Offseason In Review: Chicago Cubs

The Cubs are next in our Offseason In Review series.

Major League Signings

Notable Minor League Signings

Trades and Claims

Notable Losses

Summary

The mandate for Cubs GM Jim Hendry this winter: turn a bloated fifth-place team into a contender for 2011 despite limited payroll flexibility.  The Cubs were in sell mode last summer, but Hendry switched back to a win-now approach this offseason.  Let's sift through the transactions.

Ramirez was awful for the first two months of 2010, driving his value so far down that he didn't dare test the free agent market.  If he can return to career levels in 2011, the Cubs might just be compelled to choose his $16MM club option for 2012 over a $2MM buyout.  Overall it's a positive to have him penciled in for another season, given the weak market for third basemen.

Pena replaces Derrek Lee at first base on a standard-issue Boras Corporation make-good contract.  If Pena finds his first National League season to his liking at age 33, perhaps he can ride a 35 home run season to a big free agent deal. 

Pena's one-year term opens up the possibility of the Cubs bidding on the big names next winter: Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, and Adrian Gonzalez if his rumored extension isn't finalized for some reason.  A $140MM payroll would allow the Cubs to sign any of these sluggers, as they'd be under $110MM in 2012 commitments even with Ramirez and accounting for arbitration raises.  Still, I doubt the Cubs are thinking about next year's free agents whatsoever at this point.

Back to 2011: the Cubs were able to augment their bullpen on the cheap, with Wood's $1.5MM deal drawing comparisons to Andre Dawson's blank check offer.  Wood doesn't need to win an MVP award, though - he just needs to give the Cubs 50 solid innings and keep the walks down.  Wood will be setting up Carlos Marmol, whose odd statistical profile didn't prevent the Cubs from buying out his last two arbitration seasons and one free agent year for $20MM.  Marmol's 15.99 K/9 was the highest in baseball history among pitchers with 25 innings in a season, and it followed that he was stingy on hits and home runs.  But like Wood, Andrew Cashner, and John Grabow, he struggled with walks.  It's easy to dream on the back end of the Cubs' bullpen this year, but this seems to be an especially volatile bunch.

Garza

Hendry's big splash was the addition of Garza.  It wasn't clear Garza would be made available at the outset of the offseason, but the Rays seemingly held a covert bidding war and cashed the righty in for a big chunk of the Cubs' farm system.  Baseball America ranked the Cubs' system eighth in baseball prior to the deal, but the Rays now have the Chicago prospects formerly ranked #1, 4, 10, and 16.  In Archer, Guyer, and Chirinos, the Cubs surrendered prospects almost certain to play in the Majors soon.  The Cubs restored a touch of depth with the signings of Cuban players Silva and Cabezas as well as the Gorzelanny trade.

As you'd expect, the Cubs paid dearly for three years of Garza, who posted a sub-4.00 ERA over about 600 AL East innings over the last three seasons.  Garza has the stuff and reputation of a #2 starter, even if his strikeout rates in '08 and '10 don't quite match up.  It wasn't surprising to see the Cubs move Gorzelanny, though even with the lefty's inconsistency he might have been nice to have around with Carloses Zambrano and Silva not considered reliable.

The team's minor league signings focused on players who had already been in the organization.  They also coaxed Looper out of semi-retirement, and the Cubs are probably hoping he or Casey Coleman is Gorzelanny's equal as a sixth starter.  In the Cubs' perfect world, Andrew Cashner would beat out the less exciting rotation candidates, pushing Silva or Randy Wells to the pen.

Despite a rookie-filled second half last year, the Cubs are going for it in '11 with Mike Quade at the helm for his first full season.  Hendry chose to pay the price in prospects as opposed to cash, after watching the Brewers do the same on a more exaggerated level.  The Cubs enter 2011 as an expensive underdog in the NL Central, but with enough young talent and wild cards to make things interesting.

