Archive | Lou Pinella

Cubs Skip Ted Lilly Start as Precautionary Move; Could Pitch in San Francisco

Posted on 26 September 2009 by Lou

Cardinals Cubs Baseball

The Cubs skipped Ted Lilly’s start against the Brewers this week as a precautionary measure.  Lilly is still dealing with left shoulder tendinitis, but could make a start against the Giants this weekend in San Francisco.

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Cubs Not Giving Up – Lee, Baker, Marmol Prople Cubs to Victory

Posted on 25 September 2009 by Lou

Cubs Giants Baseball

The Cubs are not going down without a fight!  Jeff Baker’s 2-strike, 2-out, 2-run home run off Giants closer Brian Wilson gave the Cubs a dramatic 3-2 win over the Giants in San Francisco.  After Lee led off the top of the 9th inning with a walk, he stole 2nd to get in scoring position with 2 outs.  Luckily, there wouldn’t be a close play at home plate, as Baker crushed Wilson’s pitch deep to left field to put the Cubs up 3-2.  Baker (and the Cubs) had been down to their last strike.

Carlos Marmol picked up his 12th save in 12 chances since being promoted to the closer’s role in place of Kevin Gregg at the end of August.  It wasn’t pretty – he gave up a single and a walk – but he struck out Aaron Rowand and Fred Lewis with 1st and 2nd and only 1 out to preserve the win for the Cubs.  Manager Lou Pinella annointed Marmol the Cubs 2010 closer – “I see that, yes.  I really do.  I think he’s done enough and shown enough.  We have confidence in him enough going into spring training next year.  It’s his job.  We’ll leave it just at that.”

Ryan Dempster gave the Cubs another solid starting effort down the stretch.  Dempster threw 112 pitches in 7 innings of work, giving up just 2 ER on 7 hits and 1 walk.  Dempster had 6 K’s and he lowered his ERA to 3.68 and his WHIP to 1.33.

Should a fun match-up tonight in San Francisco – Carlos Zambrano in search of win #9 against reigning Cy Young Award winner – the Freak Tim Lincecum…

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Samardzija Looks Better, But Cubs Still Lose to Brewers

Posted on 24 September 2009 by Lou

Cubs Brewers Baseball

The Cubs could not complete the sweep of the Brewers in Miller Park on Wednesday night as Jeff Samardzija suffered his 3rd loss of the 2009 MLB schedule.  Although Samardzija has had a disappointing 2009 (like the Cubs), he looked better in the 5 innings that he pitched against the Brewers.  He only gave up 5 hits, 2 of which were home runs.  One to Prince Fielder and one to Jody Gerut.  He had 1 walk and 3 strikeouts and seemed to be in more control of his pitches throughout the night.  Since being called back up to the major league level in September, however, Samardzija has pitched 7 innings and given up 5 ER on 7 hits and 3 walks.  Overall, Samardzija is 1-3 on the year with a 7.53 ERA and 1.76 WHIP.  Not really sure where the Cubs see Samardzija long-term (reliever or starter), but 2010 could be a big year for Jeff.  He needs to show more consistent control all throughout the season and he needs to show a better strikeout to walk ratio.

The Cubs managed just 7 hits against Chris Narveson and 4 Brewers relievers.  Jeff Baker had 2 hits for the Cubs to raise his batting average to .302.  In addition to a Jeff Samardzija solo home run in the 6th inning, Bobby Scales drove in Baker with the Cubs only other run.

The Cubs finish up their final road trip of the 2009 season with a 4-game weekend set against the Giants in San Francisco.  Ryan Dempster duels Brad Penny in the tonight’s opener.

Cubs Brewers Baseball

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Tom Gorzelanny, Tyler Colvin Eyeing 2010 – Producing Now

Posted on 22 September 2009 by Lou

Cubs Brewers Baseball

The time is now for certain Cubs players to prove their worth for the future.  Lucky for Tom Gorzelanny & Tyler Colvin, they’ll have a shot to show what they can do.  With the suspension of Milton Bradley, the Cubs called upon Tyler Colvin – – to make his major league debut during the last few weeks of the season.  Manager Lou Pinella threw him right into the mix on Monday night in Milwaukee and he produced right away – in the 1st inning!  Colvin had a sacrifice fly in his 1st at-bat, his 1st ever hit in the 3rd inning and his 1st ever walk in the 5th inning.  Colvin made his 2nd career out in the 7th inning, but at least he advanced a runner on the groundball out.  All in all, a productive night for Colvin in his major leage debut…  He had this to say about the night – “Yeah, I was nervous.  I can’t hide that.  I was really nervous before the game, I didn’t eat.  Once I got out there I was all right… You learn to control your emotions in front of a big crowd.  I’ve never played in front of a crowd like this.  Hopefully I can build off this.”

