Archive | July, 2010

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Jim Hendry Continues to Find Ways to Turn Positives into Negatives – Please Trade Carlos Silva Now! – Cubs 5, Astros 11 – 7/19/10

Posted on 20 July 2010 by Lou

Forget about the 11-5 drubbing that the Astros handed the Cubs at Wrigley Field on Monday night.  The bigger question is this – why is GM Jim Hendry waiting so damn long to deal Carlos Silva and Ted Lilly?  Each Silva start that Hendry waits, the cheaper and cheaper Silva gets because he is coming back down to reality like we all knew he would.  Come on Jim – take action now!

Silva started the season 8-0 in his first 11 starts as a Cub.  His next 5 starts were still good and he looked like a prime candidate to be dealt sooner rather than later.  Even though his record in those 5 starts was only 1-2, he allowed just 2 ER in 4 of the starts and 3 ER in the other start.  Any team would take those numbers from their starter any day.  On July 6th, Silva still had a 9-2 record with an ERA of 2.96.  But take a look at his last 2 starts, and it looks like the “real Carlos Silva” has stood up.  In his final start before the All-Star Break, the Dodgers lit up Silva for 6 ER on 6 hits and 3 walks in 1 1/3 innings pitched (before he got tossed).  In his 1st start after the All-Star Break last night, the Astros lit him up for 5 ER on 7 hits and 2 walks in only 1 inning of work.  Not good at all.  Silva’s value has had to have taken a hit because of his last 2 starts.  When you throw in the fact that he is still owed $12.75 million in 2011 with a $2 million buyout for the 2010 season, the Cubs already expected to have to take a little of that on in order to make a deal work.  Now, dealing Silva could be in jeopardy.  Good job, Jim…

As for Ted Lilly, the guy is consistent and a bulldog out there.  It’s less important to deal Lilly, because he is a free agent at the end of 2010 and team’s might not be willing to part with prospects to rent someone like Lilly for just 11 guaranteed starts this season (with no guarantee of signing him next year).  But it would be great if the Cubs could move Lilly for a mid-level prospect or 2 and then have a handshake agreement with Lilly that the Cubs will make a strong push to sign Lilly back this off-season for another 2-3 year deal.  Lilly should be a hot commodity and I’m surprised Hendry hasn’t agreed to a deal to move Lilly yet.  Not sure what he is waiting for – like I said, the prospects that you can expect to get back for him will not be top-notch because he is a free agent at the end of the season – but you gotta think some team has made a pitch for him at this point.  Come on Jim – let’s do something here…

Aside from Silva’s disastrous start last night, you have to like some of the Cubs hitting of late:

Tyler Colvin – in the leadoff spot for a 3rd straight game, hit a solo home run in the 6th inning and drove in another run with a groundout.

Starlin Castro has been hitting better – batting average up to .288 – but went 0 for 4 hitting in the 2-hole for the 3rd straight game.

Derrek Lee had 3 hits and 2 runs scored.

Aramis Ramirez had 2 hits and 3 RBI’s with a home run.

Geovany Soto had 2 hits with a run scored and has his batting average back up to .291.

Look to see the same lineup for a while now – Colvin, Castro, Lee, Ramirez, Byrd, Soto/Soriano….

Let’s hope Ryan Dempster can get the Cubs back on track tonight against the Astros.  It would be his 9th win of the season…

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Successful Start to 2nd Half with Series Win Over Phillies @ Wrigley Field – Cubs 1, Phils 4 – 7/17/10 & Cubs 11, Phils 6 – 7/18/10

Posted on 19 July 2010 by Lou

While Saturday’s disastrous loss left a bitter taste in my mouth, you have to be pleased with the Cubs taking 3 of 4 games from the better Phillies squad this weekend at Wrigley Field.  The Cubs could really pack it in now that the season is all but over, but they played hard and they played well in the series against the Phillies.

The ageless Jamie Moyer has had some pretty incredible starts this season yet  the Cubs took it to him in the 12-6 series opening win on Thursday night. Ryan Dempster did what he needed to do to get the win.

Joe Blanton continues to baffle the Cubs – as he did in Friday afternoon’s pitching duel with Ted Lilly – but Aramis Ramirez propelled the Cubs to the 4-3 win with his game-winning home run in the 8th inning.  Carlos Marmol picked up a perfect 3-strikeout save in the 9th inning to preserve the 4-3 win.

