Tag Archive | "Rich Harden"

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Cubs Don’t Offer Arbitration to Rich Harden, Kevin Gregg, Reed Johnson & Chad Fox

Posted on 01 December 2009 by Lou

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The Chicago Cubs decided not to offer arbitration to Rich Harden, Kevin Gregg, Reed Johnson & Chad Fox before today’s deadline.  The move is not surprising for Harden, Gregg and Fox, but I thought that the Cubs might offer arbitration to Johnson.  Looks like the Cubs are really going to try to land a center fielder this off-season so that they can move Kosuke Fukudome back to his regular (and more comfortable) right field position.

While Rich Harden made 26 starts for the Cubs in 2009, his history of arm trouble and his high pitch counts made the starter expendable.  The Cubs already have Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, Ted Lilly and Randy Wells penciled in as 2010 starters and they will pick a 5th starter from within – either Tom Gorzelanny, Jeff Samardzija, Sean Marshall or others.

Kevin Gregg lost his closer’s role to Carlos Marmol in the middle of August and the Cubs do not have confidence that Gregg can even be an effective middle reliever, especially given the salary that he would command in arbitration.

The Cubs still have to work out new deals with other arbitration-eligible players – Marmol, Ryan Theriot, Marshall, Jeff Baker and Mike Fontenot.  So it is a good move to shed some salary – roughly $15 million or more that would have gone to these 4 players.  Tom Ricketts – the new Cubs Chairman – has indicated that the $134 payroll in 2009 will go up slightly for the 2010 MLB season…

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Starting Pitcher Report Card – Randy Wells – A-

Posted on 29 November 2009 by Lou

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Let’s take a look at the Cubs starting rotation – despite the awful, disappointing season, the Cubs pitching staff actually performed very well.  The quartet of Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, Ted Lilly and Rich Harden pitched well despite injuries and rookie Randy Wells rounded out the rotation once he was called up to replace Zambrano after his 1st injury problem.

Randy Wells – 2009 Report Card Grade – A-.

Randy Wells was the Cubs most biggest surprise during the 2009 MLB schedule.

2009 stats – 165 1/3 innings in 27 starts; 12-10 record with a 3.05 ERA and 1.28 WHIP; 104 K’s; 46 walks; .261 opponents’ batting average.

2008 stats – NA

We’ve talked about Wells so many times, he pitched so well for the Cubs in 2009.

Wells has already proved to be a fan favorite at the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field. With another year under his belt, let’s hope that Wells can put together another quality effort during the 2010 MLB schedule…

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Starting Pitcher Report Card – Ryan Dempster – B

Posted on 28 November 2009 by Lou

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Let’s take a look at the Cubs starting rotation – despite the awful, disappointing season, the Cubs pitching staff actually performed very well.  The quartet of Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, Ted Lilly and Rich Harden pitched well despite injuries and rookie Randy Wells rounded out the rotation once he was called up to replace Zambrano after his 1st injury problem.

Ryan Dempster – 2009 Report Card Grade – B.

Ryan Dempster was the Cubs 3rd best starting pitcher during the 2009 MLB schedule.

2009 stats – 200 innings in 31 starts; 11-9 record with a 3.65 ERA and 1.30 WHIP; 172 K’s; 65 walks; .260 opponents’ batting average.

2008 stats – 206 2/3 innings in 33 starts; 17-6 record with a 2.96 ERA and 1.21 WHIP; 187 K’s; 76 walks; .227 opponents’ batting average.

After a sub-par start to the season and a frustrating toe injury in July (he injury occurred after a Cubs win when Dempster jumped over the fence guarding the Cubs dugout), Dempster actually finished strong to make his numbers look good.   He was 6-3 in August and September and pitched at least 6 innings in each of those 12 starts.  In 8 of those starts, Dempster allowed just 2 runs or less.  Dempster’s 2008 numbers show that he still has what it takes at the age of 32.  He definitely has 3 solid years left in the tank – he just needs to regain that form in 2010.

