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Trey McNutt Continues Climb Up Cubs Pitching Ladder – Wrigley Field 10/10/11

Posted on 10 October 2011 by Lou

Trey McNutt continues to climb up the Cubs pitching ranks – let’s hope we see him soon at the MLB level.  McNutt looks to be a steal as the 980th pick in the 2009 Draft – in the 32nd round.  McNutt sported a nice 2.34 in his 1st 8 starts at Double-A Tennessee this season.  But he injured his ribs in an in-game collision after tossing 7 shutout innings in a game on May 28th and after that, he never had the same “stuff” the rest of the way.  The Cubs proceeded cautiously with McNutt and he finished the season with a 5-6 record and 4.55 ERA in 22 starts.  He was named a mid-season All-Star of the Southern League and he will continue to pitch some this fall in the Arizona Fall League.  He pitched 3 perfect innings in his 1st appearance for the Mesa Solar Sox on Friday, retiring all 9 batters that he faced.

McNutt had this to say about his roller-coaster ride of a season: “I started the season strong. I had the injury at the end of May that carried into the 1st week of June and it was hard for me to get going, to get sharp again.  The second half, it just wasn’t a good half.  I was trying to take something positive from it.  The adversity was probably the best thing for me… I just have to get back on track, and that’s the reason I’m here.”

We’ll keep you posted with how other Cubs prospects are doing from time to time here at MyCubsToday.com…

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3rd Base Up For Grabs in 2012 – Wrigley Field 10/7/11

Posted on 07 October 2011 by Lou

The Cubs will likely be looking for a new 3rd baseman for the 2012 MLB season and beyond.  Aramis Ramirez declined his player option for $16 million for the 2012 MLB season.  Ramirez is looking for a long-term deal and at the age of 33, the Cubs will not be a bidder in that war.  Ramirez hit .306 with 26 HR’s and 93 RBI’s in one of the worst offenses in all of baseball.  His 80 runs scored and .361 on-base percentage make him an attractive player, but if you watch him play everyday, you know that his career is on the decline.  His fielding has deteriorated over the years and he’s just not the player that the Cubs want to waste extra money on, especially since they are still strapped with several other “bad” contracts that they can’t wait to get “off the books” (see Alfonso Soriano/Carlos Zambrano).

That leaves the Cubs with a battle between two prospects – DJ LeMahieu and Josh Vitters.  LaMahieu played in 37 games for the Cubs this past season, hitting .250 with 4 RBI’s and 2 doubles.  He struck out 12 times while walking only once in 60 at-bats (good for a .262 on-base percentage).  Not great.  Vitters had a good minor league season, but is still considered to be a year or two away because of past injury issues.  At Double-A Tennessee, Vitters had a .283 batting average, he hit 14 HR’s and 28 doubles and he drove in 81 runs.  Vitters was the 3rd overall pick in the 2007 First-Year Player draft and the Cubs would like him to get some time at the major league level before they commit to him as the long-term 3rd baseman of the future.  He had 2 HR’s in his 1st game of the AFL this October and looks to use a good fall to get ready for a productive 2012 spring training with the Cubs in Mesa, Arizona.

We’ll keep you posted as soon as we hear anything new on the 3rd base position front.

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Carlos Zambrano to Join Forces with Ozzie Guillen in Miami? Wrigley Field 10/3/11

Posted on 03 October 2011 by Lou

It’s probably just a pipe dream, but could Carlos Zambrano end up playing for good friend Manager Ozzie Guillen with the Marlins in Miami?  How great would that be, even if the Cubs had to eat a good chunk (50%) of the $18.5 million owed to him for the 2012 MLB season?!

The Chicago White Sox and Manager Ozzie Guillen “amicably” parted ways on the 3rd to last game of the 2011 season last week in Chicago.  Guillen jumped ship with 1 year remaining on his contract to take over the reins of the Florida Marlins in a new 4-year deal.  Several players would love to play for Ozzie and it looks like good friend Carlos Zambrano is one of them.  Guillen and Zambrano have always been good friends.  When Zambrano started a fight with Derek Lee and Aramis Ramirez in the Cubs dugout after 1 disastrous inning of a game against the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field in 2010, the Cubs asked Zambrano to take a leave from the team and undergo anger management treatment.  Later that night after the game, Zambrano wasn’t seen out at a Chicago restaurant with any members of the Cubs organization – instead, he was out to dinner with Ozzie to discuss his state of mind and get some much-needed advice from someone he trusted as a close friend.

Zambrano angered Cubs brass and teammates again this season when he walked out of the clubhouse mid-game in Atlanta during a bad outing.  He did not tell anyone that he was leaving and he later threatened retirement.  That final outburst forced the Cubs to place Zambrano on the disqualified list where he was not paid for the rest of the season.  It is clear that he won’t be back with the Cubs in 2012, but the Cubs need to find someone willing to take on their basket case.  The Marlins do need starting pitching, but they will only take someone like Zambrano if the Cubs eat a big chunk of his salary.  Ozzie and Zambrano have talked about the move and both men seemed very interested in the opportunity.

