Archive | March, 2010

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Milton Bradley Continues Feud with Chicago Cubs

Posted on 11 March 2010 by Lou

Milton Bradley really needs to let this go – Bradley continues to berate the Cubs and the city of Chicago in a recent interview with Colleen Dominguez of ESPN.  Bradley was a complete failure for the Cubs after signing a 3-year, $30 million deal.  Instead of being a steady run-producer that the Cubs expected he would be, he performed horribly at the plate and in the field, and became a cancer in the club house.  The Cubs finally had enough of Bradley’s antics towards the end of the season, enough so that GM Jim Hendry suspended Bradley on September 20, 2009 for the rest of the season.  Hendry invoked the suspension because of Bradley’s conduct that was deemed to be detrimental to the team.

Bradley was coming off a career year with the Texas Rangers – .321 batting average, .436 on-base percentage, 22 HR’s 77 RBI’s and 78 runs scored – when the Cubs lured him to the city of Chicago.  Right from the start, Bradley deflected questions about prior stories of his “bad attitude” problems and he often blamed other people for those outbursts and tirades.  Bradley started off the season hitting poorly and struggling with an injury and his overall offensive numbers were atrocious – 12 HR’s, 40 RBI’s, 61 runs scored and a .257 batting average in 393 at-bats.  Bradley never once took responsibility for his poor play.

After his indefinite suspension, the Cubs ultimately traded Bradley to the Seattle Mariners for Carlos Silva.  The Cubs put Bradley in their rearview mirror, but Bradley just couldn’t let it go at that.  In spring training this week, Bradley sat down with ESPN’s Colleen Dominguez and gave a scathing report on the Cubs organization and the city of Chicago as a whole.  Here are some pertinent quotes: “It was pretty bad.  I would have rather tore my knee up and gone through rehab all over again then have to deal with that… When you get paid a lot of money to play this game, they expect miracles.  And when you don’t go out there and perform like that, then people don’t like it.  People don’t want to see a guy that’s brash and cocky and a little arrogant and kind of does his own thing making a lot of money. They were like, ‘He doesn’t deserve that.'”

Bradley said race played a role.  He said he was often racially taunted when in the field and he implied that he received hate mail from within the Cubs organization – “I could see from the envelope.  I could just tell, you get an envelope, no address on it, no postmark. it’s just in your mail.  How does that get in your cubby hole? I don’t know how that happens.”  Bradley went on to express his fears for himself and his family: “I was worried about my family, about my kids.  The worst part of it all, the last straw is when I found out that my kid has been called a derogatory name at school… I was a prisoner in my own home.  I pretty much stayed at home, ordered in every day, never went anywhere.”

Bradley clearly has some issues.  The Mariners are his 8th team in 11 years.  There is a reason clubs decide to part ways with Bradley after only a short time on their squad.  We’ve also confirmed with the Cubs that fans/individuals can drop off mail to the players at Wrigley Field without any postage or return address on the mail.  Assuming the letter/package does not seem threatening, the Cubs do pass that mail onto the players.  So the fact that Bradley got letters without postage and without a return address is not all that uncommon.  And it doesn’t mean that it came from someone within the Cubs organization.  Hearing slurs at Wrigley Field is obviously inappropriate, but as an athlete, they have to accept that fans are going to do stupid things at the ballpark.  I’m sure Bradly has heard similar things in all 29 other major league cities in which he has played games.  It’s unfortunate that this occurs, but racism clearly does still exist in our country, and it doesn’t necessarily make that city “bad” as a whole.  It’s just a few “bad apples” that give the city a bad name.

The Cubs had been trying to stay clear of the Milton Bradley subject this spring, but his latest comments forced GM Jim Hendry’s hand.  He called Bradley’s assertions that the Cubs sent Bradley hate mail “absolutely ridiculous.”  He went on to say the following – “That couldn’t be farther from the truth.  I think it’s time maybe Milton looked at himself in the mirror.  It is what it is.  He didn’t swing the bat; he didn’t get the job done.  His production was the only negative, or lack of… We have a long hsitory of quality people who want to play here.  I don’t believe in the last seven or eight years, under this regime, we lost a free-agent player we wanted to keep.  And that still is the case.”  Hendry pointed out that Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez have both indicated that they want to end their careers here in Chicago.  The Cubs also signed 2 players this off-season – Marlon Byrd and Kevin Millar – who are represented by the Levinson brothers – Bradley’s agents.  Hendry made it clear if things were really as bad as Bradley said, it would be highly unlikely that the Levinson brothers would advocate their clients signing deals with the Cubs to play in the city of Chicago.

