Archive | March, 2010

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Angel Guzman to Undergo Season-Ending Surgery

Posted on 21 March 2010 by Lou

Dr. James will perform season-ending surgery on Angel Guzman this week to repair a severely torn ligament in his right shoulder.  Andrews has already performed elbow and shoulder surgeries on Guzman during his injury-plagued MLB career. Guzman’s 2009 season was curtailed last September because of soreness in his right throwing shoulder.  He had hoped that 4+ months of rehab to rebuild the area would allow him to pitch in 2010 without having to undergo surgery.  But right from the start, Guzman experienced pain this spring and he realized surgery was his only option.  Pitchers have returned from this type of surgery before, but given Guzman’s history, who knows how effective he will be upon his return or how long he will be able to keep it up.

This is unfortunate for the Cubs and Guzman.  Guzman had appeared to turn things around during the 2009 MLB season.  He made a career high 55 appearances in relief for the Cubs.  He went 3-3 with a 2.95 ERA and 1.05 WHIP in 61 innings pitched. He racked up 47 strikeouts and he was one of the Cubs most dependable pitchers notching 15 holds.  Now it is back to the drawing board for Guzman and his absence will surely be missed as the Cubs will be forced to rely upon even more youngsters to fill up bullpen spots…

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Cubs Cruise Past White Sox 8-4 Behind Wells & 4 Homers

Posted on 20 March 2010 by Lou

Randy Wells bounced back from a poor start and the Cubs bats came out firing on all cylinders as the Cubs defeated the White Sox 8-4 on Friday afternoon.

Wells was rocked in his previous outing, but he bounced back with a solid 4+ innings in the win.  The White Sox did manage 6 hits and 1 walk off the righty, but he limited the damage to just 2 runs.  He also worked out of a self-created no out, bases loaded jam in the 4th inning (2 hits and a hit batter) by forcing 2 come-backers and 1 line out.  Wells keeps logging the innings and he appears ready to hold down the fort with the #3 starting rotation spot until Ted Lilly is ready to return from his off-season surgery.  Wells has also made a decision regarding his visions.  Wells recently started wearing glasses for reading purposes and to see at night, but he has opted against wearing them during games.  “I think I’m going to bang the glasses.  I don’t need them to play baseball.  I don’t mind wearing glasses off the field.  It’s a non-issue… I’m still struggling to find the slider and get that sinker refined and where I need it to be day in and day out.  All in all, Friday was pretty good, when your back is against the wall to make pitches.”

The Cubs offense also produced to support Wells’ effort.  Ryan Theriot had another 2 hits and 2 runs scored and is now batting .536 on the spring.  Derrek Lee had a 2-run home run and 3 RBI’s. Alfonso Soriano had 2 hits including a 2-run home run and Marlon Byrd also had 2 hits with a solo home run.  This was a great sign out of the Cubs lineup – things seem to be falling into place for a lot of Cubs players.  If the team can get Aramis Ramirez back in the lineup on a consistent basis, the Cubs offense could be a pleasant surprise during the 2010 MLB schedule.

It’s always good to be the rival Sox.  Let’s hope a few more wins keep coming the Cubs way as spring training has just about 2 weeks left.  Wrigley Field home action is set to start on Monday, April 12th against the Milwaukee Brewers!

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Ryan Dempster Quietly Putting Together Solid Spring

Posted on 19 March 2010 by Lou

Ryan Dempster is quietly putting together a very nice spring training.  Dempster threw 4 innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday, giving up 2 ER and 4 hits and 1 walk, while striking out 3.  Dempster kept the Cubs in the game until the bullpen blew it down the stretch as the Cubs lost 7-3.  Dempster has now pitched 9 innings in 3 starts and he has given up only 2 ER.  Not bad.

After a career 2008 in which Dempster went 17-6 with a sparkling 2.96, Dempster “struggled” through a disappointing 2009 in which he won only 11 games.  He still made 31 starts and pitched exactly 200 innings, but it did not live up to the hype of the previous season.  Dempster seems intent on “righting” the ship and if he can get back to somewhere in between and win 15 games, the Cubs should be able to stay right in the thick of it in the National League Central Division.

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Carlos Marmol, Esmailin Caridad & James Russell Shining this Spring

Posted on 18 March 2010 by Lou

The Cubs have to be delighted with the consistent pitching of 3 youngsters this spring – Carlos Marmol, Esmailin Cardidad & James Russell.  The trio have combined to give up just one earned run this spring so far, and they appear ready to have a productive 2010 MLB schedule.

Carlos Marmol has pitched 5 innings in 5 appearances.  Marmol has had better control for the most part, walking just 3 and giving up just 2 hits in the 5 frames.  He has also racked up 8 hits and continues to work on using his breaking pitches more often to keep batters off-guard.

Esmailin Caridad pitched 2 more scoreless innings in Tuesday’s 4-1 win over the Texas Rangers.  He walked one and struck out 3 during the outing.  He has pitched a total of 6 1/3 innings this spring, giving up 6 hits and 1 walk, while racking up 6 K’s.

