Weekend Update … Camp Begins with The Cubs Way

Players continued filing into the Cubs’ facility at Fitch Park on the day pitchers and catchers officially reported to Spring Training. Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and Dale Sveum met with the media Saturday and discussed several topics on the eve of the first official on field workout of the spring.

Theo Epstein explainedThe Cubs Way‘ and reiterated the fact it is not a slogan but a detailed manual with a few hundred pages that will not be made public.

The compensation issue was not resolved, as expected, but a report from Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston indicated the Red Sox are “hopeful of acquiring one quality minor league prospect from the Cubs.”

Here’s the update from day one of Cubs’ camp …

Notes from Day One of Cubs Camp

The Cubs Way
From the Tribune, here is how Theo Epstein described the Cubs new philosophies on the first day of camp …

“It’s going to be more than a couple sentences — it’s going to be a few hundred pages. We’ve got our scouting manual, that’s all written because the scouting season is underway. A player development manual, we’ve got a long, rough draft on, and then the organizational meetings, that was the time for everyone to contribute- speak then or forever hold your peace — so we could all get on the same page where we’re going to be teaching the game the exact same way.”

“Everything from what foot you hit the bag with when you’re making the turn to how we run bunt plays to what our overall organizational hitting philosophy is … Everything about the game, we’re going to approach the same way as an organization, from the Dominican Summer League through A-ball, Double-A, Triple-A right up to the big leagues. Playing hard is a big part of it, but playing the game the right way and teaching it consistently is important as well.”

Click Here for Video of Theo Epstein discussing ‘The Cubs Way

Compensation for Theo
The compensation for Theo Epstein, as well as Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod, was expected to be announced before the start of camp … but once again, the announcements have been delayed.

According to Gordon Edes (ESPN Boston) sources, “the Sox are hopeful of acquiring one quality minor league prospect from the Cubs. They’re resigned to not getting a major leaguer from the Cubs, and acknowledge it probably won’t be one of the Cubs’ premium prospects, like a Brett Jackson or Josh Vitters. But the source says the Sox are insisting on acquiring a prospect with a legitimate chance of making it to the big leagues as a contributor.

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe joined Todd Hollandsworth and Jeff Rickard on Hot Stove (MLB Network Radio/XM Radio) Saturday afternoon. Cafardo said the Sox expected a top 10 prospect from the Cubs but have apparently lowered their expectations. The Sox originally asked for Matt Garza, then Starlin Castro, before the Cubs promised “significant” compensation would be paid in order to let Theo Epstein out of his contract before the issue was resolved. The definition of “significant” is apparently different for both teams and is the holdup according to Cafardo.

Matt Garza and a Contract Extension
According to Bruce Levine, the Cubs are working on a five-year contract extension with Matt Garza that could be in the range of what John Danks recently signed with the White Sox (five years, $65 million)

According to a report from Bruce Levine, Garza and his agent are on top of the situation but there were not any updates on a possible extension as of Friday.

Unless Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer hand Garza a no-trade clause, which has not been their modus operandi, even if the right-hander signs an extension it does not mean they will not try to trade him … that is if a team comes to them with the right package of players.

Jeff Samardzija on Talkin’ Baseball
Jeff Samardzija joined Bruce Levine and Fred Huebner to kick off the second hour of Talkin’ Baseball (ESPN 1000) Saturday morning. Samardzija sounded focused and excited for the start of Spring Training … and eager to show the new regime what he can do on the mound.

Samardzija left for Mesa and began preparing for Spring Training just after Thanksgiving. He said he “ate Turkey” then headed out to Arizona.

Samardzija discussed the conversation he had with Theo Epstein right after he took over baseball operations for the Cubs and confirmed he will be competing for a spot in the rotation this spring. The right-hander has been working on different things since he’s been in Mesa and trying to get into a routine as a starter.

Theo Epstein made a point about the Cubs needing to add pitching depth when he took over. Samardzija feels he can use his ability and athleticism to pitch deep into games and not only be effective but eat innings at the same time. Samardzija made sure that Epstein knew that he wanted to be a starting pitcher and that his heart is in being a starter. Epstein and Hoyer told him they think he has the ability to be a successful starter in the big leagues.

Samardzija feels he is a better and much different pitcher than he was the last time he tried his hand as a starter two years ago.

