Commentary

Bruce Levine's interactive Cubs report card

Check out our expert's grades, then share yours for each player on the 2011 team

Updated: September 29, 2011, 4:47 PM ET
By Bruce Levine | ESPNChicago.com

The Chicago Cubs' 2011 season was in shambles before they got through the rotation one time to begin the season.

Manager Mike Quade lost his fourth and fifth starters in Randy Wells and Andrew Cashner on back-to-back starts on April 4 and 5. Wells didn't return until May 28 and wasn't effective until August. Cashner's season was over after straining his rotator cuff initially, and re-aggravating the injury on May 16.

The Cubs had no answers for replacements as they quickly fell out of the divisional race, and by May 15 they were never again closer to five games behind. The Brewers' lead over the Cubs went to double-digits on June 21 and was never less than that the rest of the season.

Here are Bruce Levine's grades for Cubs players, with an opportunity for readers to give their own assessment. Agree or disagree, it's your choice. Share your thoughts in the comments section.

Koyie Hill, C

Levine: Solid defender who steps in when Soto is out. Pitchers love to throwing to Hill as much as Soto, but with good young catchers in the system, this may be it for Hill and the Cubs. Grade: B

Geovany Soto, C

Levine: HR numbers were okay but BA was a huge disappointment. Thirteen throwing errors lead the league in that category, however some of those were due to young middle infielders being out of position. Grade: C-



Carlos Pena, 1B

Levine: Pena "is who we thought he is." They projected 30 HR and 80-90 RBI with great defense and got just that (.225, 28, 80). Classy guy who brought a lot to the clubhouse. Grade: B

Darwin Barney, 2B

Levine: Hit .300 most of the season before tiring in Aug. and Sept. A smart, tough competitor plays above his talent level. Extra props for playing a position he never played in the minors. Grade: B-

Starlin Castro, SS

Levine: Only position player worth an A-grade. Led league in hits and multi-hit games. Improved fielding and base-running dramatically, although his league-leading 28 errors wouldn't tell you that. Superstar potential, power potential, best reason to watch Cubs in 2012. Grade: A-

Aramis Ramirez, 3B

Levine: Had his usual April-May hitting for average but no power. Eventually became team's best run producer. Still adequate fielder at 3B. Most likely lost to free agency. Grade: B

Jeff Baker, IF

Levine: The other half of Quade's leadoff combo early on. Constant threat against LHP, hitting .350+ in 2010 and 2011. Solid backup at five positions. Grade: B

Blake DeWitt, IF

Levine: Lost the 2B job to Barney in Spring training and never got much work after that. One memorable moment was game-winning 3-run HR in Washington. Grade: C-

D.J. LeMahieu, IF

Levine: Only played a few games in the summer and again in Sept., but looks to be a top-flight defender at 2B and 3B. Grade: C

Bryan LaHair, 1B

Levine: Didn't make debut until Sept. 6 but made immediate impact after MVP minor-league season. A wild card for 2012 with Japan is interested in his services. Grade: B

Alfonso Soriano, LF

Levine: No longer base-running threat and below-average BA, but was strangely effective at the bottom of the Cubs order. Probably most-popular teammate, the 35-year-old is best-suited for DH role. Grade: C

Marlon Byrd, CF

Levine: Not the same hitter after getting beaned in Boston. Overachiever in CF, but run production a serious issue for a guy expected to hit 15 HR and 75 RBI. A+ for toughness, but... Grade: C-

Tony Campana, CF

Levine: A fascinating work in progress who has changed numerous games with his ability to steal bases and score runs. Overall hitting questionable, but will work in offseason to gain strength. Grade: C+

Reed Johnson, CF

Levine: One of the top extra men in the game flourished under tutelage of Rudy Jaramillo. Big hits and acrobatic catches were everyday occurrence for this classic overachiever. Grade: B+

