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  • Chicago Cub Grades

    The Tribune does this series, and I am curious what Grades you give the Cubs players. This is a tough question, because the answer is tempered by expectations: You may or may not give high-priced Soriano an A, but if Mike Fontenot had hit 33 HR's, he would be getting an A+ for sure.

    Anyway, I have a couple grades for OUTFIELDERS, and I could keep going, but looking for everyone's input!:

    Alfonso Soriano: B+
    There is no doubt Soriano is a great player. Overall, he had a solid year, not quite up to his awesome 2006, probably due to nagging leg injuries. Going into next year, let's hope he stays healthy and keeps producing at that level, and I will be satisfied. On a plus note, I think he plays a pretty good LF. He certainly has a good arm out there.

    Jacque Jones: B+
    His midseason grade was probably a D, but Jacque had quite a mid-season turnaround. Offensively, he was pretty average, he made decent contact overall, but his lack of power hurt the Cubs. The huge surprise was his defense: Where did that come from? Going into next year, he looks like a pretty good 4th OF, or "veteran backup plan in case Pie fails" player that I would like to keep around.

    Cliff Floyd: B-
    In his prime, Cliff could give us exactly what we need: Left-Handed power, and decent defense in RF. It's too bad that his age kept him from providing either this year. I salute his effort and he seems like a good guy, and he did make good contact while showing good plate discipline. He can still hit, just not for power, and he probably should be a bench OF/DH over in the other league at this point.

    Matt Murton: B-
    Some will debate this, because he didn't get a big chance, and seems a fan favorite. Though Matt is a disciplined hitter overall, he isn't outstanding in any category, and in the end is a below-average starting outfielder. We cannot go into 2008 with Big Red penciled into a starting slot, not with a need to upgrade the offense, and he isn't an upgrade. He might be trade-bait, because he would have value to some teams that need a cheap fill in in the OF, and are getting offense from other positions.

    Felix Pie: C
    I hope this year was the case of a young player being nervous, or not having the opportunity to perform. Because if Felix joins the long long long list of Cub prospects who look great and turn out to be busts (Choi, Bobby Hill, Patterson, among recent examples), then I will shoot myself. The last Cub draftee or signee among position players to make the All Star team was Mark Grace. Aren't we due?

    Angel Pagan: B-
    Pagan makes average contact, hits for average power, has an OK arm, adequate range, and a little speed. He is very versatile at being average. He made some plays for us, but overall is a 5th OF, and maybe even a AAAA OF. Not much of an upside.

    Craig Monroe: D
    In 3 years, we will be saying "He was a Cub?". If he's still in the majors that is.

  • #2
    Murton will give you good performance for the money he will be paid, and keeps money free to address more pressing needs. To me, SS is a more pressing need. I like Cedeno, but I don't know if I go into the season counting on him if I can upgrade.
    To offset some of the pain of being a diehard Cubs fan, I've learned to also be a moderate Yankees fan.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Scartissue View Post
      Murton will give you good performance for the money he will be paid, and keeps money free to address more pressing needs. To me, SS is a more pressing need. I like Cedeno, but I don't know if I go into the season counting on him if I can upgrade.
      i can live with murton myself in right field if pressed. cedeno's bat offsets any defensive value he may bring especially if you factor in the lack of offense in the outfield.

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      • #4
        I say give Murton a bigger shot at right field. I thought Cliff Floyd should have hit more homers this year. Murton still has a better approach at the plate than Floyd.

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        • #5
          Clearly, the major question marks going into next season are CF, SS, and RF. That assumes we are set with:

          C: Soto, 1B: Lee, 2B: DeRosa, 3B: Ramirez, LF: Soriano

          I would say all of those are etched in stone, barring a trade, and only Soto and DeRosa are moveable.

          Given that, between CF, SS, and RF, we HAVE to get a) at least one power bat, preferably Left-Handed, and b) a top of the order hitter.

          I can live with Murton or Theriot or Pie/Jones in any of those slots, provided a) and b) are addressed. For ALL THREE players to start, that would mean a repeat of our offensive problems. We can't do that.

          The best chance of significant upgrade in the system is CF. Pie is supposed to be great, and Jones is there in case he falls on his face. I would roll the dice on those guys, and spend $$ elsewhere.

