Posted on 16 May 2010 by Lou
This is such a joke. The Cubs lost to the Pirates 4-3 at home on Saturday afternoon. They have now dropped 8 of their last 10 games and they are just 8-10 at the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field in 2010. In short, this season is only 37 games old and it is already turning into a comedy of errors. Whether it be horrible relief pitching… Whether it be the lack of ANY clutch hitting when the game is on the line or when the Cubs have a chance to blow games open in the early innings… Or whether it be poor starting pitching when the Cubs offense actually comes through with some runs… This team simply does not know how to win.
For a 2nd straight day, a Cubs starting pitcher put his team in an early hole with a 3-run 1st inning deficit. And just like on Friday with Tom Gorzelanny, Ryan Dempster recovered after the shaky 1st inning and kept his team in the ball game. Dempster ended up pitching 7 innings giving up just those 3 1st inning runs on 4 hits and 5 walks. Dempster did ring up 9 K’s and he has a solid ERA (3.49) and WHIP (1.09) despite a 2-4 record.
But once again, the Cubs bats managed just 2 runs through the games 1st 8 innings. Not good. The Cubs had more than 2 runners on base only once during that stretch — in the 3rd inning. After Dempster doubled and Ryan Theriot singled to put 1st and 3rd with nobody out, Marlon Byrd lined out and Derrek Lee popped out to put pressure on Aramis Ramirez to drive in runs with a hit with 2 outs. Granted, Ramirez did come through with a clutch 2-run double, but the Cubs should have scored more than 2 runs with the middle of their lineup coming up in that situation. If Ramirez didn’t get that hit, it likely would have been a shutout on the north side on Saturday. Then there was the missed opportunity in the 9th inning (Carlos Marmol serving up a home run to Jeff Clement in the top of the inning proved costly as it gave the Pirates a 2-run lead). Starlin Castro walked with 1 out and came around to score on Kosuke Fukudome’s triple to right field. All Ryan Theriot had to do was hit a fly ball deep enough to score Fukudome from 3rd base with only 1 out, but he struck out and Marlon Byrd followed suit to end the threat.
This is getting pretty ridiculous for the Cubs. They clearly have NO confidence that they can win close games down the stretch. They are in 5th placed in the NL Central with an awful 15-22 record – this from the highest payrolled team in the National League. Talk about under-performing?! Don’t look now, but the Cubs are just 1.5 games ahead of the Houston Astros who have the worst record in the NL. If we hit that low-water mark, look for major moves on the north side – namely a Lou Pinella or JiM Hendry firing.
Can Ted Lilly break the slide today at Wrigley. My bet is a big fat NO!
Posted on 04 May 2010 by Lou
Following up yesterday’s Alfonso Soriano facts/stats with a Kosuke Fukudome sighting seemed like the appropriate thing to do. Back in 2008 (Fukudome’s 1st year in the United States with the Cubs), he started off hot by hitting a game-tying 3-run home run in the 9th inning against the Brewers on Opening Day and staying hot all through the month of April with a batting average over .300. But by the end of the season, Fukudome had a batting average of only .257 hitting just 10 home runs and driving in 58 RBI’s. 2009 brought a similar stat line — .259 batting average, 11 HR’s, 54 RBI’s. Sure his on-base percentage was solid – .359 and .375, respectively, but was he really worth $12 million a year for 4 years?
Well we’re seeing the same hot start for Kosuke in 2010, but I must admit, he seems a lot more relaxed and confident at the plate. Is it having 2 years under his belt in the U.S.? Is it something new hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo noticed in his swing and Kosuke’s willingness to listen to his American coaches now? Whatever it is, I have been seriously impressed with the results. Kosuke already has 5 HR’s and 17 RBI’s in the 2-hole. He has a .342 batting average and a .438 on-base percentage. Most importantly, he already has 14 walks and just 11 K’s in 73 at-bats – that is an excellent ratio. He seems a lot more patient at the plate and is really making pitchers work the count so that he sees a lot more pitches. That makes the pitcher throw more pitches so you can get to the bullpen earlier, and it helps the sluggers behind him – Derrek Lee, Marlon Byrd, Aramis Ramirez, Alfonso Soriano – see more pitches as they prepare for their at-bats. It becomes a win-win situation for everyone involved.