The lack of starting pitching in the system a year ago was apparent to Samardzija and he thinks starting pitching candidates were mishandled last spring. According to Samardzija, the guys were not stretched out enough last year and he feels that hurt not only the team but their development. Samardzija then chuckled and said, “I have a feeling there is a plan [this year] and they are going to execute it in Spring Training.”

The goal for Samardzija this spring is to continue working on his secondary pitches but most importantly to pound the zone … and to see how many innings he can complete in Spring Training. He’s felt good so far and feels he’s made good adjustments with his location and command, “The pitches are working good,” Samardzija said.

There is already a different vibe in camp. Everyone is there to work, everyone has their game face on and everyone has to be ready to compete. Samardzija described the change as a breath of fresh air.

Samardzija talked about the importance of a backup catcher and how he and Geovany Soto must be on the same page and pretty much interchangeable. Koyie Hill and Soto stayed on the same page and the Cubs need a pitcher-oriented backup according to Samardzija. He feels all three guys competing for the spot (Jason Jaramillo, Welington Castillo and Steve Clevenger) can handle the job.

Jeff Samardzija has been waiting for camp to start for about a month and a half. His physical is done and he is ready to go.

News, Notes and Rumors
The Cubs have done their due diligence on Jorge Soler. Bruce Levine (Talkin’ Baseball/ESPN 1000) has heard that Soler could sign a four-six year deal in the mid to upper $20 million range. Levine thinks the Cubs still have a good shot at signing him … the thought is Jorge Soler could be a star in the Majors in two to three years. Theo Epstein confirmed Saturday that Soler has not been declared a free agent by Major League Baseball.

Cubs’ minor league pitcher Ricardo Estevez was suspended for 50 games after testing positive for two substances (metabolites of Stanozolol and Nandrolone) that are in violation of the minor league drug prevention and treatment program. The right-hander spent last summer in the Dominican Summer League. His suspension begins at the start of his season.

Blake DeWitt cleared waivers on February 16 and was outrighted to Triple-A Iowa. DeWitt was DFA’d on February 6 to make room for Adrian Cardenas. DeWitt received a non-roster invite to Spring Training and has until February 22 to accept the invitation. If DeWitt decides to become a free agent he will lose the $1.1 million deal he agreed to last month. DeWitt will still make $1.1 million if he is in the Cubs minor league system.

Carlos Marmol lost 12-14 pounds this off-season.

Bryan LaHair was named Baseball America’s 2012 Winter Player of the Year. After mashing 38 homers in the minor last year (an Iowa Cubs franchise record), LaHair led the Venezuelan Winter League with 15 longballs.

According to Bruce Levine (Talkin’ Baseball/ESPN 1000), at the end of the bidding for Yoenis Cespedes, the White Sox were closer to landing Cespedes than the Cubs.

Well, there’s the update … Spring Training has begun.

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Quote of the Day

"It's not that some people have willpower and some don't. It's that some people are ready to change and others are not." - James Gordon
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  • Last_ginger

    Marmol losing weight is huge for him. I felt that those extra pounds he put on last year was the main reason behind his struggles.

  • Ripsnorter1

    DeWitt will be back. $1.1 million speaks fairly loudly. Besides, he may even be the starting 3B. Who knows what kind of ST Stewart will have? Or anybody else, for that matter. 

    Samardzija….I listened to the interview, and it sounded impressive. But I personally do not see him in the rotation. Two reasons:
    1. He hasn’t proven to me that he’s got the control necessary. I remember several 49-50 pitch 2 inning stints from last year. Perhaps command issues are behind him, but I doubt it. And if it takes 25 pitches per inning, you aren’t going to pitch deep enough into games to be a starter. 

    2. We need him in the pen to take Sean Marshall’s place.

    Koyie Hill: won 60% of the ML games he started. Hmmmmmmmm.That’s impressive.

  • Ripsnorter1

    I’m excited about ST. I know the roster is pretty weak, but still….I love baseball and can’t wait for the games to begin.

    • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

      I like this comment Rip.  Refreshing…

  • Ripsnorter1

    Sabermetrics and Brett Jackson……..

    Jackson has a contact rate of 64%. Lots of swings and misses. 
    That MUST improve or he’ll never be an everyday ML baseball player. Or maybe even not a ML baseball player at all. FACT: Players in ML baseball with a contact rate of 61-65% in 2011 had a combined batting average of .199. The average BA of players with that contact rate for the last 5 years is .223. 

