Posted on 12 October 2009 by Lou
Jeff Samardzija still thinks he has what it takes to be a starter in the Cubs rotation in 2010 – now he just needs to go out and show it. After a rough 2009, he’ll have even a tougher time than he had in Spring Training this past year given the competition. Samardzija appeared in 20 games for the Cubs during the course of the 2009 MLB schedule (including 2 starts). He had a 1-3 record with a hefty 7.53 ERA (29 ER) and 1.76 WHIP in 34 2/3 innings pitched. Teams batted .329 against Samardzija with 7 home runs and his strikeout to walk ratio was not great – 25 to 21. Compare that to his 2008 numbers in his rookie year, and there is a stark contrast:
1-0 record; 2.28 ERA (7 ER) and 1.41 WHIP in 27 2/3 innings pitched; .226 opponents’ batting average with a 25-15 strikeout to walk ratio; 1 save with 3 blown saves.
So what went wrong in 2009? Was it simply a sophomore jinx, does he not really have what it takes to pitch at this level, or at the age of 24, does he still need more minor league time to work on developing more pitches like a changeup or cutter that will keep batters more off-guard? It’s unclear right now, but Samardzija will continue to work on throwing this offseason, playing winter ball in the Mexico league for Triple-A manager Bobby Dickerson.
Manager Lou Pinella had good things to say about the youngster: “The kid needs to pitch winter ball. He’s on the right path… He just needs to work on the things he’s working on and get more consistent with it, and winter ball will give him that opportunity… Starting-wise, I think he’ll be able to throw all of his pitches and I think he can get better quicker. When you pitch out of the bullpen, you’re only pitching an inning, two innings at a time, so you basically go after the hitter with one or two pitches. Starting-wise, you have to develop all of your pitches and repertoire.”
The Cubs are pretty much locked into 4 starters in 2010 – Carlos Zambrano, Ted Lilly, Ryan Dempster and Randy Wells. The 5th starter role will likely come down to Tom Gorzellany, Samardzija, Sean Marshall and Angel Guzman. Gorzellany made some nice starts in 2009 after coming over in a trade from the Pirates; Marshall won the 5th starter’s role in 2009, but Pinella moved him to the bullpen after Neal Cotts’ was hurt because the Cubs needed a lefty reliever out of the pen; and Guzman pitched well in the bullpen in 2009 and will likely serve a similar role in 2010. So it will be interesting to see how it all pans out in Spring Training in 2010. Samardzija can improve his chances with a good showing in winter ball in the Mexico League, so we’ll keep you posted how he is throwing later this month…
Posted on 10 October 2009 by Lou
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…
Posted on 05 October 2009 by Lou
It was a tale of 2 final starts for Randy Wells and Ryan Dempster in the final 2 games for the Cubs over the weekend at Wrigley Field.
Wells picked up his 12th win of the season as he dominated the Arizona Diamondbacks over 7 innings of work. Wells threw 107 pitches and struck out a career-high 10 batters. He gave up just 3 hits and 1 walk during his outing. Top top off the excellent showing from Wells, Esmailin Cardidad and Carlos Marmol continued their hot pitching with 2 perfect innings of work to preserve the 5-0 win for Wells. We could be seeing a lot of Cardidad and Marmol in 2010 for the Cubs, as well as a lot of Wells. Wells has been the Cubs most pleasant surprise of 2009. He made 27 starts for the Cubs, an amazing number given the fact that he did not get his 1st start until May 8th. He finished with a 3.05 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP, and he gave up just 56 ER in 165 1/3 innings pitched. The 12 wins and 3.05 ERA were team highs.
Ryan Dempster did not fare so well in his final start of 2009. Dempster was also going for his 12th win of the season, but he gave up 5 ER on 6 hits and 1 walk in just 5 innings of work (he did have 10 K’s). He was on a roll of late – going 2-0 while pitching at least 7 innings in each of his last 4 starts – but he didn’t have it on Sunday. Overall, Dempster finished the season with a 3.65 ERA and 1.30 WHIP. Dempster struck out 172 batters while walking only 65 in 200 innings pitched, but he was just too inconsistent all season long. The strikeout and innings pitched numbers were team highs.
If Wells can repeat his 2009 performance in 2010, the Cubs will have a formidable starting rotation once again with Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, Ted Lilly and Wells. The Cubs finished with the 5th best team ERA in all of baseball in 2009. GM Jim Hendry, Manager Lou Pinella, and pitching coach Larry Rothschild should feel good knowing that they will have 4 quality starters coming back in 2010 he pitched very well in 2009 despite being on an under-achieving team.
Posted on 03 October 2009 by Lou
Randy Wells has been one of the Cubs lone bright spots during the frustrating 2009 MLB schedule. As I’ve discussed before, he is a competitor who has been consistent and has kept the Cubs in games all season long. He has struggled of late, so I really hope he can finish with a positive start today against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Wrigley Field. He has given up 5 ER in 2 of his last 3 starts and he seems to have lost some of his control that made him so effective earlier in the year – 22 walks in his last 10 starts with at least 4 walks in 4 of those starts. To put it in perspective, Wells had walked 3 batters in a game only twice in his 1st 16 starts of the season. It’s pretty clear that Manager Lou Pinella has already penciled in Wells as a 4th or 5th starter for the 2010 Cubs rotation.
