Friday, March 25, 2005

Chicago Cubs 2005 Preview

The Sports Network reviewed the Cubs 2005 Season.

They have listed the key additions as
C - Henry Blanco - Not impressed with Blanco. Lifetime avg of .216, Lifetime OPS of .644. The league averages at Catcher are .258 and .735 respectively. I guess we have a backup catcher though. Is he better than Paul Bako?

OF - Jeromy Burnitz - A lot of people are excited about Jeromy becoming a Cub. Don't forget that he played for Colorado last year. So offensively his numbers are going to be juiced. Burnitz has a lifetime OPS of .842. The positional leagues was .830. So offensively Jeromy is an average RF. I expect him to have less than his 37 HR, 110 RBI, and .283 AVG. Expect a less than average offensive year for the Cubs in Right Field.

RP - Chad Fox - I'm not sure why the Cubs got Chad. He hasn't really proved his is anything more than another arm in the bullpen. We'll have to see.

INF/OF - Jerry Hairston Jr. - Jerry is from Naperville IL, so there is a lot of excitement about having Jerry on the Cubs. Jerry had an average of .303 last year with the Orioles. He also stole 13 bases in 86 games. Jerry will be a good backup, but if Todd Walker goes down for a lengthy time. I'm not sure he is the man. He would be a middle of the road every day second basemen.

RP - Stephen Randolph - Stephen Randolph has played two years in the majors; both with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Has a lifetime era of 4.89 and last year it was 5.51 in 45 games. Interesting piece on Randolph is he was born in Okinawa, Japan on 5/1/1874. His first game was 3/31/2003.

RP - Scott Williamson - Williamson comes from the Redsox. He had surgery in the off season and is not expected to be back until the middle of the season. I like Scott. In 269 games he has a lifetime era of 2.98. He has been used mostly as a reliever. He has finished 121 games and has received the save in 55 of them. He strikes out 10.40 batters per nine innings. Scott may be a sleeper in the Cubs bullpen when he returns.

Key Subtractions as
OF - Moises Alou - I will miss Alou. I was excited when the Cubs got Alou. After looking at what he did as a Cub, I see he was a little better than the rest of the league at his position. He didn't stand out and that is what I expected him to do. The three years he played with the Cubs he had a OPS of .837 while the league at his position had a .831. Not much of a difference and actually it places him in the average category.

C - Paul Bako - Honestly, I will not even miss Paul. He was a an adequate backup catcher. Bako was and still is a horrible offensive player. While with the Cubs he had a .218 AVG. Compare that to the leagues average at catcher of .257. His OPS was .611 and the leagues at catcher was .722.

SP - Matt Clement - Matt, I will miss. Matt was likable and last years record of 9-13 doesn't really show how well he pitched. It would be nice to go back and see how many of his games were blown or lost by a 1 or 2 runs. If you look at his NW* projection he would have had 13 wins last year. If you look at his NL**, he would have had 9 loses. That would have made the difference in the Cubs going to the Playoffs.

* NW-Neutral wins. (It's a projection for how many wins the pitcher would have if he was given average run support, considering the amount of decisions (W+L) he had)
** NL--Neutral losses. Same as NW, but for losses.

RP - Kyle Farnsworth - Kyle was with the Cubs from 1999 to 2004. He showed promise, but all to often he was a mental mirror image of John Rocker in the last years of his career. Kyle needs to get control of himself. Farnsworth should have been the Cubs closer, but wasn't consistant. Kyle had a 8.78 SO/9 during his time. The last two years it was 10.85 and 10.53 respectively.

OF - Tom Goodwin - Tom just didn't work out for the Cubs. An OPS of .629 with the Cubs compared to the Position OPS of .791. His Runs Created Above Average at his Position (RCAP) was a -13.

OF - Ben Grieve - What happened to the former Top Prospect and Draft Pick? Since being drafted by the A's and playing with them from 1997 to 2000, he has been with the Devil Rays, Brewers and Cubs. He only had 15 games with the Cubs last year with only 16 at bats. There really isn't anything to say about Ben's time with the Cubs.

2B - Mark Grudzielanek - Mark will be missed. My brother was telling me the Cubs should pick up Mark a couple years before they did. Looks like he was right and the Cubs should have picked him up earlier in his career. Mark had an OPS of .781 with the position league OPS of .744.

SS - Ramon Martinez - Time to go, Ramon. Offensively Martinez was a wash. He is a below average SS, offensively. OPS of .685 with the positional leagues being .723.

RP - Kent Mercker - Only one year with the Cubs and he did his job. He was in 71 games with an era of 2.55. He was more of a set up man than anything. I'm not sure why the Cubs let him go.

OF - Sammy Sosa - I really don't have to say much about Sammy. Most people feel it was his time to go. He had 545 HR, 1,414 RBI, .284 AVG, 1,985 Hits as a Cub. His mark has been left and it is too bad that he decided to go sour on the Cubs.

While Sammy was with the Cubs they had the following Record
1992  4th     78   84  .481   18   
1993  4th     84   78  .519   13   
1994  5th     49   64  .434   16   
1995  3rd     73   71  .507   12   
1996  4th     76   86  .469   12   
1997  5th     68   94  .420   16   
1998  2nd     90   73  .552   12.5 
1999  6th     67   95  .414   30   
2000  6th     65   97  .401   30   
2001  3rd     88   74  .543    5   
2002  5th     67   95  .414   30   
2003  1st     88   74  .543   +1     NL CENTRAL CHAMPIONS
2004  3rd     89   73  .549   16   

Sure one man doesn't make or break a team, but I wish we got more championships. I guess I would rather have a bunch of players that work as a team that are above average and win titles, than have a "super star" and not win anything.

The 1906 Whitesox had a team batting average of .230 and an OPS of .588, but they won the World Series Championship from the Chicago Cubs. Sure the Whitesox had a team era of 2.13 and that did play a big factor. The 1906 Cubs had a team batting average of .262 and an OPS of .667. They also had a team era of 1.76. The Cubs had the most wins by a team ever, 116 and the biggest winning percentage, .763. It didn't prevent them from losing to the Cross Town Hitless Wonders. I would have taking the WS Championship over the record.

What is my take on the 2005 season.

With Kerry Wood, Mark Prior, and Joe Borowski all injuried; things look a lot worse than they did in January. In January it could have been easily said, the Cubs would be contending for the Division title. Now that our top two aces have gone down again, plus our "closer", I'm not so excited. The heart of the Cubs is their starting pitching staff. If they are healthy, you can count on the Cubs being in the running for the title. If Mark and Kerry are not able to come back for an extended period of time, look for the Cubs to be in the middle of the pack.

Middle relief is scary, Enough said!

Nomar is going to have a big year. He will squelch the talk about him not being a premier Shortstop anymore and make the Cubs look great with the acquisition last year. A-Rod, was who I was hoping the Cubs would get before the 2004 season, but he went to the Yankees. Nomar was my second choice. He is still heads above the others.

Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez are both going to have good years. Expect Ramirez to improve upon his 2004 numbers. My question marks are the outfield and second base. Corey needs to cut down and the SO. Then again, if he is placing the ball in the outfield stands more often; I will take the strike outs. Todd Walker now has second base to himself and needs to prove he belongs there.

I have said this before. Spring is the best time of year for a Cubs fan: Next Year has finally come and no team is above the Cubs in the standings.