Posted on 16 April 2010 by Lou
We should see Ted Lilly back in the Cubs rotation pretty soon — he will make his final “tune-up” start at Class A Peoria on Monday.
In his previous outing at Triple-A Iowa this past Wednesday, Lilly gave up just 1 run and 1 hit in 4 innings of work. He walked one batter and struck out 4. Lilly was pleased with the start — “Everything went pretty well. I would’ve liked to have thrown a few more pitches. It was fun to get back out there in front of a crowd and compete and face some hitters. I had a good time.”
Manager Lou Pinella had this to say about Lilly’s upcoming minor league start on Monday — “We’ll let him go 75-80 pitches. If he’s fine after that one, we’ll get him back in the rotation either over the weekend in Milwaukee or when we get back home.”
Look for Lilly to start on the of the weekend games against the Brewers at Miller Park. Lilly has had success there in the past, and with the Cubs playing “average” baseball these days, they really need to get all their hogs in there as soon as possible…
Posted on 11 April 2010 by Lou
Wow – this team just doesn’t know how to win. Talk about trends. I feel like this is 2009 all over again…
The Cubs lost to the Reds 5-4 on Friday night as the team wasted another solid outing from a starting pitcher. This time it was Carlos Silva who tossed 6 innings of 1-run ball, giving up just 3 hits and no walks. He had 3 K’s and he left the game with the Cubs leading 3-1.
That all evaporated as Esmailin Caridad imploded in the 8th inning. After having a stellar end to 2009 and an incredible spring, Caridad looked like a deer in headlights on Friday night with the game on the line. He walked the 1st 2 batters and then the Cubs couldn’t record an out on a great sacrifice bunt by pinch-hitter Chris Dickerson. With the bases loaded and nobody out, Caridad promptly served up a game-winning grand slam to Drew Stubbs. 5-3 Reds lead — game over…
Sure Derrek Lee hit a solo HR off of Reds’ closer Francisco Cordero in the top of the 9th inning to cut the lead to 1, but you knew this team wouldn’t finish off the rally.
Now I know it seems like I am blaming this all on Caridad, but the Cubs offense is also to blame. Despite cracking out 11 hits (4 by Mike Fontenot who seems to have found his stroke), the Cubs scored just 3 runs. In each of the 1st 3 innings, the Cubs left 2 runners on base. The 6th inning was the only inning that the Cubs were retired in order. The Cubs had their chances, yet they failed to come through with a clutch hit that would have broken the game wide open. This is also a trend.
Poor bullpen work + poor clutch hitting = many, many losses. With a team already playing tight because of the awful 2009 season and the high expectations, this is not the way Manager Lou Pinella wanted his team to start the season. Time is of the essence guys – let’s get it going soon, or it’s going to be too late very soon. I can’t wait to hear the “boo birds” at Wrigley Field at the home opener on Monday if this club starts the season losing 5 of its 1st 6 games…
Posted on 10 April 2010 by Lou
Ted Lilly’s sore back kept him from making a scheduled start for Triple-A Iowa today. His session was pushed back a few days until Sunday. Although Manager Lou Pinella said that “this is not a setback”, how can it not be? The Cubs were pushing a fast schedule for Lilly to get back into the Cubs starting rotation by the 3rd week of the season. At this rate, it will be a week since his last outing when he threw 67 pitched over 5+ innings in a minor league game in Mesa. Is he really ready? Should they give him another 2 minor league starts to make sure he is fully healed? Given the off days built into the schedule in the 1st two weeks of the season (see below), why rush him back when we won’t have to rely on Carlos Silva or Tom Gorzelanny too much. The Cubs need Lilly to make close to 30 starts, so I would take it slow with the veteran. But I guess they don’t pay me to make these decisions.
Pitching Coach Larry Rothschild and Pinella tweaked the Cubs starting rotation a little given Carlos Zambrano’s short opening day start. Zambrano will now start Saturday against the Reds in Cincinnati. Tom Gorzelanny gets bumped back to a Sunday start against the Reds. Ryan Dempster will make the Cubs home opener against the Brewers at Wrigley Field on Monday. Wells will face the Brewers on Wednesday, while Zambrano will come back and pitch the series finale against the Brewers on Thursday. Carlos Silva will have to wait a week before he makes his 2nd 2010 start on Friday against the Astros at Wrigley Field. Given all of these off days and the juggling of the rotation, the Cubs will not have needed a true “5-man rotation” until the 3rd week of the season when the Cubs travel to New York to face the Mets.
Let’s hope the Cubs can put together a nice little string of starts against upcoming “weaker opponents” like the Astros, Mets and Nationals in the month of April…
Posted on 02 April 2010 by Lou
Carlos Silva outdueled Colorado Rockies ace Jeff Francis in the Cubs 2-0 win over the Rockies on Thursday. Carlos Silva continued to pitch well in his final spring start – 5 innings pitched, 6 hits, no runs and now walks. As is typical with Silva, he let the other team put the ball in play so that his defense could make plays as he only recorded 1 strikeout.
