3 game series vs Cubs @ Wrigley Field
Friday, Apr 16, 2010, 1:20 PM CDT
Felipe Paulino vs Carlos Silva
Partly cloudy. Winds blowing from left to right field at 10-20 m.p.h. Game time temperature around 65.
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|Sat 04/17||12:05 PM CDT|
|Sun 04/18||1:20 PM CDT|
This week, instead of me giving you a preview of the Cubs series, let's let Bleed Cubbie Blue take over. These are excerpts from their SBNation preview:
The Cubs have three starters who can match up with anyone in the National League. Even having a down year, Carlos Zambrano was productive – his total of nine wins was a result of bad bullpen work more than his own efforts. The bullpen also doomed rookie Randy Wells. Despite having good outings in six of his first seven starts, he wound up with four no-decisions and three losses – again, the bullpen was the culprit. Wells finished with 12 wins, a 3.05 ERA and sixth place in NL Rookie of the Year voting after having started the season off the prospect radar in Triple-A. Ryan Dempster, who had a fine second half after a rough beginning caused in part by having to fly back and forth between Arizona and Chicago to help look after a newborn daughter born with a rare genetic disease, completes this troika.
It’s the fourth and fifth spots causing the Cubs worry this spring. Ted Lilly is coming off shoulder surgery. He says he’ll be fine, but the Cubs don’t expect him back until mid-April. In the meantime, Tom Gorzelanny, Jeff Samardzija, Carlos Silva (in pinstripes only because the Cubs couldn’t get anyone else in return for Milton Bradley) and Sean Marshall are competing for the remaining slots. None has been impressive so far in spring training.
The Cubs’ bullpen could be outstanding – or get lit up as it did last year. The difference is, veterans who got pounded a year ago (Kevin Gregg and Aaron Heilman) are gone, and no vets were signed to replace them. Carlos Marmol, who was 11-for-11 in save opps after Gregg was demoted in August, starts the season guaranteed the closer’s spot. Angel Guzman, who was slated to set him up after a fine middle relief season in 2009, is shelved – maybe for good – with shoulder problems. It will be up to veteran lefty John Grabow, the losers of the starter derby, and kids – Esmailin Caridad, Justin Berg, Thomas Diamond, James Russell, John Gaub, and maybe 2008 #1 pick Andrew Cashner – to pick up the slack. Russell and Diamond have been good in camp. Berg was solid in limited duty last September, as was Caridad; manager Lou Piniella says a slot belongs to Caridad unless he pitches himself off the team.
This is the fourth year of the Cubs’ two-year window for playoff success with the current bunch. Veterans like Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano can still be productive, but they’re all in their 30’s – Lee and Soriano in their mid 30’s – and that window may be closing. Ramirez is coming off a separated shoulder that cost him half of 2009, although he was productive when in the lineup. Lee had a fine 2009 season; he’s in the final year of a five-year deal, which sometimes can motivate a player.
Soriano is always the Cubs’ wild card (sometimes literally, with his outfield play). The eight-year deal he signed before 2007 was widely panned, but other teams were offering seven and the Cubs wanted to make a free agent statement that offseason; Soriano was the premier free agent on the market at the time. When he’s been productive – in 2007 and 2008 – the Cubs have made the playoffs. Last year he banged up his knee running into a wall at Wrigley in April and instead of being scoped, missing a few weeks and coming back, he tried to play through it, with predictably bad results both offensively and in the field. He was finally shut down in early September, had surgery and is supposedly at full strength. If so, that’ll be a big bonus – after playing 156 or more games in five of the six years before he came to Chicago, his games-played high with the Cubs is only 135, in 2007.
Catcher Geovany Soto dropped 40 pounds in the offseason; he made no excuses for his poor 2009, saying "I was just fat." The Cubs need his offense to come back to his 2008 Rookie of the Year level.
Kosuke Fukudome, who will move back to right field with the departure of Bradley, has not fulfilled the offensive promise that he had when he signed a four-year deal prior to 2008. He’ll improve the outfield defense in right, his natural position, and likely will be platooned with Xavier Nady – if Nady is healthy enough to throw (he’s coming off Tommy John surgery). That would provide a productive offensive RF platoon, as Fukudome simply cannot hit lefties (.242/.343/.324 lifetime).
Marlon Byrd, the second straight Cub free-agent signing of a former Texas Ranger with the initials "MB", will man center field. Hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo, also signed from the Rangers, is credited for helping Byrd become the offensive force he has been the last two years (former Cub Mark DeRosa also gives Jaramillo credit for his offensive surge).
The DP combination will be SS Ryan Theriot – who may be the most talked-about Cub on blogs; some love him, others hate his double-clutches and lack of power – and Jeff Baker, acquired from the Rockies for the charmingly-named Alberto Alburquerque last year. While 19-year-old phenom SS Starlin Castro turned heads in the Arizona Fall League last year and so far in spring training, the consensus is that he needs another year in the minors.
#52 / Houston Astros
Oct 05, 1983
#52 / Pitcher / Chicago Cubs
Apr 23, 197
Christopher "J-Dog" Johnson, 3B
Cajun #1, SS
Makes me glad to have Carlos Lee, LF
Cajun #2, 2B