View From The Bleachers

Talking Cubs Baseball Since 2003



March 2012



Chet's Corner: A Glance Ahead to April

Written by , Posted in General

Spring training excites me for about 4 days.  It’ s the unofficial official start of a new season.   The excitement starts to subside when I realize that the band of new players brought in over the summer is nothing to get real excited about.  Even when a new player flashes some serious potential it’s still only spring training.  It’s as if the training wheels still need to come off to see the proof.   It reminds me of fake baseball.  It’s not real.

All this being said, three players have actually caught my attention this spring so far.  Those players are Travis Wood, Joe Mather, and Jeff Samardzija. 

Let’s start with Samardzija.  Earlier I posted asking folks to list this years breakout player.  There were a few who chose Shark purely because he was due, yet it seemed as though they regretted it.   So far in Spring ball, Shark has delivered.  A lot of people may not be so high on Jeff, but take away that 10 million dollar albatross signing bonus and possibly being rushed to the majors a bit, and you have a guy coming into form.  Then again, it is only spring training, this is yet another perfect example of what could be a desert oasis that could turn into a dry bed of sand once we remove our spring goggles.  All that aside,  I am pretty sure he will secure one of the 2 remaining spots in the rotation.  See you in April Jeff!

Joe Mather is yet another in a long line of utility guys, who I have never heard of, that light up spring training pitching.  Do I trust that Mather will keep this going come April? No.  Should I? No.  He is the carbon copy of spring fling.  He looks great in a scaled down uniform, but throw on those pinstripes and he will probably fade back to reality.   However, with the likes of Tony Campana getting one hit so far it looks as though the squad could use a speedy outfielder on the bench.  Joe Mather, see you in April!

Where to start with Travis Wood?  A lot of people wanted to see this guy shine.  Spring training has been a personal hell for Travis on the field however.  He currently totes a 25.00 + ERA in three outings.  I know it’s early and ERA doesn’t say everything, being an overrated stat and all, but that number is a little too large to ignore.  I personally wanted to see Travis get that fifth rotation spot if for no other reason than I didn’t get excited with the other candidates.  Oh well, we still have half of spring left.  He could always have an epiphany and turn this thing around. 

Other then these observations I took a look at our schedule.  Feast your eyes on April and you will notice we play a heavy diet of NL Central teams to start the year.  I will be curious to see where this team sits at the end of the month.  I think the question on everybody’s mind right now is, will they be competitive?

  • Our favorite fast batboy picked up another four hits since you penned this, making the  Joe / Tony saga more interesting.  Also, some of the balls that the Mariners crushed off of Wood may still be in flight, so take that ERA with a grain of salt.    

  • Noah_I

    Regarding Travis Wood, I’d just preach patience.  The Cubs are having him work on adding a cutter, and he’s a flyball/strikeout pitcher in the Cactus League, which is well known to inflate the numbers of fly ball hitters in particular.  Wood almost certainly will and should spend much of this year in Iowa working on the cutter.

  • Chetwest

    Wrigley Field can also inflate the numbers of fly ball pitchers likewise. All depends on the wind….

  • cap’n obvious

    pitchers always seem to be ahead of hitters early in the spring, so the Campana slump isn’t nearly as alarming as Travis Wood giving up hits to 65% of the citizens of Maricopa County.  I heard Sherriff Joe hit one off the wall off the guy.  I’m almost to the point where I’ll admit I was wrong about Samardzija being a big league pitcher.  Now that the Bears have a legit receiver in Brandon Marshall, I can stop thinking about how I’d like to see a few of the 27 TD’s he caught on crappy Notre Dame teams in a Bears uniform.

    • BLPCB

      I still think Samardzidja should have gone to the NFL. That was a bad decision to go to MLB

  • Mark Strickler

    The good news for Travis Wood is that Des Moines has some excellent steaks – he’s fattened up his ERA now he needs to reap his just reward.  Maybe the guy will amount to something but so far he’s been piss poor, nothing better.  Mather…is his name Jerry?  I agree, a no name and that having been said I wish him the best of luck in AAA.  If he breaks with the club I’m not sure he’ll stay there.  Presently this Cubs team looks a lot to me like wilted lettuce, I’ve taken MLB Extra Innings 14 years in a row and I’m seriously considering not paying for it this year.  I’m more excited about Alexander Radulov coming back to the Preds, my spring will hopefully be spent watching playoff hockey.

    • We’ll pretend you didn’t say that, Strick…

    • Eddie Von White

      Tell them you want to cancel MLB Extra and most likely they’ll give it to you for free.

  • Doc Raker

    Smarja should not be a surprise and the Capn should of admitted he was wrong about Smarja after the second half of last year. Smarja became a solid set up man in 2011. The only question for Smarja in 2012 is can he start? I am not sold on the idea but what the heck, give him a shot at starting we can always move him back into the pen.