Posted on 09 April 2011 by Lou
Carlos Zambrano didn’t have his best stuff, but he tossed 6 effective innings and matched a career-high with his 9th win in a row (dating back to last season). Zambrano gave up 4 ER on 7 hits and 3 walks, with 5 K’s, but had a quick 1-2-3 6th inning to keep the lead at 6-4 after his 112th pitch of the game. It was clear that he still had enough gas left in the tank and despite his less-than-stellar outing, he kept his wits about him and focused on getting through 6 innings to hand the ball off to the Cubs promising bullpen.
And boy did they do a great job. Sean Marshall worked an 11-pitch 1-2-3 7th inning with 1 K – hold #2 on the season. Kerry Wood worked a 9-pitch 1-2-3 8th inning – hold #3 on the season. And while Carlos Marmol allowed 2 batters to reach base, he struck out 2 in the 9th inning to preserve the win and pick up his 3rd save. Manager Mike Quade has gotta be pleased with this formula and as long as these guys stay healthy (Wood especially), there’s no reason to think that the Cubs shouldn’t feel comfortable with a late-inning lead.
The Cubs offense also pounded out 12 hits and 7 runs, lead by Jeff baker’s 4-hit game. Baker hit a go-ahead 3-run HR in the 4th inning and the Cubs never looked back. He had 4 RBI’s and 2 runs scored and is just crushing left-handed pitching. Geovany Soto hit a 2-run HR that tied the game at 2 in the 4th inning, while Marlon Byrd and Alfonso Soriano each had 2 hits in the win.
Matt Garza takes the bump against Chris Narverson in Game 2 of the series at Miller Park tonight. Let’s see if they can make it 2 in a row…
Posted on 07 April 2011 by Lou
It was not a good day for the Cubs as Ryan Dempster fell to 0-2 as the Cubs lost to the DBacks 6-4. Dempster gave up 5 runs (4 earned) on 10 hits over 7 innings pitched. It was the most hits he had allowed in a game since 2008. Dempster did strike out 8 DBacks hitters, but his ERA rose to 6.59 and his WHIP rose to 1.46. Not good for your “ace” of the staff.
Aramis Ramirez hit his 1st home run of the season and has gotten off to a hot start – .333 batting average. Alfonso Soriano hit his 3rd home run of the season, but they have all been solo shots and he is only hitting .273. After a very slow start, Marlion Byrd had 2 hits in the loss and is now up over .300. And Kosuke Fukudome had 2 hits and is hitting .357. Now we just need the rest of the team to start swinging a good bat.
As for the other losses, they came off the field. Randy Wells woke up with a strained forearm the day after his Monday start, but an MRI showed no structural damage. Wells with not pick up a baseball for 2 weeks and should be able to pitch fairly soon after that assuming no further pain develops. Wells was the Cubs most consistent pitcher all spring and he followed that up with a great first start – only 1 ER allowed over 6 innings pitched in the Cubs 4-1 win on Monday.
Andrew Cashner was having a similar great 1st start on Tuesday when he developed shoulder soreness in his throwing shoulder. An MRI revealed that he has a mild strain of the back of the rotator cuff of his right arm. Cashner will not do anything for two weeks too, but look for the Cubs to be even more careful with Cashner. He has a powerful arm and is seen as a top major league starter for years to come.
Casey Coleman was called up from Triple-A Iowa and will start against the Brewers in Milwaukee on Sunday. James Russell – who has pitched out of the bullpen thus far this season – could end up starting for the Cubs against the Astros in Houston next week. We’ll keep you posted as soon as the Cubs decide exactly what to do with the 5th starter…
Posted on 06 April 2011 by Lou
The Cubs gave Andrew Cashner a nice 4-1 lead in his major league starting debut and it looked as if he would cruise to a nice easy win over the Diamondbacks. But then disaster struck in the top of the 6th inning. After retiring the first batter that he faced, Cashner walked Willie Bloomquist and then had to be removed from the game with an apparent arm/back injury. Jeff Samardzija came on to strike out the next 2 batters to get out of the inning and preserve the 4-1 lead for Cashner and the Cubs.
However, the DBacks rallied for 3 runs against Samardzija, Marcos Mateo and James Russell, and just like that, the game was tied at 4 and Cashner was no longer eligible for the win after pitching so well.
Fortunately, the Cubs showed some fight and immediately re-rook the lead in the bottom of the 7th on a Marlon Byrd double and a Tyler Colvin bases loaded walk.
