Archive | September, 2010

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Jeff Samardzija Picks up 1st Win in 2010 – Cubs 5, Cardinals 1 – 9/13/10

Posted on 14 September 2010 by Lou

Jeff Samardzija picked up his 1st win of 2010 despite getting into (and out of) a few jams.  The Cubs beat the Cardinals 5-1.

Samardzija made his 1st start in 2 MLB seasons.  He did not allow a single run in 5 2/3 innings.  He gave up 6 hits and 4 walks, but did a great job of keeping the Cards off the scoreboard.  After a good minor league season in which he went 10-3 at Triple-A Iowa, this is a good sign that Samardzija could be on the verge of pitching consistently at the major league level as well.

Sean Marshall struck out Tyler Greene to end the 8th inning and notch his 20th hold of the season. Carlos Marmol pitched a scoreless 9th inning in a non-save situation.  Marshall (1.18 WHIP & 2.84 ERA) and Marmol (1.24 WHIP & 2.88 ERA) now each have WHIP’s under 1.25 and ERA’s under 3.00.

Xavier Nady had 2 hits and 2 runs scored.  Geovany Soto went 3 for 3 with a walk and 1 RBI.  Alfonso Soriano had a 2-run single in the 3rd inning that extended the Cubs lead to 4-0.

The Cubs take on the Cards in game 2 tonight – Randy Wells will battle Adam Wainwright.

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Cubs Win Series v. Brewers in Milwaukee – Cubs 1, Brewers 0 Saturday 9/11/10 & Cubs 0, Brewers 2 Sunday 9/12/10 Miller Park

Posted on 13 September 2010 by Lou

The Cubs won the series against the Brewers at Miller Park over the weekend.  All three games were shutouts.

Next up for the Cubs is a series against the struggling Cardinals in St. Louis. Jeff Samardzija gets his 1st start of the season tonight in place of Carlos Silva.

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Carlos Zambrano Pitches & Hits Cubs to 4-0 Win – Cubs 4, Brewers 0 – 9/10/10 Miller Park

Posted on 11 September 2010 by Lou

Carlos Zambrano looked like the Zambrano that merited the 5-year, $78 million deal he signed 3 years ago as he dominated the Brewers in the Cubs 4-0 win.

Ryan Dempster looks to follow Big Z’s M.O. and shake off 2 bad starts in a row as he takes on Randy Wolf and the Brewers at Miller Park today.

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Zambrano Looking to Continue Solid Finish to Tumultuous 2010 MLB Schedule – Cubs v. Brewers 9/10/10 Miller Park

Posted on 10 September 2010 by Lou

Carlos Zambrano looks to continue his solid end to the 2010 MLB schedule.  In his last 6 starts, Zambrano has won 4 games without a loss and he has dazzled teams to the tune of a 1.98 ERA.  Zambrano has good karma in Miller Park too where the Cubs will battle the Brewers tonight.  Big Z threw a no-hitter there (against the Houston Astros) back in September 2008 at Miller Park and he has not lost there since August 2006 (he has a 2.38 ERA and 5 wins in his last 6 starts there).  In his last 8 starts against the Brewers, Zambrano is 2-0 with a 2.94 ERA (he has not lost to the Brewers since August 2007).  Throw in the fact that the Brewers will have Dave Bush on the bump, there is a good chance that Zambrano will come out victorious again in Miller Park tonight.  In Bush’s last 8 home starts against the Cubs, he has gone 0-5 with a horrendous 7.63 ERA.

Zambrano keeps making it tough on the Cubs brass with his recent resurgence.  Heading into the final 2 months of the season, it was all but certain that GM Jim Hendry would try to move Zambrano in the off-season because of his poor performance and because of his tendency to act out in an unprofessional manner both on the field and in the locker room.  As we have discussed before, we’re not sure if Zambrano has really changed into a new man since taking anger management classes during the season.  He seems to be a different guy out there, but he has gone through these “good” stretches before only to regress with another childish tirade when something doesn’t go his way.  I definitely don’t envy the Cubs decision this off-season, but I’m pretty certain that if a team willing to take Zambrano wants me to eat a good chunk of his what’s owed to him over the next 2 seasons, I’d probably tell them to take a hike and take my chances that Big Z has really turned his life and career around.