This is a complete waste of time.  I’m sick to my stomach writing this post – it’s probably the longest post I’ve written in about 6 months.  Hearing Bradley’s response to Hendry’s statement today just goes to show how lost Bradley is.  I can’t believe the guy even said this – wait, yes I can: “I have nothing bad to say about Jim Hendry.  He gave me $30 million.  God bless Jim Hendry and his family.”

Good riddance Milton.  We look forward to plenty of strikeouts from you in June when the Cubs visit the Mariners in Seattle.  Better keep a close eye at the plate -we wouldn’t want you to get hit…

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Randy Wells Continues Solid Spring with 3 Scoreless Innings

Posted on 10 March 2010 by Lou

Randy Wells pitched 3 scoreless innings in the Cubs 5-3 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday.  He allowed just 1 hit while striking out 2 and walking none in his efficient outing.  This is great news for Cubs fans as Wells continues to look like a solid #3 starter until Ted Lilly’s return at the end of April.

The Cubs have a TON of issues in their pitching staff after starters Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, Wells and Lilly, set-up man John Garbow and closer Carlos Marmol.  Wells had 1 great season in 2009, but that was his 1st full year at the major league and there was still some concern as to whether he would be able to duplicate that effort in 2010.  Wells clearly took the off-season seriously and is looking like he is ready to pick up right where he left off in 2009.  This is definitely a big positive for the Cubs – let’s hope we hear more positives out of Mesa over the next few weeks leading up to the 2010 MLB schedule at Wrigley Field…

One negative – although Marmol struck out the side in the 4th inning, he gave up 1 earned run on 2 hits and a walk.  Youngster James Russell who is competing for a spot in the Cubs bullpen pitched a perfect 8th inning with 3 strikeouts – he has yet to give up a run this spring.

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Ryan Dempster — Scoreless Spring Training Debut

Posted on 09 March 2010 by Lou

Ryan Dempster provided a solid spring training debut – pitching 2 scoreless innings retiring all 6 batters that he faced in the Cubs 10-3 win over the Oakland A’s on Monday.  This is good news for a Cubs pitching staff that is dealing with its share of troubles.  The Cubs should be good at the front end of the starting rotation once Ted Lily returns, but the 5th starter spot and the bullpen could have some issues.  A good Dempster showing in 2010 will mean some stability that should help keep the Cubs bullpen fresh and ready for a grueling 162 game MLB schedule.

Sean Marshall worked 2 innings giving up 1 run on a solo home run and 1 other hit.

Jeff Samardzija worked 2 scoreless innings giving up 1 hit and 1 walk in the process.

Tom Gorzelanny gave up 2 runs on a home run in his 2 innings of work.

Marshall, Samardzija and Gorzelanny (along with Carlos Silva) are competing for the final starting slots in the rotation.  The other 2 will likely end up in the bullpen and once Ted Lilly returns, a 3rd out of the group will get dropped back into the bullpen or sent to Triple-A to continue working as a starter.

Two good hitting performances in the game – Ryan Theriot was 2 for 2 with 2 runs scored, while Mike Fontenot was 2 for 3 with 2 RBI’s and 1 run scored.  Kosuke Fukodome had another hit in the 2-hole behind Theriot and is hitting .500 during the first few games of spring.

Manager Lou Pinella has gotta be happy with some of these performances…

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Ted Lilly Making Progress – Good News Cubs Fans

Posted on 08 March 2010 by Lou

Ted Lilly is continuing to make positive progress from his winter left shoulder surgery.  This is great news for the Chicago Cubs pitching staff who has had to deal with injuries to Angel Guzman and Jeff Gray and poor performances from Carlos Silva, Jeff Stevens and John Gaub.

Lilly threw 30 pitches off of the mound on Sunday – the 2nd time that he has tested his arm off of a mound this spring.  Lilly is still not expected to be ready by opening day, but if he continues at this pace with no further setbacks, he should be ready to go by the 3rd or 4th week of the 2010 MLB season.

Pitching Coach Larry Rothschild had this to say about Lilly’s progress since recovering from a nasty flu at the start of spring training — “So far, no bumps in the road and we’ll just keep progressing… You always look for any bumps in the road that might come up and hopefully limit the time if there are any.  He’s already had the virus so hopefully that’s all behind him.”

