Posted on 13 September 2010 by Lou
The Cubs won the series against the Brewers at Miller Park over the weekend. All three games were shutouts.
Next up for the Cubs is a series against the struggling Cardinals in St. Louis. Jeff Samardzija gets his 1st start of the season tonight in place of Carlos Silva.
Posted on 20 April 2010 by Lou
The Cubs struggles continued in the Big Apple as the Cubs dropped the opener of a 4-game set at Citi Field in New York 6-1. Randy Wells pitched another solid game – 6 innings of 1-run ball scattering 6 hits and 2 walks during his outing. He also had 5 strike outs and lowered his ERA to 2.45. But with the game tied at 1 in the 7th inning, the bullpen had another atrocious showing as the Mets opened up the game with a 5-run 7th. James Russell hit Jose Reyes and then gave up Angel Pagan’s game winning 2-run home run 1 batter later. Jeff Samardzija tried to keep the game close, but he faced 3 batters and didn’t even retire one of them. Sure Aramis Ramirez’ error kept the inning alive, but these guys have to do better. Then Sean Marshall came in and allowed 2 of Samardzija’s runs to score on a base hit and a wild pitch. Not good, not good at all…
The Cubs offense wasn’t much better. The Cubs had 9 hits, 5 walks and 1 hit batsman, but still only scored 1 lousy run. How bad is that? Ramirez’s batting average is down to an awful .157?! They don’t even have one regular starter hitting above .300 anymore. Ouch. It is last year all over again. No clutch hitting and no patient hitting.
Manager Lou Pinella is reaching his limits and tinkering with his lineup just about every day. He had this to say about his team’s performance: “The last three ballgames have been the same story. We don’t score many, and we have to go to our bullpen, and we don’t get it done… We’d like to see a nice double in the gap or something. They’re trying. Nobody’s trying to make outs. You have to score runs. When you don’t, you have to hold the opposition.” Despite the negative attitude right now, I’ve never seen Pinella panic this much. He’s already dropped Ryan Theriot from the lead-off spot after just 2 weeks into the season — he went with Marlon Byrd there last night against lefty Niese. Tonight, he’s tinkered with his lineup again, entirely removing Theriot from the lineup and putting Mike Fontenot at shortstop against the righty Mike Pelfrey. The lineup looks like this — Kosuke Fukudome, Jeff Baker, Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramrez, Marlon Byrd, Alfonso Soriano, Mike Fontenot, Koyie Hill and Carlos Zambrano. Crazy – and why even keep Soriano in there? Not only is he a defensive liability, he doesn’t even hussle anymore. Why not throw the lefty Tyler Colvin in there?
Guess we’ll see how it all plays out. But if Zambrano has another bad outing and the Cubs fail to swing the bat in a productive way, look for Lou to lose it really really soon.
Posted on 15 April 2010 by Lou
Carlos Zambrano had another sub-par outing as the Cubs couldn’t complete the sweep of the Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday afternoon. Zambrano needed 123 pitches as he struggled mightily to make it through 5 innings – ouch! He gave up 4 runs (3 earned) on 8 hits and 3 walks, while striking out 7. The Cubs bats helped him by tying the game up in the bottom of the 4th inning on Marlon Byrd’s 2-run shot to deep center field. Byrd’s 3rd home run of the season has him tied with Aramis Ramirez for the club lead. Tyler Colvin started in place of Alfonso Soriano and had 2 hits for the Cubs.
The Cubs bullpen was not very good. Jeff Samardzija took the loss giving up 2 ER on 2 hits and 2 walks in 2 innings of work. Sean Marshall also gave up his 1st ER on the season in his 1 inning of work. And John Grabow also allowed a run – unearned – in an inning of work. Big Z’s ERA now sits at 9.45, Samardzija at 16.20 and Grabow at 9.82. Something’s gotta give.
