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 10 March 2010 by Lou
Randy Wells pitched 3 scoreless innings in the Cubs 5-3 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday. He allowed just 1 hit while striking out 2 and walking none in his efficient outing. This is great news for Cubs fans as Wells continues to look like a solid #3 starter until Ted Lilly’s return at the end of April.
The Cubs have a TON of issues in their pitching staff after starters Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, Wells and Lilly, set-up man John Garbow and closer Carlos Marmol. Wells had 1 great season in 2009, but that was his 1st full year at the major league and there was still some concern as to whether he would be able to duplicate that effort in 2010. Wells clearly took the off-season seriously and is looking like he is ready to pick up right where he left off in 2009. This is definitely a big positive for the Cubs – let’s hope we hear more positives out of Mesa over the next few weeks leading up to the 2010 MLB schedule at Wrigley Field…
One negative – although Marmol struck out the side in the 4th inning, he gave up 1 earned run on 2 hits and a walk. Youngster James Russell who is competing for a spot in the Cubs bullpen pitched a perfect 8th inning with 3 strikeouts – he has yet to give up a run this spring.
Posted on 08 March 2010 by Lou
Ted Lilly is continuing to make positive progress from his winter left shoulder surgery. This is great news for the Chicago Cubs pitching staff who has had to deal with injuries to Angel Guzman and Jeff Gray and poor performances from Carlos Silva, Jeff Stevens and John Gaub.
Lilly threw 30 pitches off of the mound on Sunday – the 2nd time that he has tested his arm off of a mound this spring. Lilly is still not expected to be ready by opening day, but if he continues at this pace with no further setbacks, he should be ready to go by the 3rd or 4th week of the 2010 MLB season.
Pitching Coach Larry Rothschild had this to say about Lilly’s progress since recovering from a nasty flu at the start of spring training — “So far, no bumps in the road and we’ll just keep progressing… You always look for any bumps in the road that might come up and hopefully limit the time if there are any. He’s already had the virus so hopefully that’s all behind him.”
It looks like Angel Guzman has a torn ligament in his right throwing arm and Carlos Silva was miserable in his 1st appearance this spring against the White Sox on Saturday. Silva gave up 6 ER on 7 hits in just 2 innings of work, including 2 home runs to White Sox slugger Carlos Quentin. Ouch. Looks like Silva might not be ready for the starting rotation after all. Too bad the Cubs had to take on his $26 million over the next 2 years simply to unload Milton Bradley to the Seattle Mariners this winter. That could be a major disaster if the Silva doesn’t show enough to even make the Cubs roster at the end of the month. It would be really hard to waive a player owed that much money and even if the Cubs were able to trade him to a team that desperately needed a starting pitcher, the Cubs would likely have to take on a good chunk of that salary to make the deal work. Nice work, Jim (Hendry)!
We’ll keep you posted – with the Sunday rainouts against the White Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers in split squad action, let’s hope the Cubs can get back on track in today’s game against the Oakland A’s.
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.
Posted on 18 February 2010 by Lou
Despite what we wrote the other day, it looks like Ted Lilly still thinks he might be ready by opening day. I hope he’s right. Lilly underwent successful arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder in early November. Although it was considered a “minor” procedure, anytime you have surgery on your throwing arm, there’s gotta be some concern. Lilly has been playing catch and even throws from 120 feet now. He has yet to start throwing off a mound, but with pitchers and catchers reporting today, we should hear something about a game plan for Lilly in the coming weeks.
