), will be their 8th starter this year. And even more importantly, the chances of Doug Davis or James Russell(combined 1-13 last year) making a start for the Cubs this season are as good as the chances that I do.

FTR, Walt, it sounds like TWood to AAA and Wells to the pen to start the year, though it's obviously a fluid situation.
   31. McCoy Posted: March 21, 2012 at 11:44 PM (#4086500)

Maholm and TWood are both projected with better stats than Dempster, who the original projection put right at average.


And Wood is looking craptacular right now which doesn't bode well for Dempster.
   32. SouthSideRyan Posted: March 22, 2012 at 01:13 AM (#4086520)
And Chris Volstad's looked great, so that bodes well for everybody!!!
   33. McCoy Posted: March 25, 2012 at 12:14 AM (#4088634)
Fun Spring Training stats:
Starlin Castro has a .306 BA through 49 AB. Guess what his OBP is. .306 as well
Alfonso Soriano has the highest OPS of any Cub with at least 25 AB with a 1.245 OPS. His batting average is .353 but he has managed to produce a .333 OBP.
Brett Jackson leads all Cubs in walks with 6. He did that in only 35 PA.
   34. McCoy Posted: March 28, 2012 at 10:56 PM (#4091954)
With the Cubs meeting tonight to discuss who they are keeping and sending down we should probably get a spot opened up on Gonfalon Cubs. But until then we can use this.

I'm wondering if this is the year that Welington Castillo finally cracks the major league roster for more than just a cup of coffee at the end of the year. He's been hitting very well now for awhile and should at the very least make for a good back up to the oft-injured Soto. I'm also liking Adrian Cardenas as the backup utility guy for the Cubs. Knows how to take a walk and when to swing at a pitch. The interesting surprise guy has to be Joe Mather who will be 29 this year and is killing the ball in Spring Training. Unfortunately for him the outfield is rather crowded and he really doesn't have the minor-league pedigree for anyone to really care about what he is doing in Spring Training. Brett Jackson played well but they already sent him to the minor league camp and there is no way he isn't coming up until his arb clock is pushed back. By that point I expect Byrd to get traded and for Brett to come up.
   35. odds are meatwad is drunk Posted: March 28, 2012 at 11:24 PM (#4091975)
I dont even knkw who the cubs have in camp. I havnt paid attention to them all spring.
   36. Brian C Posted: March 29, 2012 at 10:35 AM (#4092200)
Cardenas has been sent down already, too. I don't know why.
   37. zonk Posted: March 29, 2012 at 11:13 AM (#4092253)
Granted, I think I managed to see all of three plays -- but Cardenas didn't look like the iron-gloved DH he was supposed to be.

I'm frankly pretty shocked that the Cubs haven't shipped DeWitt out to Philly to keep Lendy - it makes perfect sense for both teams.

Mather seems to be intent on becoming the new FP Santangelo... I wish him well in that regard.

Others I've been happy with -

Volstad has looked awfully solid
Soriano has been red hot - be great if he got off to a great start and some rich, desperate team would take him without it costing us the entire contract
Castro seems to have quietly upped his defensive game

Unhappiness -
Rodrigo Lopez has thrown well, but I'm not sure I wanted him to...
DeJesus has been pretty ugly
Lendy has a very interesting arm, but I don't see any way he can stay in the majors this year with that atrocious command
   38. zonk Posted: March 29, 2012 at 12:49 PM (#4092377)
Randy Wells (surprising) and Travis Wood (expected) farmed out... Wells set to make 2.7 mil -- that's a surprise. It didn't seem like he was awful in spring - while I doubt anyone would be clamoring to add Wells at 2.7 mil, I think the better choice would have been to run him out there for a few starts and see if you get any nibbles.

Clevenger has apparently beat out Castillo for the backup C job.

I'm not all that upset with the backup C decision -- Castillo is a couple years younger than Clevenger and Clev also hits lefthanded. If Clevenger looks like a legit major league catcher, and if Theo is further hardcore set on going young -- then this means you can also listen to offers on Soto, figuring you've got a couple of decent in-house options.

I'm not necessarily looking to move Soto, but let's face it -- excepting maybe Garza, he's probably the most valuable trade chit the team has and catchers don't last forever. What's more - since Soto is working on a Saberhagenian "every other year" thing, this would be the summer to move him.
   39. McCoy Posted: March 29, 2012 at 05:40 PM (#4092553)
I think the rotation could get pretty ugly pretty fast this year. I doubt BPJ makes it out of May still in the rotation.

