Saturday, April 30, 2011

Catching Up After a Week Away

Sorry about the lack of posting on the site all week! Let's jump right in with a little discussion on what is going on in the world of Cubs baseball! Let's break things down into ten important questions for the Cubs to answer if they want to get back on the winning track.

  • Can Ryan Dempster perform as at least a middle of the rotation starter? The Cubs openeing day hurler has pitched poorly in nearly every outing this season. With two starters injured, the other three must step it up. The "ace" of this staff has not being doing that. He hit rock bottom in his last start allowing 7 runs in 1/3 of an inning.

  • Will Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney keep up this pace all season? Right now, the offense is depending on two of its youngest players to shoulder the load. The chances are that the Cubs fine middle infield duo will not be able to carry the team on its own.

  • Will Carlos Pena hit .200 once again?

  • Who is going to hit third? Marlon Byrd did not have a good first month, and he is not really a No. 3 hitter to begin with. The answer to this question seems to be Starlin Castro.

  • Who is going to hit lead-off? Mike Quade continues to shuffle around his lead-off men. Castro, Kosuke, Baker, DeWitt, Barney and Byrd have all seen time in the top spot this season. Could a Brett Jackson call-up be on the horizon?

  • Can starters go deeper into games? The Cubs bullpen has been taxed way too much early in the season. The James Russell rotation plan has failed. The Cubs need to find an arm that can eat some innings until Cashner and Wells return.

  • Will Wells and Cashner give this team a lift? The Cubs are hoping that both guys come back at nearly 100%. They are depending on Cash to prove himself in the rotation and Wells needs to bounce back from his sophomore slump.

  • Can Castro play defense? We know the kid can hit, but he must improve his glovework to help keep this team in some games.

  • Is Q the right guy? So far Mike Quade's managing has been mediocre at best. If the Cubs continue to lose, fans will become more and more vocal about the fact that they would have liked to see Ryne Sandberg get a shot.

  • Is Carlos Marmol the real deal? Going into the season, it seemed like the back end of the bullpen was the strength of this team. But they have already blown several games and have not been as strong and advertised. Hopefully Marmol can fix some of his control issues and pull it together as the closer.

Tomorrow we'll take a look at the good and the bad of the week in Cubs baseball.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Weekend Quick Hits Before 3 with LA

Here are the latest news and notes concerning the Cubbies!

  • Starlin Castro is in the No. 3 slot in the lineup for the game against the Dodgers today. It is his second straight game in the spot.

  • Ryan Dempster will pitch against his former Cubs team Ted Lilly on Saturday afternoon.

  • Randy Hundley is scheduled to sing the 7th Inning Stretch today.

  • Today is 22q Awareness Day at the ballpark, hosted by Ryan Dempster.

  • According to the Tribune, Bud Selig is not concerned about the lack of attendance at Wrigley Field or in baseball in general.

  • Andrew Cashner and Randy Wells are both set to start their throwing programs today. Wells is expected to return to the rotation sooner than Cashner.

  • Bruce Miles tweets that the tarp is on the field at Wrigley. The weather forecast is iffy for today, but I would expect them to get the game in.

  • Heading into action today, the Cubs and Brewers are tied for third in the NL Central, just 0.5 games out. The Reds and Cardinals are locked in the top spot. All five other teams in the division play under the lights tonight. It's only April, but the Cubs have a chance to move into first place this weekend.

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

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Cubs/Padres Game 2 Postponed

Tonight's Cubs game against the Padres scheduled to start at 7:05 at Wrigley has been postponed due to the weather and field conditions. A day/night double header is now scheduled for tomorrow.

The Cubs will send Matt Garza to the hill for the first game and James Russell will start the nightcap tomorrow. Tickets for tonight's game will be honored for the night game tomorrow. The Tyler Colvin bobblehead promotion will also carry over to the nightcap.

I'll keep you posted!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Remembering Ronnie Roundup

Throughout the 2011 season, we are going to spend a lot of time here on Everything Cubs blog remembering the legendary Ron Santo. Remembering Ronnie Roundups will pop up every once in a while on significant days or when there is a lot of Santo news to report. There were two big events this weekend that were Santo related.

On Friday night prior to the start of the Cubs/Rockies game, Santo was remember with a special program on WGN-TV. It was a quality 30 minute program titled "Ron Santo: In His Own Words". Bob Vorwald did an excellent job producing it and Bob Brenly did the narration. Highlights of Ron's playing days were mixed in with video clips of Ron talking about his baseball career from several different interviews. One of the funniest parts featured Santo leading the rest of the Cubs All Century Team in rehearsal for a 7th Inning Stretch performance. Santo's speech from his number retirement ceremony was replayed to close the show.

On Sunday afternoon, an exciting announcement was made by Ronnie's partner Pat Hughes during the WGN Radio broadcast of the Cubs/Rockies game. A commenter on the Cubs Radio Facebook page inquired about a Ron Santo Baseball Voices CD. Hughes announced that he does indeed plan on creating one of his CDs for #10. He is going to start working on it after this season ends. It is expected to be released at some point next winter. Pat is also writing a book called Ron Santo: A Perfect Ten, expected to come out June 19.

I'll have much more on Santo right here on this blog all summer long.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Good & The Bad: Week 2

The Cubs lost a tough one today 9-5 at the hands of the Rockies, with the game tied at 5 entering the bottom of the eighth. With the loss, the Cubs finished the road trip at 4-5 and are now 7-8 on the season. Let's start with the good from this week.

