Archive | Jake Fox

Cubs Suspend Milton Bradley; GM Jim Hendry Should be Next to Go

Posted on 21 September 2009 by Lou

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Wow – with the meaningless weekend series between the Cubs & Cardinals, at least Milton Bradley and Jim Hendry gave us some lively action to sink our teeth into.  The Cubs officially suspended Milton Bradley for the rest of the 2009 MLB schedule on Sunday for his adverse actions and statements made regarding the Cubs organization.  Yippee – it’s about time…

Here’s what GM Jim Hendry said to the media on Sunday:  “There have been a lot of issues that we’ve lived with during the year but the last few days became too much for me to tolerate, to be honest with you.  I’m not going to let our great fans become an excuse, I’m not going to tolerate not answering questions from the media respectfully.  Whether you feel like talking or not, it’s part of our jobs.  I’m not going to allow disrespect to other people in that locker room and uniformed personnel. The only real negativity here is his won production.”

Among many issues raised by Bradley all season long – racism, means fans, injury issues – it all came to a head when Manager Lou Pinella pulled Bradley during Wednesday night’s game against the Brewers during a double-switch.  I guess Bradley did not like being pulled by Pinella, so in Thursday’s series finale against the Brewers, Bradley pulled himself from the games with an apparent “knee injury” to “get back at” Pinella.  Can you say “baby”?!  Then Bradley refused to answer questions about the knee injury, he pulled himself from Friday night’s game in St. Louis right before the 1st pitch to put Pinella and the Cubs in another bad position, and finally proceeded to bad-mouth the Cubs organization and fans.  Here’s what he said:  “It’s just not a positive environment.  I need a stable, healthy, enjoyable environment.  There’s too many people everywhere in your face with a microphone asking the same questions repeatedly.  Everyone is just bashing you.  You go out there and play harder than anybody on the field and never get credit for it.  It’s just negativity.  And you understand why they haven’t won in 100 years here, because it’s negative.  It’s what it is.”

The Bradley signing was a bad move in November, it was a bad move during spring training, it was a bad move when he injured himself during the first few weeks of the season, and it was a bad move all season long.  And it’s taken the man in charge of player personnel 10 months to realize that.  Let’s look at the numbers:

In 393 at-bats in 124 games, Bradley hit .257 with a .378 on-base percentage.  Bradley hit 12 HR’s and 17 doubles and drove in 40 runs while scoring 61 runs.  He had 66 walks and 95 strikeouts.  Now without comparing him to every single player on the Cubs, let’s simply compare him to Jake Fox – a young player who helped the Cubs in numerous positions and is the consummate team player.  In just 189 at-bats in 74 games, Fox hit .286 with a .335 on-base percentage.  Fox hit 11 HR’s and 14 doubles and drove in 42 runs while scoring 26 runs.  Fox also makes a LOT less than the $10 million Bradley is set to make under his 3-year deal with the Cubs.  In half the number of at-bats, Fox had more RBI’s and 1 less HR than Bradley.  How can this be?

Throw in the horrendous fielding in right field, the numerous dropped/misplayed balls, and the fact that Bradley is not a “good” clubhouse guy, this was a disaster waiting to happen.  Most people saw this, and the man in charge of player personnel decisions should have seen this day coming too.  It’s time for Hendry to get the boot too.

Three years ago, I thought Hendry did a great job re-inventing the Cubs model after reliance on injury-prone pitchers (Kerry Wood, Mark Prior) came back to haunt the Cubs year-after-year.  Hendry signed middle-of-the-road pitchers Jason Marquis and Ted Lilly because he knew they were innings-eaters who would make 25-30 starts a season.  He added Mark DeRosa – a solid ballplayer who was a great clubhouse guy who would produce day-in-and-day-out.

But after these “conservative” moves, Hendry started making some questionable moves that undermined his new game plan.  The Alfonso Soriano signing was exciting, but why the 8 years for a player that would be over 30 years at the start of his 1st season with the Cubs?  Soriano’s 2009 numbers – 477 at-bats, .241 batting average, .303 on-base percentage, 20 HR’s, 55 RBI’s, 64 runs & 118 K’s. Why 4 years (and close to $50 million) on an unproven major league player from Japan – Kosuke Fukodome – who would be handed the everyday right field job? Fukodome’s 2009 numbers – - 462 at-bats, .253 batting average, .371 on-base percentage, 11 HR’s, 52 RBI’s, 71 runs & 103 K’s (these numbers are nearly identical to his 2008 numbers whcih were considered a huge disappointment).  And most recently, why 3 years and $30 on Milton Bradley?

