Archive | Milton Bradley

It’s Official – Cubs Sign Hitting Coach Rudy Jaramillo

Posted on 21 October 2009 by Lou

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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…

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Rudy Jaramillo – the Answer for the Cubs Hitting Woes

Posted on 19 October 2009 by Lou

Cubs Rockies Baseball

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.

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Bankruptcy Court Gives Tribune Co. to Proceed with Cubs Sale to Ricketts Family

Posted on 16 October 2009 by Lou

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All hands on deck.  The completion of the Cubs sale to the Ricketts Family is inching closer and closer to fruition. Earlier this week, a U.S. bankruptcy court judge ruled that the Tribune Co. can proceed with the sale of the Chicago Cubs to the Ricketts Family for the whopping sum of $845 million. The 1-day bankruptcy filing took place to protect the Ricketts Family from future lawsuits by Tribune Co. creditors who might try to seek a claim against the Chicago Cubs entity.  Now that the courts have ruled that the Tribune Co. and the Cubs can proceed with the sale, things should move along quickly.

Yippee!!!  As I have said before, the Cubs really need to get the Ricketts Family on board before the start of the free agency period (which begins 15 days after the end of the World Series) if the Cubs are to have any chance of making a tiny “dip” (definitely not a big splash) in the free agent market.  With the departure of Rich Harden and hopefully Milton Bradley (even if we have to eat some of his salary), that should free up a little money from which GM Jim Hendry can add a piece or two. The Cubs clearly won’t be able to land a Matt Holliday or Jason Bay, but the Cubs do have some holds that need to be filled.  Having the Ricketts family in place to give guidance to Hendry by the end of October will be a huge step in the right direction.

Go Cubs Go!

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Cubs Looking for Answers…

Posted on 10 October 2009 by Lou

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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…

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Von Joshua Back to Triple-A Iowa after Failure at Major League Level

Posted on 09 October 2009 by Lou

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It’s hard to put all the blame on Von Joshua (or Gerald Perry before him for that matter), but Manager Lou Pinella has decided to go in a different direction for his hitting coach in 2010.  Although Pinella emphasized that Joshua did nothing wrong, because the Cubs offense did not rebound after struggling under Gerald Perry through the middle of June, Pinella thought it would be best to try something different.  GM Jim Hendry had this to say as well: “There’s not blame to be handed out.  We had a lot of guys who didn’t swing the bats like they’re capable of.  When Von came up, we were scuffling, and we never really made a lot of progress in the same areas that we were deficient in the first half.”

After leading the National League with 855 run scored in 2008, the Cubs manages to score just 707 runs in a frustrating 2009 (9th worst in the majors).  The Cubs .255 team batting average ranked 5th worst in all of baseball and the team never seemed to be able to come through with the clutch hit with 2 outs or with runners in scoring position.  Several Cubs hitters underperformed – Milton Bradley hit only .257 after hitting .321 for the Rangers in 2008; Geovany Soto .218 vs. .285 in 2008; Alfonso Soriano .241 vs. .280 in 2008; and Mike Fontenot .236 vs. .305 in 2008.  Basically, save for Ryan Theriot, Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez (who missed 2+ months of the season), the Cubs offense was in complete shambles for a good portion of the year.

Let’s hope the Cubs bring in a hitting coach who can simply relate to the players.  And let’s hope the Cubs get a few more clutch hits in 2010…

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Tom Gorzelanny, Tyler Colvin Eyeing 2010 – Producing Now

Posted on 22 September 2009 by Lou

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The time is now for certain Cubs players to prove their worth for the future.  Lucky for Tom Gorzelanny & Tyler Colvin, they’ll have a shot to show what they can do.  With the suspension of Milton Bradley, the Cubs called upon Tyler Colvin – – to make his major league debut during the last few weeks of the season.  Manager Lou Pinella threw him right into the mix on Monday night in Milwaukee and he produced right away – in the 1st inning!  Colvin had a sacrifice fly in his 1st at-bat, his 1st ever hit in the 3rd inning and his 1st ever walk in the 5th inning.  Colvin made his 2nd career out in the 7th inning, but at least he advanced a runner on the groundball out.  All in all, a productive night for Colvin in his major leage debut…  He had this to say about the night – “Yeah, I was nervous.  I can’t hide that.  I was really nervous before the game, I didn’t eat.  Once I got out there I was all right… You learn to control your emotions in front of a big crowd.  I’ve never played in front of a crowd like this.  Hopefully I can build off this.”

