Posted on 19 November 2010 by Lou
In a surprise move, Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild left to become the pitching coach for Joe Girardi and the New York Yankees. This is a huge surprise as Rothschild just exercised his option to remain the Cubs pitching coach through the 2011 MLB season about a month ago, and he seemed excited to be back for another year on the North Side (it would have been his 10th season as Cubs pitching coach). Now new Manager Mike Quade will be under the gun to find a new pitching coach for the Cubs in short order.
Yankees Manager Joe Girardi had this to say about luring Rothschild to New York – “Larry brings a wealth of invaluable experience to our team and to our pitching staff. He’s a championship pitching coach, and I’m excited to add larry’s abilities to our staff. He is above all else an excellent teacher, who brings a professional attitude and a keen sense of preparation to his craft. I’m very much looking forward to working with him moving forward.”
Rothschild had plenty of praise for the Cubs organization – “I’d like to thank Jim Hendry, the Ricketts family, Crane Kenney and the entire Cubs organization for their outstanding support and allowing me to pursue this opportunity with the Yankees. My reasons for pursuing and accepting the opportunity are personal and family-based, as the Yankees hold spring training in, and travel several times a year to, my hometown of Tampa. The chance to spend increased time with my family was something I wanted to explore and I am grateful for the opportunity to have done so… My nine years with the Cubs were tremendous and I’m proud of the pitching staff I leave behind. I wish Mike Quade, the Cubs and their great fans the best and look forward to returning to Wrigley Field in June.”
Crazy stuff continues to happen on the North Side. While some may see this as a negative, I am happy with the move. This staff has not done enough to bring a championship to the Cubs organization. Rothschild has had plenty of great arms under his tutelage – Mark Prior, Kerry Wood, Carlos Zambrano – and he never was able to make them consistently dominant for several years at a clip. After 9 years relying upon Rothschild, I think it is a good things that the Cubs will have a new pitching coach who will give a fresh perspective on the Cubs arms on a going-forward basis. Especially with some young guys who have a lot of talent – Andrew Cashner, Jeff Samardzija, James Russell – you would hate to see Rothschild not take advantage of their full potential.
Posted on 22 October 2010 by Lou
ESPN Radio 1000′s Waddle & Silvy show has had some great guests this week. Mike Quade – the new Cubs Manager; Ryne Sandberg – the Hall of Famer Cubs legend who Quade beat out; and on Thursday, Cubs GM Jim Hendry. When asked the most exciting question about why Hendry didn’t go after another big name manager or wait for Joe Girardi to finish up his managerial duties with the New York Yankees who are still battling te Texas Rangers in the ALCS, Hendry had a simple and boring answer. Hendry simply said — “At the end of the day, it wouldn’t have mattered. Mike Quade was our guy. Mike Quade was the guy we felt deserved the job… The respect he’s earned over the years, even though he wasn’t a household name, and the things he did in that clubhouse behind the scenes that translated into a great effort on the field and the respect our players have given him, I thought was quite admirable.”
WOW – you would rather have Quade than a major league manager that has been successful with 2 different organizations and is coming off of a World Series Championship on the game’s biggest stage with the Yankees in New York?
Unbelievable. That answer just confirms my belief that Hendry has done his time here in Chicago and should be let go as soon as possible so that this organization can get back to its winning ways.
Now I know that Hendry couldn’t say that “we didn’t think we had a shot in hell of landing Girardi” or “the Ricketts Family was too cheap to go after a big name manager when they still owe me, Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Zambrano, Kosuke Fukudome a boat load of money to be sub-par employees of the Cubs organization”, but I would have liked something more than he gave us. Oh well. It’s clear Hendry knows he is on his way out. He has 2 years left on his deal and Quade’s deal was a 2-year gig. My bet is still on Hendry and Quade both being replaced by the end of the 2012 MLB season. Then maybe we’ll see Ryne Sandberg or Girardi managing the Cubs with a clean slate and plenty of payroll to bring in some quality players with fair and realistic contracts – something we haven’t seen in 4 years under the Hendry regime…
Posted on 09 October 2010 by Lou
Larry Rothschild has only a few days left to decide whether he wants to exercise his option to remain the Cubs pitching coach in 2011. He must inform the Cubs by Monday if he wants to stay on as Cubs pitching coach for the 2011 MLB season. The odd thing is, even if he exercises the option, once the Cubs hire a new manager this winter, that new skipper could decided he doesn’t want Rothschild on his staff.
