Tag Archive | "Chicago Cubs"

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A Glimpse at the 2009 Chicago Cubs Pitching Staff

Posted on 16 January 2009 by Lou

Now that we’re just about a month away from pitchers and catchers reporting to Spring Training, let’s take a look at the Chicago Cubs pitching staff. With the departure of Jason Marquis to the Colorado Rockies, the Cubs have the 5th slot in the rotation open for competition.

The front-runners are believed to be either lefty Sean Marshall or right Chad Gaudin. The Cubs would love to keep Marshall in the bullpen as the 2nd left-handed reliever to go with Neal Cotts, but he is still going to get a good look as a starter. Marshall made 24 starts during the 2006 MLB season and 19 starts during the 2007 MLB season. He made 34 appearances during the 2008 MLB season, including 7 starts. Marshall has reduced his ERA and WHIP in each of his last 2 MLB seasons.

Chad Gaudin pitched mainly out of the bullpen for the Cubs and A’s in 2008, although he did make 6 starts for the A’s at the beginning of the season. Back problems limited his effectiveness with the Cubs down the stretch, as his ERA ballooned to 6.26 and his WHIP sky-rocketed to 1.43 after a string of several good appearances in August right after he was acquired by the Cubs. During the 2007 MLB season, Gaudin was exclusively a starter – making 34 starts for the A’s. Gaudin went 11-13 with a 4.42 ERA and a 1.53 WHIP. He struck out 154 batters and walked 100 batters in 199 1/3 innings pitched. Assuming he can rehab properly from his back issues, it is clear that Gaudin has what it takes to be an effective starter in the big leagues.

Two other options are Jeff Samardzija and Angel Guzman. Samardzija erupted on the scene during the middle of the 2008 MLB season and became one of the Cubs most dependable relievers during July and August. His numbers dipped in September, but he still ended up with decent numbers – 26 games, 27 1/3 innings pitched, 2.28 ERA, 1.41 WHIP and 25 strikeouts. He was 1-0 with 1 save. Guzman made 6 appearances for the Cubs during the course of the 2008 MLB season, but was largely ineffective. It is believed that Samardzija will remain in the bullpen as a set-up man to new closer Carlos Marmol, while Guzman will return to the minor leagues for additional work.

One wild card is the Cubs pursuit of a 5th starter via trade or free agency. The Padres Jake Peavy is also an enticing commodity, but it is unclear if Jim Hendry and Kevin Towers have what it takes to re-open discussions for the Padres ace. Hendry has also been rumored to like Randy Wolf, a free agent who made 33 starts with the Houston Astros during the 2008 MLB season. Wolf pitched 190 1/3 innings, going 12-12 with a 4.30 ERA and a 1.38 WHIP. Wolf would make a nice end of the rotation starter, and give the Cubs the flexibility to keep Marshall in the bullpen for one more year. It will be interesting to see if Hendry can work some magic to acquire either Peavy or Wolf this off-season. If he did, that would relegate Gaudin and Marshall back into the pen.

In any event, the Cubs have the luxury of being patient this off-season. They have depth with several pitchers that can pitch on the big level. They also have 4 solid top of the rotation starters in Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, Ted Lilly and Rich Harden. It should be another exciting 2009 MLB season at the friendly confines of Wrigley Field.

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Cubs Release Broadcast Schedule for Spring Training Schedule

Posted on 15 January 2009 by Lou

Chicago Cubs fans – get ready for some baseball!!!

The Cubs have announced that 9 spring training games will be televised on Comcast SportsNet (3 games) and WGN-TV (6 games) during the 2009 Spring Training Schedule. WGN-Radio will also broadcast 11 Cubs games during the 2009 Spring Training Schedule.

It’s not surprising that the first games to be televised will be 2 games against the cross-town rival White Sox in Las Vegas on March 4th at 9PM CST and March 5th at 3PM CST. These 2 Cubs-Sox games will be on WGN-TV, as will the 3/7 Milwaukee Brewers game, the 3/14 Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim game, and the 3/20 and 3/27 games against the White Sox.

The 3 games to be televised by Comcast SportsNet include: 3/22 against the Seattle Mariners, 3/30 against the Kansas City Royals and 4/4 against the New York Yankees at the New Yankee Stadium.

