Archive | August, 2010

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Zambrano Sharp Again; Cubs Offense Explodes – Cubs 14, Pirates 2 – 8/30/10 Wrigley Field

Posted on 31 August 2010 by Lou

Carlos Zambrano is making it tough off the Cubs management with another “good” start in the Cubs 14-2 win over the Pirates on Monday night at Wrigley Field.  The Cubs handed interim manager Mike Quade his 1st managerial win at the Friendly Confines in an easy win.

Zambrano gave up just 1 unearned run in 5 1/3 innings as he evened his record at 6-6.  He scattered 4 hits and 4 walks while striking out 7 Pirates hitters.  While he hasn’t had the best control since returning to the rotation in early August, Zambrano has has not allowed more than 2 ER in any of his 5 starts.  In his last 3 starts, he has allowed just a total of 2 ER.  Zambrano is still owed $39 million over the next 2 years, so the Cubs have a major decision with what to do with the big righty.  If the Cubs can find a taker for Big Z without having to eat a major chunk of the remaining money owed to him, I would think that the Cubs would move him without thinking twice about it.  But if a team willing to take Zambrano would want the Cubs to pay a large chunk of that $39 million, the Cubs should pass on it.  Assuming Zambrano keeps his act together for the rest of this season and assuming he shows that he is willing to work hard in the off-season, it would be better for the Cubs to take their chances with the big righty.  He can still be effective as a starter as he has shown the last 5 starts and would fit in nicely in the middle of the rotation assuming the Cubs can bring in a bigger name free agent pitcher this off-season.

The Cubs offense exploded in the win:

Aramis Ramirez led the way with 2 hits and 4 RBI’s.

Starlin Castro had 3 hits and 3 runs scored and his .313 batting average now puts him 5th in the National League for the batting crown.

Jeff Baker in the lead-off spot again against the lefty Paul Maholm notched 2 hits, driving in 2 runs and scoring twice.

Marlon Byrd did the same – 2 hits, 2 RBI’s and 2 runs scored.

Xavier Nady and Koyie Hill each had 2 hits, while Carlos Zambrano hit a 2-run home run in the 5th inning.

18 hits, 14 runs scored – one of the bets nights all season long for the Cubs.

Cubs fielding, however, continued to be an issue.  Errors by Darwin Barney and Alfonso Soriano led to unearned runs scoring in the 6th and 8th innings.  In a closer game, those errors could have come back to haunt the Cubs.

In a pre-game ceremony, the Cubs honored Andre Dawson for his 2010 induction into the Hall of Fame.  Dawson spent 6 seasons on the north side of Chicago and he won the NL MVP Award with the Cubs back in 1987.  Dawson was excited to share the special night with his favorite Cubs fans — “You are the greatest fans ever.  Without you I wouldn’t be standing here tonight.”

Ryan Dempster looks to make it 2 in a row for the Cubs over Jeff Karstens and the Pirates.  Dempster has had a great August — 4-0 with a 1.31 ERA in 5 starts — and he has 12 wins with a 3.42 ERA overall.

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Not What the Doctor Ordered for Cubs in Cincy – Cubs 3, Reds 2 – Saturday 8/28/10 & Cubs 5, Reds 7 – Sunday 8/29/10

Posted on 30 August 2010 by Lou

I hate to admit this, but the Cubs actually played better than I thought they would against the Reds in Cincinnati this weekend.  They were going up against 3 pitchers that have given them fits in the past — Johnny Cueto, Bronson Arroyo and Travis Wood.  Plus, they were coming off of a 3-game losing streak, the perfect time for the Cubs to go into a nose dive and perform miserably against a good Reds team.  While Friday night’s 7-1 loss was entirely expected, I was surprised that the Cubs stayed in both games over the weekend, splitting the Saturday and Sunday contests.

