Archive | August, 2009

Another Day, Another Loss – Cubs Can’t Beat the Good Teams

Posted on 12 August 2009 by Lou

Phillies Cubs Baseball

The Phillies defeated the Cubs 4-3 in 12 innings on Tuesday night at Wrigley Field.  How do you out hit a team 10 to 3, but lose 4-3?  Unbelievable…

Kevin Gregg took the loss when he served up a Ben Francisco solo home run in the top of the 12th inning.  It was his 4th loss of the season, as his ERA rose to 4.02.

Rich Harden had another great start against the Phillies – 7 innings, 2 ER, 2 hits, 2 walks and 6 K’s – but came out with a no decision in place.

Carlos Marmol had another crappy outing.

The Cubs failed to lose any ground to the Cards who lost to the Reds.  Yeah!  This is getting really really old…

Phillies Cubs Baseball

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This Team Sucks – Pinella Rothschild Out of Ideas

Posted on 11 August 2009 by Lou

Cubs Rockies Baseball

The Cubs wrapped up a dismal 4-6 road trip by losing 3 of 4 to the wild card leading Rockies in Denver.  The Rockies outscored the Cubs 33-18 in the series, as the Cubs fell 3 games behind the Cardinals for 1st place in the NL Central and 3 games behind the Rockies for the NL wild card lead.  Can you say “Game Over”!

Manager Lou Pinella and pitching coach Larry Rothschild are out of ideas and probably already thinking about their golf games in October.  To make matters worse, with the still-pending sale of the Cubs, there’s really not much that the Cubs will be able to do in the off-season to turn things around for the 2010 MLB schedule.  The outfield is set – Alfonso Soriano, Kosuke Fukodome and Milton Bradley all have years left on their deals.  The pitching staff is set – Carlos Zambrano, Ted Lilly and Ryan Dempster all have years left on their deals, as does Randy Wells who is not even arbitration-eligible yet.  The Cubs will have to decide on Rich Harden, but the 5th starter slot could be filled from within – Sean Marshall, Jeff Samardzija, Tom Gorzelanny etc.  The infield is also set – Aramis Ramirez and Derrek Lee at the corners, Ryan Theriot at shortstop and Geovany Soto behind the plate.  Koyie Hill has established himself as a dependable catcher as well.  So the only real question mark in the infield is the 2nd base position, where Mike Fontenot has clearly shown that he is not capable of being a consistent, productive every day player.

Unless the Cubs could pull off a trade to move an outfielder – probably having to assume some of the money that GM Jim Hendry overpaid to each of Soriano, Fukodome and Bradley – the Cubs will be stuck.  And that doesn’t mean good things for 2010.

Sorry Cubs fans – hate to be brutally honest, but we could be in for a rough stretch for a few years to come.

Oh yeah – what about the 11-5 Cubs loss to the Rockies on Monday night?  Aw, who cares anyway.  It was more of the same.  No clutch hitting, poor fielding, and bad pitching.  Sound familiar?!

Cubs Rockies Baseball

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Cubs Doing Their Best to Avoid 2009 Post-Season Play

Posted on 10 August 2009 by Lou

Cubs Rockies Baseball

I was just way too irritated to even do a post on Sunday.  This could be one of the most frustrating Cubs teams to follow in the last few years.  No clutch hitting, no concentration, no desire to win, no emotion, no nothing.  Unless the Cardinals lose the rest of their games, I don’t see how this team will be able to win a 3rd straight NL Central crown.

The Cubs actually showed some grit in Saturday’s 6-5 win.  The Cubs took a 2-0 lead in the 4th inning on a Kosuke Fukodme double and a Ryan Dempster walk, only to have Dempster give back 4 runs right away in the bottom of the inning.  But the Cubs responded with 4 runs in the next 3 innings to take a 6-4 lead.  As they had done so many times earlier this season – Angel Guzman, Carlos Marmol and Kevin Greeg worked relatively easy scoreless innings of relief to preserve the 6-5 win.

Looking to build off the big win after losing Friday night, the Cubs looked to Randy Wells to put forth another solid start.  Wells had one of his worst outings of the year, and although the Cubs generated numerous scoring chances against Jason Hammel early in the game, they could only push across 3 runs in the game’s 1st 5 innings despite racking up an incredible 11 hits.  No clutch hitting once again, and the Cubs found themselves trailing 8-3 by the end of the 6th inning.  Wells ended up giving up 5 ER on 8 hits and 2 walks in 5 1/3 innings, while Jeff Stevens got lit up for 4 ER on 5 hits and 1 walk in his 1 inning of work that spanned the 6th and 7th innings.  All in all, it was bad day for the Cubs.

