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   1. Moses Taylor loves a good maim Posted: April 27, 2009 at 03:45 PM (#3154489)
I probably should have mentioned Heilman. He's been ok so far. He's living on the edge with so many walks and so few strikeouts, but he's not allowing runs. Lou's already figured out it's better to bring him in to start innings as opposed to coming in with runners already on. But he's been a bright spot so far in a terrible pen. Also, outside of his first start where it could be argued that he was "pitching to the score" (although I wouldn't make that argument), Lilly's been good. He's been the best starter, continuing the good stretch he was on to end last season. The key is that he's only had 2 walks.
   2. And You Thought Zonk Was Terminated? Posted: April 27, 2009 at 04:20 PM (#3154522)
The rotation - mainly thanks to Lilly and Harden - has been about what we should have expected, perhaps with differences in who's performed well and who hasn't, but all in all -- we thought it would be a strength and it has been.

The bullpen has been a disappointment - but to be perfectly honest, I've always thought bullpen management was one of Lou's weaker suits. I'm not blaming Pinella for the pen's maddening tendency to walk opponents at the worst time - just saying that Lou seems to be trying to find a ready-to-use combination, and inevitably - setting himself up for a tired Marmol/Gregg combo in June/July again.

It's hard to term anything a disaster in April - but let's face it, to this point - it's hard to imagine Bradley's first month in a Cubs uniform going any worse. I've already lowered my expectations - I'm sure he'll hit - but now I'm thinking we'll be lucky to get 100 games out of him. I'm not jumping on any Bradly bashing bandwagon, but it's inevitable that, if he keeps missing time -- and can't go at full speed when he's in the lineup (and thus, looks to the casual fan like he's 'dogging it') -- this could get ugly real fast. I hope for everyone's sake that Bradley can catch fire soon - hopefully for the next homestand.

The rest of the lineup... I'm moderately worried about Soto, Lee is what he is -- no longer an elite offensive force, probably a 105 to 110 OPS+ hitter whom we should be happy has only 2 years left on his contract. Fonsie and A-Ram are both rather streaky -- so all we can really do is hope they can divy up the streaks so that one of them stays hot. I think Fontenot will start to hit again - and turn into Todd Walker, which isn't all that bad.

The thin bench is really hurting us right now... not that Hoffpauir hasn't been as good as we could have hoped - but he's really stretched in the OF, and he's the only real bat we have. Extended absences by anyone other than Lee are going to be problematic.
   3. Walt Davis Posted: April 27, 2009 at 10:41 PM (#3154830)
Yes, the rotation has been fine. Maybe not good enough to be a positive but not a negative. Harden's given up an absurd number of HR so far but 35 K in 21 IP is just ridiculously dominant. The team has 149 K in 152 IP which may not actually make us good but it's kinda fun. Also on the plus side (sorta) is that Dempster has at least been average -- you have no idea how worried I was that he'd be a complete and total disaster from the start. And I was surprised to see that, overall, the team ERA+ is a very solid 107 (lord only knows what PF that's based on).

Theriot's definitely been a bright spot too and, at this point, I'm confident that he's at least as good as Eckstein's been over the years.

On Fukudome -- I still don't think he "looks good." He's getting results right now but I still hate his swing. I wonder if he's "cheating" at the moment, getting the bat started earlier to get around on the ball, which will get exploited later if he is. Obviously I hope he's for real -- and I should probably have more faith in his NPB numbers.

On the offense as a whole -- we all knew coming in that, while not exactly an old lineup (Lee and Soriano are the oldest at 33), all the important folks are on the wrong side of 30. Between injury and decline, there's real risk of "underperformance."

As to the bench, it's been poorly constructed from the start. A team with a 12-man pitching staff (which is every team these days) simply can't carry both a Hofpauir type (good bat, "no glove")* and a Gathright type (PR and defensive replacement OF). There is simply no way the Cubs can make it through the entire season with Miles as the only backup IF.** It's hard enough just to carry a Hofpauir type and, once Bradley's playing again, Gathright has to go (and Lou has to be able to live with Hofpauir's defense in the corners). Any decent IF at AAA?*** Also Johnson has stunk but part of the problem is that 28 of his 33 PA are against RHP (last year it was about 50/50).