Tom Gorzelanny also showed some grit in the Cubs 10-2 win.  Manager Lou Pinella likes what Gorzelanny brings to the club – “We like Gorzelanny.  He’s got a spot here, whether it’s pitching in the middle of the bullpen or whether it’s as a fourth or fifth starter.  We’ll have to wait and see what happens over the winter.”  Gorzelanny pitched on 5 innings on Monday night, but he struck out 9 and gave up 2 ER on 6 hits and 1 walk.  Both runs scored on solo home runs by Mike Cameron.  Gorzelanny has made 11 appearances (5 starts) since coming over from the Pirates and while his ERA is a hefty 5.04, he has a solid 1.19 WHIP and a 3-1 record.

As for the regulars, Derrek Lee continues to be one of the hottest hitters in baseball since July 1st.  He was 3 for 4 with 4 RBI’s and 3 runs scored.  He clubbed his 34th HR in the win and tied his career high in RBI’s with 107.  His average is up to .306 and his on-base percentage is .391.  Aramis Ramirez also went for 3 for 4, including his 14th home run of the season.  And in just 286 at-bats and 76 games, Ramirez has 61 RBI’s good for 2nd best on the team behind Lee.  Kosuke Fukudome and Jeff Baker each had 2 hits.  And Justin Berg has continued his good relief pitching for the Cubs – in 5 September appearances, Berg has pitched 5 scoreless innings, allowing just 4 hits and no walks during that span.

While the season is essnetially over for all intents and purposes, it is nice to see guys still competing for pride and for the future.  Hopefully a positive ending will remind the Cubs that they were the division champs 2 years in a row, and that a rebound is not out of the question…

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Cubs Suspend Milton Bradley; GM Jim Hendry Should be Next to Go

Posted on 21 September 2009 by Lou

chicago cubs milton bradley jake fox 1

Wow – with the meaningless weekend series between the Cubs & Cardinals, at least Milton Bradley and Jim Hendry gave us some lively action to sink our teeth into.  The Cubs officially suspended Milton Bradley for the rest of the 2009 MLB schedule on Sunday for his adverse actions and statements made regarding the Cubs organization.  Yippee – it’s about time…

Here’s what GM Jim Hendry said to the media on Sunday:  “There have been a lot of issues that we’ve lived with during the year but the last few days became too much for me to tolerate, to be honest with you.  I’m not going to let our great fans become an excuse, I’m not going to tolerate not answering questions from the media respectfully.  Whether you feel like talking or not, it’s part of our jobs.  I’m not going to allow disrespect to other people in that locker room and uniformed personnel. The only real negativity here is his won production.”

Among many issues raised by Bradley all season long – racism, means fans, injury issues – it all came to a head when Manager Lou Pinella pulled Bradley during Wednesday night’s game against the Brewers during a double-switch.  I guess Bradley did not like being pulled by Pinella, so in Thursday’s series finale against the Brewers, Bradley pulled himself from the games with an apparent “knee injury” to “get back at” Pinella.  Can you say “baby”?!  Then Bradley refused to answer questions about the knee injury, he pulled himself from Friday night’s game in St. Louis right before the 1st pitch to put Pinella and the Cubs in another bad position, and finally proceeded to bad-mouth the Cubs organization and fans.  Here’s what he said:  “It’s just not a positive environment.  I need a stable, healthy, enjoyable environment.  There’s too many people everywhere in your face with a microphone asking the same questions repeatedly.  Everyone is just bashing you.  You go out there and play harder than anybody on the field and never get credit for it.  It’s just negativity.  And you understand why they haven’t won in 100 years here, because it’s negative.  It’s what it is.”

The Bradley signing was a bad move in November, it was a bad move during spring training, it was a bad move when he injured himself during the first few weeks of the season, and it was a bad move all season long.  And it’s taken the man in charge of player personnel 10 months to realize that.  Let’s look at the numbers:

In 393 at-bats in 124 games, Bradley hit .257 with a .378 on-base percentage.  Bradley hit 12 HR’s and 17 doubles and drove in 40 runs while scoring 61 runs.  He had 66 walks and 95 strikeouts.  Now without comparing him to every single player on the Cubs, let’s simply compare him to Jake Fox – a young player who helped the Cubs in numerous positions and is the consummate team player.  In just 189 at-bats in 74 games, Fox hit .286 with a .335 on-base percentage.  Fox hit 11 HR’s and 14 doubles and drove in 42 runs while scoring 26 runs.  Fox also makes a LOT less than the $10 million Bradley is set to make under his 3-year deal with the Cubs.  In half the number of at-bats, Fox had more RBI’s and 1 less HR than Bradley.  How can this be?

