Archive | August, 2009

Cubs Looking to Put Florida Trip in Rear View Mirror

Posted on 03 August 2009 by Lou

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The Cubs are looking to put the disastrous Florida weekend series behind them.  Kevin Gregg and Carlos Marmol cost the Cubs 2 wins in Miami, and kept the Cubs from taking the 1st place lead in the NL Central back from the Cardinals.

Let’s take a quick look at some numbers.

Starting pitchers:  in Friday’s 5-2 loss, Rich Harden gave up 2 earned runs on 5 hits and 3 walks in 5 innings of work (he also had 11 K’s); in Saturday’s 9-8 extra innings win,  Carlos Zambrano lasted only 3 innings because of a lower back strain, giving up 2 runs (1 earned) on 3 hits and 3 walks; & in Sunday’s 3-2 loss, Ryan Dempster gave up 0 runs on 3 hits and 4 walks in 6 innings of work.

Relief pitchers: in Friday’s 5-2 loss, Carlos Marmol gave up 3 runs on 1 hit, 2 walks and 1 HBP in just 2/3 of an inning of work (the rest of the bullpen held the Marlins scoreless in 2 1/3 innings of work); in Saturday’s 9-8 extra innings win, Kevin Gregg blew the save in the 9th inning by giving up 3 runs on 4 hits in 1 painful inning of work (Jeff Samardzija had a shaky 1 2/3 innings giving up 3 ER, but the rest of the bullpen pitched 4 1/3 scoreless innings) ; & in Sunday’s 3-2 loss, the bullpen gave up 3 runs on 4 hits in 2 1/3 innings of work with Gregg blowing the save for a 2nd straight night and taking the loss after giving up back-to-back home runs in the 9th inning.

The starters kept the Cubs in the games, but the bullpen imploded in each of the 3 games.

The Cubs bats weren’t all that hot either – if you take out Saturday’s 9-run, 13-hit barrage, the Cubs mustered only 4 runs and 13 hits combined in the Friday and Sunday losses.  Not good…

Manager Lou Pinella cannot be pleased with what he saw from his club in the 3-game weekend series loss in Florida.

The Cubs are 55-48 and they trail the Cards by 1/2 game in the NL Central race and the San Francisco Giants and Colorado Rockies by 2 games each in the NL Wild Card race.

But now for the good news.  Randy Wells gets the 1st start of the series against the Reds in Cincinnati.  Wells has been one of the most consistents Cubs’ starters all year and he beat the Reds at Wrigley Field on July 24th, allowing just 7 hits and 3 ER in 6 innings of the Cubs 8-5 win.  Overall, Wells is 7-4 with a 2.84 ERA and 1.15 WHIP.

The Reds are in a tailspin – they have lost 9 of their last 10 games – and have dropped into a tie for last place in the NL Central with the Pittsburgh Pirates.  The Reds are 14 games under .500 at 45-59.

And with the Cards idle tonight, a Cubs win over the Reds would mean a tie for 1st place in the NL Central.

Go Cubs!

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Kevin Gregg, Carlos Marmol Unreliable in Cubs Disastrous Weekend in Florida

Posted on 02 August 2009 by Lou

Cubs Marlins Baseball

Carlos Marmol and Kevin Gregg had awful weekends in Miami as the Cubs dropped 2 of 3 to the Florida Marlins.

Marmol took the loss on Friday night, giving up 3 earned runs on 1 hit, 2 walks and 1 HBP in the bottom of the 8th inning.  The game was tied at 2 when Marmol came in, and promptly lost the game for the Cubs with a mere 22 pitches, this after Rich Harden, John Grabow and Aaron Heilman held the Marlins to just 2 runs over the game’s first 7 innings.

In Saturday’s 9-8 extra innings win, Marmol and Gregg each did their best to blow it for the Cubs.  With the Cubs leading 6-5 in the 8th inning, Marmol replaced Angel Guzman and immediately got into trouble by walking the 1st batter and hitting the next.  After a sacrifice bunt moved runners to 2nd and 3rd with 1 out, Marmol intentionally walked Jorge Cantu to set up a force play at any base.  Then Marmol buckled down by striking out Dan Uggla and Jeremy Hermida to end the threat and preserve the tenuous 1-run lead.

