Posted on 21 October 2009 by Lou
Hip Hip Hooray – we can finally put the Cubs hitting coach story behind us. The Cubs have agreed to terms with hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo. The deal is for 3 years and $2.42 million, which will make Jaramillo the 2nd highest paid hitting coach in the major leagues behind the St. Louis Cardinals hitting coach Dave Duncan. Look out NL Central opponents – we can have a hitting coach gladiator war every time the Cubs and Cards play each other in 2010.
Jaramillo was the Texas Rangers hitting coach for 15 years. He helped develop some great Rangers hitters during his tenure, and even worked with Alfonso Soriano and Milton Bradley while the 2 were Rangers players. Cubs GM Jim Hendry and Manager Lou Pinella hope that bringing someone in from the outside with a different perspective of the Cubs players will help the Cubs offense regain its 2008 form rather than its 2009 form. In 2008, the Cubs led the National League with 855 runs scored (2nd only to the Rangers in all of MLB). But in 2009, the Cubs scored only 784 runs, good for only 10th best in the NL. Not good – sure injuries and poor production from certain players – Bradley, Soriano, Geovany Soto, Mike Fontenot – were the primary reasons, but the lack of clutch hits and hits with runners in scoring position (just a .241 batting average – 2nd worst in all of MLB) is a huge concern going forward. Hopefully Jaramillo can work out the kinks.
Jaramillo has a simple philosophy. “I pride myself in situational hitting… It’s not like I’m trying to reinvent the swing.” He puts an emphasis on finding a good rhythm, staying square on the ball, shifting weight and focusing on the arm release point of each pitcher. Jaramillo knows there are physical and mental aspects of hitting and he will work with each player to make sure that they are prepared to go up there focused and ready during each at-bat.
It can’t get much worse than it was in 2009. If the Cubs do start piling on the runs in 2009, Jaramillo is going to look like a genius. Most likely, it won’t really be his credit to take in the long run. The Cubs probably aren’t as good as they were in 2008 nor as bad as they were in 2009. Somewhere in between should have the Cubs – and Cubs fans – smiling in 2010…
Posted on 19 October 2009 by Lou
Here’s the answer we’ve all been waiting for – the big move for the Cubs this off-season. Rudy Jaramillo will be the Cubs new hitting coach! Yippee!
Ok, I’m being a little cynical here, but it sounds like this guy Jaramillo knows what he’s doing. He has been the Texas Rangers hitting coach since 1995. During his tenure, 17 Rangers hitters have won Silver Slugger Awards; 4 Rangers hitters have won MVP Awards; 3 Rangers hitters have won HR crowns and 3 Rangers hitters have won RBI crowns. The Rangers also led the major league baseball in runs scored in 2008 with 901, but there was a big drop off in 2009 – only 784 runs scored – as the Rangers fell to 10th best in baseball.
The Cubs led the National League in runs scored in 2008 with 855 runs scored (2nd only to the Rangers in all of MLB). But in 2008, several players underperformed under Gerald Perry and Von Joshua and the club scored only 707 runs total – 9th worst in all of baseball behind such poor teams as the Washington Nationals, Baltimore Orioles and Cleveland Indians. A move had to be made from outside the system, as the Cubs released Perry and moved Joshua back to his hitting coach role at Triple-A Iowa.
The Cubs have received permission to negotiate with Jaramillo, who was only offered a 1-year contract by the Rangers organization for 2010. Jaramillo had this to say about his situation – “This is my decision. I want to go out there and see where I stand in the game.”
If the Cubs do get Jaramillo, let’s hope something improves in 2010. Given how badly Geovany Soto, Alfonso Soriano and Mike Fontenot hit in 2009 (not to mention Milton Bradley who will likely not be back with the team), it really can’t get much worse.
Posted on 17 September 2009 by Lou
Rich Harden is a streaky pitcher, and right now, he is in one of those streaks where it is clear to me that the Cubs should not re-sign him in the off-season. In Wednesday night’s loss, Harden needed 72 pitches to labor through 3 innings. Harden gave up 5 runs (only 2 earned), but he suffered his 9th loss of the season. 5 hits and 3 walks in just 3 innings is never a good line, and he works way too many counts way to deep in order to be an effective pitcher over the course of a long MLB season.
In addition to this poor line, check out his last 3 starts:
Cubs 6-4 win over Reds on 9/11 – 4 innings, 1 ER, but 2 hits and 5 walks with 6 strikeouts – 104 pitches.
Cubs 5-3 win over Mets on 9/5 – 5 innings, 1 ER, but 7 hits and 1 walk with 10 strikeouts – 102 pitches.
