Archive | Kevin Gregg

Cubs Looking for Answers…

Posted on 10 October 2009 by Lou

Cubs Rockies Baseball

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…

Cubs Milton Bradley Risk 1

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Cubs Take 3 of 4 From Giants, but Can’t Sweep as Wells Falters

Posted on 29 September 2009 by Lou

Cubs Giants Baseball

The Cubs took 3 of 4 from the Giants in San Francisco, but could not pull off the sweep as Randy Wells suffered his 10th loss of the season.  Wells struggled all game long, pitching just 5 1/3 innings, giving up 5 ER on 10 hits and 2 walks.  His bid for a season with an ERA under 3.00 is in jeopardy as his ERA rose to 3.18 with the loss.

There was little else to cheer about in the finale as Matt Cain held the Cubs scoreless through the game’s 1st 8 innings.  One bright spot – Justin Berg – who pitched another scoreless inning in relief.  In 7 September appearances, Berg has pitched 6 2/3 scoreless innings, giving up just 5 hits and 1 walk during that span. The 25-year old is showing off his stuff in an effort to steal aspot in the 2010 Cubs bullpen.

The Cubs pulled off the dramatic win on Thursday night with Jeff Baker’s 2-strike, 2-out, 2-run HR off Giants closer Brian Wilson that gave the Cubs a 3-2 lead.  Carlos Marmol made it 12 for 12 in save chances since being named the Cubs new closer at the end of August.

Carlos Zambrano finally lived up to his “ace” status with a dominating win over Tim Lincecum on Friday night.  Zambrano pitched a complete game shutout, giving up just 2 hits and 1 walk while striking out 8.  Zambrano even drove in 2 of the Cubs’ 3 runs with a ground out in the 7th inning and a double in the 9th inning.  Zambrano threw just 98 pitches as he was on his “A” game all night long.

Tom Gorzelanny picked up his 7th win in 2009 with a nice 5-inning outing on Saturday.  He gave up just 1 run on 5 hits and 3 walks with 5 K’s.

The Cubs have 7 more games to go in this frustrating 2009 MLB schedule.  Let’s hope they finish on a positive note.  At 81-74, one more win guarantees the Cubs a 3rd straight non-losing season….

Cubs Giants Baseball

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Crazy – – Carlos Marmol Not Good in Non-Save Situations…

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…

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Cubs Starters, Marmol Continue to Shine Down Stretch…

Posted on 10 September 2009 by Lou

Cubs Pirates Baseball

I know I keep harping on this, but with the Cubs so far out of it (11.5 games behind Cardinals; 8.5 games behind Rockies), we’ve gotta cling to something.

Overall, it has been a productive season for the Cubs starting pitchers.  And Carlos Marmol has really gotten his act together since Manager Lou Pinella promoted him to the closer’s role.  The number’s don’t lie:

Carlos Zambrano picked up his 8th win on Wednesday afternoon.  He pitched 6 strong innings, giving up just 2 ER on 5 hits and 3 walks.  If Kosuke Fukodome had made that incredible diving catch in center field on the 2-run double, it would have been 6 scoreless innings for Big Z.  Zambrano is 8-6 overall – he has made 24 starts, with a 3.77 ERA and a 1.41 WHIP.  Too many walks – 66 in 143+ innings, but the under 4 ERA and 123 K’s are nice.

Randy Wells – we’ve been on his badnwagon since he made his 1st Cubs start back in May.  What’s not to like – 10-8 record; 22 starts; 139+ innings; 2.84 ERA; 1.22 WHIP.  Gotta love the 35 walks and 84 K’s.  The lower walk and K numbers mean less pitches and longer outings, which means good things for your bullpen and the team.  Let the other team put the ball in play and make outs.

Ted Lilly – talk about consistent.  11-8; 24 starts; 156+ innings; 3.17 ERA and 1.07 WHIP.  Think Lilly likes pitching in the NL as opposed to the AL East where he pitched for the Yankees and Blue Jays for 6 seasons?  His strikeout to walk ratio is incredible – 130 to 32?!  WOW.  Not much else to say.

Ryan Dempster – although it has been a disappointing season for Dempster, especially after his 17-win season in 2008, he has had enough really good starts to make his numbers look adequate.  9-8; 26 starts (leads team); 163 innings (leads team); 4.03 ERA; and 1.38 WHIP.  While his bonehead broken toe injury in July hurt the club, and his inconsistency was tough to explain at times, Dempster is a good starter to have on your staff.  Let’s hope a few good outings down the stretch here in 2009 will give him a little confidence to keep his head during a rigorous off-season workout regimen.

