Archive | Carlos Marmol

Lilly, Marmol Shine – Offense Still Lifeless…

Posted on 03 September 2009 by Lou

Astros Cubs Baseball

If baseball rules didn’t require you to score any runs to earn a win or earn points, the Cubs would be one of the best teams in baseball with their solid pitching effort in 2009.  After Wednesday’s 2-0 shutout over the Astros, the Cubs still had the 5th best team ERA in all of MLB at 3.90.  If you took out their relievers numbers, the Cubs are close to the top of the list for starting pitching ERA numbers in 2009 (Randy Wells 2.90; Ted Lilly 3.17; Carlos Zambrano 3.91; Ryan Dempster 4.15; & Rich Harden 4.19).  At least that gives the Cubs some solace for turning things around in 2009…

Ted Lilly threw 8 shutout innings and would have been in line for a complete game shutout had he not topped 100 pitches after the 8 innings.  Lilly allowed only 4 base runners all day – 2 singles and 2 doubles (none in the same inning), no walks – so he was never in any real trouble all day long.  Lilly had 5 K’s.  And congrats to Carlos Marmol for picking up his 4th save in 4 chances since taking over the closer’s role.  Marmol did issue a 1-out walk to Hunter Pence, but it was a good at-bat for Pence who really worked the count on Marmol.  And even though Carlos Lee singled to make it 1st and 2nd with only 1 out, Marmol buckled down to get Miguel Tejada and Geoff Blum on flyouts to end the game and preserve the Cubs 2-0 win.

As for the offense, or lack of it, the Cubs managed just 4 hits and 3 walks, and never really had any real scoring chances.  Lilly even had one of the Cubs hits.  If not for Derrek Lee’s home run after Andres Blanco’s double in the 4th inning, the 2 teams might still be playing.  The Cubs offense is a complete joke – their .254 team batting average has them tied for 3rd worst in all of baseball with 3 other teams – the Kansas City Royals, Pittsburgh Pirates and Arizona Diamondbacks.  Only the Cincinnati Reds (.244) and San Diego Padres (.242) have worse batting averages.  Not good my friends.

Here’s hoping for a healthy pitching staff in 2010 and a LOT of shutouts…

Astros Cubs Baseball

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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…

Astros Cubs Baseball

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Bradley & Soriano Bumbling Fools in Outfield, But Cubs Rally to Win 5-2

Posted on 29 August 2009 by Lou

Mets Cubs Baseball

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…

Mets Cubs Baseball

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Big Z’s Back & He’s Bigger Ummm… Better than Before

Posted on 23 August 2009 by Lou

carlos cubs

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…

carlos zambrano

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Carlos Marmol Replaces Kevin Gregg as Cubs Closer

Posted on 19 August 2009 by Lou

Cubs Padres Baseball

Manager Lou Pinella finally made the switch – Carlos Marmol will be the Cubs closer the rest of the year.  Kevin Gregg will serve as a late inning reliever.  Pinella probably would have made the switch sooner if he had a more viable option from within.  While Marmol has electric stuff, he has struggled with his control all season long – in 56 1/3 innings, Marmol has issued 52 walks!  With a .163 batting average against, Marmol really just needs to throw strikes.  Marmol has a 3.51 ERA and a 1.47 WHIP.  He has a 2-2 record with 4 saves, 27 holds  and 4 blown saves.  He also has 67 K’s.

Gregg finally forced Pinella’s hand after a disastrous August.  In 8 August appearances, Gregg has a horrendous 11.25 ERA.  Gregg blew 3 of his 5 save chances in the month and took the loss in 3 games by issuing game-winning home runs to the opposite team.  Not good.

Pinella had these comments about the move:  “We needed to try a different approach.  We’ve been very patient, if you want to use that word.  We’ve lost some tough, tough ballgames.  M<armol deserves an opportunity, so we’re going to give him that chance…This wasn’t something that just cropped up overnight.  That’s a tough job for anybody and he’s had some success, obviously, but lately he’s been struggling.  We decided to make a change and hopefully it worls out best for our ballclub.”

Gregg took the demotion like a true diplomat: “I don’t blame them.  We have to go with the hot hand right now.  That’s the life of my job.”

It’s probably too little too late right now.  The Cubs are 6 games behind the Cards in the NL Central race and 5 games behind the Rockies in the NL Wild Card race.  The Cubs offense is average at best, but more often inconsistent and “non-clutch”.  It has been a brutal, frustrating year for the Cubs and Cubs fans, and I’m sure Marmol will have some rocky moments along the way during the final 40 games of the 2009 MLB schedule.

Cubs Marlins Baseball

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Shocking – Gregg Blows Another Save & Pinella Actually Does Something About It!

