Friday, April 12, 2013

Stupidity, Good teams, Hot Starts, and the Hard life of a Cubs fan

Happy Friday baseball fans, and sorry for the brief hiatus from posting.  I have been without Internet for a week, Wade is finishing up tax season, and Chris....well I just assume he's on some sort of week long binge of some kind when we don't hear from him for a while.

Tons has been going on around the baseball world and here we are to provide some insight on what has happened.

Let's start with the stupidity portion of this post's title.


In case you missed it, last night Carlos Quentin charged the mound on Zack Greinke after getting hit by a pitch in the 6th inning.  After the fracas, Greinke came out with a broken collarbone.  There is absolutely no excuse for what Quentin did.  It was a 2-1 game, a full count, leading off the 6th.  There is no way Greinke was throwing at Quentin intentionally.  After the game, Quentin cited that he is tired of Greinke hitting him.  Greinke has hit Quentin 3 times in their careers, the last time coming in 2009.  So Carlos, there isn't any history there, get over it.  An interesting fact is that Quentin leads active Major Leaguers in the amount of times he's been hit per plate appearance.  It seems like Quentin doesn't mind getting hit, and gets hit quite often, so his little schoolgirl outburst is unacceptable.  I for one hope that the disciplinary committee comes down hard on Quentin because of the unprovoked nature of his mound charging and because Greinke was injured in the fight.  I doubt he will, but to me, Quentin deserves at least 10 games as there is no place in baseball for things like that.  

In the early going, three teams have stood out to me as being excellent baseball teams.  These are the Washington Nationals, Atlanta Braves, and Oakland Athletics.  All 3 of these teams are extremely balanced, with great starting staffs, solid bullpens, and great lineups. 

The A's continue to roll after their excellent 2012 campaign, behind great pitching and a bunch of guys that the casual fan has probably never heard of.  Jed Lowrie has been fantastic, Coco Crisp has brought some surprising power, and Brandon Moss is hitting the ball well.  Brett Anderson and AJ Griffin have led the charge for the starters. 

For the Braves, Justin Upton looks happy to be playing with his brother in Atlanta.  Upton has 6 home runs and sports a .353 batting average in the early going.  The starting pitching has been excellent, with Paul Maholm yet to give up a run in 12 and two-thirds innings of work and Mike Minor only giving up 1 run in 13 innings of work.  As always, Craig Kimbrel has been the shut down closer we expect him to be.

The Nationals might be the most talented team of the bunch.  Bryce Harper is making a name for himself in his second season and is making the sophomore slump look like complete fiction. Denard Span has been a great table setter and Jayson Werth looks to be back to the player he was when the Nats signed him to a monster deal a couple seasons ago.  Gio Gonzalez has paced the pitching staff, winning his early games and sporting a .82 ERA early on.  He even hit a home run in his first start.

We're 10 games in, and some guys' numbers are coming back down to earth, but who are the guys that continue to impress me??  Here is a list of 10 guys, 5 pitchers and 5 hitters, who are off to great starts in 2013:

Chris Davis-.400 BA, .500 OBP, 6 HRs, 19 RBIs
Adam Jones-.462 BA, .475 OBP, 1 HRs, 10 RBIs
Alex Rios-.429 BA, .487 OBP, 4 HRs, 8 RBIs, 3 SBs
Bryce Harper-.417 BA, .447 OBP, 4 HRs, 8 RBIs
John Buck-.375 BA, 5 HRs, 15 RBIs

Matt Harvey-2-0, 14 IP, .64 ERA, 19 Ks
Clayton Kershaw-2-0, 16 IP, 0 ERA, 16 Ks, .44 WHIP
Jeff Samardzija-1-1, 13.2 IP, 2.63 ERA, 22 Ks
Barry Zito-2-0, 14 IP, 0 ERA, 8 Ks
Cliff Lee-2-0, 16.2 IP, 1.08 ERA, 14 Ks

2013 has been an interesting start for the Cubs.  Carlos Marmol is already out as closer, they lead the Majors in errors, and top prospect Jorge Soler decided to "attack" the opposing dugout with a bat.  That is just on the field.  Off the field stories included a severed goat head that was sent to Tom Ricketts and the neverending story that is the Wrigley renovation project.

Despite all of these things, the fact of the matter is that the Cubs have been in every game, and in reality, should be 5-4 instead of 3-6 following games that they absolutely gave to the Giants and the Braves (two of the best teams in the league might I add).  Throw in a Starlin Castro potential walk-off grand slam that was knocked down by a wind that shifted mid game from blowing out at 20 MPH to blowing straight in at 20 MPH in a matter of innings, and the Cubs could easily be 6-3.  

The Cubs players have been up and down so far this year, but a lot of guys have shown flashes that they could have very good years.  Nate Schierholtz and Wellington Castillo have been very good early on.  Jeff Samardzija and Carlos Villanueva have been very good, and Edwin Jackson and Scott Feldman both had 1 good start.  Kyuji Fujikawa looks to be the better option at closer and should have success.  Anthony Rizzo has shown good power, but needs to make more consistent contact.  

The fact of the matter is that despite a rough start, there are some good things from this Cubs team, if they can ever learn to do the little things right.  Moving runners, making routine plays, and cutting down on mental mistakes should easily improve the Cubs record.

I've done my best to not talk about this issue on here, but it continues to bug me.  Tom Ricketts has shown that he is completely willing to work with everyone involved here.  In reality, the rooftops (despite their contract) and the Lakeview community should have very little to no bearing on what happens here.  The community needs to realize that the Cubs make them a popular neighborhood and without the Cubs, Wrigleyville is a run of the mill Chicago neighborhood.  This will obviously get done as the Cubs aren't going anywhere.  One current issue is that the Cubs have 40 night games on the table, but the MLB reserves the right to change up to 6 games for prime time, just like NFL's flex scheduling.  The community wants these possible extra night games to count toward the 40, while the Cubs don't.  Seriously??  This thing is getting ridiculous and I just hope the Cubs get a deal done and don't concede anything to the community and the bored trophy wives that are fighting against them.  Cubs fans deserve a renovated Wrigley Field, and they will eventually get it.  If you haven't seen them already, enjoy some pictures of what the Cubs want Wrigley to look like (courtesy of Brett over at Bleacher Nation):