Observations After Six Games

The start of the 2008 campaign for the Chicago Cubs did not go exactly as many as hoped, including Lou Piniella. But after losing 2 of 3 to the Brewers, the Cubs won their first series of the young season on Sunday and have won 3 of the last 4.

Some players have met expectations, some have exceeded them and a few players have struggled in the first homestand of the season. Here is a quick look at how Piniella’s 25-man roster performed in the first week….

Pitchers

Ryan Dempster – Other than Carlos Zambrano, Dempster was Piniella’s best starting pitcher the first time through the rotation. Now the question is, can he keep it up?

Kevin Hart – Bad start to the season on Wednesday, impressive on Saturday. He earned his first big league win and Kerry Wood even gave him the ball.

Rich Hill – Good start on Friday but he threw a lot of pitches. Needs to cut down the pitch count and on the walks. Thursday’s start against the Pirates will be a good test.

Bobby Howry – Another bad start and Piniella will not use him for a while with a lead. The Cubs need Howry to be successful, mop up duty is not an option. But a 0-1 record with a 16.78 ERA in 3 games with a 3.00 WHIP (5 runs on 8 hits in 2 2/3 innings) is more than alarming. Howry will get better, but the question is….how long will it take?

Jon Lieber – One outing, no defense….enough said.

Ted Lilly – Both good and bad in his first start. Monday is big game for Lilly after a questionable spring.

Carlos MarmolSenor Nasty had a good week….1 run on 2 hits in 4 games (5 innings) with 6 strikeouts and 1 walk, a 1.80 ERA and a 0.60 WHIP.

Jason Marquis – The bottom line….his team won another game that he started. Must keep the ball down, left the sinker up on Saturday and the Astros took advantage.

Carmen Pignatiello – 2/3 of an inning, 1 run on 2 hits. Small sample size against a team that pounds lefties. With Scott Eyre on the shelf longer than expected, he will get his chance to prove he belongs….but he must improve.

Kerry Wood – Wood had everyone saying he was washed up on Monday….dominant ever since. Call him ‘Kloser K‘ or ‘Wild Woody‘ but he finished his first week healthy and with 3 saves in 3 chances.

Michael Wuertz – Shhhh! Quiet please….no one knows Wuertz is in the pen. Yet to allow an earned run in 2008.

Carlos Zambrano – Too much caffeine….needs potassium. Very good start to the season and he has quietly gone about his business. The most impressive stat….1 walk in 13 2/3 innings.

Catchers

Henry Blanco – Hank White singled in his first start on Sunday. Needs to keep mentoring young Mr. Soto.

Geovany Soto – An erratic start and probably the most up and down week of any Cub. Soto showed how good and bad he can be, both in the field and at the plate. The pitchers like throwing to him and he hit the ball hard all week; plus he showed up early on a scheduled day off to work on his defense….Soto will continue to improve.

Infielders

Ronny Cedeno – Not much playing time. Big pinch hit single and run scored on Saturday.

Mark DeRosa – Good start to the season and is benefiting from hitting behind Kosuke Fukudome. Bad error on Friday led to a loss and he must cut down on grounding into inning ending double plays. DeRosa will start seeing time at other places on the field soon.

Mike Fontenot – His back locked up on Friday but he has come through off the bench….3 hits in 5 at bats with a double, a stolen base and scored the tying run on Saturday. Not bad for a guy that was not supposed to make the Opening Day roster.

Derrek LeeRon Santo said it on Saturday….”He’s back.” Good, possibly great, first week. Hitting the ball hard to all fields. Check this line…. .400/.423/.880 with 3 doubles, 3 home runs and 22 total bases in 6 games.

Aramis RamirezThe RBI Machine showed a lot of patience at the plate in the first 6 games….5 walks, but he only has 4 total hits and 1 home run. Ramirez has scored 5 runs and will improve on his .211 batting average….but his .375 OBP is a welcomed sight. If Fukudome can stay hot, Ramirez will get more balls he can hit. His walk on Saturday kept the 7th inning alive. Up and down week with his glove as well, but it is April in Chicago and Ramirez does not like the cold. He will heat up with the weather.

Ryan Theriot - Theriot has hit in four different spots in Piniella’s lineup in the first 6 games. He’s been solid at short, but has struggled at the plate…. .200/.231/.240 with a double, a walk and 6 total bases. Theriot needs to step it up over the next week and try to relax at the same time.

Daryle Ward – Played an inning in left field on Friday….2 at bats in 4 games with 2 walks.

Outfielders

Kosuke FukudomeFukudome Mania has hit Chicago. He has become a fan favorite in his first full week….and what a week it was. He was 3-for-3 in his debut with a game tying 3-run homer in the 9th on Monday and then on Saturday, he drove in the winning runs with 40,000 plus chanting his name. His fundamentals in the field and at the plate are a welcomed site at the old ballpark. There is only one question…. Does he have a baseball school back in his homeland? Maybe ‘The Fukudome School of Fundamentals

It will be interesting to see how he performs on the road….and once the rest of the league is able to watch a little tape.

Reed Johnson – Solid first week, good compliment to Felix Pie….but the best way to describe Johnson is….he’s a ballplayer. So far, a good pickup and as advertisted.

Felix Pie – All of the tools and a rough start but Piniella must be patient. He is a winner and will improve on his .214/.267/.214 line.

Alfonso Soriano – A horrible week, left a ton on base but showed his value on Sunday…. despite a 2-for-2008 start. He will hit and he will continue making outfield assist after outfield assist. It is up to Piniella to find a solid number two hitter to serve as another leadoff man because Soriano is as streaky as they come.

The next week is a big week for the Cubs. Six games in Pennsylvania….three against the dangerous Pirates and three against probably the best lineup in the National League. A winning road trip would be a great way to welcome Dusty back to Chicago on April 15th.

Quote of the Day

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anais Nin
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