check outcheck out Bama Sports Blog - An Alabama BlogBama Sports Blog - An Alabama Blog
SportsBlogNet - Your last stop for everything sports-relateda part of Sports Blog Net
 

Throwing Praise Cubs’ Way

I’m not the only one pleased with the direction the “new” Cubs are taking. Former baseball GM Jim Bowden came out in favor of Theo and Jed’s winter moves on ESPN.

thumbnailWhile I still have cringe-inducing memories of Bowden as GM of my “other” team, the Nationals — namely his man-crush on toolsy, troubled outfielders — I still think he basically knows what he’s talking about. And he makes some good points in the ESPN piece.

Basically, Bowden said the new regime entered Phase 1 of the rebuilding project with the goals of adding more depth to the rotation, making the lineup more left-handed, improving the defense and beefing up the farm system, and the Cubs’ recent moves have accomplished these tasks.

There’s no doubting that the rotation is now over-run with arms, for lack of a more flattering word. Not pitchers, mind you, but arms. A pitcher is someone who is at least somewhat a master of his craft; an arm is a guy who can throw a baseball fairly well. Chris Volstad, Travis Wood and the more recent add-on, Paul Maholm, are arms. What they are today is what they will be tomorrow, next year and probably the rest of their careers. They are guys that expansion teams populate their rotations with.

But I’m not knocking them. I’d rather have experienced arms like this trio than baby arms like Casey Coleman who are more likely to give you 2 innings and 6 earned runs than a quality start, or geezer arms like Rodrigo Lopez who wouldn’t even make an expansion team. Keep in mind, this is a rebuilding project. It will take time to develop and acquire pitchers, so in the meantime, and for the sake of being at least mildly competitive, we need solid arms. And now the Cubs have more arms than Vishnu.

When it comes to restocking the farm system, I love the Anthony Rizzo acquisition. Yes, he flopped horribly with the Padres last year — I think he had like a negative 300 WAR, but he was actually a 0.1 WAHSC (Wins Above Hee-seop Choi) – but he probably wasn’t quite ready for the big stage and San Diego’s Petco Park is so huge it can sap the confidence of any young slugger. All Rizzo might need is to pop a couple of wind-aided taters over the ivy on a hot summer day in order to feel like he belongs in The Show, and from there the sky is the limit. All indications are that he has the maturity and drive to ultimately make it — it’s just a question of how good he will be.

So all in all, a promising start to The New Era. Now if we could only get rid of those damn blue alternate jerseys …

Reality Sets In

Finally put the finishing touches on the latest book and now can return to my “other” passion.

Say this for the Cubs new regime — it’s grounded in reality. No proclamations about how we’re going for it in 2012. No scoffing at the thought of rebuilding. Nope, the Cubs’ new honchos know full well that (A) the team they took over stinks and (B) that team will continue to stink for at least a little while longer.

Acting upon these sensible notions, GM Jed Hoyer recently made some moves that will have no consequence on the team when he signed pitchers Andy Sonnanstine and Manny Corpas. Sonnanstine had decent years in 2008 and ’10 and was atrocious in ’07, ’09 and ’11. Since 2012 is an even-numbered year, I guess we should expect blessed medocrity. Even so, given Andy’s penchant for serving up homers, the Bleacher Bums should get their throwing arms loosened up whenever they see him warming up in the bullpen.

Corpas came out of nowhere to capably fill in as Colorado’s closer when the Rockies made their unlikely run to the 2007 World Series. Then he became terrible, and then he became seriously injured (Tommy John surgery) and missed last season. So there’s a good chance he won’t even make the team.

With skads of real pitchers still available on the open market, this is what we get. And that’s a good thing. No sense in blowing meaningful money in order to turn a bad team into an average one. But in case you have any doubts about Hoyer’s dim view of the Cubs’ immediate future, look no further than the recent trade of Sean Marshall to the Reds. Simply put, you don’t deal one of your best hurlers to a division rival unless you’re basically conceding defeat before Spring Training has even begun.

Sure, it hurts. No one wants to see their favorite team go all San Diego Padres on them. 2012 will be an ugly year. All indications are Matt Garza will be the next out the door. Prince Fielder won’t be racing to the North Side on a white horse any time soon. It’s tough to swallow, but it’s our reality. And we can only have faith that Jed and the gang will get the job done … some day.

How Derek Lee and Aramis Ramirez Are Holding the Cubs Back

98479328_croppedWhile watching the Cubs today, you got a great view of just how bad the Cubs supposed “stars” are while also seeing how the less impressive players have stepped up trying to fix the situation.

The Cubs entered their game against the Philadelphia Phillies with four straight wins and hoping to sweep a second straight two-game series after taking the first game last night in convincing fashion.

