Posted on 15 May 2012 by Lou
This is going to be the story for the 2012 Cubs – they play good, just not good enough to win consistently. The surprising fact that they are playing so many close games this season makes it tough to swallow when they do lose close ones. But at least they are battling and at least the players seem to have some renewed fight in them under the new Theo, Jed and Dale regime.
The Cubs dropped the series finale to the Cards 7-6 in the bottom of the 9th. After staking Paul Maholm to a 3-0 lead in the 1st, Maholm slowly gave it back with 2 runs in the 1st, 1 run in the 2nd and 1 more run in the 5th. The Cubs fought back with a game-tying Bryan LaHair homer in the 6th (his 10th of the season) and a go-ahead pinch-hit RBI single in the 7th by Reed Johnson that drove in Darwin Barney who had doubled. But the bullpen ran into trouble after that.
Kerry Wood issued 2 walks in the 7th inning and he allowed the game-tying single to Allen Craig. James Russell served up Matt Carpenter’s go-ahead homer in the 8th that gave the Cards a short-lived 6-5 lead. After the Cubs answered in the top of the 9th with Alfonso Soriano’s 1st home run of the season – yes, you read that correctly – his 1ST HOME RUN! – that tied the game at 6, it was Rafael Dolis’ turn to allow the Cards to win. He served up the game-winning single to Yadier Molina with 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th.
Sure, you can question Dale Sveum’s decision not to walk RBI machine Molina to face Carpenter, but the Cubs had plenty of chances to win this one, and they just didn’t get it done.
Monday night’s win was equally as frustrating, but at least they pulled that one out. The Cubs finally gave Ryan Dempster some run support with 4 runs in the 5th inning to give the Cubs a 4-0 lead. But he gave it right back in the 6th with a 4-run inning. This time, Shawn Camp and Dolis got the job done with 3 scoreless innings. And Soriano came through with a big game-winning single in the 8th inning. They fought back and won, and it shows that they can compete, but you just wish they had won some of these earlier games in the season.
With a win today, the Cubs could have pulled within 4 games of the Cards for 1st place in the NL Central! But it wasn’t meant to be. They’re now 15-21 and 6 games back. Even if just 3 of those games go the other way this season, they would be 18-18 and would likely be talked about as one of the biggest surprises of 2012…
Posted on 25 April 2012 by Lou
WOW – 2 nights in a row, the Cubs pull off the walk-off win. It gave the Cubs their 1st winning streak of the season (2 games) and their 1st series win of the season. Even if the Cubs lose to the Cards today (which it looks like they will), they’ll still have won 2 of the 3 games this series en route to their 1st series win. 18 games seems a long way to wait for that elusive win, but we’ll take it. At 6-12, the Cubs trail the 1st place Cards by just 5 games now.
It was a full team effort. Jeff Samardzija was masterful again – it was great to see him bounce back from his poor outing in Miami when he uncharacteristically walked 5 batters and gave up 8 hits and 5 ER in just 3+ innings of work. On Tuesday night, Samardzija was mixing his speeds and pitches, keeping the Cards hitters guessing and off their game. Samardzija tossed 6 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing just 4 hits and 2 walks while striking out 9. He did not factor in the decision, but he kept his club in the game.
The bullpen almost blew the lead – Rafael Dolis walked Rafael Furcal in the 8th and then Matt Holiday stroked the go-ahead 2-run homer off of Carlos Marmol to give the Cards a 2-1 lead.
But Bryan LaHair’s lead-off homer in the 9th inning tied the game at 2 and sent the contest into extra innings.
With 1 out in the 10th, Tony Campana singled and stole second base on a controversial play in which it appeared that the Cardinals 2nd baseman – Tyler Greene – blocked the bag before Campana could reach 2nd. Cards Manager Mike Matheny argued the call and was eventually thrown. After a Starlin Castro strikeout (he struck out in each of his last 3 at-bats!!!), the interim bench coach opted to walk the hot-hitting LaHair to face the light-hitting Alfonso Soriano. That move back-fired, as Soriano hit a bad-hop single right at Greene that brought home Campana with the running run.
