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Tuesday

7

February 2012

61

COMMENTS

Reasons For Optimism In An Un-Optimisitic Year

Written by , Posted in General

I think it’s been made fairly clear that this season probably won’t be the most enjoyable if all you care about is wins. The way the team is currently constructed, it may be a stretch to finish over .500. That’s not to say that the season will not be fun to follow. I’m looking forward to watching the progression we see for some of the talent we’ve acquired this off-season as well as watching the continued development of guys already in house. With that being said, I thought it might be nice to give you a few names to keep an eye on this year and why you might want to be optimistic.

Travis Wood – In 2010, Wood made his big league debut for the Reds in an outing against the Cubs. He was brought in this off-season as part of the deal that sent Sean Marshall packing. For some, that was a disappointment considering Wood’s ERA last year was 4.84. However, if we look beyond that stat we see that Wood posted a FIP earned run average of 4.06. In addition, the Bill James projects him for an ERA of 3.75. Also factor in the fact that Great American Ballpark is a tough place to pitch, ranking as the 8th highest scoring parks in 2011 and the 3rd highest home run hitting park in all of baseball in 2011. Looking at his career home / road splits we see this:

    Split  ERA  G GS    IP HR  WHIP SO/9 SO/BB
     Home 5.30 15 13  73.0 10 1.493  8.0  2.71
     Away 3.58 24 22 135.2  9 1.179  6.4  2.31

Notice the drastic difference in ERA and WHIP, not to mention the HR totals. He gave up more home runs at how in roughly half the innings pitched. Before you argue that Wrigley is just as much a home run / offensive park, I would point to the fact that in the middle of the park at 14th, tied with Detroit in terms of home runs and 23rd in overall offensive output. It’s not the hitters park we’ve all been told it is, primarily due to the win blowing in often early in the year. The move from Cincinnati should do a lot toward boosting Wood’s production and confidence.

Geovany Soto – For some reason, Geo hasn’t been able to produce the kind of consistent production we’d like to see. Looking at the year he had last year, I believe he’s due for a rebound in 2012. Looking first as his BAbip, Geo posted .280 in 2011, which was almost 20 points lower than the league average and 30 points below his career average up to last season. Because players tend to regress to their norms, Geo should be in line for an increase in that department, which should lead to more offense from Geo in 2012. 2011 also saw a drastic increase in his strikeouts (26.2% of his plate appearances) which was five percentage points higher than his career average leading up to 2011 of 21%. Couple that with a major decline in his walks, dropping from 16% in 2010 to just over 9% in 2011 (his lowest total since his rookie year) and I think you’ve got someone who is poised to see those numbers regress toward the mean.

Ryan Dempster – His 2011 campaign was one that started terribly, with an ERA of 9.58 in his six starts in the month of April. However, from May on, Dempster had an ERA of just under 4.00. Still not the number you want to see from someone who would be considered the workhorse in the # 2 starter role, but a lot more acceptable than 9.58. Looking at Dempster’s secondary numbers, we also notice that in those starts from May through the end of the season, the BAbip for hitters facing Dempster was .327, which is high. It seams to me that not only did Dempster improve once the calendar change to May, but he was a tad unlucky when it came to balls put in play as well.

I know it’s not a lot, but hopefully these little nuggets will give some hope as well as something to watch for as the season takes shape in 2012.

  • Two words: Starlin Castro

  • Two words: Starlin Castro

  • Chuck

    The Cubs have a few good players among a sea of mediocrity.  To me , that is a recipe for about 70 wins.  Yay!

  • Jedi

    “Wrigley Field” numbers benefit from the fact that half of the hitters in every game are Cubs!

    (That’s meant as a joke, but the numbers do back it up – at least for the last couple of years…Cubs hitters hit 147 homers at Wrigley from 2010-2011 – but Cubs pitchers surrendered 168 homers during the same stretch at Wrigley)

    • Anonymous

      How about the explosive offense years of 2004 and 2008?

  • Jedi

    “Wrigley Field” numbers benefit from the fact that half of the hitters in every game are Cubs!

    (That’s meant as a joke, but the numbers do back it up – at least for the last couple of years…Cubs hitters hit 147 homers at Wrigley from 2010-2011 – but Cubs pitchers surrendered 168 homers during the same stretch at Wrigley)

    • AC0000000

      How about the explosive offense years of 2004 and 2008?