    And I quote: “a contact rate of 65% or lower offers virtually no chance for a player to hit even .250, no matter how high a walk rate he has.  .300 hitters most often come from the group with a minimum [read that again: MINIMUM] contact rate of 86% AND a walk rate of 11%.”

    Jackson can take a walk (10% in 2011). The improvement must be on pitch recognition and contact. He’s still young, but this must improve for him to become an everyday ML player. 

    Most of the swing and miss hitters who retain a job in ML baseball are power hitters. Their poor contact rate (and lower BA as a result) are off-set by their prodigious power. Jackson does not have that kind of power.

    His poor contact rate probably is the reason he did not receive a September call up in 2011. He simply isn’t ready. And Anthony Rizzo was sent down because of his poor contact rate. Jed admitted he wasn’t ready in 2011.

    Example: Tyler Colvin. Contact rate: 70% with a walk rate of 4% in 2011. 72% in his 20 HR year of 2010, with a walk rate of 8%. Aaron will tell you: he doesn’t make enough contact to play everyday.

    Example: Adam Dudd
    Contact rate: When he was bashing 40 HR per year, driving in 100 runs per year, his contact rate remained unchanged year over year at 68%. BUT the year he dropped to 38 HRs, his contact rate was 64%. Then 2011, with the 11 HR and .159 BA saw him with a mere 57% contact rate. His slowing bat made a difference. Perhaps he’ll be another Greg Luzinski, whose career simply fell off of a cliff. Similar body types…..

    Example: Mark Reynolds
    63% Contact rate with a .221 BA in 2011.
    58% Contact rate with a .198 BA in 2010. 
    Massive power. Walk rate is high: 14%. He used to have speed, and that’s how he stayed in ML baseball. Now he’s in Baltimore, the nursing home of ML baseball, where players go to die……

    One other fact: it is difficult to find players with 200+ AB in 2011 who had a contact rate of 65% or lower. The reason that most ML have a contact rate exceeding 75%. “The hackers have a contact rate of 75% or less.”

    • Anthony

      like the post Rip, uses a real stat to examine a hitter

      A low contact rate can be the result of many factors, and a combination of them, starting with genetics, or the necessary physicality to develop a consistent swing, which include twitch athleticism and vision/memory. In the physics of baseball, which I am sure most here have read, talks about how the brain, eyes and muscles cannot process fast enough as the ball enters the hitting zone.

      Once a swing is refined physically, then approach and adjustment, load and power enter into the mix, then confidence.

      Hitters who have poor contact rates want to improve, and some do, and some merely can’t physically.

      Then, you look further at players with good contact rates, and examine the contact results. If much of the contact results in weak outs with minimal walks, it paints a picture of either a hitter swinging at bad pitches, or a hitter not squaring up driveable pitches consistently, or some combination of both.

      Mis-hitting pitches in your zone too often means a hitch in the swing. or an occasional breakdown in tis construction.

      So many variables involved in the hit tool aspect of baseball.

    • Coolpdxcubsfan

      “Now he’s in Baltimore, the nursing home of ML baseball, where players go to die……”

      Rip, you crack me up, as usual.
      The appropriate spot for Soriano if ever I saw one.

      • Ripsnorter1

        Soriano would fit right in. I can hear the nurse say, “You’ll like it here.”

  • Tony_Hall

    Does anyone hear the theme from players?

    It’s called Accountability

    Players are coming into camp having taken care of their business and know that their play will be scrutinized more and that there will be young guys in camp, not only trying to take their job down the road, but right now.  

    Actual competition is always a good thing, it brings out the best in everyone.

    • Ripsnorter1

      I agree. Jed and Theo has put the fear of God in them with the DFA’s and the multiple NRIs to ST. It will help a lot. And I mean: A LOT.

      This DFA thing might actually make DeWitt a much better player.

      • Tony_Hall

        Completely agree!

        Do you think Byrd (I know he had a medical condition that might have started his new lifestyle) isn’t coming into camp ready to play, and going to do everything he can to show he is still has many more years left, either for the Cubs or any of the other 29 teams?

        The lack of accountability went on for far too long at Wrigley.

        • Ripsnorter1

          Never thought Byrd, and his hustle, was much of a problem…..

          Let’s see how it all affects Castro, and the vets with longer term contracts.

          I long for the days when players got contracts one year at a time.

