Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Marshall Charged with 8 ER in Loss; Vizcaino in, Fox Out

Final Score: Angels 8, Cubs 4

Cubs Starting Lineup Hitting:

Soriano: 0-3
Fukudome: 2-3, Run
Lee: 3-3, RBI, Run
Hoffpauir: 1-4, 2 RBI, Run
Ramirez: 1-3, RBI
Fontenot: 1-3
Soto: 0-2, BB
Theriot: 1-3
Marshall: 0-1

Pretty close to what we'll see on Opening Day (expect Hoffpauir). Soriano has not been hitting very well lately, his average is down to .286. Good to see Kosuke get a couple of hit today after his homer yesterday.

Cubs Pitchers:
Marshall: 3.1 IP, 8 ER, 2 BB, 5 K
Patton: 1.2 IP, 2 H, 3 K, 0 ER
Heilman: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 ER
Vizcaino: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 ER
C. Fox: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER
Gregg: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER

Sean Marshall did not look sharp today. His ERA is up to 4.39. It was his first bad outing of the spring. Let's hope it was just one bad game. Amazing job by the Cubs 'pen today. Patton's ERA is now 0.73. Heilman has had a great spring. Kevin Gregg, who struck out the side, has still not allowed a run all spring!

Cubs Bench:
Nelson Perez: 0-2
Miles: 1-1, Run
R. Johnson: 0-1
Cliff Anderson: 0-1
Jonathan Mota
Nate Samson: 1-1
Carlos Perez: 0-1
Russ Canzler: 0-1
Gathright: 1-3

A lot of minor leaguers who you've probably never heard of got into this game. Most of these guys played at Single-A last year.

Game Highlight: Marshall allows 7 runs in the top of the 4th.

My Player of the Game: Kevin Gregg, our closer, for striking out the side in his one inning of work.

Up Next: VS Oak 3:05 CT tomorrow.

Other Cubs Notes:
  • Luis Vizcaino is in the Cubs bullpen according to several sources including Cubs.com.
  • Chad Fox will report to AAA after the Cubs series in New York according to Paul Sullivan.
  • That means that it is down to Patton, Gaudin, Guzman, and Samardzija battling for 2 spots in the bullpen.
  • The battle for those final spots will be decided in New York this weekend according to Bruce Miles.
  • The Cubs would like to trade Chad Gaudin, according to Miles.
  • Kerry Wood's locker in the Cubs clubhouse will stay empty this year according to Carrie Muskat.
  • Herman Franks, former Cubs manager, died today at age 95.
  • Paul Bako was asked about the Sammy Sosa boom-box story. "I shouldn't even say this much, but I can tell you it was not me."
  • Mitch Atkins might come to New York with the Cubs for the 2 game series.
  • Ted Lilly may stay in Arizona to get his work in on Friday instead of going to New York because the game in NY might get rained out.
  • Sean Marshall will stay back in Arizona to pitch to minor leaguers on Sunday. He will join the team in Milwaukee for the second series of the year.
  • According to Hot Stove Cubbies, Jim Hendry has called the Angels to discuss trades. The players involved are unknown, I'll update this if I get more info.

Only 2 more games in Arizona...

Monday, March 30, 2009

NL Central Preview on Sport Central with David Kaplan

Doug Melvin, the Brewers GM was up first:
  • Trevor Hoffman is going to start on the DL.
  • The Brewers like their ball club.
  • They think the experience from last year will help the team.
  • The veterans like Hoffman, Kendall, and Suppan will help the younger guys.
  • The expectations are high for the Brewers.
  • Last year was stressful for Melvin.
  • There was a lot of pressure on a lot of people last year.
  • The Brewers want to get back to the postseason.
  • Doug points out that if you put a lot of money into pitching, there is a lot of risk because of the injury factor.
  • The Crew were willing to take that gamble with CC but not for anyone else.
  • Kap thinks that MLB needs a salary cap in the game. Melvin agrees with that and points out that all the other sports have a salary cap and they have half their teams make the playoffs. If there is no salary cap, he thinks more teams should make the playoffs.
  • The Brewers give it their best shot and go with player development and scouting.
  • Doug says that there he likes finding players in your organization.
  • The strength of the Brewers is the fact that they have a player that can go out there and play 150 games at every position.
  • His biggest concern in the bullpen. He would like to be deeper in the pen.
  • He thinks the team has 5 legitimate starting pitchers.

Thom Brennaman talked with Kap about the Reds:

  • Thom says that the players are ready to get the regular season going.
  • The Reds did increase their payroll from last year by about $8 million dollars.
  • The Reds added Willy Taveras from the Rockies, and Ramon Hernandez from Baltimore as a the catcher.
  • Tommy likes the mix the Reds have.
  • The defense is very much improve from last year for them.
  • The pitching has a chance to be very good according to Brennaman.
  • The Cubs were without question the best team in the regular season in the NL last year, and they made lots of moves to try to make that next big steps.
  • Thommy says that on paper the Cubs are the best team in the division.
  • Brennaman like what Duncan and La Russa gave going with the pitchers in St. Louis.
  • Thom doens't think know if the rotation will be a strong as last year for the Cubs.
  • Kap and Thom got a little of topic and started talking about college b-ball for awhile.
  • Brennaman says that the World Series is a very hard thing to get to.
  • There have been 20 years since the Reds went to the World Series.
  • Thom says that the D'backs had a better team in 2002 than the did in '01 but they had lots of injuries down the stretch.
  • He thinks the Cubs have the best team in the league on paper, but it doesn't mean they will go to the World Series.
  • "The Cubs have clearly put themselves in that crowd with the Dodgers, Angels, and Red Sox."
  • Thom misses his times with Ron Santo (he worked with him for 4 years on WGN Radio). He said that one word that cannot be over-used when describing Ronny is a warrior.
  • They talked about the time that Ron asked Thom what Harry Caray's grandson's name was and Brennaman lied and said that it was Harold. It was actually Josh and Ron went and said "Hey Harold, how are you?" to Josh.
  • They told some funny stories about Ron's hairpiece.
  • Thom says that his dad got wrapped up in the moment last year and reports that Marty loves Chicago.

Ed Wade, the GM for the Astros was up next on Sports Central:

  • Mike Hampton has been very healthy all spring long and will be in the rotation.
  • The team made a few changes, but not many.
  • Wade is not surprised that many teams did not make a lot of moves this winter because of the economy.
  • The entire game had to keep the economy in mind this offseason.
  • The Astros are hoping that the Opening Day game doesn't get moved to Miller Park.
  • The Stros understand that the Cubs are the team to beat and the Brewers will be strong again.

Pittsburgh Pirates GM Neal Huntington was the last guest on the show:

  • It has been a long Spring Training, but the Pirates have used it to look at a lot of the prospects.
  • The strength of the Pirates is that they have some young hitters that broke out last year.
  • The need is to continue to get better to catch up to the other teams in the division.
  • Baseball is not immune to the struggles with the economy.
  • The big concern with the economy is the long term impact.
  • If you give a player a long expensive contract, the team is taking the risk that the player could get hurt or play bad and the team is still out the money. The risk is all on the club's side according to Neal.
  • The Pirates don't have unlimited resources.
  • Huntington is not surprised that the Cubs overhauled the roster this off season.
  • The Pirates team has to take a chance on a young players that they get in a trade.
  • They have to develop their talent in their system.
  • Pittsburgh will never be able to go out and get big name free agents because of their market.
  • Neal thinks a salary cap would help the game but it is not a necessity.
  • The Pirates are trying to find ways to get better.

It should be an interesting division! And I don't care who wins it......

as long as it's the Cubs!

A Tie?

Final Score: Cubs 8, Royals 8

Cubs Starting Lineup Hitting:
Soriano: 0-4
Fukudome: 1-5, 2 RBI, Run
Hoffpauir: 1-6, 2 RBI
Bradley: 4-4, BB, Run
Ramirez: 1-4
Fontenot: 0-3
R. Johnson: 1-5, Run
Hill: 2-4, Run
Miles: 3-5, 2 RBI, 3 Runs

Great game for Braldey today who was on base all 5 times. Kosuke came up with a key 2-run homer in the 9th inning. Aaron Miles hit a 2 run homer in the 6th.

Cubs Pitchers:
Harden: 4.2 IP, 4 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 4 K
Heilman: 0.1 IP, 1 K, 0 H, 0 ER
Marmol: 1 IP, 2 K, 0 H, 0 ER
Guzman: 1.1 IP, 3 H, 2 R (1 ER), 2 K
Waddell: 0.1 IP, 0 ER, 0 H
Samardzija: 1.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R (0 ER), 1 K
Berg: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 1 K

Great job by Marmol today, the day after he found out that he was not the closer for the Cubs. Harden's outing was not great today, let's hope he does better in his final tune up on Saturday in New York.

Cubs Bench:
Rundle: 0-1, BB
Gathright: Run
Reynolds: 1-1, RBI

Kyle Reyolds, who was called up from minor league camp for the game today, got a key double with 2 outs in the 9th to drive in the tying run.

Game Highlight: Cubs 3 runs in the 9th to tie the game.

My Player of the Game: Aaron Miles for his 3 hits and 2-run homer.

Up Next: VS Oak tomorrow at 3:05 PM CT.

Hill is the Backup Catcher

The Cubs announced today that Koyie Hill has made the Opening Day roster as the Cubs backup catcher. I think this is the right move.

Paul Bako and Mike Stanton have been released by the Cubs. I feel bad for these guys, who might not find a job by Opening Day. Here are the other guys that are free agents looking for a big league job by next week:

Catchers: Gary Bennett, Rob Bowen, Johnny Estrada, Toby Hall, Paul Lo Duca, Javier Valentin
1B: Richie Sexson and Daryle Ward
2B: Ray Durham, Damion Easley, Mark Grudzielanenk
SS: None
3B: None
LF: Moises Alou, Luis Gonzalez, Jay Payton, Dave Roberts, Shannon Stewart
CF: Jim Edmonds
RF: None
DH: Frank Thomas and Jose Vidro
SP: Paul Byrd, Orlando Hernandez, Chuck James, Jon Lieber, Pedro Martinez, Mark Mulder, Odalis Perez, Kenny Rogers, Ben Sheets
RP: Shawn Chacon, Brendan Donnelly, Scott Elarton, Keith Foulke, Jon Lieber, Aquilino Lopez, Will Ohman, Al Reyes, Ricardo Rincon, Rudy Seanez, Mike Timlin, Ron Willone, and Tyler Walker.

So there are a lot of guys out there, including lots of former Cubs. I would like to see the Cubs bring back Grudzielanek as a backup 2B/3B.

Micah Hoffpauir was also told today that he is on the Opening Day roster.

The Cubs are getting "some trade feelers" on Angel Guzman and Chad Gaudin according to Bruce Miles.

There are only 28 guys left in camp so there will be just 3 more cuts, most likely all pitcher. In my mind, the cuts should be Gaudin, Guzman, and Fox but we'll see.

Cubs VS Royals on CSN Chicago right now!

Opening Day is a week from today!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Cubs 5, Indians 3, DeRosa 4

Final Score: Indians 7, Cubs 5

The Cubs would have won the game if Mark DeRosa's RBI still counted for them instead of for Cleveland.

Cubs Starting Lineup Hitting:
Soriano: 0-5
Theriot: 2-2, 2 BB, 2 Runs
Lee: 1-3
Bradley: 1-4, 3 RBI, Run
Ramirez: 2-4
Fontenot: 0-3
Soto: 0-3
Gathright: 3-4
Lilly: 0-1

Joey Gathright picked up 3 hits. Taguchi got sent to minor league camp today so it looks like Gathright is on the team. Not a good day for Soriano today, who went 0-5! Bradley hit a 2-run homer, his second of the spring.

