Tag Archive | "James Russell"

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Cubs Can’t Complete Sweep of Padres – Wrigley Field 4/21/11

Posted on 21 April 2011 by Lou

After Reed Johnson’s dramatic walk-off home run to left field propelled the Cubs to a 2-1 win of the opener, there was hope that the Cubs would be able to pull off the sweep.  But it wasn’t meant to be as the Padres exploded for 3 home runs against James Russell in the game’s first 5 innings to rush out to a 4-0 lead.  The Cubs cut the lead to 4-2 on an RBI double from Reed Johnson and an RBI single by Darwin Barney in the bottom of the 5th inning and then again to 5-4 on Alfonso Soriano’s 2-run home run to deep left center field in the bottom of the 8th inning, but they didn’t have another rally left in the tank in the 9th.

After his heroics in the 1st game, Johnson made the most of his start in Game 2.  Johnson had 3 hits and an RBI, but was thrown out at 3rd base in the 5th inning on an overly aggressive base-running blunder that probably cost the Cubs a much-needed run.  After he was thrown out for the 2nd out in the inning, the Cubs started a 2-out rally with consecutive singles by Jeff Baker, Kosuke Fukudome and Barney.  If Johnson had been on base, who knows what would have happened with only 1 out and those 3 singles…  Fukudome hit lead-off and had 2 hits in 5 at-bats.  Barney had 2 hits as well and Starlin Castro went 1 for 4 as the team’s 3rd hitter in the lineup.  Castro had a rough day at the plate in the double-header – 1 for 9 with 5 runners left on base.

With the split, the Cubs were tied for 1st place in the NL Central with 3 other teams – the Brewers, Reds and Cards – all with 9-9 records…

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Myers, Astros Cruise Past Bewildered Cubs 7-1 – Wrigley Field 4/13/11

Posted on 13 April 2011 by Lou

Bret Myers was finally rewarded for another good start as the Astros raced out to an early 5-0 lead and never looked back.  Michael Bourn and Angel Sanchez each reached on bunt singles to start the game, making starter-turned reliever-turned starter James Russell look like he had never practiced fielding a bunt before.  Each player came around to score later that inning.  Bourn also had 2 stolen bases, while the top 3 Astros in the lineup – Bourn, Sanchez and Hunter Pence – went a combined 9 for 15, with 7 RBI’s and 7 runs scored.  Ouch.

Russell ended up lasting just 1 2/3 innings in his spot start for Andrew Cashner. He gave up 4 ER on 7 hits and given the outing, the Cubs should really try to figure out a way to use just 4 starters for as long as possible when they can with some off days coming up.  Jeff Samardzija wasn’t all that much better – 2 ER on 3 hits in 3 innings of work.  His season ERA is 7.50 and his season WHIP is 2.17.  Since Samardzija doesn’t have any options, he is going to either have to get better in a hurry or the Cubs may be forced to outright release him.  And John Grabow continued to pitch poorly as he recovers from a 2010 injury.  Grabow gave up 3 ER on 5 hits in the 8th inning and now has a 2.31 WHIP and 8.31 ERA.

The Cubs did manage to have 11 hits, but scored just 2 runs, one on a solo home run by Tyler Colvin.  Marlon Byrd is on fire after a slow start.  He had 3 more hits and has a .391 batting average.  Starlin Castro had 2 more hits and is hitting .367.  If only someone else in the lineup besides the first 3 batters would start hitting, maybe the Cubs could put together some sustained rallies.

Carlos Zambrano and Wandy Rodriguez square off in the rubber game of the series tonight in Houston…

 

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Cubs Survive Ugly 8-7 Win Over Crosstown Rival White Sox – Wrigley Field West 3/24/11

Posted on 25 March 2011 by Lou

WOW – what an ugly win for the Cubs over the White Sox on Thursday.  There were some positives, but also a LOT of negatives.

It was great that the Cubs hung on to win, but the White Sox actually out-hit the Cubs 16-8.  Ouch.  Good pitching was clearly not on display yesterday in Mesa.