          • Tony_Hall

            I was thinking Byrd might have learned how to take a pitch, especially when the bases are loaded and the pitch is low and outside :)

            Can you imagine going back to 1 year contracts?  That would change the game.

            I believe in third year players, taking a jump to the next level, and feel Castro will do that this year.  If Sveum can get him to have his head in the game, every pitch, every time there really is no limit to how good this kid can be.

          • GaryLeeT

            The sooner the Cubs lock up Castro the way Rays did Longoria, the better. They would probably save themselves some money, in the long run.

          • Brp921

            If Castro can be taught some plate disipline he will be a consistent .330 and above hitter with some power.

        • GaryLeeT

          My eyes will be focused on Soriano, as a true measure that all players are now being held accountable.

    • paulcatanese

      Agree Tony, accountability and competition, and I again bring up my post from yesterday on Castro, we will see this spring if he has learned either one. As of right now he has none, where is he in terms of players showing up early?
      He has no competition for his spot, and being young (which I don’t buy as an excuse) nights would be better spent looking at film to improve, rather than out on the town.

      Don’t mean to bring up old guys, but I wonder how many people realize Ted Williams never saw a movie during the season because of the worry that his eyes may be affected towards his swing.

      Accountability and competition, are the key, those who respond to that will be here this summer, and hope those who do not are gone.

      • Tony_Hall

        Paul – I will keep my thoughts on guys from other countries showing up to spring training, on-time is good enough.  They are leaving their home and family for over 7 months and I have no problem with them staying everyday they can and they have the ability to work-out where ever they are located.

        Now, I have a problem if they show up and aren’t in shape and ready to go.

        And unfortunately, comparing anyone to Ted Williams and that era is near impossible.  Today’s world is completely different, and just not comparable, for better or worse.

        • paulcatanese

          Thanks Tony, I see you’re point. I am an old stick in the mud for concentration and focus, and don’t really understand the brain waves of the modern player.

          I would point out though that thru personal experience with players that I have had close association with, the complete runation of an atheletic career because of off the field manuevers. It has soured me on what some have and don’t take care of it.

  • Tony_Hall

    Blake Dewitt is going to accept his minor league assignment, because he has $1.1M reasons to do so.  

    And for all those that said the Cubs cut him to save money, once again, it’s what we don’t know that changes everything.

  • Tony_Hall

    I would like to see them take care of Garza ASAP.

    5 years $65M is the market value for Garza, both should want to get it done.

    • GaryLeeT

       You are 100% spot on, and it’s issues like that which keep me from getting fully on board with “the plan”.

      • Tony_Hall

        Then jump on board, they have a plan for him and are executing it.

        They listened to offers on him over the winter.  They now know what teams would want him via trade and approx. idea of his market in FA.  

        Spring training is a very popular time to extend pitchers who just went through an arbitration off-season, and I fully expect them to work on this and get it done before Opening Day, if not then they will be shopping him at the trade deadline.

        It makes too much sense for both sides to not happen, but won’t change the idea that if someone will pay them the king’s ransom they are asking for, they will still trade him.

  • Tony_Hall

    I know, I know another Theo worship time…

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/baseball/cubs/chi-epstein-not-interested-in-seeing-moneyball-20120218,0,5406751.story 

    I think ‘Moneyball’ has become kind of a loaded term,” Epstein said Saturday at Fitch Park. “That’s not exactly what we do. We’re just kind of trying to teach the game the right way. I wasn’t a huge fan when certain proprietary information was made available to the public in the first place (in the best-selling book).”Instead of a handfiul of clubs knowing certain things, 
    within a year a two, 30 clubs knew it. It’s not my cup of tea. 

    ——————————————
    How can you not like Theo?  

    But I will tell you what he is wrong about?

    Not all 30 teams knew about the details in the book…that’s why he is here.

    • cubtex

      Theo is the best! :)

      • cubtex

        Garza when asked what he remembers about his time against Theo and Boston for 3 seasons…..”That we were able to kick the crap out of them year in and year out.” Got to love Garza!

      • Tony_Hall

        Nice to see you are coming around as well :)

  • Tony_Hall

    Good article by Gene Wojciechowski

    New “Cub Way” begins in Arizona

    http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/columns/story?columnist=wojciechowski_gene&page=wojciechowski-120218&sportCat=mlb 

    “You can distribute all the staff manuals you want, but Sveum’s tattoo ought to be on the covers. That’s the real message Epstein, Sveum and Hoyer are trying to convey.

