Cubs Win! Cubs Win! How? A combined effort of solid pitching and timely hitting gave the Cubs their first victory of 2011. Everyone contributed and provided the kind of teamwork that will carry this team to new heights. As a diehard Cubs’ fan, I am very encouraged by this team’s tenacity to hang in there. I am pleased by the effort that everyone gave. Indeed, this will be a fun group to watch. Mike Quade deserves a world of credit for the way this team has come together. I think there is good reason to be optimistic this season.
Carlos Zambrano struggled early but managed to keep the game close. Cramping in his hand forced him to leave the game, but Kerry Wood came in and took care of business. Sean Marshall followed Wood and also shut down the Pirates. Then in the bottom of the 8th, the Cubs came to life and battled for a 5 run inning. The beauty of that inning was that everyone contributed with timely hitting.
60602722.jpg Alfonso Soriano had a key hit and of course, Blake DeWitt delivered in the clutch. Dewitt, who struggled in Spring Training, deserves a lot of credit. His confidence needed a boost and he needed that hit as much as the team did. It was a total team effort.
60602747.jpg I like the way that this team sticks together and supports one another. It is refreshing. Carlos Marmol came on in the 9th and struck out the side for his first save of the young season.
60602748.jpg In fact, the bullpen retired the last 9 Pirate batters of the game. Now that’s a solid bullpen!
Matt Garza is on the bump today. He will be starting his first game in a Cub uniform. If he can have a solid outing, then the Cubs should win again. Garza seems like a really good teammate. He’s a gamer, you can tell. With the addition of Garza, Carlos Pena, and the return of Kerry Wood, I believe the club house chemistry is finally coming together. Mike Quade has good reason to like his chances this year. Teamwork is what champions are made of and the Cubs are showing signs of having the right chemistry.
Good job to everyone! Keep up the good work! Go Cubs Go!!!
With Spring Training right around the corner, it’s time to evaluate the offseason moves made by Jim Hendry, the Cubs General Manager. Each and every year Cubs’ fans get excited around this time. We are ever hopeful that the new season will bring that elusive championship, but in the end, we are disappointed yet again. Could this year be different? Could 2011 be the breakthrough year to remember? Have the Cubs made the necessary moves to bring the right balance to a team that has struggled to reach its potential? I am going to gaze into my crystal ball and peek into the future and try to determine what kind of team we have to look forward to.
The first glimpse that may be indicative of a promising year dates back to the last month and a half of last season. After the sudden retirement of Lou Piniella, Mike Quade took over the helm and steered the Cubs in the right direction. Under Quade, the Cubs finished strong. The players responded to his style of managing and won nearly 2/3 of the remaining games. Quade made a strong impression on Jim Hendry and Cubs’ Chairman, Tom Ricketts, and the interim tag was removed as he won the managerial job over fan favorites such as Ryne Sandberg and Joe Girardi. There was much controversey over the process, but in the end, Mike Quade had earned the position. In 2011, Mike Quade will face the challenge of managing over the long haul of the season. If 2010 was evidence that he has what it takes to turn this team around, then indeed, the Cubs have much to look forward to.
As the Cubs searched the free agent market to fill some obvious holes, Jim Hendry finally found a left-handed first baseman in Carlos Pena. Was it the right fit? Some may argue, but seriously, Pena is a great defensive first baseman and has a powerful left-handed bat. Exactly what the Cubs needed. Is his .196 batting average and high strikeout ratio a concern? It would be, but Pena is working with Rudy Jaramillo, the Cubs’ hitting coach, and is totally committed to improving his swing. That willingness to learn is the key. There are far too many veterans who think that they are so great that they have nothing more to learn, the very same players who start to stink and drag everyone around them down. So it is refreshing to see a player who wants to get better. Carlos Pena is going to work out just fine, you’ll see.
The Cubs also re-acquired Kerry Wood. I am very happy about this because Woody is, was, and always will be a Cub. He is a club house leader and understands what it means to be a Cub. He gave the Cubs a huge discount to come home. He did an awesome job for the Yankees last season and he promises to do more of the same for the Cubs in 2011. Hopefully he can remain healthy and prove to everyone that HE’S BACK! I think that he will return with a vengeance. I am excited to see him again!
Then, there was the controversial trade for Matt Garza. The Cubs may have lost some top prospects, but they have gained one of the best pitchers in the game today. He will be a welcomed addition to the Cubs’ pitching staff. Coming to the National League where hitters aren’t very familiar with him will be to his advantage. I look for him to have a great year. Like Woody and Pena, I foresee him silencing the critics very quickly. I predict that he will win 18 games or more this season.
The Cubs have also made some minor moves, such as re-acquiring Reed Johnson, Todd Wellmeyer, and getting some players in the Tom Gorzellany trade. We’ll see how those work out as only time will tell. On a positive note, the Cubs have signed Geovanny Soto, Sean Marshall, and I believe, Carlos Marmol thus avoiding arbitration. So that is good news.
