Archive | October, 2010

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Starlin Castro – Cubs Shortstop Star of the Future

Posted on 07 October 2010 by Lou

Starlin Castro’s performance during the 2010 MLB season certainly lived up to the hype.  In the 2nd to last game of the season, Starlin Castro went 2 for 3 to raise his batting average from .298 to .300 in the Cubs 8-3 win over the Houston Astros.  Manager Mike Quade opted to sit Castro in the Cubs final game of the season that Sunday so that Castro could finish the season with a .300 batting average.  Quade had this to say about his move — “I loved watching it and loved watching him perform.  I’d made up my mind that if he does it and gets to .300, and I don’t care if we play 15 innings, and he comes out of it at .300, I’ll stick to my original lineup and let Darwin Barney play shortstop today.  Castro earned his yesterday.”

Castro’s .300 batting average was good for 10th in the NL in hitting.  Castro also became the 1st Cubs rookie to hit at least .300 for the season since Bill Matlock hit .313 way back in 1974.  Castro had 139 hits in only 463 at-bats.  He also had a .347 on-base percentage.  He had 31 doubles and scored 53 runs while driving in 41.  He’ll have to work on his patience at the plate a little – he walked only 29 times while striking out 71 times, but other than that, you can’t really complain too much about how the 20-year old played during the course of the long, frustrating season on the north side…

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Marmol Rewarded with Phenomenal September – Carlos Marmol Delivery Man Award

Posted on 06 October 2010 by Lou

Carlos Marmol was awarded the MLB Delivery Man of the Month for his stellar performance in the month of September.

Marmol was 13 for 13 in save opportunities in the month of September and he did not allow a single run during those 13 save outings.

Marmol finished the season with 38 saves – becoming the first Cubs closer to record that many saves since Rod Beck notched 51 saves back in 1998.  Marmol also set the Cubs single-season reliever record for strikeouts with 138 – he passed Bruce Sutter who held the record for a while at 130 strikeouts in a season.  Marmol’s 138 K’s in just 77 2/3 innings also set a major league record for his 15.99 strikeouts per 9 innings.  Not bad for the closer of a team that won only 75 games all season long.

Marmol is arbitration-eligible again this off-season.  Guess who is going to get a nice big pay raise for the next few years.  This could be that season that GM Jim Hendry tries to work out a long-term deal with Marmol and his handlers to lock him up before he becomes a free agent…

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Does Anyone Really Want to Manage the 2011 Cubs?

Posted on 05 October 2010 by Lou

Does anyone really want to manage the 2011 version of the Cubs?  Most of the players that put together a 75-87 record in 2010 will be back on the squad for the 2011 MLB season.  That really doesn’t bode well for the next manager of the Chicago Cubs.  Tom Ricketts has already indicated that the 2011 payroll will be less than the $140+ million payroll that the Cubs had in 2010 (the highest in the National League).  With $103 million already on the books for 2011 and with arbitration-eligible players like Carlos Marmol, Sean Marshall, Geovany Soto and Koyie Hill who are likely to earn raises this off-season, there clearly isn’t a lot of room for GM Jim Hendry to add from outside of the organization.  Maybe a new skipper could help the team manage a handful more wins, but that really doesn’t equate to being in contention in the National League – 80 wins just doesn’t cut it these days…

So who will the Cubs try to hire this off-season?  The last 3 Cubs managerial hires have been high profile managers — Don Baylor, Dusty Baker and Lou Pinella.  Does that mean a relatively unknown like Mike Quade has a leg up on the competition?

The Cubs could also pull from within.  Ryne Sandberg – while clearly not an unknown – has never managed at the Major League level.  Would he be the right fit for the Cubs?

Or will the Cubs go with a man with major league experience but who has not reached the level of the previous 3 managers – an Eric Wedge-type manager?

Lastly, could the Cubs go with another high profile guy – Joe Torre, Tony LaRussa, Bobby Cox and Joe Girardi – are all free agent managers potentially looking for work in 2011.  If the Cubs want to try to land Girardi, they will have to wait until the Yankees are eliminated from the playoffs this October.  Odds are that he stays in the Big Apple.  But you never know and a call has to be made to cover all bases.

All this being sad, Mike Quade has indicated that he would love to continue to be the Cubs manager for the foreseeable future.  “I’m an optimist.  You see this club play well the at the end, and if they continue to play well and they play this thing out in the nest two weeks in good fashion, I’d go home, and whoever gets the job next year should be excited about this job.  That’s the way I feel.  It has no bearing on what happens this winter with Jim and what moves he makes.  A lot of guys have finished up well…  I’ve always believed in myself.  You can believe all you want, but you have to get here and do it and then self-evaluate the whole thing.  Things went well.  I’m proud of all the work I did in 30 years to have me ready to do something like this.  I don’t like to talk about it much, but yeah, it’s been fun and I’m proud of all the work we’ve done.”