Cubs 5-3 loss to Astros on 8/31 – 5 innings, 5 ER, but 5 hits and 6 walks with 9 strikeouts – 98 pitches.
While his strikeout numbers are impressive – 171 K’s in 141 innings – his 67 walks and high 1.34 WHIP really don’t help him or the team in the long run. With those numbers comes high pitch counts. And with high pitch counts comes short outings. This usually means a tired bullpen and more late innings losses throughout the season because the bullpen gets over-worked too early and too often in the season.
Not having to re-sign Harden to a long-term deal should free up the $8-9 million that the Cubs paid to him in 2009. That money could be used to find another more “productive” back-end starter or for a full-time starting 2nd baseman since the Mike Fontenot/Aaron Miles experiment failed miserably. Let’s just hope GM Jim Hendry hears what we’re talking about.
Couple of bright spots in last night’s loss: Aramis Ramirez hit his 13th HR of the season; Geovany Soto had 2 more hits; and Ryan Theriot had 3 hits and a walks in 5 at-bats. Not great, but not all that bad either…
Randy Wells looks to pick up win #11 in the series finale against the Brewers at Wrigley Field on Thursday afternoon. His ERA is still under 3 (@ 2.96), so he looks to keep that number low as well.
Posted on 25 August 2009 by Lou
It’s do or die time for the Cubs with a HUGE 10-game homestand at Wrigley Field. As I wrote yesterday, the Cubs are one of the better home teams in the National League (35-22). The Cubs are 7.5 games back of the Rockies in the NL Wild Card race and 8 games back of the Cards in the NL Central race. The Cubs have an “easy” 10-game homestand “teed up for them” to crush 350 yards straight down the fairway – 3 games against the Nationals (44-81); 3 games against the Mets (57-68) who will be without ace Johan Santana for the rest of the season; 3 games against the Astros (61-63) and 1 make-up game against the White Sox (63-62).
The Cubs have all 5 starters back and healthy – - Carlos Zambrano, Rich Harden, Randy Wells, Ted Lilly & Ryan Dempster. Now all they need to do is win – a tough task for this frustrating, struggling 2009 Cubs ball club.
The Cubs have the 5th best team ERA in all of baseball at 3.88 – take out the relievers ERA and the Cubs starting staff has the best ERA in the big leagues. But when you look at the offensive stats, the numbers are “startlingly” bad… Tied for 3rd worst with a .253 batting average; 9th worst in runs scored and RBI’s; and 12th worst in slugging percentage and on-base percentage. This coming from the team that led the National League in run production in 2008. Awful seasons from Milton Bradley, Alfonso Soriano, Geovany Soto and Mike Fontenot, and long stints on the DL for Aramis Ramirez and Reed Johnson have contributed to the Cubs futility this year at the plate. Ryan Theriot, Derrek Lee and Kosuke Fukodome are the only 3 players who have had somewhat consistent years at the plate.
It’s time for Manager Lou Pinella to give some more playing time to some of the Cubs young stars like Sam Fuld and Jake Fox. Fuld (.283 batting average; .397 on-base percentage) and Fox (.305 batting average; .355 on-base percentage; 9 HR’s; 19 runs & 34 RBI’s) have been hitting the ball well and most importantly, they have been playing hard, unlike some of the efforts we’re seeing from Bradley and Soriano all season long. If Pinella and the Cubs are serious about making a run before the end of the 2009 MLB schedule, the time is now.
Here’s hoping Pinella wakes up and smells the coffee and that the Cubs can actually mount some sort of offensive attack against the weak-hitting Nats and Mets in the next 6 games at Wrigley Field. Big Z has a chance to prove why he is the Cubs “ace” – a good start tonight will go a long way in determining whether or not this team has what it takes to make the 2009 post-season…
Posted on 11 August 2009 by Lou
The Cubs wrapped up a dismal 4-6 road trip by losing 3 of 4 to the wild card leading Rockies in Denver. The Rockies outscored the Cubs 33-18 in the series, as the Cubs fell 3 games behind the Cardinals for 1st place in the NL Central and 3 games behind the Rockies for the NL wild card lead. Can you say “Game Over”!