Photo courtesy Icon SMI.


69 Responses to Offseason In Review: Chicago Cubs Leave a Reply

  1. syphercx 4 years ago

    I think fielder is a better fit than Pujols.

    • SpeedS28 4 years ago

      I can’t see Fielder bolting for the Cubs. Why would he want to join that mess in Chicago when he’s got a good nucleus in Milwaukee?

      • Brad426 4 years ago

        Money?

        • SpeedS28 4 years ago

          Ya Money. I agree, but he would put the Cubs in the same position they are in with Soriano right now. He would handcuff them financially for years to come and truly eat up lots of $$$.

          • Brad426 4 years ago

            And lots of concessions and maybe the occasional fan.

            But teams don’t take on big contracts thinking they will be BAD contracts. I agree that Fielder could very well end up being an albatross to a team, but the question is does Jim Hendry think (see?) that.

            Edit: Also, your original question was why would FIELDER do the deal. Then you argued why it would be bad for the Cubs. If the Cubs offer Prince the money he wants he won’t think “Well, I’ve got a good nucleus with the Brewers, and the Cubs are a mess”, he will think “Where do I sign?”. Then he will think “Mmmm, open face club sandwich.”

          • Top notch edit. Saved the quality one-liner until the end of an intelligent post. Kudos

          • Brad426 4 years ago

            Aw shucks.

      • syphercx 4 years ago

        Isn’t Fielder a Boras agent? Nucleus is not in his vocabulary.

      • wickedkevin 4 years ago

        I can’t see Fielder bolting anywhere.

    • wickedkevin 4 years ago

      Fielder and fit in the same sentence make me lol.

      • start_wearing_purple
        start_wearing_purple 4 years ago

        2 fat jokes in less than 30 minutes. Want to go for a trifecta?

        • wickedkevin 4 years ago

          Don’t be so offended if you are fat yourself.

    • godzillacub 4 years ago

      Really? I do NOT want to give Fielder 8 years. Nopers. We made that mistake with Soriano. Also, Fielder can’t field. 8/200 for a DH in 3 years? No siree bob. Not even if Hendry really really likes lefties.

  2. royalman23 4 years ago

    If the cubs were a bloated-fifth place team last year, then they are a still bloated fourth place team at best this year (with less prospects to boot.) I am sorry but the Cubs, should have spent this year rebuilding a little bit. The Reds are too good, the Brewers got way better and the Cardinals will always be in the race with Albert and their pitching. Until they can get some of these bad bad contracts off of their books and make a play for someone like Albert or Prince next year…it is going to be awhile before they can contend in this division again. The Cubs need a new GM and a new direction. I just think this article paints too positive an outlook on a not very good team.

    • You know, you don’t have to spent a year wallowing in a quagmire to rebuild, nor should you in a major market. Trading for Matt Garza is an example of accelerating the rebuild process along… trade some filler and a top pitching prospect for the pitcher that you hope that prospect will become. And, honestly, last year for the Cubs was a case of what can go wrong, will go wrong… predicting a return to normal form for most players this year puts the Cubs on the outside of the race with a chance to get in the thick of things with a hot streak.

      And if things don’t work out, some contracts are actually coming off the books next year – 13 million for Fukudome, 5 million for Grabow, 15 million for Ramirez if his option isn’t worth picking up. That’s some good money that can be used to extend young players or pursue some free agent upgrades this winter. I think Hendry did a good job balancing the future and the present with this team, getting some cheap, short-term upgrades with Peña and Garza while keeping options open for the years to come.

    • godzillacub 4 years ago

      This post presuppose that “rebuilding” means dropping budget and a fire sale. The Cubs ARE rebuilding. The traded blocked prospects and a top prospect that they saw as a closer at best for a pitcher under team control til 2013. Signed 1 year contracts to have LOTS to spend next off-season. Gave Castro a year, gave the younger guys a year to get more experience. Will probably see Jackson up this year and Byrd splitting time with Colvin (or dealt).