I really hope Castillo doesn't get disgruntled and keeps on working on his game down in the minors. I'm not sold on Clevenger but he is probably an okay backup whereas I think Castillo might actually put up an OPS+ above 100 for a few years. Lalli looked good as well which bodes well for the Cubs for that position.

Soriano hasn't taken a walk yet so far this Spring and has a batting average 20 or 30 points higher than his OBP the last time I checked. I believe Castro leads all Cubs with the most errors.

I really can't believe Mather made the team but then again I guess they really didn't have anyone else for that role.
   40. McCoy Posted: March 30, 2012 at 11:31 AM (#4092924)
So is this the Cubs' roster:

C: Soto
1B: LaHair
2B: Barney
3B: Stewart
SS: Castro
LF: Soriano
CF: Byrd
RF: DeJesus
BuC: Clevenger
INF: Baker
INF: Mather
INF: DeWitt
BOF: Johnson
BOF: Campana

SP: Garza
SP: Dempster
SP: Samardzija
SP: Volstad
SP: Maholm

CL: Marmol
SU: Wood
RP: Russell
RP: Coleman
RP: Mateo
RP: Dolis
RP: Castillo
RP: Lopez


8 man bullpen and no virtually no bench (value wise) to start the season? Is that right? That is 27 men, so who are the odd men out?

Will they be sending back Castillo and cutting Baker since DeWitt made the team?
   41. zonk Posted: March 30, 2012 at 11:43 AM (#4092937)
Will they be sending back Castillo and cutting Baker since DeWitt made the team?


I remain puzzled why DeWitt hasn't been shipped to Philly for the rights to Castillo so the Cubs can send him down.

FWIW - I think the rotation has a chance to be a lot better than most expect... Both Volstad and Maholm had pretty good springs, for whatever spring numbers are worth. I, too, don't expect BPJ to last through May in the rotation, but while it lacks a true ace -- I could see Garza/Dempster/Maholm/Volstad actually being among the better rotations in the division... Sure- lots of front 2s beat 'em, but I think the backend will surprise.
   42. Brian C Posted: March 30, 2012 at 12:32 PM (#4092971)
I remain puzzled why DeWitt hasn't been shipped to Philly for the rights to Castillo so the Cubs can send him down.

I still think that DeWitt might be their best option at 2B. He or Cardenas, anyway. Curse Barney's good spring.
   43. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: March 30, 2012 at 02:36 PM (#4093100)
So Rizzo is in Iowa until one of Byrd/Soriano gets traded?

EDIT: and Jackson is there until both get traded or LaHair proves he cant play OF?
   44. McCoy Posted: March 31, 2012 at 01:31 AM (#4093565)
Jackson is just waiting on the service clock. Rizzo is in the same boat but they might very well keep him down the whole year depending on what LaHair does. Of the three LaHair is the odd man out. 29 year old rookie acquired by the previous regime with a younger and newly acquired prospect waiting in the wings, he ain't long for this world. He'd probably have to hit better than Lyle Overbay to make the Cubs think twice about changing it up. He might get a reprieve if they can move Soriano but since they will not be able to move Soriano that isn't happening. The only way LaHair's job is safe this season is if Rizzo struggles in the minors and LaHair doesn't tank in the majors.
   45. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: March 31, 2012 at 05:52 AM (#4093602)
Maholm's ERA+ the last 3 years is 91


And it's only that low because he's a BIP pitcher who's gotten marginal defensive and bullpen support in Pittsburgh. His peripherals are better than that.
   46. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: March 31, 2012 at 08:03 AM (#4093614)
The ZiPS / Monte Carlo projections that Dan ran for ESPN projected the Cubs to 75 wins. That looks about right to me.
   47. McCoy Posted: March 31, 2012 at 10:52 AM (#4093690)
And it's only that low because he's a BIP pitcher who's gotten marginal defensive and bullpen support in Pittsburgh. His peripherals are better than that.

And he isn't going to get much of either of that in Chicago this season.
   48. McCoy Posted: March 31, 2012 at 10:53 AM (#4093691)
The ZiPS / Monte Carlo projections that Dan ran for ESPN projected the Cubs to 75 wins.

