Posted on 10 July 2009 by Lou
The Cubs dropped the 1st game of the big weekend series against the Cardinals on Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field 8-3. Not a good way to start of the weekend. Entering the game, the Cubs trailed the 1st place Cards by 3.5 games in the NL Central. At worst, the Cubs needed to split the 4-game series with the Cards to remain 3.5 games out of 1st place. Now that means they must win 2 of 3 the rest of the way before next week’s All-Star Break. A tall task for a team that just can’t seem to buy a clutch hit.
After scoring just 1 run in each of their previous 2 losses to the Braves at Wrigley Field, the Cubs managed just 3 runs against the Cards – all on Derrek Lee’s 3-run HR in the 3rd inning that tied the game at 3. The Cubs did manage 9 hits in today’s loss, but they left 13 men on base. Just awful.
Rich Harden had another atrocious start but did manage to get 2 hits off Cards’ starter Chris Carpenter. Harden struggled through 101 pitches in 5 innings. Harden gave up 4 ER on 7 hits and 4 walks, but did strike out 6 Cards hitters to minimize the damage. Reliever Aaron Heilman was a train-wreck in his one inning of work. Heilman gave up 4 ER on 3 walks and 2 hits and saw his ERA rise to 4.35 and his WHIP rise to 1.65. Heilman has been a major disappointment for Manager Lou Pinella, GM Jim Hendry and the Cubs in 2009.
One positive – Jeff Stevens – acquired from the Indians in the off-season trade that sent beloved Mark DeRosa to Cleveland – made his major league debut and pitched a 1-2-3- 9th inning.
Here’s how the rest of the weekend looks:
Saturday – 3:10PM – Ted Lilly v. Brad Thompson
Sunday – 12:05PM – Randy Wells v. Kyle Lohse
Sunday – 7:05PM – Carlos Zambrano v. Adam Wainwright
Saturday’s game almost becomes a must-win for Lilly and the Cubs…
Posted on 04 July 2009 by Lou
The Cubs defeated the Brewers 2-1 in 10 innings on Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field. Jake Fox’s bases loaded walk with 2 outs in the bottom of the 10th inning forced in the winning run. The Cubs may have caught a break as Mark DiFelice’s pitch appeared to get much of the plate despite being a tad high. DiFelice was shocked that the home plate umpire called the pitch a ball, but it is what it is and the Cubs have taken the first 2 games of this big weekend series.
Jeff Suppan and Carlos Zambrano dueled for much of the game. Zambrano lasted 7 innings, giving up just 1 ER on 5 hits and 3 walks. The lone run scored when Big Z walked Corey Hart with the bases loaded in the 4th inning. Zambrano also hit Prince Fielder with a pitch. Suppan also pitched 7 innings, giving up just 1ER on 4 hits and 2 walks. His lone run scored on a Carlos Zambrano single to center field. Suppan also hit Derrek Lee and Jake Fox.
Kosuke Fukodome had a game-saving play in the 7th inning with the score tied at 1. On Prince Fielder’s line drive single to center field, Kosuke came up firing and nailed Suppan at the plate to prevent the Brewers from taking a 2-1 lead.
The Cubs left 2 runners on base in each of the 8th and 9th innings, but finally got the winning run in the 10th. Ryan Theriot got a 1-out single and advanced to 2nd base on a wild pitch. After Derrek Lee flew out to right field, the Brewers intentionally walked Milton Bradley to get to Geovany Soto. DiFelice threw 3 straight balls and ultimately intentionally walked him to get to rookie Jake Fox. With the count 3-2, Fox fought off pitch after pitch and eventually took ball 4 to win the game.
Kevin Gregg pitched 2 scoreless innings in the 9th and 10th to pick up his 3rd win of the season. Gregg has now held the other team scoreless in 24 of his last 27 appearances. He has issued only 8 walks in the last 28 appearances as well (he had walked 8 batters in his 1st 10 appearances on the season). The lone hit charged to Gregg was a pop up that Milton Bradely lost in the sun in the 9th inning that would have ended the inning. This is not the 1st time that Bradley has lost a ball in the sun this year and luckily it didn’t cost the Cubs the game on Friday. Bradley is a complete disaster this year – one of GM Jim Hendry’s worst signings ever. Rumor has it that Bradely and Manager Lou Pinella exchanged wors after the game. We’ll keep you posted as soon as we hear anything.
