Posted on 06 April 2009 by Lou
The Chicago Cubs finalized their bullpen and 25-man roster on Sunday when they let David Patton and Angel Guzman know that they had made the Cubs opening day roster.
The big story is David Patton. Patton had pitched in the Colorado Rockies minor league system for the last 5 years, but the Cubs picked him up in the Rule 5 Draft. At 24, Patton had never pitched above the Class A level and General Manager Jim Hendry didn’t give him much of a chance of making the opening day roster, which meant the Cubs either had to keep him on the opening day roster or return him to the Rockies at the end of spring training. Hendry had this to say about Patton and Guzman. “It was a long shot when [Patton] got there, and the kid deserves all the credit in the world for pitching himself into it. I think we owe it to ourselves to find out after all the time we’ve invested in Guzman – - he certainly has the stuff and ability to help us be a contending team and, hopefully, he’ll live up to that potential now.”
Patton pitched extremely well in spring training. Patton had a 1.26 ERA during the spring, giving up only 14 hits and 5 walks in 14 1/3 innings of work. “This is what you devote all your time to and what I’ve wanted since I was a little kid. This is just the beginning. I want to do something special and want to be a part of this organization.”
Guzman had a so-so spring, but because he was out of options and could not be sent down to the minor leagues within the Cubs system, Hendry and the Cubs decided to give him one more shot to show what he can do for the Cubs at the big league level. Guzman has battled elbow and shoulder injuries, and at 27, still has the potential to pitch well in the bigs. Guzman had this to say about making the team: “After everything I’ve been through, I still have a long way to go. I’m still young, and I have an opportunity to make a statement in the big leagues. That’s what it’s all about.”
Three other pitchers lost out on the 2 bullpen spots. Chad Gaudin had an atrocious spring – 10.26 ERA giving up 20 runs on 26 hits and 10 walks in just over 16 innings of work. Not good to say the least. The Cubs released Gaudin. Jeff Samardzija, who was a productive member of the Cubs 2008 bullpen, never found the right stuff this spring as he competed for the 5th starter position. Samardzija improved as the spring went on and as he resumed his role in the bullpen, but because he still has options left, the Cubs chose to send him down to Triple-A Iowa. He will likely be groomed as a starter again in the event the Cubs need to bring up a starter in case of injury. Chad Fox is still recovering from an off-season injury and he was also optioned to Iowa.
It will be interesting to see how Patton performs at the major league level. He obviously has talent, but will he be ble to perform at the high level when the bright lights are shining, especially in Chicago. Let’s hope he does…
Posted on 04 April 2009 by Lou
The Chicago Cubs defeated the Cleveland Indians 9-8 in their final Cactus League game of the spring. The bats were buzzing in the last game in Mesa. Joey Gaithright, Andres Blanco and Koyie Hill each had 2 hits for the Cubs. Hill had a 3-run triple, while Alfonso Soriano led off the Cubs 1st inning with a solo home run and scored 2 runs.
The pitching was not so hot for the Cubs. In 4 innings of work, Ryan Dempster gave up 3 earned runs on 5 hits (including 2 home runs), but he did have 7 strikeouts. Chad Gaudin, battling for a spot in the bullpen, got lit up for 3 runs on 6 hits over just 2 innings of work. Carlos Marmol and David Patton also gave up a run each in relief.
Not the best way to end spring training, but a win is a win. I’m sure the Cubs are ready for the regular season to begin. This spring has lasted forever, so it will be good for the games to finally start counting for something.
Posted on 01 April 2009 by Lou
There are 2 spots left in the Cubs 2009 bullpen, and 4 pitchers competing for those spots. It has come down to Jeff Samardzija, Chad Gaudin, Angel Guzman and Rule 5 Draft pick David Patton. Guzman is out of minor league options, and Cubs GM Jim Hendry has already said that none of the players will be placed on waivers. What does it all mean? That Patton and Guzman will either make the Cubs Opening Day Roster or be traded to another team before the start of the season.
As it stands now, Kevin Gregg will be the Cubs closer, with Carlos Marmol serving as the primary set-up man. Aaron Heilman, Neal Cotts and Luis Vizcaino have also locked up spots. Patton is the big X Factor – in 12+ spring innings, Patton has a .073 ERA giving up only 1 run on 10 hits. He has struck out 15 batters while walking only 2, but he has never pitched at a level higher than Class A. Cubs manager Lou Pinella had this to say about Patton: “He hasn’t been rattled all spring – it’s been very refreshing. It doesn’t look like the situation is getting to him. He’s out there competing and throwing the ball. We’ll see if everything works his way. “ He’ll get a big chance when he pitches against the New York Yankees in front of 40,000 people in the new Yankee Stadium. If he can show some resolve in that situation, we may see Patton on the Cubs Opening Day roster.
As for the other 3 players, none have had a good spring. Gaudin’s control has been bad – 20 hits and 9 walks in 13 2/3 innings with an ERA over 10.00. Guzman has an 8.71 ERA in 10 1/3 innings of Cactus league work. Samardzija has the best ERA of the 3, which isn’t saying much at 8.16. Samardzija does have options left and could be assigned to Triple-A Iowa to make room for one of the other 3 pitchers.