It was another pitcher’s duel on Saturday as Randy Wells matched Cole Hamels pitch-for-pitch.  The Cubs took the 1-run lead in the bottom of the 7th inning on Ryan Theriot’s perfect suicide squeeze play that scored Starlin Castro.  Castro reached base on a double down the left field line and then made a “heads-up” play on groundball to the shortstop where Castro was able to get over to 3rd base with less than 2 outs.  Castro used his instincts to realize that since the ball was hit behind him, it was going to be a tough play to throw him out at 3rd base.  But then disaster struck in the 9th inning – Carlos Marmol walked 2 Phillies hitters but then managed to get 2 outs to give Cubs fans hope that they could get out of the jam for the 1-0 win.  But when Geovany Soto could not cleanly catch Tyler Colvin’s one hop throw to home that would have nailed Brian Schneider at the plate to end the game, the flood gates opened.  3 more walks and a wild pitch by Marmol led to a devastating 4-1 loss in front of the Wrigley Field faithful.  Just when you think that the 2010 Cubs have lost in just about every frustrating way possible, they go and lose another close game with bad play after bad play.

Fortunately, the Cubs managed to salvage game 4 of the series against Roy Halladay.  The Cubs capitalized on Halladay’s hitting Marlon Byrd twice – Geovany Soto drove him home with a homer in the 2nd inning and Alfonso Soriano drove him home with a  homer in the 6th inning.  The Cubs managed to get 6 runs on 7 hits off of Halladay and then 5 more runs on 5 hits and 1 walk off 2 relievers in the 7th inning that blew the game wide open.  Tom Gorzelanny wasn’t great – 3 runs (2 earned) on 5 hits and 5 walks in 6 2/3 innings – but he limited the damage and kept the Cubs in the game.

Kudos to Manager Lou Pinella for going with Tyler Colvin and Starlin castro 1-2 at the top of the order on both Saturday and Sunday.  Gotta give these kids chances and both responded in Sunday’s win – Colvin was 3 for 5 with 2 runs scored, while Castro was 3 for 4 with and RBI and 1 run scored.

Despite the positive weekend, the Cubs still trail the Cards by 9.5 games in the NL Central and the Reds and Rockies by 9 games in the NL Wild Card race.  But at least it looks like the team is going to fight all the way to the end.  And that’s all you can really ask for at this point in the season.

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Cubs Take 1st 2 Games v Phillies – Cubs 12, Phils 6 7/15/10 & Cubs 4, Phils 3 7/16/10

Posted on 16 July 2010 by Lou

Not the way I expected the Cubs’ 2nd half to start – with 2 wins over the Phillies at Wrigley Field.  But I guess we’ll take it.  Now the Cubs batters have to face Hamels and Halladay over the weekend – 2 guys “slightly better” than Moyer and Blanton.  Can Randy Wells and Tom Gorzelanny get the job done against the Phillies’ aces?  We’ll have to wait and see.

Thursday night – Ryan Dempster was pretty dominant –6 2/3 innings pitched – 2 ER on 6 hits and 3 walks with 9 K’s.  He lowered his WHIP to 1.20 and his ERA to 3.57.

Derrek Lee, Alfonso Soriano and Geovany Soto had home runs for the Cubs in the win.  Aramis Ramirez continued his hot hitting with 2 2-run doubles to help break open the game.

Ted Lilly sent a message to teams in need of starting pitching in the Cubs 4-3 win this afternoon.  Lilly tossed 7 great innings of 3-run ball, giving up just 4 hits (2 home runs) and 1 walk while striking out 10.  Lilly is good – let’s hope the Cubs can move him to a winner for the final few months of the season and then re-sign him to a 3-year deal in the off-season.  He is worth it.

Marlon Byrd had a 2-run home run and Aramis Ramirez – the red-hit A-Ram – won it in the 8th inning with his deep home run to left field off of Ryan Madsen.

Sweep Sweep Sweep!

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Cubs Open up 2nd Half Against Defending NL Champ Phillies @ Wrigley Field

Posted on 15 July 2010 by Lou

The Chicago Cubs open up the 2nd half of the season against the Philadelphia Phillies at Wrigley Field.  The 1st half was a half to forget, as the Cubs struggled to an atrocious 39-50 record.  They trail the Reds by 9.5 games in the NL Central race and the Colorado Rockies and Los Angeles Dodgers by 10.5 Games in the NL Wild Card race.  So much for “Year One” for the Ricketts Family – the new owners of the Cubs.  It isn’t even halfway through summer yet and it might as well be “Year 2″ already.

