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Cubs Looking for Answers…

Posted on 10 October 2009 by Lou

Cubs Rockies Baseball

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…

Cubs Milton Bradley Risk 1

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It’s Do Or Die for Cubs with Upcoming 10-Game Homestand @ Wrigley Field

Posted on 25 August 2009 by Lou

Cubs Milton Bradley Risk 1

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…

Astros Cubs Baseball

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Cubs Dealing with Injury Bug – – Aramis Ramirez, Ted Lilly & Carlos Zambrano Updates

Posted on 14 August 2009 by Lou

aramis ramirez

The Cubs are still dealing with the injury bug here in 2009.  Aramis Ramirez received a cortisone shot in his right shoulder on Tuesday to deal with the continued soreness caused by his dislocated shoulder in May.  The shot should reduce the inflammation in the shoulder, but won’t take away pain.  Ramirez is still trying to determine whether or not he will have off-season surgery to clean up the shoulder – he has dislocated the shoulder 3 times in his career.  Ramirez was expected to play in Friday’s day game against the Pirates at Wrigley Field, but a severe head cold that worsened as the week went on caused Manager Lou Pinella to scratch him right before the game.  Jake Fox started in his place at 3rd base.

Ted Lilly has been on the DL since July 21st – resting his sore left throwing arm and recovering from knee surgery.  Lilly pitched 5 scoreless innings on Wednesday at Class-A Peoria.  He gave up only 2 hits and 1 walk and said it was great to get back into a game situation.  Lilly is expected to come off the DL on Monday and start against the Padres in San Diego.

Carlos Zambrano is still dealing with a sore back and back spasms.  Pinella had this to say about Big Z’s condition:  “He had been doing his strength work with our strength guy Tim Buss and we’re going to make sure he’s on a nice program so he gets back out there as soon as possible and he’ll do his work.”  Zambrano will likely start at some point next week against the Dodgers in Los Angeles.

Tom Gorzellany is nursing a sore foot when he was hit by a line drive in Colorado over the weekend.  And Reed Johnson is still wearing a boot on his broken foot.  Gorzellany is not expected to miss any starts, while Johnson should be back at the start of September.

The Cubs have been dealing with injuries all season long, but at this point, it doesn’t look like it’s really going to matter.  The club is slowly falling out of playoff contention…

Astros Cubs Baseball

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It’s Never Too Late to Develop a Winning Formula!

Posted on 28 July 2009 by Lou

Astros Cubs Baseball

Hey Cubs Fans – – it’s never too late to develop a winning formula.  Good pitching and timely hitting usually results in numerous wins.  The Cubs – at least since the All-Star Break – can attest to that.  Except for Ted Lilly’s debacle against the Phillies in Philadelphia on July 20th, the Cubs have had excellent pitching and solid, often-clutch hitting, and the results show.  Since the All-Star Break, the Cubs have put together a solid 9-2 record to take over 1st place from the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central race.  Great pitching, coupled with excellent hitting from Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano has catapulted the Cubs into the lead.

In last night’s 5-1 win in 13 innings over the 2nd place Astros, pitching took center stage for much of the game.  Carlos Zambrano put together another solid outing – 7 innings, 1 ER, 7 hits and 4 walks.  The lone run scored on Carlos Lee’s home run in the 2nd inning.  Aaron Heilman, Carlos Marmol, Jeff Stevens and Sean Marshall combined to pitch 4 straight scoreless innings from the 8th throught the 11th innings.  And Jeff Samardzija threw 2 scoreless innings and picked up his 1st win of the 2009 MLB schedule when Alfonso Soriano stroked his walk-off game-winning Grand Slam off of Chris Sampson to the delight of the Wrigley faithful.

That’s a perfect lead-in to the Cubs offense.  Although it wasn’t all good (Reed Johnson and Ryan Theriot were a combined 0 for 12 in the 1-2 spot at the top of the order, while Soriano was 0 for 5 heading into his 13th inning at-bat), Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez continued their hot hitting.  Lee hit a solo home run off of Wandy Rodriguez in the 4th inning to tie the game at 1 and also drew 3 walks, 1 of which started the Cubs rally in the 13th.  Ramirez notched 3 hits and raised his batting average to .338.  Ramirez’s single in the 13th moved Lee to 3rd base and forced Astros’ Manager Cecil Cooper’s hands to intentionally walk Milton Bradley to load the bases to face Soriano.  The move back-fired in a hurry as Soriano launched the game-winning shot deep to center field to give the Cubs the dramatic 5-1 win.  It was Soriano’s 4th career Grand Slam and he had this to say about the swing – – “I think that’s my best swing I made in the second half.”  Id’ agree.