The Cubs tacked on 2 much-needed insurance runs in the top of the 9th inning to increase the Cubs lead to 8-5.  Gregg came on for the “easy” save, but after striking out the 1st 2 batters in the inning, Gregg self-destructed.  Gregg surrendered a pinch-hit home run to Ronny Paulino (his 1st career pinch-hit HR), issued back to back singles to Chris Coghlan and Nick Johnson, and then served up the game-tying triple to Emilio Bonifacio that tied the game at 8.

Gregg picked up right where he left off on Sunday with another atrocious outing.  Jake Fox had just given the Cubs the 2-1 in the top of the 9th inning with a lead-off home run to left field.  In came Gregg for the “easy” save and he even retired the lead off hitter Hanley Ramirez on a popout to 3rd base.  But then Gregg served up home runs to Dan Uggla and Cody Ross on back-to-back pitches, and just like that the Cubs had lost 3-2.

If not for Derrek Lee’s solo home run in the top of the 10th inning on Saturday, we could be talking about a 3-game sweep by the Marlins.

Manager Lou Pinella and the Cubs are going to need more consistent outings from  Marmol and Gregg if they expect to make a run at the playoffs in 2009.  Marmol has more electric stuff than Gregg, so at this point, if Gregg has 1 more bad outing (or if his velocity continues to hover in the high 80’s/low 90’s instead of the mid-90’s), I really think Lou is going to have to make a move.  Marmol should be the Cubs closer, with Angel Guzman moving into the set-up role.  Guzman has a 2.36 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP and if he continues to stay healthy, he is probably the Cubs most reliable reliever at this point.  Sean Marshall has been solid in the pen and the addition of John Grabow gives the Cubs 2 dependable lefties.  Aaron Heilman is serviceable, and the Cubs may want to consider bringing Jeff Stevens back up to replace Jeff Samardzija (who has been average at best).

The Cubs are now 55-48 and 1/2 game behind the St. Louis Cardinals for 1st place in the NL Central.

Cubs Marlins Baseball

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Cubs Acquire John Grabow and Tom Gorzelanny from Pirates

Posted on 01 August 2009 by Lou

Cubs GM Jim Hendry did not sit pat leading up to the July 31st trading deadline.  And although he didn’t land a big splash like Matt Holliday, Victor Martinez or Jake Peavy, he did add a much-needed lefty to the Cubs bullpen.

John Grabow has been a solid left-handed reliever for the Pirates the last 2 seasons.  During the 2009 MLB schedule, Grabow appeared in 45 games for the Pirates, going 3-0 with a 3.42 ERA and a 1.50 WHIP.  He had 41 K’s against 28 walks.  In 2008, Grabow appeared in 74 games, going 6-3 with a 2.84 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP.  He had 62 K’s and only 37 walks.  For much of the season since Neal Cotts’ season-ending injury, the Cubs have relied upon just 1 lefty in the bullpen – Sean Marshall.  Marshall has been a rock since moving from the 5th starter into the bullpen role, but it’s nice for Marshall to have some company back there. Grabow made his Cubs debut against the Marlins in Florida on Friday night.  After walking Jeremy Hermida to lead off the 6th inning, Grabow retired the next 3 batters to work a successful scoreless inning.

The Cubs also acquired Tom Gorzelanny in the deal.  Gorzelanny has made 15 starts at the Triple-A level in 2009, going 4-3 with a 2.48 ERA.  Gorzelanny has made 65 career starts the major league level, going 25-26 with a 4.79 ERA and 1.50 WHIP.  With the departure of Kevin Hart in the deal, Gorzelanny could find himself in the Cubs rotation until Ted Lilly returns from the DL.

Kevin Hart pitched well for the Cubs in 2009, especially as a starter the last 4 starts.  Hart was 3-1 overall, winning each of his last 3 starts.  He had compiled a 2.60 ERA with a 1.48 WHIP.  The Cubs also dealt Jose Ascansio to the Pirates along with Single-A infielder Josh Harrison.

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