View From The Bleachers

December 15, 2010

Chet’s Corner: Let’s Just Hope……

Filed under: Featured,General — Chet West @ 5:00 am

So Cliff Lee signed……with the Phillies!

I have to say, I didn’t see that coming, which is shocking because I thought I had all of the social/news media outlets covered.  I mean, between the internet and it’s vast array of  blogs and sports websites, twitter, and television stations like ESPN, FOX, MLB Network……you know where I am going with this.

It’s amazing that anything has the ability to happen anymore without a picture/video/twitter montage of it taking place.  I am thanking my lucky stars they didn’t have all this technology readily available when I was in college.  The house I lived in throughout my days in Kalamazoo,MI  had a rule; if you got skunked or shut out in any sort of competition (i.e. Darts, Video Games, Foosball, Pool, Euchre, the list goes on) you ran naked to the neighbors mailbox and back.  Let’s just say my Favre dangled in the wind more then I would like to say!

So, that being said, I shared the Cliff Lee signing shock with everybody else.  Then of course, was subjected to eighty different baseball writers breaking down his contract like it is the national deficit or something.  Here is what you need to know; he took less money to go to the Phillies.  End of Story….oh and he got paid a lot.

With that being said lets compare the Phillies and Cubs projected rotations……

Phillies:

Cliff Lee

Roy Halladay

Roy Oswalt

Cole Hamels

Joe Blanton or whoever else they really want to throw in if he gets traded…….

Cubs:

Carlos Zamrano

Ryan Dempster

The Bee Gees

Eat Me

I don’t care……..

Yah, we sort of have an issue.  Past Dempster we are amazingly bland, unproven, and up in the air.

The more I think of this, the more I am bothered.  Find me one big market team that has a starting rotation with so many holes.  The scary thing, the REAL scary thing is that we don’t know what to expect on a year to year basis from Z and Dempster……and they are the only guys I can think of with a guaranteed spot in the rotation!

Here is where my frustration starts……I have been watching Philly, New York, DC, Boston, Texas, and LA at least attempt to make some big moves and succeed in many areas, yet nothing from us.  Sure, we overpaid for a guy with a “big stick” to play first base for one year but after further diagnosis what did we get? A guy whose overall 9 year career has seen two good years and they are in the rear-view mirror by a couple of miles!

Here is my point, I know the whole big market/small market gripe is old.  I know spending isn’t everything.  Player chemistry and timing probably means  more in the grand scheme of things, but when you have the glaring holes that the Cubs have, how can you stand by and basically say 2011 will be better then 2010?  How can you hope to keep your loyal and large fan base happy by raising ticket prices year over year and saying you need to curtail spending……all the while your counterparts are out throwing money at good players to become even better then they were?

Unfortunately, as Cubs fans, I feel we have nothing to look forward to in 2011.  My initial intent was to write about the five things I was looking forward to in 2011 as a Cub fan…….I couldn’t get past the introductory sentence so I cried in my beer and wrote this.

Something good is bound to happen to this team in the future, I just hope I get to witness it.  In the meantime maybe twitter hasn’t uncovered all the gems, maybe there is one left for us Cub fans.

Speaking of gems, last night I was looking through some old photo’s and memorabilia from my youth and came across something cool.  An Ernie Banks autograph on loose leaf paper that my grandmother acquired for me in person at the Duke Childrens Classic in 1984.  It reads….

To Chet

Ernie Banks

Hope

1984

Hope……. there’s that damn word again.

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Chet West is an IT professional living in Minneapolis, MN with his wife and two daughters. He has a pug named Banks and loves photography. Follow him on Twitter @chetwest19

  • http://twitter.com/MoondogKP MoondogKP

    I see your point, Chet. Silva, Wells and Gorzelanny don’t inspire a ton of confidence, not against those superstars. Three of those are probably the top 10 pitchers in baseball. Hamels makes four in the top 20-25. Meanwhile, Dempster probably makes that top 25, but Zambrano could fall anywhere from top 10 on his best days and outside of 100 on his worst.

    This team has holes, no question. And the blame for this predicament goes mostly to the Tribune Co. and partly to Hendry with all the backloaded contracts that are now destroying the team’s chances to acquire anyone. The good news is we get some flexibility back this year. Grabow, Silva, Ramirez, Samardzija (though he has options), Fukudome, and now Pena all come off of guaranteed contracts after 2011. At least you can use the word hope next offseason, as long as we spend it smarter than the Tigers did when resigning utility players/below-average infielders.

  • Chuck

    My hope is that the Cubs start using the Minnesota system of team building. Use the draft and trades to stockpile good young players. Then you can then use those prospects to either build the MLB club or use them as trade chips to get other good players from teams that can’t afford them.
    If the Cubs can get a decent starter or two, I think they can win the Central. This is mainly because the Central is not that great to begin with. The Cards are always pretty good, but the rest of the division, aside from the Reds, is in the same boat as us or worse.
    2011 will not be that great, but I see big moves being made for 2012.