Alfonso Soriano was the offensive star for the Cubs, going 3 for 3 including a 2-run home run in the 6th inning that plated the only 2 runs of the game. Soriano is still dealing with a bit of a sore knee, but his average is now up to .278 and Manager Lou Pinella has laready indicated that he will give Soriano and Kosuke Fukudome some additional rest with the emergence of Tyler Colvin this spring.
The bullpen did the rest for the Cubs. Carlos Marmol worked a perfect 6th inning with 2 K’s and picked up the win. Jeff Samardzija and John Grabow navigated the 7th inning depsite giving up a hit and a walk. Esmailin Caridad worked the 9th inning to his 1st save of the spring, although he did give up 2 hits.
Except for yesterday’s split squad losses, the Cubs have really been playing well as of late. Let’s hope this trend continues once “real games” start next week in Atlanta and Cincinnati. Go Cubbies!
Posted on 26 March 2010 by Lou
Lou Pinella finally made up his mind – Tom Gorzelanny’s stellar start in the Cubs 7-2 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday made it easy. Gorzelanny tossed 6 innings – the longest outing by any Cubs starter this spring – giving up just 2 ER on 5 hits and 1 walk. He struck out 4 batters and he lowered his ERA to 3.07.
As for his chances of being tabbed a starter, Gorzelanny had this to say about his start — “I felt I was in the zone a lot and I wasn’t trying to overthrow and I wasn’t trying to do too much. I felt I made some major strides today. There’s always more to do and more to work on… All I can ask for is to pitch well and I hope that’s the case. Wherever they need me, I’ll do my best. If I get to be in the rotation, I’ll run with it and try to claim a spot and keep it — that’s my objective right now.” Well the consistency of his last 2 outings made it that much easier for Pinella to go with him and Carlos Silva as his 2 final starters when camp breaks at the start of April.
The other 2 starters in contention were Sean Marshall and Jeff Samardzija and both with start the season in the Cubs bullpen. As I called it at the beginning of spring training and just 2 days ago, I figured Pinella would tab Marshall and Samardzija for the bullpen. Both have had success in the bullpen, while Silva and Gorzelanny have had little experience pitching in relief. Even if Marshall and Samardzija had been pitching a lot better than Silva and Gorzelanny, I still fill like Pinella would have tabbed Silva and Gorzelanny for the final 2 starting spots in the rotation. Jeff Gray, Marcos Mateo and John Gaub were each sent down to the minor leagues as well.
I guess we’ll see how this all shakes out. Luckily we’ll only have to see Silva and Gorzelanny in the starting rotation for a few weeks until Ted Lilly returns. Any longer than that, and the Cubs could find themselves in a bit of a hole in 2010 right out of the gate…
Posted on 25 March 2010 by Lou
Sean Marshall pitched 4 solid innings in the Cubs 12-1 win over the Texas Rangers on Wednesday. After a tough start in which he gave up 3 hits and 1 unearned run in the 1st inning, Marshall really settled down. He only allowed one other base runner through the next 3 innings on a walk and he struck out 5. Marshall now has a 1.64 ERA in his spring starts this March and he has made a strong case for winning one of the open starting pitching jobs heading into the regular season.
Marshall had this to say — “I pitched pretty well today. That doesn’t mean I can be the perfect candidate to start but I love starting and I want to start because I like giving the team a chance to win. As long as I keep building and keep getting better and keep getting guys out, I’ll have no problems… My attitude is always to keep a positive attitude whatever role I’m in and help the team win some ballgames.”
This is great news, but I still have a feeling that Manager Lou Pinella is going to go with Tom Gorzelanny as the 5th starter behind Carlos Silva. Marshall has more experience coming out of the bullpen and he has performed well there for the Cubs – in fact better than he has as a starter. I think it’s the wrong move because I think the Cubs will need good starts early on with Ted Lilly on the shelf, but I just have a feeling that Lou is going to tab Silva and Gorzelanny as his 4th and 5th starters until Lilly returns. We should have an answer within the next few days so that the 2 guys tabbed as “starters” will have a chance to stretch out before the start of the season. We;ll keep you posted as soon as that happens…
Posted on 23 March 2010 by Lou
Although Carlos Silva left the game as a precautionary measure with a sore right quadriceps muscle, Cubs pitchers performed at a high level the rest of the way. Silva gave up 1 earned run on one hit before his departure.
John Grabow pitched a scoreless inning of relief with 2 K’s.
James Russell and Esmailin Caridad each pitched scoreless innings as well – neither has let up a single earned run all spring. Justin Berg also pitched a scoreless inning and he has not allowed an earned run since his first spring appearance back on March 5th.