Coupled with those moves, Hendry had to unload the likes of Mark DeRosa and Marquis who once again had productive years in 2009 without causing any issues in their respective clubhouses.  DeRosa has a combined 21 HR’s, 72 RBI’s and 74 runs scored while playing for the Indians and Cardinals in 479 at-bats.  Marquis is 15-11 in 30 starts pitching half his time for the Rockies in Coors Field in Denver.  Marquis has a 3.84 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP and will likely be pitching in the post-season for the 6th straight year.

Hendry has mortgaged the outfield with the signings of Soriano, Fukudome and Bradley for the next few years.  The Cubs will have little room for the free agent market during the off-season following the horrible 2009 MLB campaign.  And we haven’t even mentioned the signing of Carlos Zambrano to an extension during the 2008 MLB season – and now we’re hearing rumblings that the Cubs will try to move Zambrano in the off-season to dump salary.  Does this guy even have a clue or a plan?  How do you sign a player to a 4-year extension because he is so important to your team, and then – less than 1 year later – decide that you can’t have this guy on your ballclub anymore?  It just doesn’t make sense to me and it is a downward trend that is becoming more and more evident with Hendry if you truly analayze the moves he has made the last 2-3 years.  I hope the Ricketts family takes a very close look at Hendry and makes an informed decision on whether or not he is the man to lead this the organization to a World Series.  There was a time where I thought he had what it took to do the job, but right now, I firmly believe that Hendry must go too…

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Cubs Offense, Defense Wastes Another Good Start in 5-0 Loss to White Sox

Posted on 04 September 2009 by Lou

White Sox Cubs Baseball

Can it get any uglier?  Well, yes.  Although Ryan Dempster did not have his best stuff, he still should have come away with nothing worse than a no decision.  Instead, because of shoddy defense and the continued inability of the Cubs to manufacture any offense whatsoever, Dempster dropped his 8th game of the year.  Dempster gave up 9 hits and 1 walk, and all 3 runs scored off of Dempster were unearned.

In the 2nd inning, Jake Fox failed to catch an easy pick off attempt from Dempster, allowing a runner to reach 2nd base with 2 outs.  That runner scored on the next pitch on a single by Alexei Ramirez. One unearned run.

In the 8th inning, the disaster that is Alfonso Soriano strck again.  With Gordon Beckham on 1st base, A.J. Pierzynski hit a lazy fly ball down the left field line.  Soriano got to the right spot and was about to make the catch, but for some reason, he just slipped.  Beckham scored all the way from 1st base and Pierzynski reached 3rd base on the Soriano error.  Pierzynski then came around to score on Paul Konerko’s soft single to left field.  2 more unearned runs.

Bad, bad, bad…

Dempster lowered his ERA under 4 with the 7 “scoreless” innings to 3.96 – giving the Cubs starting rotation with 2 pitchers under a 4.00 ERA and 1 pitcher under a 3.00 ERA.  Good, good, good.

But more bad please – the Cubs offense.  The Cubs squared off against Carlos Torres.  In his only 2 previous major league starts (in July & August of this year), Torres was lit up for 7 ER on 9 hits and 9 walks in just 7 1/3 innings of work – good for a 6.75 ERA and a 2.50 WHIP! Any other team would tee off on this guy, or at least work the count to make him throw more pitches and potentially get himself into trouble.  But not the Cubs.  Torres pitched 7 scoreless innings, giving up just 5 hits and no walks.  Jake Fox had 2 of the Cubs hits, but was thrown out at home in the bottom of the 7th inning on a great throw by DeWayne Wise on Jeff Baker’s single to right field.  3rd base coach Quade probably should not have sent the slow-running Fox home on the single to right field, but in any event, the Cubs can never seem to do anything right in 2009.

Not that anyone probably cares anymore, but:

The Cubs trails the Cardinals by 10.5 games in the NL Central race and the Rockies by 6 games in the NL Wild Card race.  Technically not out of it, but really not any closer than the Nationals who are “technically” 28 games behind the Rockies in the NL Wild Card race…

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It’s Do Or Die for Cubs with Upcoming 10-Game Homestand @ Wrigley Field

Posted on 25 August 2009 by Lou

Cubs Milton Bradley Risk 1

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…

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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…

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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

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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…

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Cubs Dealing with Injury Bug – - Aramis Ramirez, Ted Lilly & Carlos Zambrano Updates

Posted on 14 August 2009 by Lou

aramis ramirez

The Cubs are still dealing with the injury bug here in 2009.  Aramis Ramirez received a cortisone shot in his right shoulder on Tuesday to deal with the continued soreness caused by his dislocated shoulder in May.  The shot should reduce the inflammation in the shoulder, but won’t take away pain.  Ramirez is still trying to determine whether or not he will have off-season surgery to clean up the shoulder – he has dislocated the shoulder 3 times in his career.  Ramirez was expected to play in Friday’s day game against the Pirates at Wrigley Field, but a severe head cold that worsened as the week went on caused Manager Lou Pinella to scratch him right before the game.  Jake Fox started in his place at 3rd base.