The Cubs and Brewers play Game 3 of the weekend series today at 12 noon at Wrigley Field. Rich Harden will battle Braden Looper – both pitchers have a 1.40 WHIP and ERA’s over 4.50, so it should be a slugfest at the Friendly Confines today!
Posted on 27 June 2009 by Lou
Good job, Geo! Geovany Soto tested positive for marijuana during the 2009 World Baseball Classic. Soto had this to say about the positive test: “I feel embarassed. I’m man enough to do stuff, I’m man enough to face it. I just want to apologize to the Cubs orgnization, my family and the fans. I want to put this behind me. I don’t want this to be a distraction for me or my teammates… It’s embarassing and I want to move forward. It was a mistake and I’m sure everybody makes mistakes in their lives. I guess this was my mistake. It’s one of thoese things. I guarnatee it will never happen again. I’m not that kind of person. I want to move forward.”
At least he acknowledged that he did it and didn’t try to make excuses that he didn’t inhale or that it was really something else provided by his doctor. And since he has known about the positive testing for months, maybe that explains why he has had such a horrible start to the 2009 MLB schedule. Going into Friday afternoon’s action against the Chicago White Sox, the reigning NL Rookie of the Year was batting just .227 with 6 HR’s and 21 RBI’s. In 2008, Soto hit .285 with 23 HR’s and 86 RBI’s.
Cubs Manager Lou Pinella and GM Jim Hendry have acknowledged that it is not that big of a deal and that the Cubs want to move past this disclosure. While Soto will not be able to play international baseball for 2 years, MLB will not take any action against Soto for the violation.
Let’s hope the disclosure gives a sense of relief to Soto and he can start doing what he does best – hitting the baseball with authority and power for the rest of the season…
Posted on 15 June 2009 by Lou
With the Cubs hitting funk getting worse and worse, the Cubs decided to make a move by replacing Cubs hitting coach Gerald Perry with Triple-A Iowa hitting coach Von Joshua. GM Jim Hendry had this to say about the move: “Obviously, we’ve been struggling for a long time. I’m not one to dump all the blame on the coaches. I’ve never mad a coaching change to my knowledge in the middle of the year. I think sometimes you need a different voice. Every day, we have five guys in the lineup who have played in the All-Star Game. For whatever reason, they are not performing anywhere close to where they’ve performed in their careers. Sometimes you have to try something different, and sometimes it’s a different voice maybe saying the same things.”
Von Joshua has been a hitting coach since 1984. He is in his 4th year at Iowa and has worked with several of the young Cubs players on the major league roster, including Ryan Theriot, Micah Hoffpauir and Mike Fontenot. Joshua also worked at the big league level with the cross-town rival Chicago White Sox.
The move was tough on Manager Lou Pinella who had Perry on his staffs in both Seattle and Chicago. “It’s tough on me, because I’ve been with Gerald a long time, six years. This was an organizational decision. Gerald and I were together in Seattle and together here in Chicago. We’ve had success together. I thank him for all the hard work that he’s put in on my staffs.”
It has been frustrating for everyone involved. In 2008, the Cubs led the National League in runs scored. But in 2009, the Cubs rank 14th and are hitting only .246 as a team. Ryan Theriot has the highest batting average of any starter at .278 – what a joke. Alfonso Soriano is hitting .233; Kosuke Fukodome only .266 after starting the season well over .300; Milton Bradley only .226 and Geovany Soto only .209. When the Cubs lost 2-0 to the Twins on Saturday, it was the 13th time in the last 23 games in which the Cubs have scored 2 runs or less in a ball game. Not good. Not good.
