Posted on 09 April 2011 by Lou
Carlos Zambrano didn’t have his best stuff, but he tossed 6 effective innings and matched a career-high with his 9th win in a row (dating back to last season). Zambrano gave up 4 ER on 7 hits and 3 walks, with 5 K’s, but had a quick 1-2-3 6th inning to keep the lead at 6-4 after his 112th pitch of the game. It was clear that he still had enough gas left in the tank and despite his less-than-stellar outing, he kept his wits about him and focused on getting through 6 innings to hand the ball off to the Cubs promising bullpen.
And boy did they do a great job. Sean Marshall worked an 11-pitch 1-2-3 7th inning with 1 K – hold #2 on the season. Kerry Wood worked a 9-pitch 1-2-3 8th inning – hold #3 on the season. And while Carlos Marmol allowed 2 batters to reach base, he struck out 2 in the 9th inning to preserve the win and pick up his 3rd save. Manager Mike Quade has gotta be pleased with this formula and as long as these guys stay healthy (Wood especially), there’s no reason to think that the Cubs shouldn’t feel comfortable with a late-inning lead.
The Cubs offense also pounded out 12 hits and 7 runs, lead by Jeff baker’s 4-hit game. Baker hit a go-ahead 3-run HR in the 4th inning and the Cubs never looked back. He had 4 RBI’s and 2 runs scored and is just crushing left-handed pitching. Geovany Soto hit a 2-run HR that tied the game at 2 in the 4th inning, while Marlon Byrd and Alfonso Soriano each had 2 hits in the win.
Matt Garza takes the bump against Chris Narverson in Game 2 of the series at Miller Park tonight. Let’s see if they can make it 2 in a row…
Posted on 05 April 2011 by Lou
Randy Wells picked up right where he left off from spring training as he pitched a gem to lead the Cubs to a 4-1 over the Arizona Diamondbacks at Wrigley Field on Monday afternoon. Wells got the 1st win for any Cubs starter as he tossed 6 solid innings. After giving up a lead-off home run, Wells allowed no runs, 5 hits and 4 walks over the next 18 outs to earn the victory. He struck out 6 on the day. He was happy with the start despite the walks – “A little sloppy… You never want to be around the belt or mid-thighs. Try to attack the bottom of the zone and good things happen.”
The bullpen did the rest as Sean Marshall, Marcos Mateo and John Grabow each recorded an out in the 7th inning to preserve a 2-1 Cubs lead. After a Starlin Castro error allowed the tying run to reach base in the 8th inning, Kerry Wood worked out of a bases loaded, 1-out jam to keep the DBacks off the board. Carlos Marmol bounced back from a blown save on Sunday to pick up the save. It was Wood’s 2nd hold off the early season and Marmol’s 2nd save of the season as each pitcher pitched in 3 consecutive games. Marshall, Grabow, Wood and Marmol are all going to have to have above average years if the Cubs expect to make some noise in the NL Central race this season.
Timely hitting also helped the Cubs. Alfonso Soriano hit his 2nd home run in as many days to tie the game at 1 in the 3rd inning. Carlos Pena’s sacrifice fly in the 4th inning put the Cubs ahead for good. And Geovany Soto and Soriano gave the Cubs some insurance runs with run scoring hits in the bottom of the 8th inning.
The Cubs are back at .500 at 2-2…
Posted on 04 April 2011 by Lou
It was the same old story for the Cubs during their opening weekend series loss to the Pirates at Wrigley Field. By dropping 2 of 3 to the Pirates, the Cubs already fell 2 games behind the Cincinnati Reds (who swept the Milwaukee Brewers) for 1st place in the NL Central.
Friday Opener – Cubs 3, Pirates 6. Ryan Dempster took the loss as he gave up a grand slam to Neil Walker in the 5th inning and a 2-run home run to Andrew McCutchen in the 7th inning on his 114th pitch of the game. A lack of clutch timely hitting hurt the Cubs as it did oh so often in 2010. It became the theme for the weekend. With the bases loaded and only 1 out in the 3rd inning, Carlos Pena grounded out in a fielder’s choice and the Cubs were held to 1 run instead of having a big inning. In the bottom of the 7th, with 2 on and only 1 out, Marlon Byrd and Aramis Ramirez flew out to end the scoring chance. The same exact thing happened in the 9th inning with 1 out. This time Byrd struck out and Ramirez grounded out to end the game. Not good.
