The improved play the Cubs demonstrated under interim manager Mike Quade during the season's final weeks (a 24-13 record) was encouraging but it doesn't change the fact that the 2010 season was an unmitigated disaster.
The season was a lost cause by May because of the failure of a weak, inexperienced bullpen and the lack of production from middle-of-the-lineup hitters Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez. Nothing significant was done to address either of those problems. Jim Hendry's feeble attempt to address the bullpen's problems was the signing of Bob Howry. Meanwhile, Lou Piniella continued to hit Lee third and Ramirez cleanup in spite of their lack of production. That black hole in the middle of the lineup killed many a rally during the first half.
I have stated in previous posts that I do not think the Cubs are as far away as some might think to becoming a contender in the National League. Most of my optimism is based in the fact that the Cubs have one of the NL's deepest starting rotations and their starting staff, from top to bottom and even without the departed Ted Lilly, is certainly the best in the Central Division.
A starting rotation that includes the new-and-improved Carlos Zambrano and the steady and consistent Ryan Dempster is a force to be reckoned with. For most of the season, I felt what the rotation lacked was an ace - a guy like Roy Halladay or Tim Lincecum - who has the ability to intimidate opponents. But if Zambrano pitches like he did the last two months of the season (8-0 in his final 11 starts), that problem is solved. Big Z was as good , if not better, than any other starter in the NL down the stretch.
The back end of the bullpen, anchored by closer Carlos Marmol and lefty setup man Sean Marshall, is in good shape. The late-season contributions of rookies like Andrew Cashner, James Russell, and Scott Maine were encouraging, but the Cubs are badly in need of a reliable veteran reliever. Kerry Wood will be a free agent this offseason and would perfectly fit the bill.
The Cubs will need to play better defense. Ramirez must demonstrate that he's interested in that facet of the game, Starlin Castro needs to cut down on his errors, and a gaping defensive void left by the departure of Lee at first base has to be filled.
The Cubs have lacked a bona fide leadoff hitter since Kenny Lofton filled the role for the final two months of the 2003 season and are lacking a left-handed power source.
Baserunning is another area that could use improvement. The departed Ryan Theriot was the Cubs' only legitimate base stealing threat and far too often the team played station-to-station baseball. More pressure needs to be placed on opposing defenses.
Since the season ended on Oct. 3, I have spent an hour or two every night analyzing the Cubs' current roster. There is a lot to be enthusiastic about, but the team's deficiencies are many and obvious. Like it or not, Cubs fans, Zambrano, Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano will be on the team's Opening Day roster. No matter what Hendry does and no matter who the manager is, if Zambrano reverts to his 2009 first-half form, and Ramirez and Soriano continue their uninspired, underachieving ways, the Cubs will continue to struggle.
Now let's take an in-depth look at the roster the Cubs completed the 2010 campaign with. I have ranked the players one through 34 and have included comments regarding each of them.
1. Carlos Marmol
(77 G, 2-3, 38 SV, 2.55 ERA)
It seems odd to name someone who compiled a losing record and ranked seventh on the team in innings pitched as the team's most valuable pitcher, but it's a reflection of how the game is played today.
It's a chicken-or-egg question, but we wonder whether Marmol's late season success was a reason for the team's late season success or if Marmol's eye-popping statistics were a reflection of the team.
Marmol converted his final 17 save opportunities and averaged a major league record 15.99 strikeouts per nine innings (Eric Gagne, with a 14.98 ratio in 2003, formerly held the mark). The 27-year-old Dominican right-hander did not allow a run in his last 18 2/3 innings. He allowed just two hits since Sept. 1 - both singles - and one of those did not make it out of the infield. Opponents hit just .147 against him on the season.
The key to Marmol's late-season run was his success at getting ahead in the count and his ability to throw his slider for strikes. When he consistently falls behind in the count, National League hitters tend to lay off the slider.
Marmol's ratio of six walks per nine innings was still way to high, but it was a significant improvement over 2009 when the ratio was 7.9.