There really weren’t too many highlights, but here’s a quick re-cap:

Cubs 3, Reds 2 Saturday night -

Randy Wells continues to be an enigma in 2010.  Sometime he looks great like he did on Saturday night and other times he looks lost out there as his 6-12 record indicates.  He limited the Reds to just 6 hits and 2 walks over 6 innings.  He gave up a Joey Votto home run and an RBI single in the 6th inning, but otherwise limited the Reds scoring chances throughout his outing.  Bronson Arroyo limited the Cubs offense to just 6 hits in 7 innings, but he made 2 costly mistakes.  He served up Xavier Nady’s solo homer in the 2nd inning and then Kosuke Fukudome’s game-winning 2-run homer in the 5th inning.

One other pitching positive – the bullpen preserved the 3-2 lead handed to them by Wells.  James Russell worked a scoreless 7th inning while striking out the side.  Andrew Cashner worked a perfect 8th as did Carlos Marmol in the 9th inning as he picked up his 24th save.  We know what we have in Marmol, but once again, Cashner and Russell could potentially be good pitchers at the major league level for years to come.  It’s just a matter of getting these kids and building their confidence by getting them in games in the right situations.  Let’s hope Manager Mike Quade can continue to do that the rest of the year with these young pitchers so that they have the right mental attitude heading into the 2011 MLB schedule.

Cubs 5, Reds 7 Sunday afternoon -  The Cubs squandered a great number of chances against Wood and Arthur Rhodes.  The Cubs got 10 hits and 4 walks off of Wood, but only scored 3 times.  You have to do better than that.  A couple of typical bad Cubs moments — bases loaded in the 1st inning and only 1 out and the Cubs don’t score; Jeff Baker makes the 3rd out at 3rd base in the 2nd inning on Starlin Castro’s RBI single; & 2nd and 3rd and 1 out in the 5th inning and they only push across 1 run on a ground out.  Kosuke Fukduome went from here to goat in just 1 short innings-time.  He hit a game-tying 2-run home run off of Arthur Rhodes in the top of the 8th inning.  Then in the bottom half of the inning, his fielding error in right field allowed Chad Heisey to score all the way from 1st base on Ramon Hernandez’s single.   That was the difference in the game.  Jeff Baker, Starlin Castro, Marlon Byrd, Xavier Nady and Geovany Soto each had 2 hits in the loss.

Casey Coleman was back to his mediocre self after a really nice outing against the Nationals.  He gave up 4 ER on 8 hits in 6 innings.  But more importantly, he did not walk a batter.  That is always a good sign for a young pitcher.

Now it is time for the Cubs to battle their 2010 nemesis in a 3-game set this week at Wrigley Field.  The Pittsburgh Pirates come to town with their mouths watering for blood.  Despite an overall record of 43-87 — the worst record in the entire major leagues, the Pirates have beaten the Cubs 9 out of 12 times this season — ouch!  Look out Carlos Zambrano – you better bring your A-game tonight at the Friendly Confines.

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Gorzelanny Cracks Under Pressure in Cincinnati – Cubs 1, Reds 7 – 8/27/10 Great American Ballpark

Posted on 28 August 2010 by Lou

Tom Gorzelanny had a golden opportunity to continue to showcase his stuff for a 2010 starting rotation spot.  He was going up against the 1st place Reds in a hostile environment facing a lineup that loves to rake in its home park.  It was the perfect time to show that he can pitch on the big stage against one of the more productive lineups in the National League today, but Gorzelanny cracked under the spotlight, giving up 6 ER on 7 hits (including 3 home runs) over his 5 innings of work.  Maybe he just had an off-night, but he clearly showed that he is still simply a back-of-the-rotation starter on your average-to-bad major league ballclub.  Gorzelanny walked 2 and struck out 1 and fell to 7-8 on the season with a 3.98 ERA.  The ERA is still under 4.00 (a stat I like), but with his 1.46 WHIP, he gives too many teams too many chances throughout an outing.  And eventually, that usually comes back to haunt you like it did last night.  Jay Bruce stroked 3 home runs on the night (2 off of Gorzelanny) and Chris Valaika stroked the other homer off of Gorzelanny.

