Tag Archive | "Justin Berg"

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Cubs Blow Golden Opportunity – Coleman & Berg Just Bad – Wrigley Field 5/25/11

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…

 

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Cubs Trim Maine, Berg from Spring Training Camp Roster — Wrigley Field West Mesa Arizona 3/24/11

Posted on 24 March 2011 by Lou

The Cubs cut 4 pitchers from there spring training camp roster this week.  Lefty Scott Maine and righty Justin Berg were 2 of the casualties and they will start the season at Triple-A Iowa.  There was an outside chance that Maine was going to make the opening day roster, but with a healthy Sean Marshall, John Grabow and James Russell, the Cubs decided not to keep 4 lefties in the bullpen.  Manager Mike Quade had this to say about Maine’s progress – “He pitched great for me last year and he’s had an OK spring but it’s command with him and experience.  He was a starter for a long time and is continuing to learn abuot pitching out of the pen and how to make 18 pitches work for you instead of having 70 or 80 to figure it out.”  Maine appeared in 13 MLB games for the Cubs in 2010.  He had a nifty 2.08 ERA with 11 K’s in 13 innings pitched and looks to have a bright future with the Cubs at only 26 years of age.

Berg, on the other hand, had a rough spring.  He only pitched 4 innings and gave up 10 ER (7 runs in one outing) on 8 hits in the process.  Berg had trouble with his control and keeping pitches down, so he will head to the minors to continue to get ready for the upcoming season.

Todd Wellemeyer and Angel Guzman were the other 2 players cut.  Guzman is recovering from right shoulder surgery and is scheduled to make his first appearance in a game next week.  Wellemeyer was a non-roster invitee and has been bothered by a sore hip all spring.  It is unclear what Wellemeyer plans to do for the rest of the season.

We’ll keep you posted as soon as we hear anything else on who ends up winning the 5th starting spot in the rotation and the 2nd base job that is still up for grabs as well.

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Garza Spring Struggles Continue in 13-4 Loss to Royals — Wrigley Field West Mesa Arizona 3/9/11

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???

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Rookies Not Getting It Done in Prime Time – Cubs 1, Padres 5 – 8/18/10 Wrigley Field

Posted on 19 August 2010 by Lou

The Cubs used 6 pitchers in the loss and ALL 6 pitchers were rookies.  It is believed to be the 1st time since 1957 (according to the Elias Sports Bureau) that a team has done that before the September call-up of minor league players.  Casey Coleman started the game and took the loss — 3ER on 6 hits and 3 walks in 4 1/3 innings.  James Russell and Justin Berg each recorded the only batters that they faced.  Thomas Diamond (who was replaced by Coleman in the starting lineup after 3 bad starts) – tossed 2 scoreless innings allowing just 1 hit while striking out 2.  Andrew Cashner gave up a run on 3 hits in the 8th inning and Marcos Mateo gave up a run on 2 hits and a walk in the 9th inning.

The 2 biggest surprises for me are Andrew Cashner and Marcos Mateo.  Cashner started his season on fire – he did not allow a single run to score in his first 7 appearances.  Then he went through a rough – but somewhat unlucky stretch – where he allowed a run in 4 straight appearances and suffered a blown save and 3 consecutive losses.  From July 7th through July 26th, Cashner seemed to have turned it around again – allowing just a total of 2 runs to score in 8 appearances.  But since then, Cashner has really struggled.  He gave up 6 ER in each of 2 straight outings against the Astros on July 27th and the Rockies on July 30th.  And now he has given up a run in each of his last 3 outings.  His ERA has risen to 6.15 and his WHIP now stands at 1.78.  Not sure where it all went wrong for the young stud, but pitching coach Larry Rothschild really needs to work with the kid to make sure he doesn’t lose too much confidence during this rough rookie campaign.  Hopefully Greg Maddux can even re-assure Cashner that this is all part of the growing process and he will get more consistent and effective as his career catapults on.

Mateo is just awful.  Mateo gave up a run on 2 walks and a hit.  His ERA is now 12.46 and his WHIP is 3.00!  That means he let’s at least 3 runners on base every single inning that he pitches?!  Isn’t there someone else in Double-A or Triple-A who can offer more than this guy.

