The New-Look Cubs Look to Rely on Defense More Than Ever

During this off-season, the Cubs have seen a complete overhaul of the team’s starting rotation. Carlos Zambrano’s days in a Cub uniform are over, and it seems as if Matt Garza’s days are waning as well. The new front-office has made several notable, although low-key additions to the rotation.

The team traded fan-favorite Sean Marshall for Travis Wood, flipped the aforementioned Carlos Zambrano for Chris Volstad, then added Paul Maholm to the mix. All three recently-added pitchers represent bounce-back candidates, and pitchers who maintain minimal risk while holding an abundance value within their respective contracts.

All three of the additions also mark a change in the Cubs philosophy. Gone are the days of the high-octane starting rotations of the early 2000′s, littered with flamethrowers such as Mark Prior, Kerry Wood, Matt Clement, and Carlos Zambrano. Now, the only pitcher whose fastball velocity is above 91 mph is Matt Garza.

With the marked decrease in velocity, comes the decrease in strikeouts. Only Garza and Ryan Dempster held K/9 rates over 6.5 last season. Cubs’ teams in the near future will see starting pitchers pitch to contact, forcing their defense to make plays and convert outs.

The only problem is that the Cubs stand as one of the worst teams in the league at converting hits into outs.

Over the past three years, the Cubs are the eleventh-best team in all of baseball at getting to balls in play. The Cubs’ range is not in question. The team hosts one of the more athletic middle-infields in baseball, and the athleticism has furthermore increased with the additions of Ian Stewart, Anthony Rizzo, and David DeJesus.

The issue with the Cubs’ defense is that they are frustratingly vulnerable to errors. Over the past three years, the active roster has yielded the most Error Runs (that is, committed the most amount of errors compared to the league) in all of baseball.

Much of this is due to Starlin Castro, who has the ability to make some spectacular plays, however he’s made a total of 56 errors during the two seasons he’s been in the league. Of course, there is always room for improvement in his fielding, especially since he will only be 22 years old next season. However, much of the team is on the wrong side of 30, and a noticeable fall of athleticism could coincide with the team’s rise in age.

Next season’s Cubs team will certainly be a new-look one. For the first time in a while there is actually zero hope for a team that is mostly rostering league-average players, while reserving hope to trade the players who succeed, and possibly netting the team some young talent.

The success of the starting rotation (especially the back-end) hinges on the success of the defense; if the defense can convert outs, then the team will do well. If it cannot, the team will be abysmal. That’s such a simple philosophy, but it is an idea that has been lost on recent Cub teams.
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Ray Firnbach, Jr. is an avid Cubs fan and also writes his own blog, The Unfortunate Cubs Fan. Ray will add another statistical view of the game to the CCO with his contributions.

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO

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  • Tom U

    Welcome to the CCO, Ray.

    • Raymond Firnbach

      Hey, thanks a lot Tom!

  • Ripsnorter1

    Was reading a scouting report on Maholm yesterday. Maholm is a ground ball pitcher–over 50% of the balls in play against him are grounders.  In this article the author offered statistical proof that his 3.66 ERA was due to Ronny Cedeno and Neil Walker’s defense. Cedeno was the 3rd best defender in MLB at the SS position in 2011. Both Walker and Cedeno excel at fielding balls up the middle, where many of Maholm’s ground balls went. 

    Then he compared Castro and Barney to them. Castro was the worst defending SS in MLB in 2011. Barney is weak on balls hit up the middle. Barney participated in only half as many double plays as did Walker. 

    The author’s conclusion: it may be difficult for Maholm to repeat his 2011 ERA.

    • cubtex

      This is another perfect example on how worthless many rankings are! Take a look at total chances per player in 2011.

      Ronny Cedeno-   601 Chances

      Starlin Castro-     742 Chances

      Huge difference!!!!

      • J Daniel

        Agree and believe Castro will get much better with experience.  We all know the focus issue but he gets to so many that others can’t.  If the can’t get it, move him to third :)!

      • Ripsnorter1

        Let’s consider your stats, Cubtex…..

        Games played at SS:Cedeno….125 games, 118 starts, 108 complete games.

        Castro:158 games…157 starts….157 complete games.Just shows you how those stats can be twisted. Castro should have more chances, he had an extra 49 complete games.

  • cubs1967

    let’s review defense……….for a 2012 team that will lose 100 games:

    C-Soto-same
    1B-Lahair or Rizzo-worse than Pena
    2B-Barney-same…some improvement possible 2nd yr
    SS-Castro-should improve; but no Pena…wash at best
    3B-Stewart-better’
    LF-Soriano-worse-older
    CF-Jackson-better But if Byrd-same
    RF-DeJesus-slight better-worse arm-about same(Fukudome)

    ?????…………this is not a better defensive team……….in fact with estes jr (wood) and maholm throwing up their lollipop curves……more chances…..more errors.