Cubs Pitchers:
Lilly: 5 IP, 7 H, 8 K, 4 ER
Gaudin: 2 IP, 3 H, 1 BB, 2 K, 3 ER
Patton: A 1,2,3 inning with 2 Ks
Cotts: 2 H, 1 K, 0 ER

Ted Lilly wasn't great today allowing 7 hits. David Patton should get a roster spot over Gaudin. There is no doubt Lou will make the right decision and take the guy with the 0.84 ERA over the guy with the 10.54 ERA.

Cubs Bench:
Blanco: 0-1
Hoffpauir: 0-2
German: 0-1, Run
R. Johnson: 1-1, 2 RBI, Run
Miles: 0-2

Reed Johnson had his second pinch hit homer of the spring. It was a 2-run shot in the 8th that brought the Cubs back into the game.

Former Cubs:
  • Kerry Wood pitched a shutout inning for the Indians.
  • Mark DeRosa had a monster day against his former club going 3-4 with 2 homers, a double, a sac fly, and 4 RBIs.

Game Highlight: It has to be DeRosa 2 long balls and double off his friend Ted Lilly.

My Player of the Game: I usually go with a Cub, but I'll count DeRosa as a Cub and give him the player of the game for his big day. David Patton my actual Cubs Player of the Game for today for his 1,2,3 inning. Patton is fighting for the Cubs bullpen.

Our First Look at the Week Ahead:

Starting next week I will have a look at the week ahead each Sunday on the blog. This week we will take a look at the final week of Spring Training in our look at the week ahead.



@: Surprise, AZ

TV: CSN Chicago

Radio: None

Game Time: 3:05 CT

Starting Pitchers: Rich Harden VS Kyle Davis



@: HoHoKam Park in Mesa, AZ

TV: MLB Network

Radio: None

Game Time: 3:05 CT

Starting Pitchers: I'm guessing we'll see Sean Marshall for the Cubs.


VS: Oakland

@: Phoenix, AZ

TV: None

Radio: MLB.com A's Webcast

Game Time: 3:05 CT

Starting Pitchers: My guess is Zambrano will make his final tune up in this game.


VS: Indians

@: HoHoKam

TV: None

Radio: Gameday Audio on MLB.com (Indians Radio Broadcasters).

Game Time: 2:05 CT

Pitchers: This is the day that Ryan Dempster will likely make his final Cactus League start.



@: New York

TV: MLB Network

Radio: None

Game Time: 6:05 CT

Pitchers: Ted Lilly VS Chien-Ming Wang



@: New York

TV: CSN Chicago

Radio: WGN 720

Game Time: 12:00 CT

Pitchers: Rich Harden VS A.J. Burnett

It's the last week of Spring Training!

Cubs Closer, Cuts, and Pregame Recap

Kevin Gregg is the Cubs closer. Scroll down on the blog for a great post with lots of good info.

We will find out who the backup catcher is on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Ron Santo chatted with Lou on the Cubs Pregame show On WGN Radio:
  • Lou says "it really has been" a long Spring Training.
  • This camp is about 1/3 of a baseball season.
  • Piniella is ready to get on the plane to go to New York.
  • Lou wasn't feeling too good yesterday, and is glad that he got to miss out on the bus ride to Tuscan.
  • The goal is to have a fresh, ready to go team when the season starts.
  • Lou says for the most part we are ready to start.
  • Piniella is concerned about Soto missing a lot of time in camp.
  • Kosuke also needs some ABs.
  • Dempster's concentration needs to get better.
  • On the positive side, Soriano and Lee are starting to swing the bat and Ramirez is coming along.
  • He is proud of the guys for working hard.
  • Lou had to give Carlos Marmol the bad news that Gregg is going to start the year as the closer.
  • Piniella noted that Gregg has pitched really well this spring.
  • The Cubs feel that they have 2 guys that can pitch the 9th inning.
  • Lou likes Bradley's edge and the Cubs just need to keep him on the field.
  • Milton fits perfectly in the 4 spot in the lineup for the Cubs.
  • Piniella would like to get Hoffpauir lots of ABs.
  • Miles is really coming on.
  • The Cubs have a lot of good things going on.
  • Lilly is pitching today, he is a little bit behind because of the WBC.
  • There is an 80% chance of rain in New York next Friday and the Cubs are concerned that Lilly will miss his last spring start.

Roster Cuts:

  • Kevin Hart
  • Randy Wells
  • So Taguchi
  • Mark Johnson
  • Eseban German
  • Andres Blanco

All these guys headed to minor league camp. The only surprise is So Taguchi because I've heard a lot lately about So making the team instead of Joey Gathright. Taguchi could be called up if there is an injury to a Cub outfielder this year. There are now 30 guys left in camp.

Here is a list of those 30 guys. Locks to make the team are in bold:

  • Neal Cotts
  • Ryan Dempster
  • Chad Gaudin
  • Kevin Gregg
  • Angel Guzman
  • Rich Harden
  • Aaron Heilman
  • Ted Lilly
  • Carlos Marmol
  • Sean Marshall
  • David Patton
  • Jeff Samardzija
  • Luis Vizcaino
  • Carlos Zambrano
  • Paul Bako
  • Koyie Hill
  • Geovany Soto
  • Mike Fontenot
  • Micah Hoffpauir
  • Derrek Lee
  • Aaron Miles
  • Aramis Ramirez
  • Ryan Theriot
  • Milton Bradley
  • Kosuke Fukudome
  • Joey Gathright
  • Reed Johnson
  • Alfonso Soriano
  • Chad Fox
  • Mike Stanton

So there are 5 more cuts to come, 4 of them will be pitchers and the other one will be either Bako or Hill.

'84 Cubs Where Are They Now, Adding Night Game at Wrigley, Cubs Pitchers Poll, and More

Kevin Gregg has been named the closer for the Cubs. Info at bottom of post.

I came across a few great articles about the Cubs in newspapers. One was in the Times called Where are the '84 Cubs Now? The next was Gordon Wittenmyer's survey of Cubs pitchers in the Sun-Times. And the last one was from the Tribune about what the Cubs players would think of more night games at Wrigley.

Where Are the '84 Cubs Now?

Bobby Denier, CF: Roving outfield and base running instructor in the Cubs' farm system.
Ryne Sandberg, 2B: Manager of the Cubs' AA team.
Gary Matthew, LF: Color analyst for Phillies broadcasts.
Keith Moreland, RF: Color analyst for the University of Texas football and baseball broadcasts.
Leon Durham, 1B: Hitting coach for the Tigers AAA team.
Jody Davis, C: Roving catching instructor in the Cubs system.
Ron Cey: Community relations rep for LA Dodgers.
Larry Bowa, SS: 3rd base coach for Dodgers.
Rick Sutcliffe, SP: Color analyst for ESPN.
Lee Smith: Roving pitching instructor in Giants' system.

So all of the '84 Cubs starting lineup and their top 2 pitchers are still involved in baseball (or football in Moreland's case) in some way.

Cubs Players Split About Adding Night Games:

  • Aramis Ramirez says he would rather have more night games in the summer because of the heat during the day.
  • Ryan Dempster likes the tradition of having lots of day games, and wants the Cubs to continue it.
  • Reed Johnson says that it should be an advantage to the Cubs when they play day games because they play more of them than anyone else.
  • Paul Sullivan says it is all about revenue in the end and that night games would increase revenue because that would increase TV ratings.

Gordon Wittenmyer polled 18 Cubs pitchers including all the members of the Cubs projected Opening Day roster except one who didn't want to participate. Here are the results of the Cubs Pitchers Poll:

Best Curveball

  • Marshall: 55.9%
  • Patton: 16.7%
  • Others: 27.8%

Best Fastball:

  • Zambrano: 33.3%
  • Harden: 16.7%
  • Gregg: 16.7%

Best Changeup:

  • Harden: 27.8%
  • Ascanio: 22.2%
  • Heilman: 16.7%
  • Dempster: 11.1%
  • Others: 22.2%

Nastiest pitch:

  • Zambrano's slider, slitter, sinker: 5.9%
  • Anything by Zambrano: 11.8%
  • Marmol's slider: 47.1%
  • Gregg's splitter: 11.8%
  • Others: 11.8%

Starter to win one game:

  • Dempster: 55.8%
  • Zambrano: 27.8%
  • Lilly: 11.1%
  • Others: 5.8%

Reliever to get one out:

  • Marmol: 72.2%
  • Others: 27.8%

I think it says a lot that Dempster's peers voted him to be the starter to win one game instead of Zambrano. Speaking of Zambrano, my guess is that he's the one who declined to participate. I can't imagine why one of the Cubs pitchers would not want to do this poll just for fun.

Some Notes from the Cubs AAA Game Yesterday:

  • Kevin Gregg, Chad Fox, and Luis Vizcaino got some work in against the A's AAA team.
  • Gregg had a great first inning, working a 3 up, 3 down.
  • In the second innings Gregg threw 17 pitches and only 8 strikes allowing a hit and a run.
  • Chad Fox worked a 1-2-3 inning.
  • Luis Vizcaino gave up 2 hits and 0 runs in his inning of work.
  • Lester Strode, the Cubs bullpen coach, made the trip with the 3 pitchers to watch them throw.
  • Sam Fuld went 2-2 in the game with 2 BB and 3 runs.
  • Doug Deeds went 4-5 with a homer.
  • Jake Fox went 2-4 with a homer.
  • Luis Rivas went 1-4.
  • Jose Ascaino worked 2 innings and allowed 1 run.
  • Sacramento won the game over the Iowa Cubs by a score of 8-7.
  • Thanks to Arizona Phil from the Cubs Reporter for this info.

Check out my "30 in 30" recaps:

Starting Lineup Today VS Indians:

  • Soriano, LF
  • Theroit, SS
  • Lee, 1B
  • Braldey, RF
  • Ramirez, 3B
  • Fontenot, 2B
  • Soto, C
  • Gathright, CF
  • Lilly, P

Mark DeRosa is in the Indians lineup today batting second and playing 3B. Kerry Wood is also on the travel squad today. We could see Woody pitch against the Cubs!

This Just in...

The Sun-Times is reporting that Kevin Gregg is going to be the Cubs closer. Carlos Marmol will remain in the setup role. I think this makes a lot of sense. Going into camp, I think everyone thought Marmol would be handed the closer's job. Gregg has pitched well this spring and has earned it. Kevin has not even allowed a run all spring. I'll update this post if a get more info on this.

I'll keep you posted.

NL Central Preview: Cardinals "30 Teams in 30 Days" Recap

Greg Amsinger was joined by Sean Casey, Joe Magrane and John Hart for the Cardinals preview. Hazel Mae did reporting and interviews from Arizona.

  • Joe thinks there is a lot of pressure on the bullpen.
  • John agrees that the bullpen is a bit of an issue.
  • Ryan Franklin, Chris Perez, Jason Motte, and Josh Kinney are all competing for the closer and setup roles.
  • The development of the bullpen is a big key.

Hazel talk with Tony La Russa:

  • Tony thinks the club took a lot of hits and didn't catch too many breaks in 2008.
  • Chris Carpenter is feeling good.
  • Chris Perez has a lot of talent and has a good chance to be the closer.
  • Tony says that the Cardinals have a deep bullpen.
  • The Cardinals might move Skip Schumaker to second base so they can get him in the lineup every day.
  • Troy Glaus won't be ready until late April or early May. Joe Mather could get time at 3rd in the first month of the season.

Tony runs a very smooth, professional camp.

