Posted on 08 March 2012 by Lou
Jeff Samardzija is making a strong case to be named a starter for the Cubs during the 2012 campaign. Manager Dale Sveum predicted that the Kansas City Royals would not be able to hit Samardzija in Wednesday’s cactus league came, and his prediction almost came true. Samardzija bearly broke a sweat, tossing 3 scoreless innings with 3 K’s. The only hit allowed was a cheap blooper by Chris Getz in the 2nd inning. Samardzija needed just 35 pitches. Many baseball people around the country named Samardzija the most improved pitcher during the course of the 2011 MLB season. Samardzija has been on a “mission” this winter, vowing to do whatever it takes to make the Cubs starting rotation in 2012. So far so good for the big righty. He consistently through his fastball in the mid 90’s and he already has great control on his slider and changeup. That is a lethal combo. Look for Samardzija to continue to put pressure on Dale Sveum and the Cubs front office who might be reluctant to move Samardzija out of the bullpen where he was so effective last year.
Cubs hitters also played well – 6 runs on 15 hits – including 2 hits apiece for Starlin Castro, Reed Johnson and Bryan LaHair.
Posted on 08 February 2012 by Lou
The Cubs released infielder Blake DeWitt in order to pick up Adrian Cardenas off of waivers from the Oakland A’s. This was an interesting move.
DeWitt played in 121 games for the Cubs in 2011 – .265 batting average with 5 HR’s, 11 doubles and 25 RBI’s.
Cardenas, on the other hand, played 127 games with Triple-A Sacramento. His offensive numbers were impressive – .314 batting average, 5 HR’s, 28 doubles, 70 runs scored and 51 RBI’s. He is younger and primarily a 2nd baseman, but he also played multiple games at 3rd base and left field for the A’s minor league squad. He is a left-handed hitter who throws right-handed and could make a spirited run at de-throning Darwin Barney from his starting 2nd base job.
DeWitt is clearly more of a back-up infielder these days, while Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer see Cardenas as an up-and-coming youngster who could surprise some people at the major league level. He was picked up by the Phillies as the 37th overall pick in the 2006 draft and has been in the A’s organization since July 2008. And you gotta love what the A’s can do with raw talent…
Posted on 08 December 2011 by Lou
How does Theo & Co. not go after Prince Fielder with everything that they’ve got?
The St. Louis Cardinals just lost Albert Pujols to the tune of $254 million over 10 years with the Anaheim Angels in the American League.
That weakens the Cardinals tremendously.
Rumors are out there that the Milwaukee Brewers have upped their offer to try to keep Prince Fielder at Miller Park. Who’s to say that they won\’t up it even more now that they know that the Cards have lost Pujols.
Who knows if the Cards will now try to take a run at signing Fielder away from Milwaukee with a portion of the money that they had allocated towards Pujols?
No one really knows. That’s why the Cubs need to swoop in and lock up the “next-best” 1st baseman available, thereby hurting both the Cards and the Brewers in the process. At 27 years of age, Fielder is about to enter his prime years – that’s 6 amazing years out of an 8-year deal (let’s say). Even in that case, he’s still only 35 years old when the deal ends. How can you go wrong. You can build the Cubs lineup around Starlin Castro and Prince Fielder for years and years to come. And during the next couple of years, you can tweak around the starting rotation a little bit with a focus on signing Matt Garza to a big long-term extension and a “friendly” rate before the end of the 2012 MLB season. You already know that you have around $35 million coming off the books next year when Ryan Dempster and Carlos Zambrano become free agents. You try to make trades this year by moving a Marlon Byrd and a Carlos Marmol that might bring some quality pitchers back. You throw Brett Jackson into the fire by starting him in center field all season and see what he can do. How does a DeJesus, Barney, Castro, Fielder, Soto, Soriano, Jakcson, lineup sound? Sure you still need a 3rd baseman, but maybe you also land an Ian Stewart or Chase Headley. It’s now or never time for Theo and the Ricketts Family. You made a big splash by bringing in Theo, Jed and Jason, now make an even bigger splash and make Fielder an offer he can’t refuse.
Go Cubs Go!!!
Posted on 29 November 2011 by Lou
Numerous reports have confirmed that the Cubs have contacted Albert Pujols’ agent regarding the big slugger. While some Cubs fans seem overly excited about the prospects about landing the best hitter in baseball, I have a feeling that this is a HUGE ploy by Theo & Co. Knowing how the Cubs have been hampered by Alfonso Soriano’s 8-year deal and knowing how Theo & Co. rarely enter into a bad “long-term” deal (the 7-year, $142 million Carl Crawford notwithstanding), the Cubs won’t make this deal. You heard it hear first. 8, 9, 10 years for a 32-year old 1st baseman entering the twilight of his career? What happens in Year 6, when Albert Pujols enters the year at 37 years of age and you still owe him a whopping $25-30 million a year for 5 more years?! That’s exactly what we’ve been doing with Soriano for the last 2 years and we still have 3 more years left on his deal. Now sure, Pujols is MUCH MORE productive than Soriano, but it still does not justify mortgaging the club again when we’re so close to getting out from the Soriano deal in another year or two.