Manager Lou Pinella and pitching coach Larry Rothschild are out of ideas and probably already thinking about their golf games in October. To make matters worse, with the still-pending sale of the Cubs, there’s really not much that the Cubs will be able to do in the off-season to turn things around for the 2010 MLB schedule. The outfield is set – Alfonso Soriano, Kosuke Fukodome and Milton Bradley all have years left on their deals. The pitching staff is set – Carlos Zambrano, Ted Lilly and Ryan Dempster all have years left on their deals, as does Randy Wells who is not even arbitration-eligible yet. The Cubs will have to decide on Rich Harden, but the 5th starter slot could be filled from within – Sean Marshall, Jeff Samardzija, Tom Gorzelanny etc. The infield is also set – Aramis Ramirez and Derrek Lee at the corners, Ryan Theriot at shortstop and Geovany Soto behind the plate. Koyie Hill has established himself as a dependable catcher as well. So the only real question mark in the infield is the 2nd base position, where Mike Fontenot has clearly shown that he is not capable of being a consistent, productive every day player.
Unless the Cubs could pull off a trade to move an outfielder – probably having to assume some of the money that GM Jim Hendry overpaid to each of Soriano, Fukodome and Bradley – the Cubs will be stuck. And that doesn’t mean good things for 2010.
Sorry Cubs fans – hate to be brutally honest, but we could be in for a rough stretch for a few years to come.
Oh yeah – what about the 11-5 Cubs loss to the Rockies on Monday night? Aw, who cares anyway. It was more of the same. No clutch hitting, poor fielding, and bad pitching. Sound familiar?!
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 24 July 2009 by Lou
The Cubs countered the Cards’ Friday acquisition of A’s slugger Matt Holliday by slugging out a big 8-5 home win over the Cincinnati Reds at Wrigley Field. Randy Wells picked up his 6th win of the season – 6 innings, 7 hits, 1 walk and 5 K’s. The Reds scored their lone runs off of Wells on pitcher Aaron Harang’s 1st career home run – a 3-run shot in the 2nd inning that gave the Reds a 3-1 lead. But Wells settled down after that and Aaron Heilman and Carlos Marmol each worked perfect innings to get the Cubs to a 4-3 lead in the 8th.
The Cubs bats added 4 runs in the bottom of the 8th inning to blow the game open – but it was good that happened because closer Kevin Gregg struggled in a no-save situation in the 9th by giving up 2 runs on 3 hits and a walk.
The Cubs offense had a productive day 8 runs on 14 hits, including 4 home runs. Aramis Ramirez was the star – 4 for 5 with 3 RBI’s and 1 run scored, including the go-ahead solo HR in the 6th inning that gave the Cubs the lead for good. Derrek Lee and Kosuke Fukodome each had 2 hits. Mike Fontenot and Jeff Baker each hit solo home runs. Could this be a sign of good things to come? One think I’ve leanred with this Cubs team – you have to take it day-by-day.
The St. Louis Cardinals now have a 1.0 game lead over the Cubs pending their game against the Phillies Friday night in Philadelphia. The Cards are hoping to make a big splash with the Holliday acquisition, but gave up 3 young prospects, one of whom was considered to be the Cards best minor league player – power-hitting 3rd baseman Brett Wallace – to acquire Holliday. Plus with Holliday becoming a free agent in the off-season, there is no guarantee that the tight-spending Cards will be able to sign Holliday to a long-term deal with slugger Albert Pujols becoming a free agent following the 2010 MLB schedule.
The Cubs fended off the Milwaukee Brewers in 2008 after the Brewers landed prized ace C.C. Sabathia in early July for the stretch pennant run, and the Cubs hope that they will be able to overtake the Cards in 2009 during the last 2+ months of the season despite the Holliday acquisition.
Although the Cubs won’t be making any big moves themselves because of the tenuous sale/ownership situation, having certain players perform at higher levels will serve as “mid-year” acquisitions in 2009. Aramis Ramirez getting back on track after his shoulder injury and Milton Bradley and Alfonso Soriano hitting closer to their career numbers will certainly go a long way. Getting Ryan Dempster and Geovany Soto back from their injury stints on the disabled list will also help. It’s not the ideal situation for the Cubs, but it is what it is. Should be a fun, but rocky ride in August and September – let’s just hope they have enough in the tank to win a 3rd straight NL Central division title.
Posted on 20 July 2009 by Lou
The Cubs defeated the Nationals 11-3 on Sunday afternoon and swept the Nationals in a 4-game weekend series at Nationals Park in Washington, DC. In Sunday’s win, the Cubs scored 11 runs, clubbed 16 hits, drew 5 walks and took advantage of 2 Nats errors to complete the 4-game sweep over baseball’s worst team. Jake Fox and Alfonso Soriano each hit HR’s for the Cubs in the win. Soriano finished the game with 2 hits, 2 RBI’s and 1 run scored, while Fox finished the game with 3 hits, 4 RBI’s and 2 runs scored. Cubs clean-up hitter Micah Hoffpauir had 3 hits and 2 runs scored in the win. Mike Fontenot also had 3 hits on the day.