2008 MLB Ranks:

  • Average- 2nd
  • Runs- 12th
  • HR- 11th
  • ERA- 14th
  • Blown Saves- Tied for First

More on the Cards:

  • John likes some of the young players that they will bring up.
  • Magrane says that St. Louis is getting back to focusing on the draft instead of free agents.
  • La Russa is one of the best managers in the game according to Hart. There is a high bar that Tony sets and he gets the most out of their players.
  • Sean says that the whole coaching staff is very prepared.

Projected Batting Order:

  • Skip Schumaker, 2B
  • Ryan Ludwick, RF
  • Albert Pujols, 1B
  • Rick Ankiel, LF
  • Yadier Molina, C
  • Khalil Greene, SS
  • David Freese/ Brian Barden, 3B
  • Pitcher
  • Colby Rasmus, CF

Tony likes to bat the pitcher 8th. Joe thinks this give the Cardinals 2 lead off mans. John likes how it will give Colby Rasmus some protection.

Chris Carpenter joins Hazel:

  • The last 2 years have had a lot of ups and downs for Chris.
  • He is excited about this year.
  • Carpenter had to rehab but for the most part had a normal offseason.
  • He feels like he is right where he needs to be.
  • Chris is ready to pitch at the start of the regular season.
  • Adam Wainwright is a smart kid that works hard and doesn't accept failure. Chris says it has been fun to watch him grow.

Possible Rotation:

  • Adam Wainwright
  • Kyle Lohse
  • Todd Wellemyer
  • Joel Pineiro
  • Chris Carpenter

More on the pitching staff:

  • Magrane says that Dave Duncan is one of the best pitching coaches in baseball. He thinks that Duncan being a former catcher really helps him.
  • Hart says Dave is watching every pitcher he can around the league.
  • Sean says that Dave Duncan has a way with game plan.
  • John says that Adam Wainwright is a key to this staff. He has a good power sinker and breaking ball.
  • Sean loves Todd Wellemyer. He had great stuff but did not pitch all that well for the Cubs and Royals, and then Duncan got his career back on track.
  • Joel Piniero looks to improve on his 2008.

Greg and John were joined by the Cardinals GM John Mozeliak:

  • Mozeliak says that teams had to make adjustments last offseason because of the economy.
  • John sees the late innings improving this year.
  • He says that most of the blown saves were in the first half before they brought out some young arms.
  • Mozeliak says that there is a very high chance that Rasmus will make the team.
  • Joe Mather and David Freese will get a lot of playing time at 3rd until Glaus comes back.
  • John calls Schumaker playing second an experiment that has real legs.

The guys talk about the Cardinals outfield:

  • Joe says that it is a crowded and very left handed outfield.
  • Sean thinks the key is putting Schumaker at second so they can open up another spot in the outfield.
  • St. Louis did a great job sticking with Ryan Ludwick, and now he puts up big numbers.
  • Magrane says this team has to have good outfield defense.
  • Hart likes Rasmus's range and instinct in the outfield.

Ryan Ludwick and Rick Ankiel joined Hazel:

  • Ryan has taken advantage of video the last few years.
  • When you go into a ball game there are to excuses.
  • Rick Ankiel says Ludwick is one of the better hitters that he has seen.
  • Ludwick told Mae that it is nice to have one of the best right handed hitters of all time hitting behind you.
  • He calls Tony's camp extremely organized.
  • It makes Rick feel good when he hears that certain guys could be the next Rick Ankiel.

More on Ryan Ludwick:

  • Hart thinks Ludwick "has it figured out."
  • Magrane expects even more pop and power out of Ludwick.
  • Casey expects another big year for Ryan.

Albert Pujols joined Hazel:

  • Albert's elbow is holding up pretty good.
  • He rehabbed very hard all offseason.
  • Pujols has to come to the park very early to exercise and rehab before he does any baseball activity each day.
  • Albert feels great as of right now.
  • He thinks that if the Cardinals stay healthy they will compete with everyone in the NL.
  • All the Cardinals young guys have talent according to Pujols.
  • Albert gives Ludwick all the credit for hitting well last year. He is a hard worker.
  • He likes to make his teammates better in the lineup.
  • Pujols thinks St. Louis will have a "pretty good year".

More on the infield:

  • Casey says you could put this team on his back. He calls them one of the best hitters of this generation.
  • Joe says that pitchers make mistakes to other guys in the lineup because they are already worried about Pujols.
  • He hits for average, power, drives them in, and gets on base.
  • John thinks Schumaker is the right kind of kid to move from the outfield to the infield.
  • Magrane says footwork is so critical at second base.
  • Sean says this will be huge for the offense if they can get Skip's bat in at 2B.
  • Glaus is a big hit to this team according to Hart.
  • David Freese is going to get a good look at 3rd.
  • Brett Wallace, the 2008 first round pick, is the third baseman of the future according to Sean.

Cardinal Memories:

  • Magrane calls the fans very loyal and says they are with you no matter what.
  • Casey says that these fans are knowledgeable baseball fans.
  • Hart says the fans great loyalty and support translates down to the players.

All-Time Team:

Starting Lineup:

  • Lou Brock, OF
  • Rogers Hornsby, 2B
  • Albert Pujols, 1B
  • Stan Musial, OF
  • Joe Medwick, OF
  • Ken Boyer, 3B
  • Ted Simmons, C
  • Ozzie Smith, SS
  • Bob Gibson, P

Pitchers and Bench:

  • Frankie Frisch
  • Joe Torre
  • Marty Marion
  • Jim Edmonds
  • Dizzy Dean, P
  • John Tudor, P
  • Bob Forsch, P
  • Bruce Sutter, CL

Bob Gibson is John Hart's guy. Joe says he would run Gibson out there if there was one game he had to win.


  • Sean- 2nd (behind the Cubs)
  • Joe- 2nd
  • John- 2nd

I'll recap the Reds "30 in 30" soon!

Later today I'll post the starting lineup and notes for the Cubs VS Indians game.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Brewers "30 Teams in 30 Days" Recap

I am going to post recaps of MLB Network's "30 Clubs in 30 Days" for all the other teams in the NL Central so you can get a look at the Cubs division rivals. Today we start with the Brewers.

Greg Amsinger hosted and was joined by Dan Plesac and John Hart for the Brewers season preview. Trenni Kusnierek did reporting and interviews from Spring Training in Arizona.

  • John thinks that the Brewers were a great baseball story last year in their run to the postseason.
  • The Brewers were 25th in MLB in batting average in 2008, 5th in HR, 4th in ERA, 6th in saves, and 8th in Opp. Average.
  • Jason Kendall think Yovani Gallardo is a future Cy Young winner

Gallardo talks with Trenni:

  • The off season was very hard for him.
  • He has been rehabbing his knee.
  • The most important thing for him is to forget about the injuries.
  • He wants to get 32-34 starts and get close to that 200 inning mark this year.
  • Yovani loves to hear things like what Kendall said about him.

-Kendall will not catch as many innings as he did last year.

Trevor Hoffman talks with Trenni:

  • Hoffman is excited to be with a young team and have a chance to get back to the playoffs.
  • He gets a sense that there is something special with the Brewers team.
  • Trevor says it has been fun being the new guy on the block.
  • He likes being looked at as a leader.
  • It is a neat feeling to be in the Brewers clubhouse right now.

Offseason arrivals:

  • Braden Looper
  • Trevor Hoffman
  • Chase Wright
  • Jorge Julio
  • Trot Nixon


  • CC Sabathia
  • Ben Sheets
  • Brian Shouse
  • Salomon Torres
  • Eric Gagne
  • Guillermo Mota
  • Gabe Kapler

Possible Rotation:

1. Yovani Gallardo

2. Dave Bush

3. Jeff Suppan

4. Manny Parra

5. Braden Looper

More about the pitching:

  • Dan says Gallardo has the goods but has not been battle tested for 162 games.
  • John says Manny Parra has really good stuff.
  • Hart calls Dave Bush the stabilizer.
  • Plesac thinks Braden Looper is going to be key in the rotation.
  • Hoffman knows how to get it done and is a leader according to Hart. Plesac says Hoffman will use up all the rest of the gas left in the tank this year.
  • John says the 7th and 8th innings are going to be big questions for the Brewers.

Trenni with Prince Fielder:

  • Prince says that the fact that they clinched in the last game last year shows how every game counts.
  • Fielder says it doesn't matter how you start the season, it's how you finish.
  • He says "it's real cool" that he knows he is with Milwaukee for the next few years.
  • The loss of CC won't hurt the team that much according to Prince.
  • Fielder would love to be with the Crew for a long period of time.

Brewers possible batting order:

  • Rickie Weeks, 2B
  • J.J. Hardy, SS
  • Ryan Braun, LF
  • Prince Fielder, 1B
  • Corey Hart, RF
  • Bill Hall, 3B
  • Mike Cameron, CF
  • Jason Kendall, C

More on the infield:

  • Dan doesn't think Fielder is that bad of a fielder at 1B.
  • Plesac thinks Prince will get even better as he learns the league more.
  • Hart thinks J.J. Hardy is very underrated.
  • John thinks Weeks needs to improve his glove.
  • Dan says Kendall is as tough as they come.
  • Hart thinks Bill Hall is going to get a shot starting at 3B.

Greg and John were joined by Brewers GM Doug Melvin:

  • CC did everything and more than what the Brewers expected.
  • Doug likes the Braden Looper signing.
  • The Brewers have a solid front office and the key is that they all trust each other.
  • Doug gives credit to the fans for coming out and supporting the team in the years that they were not winning.
  • Gallardo is a big game pitcher. Parra has a lot of physical ability.

Corey Hart joined Trenni:

  • Hart doesn't want to have a bad September like he did last year.
  • Corey was in the spot light for the first time and it was just a learning curve when he did not hit well in the final month of 2008.
  • He always plays good defense and does not take his bat to the field or his glove to the plate.

More on the Brewer's outfield:

  • John thinks Corey Hart has tons of ability.
  • Plesac says Braun is the best low ball right handed hitter in the NL.
  • John used one of Ron Santo's favorite words when he called Braun a "gamer."
  • Cameron is the stabilizer to the outfield.

J.J. Hardy with Trenni:

  • Hardy says that losing to the Phillies in the NLDS "sucked".
  • J.J. says that the expectations are high again and they know what to expect this year.
  • Ken Macha stresses fundamentals and those are very important.
  • He is still trying to figure out how to get hot at the beginning of the year and stay hot for the whole year.

List of Brewer's homegrown players:

  • Yovani Gallardo
  • Manny Parra
  • Prince Fielder
  • Rickie Weeks
  • Bill Hall
  • J.J. Hardy
  • Ryan Braun
  • Corey Hart

More on the homegrown talent:

  • Hart says this is how you win when you are a small market team.
  • John says it is a tribute to the entire organization.

Top Prospects:

  • Jeremy Jeffers, RHP
  • Jake Oddrizzi, RHP
  • Wily Peralta, RHP
  • Alcides Escobar, SS
  • Brett Lawrie, C
  • Mat Gamel, 3B

More on those guys:

  • It is not if but when for Escobar according to Hart.
  • John says that Gamel is very close to the big leagues.
  • Dan thinks if Jeffers takes care of his off the field issues he could be in the rotation soon. Jeffers has long term potential.
  • Hart says position players are a little easier to scout and develop than pitchers.

Sausage Race

  • Brett Wurst
  • Stosh JonJak
  • Guido (last place with only 12 wins)
  • Frankie Furter (First Place, 26 wins)
  • Cinco

Brewers Attendance for last 5 seasons:

  • 2003- 1.7 M
  • 2004- 2 M
  • 2005- 2.2 M
  • 2006- 2.3 M
  • 2007- 2.8 M
  • 2008- 3 M

Dan says Miller Park is one of the best kept secrets in MLB.

