Archive | Ted Lilly

Big Z’s Back & He’s Bigger Ummm… Better than Before

Posted on 23 August 2009 by Lou

carlos cubs

The Cubs are anxiously waiting the return of their ace Carlos Zambrano.  Big Z – after admitting he is lazy and doesn’t like to do his ab work – is scheduled to face Garrett Mock and the Washington Nationals on Tuesday night at Wrigley Field.  Hip Hip Hooray!  Big Z needs to focus more on throwing strikes and getting guys out than giving piggyback rides in the dugout and eating bon bons.

Big Z has been dealing with back pain and back spasms since the beginning of August.  Zambrano tossed 5 scoreless innings at Triple-A Peoria on Thursday night and is ready to go against the Nats this week.  Big Z has a 7-4 record with a 1.35 WHIP and a 3.35 ERA – definitely the numbers you’d expect from the ace of your staff.  Mock has a 2-5 record with a 1.83 WHIP and a 5.10 ERA.  Think there was a reason the Cubs held him back to start Tuesday against the Nats and then Sunday against the Mets instead of this past weekend against the Dodgers in L.A.?

As for the Cubs game action on Saturday and Sunday…

About the only thing Cubs fans have to look forward to in 2010 is good starting pitching…

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Cubs Finally Win in San Diego, Top Padres 7-1 behind Dominant Harden

Posted on 20 August 2009 by Lou

Cubs Padres Baseball

The Cubs got their 1st victory against the Padres at Petco Park in San Diego in 2009 last night behind a dominant performance from Rich Harden.  Harden threw 7 scoreless innings, holding the Padres to just 1 hit and 3 walks.  The Padres had 3 batters reach base in the 1st inning but didn’t score, and Harden was “lights-out” after that.  Harden struck out 8 batters on the night and improved his record to 8-7.  He is 3-1 after the All-Star Break with 3 no decisions, and he has not allowed more than 2 ER in the 7 starts.

The Cubs will have a big decision to make with respect to Harden in the off-season.  Harden has already made 21 starts during the 2009 MLB schedule and should get at least another 7 starts before the end of the year.  That would put him at 28 starts.  Health has always been a concern with Harden and except for a brief stint on the DL from May 17th – June 13th, has not missed any time because of injury.  That being said, he has made 30 starts only once in his career – that was back in 2004 when he threw 189 2/3 innings in 31 starts.  The following season he pitched 128 innings in 19 starts (22 appearances) and he missed good portions of the 2 seasons after that with arm issues.  It will be interesting to see how he feels in the off-season.  When Harden is on – like he was last night and in the 2nd half of the year so far – he is a dominating pitcher that can win a lot of games.  It could be worth signing him to a 2-3 year deal, but more than that could be risky.  Harden’s off-season regimen in Arizona seems to have paid off big time in 2009.  Assuming he continues to work hard in the off-season, it may be worth the shot to try to sign Harden to a long-term deal before he hits the free agent market…

The Cubs offense finally showed up last night as well.  Milton Bradley and Aramis Ramirez each hit home runs.  Ramirez also had a 2-run double in the 3rd inning and had 3 total RBI’s.  Bradley also walked 3 times and scored twice.  Ryan Theriot had 2 hits, 2 runs scored and a stolen base.  They did strike out 13 times as a team, however, leaving 14 runners on base.

The Cubs have their work cut out for them over the next 4 games against the Dodgers in Los Angeles.  The 1st place Cards took 2 out of 3 games from the Dodgers this week and now move on to the lowly Padres.  Not taking advantage of winning the Padres series has put them 6 games behind the Cards and 5 games behind the Rockies for the NL Wild Card lead.  It is going to be an uphill climb, as Tom Gorzelanny looks to get the Cubs off to a good start tonight against Jeff Weaver and the Dodgers.  The Cubs will finish the 4-game weekend series with Randy Wells, Ted Lilly and Ryan Dempster.