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Wells Disappointing Sophomore Season Continues on North Side – Cubs 0, Astros 4 – 9/8/10 Wrigley Field

Posted on 09 September 2010 by Lou

Randy Wells’ disappointing sophomore season continued on the north side in Wednesday night’s 4-0 loss to the Astros.  Wells gave up 4 ER on 9 hits and 2 walks over 6 innings.  Although the Astros did not score more than 1 run in any inning, Wells always seemed to be working out of a jam.  This has become a much-too-familiar story for Wells all season long.  I really hope the new manager decides to part ways with Larry Rothschild.  Rothschild has been the Cubs pitching coach since the Dusty Baker days.  Lou Pinella kept him on when he took over 4 years ago.  Not one single pitcher has really emerged as a consistent baseball star coveted by other teams under his tutelage.  Pitchers have had a good year or 2 and then regressed or gotten injured on his watch.  It’s about time that the new manager bring in his own staff with some fresh ideas and how to develop some of these young pitchers coming up in the Cubs organization.

Bret Myers had another dominant effort against the Cubs.  Myers had a perfect game going until he walked Geovany Soto in the 5th inning.  The Cubs ended up getting just 5 hits and 1 walk in the game.  They had more than 1 runner on base in only 3 innings.  In the 5th, Alfonso Soriano singled after Soto’s walk, but both players were left stranded on base.  Tyler Colvin had a double in the 7th inning, but couldn’t score on Soto’s shallow single to left field.  Both runners were left stranded.  In the 8th inning, Starlin Castro and Blake DeWitt had back-to-back singles, but neither player scored.  All in all, it was not a good offensive showing by the Cubs.

After an off-day today, the Cubs embark on a 9-game road trip that will have them playing the Brewers in Milwaukee, the Cardinals in St. Louis and the Marlins in Florida.  Oh boy – what fun.  Do you think the Cubs will even draw a total of 30,000 fans for the 3-game weekend series in Miami next weekend?  I doubt it…

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Carlos Silva Returns to Mound – Not a Pretty Sight – Cubs 3, Astros 7 – 9/7/10 Wrigley Field

Posted on 08 September 2010 by Lou

Carlos Silva returned to the mound on Tuesday night and it wasn’t a pretty sight.  Not only did Silva look like he had put on a pound or two (or 10) during his stint on the DL, it didn’t like he wanted to be out there at all. After Silva gave up a run right away in the 1st inning, the Cubs rallied to give him a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the 1st inning.  But Silva did his best to give it right back.  Silva gave up 3 more runs in the 2nd inning and was ultimately charged with 6 ER in 5 innings of work.  The light-hitting Astros knocked Silva around for 9 hits (including 1 home run) as they cruised to an easy victory.  Silva had not pitched since he left an August 1st game against the Colorado Rockies with an irregular heartbeat after recording just 1 out.  Silva had a cardiac ablation surgical procedure to correct the issue and made 2 Class A Peoria starts before pitching last night.  Silva said he felt OK — “I feel really good, especially after the second inning, I felt more comfortable on the mound, but the result wasn’t good at all.”  I know the Cubs want to make sure he is OK in 2010 so that they know what they have for the 2011 MLB season.  Silva could stay with the team or the Cubs could try to move him in the off-season if the price is right (the Cubs would likely have to eat some of the $10 million owed to him in 2011).  But it would be nice to see some of these other young guys get some starts instead of a veteran like Silva, especially if he really isn’t ready for live game action.

The Cubs offense didn’t do much against Nelson Figueroa after they scored 2 runs in the 1st inning.  Tyler Colvin and Kosuke Fukudome each had 2 hits in the loss.  Colvin had 2 RBI’s while Marlon Byrd drove in the Cubs other run and scored a run as well.

Thomas Diamond and James Russell bounced back from rough outings in Sunday’s 18-5 loss to the Mets.  Each reliever gave up 5 ER in the loss, but Diamond tossed 2 scoreless innings with 2 K’s last night and Russell worked a scoreless 9th inning with 1 K.

Mike Quade opted to keep Starlin Castro out of the Cubs lineup for a 2nd straight game.  I liked his move to keep Castro out on Monday, but 2 days in a row?  There’s only 20 odd games left in the season.  We want the shortstop star of the future to see as much MLB-action as possible in his rookie season.  Let’s get him back in the lineup Mike!