I’m still waiting for Matt Garza to have that breakout start that shows it was a smart decision for the Cubs to unload 4 top prospects for the big righty from the Tampa Bay Rays.  Garza started off well with 3 straight scoreless innings to start the game.  But he ended up giving up 3 ER on 8 hits and 2 walks which actually lowered his ERA to 8.68 for the spring.  But a 2.0 WHIP during a game is never good, even if you end up winning.  Not sure if Garza is still fine-tuning things and working on pitches no matter what the situation in the game, but I really hope that he starts pitching for real before the season starts.  He has 1 more start next week before he makes his Cubs debut next Sunday at Wrigley Field, so it would be nice to see a stellar outing out of Garza early next week.

The bullpen didn’t fare much better.  Braden Looper gave up a run on 3 hits and a walk in his 2 innings of work and is out of the running for being the Cubs 5th starter.  James Russell gave up 2ER on 2 solo home runs in the 8th inning, but will likely still make the opening day roster as a lefty reliever.  And Carlos Marmol gave up a run in the 9th inning but managed to shut the door on the White Sox to preserve the 1-run win for the Cubs.  All in all, it was a horrible showing by the pitching staff.

The bats finally came to life in the win.  Alfonso Soriano had a solo home run and had 2 RBI’s on the day.  Darwin Barney continued to show Manager Mike Quade that he deserves a shot at starting at 2B this season.  He had 2 more hits including a triple and he drove in 2 runs and scored 1 run.  Marlon Byrd continued his torrid hitting and had 2 RBI’s.  Satrlin Castro had a double and a walk and scored 2 runs.

When these guys are being patient and swinging the bats well, the Cubs are capable of putting up some runs each game.  But is a matter of consistency and hoping that guys like Carlos Pena, Alfonso Soriano and Geovany Soto all don’t go into prolonged slumps at the same time.

It’s a week away from opening day – can’t wait for another fun MLB schedule to begin…

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Carlos Silva Watch – Could He End up With Another Team When Camp Breaks – Wrigley Field West Mesa Arizona 3/18/11

Posted on 18 March 2011 by Lou

Will Carlos Silva be on the Cubs opening day roster when camp breaks at the end of March – that is a key question.  With the quality starts by Randy Wells all spring long and the emergence of Andrew Cashner as a viable 5th starter, the Cubs could be looking to move Carlos Silva when camp breaks at the end of March.  Lucky for the Cubs, they have some suitors.  The Washington Nationals and New York Yankees both have had scouts watching all of Silva’s starts this spring.  Both teams are in need of a 5th starter to round out their rotations and the Yankees could easily absorb all or a portion of Silva’s whopping $12 million salary for the 2011 MLB schedule.  Despite 2 rough starts to open up the spring and a dugout squirmish with Aramis Ramirez after a dreadful 1st inning in which Silva surrendered 6 runs when his defense committed 3 errors, Silva has put together 2 good starts and clearly still has what it takes to pitch at the major league level.  Silva even pitched 5 innings in his last outing and is building up his arm strength.

This would be a great coup for the Cubs if they can find someone to take Silva, even they end up paying for part of his salary to get a deal done.  Silva is not in the Cubs long-term plans and by moving Silva for something (a prospect, draft pick, saving some cash), it would be much better than outright releasing the big righty.  It would also free up a spot for Cashner to open the season as the Cubs 5th starter.  And even if the Cubs have an injury problem or Wells or Cashner struggles out of the gate, they still have some other young options to fall back on with James Russell and Casey Coleman who will most likely start the 2011 campaign starting in the minor leagues.

 

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Silva, Russell Bad in Cubs 14-13 Win Over Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – Wrigley Field West 3/7/11

Posted on 07 March 2011 by Lou

WOW – you can’t get much worse than Carlos Silva’s 2nd outing of the spring.  EIGHT (8) earned runs on 10 hits and he couldn’t even get out of the 3rd inning.  After blowing up in the 1st inning last week when the Cubs committed 3 runs in that 1st inning which put Silva in a 6-0 hole, Silva didn’t respond well today.  Silva’s ERA now stands at 29.70 – ouch.

James Russell added to the Cubs woes by giving up 3 ER (4 runs total) on 6 hits in his 3 innings of work.  He did have 2 K’s but his spring ERA ballooned to 10.80.

After falling behind 12-2 after 5 1/2 innings, Cubs prospects rallied the team to a big come-from-behind win.  The Cubs scored 7 runs in the 6th inning, 4 runs in the 8th inning and then won it in the 9th inning on a Bryan LaHair single.  It was his 2nd walk-off hit in as many days.

