Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Great Start, but...

The Cubs 16-7 pounding of the Reds sure was a nice way to open the regular season but what I am really watching for this season is consistency. As I mentioned the other day, this team will put runs up on the scoreboard. Recent Cubs teams relied heavily on the long ball and HR's didn't always mean a lot of runs scored. This team has some new dimensions-call it small ball or whatever you want- two main ingredients I noticed all through spring training were more plate discipline and overall team speed.

The Cubs finished among the MLB leaders this spring in fewest strike-outs, a good sign as patience at the plate has been missing for several years with this club. Matt Murton is a perfect example; this young guy rarely chased bad pitches this spring. Cubs announcer Bob Brenly asserts Murton will be one of the top hitters in baseball this year, while I temper that enthusiasm I do believe eventually he has the ability to become a top hitter. Patience at the plate is something that needs to be worked at; over the course of this season will the Cubs be consistent in this approach? A player to watch in this area is Jacque Jones the free swinging high strike out outfielder worked much of the off-season with Tony Gwynn. If Jones can bring his average up, strike-outs down, and hit more to the opposite field the Cubs offense will get a big boost. Of course, pitching will likely determine the Cubs overall fate this year, we'll talk about that later.

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