The Cubs offense left a lot to be desired as well.  The team only managed 6 hits off of Johnny Cueto and a Reds reliever.  They didn’t draw a single walk on the night.  Xavier Nady and Marlon Byrd each had 2 hits for the Cubs.  Tyler Colvin drove in the only Cubs run with a double in the 4th inning.  Blake DeWitt had the only other Cubs hit in the lead-off spot.

So, the Cubs 3-game winning streak has ended, and now it’s back to reality after winning 3 games in a row over the Nationals.  Sure the Nationals have a better record than the Cubs in 2010, but are they really that much better of a team?  Probably not.  But the Reds are one of the best teams in the NL this year, and it’s clear that the Cubs cannot compete at their level.  Randy Wells will give it a shot tonight as he takes on Bronson Arroyo in Game 2 of the series tonight at the Great American Ballpark.

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Cubs Trying to Upset Reds while Managerial Search Heats Up – Cubs, Reds – 8/27/10 Great American Ballpark

Posted on 27 August 2010 by Lou

While the Cubs are riding high after a 3-game sweep of the Nationals, the Cubs managerial search has heated up for a number of reasons. The Cubs invade Cincinnati this weekend to take on the Reds who are led by former Cubs Manager Dusty Baker.  Baker has a bright, young pitching staff and a high octane offensive unit that have the Reds leading the NL Central.  After an up-and-down tenure with the Cubs – he had 1 NL Central division crown and playoff appearance that ended with the disastrous collapse against the Florida Marlins in Game 7 of the NLCS – a series that the Cubs led 3 games to 1 – the Cubs replaced Baker with another older, experienced manager – Lou Pinella.  Pinella was more fiery than Baker ever was, and he was definitely NOT a “player’s manager – but he was an old school guy like Baker.  Although Pinella led the team to 2 straight NL Central Division titles and 2 playoff appearances, but when the Cubs exited each October with a 3-game sweep at the hands of an NL-West ballclub, those losses really seemed to take a toll on Pinella.  He never achieved that success in his final 2 seasons and he finally retired this past Sunday to take care of personal matters.

Now the question looming is – what kind of manager do the Cubs and the Ricketts Family want to lead the Cubs into the future?  Do they want an older manager in the mold of Baker or Pinella or do they want to find that young diamond in the rough who will be innovative and creative in leading the Cubs back from the disastrous 2010 MLB schedule?  There are choices on either side of the fence.

Tony LaRussa, Bobby Cox and Joe Torre are all at the end of their contracts with their respective teams.  The Cubs just interviewed former Indians Manager Eric Wedge and have indicated that Bob Brenly (currently in the Cubs broadcast booth) will also be a candidate at some point down the line.  These former managers all have experience and they have all experiences success with World Series titles (save for Wedge), but is this what the Cubs really need to invigorate the system and a frustrated fan base.

On the other side of the fence, you have Cubs great – Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg.  Sandberg has done everything that the Cubs have asked him to do and is in his 4th year managing in the Cubs minor league system.  Sandberg wet his feet in his 1st 2 seasons managing, but really blossomed the last 2 seasons, leading the Double-A Tennessee team to the playoffs in 2009 and currently managing the Triple-A Iowa team to the best record in their league.  He knows the Cubs minor league talent better than anyone, so does it make the most sense to move Sandberg up to the major league level even though he had never managed at that level?  And then you also have a former Cubs catcher – Joe Girardi – who has managed 2 different teams at the major league level with great success.  He even won a World Series with the Yankees just a year ago.  The focus on Girardi has grown even bigger because the Yankees are in town to take on the White Sox on the south side this weekend. He has said all the right things:  “My focus is here…  I have a responsibility to the organization and to the guys in that clubhouse and that’s where my focus is. I’m very happy here. This organization has been great to me.”  But what else can he say.  He never specifically said that he would definitely be back in NY in 2010 and he has always indicated that the Cubs managerial job would be a dream job for him.  So who knows.  It seems unlikely that the Yankees would let him go or that the Cubs would be willing to pay him enough money, but if the stars align, we could see Girardi in charge of the Cubs in 2010.

