Posted on 09 December 2012 by Lou
The Cubs and right-handed reliever Kyuji Fujikawa officially agreed to a 3-year, $9.5 million deal on Friday. Fujikawa is 32 years old and will likely serve as a set-up man to current Cubs closer Carlos Marmol. GM Jed Hoyer and President Theo Epstein are confident that a more consistent back-end of the rotation will lead to more W’s in 2013. With Marmol, Fujikawa, James Russell and Shawn Camp ready to shoulder a good chunk of the load, that should allow Manager Dale Sveum a few more options during the long season and hopefully keep guys more fresh as the season wears on. It could also give Epstein and Hoyer some flexibility to move Marmol (who is owed $9.8 million in 2013) at some point in order to bring back a few young arms and help deepen the Cubs pitching potential in the minor leagues.
The Cubs signed Fujikawa to a “team-friendly contract” of 2 years and $9.5 million. He gets a $1 million signing bonus plus salaries of $4 million in each of 2013 and 2014. The Cubs can buy him out for $500,000 at the end of 2014 if Fujikawa does not meet a “games-finished” option that vests if he meets a certain level. The dollar value for the 2015 vesting option is either $5.5 million or $6 million.
Hoyer had this to say about the addition – “Our goal is to have the best bullpen possible. Kyuji certainly adds to that. He’s had a great career. If you look at his career, he was a dominant setup guy first and a dominant closer. We know he can do both roles. We look at it as adding a great arm, and we don’t worry about the role.”
Little by little the Cubs are piecing together their 2013 roster. While they are not going to make any splashy moves this off-season, at least it seems like they have a plan to address a few of the areas that really hurt the club in 2012. That could mean a team that is more competitive in 2013 – http://www.ticketchest.com/sports/MLB_Tickets/Chicago_Cubs/ – let’s hope…
Posted on 09 May 2012 by Lou
It was a pitcher’s duel series, as Paul Maholm out-dueled Tim Hudson in the series finale today at Wrigley Field. Maholm pitched 7 scoreless innings, winning his 4th straight decision. He scattered 3 hits and 3 walks while striking out 3. He lowered his WHIP to 1.08 and his ERA to 4.05. Nice!
The Cubs were equally ineffective offensively – 5 hits and no walks. Starlin Castro almost scored the game’s first run in the bottom of the 4th inning as his line drive down the right field line scooted past Jason Heyward. He had a triple and tried to score an inside-the-park HR but was gunned down on a nice relay throw by Dan Uggla. They had to wait until the 7th inning when David DeJesus led off with a single. Dejesus moved over to 3rd base on a sac bunt by Tony Campana and groundout by Castro. Then Bryan LaHair came up with the clutch 2-out single to left center field that plated DeJesus with the only run of the game.
James Russell made it interesting in the 8th inning when he put 2 runners on base, but he got Uggla to pop out to DeJesus to end the threat. Then Rafael Dolis worked a perfect 9th inning for his 3rd save of the season. Dolis got Chipper Jones to line out to left field to lead off the inning – that was likely his last at-bat for his illustrious career at Wrigley Field.
With the win, the Cubs improved to 13-18. They have won 2 straight series and they split the 2 series before that against the Phillies and Reds, so they are actually playing some pretty good ball right now.
Posted on 07 May 2012 by Lou
Jeff Samardzija improved to 4-1 with a dominant 5-1 win over the Braves on Monday night at Wrigley Field. The Braves had won 3 in a row scoring 29 runs in a 3-game sweep over the Rockies in Colorado over the weekend, but Samardzija worked his magic and held the Braves to just 1 run on Jason Heyward’s homer in the 2nd inning. Samardzija worked 7 innings and allowed just 5 hits and 2 walks while striking out 7. He lowered his WHIP to 1.19 and his ERA to 3.03. Samardzija continued to show great command and a mastery of mixing up his pitches to keep the hitters off-guard.
Carlos Marmol made his 1st appearance after being removed from the closer’s role. In the 8th inning, he walked the 1st two batters and threw wild pitch before getting the next 3 batters without allowing a run. It wasn’t pretty, but at least he preserved the lead.