Zambrano is 30-years old and he made 24 starts for the Cubs this past season.  He went 9-7 with a 4.82 ERA in 145+ innings pitched.

Moving Zambrano somewhere will be a top priority for the Cubs new General Manager…

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Speculation Starts Now – What Will 2012 Cubs Look Like? – Wrigley Field 10/1/11

Posted on 01 October 2011 by Lou

The speculation starts now as Cubs fans eagerly await Owner Tom Ricketts’ next moves for the Cubs organization.  First up will be the hiring of a new General Manager.  Then who knows what else?  Surprisingly, overpaid outfielder Alfonso Soriano summed it up best when he cleared out his locker room last week – “Two things can happen.  It can change, or stay the way it is now.  I don’t know what they want to do.  We don’t have control of that.  We can only play the game and do our job.  The owners have the control.  We’d like to stay together, but who knows?” Amen to that.

Changes will have to be made obviously, but given the financial situation with a few long-term deals still hampering the ability of any GM to make necessary trades/free agent signings, only so much can be done.  With the firing of Red Sox Manager Terry Francona in Boston, there are some rumors floating around that long-time GM Theo Epstein could also be looking for a change of scenery.  The Cubs would need to obtain permission from the Red Sox in order to speak with Epstein and they would be foolish not to ask.  What’s the worst that Red Sox barss can say, no?  Let’s hope Ricketts & Co. have the common sense to explore ALL options, even Epstein.

We’ll keep you posted as soon as we hear anything on the GM front and the rest of the roster.  Aramis Ramirez has a $16 million option for the 2012 season, but has already indicated that he will explore the free agent market to see if he can nab one final lucrative long-term deal.  Ryan Dempster and the Cubs also have a mutual option that can be exercised for the 2012 MLB season, so we’ll have to see what happens there.  Fun, fun, fun…

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Cubs Finish 71-91 – Lot of Work To Do in Off-Season – Wrigley Field 9/30/11

Posted on 30 September 2011 by Lou

The Cubs have a LOT of work to do this off-season.  They finished a whopping 25 games behind the 1st place Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central.  A 71-91 record just doesn’t cut it.  Especially after finishing the 2010 MLB season with a 75-87 record – 16 games back of the 1st place Cincinnati Reds.

The lone positive – the NL Central is a very winnable division – each of the last 4 years has brought a new division winner.  So who knows – if a few things go their way in 2012, maybe the Cubs can make it a 5th straight different division winner.

The Cubs first need to hire a new GM to replace Jim Hendry.  Then the new GM with his staff will have to figure out a way to plug up a TON of holes without a lot of money with which to work.  Owner Tom Ricketts has already said that the payroll will not increase much from what it was in 2011.  Sure there is a lot of money coming off the books this off-season – no Kosuke Fukudome; no Milton Bradley/Carlos Silva salary; no full Carlos Zambrano salary (assuming they can shovel him off to another team); and maybe no Carlos Pena or Aramis Ramirez salary.  Will Ricketts be able to stomach making a run at the Scott Boras-led Prince Fielder?  How will the Cubs plug the gaping holes in their starting rotation?  Who will play right field on a regular basis? Will Manager Mike Quade keep his job under the new GM?

There are no easy answers, so it will be an interesting off-season to watch and we’ll keep you posted every step of the way here at MyCubsToday.com.

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Dempster, Cubs Lose Season Finale to Padres 9-2 – Finish 71-91 – Wrigley Field 9/28/11

Posted on 28 September 2011 by Lou

Ryan Dempster’s disappointing 2012 MLB season ended on a down note with the Cubs 9-2 loss.  Dempster suffered his 14th loss of the season, allowing 9 ER on 8 hits and 4 walks in 5 2/3 innings pitched.  He did strikeout 7 Padres hitters but he gave up 2 home runs.  Dempster finished 10-14 with a 1.45 WHIP and 4.80 ERA – not good numbers for an aging 34-year old starter.  He lost 6 of his last 9 starts on the season and did not win a game since August 11th.  He did make 34 starts and pitch 202 1/3 innings, but he also gave up 211 hits, 82 walks and 23 HR’s.  Dempster has one more year left on his deal and he will likely be the Cubs #2 starter heading into 2012 behind Matt Garza.

The one bright spot – Andrew Cashner tossed another scoreless inning.  He walked one and struck out one and finished the season with a 0.66 WHIP and 1.69 ERA. He made 6 relief appearances for the Cubs down the stretch, pitching 5 1/3 innings and allowing just 1 ER on 1 hit and 3 walks with 6 K’s.  Cashner will likely stay in the bullpen in 2012 in an attempt to show that he can stay healthy for a full MLB season.

Starlin Castro finished his excellent 2012 season without a sophomore slump – he had 1 hit with 1 RBI and finished the season with a .307 batting average.