    Kick butt … play angry … lose if you must, but give ‘em hell doing it.”

    • BosephHeyden

       I like going in with a concept of how to play.  I like going in with a desire to play hard for 9 innings a game, 162 games a season.  The only hesitation I have is a hundred page manual that includes instructions as to how to properly step on bags.  Now, granted, a number of these guys have lost the right to complain about any of this, but with the few guys who did perform well (and, really, my worry here is on Starlin Castro), I really don’t want something like this to be a career changer like when Larry Rothschild tinkered with Rich Hill’s pitching mechanics so people couldn’t run on him and, all of a sudden, the man’s ERA ballooned from 2.5 to the high 4′s.

      So long as they don’t try to fix the things that weren’t broken (again, pretty much anything with Starlin Castro’s hitting/base running), this is a good start.  But sacrificing the performance of a player who could be great so that everyone else can be above average isn’t worth it.

      Also, again:  I don’t expect the Cubs to compete this year, but there is absolutely zero reason for them not to try.  The NL Central is going to be at its absolute weakest for the early part of this year, so if there was ever a time to make the playoffs, this is it.  Then you can build on THAT team.

      • paulcatanese

        What’s interesting is painting the inside corners of the bases to remind players to hit that spot with the left foot rounding the bag.

        What will be more interesting will be when there is no blue spot to remind them once the season starts.

        And again they will need someone to check on how many are thrown out at second base because they had to slow down at first to make sure the left foot hits the bag on the inside.:)

  • Anthony

    follow up to Rip and his below post on stats and hitting

    Took a look at the entire career-to-date of a player, and combined both college and pro numbers, metal and wood bat, ages 18-22 so far.

    The hitter has a combined slash of .296/.399/.479 that includes D1 baseball thru a taste of AAA, and all stops between. The sample includes 1614 at bats.

    As the player matured, the slash lines remained pretty consistent while at the same time slightly increasing walk rate but also regressing in contact rate.

    So, if a hitter can remain consistent with batting average, get on base at a consistently high rate, has a solid walk rate in the 12% plus range, but increases the character of his OUTS via the strikeout, what do you think is happening? The contact rates have went from 78% to 68% in a 5 year period.

    These stats in 100 plate appearances look like this:

    PA=100
    BB=12
    HITS=26
    K=27
    GO/FO=35

    To maintain a nice walk rate, on the surface it looks likes the hitter isn’t swinging at too many bad pitches, but still strikes out at a hefty rate. There has to be a physical reason for it.

    One guess is a hitch, a lack of a consistent swing foundation that can be relied upon, meaning more analysis and groove work is needed. High strikeouts can be the product of consistently missing/fouling off the most driveable pitches you may get in a plate appearance, thus putting you in a hole and at the mercy of the pitcher. We all know success rate drops substantially based on counts that favor the pitcher, so

    the key is to avoid those counts as much as possible, which means you need to make consistent hard contact when that first hittable pitch enters your zone. If you don’t, success decreases.

    If this player can iron out the contact issue and trade 6 of those 27 K’s into contact every 100 plate appearances(88 at bats), he adds 2 hits to his slash line(based on BA) and puts his contact rate into the MLB average versus way too high.

    He also becomes a .318 hitter versus a .296 hitter

    This player will be in MLB. He can field, throw, run, and although some polish is needed on the swing, the walk rate is his current salvo.

    • Anthony

      and in stark contrast, when is a high contact rate a negative?

      Player 2 never played college baseball and has a career minor league slash of .277/.319/.439, but, walks at a mere 4% rate which is reflected in a weak OBP but a high contact of 84%.

      This hitter lacks discipline and appears he wants out of the box as fast as he can using good hands to swing at a super large expanded zone.

      The first hitter, who strikes out too much, has hit a career GDP of only 8 times in 1614 at bats, while the contact guy has GDP 41 times in 1547 career at bats.

      Why can’t hitter # 2 control himself and adjust? Does he have issues with pitch recognition? Scouts say pretty swing, misapplied.

      Which player has the best chance of being an all-star?

      You can guess who the two hitters are. Pretty easy.

      Using this approach, gonna see of some diamonds in the rough are in the system

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    There is a report that the Cubs signed Nate Robertson to a minor league deal. I cannot confirm right now, will post when I can.

    • cubtex

      Wow! This guy needs to hang up the cleats.