    Not impressed.

    • Anthony

      your post is accurate, what can Castro do to improve?

      • cubtex

        just learn the league more….. become more comfortable and consistent. A better 2nd baseman would help as well.

        • paulcatanese

          It would also help if the second baseman was a natural second baseman and not a converted shortstop. One big reason I would never want to see Castro moved over there.

          Now, third base, thats another story.:)

    • cubtex

      that is what I have been saying

      • Cubs4vr

        Larkin and Jeter made tons of errors when they first came up.  Both ended up being pretty good shortstops.  I’m not worried about Castro’s fielding.

        • cubtex

          so did Furcal, Hanley Ramirez, and the list goes on. He is very very young. He will improve. He has size, range and an arm. You don’t want to move a player with all three of those skills until he proves he can’t play there.

          • paulcatanese

            Agree, but he needs to start making his move, and you have to admit with what is going to be over at first base it’s going to be harder for him to do that. No D Lee or Pena. It has to play with Castro’s head.

            All kidding aside, I hope he succeeds at shortstop. With Theo’s plan of long range success is in Castro’s favor, he will have the time to do just that.

    • paulcatanese

      You’re assessment is correct, 100 losse’s, thats the only thing that may not happen, but they will be close, I will give you that.

      Agree on LaHair and Rizzo with the glove, with Rizzo being the better fielder, but as a hitter? Who knows.

      Barney needs a position he can excel at as second base is not it.

      Castro, this is now the third year for him at short, yes he should improve, but with the two options at first base, doubtful.

      Stewart, don’t know a thing about him, so can’t comment.

      Soriono,well, Soriono is Soriono, with age catching up.

      Who knows if Jackson can play the position? We haven’t seen him at this level for any amount of time as he still a minor leaguer by the Cubs choice, will he ever come up?

      Byrd? Any bat will surpass him, and he also is losing steps out there.

      DeJesus, another punch and judy hitter with a suspect arm.

      Lastly Soto, don’t see him improving at all.

      You’re post is on the money, and without the strikeout pitcher,
      nowhere, the errors will continiue.

  • cubs1967

    where’s the money tommyboy??

    C-Soto 4.5M/est. arb
    Castillo-500K (rounded up)
    1b-Lahair-500 K
    2b-Barney-500K
    SS-Castro-500K
    3b-Stewart-2M (10% less)
    LF-Sori-18M
    CF-Byrd-6.5M
    RF-DeJesus-4.25M
    Johnson-1M
    Either Capana, Saffelt, BJax-500K
    UTIl-Baker-1.5M/est arb
    Dewitt-1M
    Owed to Pena-5M

    Total:46.25M

    SP-Garza-8M/est arb
    Dempster-14M
    Maholm-4.75M
    Estes Jr-500K
    Volstad-3M/est arb
    Wells-1M
    (assume volstad or wells make team as Long relief)

    Marmol-7.9M
    K Wood-3M
    Russell-500K
    Beleveiu-500K
    Smardz-2.5M/est
    Dolis/Mateo-500K

    Don’t think Sonnastine or Corpas make team…….guessing salaries of 1M….not much diff from kids

    Owed to Z–15M

    Total: 61.5M

    Total: 108M rounded up

    SO……….there is 27M missing from last year. Even more if Garza gets moved.  Where is it?

    Hint……..look across the street…..McDonald’s cost 20M.

    Why weren’s tix prices lowered 20% like the payroll??

    2013 I expect the same when 40M comes off the books…….
    (saving monies for Sori release or to pay for Wrigley when the Ricketts finally figure out…….Chicago/the State are broke!)

    BUT none of it for the team on the field……..are we loyal or suckers?

    • jiba11

      I agree with you 100%! Where is the money? The cubs have one of the highest average ticket prices in MLB. Yes I know, a lot of the money was reallocated to scouting and personnel, but in Theo’s words:

      “Every opportunity to win is sacred,” Epstein said. “It’s sacred to us inside the organization and it should be sacred to the fans as well. They deserve our best efforts to do what we can to improve the club, and put the club in position to succeed in any given season.”

      I don’t feel like they have put this 2012 team in a position to succeed.

      • Anthony

        Garza, and maybe a few minor leaguers could bring back current MLB starters to make 2012 a sacred winning opportunity as far as trade.

        There are No free agents left to play the role of Superman, and folks “infatuated” with the thought that a Ham and Pickle sandwich for 50M is the savior are possibly myopic

        It is a transitional season. The goal, hope some unexpected cream rises to the Top from the minor leagues and go shopping in 2013 for plugs.