My gut tells me that Girardi will turn down the Cubs and then it will be Sandberg’s job to lose.  Bringing in an older, “set-in-his-ways” Manager like a Cox, Torre or LaRussa doesn’t seem like the best long-term move to make because the Cubs have so much rebuilding to do (even though they won’t come out and say it).  Plus, unless the Ricketts Family is really willing to jack up the 2011 payroll, the Cubs are not in a position to be a player in free agency for at least another 2 seasons because of the exorbitant contracts still on the books for Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Zambrano, Kosukue Fukudome, Carlos Silva (via Milton Bradley) and Aramis Ramirez.  That leaves little ability for the Cubs GM to add veteran free-agent talent to complement the growth movement that the Cubs are trying to do with Starlin Castro, Tyler Colvin, Geovany Soto and some of their young pitchers.

As for the weekend series against the Reds, Tom Gorzelanny will make the start tonight against Johnny Cueto.  He has 7 wins on the season with a nice 3.70 ERA.  He is still out to show Cubs brass that he can be a durable starter in the Cubs rotation in 2010, so Gorzelanny has a lot to prove over the final month.  Starlin Castro has continued his hot hitting, taking a modest 5-game hitting streak into the Reds series.  He is hitting .315 on the season, and once he gets the requisite number of at-bats, he should find himself in the top 5 for National League hitters in batting average.  Tyler Colvin started 2 of the 3 games against the Nationals under Mike Quade, so look for Colvin to see more action the rest of the way.  After the weekend series in Cincinnati, the Cubs will return home for a nice 9-game homestand at the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field from August 30th through September 8th.

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Dempster, Cubs Sweep Nationals in DC – Cubs 4, Nationals 0 – 8/25/10 Nationals Park

Posted on 26 August 2010 by Lou

Ryan Demspter pitched the Cubs to their 1st series sweep since early July as the Cubs beat the Nationals 4-0.

Now it is off to take on the Reds in a 3-game weekend series against the NL Central-leading Cincinnati ballclub.

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Can the Cubs Trust Carlos Zambrano in 2010? – Cubs 5, Nationals 4 – 8/24/10 Nationals Park

Posted on 25 August 2010 by Lou

Can the Cubs trust Carlos Zambrano for the 2010 MLB schedule?  It is a great question.  Zambrano continued his surprisingly good return from his anger management treatment with a 4th straight positive start.  This one was clearly his best as his control – both mental and physical – were clearly on display.  Big Z has yet to let up more than 2 ER in any of his last 4 starts, and although his control has been suspect in 2 of the starts (7 walks in 5 innings against the Giants and 6 walks against the Padres in 6 innings), he is putting the Cubs in position to win ball games.  He is 2-0 in the 4 starts.  In last night’s 5-4 win, Zambrano worked into the 8th inning, striking out 8 batters along the way. He ran out of steam in the 8th inning after giving up a 1-out hit to Nyger Morgan on his 108th pitch.  Manager Mike Quade (I’m still having trouble saying that) decided to go with the usually-reliable Sean Marshall who promptly loaded the bases with walks to Ryan Zimmerman and Adam Dunn.  So Quade had to call upon Carlos Marmol to put out the threat, which he did when he struck out Ian Desmond.  Marmol made things interesting in the 9th inning when he loaded the bases on 2 walks, a balk and hit and then gave up a bases-clearing double to Adam Kennedy to turn a 4-run lead into a 1-run lead.  But he got Zimmerman to fly out to right field to end the game and preserve the win for Quade and the Cubs.