The Cubs open the 2009 Spring Training Schedule against the Los Angeles Dodgers at HoHoKam Park in Mesa, Arizona on February 25th. WGN-Radio will broadcast the game.

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Cubs Deny Deal Is Imminent For Japanese Lefty Takahashi

Posted on 14 January 2009 by Lou

Sports-Hochi, a Japanese-based media outlet, reported that the Chicago Cubs were close to signing left-handed pitcher Ken Takahashi from Japan. Acquiring the lefty would allow the Cubs to move Sean Marshall into the starting rotation with the departure of Jason Marquis, and would also help continue Kosuke Fukodome’s adjustment to baseball in the United States.

But now those rumors appear to be over-blown. Cubs officials overseas have denied the reports and no further rumors seems to be floating around regarding the 40-year old veteran pitcher.

The Cubs have not announced any further deals of late and appear to be done heading into the 2009 MLB campaign. Stay tuned for upcoming posts regarding upcoming lineup and starting pitcher analysis and how the Cubs off-season signees will fit into the role during the 2009 MLB season…

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Former Cubs Denied Access To Baseball Hall of Fame

Posted on 13 January 2009 by Lou

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The Chicago Cubs did not get the Baseball Hall of Fame news that they were hoping for on Monday. Former Cubs right fielder Andre Dawson received only 361 votes – good for only 67% of the voting. One needs 75% of the vote in order to gain access to the Hall of Fame. Dawson got a small bump in voting from 2008 when he only received 65.9% of the vote. Former Cubs closer Lee Smith received only 240 votes – good for only 44.5% of the voting. Smith and Dawson will both be back on the ballot again in 2010.

The Baseball Writers Association of America only voted 2 players into the Hall of Fame in 2009 – Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice. Of all votes cast, after Henderson and Rice, Dawson and Bert Blyleven were the only 2 players listed on more than half of the ballots. Here’s hoping that Dawson can make it in next year – especially since his numbers are eerily similar to Rice’s career numbers. While Rice has a higher career batting average and on-base percentage than Dawson, Dawson has more RBI’s than Rice and only 33 players in MLB history have more RBI’s than Dawson. Along with Willie Mays and Barry Bonds, Dawson is one of 3 players to have 400 home runs and 300 steals – pretty impressive numbers.

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Cubs Close to Signing Japanese Lefty Takahashi

Posted on 12 January 2009 by Lou

The Chicago Cubs are close to signing a left handed reliever – Ken Takahashi from Japan. The deal would be for 1-year. Takahashi is a 40-year old left-handed reliever. Takahashi amassed a 3.50 ERA with an 8-5 record for Hiroshima in Japan.

The Cubs are likely making the move for 2 reasons. Takahashi would add a veteran left-handed arm in the Cubs bullpen. Currently, the Cubs only have 2 lefties on the roster – Sean Marshall and Neal Cotts. If the Cubs do sign Takahashi, that would allow Marshall to move into the rotation as the 5th starter with the departure of Jason Marquis.

The signing of Takahashi could also be related to Kosuke Fukodome’s 2nd half collapse during the 2008 MLB season. After starting the season hitting well over .300 with a high on-base percentage, Fukodome struggled in the 2nd half – hitting only .217 during the final 3 months of the season. The addition of another Japanese player like Takahashi could help Kosuke continue his adjustment to baseball in the United States. Stay tuned – we’ll keep you posted here at www.mycubstoday.com.

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Former Cubs Lefty Dave Roberts Dies at Age 64

Posted on 11 January 2009 by Lou

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Former Cubs left-handed pitcher Dave Roberts dies of lung cancer at the age of 64. In his 13-year MLB career, Roberts played for the San Diego Padres, Houston Astros, Detroit Tigers, Chicago Cubs, San Francisco Giants, Pittsburgh Pirates, Seattle Mariners and New York Mets. Roberts retired from major league baseball in 1981. Roberts made 445 appearances, splitting time as a reliever and starter. He won 103 games and also saved 15 games. He accumulated an impressive 3.78 ERA during those 13 years.

Roberts won a World Series Championship with the Pirates in 1979. His best year came in 1973 as a starter for the Astros. That year he won 17 games with a sparkling 2.85 ERA. He also pitched 12 complete games – unheard of these days – including 6 shutouts. In 1971, while with the Padres, Roberts finished 2nd in the National League with an amazing 2.10 ERA.