Rich Harden – although he will likely be gone in 2010, Harden has been a valuable cog for Pinella and the Cubs. 9-8; 24 starts; 134 innings; 4.10 ERA; and 1.30 WHIP.  His numbers are eerily similar to Dempster, but his high walk (59) and strikeout (162) numbers always lead to high pitch counts.  Not good for Harden who has had a history of arm issues or for the Cubs bullpen.  Harden’s outings are usually 5 or 6 innings, and that can take its toll over the course of a long MLB season.  Harden pitched 7 innings only 5 times all season long.  That’s not enough.

What’s scary about these numbers is that the Cubs will likely end the season with 5 starting pitchers with 10 wins each.  With a team as bad as they are in 2009, that is a pretty impressive stat.  Makes you wonder what would have come of this team if Kevin Gregg hadn’t blown so many saves, and if the Cubs offense had been even just a little bit more consistent.

We’ve already highlighted Carlos Marmol a bunch of times since Pinella promoted him to closer, but make it 7 for 7 save conversions for Marmol with Wednesday’s save in Pittsburgh.  Marmol now has 11 saves on the season, and he has 12 K’s and 3 walks in save situations (7 1/3 innings).  Pretty damn good.

Let’s hope the Cubs can keep it up the rest of the way – even though it will be tough to deal with the disappointing 2009 season, maybe they can take some solace in the fact that there were some bright spots along the way…

Cubs Pirates Baseball

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Weekend Update – Disappointing Series Loss Against Mets in NYC

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.

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Wells Notches 10th Win; Wells & Marmol Soldifying Starter & Closer Roles for 2010

Posted on 02 September 2009 by Lou

Astros Cubs Baseball

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…

Astros Cubs Baseball

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Harden, Heilman Remain Cubs; Harden Lacks Focus in Monday Night Start

Posted on 01 September 2009 by Lou

Astros Cubs Baseball

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.

Astros Cubs Baseball

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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…

carlos zambrano

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Wheels Quickly Falling Off Cubs Wagon on West Coast Trip

Posted on 21 August 2009 by Lou

Cubs Dodgers Baseball

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…

Cubs Dodgers Baseball

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Carlos Marmol Replaces Kevin Gregg as Cubs Closer

Posted on 19 August 2009 by Lou

Cubs Padres Baseball

Manager Lou Pinella finally made the switch – Carlos Marmol will be the Cubs closer the rest of the year.  Kevin Gregg will serve as a late inning reliever.  Pinella probably would have made the switch sooner if he had a more viable option from within.  While Marmol has electric stuff, he has struggled with his control all season long – in 56 1/3 innings, Marmol has issued 52 walks!  With a .163 batting average against, Marmol really just needs to throw strikes.  Marmol has a 3.51 ERA and a 1.47 WHIP.  He has a 2-2 record with 4 saves, 27 holds  and 4 blown saves.  He also has 67 K’s.

Gregg finally forced Pinella’s hand after a disastrous August.  In 8 August appearances, Gregg has a horrendous 11.25 ERA.  Gregg blew 3 of his 5 save chances in the month and took the loss in 3 games by issuing game-winning home runs to the opposite team.  Not good.

Pinella had these comments about the move:  “We needed to try a different approach.  We’ve been very patient, if you want to use that word.  We’ve lost some tough, tough ballgames.  M<armol deserves an opportunity, so we’re going to give him that chance…This wasn’t something that just cropped up overnight.  That’s a tough job for anybody and he’s had some success, obviously, but lately he’s been struggling.  We decided to make a change and hopefully it worls out best for our ballclub.”

Gregg took the demotion like a true diplomat: “I don’t blame them.  We have to go with the hot hand right now.  That’s the life of my job.”

It’s probably too little too late right now.  The Cubs are 6 games behind the Cards in the NL Central race and 5 games behind the Rockies in the NL Wild Card race.  The Cubs offense is average at best, but more often inconsistent and “non-clutch”.  It has been a brutal, frustrating year for the Cubs and Cubs fans, and I’m sure Marmol will have some rocky moments along the way during the final 40 games of the 2009 MLB schedule.

Cubs Marlins Baseball

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