Three games doesn’t tell us anything, but they were three predictable games. The offense struggled, which they’re going to do all season long. That’s especially true against right-handed pitchers. The defense let the team down late in Sunday’s game. Rather than a tie, a defensive mistake allowed the Pirates to take the lead. The pitching staff was solid, which they mostly will be this season. The Cubs made at least one mistake on the bases and nearly one or two others. That’s going to happen a lot this season too.
I didn’t single any player out because I don’t think it’s important. People say it’s a team game and it is even though we can measure the individual contributions of each player. Three games in there’s no reason to single anyone out for mistakes. The point I’m making is that the Cubs played about as well as we can expect them to play this season. At least in terms of their strengths and weaknesses. Strength: pitching. Weakness: everything else. That’s how it was this weekend and that’s how it will be much of the season.
Starlin Castro is fun to watch. I’d forgotten just how much fun. It’s obviously more fun when he collects 8 hits in 3 games as well as a walk. He showed more power in spring training and he’s shown the ability to drive the ball a bit more so far this season. Don’t go expecting 25 home runs like And Counting is or you’re likely to find yourself booing him at some point. If he does hit 25 I’ll pretend I agreed with AC about the 25 home run prediction. It will make me seem smarter that way.
He’s not a finished player, but he’s still the youngest player in the game.
The top three starters for the Cubs lost two of three games vs the top three of the Pirates. That’s probably not a good sign, but it’s also not exactly their fault. When you score 7 runs in the two losses combined, you can’t expect to win too many ballgames. You’re certainly going to lose more than you win.
How many more times do we have to hear about Carlos Pena saving errors? Is he the only 1st baseman who scoops balls out of the dirt? Isn’t that kind of important for 1st basemen? I’m betting that the ones who struggle at picking it out of the dirt are the ones who find themselves in AAA for a long time. It’s part of the job. Maybe Pena is better than the average player. I can buy that, but this talk about him saving X number of errors is irrelevant unless you’re going to tell me how many errors the average 1st baseman saves.
I’m all for Darwin Barney playing 2nd base. May as well see what he has. Play him every day. I’m not expecting much. In fact, I expect he’ll be sent to AAA by the end of May. Play Colvin every day too. That’s what I’d do. However, if the Cubs want to win games, you platoon Tyler Colvin and Alfonso Soriano, not Fukudome and Colvin. You platoon Blake DeWitt and Jeff Baker, not Baker and Barney.
Marlon Byrd batting 3rd doesn’t bother me. That’s the least important spot in the top 5 spots in the lineup according to the extensive research in The Book. That seems a good spot for him. Speaking of Marlon Byrd, he’s been awful since the middle of last season.
It’s nice to see Alfonso Soriano come through. I always like that because I fear he’s going to get booed out of the stadium if he doesn’t. And when he doesn’t, he usually is booed out of the ballpark.
Carlos Zambrano left with cramps on Saturday. It’s a problem he’s had throughout his career. It seems to me that Z has something that’s causing that. Even if it isn’t, big deal. He was ready to come out of the game anyway so it doesn’t really matter.
Matt Garza allowed 12 hits, struckout 12 and walked nobody in 7 innings. If that’s happened before, it hasn’t happened often. Most of the hits were seeing eye grounders. Overall, he had a really good first start and it was easily the best of the three so far.
I’m glad Kerry Wood is wearing a Cubs uniform again. I just wish he’d be wearing the Cubs uniform while playing for the Yankees or Red Sox. I’d like to see Wood win a championship and I’m afraid that’s not happening for him with the Cubs.
The Cubs play 3 at home vs the Diamondbacks before hitting the road. They have Randy Wells pitching tomorrow afternoon followed by Andrew Cashner and Ryan Dempster. I’m excited to watch Cashner pitch in the rotation. A quick look at the probables shows the Cubs probably have the pitching advantage in at least 2 of those games (Wells and Dempster). No idea as far as Tuesday’s game goes.