Archive | Aramis Ramirez

Cubs Looking for Answers…

Posted on 10 October 2009 by Lou

Cubs Rockies Baseball

The Cubs will be looking for answers in 2010.  Let’s hope the Ricketts family has their act together before the end of the World Series.  The Ricketts family will need to be on the same page with GM Jim Hendry and Manager Lou Pinella before the start of free agency in late November.

Pitching-wise, the Cubs are set with a starting rotation of Carlos Zambrano, Ted Lilly, Ryan Dempster, Randy Wells and Tom Gorzelanny.  The Cubs will likely say goodbye to free agent pitchers Rich Harden and Kevin Gregg, but will look to sign John Grabow soon to serve as the team’s set-up man for Carlos Marmol.  The Cubs will also probably like to try to re-sign Reed Johnson despite his 2009 injury issues.

After signing Grabow, the Cubs certainly need to find a way to trade troubled outfielder Milton Bradley.  Not sure who is going to be willing to take him, but the Cubs will likely have to pick up some of the $20 million still owed to him over the next 2 years.  Not good – but it is what it is.

GM Jim Hendry will also need to figure out who is going to start at 2nd base and center field in 2010.

So while there are some voids that need to be filled in 2010, the Cubs can take a more cautious approach this off-season to see if the team can right the ship after an under-achieving 2009 MLB schedule…

Cubs Milton Bradley Risk 1

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Von Joshua Back to Triple-A Iowa after Failure at Major League Level

Posted on 09 October 2009 by Lou

Braves Cubs Baseball

It’s hard to put all the blame on Von Joshua (or Gerald Perry before him for that matter), but Manager Lou Pinella has decided to go in a different direction for his hitting coach in 2010.  Although Pinella emphasized that Joshua did nothing wrong, because the Cubs offense did not rebound after struggling under Gerald Perry through the middle of June, Pinella thought it would be best to try something different.  GM Jim Hendry had this to say as well: “There’s not blame to be handed out.  We had a lot of guys who didn’t swing the bats like they’re capable of.  When Von came up, we were scuffling, and we never really made a lot of progress in the same areas that we were deficient in the first half.”

After leading the National League with 855 run scored in 2008, the Cubs manages to score just 707 runs in a frustrating 2009 (9th worst in the majors).  The Cubs .255 team batting average ranked 5th worst in all of baseball and the team never seemed to be able to come through with the clutch hit with 2 outs or with runners in scoring position.  Several Cubs hitters underperformed – Milton Bradley hit only .257 after hitting .321 for the Rangers in 2008; Geovany Soto .218 vs. .285 in 2008; Alfonso Soriano .241 vs. .280 in 2008; and Mike Fontenot .236 vs. .305 in 2008.  Basically, save for Ryan Theriot, Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez (who missed 2+ months of the season), the Cubs offense was in complete shambles for a good portion of the year.

Let’s hope the Cubs bring in a hitting coach who can simply relate to the players.  And let’s hope the Cubs get a few more clutch hits in 2010…

Pirates Cubs Baseball

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Derrek Lee National League Player of the Month

Posted on 08 October 2009 by Lou

Brewers Cubs Baseball

One of the few lone bright spots for the 2009 Chicago Cubs was the play of Derrek Lee.  Lee was named the NL Player of the month for September.  In the final month of the season, Lee led all major league players with a whopping .386 batting average.  He also had a phenomenal .500 on-base percentage with 9 HR’s and 23 RBI’s.  Lee was last named NL Player of the Month back in April 2005.

After a slow start (Lee was hitting below .200 as late as May 16th), Lee really turned it around during the last 4 months of the season.  Lee finished the season with a solid .306 batting average that led the team.  He also led the team with 35 HR’s, 91 runs scored and 111 RBI’s, and his .393 on-base percentage was the 3rd highest in his 12-year MLB career.  At the age of 34, it’s unclear how many more years he has left in the tank, but it is a great sign that he really turned it around in 2009.  With a healthy Lee and Aramis Ramirez in the middle of the lineup in 2010, you’d expect the Cubs to make some noise in the NL Central once again during the 2010 MLB schedule.  GM Jim Hendry, Manager Lou Pinella and the Wrigley Field faithful will surely be excited to see a dynamic Lee/Ramirez combination in the middle of the lineup for the entire 2010 campaign…

Pirates Cubs 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…

Cubs Brewers Baseball

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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.

Brewers Cubs Baseball

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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…

Brewers Cubs Baseball

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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…

Brewers Cubs Baseball

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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.

Reds Cubs Baseball

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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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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…

Reds Cubs Baseball

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