Posted on 28 March 2011 by Lou
Congrats to Andrew Cashner – he is going to be the Cubs 5th starter during the 2011 MLB schedule. This came as a bit of a surprise to me, but I love it. As I’ve written before, I think this is a great move to give Cashner some valuable starting experience in a season in which the Cubs have very low expectations for a good season.
Congrats also to Marcos Mateo who earned a spot in the bullpen on the Cubs opening day roster. Mateo had a solid spring in which he compiled a 1.29 ERA in 7 spring appearances.
And good riddance to Carlos Silva. It sucks that the Cubs will end up eating the $11.5 million owed to Silva for this season, but it is the best move for the team. Silva hasn’t pitched well in over a year, he came into camp out of shape, simply assuming that he would be handed a spot in the starting rotation. And he became a cancer in the clubhouse when he started with Aramis Ramirez in the dugout after a bad first inning for the entire team in his 2nd spring start.
I like the Cubs confidence in some of their young pitchers. It won’t always be pretty, but in a year like this where the Cubs have little chance of putting together a quality season, you might as well give some of these guys a shot to see what you really have.
Posted on 23 March 2011 by Lou
So far so good for Carlos Silva today in Mesa – the righty has thrown 6 innings of 1-run ball and the Cubs lead 2-1. This could go a long way in helping Manager Mike Quade and the Cubs decide to go with Silva over Andrew Cashner for the 5th and final starting spot in the Cubs 2011 rotation. After giving up an earned run on 2 hits in the 1st inning, Silva really got into a groove through the next 5 innings. Silva surrendered just 1 hit during that stretch and he has yet to walk a batter while striking out 3. It is also impressive that Silva has made it unscathed through 6 innings. Cashner hasn’t pitched more than 4 innings in any spring appearance, so the length of the start could be a factor in Quade’s decision.
As I stated yesterday, I really think the safe move is to go with Silva in the 5th spot and Cashner out of the bullpen. The Cubs view Cashner as a long-term work-in-progress front-line starter, so there is no need to rush him in a 2011 campaign that will probably leave a lot left to be desired. Cashner hasn’t built up his arm strength to be a starter yet and with less than 10 days to go before the start of the big league season, I have a feeling that the Cubs will opt to go with Cashner out of the bullpen where he had some nice success in 2010. Silva has only this year left on his contract and if he performs well early this spring, the Cubs would more than likely try to move him before the trading deadline, even if they’re still in the hunt for a playoff spot. They would love to move some of Silva’s $12 million salary and if they did move Silva in a trade, they could then stretch out Cashner to be the 5th starter or bring up someone from the minor leagues to take over that 5th spot. Cashner was effective during long stretches in 2010, and although he did endure some bumps along the way, he is a dependable arm in the bullpen for the Cubs.
On a hitting side, although the Cubs have managed just 2 runs on 4 hits in today’s game so far, you had to like the 1st inning when both Geovany Soto and Alfonso Soriano came through with clutch 2-out run-scoring singles to give the Cubs a 2-1 lead. The Cubs are going to need a lot of clutch hitting this season if they expect to be competitive during the long MLB season. Without a lot of fire power outside of Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Pena, the rest of the team is going to need to be patient and get on base. And once on base, the Cubs are going to need to come through with timely hitting, especially with runners in scoring position or with 2 outs. Consistent quality hitting and patience at the plate are going to be 1 HUGE keys for how well this team does in 2011…
Posted on 22 March 2011 by Lou
Has Andrew Cashner done enough this spring to claim the 5th and final spot in the Cubs starting rotation? That is a very good question.
Cashner started Monday’s rain out and made it through 3 rough innings in cold and wet weather conditions. He allowed 4 runs on 7 hits and 2 walks and said that it was tough to control anything out there. He still thinks he has a shot to be a starter in 2011 – “I think I’ve thrown the ball well this whole spring and whatever decision they come up with, that’s what I’m going to do. I thought I’ve given it my best shot. I could’ve pitched better, but I thought I pitched well enough so we’ll see what happens.”
Cashner’s main competition is coming from Carlos Silva. But Silva has had an awful spring with an ERA over 15.00.
The decision might come down to something that has nothing to do with pitching performance. Silva has always been a starter and is likely more effective as a starter (assuming he has the right stuff going). Cashner, on the other hand, pitched the entire 2010 MLB season out of the bullpen and at a young age, the Cubs might opt to take it slow with Cashner. The Cubs might want to limit the number of pitches that Cashner throws this season, and pitching out of the bullpen would be the perfect way to do that. Cashner could work on his pitches in relief and he is a dependable arm in the bullpen as well.