         
         

    • Scott

      Where exactly would you want them to drop the extra money?  I won’t disagree that if the payroll continues to fall and the ticket prices continue to rise then there is a serious disconnect between Ricketts and the fans, but if it is one year, I can live with that.  I just don’t see who we could get (especially in your eyes) that would make that much of a difference.  Would you want Pujols or Fielder for 8-10 years?  The last 8 year deal that Cubs handed out was for a 30 year old coming off a 40/40 season and was for “only” 136M.  Fielder will get a lot more than that and Pujols got more than 100M more than that.  Would you want Edwin Jackson for 5/75?  Yikes.  I’m not sold on CJ Wilson.  Yu Darvish could be the next Hideki Irabu.  WHO (specifically) would you get to win in 2012?

      Personally, I am hoping that the change of Quade to Sveum makes a similar type of change that the San Francisco 49ers saw with a change from Singletary to Harbaugh.  They don’t have much of a different roster, yet went from 6-10 to 13-3.  Now, I don’t think that only changing the manager will increase the Cubs winning percentage by 0.4375 (which would be winning about 71 MORE games, lol), but I think that bringing in guys that play the game the right way with proper leadership and having a good manager CAN make a big difference.  Does anyone really think that the Cardinals were the best team in baseball last year or in 2006?  I certainly don’t, but LaRussa (as much as it pains me to say it) was a great manager and found a way to get it done.

      We saw what happens when you simply throw money at a roster that has a lot of problems.  It does not work.  The current roster has a lot of work that needs to be done and Epstein and Co. are working to fix that.  It will take time, and I do believe that they want to take every opportunity to win seriously – but I think they also believe that it is more important to build a system and organization that can have sustained success EVERY year as opposed to going out and buying a few more bandaids and overpaying.

      • John_CC

        Good questions, Scott.  Good luck on getting an answer. I’ve asked this very same question of all these guys that just keep bitching and moaning but never have an answer. 

        The Ricketts has actually put a lot of money into development and the draft.  But apparently this doesn’t count.

        • jiba11

          I’m not for “throwing money” just to spend it. When an elite player is available and have enough resources to go after him. Why not? I would constitute Prince as an elite talent not just a band aid. He is the power bat that the current minor league system lacks and the MLB roster needs. The cubs do have (Rizzo) but while he is a good prospect he has yet to prove that he has what it takes at the MLB level.

          • Scott

            I like Fielder too, but not at 8-10 years.  His father ate himself out of the league and since we don’t have the option of a DH, it scares me to lock Prince up for that long, especially at 24M+/yr.  If he would be willing to maybe go 5 years, maybe.  But even then, if it is going to be 2-3 years before the system overhaul is complete, that might not be money well spent.

            As I said, the last “elite” player we went after is still burning us.  Rarely do those deals work out very well (for the team at least – the player is thrilled!)

          • jiba11


            His father ate himself out of the league” – Nice!

            It’s definitively a risk, but at this point,  you have to take a risk on a 27 yr old proven MLB power bat. I’ve read good things about his character make up. I’d say the only knock is his defense.

            UZR
            2009 1.7
            2010 -7.4
            2011 -5.1

          • Scott

            And you would have to think that his defense isn’t going to get any better and will only get more challenging with Castro across the diamond.  After a year or two, we might be better with Rizzo (who is supposed to be an above average defender) than we would be with Fielder anyway.  Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t be too upset if we signed Fielder, but I think that the money could be allocated in a more beneficial way.  In two more years, Fielder would be making ~25M and Rizzo would be making about 500K.  We could use that 24M at that point to fill in any other roster deficiencies if we are ready to make a run.  Roster and financial flexibility is paramount to the success of the Cubs going forward.

          • EqDoc

            I would diagree that Fielder is an “elite” player.  He has one tool his bat and that is it.  He is not “elite” in defense, base running, or any other aspect of the game. 

          • John_CC

            Have to disagree.  He may not be fast, but one doesn’t have to steal bases to be a good baserunner, not that that is “a tool” anyway.  Prince is an elite power hitter, with average to a little below average defense.  Look at his numbers, man. Nothing but impressive.

          • paulcatanese

            Agree John,Fielder is a pretty smart baserunner,not a steal threat,but smart and will take the extra base if you let him.

          • John_CC

            Fielder is an elite power hitter. I would be fine with a 5-6 year deal.

        • cubtex

          And they have spent money on hiring the best National Cross Checker in the League!

        • GaryLeeT

          People have answered your question John, you just didn’t agree with what they had to say. Most teams put big money into player development, and scouting. The Cubs are just now catching up with the rest of baseball.

          • John_CC

            I agree that they new administration has a lot of catching up to do in the player development and scouting areas, and they are working pretty hard at it, by all accounts. 

            Is this not enough for you?  Should they be pouring tens of millions into player development for the future while simultaneously dumping tens of millions – per season – on another crop of 30 year old vets whose careers have peaked? 