      • Agreed. The Cubs have enough money that they should never have to do a full Marlins-like rebuild. But you also have to look at like the Cubs couldn’t rebuild even if they wanted. Who do they have that they could trade for a bunch of good prospects other than the few good prospects they already have?

        They really don’t have much of a choice but to try and wait until the big contracts become moveable or expire. Which is pretty much what they are doing. Wood was cheap. Pena at 1 year $10 million is not much of a commitment for a big market team, and if you’re lucky you catch lightning in a bottle and he may become a trading chip later. The shuffled some future value types around that were blocked or they didn’t like for other guys with future value they liked more.

        This is not to say I endorsed all of Hendry’s specific moves. But as a general strategy, I’d hardly say the Cubs were in “win now” mode. They’re in “grit your teeth and do what you can” mode, which is the correct and really only available option.

    • jwsox 4 years ago

      agreed the cubs may have gotten garza but the brew crew got freaking greinke…and as a sox fan i cant be more happy to see him and his slider out of the AL central..yes pena is good for 30 hrs+ a gold glove d but so is fielder

    • gcheezpuff 4 years ago

      The Cubs are in to big of a market to go for a complete rebuild and most fans wouldn’t stand for it. Despite what you may want to see happen and what may very well be the best baseball decision, the business side of the Cubs still needs to put butts in the seats to buy overpriced hot dogs and beer. That being said I think Hendry did a nice job of mixing young and veteran talent without committing anymore money past this season on aging veterans. I like both the Garza & Pena deals. If Pena returns to form I’d much rather see them extend him then throw stupid money at Fielder or Pujols… I respect their talent but neither will be worth the contracts they sign.

      • BlueCatuli 4 years ago

        I don’t disagree with what you’re saying, but the Cubs concession prices aren’t that bad. $6.50 for a beer, while overpriced in general, isn’t that bad for a sporting event.

    • Jntg4 4 years ago

      Reds were 20-33 against above .500 teams. They aren’t really all that good.

    • Gocubs2010 4 years ago

      No one picked Rangers or Giants to go to WS or win WC or Their own Division last year, On Paper cubs are better than both of them this year and last, The problem with us though was injuries, We lost Aramis for a good amount of time you can not lose your best hitter and others not produce when he is gone and expect to be 20 games in 1st it just don’t happen, Giants pitching was healthy all last year and that’s what carried them, Once Rangers got Lee it carried them to Post Season, You need your men healthy and MAYBE 1 key hit at the deadline to be successful, Predicting a team with be 4th, 5th, 6th etc in February isn’t the smartest idea because alot of teams that win are predicted to finish 4th etc in early predictions and wind up making playoffs and winning the WS.

      • mlb1981 4 years ago

        Cubs are no where close to as good as the Rangers or Giants on paper. Deluisonal!
        Aramis played close to 3/4th of the season so dont blame him for the 75 win season. The team sucks and needs rebuilding.

        • The Giants have no offense except for Buster Posey, that’s it. Their starting staff and back end of bullpen is top notch but middle relief is iffy. The Cubs have strong 1-3 starters and are gonna have quality pitchers rounding out the last two spots, whoever wins out that competition. They have Aramis Ramirez who when healthy is an RBI machine. Pena who at his worst still still out homered and out RBI’d the best hitter in the Giants lineup. The Cubs also have three really good pitchers at the back of their bullpen. The Rangers are far and above both those teams on paper. However, it doesn’t matter what’s on paper.

          • mlb1981 4 years ago

            How have the cubs not won a world series with that powerhouse team? Perhaps you overvalue your own players? Just a thought.

  3. Brad426 4 years ago

    “Still, I doubt the Cubs are thinking about next year’s free agents whatsoever at this point.”