Throw in the horrendous fielding in right field, the numerous dropped/misplayed balls, and the fact that Bradley is not a “good” clubhouse guy, this was a disaster waiting to happen.  Most people saw this, and the man in charge of player personnel decisions should have seen this day coming too.  It’s time for Hendry to get the boot too.

Three years ago, I thought Hendry did a great job re-inventing the Cubs model after reliance on injury-prone pitchers (Kerry Wood, Mark Prior) came back to haunt the Cubs year-after-year.  Hendry signed middle-of-the-road pitchers Jason Marquis and Ted Lilly because he knew they were innings-eaters who would make 25-30 starts a season.  He added Mark DeRosa – a solid ballplayer who was a great clubhouse guy who would produce day-in-and-day-out.

But after these “conservative” moves, Hendry started making some questionable moves that undermined his new game plan.  The Alfonso Soriano signing was exciting, but why the 8 years for a player that would be over 30 years at the start of his 1st season with the Cubs?  Soriano’s 2009 numbers – 477 at-bats, .241 batting average, .303 on-base percentage, 20 HR’s, 55 RBI’s, 64 runs & 118 K’s. Why 4 years (and close to $50 million) on an unproven major league player from Japan – Kosuke Fukodome – who would be handed the everyday right field job? Fukodome’s 2009 numbers – – 462 at-bats, .253 batting average, .371 on-base percentage, 11 HR’s, 52 RBI’s, 71 runs & 103 K’s (these numbers are nearly identical to his 2008 numbers whcih were considered a huge disappointment).  And most recently, why 3 years and $30 on Milton Bradley?

Coupled with those moves, Hendry had to unload the likes of Mark DeRosa and Marquis who once again had productive years in 2009 without causing any issues in their respective clubhouses.  DeRosa has a combined 21 HR’s, 72 RBI’s and 74 runs scored while playing for the Indians and Cardinals in 479 at-bats.  Marquis is 15-11 in 30 starts pitching half his time for the Rockies in Coors Field in Denver.  Marquis has a 3.84 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP and will likely be pitching in the post-season for the 6th straight year.

Hendry has mortgaged the outfield with the signings of Soriano, Fukudome and Bradley for the next few years.  The Cubs will have little room for the free agent market during the off-season following the horrible 2009 MLB campaign.  And we haven’t even mentioned the signing of Carlos Zambrano to an extension during the 2008 MLB season – and now we’re hearing rumblings that the Cubs will try to move Zambrano in the off-season to dump salary.  Does this guy even have a clue or a plan?  How do you sign a player to a 4-year extension because he is so important to your team, and then – less than 1 year later – decide that you can’t have this guy on your ballclub anymore?  It just doesn’t make sense to me and it is a downward trend that is becoming more and more evident with Hendry if you truly analayze the moves he has made the last 2-3 years.  I hope the Ricketts family takes a very close look at Hendry and makes an informed decision on whether or not he is the man to lead this the organization to a World Series.  There was a time where I thought he had what it took to do the job, but right now, I firmly believe that Hendry must go too…

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Cubs Clubhouse in Disarray – What is Going on on the North Side?

Posted on 19 September 2009 by Lou

chicago cubs clubhouse randy wells

Gotta love this.  Not only has this been a disappointing season for the Chicago Cubs, now things are getting bizarre in the clubhouse.  This piece by Chicago Tribune Cubs beat reporter is “enlightening”.  I know I’ve been ready for this damn season to end for a while, and now it looks like the players and coaches are too.  This latest clubhouse twilight zone is a good indication that Manager Lou Pinella has lost control of this team.  Is it too late to re-group for 2010?  Will Lou be back in 2010?  Who will GM Jim Hendry trade in the off-season – Carlos Zambrano, Milton Bradley, Kevin Gregg?

It should be fun watching this mess unfold in the off-season.  Can’t wait to hear all the gossip leaked out after all the players go back to their respective homes for the winter…

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Randy Wells Struggling Down Stretch…

Posted on 18 September 2009 by Lou

Brewers Cubs Baseball

Randy Wells has struggled down the stretch here during the 2009 MLB schedule.  The Cubs 38th round draft choice in 2002 has logged 147 innings in 24 starts, so it’s not surprising that he’s experiencing a little arm fatigue right now.  Manager Lou Pinella played it right yesterday.  After just 4 innings of work – 5 ER on 5 hits and 5 walks in 80 pitches – Pinella pulled Wells for a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the inning.  Micah Hoffpauir came through with a clutch 2-out double that cut the Brewers lead to 5-4.  The move got the Cubs closer in the game, and gave Wells a little extra rest here.

