Archive | Aaron Miles

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.

Brewers Cubs Baseball

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Randy to the Rescue – Cubs Top Pirates 4-1

Posted on 02 July 2009 by Lou

Cubs Pirates Baseball

Randy Wells helped the Cubs get back on track with a 7-inning gem that helped the Cubs beat the Pirates 4-1.  Wells needed only 97 pitches, giving up only 1 ER on 6 hits and 1 walk.  He struck out 4 and did not allow a run after giving up a 1st inning run. The rookie Wells has turned into the Cubs most dependable starter right now, lowering his ERA 2.43 to and his WHIP to 1.08.  Wells had this to say about his quality 2009 start: “I like to think I’ve been consistent.  When I was called up to make my first start, I said, ‘Just be who you are. Go out, throw strikes, mix speeds and keep the flow of the game going.'”  Wells has certainly done that in his 10 starts – he has given up more than 2 runs in only 2 of his starts.

Carlos Marmol worked a scoreless 8th inning although he did hit the leadoff hitter with a pitch.  Kevin Gregg worked a 1-2-3 9th inning to preserve the win and pick up his 14th save of the season.

Derrek Lee got the Cubs off to a good start with a 2-run HR to deep right center field in the 1st inning.  Kosuke Fukodome’s solo HR in the 6th inning gave the Cubs a 3-1 lead and Geovany Soto’s RBI single in the 8th inning tacked on another insurance run for the Cubs.  Sam Fuld, recently called up to take the place of the injured Aaron Miles, had 2 hits and scored a run.  Ryan Theriot, Fukodome and Soto also each had 2 hits.

Manager Lou Pinella was ejected from the game in the 6th inning for arguing a call made by 1st base umpire Chad Fairchild who called Wells out.  The play ended a Cubs threat that would have scored a run.

The Cubs start the month of July with a win – good news.  The potential bad news – they start the most important home stand of the 2009 MLB schedule on Thursday night against the Brewers at Wrigley Field and it’s unclear if they are ready for it.  At 37-38, the Cubs trail the Brewers by 3.5 games, the Cards by 2.5 games and the Reds by .5 games.  The Cubs need to win at least 2 of the games against the Brewers this weekend.  Anything less than that and the season could be over.  Ryan Dempster (4-5. 4.09 ERA) takes the bump against Seth McClung (3-1, 3.55 ERA) in the Thursday night opener.

Cubs Pirates Baseball

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Cubs Pull off Dramatic 6-5 Win Over Sox in Bottom of 9th Inning

Posted on 19 June 2009 by Lou

White Sox Cubs Baseball

The Cubs defeated the White Sox 6-5 in the bottom of the 9th inning.  I was getting ready to write my same old blog post over again – Cubs waste good outing from Cubs starting pitcher “X”; Cubs hitters can’t get clutch hit and score only 1 run; Cubs lose… again… – but then the baseball gods smiled upon the Cubs and fans at Wrigley Field.  Micah Hoffpauir had a good at-bat against reliever Scott Linebrink and eventually hit a hard-hit groundball to 2nd base that Chris Getz’s misplayed for an error.  Alfonso Soriano then singled to center field for 1st and 2nd with only 1 out.  Then it looked like the Cubs were back to their usual hitting ways – a Ryan Theriot popout and a Milton Bradley strikeout.  Two on, two outs for Derrek Lee and with 1 swing of the bat, Lee crushed Linebrink’s pitch to righ field for a 3-run home run.  Geovany Soto then cruched a solo home run to left center field to tie the game at 5.

Kevin Gregg worked a scoreless 9th inning despite giving up a leadoff single to Alexei Ramirez.  And the Cubs played small ball to perfection in the bottom of the inning.  Reed Johnson pinch-hit for the 0 for 3 Kosuke Fukodome and singled to lead off the inning.  Andres Blanco sacrificed Johnson to 2nd base to put the winning run into scoring position.  After an Aaron Miles groundout, Alfonso Soriano hit a bloop single to right center field that drove in Johnson with the winning run.