I guess it can’t get any worse, and maybe having a new coach working with the players could help. Maybe he’ll spot something on a player or 2 that Perry missed, and once 1 or 2 guys start to get hot, it could have a snowball effect at some point down the line. Trying to stay optimistic here…
Posted on 24 May 2009 by Lou
I feel like a keep writing the same post over and over. So today, I’ll focus on the 1 positive – Reed Johnson hit a 2-run home run today. Woo-hoo!
The Cubs bats were silent again – only 4 hits. I can’t believe Manager Lou Pinella hasn’t killed someone yet…
And for a change, the pitching was bad today too. Ted Lilly lost his 2nd straight decision, giving up 5 ER on 8 hits and 2 walks over 6 1/3 innings.
The Cubs are 21-21 – this time last year (after 42 games), the Cubs were 10 games over .500. Remarkably, the Cubs are only 4 games behind the slumping Brewers. Only problem, I don’t see the Cubs making any major strides until Aramis Ramirez gets back in the lineup or until GM Jim Hendry makes a trade for some offensive help. Neither of these will happen anytime soon.
The Cubs return home for a 7-game home stand against the Pirates and Dodgers. Maybe the Cubs will find their swings back at Wrigley Field.
Posted on 23 May 2009 by Lou
The bad news keeps rolling in for the Cubs. Jake Peavy and the Padres dominated the Cubs on Friday night at Petco Park in San Diego. Peavy pitched 6 scoreless innings giving up only 2 hits and 4 walks while striking out 10. Even the Padres relievers got in on the fun. 25-year old Luke Gregerson kept the Cubs scoreless over 1 2/3 innings while striking out 3. 25-year old Edward Mujica also worked a scoreless inning while striking out 3. Heath Bell came into a jam in the top of the 9th – with 2 on and 2 out, Bell walked Kosuke Fukodome to load the bases, but got Derrek Lee to pop out to 1st base to end the game and record his 12th save of the season.
Check out the Cubs lineup that Lou Pinella threw out there:
Bradley (.182), Soto (.206) & Fontenot (.193) were each out of the lineup for the Cubs. It’s a joke out there. With Aramis Ramirez out of the lineup until at least July, if GM Jim Hendry doesn’t add a few pieces to the Cubs roster soon, the Cubs could find themselves way behind the Brewers and Cards by the All-Star Break.
One positive, Carlos Zambrano returned from his stint on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring. Big Z was on a pitch count and showed some rusty signs – making 97 pitches in 4 2/3 innings, walking 4 and giving up 3 earned runs on 3 hits. He did have 7 K’s.
The Cubs are on a 5-game losing streak and are now 21-19. They trail the Brewers by 4 games, the Cardinals by 3 games and the Reds by a half game. Not good.
Posted on 22 May 2009 by Lou
I am starting to get really fed up with this Cubs team. There is no spark in the 2009 version of the Cubs and there is no fight in the 2009 version of the Cubs. You’re facing your biggest division rival on their home turf and you lay 3 eggs like that? It is a joke.
The Cubs bats were atrocious – 0 runs, 3 hits & 0 walks on Tuesday night; 1 run, 6 hits & 3 walks on Wednesday night ; & 1 run, 5 hits & 1 walk on Thursday night. In a 3-game series, you total 2 runs, 14 hits and 4 walks? What a joke!
I can see Adam Wainwright shutting you down on Thursday night – he has always pitched well against the Cubs. But Joel Pineiro throwing a 3-hit complete game shutout on Tuesday? Gimme a break. Chris Carpenter pitching 5 scoreless innings on Wednesday night after spending 3 weeks on the DL? Show some life.
The Cubs pitching actually did excellent in the series – both the starters (Ted Lilly, Ryan Dempster and Sean Marshall) and the relievers. 3 runs, 2 runs and 3 runs to the hard hitting Cards in St. Louis is a job well done. Even a mediocre offensive attack should have garnered the Cubs at least 1 win in St. Louis. But it was not meant to be.
The next 10 days are huge for the Cubs. The Cubs make the long trip to California to take on the Padres in San Diego this weekend. Carlos Zambrano will make his first start since going on the DL with an aggravated left hamstring strain. He opposes Jake Peavy on Friday night. Peavy will be playing with renewed energy after declining to accept a trade that would have sent him to the south side of Chicago to play for the White Sox.
