Posted on 18 May 2010 by Lou
Wow – was I glad to hear about this Cubs Fun Fact of the Day. OK, I know it’s not really a “fun fact” but I thought it was significant enough to warrant its own post. As we discussed a few days ago, the Big Z bullpen experiment was not working. He simply didn’t get it done in the ‘pen – - and when you’re paying someone $18+ million per season to be your ace starting pitcher, he should be in the starting rotation, not in the bullpen pitching in the 7th or 8th innings of ball games.
Manager Lou Pinella just recently made this announcement public — “We’re going to stretch him out to get him back in the rotation. We’ll see exactly when he’s ready. I don’t know how long it’s going to be. Let’s see how long he needs. We’d like to get him two or three appearances out of the bullpen stretched out… We’ll look at the situation and make a determination [as to which current starter will get moved to the bullpen]… Let’s hope it’s a real, real tough choice.”
GM Jim Hendry supported the decision — “He gave it a good whirl, but the last couple of times out he said he wasn’t able to throw as hard as he’s used to or wanted to.”
As for Big Z, he is publicly saying all the right things, but I think he will be happy with the switch — “I’m happy. As long as this team is happy, I’m happy for this team. Like I said, whatever this team wants me to do, I’ll do. This is a business. They’re the boss. If the boss wants me to go close games, I’ll close games. If the boss wants me to start games, I’ll start games. It’s their choice.”
Now, don’t get me wrong – Big Z is not going to all of a sudden go out and win 20 games. He may not even win 12 games this year. But he gives the club a better chance to win on a regular basis and his comfort zone is as a starting pitcher. It was a creative idea, and it wasn’t like Carlos Silva or Tom Gorzelanny pitched poorly while the Cubs conducted the Big Z bullpen experiment. But it is definitely time to make the switch back for Big Z…
Posted on 16 May 2010 by Lou
This is such a joke. The Cubs lost to the Pirates 4-3 at home on Saturday afternoon. They have now dropped 8 of their last 10 games and they are just 8-10 at the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field in 2010. In short, this season is only 37 games old and it is already turning into a comedy of errors. Whether it be horrible relief pitching… Whether it be the lack of ANY clutch hitting when the game is on the line or when the Cubs have a chance to blow games open in the early innings… Or whether it be poor starting pitching when the Cubs offense actually comes through with some runs… This team simply does not know how to win.
For a 2nd straight day, a Cubs starting pitcher put his team in an early hole with a 3-run 1st inning deficit. And just like on Friday with Tom Gorzelanny, Ryan Dempster recovered after the shaky 1st inning and kept his team in the ball game. Dempster ended up pitching 7 innings giving up just those 3 1st inning runs on 4 hits and 5 walks. Dempster did ring up 9 K’s and he has a solid ERA (3.49) and WHIP (1.09) despite a 2-4 record.
But once again, the Cubs bats managed just 2 runs through the games 1st 8 innings. Not good. The Cubs had more than 2 runners on base only once during that stretch — in the 3rd inning. After Dempster doubled and Ryan Theriot singled to put 1st and 3rd with nobody out, Marlon Byrd lined out and Derrek Lee popped out to put pressure on Aramis Ramirez to drive in runs with a hit with 2 outs. Granted, Ramirez did come through with a clutch 2-run double, but the Cubs should have scored more than 2 runs with the middle of their lineup coming up in that situation. If Ramirez didn’t get that hit, it likely would have been a shutout on the north side on Saturday. Then there was the missed opportunity in the 9th inning (Carlos Marmol serving up a home run to Jeff Clement in the top of the inning proved costly as it gave the Pirates a 2-run lead). Starlin Castro walked with 1 out and came around to score on Kosuke Fukudome’s triple to right field. All Ryan Theriot had to do was hit a fly ball deep enough to score Fukudome from 3rd base with only 1 out, but he struck out and Marlon Byrd followed suit to end the threat.
This is getting pretty ridiculous for the Cubs. They clearly have NO confidence that they can win close games down the stretch. They are in 5th placed in the NL Central with an awful 15-22 record – this from the highest payrolled team in the National League. Talk about under-performing?! Don’t look now, but the Cubs are just 1.5 games ahead of the Houston Astros who have the worst record in the NL. If we hit that low-water mark, look for major moves on the north side – namely a Lou Pinella or JiM Hendry firing.
Can Ted Lilly break the slide today at Wrigley. My bet is a big fat NO!
Posted on 15 May 2010 by Lou
The Cubs bullpen blew it again. Handed a 6-5 lead after 5 innings, Esmailin Caridad and Carlos Zambrano couldn’t shut the door on the Pirates who have now won all 4 meetings with the Cubs this season. Ouch.
Caridad got into trouble by walking Andrew McCutchen who then stole second to get into scoring position. Garrett Jones drove him in with an RBI double to tie the game at 6.