Carlos Zambrano pitched a good game – 7 innings, 6 hits, 3 walks and 3 ER with 3 K’s.  Big Z made only 1 bad pitch all day – that a fastball to Alexei Ramirez in the top of the 7th inning which Ramirez took deep to left to give the White Sox a 3-1 lead.  The game looked finished when Carlos Marmol took over for Zambrano and promptly gave the White Sox 2 insurance runs on a Chris Getz double and a Gordon Beckham single.  But the Cubs never gave up and pulled off the improbable win to the delight of the “Wrigley Faithful”.

The Cubs moved back to .500 with the win at 31-31.  They trail the Brewers by 4 games in the NL Central.

White Sox Cubs Baseball

White Sox Cubs Baseball

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Jake Peavy, Padres Hand Cubs 5th Straight Loss

Posted on 23 May 2009 by Lou

Cubs Padres Baseball

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:

Soriano .263

Theriot .276

Fukodome .320

Lee .240

Hoffpauir .297

Scales .286

Hill .300

Miles .207

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.

Cubs Padres Baseball

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Gregg Blows Cubs 4-Run Lead in 9th, But Cubs Win on Soriano Single

Posted on 17 May 2009 by Lou

Astros Cubs Baseball

The Cubs defeated the Astros 5-4 in frustrating, but dramatic fashion on Saturday afternoon at Wrigley Field.

Randy Wells gave the Cubs another great start – 6 innings, 0 runs on 4 hits and 3 walks.  Wells left the game with a 3-0 and was set to earn his 1st majore league win.  The Cubs had built the lead on an RBI single by Derrek Lee in the bottom of the 6th inning, which was then followed by a 2-run homer from Micah Hoffpauir.  The Cubs added what turned out to be an all-important insurance run on a Geovany Soto single in the 8th inning.  Angel Guzman and Carlos Marmol worked scoreless 7th and 8th innings to set it up perfectly for closer Kevin Gregg.

But it all fell apart for Gregg in the 9th.  Gregg gave up back-to-back homers to Lance Berkman and Carlos Lee to lead off the inning.  Miguel Tejada and Geoff Blumm singled and Gregg loaded the bases when he hit Hunter Pence with a pitch.  That was it for Gregg as Manager Lou Pinella replaced him with Aaron Heilman.  Heilman promptly served up a single to Ivan Pudge Rodriguez which scored Tejada and Pence to tie the game at 4.  But Heilman buckled down to induce 2 flyouts.  Heilman then walked Michael Bourn to load the bases again with 2 out, and Pinella called on Sean Marshall to finish off the rally.  He did just that – getting the deadly Lance Berkman to ground out to end the inning.

The Cubs rallied in the bottom of the 9th inning quickly.  Bobby Scales lead off the inning with a walk against former Cubs pitcher Latroy Hawkins.  Aaron Miles sacrificed Scales over to 2nd base and Alfonso Soriano delivered Scales home with the winning run on a single to right field.

The 2 teams finish off the series on Sunday afternoon – Rich Harden will take on Brian Moehler.

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Cubs Finish Off Sweep of Padres with 6-4 Win Wednesday & 12-3 Win Thursday

Posted on 14 May 2009 by Lou

Padres Cubs Baseball

The Cubs finished off the 3-game sweep of the Padres on Thursday, as the Padres dropped their 11th straight road game.

The Cubs broke out the big bats in each victory.  In Wednesday night’s 6-4 win, the Cubs hit 4 home runs.  The Cubs nailed back to back home runs by Alfonso Soriano and Ryan Theriot in the 1st inning to tie the game at 2.  Geovany Soto’s 2-run home run in the 3rd inning increased the Cubs lead to 5-2 and Ryan Theriot’s 2nd home run of the game in the 4th inning.  Ted Lilly pitched 6 1/3 innings – 3 earned runs, 8 hits, 0 walks and 7 K’s – to pick up his 5th win of the season.  Carlos Marmol picked up his 3rtd save of the season despite giving up 2 earned run on 2 hits and 2 walks in just an inning of work.