Dempster just finished the 1st year of a 4-year, $52 million deal that he signed before the off-season.  That seems like a lot given the 11 wins, but if he can be a little more consistent early on, and stay healthy, he should be worth the payment over the long run.   Dempster has been a class act with the Cubs.  He has made Chicago his home and given back so much to the community.  Dempster is a fan favorite at the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field and he will surely go down as one of the most popular Cubs players during the 2000’s.  He is a great locker room presence and a good mentor for some of the Cubs younger players, so let’s hope he can help the team win a World Series during one of the next 3 years – we all deserve it…

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Starting Pitcher Report Card – Carlos Zambrano – C

Posted on 27 November 2009 by Lou

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Let’s take a look at the Cubs starting rotation – despite the awful, disappointing season, the Cubs pitching staff actually performed very well.  The quartet of Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, Ted Lilly and Rich Harden pitched well despite injuries and rookie Randy Wells rounded out the rotation once he was called up to replace Zambrano after his 1st injury problem.

Carlos Zambrano – 2009 Report Card Grade – C.

Carlos Zambrano was a major disappointment for the Cubs during the 2009 MLB schedule.

2009 stats – 169 1/3 innings in 28 starts; 9-7 record with a 3.77 ERA and 1.38 WHIP; 152 K’s; 78 walks; .246 opponents’ batting average.

2008 stats – 188 2/3 innings in 30 starts; 14-6 record with a 3.91 ERA and 1.29 WHIP; 130 K’s; 72 walks; .241 opponents’ batting average.

Big Z’s numbers do not justify his status as the ace of the Cubs starting pitching staff or the money he will be paid during the next 3 seasons.  He is scheduled to make $18.875 million in 2010 and 2011 and then $19 million in 2012.  When your ace can’t even get double-digit wins, you have a problem.  Zambrano suffered 2 injuries during 2009 – a hamstring injury while trying to beat out a bunt that cost him 3 weeks in May and then a back injury triggered from over-aggressive swinging that cost him another 3 weeks in August.  This cannot happen.  Zambrano needs to takle better care of himself and he needs to report in better shape at the start of spring training in 2010.  He will be 29 in June 2010 and he can’t rely on the excuse that he is still growing and maturing.  Big Z is a veteran major league pitcher with 8 years of starting major league experience.  He needs to show that on the field.  While he has cut down on his walks in each of the last 2 seasons (he was over 100 walks in both 2006 and 2007), he needs to work on cutting down on the number of hits he is allowing.  The .241 and .246 batting averages against in each of the last 2 seasons are the highest of his career.

Let’s hope that Big Z can right the ship in 2010.  2009 should be in the rear view mirror for all Cubs players at this point.  It just wasn’t meant to be, and now it’s time to focus on getting back in shape and ready for the grind in 2010.  Zambrano had his moments in 2009 and if he can channel that confidence and pitch more consistently (like a Ted Lilly), he will be a better pitcher, and he will make the rest of the staff that much more effective.  He has the ability to do it, not it’s just up to the coaching staff and Big Z to translate that ability into game day action.

Despite his hot-head reputation, Big Z is still a fan favorite at the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field.  If Zambrano can put together a 15-20 win season in 2010, he will be that much more loved on the north side of Chicago for years to come…

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Starting Pitcher Report Card – Ted Lilly – A-

Posted on 26 November 2009 by Lou

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Let’s take a look at the Cubs starting rotation – despite the awful, disappointing season, the Cubs pitching staff actually performed very well.  The quartet of Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, Ted Lilly and Rich Harden pitched well despite injuries and rookie Randy Wells rounded out the rotation once he was called up to replace Zambrano after his 1st injury problem.

Ted Lilly – 2009 Report Card Grade – A-.

Ted Lilly was the Cubs most consistent pitcher during the 2009 MLB schedule.

