Archive | Derrek Lee

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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Give the Cubs a Bad Team to Play & the Cubs Will Give You a Victory

Posted on 15 August 2009 by Lou

Pirates Cubs Baseball

The Cubs can’t seem to beat the good teams in 2009, but at least they’ve been taking it to the bad teams.  The Cubs crushed the Pirates 17-2 on Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field.  During the then-current 5 game losing streak, the Cubs had only scored a TOTAL of 19 runs – not good.  The Cubs busted out with 18 hits and 6 walks in the 17-run attack against 3 Pirates’ pitchers. The Cubs scored 4 runs in the 1st inning on a Derrek Lee RBI single and a 3-run Kosuke Fukodome home run.  Then the Cubs tacked on 10 runs in the 2nd inning – all without a HR.  The Cubs batted around – 9 straight batters – without recording an out.  Derrek Lee led the club going 3 for 3 with 7 RBI’s and 2 runs scored, before being removed in the 5th inning.  Ryan Theriot also had 3 hits, driving in 1 while scoring twice.  Sam Fuld had 2 hits and 2 walks and scored 3 times.  Jake Fox was 2 for 4 with 2 RBI’s and 2 runs scored.  Koyie Hill and pitcher Randy Wells each had 2 hits and 2 runs scored as well.

Randy Wells was the biggest beneficiary of the offensive output on Friday.  Wells picked up his 9th win of the season – throwing 86 pitches in 6 innings.  He gave up 2ER on 7 hits and 2 walks, while striking out 3.  Wells now has a season WHIP of 1.20 and a season ERA of 3.01.

The Cubs are 59-55 and still trail the Cards by 4.5 games in the NL Central race.  The Cubs trail the Rockies by 4 games in the NL wild card race, but also have the Giants, Marlins and Braves to jump over in the wild card race, so they have their work cut out for them…

Pirates Cubs Baseball

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Phillies Sweep Cubs @ Wrigley Field – – This is Getting Ugly Fast

Posted on 13 August 2009 by Lou

Phillies Cubs Baseball

Wow – how a season can turn.  Heading into last Friday’s game against the Rockies, the Cubs were tied for 1st place in the NL Central and just 2 games out of the NL Wild Card race.  6 losses in 7 game later, and the Cubs find themsleves in a very difficult situation.

On Wednesday night, the Phillies crushed the Cubs 12-5, behind a solid outing by Pedro Martinez.  Martinez made his 1st start of the 2009 MLB schedule and pitched 5 innings, allowing 3 ER on 7 hits and 1 walk.  He struck out 5.  Once again, the Cubs had scoring chances early, but failed to take advantage of the situations – they left 13 runners on base. Ryan Theriot was the only Cub player with more than 1 hit and he raised his batting average to .300 even.  Theriot and Derrek Lee have been the only consistent hitters for the Cubs all season long.  Starter Jeff Samardzija -3 1/3 innings, 7 ER on 8 hits (1 HR) – and Sean Marshall – 3 1/3 innings, 5 ER on 6 hits (2 HR’s) and 3 walks – were downright awful.  The Cubs sent Samardzija down to Triple-A Iowa after the loss.

In Thursday afternoon’s series finale, Cliff Lee shut the Cubs down with ease.  Lee won his 3rd straight since coming over in a trade from the Cleveland Indians.  Lee hasn’t allowed more than 1 ER in any of the 3 starts.  Not too shabby.  The Cubs did have 6 hits and 3 walks against Lee, but struck out 8 times and left 16 runners on base.  Jeff Baker had 2 hits and 2 walks and scored the only run for the Cubs on Ryan Theriot’s RBI single in the 5th inning.  Ryan Dempster lost his 6th game for the Cubs this season.  He pitched 7 innings which gave the Cubs bullpen a welcome rest.  He gave up 6 ER on 8 hits and 2 walks, and he struck out 8 Phillies hitters.  Justin Berg who was called up from Triple-A Iowa to take the place of Samardzija pitched the games final 2 innings.  In his major league debut, Berg allowed 2 hits and a walk but did not allow a run.

With the sweep, the Cubs are now 4.5 games behind the Cardinals for 1st place in the NL Central and 5.0 games behind the Colorado Rockies in the NL Wild Card race.  There’s always next year Cubs fans – although with essentially the same team locked in for 2010, it’s hard to imagine much better results in 2010…

Phillies Cubs Baseball

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This Team Sucks – Pinella Rothschild Out of Ideas

Posted on 11 August 2009 by Lou

Cubs Rockies Baseball

The Cubs wrapped up a dismal 4-6 road trip by losing 3 of 4 to the wild card leading Rockies in Denver.  The Rockies outscored the Cubs 33-18 in the series, as the Cubs fell 3 games behind the Cardinals for 1st place in the NL Central and 3 games behind the Rockies for the NL wild card lead.  Can you say “Game Over”!