The Cubs increased their winning streak to 5 games and they increased their lead over the Astros to 3 games and the Brewers to 4 games.  How long will the streak go – guess we’ll just have to wait and see…

Astros Cubs Baseball

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Aramis Ramirez Gets Hot, Cubs Vault to NL Central Lead

Posted on 26 July 2009 by Lou

Reds Cubs Baseball

So Aramis Ramirez goes, so the Cubs go.  It took a couple of weeks for Aramis Ramirez to get back into the “swing” of things after his 2+ month stint on the DL, but he is “back and better than ever” to quote “Mike & Mike” in the morning.  Ramirez’ hot hitting has coincided with the Cubs catapult into 1st place in the NL Central race with a 1/2 game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals.  Who knows how long they will be there, but it must have come as a welcome relief to know that they have it in there despite all of the poor play and injuries that have plagued the Cubs ball club during the 2009 MLB schedule.

Aramis Ramirez has been on fire since Wednesday’s win in Philadelphia.  In that game, Ramirez went 2 for 4 with 2 walks, 2 RBI’s and 2 runs scored.  He had home runs in Friday’s and Saturday’s wins and 2 more hits in Sunday’s sweep of the Reds.  Overall, in his last 4 games, Ramirez is 9 for 16 with 2 home runs, 4 doubles, 7 RBI’s and 4 runs scored.  His batting average is back up over .330 and his on-base percentage is just under .400 at .394.    When Ramirez starts hitting, it seems like the rest of the team starts hitting and developing more scoring chances.

Alfonso Soriano has really turned it on as of late.  Soriano has a modest 9-game hitting streak, and his batting average is back above .250.  Soriano has 5 multi-hit games during that stretch, with 3 home runs, 8 RBI’s and 5 runs scored.  If the Cubs can get a more consistent and productive Soriano down the stretch in the 6-hole, the Cubs should be able to stay in the NL Central race for the duration of the 2009 MLB schedule.

The Cubs open a big 4-game series against the 3rd place Houston Astros on Monday night at Wrigley Field.  Carlos Zambrano will start the opener against Wandy Rodriguez.

Reds Cubs Baseball

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Cubs Beat Nationals 6-3 to Open 2nd Half on High Note

Posted on 17 July 2009 by Lou

Cubs Nationals Baseball

The Cubs defeated the Nats 6-3 at Nationals Park in Washington DC on Thursday night.  The win moved the Cubs within 3 games of the idle Cardinals for 1st place in the NL Central. Rich Harden evened his record at 6-6 with a solid outing – 6 innings,  3 hits, 7 K’s and most importantly no walks.  The only run Harden allowed was an unearned run in the 6th inning.  Angel Guzman and Carlos Mamrol each worked scoreless innings of relief and Kevin Gregg closed out the game despite giving up a solo home run to Ryan Zimmerman in the 9th inning.

Derrek Lee kept up his hot hitting.  He went 3 for 4 with a solo home run.  Reed Johnson had 2 hits and an RBI in the leadoff spot.  Ryan Theriot had only 1 hit, but 2 RBI’s.

Let’s hope the Cubs can pull off 3 more wins against the lowly Nats the rest of the weekend.

Cubs Nationals Baseball

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Cubs Split With Cards – Still Trail by 3.5 Games

Posted on 13 July 2009 by Lou

Cardinals Cubs Baseball

Cardinals Cubs Baseball

The Cubs and Cards split Sunday afternoon’s Day-Night Double-Header on Wrigley Field.  It could have been better, but I guess it could have been worse too.  The Cubs trailed the 1st place Cards by 2.5 games in the NL Central when the 2 teams started the 4-game weekend series on Friday, and after 4 games, nothing had changed.  At least they didn’t get swept.

Carlos Zambrano picked up the win in the early game as the Cubs won 7-3.

Randy Wells suffered the loss in the nightcap as the Cubs lost 4-2.

The most interesting play of the day-night, came in the 9th inning of Game 2.

We’ll have a mid-year report in the next couple of days as we have a few days off for the All-Star Break.