2. Geovany Soto
(105 G, 17 HR, 53 RBI, .280 BA)
Soto had a lot to prove in 2010.
The 2008 Rookie of the Year showed up for spring training in 2009 out of shape, tested positive for marijuana use during the World Baseball Classic, and went on to have an awful season. He got off to a slow start, hitting .109 in April, and never recovered, finishing with a .218 average, 11 homers, and 47 RBI.
"I feel like I let down my teammates," Soto said. "I wanted to show that I care. I needed to show that I really worked in the offseason."
Soto hired a personal trainer, went on a diet, and lost 40 pounds.
"I want to prove once again that I want to play here and I can play here, and that I can help this club," Soto said after reporting for spring training. "I know I can play here."
Soto continued to have problems with a chronically sore right shoulder in addition to a sore right knee and a bruised left foot. He was limited to just 105 games, but when he did play, he was outstanding. His OPS of .890 was 188 points higher than in 2009 and 22 points better than in his rookie campaign. According to research performed by the Daily Herald, Soto's line-drive percentage increased by 6 percent from last year, while his groundballs dropped by 4 percent. He also demonstrated improved range behind the plate.
Soto underwent arthroscopic surgery on his shoulder in September and expects to be ready for spring training.
3. Ryan Dempster
(34 G, 15-12, 3.85 ERA)
What's not to like about Dempster?
The signing of the 33-year-old right-hander has been one of Hendry's better moves. He joined the Cubs after Tommy John surgery in 2003 and spent most of '04 rehabbing.
"He's had a pretty remarkable career. He began as a starter, underwent Tommy John surgery, reinvented himself as a pretty good closer and re-reinvented himself as a solid starting pitcher," the Daily Herald's Bruce Miles wrote. "After being a sub-.500 pitcher most of his career, Dempster righted himself this year, and his career mark stands at 102-102. With the Cubs, he's 52-47 with 3.67 ERA and 87 saves."
Dempster was consistent and a reliable innings eater for the Cubs in 2010. He could have won 20 games had he played for a better team.
Dempster led the Cubs in innings pitched with 215 1/3 and allowed just 198 hits. He struck out 208 (the most since he had 209 Ks in 2000) and walked 86. He worked seven or more innings 14 times.
Dempster's best work came in August during the final days of the Piniella era. In his first five starts in August, he was 4-0 with a 1.31 ERA. The one game in which he did not figure in a decision during that stretch was perhaps his best performance of the season.
On Aug. 20, he limited Atlanta to just four hits over eight innings, but Marmol, for the final time in 2010, failed to convert the save in the ninth.
4. Carlos Zambrano
(36 G, 11-6, 3.33 ERA)
Was Zambrano out of line when he went off on Lee in the Cubs dugout at Comiskey Park on June 25? Absolutely.
Should it be a reason for Hendry to get rid of Zambrano this season at any cost? Absolutely not.
I talk about the following with my neighbor, Charlie, all the time. Speed is an overrated aspect of pitching.
The media hyped Aroldis Champan's 100-plus MPH fastball - Tyler Kepner of the New York Times recently wrote that the phenom "seemed to be pushing the limits of pitching. But all of his superhuman abilities did not prevent Philadelphia from scoring three runs off of him in Game 2 of the National League Division Series.
Tom Seaver was the best example of a pitcher who blew people away early in his career, and as he got older and lost his velocity, learned that keeping hitters off balance, having good location, and staying ahead in the count are the keys to a long major league career.
When Zambrano was assigned to the bullpen in late April, Hendry noted that one of the reasons for the move was Zambrano's decrease in velocity in recent seasons. Big Z used to be able to bring it in the mid-90s, but now tops out in the mid- to high-80s.
But Zambrano since his sabbatical, no longer relying on blowing hitters away, is now a better pitcher. The guy won his final eight decisions and posted a 1.24 ERA in his last 10 starts may be the ace this team has been in search of.