James Russell pitched a perfect top of the 10th with 2 K’s to pick up his 1st win of 2012. He has not allowed an ER all season. Michael Bowden – who was acquired from the Red Sox for Marlon Byrd over the weekend – made his Cubs debut. He loaded the bases in the top of the 9th by issuing 2 walks and a single, but he got out of the jam to keep the Cubs within 1 run for LaHair’s heroics.
The Cubs have some momentum going. Let’s hope they can come back again today to get the win before they head off on a 7-game tough road trip through Philadelphia and Cincinnati.
Posted on 12 April 2012 by Lou
Matt Garza was dominant in the Cubs 8-0 win over the Brewers today at Wrigley Field. Garza should have even had a complete game shutout if he hadn’t thrown the ball into the stands on Aoki’s come-backer with 2 outs in the 9th inning. That was his 119th pitch and Manager Dale Sveum decided it was time to pull the righty. Garza ended up going 8 2/3 innings, scattering 3 hits and 2 walks while striking out 9. The Cubs have had some great starting pitching efforts so far this season from Ryan Dempster, Garza and Jeff Samardzija. Now if they could just get some consistent hitting, they might be able to string some wins together here.
The big inning for the Cubs came in the 3rd when they rocked Zach Greinke for 6 hits in 7 batters scoring 6 runs. Steve Clevenger had 2 doubles, a single and scored 2 runs. David DeJesus, Starlin Castro and Ian Stewart each had 2 hits. Castro and Alfonso Soriano each had 2 RBI’s.
The 2-5 start was not exactly what the Cubs wanted, but it is what it is, and now they need to get off to a better start on the road with games against the Cardinals in St. Louis and the Marlins in Miami…
Posted on 11 April 2012 by Lou
Ouch – this series against the Brewers at Wrigley has been downright awful. Not sure why I thought this team as constructed would be able to compete on a daily basis, but it is very clear that Theo & Co. have a LOT of work to do over the next few years. It is going to be a LONG stretch of poor play on the north side for Cubs fans. We’ve already endured the miserable 2010 and 2011 MLB seasons and it doesn’t look like anything is going to all that much better in 2012 or 2013.
The Cubs dropped the series opener to the Brewers on Monday night 7-5. Chris Volstad had a ho-hum start for the Cubs – 5 innings, 3 ER on 5 hits and 2 walks with 6 K’s. Shawn Camp was bad in his 2 innings of work – he allowed the Brewers to increase their lead with 3 more ER on 5 hits. His ERA balooned to 8.10 and his WHIP rose over 2 at 2.10. Not good.
The Cubs rallied in the 9th to cut the lead to 7-5 and had the bases loaded with 2 outs for their best hitter – Starlin Castro. But John Axford got Castro on 3 straight pitches, and just like that, the game was over.
In game 2, Paul Maholm gave the Brew Crew a nice 5-run cushion in the 1st inning and just like that the game was over. Maholm lasted just 4 innings in his dismal 1st start as a Cub – 6 ER on 6 hits, 2 walks and 2 HBP. Not good. David DeJesus and Alfonso Soriano are the only 2 Cubs hitters batting consistently. Each player had 2 hits and Soriano had 2 RBI’s.
In Game 3, Ryan Dempster pitched his heart out for a 2nd second start, but it wasn’t meant to be … again. Dempster protected a 1-0 lead all the way into the 7th inning before he served up a 2-run jack to back-up catcher George Kottaras with 2 outs in the inning. That would be enough for the Brewers to rack up a 3rd straight win over the Cubs as Yovani Gallardo overmatched the Cubs through 7 innings. Game, set match.
Kudos to Dempster, however. He scattered 5 hits and 3 walks over 6 2/3 innings pitched and is sporting a nasty 0.91 WHIP and 1.88 ERA despite his 0-1 record.
