Every so often, I get an opportunity to write guest content on other wonderful baseball blogs, whether it be an entire post to myself, or just some commentary to be added to another post. Most recently, I was given an opportunity to perform the latter.
Over at Cardinal70.com, a Cards blog run by Baseball Blogger’s Association founder Daniel Shoptaw, every Spring training fans of every team are surveyed on the upcoming season. Daniel then presents his network of bloggers’ opinions daily by team. I was asked to partake in the Chicago Cubs questionnaire alongside Rob, Brian, Andrew, and Steveo-sama.
You can read the complete post here, and I highly recommend you do so and pay C70 a visit. Otherwise, here’s what I had to say below. Enjoy.
C70: How would you grade the offseason?
BBl: To fairly evaluate a team that is building like the Chicago Cubs, I think it’s only fair to grade them based on what their offseason expectations were. In hindsight, the Cubs addressed some of their biggest needs.
They rebuilt a struggling rotation with bounce-back candidates like Scott Baker
and Scott Feldman
, and signed a solid starting pitcher in Edwin Jackson
(personally, I was more excited at the idea of adding Anibal Sanchez
, but after watching Jackson’s press conference and hearing some more about him, I’m happy with the addition).
From the reports I’ve read it sounds like they’ve done their due diligence on any young studs that would be available (Giancarlo Stanton
, cough cough) despite how unrealistic a deal could be. That’s all you can really ask for in situations like that.
will probably start on Opening Day in left field, which I am completely fine with. I would rather the Cubs pay his salary and take on his production then pay him to play on another team in exchange for peanuts.
Finally, I’m glad they brought Ian Stewart
back, although I am probably in the minority. Cubs fans have all heard about what Stewart could be – a plus defensive third baseman with some nice pop from the left side of the plate – but the nagging wrist injury resulted in a poor 2012. He’s worth another shot in 2013 following the recent surgery which he says cured him.
In short, the Cubs lived up to my expectations for the offseason. They addressed their areas of need, took some chances on bounce-back players, and while I don’t think they’re going to pull off a surprising Baltimore Orioles-esque run, there’s a small chance there. I am satisfied. Not blown away, mind you, but satisfied – and that earns them a solid B in my book.
C70: What are your thoughts about the suggested Wrigley Field improvements?
BBl: All of the mock-ups and drawing of the Wrigley renovations that I’ve seen are very tasteful. There’s no jumbotron replacing the manual scoreboard, the ivy still exists, and the Marquee has a fresh coat of paint. The fan experience looks like it will be upgraded with some nicer stores and such. But most importantly, adequate facilities for the players – the clubhouse, batting cages, gym, the works – have been included in the plans. If the updates facilities will make the Cubs players better, and I don’t see why they wouldn’t, it’s something the team needs to go for.
With that in mind, the team and the city of Chicago need to figure out the political mess. (I hate when politics get in the way of my baseball!) One thing that could be at stake is the fate of the Wrigleyville rooftops. All I know is I want to experience at least one game up there before they’re potentially put out of business by signage that could help fund the Wrigley renovation.
C70: How long do you expect to see Carlos Marmol wearing the Cubbie blue?
BBl: Unless Marmol is willing to give the Cubs a huge hometown discount in 2014, I doubt we see his slider at Wrigley past the trade deadline. Very few relievers are with the amount of money that Marmol is making, in my opinion. I thought the Dan Haren deal was a nice exchange, but turns out he wasn’t healthy enough to the Cubs standards. Marmol’s first half in 2012 was poor, but he kicked it up a notch in the second half. If he can maintain that success into the first half of 2013, I would be surprised if he isn’t gone.
C70: What rookie will make the biggest impact in 2013?
BBl: I’d say Japanese relief pitcher Kyuji Fujikawa
. But that might be cheating. He’s one of the few rookies who will start the season with the club and will be a nice piece in the Chicago bullpen. If he puts up Shawn Camp
‘s 2012 numbers at worst, that will still be pretty valuable to the team going forward.
C70: What will be the final record of the team and where will they finish in the division?
BBl: 75 wins is an optimistic yet realistic guess from me. They finish only above the Milwaukee Brewers, because screw them.
C70: What one thing from your team are you most looking forward to watching?
BBl: There are many things to choose from: a full season of Anthony Rizzo, Darwin Barney
‘s second Gold Glove attempt, Edwin Jackson in his first moment of contractual comfort in his career. But I would say the thing I am most looking forward to watching is Jeff Samardzija
‘s 2013 season. Is the Shark for real? Only time will tell. If his 2013 is even better than his 2012, fans could see a him sign a contract extension next offseason.
There you have it. Thanks again to Daniel for the opportunity, and make sure to check out the entire post itself!