It's like a predictable rom-com. The thing the Cubs have been looking for all these years (an ace) has always been right next to them.
5. Marlon Byrd
(152 G, 12 HR, 66 RBI, .293 BA)
Byrd had played seven full seasons in the major leagues before joining the Cubs in 2010 and until this season, I had no idea of what a terrific ballplayer he is.
Byrd doesn't do anything spectacularly, but does most things well and he always busts his ass. It's too bad his work ethic and hustle did not rub off on other Cubs veterans, but he is a terrific example for the team's younger players like Tyler Colvin and Castro.
He doesn't hit for power, but reaches base consistently (although he tends to be streaky). He isn't a base stealing threat (5 stolen bases on the season), but is an outstanding baserunner. He is not flashy defensively, but has decent range, a strong arm, and seems to make all of the plays.
Byrd was hit by pitches 17 times, tying the club record established by Frank Chance in 1905.
6. Randy Wells
(32 G, 8-14, 4.26 ERA)
Wells, at age 26, completed the long, rugged road to the majors and established himself as a major league starter in 2009, but learned this past year that getting there and staying there are different journeys.
Wells, in 2010, was at times brilliant. He was 3-0 in April and compiled a 1.83 ERA in July. But it was not all smooth sailing. The right-hander was winless and lost six of his 11 starts in May and June. He failed to make it out of the second inning in a May 6 loss at Pittsburgh and did not retire any of the six batters he faced in a defeat against St. Louis on May 28.
Wells was second among the team's pitchers in starts (32) and innings (194 1/3).
Wells has the stuff to remain a solid major league starter but needs to be better prepared for the rigors of the long major league season in 2011.
"From a personal standpoint, (I learned) how tough it is, the daily grind and the mental adjustments you need to make," Wells told MLB.com's Carrie Muskat. "It's a learning process. I think that was the biggest surprise. Everything happened so easy last year, and everything just flowed along. When you hit a wall, you need to learn how to get over that hump."
7. Sean Marshall
(80 G, 7-5, 1 SV, 2.65 ERA)
One of the reasons that baseball is my favorite sport is that it is the one that best allows a guy to reinvent himself - or in Marshall's case, his team to, after many years of trial and error, figure out how to best utilize his talents.
I was at Wrigley Field on April 9, 2006 when Marshall made his major league debut on a Sunday night in the "Michael Barrett grand slam game." It was apparent then that the 23-year-old Marshall had promising stuff and a great arm.
He had a long string of ups and downs and bounced back and forth between Chicago and Des Moines until finally settling into a role as a setup reliever this year.
Kudos to the Cubs organization for sticking with Marshall through thick and thin. Many of the other 29 major league teams would have given up on him long ago. Patience in the major leagues is in short supply.
What a month Marshall had in May when he went 5-1 and allowed just two earned runs and eight hits in 13 1/3 innings. He allowed just one earned run in 8 1/3 September/October innings.
Another reason I love Marshall? From where I sit at most Cubs games - Aisle 231, Row 9, Seat 12 - he is easily identifiable without binoculars warming up in the left-field bullpen. That 6-7 frame, I guess, includes the longest legs in the major leagues.
(29 G, 7-9, 4.09 ERA)
Gorzelanny in some ways reminds me of a young Jamie Moyer.
Gorzelanny, like Moyer, is a young left-hander who experienced some initial major league success, experienced an early-career crisis, and was given up on by his original organization. Moyer eventually figured it around and enjoyed a long and prosperous career.
Like several other Cubs pitchers, Gorzelanny, who turned 28 on July 12, would have had a better record if he had played for a better team.
He gave up a hit an inning, but needs to cut down on his walks (4.5 per nine innings). Gorzelanny should be part of the Cubs rotation in 2011.
9. Carlos Silva
(21 G, 10-6, 4.22 ERA)
Considering that Hendry traded Milton Bradley in order to acquire him, anything that Silva contributed to the Cubs was gravy. Too bad gravy appears to be a substantial part of his diet.