These are all good signs for a Cubs bullpen that has been criticized for the lack of experienced depth this spring. Sure they will be young, but if they are pitching well, no one will really care at Wrigley Field in 2010…
Posted on 17 March 2010 by Lou
Which Carlos Silva is for real? Silva pitched 4 scoreless innings in the Cubs 4-1 over the Texas Rangers on Tuesday. He struck out 3 without any walks and he gave up just 2 hits. It’s the 2nd consecutive start in which he has not allowed any runs to score, but this is the 1st outing in which he looked confident and in control (in his 1st start, Silva was knocked around for 6 runs on 7 hits in just 2 innings of work, and in his 2nd start, he gave up 4 hits and 1 walk in 3 scoreless innings).
Was it the good news that Silva heard from his mother before the game (that the United States issued his mother a 10-year visa so that she can enter the country at her pleasure) or was it the hard work that Silva has put in with Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild? Most likely, it was a combination of both. The Cubs have requested that Silva throw the ball across his body more than he has in the past, and they want him to finish his wind-up more towards the 3rd base line. It has been a work-in-progress, but Silva is slowly working the new motion into live game action and if it works, it could reap huge rewards for the Silva and the Cubs. Silva is happy with the latest results — “Today, before the game, he [Rothschild] said, ‘Don’t worry about anythingm just fire the ball up in there’. That’s exactly what I did today, and we had good results… The last two years haven’t been easy for me.. It was a very tough two years. This is a fresh start, this is a new start. I feel very comfortable with this team. The only thing I have to do is my work. That’s it… I’m very competitive. I want to be in the rotation — that’s what I’m looking for. I want to keep working on my stuff, keep working with Larry, keep working in the side sessions. The only thing I want to do is help this team, no matter where, as a starter or reliever.”
You gotta like his attitude, especially after how poorly he pitched in his first spring start. Plus with all the rumors swirling around about the poor shape he was in, you really wondered if he would be able to establish himself early this spring. It looks like some of Rothschild’s work with Silva has already started to pay off. Even Manager Lou Pinella was impressed – That’s as well as I’ve seen him throw all spring. He got ahead in the count, you saw him elevate pitches, you saw him pitch inside, he had a good changeup. That’s a nice performance today. He kept his velocity up for the full four innings. He should be really pleased — I know we were.”
This is great news Cubs fans. If Silva can get on track and be productive this spring, that will definitely help the rest of the Cubs pitching staff. Allowing Sean Marshall and even Jeff Samardzija start the season in the bullpen will give some extra depth to the young pen. Let’s hope Silva continues his positive trend in his next few outings…
Posted on 13 March 2010 by Lou
Jeff Samardzija gave up 4 earned runs on 5 hits and 1 walk in his 1st spring start in the Cubs 12-3 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday. Samardzija had a rough 1st inning, giving up home runs to Jim Edmonds and Greg Zaun. It does not bode well for Samardzija’s chances of winning a starting spot in the rotation, although Carlos Silva and Tom Gorzelanny have not fared very well in their spring starts either.
Despite the 4 runs, Samardzija was still upbeat after his outing: “They jumped on two fastballs. We’ll work in offspeed pitches earlier in the count. I thought we were aggressive, and I thought the splitter was great. The slider was here and there, but I felt pretty good… I want to take something out of every outing and get stronger every time out. It’s Spring Training and you have to build on up and get ready for the season.”
The Cubs will have a tough decision on their hands and could be in trouble with their 5th slot in the starting rotation. I still think Gorzelanny will get the 4th/5th spot in the starting rotation. And the Cubs will either use Samardzija or Silva to spot start until Ted Lilly is ready to return. Sean Marshall, the final candidate for the starting rotation, will end up in the bullpen because he is effective there and the Cubs are somewhat thin there right now with injuries.
Posted on 12 March 2010 by Lou
Carlos Silva pitched better in his 2nd spring outing – going 3 scoreless innings in the Cubs 8-7 win over the San Diego Padres. But the bad news is that Silva still didn’t look all that sharp. He gave up 4 hits and a walk in the 3 innings, but managed to work out of a few jams. Silva showed up in camp out-of-shape according to our sources in Mesa. This has to irk GM Jim Hendry and Manager Lou Pinella who “suggested” to Silva back at the Cubs convention in January that he still needed to lose a few lbs. If this guy wasn’t owed so much damn money ($26 million ($20 million that the Cubs have to fork over) over the next 2 years), he would be out on the street already.
Starlin Castro had a big day at the plate – going 2 for 3 with 2 RBI’s and 3 runs scored. He hit his 1st home run of the spring and is now hitting .571 so far. The Cubs have all but said that Castro will start the season in the minor leagues, but if he keeps raking like this, it’s going to be hard not to want to start him at the major league level with Ryan Theriot moving over to 2nd base.
Other good pitching news – Carlos Marmol and David Patton tossed scoreless innings in relief. Jeff Stevens and Esmailin were not all that sharp because of shoddy defense behind them, but none of the 6 runs they let up were earned. The Cubs are now 4-4 during the spring schedule.