Posted on 22 April 2009 by Lou
The Cubs showed no ill signs of a 2-day “vacation” as they beat the Cincinnati Reds 7-2 on Tuesday night at Wrigley Field. On a cold, drizzly night at the “Friendly Confines”, Rich Harden re-found his form and went 6 strong innings. Harden allowed only 2 earned runs on 3 hits and 2 walks. Harden notched 8 strikeouts – his 3rd consecutive start in which he has struck out at least 8 batters. Harden had good control of all of his pitches – unlike his last game in which he needed 90+ pitches to get through only 3 innings of work.
Micah Hoffpauir drove in 2 runs with a solo home run in the 2nd inning and a sacrifice fly in the 5th inning. Aramis Ramirez had 3 hits and 3 RBI’s for the Cubs, while Ryan Theriot notched 2 more hits – bringing his batting average up to .409 on the young season. Kosuke Fukodome did not have any hits, but he did walk twice and each time Ramirez drove him in with a single.
Aaron Heilman, Carlos Marmol and Luis Vizcaino each pitched well in relief, but Neal Cotts struggled once again – he retired only 1 batter after allowing a walk and a hit. Cotts’ poor outing forced Manger Lou Pinella to bring in Marmol in the 8th inning to quell the Reds’ mini rally.
Good news for the Cubs keeps rolling in. The Cubs are now 8-4 on the season and looking strong.
Posted on 15 April 2009 by Lou
Welcome to the Rich Harden enigma. After a rough spring training in which Rich Harden was coddled through a cautious spring regimen, rumors abounded that Harden was injured again and wouldn’t be up to the task during the 2009 MLB season.
Harden answered the call in his 1st start against the Milwaukee Brewers last Friday – 6 innings, 2 runs (only 1 earned), 3 hits, 2 walks and 10 strikeouts. Although the Cubs eventually lost to the Brewers 4-3 in the 9th inning, Harden had put the Cubs in a position to win with his effective outing.
Fast forward 5 days, and we’re sure to hear the skeptics again. In the Cubs 5-2 loss to the Colorado Rockies, Harden struggled through 3 painful innings – 92 pitches, 4 earned runs, 5 hits, 4 walks and 8 strikeouts. Ouch.
To make matters worse, the Cubs lost to Jason Marquis, the former Cubs pitcher whom the Cubs traded to the Rockies during the off-season for Luis Vizcaino and to free up some salary cap. Marquis allowed only 1 run in 7 innings and is now 2-0 on the season with a 1.93 ERA.
One bright spot – David Patton pitched 2 scoreless innings of relief – giving up 1 hit and 1 walk, while striking out 3 batters.
Michael J. Fox attended the game and sang Take Me Out To The Ballgame during the 7th inning stretch at Wrigley Field.
Big weekend series against the Cardinals starting on Thursday. The Cards already have a 1-game lead in the division, so the Cubs need to at least split the series in order to stay close to the current NL Central division leaders.
Posted on 02 April 2009 by Lou
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.
Posted on 01 April 2009 by Lou
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!!!
Posted on 28 March 2009 by Lou
The Chicago Cubs defeated the cross-town rival Chicago White Sox 9-4 in Cactus League play on Friday. The Cubs scored 7 earned runs off of White Sox pitcher Clayton Richard in the 1st inning to set the tone for the game. Cubs 2nd baseman Aaron Miles went 3 for 4 with an RBI and 2 runs scored. Alfonson Soriano and Derrek Lee each had 2 hits, 1 RBI and 1 run scored.
On the hill, Carlos Zambrano did more than enough to earn the victory. Big Z pitched 6 innings, allowing 2 earned runs on 5 hits and 2 walks. Zambrano also had 3 strikeouts. Luis Vizcaino pitched a scoreless inning of relief work. Zambrano had this to say about his outing and the Cubs 2009 season: “I don’t have to prove anything. I’ve been in the big leagues for eight years. They know what I’m capable of doing. Speaking of last year, it’s already in the past. The numbers were there; they stay in the past. This is a new year and I have to put up good numbers. I have to help this team. I’m just waiting for the season to rock and roll.” The Cubs are encouraged by Zambrano’s control this spring – he has given up only 5 walks in 18+ innings of work.
