Posted on 12 March 2011 by Lou
The Cubs optioned Esmailin Caridad and John Gaub to Triple-A Iowa this week. Caridad had pitched in 4 spring games and Gaub had pitched in 2 spring games prior to the demotion. Both saw action at the major league level in 2010 and it would not be surprising to see either pitcher back up in the bullpen in 2011. Manager Mike Quade commented that a lot of pitchers have command issues to work on right now – “There’s a lot of money to be made if you can hit the glove, and it’s not just with them. They’ll get a lot of work down there and an opportunity to make progress and come help us.”
Let’s hope so…
Posted on 09 March 2011 by Lou
Trouble Cubs fans — Matt Garza’s spring struggles continued as the big righty surrendered 5 ER in the 1st inning alone. Garza ended up working just 2 2/3 innings in his 2nd loss of the spring. Garza had major control issues as he walked 4 batters and gave up 6 hits. Not a good sign for a team that invested a lot of quality prospects in the bid to acquire Garza from the Tampa Bay Rays this off-season. The Cubs hope that Garza figures out his issues during the next 4 weeks before the start of the 2011 MLB Campaign.
The rest of the Cubs staff had some issues as well. Justin Berg allowed 2 more ER in 1 inning of work and his ERA now stands at 60.75. After a decent showing in some relief work in 2010, it looks like Berg will be headed down to the minor leagues to start the season. Esmailin Caridad had his 1st rough outing of the spring. He gave up 3 ER on 3 hits in the 9th inning of the loss.
Two pitchers looked good — Carlos Marmol threw a perfect inning with 2 K’s and has yet to give up a run this spring. Jeff Stevens worked a scoreless inning and lowered his ERA to 3.00.
Couple of big positives:
The Cubs did not commit a single error – shocking.
Marlon Byrd continued to swing a hot bat and seems locked into the 3rd position in the Cubs lineup. Byrd had 2 more hits including his 1st home run of the spring and is now hitting .650. He should see a lot of good pitches during the regular season in front of slugger Aramis Ramirez.
The Cubs continue to have a losing record this spring. Will it get any better once the real games start in April???
Posted on 02 March 2011 by Lou
The Cubs finally got their 1st spring win, defeating the defending World Series Champion San Francisco Giants 3-2 on Tuesday. There were some positives and some negatives as there often are this early in the spring.
Ryan Dempster looked sharp in his 1st spring start. Dempster notched 3 K’s in 3 innings of work. He gave up 1 ER on 2 hits and a walk.
Todd Wellemeyer worked 2 scoreless innings and picked up the win in relief. He gave up 1 hit and notched 2 strikeouts.
Casey Coleman, Jeff Stevens and Esmailin Cardidad tossed scoreless innings to preserve the win.
The Cubs bats were silent against Tim Lincecum – the Giants ace threw 3 perfect innings wityh 2 K’s in his 1st spring start.
However, the top of the Cubs lineup propelled the club to victory in the top of the 6th inning. Kosuke Fukudome and Starlin Castro started the inning off with singles to set the table for the middle of the lineup. Marlon Byrd tied the game at 1 with an RBI single and then Aramis Ramirez had the game-winning hit with a 2-run double to give the Cubs a 3-1 lead.
One more negative – the Cubs committed 3 more errors and now have 9 errors in just 3 games – what the hell is going on with this club?
The pitching by the regulars has been mostly good so far (except for Matt Garza and Kerry Wood), so that is a good sign. But the bats are just not there yet and the fielding has been downright atrocious. This has gotta be very frustrating for Manager Mike Quade…
Posted on 15 May 2010 by Lou
The Cubs bullpen blew it again. Handed a 6-5 lead after 5 innings, Esmailin Caridad and Carlos Zambrano couldn’t shut the door on the Pirates who have now won all 4 meetings with the Cubs this season. Ouch.
Caridad got into trouble by walking Andrew McCutchen who then stole second to get into scoring position. Garrett Jones drove him in with an RBI double to tie the game at 6.