What a first half (9-3, 3.45 ERA! But his second half was awful (1-3, 11.12). The 31-year-old right-hander, who is entering the final year of a four-year, $48 million contract, experienced health problems late in the season, including an irregular heartbeat. It leads me to wonder how much his weight (he's listed at 250, but certainly is heavier) has contributed to those woes.
(147 G, 24 HR, 79 RBI, .258 BA)
The good news is that Soriano has played through four years of his $136 million contract. The bad news is that there are four years remaining on his boondoggle.
Soriano, in his contract drive season of 2006, hit 46 home runs and stole 41 bases as a 30-year-old with Washington. After he was signed, Hendry described Soriano as a "greyhound" and predicted that he would be a 40-40 threat every year. But leg problems and age have made those projections laughable.
Soriano has become a whipping boy of Cubs fans and of sports talk radio hosts and much of the criticism stems from the fact that he is so grossly overpaid.
His teammates have always raved about Soriano's work ethic and I suppose I am naïve for buying into the claims that he is a "first-one-there, last-one-to-leave" kind of guy and someone whom the team's younger players, particularly those from Latin America, can look up to.
But Soriano's actions and words belie his clubhouse reputation.
His defense, quite frankly, sucks. His poor range was once offset by his ability to gun down baserunners at the plate (19 assists in 2007, 10 in 2008) but he has managed just 13 assists over the last two seasons.
During the Cubs' division championship seasons of '07 and '08, Soriano would go on homer run binges that would carry the team for weeks at a time, but those also seem to be a thing of the past.
Miles pointed out that Soriano's best months as a Cub were the following:
.336 BA/.379 OBP/.697 SA with 11 homers and 18 RBI
.320/.354/.754 with 14 homers and 27 RBI
.345/.386/.672 with 10 homers and 29 RBI.
He's not had a month close to that over the last two campaigns and Joel Reese of the Cubs Fan Report brought to my attention that Soriano's overall production has been in a steady decline:
.292/.358/.542 with 3 homers and 11 RBI
.308/.376/.626 with 6 homers and 16 RBI
.234/.310/.468 with 4 homers and 11 RBI
.225/.271/.450 with 5 homers and 17 RBI
.245/.273/.457 with 3 homers and 14 RBI
.211/.300/.408 with 3 homers and 9 RBI
Soriano also has exhibited a lack of hustle at times. I love when he stands at home plate to admire a majestic drive and then has to scramble when his fly ball fails to clear the fence.
And he doesn't help his cause with comments like the one he made in August, blaming his lack of production on the poor state of the team. It's hard to hit on a bad team, he stated, seemingly oblivious of the fact that he is a primary culprit of the ineptitude. He also patted himself on the back for not suffering a major injury in 2010, but a franchise player has to do much more than merely showing up.
I'm hoping Soriano has a bounce-back year in 2011, but admit that it is wishful thinking. But the reality of the matter is that because of the size of his contract, we are stuck with him for better or for worse.
To his credit, Soriano for the season was a respectable .258/.322/.496 with 24 home runs and 40 doubles.
11. Kosuke Fukudome
(130 G, 13 HR, 44 RBI, .263 BA)
Fukudome, though, did have a great August to help him to the best of his three seasons with the Cubs. The 33-year-old right fielder hit .365 with four homers, 12 RBI, and a 1.117 OPS in August. He played sparingly in July, with just 48 plate appearances that month and that rest seemed to serve him well.
Fukudome is entering the final season of his four-year contract and I am hoping his improved play will help Hendry find a taker for the former Japanese star. A Fukudome deal would give the Cubs general manager a bit more flexibility with his roster and budget.
12. Jeff Baker
Second Baseman/Third Baseman/Right Fielder
(79 G, 4 HR, 21 RBI, .272 BA)
Because Baker is an arbitration-eligible player this offseason, I suspect that he has played his final game with the Cubs.
