Posted on 25 March 2010 by Lou
Sean Marshall pitched 4 solid innings in the Cubs 12-1 win over the Texas Rangers on Wednesday. After a tough start in which he gave up 3 hits and 1 unearned run in the 1st inning, Marshall really settled down. He only allowed one other base runner through the next 3 innings on a walk and he struck out 5. Marshall now has a 1.64 ERA in his spring starts this March and he has made a strong case for winning one of the open starting pitching jobs heading into the regular season.
Marshall had this to say — “I pitched pretty well today. That doesn’t mean I can be the perfect candidate to start but I love starting and I want to start because I like giving the team a chance to win. As long as I keep building and keep getting better and keep getting guys out, I’ll have no problems… My attitude is always to keep a positive attitude whatever role I’m in and help the team win some ballgames.”
This is great news, but I still have a feeling that Manager Lou Pinella is going to go with Tom Gorzelanny as the 5th starter behind Carlos Silva. Marshall has more experience coming out of the bullpen and he has performed well there for the Cubs – in fact better than he has as a starter. I think it’s the wrong move because I think the Cubs will need good starts early on with Ted Lilly on the shelf, but I just have a feeling that Lou is going to tab Silva and Gorzelanny as his 4th and 5th starters until Lilly returns. We should have an answer within the next few days so that the 2 guys tabbed as “starters” will have a chance to stretch out before the start of the season. We;ll keep you posted as soon as that happens…
Posted on 24 March 2010 by Lou
Good news on the Ted Lilly front. Lilly threw 35 pitches in a simulated game on Monday that spanned 3 innings of play. Lilly was able to throw all of his pitches and he felt great after the outing. Lilly had this to say: “I felt good. I was able to throw some curveballs, sliders and a few changeups. For the most part, most of the pitches I threw were fastballs… What I’d like to do is pitch in a game. Get some fans out there and umpires.”
Manager Lou Pinella has indicated that Lilly will not pitch in any Cactus League games. But he will start at least 2 minor league games – the 1st coming this Saturday.
This is great news Cubs fans! Maybe we’ll see Lilly at the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field sooner rather than later during the 2010 MLB schedule…
Posted on 18 March 2010 by Lou
The Cubs have to be delighted with the consistent pitching of 3 youngsters this spring – Carlos Marmol, Esmailin Cardidad & James Russell. The trio have combined to give up just one earned run this spring so far, and they appear ready to have a productive 2010 MLB schedule.
Carlos Marmol has pitched 5 innings in 5 appearances. Marmol has had better control for the most part, walking just 3 and giving up just 2 hits in the 5 frames. He has also racked up 8 hits and continues to work on using his breaking pitches more often to keep batters off-guard.
Esmailin Caridad pitched 2 more scoreless innings in Tuesday’s 4-1 win over the Texas Rangers. He walked one and struck out 3 during the outing. He has pitched a total of 6 1/3 innings this spring, giving up 6 hits and 1 walk, while racking up 6 K’s.
James Russell is emerging as one of the biggest surprises this spring. In Tuesday’s win, Russell didn’t give up a hit in his inning of work and he struck out 2 batters. The big lefty has no thrown 5 2/3 scoreless innings, giving up just 4 hits and 2 walks while striking out 7. He was a long shot to make the club heading into spring, but the way he has pitched, it will be hard for Manager Lou Pinella not to promote him to the major league level at Wrigley Field when camp breaks in April.
I would love to see Russell make the team, especially with the injury to Angel Guzman. We were counting on Guzman to have another productive season for the Cubs, but now with surgery on the horizon, that hope is long-gone. Someone is going to need to emerge as a dependable reliever for Pinella and the Cubs, and it looks like Russell is taking the bull by the horns. Marmol and Cardidad have pretty damn good stuff, so as long as they stay healthy and in command of their pitches, that should go a long way in helping the Cubs stay with the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central race for the early part of the season…
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 16 March 2010 by Lou
Carlos Zambrano didn’t let a broken down bus slow him down in his 3rd spring start against the Rockies in windy Hi Corbett Field. Zambrano scattered 5 hits over 4 innings, allowing just 1 earned run to score. He didn’t strike out any batters, but he didn’t walk any either. That is the key to an “in-control” Zambrano.
Zambrano has shown a lot of poise and maturity thus far this spring. Despite giving up 5 runs in 3 innings in his previous start, he didn’t let him get him down. Big Z seems to understand that this is just spring training and that there is plenty of time to work on certain pitches and situations in order to get ready for the regular season. He had this to say about the start – “It’s just like Maddux used to say, it’s better to have movement than velocity. Don’t get me wrong, velocity is good at this level. When you locate your fastball, it’s good. My sinker was good — great today. I was able to command my pitches and get out of some situations.” Zambrano didn’t lose focus after the broken down bus situation or the crazy wind patterns that seemed to change every minute during the game. He kept his team in the game for the 1st 4 innings and he looks like he is ready to pitch more consistently for the Cubs in 2010.
Couple of other positive notes – Ryan Theriot had a single and a run scored at the lead-off spot and he is now hitting .550 during the spring. Tyler Colvin also continued his hot hitting going 2 for 4 with an RBI. He is hitting .517 this spring and his consistent performance is earning the praises of Manager Lou Pinella and GM Jim Hendry. We might even see Colvin make the squad as the team’s 5th outfielder behind Xavier Nady when the Cubs open up at Wrigley Field in April.