Cubs Padres Baseball

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Shocking – Gregg Blows Another Save & Pinella Actually Does Something About It!

Posted on 18 August 2009 by Lou

Cubs Padres Baseball

Cubs closer Kevin Gregg blew his 3rd game in his last 5 save chances, as the Cubs opened their big 7-game west coast road trip with a costly 4-1 loss to the Padres in San Diego.  Ted Lilly, John Grabow and Carlos Marmol kept the Padres offense scoreless for a good 2 hours and 15 minutes on Monday night, but in only took Kevin Gregg about 10 minutes to lose the game for the Cubs.  David Eckstein drew a 1-out walk off of Gregg and came around with the tying run 2 batters later when Chase Headley doubled to left center.  Pinella and Gregg intentionally walked Kevin Kouzmanoff to get to 22-year old Kyle Blanks, but the move back-fired when Blanks crushed a walk-off 3-run home run to deep left center field that gave the Padres the 4-1 win.  Brutal – just brutal.

Gregg is just not a good closer.  In limited time as a closer last year – he blew 9 SAVES! for the Marlins.  Gregg has blown 6 total saves during the 2009 MLB schedule and already 3 in the month of August.  Gregg has a 4.47 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP and he only has 58 strikeouts in 56 1/3 innings.  It is clear that Gregg does not have what it takes to be a closer, and Pinella indicated that he will likely make some changes in the back-end of the rotation.  Finally!!!

There were some positives from Monday’s game.  Ted Lilly came off the DL and looked phenomenal.  Lilly threw 6 scoreless innings (70 efficient pitches), allowing just 4 hits and 1 walk.  Lilly struck out 4.  John Grabow and Carlos Marmol set the table for Gregg with perfect 7th and 8th innings.  Derrek Lee had 2 hits and scored the Cubs lone run.  Aramis Ramirez was back in the Cubs lineup as the clean-up hitter, and he had 2 hits including the lone RBI that drove in Lee.

The bad news – the Cardinals rallied against the Dodgers in Los Angeles, so the Cubs now trail the Cards by 6 games in the NL Central race.  Gregg’s blown save also cost the Cubs a chance to pick up a 1/2 game on the idle Rockies in the NL wild card race.  Ryan Dempster looks to get the Cubs back on track in San Diego as he takes on Cesar Carrillo.  Carrillo gave up 8 ER on 4 hits and 2 walks (including 3 HR’s) in his major league debut on August 13th.  If the Cubs can’t find a way to generate runs off of this guy, they might as well just cash it in now and save us all a lot of time.

APTOPIX Cubs Padres Baseball

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Cubs Began West Coast Road Trip; Lilly & Ramirez Back, Zambrano Close

Posted on 17 August 2009 by Lou

carlos cubs

The Cubs begin a HUGE 7-game west coast road trip on Monday night in San Diego.  The Cubs will play 3 games against the Padres and 4 games against the Dodgers in Los Angeles.  The Cubs are optimistic that the imminent return of key starters will help spark a much-needed winning streak that will bring them back into playoff contention.

Ted Lilly will start against Kevin Correja and the Padres on Monday night in San Diego.  Lilly has been on the DL since July 21st and Manager Lou Pinella has indicated that Lilly will be good for 85-90 pitches.  If Lilly can give the Cubs a quality start and pick up a win, the Cubs would be feeling good with Ryan Dempster and Randy Wells going the next 2 games against a weak-hitting Padres lineup.  A 3-game sweep of the Padres is almost a must for the Cubs right now.

Aramis Ramirez will get the start on Monday night in San Diego as well.  Ramirez was set to play in Sunday’s game before it was rained out.  Ramirez has not played since last Saturday because of soreness in his right shoulder from his May shoulder dislocation.

