Archive | Mark DeRosa

Cubs Suspend Milton Bradley; GM Jim Hendry Should be Next to Go

Posted on 21 September 2009 by Lou

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Wow – with the meaningless weekend series between the Cubs & Cardinals, at least Milton Bradley and Jim Hendry gave us some lively action to sink our teeth into.  The Cubs officially suspended Milton Bradley for the rest of the 2009 MLB schedule on Sunday for his adverse actions and statements made regarding the Cubs organization.  Yippee – it’s about time…

Here’s what GM Jim Hendry said to the media on Sunday:  “There have been a lot of issues that we’ve lived with during the year but the last few days became too much for me to tolerate, to be honest with you.  I’m not going to let our great fans become an excuse, I’m not going to tolerate not answering questions from the media respectfully.  Whether you feel like talking or not, it’s part of our jobs.  I’m not going to allow disrespect to other people in that locker room and uniformed personnel. The only real negativity here is his won production.”

Among many issues raised by Bradley all season long – racism, means fans, injury issues – it all came to a head when Manager Lou Pinella pulled Bradley during Wednesday night’s game against the Brewers during a double-switch.  I guess Bradley did not like being pulled by Pinella, so in Thursday’s series finale against the Brewers, Bradley pulled himself from the games with an apparent “knee injury” to “get back at” Pinella.  Can you say “baby”?!  Then Bradley refused to answer questions about the knee injury, he pulled himself from Friday night’s game in St. Louis right before the 1st pitch to put Pinella and the Cubs in another bad position, and finally proceeded to bad-mouth the Cubs organization and fans.  Here’s what he said:  “It’s just not a positive environment.  I need a stable, healthy, enjoyable environment.  There’s too many people everywhere in your face with a microphone asking the same questions repeatedly.  Everyone is just bashing you.  You go out there and play harder than anybody on the field and never get credit for it.  It’s just negativity.  And you understand why they haven’t won in 100 years here, because it’s negative.  It’s what it is.”

The Bradley signing was a bad move in November, it was a bad move during spring training, it was a bad move when he injured himself during the first few weeks of the season, and it was a bad move all season long.  And it’s taken the man in charge of player personnel 10 months to realize that.  Let’s look at the numbers:

In 393 at-bats in 124 games, Bradley hit .257 with a .378 on-base percentage.  Bradley hit 12 HR’s and 17 doubles and drove in 40 runs while scoring 61 runs.  He had 66 walks and 95 strikeouts.  Now without comparing him to every single player on the Cubs, let’s simply compare him to Jake Fox – a young player who helped the Cubs in numerous positions and is the consummate team player.  In just 189 at-bats in 74 games, Fox hit .286 with a .335 on-base percentage.  Fox hit 11 HR’s and 14 doubles and drove in 42 runs while scoring 26 runs.  Fox also makes a LOT less than the $10 million Bradley is set to make under his 3-year deal with the Cubs.  In half the number of at-bats, Fox had more RBI’s and 1 less HR than Bradley.  How can this be?

Throw in the horrendous fielding in right field, the numerous dropped/misplayed balls, and the fact that Bradley is not a “good” clubhouse guy, this was a disaster waiting to happen.  Most people saw this, and the man in charge of player personnel decisions should have seen this day coming too.  It’s time for Hendry to get the boot too.

Three years ago, I thought Hendry did a great job re-inventing the Cubs model after reliance on injury-prone pitchers (Kerry Wood, Mark Prior) came back to haunt the Cubs year-after-year.  Hendry signed middle-of-the-road pitchers Jason Marquis and Ted Lilly because he knew they were innings-eaters who would make 25-30 starts a season.  He added Mark DeRosa – a solid ballplayer who was a great clubhouse guy who would produce day-in-and-day-out.

But after these “conservative” moves, Hendry started making some questionable moves that undermined his new game plan.  The Alfonso Soriano signing was exciting, but why the 8 years for a player that would be over 30 years at the start of his 1st season with the Cubs?  Soriano’s 2009 numbers – 477 at-bats, .241 batting average, .303 on-base percentage, 20 HR’s, 55 RBI’s, 64 runs & 118 K’s. Why 4 years (and close to $50 million) on an unproven major league player from Japan – Kosuke Fukodome – who would be handed the everyday right field job? Fukodome’s 2009 numbers – - 462 at-bats, .253 batting average, .371 on-base percentage, 11 HR’s, 52 RBI’s, 71 runs & 103 K’s (these numbers are nearly identical to his 2008 numbers whcih were considered a huge disappointment).  And most recently, why 3 years and $30 on Milton Bradley?