And the Cubs hung on for a 6-5 win as Russell got he W and Sean Marshall picked up the save with both Kerry Wood and Carlos Marmol unavailable to pitch.
But the big news focused on Cashner and then Randy Wells. Both pitchers will be sidelined for at least 2 weeks with arm issues. Not good, not good at all…
Posted on 25 March 2011 by Lou
WOW – what an ugly win for the Cubs over the White Sox on Thursday. There were some positives, but also a LOT of negatives.
It was great that the Cubs hung on to win, but the White Sox actually out-hit the Cubs 16-8. Ouch. Good pitching was clearly not on display yesterday in Mesa.
I’m still waiting for Matt Garza to have that breakout start that shows it was a smart decision for the Cubs to unload 4 top prospects for the big righty from the Tampa Bay Rays. Garza started off well with 3 straight scoreless innings to start the game. But he ended up giving up 3 ER on 8 hits and 2 walks which actually lowered his ERA to 8.68 for the spring. But a 2.0 WHIP during a game is never good, even if you end up winning. Not sure if Garza is still fine-tuning things and working on pitches no matter what the situation in the game, but I really hope that he starts pitching for real before the season starts. He has 1 more start next week before he makes his Cubs debut next Sunday at Wrigley Field, so it would be nice to see a stellar outing out of Garza early next week.
The bullpen didn’t fare much better. Braden Looper gave up a run on 3 hits and a walk in his 2 innings of work and is out of the running for being the Cubs 5th starter. James Russell gave up 2ER on 2 solo home runs in the 8th inning, but will likely still make the opening day roster as a lefty reliever. And Carlos Marmol gave up a run in the 9th inning but managed to shut the door on the White Sox to preserve the 1-run win for the Cubs. All in all, it was a horrible showing by the pitching staff.
The bats finally came to life in the win. Alfonso Soriano had a solo home run and had 2 RBI’s on the day. Darwin Barney continued to show Manager Mike Quade that he deserves a shot at starting at 2B this season. He had 2 more hits including a triple and he drove in 2 runs and scored 1 run. Marlon Byrd continued his torrid hitting and had 2 RBI’s. Satrlin Castro had a double and a walk and scored 2 runs.
When these guys are being patient and swinging the bats well, the Cubs are capable of putting up some runs each game. But is a matter of consistency and hoping that guys like Carlos Pena, Alfonso Soriano and Geovany Soto all don’t go into prolonged slumps at the same time.
It’s a week away from opening day – can’t wait for another fun MLB schedule to begin…
Posted on 21 March 2011 by Lou
Randy Wells pitched 6 strong innings of 1-run ball as the Cubs defeated the San Francisco Giants 3-2 in 10 innings. With less than 2 weeks left before the start of the 2011 MLB schedule, it looks like Randy Wells has made the strongest case out of any of the potential starters for that coveted 4th spot in the starting rotation. Wells allowed the 1st two batters to reach base, including an RBI single by former Cub Mike Fontenot to plate the 1st run of the game. Then he proceeded to retire the next 18 batters that he faced. Wells did not issue a walk, he struck out 7 and he continued to work at a fast pace keeping his pitches down. When Wells has his sinker going and when he gets into a groove, he can be a very difficult pitcher to face. And while Manager Mike Quade did not officially name Wells a starter, he made it clear that he has been very pleased with Wells’ effort this spring.
Marlon Byrd had 2 hits in the Cubs win, as did Bobby Scales. Wellington Castillo won the game for the Cubs with a walk-off single in the bottom of the 10th inning.
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???
Posted on 02 March 2011 by Lou
The Cubs finally got their 1st spring win, defeating the defending World Series Champion San Francisco Giants 3-2 on Tuesday. There were some positives and some negatives as there often are this early in the spring.
Ryan Dempster looked sharp in his 1st spring start. Dempster notched 3 K’s in 3 innings of work. He gave up 1 ER on 2 hits and a walk.
Todd Wellemeyer worked 2 scoreless innings and picked up the win in relief. He gave up 1 hit and notched 2 strikeouts.
Casey Coleman, Jeff Stevens and Esmailin Cardidad tossed scoreless innings to preserve the win.
The Cubs bats were silent against Tim Lincecum – the Giants ace threw 3 perfect innings wityh 2 K’s in his 1st spring start.
However, the top of the Cubs lineup propelled the club to victory in the top of the 6th inning. Kosuke Fukudome and Starlin Castro started the inning off with singles to set the table for the middle of the lineup. Marlon Byrd tied the game at 1 with an RBI single and then Aramis Ramirez had the game-winning hit with a 2-run double to give the Cubs a 3-1 lead.