    I bet that’s not true Tim. I bet the second Pujols didn’t sign an extention the number crunchers in the FO were figuring out what they could afford to offer him as soon as free agency starts.

  4. bbxxj 4 years ago

    Reasons to think Chicago could compete for the NLC or a WC:

    -Good seasons quietly put in by some youngsers in 2010, Soto (27), Colvin (24), and Castro (20)

    -Aramis Ramirez hit .287/.333/.556/.889 with 20HR in his final 77 games.

    -Carlos Zambrano had a 1.41 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, and 7.7 K/9 his his final 11 starts and 70.1 IP.

    -TB transplants Pena and Garza could thrive on the North Side.

    -Should Garza and Zambrano reach their frontline ‘potential’, Dempster and Wells can/should add 400 quality innings in support while Cashner, Coleman and Silva add competition to the fifth spot.

    Now I’m not saying the Cubs are my favorites to win the NLC (the Reds are my pick) but I don’t think its out of the realm of possiblilty that they make a run for it. I am a Braves fan but I live within the reach of Chicagoland so I hope I get to listen to some good Cubs baseball on my local AM station that gets all of their games.

    • jayrig5 4 years ago

      The ridiculous 22-32 record in 1-run games could be put on your list as well. 54 1-run games, that’s 1/3rd of the season. Ridiculous.

      • jb226 4 years ago

        More to the point, losing lots of one run games is a product of two things: A bad bullpen and a bad offense. The offense should be slightly improved, if for no other reason than players who bombed like Ramirez rebounding slightly toward their career numbers. Pena would be roughly a wash with Lee’s horrid 2010 even if he had his fairly horrid 2010, but a rebound + move to the NL central is a good recipe for improving. Wood in the bullpen will help, as will the extra experience a lot of young guys like Cashner got at the end of the season; the bullpen at the end of the year was markedly improved from the beginning. Not having Esmailin Caridad pitch will be a big help all in itself.

        And I’m not trying to knock on the Reds, they’re a good, young team who i think will be in contention all year… but 22 wins in your last at bat is going to he hard to match. Whether those break for the team or against next year is a big deal.

        Don’t get me wrong; I don’t think the Cubs are going to win (if I had to put money down, it would be on the Brewers). I just don’t see them leapfrogging three teams. Two for a possible wildcard? Maaybe, but I wouldn’t bet on that either. I do think the Cubs will be quite a bit improved, however, and hopefully that momentum carries into 2012 when contracts come off the books and they have the possibility to make some serious noise.

        • “Not having Esmailin Caridad pitch will be a big help all in itself. ”

          Yeah, Caridad’s 4 innings pitched crippled the Cubs last year.

      • mlb1981 4 years ago

        Lots of excuses from the Cub fans.

        • jayrig5 4 years ago

          Haha, no. They were awful in 1-run games. They absolutely deserved to lose them, for a variety of reasons…horrible offense, worse bullpen, poor managing. The bullpen is definitely better. The offense is at least different, as is the manager. I mean, they can’t be worse. I fully admit that they could win 75 games again, or 70. But it’s not going to be worse than last year. Just saying.

          • mlb1981 4 years ago

            You are right. The cubs could not be much worse than last year.

          • jayrig5 4 years ago

            Yes. So, we agree. And I’m sure you’ll take back your previous statement. But that won’t happen, I’m guessing.

          • mlb1981 4 years ago

            My last statement was…”Lots of excuses from the Cub fans”.
            Why do you want me to take that back?

          • jayrig5 4 years ago

            Because I wasn’t making excuses. I was saying they sucked in 1-run games. Which they did. It was an example of the kinds of flaws they had all last season. Which were numerous. They played poorly. I wasn’t using the 1-run games as an excuse; that is, I wasn’t saying they deserved to win way more of the 1-run games. Or that their record should have been way better. They deserved to lose those games. The 75-win total was inflated by a weak schedule down the stretch, where Quade played a bunch of veterans to try to get the job in 2011. Which worked for him, at the expense of Cubs prospects. (The same weak schedule that inflated Zambrano’s numbers.) The Cubs were horrible last season. There were few positives. (Castro, Soto, Marmol, Marshall. Few others.)