Brewers All-Time Team:

Starting Lineup:

  • Paul Molitor, DH
  • Robin Yount, SS
  • Gorman Thomas, CF
  • Prince Fielder, 1B
  • Ryan Braun, LF
  • B.J. Surhoff, C
  • Geoff Jenkins, RF
  • Jim Gantner, 2B
  • Don Money, 3B

Manager- Harvey Kuenn

Pitchers and Bench:

  • Ted Higuera, SP
  • Dan Plesac, CL
  • Ben Sheets, P
  • Rolie Fingers, P
  • Ted Simmons, C
  • Cecil Cooper, 1B
  • Jeff Cirillo, IF
  • Ben Oglivie, OF

Ken Macha said that the Brewers have a great group of young guys.


  • Dan- 2nd
  • John- 4th

I'll continue my recap of the other NL Central Teams "30 Clubs in 30 Days" episodes. Up next is the Cardinals.

3 more RBIs for Hoff-POWER in loss

Final Score: Rockies 10, Cubs 6

Cubs Starting Lineup Hitting:

Miles: 3-5, 2 Runs, RBI
Kosuke: 0-3, 2 BB, Run
Hoffpauir: 2-5, 3 RBI, 2 Runs
Soto: 2-4
Fontenot: 0-2, 2 BB, RBI
R. Johnson: 0-2, 2 BB, RBI
Blanco: 0-4
Gathright: 0-4
Dempster: 1-3, Run

I want to see Joey Gathright's Batting Average increase. He is now hitting just .244. Kosuke is hitting .143, which was about the average he had in the second half last year. In my opinion if Kosuke doesn't hit good in the final week, Johnson should play center on Opening Day.

Cubs Pitchers:
Dempster: 6 IP, 8 H, 3 BB, 4 ER
Samardzija: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER
Wells: 0.2 IP, 5 H, 5 ER
Hart: 0.1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER

Dempster was not himself today. Hopefully he looks better in his final spring tune-up next week. Jeff Samardzija worked a 1, 2, 3 inning. Randy Wells could get cut from the team as soon as tomorrow or Monday.

Cubs Hitters off the Bench:
Bako: 1-1
Snyder: 0-1
German: 0-1

My Player of the Game: Micah Hoffpauir for his 2 out, 3-run homer. Hoff-POWER also doubled.

Game Highlight: Randy Wells blew the game by allowing 5 runs in the 8th.

Former Cub Glendon Rusch pitched 1.1 shutout innings for the Rockies, and Matt Murton went 0-1.

Up Next: Cubs VS Indians tomorrow at 3:05 CT on WGN Radio. Ted Lilly will pitch for the Cubs tomorrow.

In the Regular Season, this blog will feature:
  • Game recaps that tell more about the game highlights and focus on the outcome of the game instead of individual performances.
  • A Look at the week it was each Saturday.
  • A Look at the week ahead each Sunday.
  • Previews and game notes before some of the games.
  • Radio Recaps.
  • All news and rumors and always.
  • And More!

Things that I don't like about the batting order that it looks like Lou will use:

  • Theriot should hit second! He was 6th in the league in batting average a year ago!
  • Kosuke should hit 7th! I understand breaking up the right handed bats, but come on, Fukudome should not hit second!
  • Lee should not hit 3rd! He hits into too many double plays! Put Ramirez 3rd!
  • Soto should be moved up in the order!

This should be an interesting week!

Lou said that the 25-man roster will be set going into New York. That means that he has until Thursday to get it sorted out:

  • Will Bako or Hill be the backup catcher?
  • Are the Cubs keeping 12 pitchers?
  • We know Zambrano, Dempster, Lilly, Marshall, Harden, Heilman, Cotts, Marmol, and Gregg. But who are the other 3 pitchers?
  • Guys vying for the bullpen: Chad Gaudin, Luis Vizcaino, David Patton, Jeff Samardzija, and Angel Guzman. Chad Fox, Kevin Hart, and Randy Wells are most likely headed back to AAA.
  • Could the Cubs keep So Taguchi instead of Joey Gathright? Bruce Miles mentioned this and I find it very interesting. One of the reporters should ask Lou if Gathright is a lock to make the team.
  • What will the Cubs do with the 3 empty spots on the 40-man roster?
  • Will the Cubs try to trade Angel Guzman, Luis Vizcaino, and/or Chad Gaudin if they don't make the team?

We will also find out who the closer is tomorrow. It should be a fun week!

A few more Notes...

  • Sean Marshall and Chad Gaudin had side sessions in Mesa.
  • Chad Fox, Kevin Gregg, and Luis Vizcaino pitched in a minor league game.
  • Jason Marquis will be either the 3rd or 4th starter for the Rockies.

I'll keep you posted.

Cubs VS Rockies

It's the Cubs VS Rockies coming up at 3:05 CT. The game is on WGN Radio. Here is the Cubs starting lineup:
SS Miles
CF Kosuke
1B Hoffpauir
C Soto
3B Fontenot
RF Johnson
2B Blanco
LF Gathright
P Dempster

Lou did not make the trip to Tuscan because he is not feeling well.

The Cubs closer will be named tomorrow according to Carrie Muskat.

Should be interesting!

Marmol, Cotts, and Heilman threw in a minor league game yesterday.

By the way- Judd Sirott has gotten the job as the new pre/post host, 5th innings, and scoreboard guy for Cubs games on WGN Radio. He will replace Cory Provus with Pat and Ron.
"I don't care who wins as long as it's the Cubs"

Friday, March 27, 2009

40-man Roster Cut Down to 37 and Other Notes

  • Brad Snyder has been removed from the 40-man roster.
  • The umpires asked both managers if they could stop yesterday's game early because of the wind and both teams were fined with it.
  • Lou will not hold Carlos Marmol's outing against him because of the winds last night.
  • Piniella told Len and Bob that he is going to play Kosuke as much as he can in center field the next week or so.
  • Lou loves the intensity he is seeing from Milton Bradley.
  • He wants to see Kosuke hit the ball to all fields this year.
  • The Cubs are going to announce the closer on Sunday and the backup up catcher is close to being decided also. Lou told Bob he get tired of being asked about these things.
  • It sounds like the Cubs coaches are having a hard time deciding who to keep in the bullpen.
  • Piniella almost used the DH today because they wanted Reed Johnson to face left handed pitching. Then Lou realized that Big Z was pitching and said he would have had a nightmare on his hands if he didn't let Zambrano hit.

Next Saturday night Cubs forever will play on WGN at 7:00 PM CT. The Randy Hundley Fantasy Camp show will play at 9:30. These are both great Cubs specials, so if you have not seen them yet you should check them out.

The most interesting think in the notes today is the fact that the Cubs have removed Brad Snyder from the 40-man roster. They removed Robnett earlier this week. Are the Cubs planning to make a few signings or maybe a trade???

We can only wait and see!

Cubs Fall in Wind Shortened Game

Final Score: Giants 5, Cubs 3 in just 6 and a half innings of play. The game was called at that point due to wind. I've never heard of that before, but I guess there's a first time for everything.

Cubs Starting Lineup Hitting:

Soriano: 1-3, RBI
Fontenot: 0-4
Lee: 1-3
Bradley: 2-2, HR, RBI, Run, BB
Ramirez: 1-3
R. Johnson: 1-3
Soto: 1-3, Run
Theriot: 1-3, Run
Marshall: 0-1

Milton Bradley went deep in the second inning to give the Cubs the lead. Fontenot did not play well striking out 3 times and hitting into a double play. Kosuke took BP but did not play in the game like Cubs.com reported he would.

Cubs Pitchers:
Marshall: 4 IP, 4 H, 5 BB, 2 ER
Marmol: 1 IP, 2 H, 2 ER
Heilman: 1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER

Not a good job at all by the pitchers last night. Marshall was very wild, allowing 5 walks. Marmol and Heilman also failed to put zeros on the board.

Cubs Hitter off the Bench:
German: 0-1
Taguchi: 0-1, BB

Those 2 guys both have an outside chance to make the team, but it is not likely.

Game Highlight: Milton Bradley's solo homer.

My Player of the Game: Bradley for his homer and 2-2 night.

Up Next: Cubs VS White Sox on WGN-TV coming up at 3:00.
Cubs Lineup:
Soriano LF
Kosuke CF
Lee 1B
Bradley RF
Ramirez 3B
Miles 2B
Hill C
Zambrano P

Other Cubs Notes:
  • Ted Lilly will start the first exhibition game in New York. Rich Harden will get the nod in the second.
  • The backup catcher is still up for grabs between Hill and Bako.
  • The Cubs coaching staff is split on who they want to keep in the bullpen.
  • Expect and announcement Sunday on who the closer is.
  • Neal Cotts will be the only left in the Cubs bullpen.
  • Larry Rothschild isn't worried about Jeff Samardzija's spring numbers.

Update from Cubs AAA Game thanks to www.thecubreporter.com:

Sam Fuld: 0-5

Luis Rivas: 1-3

Bobby Scales: 1-3

Jake Fox: 0-4

Jason Dubois: 0-3

Richie Robnett: 0-1

Doug Deeds: 2-4

Welington Castillo: 1-2

Chris Robinson: 0-1

Kyle Reynolds: 1-4

Matt Camp: 1-3


Jesse Estrada: 3 IP, 3 ER

Brian Schlitter: 2 IP, 1 ER

Justin Berg: 1 IP, 1 ER

Jeff Stevens: 0.2 IP, 2 ER

I'll recap the Cubs/Sox game later!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Former Cub Spring Training Updates, Cubs Surveys, and More

LaTroy Hawkins: 2 IP, 0 ER for Houston
Eric Patterson: 10 Games, .250 AVG, 4 RBI for Oakland
Nomar Garciapara: 7 Games, .429 AVG, 4 RBI for Oakland
Josh Donaldson: 8 Games, .417 AVG, 2 RBI, 1 HR for Oakland
Rob Bowen: 6 games, .273 AVG, 2 RBI for Oakland
Mike Wuertz: 0-1, 9.64 ERA, 9.1 IP, 11 K for Oakland
Sean Gallagher: 1-1, 4.05 ERA, 13.1 IP, 7 K, 6 BB for Oakland
Michael Barrett: 11 Games, .320 AVG, 4 RBI for Toronto
Buck Coats: 7 Games, .273 AVG, 2 Runs for Toronto
Matt Clement 0-1, 9.58 ERA, 10.1 IP, 5 K, 12 BB
Casey McGehee: 19 Games, .391 AVG, 13 RBI, 5 HR for Milwaukee
Jason Kendall: 15 Games, .244 AVG, 4 RBI, 2 HR for Milwaukee
Todd Wellenmeyer: 1-0, 5.82 ERA, 17 innings for St. Louis
Juan Pierre: 17 Games, .224 AVG, 4 RBI for Los Angeles
Shawn Estes: 8.44 ERA, 10.2 IP, 2 BB, 5 K
Andres Torres: 26 Games, .417 AVG, 5 RBI, 1 HR for San Fransisco
Francis Beltran: 6.1 IP, 7.11 ERA for San Fransisco
Mark DeRosa: 4 Games, .273 AVG, 1 HR, 4 RBI for Cleveland
Kerry Wood: 4 IP, 0.00 ERA, 4 Hits, 2 Runs (0 ER), 3 K for Cleveland
Ronny Cedeno: 18 Games, .283 AVG, 5 RBI, 1 HR for Seattle
David Aardsma: 0-1, 2.70 ERA, 10 IP for Seattle
Angel Pagan: 5 games, .467 AVG, 2 RBI for NYM
Freddie Bynum: 8 Games, 0.91 BA, 1 RBI for Washington
Felix Pie: 13 Games, .184 BA, 1 HR, 3 RBI for Baltimore
Cesar Izturis: 2 Games, .000 AVG for Baltimore
Cliff Floyd: 12 Games, .320 AVG, 1 HR, 5 RBI for San Diego
Henry Blanco: 4 games, .400 AVG, 2 HR, 4 RBI for San Diego
Scott Eyre: 2.57 ERA, 7 IP, 11 K for Philadelphia
Donald Veal: 2-1, 3.75 ERA, 12 IP for Pittsburgh
Jacque Jones: 19 Games, .105 AVG for Cincinnati
Daryle Ward: 14 Games, .250 AVG, 1 HR, 3 RBI for Cincinnati
Jerry Hairston: 4 Games, .125 AVG, 1 HR, 5 RBI for Cincinnati
Matt Murton: 19 Games, .306 AVG, 2 HR, 5 RBI for Colorado

I always like to keep up on all of our former Cubbies. I'll keep you posted on these guys as the season moves along.

