Archive | Lou Pinella

Ted Lilly & Derrek Lee Red-Hot Finish in 2009

Posted on 14 September 2009 by Lou

Reds Cubs Baseball

Ted Lilly and Derrek Lee keep providing solid efforts down the stretch here in a frustrating 2009 MLB season for the Cubbies.

Lilly notched his 12th win of the season, pitching 6 scoreless innings.  His pitch count was very high – 119 pitches – so Manager Lou Pinella took him out after the 6 innings.  Lilly gave up 6 hits and 2 walks while striking out 7.  With the outing, Lilly lowered his ERA to 3.17 and his WHIP to 1.08.  Pretty sweet numbers in 25 starts in 2009.

Derrek Lee, meanwhile, kept on raking at the plate.  Lee increased his batting average to .302 with a 3 for4 4 performance at the plate.  He had 1 RBI on a solo home run in the 7th inning and he scored 2 runs.  Lee continues to lead the Cubs offense in most categories – HR’s, RBI’s, runs scored.

Andres Blanco has also put together a few nice games for the Cubs here down the stretch.  Blanco had 3 hits and 2 RBI’s on a single in the 4th inning that gave the Cubs a 3-0 lead.  Could we see a Jeff Baker / Andres Blanco platoon at 2nd base in 2010?

Aramis Ramirez also had another solid game – 2 hits and 1 run scored.  Ramirez is now hitting .322 with a .382 on-base percentage…

In what should have been a meaningful September series with playoff implications, the Cubs battle the Brewers in 4 meaningful games at Wrigley Field this week.  At 73-68, the Cubs are 9.5 games back of the Cardinals in the NL Central race and 7.5 games back of the Rockies in the NL Wild Card race.  At 69-73, the Brewers are 14 games back of the Cardinals in the NL Central race and 12 games back of the Rockies in the NL Wild Card race.  Talk about bad – especially for the 2 teams that battled down the stretch in 2008 for the NL central division title.

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Crazy – – Carlos Marmol Not Good in Non-Save Situations…

Posted on 13 September 2009 by Lou

Manager Lou Pinella has quickly learned 1 thing about Carlos Marmol – he does not pitch well in non-save situations.  And let’s face it – a lot of closers are like this because of the lack of mental focus.  Carlos Marmol’s control problems in the 9th inning wasted a valiant Cubs comeback.

Trailing 5-0, the Cubs rallied for 3 runs in the 6th inning on an Aramis Ramiez single, a Geovany Soto double and a Bobby Scales sacrifice fly.  And with the bases loaded in the 7th inning, Geovany Soto’s double to deep center field plated Kosuke Fukodome and Derrek Lee to tie the game at 5.  But when 3rd base coach Mike Quade sent Ramirez home to try to score the go-ahead run, but he was thrown out at the plate.

Then came Marmol’s disastrous 9th inning – 2 walks to start off the inning and then a 2-run double to right field by pinch hitter Drew Sutton that gave the Reds the 7-5 win over the Reds.

Randy Wells had a rare bad start –

The Cubs try to win the series on Sunday with Ted Lilly on the mound…

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Cubs, Squirrels Looking to Sweep Reds @ Wrigley Field

Posted on 12 September 2009 by Lou

APTOPIX Reds Cubs Baseball

The squirrels were on the Cubs side in Friday’s 6-4 win over the Reds at Wrigley Field.  Will they make it 2 for 2 in Saturday’s matinee?

Randy Wells looks to pick up his 11th win of the 2009 MLB schedule, trying to tie Ted Lilly for the club lead in victories.  Wells has pitched well as of late in his last 4 starts (6 ER over 25 2/3 innings), but only has 1 win to show for it.  Wells is 2-0 with 1 no decision against the Reds in 2009.

Go Cubs!!!

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Ramirez, Bullpen Sharp in Cubs 6-4 Win Over Reds @ Wrigley Field

Posted on 11 September 2009 by Lou

Reds Cubs Baseball

The Cubs definitely like playing at Wrigley Field.  The Cubs improved their home record at Wrigley Field to 41-27 with Friday’s 6-4 win over Dusty Baker and the Reds.  Too bad the Cubs are an atrocious 9 games under .500 on the road in 2009.

Aramis Ramirez was the offensive hero for the Cubs in the win.  Ramirez went 3 for 3 with 3 RBI’s and 2 runs scored.  His 2-run single in the 3rd inning broke a 1-1 tie; his RBI single in the 5th inning broke a 4-4 tie; and his run scored on a Bobby Scales pinch-hit double in the 8th inning gave the Cubs a much-needed insurance run.  His numbers are down because he has only played in 65 games with the dislocated shoulder injury, but he is still hitting .315 and he has a .391 on-base percentage.  The Cubs are clearly a much better hitting team with Ramirez in the middle of the lineup.  He has 51 RBI’s and 33 runs scored, more than some of the every day regular players like Milton Bradley and Alfonso Soriano who have not missed the time that he has.

