Posted on 10 October 2009 by Lou
The Cubs will be looking for answers in 2010. Let’s hope the Ricketts family has their act together before the end of the World Series. The Ricketts family will need to be on the same page with GM Jim Hendry and Manager Lou Pinella before the start of free agency in late November.
Pitching-wise, the Cubs are set with a starting rotation of Carlos Zambrano, Ted Lilly, Ryan Dempster, Randy Wells and Tom Gorzelanny. The Cubs will likely say goodbye to free agent pitchers Rich Harden and Kevin Gregg, but will look to sign John Grabow soon to serve as the team’s set-up man for Carlos Marmol. The Cubs will also probably like to try to re-sign Reed Johnson despite his 2009 injury issues.
After signing Grabow, the Cubs certainly need to find a way to trade troubled outfielder Milton Bradley. Not sure who is going to be willing to take him, but the Cubs will likely have to pick up some of the $20 million still owed to him over the next 2 years. Not good – but it is what it is.
GM Jim Hendry will also need to figure out who is going to start at 2nd base and center field in 2010.
So while there are some voids that need to be filled in 2010, the Cubs can take a more cautious approach this off-season to see if the team can right the ship after an under-achieving 2009 MLB schedule…
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 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 02 September 2009 by Lou
Randy Wells notched his 10th win on Tuesday at Wrigley Field, defeating the Astros 4-1. Wells pitched into the 7th inning giving up just 1 unearned run. Wells gave up 7 hits and 2 walks, but struck out 5. John Grabow got Wells out of the 8th inning after a 2-out walk to Jason Michaels with 1 run already in in the inning. Wells is clearly a man on a mission in 2009. Wells has made every start (21 total) that has been asked of him since a May 8th start against the Brewers at Miller Park in Milwaukee. He has pitched 133 1/3 innings, striking out 82 while walking just 35. He has pitched at least 5 innings in all but 1 of his starts. If not for 4 no decisions when he left the game with the lead, we could be looking at a 15-game winner here in a shortened season. The Cubs have got to be thrilled to have the devlopment of Wells during an otherwise frustrating 2009 MLB schedule. Wells just turned 27 years old and he has a lot of good years ahead of him. It would be wise for Manager Lou Pinella and pitching coach Larry Rothschild to keep a close eye on his pitch counts during his last 5-6 starts of the season. That’s probably why they took him out of last night’s game after just 94 pitches. Good move in the long run.
Ted Lilly and Wells have been the Cubs most consistent pitchers in 2009. While Carlos Zambrano and Ryan Dempster have had off years (just 15 wins combined after the 2 combined for 31 totals win in 2008), Zambrano and Dempster are proven veterans capable of returning to the form that warranted signing each of them to long-term deals in 2008. If Zambrano and Dempster show up in 2010, the Cubs will have a nice starting 4 locked in for the 2010 rotation. The Cubs will likely not sign Rich Harden, as we have discussed before, so they will be in the market for a 5th starter to round out the starting rotation.
Keeping on the pitching front, Carlos Marmol appears to have settled right into the closer’s role. Since taking over for Kevin Gregg at the end of August, Marmol has converted each of the 3 save opportunities given too him. In each of those saves, he has not allowed more than 1 runner to reach base in the 9th inning. He has 9 strikeouts in his last 4 innings pitched, and the confidence just seems to keep building and building. His only bad outing since taking over the closer’s role was when Pinella threw him into a non-save situation against the Nationals when the Cubs blew open a 3-2 lead with 6 runs in the bottom of the 8th inning as Marmol was warming up to enter to save the game. Instead of opting to use someone else (Marmol hadn’t pitched in 3 days leading up to that game), Pinella stayed with him to give him some work. Marmol ended up giving up 2 ER on 3 walks and a hit, but finished the inning. It would be great to see Marmol to finish on a positive note during the rest of the 2009 MLB schedule. That will take out some of the uncertainty with the closer position heading into spring training.
And who knows, this could be a huge move for Kevin Gregg as well – not having to pitch in the pressure position as the closer. Since his demotion, Gregg has not allowed a single run, pitching 6 innings in 6 appearances, giving up just 2 hits and 1 walk along the way. He has 5 K’s during that stretch. If Gregg can get comfortable in the 7th or 8th inning set-up role, the Cubs could start to put together a strong “re-vamped” bullpen with John Grabow and Angel Guzman as well.
Hate to start to think positive thoughts for 2010, but as bad as it’s been this year, you would have to think that things can only get better…
Posted on 01 September 2009 by Lou
The Cubs decided to keep Rich Harden and Aaron Heilman because they “we still feel we have a chance in the Wild Card race, and we’re going to go after it” according to Manager Lou Pinella. Yeah right! Gotta love the optimism, but it is way to late for pep talks right now, Lou.
GM Jim Hendry echoed Pinella’s sentiments when asked about Harden and Heilman potentially being moved in a trade: “I can honestly tell you we never gave it any substantive thought to deal the two. We certainly would never give up unless we were out of it. If we were 15 back, we might look at it differently…We’ve got a shot at the postseason, but we need to really play well the rest of the way. So far we haven’t shown the ability to maintain it for a long time, and we need to do that.” Makes you want to go out and catch the next Cubs game at Wrigley Field – doesn’t it?!