James Russell is emerging as one of the biggest surprises this spring.  In Tuesday’s win, Russell didn’t give up a hit in his inning of work and he struck out 2 batters.  The big lefty has no thrown 5 2/3 scoreless innings, giving up just 4 hits and 2 walks while striking out 7.  He was a long shot to make the club heading into spring, but the way he has pitched, it will be hard for Manager Lou Pinella not to promote him to the major league level at Wrigley Field when camp breaks in April.

I would love to see Russell make the team, especially with the injury to Angel Guzman.  We were counting on Guzman to have another productive season for the Cubs, but now with surgery on the horizon, that hope is long-gone.  Someone is going to need to emerge as a dependable reliever for Pinella and the Cubs, and it looks like Russell is taking the bull by the horns.  Marmol and Cardidad have pretty damn good stuff, so as long as they stay healthy and in command of their pitches, that should go a long way in helping the Cubs stay with the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central race for the early part of the season…

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Carlos Silva Lights-Out in 3rd Spring Start

Posted on 17 March 2010 by Lou

Which Carlos Silva is for real?  Silva pitched 4 scoreless innings in the Cubs 4-1 over the Texas Rangers on Tuesday.  He struck out 3 without any walks and he gave up just 2 hits.  It’s the 2nd consecutive start in which he has not allowed any runs to score, but this is the 1st outing in which he looked confident and in control (in his 1st start, Silva was knocked around for 6 runs on 7 hits in just 2 innings of work, and in his 2nd start, he gave up 4 hits and 1 walk in 3 scoreless innings).

Was it the good news that Silva heard from his mother before the game (that the United States issued his mother a 10-year visa so that she can enter the country at her pleasure) or was it the hard work that Silva has put in with Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild?  Most likely, it was a combination of both.  The Cubs have requested that Silva throw the ball across his body more than he has in the past, and they want him to finish his wind-up more towards the 3rd base line.  It has been a work-in-progress, but Silva is slowly working the new motion into live game action and if it works, it could reap huge rewards for the Silva and the Cubs.  Silva is happy with the latest results — “Today, before the game, he [Rothschild] said, ‘Don’t worry about anythingm just fire the ball up in there’.  That’s exactly what I did today, and we had good results… The last two years haven’t been easy for me.. It was a very tough two years.  This is a fresh start, this is a new start.  I feel very comfortable with this team.  The only thing I have to do is my work.  That’s it… I’m very competitive. I want to be in the rotation — that’s what I’m looking for.  I want to keep working on my stuff, keep working with Larry, keep working in the side sessions.  The only thing I want to do is help this team, no matter where, as a starter or reliever.”

You gotta like his attitude, especially after how poorly he pitched in his first spring start.  Plus with all the rumors swirling around about the poor shape he was in, you really wondered if he would be able to establish himself early this spring.  It looks like some of Rothschild’s work with Silva has already started to pay off.  Even Manager Lou Pinella was impressed – That’s as well as I’ve seen him throw all spring.  He got ahead in the count, you saw him elevate pitches, you saw him pitch inside, he had a good changeup.  That’s a nice performance today.  He kept his velocity up for the full four innings.  He should be really pleased — I know we were.”

This is great news Cubs fans.  If Silva can get on track and be productive this spring, that will definitely help the rest of the Cubs pitching staff.  Allowing Sean Marshall and even Jeff Samardzija start the season in the bullpen will give some extra depth to the young pen.  Let’s hope Silva continues his positive trend in his next few outings…

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Carlos Zambrano Bounces Back with Solid 4-Inning Outing

Posted on 16 March 2010 by Lou

Carlos Zambrano didn’t let a broken down bus slow him down in his 3rd spring start against the Rockies in windy Hi Corbett Field.  Zambrano scattered 5 hits over 4 innings, allowing just 1 earned run to score.  He didn’t strike out any batters, but he didn’t walk any either.  That is the key to an “in-control” Zambrano.

Zambrano has shown a lot of poise and maturity thus far this spring.  Despite giving up 5 runs in 3 innings in his previous start, he didn’t let him get him down.  Big Z seems to understand that this is just spring training and that there is plenty of time to work on certain pitches and situations in order to get ready for the regular season.  He had this to say about the start – “It’s just like Maddux used to say, it’s better to have movement than velocity.  Don’t get me wrong, velocity is good at this level.  When you locate your fastball, it’s good.  My sinker was good — great today.  I was able to command my pitches and get out of some situations.”  Zambrano didn’t lose focus after the broken down bus situation or the crazy wind patterns that seemed to change every minute during the game.  He kept his team in the game for the 1st 4 innings and he looks like he is ready to pitch more consistently for the Cubs in 2010.