Lilly had this to say about his status and his rehab progress: “It feels pretty strong. I expect to be ahead of schedule, whatever schedule comes out… I don’t know what the date it. I’d like to be ready when all the other healthy guys are. That would be good for me. If I can’t, I’ll be disappointed. I have to undrestand that sometimes you take one step back to gain a couple forward. The whole idea is to not only come back as soon as possible and be out there contributing but be productive too… I think the real test is first, when you get on the mound and start throwing downhill off the slope and after that when you get into a game situation and you try to really dial it up with runners in scoring position or whatever it is…”
Should be interesting to see how the Cubs play it with Lilly. If he misses too much time early in the season, the Cubs could start digging themselves into a big hole if the 4th and 5th starters don’t step up too much. On the other hand, you don’t want to rush it too much with Lilly and risk a setback where he ends up missing more time. We’ll keep you posted once things really start going in Mesa this week and next week…
Posted on 16 February 2010 by Lou
Now that Spring Training is about to start, it’s time to really assess certain areas of concern for the Cubs. Ted Lilly underwent successful shoulder surgery this off-season, but it doesn’t look like he will be ready by Opening Day in April. That begs the question – who will be the Cubs 4th and 5th starters come the start of the season?
By all accounts, it looks like 5 pitchers will be battling for the 2 spots – Jeff Samardzija, Sean Marshall, Tom Gorzelanny, Michael Parisi (a Rule 5 Draft Pick) and Carlos Silva. Samardzija and Marshall both picked well out of the bullpen for the Cubs in 2009, so Manager Lou Pinella might favor keeping one or both of them as relievers. That being said, Samardzija seemed to struggle in 2009 going back and forth between the Cubs major league club and Triple-A Iowa and going back and forth between starting and relieving. If the Cubs envision Samardzija being a starter long-term, but if he doesn’t pitch well enough to earn a starting spot out of Spring Training, it might better serve him to go back to Triple-A to hone his starting pitching skills. As reported before, Samardzija pitched in Mexico this winter to work on all of his pitches and the extra work seemed to work wonders for the young fireballer.
Gorzelanny made some nice starts for the Cubs at the end of 2009 and Parisi is more of a long shot to earn a starting spot. Silva has always been a starting pitcher, so it is unlikely that the Cubs will move him to the bullpen.
I’m thinking that the Cubs go with Gorzelanny and Silva as the 4th and 5th starters to open the season. Marshall will work out of the pen with Samardzija going back to Triple-A to continue his work as a starter. Let’s hope 1 or 2 of them really shine to give us a little confidence heading into the 2010 campaign. Otherwise, it could be another long season on the North Side…
Posted on 12 January 2010 by Lou
Ben Sheets is still on the market and the longer this drags on his asking price could continue to come down. So far, it doesn’t appear that anyone is in a bidding war for the often-injured starting pitcher, so who knows – maybe he could find himself pitching on the North Side at Wrigley Field after spending most of his career pitching just north of the Illinois border in Milwaukee.
Sheets’ “handlers” have indicated that the pitcher is looking for a 2-year deal worth about $10-12 million per year. Given where the Cubs are right now payroll-wise, that seems like way too much money to take a flyer on an injury risk like Sheets. Sheets did not pitch at all in 2009 because he ended up testing the free agency market after the 2008 MLB season and then discovered he needed surgery in January to repair torn flexor tendon in his right throwing elbow. Sheets could have come back for a contender at the end of the 2009 MLB season, but he decided to take a full year off to fully heal the injury. In 2008, Sheets pitched 198 1/3 innings in 31 starts, going 13-9 with a 3.09 ERA.
The Cubs expect their 2010 MLB payroll to hit $140 million. They have $125 currently committed and still have 8 arbitration-eligible players who will get raises in 2010. The Cubs have 3 starters inked in for the start of the 2010 MLB schedule – Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster and Randy Wells. Ted Lilly had surgery in early November to repair his left throwing shoulder and will be evaluated this weekend in Chicago to set a timetable for his 2010 start – hopefully by early-to-mid May. Four Cubs players will compete for the final 2 starting spots – Carlos Silva, Tom Gorzelanny, Jeff Samardzija and Sean Marshall. As for the bullpen, the Cubs are set with closer Carlos Marmol and lefty-set-up man John Grabow. The Cubs still need a veteran right-handed set-up man to complement Grabow, as the rest of the bullpen is very young – Angel Guzman, David Patton, Esmailin Caridad and Justin Berg.
We’ll keep you posted as soon as we hear anything new out of Cubs camp…
Posted on 01 December 2009 by Lou
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…
Posted on 29 November 2009 by Lou
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…