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Cubs Gear up for Final Homestand of 2009 MLB Schedule @ Wrigley Field

Posted on 28 September 2009 by Lou

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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!!!

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Cubs Skip Ted Lilly Start as Precautionary Move; Could Pitch in San Francisco

Posted on 26 September 2009 by Lou

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The Cubs skipped Ted Lilly’s start against the Brewers this week as a precautionary measure.  Lilly is still dealing with left shoulder tendinitis, but could make a start against the Giants this weekend in San Francisco.

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Cubs Not Giving Up – Lee, Baker, Marmol Prople Cubs to Victory

Posted on 25 September 2009 by Lou

Cubs Giants Baseball

The Cubs are not going down without a fight!  Jeff Baker’s 2-strike, 2-out, 2-run home run off Giants closer Brian Wilson gave the Cubs a dramatic 3-2 win over the Giants in San Francisco.  After Lee led off the top of the 9th inning with a walk, he stole 2nd to get in scoring position with 2 outs.  Luckily, there wouldn’t be a close play at home plate, as Baker crushed Wilson’s pitch deep to left field to put the Cubs up 3-2.  Baker (and the Cubs) had been down to their last strike.

Carlos Marmol picked up his 12th save in 12 chances since being promoted to the closer’s role in place of Kevin Gregg at the end of August.  It wasn’t pretty – he gave up a single and a walk – but he struck out Aaron Rowand and Fred Lewis with 1st and 2nd and only 1 out to preserve the win for the Cubs.  Manager Lou Pinella annointed Marmol the Cubs 2010 closer – “I see that, yes.  I really do.  I think he’s done enough and shown enough.  We have confidence in him enough going into spring training next year.  It’s his job.  We’ll leave it just at that.”

Ryan Dempster gave the Cubs another solid starting effort down the stretch.  Dempster threw 112 pitches in 7 innings of work, giving up just 2 ER on 7 hits and 1 walk.  Dempster had 6 K’s and he lowered his ERA to 3.68 and his WHIP to 1.33.

Should a fun match-up tonight in San Francisco – Carlos Zambrano in search of win #9 against reigning Cy Young Award winner – the Freak Tim Lincecum…

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Samardzija Looks Better, But Cubs Still Lose to Brewers

Posted on 24 September 2009 by Lou

Cubs Brewers Baseball

The Cubs could not complete the sweep of the Brewers in Miller Park on Wednesday night as Jeff Samardzija suffered his 3rd loss of the 2009 MLB schedule.  Although Samardzija has had a disappointing 2009 (like the Cubs), he looked better in the 5 innings that he pitched against the Brewers.  He only gave up 5 hits, 2 of which were home runs.  One to Prince Fielder and one to Jody Gerut.  He had 1 walk and 3 strikeouts and seemed to be in more control of his pitches throughout the night.  Since being called back up to the major league level in September, however, Samardzija has pitched 7 innings and given up 5 ER on 7 hits and 3 walks.  Overall, Samardzija is 1-3 on the year with a 7.53 ERA and 1.76 WHIP.  Not really sure where the Cubs see Samardzija long-term (reliever or starter), but 2010 could be a big year for Jeff.  He needs to show more consistent control all throughout the season and he needs to show a better strikeout to walk ratio.

The Cubs managed just 7 hits against Chris Narveson and 4 Brewers relievers.  Jeff Baker had 2 hits for the Cubs to raise his batting average to .302.  In addition to a Jeff Samardzija solo home run in the 6th inning, Bobby Scales drove in Baker with the Cubs only other run.

The Cubs finish up their final road trip of the 2009 season with a 4-game weekend set against the Giants in San Francisco.  Ryan Dempster duels Brad Penny in the tonight’s opener.

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Tom Gorzelanny, Tyler Colvin Eyeing 2010 – Producing Now

Posted on 22 September 2009 by Lou

Cubs Brewers Baseball

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…

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Cubs Suspend Milton Bradley; GM Jim Hendry Should be Next to Go

Posted on 21 September 2009 by Lou

chicago cubs milton bradley jake fox 1

Wow – with the meaningless weekend series between the Cubs & Cardinals, at least Milton Bradley and Jim Hendry gave us some lively action to sink our teeth into.  The Cubs officially suspended Milton Bradley for the rest of the 2009 MLB schedule on Sunday for his adverse actions and statements made regarding the Cubs organization.  Yippee – it’s about time…

Here’s what GM Jim Hendry said to the media on Sunday:  “There have been a lot of issues that we’ve lived with during the year but the last few days became too much for me to tolerate, to be honest with you.  I’m not going to let our great fans become an excuse, I’m not going to tolerate not answering questions from the media respectfully.  Whether you feel like talking or not, it’s part of our jobs.  I’m not going to allow disrespect to other people in that locker room and uniformed personnel. The only real negativity here is his won production.”