Randy Wells looks to get the Cubs their 3rd straight series win tonight at Wrigley Field.  It won’t be easy as the Cubs must go up against Bret Myers who has limited the Cubs offensive production in recent starts (Myers has started 3 games against the Cubs this season — 2-0 record, 4 ER in 22 2/3 innings pitched, only 17 total hits with 26 K’s).  Could be a long night Cubs fans…

Oh yeah – the Ricketts Family and the Cubs unveiled a 3rd statue before the game – Billy Williams’ sweet swing was placed right outside the Captain Morgan Club at the corner of Sheffield and Addison streets.  The Williams statue sent the Harry Caray statue packing to the corner of Sheffield and Waveland in front of the entrance to the Bleachers.  The Ernie Backs statue is still located by the main box office at the corner of Addison and Clark streets.

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Quade Makes Statement with Castro Benching; Can Cubs Avoid 90-loss Season? – Cubs 5, Astros 4 – 9/6/10 Wrigley Field

Posted on 07 September 2010 by Lou

Mike Quade certainly has control of his ball club even though he is just the Cubs “interim manager”.  Quade made a major statement when he posted the Cubs lineup for Monday afternoon’s game against the Houston Astros.  Starlin Castro’s name was no where to be found in the lineup as he was serving a “1-game penalty” for making a mental mistake in the Cubs 18-5 loss to the Mets on Sunday.  With his team getting hammered in the bottom of the 8th inning, Castro thought there were 2 outs in the inning rather than just 1.  When Castro did not fully run out a groundball, it turned into an inning-ending double play.  Quade wanted to make a statement that everyone needs to stay in the game – regardless of the score and regardless of whether you are a star player or a bench player.  Everyone is accountable for their actions and everyone will take responsibility for their actions.  Castro understand what he did and we expect Castro to be back in Quade’s lineup tonight.  This was a great statement by Quade and it’s great to see how the players have responded to Quade and the respect that they have for Quade.  Quade certainly won’t be the Cubs manager in 2011, but the new manager should certainly keep Quade on his staff because of his experience and knowledge of the game.

As for the game action, it was a satisfying win despite some flaws.

Casey Coleman labored through 6 innings without his best stuff, but he gutted it for 6 innings to give his bullpen a little much-needed rest after Sunday’s debacle.  Coleman needed 118 pitches to do it, but he overcame a 4-run 2nd inning in which the Astros batted around.  He gave up just the 4 runs on the day – 8 hits, 5 walks and 2 K’s – and he was delighted that the Cubs were able to come back and win so he took a no decision.

Marcos Mateo, Andrew Cashner and Carlos Marmol tossed scoreless frames in the final 3 innings of the game to give the Cubs a chance to win.  Cashner got his 1st win since July 20th, while Marmol notched his 28th save.  On one of the worst teams in baseball, it is pretty impressive that Marmol is on the verge of hitting 30 saves for the 1st time in his career.

Marlon Byrd came through with a big 2-run homer in the 3rd inning that cut the Astros lead to 4-3.  Blake DeWitt had 2 hits and an RBI and scored a run on Byrd’s homer.  Jeff Baker had 2 hits and his RBI double in the 5th inning tied the game at 4.  That set up Geovany Soto’s 8th inning heroics with his 17th home run of the season.  After a disappointing 2009, Soto has quietly put together a nice 2010 MLB season — .284 batting average; .399 on-base percentage (58 walks versus just 72 K’s; 17 HR’s; 51 RBI’s; and 45 runs in 97 games.

The Cubs are 60-78 and have 24 games left to play during the 2010 MLB schedule.  They have to go 13-11 during this last stretch to avoid a 90-loss season.  Can they do it? The Cubs have responded to Quade, so it would not surprise me to see them finish over .500 for these final 24 games.  They are currently 9-4 under Quade, so they would end up finishing 22-15 under Quade if they are to avoid the 90-loss season.

Carlos Silva makes his 1st start tonight at the Friendly Confines since undergoing a heart procedure to help his irregular heartbeat.

