Posted on 09 December 2014 by Lou
Jeff Samardzija is on his way back to Chicago! No, not with the Cubs but with the White Sox on the South Side. White Sox GM Rick Hahn pulled off a silent strike – landing Jeff Samardzija to slot in right behind Chris Sale as his 1-A ace to make a terrific 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation. With both the Cubs and A’s in 2014, Samardzija went 7-13 with a combined 2.99 ERA.
Hahn also addressed the White Sox poor 2014 bullpen by outbidding everyone else for the services of the Yankees former closer David Robertson. The White Sox sigtned Robertson to a 4-year, $46 million deal to help anchor the back of a bullpen that sported a 4.28 ERA and saved just 36 games during the season. Robertson himself saved 39 games for the Yankees in 2014 and had a respectable 3.08 ERA. The 29-year old has a 2.81 career ERA over 7 seasons.
The White Sox are clearly going for it in 2015, which is a little suprising in the tough AL Central. It is tough to jump over 1 good team in the MLB landscape today, let alone 3 good teams in the Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals and Cleveland Indians. By trading for Samardzija, the White Sox basically gave up their top prospect infielder – Marcus Semien – and a good starting pitcher prospect – Chris Bassitt. Semien was close to major league ready and was expected to debut with theSox at some point in 2015. Samardzija has already said he will test the free agent market after the season, so if the White Sox don’t resign him, they would have given up their top prospect for a 1 year rental. And signing a closer to any deal with an average salary over $10 million never seems like a good idea to me. But then again, the White Sox have always been a little unconventional. Attendance on the south side has plummeted to all-time lows over the last 2 horrific seasons (99 losses in 2013 and 89 losses in 2014), so Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf clearly thought it was time to make some bold moves to get back into playoff contention. I definitely would not have made these moves, but when you are also competing with a Cubs organization which by all accounts is on the cusp of a long period of sustained quality play buoyed by the depth of its minor league prospects, Reinsdorf was stuck between a rock and a hard place. And if these moves help the White Sox squeeze in another World Championship Title in 2015 or 2016 before the Cubs run begins, Reinsdrof will be remembered for doing everything he could to help the White Sox win each and every season he held the reins. And I give Reinsdrof and the Sox credit for going out on a limb like this — make something happen instead of waiting for good things to happen.
And I am writing about this in part because it does relate to what the Cubs plan to do this off-season. Theo & Co. have been active in acquiring young talent over the last 3 seasons. But it’s finally time for the Cubs to make some bold moves of their own.
This fall/winter, I finally feel like they are being more proactive in doing everything possible to field a complete team for new Manager Joe Maddon at the major league level. Tommy La Stella has major league experience and can hopefully improve the Cubs on-base percentage during the regular season, even if he doesn’t play everyday. Jason Hammel rebounded nicely under the tutelage of Chris Bosio during the 1st half of 2014 and hopefully he can regain that form with the Cubs in 2015. If the Cubs can somehow outbid everyone else for Jon Lester’s services, they will have the ace they have long coveted. And there are also rumors swirling about the Cubs pursuing catcher Miguel Montero from the Arizona Diamondbacks. Sure Wellington Castillo is a solid backstop, but the Cubs missed out on Russell Martin and clearly think that Montero is an upgrade from Castillo both for his in-game pitch-calling and for his left-handed bat to create a more balanced offensive lineup for Maddon. Theo & Co. are definitely not sitting back this winter and let’s hope they continue to explore options as the winter meetings progress this week. There are no sure things when you sign a free agent or make a trade, but just the same – there are no sure things when you sit back and wait for good things to happen.
Stay tuned on Lester — heated negotiations between multiple teams over the last 24 hours have likely driven the price up more and delayed Lester’s ultimate decision…
Posted on 08 December 2014 by Lou
Finally. The Chicago Cubs signed former Cub Jason Hammel to a 2-year, $18 million deal today. The Cubs have a club option for a 3rd year or there is a $2 million buyout if the sides decide to part ways before the 2017 MLB season.