It looks like Angel Guzman has a torn ligament in his right throwing arm and Carlos Silva was miserable in his 1st appearance this spring against the White Sox on Saturday.  Silva gave up 6 ER on 7 hits in just 2 innings of work, including 2 home runs to White Sox slugger Carlos Quentin.  Ouch.  Looks like Silva might not be ready for the starting rotation after all.  Too bad the Cubs had to take on his $26 million over the next 2 years simply to unload Milton Bradley to the Seattle Mariners this winter.  That could be a major disaster if the Silva doesn’t show enough to even make the Cubs roster at the end of the month.  It would be really hard to waive a player owed that much money and even if the Cubs were able to trade him to a team that desperately needed a starting pitcher, the Cubs would likely have to take on a good chunk of that salary to make the deal work.  Nice work, Jim (Hendry)!

We’ll keep you posted – with the Sunday rainouts against the White Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers in split squad action, let’s hope the Cubs can get back on track in today’s game against the Oakland A’s.

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Guzman, Gray Injuries Open up Bullpen Competition

Posted on 07 March 2010 by Lou

Injuries to Angel Guzman and Jeff Gray have opened up competition for a few extra bullpen slots for the 2010 Cubs.

Guzman who has had a history of arm injuries will have an MRI on his sore right shoulder this weekend.  Guzman will likely not be ready for opening day and his 2010 status is now up in the air again.  After a solid 2009 in which he appeared in a career-high 55 games (with a 2.95 ERA), this is a big blow for the Cubs who had thought he put his injury woes behind him.

Jeff Gray has been dealing with a sore groin all spring.  Gray was projected to be the right-handed set-up man for Closer Carlos Marmol, so the longer he sits, the more dire the situation for the Cubs.

Right now, the 3 locks for bullpen spots are Marmol, John Grabow and Esmailin Caridad.  Sean Marshall and Jeff Samardzija could also land spots in the rotation if they do not win one of the 2 open starting rotation spots.

Other bullpen candidates include Jeff Stevens, John Gaub, Thomas Diamond, Blake Parker and Andrew Cashner.  Manager Lou Pinella likes what he’s seen out of Cashner so far: “Cashner’s a nice looking young kid.  That’s going to be up to the organization.  First of all, let’s see how he pitches here.  Let’s see what the organization has planned as far as starter, reliever.  I think Jim will make that decision and rightfully so.”

This is not good news for the Cubs.  GM Jim Hendry might have to work a little magic to pick up a more established reliever once spring training camps break in early April.  If not, we could be looking at a lot of young kids pitching a lot of meaningful innings for the Cubs at Wrigley Field in 2010.

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Carlos Zambrano Brings his “A” Game in Cubs 8-7 Win over D’Backs

Posted on 06 March 2010 by Lou

Carlos Zambrano cruised through 2 scoreless innings in his spring training debut on Friday.  The Cubs rallied to defeat the D’Backs with a 2-run 9th inning that gave the Cubs an 8-7 win to the delight of the “Wrigley Field West” faithful in Mesa.

Zambrano worked 2 innings and did not allow a hit or a walk.  He had 1 strikeout.

Jeff Stevens and John Gaub – both contenders for a spot in the Cubs bullpen – did not look good in their spring debuts.  Stevens gave up 4 ER on 3 hits and 1 walk in 1 2/3 innings pitched.  He did have 3 K’s.  Gaub gave up an earned run on 2 hits in 1 1/3 innings pitched.  Not what we want to see from our relievers, especially with Angel Guzman and Jeff Gray sidelined with injuries early this spring.

On a positive note, the Cubs position player stars of the future excelled in the win.  Tyler Colvin was 3 for 3 in Thursday’s opener and followed that fine effort up with 2 more doubles and 2 RBI’s in Friday’s win.  Josh Vitters had 2 hits and scored 2 runs, while Starling Castro also had 2 hits with 1 run scored.  These are the stars of the future for the Cubs, so look for them to see some extended action this spring and plenty of action at the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field in the near future.

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Cubs Cruise to Easy 9-3 Win over A’s in Cactus League Opener

Posted on 05 March 2010 by Lou

The Chicago Cubs got off to a good start with a decisive 9-3 win over the Oakland A’s in the Cactus League opener.  Two important pitchers got off to good starts for the Cubs.  Randy Wells pitched 2 scoreless innings striking out 2 A’s batters, while Sean Marshall pitched 2 hitless and scoreless innings while striking out one.  Wells is locked in as the Cubs 3rd/4th starter, while Marshall is competing for a spot in the rotation and will end up in the bullpen if he doesn’t earn a starting spot.

