Posted on 18 May 2010 by Lou
Wow – was I glad to hear about this Cubs Fun Fact of the Day. OK, I know it’s not really a “fun fact” but I thought it was significant enough to warrant its own post. As we discussed a few days ago, the Big Z bullpen experiment was not working. He simply didn’t get it done in the ‘pen – - and when you’re paying someone $18+ million per season to be your ace starting pitcher, he should be in the starting rotation, not in the bullpen pitching in the 7th or 8th innings of ball games.
Manager Lou Pinella just recently made this announcement public — “We’re going to stretch him out to get him back in the rotation. We’ll see exactly when he’s ready. I don’t know how long it’s going to be. Let’s see how long he needs. We’d like to get him two or three appearances out of the bullpen stretched out… We’ll look at the situation and make a determination [as to which current starter will get moved to the bullpen]… Let’s hope it’s a real, real tough choice.”
GM Jim Hendry supported the decision — “He gave it a good whirl, but the last couple of times out he said he wasn’t able to throw as hard as he’s used to or wanted to.”
As for Big Z, he is publicly saying all the right things, but I think he will be happy with the switch — “I’m happy. As long as this team is happy, I’m happy for this team. Like I said, whatever this team wants me to do, I’ll do. This is a business. They’re the boss. If the boss wants me to go close games, I’ll close games. If the boss wants me to start games, I’ll start games. It’s their choice.”
Now, don’t get me wrong – Big Z is not going to all of a sudden go out and win 20 games. He may not even win 12 games this year. But he gives the club a better chance to win on a regular basis and his comfort zone is as a starting pitcher. It was a creative idea, and it wasn’t like Carlos Silva or Tom Gorzelanny pitched poorly while the Cubs conducted the Big Z bullpen experiment. But it is definitely time to make the switch back for Big Z…
Posted on 13 May 2010 by Lou
Say it isn’t so Lou – Is the Carlos Zambrano bullpen experiment over already? Dare we say it – should the Cubs try to unload the “troubled” righty – the one-time ace of the staff? Wow – I never thought it would come down to this…
Big Z has made 7 appearances out of the bullpen since the move was made back on April 24th. During that stretch, he has given up 3 ER on 11 hits and 2 walks over 7 2/3 innings. He also has 2 holds – nothing great, nothing awful. Just so-so. Is this really what the Cubs truly want with their $18 million dollar man? The guy who has been the Cubs opening day starter for each of the last 6 seasons? The guy who the team still considers its ace? As we said before, this move never seemed to make any sense from the start. How can you really justify giving your 8th inning set-up guy $18 million dollars a year? He clearly isn’t happy. In yesterday’s 4-3 win over the Marlins, Manager Lou Pinella yanked Big Z when he walked Jorge Cantu and gave up a single to Dan Uggla after Zambrano had recorded the 1st 2 outs of the inning. Big Z didn’t even look at Pinella as he walked off the mound and it was clear that Big Z disagreed with his manager’s decision. Big Z has barely said a word to the media since the move to the bullpen and we’re starting to wonder if Zambrano really embraces the role.
Wouldn’t it be better to nip this in the bud before it becomes a clubhouse problem. We know Big Z has a bit of a temper and we finally got things right in the locker room by getting rid of Milton Bradley. With the club already struggling to win games with a 15-20 record, do we really want to try to create a distraction that could make things even worse for this desperate Cubs club? I don’t think so and most Cubs fans probably don’t think so.