This game was much closer, and was included multi-hit games by both historically-underwhelming Mike Fontenot and rookie Starlin Castro.

In the ninth inning, the Cubs were down just one run and going up against former crosstown rival Jose Contreras and started off the inning with a bang. Read the rest of this entry »

Cubbies Finally on A Roll And Zambrano Back to the Rotation

Rockies Cubs BaseballLast night, Carlos Silva got another quality start, pitching six innings and allowing two runs to drop his ERA to 3.35 and improve to 5-0 on the season.

On a night when we learned that Carlos Zambrano will be returning to the starting rotation shortly, a different Carlos was able to steal the show by pitching six scoreless innings before allowing a two-run home run without recording an out in the seventh and being taken out.

After going 2-9 in an 11 game stretch, the Cubs have been able to pull off three strait wins after taking the finale against the division rival Pittsburgh Pirates and sweeping a two game series against the Colorado Rockies. Read the rest of this entry »

Who Can I Blame For The Season So Far?

97635769JB032_Chicago_Cubs_One week ago the Cubs were 13-13, coming off of a sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks and looked to be back on track to get the most out of their team this season.

All was well in Wrigleyville.

Fast-forward to present day and the Cubs are 14-20 and coming off of being swept by the Pittsburgh Pirates (14-19) and about to suffer the same fate against the Florida Marlins (16-17) pending tomorrow’s matinee as the Cubs try to stop their four game slide.

So one big question continues to pop up in my mind, as I always love to play the blame game. That question is… Read the rest of this entry »

News and Notes From Spring Training

chi_u_lilly_576Sorry for the three-day delay with posts, there is just very little going on. With that in mind, I will try to squeeze out whatever stories are happening and give you some updates on the Cubs.

Here are a few stories that have happened over the past few days.

Aramis Ramirez returns to the diamond

Ramirez has missed some time this spring because of a sore right tricep, but he returned on Tuesday against the Royals as a DH and went 2-3 with an RBI. He hasn’t played since March 13th, but he looked like he hadn’t missed any time in his three at bats. Read the rest of this entry »

Cubs Shortstops Stepping Up Big

mlb_g_theriot11_576Although 19-year-old prospect was sent to the minors yesterday, Starlin Castro has spent his Spring Training turning heads and creating quite a controversy as to whether or not the Cubs should give the young prospect a shot in the minors.

Although Castro turns 20 in just a few days, he has been playing like a veteran, batting near .500 and striking out just once in 26 at bats before being sent down. He caused Lou Piniella to re-evaluate whether or not he should give the youngster a shot.

“Castro had a phenomenal spring for a young player,” Piniella said. “Nineteen years old, to come in here and look like a veteran and swing the bat … he showed his athleticism. He came in here highly touted and left here even more touted.” Read the rest of this entry »

Is Carlos Silva Turning His Career Around in Chicago?

Rangers Cubs Spring BaseballYesterday, Cubs newly acquired pitcher Carlos Silva pitched in his third outing of Spring Training, and he continued his progression as he works on his retooled delivery. After a horrific start in his first Spring Training appearance, Silva has been doing better and better with each outing.

In his first start of the spring, Silva pitched horribly, giving up six runs on seven hits against the rival Chicago White Sox all in just two innings of work. The bad start was expected by those who looked into Silva’s history with the Mariners and Twins.

However, in his two starts since he has pitched seven scoreless innings, got the win on both occasions, and has done a great job with his pitches as he makes up for his bad first start. He’s allowed six hits and one walk over the two appearances, giving him a very low WHIP of 1.00 in those two performances, and he lowered his ERA from 27.00 to 6.00. Read the rest of this entry »

Position Breakdown: Outfield

mlb_a_byrd12_576The Cubs outfield has been extremely expensive over the past couple of years, and they have failed to get their money’s worth, as they sign free agent after free agent to big contracts without much, if any, improvement.

Although getting rid of Milton Bradley was a great move and took money off the payroll, the Cubs still have a lot of money tied up in two out of the three outfield spots, and they need to start seeing some production from those corner outfielders.

They did make a move to bring in a centerfielder coming off of a career year, and they will need him to produce if they want to be competitive. But he isn’t the only guy that they have their hopes high on, with another free agent outfielder who will back up two out of the three outfield spots and battle for playing time.

Here is a look at the outfield:

LF: Alfonso Soriano
CF: Marlon Byrd
RF: Kosuke Fukudome Read the rest of this entry »

News and Notes From Spring Training

chi_a_castro_576The Cubs have completed 12 games thus far in Spring Training, and through those games they are 8-4, which doesn’t mean much, but it does mean that they have been getting good performances from a lot of people.

Here are the stories that are important so far in Spring Training: Read the rest of this entry »