Ryan Dempster takes the hill in Thursday night’s opener.  He will square off against elder-statesman Jamie Moyer who has a respectable 1.08 WHIP in 2010.

The Cubs get to face the Phils’ 2 aces during the weekend series – Cole Hamels on Saturday going up against Randy Wells and Roy Halladay on Sunday night going up against Tom Gorzelanny.

While we know it won’t be a pretty 2nd half, let’s hope the team can find a way to play .500 ball for much of the final 2+ months of the season.

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Marlon Byrd Shines in National League’s 3-1 Win Over American League in All-Star Game – NL 3, AL 1 – 7/13/10

Posted on 14 July 2010 by Lou

Marlon Byrd – the Cubs lone representative in the 2010 All-Star Game – shined in the NL’s 3-1 win over the AL.

Trailing 1-0 in the 7th inning, the National League started a great scoring chance on singles by Scott Rolen and Matt Holliday to have 1st and 3rd with 2 outs.  Marlon Byrd came to the plate and worked out a tough walk against Matt Thornton. Then he came around to score the NL’s 3rd run on Brian McCann’s bases-clearing double that won the game for the National League.  Byrd’s eagle eye at the plate kept the inning alive for McCann’s heroics.

Byrd also made a spectacular play in the 9th inning to end a scoring threat for the AL.  David Ortiz singled against Jonathan Broxton to lead off the 9th inning.  With one out, John Buck hit a little flair out to right field that fell in front of Byrd.  Byrd played the hop perfectly to his left and spun around to throw a perfect one-hop strike to Rafael Furcal at 2nd base.  Ortiz, who had to play it safe in case Byrd caught the ball on the fly in shallow right, was in no man’s land.  A faster runner may have beat out Byrd’s throw – raising questions as to why Manager Joe Girardi did not use Alex Rodriguez (the sole AL player available) to pinch run for Ortiz – but Ortiz did not get there in time and just like that there were 2 outs.  Broxton then got Ian Kinsler to fly out to right center field to end the game.  It was the National League’s first win in the Midsummer Classic since 1996.

Good job Marlon – you represented the Cubs well…

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Andrew Cashner — Great Pitcher, Better Teammate – 7/13/10

Posted on 13 July 2010 by Lou

Cubs rookie pitcher Andrew Cashner has looked good on the mound in 2010.  He has also earned the praises of his teammates in the clubhouse as well.  The Cubs certainly have a bright future with some of their young players, which is certainly something to look forward to especially given the poor play on the field.

Cashner was the Cubs 1st round draft pick in 2008 (the 19th pick overall) and he has appeared in 16 games during the 2010 MLB schedule.  Despite an 0-3 record (with all 3 losses coming on 3 consecutive appearances for Cashner back at the end of June), he has put up solid numbers for a rookie reliever.  In 18 2/3 innings pitched, he has yielded just 5 earned runs on 17 hits and 9 walks.  All good for a 1.39 WHIP and 2.41 ERA.  He has also racked up 15 K’s.

More importantly, Cahsner is also winning over his teammates.  For example, in Sunday’s 7-0 loss to the Dodgers in L.A., Cashner had the back of his teammate Marlon Byrd.  Dodgers’ pitcher Vincent Padilla (who had perfect control and a no-hitter for a good chunk of the game) surprisingly plunked Byrd with a pitch in the 7th inning with the Dodgers leading by 7 runs (Byrd had made “mean” comments about Padilla’s performances and his subsequent trade from the Rangers back in 2008).  The next inning, Cashner entered the game in relief and he quickly nailed Dodgers 2nd baseman Blake DeWitt with a pitch.  Cashner claimed that he was “a little excited coming into the game” and that the ball somehow “slipped” out of his control during his delivery.  Gotta love it.  Byrd had this to say — “Cashner is a great teammate.”

Good job Cashner – no better way to earn your stripes than to have the back of your teammates.  This guy has good stuff and as we wrote yesterday, I’m really looking forward to the pending Lilly and Silva departures so that maybe Cashner can get back into the starting rotation.