In Thursday afternoon’s 11-3 win,  the Cubs had 2 huge innings in which they scored 10 runs.  In the 5th inning, the Cubs scored 6 runs to blow the game open – a Geovany Soto walk with the bases loaded, a Reed Johnson 2-RBI double, a Bobby Scales 2-RBI double; and a Ryan Dempster single.  In the 6th inning, the Cubs scored 4 more runs on another 2-RBI double by Bobby Scales, an Aaron Miles RBI double and a Ryan Dempster RBI double.   Ryan Dempster worked 7 efficient innings – 2 earned runs, 3 hits, 2 walks and 5 K’s – to pick up his 3rd win of the season.  Jose Ascansio made his 1st major league appearance pitching 2 innings with 3 K’s and giving up just a solo home run to Drew Macias.  Ascansio also got his 1st major league at-bat when he struck out in the bottom of the 8th inning.

The lone bright spot in the series for the Padres was Adrian Gonzalez – 1 home run on Tuesday, 2 home runs on Wednesday, and 1 more home run on Thursday.

Manager Lou Pinella has gotta be happy with the way his team has started off this home stand at Wrigley Field.  Next up for the Cubs – a weekend series against the Houston Astros.

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Marshall, Bullpen Help Cubs Beat Brewers 4-2, Avoid Sweep at Miller Park

Posted on 11 May 2009 by Lou

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The Cubs defeated the Brewers 4-2 at Miller Park Sunday afternoon to prevent the Brewers bid for a 3-game weekend series sweep.  Sean Marshall pitched 5 innings, overcoming a rough start in which he gave up single runs in each of the 1st 2 innings.  Marshall settled down, however, and kept the Cubs in the game despite giving up 5 hits and 3 walks over 97 pitches.  The bullpen – which had handed defeat to the Brewers in the 2 previous games – Aaron Heilman with his 2-run home run to Ryan Braun in the 8th inning on Friday night and Neal Cotts, David Patton and Chad Fox collectively imploding in the 7th inning in Saturday night’s 12-6 loss – finally got it done at Sunday afternoon.  Angel Guzman pitched 2 scoreless and hitless innings with 2 strikeouts.  Carlos Marmol had another interesting 8th inning allowing Ryan Braun to get to 3rd base on a double and a balk with no one out.  After striking out Prince Fielder, Marmol walked Mike Cameron and after J.J. Hardy popped out to shallow right field, Marmol walked Bill Hall to load the bases.  But Marmol induced a Jason Kendall groundout to keep the Cubs lead 4-2.  Kevin Gregg picked up his 6th save of the season although he did allow the tying run to come to the plate when he walked Rickie Weeks with 1 out.  Gregg rebounded to strike out Corey Hart and Ryan Braun to end the game.

The Cubs tallied their 4 runs in a big 3rd inning off of Jeff Suppan.  Alfonso Soraino tied the game with a 2-run home run.  Aaron Miles doubled and Kosuke Fukkodome singled to keep the rally going, and Milton Bradley drove in Miles with an RBI single to center field.  Fukodome moved up to 3rd base and scored the 4th run of the inning on a wild pitch and throwing error by catcher Jason Kendall.

The Cubs seem to be getting it done with smoke and mirrors – more about this tomorrow.  But at least the Cubs came away with a victory on Sunday.  At 17-14, the Cubs are just 2.5 games behind the Cardinals.  The next 6 games are against the Padres and Astros, so if the Cubs can win each of those series, they should have a chance to cut into that lead as the Cardinals take on the Pirates and Brewers during that stretch.  Then the Cubs play the Cardinals next week in St. Louis – already the 3rd meeting between the teams this season – for another chance to cut into the lead.  As long as the Cubs can ride out these early season injuries to Milton Bradley, Derrek Lee, Carlos Zambrano and Aramis Ramirez to keep it close, they should be able to make a push for the division lead during the long, hot summer.