Posted on 18 August 2009 by Lou

Cubs Padres Baseball

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.

APTOPIX Cubs Padres Baseball

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Another Day, Another Loss – Cubs Can’t Beat the Good Teams

Posted on 12 August 2009 by Lou

Phillies Cubs Baseball

The Phillies defeated the Cubs 4-3 in 12 innings on Tuesday night at Wrigley Field.  How do you out hit a team 10 to 3, but lose 4-3?  Unbelievable…

Kevin Gregg took the loss when he served up a Ben Francisco solo home run in the top of the 12th inning.  It was his 4th loss of the season, as his ERA rose to 4.02.

Rich Harden had another great start against the Phillies – 7 innings, 2 ER, 2 hits, 2 walks and 6 K’s – but came out with a no decision in place.

Carlos Marmol had another crappy outing.

The Cubs failed to lose any ground to the Cards who lost to the Reds.  Yeah!  This is getting really really old…

Phillies Cubs Baseball

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Cubs Doing Their Best to Avoid 2009 Post-Season Play

Posted on 10 August 2009 by Lou

Cubs Rockies Baseball

I was just way too irritated to even do a post on Sunday.  This could be one of the most frustrating Cubs teams to follow in the last few years.  No clutch hitting, no concentration, no desire to win, no emotion, no nothing.  Unless the Cardinals lose the rest of their games, I don’t see how this team will be able to win a 3rd straight NL Central crown.

The Cubs actually showed some grit in Saturday’s 6-5 win.  The Cubs took a 2-0 lead in the 4th inning on a Kosuke Fukodme double and a Ryan Dempster walk, only to have Dempster give back 4 runs right away in the bottom of the inning.  But the Cubs responded with 4 runs in the next 3 innings to take a 6-4 lead.  As they had done so many times earlier this season – Angel Guzman, Carlos Marmol and Kevin Greeg worked relatively easy scoreless innings of relief to preserve the 6-5 win.

Looking to build off the big win after losing Friday night, the Cubs looked to Randy Wells to put forth another solid start.  Wells had one of his worst outings of the year, and although the Cubs generated numerous scoring chances against Jason Hammel early in the game, they could only push across 3 runs in the game’s 1st 5 innings despite racking up an incredible 11 hits.  No clutch hitting once again, and the Cubs found themselves trailing 8-3 by the end of the 6th inning.  Wells ended up giving up 5 ER on 8 hits and 2 walks in 5 1/3 innings, while Jeff Stevens got lit up for 4 ER on 5 hits and 1 walk in his 1 inning of work that spanned the 6th and 7th innings.  All in all, it was bad day for the Cubs.

The loss pushed the Cubs 3 games behind the Cardinals for 1st place in the NL Central.  The Cards took care of business sweeping a weekend series over the Pirates in Pittsburgh.

Carlos Zambrano is back on the DL with lower back soreness that could have been aggravated by over-swinging during batting practice before Friday’s game.  Does Big Z realize he is a pitcher 1st and that the Cubs already have starting pitcher Ted Lilly on the DL?  Obviously not.  Big Z is scheduled to come off the DL on Friday, August 21st and Jeff Samardzija will likely make 2 starts during Big Z’s absence.

Aramis Ramirez has been dealing with right shoulder soreness from his early season dislocated shoulder.  Ramirez left Saturday’s game early and Jake Fox started for Ramirez on Sunday.  It is unclear if Ramirez will miss anymore time.

With Kosuke Fukodome batting great in the lead-off spot, I’m extremely confused as to why Manager Lou Pinella all of a sudden decided to re-jigger the lineup in Colorado.  Pinella had Ryan Theirot leading off, Milton Bradley batting 2nd and Fukodome batting 5th.  The players produced in the new lineup (Ryan Theriot had 3 hits on Saturday and 2 hits on Sunday; Bradley had 2 hits on Saturday and 4 hits on Sunday and his average is up to .266; & Fukodome had 2 hits in each game), but it seemed odd that Pinella would mess with a good thing, especially when the Cubs had already found themselves in so many poor hitting droughts several times during the 2009 MLB schedule.

Pinella did his best to motivate the club by getting thrown out of the game for arguing a horrible call at 2nd base on a double play ball that thwarted a Cubs rally, but in the end, the Cubs players looked like they wanted to join Pinella in the showers early instead of trying to win a baseball game.

The Cubs are still just 2 games behind the Cards and the Giants and Rockies for the wild card race, and they have even played 4 fewer games than the Cards and 2 fewer games than each of the Giants and Rockies, so there is room to gain ground.  But this team is too inconsistent, too prone to give up way too soon, and too apt to follow a 3-game winning streak with a 5-game skid.  I have officially given up – I’ll still root for the Cubs and report on the positives and the negatives, but at the end of the day, this is a middle of the road team, not a division leader…

Cubs Rockies Baseball

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Terrific Tom; But Another Bad Cubs Bullpen Outing — What Gives?