And Carlos Zambrano is set to begin a minor league rehabilitation stint this week.  Zambrano has been out with back soreness and back spasms and the team’s medical staff has implored Zambrano to maintain the strength in his core by strengthening his abdominal muscles and his hamstrings.  Big Z had this to say about his conditioning:  “There’s things in life you don’t like that you have to do.  I don’t like to do abs, but I’ll have to start doing my abs every day…  Like the doctors say, I’m a strong man, a big man, and that’s what big men do.  Wherever they are weak, they get stronger.”  Really?!  Wow – a professional athlete actually has to work out and keep his body in shape during the course of an MLB season?  Unbelievable…  Zambrano was able to throw all of his pitches in a productive bullpen session on Sunday and is scheduled to pitch for Class A Peoria on Thursday.  If all goes well, Zambrano will start against the Washington Nationals at Wrigley Field on Tuesday, August 25th.

The Cubs are 5 games over .500 at 60-55.  They trail the Cardinals by 5 games in the NL Central race and the Rockies by 3.5 games in the NL Wild Card race.  The Cubs also have to jump over the Giants, Marlins and Braves to catch the Rockies in the wild card race.  It’s definitely a long shot, but there’s still 47 games left and anything can happen during the next 50 days…

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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…

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This Team Sucks – Pinella Rothschild Out of Ideas

Posted on 11 August 2009 by Lou

Cubs Rockies Baseball

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?!

Cubs Rockies Baseball

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Cubs Doing Their Best to Avoid 2009 Post-Season Play

Posted on 10 August 2009 by Lou

Cubs Rockies Baseball

I was just way too irritated to even do a post on Sunday.  This could be one of the most frustrating Cubs teams to follow in the last few years.  No clutch hitting, no concentration, no desire to win, no emotion, no nothing.  Unless the Cardinals lose the rest of their games, I don’t see how this team will be able to win a 3rd straight NL Central crown.

The Cubs actually showed some grit in Saturday’s 6-5 win.  The Cubs took a 2-0 lead in the 4th inning on a Kosuke Fukodme double and a Ryan Dempster walk, only to have Dempster give back 4 runs right away in the bottom of the inning.  But the Cubs responded with 4 runs in the next 3 innings to take a 6-4 lead.  As they had done so many times earlier this season – Angel Guzman, Carlos Marmol and Kevin Greeg worked relatively easy scoreless innings of relief to preserve the 6-5 win.

Looking to build off the big win after losing Friday night, the Cubs looked to Randy Wells to put forth another solid start.  Wells had one of his worst outings of the year, and although the Cubs generated numerous scoring chances against Jason Hammel early in the game, they could only push across 3 runs in the game’s 1st 5 innings despite racking up an incredible 11 hits.  No clutch hitting once again, and the Cubs found themselves trailing 8-3 by the end of the 6th inning.  Wells ended up giving up 5 ER on 8 hits and 2 walks in 5 1/3 innings, while Jeff Stevens got lit up for 4 ER on 5 hits and 1 walk in his 1 inning of work that spanned the 6th and 7th innings.  All in all, it was bad day for the Cubs.

The loss pushed the Cubs 3 games behind the Cardinals for 1st place in the NL Central.  The Cards took care of business sweeping a weekend series over the Pirates in Pittsburgh.

Carlos Zambrano is back on the DL with lower back soreness that could have been aggravated by over-swinging during batting practice before Friday’s game.  Does Big Z realize he is a pitcher 1st and that the Cubs already have starting pitcher Ted Lilly on the DL?  Obviously not.  Big Z is scheduled to come off the DL on Friday, August 21st and Jeff Samardzija will likely make 2 starts during Big Z’s absence.

Aramis Ramirez has been dealing with right shoulder soreness from his early season dislocated shoulder.  Ramirez left Saturday’s game early and Jake Fox started for Ramirez on Sunday.  It is unclear if Ramirez will miss anymore time.