  • Jamie Kane

    Still thinking the most optimistic thing we Cub fans can hope for this season is YOENIS.
    Seems like it would work against the major housecleaning we’re seeing this off-season, but I have to think that like every executive who is tasked with managing a budget, Theo is going to make a serious acquisition or two and not have 2012 be strictly about reducing payroll.  Hearing rumors about Cepedes having family in Miami…also no state income tax down there (?)…but it’s been nice to have the Cubs continually mentioned as one of the 4-5 teams showing major interest.  It would be a shame if it did come down to dollars / length of contract and the Cubs lose out to smaller market and/or teams that have already allocated significant off-season contracts.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aW9ge8l3jY8

    Go get him Theo…..a 5-tool center fielder that solves that position for at least that many years.

  • Jamie Kane

    Still thinking the most optimistic thing we Cub fans can hope for this season is YOENIS.
    Seems like it would work against the major housecleaning we’re seeing this off-season, but I have to think that like every executive who is tasked with managing a budget, Theo is going to make a serious acquisition or two and not have 2012 be strictly about reducing payroll.  Hearing rumors about Cepedes having family in Miami…also no state income tax down there (?)…but it’s been nice to have the Cubs continually mentioned as one of the 4-5 teams showing major interest.  It would be a shame if it did come down to dollars / length of contract and the Cubs lose out to smaller market and/or teams that have already allocated significant off-season contracts.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aW9ge8l3jY8

    Go get him Theo…..a 5-tool center fielder that solves that position for at least that many years.

  • Doc Raker

    Obama will be voted out of office and Starlin Castro will stay out of jail.

  • Doc Raker

    Obama will be voted out of office and Starlin Castro will stay out of jail.

  • Mark Strickler

    To be truthful I look at the upcoming season with some degree of pessimism.  What Theo and the management can’t say openly is that this is a bust-up year – they have some role players (DeJesus and Stewart,) a few young players and a few older players they can’t move because of salary considerations.  They have to be silent about this because they also have to put butts in the seats – the ownership team is somewhat upside down on the Cubs like a lot of Americans are on their houses so they need revenues.  So it’s a balancing act – rebuilding a team and it’s culture while at the same time trying to get people out to the ballpark.  I liked the two recent signings (the Cuban lefthander and the utility player) a big step forward would be getting Cespedes locked up.  He’d be worth every bit of $60M for 6 years, hopefully Hoyer will get it done!

    • As much as I’d like to see Cespedes, I have a sneaking suspicion that he will end up in the middle of the menagerie in Miami.   

  • Mark Strickler

    To be truthful I look at the upcoming season with some degree of pessimism.  What Theo and the management can’t say openly is that this is a bust-up year – they have some role players (DeJesus and Stewart,) a few young players and a few older players they can’t move because of salary considerations.  They have to be silent about this because they also have to put butts in the seats – the ownership team is somewhat upside down on the Cubs like a lot of Americans are on their houses so they need revenues.  So it’s a balancing act – rebuilding a team and it’s culture while at the same time trying to get people out to the ballpark.  I liked the two recent signings (the Cuban lefthander and the utility player) a big step forward would be getting Cespedes locked up.  He’d be worth every bit of $60M for 6 years, hopefully Hoyer will get it done!

    • As much as I’d like to see Cespedes, I have a sneaking suspicion that he will end up in the middle of the menagerie in Miami.   

  • Gymjok

    I like that there’ll be competition for the 4 and 5 spots in the rotation. Besides Wood, Volstad, Wells and maybe Sonnanstine could make it an interesting spring battle.

  • Gymjok

    I like that there’ll be competition for the 4 and 5 spots in the rotation. Besides Wood, Volstad, Wells and maybe Sonnanstine could make it an interesting spring battle.

  • William Kepper

    Wake me up in 2015

  • William Kepper

    Wake me up in 2015

  • Buddy

     I agree with J. Cespedes will find another home besides Chicago.

  • Buddy

     I agree with J. Cespedes will find another home besides Chicago.

  • Jedi

    I don’t see a guy defecting Cuba so he can play for the defective Cubs.  Plus, once he realizes that by playing for the Marlins he can save on taxes AND the cost of a translator, I bet he’ll sign rather quickly.

    Interesting piece by the WorldWide Leader about the NL Central.  Apparently Randy Wells won’t be breaking camp in the Cubs rotation, at least in Schoenfield’s opinion. (I believe Wood still has options left – which almost guarantees he has to dominate in the Spring to worm his way ahead of Wells & Volstad into the rotation…I don’t see either of them as suited for the bullpen).

    http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/post/_/id/20589/nl-central-showdown-position-rankings 

  • Jedi

    I don’t see a guy defecting Cuba so he can play for the defective Cubs.  Plus, once he realizes that by playing for the Marlins he can save on taxes AND the cost of a translator, I bet he’ll sign rather quickly.