It would have been interesting to see Big Z’s reaction had Marmol fully blown the save with his disastrous 9th inning. Would the “old-angry” Zambrano have erupted if the Cubs ended up losing the game, costing Zambrano a win.  Or would we have seen the “softer-compassionate” Zambrano give Marmol a hug after he blew the game, consoling him with words of kindness and “Go Get ‘Em tomorrow kid.”  While I’d like to think that Zambrano would have been “fine” with a loss, part of me can’t help but wonder when the next “Z-eruption” will occur.  He is 5-6 on the season, but it’s tough to judge his 1.68 WHIP and 4.64 ERA.  He had so many poor starts early in the season and a few bad relief outings which has really skewed his numbers.  The recent walk issues haven’t helped his WHIP at all either.  I guess we’ll have to see how he pitches the rest of the way.  He is dealing with a sick nephew in Venezuela who could die at any moment from an infectious disease, so Big Z’s focus could be a bit limited over the remaining 6 starts or so, but it would be nice to see him continue to pitch well down the stretch.  It wouldn’t completely convince me that the Cubs need to keep Big Z on the roster in 2010, but it would make that decision that much tougher.

I guess if Big Z’s trade value improves with more good starts, then I would be open to dealing him, but only if the Cubs don’t have to pay a good chunk of his salary.  But if a team is only going to take him IF the Cubs take on 50% of his salary (he is owed just under $40 million over the next 2 seasons), I would advise against it.  For as much of a headache as he can be, he is still young at 29 years of age and if he can give the Cubs innings and wins over the final 2 years of the deal, it may be worth it to keep him and then use him as a trade chip for a contender in July 2012 – the year before he becomes a free agent.  Sure, Big Z is clearly not worth the $91.5 million GM Jim Hendry agreed to pay him in his new deal back in 2008, but to get pennies on the dollar for Big Z in an off-season move now, might not be the best move for the Cubs for the 2010 and 2011 MLB seasons.

Alfonso Soriano and Tyler Colvin continued to respond to their new spots in the lineup under Quade.  In the 7-hole, Soriano crushed a 3-run home run to deep left field that gave the Cubs an early 3-0 lead in the 2nd inning.  In the 4th inning, Colvin extended the Cubs lead to 5-1 with a 2-run homer to deep right that scored Soriano (who had reached on an error).  Colvin was the only Cubs player with more than 1 hit on the night.

Ryan Dempster and the Cubs go for the sweep over the Nationals tonight in Washington, DC.  They will take on their former teammate Jason Marquis who has yet to win in 2010 – he has lost all 6 of his starts during the 2010 MLB schedule, pitching 5 innings only once all season long.  He has a hefty 11.39 ERA and 2.25 WHIP as he is still dealing with elbow surgery recovery 3 months ago…

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MyCubsToday Partners with Ticketchest.com on Great Cubs Tickets Deals for Rest of 2010 Home Games @ Wrigley Field

Posted on 24 August 2010 by Lou

As most of you remember, MyCubsToday partnered with Ticketchest.com to give away 2 free Cubs tickets to a select number of games during the 2009 MLB season.  We tossed around a few ideas for 2010 as well, but could never get anything off the ground and running, especially with the way the team has played all season.  While we know that demand might not be great to go see one of the final 15 Cubs home games at the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field in August or September this season, we wanted to tempt you a little with some great ticket deals from our friends at Ticketchest.com.

*****Special Featured Offer*****

Tuesday 9/7 Back-to-School Special v. Houston Astros:

Terrace Reserved Seats in Section 231 (block of 30 tickets) starting at $10 each – way below face value!!!

Half Price Bleachers Tickets – $20.00 each.

500 Level Seats starting at $5.00 each.

Wednesday 9/8 Back-to-School Special v. Houston Astros:

Terrace Reserved Seats in Section 233 (block of 20 tickets) starting at $10 each – way below face value!!!

Half Price Bleachers Tickets – $20.00 each.

500 Level Seats starting at $5.00 each.

*****Other Great Offers*****

Cubs-Pirates Monday 8/30 & Tuesday 8/31 – 1/2 Price Bleachers Tickets ($25 each) & 200 terrace reserved seats (starting at $15.00 each).