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Zambrano, Lee Power Cubs Past Marlins 6-4

Posted on 04 May 2009 by Lou

Marlins Cubs Baseball

The Cubs defeated the Marlins 6-4 on Sunday afternoon at Wrigley Field to take 3 of 4 games from the Marlins during the weekend series.  The Cubs have won 3 straight games and are 3.5 games behind the 1st place St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central Division.

The win did not come without a cost.  Starter Carlos Zambrano, who earned his 3rd win of the season, injured his left hamstring while beating out a bunt single in the 5th inning.  Zambrano initially stayed in the game, but came out shortly thereafter because of tightness in the leg.  The Cubs will likely take a cautious approach with Zambrano and that means he could be placed on the disabled list.  The Cubs do not want Zambrano to alter his pitching motion in order to compensate for the injury to his hamstring, so the only way to do that could be to shut him down for 15 days.  We’ll have more as the Cubs update his status over the next few days.

Zambrano’s bunt single actually started the key rally for the Cubs in the 5th inning.  Soriano flied out after Zambrano’s bunt, and then Ryan Theriot also bunted for a single to send pinch-runner Rich Harden to 2nd base.  Kosuke Fukodome then reached on an error by 1st baseman Ross Gload which kept the inning going for Derrek Lee.  And D Lee made them pay – hitting a grand slam to give the Cubs the commmanding 6-2 lead.  Aaron Miles had an RBI double in the 2nd inning and Mike Fontenot hit a solo home run in the 4th inning – his 5th home run of the year.

Zambrano pitched effectively through the games first 5 innings – 2 earned runs on 4 hits and 1 walk.  Zambrano also had 1 K.  Angel Guzman gave up 1 run over 2 innings of work, and Carlos Marmol gave up a run on a solo home run to John Baker.  But Kevin Gregg shut the door on his former team for his 2nd straight save and 3rd overall on the season.

Before the Sunday matinee, the Cubs retired the #31 to honor 2 legendary Cubs pitchers – Fergie Jenkins and Greg Maddux.

The Cubs start a 2-game series against the San Francisco Giants on Monday night.  Ryan Dempster will face Jonathan Sanchez in the opener, while Sean Marshall will duel defending-Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum in Tuesday’s matinee finale.

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10’s Wild In Arizona – Cubs Lose 10-0; Fall to 10-10

Posted on 30 April 2009 by Lou

cubs-bloopers

Why do I even write this blog.

After 20 games, I really don’t like the feel of this 2009 Cubs team. After losing 10-0 in Arizona on Wednesday, the Cubs completed a miserable 2-4 road trip and fell to 10-10 overall, 4 games behind the 1st place St. Louis Cardinals.

I knew I didn’t like the off-season move to acquire Milton Bradley.  GM Jim Hendry had to try too hard to convince everyone that Bradley would be able to stay healthy to play more than 120 games in the outfield in 2009.  Granted, he had only been able to do that twice in his career (way back in 2003 and 2004 ) and although he did play in 126 games in 2008, more than 90% of those games came with Bradley serving as the Rangers DH (an option not available for the Cubs who play in the National League where there is no DH).  Duh?

Right now, Bradley has played in only 13 games.  In 31 at-bats, he had 3 hits, including 1 home run good for a .097 batting average.  He has 1 RBI and 4 runs scored.   Not sure what Hendry was thinking on this one, especially since there were other left-handed hitting options out there – see Raul Ibanez (20 games, 78 at-bats, .359 batting average, 7 home runs, 17 RBI’s and 20 runs scored for the Phillies); Bobby Abreu (17 games, 71 at-bats, .352 batting average, 0 home runs, 12 RBI’s and 6 runs scored for the Angels); Adam Dunn (20 games, 68 at-bats, .324 batting average, 6 home runs, 15 RBI’s and 11 runs scored for the lowly Nationals).  All of these guys signed for similar or less deals than Bradley and have been far more productive than Bradley.  Given Bradley’s inability to play the outfield consistently over the last 5 years, this should have been obvious to Hendry.