            And you have not ever answered the question.  Would have preferred the long term contract of Pujols?  The 75M$ given to CJ Wilson? Buerhle or 4 years, Heath Bell, Paplebon?  Who?

            My question is: who are the Free Agents that you wanted to see signed this winter that were not?
             

      • GaryLeeT

        Throwing money at a roster is what winners have to do, eventually. Throwing money away by investing in mental midgets, like Zambrano, Soriano, Bradley, Jones, ect. is where Hendry went wrong. Even if the team is going nowhere, there is no reason to not start collecting the pieces today for the team of tomorrow. I think Darvish fit that mold perfectly, and you don’t. He hasn’t pitched in MLB yet, so the jury is still out, but you can’t say signing him would have been a bad move. Not yet anyway.

        • Scott

          I would not have been upset with signing Darvish, I’m just hesitant to drop 100M on someone who has never pitched in MLB.  He is young and, from the sound of it, has tremendous upside.  I am hoping that the Rangers squander their opportunity so Darvish becomes a free agent next year and then maybe we can make a run at him.  I would rather do that then pay the 50M+ posting fee.

          I don’t argue with collecting the pieces today for the team of tomorrow.  But I think Epstein has had more than his hands full trying to learn what the Cubs have in the minors, what he should do with the major league roster to go along with learning about all of the existing personnel and hiring additional personnel that it is unrealistic to expect everything to be changed in such a short period.  However, I do believe that he has a plan that he is going to let unfold over the next year or so.  There will always be people on here that will say that Epstein and Co. are idiots no matter what they do (even if they win a WS in year 4, they will complain that they didn’t do it in year 3), but Epstein and Co. have the sack to make the decisions and not just sit back and criticize.

          Personally, I know that I will not agree with each decision they will make (or have made), but they are wiser baseball men than I am, so I am going to give them a chance.

      • Dorasaga

        Scott, I posted this link to Suzy. The club basically needs to think ahead for their monetary incentive out of the luxury tax. Nothing different from the Yanks and R.Sox:

        http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/page/rumblings120113/why-yankees-red-sox-spending-big

    • Scott

      Where exactly would you want them to drop the extra money?  I won’t disagree that if the payroll continues to fall and the ticket prices continue to rise then there is a serious disconnect between Ricketts and the fans, but if it is one year, I can live with that.  I just don’t see who we could get (especially in your eyes) that would make that much of a difference.  Would you want Pujols or Fielder for 8-10 years?  The last 8 year deal that Cubs handed out was for a 30 year old coming off a 40/40 season and was for “only” 136M.  Fielder will get a lot more than that and Pujols got more than 100M more than that.  Would you want Edwin Jackson for 5/75?  Yikes.  I’m not sold on CJ Wilson.  Yu Darvish could be the next Hideki Irabu.  WHO (specifically) would you get to win in 2012?

      Personally, I am hoping that the change of Quade to Sveum makes a similar type of change that the San Francisco 49ers saw with a change from Singletary to Harbaugh.  They don’t have much of a different roster, yet went from 6-10 to 13-3.  Now, I don’t think that only changing the manager will increase the Cubs winning percentage by 0.4375 (which would be winning about 71 MORE games, lol), but I think that bringing in guys that play the game the right way with proper leadership and having a good manager CAN make a big difference.  Does anyone really think that the Cardinals were the best team in baseball last year or in 2006?  I certainly don’t, but LaRussa (as much as it pains me to say it) was a great manager and found a way to get it done.

      We saw what happens when you simply throw money at a roster that has a lot of problems.  It does not work.  The current roster has a lot of work that needs to be done and Epstein and Co. are working to fix that.  It will take time, and I do believe that they want to take every opportunity to win seriously – but I think they also believe that it is more important to build a system and organization that can have sustained success EVERY year as opposed to going out and buying a few more bandaids and overpaying.

    • Scott

      Where exactly would you want them to drop the extra money? I won’t disagree that if the payroll continues to fall and the ticket prices continue to rise then there is a serious disconnect between Ricketts and the fans, but if it is one year, I can live with that. I just don’t see who we could get (especially in your eyes) that would make that much of a difference. Would you want Pujols or Fielder for 8-10 years? The last 8 year deal that Cubs handed out was for a 30 year old coming off a 40/40 season and was for “only” 136M. Fielder will get a lot more than that and Pujols got more than 100M more than that. Would you want Edwin Jackson for 5/75? Yikes. I’m not sold on CJ Wilson. Yu Darvish could be the next Hideki Irabu. WHO (specifically) would you get to win in 2012?

