Posted on 27 May 2011 by Lou
The Cubs offense took it to the Mets pitching twice this series – today it was a 17-hit, 9-run attack that paved the way for an easy 9-3 win at Wrigley on Thursday afternoon. Like Ryan Dempster in Tuesday night’s big win, Carlos Zambrano was the beneficiary of the big day. Zambrano worked 6+ innings, giving up just 2 runs (1 earned) on 6 hits and 2 walks in a solid effort. Big Z picked up his 5th win of the season and also added 3 hits, 1 RBI and 1 run scored.
Kosuke Fukudome broke out of his little mini slump with 3 hits, including a solo home run off of Jason Isringhausen in the 8th inning. It was his 1st homer of the year and only his 4th RBI on the season. Tony Campana also added 3 hits in the win and Darwin Barney, Blake DeWitt and Alfonso Soriano each had 2 hits as well. Carlos Pena clubbed homer #6 on the season in the 4th inning – his 2-run shot gave the Cubs a 2-1 lead.
Kudos to Big Z for not losing his cool in the top of the 3rd inning. Jose Reyes lined an extra base hit down the right field line. As Reyes cruised into 2nd base, Fukudome’s errant throw to Darwin Barney got away from him and Reyes was able to move over to 3rd base on the error. But then Barney made matters worse by trying to throw out Reyes at 3rd base. Barney’s throw eluded 3rd baseman Blake DeWitt and Reyes was able to race home with the game’s 1st run. It literally looked like a little league home run, but what else do you expect from this under-achieving Cubs squad in 2011? Check out the video here — .
The Cubs improved their record to 22-26, but they still trail the Cards by 6.5 games in the NL Central race.
Posted on 04 May 2011 by Lou
Ryan Dempster finally turned in a good outing and Carlos Pena finally delivered his 1st home run of 2011 as the Cubs rallied late to beat the Dodgers 4-1 in Los Angeles.
Dempster pitched 7 effective innings in his best start of 2011. Dempster allowed just 1 ER on 6 hits and 2 walks during his outing and although he didn’t factor in the decision, he was thrilled that he finally gave his team a chance to win during one of his starts.
Carlos Pena has struggled all season long and he was still looking for his 1st home run heading into last night’s game. Pena came through with a clutch game-tying home run in the top of the 7th inning off of Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley. Pena also came around to score on Geovany Soto’s game-winning double after he worked a 1-out walk in the top of the 9th inning that moved the winning run over into scoring position. Soto delivered the big game winning hit with 2 outs and Blake DeWitt followed that up with an RBI single to give the Cubs a 4-1 cushion.
After Dempster left the game, the bullpen did what they’ve been doing for the majority of 2011. Kerry Wood worked a 1-2-3 8th inning and ended up picking up his 1st win of 2011 when the Cubs scored 3 in the 9th. Carlos Marmol then notched his 8th save of 2011 with a 1-2-3 9th inning. Wood and Marmol both have WHIP’s under 1.09 and ERA’s under 1.84. This gives Manager Mike Quade and the Cubs a TON of confidence when they have the lead in the late innings and they know they can hand the ball over to Wood, Marmol and Sean Marshall. Cubs sit at 13-16 with 1 more game left against the Dodgers on Wednesday afternoon.
Posted on 31 March 2011 by Lou
Manager Mike Quade announced that Darwin Barney will be the Cubs starting 2nd baseman for the 2011 club on Friday. Barney will be the first rookie to start on Opening Day since Kosuke Fukudome started in right for the Cubs as a 30-year old rookie back in 2008. Barney compiled a solid .340 batting average in 21 spring training games. Jeff Baker put up a good fight with Barney, hitting .360 in 19 Cactus League games, but Quade opted to go with the rookie right off the bat. Barney is excited to make the start – “No butterflies yet, but I’m excited. It’s a great opportunity, but there’s one thing on my mind, and that’s trying to win the ballgame. And I think that’s what this whole team is looking to do. We’re looking to get off to a good start.”
Blake DeWitt, who was considered the front runner heading into spring training this February for the starting 2nd base job, had a rough spring. DeWitt hit only .186 in 21 spring games as he continues to work through the mechanics of a new swing with hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo. That being said, Quade also indicated that the left-handed hitting DeWitt will likely start at 2nd base against a right-handed pitcher early on this season – probably in the 1st week.