One important factor that will determine the Cubs destiny is whether or not they can stay healthy. Last year was a disaster as far as injuries go. A healthy team learns to play as a team and gel. A different line-up everyday is disastrous to team chemistry and that was something we saw too much of last year. The Cubs need to stay healthy, period! It is good to hear that Tyler Colvin will be back this year. Watching him being impaled by a broken bat scared us all. It’s great that he will return, we’ll need him.
The Cubs seem pretty solid up and down the line-up, except for one thing. We still do not have a protypical lead-off hitter. I probably sound like a broken record, but this could make or break the Cubs’ offense. Last season, there was no spark to ignite the offense and consequently no pressure on the opposition. If the Cubs truly want to contend, this crucial piece must be found. If no trades are made, then somebody will need to step up and learn how to get on base and rattle the defense. I hope that Mike Quade doesn’t just pencil in just anybody. He knows full well that the lead-off hitter sets the tone for what will follow. Anyway, we’ll see what happens. Perhaps Starlin Castro or Kosuke Fukudome will be willing to learn how to fill that role. Who knows, after all, there is still some time before the season begins.
Overall, I think the Cubs will be much improved. If the lead off role can be filled, I think the Cubs will be in business. Once again, I am excited about the upcoming season, unfortunately, my crystal ball isn’t as clear as I’d like it to be, but that would take all of the fun out of watching the season unfold now wouldn’t it?
Welcome back, Woody! While some Cubs’ fans might be hesitant to get excited about Kerry Wood’s return to Chicago due to the injuries that haunted him during his first tour of duty, I am not one of them. Sure, Woody was plagued by injuries in the past but those days are gone. A skeptical fan need only to look at the year Wood had last season with the Yankees. During the post-season Kerry came out of the bullpen and was lights out. I thought to myself, “He’s back!”
Now, Woody is healthy and has returned to form. Now, he is back with the Cubs and I am excited. He has new life and the Cubs will benefit from his presence in the bullpen. Jim Hendry sought a veteran right-handed reliever to anchor the bullpen and Kerry Wood is the perfect fit. Personally, I was skeptical at the idea of bringing him back, but something dramatically opened my eyes.
Woody wanted to return to Chicago since his family has roots here. His wife is from the Windy City and he wanted to make Chicago his permanent home. That is great, but the reasons why I am excited about his return is that I was watching Chicago Tribune Live and Dave Kaplan was talking about a conversation that he had with Kerry Wood. He jokingly told Kerry that the White Sox were interested in signing him as a free agent and asked Wood if he had considered going there. Kerry Wood’s response, “Never!” Spoken like a true Cub!
Then, when I heard that Jim Hendry was considering signing him and Woody was willing to accept far less money on the open free agent market to come to Chicago to play for the Cubs again I thought, “Hmmm”. In essence, he was willing to take a pay cut to accomodate the Cubs who have had a huge payroll deficiency. He was taking one for the team. Wow, you don’t see that every day. Any player who is willing to turn down millions of dollars to help the team out is definitely my kind of player. Kerry Wood is truly a Cub!
I will never forget the day he struck out 20 while pitching against the Houston Astros in 1998, his rookie season. I have watched a million games and that, I swear, was the best pitching performance that I have ever seen. Better perhaps, than any no-hitter that I have watched. Kerry Wood was in the zone that day. It was incredible! Sure, due to injuries, he has had a disappointing career, but we can take heart that Woody is healthy now and he’s back, back with a vengeance. Kerry is a true Cub, a veteran presence, and a true leader in the club house. I am glad to have him back and wish him the best of luck as the Cubs set forth on their journey to the World Series in 2011. Don’t laugh. It could happen. As Mike Quade has said, “Why not us?”
I have been a diehard Cubs’ fan for over 32 years. Here is a list of my all-time favorite Cubs.
In no particular order, I have broken my favorites down by position. Former Cub Greats like Billy Williams, Ernie Banks, and Ron Santo are NOT listed since I never had the opportunity to see them play. However, obviously, they are the best.
In the OUTFIELD, my favorites include ANDRE DAWSON. Andre Dawson is a Hall of Famer and his numbers speak for themselves.
on the other hand, lost favor with me when I, along with the rest of the world, discovered that he used a corked bat while hitting 66 homeruns in 1998. Sammy was exciting to watch, but with the steroid scandal, he became a major disappointment. I was at Wrigley all summmer long in 1998 and was a witness to history, unfortunately it was all smoke and mirrors for the fans. Another favorite has been Gary Matthews. “Sarge” always took charge in the outfield and played hard-nosed baseball. He was an all-out effort kind of player. My third favorite outfielder, in my time, is BOB DERNIER.
He was a speedster that not only stole bases, but had a gold glove as well.