Carlos Zambrano entered the game with the score still tied at 6 in the 8th inning. He struggled right off the bat. He hit Andy LaRoche and then gave up a single to McCutchen. Garrett Jones broke the tie with a long home run to right field to give the Pirates the 9-6 lead, a lead they would not relinquish. Big Z finished out the ugly inning – 4 hits, 1 HBP and 3 ER. You would think an outing like this would force the Cubs to re-consider the Zambrano experiment in the bullpen as we discussed the other day. But unfortunately, it looks Manager Lou Pinella is staying pat. Here was his quote after the game — “We don’t have many options. Outside of Marmol, we haven’t had a right-hander here that gets hitters out with any consistency at all… Right now, that’s where Zambrano is going to be… Carlos can do that job very well if he gets his mind totally set on it. He helps me in so many areas by being out there. It frees me to use other pitchers a lot differently than I would if he weren’t there.” Problem is, I don’t think Carlos is really on board. Check out these statements — “To get this clear, I was unhappy the first day that they told me. I wasn’t sure that it was going to work. But now, I accept it. I’m a reliever now, and I have to do my job as a reliever, as a setup man.. I’ll be here until they need me to be here, and I’ll be the eighth-inning guy until they say ‘That’s enough, we want you to start’… If tomorrow they decide to bring me back to the rotation, I’ll be there. I’ll be more than happy to come back to the rotation.” Does that really sound like a guy that wants to be in the bullpen? I don’t think so, and it’s about time GM Jim Hendry and Pinella figure that out.
The few positives from the loss – Marlon Byrd had 2 hits including his 7th homer of the season. Aramis Ramirez stroked 2 hits as did Alfonso Soriano who also had 2 RBI’s and 2 runs scored.
Ryan Dempster was hoping to the get the Cubs off to a good start today, but 2 walks set up an RBI single by Andrew McCutchen and a 2-run double by Ryan Church. The Cubs are down 3-0 once again. Unbelievable…
Posted on 14 May 2010 by Lou
Tom Gorzelanny and the Cubs host the Pittsburgh Pirates @ Wrigley Field this weekend in a 3-game set. The Pirates swept the Cubs in Pittsburgh last week, outscoring the Cubs
Friday’s game has been pretty ugly so far — the Pirates scored 3 runs off of Gorzelanny in the 1st inning, but the Cubs answered with 4 of their own in the bottom of the inning. The Cubs have also had leads of 5-4 and 6-4, but the Pirates kept chipping away with single runs in the 5th and 6th innings to tie the game at 6. Marlon Byrd has 2 hits, 1 RBI and 2 runs scored, while Alfonso has 2 hits with 2 RBI’s and 2 runs scored.
The rest of the weekend shapes up like this –
Saturday @ 12:05PM – Paul Malholm v. Ryan Dempster (looking to avoid his 4th straight loss).
Sunday @ 1:20PM – Ross Ohlendorf v. Ted Lilly (looking to avoid his 3rd straight loss).
Anything short of a sweep over the Pirates will certainly be a major disappointment for the Cubs this weekend at Wrigley…
Posted on 13 May 2010 by Lou
Say it isn’t so Lou – Is the Carlos Zambrano bullpen experiment over already? Dare we say it – should the Cubs try to unload the “troubled” righty – the one-time ace of the staff? Wow – I never thought it would come down to this…
Big Z has made 7 appearances out of the bullpen since the move was made back on April 24th. During that stretch, he has given up 3 ER on 11 hits and 2 walks over 7 2/3 innings. He also has 2 holds – nothing great, nothing awful. Just so-so. Is this really what the Cubs truly want with their $18 million dollar man? The guy who has been the Cubs opening day starter for each of the last 6 seasons? The guy who the team still considers its ace? As we said before, this move never seemed to make any sense from the start. How can you really justify giving your 8th inning set-up guy $18 million dollars a year? He clearly isn’t happy. In yesterday’s 4-3 win over the Marlins, Manager Lou Pinella yanked Big Z when he walked Jorge Cantu and gave up a single to Dan Uggla after Zambrano had recorded the 1st 2 outs of the inning. Big Z didn’t even look at Pinella as he walked off the mound and it was clear that Big Z disagreed with his manager’s decision. Big Z has barely said a word to the media since the move to the bullpen and we’re starting to wonder if Zambrano really embraces the role.
Wouldn’t it be better to nip this in the bud before it becomes a clubhouse problem. We know Big Z has a bit of a temper and we finally got things right in the locker room by getting rid of Milton Bradley. With the club already struggling to win games with a 15-20 record, do we really want to try to create a distraction that could make things even worse for this desperate Cubs club? I don’t think so and most Cubs fans probably don’t think so.
