Posted on 09 September 2009 by Lou
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!
Posted on 29 August 2009 by Lou
What is it with Milton Bradley? Bradley is a wreck in the field and didn’t really start to hit until the Cubs were completely out of playoff contention the last few weeks. Bradley also likes to speak his mind, which makes his poor play even harder to handle. Although Alfonso Soriano sucks in the field too, at least he doesn’t go off bitching to the press and hasn’t really complained too much about being demoted to the 6th spot in the batting order during the middle of the season.
Check out a few of Bradley’s comments from this week:
Bradley has only been charged with 3 errors in 2009, but there have been countless other balls the he either misjudged, misplayed or didn’t see that weren’t counted as errors. Take the game back in June when he didn’t realize there were only 2 outs in the inning and he tossed the ball into the right field bleachers. Take yesterday’s game where he calls off 2nd baseman Jeff Baker on a soft fly ball to right, and he lets the ball skip off his mitt for a hit. That should have been an error, but the official scorer was in a very forgiving mood.
Bradley has played well of late – . But at this point, it is just too little too late. I hope I can forgive him this off-season and give him a clear slate for the 2010 MLB schedule. But I have a feeling that will be tough to do.
The Cubs showed some guts yesterday, rallying to win 5-2 with a 4-run 8th inning. After the Cubs allowed a run to the Mets in the top of the 8th inning (Alfonso Soriano misplayed a single that turned into a double (no error) and then allowed a line drive to left skip off the top of his glove to allow the go-ahead run to score (again, not an error, but an average-defensive outfielder would have made the play), the Cubs responded with 4 of their own in the bottom of the inning. Bradley led off with a double to right and then scored the tying run on Aramis Ramirez’s single to right field. After Jeff Baker walked to prolong the inning, Alfonso Soriano approached the plate a midst a chorus of boos. But Soriano quickly silenced the boo-birds with a game-winning 3-run HR to left center field. And despite a lead off walk to Oliver Santos in the 9th inning, Carlos Marmol worked a scoreless 9th inning with 2 K’s to record his 2nd consecutive in as many chances since being named the Cubs full-time closer. All this over-shadowed another solid outing from Ted Lilly – 7 1/3 innings, just 2ER on 6 hits and 2 walks. Since coming off the DL, Lilly has given up just a total of 4ER in 3 starts (19 1/3 inning), but is just 0-1 to show for it.
Yeah – Cubs Win! Cubs Win! Cubs Win! This is painful…
Posted on 28 August 2009 by Lou
The good news – Rich Harden and Aaron Heilman were claimed off of waivers this week. Why is that good? Well, as I discussed in my post yesterday, Harden has had a great 2nd half of 2009. Give certain factors (limited payroll flexibility, new ownership team, Harden’s injury risk), the Cubs are unlikely to sign Harden in free agency to a long-term lucrative deal, especially since other teams will likely pursue Harden with a big deal that the Cubs won’t be able to match. Now that Harden has been claimed off of waivers, the Cubs have 72 hours to negotiate a trade with that team, pull Harden back or release him. Seeing that the Cubs weren’t going to get anything for him anyway if he signed with another team in the off-season, it would be great if the Cubs could trade him to acquire a young prospect now. This late in the season, it’s unclear how much a team might be willing to give up for Harden, but if they can get something for him, that would be great. We’ll keep you posted as soon as we hear anything.
As for Heilman, who really cares. Nice guy, bad performance in 2009 with a 2-3 record and a hefty 4.55 ERA and 1.52 WHIP in 57 appearances.
The bad news – in Thursday’s game, the Nats defeated the Cubs 5-4 and took the series from the Cubs 2 games to 1. Heading into the series, the Nats were the worst team in baseball, winners of just 44 games and only 17 games on the road. Figures they would take 2 of 3 games from the Cubs at Wrigley Field and destroy all hopes of a 3rd straight playoff appearance for the north siders. Randy Wells had an uncharacteristic off day – giving up 5 ER on 5 hits and 4 walks in only 6 1/3 innings. Wells suffered his 7th loss of the season and his WHIP rose to 1.22 and his ERA rose to 3.06. Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez were the only 2 good hitters for the Cubs in the loss. Lee went 2 for 2 with a home run and 2 runs scored. Ramirez went 3 for 4 with a 2-run home run and 3 RBI’s.
Posted on 25 August 2009 by Lou
It’s do or die time for the Cubs with a HUGE 10-game homestand at Wrigley Field. As I wrote yesterday, the Cubs are one of the better home teams in the National League (35-22). The Cubs are 7.5 games back of the Rockies in the NL Wild Card race and 8 games back of the Cards in the NL Central race. The Cubs have an “easy” 10-game homestand “teed up for them” to crush 350 yards straight down the fairway – 3 games against the Nationals (44-81); 3 games against the Mets (57-68) who will be without ace Johan Santana for the rest of the season; 3 games against the Astros (61-63) and 1 make-up game against the White Sox (63-62).