At THIRD BASE, the Cubs haven’t had anybody that has stood out until Aramis Ramirez came along.
Although he struggled with injuries last season, he has been a solid performer over the past few years with the Cubs. Hopefully next season, he will return to form.
At SHORTSTOP, my favorite was Ivan DeJesus.
He was the lead-off hitter back when I began watching the Cubs. He played solid defense and stole bases. He always gave 100%.
At SECOND BASE, there is only one RYNE SANDBERG.
A Hall of Famer, Ryno was simply the best. He was the most clutch hitter that I’ve ever seen.
At FIRST BASE, while most fans would arguably pick Mark Grace and rightfully so, my pick is BILL BUCKNER. Back in the day, Buckner was a hitting machine. In my opinion, he was a better hitter than Gracie. He was a pretty good defensive player as well. It is unfortunate that fans only remember the ball that went through his legs at Boston.
The same could be said for Leon Durham in 1984. Derek Lee deserves special recognition. I almost picked him and probably should have. He is probably the best first baseman the Cubs have had in my 32 years as a fan, I just was a big fan of Buckner, that’s all.
At CATCHER, my favorite was JODY DAVIS.
He was awesome.
Back in 1984, the Cubs had a good team up and down the line-up. It was probably my favorite team as a whole.
STARTING PITCHER is none other than Greg Maddux.
He is the king of the hill.
My favorite CLOSER was BRUCE SUTTER. He had a split-fingered fast ball that was lights out. Carlos Marmol recently broke his strikeout record for closers.
Some of my other favorites include, most notably, JOE GIRARDI, LEE SMITH, DENNIS ECKERSLY, Kenny Lofton, FERGUSON JENKINS, MARK GRACE, Sammy Sosa, Kerry Wood, RICK SUTCLIFFE, LEON DURHAM, KEITH MORELAND, Derek Lee, DAVE KINGMAN, SHAWON DUNSTON, Carlos Zambrano, Alfonso Soriano, and Carlos Marmol. My FAVORITE CUBS’ TEAM was 1984.
It was a season to remember!
The Free Agent frenzy is in full swing as we enter the calm before the storm. It won’t be long before somebody makes a splash and topples the dominoes over one after another. The Cubs are searching for a right-handed reliever to anchor the bullpen. Let’s examine the best of the best and try to decide who will be the best fit.
It has been reported that the Cubs might have interest in re-signing Kerry Wood, although it is unclear if the Yankees will make a push to retain his services. New York declined on the club option for 2011, but that does not mean that the Yankees will re-negotiate another contract. Jim Hendry has a good relationship with Wood and has stated that the Cubs would be interested if the price was right. Many Cub fans are nervous about bringing back Kerry Wood since, in previous years, Wood was plagued by injuries and never reached his potential. To his credit, Wood had an outstanding second half last year and looked impressive in the playoffs. Once a Cub, always a Cub. You never know, he may be a good fit. Personally, I like him, but again, Kerry Wood carries a risk with him.
Other right-handed relief pitchers in the free agent class will be listed below, however, I have only included pitchers younger than Kerry Wood, 34, since it doesn’t make alot of sense to waste money on aging arms. No disrespect intended, I need to narrow the field down in some way as there are too many to list.
Grant Balfour, who pitched for the Rays last season and had a 2.28 ERA.
Joaquin Benoit, also a Ray, had a 1.34 ERA in 63 games last year.
Jesse Crain is one of the better pitchers available this year. He has a career 3.42 ERA, with a 33-21 record. He has been very consistent in his 7 years with the Twins.
Chad Durbin posted a 3.80 ERA with the Phillies last season. He seems to be a good pick-up, but probably not an anchor.
Kelvim Escobar is a veteran with 12 years under his belt. He has a career 101-91 record , with a 4.15 ERA and 1,310 K’s.
Jason Frasor, born in Chicago, went to Oak Forest High School, played 7 seasons at Toronto and compiled a 22-27 record, but has a 3.76 ERA over that span. He seems to be a solid pitcher.
Matt Guerrier has a career 3.38 ERA and is a solid, consistent reliever.
Micah Owings, a top prospect, has gone 18-3 in the minors with a 3.00 ERA. He went 11-0 in Triple A with a 3.15 ERA. A very good prospect.
J.J. Putz has been a prized reliever. He has a career 30-24 win-loss record and a 3.19 ERA.
Jon Rauch is 34-37, with a 3.71 ERA.
Dan Wheeler, the former Tampa Bay Ray reliever has a career 3.84 ERA in 11 seasons.
This is the list of the top right-handed relief pitchers on the Free Agent Market. The above pitchers are still young and have a bright future ahead of them. Any one of them would make a fine addition to the Cubs’ Pitching Staff. We’ll see what happens. Who do you think the Cubs should acquire for right-handed relief? Leave a comment in THE SUGGESTION BOX.