The Cubs are now 4-6 on the spring.

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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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Catching up with Cubs Reliever Andrew Cashner – Wrigley Field 11/11/10

Posted on 11 November 2010 by Lou

Andrew Cashner was a pleasant surprise for the Cubs out of the bullpen during the 2010 MLB schedule.  Cashner appeared in 53 games, going 2-6 with 16 holds and 1 blown save.  He had a 4.80 ERA and a 1.56 WHIp, with 50 K’s and 30 walks in 54 1/3 innings.  Cashner started off well, but hit the wall a little bit at the end of July and in early August.  He gave up 6 ER in back-to-back appearances on July 27th and July 30th, and then had a stretch where he gave up 7 total ER in a stretch of 4 out of 5 appearances in the middle of August.  But he rebounded after that – from August 23rd on (which coincided with the Mike Quade regime), Cashner worked in 18 games and gave up just a total of 3 ER in 19 1/3 innings pitched.  He appeared to regain his confidence and he pitched with a sense of purpose in some stressful situations for Quade and the Cubs late in the season.  Let’s hope he can keep it up and improve on the consistency during the off-season so that he is ready and able to lead a successful bullpen reformation during the 2011 MLB season.

Cashner recently had some interesting insight into pitching at the major league level and discussing how he plans to prepare for 2011: “I always thought I had good enough stuff to pitch here.  The biggest surprise to me is all the material you can use here every day.  The biggest thing I’ve learned is how much the hitters make adjustments.  You can face a guy at the beginning of the season in the Minors and get him out, and then face him three months later and he’s still the same guy.  The hitters here are constantly making adjustments.  I see our guys doing it all the time — they’re always working on something. The outs are a little harder to get later in the game… I’ll take some time off this year.  It’s been a really long year.  I’m going to shut it down for three, four weeks.  I have a trainer I work out with and I won’t see him until November 1.  Then, I’ll start five days a week first of November.  The throwing program usually doesn’t start until December.

Cashner will play a large role in how well the Cubs bullpen performs in 2011.  There are a lot of talented, but young arms in their, so it’s imperative that they stay focused and come prepared to pitch in pressure situations each and every day.  If guys like Cashner, Russell and Casey Coleman can continue to make a positive impact, it could be a sign of good things to come for the Cubs in 2011 and the very near future…

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Will Larry Rothschild Decide to Stay on as Cubs Pitching Coach in 2011?

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…

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Carlos Silva Returns to Mound – Not a Pretty Sight – Cubs 3, Astros 7 – 9/7/10 Wrigley Field

Posted on 08 September 2010 by Lou

Carlos Silva returned to the mound on Tuesday night and it wasn’t a pretty sight.  Not only did Silva look like he had put on a pound or two (or 10) during his stint on the DL, it didn’t like he wanted to be out there at all. After Silva gave up a run right away in the 1st inning, the Cubs rallied to give him a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the 1st inning.  But Silva did his best to give it right back.  Silva gave up 3 more runs in the 2nd inning and was ultimately charged with 6 ER in 5 innings of work.  The light-hitting Astros knocked Silva around for 9 hits (including 1 home run) as they cruised to an easy victory.  Silva had not pitched since he left an August 1st game against the Colorado Rockies with an irregular heartbeat after recording just 1 out.  Silva had a cardiac ablation surgical procedure to correct the issue and made 2 Class A Peoria starts before pitching last night.  Silva said he felt OK — “I feel really good, especially after the second inning, I felt more comfortable on the mound, but the result wasn’t good at all.”  I know the Cubs want to make sure he is OK in 2010 so that they know what they have for the 2011 MLB season.  Silva could stay with the team or the Cubs could try to move him in the off-season if the price is right (the Cubs would likely have to eat some of the $10 million owed to him in 2011).  But it would be nice to see some of these other young guys get some starts instead of a veteran like Silva, especially if he really isn’t ready for live game action.

The Cubs offense didn’t do much against Nelson Figueroa after they scored 2 runs in the 1st inning.  Tyler Colvin and Kosuke Fukudome each had 2 hits in the loss.  Colvin had 2 RBI’s while Marlon Byrd drove in the Cubs other run and scored a run as well.

