Posted on 27 April 2009 by Lou
The Cubs defeated the Cards 10-3 on Sunday afternoon in St. Louis. Kosuke Fukodome had a great birthday game – going 3 for 4 with 5 RBI’s, 2 runs scored and 1 walk. He capped off his great day with a 3-run home run off Trever Miller in the top of the 8th inning to put the game out of reach. The Cubs finally got to a Cardinals starting pitcher early and often – striking for 8 hits and 6 runs in the 1st 5 innings.
Alfonso Soriano had 2 hits and 2 runs scored back in the leadoff spot, while Ryan Theriot had 1 hit and scored 3 runs in the 2-hole. Micah Hoffpauir came in in relief for Derrek Lee and had 2 hits with 2 RBI’s and 1 run scored. In the 8-hole, Aaron Miles had 3 hits and scored 2 runs. The only bad news was that Derrek Lee had to leave the game with neck spasms and Geovany Soto continues to struggle at the plate. Soto was 0 for 4 on the day and his average is still at .128.
Rich Harden had a nice outing for the Cubs – 6 innings, 4 hits, 2 earned runs – both solo home runs – with only 2 walks. Harden struck out 9 batters and has faailed to strike out less than 8 batters in each start in 2009. Pretty incredible.
The Cubs are 9-8, but still trail the Cards by 3 games in the NL Central. The Cubs continue their road trip with a 3-game swing out to Arizona, before returning to the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field with a 4-game series against the NL East-leading Florida Marlins on Thursday night.
Posted on 12 April 2009 by Lou
Geovany Soto underwent an MRI and was examined by orthopedist specialist Dr. Stephen Gryzlo in Chicago on Thursday. The results revealed inflammation in the right throwing shoulder of Soto. There is not set timetable for his return, although it is unlikely that Soto will be able to play against the Brewers in this weekend’s series in Milwaukee. Soto had this to say about the results: I’m so glad it’s just a little bit of inflammation. We can take care of it and move on. I want to get out there as quick as I can and play for the club. I enjoy playing. I just want to get out there.
Koyie Hill will start in place of Soto behind the plate. Aaron Miles warmed up pitchers in between innings in Houston on Tuesday, and Cubs Manager Lou Pinella indicated that Miles would serve as the team’s emergency back-up catcher if Hill should get hurt during a game. The Cubs will not put Soto on the disabled list.
Posted on 05 April 2009 by Lou
The New York Yankees defeated the Chicago Cubs 7-3 in the first baseball game ever played at the new Yankee Stadium on Friday, April 3rd. Although the Cubs took an early 3-0 lead, Ted Lilly couldn’t hold the lead for the victory. Lilly gave up 7 earned runs on 8 hits, including 3 home runs, while striking out 2 batters. Aaron Miles led the Cubs by going 2 for 3 with 2 RBI’s and 1 run scored. Joey Gathright also had 2 hits for the Cubs in defeat. The pitching bright spot – Aaron Heilman worked 2 scoreless innings, while Neal Cotts worked 2/3 of a scoreless inning and Kevin Gregg worked a scoreless 8th inning.
Hideki Matsui, Robinson Cano and Cody Ransom each homered for the Yankees. Cano, Derek Jeter and Xavier Nady each had 2 hits for the Yankees. After Chien-Ming Wang gave up 4 earned runs on 6 hits in the first 5 innings, the Yankees relievers – led by Mariano Rivera – shut down the Cubs offense – not allowing a hit in the final 4 frames of the game.
The two teams play again today before starting the regular season in earnest on Monday. Rich Harden will face off against Andy Pettite in Saturday’s matinee.
Posted on 28 March 2009 by Lou
The Chicago Cubs defeated the cross-town rival Chicago White Sox 9-4 in Cactus League play on Friday. The Cubs scored 7 earned runs off of White Sox pitcher Clayton Richard in the 1st inning to set the tone for the game. Cubs 2nd baseman Aaron Miles went 3 for 4 with an RBI and 2 runs scored. Alfonson Soriano and Derrek Lee each had 2 hits, 1 RBI and 1 run scored.