Hammel performed well for the Cubs in 2014, going 8-5 with a sparkling 2.98 ERA during the 1st three months of the season. But the Cubs traded Hammel and Jeff Samardzija to the Oakland A’s on July 4th in exchange for shortstop Addison Russell and outfielder Bill McKinney. Russell is one of the Cubs top prospects behind 3rd baseman Kris Bryant and McKinney has the makings of becoming a star outfielder with a great knack for getting on base.
Hammel struggled with the A’s, going 2-6 with a 4.26 ERA during the 2nd half of the season. But the Cubs are confident that he can return to form back in his comfortable Chicago surroundings and with pitching coach Chris Bosio who was credited with helping Hammel regain his form. Hammel has also pitched for current Cubs manager Joe Maddon when he was with the Tampa Bay Rays and he was Jon Lester’s teammate with the A’s during the dramatic 2nd half of the 2014 season. Hammel is hoping that Lester becomes his teammate again if he decides to sign a big free-agent deal with the Northsiders.
Speaking of Lester, multiple reports indicated that he will make a decision sometime during the next 24 hours. I really hope so — this has dragged on way longer than I thought, with the emergence of the Los Angeles Dodgers into the mix likely driving up the price way past the $150 million I thought would be a fair price for Lester’s services. I still feel like Lester will choose either the Red Sox or Cubs, but if the Dodgers throw in a 7th year, passing up $170+ million will be hard for Lester to do, even if it means going to a “less comfortable” situation.
Stay tuned — we’ll keep you posted as soon as anything breaks…
Posted on 27 November 2012 by Lou
The Cubs signed Scott Feldman to a 1-year, $6 million deal. Feldman made 21 starts for the Texas Rangers in 2012 and Cubs GM Jed Hoyer expects Feldman to be a starter for the Cubs in 2013. Hoyer stated: “I know he has bounced around a little bit with the Rangers, but in large part that was due to the amount of starting pitchers they had. We clearly see him as a starter, and we are excited to add him to the rotation.” He posted a high 5.09 ERA for the Rangers and only went 6-11. He had a breakout year with the Rangers in 2009, going 17-8 with a 4.08 ERA in 31 starts. He hopes a change of scenery knowing that he will be a starter will help him return to form. Feldman stated: “Starting is something I have always wanted to do during my career. When Cubs executives gave me the go ahead on that and let me know I was in their plans from the get-go it was something that made me very interested in coming to the Cubs.
The Cubs are starting to round out the group of starting pitchers expected to be in the mix in 2013. Matt Garza, Jeff Samardzija and Travis Wood appear to be locks. Feldman is in that mix as well and Scott Baker could compete for a spot as well assuming his continued recovery from surgery stays on track.
We’ll keep you posted as the Cubs make further moves this winter…
Posted on 11 November 2012 by Lou
The Cubs qualifying bid for South Korean lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu was not good enough as the Los Angeles Dodgers won the right to sign Ryu with a $25.75 million posting bid. The Dodgers keep taking on more salary under Magic Johnson’s new ownership team now that the nasty McCourt divorce issue is behind the organization. The Dodgers traded for Josh Beckett Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford this season all of whom have hug contracts down the line.
In Ryu’s 1st professional season back in 2006 the lefty went 18-6 with a 2.23 ERA while racking up 205 strikeouts. Ryu helped South Korea top Cuba in the championship game of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. And despite a 9-9 record last season Ryu still had a sparkling 2.66 ERA with 210 strikeouts in 27 starts.
The Cubs are still in the free agent market for 2 starting pitchers. Matt Garza Jeff Samardzija and Travis Wood are likely starters back in 2013 for the Cubs.
We’ll keep you posted if anything develops over the next few weeks as baseball meetings heat up pretty quickly this winter…
Posted on 04 September 2012 by Lou
The Nationals have taken the 1st 2 games of the series against the Cubs with 2-1 and 11-5 victories. The Nats improved their major league best record to 83-52.
Jeff Samardzija pitched well on Labor Day, but suffered the loss as the Cubs could not muster any offense. Samardzija fell to 8-13 on the season despite allowing just 1 ER on 7 hits and 1 walk in 7 innings pitched. He struck out 8 and walked just 1 batter as he lowered his ERA to 3.91 and his WHIP to 1.26. Starlin Castro and Wellington Castillo each had 2 hits in the loss and Castillo knocked in the only Cubs run with a single in the 9th inning that cut the Nats lead in half. But it was too little too late.