The Cubs have all 5 starters back and healthy – - Carlos Zambrano, Rich Harden, Randy Wells, Ted Lilly & Ryan Dempster. Now all they need to do is win – a tough task for this frustrating, struggling 2009 Cubs ball club.
The Cubs have the 5th best team ERA in all of baseball at 3.88 – take out the relievers ERA and the Cubs starting staff has the best ERA in the big leagues. But when you look at the offensive stats, the numbers are “startlingly” bad… Tied for 3rd worst with a .253 batting average; 9th worst in runs scored and RBI’s; and 12th worst in slugging percentage and on-base percentage. This coming from the team that led the National League in run production in 2008. Awful seasons from Milton Bradley, Alfonso Soriano, Geovany Soto and Mike Fontenot, and long stints on the DL for Aramis Ramirez and Reed Johnson have contributed to the Cubs futility this year at the plate. Ryan Theriot, Derrek Lee and Kosuke Fukodome are the only 3 players who have had somewhat consistent years at the plate.
It’s time for Manager Lou Pinella to give some more playing time to some of the Cubs young stars like Sam Fuld and Jake Fox. Fuld (.283 batting average; .397 on-base percentage) and Fox (.305 batting average; .355 on-base percentage; 9 HR’s; 19 runs & 34 RBI’s) have been hitting the ball well and most importantly, they have been playing hard, unlike some of the efforts we’re seeing from Bradley and Soriano all season long. If Pinella and the Cubs are serious about making a run before the end of the 2009 MLB schedule, the time is now.
Here’s hoping Pinella wakes up and smells the coffee and that the Cubs can actually mount some sort of offensive attack against the weak-hitting Nats and Mets in the next 6 games at Wrigley Field. Big Z has a chance to prove why he is the Cubs “ace” – a good start tonight will go a long way in determining whether or not this team has what it takes to make the 2009 post-season…
Posted on 23 August 2009 by Lou
The Cubs are anxiously waiting the return of their ace Carlos Zambrano. Big Z – after admitting he is lazy and doesn’t like to do his ab work – is scheduled to face Garrett Mock and the Washington Nationals on Tuesday night at Wrigley Field. Hip Hip Hooray! Big Z needs to focus more on throwing strikes and getting guys out than giving piggyback rides in the dugout and eating bon bons.
Big Z has been dealing with back pain and back spasms since the beginning of August. Zambrano tossed 5 scoreless innings at Triple-A Peoria on Thursday night and is ready to go against the Nats this week. Big Z has a 7-4 record with a 1.35 WHIP and a 3.35 ERA – definitely the numbers you’d expect from the ace of your staff. Mock has a 2-5 record with a 1.83 WHIP and a 5.10 ERA. Think there was a reason the Cubs held him back to start Tuesday against the Nats and then Sunday against the Mets instead of this past weekend against the Dodgers in L.A.?
As for the Cubs game action on Saturday and Sunday…
About the only thing Cubs fans have to look forward to in 2010 is good starting pitching…
Posted on 22 August 2009 by Lou
Talk about your cursed pitchers in 2009 – Randy Wells pitched 6 2/3 innings of 7-hit, 2-walk ball against one of the better hitting teams in the NL and did not allow a single earned run, but still lost. With 2 outs and 1 on in the 2nd inning, Aramis Ramirez’s fielding error allowed Orlando Hudson to reach base to preserve the inning for the Dodgers. Wells made a mistake to pitcher Randy Wolf who hit a 2-run double to give the Dodgers a 2-0 lead. Game over… With Wells’ sparkling 2.84 ERA and 1.20 WHIP, it is shocking to think that he has a 9-6 record.
The Cubs answered in the top of the 3rd inning after a Sam Fuld walk, a Wells sacrifice and a Ryan Theriot RBI single – their only hit of the game. But that would be the only offensive threat that the Cubs mustered against Wolf and 2 Dodgers relievers. Bad, bad, bad.
The Cubs are just 2 games over .500 now at 61-59. They are just 26-37 on the road during the 2009 MLB schedule – how does a team like this play that bad away from Wrigley Field? They trail the Cards by 7 games in the NL Central and the Rockies by 6 games in the NL Wild Card race. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Game Over!!!