Baker cannot hit right-handers - he was just 7-for-66 (.106) against righties - but was effective against left-handers. He hit .350 in 140 at-bats with all four of his homers coming off southpaws, making him an effective platoon player. His versatility is also a plus.
13. Casey Coleman
(12 G, 4-2, 4.11 ERA)
Coleman was shelled for six runs in his major league debut on Aug. 2, was inserted into the starting rotation on Aug. 18, and improved in each of his eight late-season starts to pass Thomas Diamond and Jeff Samardzija on the depth chart. He worked six or more innings in each of his last seven outings.
The 23-year-old right-hander's fastball tops out in the upper 80s and is another example that effective major league pitching is more a matter or location rather than velocity.
Coleman was consistently ahead in the count and walked just 25 in 57 innings.
"I threw a lot of first-pitch strikes," Coleman told the Fort Myers News-Press. "When you're able to get ahead of guys, it helps so much more than if you get behind. It allows you to pitch more aggressively."
Coleman has demonstrated an ability to learn and that should serve him well. Hopefully, the Cubs will show patience with him.
14. Starlin Castro
(125 G, 3 HR, 41 RBI, .300 BA)
Castro was inconsistent, was guilty of several mental gaffes, and made far too many errors (27 in 544 total chances). But the positive aspects of the 20-year-old rookie shortstop's rookie season give Cubs fans plenty of reasons to be excited about his future.
Castro was impressive during spring training, but was optioned to Triple-A Iowa shortly before Opening Day.
Starting shortstop Theriot told reporters that if Castro wanted his job, "he's going to have to come and get it. Castro came and got it on May 7 in Cincinnati. After being called up, he hit a three-run homer in his first major league at-bat and set a major league record with six RBI in his debut game.
Castro went 2-for-3 in his final game to raise his average to .300. He became just the fourth 20-year-old rookie shortstop since 1901 to hit .300 or better (Alex Rodriguez, .358 in 1996; Arky Vaughan, .318 in 1932; Travis Jackson, .302 in 1924). He slumped somewhat at the end of the season, hitting just .232 in September/October, but finished with impressive final numbers (.347 OBP, .408 SA, 39 extra-base hits, including 31 doubles).
Defensively, Castro displayed terrific range and the best throwing arm from a Cubs shortstop since Shawon Dunston. The mental mistakes and defensive errors hopefully will diminish with experience as often times is the case.
Playing shortstop well at the major league level is tough and a young, aggressive shortstop is bound to make mistakes. Cubs fans who are worried about Castro's defense need to show some patience.
"It's usually a learning process that takes years," Quade said shortly after taking the reins from Piniella.
As I noted in a previous post, four young Cubs shortstops in the second half of the 20th century developed into terrific defensive players after some early growing pains. To wit:
* Ernie Banks took over as the Cubs starting shortstop in 1954 and commited 34 errors in 154 games. He followed with error totals of 22 in 1955, 25 in 1956, and 32 in 1958. But Banks cut his error total to 12 (a then-NL record for shortstops) in 1959 when he won his second straight MVP Award. He also led NL shortstops in fielding percentage in 1960 - a Gold Glove season for Mr. Cub - and 1961.
* Don Kessinger committed 28 errorrs in 105 games as the Cubs' 22-year-old rookie shortstop in 1965 and 35 errors in 1966, but went on to become the NL's premier defensive shortstop for the next decade. Kessinger was selected to six All-Star teams, had over 500 assists in six consecutive seasons (1968-73), and won Gold Gloves in 1969 and 1970. Kessinger established a then-major league record with 54 consecutive errorless games at shortstop in 1969.
* Ivan DeJesus made 33 errors in 154 games in his first season as a full-time shortstop in 1977 but went on to hold down the job for the next four seasons. DeJesus, who possessed exceptional range, was well respected by teammates and opponents alike. He led NL shortstops in assists in 1977 and 1978, and cut his error total to 24 by 1980. He led NL shortstops in putouts in 1980.