James Russell worked the 9th – he allowed a hit with 2 K’s and closed the door for the Cubs 3rd win in 4 games.
Bryan LaHair hit his 8th home run off the season to tie the game at 1. Ian Stewart followed up with a back-to-back homer right after that and Reed Johnson almost made it 3 in a row, but his shot fell just short of the wall in deep left. Starlin Castro added 2 hits including an RBI single in the 7th inning that increased the Cubs lead to 3-1. Geovany Soto gave the Cubs some much needed insurance runs with a 2-run blast in the 8th inning.
It’s always good to get the 1st win in a series, so let’s hope the Cubs can clinch another series win with a big W on Tuesday night at the Friendly Confines…
Posted on 31 March 2012 by Lou
Paul Maholm looked good in his 2nd to last start of the spring – a 3-3 tie with the Angels. Maholm worked almost 5 innings, giving up 2 ER on 3 hits and a walk. He struck out 6 and had some nice control of all of his pitches. Maholm could surprise this season as the Cubs 5th pitcher in the rotation. Carlos Marmol, Rafael Dolis and James Russell also tossed scoreless perfect innings of relief to keep the score tied at 3.
The Cubs managed just 6 singles and doubles by Joe Mather and Darwin Barney in 10 innings and it looks like consistent offense could plague the Cubs again in 2012. The Cubs are going to need a lot of clutch timely hitting this year as the rotation and bullpen will likely keep the Cubs in a bunch of games. Then it will come down to the hitters coming through when they have runners on base and taking advantage of errors committed by the opposition – something they have struggled to do each of the last 2 seasons.
We’ll see how it goes, but spring training is quietly closing up and we’ll have “real” games very very soon on the north side of Chicago…
Posted on 21 December 2011 by Lou
Let the questions start rolling. Theo & Co. have traded their most reliable reliever, 29-year old Sean Marshall, to the Reds for lefty starter Travis Wood. Not sure how this makes the Cubs better, but is clear that Theo & Co. value starting pitching above relief pitching and that the Cubs intend to try to acquire younger talent to continue building from the ground up.
Wood is 25 years old. In 2011, Wood made 18 major league starts, going 6-6 with a 4.84 ERA (he also made 10 starts at Triple-A Louisville). His rookie season was much better – in 2010, Wood made 17 starts, going 5-4 with a 3.51 ERA. But the 200+ innings in 2010 may have taken a toll on his body thereby limiting his effectiveness in his sophomore season.
Marshall was one of the best left-handed relievers in all of baseball in 2011. He had a nasty 2.20 ERA and his 34 holds was 2nd best in all of baseball among lefties. The 34 holds was a Cubs record. Marshall was set to make $3 million in 2012 and he was eligible to test the free agent market following season, so the Cubs struck first while the iron was hot.
The bullpen is going to be a wreck next year with this move. Maybe with an improved starting pitching staff, there will be less pressure on the bullpen, but taking Marshall out of the mix leaves a huge void for that lefty set-up man. You can’t tell me that James Russell, Scott Maine or John Gaub are going to be the guys to step right in and become reliable or dependable all of a sudden. I just don’t see it.
But I guess this is the time where we just have to trust the observations, research and decision-making of Epstein, Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod. We’ll keep you posted as soon as we hear anything new.
Posted on 16 June 2011 by Lou
Carlos Zambrano struggled for the 2nd straight start since calling out closer Carlos Marmol for blowing a save in which Big Z stood to get the win back on June 5th against the Cardinals. Since then, Zambrano has given up 12 ER on 16 hits and 9 walks to the Phillies and Brewers, both games which the Cubs have lost. After having some impressive outings earlier this season, Big Z has been a mess of late with his ERA rising to 4.59. So much for trading him when the iron was hot.
On a side note – maybe we’ll see Prince Fielder in a Cubs uni next year?!?!
