-- Tom D., Oregon, Wis.
I don't have the blueprint for the foundation of sustained success, but I believe Theo gradually will disassemble this current team so the one you see in 2012 is much younger (and less expensive) than the one you see now. Hopefully, he will re-sign Garza and perhaps Dempster on a one-year deal with an option. Soriano still has three years left, so that's a problem. Soto and Marmol figure to be goners unless they improve, though their trade value obviously isn't too high right now.
Is it too early to start talking about trading Dempster to a contender? Poor guy deserves better at his age.
-- Will Kepper, Santa Monica, Calif.
It'd be nice to see Dempster on a contender again, but if I had to bet I'd say he's a guy who would do whatever he could to stay a Cub, just like
, even if it means less money. Ricketts probably will get something done to keep him.
-- Ryan Pettit, Normal, Ill.
The Cubs have only faced four lefty starters this season, so it's a little early to complain about LaHair being benched against lefties. Baker has to play sometime or he's not going to be of any value. I would suggest playing LaHair in right in place of DeJesus against lefties, but the Cubs haven't asked him to even practice in the outfield this year, perhaps concerned that it will ignite the
When the Cubs, especially the manager, keep telling us that they're "playing hard, you can't fault their effort" and they're making errors, walking the bases loaded and being called out on strikes with the bases loaded, are they essentially saying they just don't have much talent? Are we supposed to believe "we hit the ball hard, it just went to where they are" is a valid analysis? Help me understand manager-speak.
-- Craig, Chicago
Sorry, I don't speak fluent Sveumish. No, he's not exactly
when it comes to calling out his team for poor play, referring to mistakes as "hiccups" or "unfortunate" occurrences. He's just not going to throw his players under the bus, and that's probably why they like playing for him.
, Soto and Marmol should all be thankful he's sticking with them at the expense of his new relationship with fans.
I appreciate the increased number of stolen base attempts this year, but I had thought this new Cubs regime was going to be placing an emphasis on fundamentals, so how do you explain all of the head-first slides our players are taking?
-- Andrew Stamm, Chicago
The headfirst slide is never going to go away, but hopefully
learns to stop doing it at first base. Count your blessings. The Cubs did rank second in stolen bases on Tuesday, and
and Campana became the first two Cubs with at least seven steals in April since ... well, since they began keeping stats on stolen bases in 1921. Imagine that: something most of us have never seen in our lifetime just happened. It's exciting to watch a Cubs team run for once.
-- Dwight Allen, Findlay, Ohio
Enough with the drama. It was a bad trade, plain and simple, made because they didn't think Marshall was important enough to re-sign, while getting three players under their control for a few years was very important to them. Whether the three will get better, who knows? But they should've kept Marshall no matter what.
-- Mark Brandt, Fishers, Ind.
I'll alert the button police immediately. Thanks for monitoring.
-- Joel Krinsky, Cedarhurst, N.Y.
I don't really remember saying that, but I try to blot '06 out of my mind. Yes, it is a slow year, and there are no bigger-than-life personalities like Lou or Big Z, who recently asked me if I was still working with him gone. But there still are a lot of storylines, including the rise of LaHair, Sveum's first season, Rizzo Watch, anything Garza-related and Theo and Jed's excellent adventure. Remember, we've all seen bad Cubs teams before, but perhaps this could be a historically bad Cubs team. Let's hope not, but it's a storyline worth watching.
Paul, can you tell me how short of a leash Marmol is on? This great closer has blown 24 saves in his short career while having saved 96. His WHIP is a whopping 1.80 with an ERA over 5.00. His walks are getting ridiculous and his strikeouts are down. Not my idea of a quality arm.
-- Mike Tyra, Camp Arifjan, Kuwait
He's not on a short leash yet. They have no one in mind to replace Marmol, and believe his struggles are a byproduct of not having many save opportunities (five so far) and fixating on his slider. Marmol clearly has lost the faith of Cubs fans after his great season in 2010. Needs to save the few opportunities he gets.
Paul, do you think Starlin Castro has the ability to improve his power numbers and eventually be able to put up 20-25 home runs a year? It's great that at 22 he can hit .300 and get 200 hits, but I wonder if he has it in him to be a legit home run threat.
-- William Carlson, Pensacola, Fla.
I thought so last year. Now I'm not so sure. I'd settle for the .300 hitter with 200 hits, but if he's not going to show any power whatsoever then he probably shouldn't be in the No. 3 hole.
I am 62, have played baseball and watched the game since I was 7. They are always talking about the integrity of the game. Where is the integrity when you have umpires like CB Bucknor and they continue year after year? Another is Angel Hernandez. There are others, but those two keep coming to mind. They are bad. What does major league baseball say about bad umps?
-- Richard Smart, Carpentersville
doesn't talk about bad umps. They just keep bringing them back, including the two you mentioned. Nice job if you can get it.
-- Brian Eisenmenger, Wheaton, IL
? Crane Kenney? There are many theories about why the birds recently started swarming at Wrigley. Carl Rice, the Cubs vice-president of this sort of stuff, insisted last year the birds go away once the beaches open on
and they can find food scraps over by Montrose Harbor. I thought this was a crazy theory, but they did seem to disperse last summer, so perhaps someone can do a thesis on Carl's Theory of Wrigley Seagulls' Feeding Habits.
-- Don Workman, Posen, Ill.
I believe Jeff Russell is too old, but his son, James, might be a better option if they trade Marmol. (Kidding, Don -- I constantly write "Jeff" instead of "James" and have to correct myself). James Russell hasn't given up a run yet and has limited right-handed hitters to a .238 average, a big problem for him last year during their experiment to make him into a starter. I think he could do it, given the chance. He certainly has "closer"