Tag Archive | "Carlos Zambrano"

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First Full Squad Spring Training Workout Today in Mesa, Arizona — Wrigley Field 2/19/11

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…

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Cubs Avoid Arbitration with Newly Acquired Matt Garza – 1-Year, 5.95 Million Deal — Wrigley Field 1/21/11

Posted on 21 January 2011 by Lou

The Cubs and newly acquired “ace” Matt Garza agreed upon a 1-year, $5.95 million deal this week.  That means the 2 sides won’t have to go to arbitration in February.  That is a great way to start a relationship like this.  And if Garza has a solid 2011 campaign for the Cubs and pitches at least 200 innings, look for the Cubs to try to lock up the big righty before he becomes a free agent following the 2013 MLB season.  Garza will join Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster and Randy Wells in the starting rotation.

The Cubs acquired Garza 2 weeks ago along with 2 Tampa Bay Rays prospects.  The Cubs gave up Sam Fuld plus 4 high level prospects to land Garza.

Garza has made at least 30 starts each of the last 3 seasons.  He has also topped at least 203 innings pitched each of the last 2 seasons (he tossed 184+ innings in 2008).  His WHIP has not been higher than 1.26 in each of his last 3 seasons and he has also kept his ERA under 4.00 despite pitching in the difficult AL East with powerhouses like the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays.  This is all good news for the Cubs as they look to continue to rebuild and re-tool over the next 2 seasons until they can shed some payroll….

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Cubs, Tom Gorzelanny Reach 1-Year Deal Pending Trade to Washington Nationals — Wrigley Field 1/18/11

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…

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James Russell, Andrew Cashner to be in Mix for Starting Rotation Spot — Wrigley Field 1/15/11

Posted on 15 January 2011 by Lou

Manager Mike Quade and the Cubs have confirmed that both Andrew Cashner and James Russell will be given a chance to compete for a 2011 starting spot in the rotation this spring.

James Russell started for the Cubs in the minor leagues in 2007 and 2008.  In 2009, the Cubs converted Russell to a reliever and he made 57 appearances for the Cubs out of the bullpen in 2010.  Russell finished the season with an ERA just under 5.00.  The advantage for Russell is that the Cubs starting rotation is right-handed heavy and the bullpen could be left-handed heavy if John Grabow proves to be healthy.  Sean Marshall is a lock in the bullpen and Scott Maine could serve as a 3rd lefty in 2011.  It’s unclear if the Cubs would go with 4 lefties out of the ‘pen.

Andrew Cashner started exclusively in the minor leagues for the Cubs.  He got the call up to the big leagues in 2010 and he made all of his 53 appearances in relief.  Although he posted an overall ERA of 4.80, he did finish strong with a 1.40 ERA during his final 18 games in 2010.  Cashner said that better control of his fastball down the stretch allowed him to be more effective at the end of the season.

The Cubs are locked into at least 3 starters — Matt Garza, Carlos Zambrano and Ryan Dempster.  Randy Wells and Carlos Silva appear to be locks too, but who knows, the Cubs may be willing to part with Silva and eat some of his salary in order to let a guy like Tom Gorzelanny, Jeff Samardzija (who doesn’t have any options left), Cashner or Russell to get some more experience as a starter.  We’ll keep you posted as soon as anything else develops…

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Cubs Acquire Garza, But Give Up Prospects Galore to Make it Happen — Wrigley Field 1/7/11

Posted on 07 January 2011 by Lou

Will this move be a sort of “redemption” for GM Jim Hendry, or will it ultimately cost him his job?  Hendry and the Cubs have 2 years to figure it all out.

The Cubs and Rays have agreed upon a trade that will send ace Matt Garza from the Rays to the Cubs.  Garza has emerged as a legitimate major league pitcher and he put an exclamation point on his 2010 numbers with a no-hitter back on July 26th – the 1st in Rays’ history.  During the 2010 MLB schedule, Garza went 15-10 with a 3.91 ERA and 1.25 WHIP.  He is only 27 years old and he has never had an ERA over 4.00 — that in the power hitting AL East with the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays.  He has started at least 30 games each of the last 3 seasons and he does not free agency for another 3 years — that means a nice competitive salary for a top of the line starter.  He will likely earn a raise from his 2010 $3.35 million salary.

The Cubs did have to give up several top prospects, but as we know with prospects – even can’t miss ones (see Mark Prior) — you just never really know.

Starter Chris Archer was the key to this deal.  He is only 22 years old and he was the Cubs best minor league pitcher in 2010 — 15-3 record with a 2.34 ERA in 28 games at the Single-A and Double-A levels.

Outfielder Brandon Guyer was the Cubs top position player in the minor leagues in 2010.  He had a .344 batting average with 13 HR’s and 58 RBI’s for Double-A Tennessee and is only 24 years old.

