Sunday, March 31, 2013

Breakdown of the Cubs Roster

The Breakdown of the Cubs Roster
Welington Castillo- Bats R, Castillo can really hit off left-handed pitchers, he has a lot potential and is geared up for a breakout season one of these years.

Dioner Navarro- Switch hitter, who will be the veteran presence for Castillo behind the plate and will give Castillo a break against tough right-handed matchups.
First Baseman
Anthony Rizzo- Bats L, Rizzo will be the key to the success for the Cubs future and gives the Cubs a powerful bat against right-handed pitching.

Steve Clevenger- Bats L, Clevenger is hard working hitter who mostly is a catcher, but will be Rizzo’s pickup at first this season.

Second Baseman
Darwin Barney- Bats R, last year’s golden glove winner, but Barney needs to improve his batting skills this year in order to make name for himself.

Third Baseman
Luis Valbuena- Bats L, Valbuena will be in the lineup regularly when there is a RHP on the mound because of the injury to Ian Stewart this spring and Valbuena gives the Cubbies a solid defensive player at third.

Brent Lillibridge- Bats R, Lillibridge will be the utility player for the Cubs and should find a spot in the lineup on most days because of his glove.

Starlin Castro- Bats R, Castro is the franchise player for the Cubs, who just got a big contract extension this off-season and is due for a breakout season.

Left Fielder
Alfonso Soriano- Bats R, Soriano had a very solid year last season which should help the value the Cubbies can get if they decide to trade him.

Center Fielder
David DeJesus- Bats L, DeJesus is a solid fielder and might not be the best hitter in MLB, but DeJesus’s plate discipline could rub off on the other batters.

Dave Sappelt- Bats R, Sappelt is deadly against LHPs who can also play a little first base and was acquired in the Sean Marshall trade.

Left Fielder
Nate Schierholtz- Bats L, Schierholtz just signed with the Cubs this off-season and will be used in a platoon role with Hairston, but Schierholtz can be an x-factor for the Cubs because he is fairly underrated when it comes to batting against LHP.

Scott Hairston- Bats R, Hairston hit 20 home runs last year in less than 400 plate appearances which gives the Cubs another powerful bat on the right side of the plate.


Starting Rotation

Jeff Samardzija- RHP, Samardzija is an athlete who has great stuff and can be an ace of a pitching staff because of his competitive nature. 

Edwin Jackson- RHP, Edwin Jackson is an inning eater who has pitched in some big games and gives a veteran presence in the rotation.

Travis Wood- LHP, Wood provided the Cubs with solid innings last year and if the Cubs want to compete this year they will need Wood to be a quality 3 starter.

Carlos Villanueva- RHP, Villanueva is more setup for long relief and swing starter, but injuries to Scott Baker and Matt Garza mean that he has to start the year off in the starting rotation.

Scott Feldman- RHP, Feldman started a few games for the Rangers last year and is now expected to start for a whole year or at least until Scott Baker and Matt Garza comeback from injuries.


Long Relievers

Hisanori Takahashi- LHP, Takahashi gives the Cubs another left-hander in the bullpen and can help out with innings this year because he has shown it in the past.

Hector Rondon- RHP, Rondon is a rule 5 draft pick therefore he will be in the majors all year long or he could be claimed by another team and that means Rondon will be used out of the bullpen whenever there is a game out of reach.

Middle Relievers

Shawn Camp- RHP, Camp is a great sinker ball pitcher, who was very effective out of the bullpen last year and led the National League in game appearances last year.

Michael Bowdon- RHP, Bowdon is a solid middle reliever pitcher and he could eventually blossom into the pitcher that he was projected to be.  

Setup Man

James Russell- LHP, Russell is the left-handed specialist for the Cubbies, but he is not just a specialist, he is a great setup man and has a chance to lead the National League in Holds this season.

Kyuji Fujikawa- RHP, Fujikawa comes from Japan to initially be a setup man for the Cubs, but he has the history of being a good closer in his career and should be the closer of the Cubs if they trade Marmol this season or when Marmol’s contract is expired.