2009 stats – 177 innings in 27 starts; 12-9 record with a 3.10 ERA and 1.06 WHIP; 151 K’s; 36 walks; .230 opponents’ batting average.

2008 stats – 204.2 innings in 34 starts; 17-9 record with a 4.09 ERA and 1.23 WHIP; 184 K’s; 64 walks; .239 opponents’ batting average.

Lilly has been one of the Cubs most consistent pitchers since he joined the organization back in 2007.  He has thrived pitching in the “lighter-hitting” National League and looks to have some solid years left in the tank.  Lilly has a solid walk-strikeout ratio and really stepped up to the plate in a down 2009 season for the Cubs.

The 2010 MLB schedule is the final year of Lilly’s 4-year, $40 million deal that Lilly signed in 2007.  That seems like a bargain right now given some of the awful contracts that GM Jim Hendry has burdened the Cubs with over the last few seasons.  Lilly is coming off of 2 surgical procedures in 2009 and at the age of 34, it will be interesting to see how the Cubs address his pending free agency after the 2010 MLB schedule. During the last 3 seasons, Lilly has won 44 games (the most of any Cubs starter during that same span) and made 95 starts.

Lilly has been a class act with the Cubs.  He has made Chicago his home and given back so much to the community.  If 2010 ends up being Lilly last season in a Cubs uniform, it will be a sad day for Cubs fans all across the country.

Lilly is a fan favorite at the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field and let’s hope that Lilly has another solid season left in the tank for 2010…

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Rich Harden – Ready To Prove Skeptics Wrong

Posted on 17 February 2009 by Lou

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When it became official that Rich Harden would not pitch for Team Canada in the 2009 World Baseball Classic next month, many media critics, including yours truly here at MyCubsToday, thought this was another case of a Cubs pitcher being hurt and Cubs management not making full disclosure about the health status of said player. Were we right or were we wrong? The long and the short of it is, only time will tell.

According to the Cubs and Rich Harden, Harden is on schedule to be ready for the start of the 2009 MLB season. Instead of returning home to Canada during the off-season, Harden stayed in Arizona to work with Cubs strength and conditioning coach Tim Buss. His 25 combined starts with the Oakland A’s and Chicago Cubs in 2008 was the 2nd most starts made ever in his career, and the most since he started 31 games for the A’s back in 2004. Harden wanted to build off the momentum from the 2008 season, and also continue to make sure that he is in the best possible condition for the upcoming campaign.

Harden was electric for the Cubs following his acquisition from the A’s. He made 12 starts, pitched 71 innings, went 5-1 with a 1.77 ERA and a 0.97 WHIP. He struck out 89 batters and walked only 30. The Cubs would love it if he could reach that 25-start mark again in 2009, but Harden is setting his sights higher – he wants to reach the lucky number 30. He also wants to put the rumors to rest about the tear in his shoulder and the decrease in his velocity as the 2008 MLB season wore on. Harden says that he originally injured the shoulder trying to field a come-backer that took an awkward hop over his pitching shoulder. Since then he has had to listen to his body when his body tells him that he can’t pitch as long or throw as hard. He seems to have the right take on the cards dealt to him: “It’s not just the Cubs, it’s on me. Every year I learn more about my body and how I feel. You want to be out there every single game for 100-plus pitches. That’s the way I am – I want to be out there every game no matter what. You have to take a step back sometimes and evaluate how I’m feeling and manage it properly so I’m strong at the end of the season. I have to be consistent with my mechanics and get my arm in a good spot to throw without putting strain on my shoulder or the rest of my body. That’s going to be big for me – – and that’s what I’m working with Larry with.”