Kevin Hart pitched 5 innings, working in and out of trouble all day long. Hart only gave up 2 ER, but he surrendered 5 hits and 5 walks along the way. Jeff Samardzija had a solid relief outing – 3 innings, 2 hits and 3 K’s, giving up a single run on Adam Dunn’s 24th HR of the year in the 7th inning. Jeff Stevens pitched a scoreless 9th inning for the Cubs – Stevens has not allowed a run in either of his 2009 appearances.
Highlights from the weekend:
Friday night – Carlos Zambrano led the Cubs on the mound and at the plate. Big Z pitched 5 innings of 1 run ball, and although he did not have his best stuff (4 hits and 4 walks), he had 6 K’s and did just enough to keep the Nats away from the big inning. The only run allowed was unearned and came courtesy of a Ryan Theriot fielding error in the 1st inning. Zambrano also hit a 2-run double in the bottom of the 2nd inning to give the Cubs their 1st lead at 2-1. Aramis Ramirez hit his 1st HR since coming back of the DL – a solo shot in the 3rd inning to increase the Cubs lead to 3-1. The Cubs bullpen did a solid job the final 4 innings of the game – no runs, only 2 hits and a combined 6 strikeouts from Aaron Heilman, Sean Marshall, Carlos Marmol and Kevin Gregg.
Saturday night – The Cubs rallied from a 4-0 deficit after 2 innings to win 6-5. Alfonso Soriano hit a go-ahead 3-run HR in the 6th inning to give the Cubs a 5-4 lead. Mike Fontenot’s solo HR in the 8th inning gave the Cubs a much-needed insurance run. In the bottom of the 8th inning, after Aaron Heilman got into trouble, closer Kevin Gregg ended a threat by getting through the heart of the Nationals order. Although Ryan Zimmerman hit a run-scoring sacrifice fly that cut the Cubs lead to 1, Gregg got out of the jam and then pitched a 1-2-3 9th inning to record his 1st 5-out save of the 2009 MLB schedule. Randy Wells did not pitch his best game – 5 innings, 4ER, 7 hits and 1 walk – but it was enough to pick up his 5th win of the season and keep the Cubs in the game to get the big win over the Nats.
The Cubs increased the record to 47-43 on the season. With the Cards winning 2 of 3 games in their weekend series against the Diamondbacks in St. Louis, the Cubs gained ground and now trail the Cards by only 2 games in the NL Central race. The Cubs now occupy sole possession of 2nd place, ahead of both the Brewers and Astros.
Posted on 06 July 2009 by Lou
Cubs defeated the Brewers 8-2 on Sunday afternoon at Wrigley Field. Ted Lilly improved to 8-6 on the season, going 6 1/3 innings, allowing just 2ER on 9 hits and no walks. Lilly fanned 9 Brewers players. Carlos Marmol worked a scoreless 9th inning with 2K’s and seems to be back on track.
Derrek Lee and Jake Fox were the hitting heroes for the Cubs. Derrek Lee went 2 for 4 with 3 RBI’s and 1 run scored, including a 2-run HR in the 1st inning. Fox went 2 for 4 with 2 RBI’s and 2 runs scored, including a 2-run HR in a 3-run 4th inning. Kosuke Fukodome, Ryan Theriot, Alfonso Soriano and Mike Fontenot each had 2 hits for the Cubs.
The Cubs trail the Cards by 2.5 games and the Brewers by 1.5 games in the NL Cental race. The Cubs have a 3-game seies against the Braves before opening up a huge 4-game weekend series against the Cards at Wrigley before the All-Star Break.
Posted on 04 July 2009 by Lou
It’s about time! Manager Lou Pinella has finally moved Alfonso Soriano down in the lineup for today’s game against the Brewers at Wrigley Field. Soriano has been awful in 2009 after a decent start – .226 batting average; .291 on-base percentage; 26 walks, 77 K’s. From June 24th-28th, Soriano actually had 2 hits in each of 4 of 5 Cubs games, but he has gone hitless in his last 3 games. Soriano will bat 6th in the lineup in today’s game, with Kosuke Fukodome assuming the lead-off role for the Cubs. The rest of the Cubs lineup looks like Ryan Theriot, Derrek Lee, Milton Bradley, Jake Fox – 2-5 – and then Geovany Soto and Mike Fontenot 7th and 8th in the lineup.