Tag Archive | "Lou Pinella"

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Tyler Colvin Lone Bright Spot in Cubs 8-1 Loss to Mariners; Will Pinella Make it Through Rough 2010 – 6/23/10

Posted on 24 June 2010 by Lou

WOW – make this stop.  How much more can we take?  Another day, another loss.  They get uglier and uglier as the season progresses as evident in the 8-1 loss last night in Seattle.

Tyler Colvin & Marlon Byrd continue to be the only 2 Cubs players that produce on a regular basis.  Colvin stroked his 9th homer of the season in just 121 at-bats.  He has a .298 batting average and Lou is finally giving him the playing time he deserves.  Byrd had another 2-hit night in Seattle and Alfonso Soriano even got into the mix for a 2nd straight night with 2 hits.  But the Cubs managed just 1 run off of Cliff Lee.

Randy Wells continued his sophomore slump – 6 ER on 10 hits and 2 walks in 6 innings – even the light-hitting Mariners had no trouble making solid contact against Wells.  Wells ERA ballooned to 5.21 and his WHIP is hefty as well – 1.50.  Not good.

The Cubs are no 9 games out of 1st place in the NL Central and they are a whopping 10 games behind the New York Mets in the NL Wild Card race.  The season is officially over and now it’s only a question of whether Lou Pinella will actually survive the rest of the season?!?!

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Cubs Fun Fact of the Day — Carlos Zambrano Back to Starting Rotation – Hip Hip Hooray

Posted on 18 May 2010 by Lou

Wow – was I glad to hear about this Cubs Fun Fact of the Day.  OK, I know it’s not really a “fun fact” but I thought it was significant enough to warrant its own post.  As we discussed a few days ago, the Big Z bullpen experiment was not working.  He simply didn’t get it done in the ‘pen – - and when you’re paying someone $18+ million per season to be your ace starting pitcher, he should be in the starting rotation, not in the bullpen pitching in the 7th or 8th innings of ball games.

Manager Lou Pinella just recently made this announcement public — “We’re going to stretch him out to get him back in the rotation.  We’ll see exactly when he’s ready.  I don’t know how long it’s going to be.  Let’s see how long he needs.  We’d like to get him two or three appearances out of the bullpen stretched out…  We’ll look at the situation and make a determination [as to which current starter will get moved to the bullpen]… Let’s hope it’s a real, real tough choice.”

GM Jim Hendry supported the decision — “He gave it a good whirl, but the last couple of times out he said he wasn’t able to throw as hard as he’s used to or wanted to.”

As for Big Z, he is publicly saying all the right things, but I think he will be happy with the switch — “I’m happy.  As long as this team is happy, I’m happy for this team.  Like I said, whatever this team wants me to do, I’ll do.  This is a business. They’re the boss.  If the boss wants me to go close games, I’ll close games.  If the boss wants me to start games, I’ll start games.  It’s their choice.”

Now, don’t get me wrong – Big Z is not going to all of a sudden go out and win 20 games.  He may not even win 12 games this year.  But he gives the club a better chance to win on a regular basis and his comfort zone is as a starting pitcher.  It was a creative idea, and it wasn’t like Carlos Silva or Tom Gorzelanny pitched poorly while the Cubs conducted the Big  Z bullpen experiment.  But it is definitely time to make the switch back for Big Z…

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Cubs Lose 4-3 on Saturday; Ted Lilly Looks to Thwart Pirates Bid for 2nd Straight 3-Game Sweep

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!

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Caridad, Zambrano Blow Game as Cubs Lose 10-6; Big Z to Stay in ‘Pen

Posted on 15 May 2010 by Lou

The Cubs bullpen blew it again.  Handed a 6-5 lead after 5 innings, Esmailin Caridad and Carlos Zambrano couldn’t shut the door on the Pirates who have now won all 4 meetings with the Cubs this season.  Ouch.