Matt Garza tries to keep the Cubs from being swept by the Brewers on Thursday afternoon at the Friendly Confines…
Posted on 09 April 2012 by Lou
The Cubs rode Jeff Samardzija 8 2/3 innings to get their 1st win of the 2012 MLB campaign. Samardzija was one of the Cubs top pitchers all spring and he carried that over into the 2012 regular season. He should have gotten the complete game 4-1 win if not for Starlin Castro’s 9th inning error with 2 outs. Manager Dale Sveum then kept Samardzija in the game, but he served up Adam LaRoche’s 2-run home run which cut the Cubs lead to 4-3. That prompted Sveum to tab Cubs closer Carlos Marmol to close out the game.
Marmol suffered the loss in Thursday’s opener and gave up 2 more earned runs in Saturday’s loss to the Nats, but someone had to get the Cubs out of the jam. Despite walking Jayson Werth to put the tying run on base, Marmol induced former Cub Xavier Nady to pop out to Ian Stewart right in front of the Cubs dugout. That gave the Cubs their 1st 2012 win and Samardzija of what looks to be one of many wins this season.
Samardzija struck out 8 in his outing and most importantly, he did not walk a batter. He scattered 4 hits and gave up just 1 ER.
Satrlin Catrso had 2 hits, 2 runs and 2 RBI. Bryan LaHair – in his 1st start of the season – also had 2 hits. Alfonso Soriano drove in 2 runs with a single and a sacrifice fly.
It has been a rough opening weekend series for the Cubs who could have been 0-3, 2-1 or 3-0. Instead they are sitting at 1-2 in last place in the NL Central. What else is new?!
Posted on 17 February 2012 by Lou
The Cubs still owe compensation to the Boston Red Sox for allowing the north siders to hire GM Theo Epstein as the Cubs new President of Baseball Operations. After the sides tried to work out the determination of that compensation on their own, the 2 sides have agreed to let Commissioner Bud Selig make the call. Although both sides remain mum on the situation, each team has presented a written argument to Selig regarding what it believes to be the proper “value” or “consideration for the Epstein departure to the Cubs. Selig has given no indication where he stands on the issue and he has not given a timetable for when his decision will be disclosed to the teams.
Now that it looks like Carl Crawford is going to start the season on the DL, maybe we can send Alfonso Soriano their way for a few extra million?! He could even DH for them once Big Papi leaves after the 2012 campaign.
We’ll keep you posted as soon as we hear anything…
Posted on 13 February 2012 by Lou
The A’s signed Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes to a 4-year, $36 million deal further proving that the Cubs are the best decoys in baseball today. Cespedes himself said that he felt like the Cubs were the most active team pursuing him for his services. And from the sounds of things, it doesn’t look like the Cubs even made him a competitive offer (the Marlins reportedly offered Cespedes $36 million as well, but for 6 years of his time). Go back to the Albert Pujols saga. Supposedly the Cubs made Pujols a legit offer. Shortly thereafter, he signed a 10-year deal with the Angels. The Cubs were allegedly quietly pursuing Prince Fielder too. But no offer was made and Fielder signed a 9-year deal with the Tigers.
Theo Epstein and his crew have always been known for keeping things close to the vest and for potentially disseminating exaggerated information. And it looks like that trend has already started with the Cubs. Most of the time I like the tactic. You might be able to drive up the price of a player who you know you will never sign. It might also help you sneak in and snag a player out from someone else’s grasp if you really want them that bad. But right now, with the Cubs team in such shambles, it’s hard to hear all of these rumors floating around all the time and then come up empty-handed. Granted with Cespedes, I would have been completely shocked if they made a crazy offer to sign a 26-year old Cuban defector who has never played a single inning at the major league level. It just didn’t fit into the new management’s MO. You’re gonna pass on Pujols and Fielder – 2 proven stars – but then throw a ton of cash at someone in the hopes that he’ll be a star?! No way.
So another day has passed and the Cubs have stayed pat, waiting their time. Sure, more salary comes off the books in 2013. No more Ryan Dempster. No more Marlon Byrd. And maybe with only 2-years and $36 million left on his deal, the Cubs will be willing to move Alfonso Soriano and eat $25-30 million just for a team to take him. If some of these youngsters show some promise (Brett Jackson, Anthony Rizzo, Adrian Cardenas), then maybe Theo and Co. will target a free agent or 2 to try to sign in the off-season to complement the major league roster. But it is sure going to be a slow process on the north side. Based on their moves (or rather lack of moves) this winter, it is clear that they have a plan and that they are going to stick to that plan no matter what…
Posted on 10 February 2012 by Lou
GM Jed Hoyer made it pretty clear that Alfonso Soriano is the Cubs starting left fielder heading into the 2012 MLB campaign. Boo!!!