      Personally, I am hoping that the change of Quade to Sveum makes a similar type of change that the San Francisco 49ers saw with a change from Singletary to Harbaugh. They don’t have much of a different roster, yet went from 6-10 to 13-3. Now, I don’t think that only changing the manager will increase the Cubs winning percentage by 0.4375 (which would be winning about 71 MORE games, lol), but I think that bringing in guys that play the game the right way with proper leadership and having a good manager CAN make a big difference. Does anyone really think that the Cardinals were the best team in baseball last year or in 2006? I certainly don’t, but LaRussa (as much as it pains me to say it) was a great manager and found a way to get it done.

      We saw what happens when you simply throw money at a roster that has a lot of problems. It does not work. The current roster has a lot of work that needs to be done and Epstein and Co. are working to fix that. It will take time, and I do believe that they want to take every opportunity to win seriously – but I think they also believe that it is more important to build a system and organization that can have sustained success EVERY year as opposed to going out and buying a few more bandaids and overpaying.
       

    • Scott

      Where exactly would you want them to drop the extra money? I won’t disagree that if the payroll continues to fall and the ticket prices continue to rise then there is a serious disconnect between Ricketts and the fans, but if it is one year, I can live with that. I just don’t see who we could get (especially in your eyes) that would make that much of a difference. Would you want Pujols or Fielder for 8-10 years? The last 8 year deal that Cubs handed out was for a 30 year old coming off a 40/40 season and was for “only” 136M. Fielder will get a lot more than that and Pujols got more than 100M more than that. Would you want Edwin Jackson for 5/75? Yikes. I’m not sold on CJ Wilson. Yu Darvish could be the next Hideki Irabu. WHO (specifically) would you get to win in 2012?

      Personally, I am hoping that the change of Quade to Sveum makes a similar type of change that the San Francisco 49ers saw with a change from Singletary to Harbaugh. They don’t have much of a different roster, yet went from 6-10 to 13-3. Now, I don’t think that only changing the manager will increase the Cubs winning percentage by 0.4375 (which would be winning about 71 MORE games, lol), but I think that bringing in guys that play the game the right way with proper leadership and having a good manager CAN make a big difference. Does anyone really think that the Cardinals were the best team in baseball last year or in 2006? I certainly don’t, but LaRussa (as much as it pains me to say it) was a great manager and found a way to get it done.

      We saw what happens when you simply throw money at a roster that has a lot of problems. It does not work. The current roster has a lot of work that needs to be done and Epstein and Co. are working to fix that. It will take time, and I do believe that they want to take every opportunity to win seriously – but I think they also believe that it is more important to build a system and organization that can have sustained success EVERY year as opposed to going out and buying a few more bandaids and overpaying.
       

    • Scott

      Where exactly would you want them to drop the extra money? I won’t disagree that if the payroll continues to fall and the ticket prices continue to rise then there is a serious disconnect between Ricketts and the fans, but if it is one year, I can live with that. I just don’t see who we could get (especially in your eyes) that would make that much of a difference. Would you want Pujols or Fielder for 8-10 years? The last 8 year deal that Cubs handed out was for a 30 year old coming off a 40/40 season and was for “only” 136M. Fielder will get a lot more than that and Pujols got more than 100M more than that. Would you want Edwin Jackson for 5/75? Yikes. I’m not sold on CJ Wilson. Yu Darvish could be the next Hideki Irabu. WHO (specifically) would you get to win in 2012?

      Personally, I am hoping that the change of Quade to Sveum makes a similar type of change that the San Francisco 49ers saw with a change from Singletary to Harbaugh. They don’t have much of a different roster, yet went from 6-10 to 13-3. Now, I don’t think that only changing the manager will increase the Cubs winning percentage by 0.4375 (which would be winning about 71 MORE games, lol), but I think that bringing in guys that play the game the right way with proper leadership and having a good manager CAN make a big difference. Does anyone really think that the Cardinals were the best team in baseball last year or in 2006? I certainly don’t, but LaRussa (as much as it pains me to say it) was a great manager and found a way to get it done.

      We saw what happens when you simply throw money at a roster that has a lot of problems. It does not work. The current roster has a lot of work that needs to be done and Epstein and Co. are working to fix that. It will take time, and I do believe that they want to take every opportunity to win seriously – but I think they also believe that it is more important to build a system and organization that can have sustained success EVERY year as opposed to going out and buying a few more bandaids and overpaying.
       

      • Scott

        Wow.  I was trying to make a point, but I have no idea why this was posted so many times.  I only tried posting once!  Sorry about that!

        • paulcatanese

          Thats ok Scott, I have to read posts three or more times anyway:):)

        • J Daniel

          Nice, Scott!

      • paulcatanese

        Ricketts plans on giving money back to the fans by lowering the cost on Big Macs, and delivering them during the game.

    • paulcatanese

      Yeah, where’s the beef?:)

    • Ripsnorter1

      Suckers….

      Cubs’ slogan for 2012…LOSING BIG ON THE CHEAP. 

  • RickinMSP

    Good stuff Ray.  Welcome to the CCO and I look forward to reading more of your work.