Caridad got into trouble by walking Andrew McCutchen who then stole second to get into scoring position.  Garrett Jones drove him in with an RBI double to tie the game at 6.

Carlos Zambrano entered the game with the score still tied at 6 in the 8th inning.  He struggled right off the bat.  He hit Andy LaRoche and then gave up a single to McCutchen.  Garrett Jones broke the tie with a long home run to right field to give the Pirates the 9-6 lead, a lead they would not relinquish.  Big Z finished out the ugly inning – 4 hits, 1 HBP and 3 ER.  You would think an outing like this would force the Cubs to re-consider the Zambrano experiment in the bullpen as we discussed the other day.  But unfortunately, it looks Manager Lou Pinella is staying pat.  Here was his quote after the game — “We don’t have many options.  Outside of Marmol, we haven’t had a right-hander here that gets hitters out with any consistency at all… Right now, that’s where Zambrano is going to be… Carlos can do that job very well if he gets his mind totally set on it.  He helps me in so many areas by being out there.  It frees me to use other pitchers a lot differently than I would if he weren’t there.”  Problem is, I don’t think Carlos is really on board.  Check out these statements — “To get this clear, I was unhappy the first day that they told me.  I wasn’t sure that it was going to work.  But now, I accept it.  I’m a reliever now, and I have to do my job as a reliever, as a setup man.. I’ll be here until they need me to be here, and I’ll be the eighth-inning guy until they say ‘That’s enough, we want you to start’… If tomorrow they decide to bring me back to the rotation, I’ll be there.  I’ll be more than happy to come back to the rotation.”  Does that really sound like a guy that wants to be in the bullpen?  I don’t think so, and it’s about time GM Jim Hendry and Pinella figure that out.

The few positives from the loss – Marlon Byrd had 2 hits including his 7th homer of the season.  Aramis Ramirez stroked 2 hits as did Alfonso Soriano who also had 2 RBI’s and 2 runs scored.

Ryan Dempster was hoping to the get the Cubs off to a good start today, but 2 walks set up an RBI single by Andrew McCutchen and a 2-run double by Ryan Church.  The Cubs are down 3-0 once again.  Unbelievable…

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Cubs Fun (Sad) Fact of the Day — Is the Carlos Zambrano Bullpen Experiment Over?

Posted on 13 May 2010 by Lou

Say it isn’t so Lou – Is the Carlos Zambrano bullpen experiment over already?  Dare we say it – should the Cubs try to unload the “troubled” righty – the one-time ace of the staff?  Wow – I never thought it would come down to this…

Big Z has made 7 appearances out of the bullpen since the move was made back on April 24th.  During that stretch, he has given up 3 ER on 11 hits and 2 walks over 7 2/3 innings.  He also has 2 holds – nothing great, nothing awful.  Just so-so.  Is this really what the Cubs truly want with their $18 million dollar man?  The guy who has been the Cubs opening day starter for each of the last 6 seasons?  The guy who the team still considers its ace?  As we said before, this move never seemed to make any sense from the start.  How can you really justify giving your 8th inning set-up guy $18 million dollars a year?  He clearly isn’t happy.  In yesterday’s 4-3 win over the Marlins, Manager Lou Pinella yanked Big Z when he walked Jorge Cantu and gave up a single to Dan Uggla after Zambrano had recorded the 1st 2 outs of the inning.  Big Z didn’t even look at Pinella as he walked off the mound and it was clear that Big Z disagreed with his manager’s decision.  Big Z has barely said a word to the media since the move to the bullpen and we’re starting to wonder if Zambrano really embraces the role.

Wouldn’t it be better to nip this in the bud before it becomes a clubhouse problem.  We know Big Z has a bit of a temper and we finally got things right in the locker room by getting rid of Milton Bradley.  With the club already struggling to win games with a 15-20 record, do we really want to try to create a distraction that could make things even worse for this desperate Cubs club?  I don’t think so and most Cubs fans probably don’t think so.