Cubs-Mets Labor Day Weekend Series – 9/3 – 9/5 – 500 Level Seats starting at $10.00 each; 200 Level Seats starting at $22.00 each; Below Face Value Bleachers All Weekend Long (Friday & Sunday $35.00 each; Saturday $39.00 each).

Cubs-Giants Series – 9/21 – 9/23 – Come See Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain & Barry Zito – 500 Level Seats starting at $5.00 each; 200 Level Seats starting at $10.00 each; Below Face Value Bleachers All Series Long – $22.00 each.

We take our recommendations very seriously here at MyCubsToday, so it is with great pleasure and confidence that we give Ticketchest.com our vote of confidence.  Ticketchest.com is a full service, licensed ticket broker located right in the heart of Wrigleyville – just 1 1/2 blocks south of Wrigley Field on Clark Street on the west side of the street.  They are located on the 2nd floor of 3516 North Clark Street, right above Merkles Bar & Grill – another fixture in Wrigleyville for the last 5 years.  What more can you ask for – a great selection of Cubs tickets at low, low prices from a local merchant helping to grow the Wrigleyville area.  Why pay more to the Cubs directly, when you can get the same or better seats for below face value at Ticketchest.com?!?!  Seems like a no-brainer to us.  Just make sure you tell them your friends at MyCubsToday sent you their way when you place your order.

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Coleman Helps Quade Earn 1st Win as Cubs Manager; More Lou Memories – Cubs 9, Nationals 1 – 8/23/10 Nationals Park

Posted on 24 August 2010 by Lou

Casey Coleman looked sharp in his 2nd major league start and the Cubs gave Mike Quade his 1st win as the Cubs skipper with an easy 9-1 win over the Nationals in Washington, DC.

Coleman worked into the 7th inning giving up just 1ER on 3 hits and 2 walks.  Coleman wanted to make it through the full 7 innings, but he gave up a single and a double to start the inning and then an RBI ground out to Ivan Rodriguez which plated the Nationals only run.  After Coleman walked Willie Harris to put 2 men on and only 1 out, Quade opted to go with Andrew Cashner to get him out of the jam.  Cashner came through with a double play groundout to end the threat and then pitched a perfect 8th inning as well to give him his most efficient outing in a while.  Hopefully both Coleman and Cashner take the positives from last night’s game and build some confidence before the end of the season.  Guys like Coleman, Cashner, Diamond, Berg are the future of the Cubs pitching staff, so it would be great to see them finish strong after such a long and brutal 2010 campaign.

The bats also came to life for Quade. Quade didn’t waste any time making some immediate changes to Lou Pinella’s lineup.  He moved Blake DeWitt into the leadoff spot (he has had a .392 on-base percentage since he joined the Cubs); he inserted Tyler Colvin back into the lineup in the 6-hole (Pinella inexplicably kept Colvin out of the lineup for most of the last homestand because he was in a hitting slump – gimme a break Lou – what Cubs hitter wasn’t in a hitting daze all season long?); and he dropped Alfonso Soriano into the 7-hole.  Each move paid off.

DeWitt went 3 for 5 with 2 RBI’s and a home run.  He is now hitting .284 on the season and looks to be a fixture opposite Starlin Castro in the middle of the infield.

Colvin had a 2-run single in the 3rd inning which increased the Cubs lead at the time to 3-0.  He did end up striking out 3 times, however.

And Soriano went 2 for 5 with 2 RBI’s and a run scored.  His 2-run triple in the 5th inning helped open up the game to 5-0.

Castro had 2 hits, Xavier Nady had 3 hits and 2 runs scored and Kosuke Fukudome had 2 more hits and an RBI after coming into the game for Marlon Byrd who was hit by a pitch on the hand.  X-rays were negative, but he will likely miss a game or 2 to make sure he is fully healthy.