Among many issues raised by Bradley all season long – racism, means fans, injury issues – it all came to a head when Manager Lou Pinella pulled Bradley during Wednesday night’s game against the Brewers during a double-switch.  I guess Bradley did not like being pulled by Pinella, so in Thursday’s series finale against the Brewers, Bradley pulled himself from the games with an apparent “knee injury” to “get back at” Pinella.  Can you say “baby”?!  Then Bradley refused to answer questions about the knee injury, he pulled himself from Friday night’s game in St. Louis right before the 1st pitch to put Pinella and the Cubs in another bad position, and finally proceeded to bad-mouth the Cubs organization and fans.  Here’s what he said:  “It’s just not a positive environment.  I need a stable, healthy, enjoyable environment.  There’s too many people everywhere in your face with a microphone asking the same questions repeatedly.  Everyone is just bashing you.  You go out there and play harder than anybody on the field and never get credit for it.  It’s just negativity.  And you understand why they haven’t won in 100 years here, because it’s negative.  It’s what it is.”

The Bradley signing was a bad move in November, it was a bad move during spring training, it was a bad move when he injured himself during the first few weeks of the season, and it was a bad move all season long.  And it’s taken the man in charge of player personnel 10 months to realize that.  Let’s look at the numbers:

In 393 at-bats in 124 games, Bradley hit .257 with a .378 on-base percentage.  Bradley hit 12 HR’s and 17 doubles and drove in 40 runs while scoring 61 runs.  He had 66 walks and 95 strikeouts.  Now without comparing him to every single player on the Cubs, let’s simply compare him to Jake Fox – a young player who helped the Cubs in numerous positions and is the consummate team player.  In just 189 at-bats in 74 games, Fox hit .286 with a .335 on-base percentage.  Fox hit 11 HR’s and 14 doubles and drove in 42 runs while scoring 26 runs.  Fox also makes a LOT less than the $10 million Bradley is set to make under his 3-year deal with the Cubs.  In half the number of at-bats, Fox had more RBI’s and 1 less HR than Bradley.  How can this be?

Throw in the horrendous fielding in right field, the numerous dropped/misplayed balls, and the fact that Bradley is not a “good” clubhouse guy, this was a disaster waiting to happen.  Most people saw this, and the man in charge of player personnel decisions should have seen this day coming too.  It’s time for Hendry to get the boot too.

Three years ago, I thought Hendry did a great job re-inventing the Cubs model after reliance on injury-prone pitchers (Kerry Wood, Mark Prior) came back to haunt the Cubs year-after-year.  Hendry signed middle-of-the-road pitchers Jason Marquis and Ted Lilly because he knew they were innings-eaters who would make 25-30 starts a season.  He added Mark DeRosa – a solid ballplayer who was a great clubhouse guy who would produce day-in-and-day-out.

But after these “conservative” moves, Hendry started making some questionable moves that undermined his new game plan.  The Alfonso Soriano signing was exciting, but why the 8 years for a player that would be over 30 years at the start of his 1st season with the Cubs?  Soriano’s 2009 numbers – 477 at-bats, .241 batting average, .303 on-base percentage, 20 HR’s, 55 RBI’s, 64 runs & 118 K’s. Why 4 years (and close to $50 million) on an unproven major league player from Japan – Kosuke Fukodome – who would be handed the everyday right field job? Fukodome’s 2009 numbers – – 462 at-bats, .253 batting average, .371 on-base percentage, 11 HR’s, 52 RBI’s, 71 runs & 103 K’s (these numbers are nearly identical to his 2008 numbers whcih were considered a huge disappointment).  And most recently, why 3 years and $30 on Milton Bradley?

Coupled with those moves, Hendry had to unload the likes of Mark DeRosa and Marquis who once again had productive years in 2009 without causing any issues in their respective clubhouses.  DeRosa has a combined 21 HR’s, 72 RBI’s and 74 runs scored while playing for the Indians and Cardinals in 479 at-bats.  Marquis is 15-11 in 30 starts pitching half his time for the Rockies in Coors Field in Denver.  Marquis has a 3.84 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP and will likely be pitching in the post-season for the 6th straight year.