    • Raymond Firnbach

      Hey, thanks a lot!

  • Scott McMeekan

    Ray, welcome, and nice article.  Concise writing style, I like it.

    Cubs, are you implying you thought Ray was saying the 2012 club is going to be better defensively?  If so, you didn’t read the same article I did.  Ray was saying that the club will RELY more on defense, which could be a serious issue since our infield, while athletic, ‘is frustratingly vulnerable to errors’.  I still don’t think there is any way we lose 100 games, you’re far too pessimistic in my opinion, but it’s definitely going to be a work in progress for the coaches to get the fielding to be better.

    Oh, and regarding where the money is…didn’t you hear the Ricketts just bought a new Gulfstream?

    ; )

    • John_CC

      And the 20 Million Dollar diarrhea factory across the street…

    • Raymond Firnbach

      Thanks a lot, it’s good to be on

  • Anthony

    Looking at the “high level” depth, Theo’s goal of adding pitching depth appears spot-on, so here are the positional players not counting Utility/Bench:

    1B-LaHair/Rizzo/Ridling
    2B-Barney/Gonzalez/Mota
    SS-Castro/Amezaga/Samson
    3B-Stewart/Vitters/Smith/Figueroa
    LF-Soriano/SappeltWright
    CF-Byrd/Jackson/Ha
    RF-DeJesus/Mather/Adduci
    C-Soto/Clevenger/Castillo

    Utility:

    Campana
    Baker
    Johnson
    DeWitt

    The signing of Rizzo almost forces Ridling to LF

    Vitters defensive position is anybody’s guess, another LF?

    Ha is currently a tweener, like DeJesus with a better arm.

    Junior Lake appears to be the TENN SS for 2012, unless they
    move him to a corner 3B or RF?

    Me thinks EVERY other player not mentioned all the way down to Rookie has the opportunity to hit their way to any level, even if it appears fast-track or super accelerated, out for Mesa for 2012.

    There are stuck players, back-peddlers, experienced players, and the 2011 crop who haven’t had a full season yet.

    With fresh eyes upon them, it should make for an interesting ST and eventual assignments.

  • ChadAudio

    What about signing Keppinger and cutting DeWitt (or even Barney for that matter)?  It’s bad enough that our starters can’t glove… but, we don’t even have anyone off the bench who can play infield defense either.

  • Redlarczykg

    If the Cubs are focused on defense, Vitters better get a lot of time in RF & LF.  1B is booked. He’s had 4 years to get better at 3B and hasn’t shown much improvement from I read.

  • Anthony

     As currently constructed, my guess is a 65-85 win team. Big swing in those numbers, but based on this.

    I like the pitching additions, especially a former Org #1 prospect in Volstad, the soft-tossin LHP’s, Garza, Dempster eating innings, and some live arms potentially in the pen, like a Carpenter, with Wood and Marmol as examples.

    The high-end guess is based on how they perform, and the low-end prediction based on the law of averages for 50 wins plus decent pitching to arrive at 65 as a low.

    LaHair will get his opportunity, and everyone wants him to be hit in MLB(I hope). If not, Rizzo is awaiting his turn. If they can get Rizzo more usage with backspin versus uppercut, then you have something there.

    Eventually, Byrd will be replaced, Soriano later on, and then DeJesus, or if they retain him past 2 more seasons, and experienced 4/5 OF.

    My guess is they don’t see Jackson as a LT CF, just not the profile offensively Theo has employed before. If Jackson develops as the hype dictates, he is an eventual corner OF, and the average arm may end up making him a bonus LF. You can almost say the same for Lake, except we hear he has an 80 arm, how accurate, unknown.

    If Castro remains solid offensively, but struggles with SS, as he matures, probable move to the hot corner?

    Barney deserves another look in 2012. In the meantime, there are other candidates in house, and all the hype on Torreyes can be decided in 2012, and they should get his reps initially in Daytona, and if he keeps that crazy contact rate and BA high, quickly to AA TENN and watch from there. If he keeps it up, then he has to be in the 2013/14 mix to see the show as a young star. Interesting player to watch, or he also could get his lunch handed to him.

    What to do with Vitters? Strong 2011 and a man seeking his best positional fit on defense.

    Darkhorse Alert: Was told Greg Rohan has been mashing the baseball all winter in Mesa and opened up some eyes. I expect a AA assignment and either LF or 3B defensive action mostly, and if the player keeps mashing, you never know?

    Would like to see Ridling keep progressing. Solid hitter.