Now don’t get me wrong, if he ends up hitting in the .250’s with similar offensive output as in his 1st 2 major league seasons, I wouldn’t be surprised at all. But I’m really seeing a different Fukudome this year and believe he has a great shot at sustaining this output for the entire season. Maybe not 30 HR’s and 100 RBI’s, but definitely close to 20 HR’s and 75 RBI’s with a lot of hits. Guess we’ll have to wait and see – but I hope Kosuke keeps it up!
Posted on 25 April 2010 by Lou
WOW – what a turn of events. The Cubs were reeling after dropping 5 of 7 games to the lowly Astros and Mets. But they didn’t give up and completed an impressive 3-game weekend sweep over the Brewers at Miller Park with a 12-2 rout on Sunday. The Cubs scored 12 runs and belted out 18 hits, including home runs by Kosuke Fukudome, Derrek Lee, Tyler Colvin and Geovany Soto. Fukudome and Colvin each had 3 hits apiece, while Ryan Theriot had 5 hits and 3 RBI’s and now has his average up to .329 after a slow start to the season. Theriot was even briefly demoted form the lead-off spot during the series against the Mets in New York.
Randy Weels did a great job on the mound – 7 innings, 2 ER on 7 hits and no walks, with 6 K’s. Another great start from the dependable Wells.
The Cubs next face the resurgent Nationals in a 3-game set this week at Wrigley Field. This isn’t your old Nats team, however, as the Nats have already won 11 games this season – 2 more than the Cubs. Let’s keep the good times rolling on Monday night with Carlos Silva on the bump…
Posted on 24 April 2010 by Lou
The Cubs seemed to put their hitting and pitching woes from NY behind them with a convincing 8-1 win over the Brewers on Friday night in Milwaukee. Ryan Dempster tossed 1-run ball for 7 2/3 innings, scattering 7 hits and 1 walk. Ryan Theriot, Kosuke Fukudome, Marlon Byrd, Tyler Colvin and Koyie Hill each had 2 hits in the win. Fukudome and Colvin stroked home runs in the hitter-friendly Miller Park.
The Cubs are leading the Brewers 5-1 in the 9th inning tonight. Two good pitching signs for the Cubs. Ted Lilly made his 2010 debut tossing 6 shutout innings, giving up just 3 hits and 2 walks. Carlos Zambrano also made his 2010 debut – out of the bullpen – and he did well. He recorded the final out of the 7th inning and then worked the 8th inning as well. He did give up a run on 2 hits and a walk in the 8th. But it looks like Lilly is back on track and ready to compete in 2010 and it looks like Big Z is capable and able out of the bullpen.
Go Cubs! Let’s hope Randy Wells can spark a Brew Crew sweep in Sunday’s contest.
Posted on 14 April 2010 by Lou
The Cubs used a 4-run 8th inning to come from behind to beat former Cubs reliever LaTroy Hawkins and the Brewers 7-6 on Thursday afternoon at Wrigley Field. Despite trailing for much of the day, the Cubs never gave up. After the Brewers struck for 2 insurance runs in the top of the 8th inning off of Jeff Gray in his first appearance in 2010, the air seemed to be sucked right out of the Friendly Confines as the Brewers increased their lead to 6-3. But the Cubs batters were patient in the bottom of the inning against Hawkins. After a Jeff Baker single, Geovany Soto and Tyler Colvin worked walks to load the bases for the Cubs. Ryan Theriot’s single to right scored Baker and Soto to cut the lead to 6-5. After Theriot stole 2nd base to get into scoring position as the go-ahead run, Kosuke Fukudome’s seeing-eye single to right field scored Colvin and Theriot with the winning runs. Theriot had 4 hits on the day.
Carlos Marmol was filthy-nasty in the top of the 9th inning as he recorded his 3rd save of the season in as many chances with a perfect line through the heart of the Brewers order. Marmol needed just 15 pitches as he struck out Corey Hart, Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder to preserve the 1-run lead. Randy Wells started off well, but he was a little shaky from the 4th through the 7th innings. Overall, Wells worked 6 1/3 innings giving up 4 ER on 10 hits and 1 walk while striking out 7.
