Welcome to Open Forum Fridays. Just like the good ole USA, majority rules at the good ole CCO. Each Friday pressing topics will be written about and then decided by the CCO. Whether it’s one topic, five topics or as it is this week, four topics.
We ask that you begin your comment or post with your answer on the topics for the day … then feel free to explain how you came to your conclusion. The forum will be open until 5:00pm CST … one hour after the forum closes, the majority’s decision will be posted.
The Battles of Spring
Spring Training is heating up, and soon so will the competition on the field. Not only will the Cubs be playing other teams, but also they will be battling their teammates for starting jobs and playing time.
The match-ups listed below are my thoughts, with a winner and a loser. Please let us all know your thoughts below. Hey folks, it’s “Open Forum Friday!” Ryan Theriot vs. Starlin Castro – SS
Ryan Theriot is the incumbent and has made it clear that he will help Castro anyway he can, but that it is his job and Castro must come get it.
Theriot has a lot to prove after losing his arbitration hearing and feeling the heat from Baseball America’s cover boy. Castro will be 20-years-old on March 24 and has skyrocketed through the Cubs farm system. Most fans are leery of the “best prospects” because so many have flopped, especially in the last 10 years.
Theriot is a scrapper. He goes all out and, as many have said, always appears to be on the edge of out of control. He is an average fielder at best, but a proven top-of-the-order hitter in the Bigs. Starlin Castro is the future SS of the Cubs. However, his immediate future starts in Iowa. Look for Theriot to be the Opening Day shortstop.
Kosuke Fukudome vs. Xavier Nady – RF
Kosuke Fukudome is entering his third year on the North Side. After the first game of 2008, the Cubs and their fans had high hopes for this Japanese import, but he has failed to deliver in the second half of each of his two seasons. A hot start will only elicit skepticism from the masses.
Xavier Nady is coming off his second Tommy John surgery and should be back to 100% sometime in the first half of the season. He has a one-year contract and will be playing for his next one. If he puts up offensive numbers similar to his past, it will be hard for Fukudome to hold onto his spot for very long.
Look for Fukudome to start the year in right, but come July, The X-Man will be the starting right fielder.
Jeff Samardzija vs. Tom Gorzelanny – 5th Starter
Tom Gorzelanny is a former All-Star and proven starter in the majors. He has had his ups and downs and struggled mightily since his Summer Classic appearance before being traded to the Cubs last year. He is a more proven and cheaper option than the Shark, but the contract signed by the Shark gives him an upper hand here.
Jeff Samardzija should be given every chance to win the 5th starter job. He came out blazing in 2008, but suffered a large setback last year with a 7+ ERA. He spent the offseason honing his secondary pitches and looks to make an impact in Spring Training.
Tom Gorzelanny will win the role to start the season, and Samardzija should be sent to Iowa. The Shark has been moved back and forth too often the past two seasons and I, like many others, think this has slowed his development. Either he starts for the Cubs or he starts for Iowa. There should be no two ways about that. If Samardzija is the pitcher the Cubs thought they drafted in the 5th round in 2006, then he could be ready to join the rotation by July. For now, it will most likely be the Southpaw from Evergreen Park, IL.
Jeff Baker vs. Mike Fontenot – 2B
I have a feeling this battle is one no Cubs fan really wanted to see. In our heart of hearts, we would love Castro to be ready and have Theriot back at 2B, but that doesn’t appear to be very likely at this point.
Jeff Baker played well, hit well and showed impressive versatility for the Cubs after arriving via trade from Colorado last July.
Conversely, Mike Fontenot struggled mightily in what was supposed to be his breakout season. Little Babe Ruth has shown flashes of power and above-average hitting, but he has never been able to put it all together. Will he get a chance to do so in 2010, or will he be part of a platoon?
Unless one of the two has a blistering spring, look for Baker and Fontenot to split time at 2B. Also, Baker will be subbing for Ramirez at third so that should allow a little extra playing time for Fontenot as well.
Well, that’s my take. What is yours? Agree? Disagree? Both? Neither?
I know you all have opinions, so lets hear them.
Until next time …
Stay Classy Cubs Fans