  • Rick Beato

    Hope is important and no one does the good wishes better than Mr. Cub, who has been dreaming of a Cub championship for 57 years now (3 more than I have!)
    But to “hope” that we can turn into the Minnesoata organization? There is nothing to make me buy that. The Twins do not have some strange luck or a magic wand. They have scouts that find the right players, they have coaches that help them improve, and they have management that can tell which ones have it and which ones don’t. Do the Cubs have any of these things? Not in my 54 years. Ten days before Christmas I cannot go down the list of Bobby Hills and Kevin Ories, I just can’t.
    Corey Patterson had some talent. If he had been in the Twins organization they would have molded that talent into a decent player, I think. One who would learn to walk, to bunt, to beat out some infield hits. A leadoff man. Corey thought he would be the smallest #3 hitter in baseball and look where that got him.
    Sure we have Starlin Castro. I like his potential and I think he could be a star. Why did the Cubs not prepare at all for him to be brought up? Why did they act like they thought he needed another full year in the minors? Because they are not all that smart. Keep the same people in the same jobs, under the same Jim Hendry, you are pretty sure of getting the same results. The Ricketts family will likely keep the change in 2012 and beyond.
    We can make $57 million lists, we can say Pujols will be here in 2012, we can dream about anything we want. But Pujols will stay in St. Louis, and he would not turn the Cubs into a title winner anyway by himself.

  • cap’n obvious

    The way I see it, in 1984, Mr. Cub was using “hope” is in “let’s hope the Cubs can win it all.” In 2011, I see hope as more of a “let’s hope we can finish higher than 4th place,” or “let’s hope that this isn’t the beginning of another 1974-1982-type era.” What the heck, its the Christmas season…what have we got if we ain’t got hope? What a time to be a Phillies fan…

  • Chet

    That’s my frustration Cap’n……I feel like the Phillies are preapred to show up to the gun fight with M-16’s and we have swiss army knives….how are we expected to compete? Maybe that’s just it, we aren’t expected to compete.

  • Buddy

    You’re right Chet. The big market/small market talk is extremely tired. There’s more parity in baseball right now than anytime in my 40 years on Earth. That trend should continue. As far as the Cubs in 2011, I look for 80-82 wins, with a shot at 85-87 if they catch a few breaks.

  • AQBan

    I saw this coming at the beginning of last year. Our big problem, which went unaddressed all of last year and so far this year, is that we have very inexperienced and erratic middle relief. That puts a lot of pressure on both the starting pitching and the offense. Until we get past the big, ugly contracts of Soriano, Fukudome and Zambrano (I don’t put Aramis’s in there because he earned his contract early on) we won’t be able to fully address that proble unless Hendry gets lucky and finds a few diamonds in the rough.

  • Seymour Butts

    I love Ernie, but he’s not the philosopher you might think. One of my signed balls from him says “Aim High”. I think it is a life message, but could be instructions to a pitcher in a bunt situation as easily. He asks about religion and marital status to autograph seekers to kind of size you up. Wonderful guy, icon, but odd duck.
    Remember all eventually great, sought after pitchers were once just prospects. Odds are, Phillies will have a good staff ERA, but many variables will affect that, including health. Their outfield won’t out hit anyone’s, and they won’t walk away with the NL crown.

  • lizzie

    @AQBan … middle relief? Really? I just don’t see it. I mean, sure they were quirky, but so is everyone’s. The problem as I see it is that there was no run production. If your offense can’t even throw you a bone every now and then you are forced to be an absolute perfect pitcher every time out and that’s just unreasonable. Our pitching did fine if someone could cross the plate a few times per game.

  • Chet

    I agree with Lizzie and AQban……our middle relief isn’t great but then again who has great middle relief? It is lightning in a bottle stuff and really only lasts for short periods.

    The offense was the main problem, without runs the defense and pitching is constantly playing under pressure. You can have 1 out of every 5 games that are tight but you cant have 2 out of every 3 that way.

  • AQBan

    Let me further explain my post. The middle relief last year was not quirky, especially at the beginning of the year, it was downright awful. When you have a situation like that it puts a lot of pressure on both the starting pitching and the offense. The starting pitchers are pressing because they know that they basically need to pitch a gem every outing to get the win because the middle relief won’t hold a small lead. The hitters, in Aramis’s own words from last year, are “trying to hit a grand slam every AB” because they know that the middle relief won’t hold a small lead. It’s hard enough to hit and pitch on that level without holding yourself to such high expectations. The only time these guys began to succeed was after Lou left and everyone knew the season was over. The symptom may have been the lack of run production but the cause was the bullpen situation.

  • matt

    I hope we don’t have Z. Rumors have him going to the Yankees if he approves. I hope he does. I fully expect another losing season, so I’m not worried about the starting pitching so much as I am more focused on getting younger. The Yankees have good talent in their minors that we can rake up on with them responding to the Red Sox spending spree. I think we leave Garza alone and just try out our youth. Marshall and Cashner should start. There’s a chance that Archer or Jackson could be ready. The cubs have a ton of arms, just unknown guys.

  • Buddy

    What are the Yankees offering for Zambrano?

  • Doc Raker

    Middle relief isn’t the problem, having starting piching that needs middle relief is the problem.

  • Doc Raker

    Dear Mr. Cashman:
    Please take Zambrano and Sorryano both and if you have room in your Christmas sleigh please take Aram too. That’s all I want for Christmas.
    Sincerely,
    Raker

  • Terrelle Pryor 2

    I’m going out on a limb and calling it right now: CC Sabathia is going to opt out of his contract with the Yankees after the 2011 season, and join with the Phillies, giving them a rotation of Halladay, Lee, CC, Hamels, and Oswalt. To think what we could have had in 2004 if Wood and Prior were healthy: Wood, Prior, Zambrano, Clement, and Maddux. I really thought we were going to win the WS that year if we made the playoffs. Because everyone was healthy and the team was firing on all cylinders

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