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I’m Back, and Here Are My Thoughts

Phillies Cubs BaseballI’m finally ready to get back to my Cubs coverage, I’m sorry that it took so long, but I finally have everything set up in my dorm but first, it’s been a while, how about a little update on how the writer is doing (shameless promotion time, if you don’t care, skip down a few paragraphs).

I was asked by Bleacher Report to do an article on Michael Jordan, and I got the first six bottles of Jordan Gatorade produced, check it out if you can here.

I am also going to be part of the new and exciting Fan Huddle. It is launching September 10th of this season. Everything looks outstanding and there are a ton of dedicated writers who can fill you in on any team you want. If you want to check out my writing I will be doing fantasy basketball analysis for the NBA Central Division. To read any of my work there, go to FanHuddle.com any date after September 10th.

Now on to Cubs analysis. I will start by giving my thoughts on the team in two words. Read the rest of this entry »

Inconsistency Could Lead to a Dissapointing Season

17The Chicago Cubs came into this season with the expectation of at least contending for a World Series title.

However, they have struggled mightily this season and they have been unable to live up to the high expectations that accompanied a seemingly unstoppable pitching rotation and batting order.

As of late, the Cubs have been even worse, as they have gone 3-5 in the month of May.  What the problem has been for the Cubs is an inability to be consistently strong.

When they have great offensive days, they have been accompanied with great pitching days, and bad offensive days have been accompied with dismal pitching.

In the Cubs three wins this month, they have scored 7, 10 and 11 runs in each game, but in their five losses, they scored 0, 1, 3, 2 and 2 runs.  Compare that to the 2, 3 and 3 runs allowed in the three wins and the 3, 7, 4, 8 and 7 runs in the losses.

The Cubs need to be able to put together more wins, and that starts with both sides of the ball being held responsible when both sides are dismal in the same game.

One of the main reasons for the Cubs woes so far this season is the awful offensive production by players who were looked at as people who needed to contribute for the Cubs to be strong.

Mark Bradley, who was brought in to give the Cubs a strong left handed bat, isn’t averaging a hit for every 10 at bats, and has hit just one home run in a Cubs uniform.

Derek Lee is hitting just .200 with only one home run so far this season, he also has just 10 RBI’s and hasn’t stolen a base this season.

Last year’s National League Rookie of the Year, Geovany Soto, is batting just .111 and hasn’t hit a home run.  This adds to the fact that he has missed five full games this season and has accounted for just five runs (2 RBI’s, 3 runs).

But their hitting isn’t the only problem for the Cubs this season, their pitching has been just as bad, if not worse, than the hitting.

More Cubs have an ERA over 6.00 than one under 3.00 (four to two).

And, the Cubs vaunted starting pitching, which was supposed to be one of the best starting fives in the MLB hasn’t lived up to the hype.

Every starter has an ERA over 3.00 and the Cubs top two pitchers are pitching the worst in the lineup.

Despite a quality start last night, Carlos Zambrano’s ERA is 4.64 and Ryan Dempster’s is 5.40.  This is the opposite of what you want from what was supposed to be one of the best starting lineups in all of baseball.

The two “quality pitchers” in the Cubs bullpen, who were in the heated closing competition all spring, are both having dismal seasons.

Carlos Mamol’s ERA is 6.75, and Kevin Gregg’s is 6.23.  Who knew that Neal Cotts would be having a better season than both of these two.

The only pitcher with over 10 innings pitched and an ERA under three is Aaron Heilman, who has a 0.82 ERA in 11 innings of work.  He also has as many wins as Zambrano, Rich Harden and Ted Lilly, and more wins than Ryan Dempster.

The Cubs need to finally get their stuff together, and they need to start playing up to their full potential.  The Cubs are a team that needs a lot of production out their power spots in the lineup, and they just haven’t gotten that this year.

Without the pitching to make up for it, the Cubs may be in line for a mediocre season without much winning.

Then again, there are 142 games left for the Cubs, and anything can happen.

-Joe Willett

Thoughts on the Chicago Cubs

111It’s Easter, and the Cubs will be playing in about an hour in the rubber match against the Brew Crew.

Fresh off of a Blackhawks shutout over the Detroit Red Wings (I had to watch hockey today with my family) the Cubs will try to add another win for Chicago tonight.

I have been pretty dormant lately and I figured I could offer a few thoughts on the Cubs through the first five games of the season.

We are only 3-2 and the start has not been that impressive

Sure, we could easily be 4-1, but that will be talked about a little later. This Cubs team can look amazing (see the eight run first two innings against the Astros) but they haven’t been able to put together a full game yet.

I am a little scared that we haven’t been able to pull together a dominant performance even with the stout pitching and amazing hitting we have on paper.

Milton Bradley may only have one hit, but he has been impressive

If you look at Bradley’s raw hitting, it isn’t too impressive, but when you take into account each time he has walked to the plate, he still almost always finds a way to get get on base.

Despite being one for 16 at the plate, Bradley has an OBP of .318 thanks to five walks and a hit by pitch. He also has scored three runs thus far this season.

Oh, by the way, his one and only hit was a solo home run.

Besides Lilly, the starting pitching has been fantastic

Cubs starters continue to put up quality start after quality start thus far this season.

Carlos Zambrano has started two games this season, pitching 12 inning, allowing four runs, for a 3.00 ERA. Ryan Dempster’s last outing was strong, with six innings pitched and just two runs scored, he had a very successful showing in his season debut.

Rich Harden was lights out in his debut, allowing just one earned run on three hits in six innings.  Harden even struck out a ton, as usual, fanning 10 in an impressive start.

The only bad outing has been thrown by Ted Lilly, who was backed up by 11 Cubs runs, allowing him to avoid the L despite allowing five runs in five innings.

Kevin Gregg scares me as the closer

Listen, he had a great Spring Training, and I am trying to take nothing away from his ability, I just don’t trust him to hold down the fort in the ninth inning.

He has already blown one save this season as the Brewers were able to tear him apart in the ninth inning two nights ago, and the fact that he led the majors in blown saves last year is a big red flag.

I think that Sweet Lou should start throwing Carlos Marmol in the ninth and moving Gregg into the eight inning, everything would probably go a lot smoother and everybody would pitch better under those circumstances.

Kosuke Fukudome anybody?

The man was looked at as a possible major liability to this team, with a monster contract and seemingly not enough talent, the Asian Sensation was seemingly done in the MLB.

Then, something crazy happened, he had a great spring. Then, unlike Gregg above, he brought that momentum into the regular season.

Fukudome is batting over .400 with two home runs, three RBI’s, and one stolen base. More good news for Fukudome, Piniella just announced that he will no longer be lifting the surprise player for defensive purposes.

-Joe Willett