It was another roller-coaster ride for all the fans of the Chicago Cubs. They nearly won 100 games this season and yet couldn’t even garner a single win in the post-season. The Los Angeles Dodgers was just a better team and the Cubs didn’t show up at all. I don’t really know how to take the last two post-season exits. There wasn’t anything that screamed “curse,” “Billy Goat,” or “Bartman. The Diamondbacks and Dodgers were teams that turned it on at the right time and clearly the Cubs were content with just making the playoffs.
I’m going to be commenting on the Outfielders and Infielders on the 40-man roster of the Cubs. I will be evaluating their year and possibly if they are needed for next season.
Alfonso Soriano – The Cubs paid a great deal for him a season ago and over the past two years, he hasn’t been completely healthy. I am not sure if he will ever be a 35/35 guy again, but the power numbers should still be there. Soriano needs to be pushed down to the 2nd, 3rd, or 6th in the order in order for the Cubs to turn the corner in the playoffs. He has demanded being kept in the lead-off spot, but something needs to be shaken up. The Cubs needs to acquire a left-handed lead-off bat with a high .OBP.
Kosuke Fukudome – Fukudome started out the season on fire, he was nearly batting .400 much into the first month. He hit a wall around the All-Star break and batted around .200 the rest of the way. His defense kept him in the lineup, but he clearly hurt the Cubs down the stretch. The Cubs would be much-improved if they went out and got a power bat to play right field and used Fukudome off the bench. Fukudome was a bit of an oddity, most Japanese players tend own pitchers in the States for a high .OBP. Fukudome has proven that he has a decent eye, but he sometimes looks horrible while striking out.
Jim Edmonds – Edmonds played well for the Cubs, but he isn’t a long-term fix for their center field position. He would be nice to hold onto next season for some at-bats, but clearly shouldn’t be a starter next year. He can hit homers, when needed, but his average will be around .250, at best.
Reed Johnson – He was a spark plug for the Cubs after they acquired him mid-season. I watched many Cubs games and in the games that he played, he always made a big catch or had a key hit. I like him better than Edmonds in center, but Pinella didn’t use him down the stretch this season. I am not sure if he is in Pinella’s doghouse or if he trusted Edmonds more as the season progressed.
Felix Pie – Pie has speed and can cover a lot of ground in center. He hasn’t figured out major-league pitching yet and I’m starting to lose hope. He was sent down to Triple-A mid-season and he did very well, even showed some power. He could be trade bait this off-season, but I would like to see him get a chance in spring training and prove he deserves a spot.
Sam Fuld – He didn’t show up in the majors this year and probably best known for running full speed into the brick wall at Wrigley in 2007. Pie beat him out of a center field spot in spring training and Fuld struggled at the plate and a hand injury troubled him. He will be at spring training to see what he can bring to the team.
Ronny Cedeno – Lou Pinella seems to be high on this guy. He is mostly used as a pinch-runner, but Cedeno was in the line-up a little more than he should be. He started out the year pretty well, but fell off at the end. He is trade bait with the emergence of Mike Fontenot and Ryan Theriot playing so well.
Mark DeRosa – He has done everything for the Cubs, I’m surprised he hasn’t been called upon to work the front gate at Wrigley. I like him as a full-time replacement in right field, but I’m unsure of Mike Fontenot can play everyday at 2nd. DeRosa can play nearly every infield spot and has proven himself as a potential big-money free agent after next season. The Cubs need to make sure they work on a contract to keep him around.
Derrek Lee – I’m not saying that he had an off-year, but the expectations were definitely high coming into the year. The wrist injury that hampered him the last few seasons was 100% healed and a few even picked him as possible MVP candidate going into this year (John Kruk). He hit nearly 20 homers and had a batting average that fluttered around .290-.300 all season. Maybe this is the real D-Lee that the Cubs got from Florida, not the player that tore up pitchers a few season ago. I am just not sure which player will show up from here on out.
Mike Fontenot – This guy looks like he should be a jockey, but could he possibly turn into Dustin Pedroia? He has had moments where he looks like a starter, but it is still unknown if he could put up numbers as an everyday player. For a guy of his stature, he has a swing that could hit 20+ homers a season. It would be a risky move to give him the starter’s job at 2nd and move DeRosa to right field. If this team was a .500 team, it would be easy to give the keys to the car to a young player, but the Cubs have high expectations and Fontenot may be a victim of not being given a fair shot.
Micah Hoffpauir – He is a proven minor-league player and was given a shot near the end of the season to come off the bench and had a few shot at starting. He is a natural 1st basemen, but with Derrek Lee secure at the job, Hoffpauir could be moved to right or be trade bait. He clearly has the ability to play in the Majors, but unless an injury, he could be stuck.
Aramis Ramirez – He was the leader of the Cubs this season and was the MVP of the team. He didn’t show up in the playoffs, but he did so much for the team this year. Ramirez has the ability to be a 40/120 guy, I think he should keep improving. It may take a contract year to get that productivity out of him, but he will be a top 3 third -basemen in this league. His defense is suspect, but his bat makes his errors go away a little.
Ryan Theriot – He’s a .300 hitter, steal bases, has a decent .OBP, but somehow he isn’t the lead-off hitter. If the Cubs don’t acquire a pure lead-off guy, Theriot needs to be at the top of the lineup. He kind of fell into the shortstop position, but I don’t see him losing the job anytime soon. Theriot looks like a future all-star and should be in Chicago for awhile.
Daryle Ward – He is the Lenny Harris of the Chicago Cubs. I can’t say that he is a great pinch-hitter, he doesn’t get a lot of chances to get into games. I don’t know an adequate replacement for Ward, but any power bat that doesn’t have an ego will do.
Geovany Soto – He is a clear winner of the National League Rookie Of The Year Award and did a great job behind the plate. His defense got better as the year went along, but his ability to call a game needs to improve. I see him as a possible 1st basement later in his career, but for right now I like him as the starter.
Henry Blanco – He is making over 3 million a season to play a handful of games. I want his job. I don’t think the Cubs will pick up his option for next season, but could re-sign him for a lower amount. He has a decent bat, but doesn’t have a certain pitcher he catches, unlike a few seasons ago when he was the catcher for Greg Maddux.
Koyie Hill – He nearly cut his hand off in a freak accident a year ago. He got to play some at the end of the season, but I have always been a fan of game calling ability. He seemed to rejuvenate the pitching staff a season ago when he was brought up from the minors. Hill may not play long-term for the Cubs, but I like him as a player and could see him having a decent career on another team.