Ted Lilly has been on the DL since July 21st – resting his sore left throwing arm and recovering from knee surgery.  Lilly pitched 5 scoreless innings on Wednesday at Class-A Peoria.  He gave up only 2 hits and 1 walk and said it was great to get back into a game situation.  Lilly is expected to come off the DL on Monday and start against the Padres in San Diego.

Carlos Zambrano is still dealing with a sore back and back spasms.  Pinella had this to say about Big Z’s condition:  “He had been doing his strength work with our strength guy Tim Buss and we’re going to make sure he’s on a nice program so he gets back out there as soon as possible and he’ll do his work.”  Zambrano will likely start at some point next week against the Dodgers in Los Angeles.

Tom Gorzellany is nursing a sore foot when he was hit by a line drive in Colorado over the weekend.  And Reed Johnson is still wearing a boot on his broken foot.  Gorzellany is not expected to miss any starts, while Johnson should be back at the start of September.

The Cubs have been dealing with injuries all season long, but at this point, it doesn’t look like it’s really going to matter.  The club is slowly falling out of playoff contention…

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

Posted on 12 August 2009 by Lou

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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…

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Cubs Doing Their Best to Avoid 2009 Post-Season Play

Posted on 10 August 2009 by Lou

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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…

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Geovany Soto to Re-Join Cubs on Friday in Colorado

Posted on 05 August 2009 by Lou

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Geovany Soto is set to rejoin the Cubs for Friday’s game against the Rockies in Colorado.  Soto has been on the disabled list since July 7th with a mild strain of his left oblique muscle.  Soto will play in 3 minor league games at Double-A Tennessee this week and then head out to Denver.

Manager Lou Pinella is excited to have Soto back.  Koyie Hill has started 25 straight games behind the plate for the Cubs (including starting both ends of a day-night double-header against the St. Louis Cardinals on July 12th at Wrigley Field).  During that stretch, Hill caught 207 innings – almost 27 innings more than the next catcher – Russell Martin with 181 2/3 innings.  Jake Fox did catch a few innings late in games to give Hill a break here and there.  Pinella had this to say: “Wednesday wouldn’t be soon enough for me…  It gives us a chance to rest Hill on Thursday, and he’ll have from Tuesday to Friday off, and then maybe we can alternate them so both can catch… He’s done a nice job.  Give him credit.”

While it will be great to have Soto back, Hill has done a great job.  Since the All-Star Break, the Cubs are 14-5, and their nice run catapulted the Cubs back into a 1st place tie with the Cardinals in the NL Central race.  While Hill’s offense has been average at best, Hill has provided much needed consistency for the pitching staff, especially with Ryan Dempster and Ted Lilly each spending time on the DL during that stretch.  Randy Wells has thrived with Hill behind the plate and even recently traded Kevin Hart picked up 3 wins as a starter in July.  Kudos to Hill and let’s hope the winning ways keep coming on the north side of Chicago.

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Cubs Road Woes Continue – Lose to Marlins 5-2

Posted on 31 July 2009 by Lou

The Cubs road woes continued as they fell to the Marlins 5-2 in Florida, falling to 21-28 on the road during the 2009 MLB schedule.  Carlos Marmol took the loss, giving up 3 runs with 2 outs in the bottom of the 8th inning with the game tied at 2.  Rich Harden had pitched 5 solid innings, giving up just 2 ER while striking out 11.  The Cubs were held to just 7 hits and 2 runs after scoring 12 runs in each of the last 2 games.  Jake Fox accounted for the Cubs onoly runs of the game with a 2-run game-tying home run in the 7th inning.

The Cubs started the big 10-game road trip with a 54-46 record and a 1/2 game lead over the Cardinals for 1st place in the NL central.  After 2 more games in Florida, the Cubs play 3 against the Reds in Cincinnati and 4 against the Rockies in Colorado.

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