Rothschild’s Cubs pitching staff finished the season with a 4.18 team ERA – good for 13th in the National League. That was the worst that his team has performed in years given the fact that there were so many rookies making their major league debuts in 2010. The team had finished in the top 5 in ERA each of the last 3 seasons. Despite the high ERA, Cubs starting pitchers had the most quality starts in the NL in 2010 with 96. That is a prett high number for a club that won only 75 games.
Despite the good numbers produced over the years by Rothschild, something is wrong there and I think the club would be wise to try to get a new guy in there. He’s had so many talented pitchers of late — Mark Prior, Kerry Wood, Carlos Zambrano — but he never seems to be able to get a consistent 100% out of any of them. The Cubs have some talented young pitcher coming up through the ranks – Andrew Cashner, James Russell, Casey Coleman, Jeff Samardzija just to name a few. It is the perfect time for the “right” pitching coach to take these guys to the next level (just like Leo Mazzoni did with young pitchers like Greg Maddux, John Smoltz, Tom Glavine and Steve Avery back with the Braves in the 1990′s). If Rothschild doesn’t have what it takes to mold these players into the superstars of the future, then the time to part ways with the guy is now.
Keep your head up high, Larry, because I think you have a friend on your side. With the way the Ricketts continue to endorse GM Jim Hendry and the “great” job he has done, it doesn’t seem like the new owners are to anxious to make any rash moves right now. I guess we’ll have to wait 3-5 years and suffer through a few more awful seasons, before they realize they need to make change if they expect to end the longest World Series drought in major league history…
Posted on 08 October 2010 by Lou
Could Adam Dunn end up on the north side playing 1st base for the Cubs at Wrigley Field? One Cubs player – starter Carlos Zambrano – clearly thinks that it could happen. Zambrano had this to say about the Cubs going after Dunn this off-season: “I want that guy. He wants to play for us, not only this year but two years ago. He told me he wants to play at Wrigley Field badly.”
Dunn had another good year for the lowly Nationals in 2010. Dunn hit 38 home runs with 103 RBI’s, while racking up 145 hits in 558 at-bats. He had an outstanding .356 on-base percentage despite striking out 199 times and walking only 77 times. To put it in perspective, in 2010, Aramis Ramirez led the Cubs with 25 HR’s and 83 RBI’s on one of the worst offense in baseball.
Dunn had 2 productive seasons with the Nationals (in 2009, he had a .367 batting average with a .398 on-base percentage; 38 HR’s, 105 RBI’s, 116 walks and 177 strikeouts), but will once again be a free agent this off-season. He turns 31 in November, so you worry about age a little bit, but his drop off from 2009 to 2010 was more in the number of walks/strikeouts and not his offensive output. With the departure of Derrek Lee, Dunn would be a solid addition to the Cubs both defensively and offensively. When Dunn was a free agent back at the start of 2009, the Cubs had long-term deals with Lee at 1st base and Alfonso Soriano in left field and Kosuke Fukudome in right field, so there really wasn’t a position for Dunn with the Cubs. Things have changed since then. Lee is no longer with the ball club. And while there has been some discussion that the Cubs could move Tyler Colvin to 1st base to play everyday, Dunn would make a much better defensive option than Colvin. If the Cubs did bring in Dunn, then they would have to find a position for Tyler Colvin to play everyday. That means finding a team to take on the final year of Fukudome’s contract worth about $12 million. The Cubs would certainly be willing to eat a portion of that in order to make a deal happen. If they could somehow move Fukudome in the off-season and make a play for Dunn, that would be a significant lineup upgrade for the Cubs. You would have 2 lefties in there on a daily basis (Dunn and Colvin) and that would provide great protection for the likes of Aramis Ramirez, Marlon Byrd and Alfonso Soriano in the middle of the lineup. I guess it is a bit of a pipe dream, but you have to consider these types of moves if you want to make a bigger splash during the regular season in the National League in 2011.
Posted on 04 October 2010 by Lou
The disappointing 2010 MLB season is finally over for the Cubs. They closed out the season with a 4-0 loss to the Astros in Houston. They finished the season with an embarrassing 75-87 record, for a team with the highest payroll in the National League. And for as bad as everything went down during the season, there were definitely some bright spots as the season wrapped up.
You have to like the following:
Starlin Castro will be a legitimate star at shortstop for years to come.