With Kosuke Fukodome batting great in the lead-off spot, I’m extremely confused as to why Manager Lou Pinella all of a sudden decided to re-jigger the lineup in Colorado.  Pinella had Ryan Theirot leading off, Milton Bradley batting 2nd and Fukodome batting 5th.  The players produced in the new lineup (Ryan Theriot had 3 hits on Saturday and 2 hits on Sunday; Bradley had 2 hits on Saturday and 4 hits on Sunday and his average is up to .266; & Fukodome had 2 hits in each game), but it seemed odd that Pinella would mess with a good thing, especially when the Cubs had already found themselves in so many poor hitting droughts several times during the 2009 MLB schedule.

Pinella did his best to motivate the club by getting thrown out of the game for arguing a horrible call at 2nd base on a double play ball that thwarted a Cubs rally, but in the end, the Cubs players looked like they wanted to join Pinella in the showers early instead of trying to win a baseball game.

The Cubs are still just 2 games behind the Cards and the Giants and Rockies for the wild card race, and they have even played 4 fewer games than the Cards and 2 fewer games than each of the Giants and Rockies, so there is room to gain ground.  But this team is too inconsistent, too prone to give up way too soon, and too apt to follow a 3-game winning streak with a 5-game skid.  I have officially given up – I’ll still root for the Cubs and report on the positives and the negatives, but at the end of the day, this is a middle of the road team, not a division leader…

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Terrific Tom; But Another Bad Cubs Bullpen Outing — What Gives?

Posted on 05 August 2009 by Lou

Cubs Reds Baseball

Terrific Tom – Tom Gorzelanny looked like Cy Young, as he shut down the Cincinnati Reds over 7 1/3 innings en route to a spectacular Cubs debut.  Gorzelanny gave up just 1 ER on 3 hits and 1 walk, while striking out 6.  The Cubs just acquired Gorzelanny late last week before the trading deadline, and he took over the 5th starter role for Kevin Hart who moved to the Pirates in the trade.  Hart had been filling in for Ted Lilly who will be on the DL for another 2 weeks or so.

Gorzelanny and the Cubs should have known it was going to be a good game for the visiting team.  First, Kosuke Fukodome led off the game with his 1st ever lead-off home run (his 8th of the season).  Then in the bottom of the inning, Adam Rosales tripled to left field on a ball that Alfonso Soriano just missed catching against the wall in left.  With the Reds’ 2 best hitters coming up with a man on 3rd and less than 2 outs, things did not look good.  But Gorzelanny buckled down, striking out Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips to end the threat and preserving the Cubs 1-0 lead.  With the lead still 1-0, the Cubs got clutch 2-out singles from Koyie Hill, Gorzelanny himself and then Kosuke Fukodome to blow the game open.  The back-to-back-to-back singles plated 4 Cubs runs and the Cubs built a 5-0 lead.  Derrek Lee then added an insurance run with his 22nd HR on the year, a solo shot in the 7th to increase the Cubs lead to 6-0.

The only bad news – the Cubs bullpen.  After Gorzelanny allowed to batters to reach base in the 8th inning, Sean Marshall gave up a single to Joey Votto that scored the Reds 1st run.  And in the bottom of the 9th inning, Angel Guzman gave up 2 runs when he hit the lead off hitter and then served up a 2-run HR to Wladimir Balentien.  Not good, especially when Manager Lou Pinella and the Cubs are looking to Guzman to step up his game in the late innings with Kevin Gregg dealing with “tired arm syndrome.”  Going back to the last 5 road games, the Cubs bullpen has surrendered a total of 11 runs from the 8th inning on (3 in the 8th on Friday; 3 in the 9th on Saturday; 2 in the 9th on Sunday; 1 in the 9th on Monday and 2 in the 9th on Tuesday).  This is completely unacceptable, as it cost the Cubs 2 games during the stretch.  If the bullpen continues to flounder like this on a regular basis, the Cubs will struggle to stay in the 2009 NL Central and Wild Card race.