Let’s hope it pays off for Harden. Until he takes the bump that first week of the 2009 MLB season, I will still be a little skeptical no matter what he or the Cubs say. If he is healthy, the Cubs will be in great shape – he can dominate a game and usually puts his team in a position to get that all-important W. If he isn’t healthy, the Cubs could miss a beat in the starting rotation, with a Sean Marshall moving up to the 4th spot in the rotation and a Aaron Heilman or Chad Gaudin having to fill the starts missed by Harden. Not the best of situations, but at least the Cubs continue to add depth in the pitching staff to take some pressure of the rest of the crew in case the injury bug flares up…

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Harden Will Not Pitch For Team Canada in World Baseball Classic

Posted on 23 January 2009 by Lou

Following recent reports of more shoulder “issues” for Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Rich Harden, Harden announced that he will not pitch for Team Canada in the 2009 World Baseball Classic. The Canadian Team had included Harden on the preliminary roster, and Harden hoped to pitch in March for his home country, but he recently concluded that he won’t be 100% by the time the World Baseball Classic starts on March 5, 2009. Harden did not pitch in the 2006 World Baseball Classic as he was also dealing with arm issues back then.

Harden made 25 starts in 2008 with the Cubs and the A’s. He was 10-2 with a 2.07 ERA, including a 5-1 record with a 1.77 ERA in 12 starts with the Cubs during the second half of the 2008 MLB season. Harden summed up the situation best: “In my heart I was hoping it would work out, but in my head I had a feeling it wouldn’t. It’s very disappointing not to play for Canada, but my No. 1 priority is the Cubs. I’ve just started to throw, and it is too soon for me.”

Let’s hope Harden’s ongoing off-season regimen works as well as Kerry Wood’s program did before the 2008 MLB season. Harden needs to strengthen the muscle and tissue surrounding the tear in the shoulder in order to be effective in 2009. If he half-asses it or doesn’t build it up enough before he starts throwing, we could be dealing with this shoulder issue all season long. Hopefully Harden and the Cubs trainers have a good game plan in place. Especially with the departure of Jason Marquis (who may not have been the most effective pitcher, but gave you innings each and every year), it will be very frustrating to have to deal with finding 2 consistent starters for the 4th and 5th spots in the rotation during the course of the 2009 MLB campaign. We’ll keep you posted with any update here at MyCubsToday!

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Chicago Cubs Rich Harden Experiencing Shoulder Issues…Again

Posted on 20 January 2009 by Lou

Well – we can’t say this is a surprise at all. When the Cubs dealt Sean Gallagher, Matt Murton and 2 others to acquire oft-injured starter Rich Harden and reliever Chad Gaudin from the Oakland A’s during the middle of the 2008 MLB campaign, we also knew there was a risk that Harden could end up on the shelf for an extended period of time during his tenure as a Cub. Unfortunately, it looks like that day has come sooner than we expected. The Cubs have announced that Harden does have a slight tear in his right shoulder. The tear is kind of in that gray area – it could be repaired with surgery, but it could also be treated successfully with therapy, a strengthening program and a well-manged workout schedule. Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild added that Harden is not close to throwing off of a mound yet, and that there is some issue with his right shoulder that needs to be addressed. Harden has been going through a rigorous off-season program aimed at strengthening the arm, but he is still experiencing some soreness there.

Harden made 25 starts for the A’s and Cubs in 2008. Harden was 5-1 with each team, and he performed exceptionally well for the Cubs in his 12 starts. He pitched 71 innings and had an impressive 89 strikeouts during that stretch. He had a 1.77 ERA and 0.97 ERA for the Cubs.

With the trade of Jason Marquis a few weeks ago, and now the injury issue with Harden, it doesn’t look good for the Cubs starting rotation. The Cubs are set with Carlos Zambrano (who had some injury issues of his own a few times during the course of the 2008 MLB season), Ryan Dempster, and Ted Lilly. Sean Marshall was expected to win the 5th spot in the rotation, but now he could be forced into the 4th spot and the Cubs would need to have another competition for the 5th slot. Chad Gaudin, Angel Guzman and newly acquired Garrett Olson could all step up, but we’d rather have Harden pitch every 5th day instead of one of those guys.

We’ll keep you posted here at MyCubsToday, but for now, it doesn’t sound too promising.

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