      Last year in AAA   93.1 IP 135 Hits and a 7.14 ERA

      Why bother

      • BosephHeyden

         Cause that was last year.  If you judge guys on how they do last year, then there would never be a Comeback Player of the Year.  Robertson isn’t a great player by any means, but between moving from the AL to the NL, the fact last year he was coming off shoulder surgery, and the fact that he isn’t designed to be an ace or #2 pitcher, rather a 4 or 5 guy (which the Cubs need), I like this signing as much as I like the Sonnanstine signing:  low risk, high reward.

        • cubtex

          This guy hasn’t been below a 5 ERA since 2007. Look at his numbers and tell me again how you like this signing.

          • BosephHeyden

            In 2007, he was 4.76, a fifth starter for a Tigers team that underachieved.  2008, he started having his shoulder problems, and they stuck around for the better part of 2009 and 2010.  And, as I mentioned, last year was more of a rehab year than anything else.

            At his BEST, he’s a decent #5 start in the NL.  If he can’t start consistently anymore, then he’s a good option for a long relief guy.  At worst, he lingers in Triple A and/or is released.

            Regardless of which of those three routes are taken, he’s not really a waste of a roster spot, because there’s no one else worth giving his Minor League invitation to.  That’s the definition of “Low Risk, High Reward”:  if he doesn’t pan out, and you weren’t expecting anything anyways.  And if he does, well, you got a guy that can net you a few wins or prospects depending on where the season is at by June.

          • cubtex

            Sorry dude. His best ERA is 4.76 over the last 5 years and that was 2007. Low risk…..Yes…..but no way High reward. It is a waste to deprive another kid an opportunity by even giving this guy some innings.

          • Scott

            Let’s see if he even makes a roster before we say he is depriving someone of an opportunity.  They may see him in ST and decide there is nothing left and just cut him loose.

  • Aaron

    *********************************************************************************According to Samardzija, the guys were not stretched out enough last year and he feels that hurt not only the team but their development. Samardzija then chuckled and said, “I have a feeling there is a plan [this year] and they are going to execute it in Spring Training.”ing to execute it in Spring Training.”
    *********************************************************************************

    What did I always say about Hendry and the staffs that he hired from Baker all the way to Quade?…..

    Most of you know VERY well what I said….I said that they’ve NEVER had a plan…at least since Dallas Green came in.

    I’m excited to hear that, even though I disagree with a few of the moves they’ve made this offseason (not protecting Flaherty and Gonzalez, and adding Sonnanstine and Corpas to the 40-man which led to them having to DFA at that time the recently signed Bianchi, and trading LeMahieu instead of DeWitt and then ultimately DFA-ing DeWitt anyhow).

    And even though I think this team will lose far more games than they win this year, I am slightly optimistic that they could surprise the world at the same time.

    Keep in mind that Epstein and Hoyer are NOT afraid to DFA/trade/demote anyone that is underperforming. This was not the case at all with Hendry, who would keep guys like Miles, Freel, Bradley, Grabow, etc. far beyond their usefulness.

    They now have at least 7 legitimate options for starting pitchers, including:
    Garza
    Dempster
    Maholm
    Wells
    Volstad
    T. Wood
    Samardzija

    • cubs1967

      in reality; 4 of them were on the team last year and big Z and Cashner have much better stuff than Maholm, Wood or Volstad.
       Remember, in ST Cashner pitched great and was NOT hurt.  There are more SP candidates; but not better. And Maholm finished the year hurt.  Seeing Wells again does nothing for me.  Only if Wood and/or Smardz pitch to their possible potential is the SP staff going to be better. 
       As is Wood-Maholm-Volstad or Wells is in the bottom 5 of 3-4-5 Starters in baseball. 
       And if Smardz starts, then the pen is w/o him & Marshall, which will make the pen much worse than last year and a trainwreck if KWood misses time & Marmol is as bad again.
      It really doesn’t matter anyway; with only 1 hitter in Soriano who is capable of 20HR/80RBI; lots of games are gonna be lost by 1 & 2 runs.

      • Tony_Hall

        Ok – I’ll bite.

        Others will hit 20 HR’s and have 80 RBI’s this year on the Cubs.

        I could see Lahair and Stewart getting there (obviously based on them having a good year, not comparing them to the worse they could go), and if he has one of his good years, Soto could get there as well.

        Also, based on how the SP’s pitched last year, there is no way anyone could say that this group of starters won’t be better than the group effort of the starters last year, which was about as bad a showing as we have ever seen.

