Obstructed View Opening Day Roundtable – part 1

Your fearless Obstructed View Executive Chairmen got together to discuss various topics related to the 2011 Cubs season. Here’s part one of our roundtable, that focuses on the offseason and specific players/figures. Part 2 will focus on our predictions for the 2011 season.

Mike Quade

[mb21] : Should we start with Quade?
[aisle 424] : Sounds as good as anything.
[berselius] : Sure
[AndCounting] : Sure. Quade is my hero.
[mb21] : More of a hero than Super Starlin?
[AndCounting] : Until Quade started talking I thought I was the most longwinded person in the tri-state area.
[AndCounting] : Heh, yeah. Even more than SS.
[berselius] : I don’t mind that Quade is long-winded
[aisle 424] : I think it’s going to get him in trouble, eventually.
[mb21] : I really wish Quade wouldn’t talk as much, but then I also feel like a hypocrite. Fans said players like Bradley and Jack Jones should just shut up and I argued they had every right to speak up.
[berselius] : If he draws the quote-generators away from the players he’s doing his job
[mb21] : I also think it will get him in trouble. Not sure how, but talking that much in public is dangerous.
[berselius] : He needs to go to the Crash Davis School of One Day At A Time
[aisle 424] : Exactly.  Especially with the likes of the Chicago beat writers looking to make stories out of nothing.
[mb21] : He is if he’s not throwing his players under the bus. I’m not sure he’s done exactly that, but I don’t feel like he’s stuck up for his players either.
[AndCounting] : Sometimes I think he could say something ridiculously offensive and outlandish and bury it in so much gibberish no one will even quote it. That’s a skill.
[mb21] : I’ll say that I’m much more anxious to see how he actually manages though. If he turns out to be a good manager, I don’t really care how much he talks.
[berselius] : The Castro stuff last year is certainly the most troubling incident. I don’t really mind what happened with Silva. He handled the Silva-Ramirez dust up like he should have
[aisle 424] : It’s the Ozzie method.
[berselius] : One big plus for Quade is that he knows all the young guys well
[berselius] : Lou was always too hard on young players
[mb21] : I don’t mind the Silva situation either, but it just seemed a good opportunity to show some professionalism. To me it seemd they were just kicking a guy who was already down.
[berselius] : I remember hearing that a lot of the young pitchers like Coleman, etc were much more comfortable after Quade took over
[mb21] : Did we learn anything about Quade’s managerial tendencies last season?
[aisle 424] : I also think there is something the players feel in playing for Quade that they didn’t for Lou. Whether that is just a result of the late push or because of Quade’s methods, or just the circumstance is what we don’t know.
[berselius] : As MO has been saying for awhile, Silva has a rep as a bad clubhouse guy. I don’t mind Quade venting some steam if everyone there thought he was a jackass.
[mb21] : I’m sure it’s been easier for young players to work with Quade than Lou. Lou demanded as much or more than any manager in the game.
[aisle 424] : I think they also knew he wasn’t long for the team.  whether they did stuff his way or not, he was going to be gone.
[mb21] : I think we’ll learn a lot more about how the players feel about Quade this season than we did last year. It’s easy to like a manager when you’re playing so well.
[aisle 424] : The first losing streak will be pretty telling.
[AndCounting] : I don’t think we learned much. At least not much about the in-game stuff. Obviously he earned the respect of the players, which is nice. But yeah, I’m most curious about how he’ll handle things when they go bad. Because there’s no way they don’t go bad at some point.
[mb21] : Good to hear he’s not going to run as much as he made it sound early in spring training. That was troubling. I’m sure he looked at 7 SB and 8 CS and thought, wait, this team cannot run. At all.
[mb21] : Especially if they go bad early on. Teams tend to fall apart in the clubhouse when it’s starting to feel like a very long 162 game schedule.
[aisle 424] : So he either has a good learning curve or he’s just a flip-flopper