As for the end of the Lou Pinella era, it was a mixed back for the 67-year old manager.  In his 1st season as Managers, he lead the team to an 85-77 record in 2007 and an NL Central Division crown.  His club faced the #1 seed Arizona Diamondbacks in the 1st round of the playoffs, however, and his questionable early removal of Carlos Zambrano in the 7th inning of Game 1 of the series paved the way for the series sweep.  The Cubs finished 97-64 in 2008.  The Cubs had the best record in the National League during the regular season and another NL Central Division Crown.  Hopes were high for a trip to the World Series and the unthinkable World Series, but the Cubs pitching and hitting deserted them as they were swept out of the playoffs by the Dodgers in 3 games.  The Cubs finished 83-78 in 2009.  When Lou announced his departure after the game on Sunday, the team’s record was 51-74 through the first 125 games of the 2010 MLB schedule.  Not the best way to leave his legacy, but it is what it is.

His best years were probably 2007 when he turned the team around after a horrendous start to the season.  After a slow start, Pinella jump-started his team by getting tossed from a game by the 3rd base umpire in a May game.  He also helped orchestrate the departure of disgruntled catcher Michael Barrett who got into an altercation with Carlos Zambrano.  Barrett was clearly a disruption to the rest of the clubhouse and Lou didn’t want him around anymore.  GM JIm Hendry worked a deal to move Barrett to the San Diego Padres, and after that the Cubs were one of the best teams in baseball through the final 2/3 of the season.  Pinella helped lead them all the way to the division crown that season.  In 2008, everything went right for the Cubs – great hitting, great pitching; lots of come-from-behind wins; lots of close wins, so to say that was his best year is probably an overstatement.  When things go that right, there are usually other things going on other than the Manager.  In 2009, even though the Cubs trailed the Cards by 7.5 games in the NL Central and the Rockies 8.5 for the wild card spot at the end of the season, Lou did an amazing job with his rag-tag bunch of players.  Lou had no Aramis Ramirez for over a third of the season and he had to deal with the Milton Bradley and Carlos Zambrano nightmares for good chunks of the season as well.  It was team that was falling apart at the seams and Lou did his best to keep it together, leading the c lub to a 3rd straight winning season – the 1st time that had been done since the organization had 6 straight winning seasons from 1967 through 1972.  Lou kept the Cubs in contention until the end, even though the team had big problems getting clutch hits and winning close games – they were 16-22 in 1-run games in 2009.  The year took a toll on him and that clearly carried over into the 2010 season.  In 2010, the Cubs were just 28-38 at home and 24-35 on the road under Pinella.  Even worse, the Cubs were a miserable 15-30 in 1 run games.  Take a look at teams who have played around 44 1-run games in 2010 — and you can see how much better they fared than the Cubs – the lowly Royals are 23-24 in their 47 1-run games; the Rays are 22-22 in their 44 1-run games; even the 2 worst teams in baseball play better than the Cubs in 1-run games – the Pirates are 41-84 overall but 17-19 in 1-run games and the Orioles are 44-81 overall but 22-18 in 1-run games.  When you can’t win close games and when you can’t come through with clutch hits on a regular basis, you are not going to win a lot of games.  And that’s just what happened in 2010.

Well enough of my blabbering and statistics.  I was planning on throwing in some Lou quotes, but maybe I will save that for tomorrow.  Stay tuned…

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Bye Bye Lou – Sweet Lou’s Last Day as Cubs Manager Ends on Down Note – Cubs 5, Braves 16 – 8/22/10 Wrigley Field