The 1-win Houston Astros come into town for the weekend on Friday. Tom Gorzelanny takes the hill in search of his 1st win of the season. Felipe Paulino will pitch for the Astros – he gave up 4 ER on 4 hits and 4 walks in just 5 innings pitched in his only other start this year. Look for the Cubs bats to keep up the hot hitting against Paulino at Wrigley Field…
Posted on 29 March 2010 by Lou
Ryan Dempster is ready to dominate in 2010 and if he pitches like he did on Sunday, he will do just that. The Chicago Cubs beat the Seattle Mariners 1-0 as Dempster tossed 7 shutout innings. Dempster allowed just 4 hits and 2 walks, while striking out 9 batters. He was the 1st Cubs pitcher to make it into the 7th inning this spring and he was firing on all cylinders.
Dempster made these comments after the game — “I’ve been waiting for the season to start and that was as good as I’ve thrown the ball all spring by far.” After getting himself into a bases loaded, no out jam in the top of the 7th inning, Dempster struck out the side to preserve the 1-0 lead. He was excited about his ability to get out of the jam: “I was able to make pitches and bear down. Even though I didn’t get extended pitch-wise a whole bunch, the intensity of pitching into the 7th and having that be your most stressful inning, it was a lot of good work and a real good stepping stone for getting ready for the season…I put a lot of pressure on myself to prepare to do that and once the game starts, I figure the preparation I put in — and I did a lot this winter, I worked really hard and I’ve worked hard this spring to go out there and be ready for the season.” WOW – gotta like the attitude. If we get a re-focused Dempster like we had in 2008, the Cubs are going to be a much better balanced pitching team during the 2010 MLB schedule.
Two reliever finished off Dempster’s gem — Jeff Samardzija pitched a scoreless inning with 1 strikeout, while John Grabow picked up the save with a scoreless 9th inning. I hate to get too far ahead of myself, but the Cubs pitchers are doing a helluva job. Could this be the year?…
On offense, the Cubs managed just 5 hits, but Kosuke Fukudome’s lone hit on the day drove in Jeff Baker with the winning run.
One side note — Milton Bradley did not play in the game – what a pansy…
Posted on 26 March 2010 by Lou
Lou Pinella finally made up his mind – Tom Gorzelanny’s stellar start in the Cubs 7-2 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday made it easy. Gorzelanny tossed 6 innings – the longest outing by any Cubs starter this spring – giving up just 2 ER on 5 hits and 1 walk. He struck out 4 batters and he lowered his ERA to 3.07.
As for his chances of being tabbed a starter, Gorzelanny had this to say about his start — “I felt I was in the zone a lot and I wasn’t trying to overthrow and I wasn’t trying to do too much. I felt I made some major strides today. There’s always more to do and more to work on… All I can ask for is to pitch well and I hope that’s the case. Wherever they need me, I’ll do my best. If I get to be in the rotation, I’ll run with it and try to claim a spot and keep it — that’s my objective right now.” Well the consistency of his last 2 outings made it that much easier for Pinella to go with him and Carlos Silva as his 2 final starters when camp breaks at the start of April.
The other 2 starters in contention were Sean Marshall and Jeff Samardzija and both with start the season in the Cubs bullpen. As I called it at the beginning of spring training and just 2 days ago, I figured Pinella would tab Marshall and Samardzija for the bullpen. Both have had success in the bullpen, while Silva and Gorzelanny have had little experience pitching in relief. Even if Marshall and Samardzija had been pitching a lot better than Silva and Gorzelanny, I still fill like Pinella would have tabbed Silva and Gorzelanny for the final 2 starting spots in the rotation. Jeff Gray, Marcos Mateo and John Gaub were each sent down to the minor leagues as well.
I guess we’ll see how this all shakes out. Luckily we’ll only have to see Silva and Gorzelanny in the starting rotation for a few weeks until Ted Lilly returns. Any longer than that, and the Cubs could find themselves in a bit of a hole in 2010 right out of the gate…
Posted on 17 March 2010 by Lou
Which Carlos Silva is for real? Silva pitched 4 scoreless innings in the Cubs 4-1 over the Texas Rangers on Tuesday. He struck out 3 without any walks and he gave up just 2 hits. It’s the 2nd consecutive start in which he has not allowed any runs to score, but this is the 1st outing in which he looked confident and in control (in his 1st start, Silva was knocked around for 6 runs on 7 hits in just 2 innings of work, and in his 2nd start, he gave up 4 hits and 1 walk in 3 scoreless innings).
