Archive | March, 2011

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Fielding Errors Still a Concern for Manager Mike Quade, Cubs – Wrigley Field West Mesa Arizona 3/19/11

Posted on 19 March 2011 by Lou

Errors continue to plague the Cubs this spring.  The Cubs played 2 split squad games on Tuesday – a 4-2 loss to the Rockies & an 8-1 win over the A’s.  In each game, the Cubs committed 2 errors.  That brought the Cubs error total to 29 this spring.  29 errors in only ?!  That is unacceptable.  The Cubs 29 errors are tops in the majors this spring – not a stat you should be proud of…

If the poor fielding trend continues into the real games once the 2011 major league starts on April 1st, it could mean a long season for the Cubs.  You can’t give opposing teams 4 outs in an inning too often throughout the season.  That type of performance is going to lead to a lot of close losses and those losses add up in a tough NL Central this season.  Let’s hope Quade and the rest of the coaching staff can get the team back on track before camp breaks in 2 weeks…

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Carlos Silva Watch – Could He End up With Another Team When Camp Breaks – Wrigley Field West Mesa Arizona 3/18/11

Posted on 18 March 2011 by Lou

Will Carlos Silva be on the Cubs opening day roster when camp breaks at the end of March – that is a key question.  With the quality starts by Randy Wells all spring long and the emergence of Andrew Cashner as a viable 5th starter, the Cubs could be looking to move Carlos Silva when camp breaks at the end of March.  Lucky for the Cubs, they have some suitors.  The Washington Nationals and New York Yankees both have had scouts watching all of Silva’s starts this spring.  Both teams are in need of a 5th starter to round out their rotations and the Yankees could easily absorb all or a portion of Silva’s whopping $12 million salary for the 2011 MLB schedule.  Despite 2 rough starts to open up the spring and a dugout squirmish with Aramis Ramirez after a dreadful 1st inning in which Silva surrendered 6 runs when his defense committed 3 errors, Silva has put together 2 good starts and clearly still has what it takes to pitch at the major league level.  Silva even pitched 5 innings in his last outing and is building up his arm strength.

This would be a great coup for the Cubs if they can find someone to take Silva, even they end up paying for part of his salary to get a deal done.  Silva is not in the Cubs long-term plans and by moving Silva for something (a prospect, draft pick, saving some cash), it would be much better than outright releasing the big righty.  It would also free up a spot for Cashner to open the season as the Cubs 5th starter.  And even if the Cubs have an injury problem or Wells or Cashner struggles out of the gate, they still have some other young options to fall back on with James Russell and Casey Coleman who will most likely start the 2011 campaign starting in the minor leagues.


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Matt Garza – Pitching Not His Only Focus – Wrigley Field Mesa Arizona 3/17/11

Posted on 17 March 2011 by Lou

Matt Garza is fine tuning his pitching this spring, but he is also working on making sure that his hitting is up to par as well.  After playing his whole major league career with the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League, he has not had many meaningful at-bats.  Not that he is with the Cus in the National League, he will have 2-3 at-bats a game where he could lend a helping hand in the game’s outcome.  His hard work with Rudy Jaramillo this spring paid off in his most recent start.  With 1st and 2nd and nobody out in his 1st at-bat of the game, Garza laid down a bunt that moved both runners over to 2nd and 3rd and in scoring position with only 1 out for the top of the order.  Even though he bunted the ball towards 1st instead of 3rd, he got the job done.  He did so again in the 4th inning when his sacrifice moved a runner over to 2nd and into scoring position with 2 outs.

On the mound, Garza finally mixed all of his pitches into his game plan in live spring action.  And he was pleased with the results – “Today was more mixing.  I knew I had a live fastball.  I was able to locate it better and I didn’t want to keep using it.  I wanted to mix stuff today… But I used what I had to use, and got the pitches I had to get.  I kept a lot of balls on the ground today and that’s a good sign… At the same time, it complicates things.  When you’re pitching, you want to keep everything simple. Thinking out there too much is a distraction, so you just want to be able to feel what you’re going to do and then attack with it.”

This is a good sign for Cubs fans.  There’s only 2 weeks left until opening day, so we need all of our pitchers at the tops of their games by the time camp breaks…

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More Good Outings by Wells, Cashner Could Mean the Duo Round out the Cubs Starting Rotation – Wrigley Field Mesa Arizona 3/16/11

Posted on 16 March 2011 by Lou

Randy Wells and Andrew Cashner both made good starts on Tuesday which could mean that the duo will round out the Cubs 2011 starting rotation.

