The Good The Bad and The Ugly

I tried to make something witty out of the title, but if I’m going to use a cliche, I might as well stick to the tried and true.

Yesterday’s game against the A’s had its ups and downs.  The Cubs scored 4 first inning runs which shows that there are plenty of swinging bats in the lineup. Matt Garza got his first hit the gave up four off of Coco Crisp.  So there are a few bugs in the bullpen.

Hey, Fukodome was the leadoff and got a hit.  That’s pretty good and I might be wrong about him and that is good as well.

The breakout player was Soriano with three hits.  I hope he has an amazing year.

It’s only the first game so I’m not worried about a 15-7 drubbing.  The unseen star of the game could be SS Darwin Barney with a hit and a run.

Bring on the Brew Crew!!!

 

—Mark Gauthier 

Fukodome to Lead-Off

It looks like  Mike Quade has chosen Kosuke Fukodome in the lead-off position.  Although, he’s going to mix it up a bit and put Reed Johnson in the position on Monday then Fukodome will be back on Tuesday.

Hey, this is what spring training is about and I completely forgot about Johnson in the Lead-Off.  That might work, you know?

I don’t know.  Something tells me I don’t trust Fukodome’s bat.  Is he erratic?  We’ll have to wait and see.

 

—Mark Gauthier

Two Days

It’s almost here.  In two days, the Cubs will kick off the 2011 Cactus League season.  Mike Quade will announce today what the line-up is going to be.  The only certainty is Aramis Ramirez will bat fourth.

Who will lead-off?  My guess is Fukodome.  It’s hard to predict what the order is going to be yet because it’s Cactus league play, however I’m excited spring training is set to begin.  It’s been a long winter and somehow, once spring training starts, the snow melts quicker.

Even though, Mike Quade has said he doesn’t want to put Starlin Castro in the lead-off because he’s still too inexperienced, I’d say Why Not?  Now’s the time to experiment.  Castro is hungry enough and he had a hell of a season last year.

Play Ball!

—Mark Gauthier

 

Pena Becomes Vocal

Carlos Pena had a few pointers for sophomore Tyler Colvin during practice.  Pena told him that each player is responsible for certain areas on the field.  This is good because it might lead to more organization this season and who knows that if Pena wants to take part in mentoring Colvin, maybe they’ll be able to give Pena a day off and put Colvin in at 1st base.

They key to winning championships is depth.  If the player knows their role and doesn’t try to do too much, they will succeed. 

When it comes to pop- ups, there’s nothing more agonizing than seeing a couple of players running into each other over a simple catch. 

It’s also good that Mike Quade is keen on letting his players speak up.  This will build a more comfortable atmosphere.

Hopefully, Pena continues to be a communicator in the locker room.  I think this was a problem last year.  I believe in this team and can’t wait for the season to get going.

—Mark Gauthier

Dempster made Opening Day pitcher

As expected, Ryan Dempster was named starting pitcher on Opening Day.  Mike Quade chose Dempster over Matt Garza and Carlos Zambrano who has started Opening Day in previous years.

I think this is a classy move on Mike Quade giving it to Dempster.  Carlos was great down the stretch, but struggled throughout the year and handing the reigns over to Ryan could signal a changing of the guard, if you want to be superstitious.

Ryan’s stats are workhorse numbers going 15-12 in 34 starts, where as Zambrano went 8-0 in his last 11 starts.

Now here’s the problem with Matt Garza and it’s a good problem to have.  He’s very competitive so technically, he could end up being the Cubs #1 guy by the end of the year.  He wants to be there in October.  I really think that there’s going to be some incredible pitching coming from the Cubs this year and I’m not being biased.  Everyone wants to prove themself, it’s a season of transition and Mike Quade is the right skipper to lead the Cubs into Autumn baseball.

—Mark Gauthier

You Can Always Come Home

There has been some returning veterans  this spring who have come back to the Cubs after spending time around the league.  Kerry Wood, Todd Wellemeyer, Reed Johnson, Augie Ojeda, and Scott Moore have all been invited to camp for non-roster positions.

In Kerry Wood’s case, he took a pay cut to come back to the Cubs.  I like that signing because he was a huge part of the Cubs success a few years ago and he’ll probably finish his career in Chicago.

Reed Johnson is returning to the Cubs after a brief campaign with the LA Dodgers.  He’s a great player and I’ve always been a fan of his from his time in Toronto.

This is Ojeda’s third time around with Chicago.  At 36, he’ll likely finish his career here also.

Scott Moore and Ojeda turned down other offers to go back with the Cubs and this is a good sign because these are the players a team wants.  Character guys who want to be there competing everyday and even if the team doesn’t fare well this year, we know it’s going to be competitive. 

 Who can forget Kerry Wood’s 20 strikeout game shutout in 1998.  Yes, hopefully, Wood will bring back some of the heat and help lead the Cubs back to the World Series.

—Mark Gauthier