What I liked even less was the move to unload Mark DeRosa for 3 minor leaguers.  DeRosa has gotten off to a slow start in 2009 (.236 batting average, 5 home runs, 18 RBI’s and 16 runs scored), but look deeper than that.  He has played in 21 games, and already accumulated 89 at-bats.  His 5 home runs best every player on the Cubs except Alfonso who has 7 home runs, and DeRosa would lead the Cubs in RBI’s (Kosuke Fukodome currently leads the Cubs with only 15 RBI’s).  The numbers don’t even bring into play the intangibles that come along with DeRosa for free.  His versatility is invaluable. Take the injuries to right fielder Milton Bradley and 3rd baseman Aramis Ramirez, for example.  If the Cubs still had DeRosa, the Cubs would not be relying on an infield that contained Mike Fontenot and Aaron Miles day in and day out.  Or if you went with those guys, DeRosa could play right field, so that Reed Johnson didn’t have to play the outfield everyday.  By not having these options, Soriano, Theriot and Fukodome have had to play in just about every Cubs game so far this year.  DeRosa also a great club house presence and is a great sounding board for younger, up and coming Cubs stars (Soto, Hoffpauir, Theriot).

While I love Mike Fontenot, he is not an everyday player.  In 20 games, he has 66 at-bats and a mediocre .227 batting average.  While he has shown some pop with his 3 home runs, he is better suited as a role player who makes 2-3 starts each week.  Hendry relying on him as an everyday player was a big mistake.  Hendrys’ other move to sign Aaron Miles as a utility infielder has also looked like a big mistake.  Forced into an everyday role, his weaknesses have also been glaring.  Miles has only 8 hits in 41 at-bats and he breaks more bats with his weak-ass swings than Carlos Zambrano does over his leg after a bad at-bat (and that is saying a lot).

Unfortunately Cubs fans, we are in for a long, bumpy ride this season.  Unless Hendry can pull off a Jake Peavy or Matt Holiday trade, the Cubs will likely hover around the top of the NL Central division and need a lot of luck down the stretch to pull of the unprecedented 3rd consecutive NL Central title.

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Injuries Taking Toll on Cubs Weak Lineup

Posted on 28 April 2009 by Lou

Cubs Diamondbacks Baseball

Reed Johnson as your leadoff hitter?  No offense to Reed Johnson, but Manager Lou Pinella and GM Jim Hendry need to do something.  And they need to do something fast!

Here was the Cubs lineup from Monday night’s loss to Dan Haren and the Arizona Diamondbacks – Alfonso Soriano, Ryan Theriot, Kosuke Fukodome, Reed Johnson, Micah Hoffpauir, Geovany Soto, Mike Fontenot, Aaron Miles, Ted Lilly.  The Cubs managed 3 hits off of Haren all night long – solo home runs by Alfonso Soriano and Mike Fontenot and a single by PITCHER Ted Lilly.  Gimme a break!  The Cubs clearly have the shortest infield in MLB with Theriot (5′ 11″), Miles (5′ 8″) and Fontenot (5”8″) roaming around out there.

The Cubs are lucky to be 9-9 right now and still only 4 games out of 1st place, but if they don’t get Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez and Milton Bradley back soon, they could end up too far behind to catch up very very quickly.

Hendry and the Cubs really need to make a decision on Bradley soon.  Throw him on the DL and let him fully heal his bum hamstring.  It doesn’t make sense to bring him back in every 3rd or 4th day only to have him aggravate it again.  If they had taken the conservative approach with Bradley when he first injured the hamstring, his 15-day DL stint would be close to being over, and he would likely be back in the lineup soon.  Now we’re forced to wait and hope that the injury magically heals itself.

Ramirez and Lee are expected to be back soon, so hopefully that happens for 1 of the last 2 games in Arizona.  Guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

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