Kudos to Quade.  He managed to get control of the team after Lou departed mid-season and he showed that he does have the ability to manage well at the major league level.  More importantly, the players responded well to Quade and he seemed to earn their respect.  While I don’t see the Ricketts Family and Hendry sticking with Quade as the manager long-term, I really hope they find a way to keep Quade within the Cubs organization.  He is that good at what he does…

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At Last — 2010 MLB Season Finally Over – Cubs 0, Astros 4 – 10/3/10

Posted on 04 October 2010 by Lou

The disappointing 2010 MLB season is finally over for the Cubs.  They closed out the season with a 4-0 loss to the Astros in Houston.  They finished the season with an embarrassing 75-87 record, for a team with the highest payroll in the National League.  And for as bad as everything went down during the season, there were definitely some bright spots as the season wrapped up.

You have to like the following:

Starlin Castro will be a legitimate star at shortstop for years to come.

Carlos Marmol and Sean Marshall formed one of the nastiest late game duos in the National League.

Carlos Zambrano pitched like the ace that he is paid to be for the final 2 months of the season.

Tyler Colvin showed that he can play every day in the outfield.

And while the young Cubs pitchers had their share of awful outings in 2010, they also got a ton of experience, which should help the organization at some point in the next few years (hopefully 1 or 2 can even stand out with a dominant campaign in 2011).

So despite the 75-87 record, finishing 16 games behind the 1st place Cincinnati Reds, all is not bad on the North Side of Chicago…

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Should He Stay or Should He Go – Carlos Zambrano Makes Final 2010 Start — Cubs v. Astros 10/2/10

Posted on 02 October 2010 by Lou

Should he stay or should he go?  That might be the biggest question for GM Jim Hendry and the Ricketts Family as the quest for a better 2011 begins in earnest as October looms.  Big Z has made a startling turn-around since being re-inserted into the starting rotation back in early August.  As we have continued to highlight, Zambrano has been lights-out in the 10 starts.  He is 7-0 with 3 no decisions during the stretch.  He has had a miniscule 1.27 ERA which has helped lower his ERA from 5.46 all the way down to 3.36.  It is truly amazing to believe that Zambrano has been able to go 10-6 with a 3.36 ERA overall this year after the horrendous 1st 4 months to the season.

But can he keep it up in 2011?  That is the big question.  Before he made the triumphant turn-around, everyone expected Zambrano to be dealt in the off-season with the Cubs having to take on a big chunk of the $37 million owed to him over the next 2 seasons.  Now, Zambrano has emerged as  a legitimate top of the rotation starter again, and demand for the big righty could be at an all-time high.  The Cubs could find a suitor for Big Z who would be willing to take him at the full contract price AND the Cubs could even get something back in return for Big Z.  If that happens, you have to think that GM Jim Hendry will pull the trigger.  That would leave a huge void in an already-barren startinf rotation, but it could also free up some money to make a strong push to land Cliff Lee, arguably the best free agent starter to hit the market in November.  If the Cubs could unload Big Z and then sign Lee, that would be a huge step in the right direction for the Cubs in 2011.

Guess we’ll have to see how it all plays out, but it should be fun to watch as we get ready for all the rumors to start swirling very soon.

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Gorzelanny, Cubs Finish off West Coast Road Trip Strong — Cubs 1, Padres 0 – 9/30/10

Posted on 01 October 2010 by Lou

The Cubs took 3 of 4 from the playoff-contending San Diego Padres this week, as they continue their strong play under interim skipper Mike Quade.

Tom Gorzelanny tossed 6 scoreless innings in his final start of 2010.  Gorzelanny scattered 3 hits and 4 walks during his outing and he struck out 3 Padres batters.  He didn’t get a decision, but it was a great way to end the season for Gorzelanny as he had an up-and-down season while bouncing between the bullpen and starting rotation.

The bullpen shined in the win once again.  Andrew Cashner has really finished the season strong – he retired all 4 batters that he faced with 2 strike outs.  From August 12th through the 21st, Cashner got roughed up giving up 7 ER in 5 appearances.  But since then – a stretch of 17 outings – Cashner has given up just a total of 3 earned runs.  During the positive stretch, he has a 1-1 record and he has racked up 9 holds.  The Cubs are going to need Cashner to play a prominent role in the Cubs bullpen in 2011 if they expect to have more consistency late in close games during the season.

Sean Marshall pitched 2/3 of an inning to keep the score tied at 0 at the end of 8 innings.  He earned the win – his 7th of the season – when the Cubs scored in the top of the 9th inning.  Carlos Marmol notched his 39th save by pitching a perfect 9th inning with 2 K’s.  He has now lowered his ERA to 2.58 and his WHIP to 1.20.  Marshall and Marmol should both expect to get big paydays – whether through a contract extension or arbitration – this offseason.

The Cubs offense was not great, but it managed to scrape across a run against Padres closer Heath Bell in the 9th inning.  Aramis Ramirez singled to lead-off the inning.  Darwin Barney pinch-ran for Ramirez and advanced to 2nd base on Xavier Nady’s sacrifice bunt.  Then Brad Snyder delivered the game winning hit with a single to shallow left field.  Blake DeWitt was the only Cubs player with more than 1 hit in the game – he had a single and a double off of Jon Garland.

The Cubs finish their season with a weekend series against the Astros in Houston.  Casey Coleman, Carlos Zambrano and Ryan Dempster are scheduled to make the final 3 Cubs starts.

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