We’ll have to see what Manager Mike Quade and the Cubs decide to do. I have a feeling they are going to play it safe and go with Silva as the #5 starter and Cashner as a reliever. If Silva falters after a few starts, then the Cubs could decide to try to move him in a trade and bring in Cashner as the 5th starter. If Silva excels, the Cubs could still try to move Silva when his trade value is high and use Cashner as the 5th starter or bring someone else up from the minor leagues to take that 5th spot. Given the uncertainty of this 2011 MLB club, I have a feeling that the safe option with Silva as #5 will prevail, even though I would prefer that the Cubs allow Cashner to learn on the job during a season where there should be little pressure on the Cubs to do well.
Posted on 19 March 2011 by Lou
Errors continue to plague the Cubs this spring. The Cubs played 2 split squad games on Tuesday – a 4-2 loss to the Rockies & an 8-1 win over the A’s. In each game, the Cubs committed 2 errors. That brought the Cubs error total to 29 this spring. 29 errors in only ?! That is unacceptable. The Cubs 29 errors are tops in the majors this spring – not a stat you should be proud of…
If the poor fielding trend continues into the real games once the 2011 major league starts on April 1st, it could mean a long season for the Cubs. You can’t give opposing teams 4 outs in an inning too often throughout the season. That type of performance is going to lead to a lot of close losses and those losses add up in a tough NL Central this season. Let’s hope Quade and the rest of the coaching staff can get the team back on track before camp breaks in 2 weeks…
Posted on 18 March 2011 by Lou
Will Carlos Silva be on the Cubs opening day roster when camp breaks at the end of March – that is a key question. With the quality starts by Randy Wells all spring long and the emergence of Andrew Cashner as a viable 5th starter, the Cubs could be looking to move Carlos Silva when camp breaks at the end of March. Lucky for the Cubs, they have some suitors. The Washington Nationals and New York Yankees both have had scouts watching all of Silva’s starts this spring. Both teams are in need of a 5th starter to round out their rotations and the Yankees could easily absorb all or a portion of Silva’s whopping $12 million salary for the 2011 MLB schedule. Despite 2 rough starts to open up the spring and a dugout squirmish with Aramis Ramirez after a dreadful 1st inning in which Silva surrendered 6 runs when his defense committed 3 errors, Silva has put together 2 good starts and clearly still has what it takes to pitch at the major league level. Silva even pitched 5 innings in his last outing and is building up his arm strength.
This would be a great coup for the Cubs if they can find someone to take Silva, even they end up paying for part of his salary to get a deal done. Silva is not in the Cubs long-term plans and by moving Silva for something (a prospect, draft pick, saving some cash), it would be much better than outright releasing the big righty. It would also free up a spot for Cashner to open the season as the Cubs 5th starter. And even if the Cubs have an injury problem or Wells or Cashner struggles out of the gate, they still have some other young options to fall back on with James Russell and Casey Coleman who will most likely start the 2011 campaign starting in the minor leagues.
Posted on 16 March 2011 by Lou
Randy Wells and Andrew Cashner both made good starts on Tuesday which could mean that the duo will round out the Cubs 2011 starting rotation.
Cashner tossed 3 1/3 innings in a split squad game against the A’s, giving up just 1 ER on 2 hits and 3 walks. He had 2 strikeouts. Manager Mike Quade is impressed with the fact that Cashner seems confident in his ability to be effective as a starter at the major league level even though he pitched exclusively out of the bullpen for the Cubs in 2010: “That will take him a long way in his development. I think he enjoys starting. He’s put his heart and soul into this, and I don’t think there’s something in the back that says, ‘Really, I’m a reliever.’ I think hes’ bought into this completely.”
As for Wells, he finally gave up his first runs of the spring. He was tagged for 3 runs (2 earned) in 5 innings of a split squad loss against the Rockies. He has now pitched 14 excellent innings this spring and hopes that he will claim a rotation spot soon. “I have a lot to prove. I don’t think you ca ever do enough. If you’re on that plane to Chicago, you still haven’t done enough… We’ll just keep it rolling and hopefully stay in a nice groove, keep the confidence up and stay healthy, and hopefully everything works out.”
Let’s hope Cashner and Wells keep it up. I would love to see the two make the starting rotation and I would love for GM Jim Hendry to find someone to take on Carlos Silva and his crazy salary. Even if the Cubs have to eat half of it in a trade, I think it would be great for Cashner to get some excellent major league experience as a starter during this “up-in-the-air” 2011 Cubs campaign…
Posted on 07 March 2011 by Lou
WOW – you can’t get much worse than Carlos Silva’s 2nd outing of the spring. EIGHT (8) earned runs on 10 hits and he couldn’t even get out of the 3rd inning. After blowing up in the 1st inning last week when the Cubs committed 3 runs in that 1st inning which put Silva in a 6-0 hole, Silva didn’t respond well today. Silva’s ERA now stands at 29.70 – ouch.