The Cubs GM was on with ESPN Radio 1000′s Carmen, Jurko and Harry show on Thursday afternoon and made the following statement: “I think that’s unlikely [that Soriano would be on another team at the start of the season]. Our hope certainly… I know Soriano’s been working really hard this offseason … our hope is obviously you want him to get on base a little more. The power was there last year, the RBI’s were there. Obviously it really comes down to defense and we’re hoping with some better conditioning and some better health, that he can be a little better out there.”
That is not what I wanted to hear. On the other hand, with no other real power threat in the lineup, having Soriano in there might not be that bad of an option (assuming he can stay healthy).
Posted on 30 December 2011 by Lou
The Cubs inked Reed Johnson to a 1-year deal for the 2012 MLB season. After spending the 2010 with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Johnson rebounded with the Cubs in 2011. He started 49 games and racked up 266 at-bats in 111 games. He gained significant playing time with a nice .309 batting average and an impressive .816 OPS. Johnson’s role with the Cubs will remain as the 4th outfielder behind Alfonso Soriano, Marlon Byrd and recently acquired David DeJesus.
Posted on 29 November 2011 by Lou
Numerous reports have confirmed that the Cubs have contacted Albert Pujols’ agent regarding the big slugger. While some Cubs fans seem overly excited about the prospects about landing the best hitter in baseball, I have a feeling that this is a HUGE ploy by Theo & Co. Knowing how the Cubs have been hampered by Alfonso Soriano’s 8-year deal and knowing how Theo & Co. rarely enter into a bad “long-term” deal (the 7-year, $142 million Carl Crawford notwithstanding), the Cubs won’t make this deal. You heard it hear first. 8, 9, 10 years for a 32-year old 1st baseman entering the twilight of his career? What happens in Year 6, when Albert Pujols enters the year at 37 years of age and you still owe him a whopping $25-30 million a year for 5 more years?! That’s exactly what we’ve been doing with Soriano for the last 2 years and we still have 3 more years left on his deal. Now sure, Pujols is MUCH MORE productive than Soriano, but it still does not justify mortgaging the club again when we’re so close to getting out from the Soriano deal in another year or two.
So why are the rumors spreading about the Cubs making a play for Pujols? There are several reasons:
1. It drives the price up on the Pujols sweepstakes, maybe knocking him out of the Cardinals price range and sending him to the NL East Marlins or Nationals or the American League with the Texas Rangers or Anaheim Angels. That weakens the Cardinals big time with a move like that.
2. With the Yankees (Mark Teixeira) and Red Sox (Adrian Gonzalez) “probably” out of the mix for Pujols or Prince Fielder (you can never say never with either team however), it is plausible that the Cubs could land either player for a “steal of a deal” without the 2 highest payroll teams driving up the price further. So it is “conceivable” that the Cubs would make a play for Pujols.
3. It also hides your cards if your real intent is to go hard for the younger (Fielder is only 27 years old) 1st baseman. Epstein and Fielder’s agent Scott Boras have been known to get deals done and what better way to swoop in and make him an offer he can’t refuse than to let everybody think you’re going after Pujols. New skipper Dale Sveum was Fielder’s hitting coach in Milwaukee and the 2 have a good working relationship. With tons of money coming off of the books the next year, Theo & Co. can also make a commitment to Fielder that in addition to building from within, the Cubs will also have much more flexibility to add pieces from the outside through free agency after the 2012 season. With Theo & Co.’s track record, Fielder has to be reassured that the Cubs will be competitive just about every season once they get things settled.
Maybe I’m just hoping for the best-case ideal scenario – a 1-2-3 combo of Brett Jackson, Starlin Castro and Fielder as the future of a potent offensive lineup – but don’t surprised if Theo & Co. pull off this miracle signing within the next week. Imagine the buzz on the north side then…