    Interesting piece by the WorldWide Leader about the NL Central.  Apparently Randy Wells won’t be breaking camp in the Cubs rotation, at least in Schoenfield’s opinion. (I believe Wood still has options left – which almost guarantees he has to dominate in the Spring to worm his way ahead of Wells & Volstad into the rotation…I don’t see either of them as suited for the bullpen).

    http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/post/_/id/20589/nl-central-showdown-position-rankings 

  • Anonymous

    At least the White Sox and Cardinals are going to suck as well. Homer Simpson has teams suck before, but who will be the suckiest bunch of sucks to ever suck?

  • AC0000000

    At least the White Sox and Cardinals are going to suck as well. Homer Simpson has teams suck before, but who will be the suckiest bunch of sucks to ever suck?

  • Davey

    Alright guys, I’ve read for a while but just don’t usually comment. However, I need some help. My first game at Wrigley is going to be on opening day against the Nats and I’m going to be in town for it so what seats should I be looking at getting?

    • BLPCB

      Good luck getting a ticket. Single game tickets aren’t on sale yet, I don’t believe, but it will be tough to get one when they do. You might have to pay more on Stubhub. I like the bleachers, and if you go, sit in Aisle 304. That’s where the real bleacher bums hang out (bleachers are general admission)

    • Doc Raker

      Opening day is usually cold and miserable. Wrigley is always best after Memorial Day but if one goes prior it is less miserable in the bleachers. The bleachers gives some protection from the northern winds and gets more sunshine, if the sun is shining, than the grandstands. Take in a drink at Murphy’s bleachers before and after the game.

    • Eddie Von White

      Davey – you can always (and I stress always) get tickets on Stubhub – you may have to pay through the nose, but you can get them. IMO – the best place to sit is in the left field bleachers. Get there early as it is not reserved seating. We always park in the McDonald’s parking lot across the street from the stadium. It cost about 35 bucks to park. Half way through the game right field fans will start yelling “left field sucks” and then left field will return the chant. Remember, you are not just paying to see a ball game, you are experiencing something that will probably be tatooed in your memory forever. That’s just the way it is for a Cub fan. Enjoy your maiden voyage!

      • Anonymous

        My first ever Cubs game was in 2001 in the bleachers. Last game of the season bc of the attacks. I was 13, sitting in right field. There was shirtless guy sitting in front of us with his wife and sister. About 5 minutes from first pitch, he starts yelling for the beer man. Doesn’t come over. So right before first pitch, he’s like “That’s it I can’t wait for the (6-letter word that starts with f and ends with t) anymore.” Comes back with 2 beers, gives one to his wife and his sister. Then he’s like “Sorry ladies I got to go back and get another beer. The (same word) said I could only get 2 at a time. Then his wife be like, “I don’t want no beer. Now sit down and behave yoself!”

      • Eddie Von White

        B-CAPS – funny story – and typical of Wrigley!  And yes they will only take $13 bucks from you at a time ( 2 beers). We always carry in our own water and peanuts and other food – they let you – and the staff is always friendly. A good place to eat afterward is the “RAW BAR” on Clark St. 

  • Davey

    Alright guys, I’ve read for a while but just don’t usually comment. However, I need some help. My first game at Wrigley is going to be on opening day against the Nats and I’m going to be in town for it so what seats should I be looking at getting?

    • AC0000000

      Good luck getting a ticket. Single game tickets aren’t on sale yet, I don’t believe, but it will be tough to get one when they do. You might have to pay more on Stubhub. I like the bleachers, and if you go, sit in Aisle 304. That’s where the real bleacher bums hang out (bleachers are general admission)

    • Doc Raker

      Opening day is usually cold and miserable. Wrigley is always best after Memorial Day but if one goes prior it is less miserable in the bleachers. The bleachers gives some protection from the northern winds and gets more sunshine, if the sun is shining, than the grandstands. Take in a drink at Murphy’s bleachers before and after the game.

    • Eddie Von White

      Davey – you can always (and I stress always) get tickets on Stubhub – you may have to pay through the nose, but you can get them. IMO – the best place to sit is in the left field bleachers. Get there early as it is not reserved seating. We always park in the McDonald’s parking lot across the street from the stadium. It cost about 35 bucks to park. Half way through the game right field fans will start yelling “left field sucks” and then left field will return the chant. Remember, you are not just paying to see a ball game, you are experiencing something that will probably be tatooed in your memory forever. That’s just the way it is for a Cub fan. Enjoy your maiden voyage!

      • AC0000000

        My first ever Cubs game was in 2001 in the bleachers. Last game of the season bc of the attacks. I was 13, sitting in right field. There was shirtless guy sitting in front of us with his wife and sister. About 5 minutes from first pitch, he starts yelling for the beer man. Doesn’t come over. So right before first pitch, he’s like “That’s it I can’t wait for the (6-letter word that starts with f and ends with t) anymore.” Comes back with 2 beers, gives one to his wife and his sister. Then he’s like “Sorry ladies I got to go back and get another beer. The (same word) said I could only get 2 at a time. Then his wife be like, “I don’t want no beer. Now sit down and behave yoself!”

