Posted on 20 March 2010 by Lou
Randy Wells bounced back from a poor start and the Cubs bats came out firing on all cylinders as the Cubs defeated the White Sox 8-4 on Friday afternoon.
Wells was rocked in his previous outing, but he bounced back with a solid 4+ innings in the win. The White Sox did manage 6 hits and 1 walk off the righty, but he limited the damage to just 2 runs. He also worked out of a self-created no out, bases loaded jam in the 4th inning (2 hits and a hit batter) by forcing 2 come-backers and 1 line out. Wells keeps logging the innings and he appears ready to hold down the fort with the #3 starting rotation spot until Ted Lilly is ready to return from his off-season surgery. Wells has also made a decision regarding his visions. Wells recently started wearing glasses for reading purposes and to see at night, but he has opted against wearing them during games. “I think I’m going to bang the glasses. I don’t need them to play baseball. I don’t mind wearing glasses off the field. It’s a non-issue… I’m still struggling to find the slider and get that sinker refined and where I need it to be day in and day out. All in all, Friday was pretty good, when your back is against the wall to make pitches.”
The Cubs offense also produced to support Wells’ effort. Ryan Theriot had another 2 hits and 2 runs scored and is now batting .536 on the spring. Derrek Lee had a 2-run home run and 3 RBI’s. Alfonso Soriano had 2 hits including a 2-run home run and Marlon Byrd also had 2 hits with a solo home run. This was a great sign out of the Cubs lineup – things seem to be falling into place for a lot of Cubs players. If the team can get Aramis Ramirez back in the lineup on a consistent basis, the Cubs offense could be a pleasant surprise during the 2010 MLB schedule.
It’s always good to be the rival Sox. Let’s hope a few more wins keep coming the Cubs way as spring training has just about 2 weeks left. Wrigley Field home action is set to start on Monday, April 12th against the Milwaukee Brewers!
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 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…
Posted on 17 February 2010 by Lou
It looks like the Chicago Cubs and Ryan Theriot will go through with an arbitration hearing at some point this weekend. GM Jim Hendry is headed to St. Petersburg, Florida where it is likely that the 2 sides will have to argue the arbitration case for Theriot’s 2010 salary. It would be the 1st time that Hendry has had to go to arbitration with a player during his tenure as the Cubs GM.
This seems so ridiculous to me. After all the millions of dollars that Hendry was willing to shell out to busts like Alfonso Soriano, Kosuke Fukudome and Milton Bradley, why is he now fighting for a measly $800,000 (Theriot wants $3.4 million and the Cubs have offered $2.6 million)? It doesn’t make any sense. The guy plays every day, he hustles everyday and he is actually productive – one of the few position players that you can say that about. This sends a really bad message from the Cubs and Hendry to other players. I can’t believe someone hasn’t stepped in (Tom Ricketts are you there?) and told Hendry to pay Theriot (his shortstop and Manager Lou Pinella’s lead-off hitter) his money.
I really hope Theriot wins the arbitration case – he deserves it! I can’t wait to hear Cubs fans cheer Theriot on Opening Day at Wrigley Field on April 12th against the Milwaukee Brewers…
Posted on 13 February 2010 by Lou
Spring Training is right around the corner as pitchers and catchers report to the Cubs Mesa, Arizona facility next week. Despite a 3rd straight winning season for Manager Lou Pinella and his Cubs, the team did not qualify for post-season play in 2009. That left a bitter taste in their mouths, especially since the team was swept out of the 1st round of the playoffs the previous 2 seasons.
But a new season brings new hopes. And Cubs fans all across the country believe that this could be the year! Ha ha ha! Well I guess anything is possible, but it is going to take a lot for this team to rebound and play at a high level all season long to keep pace with the Central Division favorites – the hated St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals have 2 elite pitchers – Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright – to go with 2 of the game’s best sluggers – Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday – so the Cards are not going to lose a lot of games.
That means the Cubs are going to need to stay healthy and play together as a team if they are going to regain that 2008 winning form, which saw the team win 95 games and finish with the best record in the National League.