Coupled with those moves, Hendry had to unload the likes of Mark DeRosa and Marquis who once again had productive years in 2009 without causing any issues in their respective clubhouses.  DeRosa has a combined 21 HR’s, 72 RBI’s and 74 runs scored while playing for the Indians and Cardinals in 479 at-bats.  Marquis is 15-11 in 30 starts pitching half his time for the Rockies in Coors Field in Denver.  Marquis has a 3.84 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP and will likely be pitching in the post-season for the 6th straight year.

Hendry has mortgaged the outfield with the signings of Soriano, Fukudome and Bradley for the next few years.  The Cubs will have little room for the free agent market during the off-season following the horrible 2009 MLB campaign.  And we haven’t even mentioned the signing of Carlos Zambrano to an extension during the 2008 MLB season – and now we’re hearing rumblings that the Cubs will try to move Zambrano in the off-season to dump salary.  Does this guy even have a clue or a plan?  How do you sign a player to a 4-year extension because he is so important to your team, and then – less than 1 year later – decide that you can’t have this guy on your ballclub anymore?  It just doesn’t make sense to me and it is a downward trend that is becoming more and more evident with Hendry if you truly analayze the moves he has made the last 2-3 years.  I hope the Ricketts family takes a very close look at Hendry and makes an informed decision on whether or not he is the man to lead this the organization to a World Series.  There was a time where I thought he had what it took to do the job, but right now, I firmly believe that Hendry must go too…

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Cubs Struggling in Big Weekend Series Against Cards at Wrigley Field

Posted on 10 July 2009 by Lou

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The Cubs dropped the 1st game of the big weekend series against the Cardinals on Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field 8-3.  Not a good way to start of the weekend.  Entering the game, the Cubs trailed the 1st place Cards by 3.5 games in the NL Central.  At worst, the Cubs needed to split the 4-game series with the Cards to remain 3.5 games out of 1st place.  Now that means they must win 2 of 3 the rest of the way before next week’s All-Star Break.  A tall task for a team that just can’t seem to buy a clutch hit.

After scoring just 1 run in each of their previous 2 losses to the Braves at Wrigley Field, the Cubs managed just 3 runs against the Cards – all on Derrek Lee’s 3-run HR in the 3rd inning that tied the game at 3.  The Cubs did manage 9 hits in today’s loss, but they left 13 men on base.  Just awful.

Rich Harden had another atrocious start but did manage to get 2 hits off Cards’ starter Chris Carpenter.  Harden struggled through 101 pitches in 5 innings.  Harden gave up 4 ER on 7 hits and 4 walks, but did strike out 6 Cards hitters to minimize the damage.  Reliever Aaron Heilman was a train-wreck in his one inning of work.  Heilman gave up 4 ER on 3 walks and 2 hits and saw his ERA rise to 4.35 and his WHIP rise to 1.65.  Heilman has been a major disappointment for Manager Lou Pinella, GM Jim Hendry and the Cubs in 2009.

One positive – Jeff Stevens – acquired from the Indians in the off-season trade that sent beloved Mark DeRosa to Cleveland – made his major league debut and pitched a 1-2-3- 9th inning.

Here’s how the rest of the weekend looks:

Saturday – 3:10PM – Ted Lilly v. Brad Thompson

Sunday – 12:05PM – Randy Wells v. Kyle Lohse

Sunday – 7:05PM – Carlos Zambrano v. Adam Wainwright

Saturday’s game almost becomes a must-win for Lilly and the Cubs…

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Back-to-Back Dramatic Wins for Cubs – Top Indians 8-7 in 10 @ Rocking Wrigley Field

Posted on 20 June 2009 by Lou

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2 – for -2 – as the Cubs made it 2 dreamatic come-from-behind wins in a row, topping the Indians 8-7 in 10 innings.  The Cubs last 3 wins have come as the walk-off variety at Wrigley Field, including the last 2 days against the White Sox in the 9th inning on Thursday and the Indians in the 10th inning on Friday.