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Is This the “Real-New- Carlos Zambrano?” – Cubs 5, Mets 3 – 9/4/10 Wrigley Field

Posted on 05 September 2010 by Lou

Is this the new “real” Carlos Zambrano.  Zambrano picked up his 3rd straight win in as many starts with a dominating 7-inning outing against the Mets.  Zambrano scattered 4 hits and 2 walks during his outing and gave up only 2 ER.  He racked up 8 K’s and only needed 103 pitches to go the full 7 innings.  Most importantly, Big Z maintained his composure after the Mets pulled off a rare double-steal of 2nd base and home in the 4th inning which allowed the Mets to score a run on a strikeout.  Zambrano struck out Lucas Duda, but when Carlos Beltran eluded the tag at 2nd base by Starlin Castro, Luis Castillo was able to score from 3rd base for the Mets first run of the game.  In the past, a play like that would have sent Big Z into a tizzy.  But on Saturday, he kept his composure and was able to strike out Ike Davis to end the inning.  Back in the dugout, Castro apologized to Zambrano, but Big told him not to worry about it.  Amazing?!  Big Z later said — “I’m still going to the doctor, you know.  Still have, like, six more sessions… You realize that he’s still learning.  It’s still his first year in the big leagues.”  Unbelievable.  Not sure if this is the Zambrano we’re always going to see, but if he really starts to make an effort like that, you have to like his chances for staying with the Cubs in the future and actually being productive.  We’ll be following this closely as the season closes and as the winter meetings heat up in December.

Castro had 2 more hits and a run scored.  Castro became the first Cubs rookie to have a multi-hit game in 6 straight games since Don Johnson (not the Miami Vice Don Johnson) did so back in 1944.  His batting average is now .321 – still good for 3rd place in the NL.

Aramis Ramirez had 2 hits including his 21st home run of the season in the 7th inning.  Marlon Byrd also had 2 hits as every Cubs starter – including Zambrano – had a hit.

Andrew Cashner picked up his 11th hold of the season despite giving up a run on a walk and a hit in the 8th inning that cut the Cubs lead to 5-3.  But Carlos Marmol notched his 27th save with a scoreless 9th inning.  Marmol struck out the side despite allowing the tying run to come to the plate when he gave up a hit to Ike Davis with 1 out in the 9th.

The Cubs go for the sweep over the Mets this afternoon.  Ryan Dempster looks to rebound from his worst start of the season (7 ER in 3 innings of a 14-7 loss to the Pirates on Tuesday night) in the Sunday afternoon finale.

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Soriano, DeWitt Lead Cubs to Big Win Over Mets @ Wrigley Field — Cubs 7, Mets 6 – 9/3/10

Posted on 04 September 2010 by Lou

Alfonso Soriano and Blake DeWitt each hit 3-run home runs to lead the Cubs to a 7-6 win over the New York Mets on Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field.  Soriano’s homer in the 4th inning gave the Cubs a 4-3 lead.  DeWitt’s homer in the 6th inning broke a 4-4 tie to give the Cubs a 7-4 lead.  They held on as the Mets hit 2 solo home runs in the 7th and 8th innings to cut the Cubs lead to just 1 run.  But Carlos Marmol worked a scoreless 9th inning – despite issuing ANOTHER walk – to pick up his 26th save on the season.

I really like this DeWitt kid.  In addition to the 3-run homer, he had another single.  He has a .327 on-base percentage and has a bit more pop in his bat than Ryan Theriot with his 5 HR’s and 46 RBI’s.  He is also a lot younger as he just turned 25 about 2 weeks ago.  It will be interesting to see how he matures under the tutelage of Rudy Jaramillo (and potentially Ryne Sandberg as the new Cubs skipper in 2011).  But I like the idea of DeWitt and Starlin Castro shining in the middle of the infield in the near future.

Speaking of Castro, he had 2 more hits and his batting average is now .319 which keeps him in 3rd place in the NL just 4 percentage points behind Joey Votto of the Reds.  Catching Carlos Gonzalez of the Rockies (.331) might be tough, but anything can happen in the final 4 weeks of the season.

Xavier Nady continues to excel as he gets more playing time as the Cubs regular 1st baseman since Derrek Lee’s departure.  Nady had 3 hits, 1 RBI and 2 runs scored and always seems to be in the middle of Cubs rallies these days.

For the 2nd straight game, a Cubs pitcher picked up his 1st major league win.  Casey Coleman notched the win in the Cubs victory over the Pirates on Wednesday.  And on Friday, James Russell picked up his 1st major league win by recording the final out of the 6th inning.  Russell retired the only batter that he faced to get Randy Wells out of his jam.

Speaking of Wells, it was another so-so outing for Wells who is enduring a sophomore slump of a 2010 MLB schedule.  Wells surrendered 4 ER on 8 hits and 4 walks with 4 K’s.  He did not have a single 1-2-3 inning during his outing and his ERA is now 4.56 and his WHIP is now 1.44.  Not good.