Was it the good news that Silva heard from his mother before the game (that the United States issued his mother a 10-year visa so that she can enter the country at her pleasure) or was it the hard work that Silva has put in with Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild? Most likely, it was a combination of both. The Cubs have requested that Silva throw the ball across his body more than he has in the past, and they want him to finish his wind-up more towards the 3rd base line. It has been a work-in-progress, but Silva is slowly working the new motion into live game action and if it works, it could reap huge rewards for the Silva and the Cubs. Silva is happy with the latest results — “Today, before the game, he [Rothschild] said, ‘Don’t worry about anythingm just fire the ball up in there’. That’s exactly what I did today, and we had good results… The last two years haven’t been easy for me.. It was a very tough two years. This is a fresh start, this is a new start. I feel very comfortable with this team. The only thing I have to do is my work. That’s it… I’m very competitive. I want to be in the rotation — that’s what I’m looking for. I want to keep working on my stuff, keep working with Larry, keep working in the side sessions. The only thing I want to do is help this team, no matter where, as a starter or reliever.”
You gotta like his attitude, especially after how poorly he pitched in his first spring start. Plus with all the rumors swirling around about the poor shape he was in, you really wondered if he would be able to establish himself early this spring. It looks like some of Rothschild’s work with Silva has already started to pay off. Even Manager Lou Pinella was impressed – That’s as well as I’ve seen him throw all spring. He got ahead in the count, you saw him elevate pitches, you saw him pitch inside, he had a good changeup. That’s a nice performance today. He kept his velocity up for the full four innings. He should be really pleased — I know we were.”
This is great news Cubs fans. If Silva can get on track and be productive this spring, that will definitely help the rest of the Cubs pitching staff. Allowing Sean Marshall and even Jeff Samardzija start the season in the bullpen will give some extra depth to the young pen. Let’s hope Silva continues his positive trend in his next few outings…
Posted on 13 March 2010 by Lou
Jeff Samardzija gave up 4 earned runs on 5 hits and 1 walk in his 1st spring start in the Cubs 12-3 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday. Samardzija had a rough 1st inning, giving up home runs to Jim Edmonds and Greg Zaun. It does not bode well for Samardzija’s chances of winning a starting spot in the rotation, although Carlos Silva and Tom Gorzelanny have not fared very well in their spring starts either.
Despite the 4 runs, Samardzija was still upbeat after his outing: “They jumped on two fastballs. We’ll work in offspeed pitches earlier in the count. I thought we were aggressive, and I thought the splitter was great. The slider was here and there, but I felt pretty good… I want to take something out of every outing and get stronger every time out. It’s Spring Training and you have to build on up and get ready for the season.”
The Cubs will have a tough decision on their hands and could be in trouble with their 5th slot in the starting rotation. I still think Gorzelanny will get the 4th/5th spot in the starting rotation. And the Cubs will either use Samardzija or Silva to spot start until Ted Lilly is ready to return. Sean Marshall, the final candidate for the starting rotation, will end up in the bullpen because he is effective there and the Cubs are somewhat thin there right now with injuries.
Posted on 09 March 2010 by Lou
Ryan Dempster provided a solid spring training debut – pitching 2 scoreless innings retiring all 6 batters that he faced in the Cubs 10-3 win over the Oakland A’s on Monday. This is good news for a Cubs pitching staff that is dealing with its share of troubles. The Cubs should be good at the front end of the starting rotation once Ted Lily returns, but the 5th starter spot and the bullpen could have some issues. A good Dempster showing in 2010 will mean some stability that should help keep the Cubs bullpen fresh and ready for a grueling 162 game MLB schedule.
Sean Marshall worked 2 innings giving up 1 run on a solo home run and 1 other hit.
Jeff Samardzija worked 2 scoreless innings giving up 1 hit and 1 walk in the process.
Tom Gorzelanny gave up 2 runs on a home run in his 2 innings of work.
Marshall, Samardzija and Gorzelanny (along with Carlos Silva) are competing for the final starting slots in the rotation. The other 2 will likely end up in the bullpen and once Ted Lilly returns, a 3rd out of the group will get dropped back into the bullpen or sent to Triple-A to continue working as a starter.