In the 11 Days leading up to Opening Day, I will recap the MLB Network's "30 Clubs in 30 Days" for each of the other teams in the NL Central. I'll start with the Brewers either today or tomorrow.

Other Cubs Notes:
  • The Tribune reports that Jeff Samardzija could lose out to Angel Guzman for the final spot in the pen.
  • Rule 5 pick David Patton might not make the team even though he's had a 0.93 ERA this Spring.
  • Patton could end up making the team if either Vizcaino or Gaudin get traded or injured.
  • Randy Wells, Chad Fox, and Mike Stanton are long shots at this point.

There is a lot to be determined in the final week in Mesa. It should be interesting...

Gordon Wittenmyer polled Cub players to get there take on several categories...

Most likely to be the next Lou:

Paul Bako: 35%

Koyie Hill: 20%

Ryan Theriot: 20%

One vote each for: Mark Johnson, Bobby Scales, Micah Hoffpauir, Ryan Dempster, and Aaron Heilman.

Gym Rat:

Neal Cotts: 64.9%

Reed Johnson: 11.1%

Ryan Dempster: 8.3%

Rich Robnett: 5.6%

1 Vote Each: Mitch Atkins, Rich Harden, Aaron Heilman, and Brad Snyder.

Best Pure Hitter:

Aramis Ramirez: 25%

Micah Hoffpauir: 25%

Mike Fontenot: 20%

Derrek Lee: 15%

Ryan Theriot: 10%

Alfonso Soriano: 5%

Best Power Hitter:

Soriano: 50%

Zambrano: 25%

Ramirez: 10%

Bradley, Hoffpauir, and Robnett: 5% each

Best Clutch Hitter:

Ramirez: 70%

Hoffpauir: 10%

Soto: 10%

Soriano: 5%

Fontenot: 5%

Best Outfield Arm:

Reed Johnson: 30%

Sam Fuld: 25%

Brad Snyder: 15%

Alfonso Soriano: 10%

Kosuke: 10%

Robnett: 10%

Best Infield Arm:

Ramirez: 50%

Andres Blanco: 40%

Theriot: 5%

Darwin Barney: 5%

Just thought those polls were interesting.

Cubs VS Giants in a night game tonight on MLB Network at 9:35 CT!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Rich Harden Pitches Well, Demp on SC

Rich Harden pitched 4 scoreless innings today at a minor league game at Fitch Park. Koyie Hill caught Harden and hit in every inning to get some extra work at the plate. Rich threw 63 pitches and stuck out 4 in the game against the A's AAA team. Harden will have one more start in Arizona, and then a final tune up against the Yankees in New York on April 4.

Tomorrow the Cubs play the Giants at 9:35 CT in a rare Cactus League night game. The game is on the MLB Network. Sean Marshall will pitch for the Cubs. I'll have a recap of it for you on Friday morning.

Off Day Notes

  • The Cubs edged the Rockies yesterday 9-8. Click for box score.
  • The Cubs made 5 roster cuts yesterday: Jose Ascaino, Sam Fuld, Jake Fox, Bobby Scales, and Jason Waddell were all went to minor league camp. There are now 37 guys in camp, so we will see 12 more cuts in the next week and a half.
  • Richie Robnett has been removed from the 40-man roster. The Cubs 40-man now stands at 38.
  • Lou will not use both Marmol and Gregg as closer, he will pick one of them to fill the role.
  • Angel Guzman, Chad Fox, Jeff Samardzija, David Patton, Chad Gaudin, Luis Vizcaino, and a few others are all battling for the final 3 spots in the bullpen.
  • Lou is filming a commercial for DirectTV today.
  • Ted Lilly threw a simulated game yesterday. He has not pitched in a Cactus League game since before the WBC.
  • Kosuke will make his Spring Training debut tomorrow night VS SF, according to Cubs.com. But Bruce Miles reports that he will not get into a game until Friday. We'll see who is right.
  • The Cubs 25-man roster will be set by the time they leave Arizona to go to New York for 2 games before Opening Day.
  • Harden is expected to pitch in a minor league game today.
  • The Cubs have released 2003 first round draft pick Ryan Harvey.

I'll update you on Rich Harden's minor league start and more today later on.

Only 12 more days....

Monday, March 23, 2009

Save Some for Opening Day!

Final Score: Cubs 20, Oakland 5

Cubs Starting Lineup Stats:
Theriot: 3-3, 2 RBI, 2 Runs, 1 BB
Fontenot: 2-4, 2 Runs, RBI
Lee: 2-5, Run, RBI
Hoffpauir: 2-4, RBI, 2 Runs
J. Fox: 3-5, 2 Runs, 3 RBI
R. Johnson: 2-3, 2 Runs, 3 RBI
Scales: 2-6, 2 Runs, 3 RBI
Hill: 0-2
Taguchi: 1-2, BB, Run

Derrek Lee hit a solo homer in the 5th, but other than that all these RBIs are on balls that didn't leave the yard. Good to see the Cubbies putting some rallies together in Spring Training.

Cubs Pitchers:
Dempster: 4.1 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K
Gregg: 0.2 IP, 0 H, ER, 1 K, 1 BB
Heilman: 1 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 1 ER
Vizcaino: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K
Patton: 1 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 1 K, 0 ER
Cotts: 0.1 IP, 4 H, 1, 3 ER
Hart: 0.2 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 2 K

Kevin Gregg still has not allowed a run all Spring. Ryan Dempster has a 1.56 ERA. David Patton has a 1.04 ERA. The goose eggs that Vizcaino, Patton, and Hart put on the board were key for those guys because they are fighting for final spots in the bullpen. Neal Cotts really struggled!

Cubs Hitters off the Bench:
Blanco: 0-3
German: 1-1, BB, 2 Runs
M. Johnson: 1-1, Run
Deeds: 0-1
Mota: 1-2, Run, 2 RBI
Bako: 4-4, 3 RBI, 2 Runs
Fuld: 0-3

Paul Bako did himself a big favor today! Koyie went 0-2 in his ABs and then Paul had an amazing day at the plate including a 9th inning solo homer.

Game Highlight: Cubs broke it open with 7 runs in the 6th, and 5 more in the 8th!

My Player of the Game: It's got to be Bako, who raised his average up to .333, and had 4 hits and 3 RBIs.

Up Next: VS Rockies at 3:05 CT tomorrow.

Radio Recaps

Larry Rothschild was on "Talking Baseball" with Bruce Levine and Bryan Dolgin on Saturday:

  • Bruce was shocked by the great shape that Soriano and Ramirez reported in.
  • Larry says that Aaron Heilman and Jeff Samardzija will work in the bullpen the rest of the spring.
  • The Cubs have not decided if Samardzija will start at AAA or in the bullpen.
  • Larry thinks Jeff's numbers this spring are misleading. He is pleased with Jeff's progress this spring.
  • Rothschild is pleased with Neal Cotts and Kevin Gregg so far this spring.
  • The Cubs are out to win and they will keep their eyes open to win now, but also not get too thin down the road.
  • Larry doesn't think the fact that Geovany Soto wasn't in camp really hurts the pitchers that much.
  • Rothschild says that Zambrano has come into camp "with a sense of purpose". Z is very focused, and has pitched very well this spring. The biggest thing is that he is healthy and he is.

A few other notes from Bruce:

  • Reed Johnson, who now has a blog, was asked about "tweeting" during games. Johnson says he has trouble walking and chewing gum at the same time. I don't think we will be seeing him doing Twitter updates during the games this season.
  • Bruce talked with David Patton about possibility to make the Cubs bullpen this year. Patton said that playing in the big leagues would be a dream come true.

Sean Marshall on Waddle and Silvy:

  • Sean felt very good coming into Spring Training, and was ready to get out there and pitch some innings. He has been very happy the way things have panned out so far.
  • Marshall thinks he has learned the game a lot in the last 3 years.
  • Silvy asked who the guy in that "big brother role" to Marshall was. Sean said that Dempster is a great role model.
  • Sean thinks he learned a lot last year being able to switch roles and situation. He was happy to do whatever as long as he was getting the ball.
  • He really likes playing for Lou Piniella.
  • Lou has a game plan and he has a good idea of what he is doing.
  • Marshall thinks Soto looks good. He will catch up on not getting tons of playing time in the WBC.

Other Cubs Notes:

  • Tomorrow should be an interesting day because the Cubs are expected to make about 10 roster cuts. The roster is at 42 right now, so this will determine the fate of a lot of guys.
  • Korea VS Japan in the WBC Final tonight. Kosuke will finally report to Cubs camp for the first time soon.
  • Chad Gaudin will make his final start of the spring tomorrow against the Rockies.
  • Wednesday is a day off for the Cubbies.

That's it for now, I'll keep you posted.

Big Z Goes 6 Strong in Win

Final Score: Cubs 5, Seattle 3

Cubs Starting Lineup Hitting:
Soriano: 1-3, 2 RBI, BB
Miles: 0-3
Lee: 1-2
Bradley: 2-3
Ramirez: 1-3
Soto: 0-1, 2 BB, Run
Blanco: 1-4, RBI
Gathright: 0-3
Zambrano: 1-2, Run

Nobody had more than one hit today, but with help from 2 key 2-out RBI's from Soriano, the Cubs won the game.

Cubs Pitchers:
Zambrano: 6 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 6 K
Marmol: 1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 3 K
Guzman: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 1 K
Wells: 1 IP, 1 ER, 1 BB

Big Z pitched great today! It's great to see that starters are going 5-6 innings now! Carlos Marmol pitched well, but needs to put up zeros to compete with Kevin Gregg, who still hasn't allowed a run all spring. Randy Wells has pitched well, but will probably be sent to minor league camp sometime this week. Every outing is very important for Angel Guzman who is out of options.

Cubs Off the Bench:

Taguchi: 0-1
Hoffpauir: 0-1
Fuld: 1-1, 2 Runs
Scales: 1-1, Run
Bako: 1-1, RBI
Fontenot: 0-1
R. Johnson: 0-1

A big day off the bench for a few guys who are fighting for spots on the roster. A guy I always wonder about is Sam Fuld. It seems like every year the Cubs don't have a spot for him and he always ends up back in AAA after Spring Training. Bobby Scales is an interesting guy who might get called up at some point in 2009.

Game Highlight: Cubs score 3 runs to take the lead in the 6th.

My Player of the Game: Zambrano for his 6 strong innings. He went 1-2 at the plate, but his average actually fell from .750 to .667.

Up Next: Cubs VS OAK today at 3:05 CT.