Cardinals Cubs Baseball

Cardinals Cubs Baseball

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Randy The Rock Helps Cubs Beat Braves 4-2

Posted on 07 July 2009 by Lou

Braves Cubs Baseball

Randy Wells is my Cubs MVP for 2009.  Wells won his 4th straight start as the Cubs beat the Braves 4-2 at Wrigley Field on ESPN Monday Night Baseball.  Wells needed only 87 pitches to get through 6 innings.  He gave up 2 ER on 7 hits and no walks while striking out 4.  In a tumultuous season in which the Cubs have had to deal with injuries to starting pitchers Carlos Zambrano and Rich Harden, Wells has stepped in to fill the void and even bumped 5th starter Sean Marshall from the rotation once Big Z and Harden were able to return full time.  Wells has been nothing but brilliant with a 2.48 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP.  Wells should even have 3 more wins under his belt, but the Cubs bullpen blew leads in those games after Wells had left with the lead intact.

Derrek Lee also continued his hot hitting with a 2-run HR in the 1st inning that gave the Cubs a 2-0 lead.  Lee went 2 for 4 on the night, while new lead-off hitter Kosuke Fukodome had another great night at the plate going 2 for 3 with 1 RBI and 1 run scored.  Kosuke’s RBI double in the 2nd inning increased the Cubs lead to 3-0 and Ryan Theriot’s single right after that capped off the Cubs scoring for the evening.

Sean Marshall, Carlos Marmol and Kevin Gregg each worked scoreless innings of relief to preserve the win for the Cubs.

The Cubs recalled 3 players from rehab assignments.  Aramis Ramirez started at 3rd base and batted 5th in the lineup – he went 0 for 4.  Reed Johnson and Angel Guzman were also recalled but did not see game action.  To make room for the 3, the Cubs sent Sam Fuld and Kevin Hart back down to Triple-A Iowa and put David Patton on the disabled list.  The Cubs also traded Ryan Freel to the Kansas City Royals for a player to be named later.

The Cubs have won 6 of their last 10 games and are now 41-39 on the season.  The Cubs have the same number of losses as the Cardinals and Brewers with less games played, so for as badly as things have gone in 2009, the Cubs are still right in the thick of things.

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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

Indians Cubs Baseball

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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Cubs Pull off Dramatic 6-5 Win Over Sox in Bottom of 9th Inning

Posted on 19 June 2009 by Lou

White Sox Cubs Baseball

The Cubs defeated the White Sox 6-5 in the bottom of the 9th inning.  I was getting ready to write my same old blog post over again – Cubs waste good outing from Cubs starting pitcher “X”; Cubs hitters can’t get clutch hit and score only 1 run; Cubs lose… again… – but then the baseball gods smiled upon the Cubs and fans at Wrigley Field.  Micah Hoffpauir had a good at-bat against reliever Scott Linebrink and eventually hit a hard-hit groundball to 2nd base that Chris Getz’s misplayed for an error.  Alfonso Soriano then singled to center field for 1st and 2nd with only 1 out.  Then it looked like the Cubs were back to their usual hitting ways – a Ryan Theriot popout and a Milton Bradley strikeout.  Two on, two outs for Derrek Lee and with 1 swing of the bat, Lee crushed Linebrink’s pitch to righ field for a 3-run home run.  Geovany Soto then cruched a solo home run to left center field to tie the game at 5.

Kevin Gregg worked a scoreless 9th inning despite giving up a leadoff single to Alexei Ramirez.  And the Cubs played small ball to perfection in the bottom of the inning.  Reed Johnson pinch-hit for the 0 for 3 Kosuke Fukodome and singled to lead off the inning.  Andres Blanco sacrificed Johnson to 2nd base to put the winning run into scoring position.  After an Aaron Miles groundout, Alfonso Soriano hit a bloop single to right center field that drove in Johnson with the winning run.

Carlos Zambrano pitched a good game – 7 innings, 6 hits, 3 walks and 3 ER with 3 K’s.  Big Z made only 1 bad pitch all day – that a fastball to Alexei Ramirez in the top of the 7th inning which Ramirez took deep to left to give the White Sox a 3-1 lead.  The game looked finished when Carlos Marmol took over for Zambrano and promptly gave the White Sox 2 insurance runs on a Chris Getz double and a Gordon Beckham single.  But the Cubs never gave up and pulled off the improbable win to the delight of the “Wrigley Faithful”.

The Cubs moved back to .500 with the win at 31-31.  They trail the Brewers by 4 games in the NL Central.

White Sox Cubs Baseball

White Sox Cubs Baseball

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