On the hill, Carlos Zambrano did more than enough to earn the victory. Big Z pitched 6 innings, allowing 2 earned runs on 5 hits and 2 walks. Zambrano also had 3 strikeouts. Luis Vizcaino pitched a scoreless inning of relief work. Zambrano had this to say about his outing and the Cubs 2009 season: “I don’t have to prove anything. I’ve been in the big leagues for eight years. They know what I’m capable of doing. Speaking of last year, it’s already in the past. The numbers were there; they stay in the past. This is a new year and I have to put up good numbers. I have to help this team. I’m just waiting for the season to rock and roll.” The Cubs are encouraged by Zambrano’s control this spring – he has given up only 5 walks in 18+ innings of work.
In relief for the White Sox, Bobby Jenks and Octavio Dotel each pitched scoreless innings.
Both Chicago clubs continue to tune up for the regular season. The Cubs are now 17-13 this spring, while the White Sox are 12-16-1.
For the Cubs, the big decisions will be who starts at 2nd base and who makes the team as the Cubs back-up catcher behind Geovany Soto.
Posted on 16 March 2009 by Lou
Mike Fontenot is inching closer and closer to the starting 2nd base job. In 11 spring games, Fontenot has batted .371 with 2 home runs and 8 RBI’s. With the newly acquired Aaron Miles still dealing with throwing issues with his right shoulder, Fontenot has really made a strong case for winning the job outright.
Manager Lou Pinella originally envisioned Miles and Fontenot getting about 350-400 at-bats each, with starting shortstop Ryan Theriot getting around 500 at-bats. Theriot amassed a career-high 580 at-bats in 2008, and Pinella felt like Theriot struggled a little bit down the stretch despite the fact that he still hit .307 on the year. Pinella envisions Miles filling in for Theriot more often to limit his total at-bats, while giving Fontenot more playing time at 2nd base and even 3rd base every once in a while to spell Aramis Ramirez.
Pinella also likes Fontenot’s pop in the middle of the lineup. “For a little guy, he drives the ball well.” Fontenot hit 9 home runs in 119 games last year and has been driving the ball this spring training as well. Pinella sees Fontenot batting in the 6-hole a lot, with Kosuke Fukodome batting 2nd and Milton Bradley batting clean-up against right-handed pitchers. Will this revamped lineup work – we’ll have to wait and see.
Fontenot is a solid player with a great work ethic. He always seems to come up big when the game is on the line, so let’s hope he can continue to be productive on a more regular basis in 2009.
Posted on 04 March 2009 by Lou
Mike Fontenot is looking forward to a prominent role in the Cubs infield for the upcoming 2009 MLB season. Fontenot and Aaron Miles will likely split time as the starting 2nd baseman in the upcoming 2009 season. Manager Lou Pinella has indicated that he will make the decision depending on the match-up. Fontenot is also projected to be the primary back-up to Aramis Ramirez at 3rd base, so he is playing most of his spring innings there to get used to the different reaction time of fielding ground balls so close to the plate. So far so good for Fontenot in the early spring – plus he has a great attitude about moving around in the infield – - “I feel comfortable now. When I went over there, it was just, whatever. Being in the big leagues the last couple of years, I don’t feel I’m nervous to go anywhere on the field. Now, I just go out there and play.”
Mike Fontenot played in 119 games for the Chicago Cubs in 2008, mostly at 2nd base. With the departure of Mark DeRosa who could play all 4 infield positions and 2 outfield positions, Fontenot becomes the man the Cubs look to when they need a back-up option at 3rd base for Aramis Ramirez or shortstop for Ryan Theriot. Fontenot hit .305 for the Cubs in 2008 with a .395 on-base percentage. Fontenot scored 42 runs and had 9 home runs and 40 RBI’s in only 243 at-bats. He is a patient hitter who can work the count – he had 34 walks against 51 strikeouts in 2008.