The Cubs bullpen also looked good, with the exception of Jeff Stevens.  Despite giving up a 3-run HR to Johnny Gomes in the 5th inning – his only inning of work – Stevens picked up his 1st career major league victory.  The rest of the bullpen picked up the slack for Harden (104 pitches in just 4 innings, 1 ER on 2 hits and 5 walks, with 6 K’s) and Stevens, however.  Aaron Heilman pitched 2 perfect innings, even striking out the side – Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips and Scott Rolen – in the 7th inning.  Late-season call-up Esmailin Caridad – future set-up man?! – put forth his 4th straight good outing, pitching a perfect 8th inning with 1 strikeout.  And Carlos Marmol made it 8 for 8 in save chances since being named the Cubs closer.  Although this one wasn’t as pretty as the rest – he gave up a frustrating infield single to Ryan Theriot and then followed that up with a walk to put 2 runners on with only 1 out – he buckled down with a big strikeout of Joey Votto and a week fly out to right field to end the game.  No runs given up by Marmol since becoming the Cubs closer, and he seems to have that swagger back.  Look out in 2010…

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Cubs Starters, Marmol Continue to Shine Down Stretch…

Posted on 10 September 2009 by Lou

Cubs Pirates Baseball

I know I keep harping on this, but with the Cubs so far out of it (11.5 games behind Cardinals; 8.5 games behind Rockies), we’ve gotta cling to something.

Overall, it has been a productive season for the Cubs starting pitchers.  And Carlos Marmol has really gotten his act together since Manager Lou Pinella promoted him to the closer’s role.  The number’s don’t lie:

Carlos Zambrano picked up his 8th win on Wednesday afternoon.  He pitched 6 strong innings, giving up just 2 ER on 5 hits and 3 walks.  If Kosuke Fukodome had made that incredible diving catch in center field on the 2-run double, it would have been 6 scoreless innings for Big Z.  Zambrano is 8-6 overall – he has made 24 starts, with a 3.77 ERA and a 1.41 WHIP.  Too many walks – 66 in 143+ innings, but the under 4 ERA and 123 K’s are nice.

Randy Wells – we’ve been on his badnwagon since he made his 1st Cubs start back in May.  What’s not to like – 10-8 record; 22 starts; 139+ innings; 2.84 ERA; 1.22 WHIP.  Gotta love the 35 walks and 84 K’s.  The lower walk and K numbers mean less pitches and longer outings, which means good things for your bullpen and the team.  Let the other team put the ball in play and make outs.

Ted Lilly – talk about consistent.  11-8; 24 starts; 156+ innings; 3.17 ERA and 1.07 WHIP.  Think Lilly likes pitching in the NL as opposed to the AL East where he pitched for the Yankees and Blue Jays for 6 seasons?  His strikeout to walk ratio is incredible – 130 to 32?!  WOW.  Not much else to say.

Ryan Dempster – although it has been a disappointing season for Dempster, especially after his 17-win season in 2008, he has had enough really good starts to make his numbers look adequate.  9-8; 26 starts (leads team); 163 innings (leads team); 4.03 ERA; and 1.38 WHIP.  While his bonehead broken toe injury in July hurt the club, and his inconsistency was tough to explain at times, Dempster is a good starter to have on your staff.  Let’s hope a few good outings down the stretch here in 2009 will give him a little confidence to keep his head during a rigorous off-season workout regimen.

Rich Harden – although he will likely be gone in 2010, Harden has been a valuable cog for Pinella and the Cubs. 9-8; 24 starts; 134 innings; 4.10 ERA; and 1.30 WHIP.  His numbers are eerily similar to Dempster, but his high walk (59) and strikeout (162) numbers always lead to high pitch counts.  Not good for Harden who has had a history of arm issues or for the Cubs bullpen.  Harden’s outings are usually 5 or 6 innings, and that can take its toll over the course of a long MLB season.  Harden pitched 7 innings only 5 times all season long.  That’s not enough.

What’s scary about these numbers is that the Cubs will likely end the season with 5 starting pitchers with 10 wins each.  With a team as bad as they are in 2009, that is a pretty impressive stat.  Makes you wonder what would have come of this team if Kevin Gregg hadn’t blown so many saves, and if the Cubs offense had been even just a little bit more consistent.

We’ve already highlighted Carlos Marmol a bunch of times since Pinella promoted him to closer, but make it 7 for 7 save conversions for Marmol with Wednesday’s save in Pittsburgh.  Marmol now has 11 saves on the season, and he has 12 K’s and 3 walks in save situations (7 1/3 innings).  Pretty damn good.

