Cubs All-Star Break Grades
All things considered, the Cubs are lucky to have the record they do going into the All-Star break, but how have individual players and parts on this team rate so far? Here’s a take on their performance thus far by position.
1st Base (Derrek Lee, Micah Hoffpauir): Derrek Lee started slow but has come on extremely strong since the middle of May. Hoffpauir has been superb in a back up role. Personally I think the Cubs need to get this guy more at-bats, but he has filled in admirably for Lee during stretches and mashes the ball when he gets the chance.
2nd Base (Aaron Miles, Bobby Scales, Mike Fontenot, Jeff Baker, Andres Blanco): What a ragtag bunch at 2nd base. You know its bad when this many guys have played the position, and no major injuries were a factor. Fontenot was supposed to be the guy this year. And by “the guy” I don’t mean Ted Williams, I think most people were just hoping for say .250/.333/.430 instead of .230/.307/.358. Just terrible. The other guys are all marginal major leaguers at best.
Shortstop (Ryan Theriot): Okay here is someone having a better season then he was expected to have. In fact, the little power surge of his in early May makes his season arguably better than expected. He is hitting about .300 and has mostly returned to his non-walking ways, but he has committed slightly less TOOTBLANs.
3rd Base (Aramis Ramirez, Mike Fontenot, Jake Fox): Jake Fox! He has started a few games at 3rd and the guy can just rake the ball. Unfortunately for our 3rd basemen grade, most of the at-bats went to Fontenot, who we discussedis having a terrible season. With Ramirez on the pine, this position was a black hole at the plate for the most part.
Catcher (Geovany Soto, Koyie Hill): Soto had a sloooow start, got high, then got injured. Hill has been just so-so. Soto needs to come back after the break and show us something, because he looked nothing like the all-star catcher he was last year. I would say he needs to find his power stroke, but that would neglect to take into consideration his inability to make contact with the ball at all. At least he’s walking I guess.
Outfield (Alfonso Soriano, Kosuke Fukudome, Reed Johnson, Milton Bradley, Jake Fox, Micah Hoffpauir): The only things saving the outfield from an F is Fukudome’s C- season and Soriano’s ridiculously hot April. Bradley sucks, Fonzy sucks, and Reed, Fox and Hoffpauir aren’t getting enough at-bats to save the position.
Starting Pitchers (Zambrano, Dempster, Lilly, Harden, Wells, Marshall): The Cubs one huge strength has been their starting rotation. Wells, Lilly, Zambrano and Dempster are sporting 2.70, 3.18, 3.53, and 4.09 ERAs respectively. Marshall did fine in his starts earlier in the year as well. The only real major concern has been Rich Harden, who has given up 16 home runs in just 74 innings. His strikeout numbers have been there, but his weakness to the long ball is a problem that needs to be corrected. Randy Wells has been phenomenal and made most Cubs fans forget about Jake Peavy trade rumors. If this staff can stay strong, the Cubs have a shot at the Division and maybe more.
Bullpen (Marmol, Gregg, Heilman, Guzman, Cotts, Patton, Hart, etc.): Angel Guzman has been a pleasant surprise. Also, Kevin Gregg is doing very well. He is performing far better than Kerry Wood by pretty much any measure you use, and his 16/19 in saves is better than expected. That’s it for the positives. Marmol has been inconsistent at best and whether he can’t hit the strike zone, or just won’t hit it, his ability to turn it around will be key to the Cubs second half. Oh, quick random fact I bet you didn’t know: Aaron Heilman is 0/5 in save opportunities. Yeah, Aaron Heilman. I didn’t even know he had any opportunities, and it looks like he really took advantage of those.
Coaching (Lou Piniella, Larry Rothschild, Alan Trammell, Von Joshua/Gerald Perry): I hate to do this to you Lou, but things have been terrible. Reluctant to move Soriano down in the order until too late, unable to help Bradley feel comfortable with the team, refusal to use Hoffpauir, Fox, and other young guys when overpaid players are slumping, mismanagement of the bullpen, and a misplaced belief in “being aggressive on the basepaths” even though the individual players on the team are terrible base stealers (32/51 on stolen bases and countless other TOOTBLANs). I love Lou and it’s easy to judge him from here in the peanut gallery, but I think he would agree that he hasn’t been at his best this season.
Cubs Overall Grade: C-