Other Cubs Notes:
  • Mike Fontenot and Micah Hoffpauir will appear on an episode of "My Boys" on TBS. Shooting will take place tomorrow and Wednesday.
  • Jeff Samardzija has made it clear that he wants to play in the big leagues, not head back to AAA.
  • The Cubs are expected to make about 10 cuts tomorrow.
  • Lou and Larry want to see how Marmol and Gregg do pitching in back-to-back games before they announce the closer.
  • Geovany Soto might catch for Rich Harden in minor league camp on Wednesday so the two can get work in together.

I'll have a recap of today's game and hopefully a few radio recaps later.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

15 Days Until Opening Day

Spring Training is super long this year! Are you tired of it yet? We the good news is that Opening Day is 2 weeks from tomorrow! In just 2 weeks time, the games will start counting for real and we won't see guys most of you have never heard of playing in the 9th inning of a close game. Here is the starting lineup for today's game VS Seattle:
1. Soriano- LF
2. Miles- 2B
3. Lee- 1B
4. Bradley- RF
5. Ramirez- 3B
6. Soto- C
7. Blanco- SS
8. Gathright- CF
9. Zambrano- P

  • Game is on CSN today, after the game flip it over to ESPN to watch USA VS Japan in the WBC semi-finals on ESPN. The winner of the USA/Japan game will take on Korea in the finals.
  • Lou Pinilla seems upset about the World Baseball Classic. He has made comments about Lilly and Soto not getting their work in in the WBC.
  • Rich Harden will pitch in minor league camp on Wednesday. If his is not ready for the regular season, Lou will pitch Sean Marshall as the 4th starter, and slide Harden into the 5th spot to give him more time. The Cubs won't need the 5th starter the first few times around the rotation because of off days.
  • Ronny Cedeno will lead off for the M's today.

Fergie Jenkins on Mully and Hanley:

  • Jenkins is not bothered by the fact that he is sharing the honor with Greg Maddux. He says Greg is outstanding and he is not bothered.
  • Hanley thinks it is a slap in the face to Fergie that he has to share this honor with Greg. Jenkins is just happy to join a lot of his former teammates up there on the flag poll.
  • Fergie called the 2009 team "a new ball club". Fergie doesn't think the team can win 97 games again.
  • He didn't sound too sure that the Cubs have improved this off season.
  • Harden is the type of guy who needs lots of rest. The Cubs have lots of depth in their rotation so they can give him that rest.
  • Jenkins is following the NCAA tournament.

I'll have some more radio recaps later.

Enjoy today's game, and...

"I don't care who wins as long as it's the Cubs."

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Cubs All over the Sox, are now Over .500

Final Score: Cubs 13, White Sox 2

Cubs Starting Line-up Hitting:

Soriano: 2-3, 2 RBI, 2 Runs
Theriot: 1-2, BB, 2 Runs
R. Johnson: 1-4, 1 Run, 1 RBI
Bradley: 2-3, 2 Run, 3 RBI
J. Fox: 3-6, 5 RBI, 1 Run
Fontenot: 1-3, BB, Run
Miles: 0-4
Hill: 2-4, 1 Run
Taguchi: 1-3, 1 Run, 1 RBI

A great game by Soriano, Bradley, and Fox today who all homered. The Cubs have been coming around in the last 3-4 games.

Cubs Pitchers:

Marshall: 5 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 3 K
Samardzija: 1 IP, 1 K, 0 ER, 2 K
Vizcaino: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 2 K
Stanton: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 2 K
C. Fox: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 2 K

Jeff Samardzija, Luis Vizcaio, Mike Stanton, and Chad Fox are all vying for the final 2 spots in the bullpen and all pitched well today.

Cubs Hitters off the Bench:

Perez: 0-3
A. Blanco: 2-3, 1 Run
Scales: 1-2, 1 RBI
Hoffpauir: 1-2, BB, Run
Fuld: 0-1
German: 1-1
M. Johnson: 1-1
Gathright: 0-1

Game Highlight: Milton Bradley's first home run of the spring.

My Player of the Game: Jake Fox who went 3-6 with a homer and 5 RBI's.

Up Next: Cubs VS Seattle tomorrow on WGN-TV @3:05 CT

Other Cubs Notes:

  • Corey Koskie's comeback has ended after he left a game the other day with illness. He has changed his mind and has decided to head back to retirement.
  • Ted Lilly is not scheduled to start for team USA for the rest of the WBC, but he will stay with the team in case a game goes extra-innings.
  • Lou Piniella said that Geovany Soto appears to have gained some weight.
  • Derrek Lee should return to the lineup tomorrow.

That's it for now, but I'll keep you posted.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Cubs Improve to .500 in Cactus League Play

Final Score: Cubs 5, Padres 2

Cubs Starting Lineup Stats:
Soriano: 2-4, Run
Theroit: 2-3, BB, Run
Hoffpauir: 0-3, RBI
Bradley: 2-3, RBI
Ramirez: 2-3
Fontenot: 0-3
Soto: 0-2, BB
Fuld: 0-1, 2 BB, Run

Great job by the "big boys" today. Soriano, Bradley, Ramriez, and Theroit all had multi-hit games. Geovany Soto was back in action today after team Puerto Rico was eliminated from the WBC by Team USA.

Cubs Pitchers:
Atkins: 2 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 2 R
Marmol: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 K
Gregg: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 1 K
Waddell: 0.2 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 1 BB
Guzman: 2 IP, 0 H, 3 K, 0 ER
Hart: 1 IP, 1 ER, 2 HBP, Save

Kevin Gregg and Carlos Marmol are having great springs. Gregg has yet to allow a run! Let's hope the guys that will pitch late in the game stay hot as we move into the regular season in 2 weeks. Strong performance by Angel Guzman who is fighting for a spot in the bullpen. Guzman is out of options. Kevin Hart got the save, despite hitting the first to batters in the 9th.

Cubs Bench Hitting:
Blanco: Run
Taguchi: 0-1
German: 1-1, RBI
Guzman: 1-1
Bako: 0-1
Miles: 0-1
R. Johnson: 1-1, 2-run homer
Scales: 0-1
Reed Johnson's 2-run homer was the difference in the game. 13,162 was the attendance today. That's an all time Cactus League record!

Game Highlight: Johnson's 2-run big fly in the 4th to put the Cubs ahead 4-2.

My Player of the Game: I'm going to go with Kevin Gregg. He's been pitching so great I have to recognize him again. I'm very impressed!

Up Next: Cubs VS White Sox in Glendale tomorrow at 3:05 CT.

The Cubs are now 12-12 in Cactus League play!

It's always great to hear Pat and Ron calling the game!
I'll keep you posted on everything Cubs as always.

Friday Notes

  • The Cubs lost 8-6 on Wednesday.
  • They won 9-2 yesterday against Seattle.
  • Corey Koskie left yesterday's game with illness.
  • Lou Piniella has officially announced that Sean Marshall is his 5th starter.
  • Rich Harden has been scratched from today's game because he is feeling ill. Mitch Atkins will start instead against the Padres at 3:05 CT.
  • Derrek Lee has not played since Monday with a sore right quad.
  • Milton Bradley will play today for the first time since his new son was born. His son's name is Noah.
  • Aaron Heilman will be in the Cubs bullpen.
  • Geovany Soto is back from the WBC and in the lineup today. Here is the rest of the lineup: Soriano, Theriot, Hoffpauir, Bradley, Ramirez, Fontenot, Soto, Fuld, and Atkins.
  • The Cubs should be announcing the backup catcher very soon.
  • Derrek Lee will not play for team USA in the WBC semi's.
  • It sounds like the Cubs new ownership will be in place before the trade deadline, but not before Opening Day.
  • The Cubs have 6 candidates for just 2 spots in the bullpen.

Some Wrigley Field Notes:

  • The Cubs are taking a look at other options for a new Spring Training site in the future.
  • On Opening Day, there should be a new restaurant outside of Wrigley Field.
  • The Friendly Confines is being re-sodded and will be ready for Opening Day.
  • The Cubs are not discussing the possibility of more night games or Friday night games with the City of Chicago.
  • The concerts at Wrigley this year will gain revenue that will help the Cubs with certain things like international scouting.

I'll have a recap of today's game for you later!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Numbers Breakdown: Bullpen Battles

Assuming that Aramis Ramirez, Derrek Lee, Alfonso Soriano, Geovany Soto, Reed Johnson, Kosuke Fukudome, Mike Fontenot, Aaron Miles, Milton Bradley, Ryan Theriot, Carlos Zambrano, Ted Lilly, Ryan Dempster, Rich Harden, Carlos Marmol, Kevin Gregg, Aaron Heilman, Sean Marshall and Neal Cotts are all locks to make the team, there are only 6 spots up for grabs on the roster. Most likely 2-3 of those spots will go to pitchers. Here are all the pitchers competing for the spots and their stats in Spring Training.

*= my picks to make the team

Jeff Samardzija: 0-1, 9.90 ERA, 4 Games (3 starts), 10 innings, 6 K, 4 BB
*Chad Gaudin: 2-1, 10.38 ERA, 4 games (3 starts), 8.2 IP, 5 BB, 5 K
Jason Wadell: 1-0, 1.13 ERA, 8 games, 8 IP, 9 K, 3 BB
*David Patton: 0-1, 1.35 ERA, 6.2 IP, 6 Games, 7 K, 0 BB
Kevin Hart: 7.11 ERA, 6 games, 6.1 IP, 10 K, 2 BB
Chad Fox: 0-1, 3.00 ERA, 6 games, 6 IP, 5 K, 2 BB
Mike Stanton: 5.06 ERA, 6 games, 5.1 IP, 3 K, 2 BB
*Jose Ascaino: 5.79 ERA, 5 games, 4.2 IP, 7 K, 1 BB
Luis Vizcaino: 4.15 ERA, 5 games, 4.1 IP, 2 K, 3 BB
Randy Wells: 5 games, 0.00 ERA, 4.1 IP, 4 K

I'll recap today's game and have lots of Cubs Notes coming up later.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Zambrano's Arm and Bat Lifts Cubs, Roster Cuts, Radio Recaps, and More

Final Score: Cubs 12, Dodgers 3

Cubs Starting Line-up Stats:

Soriano: 0-2
Miles: 2-4, RBI, Run
R. Johnson: 3-4, 2 RBI
J. Fox: 1-5
Taguchi: 0-3
Koskie: 1-2, Run, BB
K. Hill: 4-5, 3 runs, 2 RBI
Blanco: 2-4, 2 Runs, 2 RBI
Zambrano: 2-3, 4 RBI, 2 Runs

Wow, the green hat brought the Cubs hitters good luck today! Carlos Zambrano hit a 3-run homer in the 2nd, and also had an RBI double. Koyie Hill had a great day at the plate today, scoring 3 runs. Cory Koskie, in his first AB with a MLB uniform on since 2006, doubled. Aaron Miles, who is returning from a shoulder injury, also had a good game.

Cubs Pitchers:

Zambrano: 5 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 2 BB
Marshall: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER
Gregg: 1 IP, 1 H, 1 K, 0 ER
R. Wells: 1 IP, 1 H, 1 K, 0 ER
Cotts: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER

Zambrano was strong even though he allowed 3 runs. The Cubs bullpen did a perfect
job today, tossing 4 shutout innings. I was a bit surprised that Marshall pitched an inning in relief of Big Z today. Maybe Lou Piniella reads my blog, because after I made a comment yesterday about Neal Cotts never pitching, he was used in the 9th today. Kevin Gregg still hasn't allowed a run all Spring Training.