It’s about time we ended this experiment.  Let’s get Big Z back where he belongs as a starter.  If we really want to win this NL Central Division (after the Astros swept the Cards in St. Louis this week, we’re still only 5 games out of 1st), at some point this season, the Cubs are going to need Zambrano to start and win ball games down the stretch.  Carlos Silva and Tom Gorzelanny have been great – we couldn’t ask for anything more – but it’s time to send Gorzelanny into the pen and bring back Big as a starter right now.  Come on Lou and Jim [Hendry] – let’s do the right thing here and give our team the best shot at turning this season around – I can taste the champagne already…

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Cubs Fun (Sad) Fact of the Day – Derrek Lee & Aramis Ramirez Killing Cubs Offense

Posted on 12 May 2010 by Lou

Not sure if you caught onto the theme for this week.  Although the facts that I’m providing are pretty damn interesting, they are also pretty “sad” if you’re a Cubs fan.  Seeing as how the Cubs have dropped 7 of their last 8 games, I figured this would be a good theme for the week for a “sad” Cubs team.

Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez have been killing the Cubs with limited offensive output in the middle of the lineup.  With 5 starters hitting over .300 – Kosuke Fukudome, Ryan Theriot, Alfonso Soriano, Geovany Soto and now Starlin Castro – it is amazing that this team has not won more games.  Then you look at Lee’s and Ramirez’s horrid numbers and you can see why the Cubs have struggled so much early in the season.  When you don’t get consistent production out of your #3 and # 4 hitters, your not going to win a lot of games.

Derrek Lee — .220 batting average with a .333 on-base percentage.  Lee only has 28 hits in 127 at-bats and he only has 4 doubles and 4 home runs with 16 RBI’s.  Throw in 28 K’s and it has been a horrible start to the season for Lee.  Since April 16th, he has hit only 1 home run.

Aramis Ramirez — .159 batting average with a .227 on-base percentage.  Ouch!  If you thought Lee’s numbers were bad, check out these stats – Ramirez only has 20 hits in 126 at-bats and he only has 3 doubles and 3 home runs with 15 RBI’s.  Throw in 31 K’s and it has been an even worse start for Ramirez than Lee.  Ramirez’s last homer came on tax day – April 15th.

Manager Lou Pinella has tried to juggle things around, moving Lee down to 4 and Ramirez down to 5th and 6th in the order.  But nothing seems to be working for either player.  Let’s hope things turn around soon.  The Cubs have the 2nd to worst record in the National League (at 14-20) and they already trail the 1st place Cardinals by 6 1/2 games in the NL Central race.  I know it’s only May 12th, but things can get out of hand pretty quickly – you’d hate to be 10+ games out of 1st place by the end of May, so unless Lee and Ramirez both turn it around, it looks like that’s the direction this team is headed in in 2010.

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Lilly’s No-No Goes Down Drain Quickly as Cubs Lose (Again) 4-2

Posted on 11 May 2010 by Lou

Ted Lilly took a no-hitter into the 6th inning of last night’s 4-2 loss to the Florida Marlins at Wrigley Field.  Then the wheels came off as the Cubs dropped another close game during this extremely frustrating 2010 MLB schedule.  How bad can it get?

How did it all go down?  Starlin Castro’s high throw to 1st base on a routine groundball by Brett Carroll allowed Carrol to get to 1st to lead off the 7th inning.  One out later, Lilly allowed an RBI double to Chris Coghlan – it was the 1st hit and 1st run of the game for the Marlins.  The Cubs quickly rebounded when Soriano drove in his 2nd run of the game with a single to left field that gave the Cubs a 2-1 lead.  But Lilly floundered again.  With one out in the 7th inning, Lilly gave up a single to Dan Uggla and then a go-ahead and game-winning home run to Ronny Paulino that gave the Marlins a 3-2 lead.  The Marlins scored another run on a double-steal with 2 outs, but by then, the wind was already out of the Cubs sails.