The loss pushed the Cubs 3 games behind the Cardinals for 1st place in the NL Central.  The Cards took care of business sweeping a weekend series over the Pirates in Pittsburgh.

Carlos Zambrano is back on the DL with lower back soreness that could have been aggravated by over-swinging during batting practice before Friday’s game.  Does Big Z realize he is a pitcher 1st and that the Cubs already have starting pitcher Ted Lilly on the DL?  Obviously not.  Big Z is scheduled to come off the DL on Friday, August 21st and Jeff Samardzija will likely make 2 starts during Big Z’s absence.

Aramis Ramirez has been dealing with right shoulder soreness from his early season dislocated shoulder.  Ramirez left Saturday’s game early and Jake Fox started for Ramirez on Sunday.  It is unclear if Ramirez will miss anymore time.

With Kosuke Fukodome batting great in the lead-off spot, I’m extremely confused as to why Manager Lou Pinella all of a sudden decided to re-jigger the lineup in Colorado.  Pinella had Ryan Theirot leading off, Milton Bradley batting 2nd and Fukodome batting 5th.  The players produced in the new lineup (Ryan Theriot had 3 hits on Saturday and 2 hits on Sunday; Bradley had 2 hits on Saturday and 4 hits on Sunday and his average is up to .266; & Fukodome had 2 hits in each game), but it seemed odd that Pinella would mess with a good thing, especially when the Cubs had already found themselves in so many poor hitting droughts several times during the 2009 MLB schedule.

Pinella did his best to motivate the club by getting thrown out of the game for arguing a horrible call at 2nd base on a double play ball that thwarted a Cubs rally, but in the end, the Cubs players looked like they wanted to join Pinella in the showers early instead of trying to win a baseball game.

The Cubs are still just 2 games behind the Cards and the Giants and Rockies for the wild card race, and they have even played 4 fewer games than the Cards and 2 fewer games than each of the Giants and Rockies, so there is room to gain ground.  But this team is too inconsistent, too prone to give up way too soon, and too apt to follow a 3-game winning streak with a 5-game skid.  I have officially given up – I’ll still root for the Cubs and report on the positives and the negatives, but at the end of the day, this is a middle of the road team, not a division leader…

Cubs Rockies Baseball

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Carlos Zambrano Screws Team Over in 6-2 Loss @ Colorado

Posted on 08 August 2009 by Lou

Cubs Rockies Baseball

Carlos Zambrano should have a locker room full of teammates pissed off at him right now.  Slated to start the opener of a big weekend series at Coors Field on Friday night, Big Z told Manager Lou Pinella that he couldn’t go 15 minutes before the start of the game.  Big Z left his start in the 3rd inning last Saturday because of a mild back strain.  He didn’t receive any special back treatment all week, and he told the team that it was nothing to be worried about.  But during pre-game warm-ups, Zambrano experienced some back spasms and then told Pinella he couldn’t go.  Pinella had this to say about the situation: “When he went out there to warm up, he says after he threw two or three pitches, his back tightened up and he started getting spasms.  This is something that happened right before the ball game.  If he had been complaining about anything, obviously, we wouldn’t have scheduled him to pitch.”

Not a smart move from Zambrano.  Especially since the Cubs had an off-day on Thursday, and the club could have moved Ryan Dempster up a day to start with his normal 4 days’ rest on Friday night.  Then Wells, Gorzelanny and Harden could have each moved up a day too, allowing Big Z a few more days off, or giving the Cubs an opportunity to call someone up from the minor leagues.  Instead, Zambrano gave the team no indication that his back might be a long-term issue, and forced the Cubs to go with Sean Marshall on no notice to make the start.  As it turned out, Marshall did not have his good stuff – 3 ER on 5 hits and 1 walk in 2 innings of work.  Jeff Samardzija then had to do a little bit off long-relief work, pitching 4 innings and allowing 2 ER on 5 hits and 1 walk.  Not a good way to start a 4-game series in hitter-friendly Coors Field.