It’s about time we ended this experiment. Let’s get Big Z back where he belongs as a starter. If we really want to win this NL Central Division (after the Astros swept the Cards in St. Louis this week, we’re still only 5 games out of 1st), at some point this season, the Cubs are going to need Zambrano to start and win ball games down the stretch. Carlos Silva and Tom Gorzelanny have been great – we couldn’t ask for anything more – but it’s time to send Gorzelanny into the pen and bring back Big as a starter right now. Come on Lou and Jim [Hendry] – let’s do the right thing here and give our team the best shot at turning this season around – I can taste the champagne already…
Posted on 13 May 2010 by Lou
It wasn’t pretty once again, but at least this time the Cubs came out on top with a 4-3 win over the Florida Marlins at Wrigley Field on Wednesday afternoon to avoid the sweep. Carlos Silva notched another quality start pitching into the 7th inning and earning hie 4th win of the season without a loss. Although he did give up 7 hits and 2 walks, he managed to stay out of too much trouble allowing just a total of 2 ER. He was helped by 2 unassisted double plays turned by shortstop Starlin Castro in each of the 1st 2 innings. Sean Marshall helped Silva get out of a jam in the 7th inning by inducing an inning-ending double play to preserve the 4-2 lead. Carlos Zambrano – see our Cubs Fun (Sad) Fact of the Day today — had trouble staying out of trouble in the 8th inning. After retiring the 1st 2 batters he faced, Big Z walked Jorge Cantu and then gave up a single to Dan Uggla. That prompted Manager Lou Pinella to pull Zambrano for his closer Carlos Marmol who quickly disposed of pinch-hitter John Baker with a strikeout to end the threat. Marmol allowed a run in the 9th inning to make things interesting, but was able to strike out Hanley Ramirez with runners on 1st and 2nd to pick up the save for the Cubs. It was Marmol’s 5th save in 6 tries this season.
The Cubs put runners on base for a 3rd straight game with 8 hits and 4 walks. But they only scored 4 runs, failing to come through with clutch hits on several occasions. Mike Fontenot had a 2-RBI double in the 2nd inning and Marlon Byrd had an RBI double in the 5th inning to put the Cubs head for good.
Derrek Lee seems to have responded to Pinella’s move to the 4th spot. Lee had 2 doubles in Tuesday night’s loss and 2 more singles in Wednesday’s win. Castro keeps swinging a hot bat too – adding 2 more singles to increase his batting average to .364.
Tom Gorzelanny kicks things off for the Cubs against his former team, the Pittsburgh Pirates, on Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field. After sweeping the Cubs in Pittsburgh last week, the Pirates have dropped 5 of their last 6 games and haven’t scored a single run in their last 2 games. Let’s hope their struggles keep up against the Cubs this weekend at Wrigley. It will be a MAJOR disappointment for the Cubs if they can’t win this series this weekend…
Posted on 08 May 2010 by Lou
WOW — Starlin Castro’s 6 RBI’s helped propel the Cubs to an easy 14-7 victory over the Reds in Cincinnati on Friday night. It wasn’t enough that Castro was making history by becoming the youngest Cubs player to make his debut at the shortstop position in almost 100 years, he just had to go and have one of the most memorable nights in recent Cubs history. With the Cubs offense scuffling to just 5 runs in a 3-game sweep at the hands of the Pittsburgh Pirates and with Marlon Byrd and Aramis Ramirez failing to drive in runs with 1st and 3rd and only 1 out in the 1st inning, it was up to Castro to come through in the clutch with 2 and nobody out in the 2nd inning. And boy did he deliver – with a 3-run bomb to right field that gave the Cubs an early 3-0 lead. Marlon Byrd’s 2-run home run an inning later staked the Cubs to a 5-0 lead. And Castro’s bases-clearing triple in the 5th inning extended the lead to 9-0. WOW! Mike Fontenot’s Grand Slam in the 8th inning capped all the scoring for the Cubs en route to an easy 14-7 win. We certainly haven’t been able to say that a lot these days.
Carlos Silva did just enough to earn his 3rd win of the season, although it wasn’t his best outing. Silva pitched 5 innings, giving up 4 ER on 10 hits and 1 walk. The bullpen (save for John Grabow) did another good job — Justin Berg, Sean Marshall and James Russell each tossed scoreless innings.
Now it’s time to see how Castro plays today in Game 2. Hopefully Game 1 won’t go to his head. Tom Gorzelanny looks to pick up another win, and if the they do that, Ryan Dempster will look for the sweep on Sunday…
Posted on 01 May 2010 by Lou
After Friday’s big 11-5 win over the DBacks, Carlos Silva looks to make it 5 straight quality starts as the Cubs take on Dan Haren and the DBacks today at Wrigley Field. Silva is 2-0 with a sparkling 1.73 ERA in 4 starts for the Cubs this season. The Cubs have won each of his last 3 starts, but he is 0-1 with a 5.59 ERA against the DBacks in his career.