Couple of other positive notes – Ryan Theriot had a single and a run scored at the lead-off spot and he is now hitting .550 during the spring.  Tyler Colvin also continued his hot hitting going 2 for 4 with an RBI.  He is hitting .517 this spring and his consistent performance is earning the praises of Manager Lou Pinella and GM Jim Hendry.  We might even see Colvin make the squad as the team’s 5th outfielder behind Xavier Nady when the Cubs open up at Wrigley Field in April.

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Lou Pinella Names Ryan Theriot 2010 Lead-off Man

Posted on 15 March 2010 by Lou

Manager Lou Pinella has named Ryan Theriot his lead-off man for 2010.  Theriot won the job over Kosuke Fukudome.  In 42 games during the 2009 MLB season, Theriot batted .283 in the lead-off spot.  He is a more consistent hitter than Fukudome who hasn’t batted better than .259 in either of his major league seasons (although he did have a .375 on-base percentage in 2009).  Theriot, on the other hand, has batted .266, .307 and .284 in each of his last 3 seasons and he has a career .356 on-base percentage.

Pinella also indicated that Mike Fontenot – Theriot’s college teammate at LSU – has pulled ahead of Jeff Baker for the starting 2nd base job.  Fontenot started the 2009 as the Cubs 2nd baseman, but he failed to deliver during the course of the long MLB schedule.  Fontenot hit only .236 and he split time with trade deadline acquiree Jeff Baker for the duration of the season.  Pinella likes the idea of having 2 lefties in the Cubs lineup – Fukudome in the 2-spot and Fontenot in the 7-spot.

I like the Theriot lead-off slot, but relying upon Fontenot again seems like a disaster waiting to happen.  I hope I’m wrong and I hope the “Pocket-Rocket” can deliver for the Cubs on a consistent basis during the 2010 MLB schedule.

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Derrek Lee Dealing with Foot Injury

Posted on 14 March 2010 by Lou

Derrek Lee was a late scratch from the Cubs lineup against the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday because of a foot injury.  Lee has a bruise on the top of his foot from a foul ball in the 4th inning in Wednesday’s Cubs game against the San Francisco Giants.  The Cubs do not consider the injury to be serious and he is listed as day-to-day.  Lee could even suit up for game action at some point this weekend.

This would be a significant injury for the Cubs if it turns into something worse than we think.  We’ll keep you posted as soon as we hear anything more definitive.  Let’s hope we see Lee back in the lineup soon…

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Jeff Samardzija Struggles in 1st Spring Start, but Feels Good

Posted on 13 March 2010 by Lou

Jeff Samardzija gave up 4 earned runs on 5 hits and 1 walk in his 1st spring start in the Cubs 12-3 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday.  Samardzija had a rough 1st inning, giving up home runs to Jim Edmonds and Greg Zaun.  It does not bode well for Samardzija’s chances of winning a starting spot in the rotation, although Carlos Silva and Tom Gorzelanny have not fared very well in their spring starts either.

Despite the 4 runs, Samardzija was still upbeat after his outing: “They jumped on two fastballs.  We’ll work in offspeed pitches earlier in the count.  I thought we were aggressive, and I thought the splitter was great.  The slider was here and there, but I felt pretty good… I want to take something out of every outing and get stronger every time out.  It’s Spring Training and you have to build on up and get ready for the season.”

The Cubs will have a tough decision on their hands and could be in trouble with their 5th slot in the starting rotation.  I still think Gorzelanny will get the 4th/5th spot in the starting rotation.  And the Cubs will either use Samardzija or Silva to spot start until Ted Lilly is ready to return.  Sean Marshall, the final candidate for the starting rotation, will end up in the bullpen because he is effective there and the Cubs are somewhat thin there right now with injuries.

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Silva Rebounds, Castro Continues Hot Hitting

Posted on 12 March 2010 by Lou

Carlos Silva pitched better in his 2nd spring outing – going 3 scoreless innings in the Cubs 8-7 win over the San Diego Padres.  But the bad news is that Silva still didn’t look all that sharp.  He gave up 4 hits and a walk in the 3 innings, but managed to work out of a few jams.  Silva showed up in camp out-of-shape according to our sources in Mesa.  This has to irk GM Jim Hendry and Manager Lou Pinella who “suggested” to Silva back at the Cubs convention in January that he still needed to lose a few lbs.  If this guy wasn’t owed so much damn money ($26 million ($20 million that the Cubs have to fork over) over the next 2 years), he would be out on the street already.

Starlin Castro had a big day at the plate – going 2 for 3 with 2 RBI’s and 3 runs scored.  He hit his 1st home run of the spring and is now hitting .571 so far.  The Cubs have all but said that Castro will start the season in the minor leagues, but if he keeps raking like this, it’s going to be hard not to want to start him at the major league level with Ryan Theriot moving over to 2nd base.

Other good pitching news – Carlos Marmol and David Patton tossed scoreless innings in relief.  Jeff Stevens and Esmailin were not all that sharp because of shoddy defense behind them, but none of the 6 runs they let up were earned.  The Cubs are now 4-4 during the spring schedule.

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