Saturday #2 – Cubs 5, Pirates 3. Although the Cubs rallied to win the game, the Cubs wasted 2 runners in each of the 5th and 6th innings without scoring any runs. Kudos to the Cubs hitters for taking advantage of Lyle Overbay’s error in the 8th inning that permitted the Cubs to score 3 unearned runs and win the game. Blake DeWitt proved his worth as a pinch hitter by delivering the game-winning 2-run double. Big Z kept the Cubs in the game by allowing just 3 ER in 6 good innings of work and he didn’t let the lack of run support get him down. Kerry Wood, Sean Marshall and Carlos Marmol all looked sharp in their 1st 2011 game action. Each reliever tossed a scoreless inning of relief without allowing a single hit. Wood had 2 K’s, Marshall had 1 K and Marmol struck out the side in the 9th inning for his 1st save of the season.
Sunday #3 – Cubs 4, Pirates 4. The Cubs came back from 2-0 and 3-2 deficits to take a 4-3 lead on Alfonso Soriano’s solo home run in the 6th inning. However, a leadoff walk by Carlos Marmol in the 9th inning came to haunt him. Pedro Alvarez’s 2-run single gave the Pirates the 5-4 win. Matt Garza was not good. Although Garza worked out of trouble well, he allowed way too many base runners – 12 hits?! You gotta love the 12 K’s though. Once again, the game should not have been that close as the Cubs blew numerous opportunities to have a big inning. The Cubs got runners on in each of the 1st 2 innings but never scored. In the 4th inning, Carlos Pena tied the game at 2 with a 2-run double with nobody out. But with 2nd and third and nobody out, Geovany Soto and Alfonso Soriano could not push another run across with weak flyouts. Then the Pirates smartly walked Tyler Colvin to get the easy Matt Garza out to end the inning without any further damage. This was completely unacceptable and you just knew it would come back to haunt them at the time. Soto failed to come through in the 5th inning with 2 on and 2 out as he grounded out to end the inning. Then again in the 9th inning down by 1, the Cubs blew a great chance to win the game or at least send it into extra innings. With 1st and 2nd and only 1 out, Byrd grounded into the game-ending double play. Not good.
All in all, the pitching was pretty good, especially the bullpen (ignoring Marmol’s blown save on Sunday). Then again, the Cubs continue to show that they have trouble pushing across runs and winning close games. Manager Mike Quade needs to nip this in the bud before the trend grows too strong…
Posted on 25 March 2011 by Lou
WOW – what an ugly win for the Cubs over the White Sox on Thursday. There were some positives, but also a LOT of negatives.
It was great that the Cubs hung on to win, but the White Sox actually out-hit the Cubs 16-8. Ouch. Good pitching was clearly not on display yesterday in Mesa.
I’m still waiting for Matt Garza to have that breakout start that shows it was a smart decision for the Cubs to unload 4 top prospects for the big righty from the Tampa Bay Rays. Garza started off well with 3 straight scoreless innings to start the game. But he ended up giving up 3 ER on 8 hits and 2 walks which actually lowered his ERA to 8.68 for the spring. But a 2.0 WHIP during a game is never good, even if you end up winning. Not sure if Garza is still fine-tuning things and working on pitches no matter what the situation in the game, but I really hope that he starts pitching for real before the season starts. He has 1 more start next week before he makes his Cubs debut next Sunday at Wrigley Field, so it would be nice to see a stellar outing out of Garza early next week.
The bullpen didn’t fare much better. Braden Looper gave up a run on 3 hits and a walk in his 2 innings of work and is out of the running for being the Cubs 5th starter. James Russell gave up 2ER on 2 solo home runs in the 8th inning, but will likely still make the opening day roster as a lefty reliever. And Carlos Marmol gave up a run in the 9th inning but managed to shut the door on the White Sox to preserve the 1-run win for the Cubs. All in all, it was a horrible showing by the pitching staff.