Castro’s night was just downright bad – not the way he wanted to kick of his rookie season in front of the hometown crowd.  Castro committed his 1st error of the game on a high throw to first that allowed Cody Ross to reach base in the 3rd inning.  Castro committed his 3rd error of the game when he let Hanley Ramirez’ groundball in the hole go under his glove.  But he made matters worse by not hustling after the ball in shallow left field which allowed Ramirez to reach 2nd base as fans at the “Friendly Confines” booed the young rookie sensation.  Manager Lou Pinella “gently criticized” Castro for not making the play on the ball, and Castro chalked it up to a “rookie mistake”.  Castro better get his act together quickly or else he could be on the wrong side of the fence with Pinella AND MORE IMPORTANTLY, the fans.

One positive — Alfonso Soriano kept up his hot hitting.  Soriano had 2 singles and a double and drove in both of the Cubs runs.  He is now hitting .340 on the season.

Another positive — Carlos Zambrano worked a scoreless inning of relief, recovering from his disastrous appearance on Saturday against the Reds in Cincinnati in which he gave up 2 ER on 3 hits in 1 inning of work.

Randy Wells looks to snap the Cubs current 3-game losing streak as the Cubs continue the series against the Marlins at Wrigley Field tonight.

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Desperate Times Call For Desperate Measures — Starlin Castro to Start Tonight

Posted on 07 May 2010 by Lou

After a humbling sweep to the Pirates in Pittsburgh this week, the Cubs felt it necessary to make a desperate move by calling up stud shortstop Starlin Castro to start tonight against the Reds in Cincinnati.  Will this desperation move come back to hurt the Cubs franchise in the long run.

First, let’s talk about the sweep (which won’t take too long).  Randy Wells who had pitched so well in his 1st 5 starts looked lost out there on Thursday night — 2IP, 6ER, 5 hits, 3 walks, 1 K.  Ouch.  His ERA (4.86) and WHIP (1.50) are now painfully average.

Jeff Gray is an awful reliever – 2 IP, 4 runs (2 earned) on 3 hits and 2 walks.

There were 2 positives out of the Cubs pen.  James Russell has really pitched well of late and seems to have regained his spring training form.  He pitched 2 perfect innings and lowered his WHIP to 1.11 and his ERA to an even 3.00.  Look for Manager Lou Pinella to use the lefty in “big” game situations from now on.  Justin Berg pitched a scoreless inning, making it 5 straight scoreless appearances in a row.  His ERA is 3.00 and his WHIP is 1.31.

But back to Starlin Castro.  Castro shined in spring training, so much so that they gave Ryan Theriot time at 2nd base just in case they made the mid-season call up for Castro.  So much for waiting until July to make the move.  GM Jim Henry and Pinella are so frustrated with the team’s poor hitting and fielding thus far, they figure they might as well make the move now.  Castro played 26 games at Double-A Tennessee this season, hitting .376 with 8 doubles and 5 triples.  He is also an excellent fielder, so Cubs brass figures that even if he has trouble hitting major league hitting, he should at least helping the fielding woes that the Cubs have experience thus far this season.  Castro is in the lineup tonight against the Reds – batting 8th and playing shortstop.  At the ripe young age of 20, Castro becomes the youngest shortstop to play a game in franchise history.  Theriot moved over to 2nd base but will still bat lead-off.