Tom Gorzelanny also showed some grit in the Cubs 10-2 win.  Manager Lou Pinella likes what Gorzelanny brings to the club – “We like Gorzelanny.  He’s got a spot here, whether it’s pitching in the middle of the bullpen or whether it’s as a fourth or fifth starter.  We’ll have to wait and see what happens over the winter.”  Gorzelanny pitched on 5 innings on Monday night, but he struck out 9 and gave up 2 ER on 6 hits and 1 walk.  Both runs scored on solo home runs by Mike Cameron.  Gorzelanny has made 11 appearances (5 starts) since coming over from the Pirates and while his ERA is a hefty 5.04, he has a solid 1.19 WHIP and a 3-1 record.

As for the regulars, Derrek Lee continues to be one of the hottest hitters in baseball since July 1st.  He was 3 for 4 with 4 RBI’s and 3 runs scored.  He clubbed his 34th HR in the win and tied his career high in RBI’s with 107.  His average is up to .306 and his on-base percentage is .391.  Aramis Ramirez also went for 3 for 4, including his 14th home run of the season.  And in just 286 at-bats and 76 games, Ramirez has 61 RBI’s good for 2nd best on the team behind Lee.  Kosuke Fukudome and Jeff Baker each had 2 hits.  And Justin Berg has continued his good relief pitching for the Cubs – in 5 September appearances, Berg has pitched 5 scoreless innings, allowing just 4 hits and no walks during that span.

While the season is essnetially over for all intents and purposes, it is nice to see guys still competing for pride and for the future.  Hopefully a positive ending will remind the Cubs that they were the division champs 2 years in a row, and that a rebound is not out of the question…

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

Posted on 21 September 2009 by Lou

chicago cubs milton bradley jake fox 1

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 Clubhouse in Disarray – What is Going on on the North Side?

Posted on 19 September 2009 by Lou

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Gotta love this.  Not only has this been a disappointing season for the Chicago Cubs, now things are getting bizarre in the clubhouse.  This piece by Chicago Tribune Cubs beat reporter is “enlightening”.  I know I’ve been ready for this damn season to end for a while, and now it looks like the players and coaches are too.  This latest clubhouse twilight zone is a good indication that Manager Lou Pinella has lost control of this team.  Is it too late to re-group for 2010?  Will Lou be back in 2010?  Who will GM Jim Hendry trade in the off-season – Carlos Zambrano, Milton Bradley, Kevin Gregg?

It should be fun watching this mess unfold in the off-season.  Can’t wait to hear all the gossip leaked out after all the players go back to their respective homes for the winter…

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Randy Wells Struggling Down Stretch…

Posted on 18 September 2009 by Lou

Brewers Cubs Baseball

Randy Wells has struggled down the stretch here during the 2009 MLB schedule.  The Cubs 38th round draft choice in 2002 has logged 147 innings in 24 starts, so it’s not surprising that he’s experiencing a little arm fatigue right now.  Manager Lou Pinella played it right yesterday.  After just 4 innings of work – 5 ER on 5 hits and 5 walks in 80 pitches – Pinella pulled Wells for a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the inning.  Micah Hoffpauir came through with a clutch 2-out double that cut the Brewers lead to 5-4.  The move got the Cubs closer in the game, and gave Wells a little extra rest here.