Carlos Marmol and Sean Marshall formed one of the nastiest late game duos in the National League.
Carlos Zambrano pitched like the ace that he is paid to be for the final 2 months of the season.
Tyler Colvin showed that he can play every day in the outfield.
And while the young Cubs pitchers had their share of awful outings in 2010, they also got a ton of experience, which should help the organization at some point in the next few years (hopefully 1 or 2 can even stand out with a dominant campaign in 2011).
So despite the 75-87 record, finishing 16 games behind the 1st place Cincinnati Reds, all is not bad on the North Side of Chicago…
Posted on 02 October 2010 by Lou
Should he stay or should he go? That might be the biggest question for GM Jim Hendry and the Ricketts Family as the quest for a better 2011 begins in earnest as October looms. Big Z has made a startling turn-around since being re-inserted into the starting rotation back in early August. As we have continued to highlight, Zambrano has been lights-out in the 10 starts. He is 7-0 with 3 no decisions during the stretch. He has had a miniscule 1.27 ERA which has helped lower his ERA from 5.46 all the way down to 3.36. It is truly amazing to believe that Zambrano has been able to go 10-6 with a 3.36 ERA overall this year after the horrendous 1st 4 months to the season.
But can he keep it up in 2011? That is the big question. Before he made the triumphant turn-around, everyone expected Zambrano to be dealt in the off-season with the Cubs having to take on a big chunk of the $37 million owed to him over the next 2 seasons. Now, Zambrano has emerged as a legitimate top of the rotation starter again, and demand for the big righty could be at an all-time high. The Cubs could find a suitor for Big Z who would be willing to take him at the full contract price AND the Cubs could even get something back in return for Big Z. If that happens, you have to think that GM Jim Hendry will pull the trigger. That would leave a huge void in an already-barren startinf rotation, but it could also free up some money to make a strong push to land Cliff Lee, arguably the best free agent starter to hit the market in November. If the Cubs could unload Big Z and then sign Lee, that would be a huge step in the right direction for the Cubs in 2011.
Guess we’ll have to see how it all plays out, but it should be fun to watch as we get ready for all the rumors to start swirling very soon.
Posted on 01 October 2010 by Lou
The Cubs took 3 of 4 from the playoff-contending San Diego Padres this week, as they continue their strong play under interim skipper Mike Quade.
Tom Gorzelanny tossed 6 scoreless innings in his final start of 2010. Gorzelanny scattered 3 hits and 4 walks during his outing and he struck out 3 Padres batters. He didn’t get a decision, but it was a great way to end the season for Gorzelanny as he had an up-and-down season while bouncing between the bullpen and starting rotation.
The bullpen shined in the win once again. Andrew Cashner has really finished the season strong – he retired all 4 batters that he faced with 2 strike outs. From August 12th through the 21st, Cashner got roughed up giving up 7 ER in 5 appearances. But since then – a stretch of 17 outings – Cashner has given up just a total of 3 earned runs. During the positive stretch, he has a 1-1 record and he has racked up 9 holds. The Cubs are going to need Cashner to play a prominent role in the Cubs bullpen in 2011 if they expect to have more consistency late in close games during the season.
Sean Marshall pitched 2/3 of an inning to keep the score tied at 0 at the end of 8 innings. He earned the win – his 7th of the season – when the Cubs scored in the top of the 9th inning. Carlos Marmol notched his 39th save by pitching a perfect 9th inning with 2 K’s. He has now lowered his ERA to 2.58 and his WHIP to 1.20. Marshall and Marmol should both expect to get big paydays – whether through a contract extension or arbitration – this offseason.
The Cubs offense was not great, but it managed to scrape across a run against Padres closer Heath Bell in the 9th inning. Aramis Ramirez singled to lead-off the inning. Darwin Barney pinch-ran for Ramirez and advanced to 2nd base on Xavier Nady’s sacrifice bunt. Then Brad Snyder delivered the game winning hit with a single to shallow left field. Blake DeWitt was the only Cubs player with more than 1 hit in the game – he had a single and a double off of Jon Garland.
The Cubs finish their season with a weekend series against the Astros in Houston. Casey Coleman, Carlos Zambrano and Ryan Dempster are scheduled to make the final 3 Cubs starts.