* An erratic 22-year-old rookie Dunston committed 17 errors in 73 games at shortstop in 1985. He was an Opening Day starter, but struggled badly in all phases of his game before being sent back to the minors with a .194 batting avearge on May 11. Dunston was recalled on Aug. 13 and showed improvement. he went on to hold down the position for roughly the next decade. He committed just 17 errorrs in 138 games for the division champion Cubs in 1989. Dunston, who was the first pick in the 1982 major league draft, never fulfilled his potential but he was scrappy, hustling player who became a fan favorite and had perhaps the greatest arm ever possessed by a position player. Teammate Mark Grace has said that Dunston would have been an effective pitcher.
15. Tyler Colvin
(135 G, 20 HR, 56 RBI, .254 BA)
Colvin became the fourth Cubs rookie to hit 20 or more home runs in a season. The other members of the exclusive club are Walt "Moose" Moryn with 23 in 1956, Billy Williams (25, 1961), and Soto (23, 2008).
Colvin's fine rookie season made me wonder how much better his numbers could have been had he made more than four starts in May.
Miles broke down Colvin's starts that month:
May 9: 1-for-3, HR, 2 RBI
May 17: 1-for-3
May 18: 3-for-4, RBI
May 26: 0-for-2
Other than those appearances, he was used as a pinch hitter and defensive replacement by Piniella.
Colvin, at long last, earned consistent playing time in June and hit 11 home runs with 25 RBI during his first two months as a starter. Colvin's batting average is in need of improvement as his on-base percentage.
Colvin's (he walked 30 times in 394 plate appaereances) lack of selectivity and penchant for striking out (100) rivals Dunston's.
Another area of Colvin's game that needs some work is defense. He has an adequate arm but far too often he would get a late jump on a fly ball.
I would have liked to have seen Colvin get some time at first base down the stretch. He started taking grounders at the position in August, but apparently never proved himself ready for infield duty.
It was reported that Colvin was scheduled to play first base during the season's final weekend, but his season-ending injury - he was impaled by a piece of bat during a game in Florida on Sept. 19 - put an end to that possibility.
It appears that he will be the Cubs' Opening Day right fielder, especially if Fukudome is traded during the offseason.
Miles noted that Colvin's injury would likely delay his weight training. He gained 20 pounds of muscle between the end of the 2009 season and the start of spring training.
16 Aramis Ramirez
(124 G, 25 HR, 83 RBI, .241 BA)
Ramirez, who later in the season claimed he was playing through a hand injury, had possibly the worst first half for a regular member of the Cubs lineup in my lifetime. He hit just .152 in April and .173 in May.
Injuries are one thing, but there is no excuse for the lack of hustle and the poor defensive effort that the 32-year-old veteran far too often exhibited.
To no one's surprise he informed the Cubs that he will exercise his player option for 2011, worth $14.6 million.
There's been much written about Quade's responsibility for making sure everybody on the team busts their asses in 2011, but for veteran players like Ramirez and Soriano, it's a matter of being responsible and accountable. For the money they are earning, they need to be able to look at themselves in the mirror after a game and know that they gave their best efforts.
17. Darwin Barney
(30 G, 0 HR, 2 RBI, .241 BA)
Barney likely secured a utility infielder spot on the 2011 Cubs roster after playing solid fundamental defensive baseball at second base, shortstop, and third base during a late-season call-up.
It has been said that a player knows he belongs in the majors when he is able to slow the game down and come to the realization that he belongs.
"You don't know what to expect when you've never been in the big leagues," Barney told Muskat. "It feels like it does everywhere else. It surprised me that it's pretty much the same game."
The 25-year-old Barney, at times, proved to be a competent hitter, but his batting average (.241) and on-base percentage (.294) could stand improvement.