It didn’t look like the Cubs were going to build off the momentum of Thursday’s big win over the White Sox in the series finale of the cross-town classic.  The Cubs trailed the Indians 7-0 in the 5th inning and Cliff Lee was dominating the Cubs in every way.  Rich Harden had a poor outing – 7 ER on 7 hits and 3 walks, including a pair of 3-run home runs to Luis Valbuena and Victor Martinez.  But the Cubs didn’t give up. The bullpen kept the Cubs in the game with 5 scoreless innings – David Patten, Aaron Heilman, Jose Ascansio, Carlos Marmol and Kevin Gregg – and the Cubs hitters kept chipping away at the 7-run lead.

Reed Johnson hit a solo home run in the 5th inning and Derrek Lee followed suit with a solo shot of his own in the 6th inning.  With the lead 7-2 starting the bottom of the 8th inning, Milton Bradley got a big leadoff single that knocked Lee out of the ball game.  The Indians have one of the worst bullpens in the league, so no lead is safe with them.  As was the case at Wrigley on Friday afternoon.  A Geovany Soto double and a Reed Johnson loaded the bases with 2 outs.  Then the fun began.  Andres Blanco hit a 2-RBI single to right field and Koyie Hill smoked a hard groundball to 3rd bases that Jhonny Peralta couldn’t handle.  It was ruled an error, but in any event, the Cubs had cut the lead to 7-5.  Soriano cut the Indians lead to just 1 run with a single to center field.  Ah the Drama.

Carlos Marmol worked out of a 9th inning 1st and 2nd, 2-out jam, by striking out Martinez to end the threat.  The Indians brought in former Cubs closer Kerry Wood to close out the 1-run win for the Indians, but he promptly served up a 1-out game-tying homer to Derrek Lee that sent the Wrigley faithful into a tizzy.

Kevin Gregg had to escape a rough 10th inning as well – a single, 2 errors and a HBP led to a 2-out bases loaded jam.  But Gregg got pinch-hitter Ryan Garko to line out to center field on a great sliding catch by Kosuke Fukodome to preserve the 7-7 tie.

In the 10th, the Cubs used small ball once again to get the job done.  With 2 outs, Alfsonso Soriano coaxed a walk and stole 2nd base to get into scoring position.  Ryan Theriot hit a hard ground ball towards the right side that took a bad hop to evade the glove of Martinez.  Soriano scored easily from 2nd and the Cubs had the 8-7 win. Cubs win!  Cubs Win! Cubs Win!

It was not a great day for former Cubs Wood, but Mark DeRosa put in a solid 1 for 3 effort, with 2 walks, 1 RBI and 1 run scored.

Let’s hope the Cubs can get out to an early lead on Saturday behind Ted Lilly.  It would be the Cubs first 3-game winning streak in a very long time…

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Sad But True: Cubs Shut Out 3-0 by Joel Pineiro

Posted on 20 May 2009 by Lou

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There’s not much to say here.  Joel Pineiro shut out the Cubs 3-0 with a complete game 3-hit shutout.  Pineiro needed only 92 pitches to finish the deal.  He didn’t issue any walks with 5 K’s.  What a joke…

Milton Bradley went 0 for 3 and is now hitting .188 on the season.  It is already May 20th and Bradley – GM Jim Hendry’s big signing in the off-season which cost the Cubs Mark DeRosa and Jason Marquis – still isn’t hitting over .200.

The lone bright spot – Ted Lilly gave up only 3 earned runs on 4 hits and 3 walks against one of the better offenses in the league.  Lilly is now 5-3 on the 2009 MLB schedule.

Wednesday night’s middle game between the 2 teams is a great one – Ryan Dempster v. Chris Carpenter.

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Aramis Ramirez Injured in 3-2 Cubs Loss to Brewers

Posted on 10 May 2009 by Lou

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The bad news keeps rolling for the Cubs.  After winning 6 of their last 7 games, the Cubs felt like they were finally starting to put things together in their 2009 schedule.  But just like that, the good news turned to bad news as Aramis Ramirez injured himself diving for Ryan Braun’s groundball in the 3rd inning of Friday night’s 3-2 loss to the Brewers in Milwaukee.

Ramirez dislocated his shoulder, something he had done when he was a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates back in 2000.  Ramirez underwent an MRI in Chicago on Saturday and we’ll keep you posted with the results as soon as we hear anything.

Manager Lou Pinella had this to say about the injury:  “He’s definitely going to be DL’ed.  Period of time, we don’t know.  I’ve never seen anything quite like this.  Every day, it seems to be something different.”