Jeff Baker homered in the 1st to give the Cubs a 1-0 lead and Reed Johnson cut the Brewers 5-1 lead to 5-4 with his 3-run bomb in the 4th inning, but it wasn’t enough. Johnson, Blake DeWitt and DJ Lemahieu each had 2 hits in the loss. The Cubs committed an error for what seems like the 50th game in a row. It led to 2 unearned runs off of James Russell in the 7th inning that increased the Brewers lead to 7-4.
News Flash – Cubs defeated the Brewers today 12-7 to take 3 of 4 from the Brewers this week at Wrigley…
Posted on 26 May 2011 by Lou
With another storm heading towards Chicago, each team knew they had to score early and often to be ahead in a game that was certainly going to be rain-shortened at some point before 9 innings were played. The Cubs took a 4-1 lead after 1 inning of play courtesy of 2-out, 2-run doubles from Reed Johnson and Alfonso Soriano in a clutch hitting performance. But Casey Coleman and Justin Berg gave it right back by allowing the Mets to take command with a 5-run 2nd inning. Coleman recorded only 4 outs in his start — 6 ER on 7 hits and 1 walk. Why is he still in the rotation? Manager Mike Quade went with young gun Justin Berg to get Coleman out of the 2nd inning jam, but what did he do? Berg literally threw 12 pitches – all balls – to walk in 2 runs in a miserable effort. James Russell came on to save the day and keep the game close by striking out the final 2 batters of the game with the bases loaded and only 1 out. Sure the Cubs trailed 6-4, but it could have been worse. With the rain coming, the Cubs knew they needed to score and score soon, but they could never muster anything else off of Dillon Gee the rest of the way. The game was eventually called after 6 full innings of play.
It was another frustrating loss in another frustrating year for the Cubs…
Posted on 21 May 2011 by Lou
Ouch — what an ugly loss – 15-5, 4 more errors from the Cubs defense. Just when you thought they might make a turn after winning 2 over the Marlins in Miami this week, they go back to their “old” losing ways in Boston.
Doug Davis was downright bad – 7 ER on 8 hits and 3 walks with 3 K’s in just 3 2/3 innings pitched. Scott Maine recorded just 1 out in his work durnig the 4th and 5th innings. He gave up 3 ER on 5 hits with 1 walk. And Jeff Samardzija had his 1st bad outing in a while, turning a 10-5 laugher into an embarrassing 15-5 riot. He gave up 5 runs (3 earned) on 4 hits and 2 walks in the bottom of the 8th inning. All in all, the Red Sox pounded out 19 hits including 2 home runs.
James Russell was the only effective Cubs pitcher as he tossed 3 scoreless innings in the middle of the game.
Jeff Baker did have a good night at the plate – 4 for 5 with 2 runs scored. Aramis Ramirez followed that up with 3 hits and an RBI. Alfonso Soriano and Reed Johnson each had 2 hits in the loss.
The pressure is now on Carlos Zambrano and Matt Garza to try to salvage the series against the Red Sox at Fenway park in Boston this weekend.
Posted on 03 May 2011 by Lou
The Dodgers defeated the Cubs 5-2 on Monday night in Los Angeles.
James Russell lost for the 4th time in 5 starts.
Alfonso Soriano hit his major-league leading 11th home run in the loss.
Go Cubs Go!
Posted on 27 April 2011 by Lou
The Cubs lost to the Rockies 4-3 in a familiar storyline that is getting oh-so-old. After jumping out to a 2-0 lead on a Jeff Baker single that scored Starlin Castro and on a Troy Tulowitki error on a ball hit by Geovany Soto that scored Darwin Barney, the Cubs could not figure out a way to hold onto the lead and win.
James Russell is just not getting it done in the rotation – 4 IP, 4ER on 3 home runs and 3 walks. Not good. The bullpen kept them in the game with 5 scoreless innings of relief, but the Cubs couldn’t muster another run until the 9th inning when Alfonso Soriano led off the inning with a home run.
The Cubs have now lost 3 straight and sit at 10-13 on the season, 2 games back of the Cards and Brewers for 1st place in the lowly NL Central. The Cubs are just 6-8 at the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field.