We believe this will be the last post that we’ll do that focuses specifically on game action. From now on, we will give you results and how far the Cubs have fallen behind the Cardinals and the NL Wild Card leaders, but we’ll focus out attention on the future. How the Cubs will deal with the disappointing 2009 campaign, what moves could be in store in the off-season, how the new Ricketts ownership will manage the Cubs organization, etc. We hope you enjoy the new focus as our beloved Cubs fall into oblivion…
Posted on 20 August 2009 by Lou
The Cubs got their 1st victory against the Padres at Petco Park in San Diego in 2009 last night behind a dominant performance from Rich Harden. Harden threw 7 scoreless innings, holding the Padres to just 1 hit and 3 walks. The Padres had 3 batters reach base in the 1st inning but didn’t score, and Harden was “lights-out” after that. Harden struck out 8 batters on the night and improved his record to 8-7. He is 3-1 after the All-Star Break with 3 no decisions, and he has not allowed more than 2 ER in the 7 starts.
The Cubs will have a big decision to make with respect to Harden in the off-season. Harden has already made 21 starts during the 2009 MLB schedule and should get at least another 7 starts before the end of the year. That would put him at 28 starts. Health has always been a concern with Harden and except for a brief stint on the DL from May 17th – June 13th, has not missed any time because of injury. That being said, he has made 30 starts only once in his career – that was back in 2004 when he threw 189 2/3 innings in 31 starts. The following season he pitched 128 innings in 19 starts (22 appearances) and he missed good portions of the 2 seasons after that with arm issues. It will be interesting to see how he feels in the off-season. When Harden is on – like he was last night and in the 2nd half of the year so far – he is a dominating pitcher that can win a lot of games. It could be worth signing him to a 2-3 year deal, but more than that could be risky. Harden’s off-season regimen in Arizona seems to have paid off big time in 2009. Assuming he continues to work hard in the off-season, it may be worth the shot to try to sign Harden to a long-term deal before he hits the free agent market…
The Cubs offense finally showed up last night as well. Milton Bradley and Aramis Ramirez each hit home runs. Ramirez also had a 2-run double in the 3rd inning and had 3 total RBI’s. Bradley also walked 3 times and scored twice. Ryan Theriot had 2 hits, 2 runs scored and a stolen base. They did strike out 13 times as a team, however, leaving 14 runners on base.
The Cubs have their work cut out for them over the next 4 games against the Dodgers in Los Angeles. The 1st place Cards took 2 out of 3 games from the Dodgers this week and now move on to the lowly Padres. Not taking advantage of winning the Padres series has put them 6 games behind the Cards and 5 games behind the Rockies for the NL Wild Card lead. It is going to be an uphill climb, as Tom Gorzelanny looks to get the Cubs off to a good start tonight against Jeff Weaver and the Dodgers. The Cubs will finish the 4-game weekend series with Randy Wells, Ted Lilly and Ryan Dempster.
Posted on 19 August 2009 by Lou
Ouch – how the “mighty” have fallen. It looks like the Cubs – the best team in the NL in 2008 - have given up on the 2009 campaign. In a lackluster effort, the Cubs fell to the Padres 6-3. They are now 60-57 and they trail the Cards by 6 games in the NL Central race and the Rockies by 5 games in the NL Wild Card race. These leads are by no means insurmountable, but when you look at the Cubs body language these days, you know it’s over. Wait until next year Cubs fans!
A telling sign – the Cubs faced a rookie pitcher – Cesar Carrillo – in his 2nd major league start. Carrillo had given up 8 ER on 4 hits (3 HR’s) and 2 walks in his 1st major league start just 6 days ago in Milwaukee. Just the type of pitcher the Cubs needed to break out of their offensive woes on the west coast. But it wasn’t meant to be. The Cubs managed 7 hits and 4 walks against Carrillo but never got the big hit that blew an inning wide open. The Cubs had 2 runners on in 4 of the 6 innings Carrillo pitched, but they never scored more than 1 run in an inning. Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster had 2 of the Cubs 7 hits on the night and one of the Cubs RBI’s. Gimme a break! Derrek Lee and Jeff Baker each had 2 hits, which means that only 1 other Cub player had a hit – that was Alfonso Soriano who got lucky on a bloop single to left field that scored a run in the 5th inning. Talk about futile. After the Padres took a 4-3 lead on Adrian Gonzalez’ solo home run in the bottom of the 5th inning, you could just see the wind get sucked out of the Cubs’ sails. From the 6th through the 9th innings, the Cubs managed just 1 base runner – a Milton Bradley walk to lead off the 7th inning. Not good.
Ryan Dempster didn’t help matters with another sub-par outing – 4 ER on 8 hits and 3 walks in 7 innings. He did have 10 K’s, but when you lose your 7th game against only 6 wins, does it really matter? Angel Guzman gave up 2 insurance runs to the Padres in his 1 inning of work – on an inside the park home run off the bat of Kyle Blanks that hit off the top of the center field fence and bounced away from center fielder Kosuke Fukodome. Of course, Milton Bradley did a poor job of backing up the play, and Blanks scored easily to give the Padres a commanding 6-3 lead.