Makes the timing of the Cubs trade for Ryan Freel for Joey Gathright even more important now.  GM Jim Hendry made the trade on Friday afternoon before the start of the Cubs-Brewers game.  Freel will see immediate playing time with the Ramirez injury, and hopefully he can act as a catalyst for an offense that has sputtered from time to time.

It also makes the trade of Mark DeRosa even more annoying / perplexing.  If DeRosa was still on the team, the Ramirez injury would be a big deal, but the Cubs and Cubs fans would feel a lot more comfort knowing that DeRosa would man the hot corner until Ramirez’s turn.

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10′s Wild In Arizona – Cubs Lose 10-0; Fall to 10-10

Posted on 30 April 2009 by Lou

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Why do I even write this blog.

After 20 games, I really don’t like the feel of this 2009 Cubs team. After losing 10-0 in Arizona on Wednesday, the Cubs completed a miserable 2-4 road trip and fell to 10-10 overall, 4 games behind the 1st place St. Louis Cardinals.

I knew I didn’t like the off-season move to acquire Milton Bradley.  GM Jim Hendry had to try too hard to convince everyone that Bradley would be able to stay healthy to play more than 120 games in the outfield in 2009.  Granted, he had only been able to do that twice in his career (way back in 2003 and 2004 ) and although he did play in 126 games in 2008, more than 90% of those games came with Bradley serving as the Rangers DH (an option not available for the Cubs who play in the National League where there is no DH).  Duh?

Right now, Bradley has played in only 13 games.  In 31 at-bats, he had 3 hits, including 1 home run good for a .097 batting average.  He has 1 RBI and 4 runs scored.   Not sure what Hendry was thinking on this one, especially since there were other left-handed hitting options out there – see Raul Ibanez (20 games, 78 at-bats, .359 batting average, 7 home runs, 17 RBI’s and 20 runs scored for the Phillies); Bobby Abreu (17 games, 71 at-bats, .352 batting average, 0 home runs, 12 RBI’s and 6 runs scored for the Angels); Adam Dunn (20 games, 68 at-bats, .324 batting average, 6 home runs, 15 RBI’s and 11 runs scored for the lowly Nationals).  All of these guys signed for similar or less deals than Bradley and have been far more productive than Bradley.  Given Bradley’s inability to play the outfield consistently over the last 5 years, this should have been obvious to Hendry.

What I liked even less was the move to unload Mark DeRosa for 3 minor leaguers.  DeRosa has gotten off to a slow start in 2009 (.236 batting average, 5 home runs, 18 RBI’s and 16 runs scored), but look deeper than that.  He has played in 21 games, and already accumulated 89 at-bats.  His 5 home runs best every player on the Cubs except Alfonso who has 7 home runs, and DeRosa would lead the Cubs in RBI’s (Kosuke Fukodome currently leads the Cubs with only 15 RBI’s).  The numbers don’t even bring into play the intangibles that come along with DeRosa for free.  His versatility is invaluable. Take the injuries to right fielder Milton Bradley and 3rd baseman Aramis Ramirez, for example.  If the Cubs still had DeRosa, the Cubs would not be relying on an infield that contained Mike Fontenot and Aaron Miles day in and day out.  Or if you went with those guys, DeRosa could play right field, so that Reed Johnson didn’t have to play the outfield everyday.  By not having these options, Soriano, Theriot and Fukodome have had to play in just about every Cubs game so far this year.  DeRosa also a great club house presence and is a great sounding board for younger, up and coming Cubs stars (Soto, Hoffpauir, Theriot).

While I love Mike Fontenot, he is not an everyday player.  In 20 games, he has 66 at-bats and a mediocre .227 batting average.  While he has shown some pop with his 3 home runs, he is better suited as a role player who makes 2-3 starts each week.  Hendry relying on him as an everyday player was a big mistake.  Hendrys’ other move to sign Aaron Miles as a utility infielder has also looked like a big mistake.  Forced into an everyday role, his weaknesses have also been glaring.  Miles has only 8 hits in 41 at-bats and he breaks more bats with his weak-ass swings than Carlos Zambrano does over his leg after a bad at-bat (and that is saying a lot).

Unfortunately Cubs fans, we are in for a long, bumpy ride this season.  Unless Hendry can pull off a Jake Peavy or Matt Holiday trade, the Cubs will likely hover around the top of the NL Central division and need a lot of luck down the stretch to pull of the unprecedented 3rd consecutive NL Central title.