18. Scott Maine
(13 G, 0-0, 2.08 ERA)
Maine was acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks last offseason in a trade for Aaron Heilman. Maine, described by Len Kasper and Bob Brenly as a competitor who is all business in the clubhouse, was called up from Triple-A Iowa on Aug. 27 and did a nice job for Quade as a situational lefty.
Maine allowed just nine hits and five walks in 13 innings while striking out 11.
(7 G, 1 HR, 5 RBI, .300 BA)
It would have been nice to have seen more of Castillo in 2010, but on the few occasions that the 23-year-old Dominican did get a chance, he hit.
Castillo and another young prospect, Robinson Chirnos, likely will compete for the backup catching position in 2011.
20. Bobby Scales
(10 G, 0 HR, 2 RBI, .308 BA)
Scales, who turned 33 on Oct. 4, was removed from the Cubs' 40-man roster shortly after the conclusion of the season and, with the right to refuse assignment, will become a free agent.
Some criticized the Cubs for calling up Scales in September and Quade for giving him a bit of playing time at third base, but I saw no harm in either.
Ramirez will return as the third baseman next year so Scales wasn't stealing playing time from a prospect and Scales, when given a chance, performed adequately. The call-up was a well-deserved reward for a long, hard, and successful minor-league career.
21. Blake DeWitt
(53 G, 4 HR, 22 RBI, .250 BA)
Will DeWitt hold down the Cubs' second base job for many years to come or will he be a utility infielder? The jury is still out on the 25-year-old native of Sikeston, Mo.
DeWitt's offensive numbers with the Cubs were very similar to what Ryan Theriot gave the team during the first four months of the season, but DeWitt showed some power potential. The fact that he is a left-handed hitter, who hit left-handed pitching as well as he hit right-handers, is also a plus. All four of his homers with the Cubs came against righties, however.
And he did for a lot less than Theriot ($2.6 million), earning a salary of just $410,000 in 2010.
DeWitt isn't as good defensively as Theriot, but the baseball people Miles talked to believe DeWitt has solid baseball instincts and think that, in particular, he is a good baserunner.
DeWitt started 15 times from the leadoff spot but failed in that audition, hitting .238 with an on-base percentage of .275 and a slugging percentage of .397. He did better batting lower in the order, with a .343 OBP from the seven spot and a .381 OBP from the eight hole.
22. Xavier Nady
(119 G, 6 HR, 33 RBI, .256 BA)
The 31-year-old Nady never seemed to fit in with the Cubs until he was pressed into service at first base late in the season after the trade of Lee.
Nady, who was recovering from elbow surgery, was pegged by Hendry as the team's fourth outfielder when he was signed last offseason, but all he accomplished early in the season was to take away at bats from Colvin.
23. Andrew Cashner
(53 G, 2-6, 2.08 ERA)
Cashner experienced a rough patch - a 10.80 ERA in July and a 5.25 in August - but bounced back to finish strong.
In 18 outings after Quade took over as interim manager, the 23-year-old right-hander allowed just three earned runs in 19 1/3 innings (1.40 ERA). He walked eight and struck out 21 over that span.
When he's on, Cashner has electric stuff, featuring an upper-90s fastball. The Cubs must now decide if his future will be as a starter or as a reliever. His chances of competing for a spot in the starting rotation improve if Hendry chooses to bring back Wood.
24. James Russell
(57 G, 1-1, 4.96 ERA)
Russell was good at times and at other times not so good during an up-and-down rookie season. The 24-year-old left-hander finished strong, allowing just one earned run in his final nine appearances.
25. Koyie Hill
(77 G, 1 HR, 17 RBI, .214 BA)
Hill, who has coasted on his reputation as a fine receiver, got a puzzling amount of playing time, especially late in the season after Soto had season-ending surgery.
He had just one homer, struck out 61 times, and amassed 12 walks.
