Reader Q&A: Paul Sullivan's Cubs mailbag

What is all the hand-wringing about Theo Epstein lately? Wasn't this expected? The Cubs needed a complete overhaul and Epstein is in the demolition phase. He seems to be ahead of schedule. We now know that Bryan LaHair can hit, Jeff Samardzija looks like a solid starter and that Starlin Castro still needs time to develop. Most importantly, Ryan Dempster has an ERA of 2.28, even if he has no wins. With teams like the Yankees, Tigers, Angels all fighting for their playoff lives, there is a chance that Dempster's expiring contract can yield a top 5 prospect. Heck Alfonso Soriano has even heated up over the last two weeks, maybe just maybe he can be moved too.

-- Chris DeMay, Grand Rapids, MI


Not sure what hand-wringing you're talking about. Theo hasn't been blamed for the Cubs' poor season, and yes, he does have a chance to get a return on players like Dempster and Matt Garza, if they decide to deal him (Probably not Soriano because of his age and salary). Theo's trade's haven't worked out -- Chris Volstad, Ian Stewart and Travis Wood have yet to perform to their capabilities -- but it's too soon to make a judgment on the new regime.

Does it seem to you that the Cubs have been over-aggressive on the basepaths? I'm glad we have some guys who can steal bases this year, but it seems to me like they take too many risks. I've been a Cubs fan long enough not to expect much from them this year, but not long enough to give up on seeing them win it all before I die.

-- Amy Buzby, Chicago

I believe you have the right blend of despair and hope when it comes to the Cubs, and that last sentence should be on a T-shirt. As for the base-running, they telegraphed their intentions in spring training, knowing they'd have to take some risks on the bases to make up for the lack of offense. So it shouldn't be a surprise.

Is this the best Theo can do? Come on. Aren't they embarrassed? I am and I've been a fan for 50 years. This is as bad as I can remember. I plan on staying away from Wrigley in protest, but I love baseball.

-- Mike Wagner, Richmond, Va.

I don't agree with the idea of protesting by staying away from Wrigley Field. There are plenty of low-priced tickets around on the secondary market, so show up and voice your displeasure if you so please. If you've really been a fan for 50 years, you've gone through years like this before, so let's not pretend that this is something out of the norm.

Why do people still pay good money to see the "Cubs" in person? What's the point? Where is the return on investment?

-- G Posner, Chicago

Because people love going to Wrigley Field and remembering what it was like when they went there with their parents or grandparents. How many things in life can you do that you once did with your grandparents? Not many. It's a beautiful place. Go see it before the Ricketts make it unrecognizable and unaffordable.

It seems to me that Tony Campana is doing for the Cubs what Vince Coleman did for the Cardinals a few years ago. What is your opinion?

-- Bill Allen, Newburgh, IN

My opinion is your opinion is totally inaccurate. Campana is a great base-stealer, but he's nowhere near Vince Coleman yet.

Cub Fan since Steve Swisher was an All-Star (you asked). Is Darwin Barney really just Ryan Theriot 2.0? Can Volstad be quietly released and Travis Wood put in the rotation? Sure, two questions, but none about him, him, or him.


-- Greg Kelly, Oak Park

I think Barney has much more upside than Theriot, though he does go through some slumps. He works hard and can be a .290 hitter eventually. Volstad is not going to be released, but T-Wood is now in the rotation, so let's see if he can turn it around.

I just finished reading the 5/10 Cubs mailbag. You had mentioned that you'd like to know what pitchers' stats were after a visit to the mound. You should know by now that if you can think of it, the Internet has probably (for good or ill) already done it. Fangraphs:

-- Warren Taylor, Sacramento, CA

Thanks for the research, Warren. Interesting article on mound visits and what happens next, from the always on the ball

Will your readers learn to calm down? After all, the ones who have been fans since '35 have seen a lot of truly bad teams. (Who was in CF losing weight trying to cover for Sauer and Kiner?)

-- Larry Dietz, Santa Monica, CA

Even the fans who've only been watching since the 1960s have seen a lot of bad teams, but truth be told, I'd glad the readers don't calm down. It makes things a lot more interesting when they get upset. And, the center fielder was Frankie Baumholtz, as several knowledgeable readers have pointed out.

I don't understand the "Anthony Rizzo can't come up until Soriano goes away" thinking. Since David DeJesus can play center, why couldn't LaHair go to right if Soriano keeps hitting? Until Brett Jackson is ready, what awesome CF talent do the Cubs have who should block Rizzo?

-- Darrell Holtz, Kansas City, MO

I agree with your premise, though you're ignoring the fact that DeJesus has played great in right field at Wrigley, a difficult position for anyone, much less someone who had never even played one game there before. Left is still the most likely landing spot for LaHair, but a four-man rotation with LaHair, Soriano, DeJesus and either Campana or Joe Mather would make sense if Rizzo comes up.

Why doesn't the manager put Campana at leadoff with DeJesus batting second? Utilize his speed. Campana reminds me of Brett Butler. Pass this along to management!

-- Al Nowak, Capo Beach, CA

Thanks, Al. I passed your suggestions along to management, and they told me to stick to writing and let them handle the decision-making.

With Rizzo tearing it up in AAA, and several teams needing a first baseman, and with Soriano likely untradeable, what are the odds we deal LaHair for something good?

J-- im Dalt, Atlanta

That's a scenario I never considered, but it makes some sense now that LaHair has seemingly proven he can hit major league pitching. Not sure how much they could get for a 29-year-old who doesn't have an entire season under his belt, but it would certainly open up the first base spot. I believe the new regime likes LaHair, and his low salary, so this probably won't happen.


-- Thomas Pindur, Sofia, Bulgaria

Why not?

Twitter @PWSullivan.