Matt Garza

[berselius] : That’s probably good for Q. Who’s next – Garza? Or Jim Hendry?
[aisle 424] : I’ll say that I am just not a fan of Garza at all.
[AndCounting] : Are those basically the same topic?
[mb21] : Kind of, AC. I was thinking they’re about the same topic as well.
[aisle 424] : I think he’s inconsistent, he’s a hothead, and he is going to give up some HRs at Wrigley.  The fans aren’t going to take to him and that’s not going to be pretty.
[mb21] : I’m anxious to watch Garza pitch. I don’t put any stock whatsoever in what he did this spring and he is a good pitcher. He’s just not as good as the Cubs are expecting. He’s Randy Wells who had to fight for a rotation spot.
[berselius] : I’m not a huge Garza fan either, but I hate the trade more for the process than the haul the Rays got
[AndCounting] : I mean, I haven’t seen enough of Garza to form an opinion on him as a pitcher or a personality. I know the numbers, but Ii’m interested to watch him. I just don’t know if people are going to be able to differentiate their feelings about him from their feelings about the trade and Jim Hendry. Which really isn’t fair to him.
[berselius] : I still think it’s even money that Garza gives the Cubs more production than the guys the Rays got
[mb21] : The hothead point is something to pay attention to. He kind of went off yesterday about the dry air in Arizona as if he was the only one pitching in it. Dempster didn’t have a problem. If things go bad for Garza early on, he’ll get booed off the field. I don’t think he’ll handle it any better than Zambrano has.
[aisle 424] : And he won’t have the history of pitching well for the Cubs that Zambrano has.
[aisle 424] : For as much as the fans turn on Z, its worse for someone new to the team.
[berselius] : I’m not so sure they’ll turn on Garza
[mb21] : Yeah, right now he’s the shiny new toy, but if the toy in the box, but if you take it out and it sucks, that toy doesn’t get a second chance.
[aisle 424] : I think they already have.
[berselius] : The fans are used to using Soriano, Z, Fukudome, even Ramirez as punching bags
[berselius] : I’d like to think more people would take it out on Hendry
[aisle 424] : Maybe I put too much stock in the people I follow on Twitter, but there is not a lot of Garza love.
[AndCounting] : The people who like him probably like him a bit too much. Yay, Jesus Garza is here! If he doesn’t pitch REALLY well, those fans are going to get pretty restless.
[mb21] : I agree with 424 here. I think based on some of the things I’ve seen on twitter that many fans already have turned on him.
[berselius] : I think the important thing is what the writers focus on. And I think the horns are still on the same players
[aisle 424] : Samardzija may be the only guy they hate more.
[AndCounting] : I still think there’s a big chasm between the people who express their opinions online and the vast majority of fans. The masses, I think, are big fans.
[mb21] : The important thing to note in my opinion is that many, many Cubs fans thought they got a top of the rotation ace. They didn’t.
[berselius] : If the Cubs wanted a guy who pitched a no-hitter they should have gone after Anibal Sanchez. Or Bud Norris  (dying laughing)
[aisle 424] : Yeah, the Ricketts have really set these guys up to fail by insisting this team is a contender.
[mb21] : I’ll say he throws 200 innings and posts an ERA around 4.00 and an FIP of about 4.25.
[mb21] : Bud Norris.  (dying laughing)
[AndCounting] : That’s it. It’s great we have a guy who pitched well in the World Series. That’s . . . probably not a skill that’s going to come into play anytime soon.
[mb21] : AC could be right about there being a big difference between the online fans and the ones who show up at Wrigley. That will be interesting to watch too.
[aisle 424] : Maybe he’ll be like Robert Horry, he just always gets to the finals somehow.
[berselius] : We just need to keep an eye on Sullivan, Telander et al. I don’t think any of them have turned on Garza yet. When they do it will be ugly.

Carlos Pena

[mb21] : Anything to dislike about the Pena deal?
[berselius] : Only the number of times we’ll see the number .196 plastered all over the place when he has a 2 game slump
[aisle 424] : Other than that they had to finance a one-year deal?
[berselius] : Otherwise I love the deal
[mb21] : That they had to pay Pena $10 million over 2 years for a 1-year deal was embarrassing.
[berselius] : I think the 5 million this year is being paid to Silva (laughing)
[aisle 424] : He’ll need to start hot to keep fans on his side, but they like him because he’s so well-spoken.
[mb21] : Agreed with berselius about the .196 average being talked about endlessly. Furthermore, he’s going to post a low batting average so we’ll hear about it all season.
[mb21] : He’s the Latino that’s going to force the others to stop walling themselves off.
[aisle 424] : Who let Rosenbloom in here?
[AndCounting] : The strikeouts and the batting average are going to be interesting to watch. I think fans will give him a break because he’s got a Mark Grace quality about him. He’s going to be vocal in the papers, so even if he slumps, people will like him. That makes all the difference in this town, a little bit of charming humility.
[mb21] : I loved the Pena deal at the time. 1 year, $10 million for someone who is a year removed from being an excellent hitting 1st baseman.
[berselius] : The ballhawks are going to love him. He’s going to hit some monster HRs onto Sheffield
[aisle 424] : I have him on 3 of my fantasy teams if that indicates my hopes for him.
[mb21] : I still love the deal, but one of the reasons I liked it so much at first was I thought for sure they were going to get stopgaps and NOT trade prospects.
[berselius] : It’s kind of strange that they had to pinch pennies to finance his deal, but took on Garza’s salary