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 12 March 2010 by Lou
Carlos Silva pitched better in his 2nd spring outing – going 3 scoreless innings in the Cubs 8-7 win over the San Diego Padres. But the bad news is that Silva still didn’t look all that sharp. He gave up 4 hits and a walk in the 3 innings, but managed to work out of a few jams. Silva showed up in camp out-of-shape according to our sources in Mesa. This has to irk GM Jim Hendry and Manager Lou Pinella who “suggested” to Silva back at the Cubs convention in January that he still needed to lose a few lbs. If this guy wasn’t owed so much damn money ($26 million ($20 million that the Cubs have to fork over) over the next 2 years), he would be out on the street already.
Starlin Castro had a big day at the plate – going 2 for 3 with 2 RBI’s and 3 runs scored. He hit his 1st home run of the spring and is now hitting .571 so far. The Cubs have all but said that Castro will start the season in the minor leagues, but if he keeps raking like this, it’s going to be hard not to want to start him at the major league level with Ryan Theriot moving over to 2nd base.
Other good pitching news – Carlos Marmol and David Patton tossed scoreless innings in relief. Jeff Stevens and Esmailin were not all that sharp because of shoddy defense behind them, but none of the 6 runs they let up were earned. The Cubs are now 4-4 during the spring schedule.
Posted on 04 March 2010 by Lou
Alfonso Soriano continues to improve his conditioning this Spring and it looks like he will be ready to start against the cross-town-rival White Sox on Saturday in Mesa. Soriano’s rehabbed knee is responding well so far and he has been working with new Cubs hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo (his old hitting coach with the Texas Rangers) on shortening his stride during his swing. Hopefully all the extra work will pay off for Soriano in 2010.
Manager Lou Pinella is optimistic about getting much better production from the $18-million man this season: “He’s healthy, and we expect him to be a better all-around player. We’re not going to expect 30 stolen bases from him or anything like that. Hitting in the 6th hole, he can save his legs a little more… What we need from Alfonso is some power and RBI production… Let’s hope he has an injury-free season and gets back to where he was a couple of years ago and [is] a little more disciplined and [has] a healthy season, and a productive one.”
Amen to that — Soriano can’t be as bad as his .241 batting average and .303 on-base percentage during the 2009 MLB schedule. Despite playing in only 109 games in 2008 due to injuries, he still clubbed 29 HR’s and drove in 75 runs in 453 at-bats. If he can get close to that in 2010, that would be a huge improvement for the Cubs. It would also mean that Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez would have a little more protection in the middle of the lineup. That can only mean good things for the Cubs offensive production in 2010…
Posted on 02 March 2010 by Lou
Randy Wells will open up the Cubs spring training slate with the opening start against the Oakland A’s on Thursday. Wells started the 2009 season at Triple-A Iowa but ended up being the Cubs most reliable starting pitcher taking advantage of a slew of injuries to Cubs regulars during the course of the long MLB schedule. Wells ended up making 27 starts, going 12-10 with a stellar 3.05 ERA. He struck out 104 batters while walking just 46 in 165 1/3 innings pitched. That all added up to a nifty 1.28 WHIP. Wells locked up a starting spot in the 2010 Cubs rotation with his consistent performance in 2009. Manager Lou Pinella will look to Wells to anchor the 4th spot in the rotation once Ted Lilly returns from his shoulder surgery.
Wells credits playing guitar and trying to write songs with keeping him on an even-feel during the long MLB season. He has played guitar for about 4 years and in the last year has gotten serious about expanding his playing abilities and writing music. It’s not easy according to the righty: “I’m just starting out. I enjoy writing down thoughts and memories. We get to do so much cool stuff. It’s nice to write down and remember it. It’s like taking pictures… It keep syou out of trouble and from spending money and doing dumb stuff.”
Whatever it takes I guess. With questions at the back end of the rotation until Lilly’s return towards the end of April, it is really important for Wells to get off to a good start in 2010. Carlos Zambrano and Ryan Dempster should be fine at the front end, but it will be up to Wells to bridge that gap in the 3-spot in front of a quartet of hopefuls – Jeff Samardzija, Sean Marshall, Carlos Silva and Tom Gorzelanny. We’ll keep you posted here after a few weeks go by during spring training. If 1 of the 4 breaks out with a few good appearances in a row, they could lock up a slot in the starting rotation fairly early on.
Posted on 27 February 2010 by Lou
After a rough start to the spring (sore knee, nasty flu), Ted Lilly is finally back at camp. The only bad news — this latest flu bout probably cost him any shot he had at being ready by opening day 2010. He missed 5 straight days because of a nasty virus and flu-like symptoms, including a 103-degree temperature. “It makes you really appreciate your health when it’s taken away… It didn’t hurt, it just felt weak. I felt some strength was taken away for sure. It’s awesome just being able to stand out there with the sun on my face and on my feet.”
The Cubs and Manager Lou Pinella have already indicated that they are going to take it slow with Lilly this spring. Sean Marshall, Carlos Silva, Jeff Samardzija and Tom Gorzelanny will all compete for the final 2 spots in the Cubs starting rotation to start the season. And once Lilly returns towards the middle to end of April, 1 will get bumped down to the bullpen or minor leagues.