Posted on 23 October 2009 by Lou
Over the next month or so, we’re going to give our assessment of the performances of Cubs players at each position in 2009. This weekend, we’re starting with the catchers.
First up – Geovany Soto
2009 Stats – .218 batting average; .321 on-base percentage; 11 HR’s; 47 RBI’s; 27 runs scored; 50 walks; 77 K’s in 331 at-bats.
2008 Stats – .285 batting average; .364 on-base percentage; 23 HR’s; 86 RBI’s; 66 runs scored; 62 walks; 121 K’s in 494 at-bats. Awards – NL Rookie of the Year.
Grade: C-. Overall, a major disappointment for Soto playing in only 102 games with 2 stints on the DL. After his breakout 2008 year – including an All-Star Game nod – Soto looked lost the entire 2009 MLB season. He was mentally off after testing for positive for some performance-enhancing drugs during the 2009 World Baseball Classic and he never got back on track. You’d like to think that he will be able to get back on track during the 2010 MLB schedule, but until he shows it, the Cubs might just have an average catcher behind the plate who had a career year in 2008. A major factor will be health – if he shows up to Spring Training in good shape, being able and ready to shoulder the load, that could be a good sign for the Cubs. If not, it’s a good thing they have Koyie Hill.
GM Jim Hendry, Manager Lou Pinella and Cubs fans will be eager to see the 2008 Soto show up at the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field in April 2010 – we do too…
Posted on 02 October 2009 by Lou
Ticket brokers let out a collective sigh of relief last night as the Cubs-Pirates game was delayed and then postponed after just 3 innings of play on Thursday night at Wrigley Field. One of our sponsors – Ticketchest.com – was thrilled with the decision to cancel the game without any make up date since the season has been over for a while now. Those unsold tickets will now either be refunded or can be used as a credit towards future Cubs tickets purchases in 2010. Hip hip hooray! Jeff Samardzija was the other winner as the 3 runs and 3 hits he gave up in the 1st inning were washed out of the record book with the rain out.
The Cubs were back on the field on Friday to take on the Diamondbacks, but they might as well have stayed at home today. Tom Gorzelanny looked like the pitcher that the Cubs used to beat on every game, giving up 6 ER on 7 hits and 1 walk in 3 innings. Jeff Stevens, David Patton and Aaron Heilman struggled out of the bullpen, combining to give up 5 runs. The Cubs bats didn’t do much better. The Cubs managed just 7 hits in the game, as they scored all 3 of their runs in the 7th inning. Koyie Hill was the only player with more than 1 hit for the Cubs.
Man I can’t wait for this season to be over…
Posted on 27 August 2009 by Lou
Although Rich Harden took a no decision in Wednesday night’s 9-4 win over the Nationals at Wrigley Field, he turned in another stellar start in a very impressive 2nd half of 2009. Harden worked through a shaky 1st inning and held the Nats to just 2 ER on 5 hits and 2 walks in 6 innings. His pitch count was a bit high – 96 pitches – but it was his 8th straight since the all-star break in which he has not allowed more than 2 ER in an outing. Very impressive for someone that entered the 2009 MLB schedule with a lot of question marks.
Harden now has 22 starts on the season and if he stays healthy the rest of the way, he should get at least another 7 starts before the season ends. I remember most Cubs critics and fans saying that if Harden made 25 starts for the Cubs in 2009, that would be a huge success. Harden has 8 wins and his ERA is under 4.00 (at 3.99) for the 1st time since April 26th after he held the Cardinals to just 2 ER in a 10-3 Cubs win in St. Louis. Harden has made at least 22 starts in a season only 2 other times – back in 2004 (31 starts) and 2005 (22 starts). With his 2009 performance, and his ability to prove to all other MLB clubs that he can stay healthy for a good portion of the year, he will likely be pursued hard in the off-season. And that’s when the question becomes – should the Cubs sign him to a long-term deal?
A few things work against the Cubs on this one. With the tenuous ownership situation, who knows when the new ownership team will be in place to determine a course of action for the off-season free agency period. The Cubs will likely be at a disadvantage against other clubs as a new team might not be able to give GM Jim Hendry adequate guidance as to whom he can and cannot pursue this off-season. Further, with close to $150 million already committed to athletes locked in for the 2010 MLB schedule, there will be little room to add significant payroll this off-season, especially with the new ownership group getting adjusted to life as a MLB team owner. Lastly, there still has to be some concern with Harden’s health as a major league starter. Harden spent some time on the DL at the end of 2008 with a “tired arm” and he had a stint on the DL again this past May-June and missed about 5 starts over a 3-week period. Given past problems with pitchers with histories of arm woes – Mark Prior, Kerry Wood – I have a feeling that the Cubs won’t gamble on signing Harden to a long-term deal.
Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster and Ted Lilly are all locked in for 2010. Randy Wells has emerged as a legitimate major league pitcher – 19 starts, 120 1/3 innings pitched, 1.20 WHIP, 2.84 ERA and will likely serve as the team’s 4th starter in 2010. Sean Marshall can also return to a starting role and Jeff Samardzija, despite his struggles in 2009, is also seen as a viable starting pitcher down the line.