The Cubs have now dropped 5 of Wells’ last 6 starts.  Not all of it has not been Wells’ fault, but he has not been as crisp as he was at the start of the season.  In 3 of the starts, Wells gave up 5 runs with all but 2 of those runs being earned.  The Cubs lost all 3 games.  In the other 3 starts, however, he gave up a total of 5 runs with only of the runs being earned.  Wells and the Cubs went 1-2 in those 3 games.  The bigger concern is watching Wells lose some of his command.  In the 6 starts, he walked 2, 4, 2, 0, 3 and 5 respectively.  Not good for someone who has had a WHIP in the low 1.20’s for most of the season.  Regardless of how it all shakes out here, Wells has been a pleasant surprise in 2009 and has likely earned him a slot in the 2010 Cubs starting rotation.  Let’s just hope the Cubs can get the rest of their act together before the start of spring training 2010.

Oh yeah, the Cubs lost 7-4, and Milton Bradley left the game with left knee inflammation after a single in the top of the 6th inning.  The Cubs trail the Cards by 9 games (Cards magic number is 8) and the Rockies by 7 games.  Yippee…

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Rich Harden Showing Why Cubs Should NOT Re-sign Him to Long-term Deal

Posted on 17 September 2009 by Lou

Brewers Cubs Baseball

Rich Harden is a streaky pitcher, and right now, he is in one of those streaks where it is clear to me that the Cubs should not re-sign him in the off-season.  In Wednesday night’s loss, Harden needed 72 pitches to labor through 3 innings.  Harden gave up 5 runs (only 2 earned), but he suffered his 9th loss of the season.  5 hits and 3 walks in just 3 innings is never a good line, and he works way too many counts way to deep in order to be an effective pitcher over the course of a long MLB season.

In addition to this poor line, check out his last 3 starts:

Cubs 6-4 win over Reds on 9/11 – 4 innings, 1 ER, but 2 hits and 5 walks with 6 strikeouts – 104 pitches.

Cubs 5-3 win over Mets on 9/5 – 5 innings, 1 ER, but 7 hits and 1 walk with 10 strikeouts – 102 pitches.

Cubs 5-3 loss to Astros on 8/31 – 5 innings, 5 ER, but 5 hits and 6 walks with 9 strikeouts – 98 pitches.

While his strikeout numbers are impressive – 171 K’s in 141 innings – his 67 walks and high 1.34 WHIP really don’t help him or the team in the long run.  With those numbers comes high pitch counts.  And with high pitch counts comes short outings.  This usually means a tired bullpen and more late innings losses throughout the season because the bullpen gets over-worked too early and too often in the season.

Not having to re-sign Harden to a long-term deal should free up the $8-9 million that the Cubs paid to him in 2009.  That money could be used to find another more “productive” back-end starter or for a full-time starting 2nd baseman since the Mike Fontenot/Aaron Miles experiment failed miserably. Let’s just hope GM Jim Hendry hears what we’re talking about.

Couple of bright spots in last night’s loss:  Aramis Ramirez hit his 13th HR of the season; Geovany Soto had 2 more hits; and Ryan Theriot had 3 hits and a walks in 5 at-bats.  Not great, but not all that bad either…

Randy Wells looks to pick up win #11 in the series finale against the Brewers at Wrigley Field on Thursday afternoon.  His ERA is still under 3 (@ 2.96), so he looks to keep that number low as well.

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Zambrano’s Messy 5th Costs Him 9th Win; But Lee Leads Way Again

Posted on 16 September 2009 by Lou

Brewers Cubs Baseball

Carlos Zambrano – what in the world are we going to do with you?  Big Z is simply an enigma.  If somone could work with him to get his head on straight, Zambrano could be one of the best pitchers in baseball.  Instead, we get Carlos Zambrano being Carlos Zambrano.  The 2009 version – 8-6 record in 25 starts.  A good 3.94 ERA, but a startling high 1.43 WHIP.  132 strikeouts in 148+ innings, but also 70 walks.  Not the numbers of the ace of your staff, someone who is set to make $18 million per season for the next 3 years.  It’s not bad enough that the Cubs are locked into bad contracts with Alfonso Soriano, Milton Bradley and Kosuke Fukodome.  But now we have to worry about how many stints Big Z is going to spend on the DL trying to swing the bat too hard.