One more negative – the Cubs committed 3 more errors and now have 9 errors in just 3 games – what the hell is going on with this club?
The pitching by the regulars has been mostly good so far (except for Matt Garza and Kerry Wood), so that is a good sign. But the bats are just not there yet and the fielding has been downright atrocious. This has gotta be very frustrating for Manager Mike Quade…
Posted on 24 February 2011 by Lou
Manager Mike Quade is sure that Aramis Ramirez will bat 4th in the Cubs lineup each and every day. The rest of the lineup is not so clear. “I see him as such a good RBI guy that it makes sense in the four-hole. He’s a guy who, as much as mizing and matching that I do, he doesn’t figure to be one of the guys I’ll mix and match with. Some guys don’t care [where they are in the lineup], and I know he does. He seems like the four-hole to me because I want him driving in runs. But I’m a grownup and I reserve the right to change my mind.”
Quade has indicated that Starlin Castro will likely hit in the 2-spot. Quade has hinted that Castro could some day be a lead-off hitter, but he doesn’t want to put too much pressure on the youngster, especially in his 2nd year which can often lead to a “sophomore slump.” Quade likes Kosuke Fukudome in the lead-off spot for some reason. He likes the fact that Fukudome makes pitchers throw a lot of pitches, but I think he is just way too inconsistent. He may have a good few weeks or so, but then he has the capability of disappearing for weeks at a time.
It should be interesting as spring progresses. Let’s hope someone emerges to claim that 3rd spot in the lineup. Marlon Byrd seems like the best fit because Carlos Pena and Alfonso Soriano strike out way too much there. But if a guy like Blake DeWitt emerges with a good spring, could we see Quade got with Fukudome, DeWitt and Castro in the top 3 spots? We’ll keep you posted as soon as we hear anything concrete out of Mesa…
Posted on 08 February 2011 by Lou
Where Geovany Soto and Blake DeWitt fit into the Cubs lineup for 2011 makes for some interesting chats.
Soto rebounded from a down 2009 MLB season with a solid 2010 campaign. Soto had a career-best .393 on-base percentage during the season and hit with HR’s and RBI’s. Will we see Soto higher up in the lineup? Probably not. Soto is better suited to be in the 5, 6 or 7 spot where he can drive in runs. He is a patient hitter, so if runners are on base in front of him, he puts pitchers in a tough position. They can walk him and put more runners on base, or they can pitch to him and risk letting him be the hero by driving in runs. Look for Aramis Ramirez to move up to the 3-spot in 2011, with Carlos Pena batting clean-up, Marlon Byrd in the 5-hole and Soto in the 6-hole.
Blake DeWitt is gearing up for a productive 2010. DeWitt spent the off-season eliminating a tap mechanism from his batting stance. The Cubs hope that the new hitting stance will give DeWitt an extra advantage against pitchers and allow him to be more patient at the plate. Hitting Coach Rudy Jaramillo has already spent time with DeWitt in Arizona, so he should be ahead of the game once camp breaks later this month.
These are all good signs Cubs fans. With expectations so low for this unpredictable ball club, the Cubs could end up surprising some people in 2011…
Posted on 17 January 2011 by Lou
The Cubs and Geovany Soto avoided salary arbitration as the big catcher signed a 1-year, $3 million deal. Soto turns 28 later this month and had a nice “bounce-back” year in 2010 with a .280 batting average and .393 on-base percentage (62 walks and only 82 K’s), 17 home runs and 53 RBI’s in 105 games. His season was cut short when he had arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder in September. Soto is expected to be fully healthy for 2011 Spring Training in February.
Soto was the National League Rookie of the Year back in 2008 when the Cubs had the most prolific offense in the NL. That year, Soto hit .285 with 23 dingers and 86 RBI’s. But injuries hampered Soto in 2009 as he struggled with a .218 batting average. He played in just 103 games in 2009 and had a career-low .321 on-base percentage. Let’s hope the positive trend continues for Soto in 2011. The Cubs need the catcher to be a consistent offensive threat in the middle of the lineup to provide a little extra protection for Aramis Ramirez, Marlon Byrd, Carlos Pena and Tyler Colvin.
The Cubs now have just 3 other players who are arbitration-eligible — Sean Marshall, Carlos Marmol and Matt Garza. It looks like the Cubs have traded Tom Gorzelanny to the Washington Nationals, so they will not have to come to terms with the lefty before the deadline. More on the Gorzelanny trade as details are confirmed.