Rich Harden and the Cubs go for the sweep over the Reds tonight in Cincinnati.  The Cardinals already lost to the Mets at CITI Field today in New York, so a Cubs win means sole possession of 1st place for the North Siders.  Lets Go Cubs!

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Geovany Soto to Re-Join Cubs on Friday in Colorado

Posted on 05 August 2009 by Lou

soto back 2

Geovany Soto is set to rejoin the Cubs for Friday’s game against the Rockies in Colorado.  Soto has been on the disabled list since July 7th with a mild strain of his left oblique muscle.  Soto will play in 3 minor league games at Double-A Tennessee this week and then head out to Denver.

Manager Lou Pinella is excited to have Soto back.  Koyie Hill has started 25 straight games behind the plate for the Cubs (including starting both ends of a day-night double-header against the St. Louis Cardinals on July 12th at Wrigley Field).  During that stretch, Hill caught 207 innings – almost 27 innings more than the next catcher – Russell Martin with 181 2/3 innings.  Jake Fox did catch a few innings late in games to give Hill a break here and there.  Pinella had this to say: “Wednesday wouldn’t be soon enough for me…  It gives us a chance to rest Hill on Thursday, and he’ll have from Tuesday to Friday off, and then maybe we can alternate them so both can catch… He’s done a nice job.  Give him credit.”

While it will be great to have Soto back, Hill has done a great job.  Since the All-Star Break, the Cubs are 14-5, and their nice run catapulted the Cubs back into a 1st place tie with the Cardinals in the NL Central race.  While Hill’s offense has been average at best, Hill has provided much needed consistency for the pitching staff, especially with Ryan Dempster and Ted Lilly each spending time on the DL during that stretch.  Randy Wells has thrived with Hill behind the plate and even recently traded Kevin Hart picked up 3 wins as a starter in July.  Kudos to Hill and let’s hope the winning ways keep coming on the north side of Chicago.

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Tom Gorzelanny – No Pressure in 1st Cubs Start, Yeah Right…

Posted on 04 August 2009 by Lou

chicago cubs tom gorzelanny 1

There won’t be any pressure on Tom Gorzelanny when he makes his 1st Cubs start against the Reds in Cincinnati on Tuesday night.  Yeah right…

Newly acquired Tom Gorzelanny is scheduled to make his 1st start for the Cubs tonight in Cincinnati.  Gorzelanny made 9 major league appearances for the Pirates in 2009, going 3-1 with a 5.19 ERA and 1.15 WHIP.  Gorzelanny has also made 15 starts at Triple-A Indianapolis, going 4-3 with a solid 2.48 ERA, but he has not started a major league game since September 10, 2008.  No pressure, right?

The Cubs are in a virtual tie with the St. Louis Cardinals for 1st place in the NL Central (the Cubs have played 4 fewer games than the Cards).  The Cubs are hoping to put a little room between them and the Cards, as the Cubs play 2 more games against the slumping Reds, while the Cards have 2 games against the Mets at CITI Field, one of which is against Mets’ ace Johan Santana.  After a Thursday day off, the Cubs have 4 games at Coors Field in Colorado against the NL wild-card-leading Rockies.

The Cubs are hoping that Gorzelanny can give the Cubs a little boost as he takes the spot of Ted Lilly who is on the DL with shoulder and knee issues.  Gorzelanny should make 3 maybe 4 starts for the Cubs over the next 2+ weeks.  Gorzelanny had this to say about the chance to start again at the major league level: “I know I can do it up here.  I’m anxious to get that chance… I’m just getting prepared like I normally do.  It’s obviously the first one of the season.  I’ve done this before, and I know what’s expected.  I just want to go out there and do my best and not worry about what’s happening on the other side other than the game.”

Nothing like throwing you right into the mix just days after a trade.  Let’s hope Gorzelanny can at least keep the Cubs offense in games during his next few starts.  With the offense performing at a higher level of late, as long as he doesn’t get lit up, the Cubs should have a chance to win each game he starts.  Go Tom!

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