This is a surprising outcome, but if you go with performance, Barney clearly had the bet showing in spring training this year. It is also great to see that Quade has control over the team and can make his own decisions without having to worry about GM Jim Hendry trying to influence things too much. Naming Ryan Dempster the Cubs’ opening day starter instead of Carlos Zambrano is another example of Quade making his own decisions and doing whatever it takes to give his club the best chance to win each day. I like his attitude and make–up so far. Now we’ll have to see if it translates consistently into W’s this season…
Posted on 26 March 2011 by Lou
Randy Wells officially earned a spot in the starting rotation with another solid start in the Cubs 6-3 win over the Mariners. Wells pitched 5 2/3 innings allowing just 3 ER on 5 hits and 3 walks. He also struck out 8. His spring ERA now sits at 2.10 and even though he didn’t earn the win, he continues to put the Cubs in great positions to win in each and every one of his starts. That’s really all you can expect for the #4 man in your rotation. If Wells continues these types of performances during the 2011 regular season, the Cubs could end up surprising a lot of teams this season.
Jeff Samardzija got wells out of trouble in the 6th inning and will be a fixture in the Cubs bullpen this season.
Sean Marshall also worked a scoreless inning to preserve the Cubs win.
And John Grabow got back into action with a scoreless inning. Grabow should be ready by the time camp breaks on Thursday.
The Cubs rallied from a 3-2 deficit with a 4-run 7th inning with some great at-bats. Tyler Colvin led off the inning with a walk. Josh Vitters doubled him over to 3rd and Blake DeWitt had an infield single to load the bases with 1 out. Starlin Castro came through with a clutch bases-clearing double that gave the Cubs a 5-3 lead. Timely hitting like that will go a long for the Cubs in 2011.
The Cubs have now won 3 in a row and seem to be getting back on track just in the nick of time for real action to start this coming week.
Posted on 14 March 2011 by Lou
Carlos Zambrano continued his spring dominance with a nifty 5 inning effort in a Cubs 4-3 win over the Dodgers on Sunday. Big Z scattered 6 hits and let up just 1 ER. He walked one, struck out 3 and lowered his ERA to 1.38 in the process. Manager Mike Quade and the Cubs have to be thrilled with Zambrano’s consistency and composure this spring.
On the offensive side of the ball, Starlin Castro keeps raking – he had 3 more hits and is now hitting .485 for the spring. Jeff Baker also had 3 hits and is looking like a great option for Quade in a platoon with Blake DeWitt at 2nd base this season.
With the win, the Cubs inched a little bit closer to the .500 mark at 8-10 on the spring.
Posted on 08 March 2011 by Lou
Carlos Zambrano continues to impress with a solid spring thus far. Zambrano pitched 3 innings against the Colorado Rockies, giving up just 1 ER on 5 hits and no walks. He struck out 1, but you have to love the fact that his control has been outstanding this spring. In 3 starts, Zambrano has put together an exciting 1.13 ERA.
Sean Marshall tossed a scoreless inning in relief and lowered his spring ERA to 2.70.
In a bid to make the opening day roster, Braden Looper was roughed up for 3 runs on a 3-run home run in the 7th inning. Looper now has a 7.20 spring ERA.
The Cubs bats were extremely quiet in the loss. The Cubs managed just 5 hits and no runs against 5 Rockies pitchers. Blake DeWitt, Starlin Castro and Geovany Soto each had hits.
Posted on 24 February 2011 by Lou
Manager Mike Quade is sure that Aramis Ramirez will bat 4th in the Cubs lineup each and every day. The rest of the lineup is not so clear. “I see him as such a good RBI guy that it makes sense in the four-hole. He’s a guy who, as much as mizing and matching that I do, he doesn’t figure to be one of the guys I’ll mix and match with. Some guys don’t care [where they are in the lineup], and I know he does. He seems like the four-hole to me because I want him driving in runs. But I’m a grownup and I reserve the right to change my mind.”