Two good hitting performances in the game – Ryan Theriot was 2 for 2 with 2 runs scored, while Mike Fontenot was 2 for 3 with 2 RBI’s and 1 run scored. Kosuke Fukodome had another hit in the 2-hole behind Theriot and is hitting .500 during the first few games of spring.
Manager Lou Pinella has gotta be happy with some of these performances…
Posted on 16 February 2010 by Lou
Now that Spring Training is about to start, it’s time to really assess certain areas of concern for the Cubs. Ted Lilly underwent successful shoulder surgery this off-season, but it doesn’t look like he will be ready by Opening Day in April. That begs the question – who will be the Cubs 4th and 5th starters come the start of the season?
By all accounts, it looks like 5 pitchers will be battling for the 2 spots – Jeff Samardzija, Sean Marshall, Tom Gorzelanny, Michael Parisi (a Rule 5 Draft Pick) and Carlos Silva. Samardzija and Marshall both picked well out of the bullpen for the Cubs in 2009, so Manager Lou Pinella might favor keeping one or both of them as relievers. That being said, Samardzija seemed to struggle in 2009 going back and forth between the Cubs major league club and Triple-A Iowa and going back and forth between starting and relieving. If the Cubs envision Samardzija being a starter long-term, but if he doesn’t pitch well enough to earn a starting spot out of Spring Training, it might better serve him to go back to Triple-A to hone his starting pitching skills. As reported before, Samardzija pitched in Mexico this winter to work on all of his pitches and the extra work seemed to work wonders for the young fireballer.
Gorzelanny made some nice starts for the Cubs at the end of 2009 and Parisi is more of a long shot to earn a starting spot. Silva has always been a starting pitcher, so it is unlikely that the Cubs will move him to the bullpen.
I’m thinking that the Cubs go with Gorzelanny and Silva as the 4th and 5th starters to open the season. Marshall will work out of the pen with Samardzija going back to Triple-A to continue his work as a starter. Let’s hope 1 or 2 of them really shine to give us a little confidence heading into the 2010 campaign. Otherwise, it could be another long season on the North Side…
Posted on 25 January 2010 by Lou
Ah – many questions surround the current status of Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija. The Cubs would love for Samardzija to step up as an everyday starter in 2010. But it’s unclear if he has what it takes right now to make that jump.
After a solid 2008 as a rookie – 26 games, 1-0 record, 1 save, 3 blown saves, 2.28 ERA, 1.41 WHIP and 25 K’s in 27 2/3 innings – the Cubs thought that they would be able to count on him for a lot more in 2009. But the opposite was true. Samardzija struggled with his command and with his ability to keep runners off base. While hitters batted just .226 against him 2008, that number jumped to .329 in 2009. Not good. Samradzija bounced back and forth between the Cubs and Triple-A Iowa during the 2009 MLB schedule. He pitched 34 2/3 innings in just 20 appearances, but gave up 46 hits and 26 ER during that span. His 7.53 ERA and 1.76 WHIP were major disappointments for Manager Lou Pinella, GM Jim Hendry and Cubs fans alike.
The Cubs suggested that he pitch in the Mexican League this winter to get in some extra work. It looked like the added throwing paid off to some extent. He started 5 games with Mexicali and pitched 24 innings. He had command of his pitches (8 walks to 22 strikeouts) and he gave up just 6 earned runs. Sure the competition isn’t as good, but at least he was able to focus better and work on his offspeed pitches that could help him at the major league level in 2010.
The Cubs will give Samardzija a chance to compete for a starting position in 2010. If he doesn’t make the top 5 at the start of the season, the Cubs will have to decide whether it’s better to send him down to Triple-A Iowa where he can continue his work as a starter, or whether he would be more valuable to the Cubs coming out of the bullpen. Samardzija clearly has the talent, or the Cubs wouldn’t have wooed him away from football and the NFL when they signed him after he graduated from Notre Dame in 2007. Now he just needs someone to help him “make things click” in order for him to perform consistently at the major league level at the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field.