        • cubs1967

          remember Z got suspended, Cashner & Wells got hurt. 
          Not that anyone is gonna get suspended, but Maholm could get hurt again and Volstad could pitch his way to the minors.
          The back-up crew looks like last year’s…..if Smardz ends up in the pen……Lopez-Ortiz-Sonnastine (who is Casey Coleman with a longer name)…..it could be that bad again.
          Stewart will never hit high enough avg to drive in 80. In fact, by June 1st Baker and/or Dewitt could be our starting 3b if Stewart pulls another .151 out of his hit bag.
          With Castro the only guy capable of hitting .300; there won’t be enough guys on base for anyone to get 80 RBI….Soriano can cuz he could hit 25-30 homers.
          This is a bad team……worse than last year’s.  And this is what happens in a total rebuild; teams get worse before they get better.  Here’s hoping BJaz rakes in ST to start in CF come April; RIzzo and Vitters rake in the minors so come July 1st or sooner; there are options……..at least that would be fun to watch.

          • Ripsnorter1

            You are not going to see Brett Jackson raking any ML pitching in 2012. Way too many K’s. 

          • SuzyS

            If he’s not Boston’s compensation, I’m thinking this is it for Vitters…he either makes it to the bigs after 5 years in the minors…or he’s officially a bust….I’m hoping to see him at third…sometime this season.

          • Brp921

            cubs1967 I, like yourself, (I think) wasn’t all in on hiring Epstein. I was pretty upset about him not hiring Sandberg and will still be angry if the “Theo compensation” is one of our better prospects. I just have got to say though that to this point I like what the Cubs are doing. I like the Sveum hire (Sandberg feelings aside). I like the way they are trying to put some defense on the field. I like the fact that they are getting younger and getting rid of problem players and bad contracts. I like it that they have decided to rebuild and wait till they have a good team in place before they spend big money on free agents. I am going to wait and see what happens in the future before fully jumping on the Theo band wagon, but I do like most of what I’ve seen so far. 

      • Ripsnorter1

        Correct.

  • paulcatanese

    Love Garza’s take on the one big difference from last year,”we got better cooks”, timeless.

  • Ripsnorter1

    Theo says he doesn’t believe in AAAA players. 

    He’s either lying, or incompetent. There are players that can rake in AAA, but not in MLB for several reasons:

    1. Scouting. No advance scouts in AAA. But MLB employs lots of advance scouts to make book on a player’s strength and weaknesses.If the hitter cannot make the adjustment, they fail to hit. 

    2. A hitter may see 6 mistake pitches a week in AAA. But in MLB he may see only one or two a month. The competition is just that much better.

    3.MLB pitchers have better command, and that means they can hit the black of the plate with more frequency.

    • cubtex

      There is a huge difference between AAA and the bigs. Very valid points.

  • cubs1967

    memo to team Theo:  Mike Cameron retired. Nats CF options are very LH; either Ankiel or Bernadina………ouch.  Time to move Bryd to DC. If BJax is not ready; I think he is; there is Campana, RJohnson and Saffelt who can play till he is.  The season is a non-contender anyway so no need for Byrd.  Offer to eat 50% of salary; but he needs to go. When BJax is ready; Reed or Campy are good back-ups.

    tick tock………..

    • http://gladiatorblog.blogspot.com/ SirGladiator

      I agree with trading Byrd if the deal is right, but I dont agree with the argument that we dont need him because we arent contending this year.  Thats a myth perpetrated by the ignorant liberal media, and depressed Cubs fans who blindly believe them.  Theo has made it clear, both in his words and his actions, that he is doing everything in his power to field a winning team.  We’re building a Dynasty, we’re not ‘getting bad to get good’, as they say.  Giving away Byrd, or Garza, or anybody else, just because theres no need for them, that isn’t happening.  If we sacrifice something this year (like we offered to do by trading Garza to Detroit) it will only be for HUGE advantages in the future (like Detroit was going to have to give us to make the deal happen), because we’re making a run not just next year, not just 2 or 3 years from now, but right now.  We did give up something this year when we traded Marshall, because the future benefits were so huge (and theres a chance it helps us this year too, if Wood returns to his 2010 form), but every other trade we’ve done has clearly benefitted us not just for the future, but for the here and now as well.  I like our chances, Cubs 2012 NL Central Champions!