Posted on 23 August 2010 by Lou

It should not have come as much of a surprise the way the Cubs players sent Lou Pinella off during his last game as Cubs Manager.  The Cubs lost another series at Wrigley Field with their 16-5 loss to the Braves on Sunday.  Despite racking up the same number of hits as the Braves – lucky number 13 – the Braves made their hits count more – scoring 16 runs in the process.  Omar Infante and Jason Heyward each belted 2 home runs in the onslaught against Randy Wells and 4 rookie relievers.  It was definitely not the way that Lou wanted to go out, but given the fact that he pretty much gave up a long time ago, you can’t really expect too much more from his players.  I know Pinella has a lot of personal issues going on, but you can’t help but wonder if he had shown as much emotion during the season as he showed before the game when he announced it would be his last, maybe the results would have been a little bit different this season.  Pinella started his tenure as Cubs manager with a lot more emotion and fire.  Maybe the Milton Bradley saga was too much for him to bear in 2009, and that frustration and struggle seemed to carry over during the 2010 MLB schedule.  He never argued too many calls too vehemently.  He never got upset with his players other than to suggest that “his hands were tied” and that they just had to go back out the next day and try harder.  And he never really tried to motivate his team as far as we can tell.  Sure he tried a lot of different lineups and different arms in the bullpen, but in the end, it wasn’t enough.  And maybe his players could tell that he really didn’t care at all as well, so why should they.

That being said, we’ll have a lot more on Lou and the managerial hunt this week.  You can’t argue with his 1st 2 seasons at the helm – 2 consecutive NL Central Division titles and 2 straight playoff appearances.  The Cubs had not done that in a very long time.  On the other hand, the Cubs didn’t win a single playoff game with Lou in charge – losing 6 straight games to the Diamondbacks and Dodgers in 2007 and 2008.  Maybe they were underdogs in 2007, but there were no excuses for the top National League team in 2008.

As for Sunday’s loss, it the same old story.  Bad pitching.  Some good hitting (lots of hits) but no clutch hitting (only 5 runs).  Cubs players struck out 13 times as rookie Mike Minor racked up 12 K’s in only 6 innings?!  Starlin Castro did have the 1st 4-hit game of his career with 2 doubles.  He is hitting .316 and is very close to qualifying for the NL batting crown which would put him in a tie for 4th place with Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols.  Marlon Byrd and Aramis Ramirez also had 3 hits apiece.

The Cubs are now 51-74 on the season and the trail the Cincinnati Reds by 21.5 games?! Ouch.  Keep checking back this week – we’ll have more on Lou as well as some stories on potential candidates to replace Lou in 2011.

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Ha-Ha-Ha – Definitely Saw This One Coming – Marmol Blows Game as Cubs Lose for 5th Straight Day This Week – Cubs 3, Braves 5 – 8/20/10 Wrigley Field

Posted on 21 August 2010 by Lou

You could see this one coming from a mile away.  Ryan Dempster stymied the Braves all game long.  He gave up just 2 ER over his 8 stellar innings, scattering 4 hits and 2 walks during the process.  He struck out 7, but he labored through the 8th inning, upping his pitch count over the 100-pitch mark.  With a slim 1-run lead, it made sense to go to Closer Carlos Marmol to finish off the game.  3 walks later and a bases-clearing triple to Rick Ankiel with 2 outs in the 9th inning, and the Cubs had lost another frustrating game in 2010.  The loss was the “Major League Team Called the Cubs” 5th straight loss of the week – Monday through Friday – all at Wrigley Field.  It was the Cubs 8th straight loss at home dating back to the last homestand in which the Reds swept them in a weekend series in early August.  What is it going to take for this team to win on a consistent basis again?

The simple answer is “A LOT”.

The Cubs offense racked up 10 hits but once again, the team only scored 3 runs.  Aramis Ramirez had 2 hits and 2 RBI’s.  Kosuke Fukudome continued his hot hitting with 2 more hits in the lead-off role.  Koyie Hill even had 2 hits and an RBI tryuing to make up for his bonehead fielding play the day before.  But it wasn’t enough as the Cubs wasted way too many scoring chances all day long.

Derrek Lee made his 1st start for the Braves against his former team – must have been weird for him getting ready in the other locker room and donning a Braves uniform at the Friendly Confines.  The Cubs fans gave him a standing ovation during his 1st at-bat in the 1st inning.  He went 0 for 4 as Dempster and Marmol each struck him out once.

It’s up to Tom Gorzelanny to try to stop the bleeding today at Wrigley Field — good luck guy!

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