            I think they’ll be better this season, by default, but I’m not guaranteeing anything. Where are the excuses there? If you can show me any, feel free. If you can’t, then you should take back the “Lots of excuses” statement. That may be applicable to others, I guess, but I don’t appreciate the generalization.

          • mlb1981 4 years ago

            I guess you are right. You werent making excuses….you agree the cubs sucked last year and you should expect no different this year.

          • jayrig5 4 years ago

            Haha, whoa, slow it down there Socrates…I can tell when I’m overmatched in the debate department. What a corner you’ve backed me into. Man. It’s lonely here.

            We can talk last year, and we can talk this year. But performance one year isn’t necessarily contingent on the performance the year before. I look at last year and see young players that could conceivable improve, and veterans whose numbers could easily improve drastically by simply returning to career-average level numbers.

            I see a very strong back-end of the bullpen, which is the opposite of what was there last year. I see someone besides Lou Piniella in the dugout, someone who actually (presumably) cares about winning. So, I mean, you’re right in the since that I don’t necessarily expect any different. I don’t have any expectations. What’s the point? The Cubs cut payroll. The Brewers, Cardinals, Red Sox, White Sox…all added a lot of payroll. Those teams should have fans with expectations. I think the Cubs are probably a .500 team if things go as they should. If things go better than expected, they could win 90. If things go worse, they could win 70. And, to be honest, at this point, you could say that about 15 teams.

            But when I look at this season, I don’t think that the Cubs performance last April/May/June is necessarily the best predictor of what will happen this season. Such is baseball. The 2009 Reds won 78 games and finished 4th.

            Did that keep them from winning 91 last year? No. The turnover between the two seasons for the Reds was similar to the turnover between last year’s Cubs and this year’s Cubs. Baseball is fun that way. You can feel free to quit while you’re behind, or if you like, you can continue. But just know that you, being someone who has nothing to say but snarky, unfounded criticism of the Cubs fan base, sound far worse than people who are honest about their team’s flaws, while still being a fan. I mean, I still like my team. You seem to think that’s a bad thing…I’m sorry you feel that way.

          • mlb1981 4 years ago

            This is exactly what I find comical. You think the Cubs will be a .500 team but they have not improved except adding Kerry Wood.
            Your argument on improvement is based on….well they cant be any worse!!!
            Aging veterans dont typically get better (at least not without steroids) and the Cubs dont have a lot of young studs except Castro, Colvin and Soto.

          • jayrig5 4 years ago

            My argument is based not on “aging veterans getting better”, it’s based on having watched veteran players have career-low seasons (Pena, Ramirez, Zambrano, Grabow) and expecting, logically, that their numbers will return back towards their career average lines. Not exceed their career averages. Just slide back towards normal. Three of the players I listed were injured last year. Could they get hurt again? Sure. I wouldn’t necessarily be surprised, even. But I’m not going to expect it. Zambrano…who knows? He could be the best #3 starter in baseball. He could be horrible. Last year was horrible. Therefore, I expect a more normal season, which for him is easily above league average. Same with the other three players. I think Garza will pitch well in the NL Central. I’d expect similar numbers to Lilly coming in in 2007, in terms of the drop in ERA/WHIP/etc. Remember, Lilly missed time at the beginning of last season, and he wasn’t the same when he came back for about a month. And then the Cubs dealt him by the deadline. So Garza, for a full season, is an upgrade from last season.