Carlos Marmol- RHP, there isn’t ever a question about how elite Marmol’s stuff is, but Marmol’s command is always in question and because of his command issues he is very likely to be traded this season. He was almost traded this off-season to the Angels for Dan Haren, but that trade fell through.


Third Baseman

Ian Stewart- Left-handed power hitter, Stewart would be the starting third baseman on opening day, but Stewart will be starting on the DL instead.

Starting Pitcher

Matt Garza- RHP, Garza is going to start out on the DL because he injured himself this spring. Garza would be the ace of the pitching staff this year if he didn’t start out injured and there are rumors that he might get traded this season.

Scott Baker- RHP, the longtime Minnesota Twin is still recovering from his Tommy John surgery and the Cubs were aware of his injury when they signed him so it’s not a big surprise that Baker will be starting out on the DL this season.

Preview for Opening Day

Opening Day, April 1st
Chicago Cubs (0-0) at Pittsburgh Pirates (0-0)
The game starts at 1:35 eastern time and will be played at PNC Park. The starting pitcher for the Cubbies will be the hard throwing Jeff Samardzija (0-0). Samardzija, who is from the same town that I grow up in, is the opening day starter because Matt Garza, who was expected to be the ace of the Cubs pitching staff, injured his lat this spring and should be out until May. Samardzija has a great pitching repertoire that includes a mid-90s mph two seam fastball that he throws effectively against righties, a low-90s mph cutter that he uses to attack left-handed batters, a splitter which is his best and go to pitch and he has a slider that can make him be dominant when he throws it effectively. Samardzija tends to struggle when he can’t command his pitches and as a result can give up too many walks to be effective.

Jeff Samardzija’s opposing pitcher will be the long time New York Yankee A.J. Burnett. A.J. Burnett is a right-handed pitcher that mostly uses two pitches to get outs, his mid-90s mph fastball that has some good life to it and his greatest pitch the knuckle curve. Burnett’s knuckle curve is arguably the best knuckle curve in baseball and has proven to be very effective against the Cubs because last year he almost pitched a no-hitter against the Cubbies in Wrigley field.  Although Burnett dominated the Cubs last season, he could struggle against the Cubs tomorrow by being wild and hittable if he can’t control his knuckle curve.

Tomorrow’s game will be the first game that Nate Schierholtz will play for the Cubs; he should be starting in right field. Schierholtz will get the start tomorrow over Scott Hairston because there will be a right-handed pitcher on the mound for the Pirates. With A.J. Burnett starting tomorrow, the Cubs will get to take advantage of their solid lineup against righties and with the Cubs having Anthony Rizzo for the whole season this year that gives the Cubbies a great power hitter against righties.

My prediction of the game is that the Cubbies will come out with a victory on the first game with a score of 6 to 2. The Cubs will win because Cubs hitters play well against A.J. Burnett because he’s a fastball pitcher and the Cubs hitters tend to do well against those kinds of pitchers. I especially believe that Starlin Castro will have a strong outing in tomorrow’s game because he has done well against Burnett in the past. Also, I predict that Samardzija pitches a quality start with 9 strikeouts and that we will see the first of Kyuji Fujikawa coming out of the bullpen tomorrow.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Who's on First Base?

Hey everyone, my name is Jacob Christman and over the course of this Major League Baseball season I will be writing a blog about the Chicago Cubs. My blog will include game and statistical analyses, as well as my thoughts on how each player is performing, my predictions for the players and the team, injuries and transactions by the Chicago Cubs, such as trades, international signings and draft picks. After every game played by the Chicago Cubs, I will detail my thoughts on what impressed me throughout the game, what concerned me about the game and what surprised me. In addition, I will preview the upcoming games on the Cubs’ schedule a day before each game. I will start my blog on Sunday, March 31st, 2013 in which I will preview the opening day game against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

I chose to write a blog about the Chicago Cubs because I am a die-hard Cubs fan. I’m currently studying Economics and Political Science at Indiana University Bloomington with the hopes of putting my education towards a profession in baseball. It is my hope that this blog will help me find a job with any baseball organization, but obviously I have a preference… *ah hem* the Chicago Cubs.

I hope you enjoy my blog and feel free to comment or make suggestions about my blog!
Thanks, Jacob