Pinella has indicated that nothing is permanent. “Regardless of how we go, if it’s not right, we’ll fix it. Let’s not forget that. We’re going to do the best we can. We’ve let everybody compete, like we said, so that’s not a problem. We’ll see how this thing stands by Saturday or Sunday and then we’ll make a decision and if it’s not the right decision, we’ll rectify it.”
Good attitude Lou. Maybe give the kid Patton a shot instead of losing him via trade and see if it works. And if not, you can always bring Samardzija back up from Triple-A Iowa. It should certainly be interesting to see how this all plays out. Opening Day on the road in Houston is only 4 days away!!!
Posted on 24 March 2009 by Lou
Milton Bradley went 3 for 4 and hit his 2nd home run of the spring in the Cubs 9-8 win over the Colorado Rockies.
Chad Gaudin struggled for the Cubs giving up 2 earned runs on 2 hits and a walk in 2 innings. Jeff Samardzija (1 inning, 2 earned runs, 3 hits, 1 walk) and Mike Stanton (1 inning, 3 earned runs, 3 hits) also struggled in relief. Kevin Gregg pitched a 1/3 of an inning – the first time he pitched in back-to-back games this spring.
Posted on 19 March 2009 by Lou
&Dempster left the game with a 5-0 lead, but the Cubs bullpen could not preserve the win for the Cubs. Chad Gaudin gave up 2 earned runs in an inning of work, Luis Vizcaino gave back another run on a solo home run in an inning of work, and Jose Ascansio lost the game for the Cubs by giving up 5 runs in the top of the 9th inning.
As for Dempster, he threw about 70 pitches and is pleased with his progress this spring. “The ball was coming out nice and I seemed to get ahead quite a bit today and even the hits they were getting were ahead-in-the-count type of hits. I had a good slider and good life in my ball.” Dempster will use the rest of the spring to strengthen the arm and build up stamina for the long MLB season.
Good news for Cubs fans. Zambrano and Dempster have looked very sharp this spring. Rich Harden has looked good so far and has not experienced any setbacks as far as his recovery is concerned. It looks like Sean Marshall has won the 5th spot in the starting rotation, and he has looked very impressive this spring. Ted Lilly has not pitched all that great in the World Baseball Classic for Team USA, but hopefully he can get his act together once he gets back to Cactus League action after the WBC. Having 3 righties and 2 lefties in the rotation is a nice balance too. We’ll keep you posted with any further developments.
Posted on 05 March 2009 by Lou
Sean Marshall is stepping up his effort in trying to land the Cubs’ 5th spot in the rotation. He made a bold statement in the Cubs 6-4 win over the Oakland A’s on Tuesday. Marshall pitched 3 innings – the longest outing by any Cubs pitcher this spring – facing the minimum 9 batters. He had 1 strikeout. Manager Lou Pinella had this to say about Marshall: “He’s gotten stronger. He throws the ball with a little more velocity. He’s got as good a curve ball as I’ve seen so far in Spring Training.”
Marshall took the advice of Cubs starter Ryan Dempster and worked out in the Phoenix area this off-season. Marshall also credited former Cubs pitcher Greg Maddux with being a big influence on his major league development. “I still remember a lot of the things he was telling me – - the importance of first-pitch strikes, getting my fastball down and away early and often. “ So far all the hard work has seemed to pay off for Marshall this spring. We’ll keep you posted as the competition for the 5th starting pitching spot continues among Marshall, Aaron Heilman, Chad Gaudin and Jeff Samardzija.
Posted on 25 February 2009 by Lou
Are you ready for some baseball???
That’s right, pitchers and catcher have only been in camp for about 2 weeks now, but we’re going to get our first taste of “2009 Cubs Baseball” today when the Cubs take on the Los Angeles Dodgers at HoHoKam Park in Mesa. Jeff Samardzija is set to start the game for the Cubs.
Samardzija had an impressive rookie campaign for the Cubs during the 2008 MLB season. Samardzija started 15 games for Double-A Tennessee and another 6 games for Triple-A Iowa before being called up to the major league level in mid July. Used to playing in front of big crowds as a wide receiver at the University of Notre Dame, the stress of playing in front of thousands of fans at the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field never seemed to faze Samardzija. Samardzija pitched in 26 games for the Cubs, going 1-0 with a 2.28 ERA and 1.41 WHIP. In 27 2/3 innings, he gave up 7 earned runs, walked 15 batters and struck out 25.
Now Samardzija needs to show that he deserves to be part of the Cubs 25-man roster right from the start in 2009. He will compete with Sean Marshall, Chad Gaudin and Aaron Heilman for the 5th spot in the starting rotation. If he doesn’t win that battle, we would find it hard to believe if the Cubs do not see a prominent role for Samardzija in the Cubs bullpen. Samardzija’s fast ball is a game changer, and if he can show good control during spring training and keep the walks to a minimum, we’ll be seeing Samardzija inside Wrigley Field for many years to come.