So why are the rumors spreading about the Cubs making a play for Pujols? There are several reasons:
1. It drives the price up on the Pujols sweepstakes, maybe knocking him out of the Cardinals price range and sending him to the NL East Marlins or Nationals or the American League with the Texas Rangers or Anaheim Angels. That weakens the Cardinals big time with a move like that.
2. With the Yankees (Mark Teixeira) and Red Sox (Adrian Gonzalez) “probably” out of the mix for Pujols or Prince Fielder (you can never say never with either team however), it is plausible that the Cubs could land either player for a “steal of a deal” without the 2 highest payroll teams driving up the price further. So it is “conceivable” that the Cubs would make a play for Pujols.
3. It also hides your cards if your real intent is to go hard for the younger (Fielder is only 27 years old) 1st baseman. Epstein and Fielder’s agent Scott Boras have been known to get deals done and what better way to swoop in and make him an offer he can’t refuse than to let everybody think you’re going after Pujols. New skipper Dale Sveum was Fielder’s hitting coach in Milwaukee and the 2 have a good working relationship. With tons of money coming off of the books the next year, Theo & Co. can also make a commitment to Fielder that in addition to building from within, the Cubs will also have much more flexibility to add pieces from the outside through free agency after the 2012 season. With Theo & Co.’s track record, Fielder has to be reassured that the Cubs will be competitive just about every season once they get things settled.
Maybe I’m just hoping for the best-case ideal scenario – a 1-2-3 combo of Brett Jackson, Starlin Castro and Fielder as the future of a potent offensive lineup – but don’t surprised if Theo & Co. pull off this miracle signing within the next week. Imagine the buzz on the north side then…
Posted on 31 October 2011 by Lou
The Cubs have exercised the $16 million club option for Aramis Ramirez for the 2012 MLB season. Aramis Ramirez has already notified the Cubs that he plans to entertain free agent offers for the first time in his career, so the move was more of a smart procedural move by Theo & Co. The Cubs either had to pick up the option or buy Ramirez out for $2 million. By exercising the option, the Cubs would have had to offer Ramirez arbitration. But Ramirez has chosen to opt out of the option and seek a long-term deal from another team. The move saves the Cubs $2 million and also brings them a 2nd round pick in the 2012 draft from the team who signs Ramirez in free agency. The wheels to re-build the organization from the ground up are already churning.
Ramirez’s agent Paul Kinzer had this to say about Ramirez’s departure from Chicago: “We are very sorry that this era is coming to the end for Aramis and the Cubs. He loves Chicago and the fans. They’ve been great to him, but at this point it’s better that we check out the market and address free agency… At this point, Aramis is looking for a multiyear deal and looking forward to being a free agent for the first time in his career.”
Ramirez hit only .241 in 2010 due to injuries, but he bounced back with a solid 2011 campaign. He led the Cubs with his 93 RBI’s, .871 OPS and extra-base hits. and he was just one point behind Starlin Castro’s team-leading .307 batting average.
Now it’s up to Theo & Co. to get creative with the Cubs 3rd base hole for next year. Can’t wait to see these guys in action…
Posted on 28 September 2011 by Lou
Ryan Dempster’s disappointing 2012 MLB season ended on a down note with the Cubs 9-2 loss. Dempster suffered his 14th loss of the season, allowing 9 ER on 8 hits and 4 walks in 5 2/3 innings pitched. He did strikeout 7 Padres hitters but he gave up 2 home runs. Dempster finished 10-14 with a 1.45 WHIP and 4.80 ERA – not good numbers for an aging 34-year old starter. He lost 6 of his last 9 starts on the season and did not win a game since August 11th. He did make 34 starts and pitch 202 1/3 innings, but he also gave up 211 hits, 82 walks and 23 HR’s. Dempster has one more year left on his deal and he will likely be the Cubs #2 starter heading into 2012 behind Matt Garza.
The one bright spot – Andrew Cashner tossed another scoreless inning. He walked one and struck out one and finished the season with a 0.66 WHIP and 1.69 ERA. He made 6 relief appearances for the Cubs down the stretch, pitching 5 1/3 innings and allowing just 1 ER on 1 hit and 3 walks with 6 K’s. Cashner will likely stay in the bullpen in 2012 in an attempt to show that he can stay healthy for a full MLB season.
Starlin Castro finished his excellent 2012 season without a sophomore slump – he had 1 hit with 1 RBI and finished the season with a .307 batting average.
It should be an interesting off-season for the Cubs…
Posted on 26 September 2011 by Lou
As the season winds down, Casey Coleman has made a big statement during his last 2 starts. Coleman worked into the 6th inning before giving up a home run and RBI double that gave the Padres a 2-0 lead. Coleman gave up just those 2 ER on 5 hits and 2 walks. He had 7 strike outs. In his previous start, Coleman picked up the win over the Brewers with a 6-inning gem against one of the better-hitting lineups in the National League. Coleman held the Brew Crew to just 1 ER on 2 hits and 3 walks with 8 K’s.