Interesting fun fact — going into yesterday’s game, the Mets had not hit more than 1 home run in a game in 31 games.  Of course, against Cubs pitching, the Mets hit 2 home runs – 1 by David Wright and 1 by Luis Hernandez.

The Cubs and Mets play game 2 on Saturday afternoon – Carlos Zambrano takes the bump against .  Big Z is looking for his 3rd straight win in as many starts and his 4th win since returning to the starting rotation on August 9th.  Not bad, not bad at all.

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Should Ricketts Leave Managerial Choice up to Hendry? Cubs to Host Mets in Labor Day Weekend Series – 9/3/10 Wrigley Field

Posted on 03 September 2010 by Lou

Tom Ricketts has made it very clear that GM Jim Hendry is in charge of the managerial search that will ultimately lead to the hiring of a new Cubs Manager for the 2011 MLB schedule.  Now I know that this is typically the General Manager’s job, but in the current situation,  I question whether it is the right move.  You may think this is a dumb question, but my real concerns lie with Hendry as Cubs GM and not Lou Pinella or Mike Quade as manager.  As a new owner, this is the perfect chance for Tom Ricketts to look at everyone’s performance in the organization, and that should include Hendry.  Based on Rickett’s comments though, it is clear that Ricketts has confidence in Hendry’s abilities (despite putting together a 57-win team with the highest payroll in the National League and 3rd highest payroll in all of baseball).  I am worried that Ricketts has simply assumed that Hendry is a capable GM and that there doesn’t need to be a change in that role.  I respectfully beg to differ.  Especially from a financial guy like Ricketts, it boggles my mind why he thinks that mortgaging the future of the team for the next 2-4 years with bad long-term deals constitutes a good job.

For a very long time, I have made the case that the team that Hendry has put together is not capable of being a playoff contender.  I have written numerous posts on why Hendry has not lived up to the high expectations of the Cubs General Manager.  Over the last 3-4 years, Hendry has been responsible for way to many bad deals for me to trust his judgment anymore.  It all started with the Alfonso Soriano deal back at the beginning of 2007.  Inking a “31-year old” to an 8-year deal at roughly $18 million per year over the life of the deal should have been a sign that Hendry was getting desperate.  Sure Soriano was the best free agent out there at the time and sure Hendry wanted to blow Soriano and his agents away with a “huge offer you can’t refuse”, but this was a bit much.  Hendry followed that up with a $48 million deal for a 30-year Japanese outfielder who had never played in the major leagues and then a $30 million deal for Milton Bradley because the Cubs were too “right-handed” in 2008.  The team won an NL-best 97 games in 2008 – do you think they would have won more games if they had a left-handed hitting right fielder instead of Mark DeRosa?  Following the 2009 season, with new ownership in place, Hendry’s hands were tied.  I’ll give him credit for finally moving Milton Bradley although it took a while.  Carlos Silva even turned in a solid season, but then again, when his value was highest around the All-Star Break, Hendry failed to move Silva to a team that needed starting pitching.  Even if it meant eating some one the $10 million to him in 2011, Hendry should have made that move.  He didn’t and Silva had a bad 2nd half and has since been on the disabled list with a heart issue.  During the off-season, Hendry also put a lot of energy into signing Matt Capps as a veteran right-handed reliever in the bullpen.  But when the Nationals told Capps that he would be their closer, he jumped at the chance and left Hendry grasping at straws.  Because of that gaffe (keeping his eggs all in one basket and hoping), Hendry’s Cubs team started the season with 4 rookies in the bullpen.  And with typical injury issues and typical rookie inconsistencies, this was a recipe for disaster.  Hendry always seems to be several steps behind these days, and when you’re trying desperately not to lose 90 games this season, you can’t even afford to be 1 step behind.

So while my concerns clearly don’t seem to be concerns of Tom Ricketts, I really hope he decides to take a closer look at Hendry’s job performance this off-season.  And I really hope that Ricketts plays a large role in the hiring of the new Cubs manager.  And while the new skipper won’t (can’t with the current roster assembled by Hendry) lead the Cubs to a World Series title in 2011, the new skipper will get to lay the groundwork for what kind of team he expects to lead for the next 5-10 years.  So it is a big decision.

Today, Randy Wells will take on R.A. Dickey and the Mets at Wrigley Field.  Wells is just 6-12 on the season with a 4.50 ERA.  He did pitch 6 great innings against the Reds in Cincinnati last Saturday for his 1st win since July 23rd, so he is looking to build off of that good outing and finish strong in 2010.

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