The Cubs offense didn’t do much to help out the Cubs pitching staff.  The Cubs managed just 2 runs and 5 hits off of Ubaldo Jimenez and 3 Rockies’ relievers.  Alfonso Soriano was the only Cubs player with more than 1 hit and he also had the only Cubs RBI of the game.  The Cubs did draw 6 walks, but never seemed to come through with a big hit to break an inning open.  The Cubs had 2 runners on in the 1st, 3rd, 5th and 6th innings, but could only push across 1 run in the 1st and 6th innings.  Not good.

The only good news – sort of – catcher Geovany Soto returned to the Cubs lineup after a month stint on the DL.  Soto hit in the 5-spot, however, going 0 for 4 with 3 K’s.  Not the kind of spark we were looking for.

At 57-50, the Cubs trail the Cardinals by 1 game in the NL Central race and the San Francisco Giants and the Rockies by 2 games in the NL Wild Card race.

Cubs Rockies Baseball

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Big Z on Big Stage Against Rockies in Colorado

Posted on 07 August 2009 by Lou

carlos zambrano cubs

Carlos Zambrano makes one of his biggest starts of the 2009 MLB schedule tonight against the Rockies at Coors Field in Denver, Colorado.  The Cubs are in a virtual tie with the St. Louis Cardinals for 1st place in the NL Central.  In the NL Wild Card race, the Cubs are 2 games behind the San Francisco Giants and 1 game behind the Rockies.  Given how bottled-up everything is, it would be great if the Cubs could put some much-needed distance between the Cubs and the Rockies right now in August.

Zambrano left his last start after just 3 innings in Florida because of back tightness.  He is 2-0 with a 3.07 ERA in his last 3 starts, but he has never won at Coors Field – he has a career 0-2 record with a 4.12 ERA.  Big Z and the Cubs will face Ubaldo Jimenez on Friday night.  Jimenez has won 2 straight games, but is 0-3 with a 7.27 ERA lifetime against the Cubs.

Should be a topsy-turvy series in the hitter-friendly Coors Field.  Buckle your seat belts and root for the Pirates to win a game or two against the Cardinals back in Pittsburgh…

carlos cubs

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Cubs Can’t Finish Off Sweep of Reds, Shut Out 4-0 by Justin Lehr

Posted on 06 August 2009 by Lou

Cubs Reds Baseball

The Cubs were hoping to finish off a sweep of the Reds on Wednesday night – Rich Harden had had 3 straight good starts, while Reds’ starter Justin Lehr (age 32) was making only his 2nd start at the major league level, so it looked like a forgone conclusion that the Cubs would win and take over sole possession of 1st place in the NL Central over the St. Louis Cardinals who had lost to the Mets earlier in the day.  But it wasn’t meant to be, as Lehr pitched his 1st ever shutout on any professional level, limiting the Cubs to just 4 hits and 1 walks over the 9 frames.  It was Lehr’s 1st win since May 2006.  Not good Cubs fans.

Rich Harden, meanwhile, got into trouble in the 3rd inning when he gave up a single to Brandon Phillips and then a 2-run bomb to the recently-acquired Scott Rolen, his 1st hit as a Reds player.  Harden prolonged the inning by trying to force out a runner at 3rd base with the pitcher at the plate, but he threw the ball away allowing a 3rd run to score.  Fortunately, Harden was able to strike out Willy Taveras and Joey Votto without any further damage, but the 3 runs would be all that Lehr and the Reds would need.

At the plate, the Cubs looked clueless.  Derrek Lee, Milton Bradley and Alfonso Soriano each had singles off of Lehr, and Harden had the Cubs only extra base hit – a double with 2 outs in the 5th inning.

Jeff Samardzija had a rough 7th inning – giving up a leadoff single to Willy Taveras who stole 2nd and 3rd bases easily and scored on Alex Gonzalez’ sacrifice fly.

The loss denied the Cubs the chance to reach 10 games over .500 for the 1st time all season.  Oh well.  At least they are still tied with the Cardinals for 1st place.  The only bad news – the Cards next 6 games are at home against the lowly Pirates and Reds, while the Cubs are on the road for 4 games against the Rockies in Colorado (the wild card leader) and then at Wrigley Field for 3 games against the Philadelphia Phillies (the NL East leader).