Posted on 05 August 2009 by Lou

Cubs Reds Baseball

Terrific Tom – Tom Gorzelanny looked like Cy Young, as he shut down the Cincinnati Reds over 7 1/3 innings en route to a spectacular Cubs debut.  Gorzelanny gave up just 1 ER on 3 hits and 1 walk, while striking out 6.  The Cubs just acquired Gorzelanny late last week before the trading deadline, and he took over the 5th starter role for Kevin Hart who moved to the Pirates in the trade.  Hart had been filling in for Ted Lilly who will be on the DL for another 2 weeks or so.

Gorzelanny and the Cubs should have known it was going to be a good game for the visiting team.  First, Kosuke Fukodome led off the game with his 1st ever lead-off home run (his 8th of the season).  Then in the bottom of the inning, Adam Rosales tripled to left field on a ball that Alfonso Soriano just missed catching against the wall in left.  With the Reds’ 2 best hitters coming up with a man on 3rd and less than 2 outs, things did not look good.  But Gorzelanny buckled down, striking out Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips to end the threat and preserving the Cubs 1-0 lead.  With the lead still 1-0, the Cubs got clutch 2-out singles from Koyie Hill, Gorzelanny himself and then Kosuke Fukodome to blow the game open.  The back-to-back-to-back singles plated 4 Cubs runs and the Cubs built a 5-0 lead.  Derrek Lee then added an insurance run with his 22nd HR on the year, a solo shot in the 7th to increase the Cubs lead to 6-0.

The only bad news – the Cubs bullpen.  After Gorzelanny allowed to batters to reach base in the 8th inning, Sean Marshall gave up a single to Joey Votto that scored the Reds 1st run.  And in the bottom of the 9th inning, Angel Guzman gave up 2 runs when he hit the lead off hitter and then served up a 2-run HR to Wladimir Balentien.  Not good, especially when Manager Lou Pinella and the Cubs are looking to Guzman to step up his game in the late innings with Kevin Gregg dealing with “tired arm syndrome.”  Going back to the last 5 road games, the Cubs bullpen has surrendered a total of 11 runs from the 8th inning on (3 in the 8th on Friday; 3 in the 9th on Saturday; 2 in the 9th on Sunday; 1 in the 9th on Monday and 2 in the 9th on Tuesday).  This is completely unacceptable, as it cost the Cubs 2 games during the stretch.  If the bullpen continues to flounder like this on a regular basis, the Cubs will struggle to stay in the 2009 NL Central and Wild Card race.

Rich Harden and the Cubs go for the sweep over the Reds tonight in Cincinnati.  The Cardinals already lost to the Mets at CITI Field today in New York, so a Cubs win means sole possession of 1st place for the North Siders.  Lets Go Cubs!

Cubs Reds Baseball

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And Your 2009 Cubs MVP Is… Randy Wells

Posted on 04 August 2009 by Lou

Cubs Reds Baseball

Yes – you heard it right – Randy Wells.  With Monday night’s 4-2 win over the Reds, Wells proved why he is the Cubs 2009 MVP.  Coming off of a disastrous weekend series against the Marlins in Florida where the Cubs dropped 2 of 3 games, Wells pitched his longest outing of the year, keeping the beleagured Cubs bullpen out of harms way.  Wells threw 107 pitches in 7 1/3 innings and didn’t allow a run until a lead off home run to Alex Gonzalez in the top of the 8th inning.  He surrendered only 6 hits and 2 walks, while striking out 5.  His ERA now stands at 2.73, his WHIP is 1.14 and he now has 8 wins during the 2009 MLB schedule.  Wells has made 16 starts and should probably have a few more wins if not for the Cubs bullpen blowing his leads in 3 of his 1st 5 starts.  11-4 (instead of 8-4) would look pretty good right – for both the Cubs and Wells.

You think Manager Lou Pinella was worried about taking out Wells in the 8th.  After Carlos Marmol and Kevin Gregg failed to pitch well in Florida, Pinella needed Wells to pitch deep into the game on Monday night in Cincinnati.  And that is exactly what he did.  Then Pinella put the team in John Grabow’s hands, as he got the Cubs out of a mini-jam by inducing an inning-ending double play by Brandon Phillips to end the threat.  And although Marmol struggled again in the 9th inning (1 ER on 2 hits and 1 walk), he got Willy Taveras to ground out to 1st base to end the game and preserve the Cubs win.

Cubs Win!  Cubs Win! Cubs Win!  Great words to hear after a brutal, frustrating series in Florida…

Cubs Reds Baseball

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