Archive | January, 2011

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Angel Guzman Back in the Mix in Spring Training 2011 – Wrigley Field 1/29/11

Posted on 29 January 2011 by Lou

Angel Guzman will once again find him competing for a spot on the Cubs opening day roster in 2011.  Guzman is in his 12th season within the Cubs organization and he missed the entire 2010 MLB season with right shoulder surgery before spring training even ended.  In 2009 Guzman was a reliable part of the Cubs bullpen.  Guzman made 55 relief appearances for the Cubs, going 3-3 with a 2.95 ERA.

Guzman can be effective when healthy, but that is the big if.  Not sure if he can get back on track this season, but it would be great to have a veteran like him in the mix during the grueling MLB season…

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Cubs Invite Braden Looper to Spring Training 2011 – Wrigley Field 1/28/11

Posted on 28 January 2011 by Lou

The Chicago Cubs have agreed upon a minor league contract with right-handed pitcher Braden Looper.  Looper is 36 years old and he has a career 72-65 record with 103 saves.  Looper has appeared in 670 MLB games over 12 seasons and he has made 97 starts.  Looper last pitched at the major league level in 2009 when he went 14-7 with a 5.22 ERA with the Milwaukee Brewers.  It’s clear that the Cubs are just looking for players to eat some innings during the long spring training session in Mesa, Arizona.  Let’s hope that Looper is healthy and somewhat effective so that we don’t have to push other pitchers too much in February and March.  We’ll keep you posted with how everything develops…

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Great News Cubs Fans — Augie Ojeda is Back (Sort of…) — Wrigley Field 1/27/11

Posted on 27 January 2011 by Lou

The Chicago Cubs have invited former fan favorite Augie Ojeda to Spring Training 2011 in Mesa, Arizona next month.  Ojeda will be 1 of 21 non-roster invitees in camp.  Ojeda played for the Cubs from 2000-2003 and is now 36 years old.  In his last season playing with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Ojeda has played in only 59 games and his batting average is under .200.  But he will serve a purpose as an innings-eater this spring for the Cubs.

Great news, Cubs fans — it will be nice to have a nice guy in the mix in Mesa this spring.  Ojeda will also have a lot to offer some of the up-and-coming young Cubs infield stars (Starlin Castro, Blake DeWitt), so it is win-win all-around.

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Cubs, Todd Wellemeyer Agree Upon 1-Year Minor League Deal — Wrigley Field 1/26/11

Posted on 26 January 2011 by Lou

The Cubs and Todd Wellemeyer have agreed upon a 1-year minor league deal that will bring the big righty back to the North Side.  The deal is for $800,000 while Wellemeyer has the ability to earn an additional $400,000 in incentives.

Wellemeyer was part of the World Series Champion San Francisco Giants in 2010.  He made 13 appearances (11 starts) and went 3-5 with a 5.68 ERA.

Wellemeyer made 57 appearances for the Cubs from 2003-2005.  His best season came in 2008 when he went 13-9 with a 3.71 ERA as a starter for the St. Louis Cardinals.

Not really sure where he fits into the mix for the Cubs, especially at almost a million for the season, but we’ll see what if he has what it takes to be a veteran presence in the Cubs bullpen during the 2011 MLB schedule…

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More Info on Prospects Acquired in Tom Gorzelanny Trade — Wrigley Field 1/25/11

Posted on 25 January 2011 by Lou

The Cubs traded Tom Gorzelanny to the Washington Nationals last week.  Here are some more details regarding the players that the Cubs acquired from the Nats since the deal has now been finalized.

22-year old outfielder Michael Burgess played at the Single-A and Double-A levels in 2010.  Burgess had a .265 batting average with 18 home runs and 85 RBI’s.  In the two years before, Burgess combined to hit 43 dingers, so he has some pop in his bat.

24-year old pitcher A.J. Morris (a righty) was a 4th round pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft.  He pitched in the Rookie League and in Class Ball in 2010 — 27 appearances, 5-3, 3.77 ERA, 71 K’s and 28 walks.  Morris started 16 games during the season.

20-year old pitcher Graham Hicks (a lefty) was selected in the 4th round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft right out of high school.  Hicks is still pretty raw — 16 starts, 71+ innings in 2010, going 2-6 with a 5.02 ERA at the Class A level.

Let’s hope these guys continue to develop over the next few years.  It would be nice to replenish some of the farm system after we had to unload some guys to bring in Matt Garza via trade from the Tampa Bay Rays…

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Bears Lose to Packers 21-14 in NFC Championship Game – Cutler the Next Bartman? — Wrigley Field Soldier Field 1/24/11

Posted on 24 January 2011 by Lou

The Chicago Bears lost to the Green Bay Packers 21-14 in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday at Soldier Field.  It brought an end to an otherwise surprisingly good season for the 2010 Chicago Bears.  Most critics/fans picked the Bears to finish behind both the Packers and Minnesota Vikings during the 2010 NFL Campaign.  Instead, the Bears went 11-5 and finished atop the NFC North Division with the 2nd overall seed in the NFC.

