Hot Stove Warms Up on Fukudome, Zambrano and Dunn
The Cubs get some love from Jayson Stark in his latest Rumblings and Grumblings column. You should read his version (click the link!!!), but here's my understanding of what he said, plus some pontificating on my part.
- Unlike this time last year, there's not an absolute need to trade away one of the Cubs' higher paid players. Stark specifically mentions Kosuke Fukudome and Carlos Zambrano, saying their respective performances once the team changed managers have inspired confidence about their futures. Perhaps the best Cub-centric quote from Stark's column was this:
Tangent alert: if Lou had any managerial weakness from Day 1 of his Cub tenure, it was an impatience with his bullpen. He let Bob Howry pitch a billion innings for him, and not because The Gas Can was particularly great, but because he didn't walk anyone. Lou HATED walks, and knowing that might have wracked some young relievers' nerves. (On that note, how did Lou survive 3+ years of handing the ball to Carlos Marmol in the 9th? That slider sure is an amazing pitch...)
Having said that, might Lou's departure have changed the culture for the entire Cubs team? Almost certainly. I'm excited to see what Mike Quade can do with this bunch. Hopefully, the Fukster and Z can be part of the group that benefits, as they did at the end of last year.
The other Cubbie nugget Stark drops in his column (that's Cubbie as an ADJECTIVE, not a NOUN, I'm still obeying the rules!!) referred to a rumor that was once thought to be a near certainty, which is that the Cubs want to sign Adam Dunn to be their first baseman for the next few years. (Haha, Stark dropped a nugget.)
Stark says the Cubs have much less interest in Dunn than had been assumed at the beginning of the offseason, citing his below-average glove -- a problem that might hurt the Cubs even more than usual in 2011 with the still-young Starlin Castro manning short on an everyday basis.
So the cash-strapped Cubs want a 1B with a plus glove, you say? And what's that -- they've been lacking in left-handed power for the last 100 years? In that case, I am now willing to wager a six-pack of Honker's Ale (or Old Style if you prefer, I guess that's more fitting) that Carlos Pena will be the Cubs' starting first baseman on Opening Day 2011.