We’ll be touching on a lot of these subjects over the next few weeks of Spring Training and will keep you posted with any injury updates, etc. To wet your appetite a little bit, feast your eyes on the Cubs projected opening day lineup for MLB baseball at the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field. Although they will start the season away from Wrigley, I can’t wait for opening day to get here – it can’t come soon enough…
SS Ryan Theriot; RF Kosuke Fukudome; 1B Derrek Lee; 3B Aramis Ramirez; CF Marlon Byrd; LF Alfonso Soriano; C Geovany Soto; and 2B Mike Fontenot/Jeff Baker.
Posted on 11 February 2010 by Lou
The Chicago Cubs and Ryan Theriot have yet to reach an agreement for the 2010 MLB baseball season. Theriot asked for $3.4 million while the Cubs countered with a $2.6 million offer. A hearing has not been scheduled yet, but statements that GM Jim Hendry made recently do not sound promising: “I haven’t spoken to his people for awhile. There’s always a chance [for a settlement] until it’s final. But I can’t say I’m optimistic, either. We’re already settled with the other seven [arbitration-eligible players]. So if the situation ends up going to a hearing, then that’s OK, too… Everybody has a right to [a hearing]. It won’t affect, obviously, the way we feel about him or the way he plays.”
The closest Hendry has come to going into a hearing with a player was with Carlos Zambrano back in the Spring of 2007. Hendry and Big Z’s agent were literally walking into the hearing in Phoenix when the 2 decided that they were close enough to make a deal that both sides could be happy with. Hendry has never actually had to go to a hearing in his tenure as Cubs GM.
I’m a little surprised that the 2 sides can’t work out a deal. Theriot clearly has the upper hand – he plays everyday, his numbers are solid, he is a good clubhouse guy and the Cubs desperately need him to play shortstop and probably bat lead-off. Sure his 2009 numbers were a little off from 2008, but he did reach career highs during the 2009 MLB schedule with 7 home runs, 54 RBI’s and 5 triples. Theriot led the Cubs with 154 games played and 602 at-bats and he was also the only Cubs player with more than 20 stolen bases (21). Theriot led the major leagues in 2009 with 139 singles. There are only a few minor negatives – his walks went down in 2009 (from 73 to 51), while his strikeouts went up (58 to 93). Both his batting average (.307 to .284) and on-base percentage (.387 to .343) also went down. Now the Cubs struggled mightily offensively in 2009, so that could mean that Theriot was pressing a little more to try to make something happen for the team. Maybe he swung at pitches he might not have swung at if the whole lineup was swinging a good bat. So it’s hard to say why the numbers dipped a little bit.
That being said, given the precarious injury situation with Alfonso Soriano and Aramis Ramirez, the Geovany Soto question mark, and the 2nd basemen platoon of Jeff Baker and Mike Fontenot, the Cubs really need some stability up the middle of the infield and at the top of the order. Ryan Theriot provides both of those. I find it hard to believe that the 2 sides won’t agree to a deal before a hearing, but if it does actually make it that far, I’d bet it all on Theriot to win…
Posted on 09 February 2010 by Lou
The 2nd base job is the only real position up for debate for Manager Lou Pinella and his staff to decide in Spring Training in Mesa, Arizona during the next 2 months. How will it turn out?
Right now, Pinella and the staff are probably leaning towards some sort of combination of Jeff Baker and Mike Fontenot at 2nd base. Fontenot showed that he really couldn’t handle the load of being the full-time 2nd baseman in 2009 (.236 batting average in 377 at-bats). Baker played the 2nd half of the season and performed at a high level for the Cubs (.305 batting average in 203 at-bats). But Pinella and the Cubs could be a little gun-shy of anointing Baker the everyday player considering how bad Fontenot was exposed as an every day player. Baker is right-handed and Fontenot is left-handed, so assuming that neither player outshines the other significantly in spring training, the easy solution is to platoon the 2 players. I have a feeling that’s how things will start in 2010, with Pinella favoring one of the other after a month or 2 of the season.