Coleman also broke up Matt Latos’ no hit bid with a 1-out triple in the top of the 6th inning. The Cubs managed just 1 other hit on the night – Starlin Castro’s single to lead off the 7th inning. Despite stealing 2nd base with nobody out, Carlos Pena, Bryan LaHair and Steve Clevenger could not bring him in.
With their 3rd straight loss, the Cubs fell to 70-90 on the season.
Matt Garza looks to continue his solid end to the 2011 campaign with his last start on Tuesday night. A win would give him double-digit wins in his 1st full season as a Cubs starter. Garza has not allowed more than 3 earned runs in any of his last 10 starts dating back to August 3rd – hello ace!!! Let’s hope he finishes off the great streak with his 10th win on Tuesday…
Posted on 22 August 2011 by Lou
The Braves shut out the Cubs 3-0 on Monday night at Wrigley Field. The Cubs are now 56-72 and they trail the Brewers by 20 games in the NL Central race.
The Cubs offensive woes hurt tough-luck loser Ryan Dempster. The Cubs stranded 15 runners in the game, including 11 in the 1st 6 innings alone. Despite 9 hits and 7 walks, the Cubs could not push even 1 run across the board. Aramis Ramirez had 3 hits and Carlos Pena had 2 hits in the loss.
Dempster worked 6 solid innings, notching his 16th quality start of the season. He gave up just 3 ER on 6 hits and 3 walks, while striking out 8.
The bullpen continued its solid work – James Russell, Jeff Samardzija and Kerry Wood combined for 3 scoreless innings and 5 K’s to keep the Cubs in the game.
Mike Quade benched Starlin Castro for his lack of effort in Sunday night’s loss to the Cards. Check out more here —
Posted on 22 July 2011 by Lou
They did it! The Cubs beat the worst team in baseball 4-2 on a perfect day at Wrigley Field on Friday. With the heat and humidity finally gone for the most part, Carlos Zambrano labored through 6 innings, but kept the feisty Astros at bay. Despite allowing 9 hits and 1 walk in his outing, Big Z minimized the damage to just 2 ER. He had 3 K’s and he improved to 7-5 on the season.
The Cubs scored in only one inning but they made it count. They plated 4 runs in the 5th inning. Alfonso Soriano hit his 15th HR of the year as he put the Cubs on the board with a leadoff solo home run. Darwin Barney and Zambrano each reached base. After Barney stole 3rd base, he came home on Starlin Castro’s important sac fly which tied the game at 2. And then Aramis Ramirez put the Cubs ahead for good with his 2-run HR, his 18th of the season.
The bullpen even looked good. After James Russell allowed a lead-off single in the 7th inning, Jeff Samardzija, John Grabow, Carlos Marmol and Sean Marshall retired the final 9 batters to preserve the Cubs win. Marshall picked up his 3rd save.
Yippee!!! The Cubs are now 40-60 while the Astros are 33-66. Ah some breathing room…
Posted on 20 July 2011 by Lou
Manager Mike Quade was all out of ideas as he watched Sean Marshall blow the save in his 1st chance as the Cubs “new closer”. Yippee. Think Quade is happy that he went ahead and accepted this awful Cubs managerial post?!
Quade called on Marshall to pick up a 2-inning save after Matt Garza gave up a lead off hit in the 8th inning. My question is this – if you were going to pull Garza if he allowed a runner to reach base, and since he had already thrown 113 pitches in 7 innings pitched, why not just pull him for a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the 7th inning instead of having him lead off and strike out? Sure you might not get an insurance run, but Reed Johnson and Aramis Ramirez each singled later that inning, so you never know. And then maybe you use Kerry Wood or someone else in the 8th inning and bring in Marshall to close the game in the 9th. Forcing Marshall to pick up a 6-out save in his 1st big chance since replacing Carlos Marmol as the club’s closer just did not seem like the smart thing to do. And this is just another example of why the Cubs have to be questioning Quade as the long-term manager of this team…
That being said, Marshall did not perform well. And after allowing the tying runs in the 8th inning, Marshall still could have kept his team in the game. But he allowed 2 more runs in the 9th inning and the Phillies won 4-2. Marshall has now allowed 7 ER in his last 6 appearances. Not good.
Lost in the shuffle was Matt Garza who turned in another good start. Garza pitched 7+ innings, allowing just the 1 run on 4 hits and 3 walks while striking out 5. He has clearly emerged as the ace of the staff as he has lowered his WHIP to 1.31 and his ERA to 3.80.
The top of the order was en fuego against Cliff Lee. Johnson had 3 hits and a run scored.
Starlin Castro had 2 hits and knocked in the Cubs only 2 runs in the 1st inning with a line drive 2-run HR.
And Aramis Ramirez had 2 hits in 4 at-bats to raise his batting average up to .302.
The Cubs are now 39-59 and they trail the Pittsburgh Pirates and Milwaukee Brewers by 13.0 games in the NL Central race.