It should be an interesting off-season for the Cubs…

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Congrats to Matt Garza – 10 Wins, 3.32 ERA, Future Ace of Cubs Staff – Wrigley Field 9/27/11

Posted on 27 September 2011 by Lou

Congrats to Matt Garza – who put the many distractions aside and kept his composure in picking up his 10th win of the season in last night’s 6-2 win over the Padres.  As usual, it wasn’t easy and he almost didn’t get that double-digit victory.

Garza threw 122 pitches in 7 innings, giving up just 2 ER on 5 hits and 2 walks.  He struck out 8, but left the game trailing 2-1 as the game entered the 8th inning.  Fortunately, the Cubs bats rallied in the top of the 8th.  Two walks put the go ahead runs on base and then Alfonso Soriano delivered his 26th HR of the season, a 3-run shot that gave the Cubs a 4-2 lead.  And when Blake DeWitt knocked in 2 insurance runs with a single in the 9th, it secured Garza’s 10th win of the season.  Garza has been the lone bright spot in the Cubs 2011 starting rotation.  Garza made 31 starts, going 10-10 with a 3.32 ERA and 1.26 WHIP.  He He led the team in wins, ERA and strikeouts (197).  His 1.26 WHIP was also the best among starters.  Ryan Dempster was #2 in each of those categories.  Garza turns 28 in November, so he should be a fixture atop the Cubs starting rotation for years to come (assuming they sign him to along-term deal at some point in the near future – maybe even extending him this off-season).  Garza should have won a lot more games too.  He lost 5 times when he gave up 3 ER or less.  He also would have had 2 more wins if not for blown saves.  Given those stats, Garza had more of a 15-win season, than a 10-win season.

Here’s looking forward to the new Cubs GM making extending Garza to a long-term deal a high priority in his early tenure.  We’ll keep you posted as soon as we hear anything.

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Coleman Impressive in 2-0 Loss to Padres – Wrigley Field 9/26/11

Posted on 26 September 2011 by Lou

As the season winds down, Casey Coleman has made a big statement during his last 2 starts.  Coleman worked into the 6th inning before giving up a home run and RBI double that gave the Padres a 2-0 lead.  Coleman gave up just those 2 ER on 5 hits and 2 walks.  He had 7 strike outs.  In his previous start, Coleman picked up the win over the Brewers with a 6-inning gem against one of the better-hitting lineups in the National League.  Coleman held the Brew Crew to just 1 ER on 2 hits and 3 walks with 8 K’s.

Coleman also broke up Matt Latos’ no hit bid with a 1-out triple in the top of the 6th inning. The Cubs managed just 1 other hit on the night – Starlin Castro’s single to lead off the 7th inning.  Despite stealing 2nd base with nobody out, Carlos Pena, Bryan LaHair and Steve Clevenger could not bring him in.

With their 3rd straight loss, the Cubs fell to 70-90 on the season.

Matt Garza looks to continue his solid end to the 2011 campaign with his last start on Tuesday night.  A win would give him double-digit wins in his 1st full season as a Cubs starter.  Garza has not allowed more than 3 earned runs in any of his last 10 starts dating back to August 3rd – hello ace!!!  Let’s hope he finishes off the great streak with his 10th win on Tuesday…

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Cubs Return Home After Taking 2 of 3 From Giants in San Francisco – Wrigley Field 9/1/11

Posted on 01 September 2011 by Lou

After taking 2 of 3 from the Giants in San Francisco, the Cubs return home for a weekend series against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Cubs are 59-78 and they trail the 1st place Brewers by 21.5 games in the NL Central race.

Ryan Dempster starts Friday’s matinee affair at Wrigley Field.

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Cubs Make it 2 In a Row Over Giants – 5-2 – Wrigley Field 8/30/11

Posted on 30 August 2011 by Lou

The Cubs made it 2 in a row behind Matt Garza en route to a 5-2 win over the Giants.

Garza had another solid start and has really shown “ace” stuff since getting settled into his new digs on the north side of Chicago. Garza went 6 2/3 innings, allowing just 2 ER on 9 hits and 1 walk.  He struck out 6 and lowered his ERA to 3.64 and his WHIP to 1.32.  If he can win 3 of his September starts, he will hit double-digit wins for the Cubs in 2011.

Sean Marshall, Kerry Wood and Carlos Marmol recorded the final 7 outs of the game without allowing a Giants hitter to reach base.  Marshall notched his 29th hold, while Wood notched his 20th hold.  Marmol picked up save #31.

Alfonso Soriano hit another HR.  He now has 24 on the season.  He and Garza each had 2 hits in the win.

The Cubs finish up the 3-game road trip against the Giants Wednesday afternoon with Rodrigo Lopez on the bump.  After a day off Thursday, the Cubs face the Pirates and Reds at Wrigley Field from Friday through Wednesday of next week.

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