Thomas Diamond and James Russell bounced back from rough outings in Sunday’s 18-5 loss to the Mets.  Each reliever gave up 5 ER in the loss, but Diamond tossed 2 scoreless innings with 2 K’s last night and Russell worked a scoreless 9th inning with 1 K.

Mike Quade opted to keep Starlin Castro out of the Cubs lineup for a 2nd straight game.  I liked his move to keep Castro out on Monday, but 2 days in a row?  There’s only 20 odd games left in the season.  We want the shortstop star of the future to see as much MLB-action as possible in his rookie season.  Let’s get him back in the lineup Mike!

Randy Wells looks to get the Cubs their 3rd straight series win tonight at Wrigley Field.  It won’t be easy as the Cubs must go up against Bret Myers who has limited the Cubs offensive production in recent starts (Myers has started 3 games against the Cubs this season — 2-0 record, 4 ER in 22 2/3 innings pitched, only 17 total hits with 26 K’s).  Could be a long night Cubs fans…

Oh yeah – the Ricketts Family and the Cubs unveiled a 3rd statue before the game – Billy Williams’ sweet swing was placed right outside the Captain Morgan Club at the corner of Sheffield and Addison streets.  The Williams statue sent the Harry Caray statue packing to the corner of Sheffield and Waveland in front of the entrance to the Bleachers.  The Ernie Backs statue is still located by the main box office at the corner of Addison and Clark streets.

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Soriano, DeWitt Lead Cubs to Big Win Over Mets @ Wrigley Field — Cubs 7, Mets 6 – 9/3/10

Posted on 04 September 2010 by Lou

Alfonso Soriano and Blake DeWitt each hit 3-run home runs to lead the Cubs to a 7-6 win over the New York Mets on Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field.  Soriano’s homer in the 4th inning gave the Cubs a 4-3 lead.  DeWitt’s homer in the 6th inning broke a 4-4 tie to give the Cubs a 7-4 lead.  They held on as the Mets hit 2 solo home runs in the 7th and 8th innings to cut the Cubs lead to just 1 run.  But Carlos Marmol worked a scoreless 9th inning – despite issuing ANOTHER walk – to pick up his 26th save on the season.

I really like this DeWitt kid.  In addition to the 3-run homer, he had another single.  He has a .327 on-base percentage and has a bit more pop in his bat than Ryan Theriot with his 5 HR’s and 46 RBI’s.  He is also a lot younger as he just turned 25 about 2 weeks ago.  It will be interesting to see how he matures under the tutelage of Rudy Jaramillo (and potentially Ryne Sandberg as the new Cubs skipper in 2011).  But I like the idea of DeWitt and Starlin Castro shining in the middle of the infield in the near future.

Speaking of Castro, he had 2 more hits and his batting average is now .319 which keeps him in 3rd place in the NL just 4 percentage points behind Joey Votto of the Reds.  Catching Carlos Gonzalez of the Rockies (.331) might be tough, but anything can happen in the final 4 weeks of the season.

Xavier Nady continues to excel as he gets more playing time as the Cubs regular 1st baseman since Derrek Lee’s departure.  Nady had 3 hits, 1 RBI and 2 runs scored and always seems to be in the middle of Cubs rallies these days.

For the 2nd straight game, a Cubs pitcher picked up his 1st major league win.  Casey Coleman notched the win in the Cubs victory over the Pirates on Wednesday.  And on Friday, James Russell picked up his 1st major league win by recording the final out of the 6th inning.  Russell retired the only batter that he faced to get Randy Wells out of his jam.

Speaking of Wells, it was another so-so outing for Wells who is enduring a sophomore slump of a 2010 MLB schedule.  Wells surrendered 4 ER on 8 hits and 4 walks with 4 K’s.  He did not have a single 1-2-3 inning during his outing and his ERA is now 4.56 and his WHIP is now 1.44.  Not good.

Interesting fun fact — going into yesterday’s game, the Mets had not hit more than 1 home run in a game in 31 games.  Of course, against Cubs pitching, the Mets hit 2 home runs – 1 by David Wright and 1 by Luis Hernandez.

The Cubs and Mets play game 2 on Saturday afternoon – Carlos Zambrano takes the bump against .  Big Z is looking for his 3rd straight win in as many starts and his 4th win since returning to the starting rotation on August 9th.  Not bad, not bad at all.

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