Derrke Lee had 2 hits including a home run to lead off the club’s 4th inning.  Marlon Byrd and Sam Fuld also hit home runs in the win, while Starlin Castro showed off his speed with a triple in the 8th inning.

Good news all around Cubs fans.  Pitching is the key to any team’s chances of winning a pennant, so it’s good to see Wells and Marshall look sharp in their 1st appearances of the spring.

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Alfonso Soriano To Start Against White Sox on Saturday in Cactus League Play

Posted on 04 March 2010 by Lou

Alfonso Soriano continues to improve his conditioning this Spring and it looks like he will be ready to start against the cross-town-rival White Sox on Saturday in Mesa.  Soriano’s rehabbed knee is responding well so far and he has been working with new Cubs hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo (his old hitting coach with the Texas Rangers) on shortening his stride during his swing.  Hopefully all the extra work will pay off for Soriano in 2010.

Manager Lou Pinella is optimistic about getting much better production from the $18-million man this season: “He’s healthy, and we expect him to be a better all-around player. We’re not going to expect 30 stolen bases from him or anything like that.  Hitting in the 6th hole, he can save his legs a little more… What we need from Alfonso is some power and RBI production… Let’s hope he has an injury-free season and gets back to where he was a couple of years ago and [is] a little more disciplined and [has] a healthy season, and a productive one.”

Amen to that — Soriano can’t be as bad as his .241 batting average and .303 on-base percentage during the 2009 MLB schedule.  Despite playing in only 109 games in 2008 due to injuries, he still clubbed 29 HR’s and drove in 75 runs in 453 at-bats.  If he can get close to that in 2010, that would be a huge improvement for the Cubs.  It would also mean that Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez would have a little more protection in the middle of the lineup.  That can only mean good things for the Cubs offensive production in 2010…

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Cubs on Verge of Signing Juan Yasser Serrano

Posted on 03 March 2010 by Lou

The Chicago Cubs are on the verge of signing Juan Yasser Serrano.  Serrano is a highly touted right-handed Cuban pitching prospect.  Serrano defected from Cuba in April 2009 after pitching for the Cuban Junior National Team in an international tournament.  So far the Cubs have denied all reports regarding Serrano.  Other sources have indicated that the Serrano signing should happen within the next month or so.  Serrano still needs to complete a physical and some additional legal paperwork, but it looks like all signs are a go for Serrano.

This would be a solid acquisition for the Cubs.  You always hear about the Red Sox or Yankees landing these “can’t miss” pitchers from abroad, so it would be great if the Cubs started getting in the mix with these guys too.  We’ll keep you posted as soon as we hear anything more definitive with Serrano in the upcoming weeks.

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Randy Wells to Start Cubs Spring Opener Against A’s on Thursday

Posted on 02 March 2010 by Lou

Randy Wells will open up the Cubs spring training slate with the opening start against the Oakland A’s on Thursday.  Wells started the 2009 season at Triple-A Iowa but ended up being the Cubs most reliable starting pitcher taking advantage of a slew of injuries to Cubs regulars during the course of the long MLB schedule.  Wells ended up making 27 starts, going 12-10 with a stellar 3.05 ERA.  He struck out 104 batters while walking just 46 in 165 1/3 innings pitched.  That all added up to a nifty 1.28 WHIP.  Wells locked up a starting spot in the 2010 Cubs rotation with his consistent performance in 2009.  Manager Lou Pinella will look to Wells to anchor the 4th spot in the rotation once Ted Lilly returns from his shoulder surgery.

Wells credits playing guitar and trying to write songs with keeping him on an even-feel during the long MLB season.  He has played guitar for about 4 years and in the last year has gotten serious about expanding his playing abilities and writing music.  It’s not easy according to the righty: “I’m just starting out.  I enjoy writing down thoughts and memories.  We get to do so much cool stuff.  It’s nice to write down and remember it.  It’s like taking pictures… It keep syou out of trouble and from spending money and doing dumb stuff.”

Whatever it takes I guess.  With questions at the back end of the rotation until Lilly’s return towards the end of April, it is really important for Wells to get off to a good start in 2010.  Carlos Zambrano and Ryan Dempster should be fine at the front end, but it will be up to Wells to bridge that gap in the 3-spot in front of a quartet of hopefuls – Jeff Samardzija, Sean Marshall, Carlos Silva and Tom Gorzelanny.  We’ll keep you posted here after a few weeks go by during spring training.  If 1 of the 4 breaks out with a few good appearances in a row, they could lock up a slot in the starting rotation fairly early on.

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