In relief for the White Sox, Bobby Jenks and Octavio Dotel each pitched scoreless innings.
Both Chicago clubs continue to tune up for the regular season. The Cubs are now 17-13 this spring, while the White Sox are 12-16-1.
For the Cubs, the big decisions will be who starts at 2nd base and who makes the team as the Cubs back-up catcher behind Geovany Soto.
Posted on 22 March 2009 by Lou
Geovany Soto is back from his stint with Team Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic. Soto was happy to be back with his Cubs team in Mesa, and so was Manager Lou Pinella who inserted him back in the Cubs lineup for their game against the San Diego Padres on Friday. In fact, Pinella plans on playing him every other day for the last 2 weeks of the spring – “It’s nice to have him back because, first of all, he wasn’t catching all that much with the Puerto Rico team. He needs at-bats. We’ll have four or five different pitchers on our staff, and he needs to get familiar with them.”
Soto had this to say about his first taste of the World Baseball Classic: “It was a great experience to go home and play in front of the home crowd. It was pretty special to be on the same field with all those guys.” Soto’s Team Venezuela included Carlos Beltran, Bernie Williams, Carlos Delgado, Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez and Yadier Molina.
It’s great to have the Cubs Rookie of the Year Catcher back for the rest of spring training. It’s a catch-22 that Soto did not play that much in the WBC. At least it reduced the risk of him getting injured, but it put him a step behind getting used to some of the new pitchers on the Cubs staff like Kevin Gregg, Aaron Heilman, Luis Vizcaino and Mike Stanton. Soto should be able to make up for the lost time quickly and we’ll monitor his progress over the next week or so.
Posted on 19 March 2009 by Lou
&Dempster left the game with a 5-0 lead, but the Cubs bullpen could not preserve the win for the Cubs. Chad Gaudin gave up 2 earned runs in an inning of work, Luis Vizcaino gave back another run on a solo home run in an inning of work, and Jose Ascansio lost the game for the Cubs by giving up 5 runs in the top of the 9th inning.
As for Dempster, he threw about 70 pitches and is pleased with his progress this spring. “The ball was coming out nice and I seemed to get ahead quite a bit today and even the hits they were getting were ahead-in-the-count type of hits. I had a good slider and good life in my ball.” Dempster will use the rest of the spring to strengthen the arm and build up stamina for the long MLB season.
Good news for Cubs fans. Zambrano and Dempster have looked very sharp this spring. Rich Harden has looked good so far and has not experienced any setbacks as far as his recovery is concerned. It looks like Sean Marshall has won the 5th spot in the starting rotation, and he has looked very impressive this spring. Ted Lilly has not pitched all that great in the World Baseball Classic for Team USA, but hopefully he can get his act together once he gets back to Cactus League action after the WBC. Having 3 righties and 2 lefties in the rotation is a nice balance too. We’ll keep you posted with any further developments.
Posted on 17 March 2009 by Lou
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.
Posted on 09 March 2009 by Lou
The Chicago Cubs lost to the Texas Rangers 7-2 on Sunday, losing their 6th game in a row. After starting the spring with a 5-2 record, the Cubs now sit at 5-8.
Sean Marshall shined again in his 3rd start of the spring. Marshall pitched 4 scoreless innings, giving up 2 hits and striking out 3. Marshall has given up only 1 earned run in 9 spring innings thus far, and seems to be getting stronger and stronger each start. If Aaron Heilman wasn’t pitching so well, we’d likely be talking about how Marshall already has the 5th spot in the starting rotation locked up.
Milton Bradley singled and scored a run and played right field – a good sign that he is able to log innings in the field. Aramis Ramirez and Koyie Hill each had 2 hits for the Cubs in the loss.
On the mound, Neal Cotts struck out 3 and gave up 1 hit in a scoreless inning. But Luis Vizcaino (2/3 of an inning – 2 earned runs on 1 hit and 3 walks) and Kevin Hart (1 inning – 4 earned runs on 2 hits and 2 walks) both struggled. Neither outing helps their chances of making the opening day roster.