It’s about time we ended this experiment. Let’s get Big Z back where he belongs as a starter. If we really want to win this NL Central Division (after the Astros swept the Cards in St. Louis this week, we’re still only 5 games out of 1st), at some point this season, the Cubs are going to need Zambrano to start and win ball games down the stretch. Carlos Silva and Tom Gorzelanny have been great – we couldn’t ask for anything more – but it’s time to send Gorzelanny into the pen and bring back Big as a starter right now. Come on Lou and Jim [Hendry] – let’s do the right thing here and give our team the best shot at turning this season around – I can taste the champagne already…
Posted on 02 May 2010 by Lou
WOW — Alfonso Soriano had an unbelievable weekend for the Cubs, propeling the North Siders to 2 big wins over the DBacks at Wrigley Field. In Saturday afternoon’s 7-5 win, Soriano’s 2-run bomb to deep left center field tied the game at 5 in the bottom of the 7th inning. An inning later, Derrek Lee’s 2-run single with the bases loaded plated the winning runs. Sean Marshall worked 2 scoreless innings in relief of Carlos Silva to pick up his 1st win of the 2010 MLB schedule. Carlos Marmol – despite getting into a bases loaded jam – picked up the save by striking out the side in the top of the 9th inning to preserve the 7-5 win.
Today, Alfonso Soriano picked up right where he left off on Saturday. His 2-run home run in the 1st inning gave the Cubs a 4-0 early lead. He slugged another 2-run home run later in the game to increase the Cubs lead to 10-2. Marlon Byrd also hit a 2-run home run, and Chad Tracy and Ryan Theriot each had 3 hits to pace a powerful Cubs offense. Tom Gorzelanny finally got some run support in his start and he cruised to an easy win – his 1st of 2010. He worked 7 innings, giving up just 2 ER on 6 hits and 3 walks. He racked up 10 K’s and lowered his ERA to 2.48 and his WHIP to 1.10. Outstanding.
The Cubs got back to .500 on the season with a 13-13 record. They still trail the Cards by 4.5 games in the NL Central, but the Cards have played flawless ball throughout the entire month of April. It hasn’t been all pretty for the Cubs, but they survived a few rough patches and seem to be clicking before their upcoming road trip to Pittsburgh and Cincinnati starting on Tuesday.
Posted on 28 April 2010 by Lou
We really hope you like this new feature. We’re giving it a shot, so please send in any comments.
Without any further ado, here is your “Cubs Fun Fact of the Day”:
Although the Cubs are just 10-12 on the young 2010 schedule, the starting pitching has been electric thus far. Ryan Dempster’s 8 inning, 3ER effort in today’s 3-2 loss to the Nats marked the 6th straight game in which the Cubs received a “quality start” from their starting pitcher. A quality start is defined as a game in which the starting pitcher for a team completes at least 6 innings and does not allow more than 3 earned runs. Dempster started off the streak on Friday night in the Cubs 8-1 win over the Brewers. Ted Lilly tossed 6 scoreless innings in Saturday’s 5-1 win over the Brewers and Randy Wells made it 3 straight quality starts with his 7 innings in the Cubs 12-2 win over the Brewers on Sunday. Back home at Wrigley Field, Carlos Silva made it 4 in a row with 7 innings of 3-run ball on Monday night, and Tom Gorzelanny kept it going with 7 innings of 2-run ball in Tuesday night’s loss. Dempster kept the streak alive despite losing today, and Ted Lilly has a chance to make it 7 straight quality starts for the Cubs tomorrow against the Diamondbacks.
Not sure when the last time an MLB team got 6 straight quality starts from its pitching staff, but I thought it was a pretty neat stat. Come on Ted, let’s make it 7 in a row!!!
Posted on 28 April 2010 by Lou
Just when you think the Cubs are going to turn it around riding a 4-game winning streak, they lay an egg and drop the final 2 games of the series to the Nationals @ Wrigley Field. So painful. The Cubs reverted their own old recipe for disaster — waste great starting pitching by not getting any clutch hits. Tom Gorzelanny was the tough-luck lose on Tuesday night as the Cubs couldn’t get through to 67-year veteran Livan Hernandez (just kidding – he’s “only” 35 years old but it seems like he’s been in baseball for 35 years). Gorzelanny recovered after a shaky first inning to limit the Nats to just 2 ER on 5 hits and 2 walks in 7 solid innings. Despite having a 1.05 WHIP and 2.45 ERA, Gorzelanny is 0-3 on the season. Ouch. The Cubs actually out-hit the Nats 7-6, but they were only able to push through 1 run, on a fielder’s choice in the 2nd inning.