Optimism going into the season

[aisle 424] : Speaking of hope, I know we have the projections and the numbers, but how hopeful are you guys?
[berselius] : Not very. But I’d love to be surprised
[mb21] : Hopeful? I always have about the same amount of hope entering the season. It’s a new year and almost anything can happen. My excitement level is usually different from one year to the next, but I’m hopeful.  Just not expecting anything.
[mb21] : I’m expecting to be hopeful until about the middle of April.
[berselius] : I feel a little better about the Cubs chances after looking at the rest of the divison. It’s closer than it feels.
[berselius] : The Cubs are flawed, but the other teams in the division are too. Only slightly less so.
[AndCounting] : I’m not even that hopeful, which is odd. I’m forcing my optimism at this point. I want to see the Cubs do well, so there’s hope there. But I’m not optimistic. I’ve set my standards of hope pretty low. What I really expect is a disappointing but enjoyable season. I like these players, and I’m going to enjoy baseball. I won’t get broken up if they suck.
[aisle 424] : I have a hope level of about 6 out of 10.  In a vacuum of this season, the offseason deals aren’t bad.
[berselius] : Disappointing but enjoyable about sums it up
[aisle 424] : Plus, I’m always hopeful for health.
[mb21] : I’m not as sure the Brewers and maybe even the Reds are as flawed as berselius thinks, but we can talk about that later.
[aisle 424] : I think our expectations are so low that if they play like last year, it won’t feel as bad as last year.
[berselius] : After the Simpson pick at least I feel like I don’t have to root for them to lose for a better draft pick, since they’ll waste it anyway
[mb21] : It won’t feel as bad as last year and certainly not as bad as 2009. That team was awesome entering the season. Nothing went right. They still won 83 games. That’s how good that team was.
[berselius] : Ugh, 2009
[berselius] : 2004 all over again, but a much better team
[aisle 424] : 2004 was pretty great until the last two weeks.
[AndCounting] : It’s very strange. Two straight divisional titles and three straight winning seasons changed the mentality completely. For me, it’s back to where it was at the turn of the millennium. Just crossing my fingers.
[mb21] : 2009 was a kick in the nuts. I didn’t think there was any team in the Central that could compete with the Cubs. Even in 2004 I expected the Cardinals and Cubs to battle it out.
[AndCounting] : The thing about 2009 I always lose sight of, they were in 1st place in August. And then they fell off a cliff.
[mb21] : I’m with Adam. For a few years there I wasn’t so much hopeful as I was certain and now after 2 years of not expecting anything it’s reminding me of the 90s.
[aisle 424] : That was amazing.  They went about a month and half when they never gained ground on the Cardinals.
[aisle 424] : I’m not exaggerating.  Even when they won, the Cardinals did too.
[berselius] : The entire rotation went on the DL and the best hitter separated his shoulder. At least Derrek Lee had a good year.
[mb21] : One of the top hitters found he had a little Koyie Hill in him and another one was just batshit insane.
[mb21] : And Soriano played like he wasn’t even worthy of starting for the Iowa Cubs.
[berselius] : Wasn’t that the year where Soriano played the entire season with a knee injury he suffered in April (thanks to everyone’s favorite brick wall)?
[mb21] : Yeah, b, that was the year.

Scapegoats

[mb21] : Who goes in the fans doghouse?
[aisle 424] : So many options.
[berselius] : We’ve been predicting this for years now, but somehow I don’t think this is the year that Z finally gets run out of town on a rail
[berselius] : Fans will bitch about him but they’re pretty resigned at this point
[mb21] : I’m going to say Kosuke Fukudome.
[aisle 424] : I’ll go with DeWitt.
[berselius] : I guess the question is whether there’s any room left  (dying laughing)
[mb21] : It’s a big doghouse.
[AndCounting] : I think it’s Soriano and it won’t even be close.
[mb21] : Soriano is a good bet.
[aisle 424] : Well, sure, if you want to be obvious.
[AndCounting] : Every year, he manages to be just smiley enough to get by. I think the charm power of his pearly whites wears off this year.
[aisle 424] : My dark horse is Marmol.
[aisle 424] : I have a bad feeling about him.
[berselius] : My dark horse is Cashner
[berselius] : You always have to worry about Felix Pie 2.0
[AndCounting] : I just think this is the year the Soriano hate goes seriously ugly.
[mb21] : If Castro struggles, I could easily see that.
[aisle 424] : Isn’t that Corey Patterson 3.0?
[AndCounting] : Castro won’t struggle. He will make people curse DeRosa’s name.
[mb21] : I hope you’re wrong, AC. Soriano from everything I’ve ever read about the guy is one of the hardest workers and most fun players to be around.
[berselius] : Maybe on Castro, but it’s not like he has anyone beating down the door behind him.
[aisle 424] : BARNEY!!!
[berselius] : If Theriot were still with the team (DeRosa forbid) it would be a different story
[aisle 424] : I find it sad that none of us picked Koyie to be in the doghouse

Part two will come tomorrow before the Cubs opener. Enjoy opening day! I’m going to put on Ueck and the Brewers-Reds game while I pretend to get some work done this afternoon.

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