Archive | Jeff Samardzija

Cubs Finalize Bullpen with David Patton and Angel Guzman

Posted on 06 April 2009 by Lou

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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…

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Geovany Soto Homers Twice as Cubs Tie A’s 8-8

Posted on 02 April 2009 by Lou

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The Chicago Cubs tied the Oakland A’s 8-8 on Wednesday as Carlos Zambrano made his final start of the 2009 spring training schedule.  Zambrano pitched 3 1/3 innings giving up 1 earned run on 2 hits and 2 walks.  He also had 1 strikeout.  Zambrano will start for the Cubs in the team’s 2009 opening game against the Astros in Houston on Monday night.

Several Cubs players had good games at the plate.  Alfonso Soriano, Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, Geovany Soto and Ryan Theriot each had 2 hits for the Cubs.  Soto hit his first 2 home runs of the spring, including a grand slam in the 3rd inning when the Cubs scored 6 runs to take an early 6-0 lead.

The Cubs relievers did not fare so well however.  Luis Vizcaino gave up 2 runs on 2 hits in only 2/3 of an inning of work.  Neal Cotts was lit up for 3 earned runs and 5 hits in the 8th inning, while Angel Guzman and Jeff Samardzija gave up an unearned run in each of their 1 inning of work.  Not so good given the fact that the regular season starts in 4 days.

Let’s hope the Cubs can work out these kinks in their final games of the spring – against the Indians in Mesa today and against the Yankees in the new Yankee Stadium in New York this weekend.

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Cubs To Decide on Final 2 Bullpen Spots This Weekend in NY

Posted on 01 April 2009 by Lou

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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!!!

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Cubs, Bradley Pound Rockies 9-8

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.

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Brewers Top Cubs 9-6, Samardzija Struggles Again

Posted on 17 March 2009 by Lou

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The Milwaukee Brewers beat the Chicago Cubs 9-6 on Monday as Jeff Samardzija continues to struggle this spring.  Samardzija pitched just 2 innings – 5 earned runs, 5 hits, 2 walks, 1 HBP and 1 strikeout. The Cubs next pitcher Jeff Stevens promptly let up 3 more runs in only 1 inning of work, to put the Cubs in a deeper hole.  On the bright side, Carlos Marmol, Luis Vizcaino and Mike Stanton each worked scoreless and hitless innings after the Cubs fell behind 8-1.

At the plate, Alfonso Soriano and Aramis Ramirez each had 2 hits.  Ramirez hit a solo home run for the Cubs.

Jeff Samardzija is not helping his cause to make it as the Cubs 5th starter in 2009 (he is competing with Sean Marshall and Aaron Heilman for the spot).  With his poor pitching this spring, he could even find himself in a battle to make the opening day roster.  Other veterans have pitched well and as a young player, Cubs executives might choose to let Samardzija start in the minor leagues for the first half of the season in order to continue to work on pitches and develop as a professional baseball player.  It should be interesting to see how this all plays out the last few weeks of spring ball.

The Cubs are now 9-10 in Cactus League play.  Next up for the Cubs is a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers on St. Patrick’s Day.

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Sean Marshall Taking Aim At 5th Spot In Rotation

Posted on 05 March 2009 by Lou

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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.

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Cubs Defeat Dodgers 5-3 In Spring Opener For Each Team

Posted on 26 February 2009 by Lou

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The Chicago Cubs defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1st spring training game for both teams.  Micah Hoffpauir slugged a 5th inning grand slam to put the Cubs ahead for good.  Alfonso Soriano walked and singled in his first 2 at-bats.  On the mound, after retiring the side in order in the 1st inning, Jeff Samardzija struggled through the 2nd inning – 2 earned runs, 3 hits and 2 walks.

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Jeff Samardzija To Start Cubs First Spring Game in Mesa Against Dodgers

Posted on 25 February 2009 by Lou

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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.

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Early Risers At Fitch Park in Arizona

Posted on 14 February 2009 by Lou

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Chicago Cubs pitchers and catchers are officially supposed to show up for camp on Friday the 13th. But on Thursday, Cubs management got a pleasant surprise when they saw how many players were already ready to get a workout in at the Cubs spring training facility in Mesa, Arizona. Catchers Geovany Soto and Koyie Hill were in attendance. Pitchers Kevin Gregg, Ken Kadokura, Chad Gaudin, Neal Cotts, Jeff Samardzija and Kevin Hart were also present. Others present included Jake Fox, Randy Wells and Wellington Castillo. It’s unclear exactly which players out of this group will make the team, but it’s great to see the commitment and enthusiasm this early in the season.

Kadokura is a long shot to make the team. He is 35 years old, had played for 4 different Japanese teams and was Kosuke Fukodome’s teammate on the Chunichi Dragons.

Chad Gaudin is looking to make a run at the 5th spot in the starting rotation, as is Samardzija. Gaudin has made 50 major league starts, including 34 starts for the Oakland A’s in 2007. Even if he doesn’t secure the spot in the starting rotation, he would make a great addition in the Cubs bullpen. Ditto for Samardzija.

It’s refreshing to see that guys know that they have to compete for a spot and are willing to do whatever it takes to get into the best shape possible to be ready to impress once the spring schedule begins.

Now that camp has opened, we’re sure to have a lot of updates on how things are going for the Cubs in the southwest. Stay tuned to MyCubsToday – we’re locked and loaded for a great 2009 Cubs campaign.

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Pitching Depth a Nice Plus for Cubs in 2009

Posted on 27 January 2009 by Lou

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It’s not so dreary in the bullpen at Wrigley Field these days. After suffering so many years with injury after injury to Cubs pitchers (see Mark Prior, Kerry Wood, Jon Lieber), I never thought we’d be writing so much about one of the key assets for the current Chicago Cubs roster – the depth of the pitching – both starters and relievers.

Cubs Manager Lou Pinella has indicated that he would like to keep 12 pitchers on his roster during the 2009 MLB season. With 5 starters needed, and Carlos Marmol and Kevin Gregg locked in at the back end of the games, that leaves numerous candidates fighting for only 5 spots. Sean Marshall has been a key contributor – both as a starter and a reliever – on the big league level in each of the Cubs last 3 seasons. Youngster Jeff Samardzija emerged on the scene during the middle of the 2008 MLB season and showed that he clearly has the stuff to compete at the highest level. While both will be battling for the 5th spot in the starting rotation, one would have to think that each will make the 2009 roster once Spring Training breaks at the beginning of April.

Neal Cotts, Chad Gaudin and Michael Wuertz all played vital roles for the Cubs in 2008, while Angel Guzman, Kevin Hart and Jose Ascansio will all give it their best to show Cubs management that they deserve a shot over one of those guys for the 2009 MLB season. Are any of them a lock – by all means no. Plus when you throw in recent acquisitions – Luis Vizcaino, Garrett Olson, Jeff Stevens and Dave Patton – you truly are going to see a battle during Spring Training in Arizona.

Who will make it to Wrigley Field in 2009?

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