Shortstop Hak-Ju Lee had a promising season at Single-A Peoria – .282 batting average with 32 stolen bases.  But let’s face it, Starlin Castro is going to be playing shortstop for the Cubs for years and years to come, so unless Castro was willing to move over to 3rd base to make room for Lee, Lee was going to have to be dealt or switch positions in order to get to the big leagues.

The Rays also got Sam Fuld who is your prototypical reserve outfielder at the major league level.  And Catcher Robinson Chirinos has had success at both the Double-A (.318 batting average, 15 HR’s and 64 RBI’s) and Triple-A (.364 batting average, 3 HR’s and 10 RBI’s) levels in 2010.

Given the salary constraints the Hendry has placed on the Cubs pocketbooks for the foreseeable future (at least 2 more seasons, and even then, the Cubs will still owe Alfonso Soriano 1 more year of salary during the 2013 MLB season), this was a nice little move for the Cubs.  As we know, anything can happen with “top prospects”.  Sure Castro, Colvin and Cashner look like major league fixtures for the foreseeable, but at least for the Cubs, that seems more like the exception to the rule to have a top prospect be successful at the major league level during the Hendry regime.  The Cubs have been better of late making good draft selections and developing those players within the minor league system, so even though they have traded away a few potentially “nice pieces” they should be able to “re-stock” those pieces if they have been doing their job the right way.

The addition of Garza gives the Cubs a nice duo at the type, assuming Carlos Zambrano has his head on straight in 2011.  Ryan Dempster is a nice #3 and if Randy Wells can bounce back from a disappointing sophomore slump, you have a nice 4-man rotation going.  Carlos Silva, Tom Gorzelanny or Andrew Cashner would round out the 5th spot in the rotation.  Assuming Gorzelanny and Cashner are healthy and look good in the spring, that could also give the Cubs a little flexibility in moving a Silva or Zambrano (even if it means eating some of their salary) to replenish the farm system a little.  A deal with the New York Yankees who still don’t know if Andy Pettitte is going to return for 2011 or retire seems like a perfect fit for a move like that.  Only time will tell if this is the move that saves Hendry’s career…

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Wood Will Not Start for Cubs in 2011 — Wrigley Field – 1/3/11

Posted on 03 January 2011 by Lou

Let’s put any such idea to rest – Kerry Wood will not be a starter for the Chicago Cubs in 2011.  Unlike Ryan Dempster who was able to go from being a starter (up until his August 2003 Tommy John surgery) into the bullpen to help out as a set-up man/closer (from 2004-2007) and then back into the rotation in 2008 because he was healthy enough to do so, Kerry Wood does not have that luxury.  Wood has had surgeries on his right shoulder and he still has a tear there that he rehabs each and every off-season to make it as stronjg as possible for the upcoming MLB season.  The only way he can make it as a major league pitcher through the grueling 162 game schedule is if he pitches out of the ‘pen.

FYI – as a starter, Wood has a 71-55 record in 178 starts, with a 3.69 ERA and 1,282 strikeouts.  Wood has appeared in 203 games (203 2/3 innings)as a reliever in his career.  He has a 3.45 ERA with 62 saves and 237 K’s coming out of the bullpen.

As for the Cubs starting rotation, here’s how it will shake out in 2011 — Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, Randy Wells, Andrew Cashner and either Carlos Silva/Tom Gorzelanny.  It looks like the Tampa Bay Rays have decided to hold onto Matt Garza unless a team is willing to pony up some high end prospects in return – and the Cubs won’t do that.  Brandon Webb whom the Cubs briefly considered signed a 1-year deal with the Texas Rangers.  It’s a very mediocre starting rotation, especially in the very difficult NL Central with solid starting rotations in Cincinnati, St. Louis and Milwaukee.  But if Carlos Zambrano pitches as well as he did at the end of the 2010 MLB season, it could be a much better rotation.  Guess we’ll just have to see how it plays out…

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Carlos Zambrano Trade Talks Just That — All Rumors — Wrigley Field 12/15/10

Posted on 15 December 2010 by Lou

According to Carlos Zambrano’s camp, Big Z isn’t going anywhere.  After the New York Yankees lost out on the Cliff Lee sweepstakes on Monday night, many “insiders” claimed that the Yankees would then turn their attention to Carlos Zambrano of the Cubs.  But Zambrano’s agent reiterated that the Cubs have not asked him to consider a trade and that Big Z has not requested a trade either.  Big Z is under contract through 2012 and a guaranteed contract for the 2013 season kicks in if he finishes 1st or 2nd in Cy Young voting in either 2011 or 2012 (that will likely not happen).  Since Zambrano has 5 and 10 rights, he must approve any trade that the Cubs propose to him.

Zambrano finished strong in 2010 after a tumultuous start to the season which included a team-imposed suspension for a month to hash uot “anger management” issues.  He won his last 8 starts, including a stellar 4-0 September in which he posted a spectacular 0.78 ERA.  A move to the Yankees would mean that he would be re-united with former Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild.  We’ll keep you posted…

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Could Andrew Cashner Start in 2011? — Wrigley Field 12/14/10

Posted on 14 December 2010 by Lou

Could we see Andrew Cashner as a starter at Wrigley Field during the 2011 MLB schedule?  Andrew Cashner was always a starter until he was drafted by the Cubs and he has pitched as a reliever ever since.  A lot depends on what the Cubs do the rest of the off-season.