The lone bright spot, Closer Kevin Gregg pitched a perfect 8th inning with 1 strikeout.  Gregg had been nursing a “tired arm” after blowing save chances in his last 2 appearances by giving up 5 ER and 6 hits in his last 1 1/3 innings of work.

Cubs Reds Baseball

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Terrific Tom; But Another Bad Cubs Bullpen Outing — What Gives?

Posted on 05 August 2009 by Lou

Cubs Reds Baseball

Terrific Tom – Tom Gorzelanny looked like Cy Young, as he shut down the Cincinnati Reds over 7 1/3 innings en route to a spectacular Cubs debut.  Gorzelanny gave up just 1 ER on 3 hits and 1 walk, while striking out 6.  The Cubs just acquired Gorzelanny late last week before the trading deadline, and he took over the 5th starter role for Kevin Hart who moved to the Pirates in the trade.  Hart had been filling in for Ted Lilly who will be on the DL for another 2 weeks or so.

Gorzelanny and the Cubs should have known it was going to be a good game for the visiting team.  First, Kosuke Fukodome led off the game with his 1st ever lead-off home run (his 8th of the season).  Then in the bottom of the inning, Adam Rosales tripled to left field on a ball that Alfonso Soriano just missed catching against the wall in left.  With the Reds’ 2 best hitters coming up with a man on 3rd and less than 2 outs, things did not look good.  But Gorzelanny buckled down, striking out Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips to end the threat and preserving the Cubs 1-0 lead.  With the lead still 1-0, the Cubs got clutch 2-out singles from Koyie Hill, Gorzelanny himself and then Kosuke Fukodome to blow the game open.  The back-to-back-to-back singles plated 4 Cubs runs and the Cubs built a 5-0 lead.  Derrek Lee then added an insurance run with his 22nd HR on the year, a solo shot in the 7th to increase the Cubs lead to 6-0.

The only bad news – the Cubs bullpen.  After Gorzelanny allowed to batters to reach base in the 8th inning, Sean Marshall gave up a single to Joey Votto that scored the Reds 1st run.  And in the bottom of the 9th inning, Angel Guzman gave up 2 runs when he hit the lead off hitter and then served up a 2-run HR to Wladimir Balentien.  Not good, especially when Manager Lou Pinella and the Cubs are looking to Guzman to step up his game in the late innings with Kevin Gregg dealing with “tired arm syndrome.”  Going back to the last 5 road games, the Cubs bullpen has surrendered a total of 11 runs from the 8th inning on (3 in the 8th on Friday; 3 in the 9th on Saturday; 2 in the 9th on Sunday; 1 in the 9th on Monday and 2 in the 9th on Tuesday).  This is completely unacceptable, as it cost the Cubs 2 games during the stretch.  If the bullpen continues to flounder like this on a regular basis, the Cubs will struggle to stay in the 2009 NL Central and Wild Card race.

Rich Harden and the Cubs go for the sweep over the Reds tonight in Cincinnati.  The Cardinals already lost to the Mets at CITI Field today in New York, so a Cubs win means sole possession of 1st place for the North Siders.  Lets Go Cubs!

Cubs Reds Baseball

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Geovany Soto to Re-Join Cubs on Friday in Colorado

Posted on 05 August 2009 by Lou

soto back 2

Geovany Soto is set to rejoin the Cubs for Friday’s game against the Rockies in Colorado.  Soto has been on the disabled list since July 7th with a mild strain of his left oblique muscle.  Soto will play in 3 minor league games at Double-A Tennessee this week and then head out to Denver.

Manager Lou Pinella is excited to have Soto back.  Koyie Hill has started 25 straight games behind the plate for the Cubs (including starting both ends of a day-night double-header against the St. Louis Cardinals on July 12th at Wrigley Field).  During that stretch, Hill caught 207 innings – almost 27 innings more than the next catcher – Russell Martin with 181 2/3 innings.  Jake Fox did catch a few innings late in games to give Hill a break here and there.  Pinella had this to say: “Wednesday wouldn’t be soon enough for me…  It gives us a chance to rest Hill on Thursday, and he’ll have from Tuesday to Friday off, and then maybe we can alternate them so both can catch… He’s done a nice job.  Give him credit.”