James Russell added to the Cubs woes by giving up 3 ER (4 runs total) on 6 hits in his 3 innings of work. He did have 2 K’s but his spring ERA ballooned to 10.80.
After falling behind 12-2 after 5 1/2 innings, Cubs prospects rallied the team to a big come-from-behind win. The Cubs scored 7 runs in the 6th inning, 4 runs in the 8th inning and then won it in the 9th inning on a Bryan LaHair single. It was his 2nd walk-off hit in as many days.
The Cubs are now 4-6 on the spring.
Posted on 17 February 2011 by Lou
Albert Pujols and the St. Louis Cardinals failed to agree on a long-term deal before the start of spring training this week. Pujols gave the Cardinals brass a hard Wednesday deadline, and that came and went without a new agreement for perhaps the best 1st baseman of all time. Pujols said that he does not want any distractions for his team going-forward, so he and his camp will not entertain further discussions with the Cardinals during the course of the season. Those in the know speculate that Pujols wants a deal similar to the deal that Alex Rodriguez signed with the New York Yankees a few years ago – 10-years, $275 million. The Cardinals have all-but-said that they can’t meet that contract, so does it mean that Pujols will become a free agent at the end of the season?
I find it really hard to believe that Pujols will end up leaving St. Louis, but I guess anything is possible. At 31 years old, this is his final hoorah and his 1st time testing the free agent market, so it would not surprise me to see Pujols entertain offers in November. But if the Cardinals get somewhat close to the highest offer that Pujols receives, you would think that the guy decides to play it “safe” and finish his career with the Cardinals.
That being said, the Cubs better make an attempt to lure Pujols to Chicago despite the fact that they continue to try to shed payroll. With the Carlos Silva, Kosuke Fukudome and Aramis Ramirez contracts coming off the books after the season, the Ricketts family will have money to “play with” – about $38 million. They could easily allocate a good chunk of that to Pujols and still have some more money to sign another free agent or two. That all assumes that young stars like Starlin Castro, Tyler Colvin and Blake DeWitt continue to develop and mature during the course of the 2011 MLB season.
We’ll be following the whole Pujols story very closely this year and we’ll keep you posted as soon as anything breaks…
Posted on 15 February 2011 by Lou
Carlos Silva is confident that he will make it as the 4th or 5th starter for the Cubs in 2011. “Competition is always good. If they have me compete again, that’s all I can do is compete. I don’t have to prove or show them. I showed them what I can do.”
Silva surprised everyone during the 2010 MLB season when he started the season 8-0 in his 1st 11 starts. The problem was, Silva had as bad of a 2nd half as he did a good of a 1st half. Silva won only 2 of his final 10 starts and he didn’t pitch after September 7th because of right elbow tendinitis.
Silva is healthy and is ready to show everyone that he can pitch the way he did in the 1st half of last season for a full season in 2011. Silva is competing with Randy Wells and James Russell for the final 2 spots in the rotation. If the Cubs go with both Silva and Wells, all 5 starters would be right-handed pitchers. That could work against both pitchers and give the lefty Russell the upper-hand. We’ll keep you posted as soon as we hear anything. If the Cubs can get Silva to pitch well in the 1st half of the season, that could elevate his trade value before the July trading deadline. Let’s hope that is what happens so that the Cubs can shed some of his hefty salary from the 2011 payroll before the end of the season…
Posted on 18 January 2011 by Lou
The Cubs have reportedly agreed to trade Tom Gorzelanny to the Washington Nationals. The trade is subject to a physical which is scheduled for Wednesday. The Cubs and Gorzelanny also agreed upon a 1-year, $2.1 million deal before the arbitration deadline. Assuming the trade goes through, the Nationals will honor that contract. The Cubs will receive 3 minor league players in return for Gorzelanny. 2 players are expected to be pitchers and 1 is expected to be an outfielder, but we’ll let you know as soon as the trade is confirmed.
Gorzelanny pitched in 29 games for the Cubs in 2010, making 23 starts. He was 7-9 with a 4.09 ERA and 1.50 WHIP. Gorzelanny became “expendable” after the Cubs acquired Matt Garza in a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays. It also leaves the Cubs very “right-handed” in the starting rotation – Carlos Zambrano, Garza, Ryan Dempster, Carlos Silva and Randy Wells are all right-handed pitchers. And 2 of the other 3 pitchers expected to make a run at the 5th spot in the rotation — Jeff Samardzija and Andrew Cashner — are also right-handed. I guess it’s nice to have 7-8 guys (if you throw in lefty James Russell) legitimately competing for 5 starting spots…