Chris Rusin and the Cubs bullpen served up 6 homers to the Nationals in the 11-5 loss on Tuesday night. Rusin lasted just 1 inning (he did not record an out in the 2nd inning) before being pulled by Skipper Dale Sveum. His line was not pretty — 5 ER on 8 hits with a walk and a strikeout. His WHIP ballooned to 2.00 as his ERA skyrocketed to 9.00. It was his 2nd loss in 2 starts this season. Alfonso Soriano did hit his 26th home run and tallied his 2nd triple of the season. Luis Valbuena, Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro each had 2 hits in the loss.
The Cubs are a woeful 51-84 on the season and it looks like they could suffer a 100-loss season in 2012. Ouch…
At least they are still finding ways to have fun – check out the picture of Rookie picture Jaye Chapman carrying the “Dora The Explorer Backpack” to the Cubs bullpen before the start of the game!
Posted on 19 July 2012 by Lou
The Cubs took the final 2 games of the series against the Marlins to keep their winning ways rolling. They took 5 of 6 games on the current homestand to open up the 2nd half of the MLB campaign.
In Wednesday night’s rain-shortened 5-1 win, Jeff Samardzija struck out 9 in just 5 innings and limited the marlins to only 1 ER on 6 hits and 3 walks. James Russell picked up the win by pitching a scoreless 7th inning despite allowing 2 runners to reach base. Starlin Castro tied the game at 1 in the 4th inning with his 8th homer of the season. And the Cubs earned the win before the rains came by tallying 4 runs in the 7th. Geovany Soto had an RBI single, Jeff Baker had a 2-run single and David DeJesus plated the final run with a sacrifice fly.
In Thursday’s matinee, Paul Maholm pitched 8 innings of 1-run ball, scattering 5 hits and 1 walk. Maholm improved to 8-6 and lowered his WHIP to 1.29 and his ERA to 4.09. Carlos Marmol made it interesting in the 9th when he walked the lead-off hitter and allowed him to score on a single. But he closed out the game to pick up his 11th save and preserve the 4-2 win. Alfonso Soriano hit his 18th homer to get the Cubs on the board in the 5th inning. And Reed Johnson capped off the 4-run 5th inning with a 2-out, 2-run single to left field. Johnson, Soriano, Jeff Baker and Darwin Barney each had 2 hits in the win.
Now it’s onto St. Louis to take on the Cardinals in what could be Ryan Dempster’s final 2012 start as a Cubs player on Friday night.
Posted on 17 July 2012 by Lou
Travis Wood was due for a bad outing. The lefty surrendered 8 ER on 8 hits and 2 walks before Manager Dale Sveum mercifully pulled the starter with 2 outs in the top of the 5th inning. Wood did strike out 6 batters, but Carlos Lee’s 2 hits and grand slam were just too much for Wood to handle. Lee continued his penchant for crushing the ball at Wrigley Field.
David DeJesus, Starlin Castro, Anthony Rizzo and Luis Valbuena each had 2 hits for the Cubs in the loss.
The game marked the return of former White Sox Manager Ozzie Guillen and former Cubs starter Carlos Zambrano. Zambrano was apologetic to the media and Cubs fans before the game: “I still love these fans… I apologize for any inconvenience and anything that I did. The only thing that I wanted to do in Chicago is win, and I really apologize to the Cubs fans and the people here who treated me good.” Ozzie, on the other hand, was less diplomatic. Before the game, he issued a listed of Chicago media who were NOT ALLOWED to attend any of his media press conferences pre- or post-game. One of those included on the list is long-time ESPN Radio 1000 sage Bruce Levine. Bruce Levine has been in the baseball business for over a century and he has know Ozzie for almost 30 years. But Ozzie took offense that Levine did not support Ozzie more when the Marlins suspended Ozzie for 5 games early in the season for statements he made about Cuba’s President Fidel Castro which angered the Miami Latina community. Levine suggested that Ozzie should be suspended indefinitely until Ozzie, the Marlins baseball organization and the community could patch things up. That did not sit well with Ozzie who immediately issued an apologetic statement after he made the Castro comments. This is just another example of Ozzie being Ozzie – what do you expect?
