Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Chicago Cubs

Chicago Cubs (61-101) - 5th NL Central

2012 was a tumultuous season for the Chicago Cubs.  The off-season started with tons of hope with the additions of Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, and Jason McLeod to the front office, but that hope would soon turn to disappointment.  Saying the on-field product at Wrigley was bad would be sugar coating it.

Jason McLeod, Theo Epstein, and Jed Hoyer (left to right) 
are introduced as part of the overhaul of the Cubs' front office
(image courtesy of chicagobaseballreport.com)

Pitchers- The starting rotation was difficult to judge, as they were pretty good up until the trade deadline, when the Cubs lost 60% of their rotation due to trade or injury.  Ryan Dempster (traded to Rangers), Paul Maholm (traded to Braves), and Matt Garza (elbow/triceps injury) were the late July casualties.  Jeff Samardzija broke out in 2012 in his first season as a starter, striking out 180 hitters, and becoming another piece to the Cubs’ rebuilding plan.  The rest of the rotation was a revolving door of awful, and included the likes of Chris Volstad, Justin Germano, Jason Berken, Randy Wells, Chris Rusin, and Brooks Raley.  The bullpen was okay at best all year.  James Russell was the only reliable lefty, sporting an ERA in the low 3’s all year.  Workhorse Shawn Camp, who tied for the league lead with 80 appearances, was also a bright spot in the pen.  Closer Carlos Marmol struggled at times early but was decent in the 2nd half to finish with 20 saves in 23 opportunities and a 3.42 ERA.  With the exception of good late season performances from Michael Bowden and Jaye Chapman, the rest of the bullpen was flat out awful all season long.

Infield- Cubs phenom shortstop Starlin Castro had yet another solid season, hitting .283 with a career high 14 home runs and 78 runs batted in.  Perhaps the biggest surprise however was the first half performance of first baseman Bryan LaHair.  LaHair had 14 home runs at the All-Star break and represented the Cubs in the All-Star game in Kansas City alongside Castro.  LaHair however had to move aside in July for Cubs’ top prospect Anthony Rizzo.  Rizzo did not disappoint, leading the team with a .285 average while clubbing 15 home runs.  Second baseman Darwin Barney had a remarkable season in the field, going 141 straight games without an error at 2nd base, but struggled with the bat.  Third base was quite the black hole all season long with Ian Stewart, Luis Valbuena, and prospect Josh Vitters all disappointing at the hot corner.  2012 was the year of the rookie catcher for the Cubs, as 4 different rookies started behind the plate throughout the season.  Wellington Castillo finally earned the job for good in September.

Outfield- Ever since he was signed following the 2006 season, Alfonso Soriano has been a complete flop for the Cubs.  This year however, was completely different.   Soriano led the team with 32 home runs and 108 RBI’s, while playing much improved defense in left field.  David Dejusus did his job at the top of the lineup all year, finishing with a .350 on base percentage and consistently working good at bats.  The same can’t be said for rookie and top prospect Brett Jackson.  Jackson played above average defense but struggled to find his swing at the plate, striking out an astonishing 59 times in 120 at bats.  He has to improve his contact rate if he’s going to stick in the Major Leagues.

Next up- Thursday, November 1st, Minnesota Twins