As if the 3-1 loss on Tuesday night wasn’t painful enough, the Cubs repeated the feat on Wednesday afternoon’s 3-2 loss. Ryan Dempster pitched 8 great innings, allowing just 3 ER on 4 hits and 1 walk, while striking out 2. Solo home runs to Adam Kennedy in the 1st inning and Adam Dunn in the 4th inning proved might costly for Dempster. Dempster himself has a nifty 0.98 WHIP and 2.78 ERA, but is just 2-1. Ouch. Once again, the Cubs outhit the Nats 9-4, but could only push across 2 runs in the loss. In each of the 5th, 7th and 8th innings, the Cubs got 2 runners on base but were unable to come through with any clutch hitting to tie the game at 3. Poor and poorer. Marlon Byrd led the way with the Cubs futility, leaving 6 runners on base during his 4 at-bats.
The Cubs are back to 2 games under .500, while the Nats improve to 2 games over .500. The Cubs welcome the Arizona Diamondbacks to Wrigley Field for 4 straight day games from Thursday through Sunday. Let’s hope the Cubs can find some clutch hitting during this series. Ted Lilly will make his 2nd start of the 2010 campaign and looks to build off a strong 1st outing in which he pitched 6 scoreless innings against the Brewers in Milwaukee last weekend…
Posted on 23 April 2010 by Lou
How much worse can it get? During the last 7 games, the Cubs played 2 of the worst teams in the National League (the 1-8 Houston Astros and the 4-8 New York Mets). How did they fare? Not good – they dropped 2 of 3 to the Astros at Wrigley Field and then 3 of 4 to the Mets at CITI Field. The Cubs are now 6-10 overall, they trail the 1st place St. Louis Cardinals by 4.5 games in the NL Central already, and they have to play the red-hot Brewers at Miller Park in Milwaukee this weekend. Ouch.
The Cubs managed to score just 3 runs in the 3 losses against the Mets in NY. They are going to need to step up their offensive game if they expect to get back on track in Milwaukee. In Thursday night’s 5-2 loss, Tom Gorzelanny turned in another solid outing. He did not allow a hit until the 5th inning and got into trouble in the 6th inning in which he allowed 2 earned runs. Mike Fontenot’s error on a groundball that should have ended the inning allowed 2 more unearned runs to score. Overall, Gorzelanny has a 1.07 WHIP and a 2.40 ERA in 3 starts. And while the offense did have 10 hits in the game, they never came through with any clutch hits that could have turned the game around. Same old story, just a different night.
Ryan Dempster takes the hill against Jeff Suppan and the Brewers on Friday night. Ted Lilly will make his 1st start of the 2010 on Saturday night against Doug Davis. The Sunday afternoon series finale will feature Randy Wells against Dave Bush. The match-ups work in favor of the Cubs, so let’s hope some positive things happen in Milwaukee this weekend…
Posted on 22 April 2010 by Lou
This crazy Cubs season gets even crazier as the Cubs opt to send ace starter Carlos Zambrano to the Cubs bullpen. What are GM Jim Hendry and Manager Lou Pinella thinking?!?!
Granted the bullpen has been brutal early in the season – 1-6 record with a 6.15 ERA – costing the club at least 4 or 5 games in which they held the lead in the 7th inning or later. And granted, Carlos Silva (2-0, 0.95 ERA and 0.63 WHIP in 3 starts) and Tom Gorzelanny (0-1, 1.93 ERA and 1.07 WHIP in 3 starts) – the 2 pitchers who earned starting rotation spots until Ted Lilly could return from injury – have pitched well beyond expectations. But is moving the “ace” of your staff – the highest paid starting pitcher on the team – into the right-handed throwing, 8th inning SET-UP role really the answer? This astounds me.
Pinella had this to say about the move — “We’ll have a Carlos setup guy and a Carlos closer… I talked to Carlos today and told him we really needed him in the bullpen, and that we felt he could do a nice job for us. He said he’d do what’s best for the team. I’m very appreciative. He talked about maturing. This proves it to me.”
Big Z for his part said the right things too — “I told Lou I wanted to help this team until you find somebody. I told him I want to be back for the playoffs. If we go to the playoffs, I want to go back to the rotation… I don’t like to be a reliever. I don’t want to be a reliever. This team needs somebody to step up and help the bullpen.”
WOW – I am still in shock. I can’t see the club keeping Big Z in the bullpen for long. How do you justify paying a set-up guy $17 million per year? It doesn’t make any sense. I guess this might help stabilize things for a little while until the younger players can get their feet on the ground in the bullpen or until Hendry can make a move to bring in a veteran reliever into the mix for the late innings. In addition to the money issue, who knows how effective Big Z will be out of the ‘pen. Being a reliever, you have to get warmed up differently, you come into the game in different situations and you might have to start throwing out of the stretch right away. Can Big Z really adjust to this new role in 3 days? Guess we’ll see very very soon. Zambrano could make a relief appearance as early as this Friday against the Brewers at Miller Park in Milwaukee…