Fontenot is a true team player. He will split time with newly acquired infielder Aaron Miles at 2nd base on a starting base, and also give Ryan Theriot and Aramis Ramirez the occasional day off during the long MLB season. Fontenot is a huge asset for the Cubs.
Posted on 21 February 2009 by Lou
The Chicago Cubs could face a lack of depth in the infield during Spring Training. You starters are Derrek Lee at 1st base; Aaron Miles/Mike Fontenot at 2nd base; Ryan Theriot at shortstop; and Aramis Ramirez at 3rd base. The problem lies in the fact that Miles is expected to back up Theriot at shortstop, while Fontenot is expected to back up Ramirez at 3rd base. If anything happens to the 5 “infield starters”, the Cubs could be in trouble.
Ideally, Cubs Manager would like to see Miles and Fontenot get at least 400 at-bats apiece, which should allow Theriot some ample days off during the course of the long season at shortstop. Adding another infielder who could help back up Ramirez at 3rd base would be huge for the Cubs. One name thrown around is former Cubs player – Nomar Garciaparra. Nomar can play both 1st base and 3rd base and playing more of a reserve role could help him stay healthy during the course of the long MLB season.
Cubs GM Jim Hendry and Pinella have not said that any pick up is imminent, but Cubs scouts will keep their eyes and ears open once spring training games start in both Arizona and Florida in the next few weeks. Hendry made a nice pick up in Reed Johnson last spring before the season started, so maybe he will be able to work some magic again right before the start of the season. We’ll keep you posted with the lasted from Mesa here at MyCubsToday!
Posted on 20 February 2009 by Lou
Wow – can it really be true? Can we really believe Cubs Manager Lou Pinella at his word? We know it’s still early in spring training, but Pinella actually said that he wouldn’t throw out the possibility that Alfonso Soriano could hit somewhere else in the lineup other than the leadoff spot. Stop the presses, stop the presses!!!
Pinella was asked about the 3, 4 and 5 spots in his lineup, and although he was talking about Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez and newly acquired outfielder Milton Bradley, Pinella also indicated that Alfonso Soriano could find himself in the mix for one of those spots. Pinella has also emphasized the fact that he wants to give Lee and Ramirez more days off during the course of the season, so who’s to say that Soriano couldn’t fill one of their spots on those off days or even more often.
Although Soriano doesn’t have the on-base percentage (.344 in 2008) or stolen base (19 in each of 2007 and 2008) numbers that you want out of your leadoff hitter, it’s hard to argue with his success for the Cubs in that spot in the lineup. During the 2008 MLB season, Soriano hit .287 in 105 games as the leadoff hitter and the Cubs won 69 of those games – a .657 winning percentage. In his other 4 games in 2008, Soriano hit 2nd in the lineup twice and 3rd and 7th in the lineup one time each. For the 2009 MLB season, other options for Pinella include Ryan Theriot, Aaron Miles, Reed Johnson, Mike Fontenot and Kosuke Fukodome (only if he shows can be more patient than he was at the end of the 2008 MLB season).
My prediction is that Soriano will remain in the leadoff spot once we make it all the way through spring training. One intriguing option, at least for me, is to put Ryan Theriot in the leadoff spot. Theriot held his own during the 2008 MLB season and continues to build into an all-around dependable player. In 148 games in 2007, Theriot hit .266 with a .326 on-base percentage. In 149 games in 2008, Theriot made a dramatic improvement on both numbers with a .307 batting average and a .387 on-base percentage. With Theriot in the top spot, I would move Derrek Lee up to the 2-hole (since his power numbers have continued to decline – 22 home runs and 82 RBI’s in 2007; 20 home runs and 90 RBI’s in 2008), insert Alfonso Soriano into the 3 spot and follow them up with Ramirez, Bradley and Soto. In the 7th and 8th spots you can work with Fukodome and Johnson in center field, and Fontenot and Miles at 2nd base, depending on the match-ups. Will Sweet Lou take my free advice? I doubt it, but it would sure be nice to see Soriano in another spot in the lineup – at least for a few games in spring training…