Although I think Castro will succeed this season, I don’t like the move.  This team is a middle of the road team at best, and they are a long shot to make the playoffs – whether it be winning the NL Central or the wild card.  The team is too inconsistent offensively, and adding Castro won’t really change that.  I’d love to see Castro get some more time in the minor leagues.  One more season can’t hurt and bringing him up and watching him struggle early could have a negative affect on the franchise’s top prospect.  Plus, from a financial standpoint, bringing him up this early means that he can become a free agent one year earlier.  That means having to spend more money on Castro earlier in the arbitration/free agent process.  Sure, if he is worth it, it’s not a big deal.  But after all the horrible contracts that Hendry has bogged the team down with, it’s time to be a little smarter here.  Do I think bringing up Castro is going to lead to a 10-game winning streak?  No.  I think he’ll make the team more exciting to watch and maybe help bring more people to Wrigley Field everyday, but I don’t think we’re going to see any major difference in the outcome on the field over the long course of the season.  I hope I’m wrong, but we’ll have to wait and see.

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Cubs Fun Fact of the Day — Aramis Ramirez Struggling

Posted on 06 May 2010 by Lou

Ouch – this is not a pleasant Cubs Fun Fact of the Day – Boy is Aramis Ramirez Really struggling.  He has really hurt the team, and Manager Lou Pinella finally dropped him to 6th in the batting order.  In Wednesday night’s 4-2 loss, Ramirez went 1 for 3 from the 6-hole, with 1 RBI on a sacrifice fly.  In Thursday’s night’s 11-1 loss, Ramirez went 0 for 4 in the 5th spot.  Ramirez s now hitting just .148 with an on-base percentage a tad over .200.  Ouch.  He has just 3 HR’s and 15 RBI’s on the season, but he has not clubbed a long ball since April 15th.  What is going on with the big fella?  I usually think of Ramirez as the Cubs most consistent offensive run-producer, but something is clearly off with Ramirez in 2010.  Ramirez opted not to have off-season surgery to repair his separated shoulder that sidelined him for 2 months in 2009.  Should he have?  Did the rehab he did in the off-season not work?

Whatever the case, the Cubs offense clearly depends on a healthy, productive cog in the middle of the lineup like Ramirez.  If that Ramirez does not show up sometime soon, we’re going to be very disappointed with another down year from the Cubs in 2010.

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Cubs Fun Fact of the Day — Cubs Suck in Close Games

Posted on 29 April 2010 by Lou

Simply put, the Cubs suck in close games in 2010, following a trend that killed the Cubs during the disappointing 2009 MLB campaign.  So far this year, the Cubs have played 12 games in which the outcome was decided by 2 runs or less.  How many of those games do you think the Cubs have won?  You guessed it — just 4.  Not good, not good at all.  Going 4-8 in close games is not gonna get it done for Manager Lou Pinella and his club.  They are 10-12 and they already trail the 1st place St. Louis Cardinals by 4.5 games in the NL Central race.

Pinella snapped at a reporter after the Cubs lost 3-2 to the Nationals at Wrigley Field when he suggested that Pinella should have had Mike Fontenot bunt after Marlon Byrd led off the 8th inning with a double.  Pinella responded — “Bunting what? With a left-handed hitter up, you want to bunt?  What kind of baseball do you play? How about getting him in? Or getting him over by swinging? How about that?”

Well, Lou, I hate to disagree with you, but given how anemic the Cubs offense has been in close games, that’s precisely the reason you have Fontenot bunting in that situation.  With a runner on 3rd and only 1 out, that gives Koyie Hill or Geovany Soto the chance to drive in the tying run.  And if either of them can’t get it done, then you still have a pinch hitter coming up with 2 outs needing only a hit or error to drive in the tying run.  Call me crazy, but when you’re pressing in close games, you have to make it easy as possible to get any run across the plate, even if it means giving up an out.  You’d think Lou’s been around long enough to know that, but it seems he’s being a little stubborn by not playing small ball.

Oh yeah, check out our Cubs Fun Fact of the Day from yesterday! So much for Ted Lilly making it 7 straight quality starts for Cubs starting pitchers.  Yikes – Lilly gave up 6 ER on 7 hits and 2 walks (including 3 home runs) in only 5 innnigs of work.  That is definitely NOT a quality start…

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