The Carlos Curse: Why the Chicago Cubs Are Not Going To the Playoffs
I love the Chicago Cubs. I have always loved the Chicago Cubs. Every summer, I take my sons to a game at Wrigley where they make fun of me for loving the Chicago Cubs.
And every summer the Cubs break my heart—year after year after year.
When I watch some other team lift the World Series Trophy, I promise to cheer for another team. Any other team. Except, the White Sox.
I hide my Cubs gear, and I put away all my memorabilia.
Then, in the winter, it starts.
I start to miss baseball. I start to look at free agent signings. I sneak glances at the Baseball section on the Bleacher Report. I look, then I quickly click away. I follow the team, but furtively. It's like baseball porn.
I'm ashamed. I feel like I'm doing something wrong.
And then pitchers and catchers report. And I start to follow the Cubs, and my hate for them melts like the snow.
And in the fall, they break my heart again.
Not this year.
This year, I've resigned myself to another season without a title. Here's why.
Death By Carlos
The Chicago Cubs had the third-highest payroll in baseball last season, behind the Yankees and Red Sox.
Their payroll was $146 million. There are eight Cubs who make more than $10 million per year, and three of them are named Carlos:
1. Carlos Zambrano
2. Carlos Silva
3. Carlos Pena
Recently, the Cubs signed Carlos Marmol to a three-year, $20 million deal.
This will end like all the other Carlos deals. Badly.
Seriously, what is up with the Cubs and players named Carlos?
Carlos Zambrano made $18.9 million last year. He pitched 129.2 innings and won 11 games.
By my math, he was paid $145,754 per inning—or $1.7 million per win.
Zambrano posted a 7.45 ERA in his first four starts. He was sent to the bullpen, came back and was suspended for a month.
Fans point to his eight wins in his last 11 starts—don't point to that.
Zambrano is the second-highest player on the Cubs, and probably leads the league in therapy.
He really is awful, and I doubt he makes it through June as a starter. Look for Zambrano to be suspended by June 15.
Don't talk about ERA, strike outs or WHIP. Talk about blown saves versus opportunities.
Marmol had 43 save opportunities last season, and he blew five of them—slightly more than 10 percent.
Every season, he blows more saves than the season before. Here's my prediction for Marmol:
He'll pitch 90 innings and have 48 save opportunities. He'll blow eight of them giving him 40 saves on the season.
The eight he blows will all be in the division.
I've hear rumors about the existence of a picture of Carlos Pena getting a hit. I've never been able to find one.
Continuing in "death by Carlos" theme, the Cubs recently signed Pena to one-year deal which pays him $10 million.
Pena hit .196 last season. He had 95 hits and 158 strikeouts.
He is expected to bat fourth, which would make him the worst clean-up hitter in the major leagues.
Alfonso Soriano is the highest paid player on the team with the third-highest payroll in baseball.
He's 35 years-old, but he's from the Dominican Republic, which means he could be anywhere from 38 to 60.
He hit .258 last year with 24 home runs. What he lacked in power, he made up for with a lack of RBI's. He had 128 hits and 123 strikeouts. Look for that ratio to be 1:1 this season.
Look for the Cubs to trade him and continue to pay him for the next 25 years.
Fukudome hit .263 last season with 13 home runs and 44 RBI. He was paid $14 million, which works out to about $148,936 per hit.
He's been on the shopping block for three seasons, but no one wants him. There doesn't seem to be a market for 33-year-old right fielders who can't hit or field—which means he's perfect for the Cubs.
They should sign him to a four-year $48 million deal. Oh yea, they did, four years ago.
Generally Bad Pitching
The projected starters for the Cubs are:
1. Carlos Zambrano
2. Matt Garza
3. Ryan Dempster
4. Carlos Silva (again with the Carlos)
5. Randy Wells
Nobody on this list is getting more than 12 wins.
Generally Bad Hitting
I don't mean to keep bashing Carlos Pena, but he hit .196 last year.
How is he worth $10 million?
Possible big bats include Aramis Ramirez (if he can stay healthy), Starlin Castro (who's played brilliantly at times), Tyler Colvin and Blake DeWitt.
Ramirez hit .241, Castro hit .300, Colvin hit .254 and DeWitt hit .261.
I doubt pitchers are losing sleep thinking about this lineup.
Mike Quade Is Not Ryne Sandberg
I had hoped Ryne Sandberg would be the next Cubs manager.
Instead, they picked Mike Quade after Lou Piniella resigned. The Cubs went 24-13 under Quade and he's known as a much more energetic hands on manager.
Quade is 53 and he was a minor league manager for 17 seasons. He deserves a chance to manage a major league team.
But, it would have been great to see Ryne Sandberg in the dugout again.
Conclusion: GO CUBS!!
Here are the mistakes the Cubs made in the offseason.
1. They didn't get strong fourth and fifth starting pitchers
2. They didn't sign a clean up hitter, and the clean up hitter they did sign is terrible.
3. They hired the wrong guy as manager.
It's still February and while I know the Cubs are not going to be very good, I'm still going to put on my Cubs gear, hit as many home games as possible and watch them on TV.
Because they're still my team.