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Cubs Need to Move Ted Lilly & Carlos Silva Fast — Cubs 0, Dodgers 7 — Sunday 7/11/10

Posted on 12 July 2010 by Lou

The Chicago Cubs need to move Ted Lilly and Carlos Silva fast before teams see more outings like the ones they tossed over the weekend against the Dodgers in L.A.

Ted Lilly looked awful –the Dodgers offense lit him up for 7 runs (5 earned) on 7 hits and 2 walks in just 3 2/3 innings.  He served up 1 home run and has now given up 16 homers in just 97 innings in 2010.  Not good.  His WHIP looks solid still – 1.15, but his ERA has slowly crept over 4 at 4.08.  In his last 5 starts, he has allowed at least 5 ER in 3 of the games (in the other 2 games he allowed just 1 ER in each start)

Carlos Silva couldn’t even make it through 2 innings before he got tossed for arguing a bang-bang fielding play at 1st base.  He allowed a 3-run home run to James Loney in the 1st inning and ended up giving up 6 ER on 6 hits and 3 walks.  He had 2 K’s.  His WHIP (1.14) and ERA (3.45) still look great, so the time is now to move this “average” “out-of-shape” righty even if we have to agree to take some of his remaining 2011 salary on.

Come on GM Jim Hendry – you have screwed so many other things up in the last 3 years, let’s not screw this up.  There are plenty of teams that would love starting pitching for the 2nd half of the season.  Lilly has pitched for the Yankees before and now that they lost out on Cliff Lee, Lilly makes perfect sense in a Yankees uniform.  Silva could go to a few National League teams – the Mets, Phillies, Dodgers.  Come on big guy – let’s pull the trigger on these guys right now while the oven is hot…

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Cubs Bad Weekend in L.A. Continues — Cubs 7, Dodgers 9 Friday 7/9/10 & Cubs 7, Dodgers 3 Saturday 7/10/10

Posted on 11 July 2010 by Lou

On Friday night, the Cubs lost to the Dodgers 9-7.  Ted Lilly had one of his worst starts of the season — 3 2/3 innings, 7 hits, 7 runs (5 earned), 2 walks.  Although the Cubs racked up 11 hits and made it interesting in the end, they still lost.  Marlon Byrd stroked 4 hits and had 3 RBI’s.  Aramis Ramirez had 3 hits , 1 RBI and 2 runs scored and he is finally over the Mendoza line @ .204.

On Saturday afternoon on FOX, the Cubs bounced back with a 7-3 win behind a strong outing from Tom Gorzelanny.  Gorzelanny picked up his 4th win of the season, going 6 innings and giving up just 1 ER on 6 hits with 7 K’s.  He now has a 3.16 season ERA – not too shabby.  Geovany Soto paced the Cubs offense with 3 hits and 3 RBI’s.  Starlin Castro, Aramis Ramirez and Derrek Lee each had 2 hits in the win.

We’ll have more on Sunday’s loss on Monday, but it is not looking good – down 7-0 in the 8th inning.  Vincent Padilla no-hit the Cubs until Castro doubled to lead off the 6th inning.

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Cubs Blow Perfect Opportunity to Pick up Ground on Reds & Cards – Cubs 2, Dodgers 3 – 7/8/10

Posted on 09 July 2010 by Lou

The Cubs blew a perfect opportunity to pick up ground on the Reds & Cards, but lost to the Dodgers 3-2.  Instead of moving up to “just” 9.5 games behind the Reds and 6.5 games, behind the Cards (who had both lost already), the Cubs stayed put in the standings.  This game – like so many others – have summed up how frustrating a year it has been for the club and Cubs fans alike.

Cubs starter pitches a great 6 or 7 innings, but because of a “weak” bullpen, Manager Lou Pinella opts to keep him in a batter or 2 too long.  Wells had dominated the Dodgers for 6 innings, giving up just 4 hits and 1 run.  He gave up a lead off single to Russell Martin and while Pinella might have mad a move then with a deeper staff, he had to let Wells finish it out.  Wells did get the next 2 batters out, but Rafael Furcal hit a 2-run home run that gave the Dodgers the 3-2 lead.  It was only Furcal’s 6th homer of the season.  And as so often has happened this season, a close Cubs lead of 1 or 2 runs turned into another frustrating nightmare as the opposition rallied for a late run or 2.