Cashner tossed 3 1/3 innings in a split squad game against the A’s, giving up just 1 ER on 2 hits and 3 walks.  He had 2 strikeouts.  Manager Mike Quade is impressed with the fact that Cashner seems confident in his ability to be effective as a starter at the major league level even though he pitched exclusively out of the bullpen for the Cubs in 2010: “That will take him a long way in his development.  I think he enjoys starting.  He’s put his heart and soul into this, and I don’t think there’s something in the back that says, ‘Really, I’m a reliever.’ I think hes’ bought into this completely.”

As for Wells, he finally gave up his first runs of the spring.  He was tagged for 3 runs (2 earned) in 5 innings of a split squad loss against the Rockies.  He has now pitched 14 excellent innings this spring and hopes that he will claim a rotation spot soon.  “I have a lot to prove.  I don’t think you ca ever do enough.  If you’re on that plane to Chicago, you still haven’t done enough… We’ll just keep it rolling and hopefully stay in a nice groove, keep the confidence up and stay healthy, and hopefully everything works out.”

Let’s hope Cashner and Wells keep it up.  I would love to see the two make the starting rotation and I would love for GM Jim Hendry to find someone to take on Carlos Silva and his crazy salary.  Even if the Cubs have to eat half of it in a trade, I think it would be great for Cashner to get some excellent major league experience as a starter during this “up-in-the-air” 2011 Cubs campaign…

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Garza Please with Effort Despite Cubs 5-3 Loss to Seattle Mariners — Wrigley Field West Mesa Arizona 3/15/11

Posted on 15 March 2011 by Lou

Matt Garza was please with his performance even though the Cubs ended up losing to the Seattle Mariners 5-3.  Garza worked 4 innings and allowed just 1 ER on 3 hits and 2 walks.  Garza had much better control of his pitches and was able to rack up 3 K’s in the progress.  For Garza, working on technique and building arm strength is the key to a successful spring training and things are now moving in the right direction after a few shaky starts.  Look for Garza to pitch at least 5 innings in his next spring start.

With the loss, the Cubs fell to 8-11 on the spring.

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Big Z Solid Again in Cubs 4-3 Win Over Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday — Wrigley Field West Mesa Arizona 3/13/11

Posted on 14 March 2011 by Lou

Carlos Zambrano continued his spring dominance with a nifty 5 inning effort in a Cubs 4-3 win over the Dodgers on Sunday.  Big Z scattered 6 hits and let up just 1 ER.  He walked one, struck out 3 and lowered his ERA to 1.38 in the process.  Manager Mike Quade and the Cubs have to be thrilled with Zambrano’s consistency and composure this spring.

On the offensive side of the ball, Starlin Castro keeps raking – he had 3 more hits and is now hitting .485 for the spring.  Jeff Baker also had 3 hits and is looking like a great option for Quade in a platoon with Blake DeWitt at 2nd base this season.

With the win, the Cubs inched a little bit closer to the .500 mark at 8-10 on the spring.

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Cubs Option Pitchers Esmailin Caridad & John Gaub to Triple-A Iowa – Wrigley Field West Mesa Arizona 3/12/11

Posted on 12 March 2011 by Lou

The Cubs optioned Esmailin Caridad and John Gaub to Triple-A Iowa this week.  Caridad had pitched in 4 spring games and Gaub had pitched in 2 spring games prior to the demotion.  Both saw action at the major league level in 2010 and it would not be surprising to see either pitcher back up in the bullpen in 2011.  Manager Mike Quade commented that a lot of pitchers have command issues to work on right now – “There’s a lot of money to be made if you can hit the glove, and it’s not just with them. They’ll get a lot of work down there and an opportunity to make progress and come help us.”

Let’s hope so…

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Dempster, Pena Deliver Big 4-3 Win for Cubs over White Sox – Wrigley Field West Mesa Arizona 3/11/11

Posted on 11 March 2011 by Lou

Ryan Dempster continues to show why Manager Mike Quade anointed the veteran righty his opening day starter before spring ball even began.  Dempster went a team high 5 innings in the 4-3 win over the White Sox.  He struck out 6 batters and scattered just 2 hits and 1 walk during his impressive outing.  He lowered his spring ERA to 1.50 by not allowing a single run.  It was a great follow up to Randy Wells’ 4-inning scoreless gem yesterday.  Carlos Zambrano, Wells and Dempster all already seem to be in mid-season form right now, so this is a good sign for Cubs fans.