Now I know that the Cubs were bit by the injury bug with Jeff Gray all having season-ending injuries throw the bullpen into a tizzy, but you have to be prepared for something like that.  And clearly GM Jim Hendry and the Cubs weren’t.  It is great experience for these young pitchers to see so much major league action this early in their careers, but it is really making an already painful season to watch that much more excrutiating.

Oh yeah – it wasn’t only rookie pitchers seeing a lot of game action yesterday – outfielder Tyler Colvin, Catcher Wellington Castillo, 2nd baseman Darwin Barney and SS Starlin Castro were all in the game at the same time.  Castro and Barney each had singles, while Castillo went 0 for 3 and Colvin did not get a hit in his pinch-hit at-bat.

Alfonso Soriano was the only Cubs starter to have more than 1 hit and Jeff Baker had the Cubs only RBI with a double that plated Soriano.

FYI – Padres just completed the 4-game sweep of the Cubs with the 5-3 win today.  Not surprising that Matos shut down the pathetic Cubs offense, but what is surprising is that Sean Marshall blew the 2-1 7th inning lead that Carlos Zambrano handed to him when he allowed 3 ER in the inning to suffer his 4th loss of the season.  If Marshall and Carlos Marmol start to have issues, there truly won’t be anything good left to watch on this 2010 Cubs lineup…

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No Joke — Cubs Suffer Worst Loss at Wrigley Field – Cubs 1, Brewers 18 – 8/2/10

Posted on 03 August 2010 by Lou

Wow – where to start.  During the Cubs 6-game skid, the squad has been outscored 62-17.  Ouch – where did the Cubs pitching go?

For most of the season, the Cubs pitching staff boasted the 5th best ERA in the National League and only 1 American League team had a better ERA than the Cubs.  But as of late, the wheels have come off and no one really seems to care anymore.  The 26-hit attack by the Brewers in the 18-1 win on Monday were the most hits allowed by a Cubs team since September 2, 1957!  The loss put the Cubs a season-high 14 games under .500 at 46-60.  They fell 13.5 games behind the Cincinnati Reds in the NL Central race and they now found themselves in 5th place in the Central.  Only the Pirates and Diamondbacks have a worse record in the National League than the Cubs.

Where did it all go so wrong?  The Cubs bats have been awful all season (their .258 team batting average is 14th best in all of baseball), but now the Cubs pitching staff has followed suit.  The Cubs now sport a 4.32 team ERA which puts them in the bottom 9 teams in all of baseball.  Unbelievable…

Some of the funny stats from last night’s loss.

The Brewers batted around in both the 4th and the 5th innings.  The Brewers scored at least 1 run in each of the final 6 innings.  Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder each went 5 for 7 in the win.  Fielder had 5 RBI’s while Braun had 2 RBI’s.  Former Cubs player Casey McGehee went 2 for 5 with 4 RBI’s and 3 runs scored (with 1 home run).  Corey Hart also had 4 hits, 1 RBI and 3 runs scored.

Cubs pitcher Randy Wells suffered his 9th loss of the season – 6 ER on 10 hits in 4 innings pitched.  Justin Berg pitched through the 5th inning when Wells couldn’t record an out and gave up 3 hits and 1 walk.  All 3 runs charged to him were unearned.

Casey Coleman made his major league debut and boy was it bad.  The brew crew lit up Coleman in his 2 1/3 innings of work — 6 ER on 8 hits and 2 walks.  Welcome to the majors Casey.

Brian Schlitter tried to clean up the mess in the 8th inning, but he didn’t fare much better – 2 ER on 5 hits.  Has this guy made any appearances this year without giving up a hit or a run? Since he made 2 scoreless appearances back at the end of June, here are Schlitter’s numbers through his last 5 outings — 5 1/3 innings pitched, 17 hits (2 home runs), 11 ER and 5 walks.  And yes, he has given up at least 1 ER in each of those last 5 appearances.

This is going to be a long, painful ride home during the final 1/3 of the season…

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Cubs Fun Fact of the Day — Cubs Sign Bob Howry to Help Struggling Cubs Bullpen?!?!