Cubs Hitters off the Bench:

Wright: 1-2, Run, BB
Scales: 0-1
Camp: 0-1
Adduci: 0-2
German: 2 BB, 2 runs
Robinson: 0-1
Spears: 1-2

Game Highlight: Carlos Zambrano's 3-run homer off Randy Wolf.

My Player of the Game: Zambrano for his amazing day at the plate and a solid outing on the mound.

Up Next: Cubs VS Giants tomorrow @ 3:05 CT.

Not sure why, but a few guys from minor league camp were with the team today and got into the game. Esteban German, the newest member of the team, reached both times today.

Other Cubs Notes:
  • Corey Koskie will start every other day for the rest of Spring Training if all goes well, according to Cubs.com.
  • Lou Piniella has been impressed with David Patton.
  • Interesting Note: The Cubs are expected to make a confirmation tomorrow that they will retire number 31 in honor of Greg Maddox and Fergie Jenkins on May 3.
  • Derrek Lee was scratched from today's lineup with a sore right quad.
  • Milton Bradley was not in the lineup again today with the flu.
  • Joey Gathright did not play today because he went to the dentist. (odd)
  • The Cubs sent 9 players to minor league camp today: Mitch Atkins, Justin Berg, Jeff Stevens, Marcos Mateo, Darwin Barney, Luis Rivas, Doug Deeds, Welington Castillo, and Jason Dubois. I'm very surprised some of these guys (esp. Rivas) were cut so soon.
  • There are now 45 guys in camp.
  • Some good notes thanks to Bleed Cubbie Blue:
  • Carlos Zambrano grew up a White Sox fan! And he still likes them!!!!!
  • Jeff Samardzija still has a chance at winning a spot in the Cubs bullpen, even with his bad outing yesterday. Chad Gaudin and Luis Vizcaino could end up traded.
A few Radio Recaps:
Opening Segment from Cubs Central Pre-game yesterday:
  • Lou Piniella is not ready to name Marshall the 5th starter, but Ron Santo says that there is no doubt he will be the 5th starter.

  • Jeff Samardzija has worked on some different pitches this spring.

  • Ron said that Mike Fontenot has impressed him from the minute he first saw him hit, and Ron reports that "Little Babe Ruth" will get most of the playing time at 2B this year.

  • A healthy Rich Harden will mean a lot to the Cubs. Ron loves Harden's change-up that looks like a slider sometimes.

  • Jose Ascaino has been impressive, Lou loves his velocity.

  • Micah Hoffpauir is going to be a star this year for the Cubs (in the opinion of Ron and I).

  • Milton Bradley is "all about baseball".

  • Ron points out that no matter where the teams are in the standings, Cubs VS Cardinals games and Cubs VS Brewers games are always interesting.

Santo then talked with Lou on the pregame show:

  • Lou was happy with the Cubs scoring 10 runs against the D-backs on Sunday.

  • We will see the regulars getting more at bats in the next few weeks.

  • Piniella was disappointed with Ascaino struggling in the 9th.

  • Aaron Miles is only going to play at second base for awhile because of his shoulder.

  • Lou says Miles is going to have to be able to throw the ball from the left side of the infield.

  • Lou was impressed with Corey Koskie's BP yesterday.

  • Marshall has about secured the 5th starter's spot.

  • Piniella wants to see the big boys hitting more home runs in Spring Training.

The next guest on Cubs Central Pre-game was Alan Trammell:

  • Miles had a setback with a funny play at 1B and jammed his shoulder. Allan likes the addition of Miles.

  • Alan says Aaron will get plenty of playing time, even if Fontenot starts.

  • Trammell calls Theriot and Fontenot "Gym Rats".

  • Ron calls those 2 guys "gamers".

  • Alan wrote some notes about all the infielders last year at the end of last season. He wrote that Theriot needs to slow the game down and learn better positioning.

One final note: Lou has pretty much made his mind up on who will play second (Fontenot), CF (Kosuke), and be the 5th starter (Marshall). He is expected to decide on the closer and back-up catcher by the end of the week.

Tomorrow I'll have the stats for some of the guys that are on the bubble for making the 25-man roster to start the year.

Cubs are now 10-11 in the Cactus League.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Samardzija Hammered in Loss

Final Score: Cubs 9, Brewers 6

Cubs Starting Lineup Stats:

Soriano: 2-3
Theriot: 0-3
Lee: 0-3
Hoffpauir: 0-2
Ramirez: 2-3, Run, RBI
Fontenot: 1-3
R. Johnson: 1-3, Run
Bako: 1-2, RBI
Samardzija: 0-1

Ramirez had an impressive day at the plate including a solo home run in the 6th. Alfonso Soriano and Reed Johnson both had 2-baggers in the loss.

Cubs Pitchers:
Samardzija: 2 IP, 5 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, K
Stevens: 1 IP, 4 H, 1 K, 1 BB, 3 ER
Atkins: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 1 K
Marmol: 1 IP, 0 ER, 0 H, 1 BB, 1 K
Vizcaino: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
Stanton: 1 IP, 1 K, 0 H, 0 ER
C. Fox: 1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 K

Jeff Samardzija should book his flight to Iowa after this outing. He allowed 5 runs to score with 2 outs in the first. He allowed doubles to Hardy, Hart, and Duff; a triple to Fielder, and a HR to Bill Hall. Jeff Stevens, who the Cubs acquired in the DeRosa trade, also pitched poorly. Marmol, who is in a close competition for the closer's job with Kevin Gregg, pitched a solid inning.

Cubs Hitter off the Bench:

Taguchi: 0-2
A. Blanco: 0-2
J. Fox: 1-1, Run
Dubois: 1-1, RBI, Run
Scales: 1-1, RBI, Run
Rivas: 0-1
Castillo: 1-1, 3 RBI, Run
Gathright: 0-2
Deeds: 0-1
M. Johnson: 0-2

Welington Castillo nailed a 3-run homer in his pinch hit at bat. He has hit 2 long balls in as many days. Mark Johnson, a catcher, has struggled at the plate and is hitting just .077.

Game Highlight: Jeff Samardzija allows a 3-run homer to Bill Hall that caps off a 5 run first inning for the Brewers.

My Player of the Game: Welington Castillo for his big 3-run homer to bring the Cubs back into the game in the 8th.

Up Next: VS LAD tomorrow @ 3:05 CT. Carlos Zambrano will get the nod on St. Patrick's Day for the Chicago Cubs. The game is on MLB.TV.

Other Cubs Notes:

  • Milton Bradley was scratched today with the flu.
  • Randy Wells, pitcher, also left camp today because of the flu.
  • Aaron Miles is willing to go to Minor League camp to get some ABs if need be. He is still out with his shoulder injury, but he could return tomorrow.
  • The Cubs have jokes about playing the Chicago Blackhawks in a hockey game. Corey Koskie, Ryan Dempster, Rich Harden, and Vince Perkins all played hockey as a child.
  • Luis Vizcaino and Angel Guzman will likely be traded by Opening Day in my mind.

The Cubs Reporter 25-man roster guess:

  • Soto, Lee, Fontenot, Theroit, Ramirez, Soriano, Fukudome, and Bradley starting.
  • Starting Pitchers: Zambrano, Demp, Lilly, Harden, and Marshall.
  • Bullpen: Marmol, Gregg, Heilman, Cotts, Vizcaino, Patton, Gaudin.
  • Bench: Hill, Hoffpauir, Miles, Johnson, Gathright.

I don't see Patton and Vizcaino both making the team, but other than that I like this roster. The Cubs might look at trying to start the year with just 11 pitchers so they can keep that extra infielder.

Some random questions:

- Where is Neal Cotts? It says he's pitched in 5 games on Cubs.com, but I only remember him in 2-3. I haven't read anything about him this Spring. It seems like he is the only guy on the 40-man roster to not get any attention at all this Spring, so I thought I'd give him some.

- What about Carmen Pignatello? Carmen is now in the Twins organization. He signed a minor league deal with them this winter. I like that guy, I think he would have made sense as an option for the Cubs in this year's bullpen because he is a southpaw.

I'll keep you posted!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Notes From a Busy Weekend

  • Be sure to check out our recap of MLB Network's "30 teams in 30 Days" Cubs special by scrolling down on the blog main page.
  • The Cubs lost to the Angels on Saturday by a score of 6-4. Aaron Heilman gave up 1 run, 5 hits, and a walk in 2 innings. Carlos Marmol have up a hit, hit 2 batters (not good) and got 2 K's in a scoreless innings of work. Kevin Gregg also put a zero on the board.
  • The Cubs beat the D'backs today by a score of 10-7. They made a comeback to score 4 runs in the 8th, and 3 more in the 9th. Rich Harden gave up 3 ER, 3 hits, and 3 BB in 2.2 innings of work. Patton, Berg, Waddell, Kadokura, Hart, and Stevens all pitch well in relief. Hoffpauir, Fontenot, and Castillo all went deep in the win. Taguchi and Snyder both had good games off the bench.
  • Mike Fontenot will get the most playing time at 2B this year for the Cubs.
  • The Cubs have still not decided whether they will keep an extra infielder or outfielder.
  • Kevin Gregg said, "I want to close."
  • Carlos Marmol said, "I don't care. I'm glad to be on the team."
  • Lou is not ready to make the decision on the closer.
  • Corey Koskie has passed a physical and began to work out with the Cubs on Saturday.
  • Piniella like Aaron Heilman pitching in the 7th inning. It seems like he's hinting that Marshall will win the spot in the rotation.
  • Judd Sirrott did 3 innings of play-by-play on Saturday on WGN Radio with Ron Santo. It looks like he will replace Corey Provus as the pre-game show host/ 5th inning play-by-play guy. Sirrott will be on the broadcast again tomorrow.
  • Kosuke Fukudome has been told that he will hit second for the Cubs on Opening Day.
  • Bruce Miles reports that Kevin Gregg clearly has the inside track at getting the closer's job.
  • Miles also says that Angel Guzman is in jeopardy of being traded.
  • Jeff Samardzija will start against the Brewers tomorrow. The game is on WGN Radio.
  • Big Z will start on Tuesday.
  • The Cubs are now 9-10 in Cactus League play.

Cubs "30 Clubs in 30 Days" Recap

Recap of the 1 hour Cubs Spring Training Special from last week on MLB Network.

Opening Notes:

  • Harold Reynolds thinks the Cubs addressed their problems this off season.
  • John Hart says the club is built to win. John doesn't think Cubs fans should worry about what happened in 3 games last year.
  • Hart says that the Cubs have a lot of swing and miss in their offense.
  • Reynolds loves the Cubs pitching and bullpen.
  • Harold says not to under estimate Joey Gathright.

Arrivals: Kevin Gregg, Aaron Heilman, Luis Vizcaino, Milton Bradley, Joey Gathright, and Aaron Miles.

Departures: Rich Hill, Jason Marquis, Bob Howry, Kerry Wood, Michael Wuertz, Jim Edmonds, Felix Pie, and Mark DeRosa.

The Cubs got more athletic and left handed this off season.

Hazel Mae talks with Ryan Dempster:

  • Being healthy and putting guys away when he was ahead in the count were the 2 factors that contributed to his success last year.
  • Ryan has had more fun than ever before the last 2 season.
  • It seems that Demp always contributes according to Hazel.
  • Ryan said that there is a correlation between sac bunts and wins. Ryan thinks the more sac bunts a pitcher gets, the more wins they get.