          Finding Left-Handed power at the SS position is pretty much impossible. Unless we end up with Miguel Tejada or A-Rod or something, that need will have to be filled with RF. That means no room for Murton.

          I think Murton only starts if A-Rod or someone with power is at SS.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Jeff Pico View Post
            Clearly, the major question marks going into next season are CF, SS, and RF. That assumes we are set with:

            C: Soto, 1B: Lee, 2B: DeRosa, 3B: Ramirez, LF: Soriano

            I would say all of those are etched in stone, barring a trade, and only Soto and DeRosa are moveable.

            Given that, between CF, SS, and RF, we HAVE to get a) at least one power bat, preferably Left-Handed, and b) a top of the order hitter.

            I can live with Murton or Theriot or Pie/Jones in any of those slots, provided a) and b) are addressed. For ALL THREE players to start, that would mean a repeat of our offensive problems. We can't do that.

            The best chance of significant upgrade in the system is CF. Pie is supposed to be great, and Jones is there in case he falls on his face. I would roll the dice on those guys, and spend $$ elsewhere.

            Finding Left-Handed power at the SS position is pretty much impossible. Unless we end up with Miguel Tejada or A-Rod or something, that need will have to be filled with RF. That means no room for Murton.

            I think Murton only starts if A-Rod or someone with power is at SS.
            I think you are likely correct as to how that scenario will work, but I think it's a bad idea. Between Theriot, Murton, and Pie, I definitely trust Murton's bat the most. I know this is borderline sacrilege, but Pie is moveable. Take Pie and a couple other moveable players (Hart and Cedeno come to mind) and find a SS or a CF.
            Senior Editor/Featured Writer for Home Of The Chiefs

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Scartissue View Post
              To me, SS is a more pressing need.
              Good thing we're getting A-Rod for that

              Comment


              • #8
                Also....


                Alfonso Soriano: B+
                Expecting him to come in and have 40/40/40 years every year was dumb, but I think there's a segment of fans that wouldn't have been happy with anything less. I don't like seeing him in the leadoff spot. He's not a leadoff hitter. Leadoff should be an OBP position, but out of Cubs players with at least 200 ABs he was 6th out of 9. Defensively he considerably surpassed what I thought he'd do. Pairing him next year with a catcher who actually catches would be a nice touch.

                Jacque Jones: B-
                Horrible start. I'm sure we would have traded him had anybody wanted him. That improved swing made a lot of difference in the second half, but his plate discipline is still the very definition of suspect. I'm pretty indifferent as to whether or not he should play here next year.

                Cliff Floyd: C
                Streaky hitter with endurance issues....great for a PH, but not for a starter.

                Matt Murton: B+
                Murton probably hurt himself for having a role in that players-only meeting, and I don't know that he'll recover to be the starter next year even though I very strongly believe he should. He's a guy who can be coached into hitting 20+ HRs a year while still maintaining a very good (.365) OBP and batting .290. He also proved he can show great discipline and consistency off the bench in the second half. I'll take a .365 OBP guy with 20 HRs over another power hitter any day. We already tried having four power hitters on this team and it was pretty much horrible. OBP, OBP, OBP. Grouping baserunners produces runs, and producing runs wins games. Murton needs to stay.

                Felix Pie: C
                I like this guy a lot, and hopefully he'll show us something in preseason. Or bring us something else in the offseason. We already tried a .200 hitter at CF though, and I'm not ready to try that again. Hopefully he's better next year. Or gone. Either way.

                Angel Pagan: C
                I feel for the guy because I have a disease similar to his, and I know how tempting it is to hide it from people. I also know how much it can cripple someone, and I really wonder how much it affected his performance this year. I hope he still has the #5 spot next year.

                Craig Monroe: F
                I had high hopes. The trade made sense (unlike the one that brought us Trachsel), but ultimately it didn't pan out. I'd rather still have Rapada.
                Senior Editor/Featured Writer for Home Of The Chiefs

                Comment


                • #9
                  Infielders:

                  Derrek Lee: A-
                  It's hard to argue with a .400 OBP, but another 10 HRs and 10 SBs would have been nice also. A clutch performance in October too....that would have been awesome. Oh well.

                  Aramis Ramirez: A-
                  Above career averages for RBIs and OBP, and he wasn't streaky this year. I'd award an A if he didn't field like....well....Aramis Ramirez....