Quade has indicated that Starlin Castro will likely hit in the 2-spot. Quade has hinted that Castro could some day be a lead-off hitter, but he doesn’t want to put too much pressure on the youngster, especially in his 2nd year which can often lead to a “sophomore slump.” Quade likes Kosuke Fukudome in the lead-off spot for some reason. He likes the fact that Fukudome makes pitchers throw a lot of pitches, but I think he is just way too inconsistent. He may have a good few weeks or so, but then he has the capability of disappearing for weeks at a time.
It should be interesting as spring progresses. Let’s hope someone emerges to claim that 3rd spot in the lineup. Marlon Byrd seems like the best fit because Carlos Pena and Alfonso Soriano strike out way too much there. But if a guy like Blake DeWitt emerges with a good spring, could we see Quade got with Fukudome, DeWitt and Castro in the top 3 spots? We’ll keep you posted as soon as we hear anything concrete out of Mesa…
Posted on 18 February 2011 by Lou
Blake DeWitt is the clear favorite to win the 2nd base job coming out of spring training 2011. The bigger question is whether DeWitt will show enough to warrant consideration for the lead-off spot as well. In 53 games for the Cubs after a mid-season trade in 2010, DeWitt hit .250 with a .314 on-base percentage. His career numbers are a little bit better – .259 and .335. DeWitt re-worked his swing this winter, working with Cubs hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo on his heralded hitting system. The system involves a 5-point program that focuses on 5 elements of body positioning and thinking about how you apprach each at-bat. DeWitt is getting the hang of it and is excited for live game action – “His system is something I enjoy. I’ve been able to implement that, and it’s really not that complicated if you stick with it.” DeWitt is only 25 years old so he still has a lot of upside potential.
While DeWitt could hit lead-off, he will likely hit down in the order – 7 or 8. He may also spend time on the bench against left-handed pitchers according to Manager Mike Quade. Quade likes to play the match-ups and Jeff Baker is a solid platoon option. Baker hit .350 against lefties in 2010 and had good overall numbers in 79 games – .272 batting average and .326 on-base percentage. While we might see Baker or DeWitt at the top of the order from time to time, Quade has hinted that he will likely go with right fielder Kosuke Fukudome to lead-off against righties. With a lefty on the bump, Quade hasn’t tipped his hand yet, but we could see Starlin Castro, Alfonso Soriano or Baker there depending on the pitcher.
Players reported to Cubs camp today, so we’ll keep you posted as things progress…
DeWitt will likely spend
Posted on 08 February 2011 by Lou
Where Geovany Soto and Blake DeWitt fit into the Cubs lineup for 2011 makes for some interesting chats.
Soto rebounded from a down 2009 MLB season with a solid 2010 campaign. Soto had a career-best .393 on-base percentage during the season and hit with HR’s and RBI’s. Will we see Soto higher up in the lineup? Probably not. Soto is better suited to be in the 5, 6 or 7 spot where he can drive in runs. He is a patient hitter, so if runners are on base in front of him, he puts pitchers in a tough position. They can walk him and put more runners on base, or they can pitch to him and risk letting him be the hero by driving in runs. Look for Aramis Ramirez to move up to the 3-spot in 2011, with Carlos Pena batting clean-up, Marlon Byrd in the 5-hole and Soto in the 6-hole.
Blake DeWitt is gearing up for a productive 2010. DeWitt spent the off-season eliminating a tap mechanism from his batting stance. The Cubs hope that the new hitting stance will give DeWitt an extra advantage against pitchers and allow him to be more patient at the plate. Hitting Coach Rudy Jaramillo has already spent time with DeWitt in Arizona, so he should be ahead of the game once camp breaks later this month.
These are all good signs Cubs fans. With expectations so low for this unpredictable ball club, the Cubs could end up surprising some people in 2011…
Posted on 27 January 2011 by Lou
The Chicago Cubs have invited former fan favorite Augie Ojeda to Spring Training 2011 in Mesa, Arizona next month. Ojeda will be 1 of 21 non-roster invitees in camp. Ojeda played for the Cubs from 2000-2003 and is now 36 years old. In his last season playing with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Ojeda has played in only 59 games and his batting average is under .200. But he will serve a purpose as an innings-eater this spring for the Cubs.
Great news, Cubs fans — it will be nice to have a nice guy in the mix in Mesa this spring. Ojeda will also have a lot to offer some of the up-and-coming young Cubs infield stars (Starlin Castro, Blake DeWitt), so it is win-win all-around.