GM Jim Hendry keeps saying that the Cubs are in the market for a starting pitcher and they have pursued vigorous trade talks with the Tampa Bay Rays for Matt Garza. If the Cubs landed a player like Garza, then there is very klittle chance that we would see Cashner as a starter.

But now that the best free agent starting pitcher – Cliff Lee – signed with the Philadelphia Phillies instead of the New York Yankees and Texas Rangers, the Yankees and Rangers could make a strong play to try to lure Garza away from the Rays.  That could limit the Cubs chances to snag him, which could open up a spot for Cashner if he has a solid spring.

Also, the Cubs could try to shop Carlos Zambrano around again after his solid end to the 2010 MLB season.  Zambrano has a no trade clause, but the Cubs could try to convince him to waive it to play for a team like the New York Yankees where he could win a World Series now.  Big would also be re-united with the only pitching coach he has ever known – Larry Rothschild – who recently left the Cubs to take the Yankees pitching coach job.

Should be interesting to see how things fall into place now that Lee has signed.  We should start to see all the dominoes fall over the next few weeks…

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Cubs to Acquire Matt Garza from Rays via Trade?!?! — Wrigley Field 12/9/10

Posted on 09 December 2010 by Lou

The Cubs and Rays are in talks to trade pitcher Matt Garza for prospects in the next couple of days.  The 2 sides have met twice to discuss the terms of the deal, so this could happen any hour now.  The Rays are in “dump” mode, as they have parted ways with Carl Crawford who signed with the Red Sox and Carlos Pena who signed with the Cubs.  They are also looking to trade a few pieces to acquire prospects who are right at the edge of being able to perform at the major league level (for a fraction of the cost).  The Cubs have some nice prospects that they are willing to part with in order to acquire a starting pitcher like Garza who would slide into the rotation next to Carlos Zambrano and Ryan Dempster.  That would also allow the Cubs to move another starter (say Tom Gorzelanny, Randy Wells or Carlos Silva) to acquire a veteran reliever to go along side lefty set-up man Sean Marshall and closer Carlos Marmol.

Garza is only 27 years old – he went 15-10 with a 3.91 ERA and 1.25 WHIP in 32 starts in 2010 pitching in the tough AL East.  He has playoff experience is a fierce competitor.  Garza is also durable – he has made at least 30 starts for the Rays in each of the last 3 seasons.

Pena had this to say about his former Rays teammate — “Matt Garza is one of those pitchers that wherever he goes is going to be an incredible asset.  It’s no secret that he is extremely talented and the sky is the limit for a guy like him.  I think he’s got Cy Young potential, to be honest with you.  His stuff is electrifying.  I think anybody would like to have a guy like that.”

WOW – I’m actually excited about something that GM Jim Hendry might do this winter.  The Texas Rangers and Milwaukee Brewers are also mix on this, so the Cubs are going to have to give up 2-3 good prospects to land Garza, but it would be worth it for an established pitcher like him…

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Ice Rink Back @ Wrigley Field — Gimme a Break!?!? Wrigley Field 11/30/10

Posted on 30 November 2010 by Lou

Driving by Wrigley Field this morning, I saw the ice rink construction already underway.  What went through my mind – disgust, frustration, anger?  Pretty much all of the above.  We continue to hear how the Ricketts Family needs the city and state to help fund the renovation of Wrigley Field to keep baseball on the north side.  We also see the Ricketts family raking in thousands of dollars with the Northwestern-Illinois Allstate Wrigleyville Classic 2 weeks ago.  Now we’re seeing another money-maker grace the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field with the ice skating rink going up.  At the same time, we continue to hear how the Cubs need to slash payroll and keep the total salary more in the $130-135 million range instead of the $140-145 million range.  Gimme a freaking break.  This is turning into the Chicago Tribune all over again in just one year of ownership by the Ricketts Family.  Now I know that GM Jim Hendry has screwed the Ricketts with several bad contracts (Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, Milton Bradley-Carlos Silva, Kosuke Fukudome), but at this point, what’s another $10 million?  That extra $10 million could be used to land the likes of an Adam Dunn instead who would man 1st base for the next 3 years and slug around 40 home runs out onto Sheffield or Waveland each season.  Instead we’re going to end up with a Xavier Nady-Tyler Colvin-??? platoon.  This is a complete joke.

The Ricketts Family better right this ship soon, or we’re going to see even more people trying to hawk their tickets on the streets of Clark and Addison for pennies on the dollar in 2011 and beyond.  I wonder how many “Holiday Pax” the Cubs actually sold in the last 2 weeks.  My guess is that I can count the number on one hand…

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