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Bradley Ready to Rock N’ Roll in 2009

Posted on 10 January 2009 by Lou

The health of Milton Bradley should not concern you Cubs fans!

All throughout the Bradley pursuit, critics have questioned 2 things about the 30-year old veteran – his ability to stay healthy and his affinity towards being a “hot-head”. Today, I’ll focus on the latter – his health.

Bradley has played in over 100 games in only 3 of his 9 MLB seasons. 2 of those came in back-to-back years in 2003 and 2004 for the Cleveland Indians (his next best year to his 2008 career year) and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (when he only hit .267 with 19 home runs and 123 strikeouts). He has reached the 500 at-bat plateau only once – in that 2004 MLB season. During the 2007 MLB season, his season was cut short after only 61 games after a bizarre incident in which he tore his ACL in an altercation with an umpire and a cooler in the dugout. And while he was ready to go for the 2008 MLB season, he played in 126 games amassing 414 at-bats. His numbers were phenomenal – .321 batting average, .436 on-base percentage, 22 home runs, 77 RBI’s and 80 walks. He credits Frank Thomas with teaching him patience at the plate during the 2006 MLB season. That has helped Bradley increase his on-base percentage in each of the last 4 baseball seasons. The only concern from 2008 was that he only played 20 games in the outfield, with the rest of his playing time coming at DH.

In the National League, there is no designated hitter. So if Bradley wants to get at-bats (obviously), then he needs to play the outfield. How many games will he play? That is a great question. The Cubs say they have done their due diligence on his health. Cubs athletic trainer Mark O’Neal examined and tested Bradley over a 2-day period in California. He passed all those tests with flying colors. The Cubs have gotten assurances from both Bradley and the Rangers (his former team) that his knee injury was a think of the past by the middle of the 2008 MLB season.

Bradley has undertaken a rigorous off-season regimen that is focused on mimicking the stresses and actions a player goes through on a daily basis during a competitive baseball game. Bradley has lost 15 pounds in the process and has strengthened his entire body. The Cubs also have depth in the outfield. Bradley will primarily play in right field, but can also play all 3 outfield positions. Kosuke Fukodome and Joey Gathright will be able to spell Bradley from time to time. And it won’t be a surprise to see Pinella go with a Fukodome / Bradley combo every once in a while to get 2 left-handed bats in the lineup against a righty. From all indications, Bradley is already ready to go for 2009. I know we’ve all heard that before, but I guess we should give him the benefit of the doubt – – at least until that first injury sidelines Bradley for a game or 2.

Let’s hope he limits his extracurricular activities (like the one shown below) too – we’d hate to see another freak Bradley injury all because he didn’t like the strike called against him in the 3rd inning of a cold game in April…

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Cubs Sign Milton Bradley To 3-Year Deal

Posted on 09 January 2009 by Lou

The Cubs have filled a big void in the middle of their lineup – finally.

Milton Bradley completed a successful physical this week to make it official. He signed a 3-year, $30 million deal, which is believed to include incentives for number of games played during the contract. As a switch-hitter, Bradley will split up the Cubs predominantly right-handed hitting lineup and will fit in just fine right in the middle of the lineup as either the 4th, 5th or 6th hitter. Bradley will also wear the “lucky #21” – previously worn by another right fielder who left on poor terms with Cubs management, players and fans alike – the infamous Sammy Sosa.

After an injury-riddled 2007 MLB season in which Bradley only played in 61 games, Bradley out up career numbers. In 126 games and 414 plate appearances, Bradley hit .321 with 22 home runs and 77 RBI’s. More importantly, Bradley led the major leagues in on-base percentage with a whopping .436. He drew 80 walks with 112 strikeouts. One negative – he played only 20 games in the outfield, with the majority of his at-bats coming as the Rangers’ designated hitter.

How many games will Bradley play during the 2009 MLB season? It is unclear. With depth in the outfield with Kosuke Fukodome and Joey Gathright, Manager Lou Pinella may elect to rest Bradley in the late innings to keep him fresh during the long MLB season. That should allow Bradley to avoid the risk of injury that seems to follow him around.