26. Brad Snyder
(12 G, 0 HR, 4 RBI, .185 BA)
Snyder was another player who was rewarded for a long minor-league career and a nice 2010 campaign at Triple-A Iowa (25 HR, 106 RBI, .308 BA). The 28-year-old outfielder didn't get much playing time with the Cubs in September (28 plate appearances), but one of his five hits was a big one. His seeing-eye single on Sept. 30 drove in the game's only run in the Cubs' 1-0 victory at San Diego - a loss that helped cost the Padres a postseason berth and hand the NL West title to the eventual world champion San Francisco Giants.
27. Sam Fuld
(19 G, 0 HR, 3 RBI, .143 BA)
The 28-year-old Fuld, who had a nice season at the major league level in 2009 (.299 BA), didn't get called up from the minors until late in the season and received sporadic playing time. He may have a big league future as a John Cangelosi or Doug Dascenzo type player. He's a solid defensive player who can play all three outfield positions, I s a good baserunner, and an outstanding bunter.
28. Marcos Mateo
(21 G, 0-1, 5.82 ERA)
The Cubs gave Mateo a long look the last two months of the season. The 26-year-old right-hander was often put into clutch late-inning situations. He endured some rough spots in August but was impressive in September, allowing just two earned runs in 11 1/3 innings. Mateo struck out 26 and allowed 20 hits in 21 2/3, but served up six home runs.
29. Micah Hoffpauir
(24 G, 0 HR, 5 RBI, .173 BA)
It's puzzling that some Cubs fans thought this guy was possibly the future at first base. The 30-year-old Hoffpauir's best shot at sticking in the majors came in 2009 and he hit just .239 in 105 games. He's a decent Triple-A player as evidenced by his 22 homers and 95 RBI at Iowa this year, but I don't see much of a big league future for him.
30. Justin Berg
(41 G, 0-1, 5.18 ERA)
Berg, a 26-year-old right-hander, allowed a whopping 45 hits and walked 20 in 40 innings.
31. Jeff Samardzija
(7 G, 2-2, 8.38 ERA)
Samardzija, who is out of options, had an impressive year at Triple-A Iowa (11-3), but struggled in a September audition for the starting rotation.
The former star Notre Dame wide receiver may be of more help to the Bears.
32. John Grabow
(28 G, 1-3, 7.36 ERA)
Grabow was installed as a late-inning setup man to start the season and his failure in that role contributed heavily to the Cubs' early-season struggles. The left-hander, who turned 32 on Nov. 4, will earn $4.8 million next year.
33. Mitch Atkins
(5 G, 0-0, 6.30 ERA)
The 25-year-old right-hander was designated for assignment following the season. He had a decent year as a starting pitcher at Triple-A Iowa (8-3, 3.63 ERA), but was not so good at the major league level as a reliever (10 IP, 12 H, 6 BB).
34. Jeff Gray
(7 G, 1-0, 6.75 ERA)
Gray, a 28-year-old right-hander, was unimpressive (9 1/3 IP, 12 H, 5 BB) in an early-season audition, was injured, and spent most of the season on the disabled list.
35. Jeff Stevens
(18 G, 0-0, 6.11 ERA)
Stevens, a 27-year-old right-hander, was shelled for 21 hits and walked 10 in just 17 2/3 innings.
36. Esmailin Caridad
(8 G, 0-1, 11.25 ERA)
Caridad used an impressive audition late in the 2009 season to gain a late-inning bullpen role with the Cubs to start the 2010 campaign, but was a disaster before landing on the disabled list.
37. Thomas Diamond
(16 G, 1-3, 6.83 ERA)
Diamond got the first crack at the starting rotation after the trade of Lilly and gave way to Coleman after three unimpressive starts. The 27-year-old right-hander finished the season as a mop-up long reliever. He struck out 36 in 29 innings, but allowed 33 hits and walked 18.
38. Brian Schlitter
(7 G, 0-1, 12.38 ERA)
Schlitter, a 24-year-old right-hander from Oak Park, did not distinguish himself (8 IP, 18 H, 5 BB) in a brief bullpen audition.