Hendry has mortgaged the outfield with the signings of Soriano, Fukudome and Bradley for the next few years.  The Cubs will have little room for the free agent market during the off-season following the horrible 2009 MLB campaign.  And we haven’t even mentioned the signing of Carlos Zambrano to an extension during the 2008 MLB season – and now we’re hearing rumblings that the Cubs will try to move Zambrano in the off-season to dump salary.  Does this guy even have a clue or a plan?  How do you sign a player to a 4-year extension because he is so important to your team, and then – less than 1 year later – decide that you can’t have this guy on your ballclub anymore?  It just doesn’t make sense to me and it is a downward trend that is becoming more and more evident with Hendry if you truly analayze the moves he has made the last 2-3 years.  I hope the Ricketts family takes a very close look at Hendry and makes an informed decision on whether or not he is the man to lead this the organization to a World Series.  There was a time where I thought he had what it took to do the job, but right now, I firmly believe that Hendry must go too…

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Cubs Clubhouse in Disarray – What is Going on on the North Side?

Posted on 19 September 2009 by Lou

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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…

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Randy Wells Struggling Down Stretch…

Posted on 18 September 2009 by Lou

Brewers Cubs Baseball

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…

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Sorry-ano End to Alfonso Soriano’s Sorry 2009 Season

Posted on 16 September 2009 by Lou

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Talk about your bad free agent signings.  Cubs GM Jim Hendry might be at the top of the list.  Back during the 2006-7 MLB off-season, there was probably a reason (in fact, numerous reasons) that no other MLB GM offered a big blockbuster contract to Alfonso Soriano.  Too bad Hendry didn’t see the signs.  The 8-year, $136 million contract that Soriano signed with the Cubs before the start of the 2007 MLB season could go down as one of the worst free agent signings ever.

Now granted, the Cubs did win back-to-back NL Central division titles in 2007 and 2008 (for the 1st time in over 60 years), but it wasn’t all because of Soriano.  In fact some might argue that the Cubs did it in spite of Soriano being on the team.  Soriano has spent time on the DL in each of his 3 seasons with the Cubs.  His numbers have also declined in each year.  Soriano just underwent season-ending knee surgery to repair

Let’s look at the stats:

In 2007, Soriano had 579 at-bats in 135 games.  A .299 batting average, .337 on-base percentage, 33 HR’s (his 2nd lowest total in 6 years), 70 RBI’s (his lowest total in 6 years), 97 runs scored and 130 K’s.

In 2008, Soriano had 453 at-bats in 109 games.  A .280 batting average, .344 on-base percentage, 29 HR’s (his lowest total in 7 years), 75 RBI’s (his 2nd lowest total in 7 years), 76 runs scored and 103 K’s.

In 2009, Soriano had 477 at-bats in 117 games.  A .241 batting average (his lowest batting average in 9 years), .303 on-base percentage (his lowest on-base percentage in 9 years), 20 HR’s (his lowest total in 8 years), 55 RBI’s (his lowest total in 8 years), 64 runs scored (his lowest total in 9 years) and 118 K’s.

Do we see a trend here?

I really don’t need to go on.  The arthroscopic knee surgery supposedly was successful, and Soriano should be fully healthy by spring (he will rehab with the Cubs during the final 3 weeks of the season and then again at home in the Dominican Republic).  But until he actually shows some consistency in 2010, I’ll expect the same over-paid, under-producing outfielder that I’ve grown accustomed to the last 3 years in left field at Wrigley Field.  April 2010 can’t come soon enough…

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Crazy – – Carlos Marmol Not Good in Non-Save Situations…

Posted on 13 September 2009 by Lou

Manager Lou Pinella has quickly learned 1 thing about Carlos Marmol – he does not pitch well in non-save situations.  And let’s face it – a lot of closers are like this because of the lack of mental focus.  Carlos Marmol’s control problems in the 9th inning wasted a valiant Cubs comeback.

Trailing 5-0, the Cubs rallied for 3 runs in the 6th inning on an Aramis Ramiez single, a Geovany Soto double and a Bobby Scales sacrifice fly.  And with the bases loaded in the 7th inning, Geovany Soto’s double to deep center field plated Kosuke Fukodome and Derrek Lee to tie the game at 5.  But when 3rd base coach Mike Quade sent Ramirez home to try to score the go-ahead run, but he was thrown out at the plate.

Then came Marmol’s disastrous 9th inning – 2 walks to start off the inning and then a 2-run double to right field by pinch hitter Drew Sutton that gave the Reds the 7-5 win over the Reds.

Randy Wells had a rare bad start –

The Cubs try to win the series on Sunday with Ted Lilly on the mound…

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