Projected Rotation:

1. Zambrano

2. Lilly

3. Dempster

4. Harden

5. Marshall/Heilman

Pitchers Talk:

  • John says that you could argue that the Cubs have 3 number 1 starters.
  • Hart gave Ted Lilly lots of credit.
  • Harold thinks Sean Marshall will have a great year.
  • Matt points out that the Cubs can wait until the end of April to decide on the #5 starter (because of off days they will not need one early.)
  • Harold called Jeff Samardzija "the most popular player on the team".
  • Reynolds thinks Kevin Gregg is over looked.
  • Hart says that deciding between Gregg and Marmol for the 9th inning is a good problem to have. He likes the depth of the Cubs bullpen.
  • Harold likes Chad Gaudin as a bridge guy.

Hazel Mae talks with Derrek Lee:

  • Lee thinks the Cubs tried too hard to win a World Series last year and it back fired.
  • Derrek says the Cubs are tired off that postseason disappointment, but there is a long season ahead.
  • He wants to hit more like he did in the first half of last year, not the second half.
  • Lee says Milton Bradley is very humble and serious on the field. He likes the edge Milton plays with.

Infield Talk:

  • Harold calls the Cubs corner infielders "as good as anybody".
  • John says Derrek Lee is a great guy to have as your leader.
  • Reynolds calls the DeRosa trade "interesting." The Cubs will not expect to get DeRosa's production out of Miles.
  • Harold thinks the Cubs will miss Ronny Cedeno.
  • John thinks the reason for trading DeRosa was to get more left handed. He likes the versatility and defense that Miles brings.
  • Matt calls Aaron Miles a tough out.
  • John says Theroit, Miles, and Fontenot are going to be very strong on defense up the middle.

Hazel Mae talks with Sweet Lou:

  • Piniella thinks the "100 year thing" put too much pressure on the team last year and they ended up trying to force it.
  • He thinks that when you keep knocking on the barn door sooner or later you break through.
  • Lou sees a lot of himself in Milton Bradley.
  • Piniella doesn't see anything wrong with Bradley being a competitor.

More on Piniella:

  • The guys say Lou is very important to baseball.
  • John thinks Lou leads with his personality.
  • He says that this is the right type of club for Lou.
  • Harold likes how Lou combines different managing styles.

Hazel talks with Milton Bradley:

  • Bradley told Hazel that Jim met with him early in the off season and the team and Bradley were a perfect fit.
  • Milton goes out there to entertain and a have a good time, but it's all about winning.
  • He is just as upset as the fans are when his team loses.

2009 possible Cubs lineup:

  • Alfonso Soriano, LF
  • Aaron Miles, 2B
  • Derrek Lee, 1B
  • Aramis Ramirez, 3B
  • Milton Bradley, RF
  • Geovany Soto, C
  • Kosuke, CF
  • Ryan Theroit, SS

More on the Cubs outfield:

  • John Hart does not think Alfonso Soriano is a true leadoff hitter, but he thinks Soriano can beat you in a lot of different ways.
  • Harold says it comes down to Soriano being comfortable in the lineup.
  • Reynolds thinks Kosuke needs to get off to a good start, or else he might find himself on the bench.
  • Hart knows that the Cubs were expecting a lot more out of Fukudome.
  • Matt and Harold talked about Reed Johnson and Joey Gathright adding flexibility and good defense to the outfield.
  • John likes the speed option off the bench in Gathright.

Ryan Theroit talks with Hazel Mae:

  • Theroit says the Cubs are in the same spot that they were a year ago because of the second postseason sweep in a row.
  • Theroit takes pride in getting on base and scoring a lot of runs.

Theroit and Soto are the only Cubs homegrown position players that will likely start on Opening Day. Hart thinks the Cubs have a good system with good leadership.

Top Prospects:

  • Josh Vitters
  • Micah Hoffpauir
  • Hak-Ju Lee
  • Jeff Samardzija
  • Andrew Cashner.

Harold says the Cubs could use these prospects for trades.

Matt and Harold talked with Reed Johnson:

  • Reed is interested in baseball history and loves playing at Wrigley Field.
  • He would like to stay a Cub the rest of his career.
  • Johnson says it is special to be able to compete in Chicago for the Cubs.
  • Reed talked about his amazing diving catch last year in Washington. He says he saw that play before it happened.
  • Johnson says that there is nothing you can do to prepare your body for the cold of Chicago in April. Reed says that it gets warm in the dugout with the heater blowing in there.
  • He says that his college career at Cal State was an important part of his baseball career.

Billy Williams thoughts:

  • Billy want to take the positive out of the last 2 years.
  • He says that the 3rd time is a charm.
  • Williams says the Cubs are pretty much the same team that won 97 games last year.

Cubs all time Team:

Batting Order-

  • Ryne Sandberg, 2B
  • Billy Williams, LF
  • Sammy Sosa, RF
  • Hack Wilson, CF
  • Ernie Banks, SS
  • Mark Grace, 1B
  • Gabby Hartnett, C
  • Ron Santo, 3B
  • Mordecai Brown, P
  • Manager- Leo Durocher

Pitchers and Bench:

  • Lee Smith, Closer
  • Fergie Jenkins, SP
  • Greg Maddux, SP
  • Bruce Sutter, RP
  • Andre Dawson, OF
  • Aramis Ramirez, 3B

Harold Reynolds thinks Ron Santo belongs in the Hall of Fame.

Where are they now?

  • Jody Davis: Catching coord. in Cubs system
  • Ryne Sandberg: Cubs AA manager
  • Keith Moreland: Univ. of Texas football analyst

Predictions:Bulleted List

  • Harold thinks the Cubs will win the division. He thinks the team is better than they were last year.
  • John Hart also has them first. He says the Cubs are clearly the class of the Central.

That's it for now, I'll have more posts soon!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Cubs Split Split-Sqaud Games, Sign New Infielder, Make Cuts, and Talk on the Radio

Final Score @ Tempe: Angels 8, Cubs 2

Cubs Starting Line-up Hitting:

Gathright: 0-4
Theriot: 1-3
Hoffpauir: 1-3
Bradley: 1-3, Run
Deeds: 1-4, Run
Scales: 1-3, 2 RBI, BB
Taguchi: 0-3
M. Johnson: 0-3
Rivas: 1-3

Most of the regulars stayed in Mesa, but Bradley and Theroit did play in this one. Mark Johnson is now hitting just .091. Bobby Scales is vying for a bench spot and has opened some eyes. He is hitting .318 so far in the Cactus League.

Cubs Pitchers:
Gaudin: 1.2 IP, 5 H, 6 ER, 4 BB
Berg: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 ER
Atkins: 2 IP, 2 H, 1 BB
C. Fox: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER
Kadokura: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER
Stevens: 1 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 0 ER

Chad Gaudin did not pitch well at all. His ERA is 10.38, I would say he has officially lost any chance he had of being a starter this season. Berg, Fox, and Stevens have all pitch well this spring, but there is a lot of competition for those final few bullpen spots.

Cubs Hitters off the Bench:
Camp: 0-1
Rosa: 0-1
Snyder: 0-1
Castillo: 0-1

Some minor leaguers got the chance to go to the big league games today because of the split team.

Game Highlight: Chad Gaudin allows a Grand Slam to Morales in the 2nd inning.

My Player of the Game: I've got to go with Larry Rothschild, the Cubs pitching coach, who somehow managed to get thrown out in a Spring Trainining game.

Final Score from Mesa: Cubs 8, Seattle 1

Cubs Starting Line-up Hitting:

Soriano: 0-3
Fuld: 2-4, 2 Run, RBI, BB
Lee: 0-3
Ramirez: 0-1, Run, BB
Fontenot: 1-2, RBI BB
R. Johnson: 1-3, RBI
Hill: 1-4, RBI
Marshall: 0-1

Samd Fuld had a great day today, including a solo homer in the 3rd.

Cubs Pitchers:

Marshall: 4.1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, BB, 3 K
Vizcaino:0.2 IP, 1 H, 0 ER
Stanton: 1 IP, 2 H, 0 ER
Hart: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 3 K
Waddell: 1 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 K
Ascaino: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 1 K

Sean Marshall is pitching great! There is no doubt in my mind that he deserves to be the 5th starter. His ERA is now 0.68. Jose Ascaino has pitched very well, but I don't think there is a spot for him in the bullpen. He could get called up at some point in the middle of the season.

Cubs Hitters off the Bench:

Robnett: 1-2, 2 RBI
J. Fox: 0-1
Adduci: 1-1, 2 Runs, BB
Dubois: Run
Barney: 0-1
German: 0-2

James Adduci did well, he's a guy that got to leave minor league camp to play with the big league team today. If you are wondering who German is, keep reading.

Game Highlight: Mike Fontenot's RBI single to give he Cubs the lead with 2 outs in the first.

My Player of the Game: Sam Fuld who was 2-4, with a solo homer, and RBI, a walk, and 2 runs scored.

Up Next: VS LAA tomorrow at 3:05 CT. The game is on WGN-TV and Radio. Cubs play D-backs on Sunday at 3:05. I'm going to be out of town this weekend, I'll have a recap of both games on hopefully Sunday night.

Other Cubs Notes:

  • The Cubs have signed infielder Esteban German to a minor league deal.

German Notes:

- Was released by Royals last week.

- 7 Big League season with A's, Rangers, and Royals.

- B/T: Right

- 752 career games at 2B, 167 at 3B, 61 in LF, 37 at SS, 11 in CF, and 1 at 1B.

- MLB debut on May 21, 2002.

- 30 years old.

  • The Cubs have sent 5 players back to minor league camp: Richie Robnett, Brian Schlitter, J.R. Mathes, Matt Smith, and Steve Clevenger.
  • The roster now stands at 53 players.
  • Aaron Miles says his shoulder is feeling better.
  • Lou Piniella expects the Cubs closer, backup catcher, and 5th starter spots named in about 1 week. Lou thinks that by next weekend everyone will know there place.
  • Aaron Heilman will start tomorrow for the Cubs. Expect to see Carlos Marmol in relief.
  • Rich Harden will start against Arizona on Sunday.
  • Corey Koskie has undergone a physical and once he get the go ahead, will be thrown into some games.

Radio Recaps:

Mike Fontenot joined Waddle and Silvy on their show the other day:

  • My predicts that he would hit 62 home runs if he get 500 ABs this year. He's kidding folks.
  • Fontenot points out that bigger guys get worn down easier than smaller guys.
  • Mike is "trying to do whatever for the team".
  • Obviously he would like to play everyday and get as many at bats as possible.
  • Fontenot says it would be nice to be an everyday guy at some point in his career.
  • Theroit and Mike have talked about being the double play combination every day for the Chicago Cubs.
  • Ryan is not bothered by hitting 8th. Mike and Theroit are going to play hard no matter where Lou puts them.
  • Theroit is upset that Mike bought his kids a trampoline for Christmas.
  • Silvy asked who would win a 1 VS 1 HR Derby Fontenot VS Zambrano. Mike says Big Z for sure.

Jeff Samardzija joined Mully and Hanley on ESPN 1000:

  • Jeff says he's really worried about who the 5th starter is.
  • He says Sean Marshall pitching well makes him want to pitch better.
  • Samardzija is OK with pitching in the bullpen or going down to AAA to get stretched out. He says he has to let "them make the decisions."
  • Jeff says his mind is set at the major league level.
  • Samardzija uses the crowd to help him out and he is very willing to play in front of big crowds.
  • He used the off season to get his body ready for another long season.
  • He also worked on his change-up this off season.
  • Samardzija doesn't think last year haunt the Cubs at all, he says they just have to turn the page.
  • It was hard to balance football, studies, and baseball at Notre Dame.
  • Jeff liked John Smoltz growing up. He also remembers watching Woody pitch a lot when he was growing up.
  • He describes playing a year with Kerry as "really cool".

That's it for now, more posts to come!