Let’s hope the Cubs can keep it up the rest of the way – even though it will be tough to deal with the disappointing 2009 season, maybe they can take some solace in the fact that there were some bright spots along the way…

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Cubs Tie Record with 7-Run 1st Inning; Lee, Baker Raking @ the Plate

Posted on 09 September 2009 by Lou

Cubs Pirates Baseball

The Cubs tied a major league record on Tuesday night when the 1st 8 batters all reached base on hits (6 singles and 2 doubles).  The Cubs scored 7 runs in the inning en route to a 9-4 win.  The Cubs were the 1st team to accomplish the feat way back in the 1920’s.  The New York Yankees were the last team to do it in September 1990.

Ryan Dempster picked up his 9th win of the season.  It was not a great outing – 6 1/3 innings, 4 ER, 8 hits and 2 walks, with 4 K’s – but a win is a win at this point of the season.

2 Cubs players have quietly put together solid seasons thus far.

After a slow start in April (a .189 batting average at the end of the month), Derrek Lee has been the Cubs most consistent hitter all season long.  With 2 hits in the win, Lee’s batting average is now right at .300.  He has a .379 on-base percentage and a .573 slugging percentage.  Lee leads the team in HR’s (31); RBI’s (96); and runs scored (74).  He has even dealt with neck/upper back spasms for much of the season, but has still managed to play in 122 games and hit 464 at-bats.  Especially with Aramis Ramirez missing 2 months with a dislocated shoulder and the under performance by several key players – Alfonso Soriano, Milton Bradley, Geovany Soto – the presence of Lee in the lineup each and every day has been invaluable.

Mid-season acquisition Jeff Baker has also been a pleasant surprise for the Cubs in the infield.  Since coming over from the Rockies in July, Baker has played in 47 games, getting 126 at-bats along the way.  Baker has played 3 infield positions – 2nd base, 1st base and 3rd base.  Baker has a .341 batting average with a solid 399 on-base percentage.  In a limited role, Baker has hit 3 HR’s, driven in 13 runs and scored 18 runs.  Baker has had 3 multi-hit games in the last 5 games played and at age 28, he is making a case that he could be the Cubs starting 2nd baseman of the future.

It’s great to see some of these guys still giving it their all day in and day out down the stretch here in 2009.  At 70-67, even though the Cubs still trail the Cards by 11.5 games and the Rockies by 8 games, these guys still realize there is a lot to play for – at least personally.  Good luck!

Cubs Pirates Baseball

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Lilly Lights-Out Since Return from DL; Marmol Loving Closer Role

Posted on 08 September 2009 by Lou

Cubs Pirates Baseball

Ted Lilly is on a mission.  In 5 starts from returning from the DL on August 17th, Lilly has allowed just 6 total ER on 19 hits and 6 walks in 33 1/3 innings pitched.  IMPRESSIVE!  With Monday afternoon’s 4-2 win over the Pirates, Lilly is 2-1 during that stretch and he is now 11-8 on the season.  Lilly has a 3.17 ERA and a miniscule 1.07 WHIP.  AMAZING!  Lilly is definitely proving to the rest of the club, and the rest of MLB for that matter, that he still has what it takes to be a dominating pitcher in the National League.

In 3 seasons with the Cubs, Lilly has made 34, 34 and 24 starts, respectively.  Lilly has also won a total of 43 games over the 3 seasons.  2009 has been his best year by far, mainly because he has limited his walks – only 32 total walks in 156 1/3 innings, as opposed to 55 and 64 in 2007 and 2008, respectively.  His season ERA has not been higher than 4.09 and his season WHIP has not been higher than 1.23 during this span.  Lilly has been one of the Cubs most consistent pitchers the last 3 seasons, and the Cubs will be fortunate if Lilly can pick up where he left off when 2010 starts next April.

Carlos Marmol has also thrived since being promoted to the closer’s role.  Marmol has converted all 6 save opportunities he has been presented with, giving up just 2 hits and 3 walks, with 11 K’s, during those6 1/3 innings pitched.  Talk about effective.  Although there really isn’t too much pressure on the club these days, it is a good sign that Marmol has been on his game since becoming the closer.  Marmol has also only given up 1 HR all season long, so it is imperative for your closer not to be prone to give up the long ball on a regular basis.  His ERA is a solid 3.34, and while the WHIP is still high at 1.44, it has gotten better since he became the Cubs closer.  Let’s hope Marmol’s late 2009 success will carry over into 2010 as well…

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Weekend Update – Disappointing Series Loss Against Mets in NYC

Posted on 07 September 2009 by Lou

The Cubs lost the weekend series to the Mets in NYC.  Here’s a brief re-cap:

Friday 9/4 – Mets 6, Cubs 2.  Mets blew game open with a 5-run 8th inning to break a 1-1 tie.  Carlos Zambrano finally looked good – 1 ER (a solo HR by Corey Sullivan on 3 hits and 3 walks in 6 innings.  Kevin Gregg (2 ER on 2 hits) and John Grabow (3 ER on 4 hits and 1 walk) did not retire a single batter in the 8th inning.  Jeff Baker had 3 hits and an RBI in the loss.