I'd take the under.
   49. McCoy Posted: March 31, 2012 at 11:15 AM (#4093698)
Opening day lineup:

1. David DeJesus
2. Darwin Barney
3. Starlin Castro
4. Bryan LaHair
5. Alfonso Soriano
6. Ian Stewart
7. Marlon Byrd
8. Geo Soto
9. Ryan Dempster
   50. McCoy Posted: April 01, 2012 at 05:49 PM (#4094317)
It appears that the Cubs will be trying to get down to an 12 man pitching staff which means one of the relievers has to go. Apparently Marmol, Wood, Russell, and Lopez are safe which leaves Castillo, Camp, and Corpas to compete for the last three spots. That also means that one of the 14 positional players has to go as well.
   51. McCoy Posted: April 04, 2012 at 09:36 PM (#4097337)
Cubs claim infielder Luis Valbuena from the Blue Jays. Apparently the Cubs' love affair with middle infielders wasn't just a Hendry fetish. Cubs will be going with an 11 man pitching staff.
   52. McCoy Posted: April 05, 2012 at 11:40 AM (#4097849)
I know I am pretty much talking to myself here but it looks like the Cubs have finalized their 25 man roster.

It does not appear that DeWitt will be on the roster afterall. I'm guessing the Cubs went for Valbuena instead. Cubs also sent Coleman down and I think Mateo went to the DL.

So it is:

Dempster
Garza
Samardzija
Volstad
Maholm

Marmol
Wood
Russell
Camp
Castillo
Dolis

Soto
Lahair
Barney
Stewart
Castro
Soriano
Byrd
DeJesus
Clevenger
Baker
Valbuena
Mather
Johnson
Campana

I don't think anyone would have guessed that roster.
   53. McCoy Posted: April 05, 2012 at 11:47 AM (#4097862)
Also, without counting Zambrano and DeWitt's contracts the Cubs are at a 88 million dollar payroll. With them it is around 107 million dollars.
   54. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: April 05, 2012 at 11:53 AM (#4097873)
I don't think anyone would have guessed that roster.


What are the big surprises? A quick gander at the roster I don't see any of the key components being different from what I would have expected. Admittedly I don't follow the Cubs especially closely. It may be a small victory but I get the sense that the starters (8 position players, 5 starters, closer) are the best at their position. Jackson and maybe Rizzo have a case but the service time issues make it kind of a no-brainer for the Cubs to start them in AAA.
   55. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: April 05, 2012 at 11:57 AM (#4097878)
So is DeWitt DFA'ed or does he somehow have an option year left?
   56. McCoy Posted: April 05, 2012 at 12:05 PM (#4097889)
I don't know how it works in Spring Training but he hasn't been on the active roster for a long time now so I'm guessing he either cleared waivers or the Cubs still had an option left on him.


What are the big surprises?


BPJ as the #3 starter. Clevenger as the backup over Castillo. Campana and Johnson as the backup outfielders. Travis Wood not making the team. Cubs keeping their rule V guy. Picking up Valbuena at the last minute. The bench, pen, and back of the rotation can very well end up being extremely horrible this season or at least for the first couple of months.
   57. Chicago Joe Posted: April 05, 2012 at 12:16 PM (#4097903)
So is DeWitt DFA'ed or does he somehow have an option year left?


DeWitt's not on the 40-man. The Cubs passed him through waivers and sent him to Iowa in February, though as late as yesterday there was some question as to whether he'd be on the roster for opening day.
   58. zonk Posted: April 05, 2012 at 12:34 PM (#4097926)
FWIW, I think Cardenas/Valbuena/Barney are a slightly better class of 2B flotsam than the previous iterations of the riot/Baker/Dewitt... and certainly better than the Miles/Blanco/Fontenot, and light years ahead of the 2B brigade of F Troop.

There's a bit of upside in the current group, at least.

Valbuena's real value here is that he can play SS - not that I don't expect Castro to play every day or get double-switched out much, but Barney was really the only other player on the roster who could even fake the position.
   59. Brian C Posted: April 05, 2012 at 12:52 PM (#4097938)
I think Mateo went to the DL.

Yeah, Mateo's been put on the 60-day DL.

Also, Concepcion has been assigned to Daytona, which should be interesting to watch. Seems like an advanced assignment for a 20-year-old with his experience.
   60. Brian C Posted: April 05, 2012 at 02:45 PM (#4098285)
So some more confusion cleared up:

DeWitt is up
Campana is down
Gaub lost on waivers to Tampa Bay
   61. McCoy Posted: April 05, 2012 at 02:57 PM (#4098323)
Geez, once again they have a bazillion crappy second basemen.
   62. Brian C Posted: April 05, 2012 at 03:15 PM (#4098396)
And the crappiest of all is the one that's starting.
   63. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: April 05, 2012 at 03:51 PM (#4098545)
No start of season preview/discussion thread? I'd like to hear what folks are hoping to see out of the Cubs this season (given that they're not making the playoffs). What should we be rooting for?
   64. McCoy Posted: April 05, 2012 at 04:06 PM (#4098614)
Castro, Soto, Jackson, and Rizzo.
   65. McCoy Posted: April 07, 2012 at 01:09 PM (#4099934)
So this makes a lot of sense. The Cubs drop Valbuena and bring back Rodrigo Lopez. Not a good sign on the decision making process of the Cubs.
   66. McCoy Posted: April 07, 2012 at 03:39 PM (#4100009)
You got to love the elite guys in our pen so far this season.
   67. Misirlou was a Buddhist prodigy Posted: April 07, 2012 at 05:44 PM (#4100054)
You got to love the elite guys in our pen so far this season.


Geeze, no kidding. The Cubs have allowed 9 runs this year, 7 of them in the 8th and 9th.
   68. zonk Posted: April 07, 2012 at 06:27 PM (#4100080)
Sheesh... anyone know Doug Jones' whereabouts?
   69. Brian C Posted: April 07, 2012 at 08:33 PM (#4100119)
Sveum really should have had Russell in there to face LaRoche in that awful 8th inning.
   70. McCoy Posted: April 08, 2012 at 01:06 AM (#4100171)
The guy has an entire bullpen at his disposal and he gives the nod to the guy who hasn't really pitched at all for three weeks. Hell, they even added another guy today and he still goes with Wood. His tenure is not looking good so far.
   71. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: April 08, 2012 at 09:26 AM (#4100219)
Sheesh... anyone know Doug Jones' whereabouts?

The Boston Globe is reporting that Mark Prior has recovered from sports hernia surgery and is ready to throw for teams...
   72. McCoy Posted: April 08, 2012 at 04:39 PM (#4100466)
Thank you, Starlin.
   73. madvillain Posted: April 11, 2012 at 11:31 PM (#4104652)
Figured this is the place to talk White Sox among the handful of us here. I think most Sox fans would say "so far, so good". After 5 games on the road Chicago has shown flashes of perhaps being a good team. They went toe to toe with the Rangers then took it to the Indians two games in a row.

The team has some major question marks at 2B and in the outfield, but Dunn is off to a hot start and Rios and Beckham haven't been great, but haven't been the vortex of negative WAR they were last year. If Chicago can just get to league average offensively, they might challenge the Tigers as teh defense and pitching are looking like strengths.

It's early, but I'm optmistic. For the first time since probably 2006 there is a noted excitement around the club. Alot of that has to do with the youngsters (Viciedo, Morel, Sale) and the removal of the Ozzie Guillen show at the top. Ventura hasn't given any bunt signals yet, even if he talks a small ball game.
   74. CWS Keith plans to boo your show at the Apollo Posted: April 12, 2012 at 12:23 PM (#4104936)
Yeah, Matt, that's about right, although I'm not really thinking about the division. It's funny how much expectations matter -- going into a game and just trying to enjoy Gavin Floyd's curveball or Viciedo's at-bats (or what have you) is a nice change-of-pace from last year's disappointment.

The one spot I'm having a difficult time tempering expectations is with Sale. God damn does he look good. Don't quote me on this, as I'm not sure of the exact figures, but of the starting pitchers PECOTA projected with >100 (or 125) innings, I think they had Sale second behind only Strasburg in ERA. And, although I'm not banking on a Cy Young season just yet, he might very well be the Sox' best starting pitcher right now. I'm trying to think of Sox starters over the past two decades who could match his 'stuff'... I can't really speak to any of the starters on those early 90s teams, but in the 2000s -- Jose Contreras and his great year-and-a-half run from 2005-2007? Javier Vasquez in '07? Tough to compare righties and lefties. I'm rambling at this point, but like you I'm excited about the staff as a whole. And provided they're able to keep the Sox in most games, this team will be more than tolerable, regardless of what happens on offense.
   75. madvillain Posted: April 13, 2012 at 06:32 PM (#4106154)
So, the White Sox look excellent. Just enough offense, great SP, great defense, and a solid pen. NS if they can keep this up, especially Peavy, but a great win today against the Tigers and sparked by Dayan Viciedo, my favorite young player. Viciedo, despite a win gusting over 30mph blowing straight in from left, crushed a hanging slider about 400 feet to the power ally to give the Sox a 1-0 lead. Later, he made an outstanding diving catch to save 2 runs.

Alexei Ramirez has to be right there with Andrus as the best defensive SS in the AL. He made a helluva turn to save a run himself.

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