The Cubs have now dropped 5 of Wells’ last 6 starts.  Not all of it has not been Wells’ fault, but he has not been as crisp as he was at the start of the season.  In 3 of the starts, Wells gave up 5 runs with all but 2 of those runs being earned.  The Cubs lost all 3 games.  In the other 3 starts, however, he gave up a total of 5 runs with only of the runs being earned.  Wells and the Cubs went 1-2 in those 3 games.  The bigger concern is watching Wells lose some of his command.  In the 6 starts, he walked 2, 4, 2, 0, 3 and 5 respectively.  Not good for someone who has had a WHIP in the low 1.20’s for most of the season.  Regardless of how it all shakes out here, Wells has been a pleasant surprise in 2009 and has likely earned him a slot in the 2010 Cubs starting rotation.  Let’s just hope the Cubs can get the rest of their act together before the start of spring training 2010.

Oh yeah, the Cubs lost 7-4, and Milton Bradley left the game with left knee inflammation after a single in the top of the 6th inning.  The Cubs trail the Cards by 9 games (Cards magic number is 8) and the Rockies by 7 games.  Yippee…

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Zambrano’s Messy 5th Costs Him 9th Win; But Lee Leads Way Again

Posted on 16 September 2009 by Lou

Brewers Cubs Baseball

Carlos Zambrano – what in the world are we going to do with you?  Big Z is simply an enigma.  If somone could work with him to get his head on straight, Zambrano could be one of the best pitchers in baseball.  Instead, we get Carlos Zambrano being Carlos Zambrano.  The 2009 version – 8-6 record in 25 starts.  A good 3.94 ERA, but a startling high 1.43 WHIP.  132 strikeouts in 148+ innings, but also 70 walks.  Not the numbers of the ace of your staff, someone who is set to make $18 million per season for the next 3 years.  It’s not bad enough that the Cubs are locked into bad contracts with Alfonso Soriano, Milton Bradley and Kosuke Fukodome.  But now we have to worry about how many stints Big Z is going to spend on the DL trying to swing the bat too hard.

Uggghhhh – – it is so frustrating.  Last night, the Cubs offense took advantage of a wild Brewers staff – 11 hits, 12 walks, 3 HBP, 2 wild pitches – and took a 4-0 lead by the end of the 4th inning.  But for some reason, Big Z crapped the bed in the top of the 5th inning.  After getting the 1st 2 outs, Zambrano gave up a hit to the pitcher Giovanni Gallardo and he lost his cool.  Zambrano followed that up with a walk, 2 hits, a wild pitch, another walk and then an error by Ryan Theriot at shortstop that would have ended the inning.  We know how Big Z feels about his teammates making errors, so he let the next batter get a 2-run single to give the Brewers a 5-4 lead.  Now granted, the last 2 runs should not have scored because of the Theriot error, but come on.  Five runs on 6 hits and 4 walks over 5 innings of work – 105 pitches ???!!! – is not acceptable from your alleged ace.  Someone has gotta get through to this guy.

Luckily the Cubs offense rallied the troops for a come-from-behind win, and the Cubs bullpen (save for Jeff Samardzija who has had just a brutal 2009 – 1-2 record, 7.89 ERA, 1.85 WHIP, 26 ER on 41 hits and 14 walks in just 29 2/3 innings) turned in another solid 3 innings of scoreless relief.  Aaron Heilman pitched a scoreless inning of relief and has now given up just 2ER in his last 9 outings (12 innings).  And can you see the 26-year old Esmailin Caridad setting up for Carlos Marmol in 2010?  After a rough major league debut in Colorado on August 10th, Caridad has been lights-out in his next 6 appearances.  And since being called back to the major league level on September 8th, Caridad has pitched 4 scoreless innings, giving up just 2 hits and 1 walk while striking out 2.  I know he is raw and young, but a good off-season could solidify his spot on the 2010 Cubs.

As for the bats, the Brewers pitching was just awful.  But give Derrek Lee some credit.  Lee was patient at the plate – 2 for 2 with 3 RBI’s and 1 run scored.  He also walked 4 times.  Geovany Soto’s bat has shown some of the pop from his 2008 Rookie of the Year campaign – 2 for 5 with 3 RBI’s and 2 runs scored, including his 11th homer of the season.  Ryan Theriot’s bat has cooled off a little bit of late, but he had 4 walks as well on Tuesday night and scored 3 runs.  Theriot also stole his 18th base of the year.

Not a lot to get excited about, but we’ll take the positives where we can get them…

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