Unbelievable. Hendry hasn’t given Pinella the right roster to win games on a consistent level at all this season. And now we’re expected to think that the Cubs are going to flip a switch and go -0 during the month of September. What a joke.
Harden did pitch against the Astros on Monday night at Wrigley Field… it wasn’t pretty. 98 pitches, 5 innings, 5 ER, 5 hits and 6 walks. He did strike out 9, however, so that was a plus. The bullpen shined again though, so at least we can take solace in that. Aaron Heilman pitched 2 scoreless innings, although he did give up 2 hits and a walk. Kevin Gregg pitched a scoreless 8th inning with 2 K’s. John Grabow pitched a perfect 9th inning with 2 K’s. Grabow looks like a keeper – someone the Cubs will have to pay in free agency to keep. In 15 Cubs appearances, Grabow has not allowed a single run and opponents are batting just .081 against him. He has a miniscule .089 WHIP.
Ryan Theriot broke out of a mini-slump, going 2 for 4 with 1 RBI. Jeff Baker also had 2 hits and a run scored in defeat. Baker has also played well since being acquired by the Cubs – .316 batting average, .374 on-base percentage, 12 RBI’s and 15 runs scored in just 98 at-bats. Not bad. Well’ keep a close watch on some of these players that are playing well – they could see significant game action in 2010 with the Cubs unlikely to make many big moves in the off-season with the new ownership in flux.
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 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 18 August 2009 by Lou
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.
Posted on 04 August 2009 by Lou
Yes – you heard it right – Randy Wells. With Monday night’s 4-2 win over the Reds, Wells proved why he is the Cubs 2009 MVP. Coming off of a disastrous weekend series against the Marlins in Florida where the Cubs dropped 2 of 3 games, Wells pitched his longest outing of the year, keeping the beleagured Cubs bullpen out of harms way. Wells threw 107 pitches in 7 1/3 innings and didn’t allow a run until a lead off home run to Alex Gonzalez in the top of the 8th inning. He surrendered only 6 hits and 2 walks, while striking out 5. His ERA now stands at 2.73, his WHIP is 1.14 and he now has 8 wins during the 2009 MLB schedule. Wells has made 16 starts and should probably have a few more wins if not for the Cubs bullpen blowing his leads in 3 of his 1st 5 starts. 11-4 (instead of 8-4) would look pretty good right – for both the Cubs and Wells.
You think Manager Lou Pinella was worried about taking out Wells in the 8th. After Carlos Marmol and Kevin Gregg failed to pitch well in Florida, Pinella needed Wells to pitch deep into the game on Monday night in Cincinnati. And that is exactly what he did. Then Pinella put the team in John Grabow’s hands, as he got the Cubs out of a mini-jam by inducing an inning-ending double play by Brandon Phillips to end the threat. And although Marmol struggled again in the 9th inning (1 ER on 2 hits and 1 walk), he got Willy Taveras to ground out to 1st base to end the game and preserve the Cubs win.
Cubs Win! Cubs Win! Cubs Win! Great words to hear after a brutal, frustrating series in Florida…
Posted on 04 August 2009 by Lou
There won’t be any pressure on Tom Gorzelanny when he makes his 1st Cubs start against the Reds in Cincinnati on Tuesday night. Yeah right…
Newly acquired Tom Gorzelanny is scheduled to make his 1st start for the Cubs tonight in Cincinnati. Gorzelanny made 9 major league appearances for the Pirates in 2009, going 3-1 with a 5.19 ERA and 1.15 WHIP. Gorzelanny has also made 15 starts at Triple-A Indianapolis, going 4-3 with a solid 2.48 ERA, but he has not started a major league game since September 10, 2008. No pressure, right?
The Cubs are in a virtual tie with the St. Louis Cardinals for 1st place in the NL Central (the Cubs have played 4 fewer games than the Cards). The Cubs are hoping to put a little room between them and the Cards, as the Cubs play 2 more games against the slumping Reds, while the Cards have 2 games against the Mets at CITI Field, one of which is against Mets’ ace Johan Santana. After a Thursday day off, the Cubs have 4 games at Coors Field in Colorado against the NL wild-card-leading Rockies.
The Cubs are hoping that Gorzelanny can give the Cubs a little boost as he takes the spot of Ted Lilly who is on the DL with shoulder and knee issues. Gorzelanny should make 3 maybe 4 starts for the Cubs over the next 2+ weeks. Gorzelanny had this to say about the chance to start again at the major league level: “I know I can do it up here. I’m anxious to get that chance… I’m just getting prepared like I normally do. It’s obviously the first one of the season. I’ve done this before, and I know what’s expected. I just want to go out there and do my best and not worry about what’s happening on the other side other than the game.”
Nothing like throwing you right into the mix just days after a trade. Let’s hope Gorzelanny can at least keep the Cubs offense in games during his next few starts. With the offense performing at a higher level of late, as long as he doesn’t get lit up, the Cubs should have a chance to win each game he starts. Go Tom!