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Derrek Lee Battling Sore Quad – Won’t Play In WBC

Posted on 21 March 2009 by Lou

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Derrek Lee declined an invitation to play for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic after injuries significantly depleted the Team USA roster.  It didn’t take long for Lee to make the decision:  “I’m not going.  I’m not even playing here.”  Lee has not played in game action since Monday – he has been battling a sore right quad muscle.  If his condition continues to improve this week, he was expected to be in the lineup on Friday as his injury is not considered serious.  Lee also went on to say that if this was the regular season, he would be in the Cubs lineup.  We’ll keep you posted with the latest injury news on Derrek Lee.

Several players have suffered injuries for Team USA – Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, Chipper Jones and Matt Lindstrom.  The only replacements to play 1st base for Kevin Youkilis are outfielder Adam Dunn and utility infielder/outfielder Mark DeRosa.

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Mike Fontenot – 2009 Cubs Utility Man

Posted on 04 March 2009 by Lou

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Mike Fontenot is looking forward to a prominent role in the Cubs infield for the upcoming 2009 MLB season.  Fontenot and Aaron Miles will likely split time as the starting 2nd baseman in the upcoming 2009 season.  Manager Lou Pinella has indicated that he will make the decision depending on the match-up.  Fontenot is also projected to be the primary back-up to Aramis Ramirez at 3rd base, so he is playing most of his spring innings there to get used to the different reaction time of fielding ground balls so close to the plate.  So far so good for Fontenot in the early spring – plus he has a great attitude about moving around in the infield – - “I feel comfortable now.  When I went over there, it was just, whatever.  Being in the big leagues the last couple of years, I don’t feel I’m nervous to go anywhere on the field.  Now, I just go out there and play.”

Mike Fontenot played in 119 games for the Chicago Cubs in 2008, mostly at 2nd base.  With the departure of Mark DeRosa who could play all 4 infield positions and 2 outfield positions, Fontenot becomes the man the Cubs look to when they need a back-up option at 3rd base for Aramis Ramirez or shortstop for Ryan Theriot.   Fontenot hit .305 for the Cubs in 2008 with a .395 on-base percentage.  Fontenot scored 42 runs and had 9 home runs and 40 RBI’s in only 243 at-bats.  He is a patient hitter who can work the count – he had 34 walks against 51 strikeouts in 2008.

Fontenot is a true team player.  He will split time with newly acquired infielder Aaron Miles at 2nd base on a starting base, and also give Ryan Theriot and Aramis Ramirez the occasional day off during the long MLB season.  Fontenot is a huge asset for the Cubs.

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Was There a Riff Between Mark DeRosa and Lou Pinella?

Posted on 28 February 2009 by Lou

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A Chicago Sun-Times reporter recently wrote an article that said Cubs utility starter Mark DeRosa and Cubs Manager Lou Pinella “never really hit it off”.  Not really sure what that means, but I find it hard to believe.

I remember hearing DeRosa talk fondly of Pinella in his weekly conversations with Tom Waddle and Marc Silverman on the Waddle and Silvy show on ESPN Radio 1000′s morning program.  I recall a story in which DeRosa was upset Pinella did not include him in the lineup the day after a bad outing for the player, and after DeRosa expressed his feeling towards Pinella, Pinella re-inserted him into the lineup because of his respect for DeRosa.  DeRosa also commented that Pinella was like a father-figure to a lot of the guys on the team.  Pinella always expected the best out of you because he believed in you, and if you couldn’t handle Pinella’s expectations, than maybe it wasn’t the best environment for someone who failed to live up to those expectations.

DeRosa and Pinella have each commented on the article:

Pinella said:  “How can they say that?  I have nothing but respect for Mark.  He played exceedingly well, I used him all over.  I think he had his best season playing for me.  I’ve never had any problems with him.”

DeRosa said:  “Whoever wrote that article is wrong.  I had a great relationship with Lou.  I respect what he did as a player, and I respect what he does as a manager.  I enjoyed playing for him.  He lit a fire under me.  That guy has it wrong.  I hope Lou didn’t feel I gave that writer any reason to think we didn’t have a good relationship, because it couldn’t be further from the truth.”

I guess that answers my question and is consistent with everything I ever heard out of DeRosa’s mouth on radio interviews.  Just goes to show you why the Sun Time is going down the tubes.  They can’t even write an accurate article and are probably trying to stir the pot to get more readers…

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