The Cubs have had success against Haren despite the hard-throwing right-hander having a 45-27 with a 3.18 ERA during the last 3 MLB seasons. In 4 career starts against the Cubs, Haren has an ERA of 5.84. He is even worse at Wrigley Field – sporting a hefty 3.84 ERA and 0-2 record in 3 starts at the Friendly Confines.
Let’s hope the Cubs bats pick up where they left off on Friday, clubbing a few more home runs out onto Waveland and Sheffield Avenues en route to a Cubs win…
Posted on 28 April 2010 by Lou
We really hope you like this new feature. We’re giving it a shot, so please send in any comments.
Without any further ado, here is your “Cubs Fun Fact of the Day”:
Although the Cubs are just 10-12 on the young 2010 schedule, the starting pitching has been electric thus far. Ryan Dempster’s 8 inning, 3ER effort in today’s 3-2 loss to the Nats marked the 6th straight game in which the Cubs received a “quality start” from their starting pitcher. A quality start is defined as a game in which the starting pitcher for a team completes at least 6 innings and does not allow more than 3 earned runs. Dempster started off the streak on Friday night in the Cubs 8-1 win over the Brewers. Ted Lilly tossed 6 scoreless innings in Saturday’s 5-1 win over the Brewers and Randy Wells made it 3 straight quality starts with his 7 innings in the Cubs 12-2 win over the Brewers on Sunday. Back home at Wrigley Field, Carlos Silva made it 4 in a row with 7 innings of 3-run ball on Monday night, and Tom Gorzelanny kept it going with 7 innings of 2-run ball in Tuesday night’s loss. Dempster kept the streak alive despite losing today, and Ted Lilly has a chance to make it 7 straight quality starts for the Cubs tomorrow against the Diamondbacks.
Not sure when the last time an MLB team got 6 straight quality starts from its pitching staff, but I thought it was a pretty neat stat. Come on Ted, let’s make it 7 in a row!!!
Posted on 27 April 2010 by Lou
We have a new daily feature for the MyCubsToday website – a fun fact of the day related to Chicago Cubs lore. It could be anything to do with a particular player or coach. It could related to Wrigley Field. Or it could relate to the Cubs organization in general. We hope you like it, and here’s our first ever “Cubs Fun Fact of the Day”…
We’ll start it off with a fact about Cubs starting pitcher Carlos Silva. Silva has been a major surprise in the Cubs rotation during this 2010 MLB schedule. After last night’s quality start, he has now made 4 consecutive quality starts to start off his Cubs career – a pretty impressive stat. The last Cubs starting pitcher to start his Cubs career with 4 straight quality starts???!!! You guessed it, current Cubs starter Ted Lilly he began his career with the Cubs with a bang back in 2007. In his 3+ year stint with the Cubs, Lilly has made 96 starts and won 45 of them. His 44 wins from 2007-2009 tops all Cubs starting pitchers during that same time span. If Silva puts up those kind of numbers over the next 2-3 years, we will be very very happy Cubs fans, and we could finally be talking about a Cubs World Series Championship. Ah, to dream…
Posted on 27 April 2010 by Lou
What a way to open the Cubs 7-game homestand at Wrigley Field – with an exciting 4-3 10-inning win over the Washington Nationals. It was a trio of Carlos’ that paved the way for the win for the Cubs.
Starter Carlos Silva notched his 4th straight quality start for the Cubs – 3 ER on 7 hits and 1 walk in 7 innings pitched. If not for Willy Nieves RBI single in the 6th inning, Silva likely would have picked up his 3rd win of the season.
Newly-appointed right-handed set-up man (and former ace) Carlos Zambrano worked 1 2/3 scoreless innings and even worked out of a “mini” 2-on, 1 out jam in the 8th inning by getting an infield popup and a strikeout to end the threat.