Posted on 21 May 2010 by Lou

Not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing.  The Arizona Diamondbacks released Bob Howry on Monday after a disastrous start to the season — 17 runs on 18 hits (including 6 HR’s!) and 6 walks in just 14 1/3 innings.  Ouch!  All good for a 10.67 ERA.  With the imminent return of Carlos Zambrano to the Cubs starting rotation, the Cubs needed some veteran help in the ‘pen.  So the Cubs decided to go with a former player to help fill the void.  Howry pitched for the Cubs from 2006 through 2008.  He had a 3.90 in 234 appearances during that stretch, but the Cubs didn’t re-sign Howry after the 2008 season because of his hefty 5.35 ERA that year.

WOW – if we’re calling on this guy to resurrect the Cubs bullpen, we could be in deeper trouble then I thought.  The Cubs sent down Justin Berg to make room for Howry?!  Come on, let’s let some of these younger guys get some chances out there.  They might fail, but at least we can see what we’ve got in the farm system.  We know that Howry will fail – he served up a ton of HR’s as a Cub in 2008 and it looks like he’s still doing the same thing now.  The season is too much in jeopardy right now – why not go down with some young pitchers trying to make a name for themselves…

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Ted Lilly, Offense Awful in 13-5 Loss to DBacks at Wrigley Field

Posted on 29 April 2010 by Lou

Ted Lilly was awful and the Cubs offense managed just 2 hits through the game’s 1st 6 innings as they lost to the DBacks 13-5 at Wrigley Field.

Ted Lilly looked sharp through the game’s 1st 3 innings, but he got into trouble in the 4th when he lost all control of the strike zone.  Lilly walked Justin Upton and Mark Reynolds to start the inning and then served up Adam LaRoche’s 3-run bomb to deep left center field.  After a double to Cole Gillespie, then Lilly served up a 2-run bomb to deep left field that put the DBacks up 5-1.  Lilly worked through the 5th inning, but served up another homer to LaRoche in that inning as well.  Not good.

It didn’t help that the Cubs bats were non-existent during the early part of the game.  Sure they got on the board 1st with Ryan Theriot’s RBI single in the 3rd inning, but that would be all the excitement you would see until Kosuke Fukudome’s Grand Slam off of Ian Kennedy in the 8th inning.  Kennedy and 1 reliever held the Cubs to just 6 hits during the game.

Out of the bullpen, Jeff Gray struggled again – giving up 2 ER on 2 hits and 1 walk in 1 1/3 inning.  James Russell didn’t fare much better, although 4 of the 5 runs he gave up were “unearned” because of Aramis Ramirez’s throwing error.

The lone bright spots — Justin Berg and Sean Marshall each worked perfect innings to close out the game.  Both Berg (3.60 ERA and 1.20 WHIP) and Marshall (3.00 ERA and 1.00 WHIP) have been consistent for the Cubs out of the bulpen right from the start of this disappointing season.  Manager Lou Pinella had a “mini” blow-up during yesterday’s post-game conference.  Man, I definitely wouldn’t want to be in there today – he might take somebody’s head off…

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Could Cubs Make Play for Starter Ben Sheets?

Posted on 12 January 2010 by Lou

Ben Sheets is still on the market and the longer this drags on his asking price could continue to come down.  So far, it doesn’t appear that anyone is in a bidding war for the often-injured starting pitcher, so who knows – maybe he could find himself pitching on the North Side at Wrigley Field after spending most of his career pitching just north of the Illinois border in Milwaukee.

Sheets’ “handlers” have indicated that the pitcher is looking for a 2-year deal worth about $10-12 million per year.  Given where the Cubs are right now payroll-wise, that seems like way too much money to take a flyer on an injury risk like Sheets.  Sheets did not pitch at all in 2009 because he ended up testing the free agency market after the 2008 MLB season and then discovered he needed surgery in January to repair torn flexor tendon in his right throwing elbow.  Sheets could have come back for a contender at the end of the 2009 MLB season, but he decided to take a full year off to fully heal the injury.  In 2008, Sheets pitched 198 1/3 innings in 31 starts, going 13-9 with a 3.09 ERA.