The Cubs needed to sweep the Padres this week. The Padres are 51-70 and in last place in the AL West. On paper, the Cubs are clearly better than the Padres, but when you don’t produce on the field, you’re not going to win. The Padres swept the Cubs at Petco Park in a 3 game series back in May, and it looks like they’re going to do the same in August unless Rich Harden throws a complete game shutout tonight against the Padres. I won’t hold my breath…
Posted on 18 August 2009 by Lou
Cubs closer Kevin Gregg blew his 3rd game in his last 5 save chances, as the Cubs opened their big 7-game west coast road trip with a costly 4-1 loss to the Padres in San Diego. Ted Lilly, John Grabow and Carlos Marmol kept the Padres offense scoreless for a good 2 hours and 15 minutes on Monday night, but in only took Kevin Gregg about 10 minutes to lose the game for the Cubs. David Eckstein drew a 1-out walk off of Gregg and came around with the tying run 2 batters later when Chase Headley doubled to left center. Pinella and Gregg intentionally walked Kevin Kouzmanoff to get to 22-year old Kyle Blanks, but the move back-fired when Blanks crushed a walk-off 3-run home run to deep left center field that gave the Padres the 4-1 win. Brutal – just brutal.
Gregg is just not a good closer. In limited time as a closer last year – he blew 9 SAVES! for the Marlins. Gregg has blown 6 total saves during the 2009 MLB schedule and already 3 in the month of August. Gregg has a 4.47 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP and he only has 58 strikeouts in 56 1/3 innings. It is clear that Gregg does not have what it takes to be a closer, and Pinella indicated that he will likely make some changes in the back-end of the rotation. Finally!!!
There were some positives from Monday’s game. Ted Lilly came off the DL and looked phenomenal. Lilly threw 6 scoreless innings (70 efficient pitches), allowing just 4 hits and 1 walk. Lilly struck out 4. John Grabow and Carlos Marmol set the table for Gregg with perfect 7th and 8th innings. Derrek Lee had 2 hits and scored the Cubs lone run. Aramis Ramirez was back in the Cubs lineup as the clean-up hitter, and he had 2 hits including the lone RBI that drove in Lee.
The bad news – the Cardinals rallied against the Dodgers in Los Angeles, so the Cubs now trail the Cards by 6 games in the NL Central race. Gregg’s blown save also cost the Cubs a chance to pick up a 1/2 game on the idle Rockies in the NL wild card race. Ryan Dempster looks to get the Cubs back on track in San Diego as he takes on Cesar Carrillo. Carrillo gave up 8 ER on 4 hits and 2 walks (including 3 HR’s) in his major league debut on August 13th. If the Cubs can’t find a way to generate runs off of this guy, they might as well just cash it in now and save us all a lot of time.
Posted on 17 August 2009 by Lou
The Cubs begin a HUGE 7-game west coast road trip on Monday night in San Diego. The Cubs will play 3 games against the Padres and 4 games against the Dodgers in Los Angeles. The Cubs are optimistic that the imminent return of key starters will help spark a much-needed winning streak that will bring them back into playoff contention.
Ted Lilly will start against Kevin Correja and the Padres on Monday night in San Diego. Lilly has been on the DL since July 21st and Manager Lou Pinella has indicated that Lilly will be good for 85-90 pitches. If Lilly can give the Cubs a quality start and pick up a win, the Cubs would be feeling good with Ryan Dempster and Randy Wells going the next 2 games against a weak-hitting Padres lineup. A 3-game sweep of the Padres is almost a must for the Cubs right now.
Aramis Ramirez will get the start on Monday night in San Diego as well. Ramirez was set to play in Sunday’s game before it was rained out. Ramirez has not played since last Saturday because of soreness in his right shoulder from his May shoulder dislocation.
And Carlos Zambrano is set to begin a minor league rehabilitation stint this week. Zambrano has been out with back soreness and back spasms and the team’s medical staff has implored Zambrano to maintain the strength in his core by strengthening his abdominal muscles and his hamstrings. Big Z had this to say about his conditioning: “There’s things in life you don’t like that you have to do. I don’t like to do abs, but I’ll have to start doing my abs every day… Like the doctors say, I’m a strong man, a big man, and that’s what big men do. Wherever they are weak, they get stronger.” Really?! Wow – a professional athlete actually has to work out and keep his body in shape during the course of an MLB season? Unbelievable… Zambrano was able to throw all of his pitches in a productive bullpen session on Sunday and is scheduled to pitch for Class A Peoria on Thursday. If all goes well, Zambrano will start against the Washington Nationals at Wrigley Field on Tuesday, August 25th.
The Cubs are 5 games over .500 at 60-55. They trail the Cardinals by 5 games in the NL Central race and the Rockies by 3.5 games in the NL Wild Card race. The Cubs also have to jump over the Giants, Marlins and Braves to catch the Rockies in the wild card race. It’s definitely a long shot, but there’s still 47 games left and anything can happen during the next 50 days…