            Again, none of this is far-fetched. It’s actually fairly conservative. I haven’t even tried to factor in perfomance increases in the second-year players (Castro, Colvin, Cashner). Soto is healthy, and Lou isn’t around to play Koyie Hill for 60 starts. Xavier Nady won’t be starting 100 games. I mean, if you want to honestly argue that last year’s opening day roster is equal to this year’s, fine. That’s totally fine. It’s not an easily supported argument, but just for fun, say that it is. So you still think every Cub that underperformed drastically last year will underperform drastically again? Or do you think it’s more likely that they will return (even slightly, but it all counts) to near-career level stats? Because to be .500, they’d just have to win 6 more games. Pena, Zambrano, Ramirez, even Dempster. It’s not an earth-shattering idea. And that’s without debating you on the talent of this year’s roster vs. last years.

            Again. Aging veterans don’t typically get better, no. But they do if they were hurt the previous season, and are healthy now. And stats tend to trend more toward career averages than anomaly-type seasons. Which is why I don’t expect Pena to hit 46 homers. But I don’t think he’ll hit .196 either. I think pretty much every one of the players will probably fall somewhere in between. But since so many Cubs had very bad years last year, by default, there will be improvement.

            I’m being honest here. I thought last year that they should win 70 games, and they should have won fewer. This year, if they have an average season, they’ll probably win 81 games. Again, I’d make the same prediction for 15 teams, probably. It’s hard to win 90 games. That’s a really good season. Not an average season. The Cubs had a considerably below-average season last year, and won 75 games. It was a pretty average year in 2009, and they somehow won 83 games with Milton Bradley and Aaron Miles.

            I mean, I guess if you think that me predicting a .500 season is yet another example of a Cubs fan who is just blinded by the ivy into thinking that the Cubs are magically great and superior to all others…well, come on. That’s just silly. It’s an 81-win season. That’s not good. It’s a 3rd or 4th place finish. That’s what I think would happen, with an average year. The talent isn’t good enough to play average and make the playoffs. Few teams are. (Red Sox, Phils, Yankees (maybe), Giants (maybe).) And then there are the teams where if they play average, they’d win like 70-75. Pirates, Astros, Royals, Mets, Nationals, Indians, Orioles. So, that’s 11. The other 19 I’d say playing average baseball would put them around .500. But a lot of teams don’t play average baseball. So we’ll see. But saying the Cubs should finish around .500…hardly an irresponsible prediction.

          • mlb1981 4 years ago

            So you are saying Ramirez and Zambrano had career low seasons in 2010? I think you forgot to look at 2009. But lets just forget the last 2 years and assume they will be great in 2011!

          • jayrig5 4 years ago

            Haha, Ramirez had a freak separated shoulder injury in 2009. Zambrano had a 3.77 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, and missed time with an injury sustained while hitting.

            Last season, he was moved to the bullpen, sucked, freaked out and missed a few months, then had a mirage of a season finale. And even with the great finish, his numbers were still worse than 2009.

            Ramirez only played 82 games in 2009, and he still had a line of .317/.389/.516 with 15 homers. So, yeah, I’d take that season again, without the fluke injury sustained while diving for a ball. But no, it’s fine, keep making up your own facts.

            And, once again, I’m not saying they’ll be “great”. I’m saying they’ll have numbers more in line with their career averages. If you want to say that’s great, go ahead.

    • firealyellon 4 years ago

      Another good reason: Drugs. Lots of hallucinogenic drugs.

    • MattJD1968 4 years ago

      IMO The Cubs have about a 25% chance of making the playoffs. I think they’ll be better, but it’ll be hard to improve by the 15 games it’ll likely take to seriously contend.

    • daveineg 4 years ago

      The middle of the Cubs order can’t match the middle of the order of the Cardinals, Brewers and Reds. It’s as simple as that. Ramirez led the team with 83 RBI last year. That won’t cut it. He’s an old 33. Soriano is 35. Sure Pena should bounce back some but don’t underestimate the pitching in this division.

      Way too many ifs.