The bats finally came to life in the win. Alfonso Soriano had a solo home run and had 2 RBI’s on the day. Darwin Barney continued to show Manager Mike Quade that he deserves a shot at starting at 2B this season. He had 2 more hits including a triple and he drove in 2 runs and scored 1 run. Marlon Byrd continued his torrid hitting and had 2 RBI’s. Satrlin Castro had a double and a walk and scored 2 runs.
When these guys are being patient and swinging the bats well, the Cubs are capable of putting up some runs each game. But is a matter of consistency and hoping that guys like Carlos Pena, Alfonso Soriano and Geovany Soto all don’t go into prolonged slumps at the same time.
It’s a week away from opening day – can’t wait for another fun MLB schedule to begin…
Posted on 09 March 2011 by Lou
Trouble Cubs fans — Matt Garza’s spring struggles continued as the big righty surrendered 5 ER in the 1st inning alone. Garza ended up working just 2 2/3 innings in his 2nd loss of the spring. Garza had major control issues as he walked 4 batters and gave up 6 hits. Not a good sign for a team that invested a lot of quality prospects in the bid to acquire Garza from the Tampa Bay Rays this off-season. The Cubs hope that Garza figures out his issues during the next 4 weeks before the start of the 2011 MLB Campaign.
The rest of the Cubs staff had some issues as well. Justin Berg allowed 2 more ER in 1 inning of work and his ERA now stands at 60.75. After a decent showing in some relief work in 2010, it looks like Berg will be headed down to the minor leagues to start the season. Esmailin Caridad had his 1st rough outing of the spring. He gave up 3 ER on 3 hits in the 9th inning of the loss.
Two pitchers looked good — Carlos Marmol threw a perfect inning with 2 K’s and has yet to give up a run this spring. Jeff Stevens worked a scoreless inning and lowered his ERA to 3.00.
Couple of big positives:
The Cubs did not commit a single error – shocking.
Marlon Byrd continued to swing a hot bat and seems locked into the 3rd position in the Cubs lineup. Byrd had 2 more hits including his 1st home run of the spring and is now hitting .650. He should see a lot of good pitches during the regular season in front of slugger Aramis Ramirez.
The Cubs continue to have a losing record this spring. Will it get any better once the real games start in April???
Posted on 19 February 2011 by Lou
It’s finally here — the first full squad workout for the 2011 Chicago Cubs major league baseball team. Sure, some of the guys won’t be on the opening day roster come April 1st, but there is still a lot of excitement and buzz this spring as some old and new faces re-unite in Mesa for Spring Training.
Manager Mike Quade is excited to get his full first season as skipper started off on a positive note. Quade has indicated that he will “lay down a little bit of the direction I’d like to see us going, some things I’d like to do, both philosophically and technically.”
It is an interesting time for Cubs fans. There are a lot of question marks on the team. Who will round out the starting rotation after Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza? Who will win the 2nd base job or will it be more of a platoon? Who will bat lead-off? How will Quade work Tyler Colvin and Kosuke Fukudome into the lineup consistently? And who will wind up in the bullpen after Carlos Marmol, Sean Marshall, Kerry Wood and John Grabow? Hopefully a lot of these questions will be answered over the next 6 weeks of spring play for the Cubs. We’ll keep you posted as soon as anything big breaks on the wire…
Posted on 14 February 2011 by Lou
Great news Cubs fans – Carlos Marmol & the Cubs agreed upon a 3-year, $20 million deal today. The deal will pay him $3.2 million in 2011, $7 million in 2012 and $9.8 million in 2013. Marmol is 28 years old and he gives up his 1st year of free agency by agreeing to the 3-year deal. Marmol converted 38 of 43 save opportunities in 2010 and he set a major league record for strikeouts per 9 inning averaging 15.99 K’s. Everyone seems to be thrilled with the deal.
GM Jim Hendry had this to say about locking up Marmol long-term: “Carlos is rewarded with well-deserved security… The great ones are hard to find. Obviously, the numbers the kid puts up and the year he had last year were starting to approach the upper echelon of the game. At 28, he’s never had any health issues. Hopefully, he can keep getting better and stay healthy and you have one of the better guys in the business. He’s obviously handled the big market, handled the big stage and he’s a good teammate.”