     

    • cubtex

      way to go out on a limb Anthony :) 65-85 win team. I wish Vegas had odds like that

      • Anthony

        too many unknows which makes it interesting

        go to Vegas and put 10 bucks down on the Cubs winning the WS

        lol

    • Redlarczykg

      Rohan Alert,

      He is an old rookie (26 in May) and has yet to play AA ball.
      Also he can’t run and not much power (11 HR – 2010)

  • cubtex

    Tony and others were on here praising the “BUY LOW” signing of David DeJesus. Ryan Ludwick signed yesterday with the Reds at 1 year 2.5 mil. You tell me who was a better buy low.

    David DeJesus- Age 32  .240 Avg .323 obp 10 HR 46 RBI (signed 2 years at 10 mil)

    Ryan Ludwick- Age 33 .237 Avg  .310 obp  13 HR 75 RBI (signed 1 year at 2.5 mil)

    • Scott

      Ludwick’s career oWAR is 9.5 (4.2 if you take out his one good year) and his dWAR is -0.6.

      DeJesus’s career oWAR is 16.5 and his dWAR is 5.9.

      It looks like DeJesus is a better overall defender and a superior offensive player than Ludwick over their 9 year careers.  Ludwick has more power, but that’s about it. 

      • cubtex

        Let me ask you a question Scott. Who cares what his career WAR is if you are signing a player for 1 year based on last years numbers. I mean seriously….both these players are short term assets. Give me Ludiwck at 1 year at 2.5 mil coming off better numbers last year than DeJesus. If you are signing a player to a long term contract then WAR and all those other computer geek stats would have a little merit…but not on 1 year.

        • gocubs

          cubtex, what are you talking about?  I dont think you understand what WAR is.  Its just a composite of multiple useful stats that help to determine a player’s overall value.  Its not that complicated if you take the time to look into it a bit.  It doesn’t matter if its 1 yr or longer, WAR paints an accurate picture of how valuable a player is (with positional adjustments).  If you think it doesnt have merit than that means you dont think any stats have merit (OBP, SLG, SB, etc). WAR is just a composite of many stats that paint an overall picture of what type of player someone is.        

          • cubtex

            my point is based on last years stats…..who is the better bargain? Why should DeJesus numbers from 2009 merit a salary twice that of Ludwick’s? Look at last years numbers.

          • John_CC

            The point is DeJesus was not signed based on last year’s stats. Or rather he was, because last year was the anomaly, by far below his career averages. 

          • Scott

            Most people look at a culmination of the last three years to avoid falling in love with a player (a la Milton Bradley) or dismissing a player they shouldn’t.

            DeJesus has put up a line the last three years of .280/.351/.418/.769 with an OPS+ of 109, oWAR of 4.4 and a dWAR of 2.3 while averaging 60.0R, 23.7 2B, 5.7 3B, 9.3 HR, 51.3 RBI, 43.3 BB and 73.3 K.

            Ludwick has put of a line the last three years of .251/.321/.409/.731 with an OPS+ of 99.7, oWAR of 2.8 and a dWAR of 0.2 while averaging 60.7R, 23.3 2B, 1.0 3B, 17.3 HR, 80.3 RBI, 46.7 BB and 117.0 K.

            Other than HR and RBI, there is nothing that Ludwick has over DeJesus.  DeJesus has been the better offensive and defensive player…period.

        • Scott

          Since Epstein is stressing team defense, DeJesus is clearly the better option for the Cubs, especially since Ludwick is a left fielder at this point in his career….

          And it is possible to have attributes that don’t show up in a stat line that DO have merit.  DeJesus could be a better baserunner (he is faster than Ludwick, although that doesn’t necessarily mean he is a better baserunner), could play the game harder and could be a better teammate than Ludwick.

          Having seen Ludwick play last year, I think DeJesus is the better buy low candidate.

          And yes cc002600, there might be a little bit of nitpicking here….

    • cc002600

      six in one hand, 1/2 dozen in the other.

      Neither are that great, so what does it matter ?

      You really like to nitpick, don’t you ? :-)

      • cubtex

        Just making a point about a better buy low outfield option that we passed on. If that is considered nitpicking..so be it.

        • cc002600

          Ludwick is 33 and had 2 good years in his career, which were 3 and 4 years ago. 

          If you are going to get your undies in a bunch over that, than ok, but to me it doesn’t mean a hill of beans.

          Like I said, neither are world beaters.

          You just love to find things to rip on Theo, that’s all. :-)

          • cubtex

            I don’t wear undies but I know you undies have Theo’s face on your a## :)

          • cubtex

            Look CC…Ludwick signed yesterday for 1 year at 2,5 mil…so I brought up the comparison to DeJesus. I know you worship the ground Theo walks on…but it is a fair comparison. Try a little De-Caf Theo Kool-Aid.. You are a little uptight about your “boy wonder”

        • Anthony

          best of the worst

          cream of the craaaap

          debating over these guys?lol

          • cubtex

            agreed. You should seen the cheerleader on here when the Cubs signed DeJesus :) It was all this buy low talk and how he was this great bargain and good ballplayer who had a down couple of years….lol

          • Tony_Hall

            He had 1 down year, not a couple of down years.  

