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 02 October 2009 by Lou
Ticket brokers let out a collective sigh of relief last night as the Cubs-Pirates game was delayed and then postponed after just 3 innings of play on Thursday night at Wrigley Field. One of our sponsors – Ticketchest.com – was thrilled with the decision to cancel the game without any make up date since the season has been over for a while now. Those unsold tickets will now either be refunded or can be used as a credit towards future Cubs tickets purchases in 2010. Hip hip hooray! Jeff Samardzija was the other winner as the 3 runs and 3 hits he gave up in the 1st inning were washed out of the record book with the rain out.
The Cubs were back on the field on Friday to take on the Diamondbacks, but they might as well have stayed at home today. Tom Gorzelanny looked like the pitcher that the Cubs used to beat on every game, giving up 6 ER on 7 hits and 1 walk in 3 innings. Jeff Stevens, David Patton and Aaron Heilman struggled out of the bullpen, combining to give up 5 runs. The Cubs bats didn’t do much better. The Cubs managed just 7 hits in the game, as they scored all 3 of their runs in the 7th inning. Koyie Hill was the only player with more than 1 hit for the Cubs.
Man I can’t wait for this season to be over…
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 22 September 2009 by Lou
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…
Posted on 31 August 2009 by Lou
The Cubs have one more game left in a dreadful month of August – it’s about time. Let’s take a look back at what transpired. On August 1st, the Cubs were 7 games over .500 with a 54-47 record. The Cardinals were just 8 games over .500 with a 57-49 record. The Cubs only trailed the Cards by 1/2 game in the NL Central race!
The Cubs split the first 4 games of the month, but then fell into a downward spiral quickly and painfully. Heading into tonight’s game against the Astros in what will be the final game of August, the Cubs have an 11-16 record. The Cubs are just 2 games over .500 and at 65-63, they trail the Cardinals by 10 games in the NL Central race. While the Cubs were floundering away, the Cards were riding Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday on a 4-man wrecking crew, annhilating anything that stood in their path. The Cards finished the month with a 20-6 record, and are 22 games over .500 with a 77-55 record. During the month of August, the Cards never had a 2-game losing streak and lost twice in a week only once. They are just a 1/2 game behind the Dodgers for the best record in the NL. Talk about 2 teams heading in different directions.
Bad, bad, bad on the north side.
Carlos Zambrano suffered his 2nd straight loss since coming off the DL with a sore back. He looked awful early and often – laboring through 75 pitches in just 3 1/3 innings of work. Big Z gave up 3 ER (4 total) on 11 hits. The one positive – he didn’t walk anyone.
The Cubs bullpen actually pitched well, and kept the Cubs in the 4-a game from the 4th through the 9th innings. Tom Gorzelanny pitched 1 2/3 innings of perfect relief. Sean Marshall retired 6 of the 7 batters that he faced, giving up just a lone single. John Grabow pitched a perfect 8th inning and Angel Guzman did the same in the 9th inning. With the year all but hopeless – in terms of playoffs – it’s nice to see guys still putting forth a solid effort, trying to build some momentum for 2010. But that is certainly hard to do when you start a big 10-game home stand by losing 3 of 6 games to the 2 worst teams in the National League – the Nationals and Mets. Bad, bad, bad.
Oh yeah, the Cubs managed just 7 hits and 2 walks off of Nelson Figueroa (1.66 WHIP and 4.50 ERA after the game) and 2 Mets relievers. Bad, bad, bad…
Posted on 23 August 2009 by Lou
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…
Posted on 21 August 2009 by Lou
The Cubs went back to their losing ways in Los Angeles, dropping the opener of a 4-game series to Dodgers 7-2. A disastrous 4-run 6th off of Angel Guzman brought a slow end to the night. Guzman replaced Tom Gorzelanny who had allowed 2 earned runs on 5 hits over 5 innings of work. Guzman gave up back-to-back singles to Manny Ramirez and Casey Blake to start the inning. After a sacrifice bunt moved runners to 2nd and 3rd with only 1 out, Manager Lou Pinella decided to intentionally walk James Loney to pitch to Russell Martin with the bases loaded. Boy did that move backfire – Martin crushed a grand slam to deep center field and the game was basically over.
One pitching positive – demoted closer Kevin Gregg pitched a perfect 8th inning. Yeah!
The Cubs managed 8 hits off of 4 Dodgers pitchers – Kosuke Fukodome was the big start, going 3 for 3 with a solo home run, 2 singles and a walk. Derrek Lee had 2 hits in defeat, but his batting average is now all the way up to .295.
Not really sure what else to say about this Cubs team. It just gets uglier and uglier. Cubs get good pitching, the Cubs offense goes quiet and they lose 2-1. Cubs pitchers struggle and the offense either mails it in after a few innings or hits well, but not enough to win. The Cubs are creeping backwards towards the .500 mark again – 61-58 – and trail the Cards by 7 games in the NL Central race and the Rockies by 6 games in the NL Wild Card race. Technically they still have a pulse, but it is definitely getting harder and harder to feel and hear…
Posted on 20 August 2009 by Lou
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.
Posted on 14 August 2009 by Lou
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…