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MLB Preview 2011: Looking at Starlin Castro and the Chicago Cubs on Paper

Adrian FedkiwAnalyst IIIJune 14, 2016

MLB Preview 2011: Looking at Starlin Castro and the Chicago Cubs on Paper

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Heading into the start of last season, the Cubbies had the third largest payroll in baseball, but had just 75 wins by the end of the year to show for it.

    During the offseason, Chicago went out and got a power pitcher and hitter in Matt Garza and Carlos Pena.  They also added Kerry Wood to provide punch in the back of the bullpen.

    This is a squad that won 97 games just three years ago.  They're capable of making a run, but inconsistency has hampered their chances the past two years.  Plus, the NL Central has improved dramatically since 2008.

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Infield

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
    • C-  Geovany Soto- 7.5 
    • 1B- Carlos Pena- 7.5 
    • 2B- Blake DeWitt- 7 
    • SS- Starlin Castro- 7.25 
    • 3B- Aramis Ramirez- 8

     

    Geovany Soto (28) 322 AB .280 BA 47 R 17 HR 53 RBI 0 SB 

    • After a disastrous 2009 at the plate, Soto bounced back last season.  He likes to pull fastballs that are up and over the plate.  He’s coming off shoulder surgery so we’ll see if that effects him this year.

     

    Carlos Pena (32) 484 AB .196 BA 64 R 28 HR 84 RBI 5 SB

    • Pena is dangerous when he has it going.  But Pena saw a pretty substantial dip in his RBI’s and batting average last season.  In 2008, as a member of the AL Champion Rays, Pena hit .247 and drove in 102.  Grant it, he’s not going to win a batting title, but being below the Mendoza Line isn’t good.
    • Pena does have a great glove.

     

    Blake DeWitt (25) 368 AB .261 BA 47 R 5 HR 52 RBI 3 SB

    • DeWitt doesn’t do anything bad, but doesn’t do anything well either.  In the field, he fields everything in front of him, but his range is limited.

     

    Starlin Castro (21) 463 AB .300 BA 53 R 3 HR 41 RBI 10 SB

    • Castro’s a keeper for many years at shortstop.  He’s a line-drive hitter who uses the whole field. 
    • Defensively, Castro has a flashy glove with a good arm.  He does airmail on occasion because he doesn’t always set his feet correctly.  Then again, he’s just 21.

     

    Aramis Ramirez (33) 465 AB .241 BA 61 R 25 HR 83 RBI 0 SB

    Health is the key for Ramirez as he struggled last season with a thumb injury.  When 100 percent, he has power to all parts of the field.  Ramirez is still a good and instinctive defender.

Outfield

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
    • LF- Alfonso Soriano- 7.5 
    • CF- Marlon Byrd- 7.5 
    • RF- Kosuke Fukudome- 7

     

    Alfonso Soriano (35) 496 AB .258 BA 67 R 24 HR 79 RBI 5 SB

    • Soriano played in his most games since 2007.  He’s no longer a threat to run on the bases, and he’s never been a guy to hit for average, but he still has pop.  He still kills and pulls fastballs down.  Defensively, it is what it is.  He still has trouble reading the ball off the bat.

     

    Marlon Byrd (33) 580 AB .293 BA 84 R 12 HR 66 RBI 5 SB

    • Byrd is a quiet assassin, he continues to consistently produce year in and year out.  He has a two-part swing, but his hands are quick through the zone.  He hits the ball hard and utilizes the entire field.
    • Byrd is an athletic center fielder with a strong and accurate arm.

     

    Kosuke Fukudome (33) 358 AB .263 BA 45 R 13 HR 44 RBI 7 SB

    • Fukudome is a disciplined hitter with a quick and balanced stroke.  He’s a versatile outfielder who can play all three outfield positions.  Tyler Colvin should see a lot of playing time in right field as well.

Starting Pitching

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
    • 1. Ryan Dempster- 7.5
    • 2. Matt Garza- 7.5
    • 3. Carlos Zambrano- 7.25
    • 4. Randy Wells- 7
    • 5. Carlos Silva- 7

     

    Ryan Dempster (34) 215 IP 15-12 3.85 ERA 1.32 WHIP 208 K

    • Dempster is reliable; the former closer eclipsed the 200 IP mark for the third year in a row.  He still allows too many home runs and walks.  He has a good fastball with a quick biting slider.  His splitter is his changeup.