Wells still has a repsectable 3.18 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP, so I’m hoping he can go at least 6 innings giving up just a few runs against a weak-hitting Arizona lineup. 12-10 sounds a lot better than 11-11…
Posted on 29 September 2009 by Lou
The Cubs took 3 of 4 from the Giants in San Francisco, but could not pull off the sweep as Randy Wells suffered his 10th loss of the season. Wells struggled all game long, pitching just 5 1/3 innings, giving up 5 ER on 10 hits and 2 walks. His bid for a season with an ERA under 3.00 is in jeopardy as his ERA rose to 3.18 with the loss.
There was little else to cheer about in the finale as Matt Cain held the Cubs scoreless through the game’s 1st 8 innings. One bright spot – Justin Berg – who pitched another scoreless inning in relief. In 7 September appearances, Berg has pitched 6 2/3 scoreless innings, giving up just 5 hits and 1 walk during that span. The 25-year old is showing off his stuff in an effort to steal aspot in the 2010 Cubs bullpen.
The Cubs pulled off the dramatic win on Thursday night with Jeff Baker’s 2-strike, 2-out, 2-run HR off Giants closer Brian Wilson that gave the Cubs a 3-2 lead. Carlos Marmol made it 12 for 12 in save chances since being named the Cubs new closer at the end of August.
Carlos Zambrano finally lived up to his “ace” status with a dominating win over Tim Lincecum on Friday night. Zambrano pitched a complete game shutout, giving up just 2 hits and 1 walk while striking out 8. Zambrano even drove in 2 of the Cubs’ 3 runs with a ground out in the 7th inning and a double in the 9th inning. Zambrano threw just 98 pitches as he was on his “A” game all night long.
Tom Gorzelanny picked up his 7th win in 2009 with a nice 5-inning outing on Saturday. He gave up just 1 run on 5 hits and 3 walks with 5 K’s.
The Cubs have 7 more games to go in this frustrating 2009 MLB schedule. Let’s hope they finish on a positive note. At 81-74, one more win guarantees the Cubs a 3rd straight non-losing season….
Posted on 28 September 2009 by Lou
While it has been a disappointing 2009 MLB schedule for the Cubs, they will still look to put on a show and preserve a winning season record with their final 7 games at Wrigley Field.
The Cubs will play 4 games against the Pittsburgh Pirates from Tuesday through Thursday at Wrigley Field. The day-night double-header on Wednesday September 30th is part of the make up game from Sunday August 16th that was postponed because of rain.
The Cubs will close out the season with a 3-game weekend series against the Arizona Diamondbacks from Friday October 2nd through Sunday October 4th.
Both the Pirates and Diamondbacks have losing records, so the Cubs should be able to end the season on a positive note. It will be the last chance for Cubs fans to see starting pitchers Carlos Zambrano, Ted Lilly, Ryan Dempster and Randy Wells in 2009, and maybe the last time they see soon-to-be-free-agent Rich Harden pitch in a Cubs uniform.
Keep your heads held high Cubs fans – if the Cubs do pull off a winning record in 2009, it will be the 1st time the Cubs have had winning records in 3 straight MLB seasons since the Cubs posted 6 straight winning seasons from 1967 through 1972…
Go Cubs Go!!!
Posted on 27 September 2009 by Lou
Randy Wells is looking for his 12th win of the 2009 MLB schedule today in San Francisco. Wells is 11-9 with a 3.00 ERA and 1.27 WHIP, but he must out-duel one of the Giants’ dynamic pitchers Matt Cain. Cain won only 8 games in 2008, but has had a terrific 2009 MLB schedule, going 13-7 with a 2.99 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP. Cain has lost 3 straight decisions, however, so Wells is hoping that if he can hold down the Giants for 6 or 7 innings, he should be able to notch that 12th win.
After Sunday’s game, the Cubs return home to Wrigley Field for the final 7 games of the season. And while the season will surely go down as one of the most disappointing seasons in recent history (after winning 2 straight NL Central divisions titles and 97 games in 2008), the Cubs should still make it a 3rd straight winning season, something they have not accomplished since 1972 when the Cubs had 6 straight winning seasons from 1967 through 1972.
Posted on 23 September 2009 by Lou
Randy Wells likes pitching against the Brewers in Miller Park in Milwaukee. Wells made his major league debut against the Brewers back on May 8th and pitched 5 scoreless innings giving up just 5 hits and 2 walks. Although he got a no decision in that start, and took the loss in 3 of his first 7 starts without getting a win, Wells has been one of the Cubs most consistent pitchers all season long. He picked up his 11th win of the season by beating the Brewers 7-2 on Tuesday night. Wells regained his control after walking 5 Brewers in last week’s 7-4 loss at Wrigley Field. Wells did not walk a single batter in 6 innings, and he gave up just 1 run on 7 hits in a solid outing. The lone run scored on a solo home run by Prince Fielder. Wells has a 3.00 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP and looks to have solidified a spot as a starter in the Cubs 2010 starting rotation. He has held the opposition to just 2 ER or less in 17 of his 25 starts – pretty damn good.
On the offensive side, Derrek Lee just keeps on hitting. Lee hit another HR – his 35th of the season – and with 2 more RBI’s, he set a career high with 109 RBI’s on the season. Lee’s average well above .300 now at .310 and he has put together a solid individual season despite the daily turmoil in the Cubs locker room on a daily basis.
Esmailin Caridad also pitched a scoreless inning of relief. Caridad gave up 1 hit and struck out 1 Brewers batter.
The Cubs have now won 3 straight and look to sweep the Brewers with Jeff Samardzija making a spot start for Ted Lilly (left shoulder tendinitis) in the series finale on Wednesday night.
Posted on 19 September 2009 by Lou
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…
Posted on 18 September 2009 by Lou
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…