The game’s drama surrounded the apparent knee injury suffered by Quarterback Jay Cutler.  Many questioned why he played so poorly and why he sat out the majority of the 2nd half since it didn’t really seem like he was that hurt.  He never grimaced in pain; you never really knew which play caused the injury; and he stood on the sideline the rest of the game without needing crutches or a cart to help him move.  Very odd, but that is Cutler’s temperament.  He never really shows too much emotion either way, which is both a good thing and bad thing.  Bears fans have been criticizing Cutler for giving up and having no heart.  Former and current NFL players ripped Cutler all day on Sunday and today for leaving the game on his own accord and not fighting to stay in there until the bitter end.  The only people that really defended Cutler were his coaches and teammates, including Head Coach Lovie Smith, Linebacker Brian Urlacher, Center Olin Kreutz (who said he saw Cutler’s leg and ligament twitching in the huddle during the game) and 3rd string Quarterback Caleb Hainie who almost led the improbably comeback in the 4th quarter.  Cutler got a little redemption today when an MRI revealed that he had a serious MCL sprain in his knee.

As for me, it seemed pretty weak that he left the game, but seeing the guy get sacked over 50 times during the regular season and still go back in there for every play (save for 1 game when he was not medically cleared because of a concussion that he suffered), I can’t really question his toughness.  When  the New York Giants crushed the Bears earlier this season in the New Meadowlands Stadium, the Giants sacked Cutler 8 times – in the 1st half alone.  Gimme a break.  Cutler never once criticized the play of this offensive line and he always went back into the game to try to lead his team to victory.  Sure maybe he should have kept playing until his knee completely blew out, but what would that have really proved?  Maybe he should have started limping more to show Bears fans that he was really hurt, but again, I think that’s just the way he is.  Not showing too much emotion and not showing too much pain.

So has Jay Cutler superseded Steve Bartman as the biggest Chicago Sports villain of all time?  It’s pretty comical isn’t it?  Hearing about fans burning their Cutler jerseys in protest. I love this town and the passion of its fans, but sometimes I think we all need to lighten up a little bit.  After all, it is just a game.  And there’s always next year…

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Cubs Avoid Arbitration with Newly Acquired Matt Garza – 1-Year, 5.95 Million Deal — Wrigley Field 1/21/11

Posted on 21 January 2011 by Lou

The Cubs and newly acquired “ace” Matt Garza agreed upon a 1-year, $5.95 million deal this week.  That means the 2 sides won’t have to go to arbitration in February.  That is a great way to start a relationship like this.  And if Garza has a solid 2011 campaign for the Cubs and pitches at least 200 innings, look for the Cubs to try to lock up the big righty before he becomes a free agent following the 2013 MLB season.  Garza will join Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster and Randy Wells in the starting rotation.

The Cubs acquired Garza 2 weeks ago along with 2 Tampa Bay Rays prospects.  The Cubs gave up Sam Fuld plus 4 high level prospects to land Garza.

Garza has made at least 30 starts each of the last 3 seasons.  He has also topped at least 203 innings pitched each of the last 2 seasons (he tossed 184+ innings in 2008).  His WHIP has not been higher than 1.26 in each of his last 3 seasons and he has also kept his ERA under 4.00 despite pitching in the difficult AL East with powerhouses like the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays.  This is all good news for the Cubs as they look to continue to rebuild and re-tool over the next 2 seasons until they can shed some payroll….

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Cubs, Sean Marshall Avoid Arbitration with 2-Year, $4.7 Million Deal — Wrigley Field 1/20/11

Posted on 20 January 2011 by Lou

The Chicago Cubs and Sean Marshall have agreed upon a 2-year deal worth $4.7 million.  The deal means that the 2 sides will avoid arbitration.

Marshall had a stellar 2010 campaign as the Cubs most reliable reliever next to Carlos Marmol.  Marshall won 7 games and had a 2.65 ERA.  Opponents scored in only 14 of the 80 games that Marshall pitched during the 2010 MLB schedule.  Marshall’s 80 games pitched and 90 K’s were both career highs.  Marshall earned $950,000 in 2010 and the new deal buys out the last 2 arbitration years that he had.  Marshall will be a free agent for the 1st time after the 2012 MLB season.

This is great news for Cubs fans.  Marshall is a quality pitcher and the 2-year deal takes a little bit of the guess work out of next year.  If he continues to excel, who knows, maybe the Cubs will try to lock him up for a few more years after that during the middle of the 2012 season…

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Cubs, Closer Carlos Marmol Can’t Reach Deal?! — Wrigley Field 1/19/11

Posted on 19 January 2011 by Lou

The Cubs and Closer Carlos Marmol could not reach a deal before the arbitration deadline this week.

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Cubs, Tom Gorzelanny Reach 1-Year Deal Pending Trade to Washington Nationals — Wrigley Field 1/18/11

Posted on 18 January 2011 by Lou

The Cubs have reportedly agreed to trade Tom Gorzelanny to the Washington Nationals.  The trade is subject to a physical which is scheduled for Wednesday.  The Cubs and Gorzelanny also agreed upon a 1-year, $2.1 million deal before the arbitration deadline.  Assuming the trade goes through, the Nationals will honor that contract.  The Cubs will receive 3 minor league players in return for Gorzelanny.  2 players are expected to be pitchers and 1 is expected to be an outfielder, but we’ll let you know as soon as the trade is confirmed.

Gorzelanny pitched in 29 games for the Cubs in 2010, making 23 starts.  He was 7-9 with a 4.09 ERA and 1.50 WHIP.  Gorzelanny became “expendable” after the Cubs acquired Matt Garza in a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays.  It also leaves the Cubs very “right-handed” in the starting rotation – Carlos Zambrano, Garza, Ryan Dempster, Carlos Silva and Randy Wells are all right-handed pitchers.  And 2 of the other 3 pitchers expected to make a run at the 5th spot in the rotation — Jeff Samardzija and Andrew Cashner — are also right-handed.  I guess it’s nice to have 7-8 guys (if you throw in lefty James Russell) legitimately competing for 5 starting spots…

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