After the Padres series, the Cubs will take on the Pirates – winners of 6 straight games – from Monday through Wednesday at Wrigley Field. And then it’s a 4-game weekend series against the NL’s best team – the Los Angeles Dodgers from Thursday through Sunday. The Cubs already trail the 1st place Brewers by 4 games in the NL Central. If they cannot find their groove soon, that deficit could grow pretty quickly.
Let’s hope that Manager Lou Pinella has some words of wisdom for his ballclub and that GM Jim Hendry has some trade moves up his sleeve, because it is pretty clear that this team is not made up to win on a consistent basis during the 2009 MLB schedule.
Posted on 20 May 2009 by Lou
There’s not much to say here. Joel Pineiro shut out the Cubs 3-0 with a complete game 3-hit shutout. Pineiro needed only 92 pitches to finish the deal. He didn’t issue any walks with 5 K’s. What a joke…
Milton Bradley went 0 for 3 and is now hitting .188 on the season. It is already May 20th and Bradley – GM Jim Hendry’s big signing in the off-season which cost the Cubs Mark DeRosa and Jason Marquis – still isn’t hitting over .200.
The lone bright spot – Ted Lilly gave up only 3 earned runs on 4 hits and 3 walks against one of the better offenses in the league. Lilly is now 5-3 on the 2009 MLB schedule.
Wednesday night’s middle game between the 2 teams is a great one – Ryan Dempster v. Chris Carpenter.
Posted on 16 May 2009 by Lou
Major League Baseball reduced Milton Bradley’s suspension for bumping home plate umpire Larry Vanover from 2 games to 1 game. Milton Bradley was set to serve the suspension on Friday, but the Cubs-Astros game was rained out. As such, he will serve the 1-game suspension on Saturday.
GM Jim Hendry did not agree with the ruling and felt like MLB should drop the suspension altogether. “I personally don’t agree with that. I didn’t think his actions warranted any suspension at the time and as weeks have gone by, I still feel that way.”
Back on April 16th, Bradley had been bother by a groin injury and had yet to take an at-bat as a Cub at Wrigley Field. Manager Lou Pinella sent Bradley up as a pinch-hitter with the bases loaded and only 1 out. After starting the count 3-0, Bradley was eventually called out on strikes by Vanover and Bradley did not like the call. After arguing with Vanover, the brim of Bradley’s helmet made contact with Vanover, resulting in an ejection from the game and the 2-game suspension.
Bradley has been hitting better of late – he has a 7-game hitting streak with 2 home runs, 6 RBI’s and 6 runs scored during that span. The Cubs will need to continue to get good production from Bradley if they expect to vie for the NL Central crown for the 3rd straight season.
Posted on 10 May 2009 by Lou
The bad news keeps rolling for the Cubs. After winning 6 of their last 7 games, the Cubs felt like they were finally starting to put things together in their 2009 schedule. But just like that, the good news turned to bad news as Aramis Ramirez injured himself diving for Ryan Braun’s groundball in the 3rd inning of Friday night’s 3-2 loss to the Brewers in Milwaukee.
Ramirez dislocated his shoulder, something he had done when he was a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates back in 2000. Ramirez underwent an MRI in Chicago on Saturday and we’ll keep you posted with the results as soon as we hear anything.
Manager Lou Pinella had this to say about the injury: “He’s definitely going to be DL’ed. Period of time, we don’t know. I’ve never seen anything quite like this. Every day, it seems to be something different.”
Makes the timing of the Cubs trade for Ryan Freel for Joey Gathright even more important now. GM Jim Hendry made the trade on Friday afternoon before the start of the Cubs-Brewers game. Freel will see immediate playing time with the Ramirez injury, and hopefully he can act as a catalyst for an offense that has sputtered from time to time.
It also makes the trade of Mark DeRosa even more annoying / perplexing. If DeRosa was still on the team, the Ramirez injury would be a big deal, but the Cubs and Cubs fans would feel a lot more comfort knowing that DeRosa would man the hot corner until Ramirez’s turn.