Carlos Zambrano entered the game with the score still tied at 6 in the 8th inning. He struggled right off the bat. He hit Andy LaRoche and then gave up a single to McCutchen. Garrett Jones broke the tie with a long home run to right field to give the Pirates the 9-6 lead, a lead they would not relinquish. Big Z finished out the ugly inning – 4 hits, 1 HBP and 3 ER. You would think an outing like this would force the Cubs to re-consider the Zambrano experiment in the bullpen as we discussed the other day. But unfortunately, it looks Manager Lou Pinella is staying pat. Here was his quote after the game — “We don’t have many options. Outside of Marmol, we haven’t had a right-hander here that gets hitters out with any consistency at all… Right now, that’s where Zambrano is going to be… Carlos can do that job very well if he gets his mind totally set on it. He helps me in so many areas by being out there. It frees me to use other pitchers a lot differently than I would if he weren’t there.” Problem is, I don’t think Carlos is really on board. Check out these statements — “To get this clear, I was unhappy the first day that they told me. I wasn’t sure that it was going to work. But now, I accept it. I’m a reliever now, and I have to do my job as a reliever, as a setup man.. I’ll be here until they need me to be here, and I’ll be the eighth-inning guy until they say ‘That’s enough, we want you to start’… If tomorrow they decide to bring me back to the rotation, I’ll be there. I’ll be more than happy to come back to the rotation.” Does that really sound like a guy that wants to be in the bullpen? I don’t think so, and it’s about time GM Jim Hendry and Pinella figure that out.
The few positives from the loss – Marlon Byrd had 2 hits including his 7th homer of the season. Aramis Ramirez stroked 2 hits as did Alfonso Soriano who also had 2 RBI’s and 2 runs scored.
Ryan Dempster was hoping to the get the Cubs off to a good start today, but 2 walks set up an RBI single by Andrew McCutchen and a 2-run double by Ryan Church. The Cubs are down 3-0 once again. Unbelievable…
Posted on 12 May 2010 by Lou
It was a different day on the calendar for the Cubs, but the results were the same – another close loss as the Cubs offense could not deliver any clutch hits. Randy Wells was the tough-luck loser this time around as the Cubs fell to the Marlins for a 2nd straight night, this time by just 1 run.
Let’s look at the numbers:
The Cubs have lost 7 of their last 8 games. In 1 of the losses, the Cubs scored just 1 run. In 5 of the losses, the Cubs managed to score 2 runs. And in the 7th loss, the Cubs broke out and scored a whopping 3 runs. What is going on with this team. Right now, the Cubs have 5 starters who are hitting above the .300 mark — Ryan Theriot, Kosuke Fukudome, Alfonso Soriano, Geovany Soto and Starlin Castro. But no one ever seems to come through with the clutch hit that breaks a game open. The last time that happened was in the Cubs 14-7 win over the Reds 5 days ago when the rookie Castro had 2 big hits – a 3-run HR and a 3-run triple – to spark the win. What makes it worse, the Cubs have been getting good pitching, but it seems like the starters and relievers have to be perfect or else the team will lose. In the 7 losses, 2 have come by 1 run and 3 have come by just 2 runs. That means a play here or a bounce that goes another way could result in a Cubs win instead of a Cubs loss.
But back to last night’s debacle. Although Randy Wells served up early home runs to Cody Ross and Gaby Sanchez that gave the Marlins a 3-0 lead by the end of the 3rd inning, he rallied to keep his club in the game. He ended up pitching 8 solid innings (save for the 2 home runs) and allowed just 1 walk and 1 hit from the 4th through the 8th innings. He racked up 8 K’s and actually lowered his WHIP to 1.33 and his ERA to 4.57.