                  Mark DeRosa: B
                  A big surprise to all of us during the regular season, and a guy who played very good defense at a bunch of positions. he loses an A for forgetting he's a singles hitter on a 3-1 pitch with one out, the bases loaded, and the pitcher handing out BBs. Never, ever, ever, ever swing on that pitch. Ever.

                  Ryan Theriot: B
                  He played above expectations for most of the season, then fell back to earth in September. He had a couple of good, timely hits in the postseason, which trumps most of the rest of the infield. I like having guys like him on the team, and specifically I like having him.

                  Daryle Ward: B-
                  Brilliant in his starts, but not very good as a PH, which is what we needed him for. I think he probably does a better job for us if we bring him back next year, so we probably should.

                  Mike Fontenot: B-
                  Another guy who played above expectations, but it's harder to earn a starting job over DeRosa than Izturis. I'm curious as to whether or not he has a legitimate second position defensively. If we pull in another SS next year and put Theriot back on the bench, keeping Fontenot would probably be redundant.

                  Cesar Izturis: B
                  Come on, give the guy some love! He plays good defense and bats below .250. That's who he is. He didn't have a lot of GIDPs and a couple times he had clutch hits off the bench. I like Cesar.

                  Ronny Cedeno: D-
                  How many times does he have to turn into a pumpkin before we stop bringing him up? Quick....trade him before he has the chance to put up more mediocre numbers at the major league level.
                  Senior Editor/Featured Writer for Home Of The Chiefs

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Catchers:

                    Michael Barrett: D
                    I have to admit I liked him pointing at the scoreboard, but that might have been his best move all season.

                    Rob Bowen: C+
                    The epitome of nondescript. Not exceptional on offense or defense, but not quite terrible either. He was the bridge between bad and worse, and I think I probably like him better than either of the endpieces in that equation. I think. I don't think I'll remember him in five years though, so it's a wash.

                    Jason Kendall: D
                    The name of your position is CATCHER. The key part of that word is CATCH. Try it sometime.

                    Geovanny Soto: A
                    There's nothing here I don't like. I'm sure he'll level out to a .250-.275 hitter with decent plate discipline and power, but he seems to call games pretty well and make clutch hits. He also catches. I like that in a catcher.

                    Henry Blanco: W
                    I give Blankman no grade because he didn't have time to contribute, but I love him anyways. He might have helped coach Soto into a better a player also, so maybe that was his contribution to the team this season. I flew my zipper at half mast when he went to the DL.

                    Koyie Hill: B
                    I'm biased because I went to school with the guy (he played a lot of 3B at the time). He's a good (though not great) defensive catcher, and if Blanco can't come back next season I hope Hill gets the nod.
                    Senior Editor/Featured Writer for Home Of The Chiefs

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Rotation

                      Carlos Zambrano: C+
                      Matching your career high in wins with a career high in losses is a tough way to live. I never believe that he isn't trying though. I'm continually amused and sometimes impressed by that killer Randall Simon plate discipline.

                      Ted Lilly: A-
                      20 quality starts should have translated into more wins. His best stuff isn't as electric as Zambrano's, but it's hard not to love that consistency. Even when it doesn't carry into the postseason.

                      Rich Hill: B
                      Streaky, but really incredible for his first full year. We're smart enough to hold onto him rather than trade him for an aging shortstop, right? Right?

                      Jason Marquis: C
                      Marquis bears the dubious distinction of having the second lowest total IP for a MLB pitcher with 33 starts (Scott Olsen beats him out considerably, but Scott Olsen sucks). He's the starter whose starts I'm most likely to go to the grocery store during.

                      Sean Marshall: B
                      There's a lot of room for improvement with Marshall, but there's a whole lot to like too. By far the best #5 in MLB.

                      Wade Miller: D
                      Thanks for playing. We won't miss you.

                      Angel Guzman: C-
                      In a season where some of his underclassmen compadres made good on their promise, Guzman didn't show much. He didn't have time to show much. He showed that he's not quite durable enough to start and not quite dominant enough to close. That's some dangerously murky ground to tread on a team that's middle reliever-rich.

                      Steve Trachsel: F
                      Extra points lost because he took Marshall's starts and Rocky Cherry's roster spot. Candidate for worst Hendry roster move ever.
                      Senior Editor/Featured Writer for Home Of The Chiefs

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