To preview the upcoming series with the Cubs and give a brief season preview of the North Siders, I chatted with fellow Fansided network writer Andrew Denny from Cubbies Crib. Follow Andrew on Twitter and “like” Cubbies Crib on Facebook.
Scouting the Opponent: Brewers-Cubs Preview with Cubbies Crib’s Andrew Denny
After taking one of the first three games in the season-opening series against St. Louis, the Brewers head on the road to face the division-rival Cubs in a four-game set at Wrigley Field. The Cubs could very well be 3-0, but are, instead, 1-2 as the result of two blown leads by relievers Kerry Wood and Carlos Marmol.
Benjamin Orr previewed the entire series for Reviewing the Brew earlier today. Make sure to give that a look here.
RtB: You’re Dale Sveum. How do you handle the situation at the back end of the bullpen after two blown leads in the eighth or later?
CC: Closers are a different breed of cat. You almost have to be delicate with them so that you don’t mess up their rhythm or any of their tendencies. Obviously, they’re out there to win games for you, but when they start to blow saves, you have to take note. I say continue to trust your two finishers, Kerry Wood and Carlos Marmol. They’re veterans and know the game. Two consecutive hiccups is bad, but not time to hit the panic button just yet. You’ve also got guys like Rodrigo Lopez waiting in the wings for an opportunity to close and he’s been sharp this spring. Stay the course for now… no time to do anything crazy.
RtB: Who is the “X-Factor” for the Cubs in this upcoming series?
CC: Starlin Castro has been strong as ever in the opening series for the North Siders. He’s batting .385 and his OPS is a healthy .846. He’s not only been the strongest cub at the dish, but the fastest on the baselines as well, having stolen 4 bases already this season (which matches his entire total for 2010). If the Cubs hope to have a chance against the Brewers, Castro has to stay hot.
RtB: How do you expect the Wrigley reaction to be to Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez after spending nine seasons in Chicago?
CC: I assume it will be mixed reviews. The way Ramirez left Chicago wasn’t the most “elegant” way, but you also have to respect his nine seasons with the cubs. Baseball is his career and at the end of the day you have to understand his desires. I personally would applaud him, but some fans with a few Old Styles in them may think otherwise.
RtB: Jeff Samardzija picked up the first win for the Cubs this season on Sunday with 8 and 2/3 impressive innings. What can we expect from him for the remainder of the season?
CC: First of all – wow. What a gem this guy threw against Washington on Sunday. Considering he’s a relatively unknown up and comer, its hard to say if he’ll be able to maintain that of level of high execution. Take into account the mental pressure he must have felt now earning a spot on the rotation, you can assume he’s not easily shook. I think he’ll be consistently good – not quite great – at the 3rd spot in the rotation pending his health.
RtB: Which Cub impressed you the most (besides Samardzija) this weekend against Washington?
CC: I have to say Starlin Castro again. He’s putting up power hitting numbers and is stealing bases like a lean speedster. Its a rare mix!
RtB: Realistically, is this “the year” for the Cubs or are those hopes a bit too far-fetched?
CC: Lets put it this way – the Cubs dont have a hope in hell of winning the world series this year (it hurts to type that hahah). Ask again in 2014-2015, and I’ll probably have a different answer for you.
RtB: What qualities does Dale Sveum bring to this team that are different from the previous manager, Mike Quade?
CC: Quade felt like he managed the team much more loosely than Sveum. He was more tuned to the players needs vs the needs of the team as a collective. Sveum is a really likable guy too (so say the players) and has a little more personality. Sveum also knows what he wants and isn’t afraid to call on certain players to make changes that will benefit the team as a whole. Im a big Dale Sveum fan.
RtB: Now for the important stuff: I’m headed down to Wrigley for Wednesday’s game with a couple of guys and we’re in the bleachers. Any advice for this first-timer to Wrigley?
CC: Wrigley is such a rustic place so don’t be shy to walk around and really take every corner of the stadium in. Its in need of some renovations though… so try and ignore the ugly stuff. Its really hard to put the magic of Wrigley into words. Its something that you just have to go and absorb. And if you’re taking the L (Chicago’s rail system) don’t be in a rush to get out of there. Street parties break out in front of Wrigley while the goofy vendors try to sell t-shirts and what not and it delays the exit process. Buy a hot dog, grab a beer and enjoy it like any other baseball game.
RtB: Thanks for the time, man.
CC: My pleasure! Lets hope for an exiting series between two classic NL Central rivals this week!