One alternative could be an entirely different 2nd base/shortstop combination. If minor league sensation Starlin Castro really shines during Spring Training, and if Pinella and the staff believe that the 20-year old is ready to play in the big leagues, you could see a Ryan Theriot / Castro combination. Theriot can play 2nd base and Castro is a solid shortstop, so it would be an interesting move for the Cubs to make coming out of Spring Training. My bet is that the Cubs continue to let Castro develop in the minor leagues for one more season. As the season progresses, if Castro continues to excel at Double-A and Triple-A, you could see the Cubs bring him up mid-season or in September once major league rosters expand. Castro is clearly the shortstop of the future, so fans at Wrigley Field are chomping at the bit to get a glimpse of the youngster in the very near future.
Stay tuned – this should be a really fun position to watch, especially if Castro really shines in Spring Training. That could make things really tough on GM Jim Henry and Pinella…
Posted on 04 February 2010 by Lou
The Chicago Cubs and Closer Carlos Marmol have agreed upon a 1-year, $2.125 million deal for the 2010 MLB schedule. The signing keeps intact GM Jim Hendry’s record of never going to arbitration with a player during his tenure as the club’s general manager. Marmol made $575,000 in 2009 and had asked for $2.5 million (the Cubs had countered with $1.75).
The move makes sense – why prolong it any longer? Marmol has been the closer-in-waiting after competing for the job in each of the 2008 and 2009 MLB seasons. He finally got promoted at the end of the 2009 campaign when it became clear that Kevin Gregg could not get the job done on a regular basis. After Marmol took over in August, he was 11-for11 in save opportunities the rest of the season and he led the team with 27 holds. Not bad.
The major concern with Marmol is his increasing walk statistics. In 59 appearances in 2007, Marmol had a 1.43 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP, with 96 strikeouts and just 35 walks in 69 1/3 innings. In 82 appearances in 2008, Marmol had a 2.68 ERA and a 0.93 WHIP, with 114 strikeouts and just 41 walks in 87 1/3 innings. Those were phenomenal numbers for a young player like Marmol. But everything changed in 2009 as Marmol struggled with his control right from the start. In 79 appearances in 2009, Marmol had a 3.41 ERA and a 1.46 WHIP, with 93 strikeouts and a whopping 65 walks in just 74 innings. The fact that Marmol has the talent to work his way out of 2 even 3-walk jams, helped keep his numbers respectable, but it has to be a little concerning for Manager Lou Pinella and the Cubs. When you have a 1-run lead heading into the 9th inning, the last thing you want to do is walk a batter.
Let’s hope the staff can work with Marmol this Spring to get him back on track and ready for being the Cubs closer during the 2010 MLB schedule.
On a side note, Ryan Theriot is the final Cubs aribitration-eligible player that Hendry has to deal with before Spring Training. Look for a deal to get hammered out very soon. Can’t wait to see Marmol and Theriot lighting it up at Wrigley Field in a couple of months.
Posted on 30 January 2010 by Lou
The accolades keep on rolling in for Cubs minor league shortstop Starlin Castro. The 19-year old is ranked 22nd on MLB.com’s Top 50 Prospects list. WOW!
We knew this kid was good, but at 19, for him to be ranked as high as 22 is pretty damn impressive. Castro clearly has a very bright future with the Chicago Cubs organization.
Castro excelled in the Arizona Fall League this past October, playing with minor league players with a lot more experience than him. He finished 6th in the AFL with a .376 batting average. This after at shining at Class-A Daytona and then helping the Double-A Tennessee qualify for the playoffs during the 2nd half of the baseball season. Castro will likely be the Cubs starting shortstop for years to come once he is ready to make the big leap to the major leagues. How soon will that be? It’s a little hard to say, but development personnel within the Cubs organization think it could happen very soon. The director of player development Oneri Fleita had this to say about Castro’s quick development: “I haven’t had a player go through the system who has done what he’s done… He’s certainly surpassed any expectations we’ve had. To finish at Double-A and get a chance to play in the playoffs – — and he contributed to them winning… It seems like it takes some guys a year before we see any gains. We’re seeing gains in Castro weekly, monthly, if not daily. Who knows?” Gotta like that assessment of the youngster.
It’s finally nice to have a “can’t miss” prospect being grown within the Cubs organization. It seems like it’s been a while since that’s been the case. Let’s just hope he stays healthy and keeps maturing and progressing. Maybe we’ll see him at Wrigley Field in 2011?