Kosuke Fukudome, RF

Levine: Fukudome was Quade's primary leadoff man against right-handed pitching. Never a run-scoring or run-producing factor. Overall a four-year/$48m disappointment. Grade: C-

Tyler Colvin, OF

Levine: Huge disappointment after 20 HR season in 2010. Has to prove early next season that he's still a prospect and not a suspect. Swing and miss factor a big downside. Grade: D

Luis Montanez, OF

Levine: Former No. 1 pick in 2000 helped team win two or three games while Marlon Byrd was on the DL. Grade: C

Matt Garza, SP

Levine: By far the Cubs' best starter in 2011. Won just ten games but was hampered by a bullpen that failed to hold seven leads. Garza just missed 200 IP (198). Grade: B+

Ryan Dempster, SP

Levine: Dempster had an awful start, but pitched his usual 200+ innings and tied for the team lead in wins (10). Finished season with 11-of-13 quality starts, but with no run support hasn't won a game since August. Grade: C+

Randy Wells, SP

Levine: A strained forearm after his first start kept Wells out until May 28. Body of work late in the season indicates he can be back of the rotation starter in 2012, but 5.09 ERA lowers his grade. Grade: C

Carlos Zambrano, SP

Levine: Nine-game winner quit on the team Aug. 12 in loud locker-clearing tirade, leaving a hole in the rotation that was never adequately filled. The Cubs will try to move him this offseason. Grade: D+

Carlos Marmol, RP

Levine: Ten blown saves tells you all you need to know about Marmol's disappointing season. His once-dominant slider came and went this season. Grade: C+

Sean Marshall, RP

Levine: Marshell was simply the best left-handed setup man in the game. Set Cubs record for holds as a reliever (34) and had lowest WHIP on the team (1.10). Just 1 HR allowed in 75.2 IP. Grade: A-

Doug Davis, SP

Padilla: The Davis signing was a stop-gap experiment with a veteran starter that failed. Grade: F

Chris Carpenter, RP

Levine: Showed some flashes of a power arm that could be helpful in 2012, but finished season on DL. Grade: Inc.

John Grabow, RP

Levine The injury-plagued veteran never regained form after he suffered a severe knee injury in 2010. Will leave as a free agent. Grade: D+

Rodrigo Lopez, RP

Levine: Did an adequate job filling in as a rotation pitcher since July (6-6, 4.42 ERA). Cubs will thank him for his service, but he's unlikely to return. Grade: C-

Marcos Mateo, RP

Levine: Mateo blew out his arm after pitching five innings in relief. Next season a question mark after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Grade: Inc.

Ramon Ortiz, RP

Levine: Ortiz had a non-descript impact on the team, often eating up meaningless innings in order to keep other pitchers fresh. Grade: C

James Russell, RP

Levine: Five midseason starts did not produce a victory, but helped Russell mature into big league bullpen pitcher. Grade: C+

Jeff Samardzija, RP

Levine: One of the most-improved pitcher in the organization. Better command of fastball and slider have been the key. Could be rotation choice in 2012 or future closer if Marmol departs. Grade: B

Casey Coleman, RP

Levine: Highly-touted after a good end to the 2010 season, but command issues plagued him all season. Better outings in his last two, but a 6+ ERA brings his grade way down. Grade: D+

Andrew Cashner, RP

Levine: Cashner was injured during his first start and finally returned as a reliever in Sept. Team must decide whether he'll be a starter or reliever in 2012. Grade: Inc.

Kerry Wood, RP

Levine: It was an up and down season for Kid K, who wants to return next year. Season-ending meniscus tear ended season two weeks early. Grade: C+

Mike Quade, Mgr.

Levine: Quade lost two starting pitchers to injury in the first week of the season. That combined with slow starts by Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza doomed the season. Grade: C


Bruce Levine | email

Chicago baseball beat reporter
Bruce Levine has covered sports in Chicago for over 28 years and hosts "Talkin' Baseball," heard Saturday mornings on ESPN 1000.

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