5 CHICAGO CUBS

March 26, 2012

ENEMY LINES

A rival scout sizes up the Cubs

No matter what Theo Epstein says, they're in complete rebuild mode.... They got Ian Stewart from the Rockies, but it doesn't look like he did much in the off-season to make some necessary adjustments. He's a dead fastball hitter with a long uppercut swing—a pull-oriented, big-strikeout guy.... It's just a matter of time before they get rid of Alfonso Soriano. He can't run—his hamstrings are bad. He's not a good defensive player, one of the worst leftfielders in the National League. But he still has serious bat speed, and when he gets his pitch, he can hit it.... The key piece is Starlin Castro. He plays a little out of control. Sometimes you see a few highlights plays, but then he makes careless errors.... Anthony Rizzo has all the hitting attributes to be a quality player, someday he could be in the upper half of major league first baseman. But he needs more time in the minors. They're better off giving Bryan LaHair a chance at first.... Matt Garza pitches like his hair is on fire: He rushes and gets out of sync. He has a pretty good feel for the changeup but must learn to take a little bit off his other pitches. He's a frustrating guy—has the tools to be a Number 1, but I don't think he ever will be.... I think Jeff Samardzija's best role is in the eighth inning. He struggles with the consistency of his breaking ball; his split can be nasty, but it's not consistent enough. If Samardzija, Kerry Wood and Carlos Marmol are on, that's a pretty good seventh, eighth and ninth. They could really lock down some games.

THE LINEUP

With 2011 Statistics

MANAGER DALE SVEUM

1st season with Cubs

[originallink:10882241:1009531]

ROTATION W L ERA WHIP
RH RYAN DEMPSTER 10 14 4.80 1.45
RH MATT GARZA 10 10 3.32 1.26
LH PAUL MAHOLM 6 14 3.66 1.29
RH RANDY WELLS 7 6 4.99 1.39
RH JEFF SAMARDZIJA 8 4 2.97 1.30
BULLPEN W SV ERA WHIP
RH CARLOS MARMOL 2 34 4.01 1.38
RH KERRY WOOD 3 1 3.35 1.29

NEW ACQUISITION

PROJECTED PAYROLL

$105.2 million

THE NUMBER

3

Consecutive seasons the Cubs' win total has decreased, the first such streak for the franchise since 1964 through '66. If they don't win 71 games this year, they will have slipped for four years in a row for the first time since 1946 through '49.

MODEST PROPOSAL

New president of baseball operations Theo Epstein is undertaking a massive overhaul of the franchise. His next step should be to unload closer Carlos Marmol and the nearly $17 million left on his contract through 2013 for whomever he can get. A one-inning closer is a luxury item on a team with no chance of contending, and given the burn-rate for short relievers below the top tier, Marmol carries an extremely high risk of sudden, irreversible decline. Since the beginning of 2009 he has an unimpressive 3.31 ERA with barely a 2-to-1 K-to-BB ratio (330/156), and he has walked a whopping 16.6% of the batters he's faced. That poor command means Marmol has put a lot of unnecessary mileage on his 29-year-old right arm. Epstein shouldn't worry about who replaces Marmol. In fact Chicago would be a great place for him to take another run at building a non-closercentric bullpen. While his attempt to do so in 2003 with the Red Sox was largely derided, Epstein's track record of success gives him the credibility to sell the unorthodox move to a fan base that yearns to see him repeat his Boston success.

PHOTOJOHN W. MCDONOUGH (CASTRO) PHOTOCHRISTIAN PETERSEN/GETTY IMAGES (MARMOL)

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)