Manager Lou Pinella and pitching coach Larry Rothschild are out of ideas and probably already thinking about their golf games in October.  To make matters worse, with the still-pending sale of the Cubs, there’s really not much that the Cubs will be able to do in the off-season to turn things around for the 2010 MLB schedule.  The outfield is set – Alfonso Soriano, Kosuke Fukodome and Milton Bradley all have years left on their deals.  The pitching staff is set – Carlos Zambrano, Ted Lilly and Ryan Dempster all have years left on their deals, as does Randy Wells who is not even arbitration-eligible yet.  The Cubs will have to decide on Rich Harden, but the 5th starter slot could be filled from within – Sean Marshall, Jeff Samardzija, Tom Gorzelanny etc.  The infield is also set – Aramis Ramirez and Derrek Lee at the corners, Ryan Theriot at shortstop and Geovany Soto behind the plate.  Koyie Hill has established himself as a dependable catcher as well.  So the only real question mark in the infield is the 2nd base position, where Mike Fontenot has clearly shown that he is not capable of being a consistent, productive every day player.

Unless the Cubs could pull off a trade to move an outfielder – probably having to assume some of the money that GM Jim Hendry overpaid to each of Soriano, Fukodome and Bradley – the Cubs will be stuck.  And that doesn’t mean good things for 2010.

Sorry Cubs fans – hate to be brutally honest, but we could be in for a rough stretch for a few years to come.

Oh yeah – what about the 11-5 Cubs loss to the Rockies on Monday night?  Aw, who cares anyway.  It was more of the same.  No clutch hitting, poor fielding, and bad pitching.  Sound familiar?!

Cubs Rockies 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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Carlos Zambrano Screws Team Over in 6-2 Loss @ Colorado

Posted on 08 August 2009 by Lou

Cubs Rockies Baseball

Carlos Zambrano should have a locker room full of teammates pissed off at him right now.  Slated to start the opener of a big weekend series at Coors Field on Friday night, Big Z told Manager Lou Pinella that he couldn’t go 15 minutes before the start of the game.  Big Z left his start in the 3rd inning last Saturday because of a mild back strain.  He didn’t receive any special back treatment all week, and he told the team that it was nothing to be worried about.  But during pre-game warm-ups, Zambrano experienced some back spasms and then told Pinella he couldn’t go.  Pinella had this to say about the situation: “When he went out there to warm up, he says after he threw two or three pitches, his back tightened up and he started getting spasms.  This is something that happened right before the ball game.  If he had been complaining about anything, obviously, we wouldn’t have scheduled him to pitch.”

Not a smart move from Zambrano.  Especially since the Cubs had an off-day on Thursday, and the club could have moved Ryan Dempster up a day to start with his normal 4 days’ rest on Friday night.  Then Wells, Gorzelanny and Harden could have each moved up a day too, allowing Big Z a few more days off, or giving the Cubs an opportunity to call someone up from the minor leagues.  Instead, Zambrano gave the team no indication that his back might be a long-term issue, and forced the Cubs to go with Sean Marshall on no notice to make the start.  As it turned out, Marshall did not have his good stuff – 3 ER on 5 hits and 1 walk in 2 innings of work.  Jeff Samardzija then had to do a little bit off long-relief work, pitching 4 innings and allowing 2 ER on 5 hits and 1 walk.  Not a good way to start a 4-game series in hitter-friendly Coors Field.

The Cubs offense didn’t do much to help out the Cubs pitching staff.  The Cubs managed just 2 runs and 5 hits off of Ubaldo Jimenez and 3 Rockies’ relievers.  Alfonso Soriano was the only Cubs player with more than 1 hit and he also had the only Cubs RBI of the game.  The Cubs did draw 6 walks, but never seemed to come through with a big hit to break an inning open.  The Cubs had 2 runners on in the 1st, 3rd, 5th and 6th innings, but could only push across 1 run in the 1st and 6th innings.  Not good.

The only good news – sort of – catcher Geovany Soto returned to the Cubs lineup after a month stint on the DL.  Soto hit in the 5-spot, however, going 0 for 4 with 3 K’s.  Not the kind of spark we were looking for.

At 57-50, the Cubs trail the Cardinals by 1 game in the NL Central race and the San Francisco Giants and the Rockies by 2 games in the NL Wild Card race.

Cubs Rockies Baseball

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Cubs Can’t Finish Off Sweep of Reds, Shut Out 4-0 by Justin Lehr

Posted on 06 August 2009 by Lou

Cubs Reds Baseball

The Cubs were hoping to finish off a sweep of the Reds on Wednesday night – Rich Harden had had 3 straight good starts, while Reds’ starter Justin Lehr (age 32) was making only his 2nd start at the major league level, so it looked like a forgone conclusion that the Cubs would win and take over sole possession of 1st place in the NL Central over the St. Louis Cardinals who had lost to the Mets earlier in the day.  But it wasn’t meant to be, as Lehr pitched his 1st ever shutout on any professional level, limiting the Cubs to just 4 hits and 1 walks over the 9 frames.  It was Lehr’s 1st win since May 2006.  Not good Cubs fans.

Rich Harden, meanwhile, got into trouble in the 3rd inning when he gave up a single to Brandon Phillips and then a 2-run bomb to the recently-acquired Scott Rolen, his 1st hit as a Reds player.  Harden prolonged the inning by trying to force out a runner at 3rd base with the pitcher at the plate, but he threw the ball away allowing a 3rd run to score.  Fortunately, Harden was able to strike out Willy Taveras and Joey Votto without any further damage, but the 3 runs would be all that Lehr and the Reds would need.