Posted on 28 September 2010 by Lou
The Carlos Zambrano train keeps on chugging along. Big Z tossed 7 scoreless innings giving up just 3 hits and 4 walks along the way. He also had 5 K’s. It was his 7th win in 10 starts since returning to the starting rotation back in early August and it was his 10th win overall in 2010. At this point, it would be a huge shock if the Cubs try to move Zambrano this off-season. Without a clear #1 starter, Zambrano has started to convince people that he is still worthy of the 5-year, $80+ million deal he signed a little over 2 years ago.
Sean Marshall pitched a perfect 8th inning with 2 K’s to preserve the 1-0 lead.
Carlos Marmol made it interesting in the 9th inning but picked up his 35th save of the season. After recording 2 strikeouts to start the inning, he loaded the bases with a single, hit batsman and walk. But he got out of the jam by getting Nick Hundley to fly out to right field.
Blake DeWitt had 3 hits in the win and he drove in the lone Cubs run with a single in the 7th inning after Alfonso Soriano doubled with 2 outs. Marlon Byrd also had 3 hits for the Cubs.
The Cubs continue to play spoiler as the win knocked the Padres out of the NL Wild Card lead.
Posted on 22 September 2010 by Lou
Carlos Zambrano and Matt Cain lived up to the hype in Tuesday night’s 1-0 win by the Giants at Wrigley Field. Each Pitcher tossed 6 scoreless innings and left with the game tied at 0. The lone run came through on 23-year old Buster Posey’s solo home run in the 8th inning.
Carlos Zambrano looked good again although his control was a bit of an issue. He needed 116 pitches to get through the 6 innings because he walked 5 batters. In contrast, Cain needed just 82 pitches (2 hits and 1 walk). Zambrano only gave up 3 hits and he lowered his ERA to 3.56. He has now made 9 straight starts without a loss since rejoining the starting rotation in early August and he is slowly proving that he can pitch consistently at the major league level once again.
Andrew Cashner had put together a nice little stretch of 6 straight appearances without giving up a run, but he served up Posey’s game winning shot in the 8th inning last night. In the process, he suffered his 6th loss of the season. Cashner still has a bloated WHIP and ERA, but he has pretty good stuff. The just-turned 24-year old is getting some amazing experience this season, so look for him to improve in 2011 as he learns and develops this off-season.
Blake DeWitt and Kosuke Fukudome got the only 2 Cubs hits in the 1-0 loss. Starlin Castro reached base twice – a a walk and a hit by pitch. The Giants bullpen was downright nasty after Cain left. 3 relievers set down the final 9 Cubs hitters in a row with 2 K’s. Not good. DeWitt’s batting average has plummeted to .257; Castro’s to .305 and Marlon Byrd’s to .294. Speaking of Byrd, how cool was it when he signed autographs on top of the Cubs dugout during the rain delay before the game started – check out the photo below?!
By the way, Posey is a total stud for the Giants. Since being called up on May 29th, Posey has hit .324 (with a .373 on-base percentage with 26 walks and 53 strikeouts), with 15 HR’s, 62 RBI’s and 52 runs scored. On a team that lacks any offensive prowess, Posey fits in perfectly as the club’s clean-up hitter.
Game 2 of the series features Randy Wells against Jonathan Sanchez.
Posted on 21 September 2010 by Lou
Carlos Zambrano looks to keep the good times rolling as the Cubs return to Wrigley Field tonight to take on the San Francisco Giants. Big Z has been at the top of his game since returning to the starting rotation in early August. He has a chance to win his 7th game in a row as his ability to limit his walks each game has put him (and his team) in a better position to win each game. Zambrano has a new perspective on the game of baseball during the last few months — “Things happen for a reason. I learned a lesson when the [tantrum] happened, and sometimes God puts you in situations for you to leanr things. I just want to keep going and do something to help this team.” Going 6-0 with a 1.59 ERA in 8 starts since becoming a starter again, has enabled Big Z to get his ERA down to a respectable 3.75. A win tonight would also give him 10 wins on the season. It could happen because Big Z has had success against the Giants — in 9 starts, he has a 5-1 record with a 2.92 ERA.
Each and every start makes it that much harder for the Cubs to decide what to do with the troubled righty. If he really is committed to staying in shape and being a team player, Big Z has shown just what he can do when he is focused. The problem is, he always seems to be 1 small step away from losing it on the field or in the locker room. If a good offer for the righty comes along during the off-season, GM Jim Hendry and the Ricketts Family are going to have a tough decision ahead of them.