The Cubs expect their 2010 MLB payroll to hit $140 million.  They have $125 currently committed and still have 8 arbitration-eligible players who will get raises in 2010.  The Cubs have 3 starters inked in for the start of the 2010 MLB schedule – Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster and Randy Wells.  Ted Lilly had surgery in early November to repair his left throwing shoulder and will be evaluated this weekend in Chicago to set a timetable for his 2010 start – hopefully by early-to-mid May.  Four Cubs players will compete for the final 2 starting spots – Carlos Silva, Tom Gorzelanny, Jeff Samardzija and Sean Marshall.  As for the bullpen, the Cubs are set with closer Carlos Marmol and lefty-set-up man John Grabow.  The Cubs still need a veteran right-handed set-up man to complement Grabow, as the rest of the bullpen is very young – Angel Guzman, David Patton, Esmailin Caridad and Justin Berg.

We’ll keep you posted as soon as we hear anything new out of Cubs camp…

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Moving Bradley Key to Successful Off-Season for Cubs, GM Jim Hendry

Posted on 05 December 2009 by Lou

CHICAGO CUBS JIM HENDRY LOU PINELLA

It boils down to this – if the Cubs can find a taker for disgruntled, troublemaker Milton Bradley, then the Cubs and GM Jim Hendry could have a successful and productive off-season leading up to the 2010 MLB schedule.  Hendry has already made moves – dealing the likes of Aaron Heilman to the Arizona Diamondbacks and Aaron Miles and Jake Fox to the Oakland A’s for prospects and to clear some salary cap space to sign new deals for arbitration-eligible players like Carlos Marmol, Sean Marshall, Ryan Theriot, Jeff Baker and Mike Fontenot.

If Hendry can somehow find a team willing to take Bradley (full-well knowing that the Cubs will still have to pay a pretty chunk of the $21 million owed to him over the next 2 seasons), it will be a step in the right direction for Hendry.  Hendry has had a series of bad years at the helm and with a new owner in place, Hendry needs to prove his worth to the Ricketts family.  That will be easier said than done as Hendry’s bad moves have left the Cubs brass with little flexibility.

Hendry and Manager Lou Pinella plan to move Kosuke Fukudome back to his more comfortable right field position.  Then Hendry can concentrate on finding a center fielder and 2nd baseman for the 2010 Cubs.  Even though the Cubs did not offer arbitration to Reed Johnson, they have not closed off talks with his handlers.  So Johnson could be back to patrol center field at Wrigley Field next season.

Jeff Baker and Mike Fontenot are in the running for the starting 2nd base job, so it is unlikely that Hendry will pursure any options outside the organization for that position.

The Cubs could also be in the market for a veteran right-handed reliever to complement John Garbow in the pen.  While the Cubs have a lot of up-and-coming young stars in the bullpen – Angel Guzman, Esmailin Caridad, Jeff Stevens and Justin Berg – Hendry and Pinella would love to see a little more experience back there in front of closer Marmol.

We’ll keep you posted as soon as we hear anything good – Winter Meetings start next week in Indy…

CHICAGO CUBS JIM HENDRY LOU PINELLA2

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Chicago Cubs, John Grabow Agree on 2-Year, $7.5 Million Deal

Posted on 20 November 2009 by Lou

Cubs Reds Baseball

The Chicago Cubs and John Grabow have agreed to terms on a 2-year, $7.5 million deal that will keep the veteran reliever on the north side of Chicago.  The Cubs acquired Grabow in a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates during the trading deadline and became one of the Cubs most consistent relievers the rest of the season.  He made 30 appearances for the Cubs during the latter half of the season and did not allow a single run in his 1st 12 outings.  In 25 innings pitched, Grabow finished with a 3.24 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP and had 7 holds.  His 75 appearances (45 with the Pirates) were a career high.  He will provide a veteran presence for an otherwise young bullpen in 2010 and will likely serve as Closer Carlos Marmol’s primary set-up man in the 8th inning or against tough lefties. The other top candidates for the bullpen – Marmol, Angel Guzman, Sean Marshall, Jeff Stevens, Justin Berg and Esmailin Caridad – are all under 27 years old.

Grabow said it was a “no-brainer” for him to want to pitch for the Cubs for the next few years.  He lives with In Arizona with his family so he won’t have to go too far for spring training.  Plus he loved the atmosphere playing in Chicago – “I pretty much let everyone know before I left that I wanted to come back.  It’s a good situation for me and my family and for the Cubs.  They brought me in there, they made a trade to bring me there and I fit in right away… The atmosphere that’s inside the clubhouse, everyone gets along pretty good and it’s kind of a veteran team, and everybody goes about their business.  I figured that’s a pretty good situation for me.”

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