But for the 2nd straight night, the Cubs racked up more hits than the Marlins but couldn’t push across more runs as the Cubs didn’t score until the 6th inning. Derrek Lee finally “broke out” with 2 doubles which drove in the Cubs first run in the 6th. Marlon Byrd didn’t get a hit, but he did drive in the Cubs 2nd run in the 8th inning to pull the Cubs within 1 run of the lead. Starlin Castro had 2 more hits in the loss and is still hitting .333.
Carlos Silva takes the bump today in the series finale hoping that he can do enough to help avoid a series sweep at the hands of the Marlins.
I’m at a loss right now. I feel like I’ve written this type of post a thousand times already this year. Couple that with the thousand times I wrote this similar post last year, and I’m starting to get a little sick of it. Some teams know how to win. Other teams don’t. Until this team gets some confidence to know that they can win close games, we’re going to have a lot of these frustrating 1 and 2 run losses this year as the Cardinals continue to expand their lead in the NL Central. Let’s just hope that Marlon Byrd and Castro keep up their good seasons so that we have something to cheer about…
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 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 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 18 March 2010 by Lou
The Cubs have to be delighted with the consistent pitching of 3 youngsters this spring – Carlos Marmol, Esmailin Cardidad & James Russell. The trio have combined to give up just one earned run this spring so far, and they appear ready to have a productive 2010 MLB schedule.
Carlos Marmol has pitched 5 innings in 5 appearances. Marmol has had better control for the most part, walking just 3 and giving up just 2 hits in the 5 frames. He has also racked up 8 hits and continues to work on using his breaking pitches more often to keep batters off-guard.
Esmailin Caridad pitched 2 more scoreless innings in Tuesday’s 4-1 win over the Texas Rangers. He walked one and struck out 3 during the outing. He has pitched a total of 6 1/3 innings this spring, giving up 6 hits and 1 walk, while racking up 6 K’s.
James Russell is emerging as one of the biggest surprises this spring. In Tuesday’s win, Russell didn’t give up a hit in his inning of work and he struck out 2 batters. The big lefty has no thrown 5 2/3 scoreless innings, giving up just 4 hits and 2 walks while striking out 7. He was a long shot to make the club heading into spring, but the way he has pitched, it will be hard for Manager Lou Pinella not to promote him to the major league level at Wrigley Field when camp breaks in April.
I would love to see Russell make the team, especially with the injury to Angel Guzman. We were counting on Guzman to have another productive season for the Cubs, but now with surgery on the horizon, that hope is long-gone. Someone is going to need to emerge as a dependable reliever for Pinella and the Cubs, and it looks like Russell is taking the bull by the horns. Marmol and Cardidad have pretty damn good stuff, so as long as they stay healthy and in command of their pitches, that should go a long way in helping the Cubs stay with the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central race for the early part of the season…
Posted on 23 February 2010 by Lou
Jeff Stevens is eager to show his stuff this spring and hopefully land a spot in the Cubs crowded bullpen. Stevens is competing with the likes of Esmailin Caridad, Justin Berg, Angel Guzman, Mike Parisi and Jeff Gray. Four pitchers vying for 2 spots in the starting rotation could also land in the bullpen at the start of the 2010 season depending on how that competition turns out – Tom Gorzelanny, Sean Marshall, Jeff Samardzija and Carlos Silva.
Stevens came over from the Indians in the Mark DeRosa trade, and spent most of the season at Triple-A Iowa. Stevens did make 11 appearances for the Cubs at the major league level, and although he posted a high 7.11 ERA, he held the other team scoreless in 7 of his outings. Now that he is a little more comfortable in the Cubs organization, Stevens is excited for Spring Training 2010 in Mesa where he can showcase his stuff. “Last year I was trying to make a good impression. I was new coming, coming over in the trade. It’s a little different now because I know everybody, people have seen how I pitch. You definitely want to come in and make a good impression.”
Let’s hope one or two of these guys really steps it up in 2010 to help out Carlos Marmol and John Grabow in the bullpen. A few of these guys have talent, so if they can provide consistent and reliable bullpen work during the course of the long MLB season, that could mean good things for the Cubs in 2010.