Saturday 9/5 – Cubs 5, Mets 3. Rich Harden picked up his 9th win of the season – 1 ER on 7 hits and 2 walks and 10 K’s in 5 innings.  Carlos Marmol picked up his 9th save and 5th straight save since being named the club’s closer.  Derrek Lee was the offensive hero – 3 for 4 with 2 home runs, 3 RBI’s and 3 runs scored.

Sunday 9/6 – Mets 4, Cubs 2.  Randy Wells 1 ER on 7 hits and no walks over 6 innings.  Kevin Gregg was awful in relief – 2 ER on 3 hits and 1 walk in just 2/3 of an inning.  Cubs manage just 6 hits and 2 walks.  Geovany Soto had 2 hits and 2 RBI’s in the loss.

Cubs are 68-67 and they trail the Cardinals by 11.5 games in the NL Central and the Rockies by 8 games in the NL Wild Card race.

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Great Article on Randy Wells…

Posted on 06 September 2009 by Lou

Randy Wells has been one of the Cubs most reliable pitchers all season long, and he suffered another tough luck loss today, 4-2 to the lowly Mets at CITI Field.

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Wells Notches 10th Win; Wells & Marmol Soldifying Starter & Closer Roles for 2010

Posted on 02 September 2009 by Lou

Astros Cubs Baseball

Randy Wells notched his 10th win on Tuesday at Wrigley Field, defeating the Astros 4-1.  Wells pitched into the 7th inning giving up just 1 unearned run.  Wells gave up 7 hits and 2 walks, but struck out 5.  John Grabow got Wells out of the 8th inning after a 2-out walk to Jason Michaels with 1 run already in in the inning.  Wells is clearly a man on a mission in 2009.  Wells has made every start (21 total) that has been asked of him since a May 8th start against the Brewers at Miller Park in Milwaukee.  He has pitched 133 1/3 innings, striking out 82 while walking just 35.  He has pitched at least 5 innings in all but 1 of his starts.  If not for 4 no decisions when he left the game with the lead, we could be looking at a 15-game winner here in a shortened season.  The Cubs have got to be thrilled to have the devlopment of Wells during an otherwise frustrating 2009 MLB schedule.  Wells just turned 27 years old and he has a lot of good years ahead of him.  It would be wise for Manager Lou Pinella and pitching coach Larry Rothschild to keep a close eye on his pitch counts during his last 5-6 starts of the season.  That’s probably why they took him out of last night’s game after just 94 pitches.  Good move in the long run.

Ted Lilly and Wells have been the Cubs most consistent pitchers in 2009.  While Carlos Zambrano and Ryan Dempster have had off years (just 15 wins combined after the 2 combined for 31 totals win in 2008), Zambrano and Dempster are proven veterans capable of returning to the form that warranted signing each of them to long-term deals in 2008.  If Zambrano and Dempster show up in 2010, the Cubs will have a nice starting 4 locked in for the 2010 rotation.  The Cubs will likely not sign Rich Harden, as we have discussed before, so they will be in the market for a 5th starter to round out the starting rotation.

Keeping on the pitching front, Carlos Marmol appears to have settled right into the closer’s role.  Since taking over for Kevin Gregg at the end of August, Marmol has converted each of the 3 save opportunities given too him.  In each of those saves, he has not allowed more than 1 runner to reach base in the 9th inning.  He has 9 strikeouts in his last 4 innings pitched, and the confidence just seems to keep building and building.  His only bad outing since taking over the closer’s role was when Pinella threw him into a non-save situation against the Nationals when the Cubs blew open a 3-2 lead with 6 runs in the bottom of the 8th inning as Marmol was warming up to enter to save the game.  Instead of opting to use someone else (Marmol hadn’t pitched in 3 days leading up to that game), Pinella stayed with him to give him some work.  Marmol ended up giving up 2 ER on 3 walks and a hit, but finished the inning.  It would be great to see Marmol to finish on a positive note during the rest of the 2009 MLB schedule.  That will take out some of the uncertainty with the closer position heading into spring training.

And who knows, this could be a huge move for Kevin Gregg as well – not having to pitch in the pressure position as the closer.  Since his demotion, Gregg has not allowed a single run, pitching 6 innings in 6 appearances, giving up just 2 hits and 1 walk along the way.  He has 5 K’s during that stretch.  If Gregg can get comfortable in the 7th or 8th inning set-up role, the Cubs could start to put together a strong “re-vamped” bullpen with John Grabow and Angel Guzman as well.

Hate to start to think positive thoughts for 2010, but as bad as it’s been this year, you would have to think that things can only get better…

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