Sean Marshall also tossed a scoreless inning of relief, but Jeff Samardzija struggled by allowing all 3 White Sox runs in the 9th inning – his only inning of work.  Samardzija saw his ERA rise to 8.44 and he could be in jeopardy of being released by the Cubs since he does not have any options left.

The Cubs applied offensive pressure right from the start as well.  The Cubs pushed across runs in each of the 1st 3 innings to stake Dempster to an early 3-0 lead.  Geovany had 2 hits on the day and got things started for the Cubs with an RBI single in the 1st.  Carlos Pena hit a solo home run in the 2nd inning and then racked up another RBI with a run scoring single in the 3rd inning.  Jeff Baker batted lead-off and had 2 hits and a run scored.  Brett Jackson also came through with a big insurance run in the top of the 9th on an RBI double.  That proved to be the winning run as the White Sox rallied for 3 runs in the bottom of the 9th inning.

It was another nice win for the Cubs today.  Let’s hope they can put a few more of these wins together over the next few weeks before the start of the MLB season to give the squad some much-needed confidence…

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Pitching Superb as Cubs Rally for 2-1 Walk-Off Win on Ron Santo Day – Wrigley Field West Mesa Arizona 3/10/11

Posted on 10 March 2011 by Lou

Although the hitting was non-existent, you have to be thrilled with the Cubs pitching in Thursday’s 2-1 win over the Cleveland Indians on Ron Santo day.

Randy Wells started it all off with 4 scoreless innings.  Wells struck out 2 and gave up just 1 hit and 1 walk during his outing.  Wells has yet to give up a run this spring and it looks like the fact that Wells knew he had to compete for a starting spot in the rotation has brought out the best in the righty.  His 0.00 ERA is tops among Cubs starters this spring.

Kerry Wood struck out the side in his 1 inning of work.  He gave up just 1 hit and lowered his ERA to 4.50.

Andrew Cashner had his best outing of the spring and worked 4 solid innings.  He did give up the Indians lone run on a solo home run, but he struck out 3 and walked only 1 and seemed to have a ton of confidence out there.  I would love to see Cashner keep up a few more outings like this to knock Silva out of the 5th starting spot.  The Cubs really need to find some other club to take Silva off their hands before the start of the season.  Even if the Cubs have to eat half of his salary, it’s time to give a youngster a shot in the rotation.

The Cubs managed just 4 hits on the day, but they made them count.  James Adduci singled to lead off the 9th inning and eventually scored the winning run on Brett Jackson’s 2-out walk-off single.  In the 8th inning, Marquez Smith doubled and came around to score on a wild pitch and throwing error by the Indians catcher.  Guess you gotta do what you gotta do to win…

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Garza Spring Struggles Continue in 13-4 Loss to Royals — Wrigley Field West Mesa Arizona 3/9/11

Posted on 09 March 2011 by Lou

Trouble Cubs fans — Matt Garza’s spring struggles continued as the big righty surrendered 5 ER in the 1st inning alone.  Garza ended up working just 2 2/3 innings in his 2nd loss of the spring.  Garza had major control issues as he walked 4 batters and gave up 6 hits.  Not a good sign for a team that invested a lot of quality prospects in the bid to acquire Garza from the Tampa Bay Rays this off-season.  The Cubs hope that Garza figures out his issues during the next 4 weeks before the start of the 2011 MLB Campaign.

The rest of the Cubs staff had some issues as well.  Justin Berg allowed 2 more ER in 1 inning of work and his ERA now stands at 60.75.  After a decent showing in some relief work in 2010, it looks like Berg will be headed down to the minor leagues to start the season.  Esmailin Caridad had his 1st rough outing of the spring.  He gave up 3 ER on 3 hits in the 9th inning of the loss.

Two pitchers looked good — Carlos Marmol threw a perfect inning with 2 K’s and has yet to give up a run this spring.  Jeff Stevens worked a scoreless inning and lowered his ERA to 3.00.

Couple of big positives:

The Cubs did not commit a single error – shocking.

Marlon Byrd continued to swing a hot bat and seems locked into the 3rd position in the Cubs lineup.  Byrd had 2 more hits including his 1st home run of the spring and is now hitting .650.  He should see a lot of good pitches during the regular season in front of slugger Aramis Ramirez.

The Cubs continue to have a losing record this spring.  Will it get any better once the real games start in April???

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