* -- I don't actually have an opinion on Hofpauir's glove yet (though I seriously doubt he's even an average corner OF) but the Cubs clearly intended him for the Daryle Ward role.

** -- ARam usually needs a good amount of time off; Fontenot is of unknown durability and so far this year is 0 for 8 with 1 BB against LHP (222/293/333 in 94 PA career). Speaking of which, where's the weekly Fontenot vs. DeRosa comp (Fontenot still ahead).

*** -- Just to beat that dead horse into the ground ... Bradley has started just 7 of 17 games so far and still Gathright has just 7 PA. Undoubtedly he'd have played a little more if Fukudome had gotten off to a bad start but clearly the Cubs don't have much intent on using Gathright and you don't carry an OF on the roster these days to get 50 PA in a season.
   4. Moses Taylor loves a good maim Posted: April 27, 2009 at 11:21 PM (#3154897)
Yes, the rotation has been fine. Maybe not good enough to be a positive but not a negative.

Fair enough. I just haven't been impressed by anyone yet, everyone's been ok but all 5 shows causes to be concerned. Nothing against Lilly, but when he clearly the best starter it's not a good thing. And my expectations for Dempster were a little higher than yours (not a repeat of last year, but still above average).

Theriot's definitely been a bright spot too and, at this point, I'm confident that he's at least as good as Eckstein's been over the years.

I'm ok with that, just that his number kept sliding this week. I'm sure he'll be about the same level as last year, but I'm disappointed the baserunning's still terrible.

On Fukudome -- I still don't think he "looks good." He's getting results right now but I still hate his swing.

It is an ugly swing, but he looks good for him. He's not bailing on pitches as quickly, he's driving the ball, and the patience is back. I can't say we should expect this to continue, but I'm not going to criticize the guy for being the best player so the Cubs have had so far.

Bradley has started just 7 of 17 games so far and still Gathright has just 7 PA. Undoubtedly he'd have played a little more if Fukudome had gotten off to a bad start but clearly the Cubs don't have much intent on using Gathright and you don't carry an OF on the roster these days to get 50 PA in a season.

TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY CONCUR. I'm sure he'll be gone by the end of August at the latest.
   5. Moses Taylor loves a good maim Posted: April 27, 2009 at 11:23 PM (#3154907)
Sorry, didn't mean to leave out the Fontenot/DeRosa thing:

Fontenot: .236/.364/.345
DeRosa: .195/.271/.338

Perhaps we can use a Gregg/Ceda vs. Wood one as well.
   6. Meatwad Posted: April 27, 2009 at 11:35 PM (#3154943)
fukudome doesnt look lost at the plate thats the biggest thing, and hell maybe leave him in the 3 hole if he keeps hitting
   7. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: April 28, 2009 at 12:14 AM (#3155059)
On Fukudome -- I still don't think he "looks good." He's getting results right now but I still hate his swing. I wonder if he's "cheating" at the moment, getting the bat started earlier to get around on the ball, which will get exploited later if he is. Obviously I hope he's for real -- and I should probably have more faith in his NPB numbers.

I would like to see some NPB video of him hitting to see if his style has become a little more "extreme" in MLB.

Out of curiosity, do you think Ichiro looks good at the plate. He bails out early too - though it's less exaggerated than Fukudome.

Sure, the swing is atypical, but he's generating a ton of line drives. That's what I'm talking about when I say he looks good.
   8. Walt Davis Posted: April 28, 2009 at 02:30 AM (#3155379)
Out of curiosity, do you think Ichiro looks good at the plate. He bails out early too

No, of course I don't think he looks good at the plate (though it's been years since I've seen much of him, my memory may be worse than reality) but I can see that as a more effective approach for a high-BA contact speed kinda guy who can be productive spraying the ball around. If Fukudome could hit 330, I'd be OK with it. :-)

