2012 Season

First Roster Move of 2012 Season

22 April 2012

In an expected move, the Cubs traded CF Marlon Byrd to the Boston Red Sox for RHP Michael Bowden (RP). The move signaled an important stepping stone for the 2012 season and beyond: Theo Epstein and company are watching the season and are willing to make moves.

Epstein’s rebuilding theme has continued into the first month of the 2012 season. He moved an aging Byrd, who is struggling this season, for a young relief pitcher in a system which is in dire need of bullpen help. The move is encouraging as many fans agree that Byrd is on the decline of his career and the team needs to build for the future. With the glaring focus beginning with the bullpen.

The Cubs bullpen carries a dismal 4.63 ERA (26th in the league), allowing 24 ER (6th most in the league), issuing 29 walks (tied for 3rd most in the league), a WHIP of 1.56 (26th in the league) and is credited with 5 loses (tied for 2nd most in the league). Had the bullpen not blown those leads, the Cubs would be 9-7, 2nd place in the NL Central and giving the Brewers and Reds both an additional loss, rather than wins.

Epstein and Hoyer know these numbers as well, this being why they made the trade and were willing to swallow a large portion of Byrd’s remaining contract. The organization is focused on the future; something many fans of the Cubs are not accustom to.

This move should be an indicator of additional issues the Cubs ownership should be addressing sometime within this season, such as:

    • The lack of a power hitter – Many fans are pleading for Rizzo and Jackson to be called up to the majors, but Gordon Wittenmyer interviewed Epstein who indicated the organization is waiting to move either player to the majors. Brian Davis and Andy Behrens further suggest the organization should wait to move either player with statistical analysis to support their reasoning. These reports would indicate Epstein and his staff will look at possible trades throughout the season to solve this problem.
    • An aging roster – The Cubs roster has eight players who are over the age of 30; six of which will be over the age of 35 before the All-Star break. Young promising talent is crucial for the development of this ball club within the next three years and into the next decade. Epstein developed such a talent pool in Boston and will likely carry on this tradition within the Cubs organization. The trade of Byrd was the first step in this direction.

It’s encouraging to see the organization recognize glaring problems and addressing them within the first month of a long season. I’m certain the ownership will continue to make moves to improve the Cubs in the years moving forward.

Only time will tell.

What’s Good After Week One?

11 April 2012

As we come to the closing of the first week in the 2012 MLB season, many Cubs’ fans are disheartened by the team’s performance thus far.  Realistic, the Cubs’ record should be 3-2; however, after two blown leads by the bullpen occurring twice in the 8th inning, the Cubs sit at 1-4.  But I’m here to provide support to my fellow fans, and hopefully give a glimmer of hope for the direction the organization is headed.  Let’s look at the areas in which the team has performed well in after week one:

Starting Pitching:

  • Granted, the efforts of Chris Volstad and Paul Maholm are still fresh in everyone’s mind, the Cubs rotation has looked decent.  Dempster, Garza and Samardzija have pitched strong performances in their season debuts, protecting the team’s late game leads to only have the bullpen give it away. Here are the numbers compared to the league:
    • Strike Outs          1st (31)
    • WHIP                   4th (0.96)
    • HR                        5th (5)
    • IP                          6th (31.1)
    • OPP AVG             7th (.196)
    • Runs                     9th (15)
    • ERA                      15th (3.73)

Aggressive Base Running:

  • Besides the gaff by Mather representing the tying run during the season opener by being thrown out at home, the Cubs have been running the bases smarter and harder. The Cubs led the league in triples (3) and are ranked 17th in doubles (6). Fans have noticed the hustle down the first base line by Cubs’ batters, even when the play is a routine out; we are very appreciative of the efforts.
  • After finishing the 2011 season ranked 28th in the MLB in Stolen Bases (69), the Cubs are currently ranked 2nd with 5. At this point, the Cubs are averaging one stolen base per game and are on pace to amass 162 stolen bases for the season.

Defensive Play:

  • From Ian Stewart’s throw from his knees to Soriano laying out to in left field, the Cubs have looked better defensively.  They are tied second in the league for fewest errors committed (2), tied fifth in the league for base runners caught stealing (2), and are tied seventh in the league for fielding percentage (.989).  Every fielder is making smart throws, hitting the cutoff man and moving around the diamond effectively in support of each position.

So Cubs’ fans, not everything is terrible with start of this season. Yes, the team has only one win, but remember, this team is rebuilding and moving in the right direction. The on field play proves this. Just like the show, the numbers never lie…

Cubs Announce Portion of 25-man Roster

30 March 2012

The Cubs organization met on Wednesday evening to determine the Opening Day 25-man Roster. On Thursday, the organization announced their decision:

Fielders:

Jeff Baker

Darwin Barney

Marlon Byrd

Starlin Castro

Steve Clevenger

David DeJesus

Reed Johnson

Bryan LaHair

Alfonso Soriano

Geovany Soto

Ian Stewart

While the fielders have been announced, Cubs beat reporters have stated that the bullpen is still undetermined. However, the Starting Roatation has been set and the Opening Day Pitcher has been announced. Here are the pitchers still in contention:

Pitchers:

Lendy Castillo

Gerardo Concepcion

Ryan Dempster (First in Rotation)

Rafael Dolis

Matt Garza (Second in Rotation)

Paul Maholm (Fifth in Rotation)

Calos Marmol

Marcos Mateo

Jeff Samardzija (Third in Rotation)

Chris Volstad (Fourth in Rotation)

Kerry Wood

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