      • Eddie Von White

        B-CAPS – funny story – and typical of Wrigley!  And yes they will only take $13 bucks from you at a time ( 2 beers). We always carry in our own water and peanuts and other food – they let you – and the staff is always friendly. A good place to eat afterward is the “RAW BAR” on Clark St. 

  • Mark Strickler

    The problem with our “free enterprise” ticketing system is that you will need to log on as soon as single game tickets go on sale (to the minute) and even then you will get 38 row seats.  The scalpers buy all the good seats so you will be left with hind teat.  Make sure you log on the absolute minute tickets go on sale!

  • Mark Strickler

    The problem with our “free enterprise” ticketing system is that you will need to log on as soon as single game tickets go on sale (to the minute) and even then you will get 38 row seats.  The scalpers buy all the good seats so you will be left with hind teat.  Make sure you log on the absolute minute tickets go on sale!

  • Buddy

     I prefer Yak-Zie’s to Murphy’s. Less crowded, better wings.

  • Buddy

     I prefer Yak-Zie’s to Murphy’s. Less crowded, better wings.

  • Eddie Von White

    I agree with Joe. I am looking forward to the Cubs 2012 season to see how the team comes together, what talent develops, who gets traded, and who we get. There will be good surprises and bad ones.  I think Theo is working one big jig-saw puzzle now, placing all the pieces face-up on the table and slowly putting it all together.  It will be fun.  And what have we got to lose? It can only get better from here.

  • Eddie Von White

    I agree with Joe. I am looking forward to the Cubs 2012 season to see how the team comes together, what talent develops, who gets traded, and who we get. There will be good surprises and bad ones.  I think Theo is working one big jig-saw puzzle now, placing all the pieces face-up on the table and slowly putting it all together.  It will be fun.  And what have we got to lose? It can only get better from here.

  • Doc Raker

    Davey- Weather aside the atmosphere on opening day will be rocking, the bars will be packed at 11am. Get there early, stay late and party down.

  • Doc Raker

    Davey- Weather aside the atmosphere on opening day will be rocking, the bars will be packed at 11am. Get there early, stay late and party down.

  • Chuck

    Even though the Cubs will lose a lot in 2012, I will still listen to 100+ games on the radio.  I am a Cubs fan.

    • Eddie Von White

      Right on Chuck. There is nothing like a Cubs game on the radio on a hot summer day.

      • Anonymous

        I’m going to Miami April 17-19 for the Cubs-Marlins series, and then staying one more day for Bulls-Heat later that night

  • Chuck

    Even though the Cubs will lose a lot in 2012, I will still listen to 100+ games on the radio.  I am a Cubs fan.

    • Eddie Von White

      Right on Chuck. There is nothing like a Cubs game on the radio on a hot summer day.

      • AC0000000

        I’m going to Miami April 17-19 for the Cubs-Marlins series, and then staying one more day for Bulls-Heat later that night

  • Doc Raker

    What six letter word starts with f and ends with t?

  • Doc Raker

    What six letter word starts with f and ends with t?

  • Anonymous

    It’s the same word Kobe yelled at a ref last year

  • Buddy

    Another Wrigley Field tip…That white circular thing in the urinal isn’t candy. 

  • Buddy

    Another Wrigley Field tip…That white circular thing in the urinal isn’t candy. 

  • Spot on, Buddy.  That, my friend, is the urinal’s breath mint.  

    • Doc Raker

      It’s not a urinal, it is a slip and slide.

  • Tanner

    For even more reasons for Cubs fans to be excited for 2012 please visit tannerball.com/TannerBallBlog.

  • Tanner

    Even though the Cubs aren’t going to win many games this year, fans still have some reasons to watch them in 2012.  First of all, Starlin Castro is developing into an all-star caliber hitter at a very young age.  They also still have Matt Garza who has electric stuff and is a bulldog on the mound.  Those kind of guys can make a losing season bearable, even if the rest of the team isn’t very good.  
    If you want to read even more reasons for Cubs fans to be excited for 2012, please visit TannerBall.com/TannerBallBlog.  

  • Tanner

    Even though the Cubs aren’t going to win many games this year, fans still have some reasons to watch them in 2012.  First of all, Starlin Castro is developing into an all-star caliber hitter at a very young age.  They also still have Matt Garza who has electric stuff and is a bulldog on the mound.  Those kind of guys can make a losing season bearable, even if the rest of the team isn’t very good.