Marmol himself was thrilled to be able to stay long-term with the team that drafted him back in 1999 as a catcher: “I want to secure my life, my family, my career. It’s not about money, it’s about security. I feel good in Chicago. Hopefully, I can sign a 10-year deal… I grew up in this organization, and Oneri and Jim have been here for me.”
And Manager Mike Quade loves the fact that he has someone he can count on at the end of close games: “To have somebody you can count on to finish a game is huge. It’s been talked about a bunch of times about how devastating late-inning losses can be. ‘Marm’ has been good, he’s going to be better. That’s good stuff for ‘Marm’ and his agent for putting that deal together.”
Now the Cubs can settle in on getting ready this spring and winning games during the 2011 MLB schedule…
Posted on 04 February 2011 by Lou
Following up our Carlos Marmol story from the other day, it looks like a long-term deal is imminent for Carlos Marmol. The Cubs have indicated that a physical exam during spring training will be a prerequisite for the deal to become official. This is not a big surprise. The Cubs want to lock up Marmol long-term, but they also want to make sure there isn’t anything to be concerned with from a health perspective. Let’s hope Marmol complies with the exam request and then we’ll be excited to hear about the terms of the long-term deal. Marmol saved 38 out of 43 chances for the Cubs in 2010. He struck out 138 hitters over just 77+ innings. That 15.99 K’s per 9 innings was a major league record. Give the guy a deal and let him go to work. Just think what he could do if the Cubs actually had an offense one of these years…
Posted on 02 February 2011 by Lou
What will the Cubs and General Manager Jim Hendry do with Closer Carlos Marmol and Starter Matt Garza.
Marmol has emerged as a reliable and dependable closer. He has 2 years of arbitration left. Marmol is seeking $5.6 million for the 2011 MLB season, while the Cubs have offered $4.1 million. Will the 2 sides meet in the middle or will the case go to arbitration? Or could we see the 2 sides agree to a long-term deal that locks in Marmol as the Cubs closer for 3 or 4 years down the line. A 3-year, $20 million deal or a 4-year, $30 million deal could make both sides happy. The Cubs would get a little discount while Marmol would get some added security given the fact that he as averaged almost 80 appearances over the last 3 seasons. That is a lot of mileage on one pitcher’s arm.
The Cubs face a similar dilemma with Garza, although, Garza still has 3 years of arbitration left. Plus, Garza has yet to pitch in a Cubs uniform, so it might be nice to wait a year to make sure both sides are happy before entertaining long-term contract talks. Garza and the Cubs agreed upon a $5.9 million deal for the 2011 MLB schedule. If he keeps winning 15 games and racking up 200 innings pitched, he would likely command $10 million in 2012 and a little more than that in 2013 (his last 2 years of arbitration). Will the sides try to come to terms on a long-term 4-5 year deal? It would be in both sides’ best interests, but again, it will come down to dollars. I have a feeling that the Cubs will hold off on Garza until they see how he handles the pressure in Chicago where fans have long-suffered without a World Series title for way too long.
We’ll keep you posted on either front as soon as anything happens…
Posted on 20 January 2011 by Lou
The Chicago Cubs and Sean Marshall have agreed upon a 2-year deal worth $4.7 million. The deal means that the 2 sides will avoid arbitration.
Marshall had a stellar 2010 campaign as the Cubs most reliable reliever next to Carlos Marmol. Marshall won 7 games and had a 2.65 ERA. Opponents scored in only 14 of the 80 games that Marshall pitched during the 2010 MLB schedule. Marshall’s 80 games pitched and 90 K’s were both career highs. Marshall earned $950,000 in 2010 and the new deal buys out the last 2 arbitration years that he had. Marshall will be a free agent for the 1st time after the 2012 MLB season.
This is great news for Cubs fans. Marshall is a quality pitcher and the 2-year deal takes a little bit of the guess work out of next year. If he continues to excel, who knows, maybe the Cubs will try to lock him up for a few more years after that during the middle of the 2012 season…