If you normally tune in on Wednesday afternoon because you have a mad crush on Chet, I’m sorry to inform you but you’ll have to wait till next week. Instead, you’re stuck with my ugly mug and I wanted to update you on various Cub related things around the internet over the last few days.
It’s that time of year. Everyone who is anyone is doing previews of the season. Some are good and some suck. Ours will probably suck. In the meantime, here are the highlights from some of the ones I’ve read so far.
At an age when most players would be happy to hit .300 down in Tennessee or Daytona, Castro has done it twice in the big leagues. The Central is going to be really scared of him in a few years. My biggest fear would be someone that young skirting a little bit of his practice time for time out on the town—but that’s a blanket fear I have for all young 20-somethings with big bank accounts. ~ Baseball Prospectus NL Central Preview
I love that Castro is young while he’s doing this, but that immaturity also worries me, just like it does them. We saw flashes where the concentration wasn’t there last year, even to the point of being on National Television when it happened. I chalk it up to him being a kid who has earned a lot in a very short period of time. I also chalk it up to the foreign factor as well. A lot of times players signed from Latin America do not come from wealth or fame. He has both and has it at an age some are just graduating college. Think about how dumb you were at that time, and you may have had parents who had any kind of money at all to hopefully lend a bit of guidance. My hope is that as Castro matures, so will his judgement.
Moving on, our fellow SweetSpot counterpart for the Brewers had a bold prediction for Bryan LaHair this season:
It might only be a year of glory, but I’d bet a boutique LP of your choice that LaHair (a) Outslugs 2011 Carlos Pena, and (b) Leads the Cubs in home runs. ~ Disciples of Uecker 2012 Preview: Chicago Cubs
When I first read that prediction, I thought he was out of his mind. Then I gave it some thought and really couldn’t come up with another name that might eclipse him. LaHair probably has the most power potential for anyone on the opening day roster so assuming he had hold his own at the plate and gets 500+ at bats, I think this is very plausible. The only person who I could see eclipsing him would be Alfonso Soriano, and that’s provided that the tweaks he’s supposedly made at the plate are legit.
The good folks over at the Hardball Times also took a crack at a preview in a different format. They asked five questions about the team to themselves and then proceeded to give themselves an answer. I’ll look past the opening question “What can Cubs fans look for in 2012? Answer: 2013″ and comment on the meat of the post.
While pitching and defense were the prime culprits last year, the offense threatens to make them look good by comparison in 2012.
Going in, the Cubs appear to have the puniest homer-hitting infield in forever; the four guys who figure to take the field Opening Day totaled 14 major league homers last season. The presumptive starting eight had these 2011 on-base percentages: .310, .377, .313, .341, .243, .289, .324, .323. That outlying .377 was Bryan LaHair—in 59 at-bats. ~ The Hardball Tmes: Five Questions Chicago Cubs
Well when you put it that way, I guess we’re not going to be very good. Obviously I already knew that, but the more I look at this offense, it’s hard to see how we’ll score more than a few runs per game.
Matt Eddy of Baseball America had a post about how the new CBA will have an effect on a few minor league contracts.
Article XX(B) free agents signing minor league contracts who are not added to the Opening Day roster or unconditionally released 5 days prior to Opening Day shall receive an additional $100,000 retention bonus and the right to opt out on June 1.
For the Cubs, this affects Rodrigo Lopez and Trevor Miller. If they do not make the opening day roster and are not released before opening day, they will get the bonus. It’s not a big deal. Personally, I could see Lopez making the opening day roster. Miller, I’m not sure.
Former GM now turned writer for ESPN, Jim Bowden, highlighted a position battle at SP for the last two spots in the rotation. The article is subscription based so I can only give you a smidge.
“The Cubs have four pitchers fighting for the last two spots in the starting rotation behind Matt Garza, Ryan Dempster and Paul Maholm. Volstad is the front-runner to land one of the spots. Samardzija’s stuff says he could be the best of the four, but his lack of control and command will probably land him back in the bullpen, leaving the final spot for Wells or Wood. I would go with Wood because he can keep the ball on the black, change speeds and move it up and down. He’s younger and has a little more upside, and the Cubs should be giving opportunities to guys like him.”
Keith Law, also subscription based, posted on when various franchises can expect to contend again. I love the fact that he didn’t include the Pirates, as they are just hapless and hopeless. Prediction for the Cubs? Sorry folks, Law says it’s 2015.
Finally, I leave you with something dumb to help distract from your work day. I got this from our friends over at Crashburn Alley. It’s the eye test. See how you do.