The Bradley signing should wrap up most of the moves for the Cubs heading into spring training. There is the possibility that the Cubs look for another starter in the rotation, and that could also lead to more Jake Peavy trade rumors, but for now, the Cubs look ready to defend their NL Central Division title for the second straight year, and hope to fare better in the 2009 playoffs this fall.

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It’s Official – Cubs Deal Marquis for Vizcaino

Posted on 08 January 2009 by Lou

The Cubs made it official the other day – completing a trade with the Colorado Rockies that sent Jason Marquis to Coors Field in exchange for veteran reliever Luis Vizcaino. The move was done primarily to free up salary room to sign left-handed hitting outfielder Milton Bradley – who is expected to sign a 3-year, $30 million deal later this week.

Marquis won 23 games during his 2 MLB seasons with the Cubs, but his high ERA – 4.57 – ended up making the move inevitable. The Cubs will pay $875,000 of the $9,875,000 owed to Marquis during the 2009 MLB season.

On the flip side, the Cubs only have to pay Vizcaino $4 million for the 2009 season, creating a savings of approximately $5 million for the Cubs. Vizcaino made 43 relief appearances for the Rockies in 2008. He was 1-2 with a dismal 5.28 ERA. In 10 MLB seasons, Vizcaino has a career 4.34 ERA. Cubs scouts have indicated that Vizcaino still has legitimate major league velocity left on his fastball, and if he can avoid injuries, he will likely get ample work in the 6th and 7th innings for the Cubs in 2009.

With the trade of Marquis, the Cubs now had a void to fill for the 5th spot in the starting rotation. Sean Marshall is probably the front-runner to land the spot (he started 24 games in 2006, 19 games in 2007 and 7 games in 2008). Angel Guzman, Kevin Hart and Chad Gaudin could also be possible replacements. Jeff Samardzija pitched so well in the bullpen during the 2008 MLB season that he will likely be considered for the set-up role in front of Carlos Marmol, instead of for a spot in the starting rotation.

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Interesting Dialogue From Mark Cuban Regarding Cubs Sale

Posted on 07 January 2009 by Lou

With the recent announcement that the Cubs will name the winning bidder for the Cubs with the next few weeks, Mark Cuban, owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks and early bidder for the purchase of the Chicago Cubs, made some interesting statements in his blog – Blog Maverick on Tuesday. Check out the article for yourself – it is a great read.

I loved his comic relief regarding asking the government for a bailout. I bet if he did write that letter, some politician would have taken up “Cuban’s cause for a bailout” and gotten him a billion or so dollars for his efforts.

The stuff about the Cubs – White Sox relationship in baseball circles is classic. If it’s true that the Cubs don’t enter certain agreements or make certain moves in order to keep the Cubs and White Sox on par, that is a total joke. Why would the Cubs not want to take advantage of it’s larger popularity, bigger fan base and broader exposure in order to make more money and put a better team on the field to win that elusive World Series Championship? It doesn’t make much sense to me, but wouldn’t surprise me if previous Cubs management had “tacit agreements” with Jerry Reinsdorf so that there would be parity between the Cubs and White Sox.

I also found it interesting that Cuban now thinks the $1 billion price tag for the Cubs is too much. Cuban originally bid over $1 billion for the Cubs, but failed to submit a final bid in December 2008 when the Cubs required the minimum bid to be at least $1 billion. Cuban claims that the declining world economy adversely affected the Cubs valuation as well, and that by paying that much, it might become too hard to continue to increase payroll each season if gate receipts decline – as they are expected to do so in 2009.

I guess we’ll have to wait and see on that one. Cubs fans love to drink the cool-aid, so I’m sure we’ll be hitting the Friendly Confines as much as we’ve done in the past. Maybe we pay ticket scalpers as much to get seats during the hot summer months, but I’m sure we’ll still pack the house each and every game.

I’d love to hear Jerry Reinsdorf’s take on all of this.

In any event, let’s just get the Cubs sale behind us. Once we get new ownership in place, hopefully we’ll get a better idea of how committed they are to winning and how much they are willing to spend to win. Then we can get a better idea of whether the Peavy trade will happen – whether it be during spring training or before the trading deadline in July. And then we can focus on play on the field – getting off to a fast start and keeping the momentum going through the hot summer months. Go Cubs!

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