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…
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 07 September 2009 by Lou
The Cubs lost the weekend series to the Mets in NYC. Here’s a brief re-cap:
Friday 9/4 – Mets 6, Cubs 2. Mets blew game open with a 5-run 8th inning to break a 1-1 tie. Carlos Zambrano finally looked good – 1 ER (a solo HR by Corey Sullivan on 3 hits and 3 walks in 6 innings. Kevin Gregg (2 ER on 2 hits) and John Grabow (3 ER on 4 hits and 1 walk) did not retire a single batter in the 8th inning. Jeff Baker had 3 hits and an RBI in the loss.
Saturday 9/5 – Cubs 5, Mets 3. Rich Harden picked up his 9th win of the season – 1 ER on 7 hits and 2 walks and 10 K’s in 5 innings. Carlos Marmol picked up his 9th save and 5th straight save since being named the club’s closer. Derrek Lee was the offensive hero – 3 for 4 with 2 home runs, 3 RBI’s and 3 runs scored.
Sunday 9/6 – Mets 4, Cubs 2. Randy Wells 1 ER on 7 hits and no walks over 6 innings. Kevin Gregg was awful in relief – 2 ER on 3 hits and 1 walk in just 2/3 of an inning. Cubs manage just 6 hits and 2 walks. Geovany Soto had 2 hits and 2 RBI’s in the loss.
Cubs are 68-67 and they trail the Cardinals by 11.5 games in the NL Central and the Rockies by 8 games in the NL Wild Card race.
Posted on 03 September 2009 by Lou
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…
Posted on 31 August 2009 by Lou
The Cubs have one more game left in a dreadful month of August – it’s about time. Let’s take a look back at what transpired. On August 1st, the Cubs were 7 games over .500 with a 54-47 record. The Cardinals were just 8 games over .500 with a 57-49 record. The Cubs only trailed the Cards by 1/2 game in the NL Central race!
The Cubs split the first 4 games of the month, but then fell into a downward spiral quickly and painfully. Heading into tonight’s game against the Astros in what will be the final game of August, the Cubs have an 11-16 record. The Cubs are just 2 games over .500 and at 65-63, they trail the Cardinals by 10 games in the NL Central race. While the Cubs were floundering away, the Cards were riding Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday on a 4-man wrecking crew, annhilating anything that stood in their path. The Cards finished the month with a 20-6 record, and are 22 games over .500 with a 77-55 record. During the month of August, the Cards never had a 2-game losing streak and lost twice in a week only once. They are just a 1/2 game behind the Dodgers for the best record in the NL. Talk about 2 teams heading in different directions.
Bad, bad, bad on the north side.
Carlos Zambrano suffered his 2nd straight loss since coming off the DL with a sore back. He looked awful early and often – laboring through 75 pitches in just 3 1/3 innings of work. Big Z gave up 3 ER (4 total) on 11 hits. The one positive – he didn’t walk anyone.
The Cubs bullpen actually pitched well, and kept the Cubs in the 4-a game from the 4th through the 9th innings. Tom Gorzelanny pitched 1 2/3 innings of perfect relief. Sean Marshall retired 6 of the 7 batters that he faced, giving up just a lone single. John Grabow pitched a perfect 8th inning and Angel Guzman did the same in the 9th inning. With the year all but hopeless – in terms of playoffs – it’s nice to see guys still putting forth a solid effort, trying to build some momentum for 2010. But that is certainly hard to do when you start a big 10-game home stand by losing 3 of 6 games to the 2 worst teams in the National League – the Nationals and Mets. Bad, bad, bad.
Oh yeah, the Cubs managed just 7 hits and 2 walks off of Nelson Figueroa (1.66 WHIP and 4.50 ERA after the game) and 2 Mets relievers. Bad, bad, bad…
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 21 August 2009 by Lou
The Cubs went back to their losing ways in Los Angeles, dropping the opener of a 4-game series to Dodgers 7-2. A disastrous 4-run 6th off of Angel Guzman brought a slow end to the night. Guzman replaced Tom Gorzelanny who had allowed 2 earned runs on 5 hits over 5 innings of work. Guzman gave up back-to-back singles to Manny Ramirez and Casey Blake to start the inning. After a sacrifice bunt moved runners to 2nd and 3rd with only 1 out, Manager Lou Pinella decided to intentionally walk James Loney to pitch to Russell Martin with the bases loaded. Boy did that move backfire – Martin crushed a grand slam to deep center field and the game was basically over.
One pitching positive – demoted closer Kevin Gregg pitched a perfect 8th inning. Yeah!
The Cubs managed 8 hits off of 4 Dodgers pitchers – Kosuke Fukodome was the big start, going 3 for 3 with a solo home run, 2 singles and a walk. Derrek Lee had 2 hits in defeat, but his batting average is now all the way up to .295.
Not really sure what else to say about this Cubs team. It just gets uglier and uglier. Cubs get good pitching, the Cubs offense goes quiet and they lose 2-1. Cubs pitchers struggle and the offense either mails it in after a few innings or hits well, but not enough to win. The Cubs are creeping backwards towards the .500 mark again – 61-58 – and trail the Cards by 7 games in the NL Central race and the Rockies by 6 games in the NL Wild Card race. Technically they still have a pulse, but it is definitely getting harder and harder to feel and hear…
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…