     

    Matt Garza (27) 204 IP 15-10 3.91 ERA 1.25 WHIP 150 K

    • Garza is an aggressive power pitcher.  He throws a heavy sinking fastball in the mid-90s.  He also tosses up a hard slider and a big-breaking curveball.  When he gets rattled he tends to overthrow his fastball.

     

    Carlos Zambrano (29) 130 IP 11-6 3.33 ERA 1.45 WHIP 117 K

    • Zambrano isn’t bad when he doesn’t feel like attacking Gatorade coolers.  As long as he can control his temper, he’ll be effective.  He doesn’t throw as hard anymore, but he can still locate that sweeping slider to both sides of the plate.

     

    Randy Wells (28) 194 IP 8-14 4.26 ERA 1.40 WHIP 144 K

    • Wells created some buzz as a rookie, but came down to earth last season.  The converted catcher throws a sinker to both sides of the plate.    He also mixes in a slider, curveball, cutter and changeup. 

     

    Carlos Silva (31) 113 IP 10-6 4.22 ERA 1.27 WHIP 80 K

    After an 8-0 start, Silva closed the year just 2-6.  He did make an adjustment with his arm slot last year.

Bullpen

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
    • RP- Andrew Cashner- 7
    • RP- John Grabow- 7
    • LRP- Sean Marshall- 7.25
    • SU- Kerry Wood- 7.5
    • CP- Carlos Marmol- 7.5

     

    Sean Marshall, John Grabow, Andrew Cashner

    • Marshall is a nice piece.  He can go two innings, set-up or be the situational lefty. The sophomore Cashner is a hard thrower.

     

    Kerry Wood (33) 46 IP 3-4 3.13 ERA 1.39 WHIP 49 K

    • Wood excelled as the set-up man in New York.  Mariano Rivera taught him the cutter and it’s been a huge help.  He’s a great set-up guy at this point in his career.

     

    Carlos Marmol (34) 46 IP 1-1 27 SV 2.95 ERA 1.23 WHIP 52 K

    • Marmol is the modern day Mitch Williams.  He may walk the bases loaded, but he’ll still get out of the inning by striking out the side.  His breaking ball is deadly; he changes speeds and shape with it.

Sizing Up the Cubs "On Paper"

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
    • C-  Geovany Soto- 7.5 
    • 1B- Carlos Pena- 7.5 
    • 2B- Blake DeWitt- 7 
    • SS- Starlin Castro- 7.25 
    • 3B- Aramis Ramirez- 8 
    • LF- Alfonso Soriano- 7.5 
    • CF- Marlon Byrd- 7.5 
    • RF- Kosuke Fukudome- 7 

     

    Projected Lineup

    •  
      1. Kosuke Fukudome- 7
      2. Starlin Castro- 7.25
      3. Marlon Byrd- 7.5
      4. Aramis Ramirez- 8
      5. Carlos Pena- 7.5
      6. Alfonso Soriano- 7.5
      7. Geovany Soto- 7.5
      8. Blake DeWitt- 7

    1-3- 21.75

    4-6- 23

    7-8- 14.5 

    Projected Starting Rotation

    • 1. Ryan Dempster- 7.5
    • 2. Matt Garza- 7.5
    • 3. Carlos Zambrano- 7.25
    • 4. Randy Wells- 7
    • 5. Carlos Silva- 7

     

    Bullpen

    • RP- Andrew Cashner- 7
    • RP- John Grabow- 7
    • LRP- Sean Marshall- 7.5
    • SU- Kerry Wood- 7.5
    • CP- Carlos Marmol- 7.5

     

    Bench-Tyler Colvin, Jeff Baker, Darwin Barney, Koyie Hill- 7.25

    Manager- Mike Quade- 7

     

    INF- 37.25

    OF- 22

    SP- 36.25

    RP- 7.25

    CP- 15

    MISC- 14.25

    Hitting- 59.25

    Pitching- 58.5

    TOTAL- 132

Prediction

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    This is the New York Mets of the NL Central, except the Cubs have a better starting rotation.

    There's a lot of potential in the lineup, it's just a matter of being healthy and consistent.  We'll see if Ramirez, Soriano and Pena can have bounce-back seasons.

    The NL Central is tough this year, so we'll find out if this franchise is headed in the right direction after a clunker last season.

    83-79 4th NL Central

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