The effort was something we rarely saw in 2009, so let’s hope this is a good sign of things to come during the 2010 MLB schedule for the Cubs. Go Cubs Go!
Posted on 03 April 2010 by Lou
The way Tyler Colvin played this spring made Manager Lou Pinella’s decision that much easier. Colvin was the Cubs 1st round pick in the 2006 Draft and at the age of 24, it looks like he is finally ready for the big time. Colvin batted over .450 for much of the spring — leading all of major league baseball — and was the Cubs most consistent hitter right from the start.
Pinella had this to say about Colvin’s play — “There was never really a doubt for a while. He played himself onto the roster and had a great spring… We’re going to get some playing time for Colvin. It’ll be good for all of our outfielders to get a day off occasionally, so they can stay strong and are less prone to injury. We’ll figure out something over the next few days.”
Colvin was humbled by the decision — “We have four great outfielders here who have proven themselves in the Major Leagues and hopefully, when I get in there, I can contribute in some way…The Cubs are trying to win, obviously. They’re trying to get the best guys in here to do the job. We have four great guys here… Hopefully, I can do some good things, too.”
Not only is this a great story, it is a great thing for the Cubs. With Alfonso Soriano’s injury-history and Kosuke Fukudome’s propensity to go into prolonged-slumps, it will be nice for Pinella to have a dependable option out there. When you also consider the fact that 4th outfielder Xavier Nady is also still recovering from shoulder surgery, we could see a lot of Colvin this season.
Posted on 15 March 2010 by Lou
Manager Lou Pinella has named Ryan Theriot his lead-off man for 2010. Theriot won the job over Kosuke Fukudome. In 42 games during the 2009 MLB season, Theriot batted .283 in the lead-off spot. He is a more consistent hitter than Fukudome who hasn’t batted better than .259 in either of his major league seasons (although he did have a .375 on-base percentage in 2009). Theriot, on the other hand, has batted .266, .307 and .284 in each of his last 3 seasons and he has a career .356 on-base percentage.
Pinella also indicated that Mike Fontenot – Theriot’s college teammate at LSU – has pulled ahead of Jeff Baker for the starting 2nd base job. Fontenot started the 2009 as the Cubs 2nd baseman, but he failed to deliver during the course of the long MLB schedule. Fontenot hit only .236 and he split time with trade deadline acquiree Jeff Baker for the duration of the season. Pinella likes the idea of having 2 lefties in the Cubs lineup – Fukudome in the 2-spot and Fontenot in the 7-spot.
I like the Theriot lead-off slot, but relying upon Fontenot again seems like a disaster waiting to happen. I hope I’m wrong and I hope the “Pocket-Rocket” can deliver for the Cubs on a consistent basis during the 2010 MLB schedule.
Posted on 24 February 2010 by Lou
Marlon Byrd is excited to show off his outfield skills in center field at Wrigley Field for the Chicago Cubs in 2010. For a big man, most analysts are surprised to see Byrd in action – how well he covers ground in center field in spite of his muscular 245 pound body. Current Cubs player Sam Fuld is impressed with what he has seen so far: “It goes to show you what an athlete Byrd is. He certainly doesn’t fit the prototypical center fielder’s body. He looks more like a linebacker or NFL running back. He’s obviously proven he can play the position.”
Byrd acknowledges his critics, but knows that he is at home in center field: “I know a lot of writers and scouts who haven’t seen me play in the outfield don’t think I can play out there because of my size. When people see me play, they know I can play.”
Gotta love the confidence. I also love the stability that Byrd brings to the center field position for the Cubs. Byrd had a breakout year with the Texas Rangers in 2009 – .283 batting average with a .329 on-base percentage. His 547 at-bats, 20 HR’s and 89 RBI’s were all career highs and he also scored 66 runs. He’ll also have the same hitting coach, as Rudy Jaramillo left the Rangers for the Cubs organization as well. I don’t like the fact that he is turning 33 in August – GM Jim Hendry’s signings of “older players coming off of great seasons” have not fared too well of late – but hopefully he has at least 2 more good years left in the tank.