As for the 9-4 win, Koyie Hill was the Cubs offensive hero, going 3 for 3 with 2 RBI’s and 2 runs scored. Hill scored the go-ahead run on Milton Bardley’s fielder’s choice groundout in the 7th inning and he broke the game open with a 2-out, 2-run double in the 8th inning that gave the Cubs a 5-2 lead. The Cubs went on to score 6 insurance runs in the 8th inning. Milton Bradley went 1 for 3 with a 2-run home run that gave the Cubs their 1st lead of the game in the 3rd inning. Bradley had 3 RBI’s and 2 runs scored on the night.
At 63-61, the Cubs still trail the Cards by 9 games in the NL Central race and the Rockies by 7.5 games in the NL Wild Card race. Not good…
Posted on 15 August 2009 by Lou
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…
Posted on 05 August 2009 by Lou
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!
Posted on 05 August 2009 by Lou
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.
Posted on 30 July 2009 by Lou
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 all-important “L” column.
Posted on 11 July 2009 by Lou
Geovany Soto is headed to the disabled list with a strained left oblique muscle. Soto injured the left oblique during batting practice before Wednesday afternoon’s game against the Atlanta Braves at Wrigley Field. Oblique strains tend to take a while to heal, so the Cubs are anticipating that Soto will need at least a month to recover from the injury. Soto will go to the Cubs facility in Mesa, Arizona to begin rehabbing the injury.
After winning the 2008 NL Rookie of the Year Award, Soto has endured a disappointing 2009. He missed time at the beginning of the season with a right shoulder strain and is only hitting .230 with 8 HR’s and 27 RBI’s on the year. Koyie Hill will start for the Cubs at catcher during Soto’s absence and Jake Fox will be the primary back-up during the weekend series against the Cards ay Wrigley. Mark Johnson is the only other Cubs catcher will major league experience, but he is on the disabled list at Triple-A Iowa. GM Jim Hendry will likely have to look outside the organization to pick up a back-up catcher until Soto returns.
The hits just keep on coming for the Cubs. It is going to be a long 2009 MLB schedule on the North Side of Chicago…
Posted on 08 July 2009 by Lou
So much for the Cubs bats breaking out. Javier Vazquez shut down the Cubs offense for the 2nd time this year as the Cubs fell 2-1. Tuesday night, the Cubs managed just 5 hits against Vazquez, scoring their lone run on a 2-out single by Koyie Hill in the 2nd inning. Vazquez did not walk a batter and struck out 6 as the Cubs left 12 men on base. Vazquez ERA is now 2.95 and his WHIP is 1.05. Vazquez has dominated the Cubs this season in 2 wins – 13 2/3 innings pitched, 1 ER, 14 hits, 2 walks & 11 K’s.
Braves closer Rafael Soriano put the clamps down on the Cubs in the 9th inning earning his 9th save. Soriano now has a 1.59 ERA and a 0.93 WHIP – amazing.
Aramais Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano each had 2 hits for the Cubs. Carlos Zambrano made the start on 3 days rest and threw 91 pitches in an efficient 6 inning start. He took the loss though – giving up 2 ER on 5 hits and 3 walks, with 6 K’s. Big Z fell to 4-4 on the 2009 MLB schedule.
The Cubs fell to 41-40 on the season, and with the Cardinals 5-0 win over the Brewers, the Cubs are now 3 games out of 1st place in the NL Central.
The loss of Ryan Dempster to the disabled list with a broken toe also forced the Cubs to recall Kevin Hart to start Wednesday’s afternoon finale against Kenshin Kawakami. Kawakami held the Cubs to just 3 ER in 7 innings of a Braves 6-5 win in Atlanta back on June 2nd.
Posted on 06 June 2009 by Lou
The Cubs defeated the Reds 2-1 on Friday night in Cincinnati behind an all-around effort from Carlos Zambrano. Carlos Zambrano won his 100th career game, pitching 6 2/3 scoreless innings of 2-hit ball. Zambrano needed a lot of pitches, however (108 total), as he walked 5 batters and struck out 7. Zambrano’s solo home run to deep center field in the 5th inning ended up being the game-winning run.
Angel Guzman got Zambrano out of a jam in the bottom of the 7th inning by retiring Johnny Gomes on a harmless ground ball with 2 on and 2 out. Guzman has been lights out this season, lowering his WHIP to 0.90 and his ERA to 2.45. Carlos Marmol struggled again – giving up the Reds only run in the 8th inning on 2 walks and a hit. But Kevin Gregg stepped up big in the 9th inning to record his 10th save of the season.
The Cubs bats continue to struggle. It is getting to be a huge issue for the Cubs and very frustrating for Manager Lou Pinella. No one ever seems to come up with the big hit. A perfect example was the 1st inning – the Cubs loaded the bases with only 1 out on a Ryan Theriot infield single and consecutive walks to Kosuke Fukodome and Derrek Lee. But the Cubs could only muster 1 run as Micah Hoffpauir struck out, Miek Fontneot coaxed another walk out of Reds starter Micah Owings, and then Koyie Hill struck out to end the inning. The Cubs only had 7 hits and left 18 runners on base.
The Cubs and Reds continue the weekend series today – Ryan Dempster v. Matt Maloney who will be making his 1st career major league start.