A RIVAL SCOUT SIZES UP THE CUBS
I think manager Mike Quade was the right choice; he's a welcome breath of fresh air for them. But he doesn't have much to work with. This is a below-.500 team. . . . The bullpen could be very good. Carlos Marmol has great stuff—his slider is filthy. But his command is a big problem. Having Kerry Wood there now is huge, that gives them some insurance if Marmol has problems. I won't be surprised if he helps out in the ninth inning. Wood's stuff is good, his only issue is staying healthy. With Sean Marshall, who is good from the left side, the bullpen should be solid. . . .I don't know that Carlos Pe√±a is the player the Cubs think he is. He's a low-.200s hitter, and the wind blowing in at Wrigley is going to negate some of his power. Plus, he's in a lineup where you can pitch around him. . . . Alfonso Soriano's legs are gone—he'll never be a 30-30 guy again. They'd love to get rid of him. . . . Aramis Ramirez's bat speed isn't there. He looks older than 32. . . . I don't see a true No. 1 in the rotation. Matt Garza pitches like his hair's on fire—always rushing and overthrowing. I don't know that he'll ever be a No. 1 or No. 2 because he lacks consistency. . . . Carlos Zambrano pitched well over the last six weeks, but he's still a time bomb. . . . Geovany Soto is never going to have the season he had as a rookie. He's not throwing the ball well; he doesn't have much pop. He's a .270 hitter at best. . . . Starlin Castro is an exciting young shortstop, but he's out of control at times and has some growing up to do. He's not going to be the perennial All-Star people think he'll be.
April 3, 2011
WITH 2010 STATISTICS
MANAGER MIKE QUADE
1ST SEASON WITH CUBS
Percentage of Carlos Marmol's pitches that were swung at and missed in 2010, making the closer the hardest pitcher to make contact against. Hitters put 9.4% of his pitches into play, the lowest rate among hurlers with 500 deliveries.
Starlin Castro was one of the few bright spots for the Cubs in a miserable 2010 season. At 20, the shortstop hit .300/.347/.408 and held his own defensively, with his range making up for his errors. The Cubs have high hopes for Castro in '11, reflected in Mike Quade's trying him in the number 2 spot of the lineup this spring. While Castro's .300 average and .347 OBP make him seem like a good fit, he may not be ready for that critical a role in the offense. Castro struck out 71 times last year and drew only 29 walks. Seven of those were intentional passes—six while hitting in front of the pitcher. His plate discipline is a concern. Castro also hits a lot of balls on the ground—more than half of his balls in play—and with neither Cubs leadoff option (Kosuke Fukudome and Tyler Colvin) a good bet to steal, there is a high double-play risk that comes with batting Castro second. At least until he matures as a hitter, the Cubs would be better off batting Castro seventh, with Marlon Byrd, Blake DeWitt or even Alfonso Soriano in the two hole.