I'm not saying that approach can't work for Fukudome and obviously you don't totally retool a guy at his age. But it still doesn't look like a swing that can generate consistent power. But, as I mentioned a week or two ago, as a CF, I'm fine with Kosuke as he is really -- after this hot start, his career MLB line now stands at 270/373/410 for a 101 OPS+. And I totally agree he's been a major positive so far. Let's vote him in for the AS team! :-)
   9. SouthSideRyan Posted: April 28, 2009 at 02:35 AM (#3155388)
And I totally agree he's been a major positive so far. Let's vote him in for the AS team! :-)


I'm all for it, just to put cardsfanboy in a straightjacket.
   10. Andere Richtingen Posted: April 28, 2009 at 07:27 AM (#3155551)
Yeah, to me (inasmuch as I can judge solely from box scores) this looks like a good team going through a bad stretch. Obviously, they can only sustain so many injuries, so any additional losses of key players are going to have a major impact, but to me this looks like the wheels are still on.

Also, is it just me, or is the calendar on the Cubs MLB homepage completely screwed up? It has the Cubs as having lost their Tues 28 Apr game against Arizona 7-2, with Monday being an off day. Maybe MLB's webmasters didn't account for people in Europe paying attention?
   11. Moses Taylor loves a good maim Posted: April 28, 2009 at 06:30 PM (#3155950)
I picked the wrong day to praise Lilly for being the best starter. And Patton really might just be a terrible pitcher. I saw some promise, but I don't see any reason why someone like him should be on team ahead of Gaudin, Vizcaino, or even Wuertz.

Lou's not happy with the team's defense at all.
   12. Meatwad Posted: April 28, 2009 at 08:31 PM (#3156059)
geo will be benched tonight
   13. And You Thought Zonk Was Terminated? Posted: April 28, 2009 at 08:42 PM (#3156072)
I know it's my mind overreacting, and it's beyond silly to think this...

But I'm starting to get a really bad 1985 vibe off of this team.
   14. Moses Taylor loves a good maim Posted: April 28, 2009 at 09:10 PM (#3156098)
Benched is not the word you're looking for meat. He's getting the night off. If he's on the bench again tomorrow, then maybe I'd call it that. Hill has been better than him so far, offensively and defensively. But no one expects that to continue.
   15. Meatwad Posted: April 28, 2009 at 10:30 PM (#3156178)
i didnt mean that he is benched for a few games just that he will be sitting tonight
   16. KB JBAR (trhn) Posted: May 04, 2009 at 12:37 AM (#3162640)
I think Vizcaino is having trouble getting a sniff for a major league gig. Last I read, the Rangers were considering him for AAA insurance which should give you a sense of what teams think of him. Gaudin had a good, albeit short, first start but got shelled today. Wuertz is pitching really well right now, but i think his exit was more due to Lou (or possibly Rothschild) than Hendry.

In theory, I'm okay with Patton in the role of a mopup man with upside. The problem with Patton is Neal Cotts. Blowing two relief spots on guys whom you can't trust makes for effectively a four man bullpen. And considering that one of those 4 is Angel Guzman, the bullpen is just too unpredictable (or, less charitably, bad). In my opinion, Vizcaino and Gaudin wouldn't be the answer, since it appears that the best you can hope for is mediocrity from them. Losing Wuertz for an old, failed prospect who can't hit .200 in AA to pinch a few pennies is the part that really hurts.
   17. SouthSideRyan Posted: May 04, 2009 at 01:43 AM (#3162665)
it's a 12 man staff, so that'd make it a 5 man pen. And give Gooz a chance, he's good.
   18. KB JBAR (trhn) Posted: May 04, 2009 at 04:21 AM (#3162732)
I was doing it in my head and forgot about Heilman, which is weird since he's my second favorite behind Marmol. Still, a pen that's effectively only Heilman, Marmol, Gregg, Samardzija and Guzman is trouble. There's a lot of upside there if Heilman, Marmol and Gregg can pitch to their ability, but with Marmol's recent troubles, there's nobody there you can rely on.

I like Guzman a lot, but I stand by my assessment of him as unpredictable. His peripherals are pretty good--a few too many walks for my taste--and his stuff is outstanding, but I don't feel particularly comfortable with him out there. I'm really glad he's a cub, as I think he's exciting.

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