The Cubs were stymied for most of the night by Clay Kershaw, but they got 7 hits off of him.  They scored on an Alfonso Soriano solo home run and a Geovany Soto RBI single, but that was it.  In a game that the Cubs knew would be close, the 3rd inning was particularly frustrating.  With 1 out, Ryan Theriot singled to right field, but then got picked off of 1st base by Kershaw.  The man at the plate – Marlon Byrd – then singled, but his aggressive base-running forced him to get thrown out at 2nd base.  So even though the Cubs got 2 hits in the inning, they didn’t really threaten because of their base-running mistakes.  With a team like this that is struggling to score runs (and that has typically struggled to score runs in Los Angeles), you cannot make those mistakes and expect to win.

As I wrote yesterday, the Cubs really needed to win 3 of 4 against the Dodgers to finish off a 6-1 road trip before the All-Star Break.  That means they now need to win the final 3 games of this series – which is not going to happen.  Let’s just hope that Ted Lilly and Carlos Silva both pitch well to help increase their trade value over the next few weeks….

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Stop the Presses — Cubs Making Move in NL Races Right Now (sort of)! – Cubs 8, Diamondbacks 3- 7/7/10

Posted on 08 July 2010 by Lou

The Cubs pulled off a rare series sweep with their 8-3 win over the D’Backs on Wednesday night at Chase Field in Arizona.  Why is this such a big deal?  Well unless you’ve been hibernating somewhere the last 3 months, series wins, let alone series sweeps are the exception to the rule for this underachieving 2010 Cubs squad.  Let’s look at what this series meant for this Cubs team heading into the All-Star Break with just 1 all-star player – Marlon Byrd.

First, winning the 1st game of the series on Monday marked the 1st time that the Cubs had won the 1st game of a series since the Cubs beat the Dodgers back on May 25th at Wrigley Field (wow, that was a LOT of 1st’s).

Second, the series win marked only the 2nd series win for the Cubs since the end of May.  The Cubs won a series against the A’s at Wrigley Field back from June 15th through June 17th – their only series win during the month.

Third, the series SWEEP was only the Cubs 2nd series sweep of the season.  The Cubs swept the Brewers in Milwaukee from April 23rd through April 25th.

Now I know what you’re thinking – sure, the Cubs did it against the 2nd worst team in the National League.  That may be true, but if you look at what the Cubs have done against the WORST TEAM in the NL (the Pittsburgh Pirates have already beaten the Cubs 11 out of 13 times this year), you’ll realize that the Cubs just need to take a win when they get one.  They have been so far and few between in this disastrous 2010 season, I would even take a win against a Little League team if MLB would allow it (although with this squad, I’m not sure I would even want to schedule a game against a Little League team in case the unthinkable happened).

In any event, I’m going to take this a step further.  The Cubs are 38-47 and they stand 10.5 games behind the Cincinnati Reds for 1st place in the NL Central and 9 games behind the Colorado Rockies and New York Mets in the NL Wild Card race.  Sure there are a lot of teams to overcome, but could they pull off an amazing run and make things interesting in the 2nd half?!  The Cubs still have 6 games against the Reds (which is probably NOT a good thing given the way the Reds torched the Cubs 30-8 in 4 games at Wrigley Field this past weekend) and they still have 12 games against the St. Louis Cardinals.  Beating those teams is an easy way to get right back in the thick of it.  Bottom line – this 4 game road trip to L.A. to take on the Dodgers starting tonight will do a lot to tell what kind of psyche the Cubs will have going into the 2nd half.  Taking 3 of 4 or all 4 would give the Cubs a TON of confidence going into the Break.  Winning 2 or less would just prove that 2010 is not the Cubs year (for a 102nd straight year) and that it’s time for the Ricketts Family and GM Jim Hendry to start moving players while their value is most high (Ted Lilly, Carlos Silva just to name a few).

Aramis Ramirez is finally heating up – he had 5 hits in the Arizona series including 3 home runs and 7 RBI’s.  Ryan Theriot, Derrek Lee and Marlon Byrd each had 2 hits in the 8-3 Wednesday night win, so it could be a sign that the entire offense is starting to get hot at the right time.

Ryan Dempster wasn’t great (3 ER on 8 hits and 1 walk in 5 innings of work), but he did enough to keep the Cubs right in the game.  The Cubs bullpen — James Russell, Andrew Cashner, Sean Marshall and Justin Berg – combined to pitch 4 scoreless innings, so it was a total team effort last night.

Guess we’ll just have to wait and see how it all shakes out in the city of angels the rest of the week – should be interesting…

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