At the plate, the Cubs looked clueless.  Derrek Lee, Milton Bradley and Alfonso Soriano each had singles off of Lehr, and Harden had the Cubs only extra base hit – a double with 2 outs in the 5th inning.

Jeff Samardzija had a rough 7th inning – giving up a leadoff single to Willy Taveras who stole 2nd and 3rd bases easily and scored on Alex Gonzalez’ sacrifice fly.

The loss denied the Cubs the chance to reach 10 games over .500 for the 1st time all season.  Oh well.  At least they are still tied with the Cardinals for 1st place.  The only bad news – the Cards next 6 games are at home against the lowly Pirates and Reds, while the Cubs are on the road for 4 games against the Rockies in Colorado (the wild card leader) and then at Wrigley Field for 3 games against the Philadelphia Phillies (the NL East leader).

The lone bright spot, Closer Kevin Gregg pitched a perfect 8th inning with 1 strikeout.  Gregg had been nursing a “tired arm” after blowing save chances in his last 2 appearances by giving up 5 ER and 6 hits in his last 1 1/3 innings of work.

Cubs Reds 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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Cubs Looking to Put Florida Trip in Rear View Mirror

Posted on 03 August 2009 by Lou

chicago cubs randy wells1

The Cubs are looking to put the disastrous Florida weekend series behind them.  Kevin Gregg and Carlos Marmol cost the Cubs 2 wins in Miami, and kept the Cubs from taking the 1st place lead in the NL Central back from the Cardinals.

Let’s take a quick look at some numbers.

Starting pitchers:  in Friday’s 5-2 loss, Rich Harden gave up 2 earned runs on 5 hits and 3 walks in 5 innings of work (he also had 11 K’s); in Saturday’s 9-8 extra innings win,  Carlos Zambrano lasted only 3 innings because of a lower back strain, giving up 2 runs (1 earned) on 3 hits and 3 walks; & in Sunday’s 3-2 loss, Ryan Dempster gave up 0 runs on 3 hits and 4 walks in 6 innings of work.

Relief pitchers: in Friday’s 5-2 loss, Carlos Marmol gave up 3 runs on 1 hit, 2 walks and 1 HBP in just 2/3 of an inning of work (the rest of the bullpen held the Marlins scoreless in 2 1/3 innings of work); in Saturday’s 9-8 extra innings win, Kevin Gregg blew the save in the 9th inning by giving up 3 runs on 4 hits in 1 painful inning of work (Jeff Samardzija had a shaky 1 2/3 innings giving up 3 ER, but the rest of the bullpen pitched 4 1/3 scoreless innings) ; & in Sunday’s 3-2 loss, the bullpen gave up 3 runs on 4 hits in 2 1/3 innings of work with Gregg blowing the save for a 2nd straight night and taking the loss after giving up back-to-back home runs in the 9th inning.

The starters kept the Cubs in the games, but the bullpen imploded in each of the 3 games.

The Cubs bats weren’t all that hot either – if you take out Saturday’s 9-run, 13-hit barrage, the Cubs mustered only 4 runs and 13 hits combined in the Friday and Sunday losses.  Not good…

Manager Lou Pinella cannot be pleased with what he saw from his club in the 3-game weekend series loss in Florida.

The Cubs are 55-48 and they trail the Cards by 1/2 game in the NL Central race and the San Francisco Giants and Colorado Rockies by 2 games each in the NL Wild Card race.

But now for the good news.  Randy Wells gets the 1st start of the series against the Reds in Cincinnati.  Wells has been one of the most consistents Cubs’ starters all year and he beat the Reds at Wrigley Field on July 24th, allowing just 7 hits and 3 ER in 6 innings of the Cubs 8-5 win.  Overall, Wells is 7-4 with a 2.84 ERA and 1.15 WHIP.

The Reds are in a tailspin – they have lost 9 of their last 10 games – and have dropped into a tie for last place in the NL Central with the Pittsburgh Pirates.  The Reds are 14 games under .500 at 45-59.

And with the Cards idle tonight, a Cubs win over the Reds would mean a tie for 1st place in the NL Central.

Go Cubs!

chicago cubs randy wells2

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Cubs Pitching, Hitting Clicking on All Cylinders

Posted on 30 July 2009 by Lou

Astro Cubs Baseball

The Chicago Cubs pitching and hitting is clicking on all cylinders right now. The Cubs took 3 of 4 games from the Astros at Wrigley Field this week, outscoring the Astros 12-0 on Wednesday and 12-3 today.

The Cubs are now 54-46 and are 8 games over .500 for the 1st time during the 2009 MLB schedule.  The Cubs still trail the 1st place Cards by a half game in the NL Central race and can move into a tie with the San Francisco Giants for teh wild card lead if the Giants lose to the Phillies tonight.  The Cubs have also played 5 fewer games than the Cards with 2 less losses in the Astro Cubs Baseballall-important “L” column.

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