Uggghhhh – – it is so frustrating.  Last night, the Cubs offense took advantage of a wild Brewers staff – 11 hits, 12 walks, 3 HBP, 2 wild pitches – and took a 4-0 lead by the end of the 4th inning.  But for some reason, Big Z crapped the bed in the top of the 5th inning.  After getting the 1st 2 outs, Zambrano gave up a hit to the pitcher Giovanni Gallardo and he lost his cool.  Zambrano followed that up with a walk, 2 hits, a wild pitch, another walk and then an error by Ryan Theriot at shortstop that would have ended the inning.  We know how Big Z feels about his teammates making errors, so he let the next batter get a 2-run single to give the Brewers a 5-4 lead.  Now granted, the last 2 runs should not have scored because of the Theriot error, but come on.  Five runs on 6 hits and 4 walks over 5 innings of work – 105 pitches ???!!! – is not acceptable from your alleged ace.  Someone has gotta get through to this guy.

Luckily the Cubs offense rallied the troops for a come-from-behind win, and the Cubs bullpen (save for Jeff Samardzija who has had just a brutal 2009 – 1-2 record, 7.89 ERA, 1.85 WHIP, 26 ER on 41 hits and 14 walks in just 29 2/3 innings) turned in another solid 3 innings of scoreless relief.  Aaron Heilman pitched a scoreless inning of relief and has now given up just 2ER in his last 9 outings (12 innings).  And can you see the 26-year old Esmailin Caridad setting up for Carlos Marmol in 2010?  After a rough major league debut in Colorado on August 10th, Caridad has been lights-out in his next 6 appearances.  And since being called back to the major league level on September 8th, Caridad has pitched 4 scoreless innings, giving up just 2 hits and 1 walk while striking out 2.  I know he is raw and young, but a good off-season could solidify his spot on the 2010 Cubs.

As for the bats, the Brewers pitching was just awful.  But give Derrek Lee some credit.  Lee was patient at the plate – 2 for 2 with 3 RBI’s and 1 run scored.  He also walked 4 times.  Geovany Soto’s bat has shown some of the pop from his 2008 Rookie of the Year campaign – 2 for 5 with 3 RBI’s and 2 runs scored, including his 11th homer of the season.  Ryan Theriot’s bat has cooled off a little bit of late, but he had 4 walks as well on Tuesday night and scored 3 runs.  Theriot also stole his 18th base of the year.

Not a lot to get excited about, but we’ll take the positives where we can get them…

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Dempster, Marmol, Lee – Different Night, Same Story

Posted on 15 September 2009 by Lou

Brewers Cubs Baseball

Seems like the Cubs have developed a winning recipe long after the season is over…  Good outings by the starting pitcher and Carlos Marmol and a clutch hit by Derrek Lee. I feel like I am writing the same thing over and over when it comes to recent Cubs wins.

I guess I should be happy.  The starting pitching has been solid all year long.  With Ryan Dempster’s win on Monday night (2-0 over the Brewers), the Cubs now have 3 starters with at least 10 victories.  With Carlos Zambrano sitting on 8 wins and Rich Harden sitting on 9 wins, that number should be 5 when the season ends on October 4th.  Dempster had his best start of 2009 on Monday night – he looked like the Ryan Dempster of 2008, focused, throwing strikes, hitting his spots.  Dempster needed just 108 pitches to throw 8 scoreless innings, giving up just 4 hits and 1 walk.  Yeah!

Carlos Marmol rebounded from his non-save situation loss on Saturday afternoon, pitching a scoreless 9th inning with 1 walk and 1 strikeout.  Make it 9 out of 9 for Marmol in save situations since being named the Cubs closer.

And as for Derrek Lee, he just keeps on hitting.  Lee had 2 hits in Monday’s win, including his 33rd home run of the year.  He is hitting .304 on the 2009 MLB campaign and he has his OPS up to .966.  Aramis Ramirez also came through with 2 hits and he now has his batting average up to .324.

Although it is definitely too little too late, I am very happy with the performance by some of these guys down the stretch.  As I have said before, the pitching staff has been mostly good all throughout the 2009 MLB schedule (the team’s 3.85 ERA is still he 5th best ERA in all of baseball).  Even in a year in which the bats completely deserted the club for long stretches at a time, the pitchers never really lost focus, and the team has still managed to win 74 games to date.  The Cubs offense still has the 5th worst batting average in all of baseball.  I’m not sure what the Cubs can do in the off-season to tweak the lineup (with the new ownership situation and limited payroll flexibility) to improve the offense.  But one would think that with a move here or there, and with more productive seasons from Milton Bradley, Alfonso Soriano and Geovany Soto, there have gotta be a few more wins out there to put the club back into a playoff contender in 2010.  Wishful thinking?  Maybe, but at this point, we gotta do something…

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