Having Byrd patrol center field also allows Kosuke Fukudome to move back to right field where he is more “comfortable”. If Fukudome feeling more comfortable in right field helps to improve his hitting, that will be a good the Cubs offensive production, especially at the top of the order. We’ll keep you posted as spring progresses – let’s just hope we don’t get caught in the injury bug with any projected starter. We need everyone healthy during the 2010 MLB schedule!
Posted on 22 February 2010 by Lou
Not sure why I’m even surprised by this, but it looks like Alfonso Soriano is still dealing with a sore knee that bothered him in 2009. That nagging knee injury caused him to put forth one of the worst offensive years of his career – .241 batting average, .303 on-base percentage, 20 HR’s, 55 RBI’s and 64 runs. What great production from the Cubs $18 million-dollar man.
Soriano still hasn’t run 100% on his surgically repaired knee and the left fielder has said that he is only running about 75-80% on the knee. The Cubs opted to have Soriano hold back a little in the off-season so that he could fully test it with Cubs medical staff present during Spring Training in Mesa. That means Soriano will need an uneventful spring in order to ensure that he is ready by opening day. WOW!
Soriano had this to say about the situation – “I’m not running 100 percent. That’s why I said I don’t feel 100 percent, because I’m not running 100 percent… We’ll see in one week when I test my knee running in the field. My knee will tell me how I feel.”
Soriano also says that he is looking forward to working with Cubs hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo who mentored Soriano when he was with the Texas Rangers back in 2004. Let’s hope the new role of being the Cubs 6th or 7th hitter will also help him relax a little more and allow him to drive in runs on a consistent basis. “It’s a new year. Whatever happened last year is past. It’s 2010 now, and we have to concentrate on 2010 and see what 2010 will bring.” It better be something better than a .303 on-base percentage and 55 RBI’s. If Soriano doesn’t turn it around in a big way, that could lead to GM Jim Hendry’s ouster as he mortgaged the Cubs future with his Soriano, Kosuke Fukudome and Milton Bradley signings each of the last 3 seasons. None of the 3 have produced the way Hendry and the Cubs thought they would, and Bradley isn’t even with the team anymore. But because of the moves, the Ricketts Family has their hands tied because of the long-term nature of the deals. The Cubs 2010 payroll is expected to top $140 million – the highest in franchise history. If the Cubs aren’t winning in October, it’s clear that the team that Hendry has assembled isn’t up to par, and when that happens, someone needs to be held accountable. It’s time for a change – just like the Cubs have new owners – now we need a new GM to run the team and bring a championship to the north side of Chicago!
Posted on 21 February 2010 by Lou
The Chicago Cubs “won” their arbitration case with Ryan Theriot, who will now make $2.6 million for the 2010 MLB schedule. Sure $2.6 million is a lot of cash, but this is a travesty in my humble opinion. As we argued before, GM Jim Hendry finds it so easy to shell out tons of money to over-rated, under-producing players like Alfonso Soriano, Kosuke Fukudome and Milton Bradley, and then has the nerve to fight over $800,000 with hard-working, reliable, productive players like Ryan Theriot. The Cubs are going to rely on Theriot to play the all-important shortstop position and to bat lead-off in 2010. This wasn’t a negotiation for a long-term deal either – it was 1 baseball season. For the Cubs to push Theriot so hard on his contract demands for 2010 (he sought $3.4 million is his 1st year of being arbitration-eligible) should leave a bad taste in his mouth.
Hendry defended his position: “We’ve always paid players what’s fair. I think those of you who know us know we would’ve never been in Tampa unless I thought we’d reached the highest level of fairness… I’m not mad at Ryan for wanting to go to arbitration. He has every right to put himself on the other side of the philosophical midpoint… He’s being compensated what I thought was a fair number to begin with. He’ll be fine.”
Baseball teams won 5 out of 8 cases heard this year, so it looks like Theriot got stuck with the wrong year to have to plead his case. Hendry has settled 36 arbitration cases in a row during his tenure as Cubs GM.
I sure hope this doesn’t affect Theriot’s play during the upcoming season. The Cubs need Theriot to play at the highest level right from the get-go, so hopefully he can clear his mind in Mesa during Spring Training and be ready to tackle the big leagues at Wrigley Field come April…