  5. donjuandemarco 4 years ago

    I love how everyone is viewing the Brewers as a “hot contender” but Greinke seems like he’s one awkward throw away from TJ and that would kill the entire team and offseason and likely remove them from contention. So does losing one guy really mean you’re all that good?

    • jb226 4 years ago

      “I think somebody throws like he’s going to hurt himself” isn’t something most people evaluate a team by.

      And I also disagree that it would kill their entire team. Gallardo is a legitimate ace, and he’s basically their #2 or #3 at this point. Marcum is quite good, and yeah, Greinke is Greinke. Randy Wolf is hardly shabby either.

      Honestly, I’d put the Brewers top 3 starters against any in the division. The only one who would give them a run for their money is Wainwright/Carpenter/Garcia, and that’s assuming Garcia is as good as he was last year — which I honestly doubt. I’d take the Brewers top 3 over the Reds without much thought and over the Cubs, Pirates and Astros before somebody could finish their offer.

      And they have a hell of an offense too, with Fielder and Braun being the offensive beasts they are and Weeks, McGehee and Hart being pretty damn good themselves. The only question I can see is their bullpen. Luckily for them, that’s also the easiest thing to fix if it’s a problem and they’re still in contention.

      This, by the way, from a Cubs fan who would love nothing more than all three of these potential contenders for the NL Central to slip. I just don’t see it. The Central should be a lot of fun this year.

    • daveineg 4 years ago

      Gallardo, Marcum, Wolf, and Narveson were a combined 52-36 last year. Gallardo and Marcum were opening day starters too. Greinke isn’t the Brewers only quality starter. Mark Rogers is waiting in the wings after a 10 inning, 2 hit allowed, 11 K, cup of coffee in September.

      Cardinal’s ace Carpenter has a fairly extensive injury history as does Volquez for the Reds. Cubs are counting heavily on oft injured Kerry Wood and Carlos Marmol who could blow out his elbow anytime throwing that slider.

      • jayrig5 4 years ago

        Okay…you went the whole time comparing starters, then you threw the Cubs bullpen in?

  6. woadude 4 years ago

    I like how Tony Thomas is a notable loss….

  7. Wow Tim, for being a true-blue cubs fan you certainly were visceral in your critique of your team. I thought you’d at least talk more about how Garza occasionally has no-hit stuff and that coming to the NL should be a welcome transition (you hinted on it, but didn’t actually say it). What is up with throwing Zambrano under the bus!? A great case can be made that his impressive end to 2010 could carry over into an impressive 2011. Instead you make a play on his name calling him Carloses?? Wow! Finally, I was surprised you failed to mention the SINGLE BIGGEST LOSS the cubs had this offseason, RON SANTO! Just on shear enthusiasm alone Santo made it seem like the Cubs fared better each year than they actually did. This is truly a loss that the cubs organization will never get over. Cubs should be a decent team in 2011, just on the outskirts of winning it but giving fans hope for big things in a few years. Once Soriano and Fukudome relieve the stranglehold in terms of $$ contracts, this cubs team can improve and improve quickly! Good Luck in 2011 Cubs!

    • Outskirts of winning the Central Division that is…

    • One more thing about Carlos Silva. Give the guy a break! True he fizzled out from what an unexpectedly strong start to the 2010 season. The guy still went 10-6 with a 4 era and for a large chunk of the season, he was without a doubt the most consistent cubs starter! The thing with Silva is his ability to throw his sinker low in the zone, if he does this, he is effective. I agree we will never be a stabilizing force in any rotation but teams could do a lot worse than Carlos Silva at the back end of a rotation. If he goes into the bullpen, how would he be used? Long relief? Situational guy to get a needed groundball double play? That won’t work. I think until the cubs truly have a better option, let Carlos live or die with his sinker in the rotation.

      • godzillacub 4 years ago

        Nope. In a year where you are not competing for the division, just being competitive, you let the young guys have that spot and gain experience.