While it will be great to have Soto back, Hill has done a great job.  Since the All-Star Break, the Cubs are 14-5, and their nice run catapulted the Cubs back into a 1st place tie with the Cardinals in the NL Central race.  While Hill’s offense has been average at best, Hill has provided much needed consistency for the pitching staff, especially with Ryan Dempster and Ted Lilly each spending time on the DL during that stretch.  Randy Wells has thrived with Hill behind the plate and even recently traded Kevin Hart picked up 3 wins as a starter in July.  Kudos to Hill and let’s hope the winning ways keep coming on the north side of Chicago.

chicago cubs geovany soto 2

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And Your 2009 Cubs MVP Is… Randy Wells

Posted on 04 August 2009 by Lou

Cubs Reds Baseball

Yes – you heard it right – Randy Wells.  With Monday night’s 4-2 win over the Reds, Wells proved why he is the Cubs 2009 MVP.  Coming off of a disastrous weekend series against the Marlins in Florida where the Cubs dropped 2 of 3 games, Wells pitched his longest outing of the year, keeping the beleagured Cubs bullpen out of harms way.  Wells threw 107 pitches in 7 1/3 innings and didn’t allow a run until a lead off home run to Alex Gonzalez in the top of the 8th inning.  He surrendered only 6 hits and 2 walks, while striking out 5.  His ERA now stands at 2.73, his WHIP is 1.14 and he now has 8 wins during the 2009 MLB schedule.  Wells has made 16 starts and should probably have a few more wins if not for the Cubs bullpen blowing his leads in 3 of his 1st 5 starts.  11-4 (instead of 8-4) would look pretty good right – for both the Cubs and Wells.

You think Manager Lou Pinella was worried about taking out Wells in the 8th.  After Carlos Marmol and Kevin Gregg failed to pitch well in Florida, Pinella needed Wells to pitch deep into the game on Monday night in Cincinnati.  And that is exactly what he did.  Then Pinella put the team in John Grabow’s hands, as he got the Cubs out of a mini-jam by inducing an inning-ending double play by Brandon Phillips to end the threat.  And although Marmol struggled again in the 9th inning (1 ER on 2 hits and 1 walk), he got Willy Taveras to ground out to 1st base to end the game and preserve the Cubs win.

Cubs Win!  Cubs Win! Cubs Win!  Great words to hear after a brutal, frustrating series in Florida…

Cubs Reds Baseball

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Tom Gorzelanny – No Pressure in 1st Cubs Start, Yeah Right…

Posted on 04 August 2009 by Lou

chicago cubs tom gorzelanny 1

There won’t be any pressure on Tom Gorzelanny when he makes his 1st Cubs start against the Reds in Cincinnati on Tuesday night.  Yeah right…

Newly acquired Tom Gorzelanny is scheduled to make his 1st start for the Cubs tonight in Cincinnati.  Gorzelanny made 9 major league appearances for the Pirates in 2009, going 3-1 with a 5.19 ERA and 1.15 WHIP.  Gorzelanny has also made 15 starts at Triple-A Indianapolis, going 4-3 with a solid 2.48 ERA, but he has not started a major league game since September 10, 2008.  No pressure, right?

The Cubs are in a virtual tie with the St. Louis Cardinals for 1st place in the NL Central (the Cubs have played 4 fewer games than the Cards).  The Cubs are hoping to put a little room between them and the Cards, as the Cubs play 2 more games against the slumping Reds, while the Cards have 2 games against the Mets at CITI Field, one of which is against Mets’ ace Johan Santana.  After a Thursday day off, the Cubs have 4 games at Coors Field in Colorado against the NL wild-card-leading Rockies.

The Cubs are hoping that Gorzelanny can give the Cubs a little boost as he takes the spot of Ted Lilly who is on the DL with shoulder and knee issues.  Gorzelanny should make 3 maybe 4 starts for the Cubs over the next 2+ weeks.  Gorzelanny had this to say about the chance to start again at the major league level: “I know I can do it up here.  I’m anxious to get that chance… I’m just getting prepared like I normally do.  It’s obviously the first one of the season.  I’ve done this before, and I know what’s expected.  I just want to go out there and do my best and not worry about what’s happening on the other side other than the game.”

Nothing like throwing you right into the mix just days after a trade.  Let’s hope Gorzelanny can at least keep the Cubs offense in games during his next few starts.  With the offense performing at a higher level of late, as long as he doesn’t get lit up, the Cubs should have a chance to win each game he starts.  Go Tom!

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