In any event, Jeff Samardzija looks to kick off the 2nd half of the MLB season on a positive note. He’ll square off against Josh JOhnson in Game 2 of the series tonight.
Posted on 27 June 2012 by Lou
The Cubs took 2 of 3 games from the New York Mets this week at Wrigley Field to bounce back from a 2-4 road trip. Anthony Rizzo’s Cubs major league debut went off without a hitch on Tuesday night. He went 2 for 4 and his 2-out RBI double in the 4th inning proved to be the game winner in the Cubs 5-3 win. After Randy Wells struggled through the game’s first 3 innings, the Cubs bullpen did the rest.
The Cubs win guaranteed a series win, but the Mets absolutely destroyed Jeff Samardzija and the Cubs in the finale today – to the tune of 17-1. Samardzija fell to 5-7 on the season – he lasted just 4 1/3 innings, giving up 9 ER on 6 hits and 4 walks. He served up 2 home runs and only struck out 1 batter. Samardzija has been miserable in his last 4 start – 25 ER on 26 hits and 10 walks. And his previous outing to that stretch, he only allowed 2 ER, but he battled throughout giving up 7 hits and walking 5. Not good. Casey Coleman got sucked into the madness – Manager Dale Sveum was not about to tax the rest of his bullpen in the blowout, so Coleman was left out there on a tough day to serve up 7 more ER on 6 hist and 2 walks. He too allowed 2 home runs.
The Cubs could use an off-day – especially when it is supposed to be over 100 degrees here in Chicago on Thursday. Then they open up a weekend series with the Houston Astros. Fun fun fun…
Posted on 18 June 2012 by Lou
The Red Sox took the final 2 games against the Cubs during the weekend set at Wrigley Field. Jeff Samardzija’s struggles continued in the heat on Saturday night at the Friendly Confines. He gave up 3 ER on 4 hits and 3 walks in just 5 1/3 innings. He racked up 6 K’s but his high 108-pitch count forced Manager Dale Sveum to pull the big righty early in the game. The Cubs tallied their 3 runs on Luis Valbuena’s 1st career major league home run – a 3-run blast off of Jon Lester that cut the Red Sox lead to 4-3. But the game would end like that.
Franklin Morales started for the injured Josh Beckett on Sunday night and he out-dueled Cubs starter Paul Maholm. Maholm pitched OK – 3 ER on 6 hits and 1 walk, with 6 K’s – but it wasn’t good enough. The Red Sox scored 3 runs in the 7th and 1 in the 8th to break open a 3-3 tie. Starlin Castro finally broke out of his slump with 3 hits, including a double and a triple. He drove in 2 of the Cubs 3 runs.
The Cubs fell to 22-44 with the series loss to the Red Sox – they once again have the worst record in baseball. The Cubs “travel” south to take on the White Sox for 3 games at U.S. Cellular Field starting tonight. Matt Garza will square off against Zach Stewart in the series opener.
Posted on 04 June 2012 by Lou
The Giants beat the Cubs 3-2 on Monday afternoon, extending the Cubs road losing streak to 11 games. It is their longest road losing streak since 1954 – ouch! Jeff Samardzija had a rare bad performance, lasting just 5 innings. He walked 5 batters – a season high – but he kept his team in the game with clutch pitching with runners on base. He allowed just 2 ER even though he permitted 12 runners to reach base in his short outing.
Carlos Marmol took the loss when he gave up 2 walks and a line drive single of his back in the pivotal 7th inning. With the bases loaded and nobody out, Marmol induced a double play, but the winning run still scored.
The Cubs never scored a run in more than 1 inning during the series against the Giants in San Francisco. In Monday’s 3-2 loss, the Cubs scored 2 runs in the 2nd inning on 5 hits – with RBI singles delivered by Steve Clevenger and Samardzija.
In Friday’s 4-3 loss, the Cubs waited until the 9th inning to score all 3 runs on an Alfonso Soriano home run. In Saturday’s 2-1 loss, the lone run came on David DeJesus’ solo HR. And Barry Zito blanked the Cubs 2-0 in Sunday’s loss.
Talk about poor hitting. It is almost shocking how bad a hitting team the Cubs are. The Cubs are 6-14 in 1-run games. That is the worst in the majors…