        • jayrig5 4 years ago

          I also think that, all things equal, if Cashner and Wells look as good or better than Silva, they should be in the rotation. For the Cubs to have a chance, they need to hit on good young pitchers. Silva is not really either of those things. He’s an insurance policy.

      • gcheezpuff 4 years ago

        I think the best the Cubs can hope for with Silva is a great spring triggering a trade to another team.

        • You’re absolutely right. He really doesn’t fit on this Cubs team, I’m not really sure where he fits actually but maybe the bottom tier teams would take a flier that him starting. Oh wait, the yankees look like a fit these days!

    • jb226 4 years ago

      I doubt “Carloses” was intentional, though it was an amusing slip. To be honest, I had to go back and re-read it just to figure out what you were talking about. Read right over it the first time.

  8. DunkinDonuts 4 years ago

    I just want to compliment the photographer on his camera’s frame rate. I’m impressed that he captured Garza during the one millisecond each game that he doesn’t have a trail of spittle flying from his mouth (although it does look like he’s reloading). I barely recognized him.

  9. gcheezpuff 4 years ago

    I don’t expect the cubbies to win the division or even the wild card, but I do think it is awesome that nearly the entire division improved. I am getting tired of hearing from my friends that are White Sox fans that the Cubs play in the worst division in baseball and I am tired of the Cubs putting together teams just good enough to compete in the NL Central. I think the vast improvement in the NL central will force the Cubs to put a better product on the field going forward…. and if I was Hendry I would only target FAs coming from the AL, which as much as I hate to admit it, for the last 10 years has been a superior league. I hate the freaking DH and enjoy NL baseball much better, but moving a solid AL pitcher to the NL is a recipe for success.

  10. paulcatanese 4 years ago

    Quite a collaboration of good articles,enoyed reading all of them.Will revisit often.

  11. Wrek305 4 years ago

    The Cubs actually got worse at first.. Derek Lee is washed up but I’d take him every time over Carlos Pena.. besides that they did nothing good this winter. Getting Garza for way too much… Not trading Marmol and getting a lot back for him was a mistake.. the only thing Cubs can really hope for is A. Ramirez is traded in June or July.. and they finish last place so Hendry is fired

  12. Ricky Bones 4 years ago

    The real reason the Cubs won’t rebuild has very little to do w/ the fans. WGN does not allow for it. There is a great deal of pressure put on the team by their tv/radio carrier to always appear competitive in order to protect ratings. A good number of games are on CSN now but they don’t carry the same clout.

    Yes the Cubs have a good sum of money coming off the books after this year & operate in a large market, but their financial situation isn’t as rosy as it appears. The new ownership group used just about every cent they had to both purchase the team & absorb the debt. Realistically, they should never have been allowed to assume control of the team but due to a series of corrupt bargains & negotiations it has been made so. They couldn’t afford the team but that was the ownership group that MLB wanted in place.

    There’s no real reason to believe Ramirez, a player in decline, is a lock for a bounce-back or even career year as some are predicting. Pena likewise is older and the argument for him switching to the NL as a basis for rebound does not hold water. That makes sense at times for pitchers but not so much for a hitter.

    What come from the rotation is big mystery. Garza should be nice but he’s a number 3 starter in a good rotation. Zambrano has made a career out of inconsistency & the rest of the rotation is fairly makeshift. The bullpen is based around pitchers with high walk rates w/ a closer who quite often cannot find the strike zone. A recipe for disaster even if the offense & rotation can hand them a lead.

    Maybe they do contend, who knows? That’s not the goal or the point. The goal is to win the World Series and anything short of that is a failure.

    • Matt22yuc 4 years ago

      The cubs have been failing for 102 years what do you expect? As long as they have Zambrano, Steve Bartmen, and the beautiful ivry walls they’re failures. Cub fans please stop believing! Go Cards

  13. Brad426 4 years ago

    Not the Phillies, they’d just have a 25% reduction in aces.

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