            DeJesus isn’t going to the HOF, get over it, he’s the RF for now.

            Let him actually play a game for the Cubs before you call him bad.

    • Tony_Hall

      I have never been a Ludwick fan…try comparing their last 3, 4, 5 years.  

      We all know that DeJesus had a bad 2011 already.

      Ludwick is not very good in the OF either.

      • cubtex

        are you sure you want to go there? No comparison….Remember, these are corner outfielders.

        DeJesus

        2010   .318     5 HR(wow)   37 RBI(another wow)
        2009 .281       13HR(huge year)  71 RBI
        2008 .307       12 HR          73 RBI

                   now Ludwick

        2010 .251   17 HR(worst year of 3 and still better than DeJesus)   69 RBI

        2009  .265       22 HR    97  RBI

        2008  .299       37 HR   113 RBI

        How can any sane person take DeJesus over Ludwick as a corner outfielder at half the cost.

        • Tony_Hall

          HR and RBI’s are in Ludwicks corner, he can is a power hitter, who has hit in the middle of the order.  He does nothing else well.

          DeJesus has batted lead-off, and does everything else better than Ludwick.

          There is no comparison to these guys…DeJesus is the better player…not even close.

          DeJesus is not our long term RF, he may not even make it the whole season in RF or the starting lineup…why do you spend so much time on him.

          • cubtex

            I know Tony….Don’t confuse me with the facts my mind is made up ;) I am not spending a lot of time…I am just saying that DeJesus is not the bargain you claimed he is. As I said earlier…No sane person who is not blinded by Theo Kool Aid would take DeJesus’ numbers over Ludwick’s over the last 4 seasons

          • Tony_Hall

            From an obviously insane person, DeJesus’s numbers look better to me.
            DeJesus2011
            240/323/376/698 0.1 war

            2010 318/384/443/827 3.1 war

            2009 281/347/434/781 3.0 war

            2008 307/366/452/818 3.7 war

            Ludwick
            2011 237/310/363/674 0.6 war

            2010 251/325/418/743 0.9 war

            2009 265/329/447/775 2.0 war

            2008 299/375/591/966 4.5 war

            Ludwick has had only 1 year better than DeJesus, 2008.  DeJesus has had a better OPS than Ludwick and he is not a power hitter.  This isn’t even close.

        • daverj

          I don’t think either will be on the cubs the next time they have a winning team so it doesn’t matter much who the cubs ended up with, but for 2012 I’d rather have dejesus for $5 mil over ludwick for $2.5 mil. Big edge for dejesus on defense and I think their overall numbers on offense will be similar in value for 2012 with more power from ludwick and a higher average from dejesus.

    • Tony_Hall

      In case you are wondering, my answer is 

      David DeJesus

  • Anthony

    as the debate continues over DeJesus and Ludwick, I can fully understand the boo-hoos, complaints, $20M McDowells Big Mic’s, and very expensive ticket prices.

    Anaheim gave their TV contract away for Pujols

    Texas is about to close a $100M deal with Yu

    The Mariners may be the best fit for Prince(pitching rich team)

    Hamels just set the market for his nearing FA by doing 2012 for a reported $15M, so the next contract may/will be steeper.

    NYY and BOS are already Luxury Tax regulars

    and………………….the Cubs signed speculation players on the cheap

    The Mariners adding Montero, and with Hultzen and Paxton near MLB ready as power LHP’s, they are primed, actually forced to sign Fielder to compete out west.

    I guess this Hendry guy was asleep at the wheel like everyone says.

    Its OK to feel crummy.

    With the signings so far, the real question during transition and stop-gaps is this.

    What is out there that Theo is waiting for?

    My guess is he really likes most of the players from A+ on down to rookie ball from 2011, and that is about it!

    Signed, a 1B player in Rizzo, which effectively eliminates every 1B player down to Spanky V

    Traded for a 2B named Torreyes, which effectively eliminates pretty much all the other 2B prospects and Signed a veteran backup in Gonzalez.

    Signed a UT SS from foreignland who can’t hit

    Signed a 3B in Stewart that potentially sends a message to every 3B prospect, “you ain’t da man”

    Signed a journeyman RF named Mather

    Traded for Sappelt, no complaint there——good chance to make the 25man out of ST

    Logically speaking, there has to be a move soon in a trade, or multiple trades where some MLB experienced talent is included in able to compete in 2012, as “every opportunity to win is precious”, or whatever he said.

    It wouldn’t surprise me if Castro is traded in a package to get 3 starters instead of one?

    Who knows

  • Anthony

    Everyone knows this guy played a Cubs fan in the movie series, and this scene says it all,,,,,,,,,,,,everyone but ?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=85eB9naMFls