And Carlos Marmol worked a scoreless 10th inning to keep the game tied at 3. He got the win when Aramis Ramirez walked with the bases loaded to plate Ryan Theriot with the winning run.
Ramirez had a hit and 2 RBI’s in the win. Marlon Byrd raised his batting average to .355 and has been one of the most consistent hitters for the Cubs all season. Ryan Theriot had 2 hits and 1 run scored and is now hitting .333 for the season.
A new feature to our stories on Cubs games – the “Stat You May Have Missed Feature”! For Monday’s win, you may have missed the fact that Alfonso Soriano walked THREE (3) times in the win. Yes, you read that correctly — 3 walks for Alfonso “I swing at anything” Soriano. Unbelievable. If I was the Alias Sports Bureau, I could tell you how many 3-walk games that Soriano has had in his 3+ years in a Cubs uniform. But since I’m not, I’ll simply say that you can count Soriano’s 3-walk games on one hand…
Cubs go for the 5-game winning streak in support of Tom Gorzelanny tonight at Wrigley Field. Back at .500 at 10-10, can the Cubs get over .500 for the 1st time all season? Guess we’ll have to wait and see…
Posted on 22 April 2010 by Lou
This crazy Cubs season gets even crazier as the Cubs opt to send ace starter Carlos Zambrano to the Cubs bullpen. What are GM Jim Hendry and Manager Lou Pinella thinking?!?!
Granted the bullpen has been brutal early in the season – 1-6 record with a 6.15 ERA – costing the club at least 4 or 5 games in which they held the lead in the 7th inning or later. And granted, Carlos Silva (2-0, 0.95 ERA and 0.63 WHIP in 3 starts) and Tom Gorzelanny (0-1, 1.93 ERA and 1.07 WHIP in 3 starts) – the 2 pitchers who earned starting rotation spots until Ted Lilly could return from injury – have pitched well beyond expectations. But is moving the “ace” of your staff – the highest paid starting pitcher on the team – into the right-handed throwing, 8th inning SET-UP role really the answer? This astounds me.
Pinella had this to say about the move — “We’ll have a Carlos setup guy and a Carlos closer… I talked to Carlos today and told him we really needed him in the bullpen, and that we felt he could do a nice job for us. He said he’d do what’s best for the team. I’m very appreciative. He talked about maturing. This proves it to me.”
Big Z for his part said the right things too — “I told Lou I wanted to help this team until you find somebody. I told him I want to be back for the playoffs. If we go to the playoffs, I want to go back to the rotation… I don’t like to be a reliever. I don’t want to be a reliever. This team needs somebody to step up and help the bullpen.”
WOW – I am still in shock. I can’t see the club keeping Big Z in the bullpen for long. How do you justify paying a set-up guy $17 million per year? It doesn’t make any sense. I guess this might help stabilize things for a little while until the younger players can get their feet on the ground in the bullpen or until Hendry can make a move to bring in a veteran reliever into the mix for the late innings. In addition to the money issue, who knows how effective Big Z will be out of the ‘pen. Being a reliever, you have to get warmed up differently, you come into the game in different situations and you might have to start throwing out of the stretch right away. Can Big Z really adjust to this new role in 3 days? Guess we’ll see very very soon. Zambrano could make a relief appearance as early as this Friday against the Brewers at Miller Park in Milwaukee…
Posted on 17 April 2010 by Lou
Carlos Silva pitched well again and the Cubs rallied with 6 runs in the bottom of the 7th inning to pull off their 3rd win in 4 games at Wrigley Field on Friday afternoon. The Cubs are now back at .500 with a 3-3 record.
Carlos Silva picked up his 1st win in a Cubs uniform. He went 7 innings giving up just 2 unearned on 5 hits and no hits. He also had 5 K’s. For the season Silva has miniscule 0.62 WHIP and 0.69 ERA. John Grabow and Carlos Marmol worked 2 scoreless innings of relief to preserve the win.
Alfonso Soriano and Koyie Hill each had 2 hits for the Cubs in the win. Derrek Lee also hit a 3-run home run to break the game open in the 7th inning.
The Cubs have now won 3 out of 4 games at Wrigley Field.