  • Starlin Castro is a stud. He collected seven hits on Saturday and Sunday alone! Starlin is looking good in the lead-off spot.

  • Darwin Barney has slid comfortably up to the No. 2 spot in the order. He, too, had a big week. Bob Brenly on Darwin today, "You can't teach instincts."

  • Jeff Samardzija looked sharp today, sending down all six men he faced.

  • The Cubs showed some signs of life on Saturday and Sunday, playing a couple of close games against a tough Rockies team.

  • Koyie Hill notched his first hit of the season.

  • The Cubs finally tallied their first stolen base this season. (Castro)

  • Casey Coleman pitched a great game on Saturday.

And now the bad...

  • The Cubs middle of the order has a grand total of one home run this season.

  • No. 5 hitter Carlos Pena is 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position.

  • No. 3 hitter Marlon Byrd is 3-for-20 with men in scoring position.

  • The Cubs bullpen day on Tuesday in Houston was a total failure. James Russell was hammered and the 'Stros extended the lead against guys like Samardzija and Stevens.

  • Tyler Colvin is still slumping.

  • This team has lacked both speed and power, not a great combo.

  • Marcos Mateo's eighth inning today in which he nearly escaped a second and third with no out spot, but ended up giving up four two out runs.

That's it for now, but I'll keep you posted as Everything Cubs as always!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Weekend Quick Hits: Santo Special, Kosuke's Health, The Rotation and More

Here's the latest in the world of Cubs baseball!

  • WGN-TV will air a Cubs special tonight before the Cubs game against the Rockies. "Ron Santo: In His Own Words" starts at 6:30 CT.

  • WGN Radio has announced a seven part series of one-hour interviews featuring Cubs players which will air on the network. The hosts of WGN Sports Night, David Kaplan and Brian Noonan, will also host the series, which is called Cubs Corner. The debut on Tuesday, April 26 at noon features Andrew Cashner and Kerry Wood.

  • Patrick Mooney tweets that the Cubs have not yet decided who will start on Tuesday. James Russell and Jeff Samardzija are possibilities, or the Cubs could decide to call-up Ramon Ortiz or Roberto Coello.

  • Carrie Muskat reports that Mike Quade is open to bringing a player up from Triple-A to start, but only if they are ready. He wants to talk to his coaches first.

  • Kosuke Fukudome, who has been out with a right hamstring strain, did some light running and took batting practice last night. He is close to returning to the lineup.

  • Andrew Cashner has no pain and full range of motion in his right shoulder. Muskat reports that the rehab is going well.

  • Carlos Zambrano apologized to Mike Quade for leaving the mound too early when he was yanked from a game earlier this week.

  • Paul Sullivan says that Sean Marshall is not an option for the rotation.

  • The Tennessee Smokies have placed top pitching prospect Trey McNutt on the disabled list.

Sorry about the formating issues on some of the posts lately. We are trying to resolve that problem. That's it for now, but I'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Getting to Know Doug Davis & Ramon Ortiz

In the past week, the Cubs have added two veteran pitchers to their organization. Yesterday, James Russell's debut in the rotation did not go so well. The Cubs could be in need of some pitching help. Here is the little bit of information of the two hurlers inked by the Cubs.

Ramon Ortiz
  • 37 years old

  • RHP

  • Signed a minor league contract with the Cubs and assigned to Triple-A Iowa

  • Spent 2010 with three different organizations (LAD, NYM, TB), making 16 big league appearances and two starts.

  • Has also played with the Angels (1999-2004), Reds (2005), Nationals (2006), Twins (2007) and Rockies (2007).

  • Career ERA of 4.93 with a record of 85-82 in 10 seasons.

  • Pitched 5.2 innings in his Iowa Cubs debut on Monday, allowing 2 earned runs on 5 hits and 3 walks.

  • Doug Davis

  • LHP

  • 35 years old

  • Signed a minor league contract with the Cubs to a pro-rated salary of $900,000 if he pitches in the major with a chance to earn close to #2 million in incentives.

  • Will report to Fitch Park and work in extended spring training before heading to Iowa

  • Coming off elbow surgery

  • Has played for the Rangers (1999-2003), Blue Jays (2003), Brewers (2003-2006, 2010) and D'backs (2007-2009).

  • Went 1-4 in only eight games for the Brewers last season

  • Career ERA of 4.38 with a record of 91-101 in 12 seasons

  • We'll see if these guys can help the Cubs as some point!

    Sunday, April 10, 2011

    A Rough First Week for the Cubs

    Today's loss to the Brewers capped off a rough week one of the season. It has actually been over a week, but we will consider everything that has happened so far in our first Sunday Cubs positives and negatives post, which could become a weekly staple on the site this season.

    The Good
  • Carlos Zambrano has pitched fairly well. Two of the Cubs three wins have come in game in which Z started.

  • Jeff Baker is off to a great start.

  • The Cubs have not been sloppy defensively. With a few expectations, their glovework has not hurt them.

  • Sean Marshall and Marcos Mateo are both off to a great starts out of the bullpen.

  • Casey Coleman did a pretty good job today against a great Brewers lineup.

  • The Cubs have been in every game, except for Saturday's 5-0 loss.

  • The Bad

    • The Cubs are the only team in baseball without a stolen base.

    • Kerry Wood and Carlos Marmol have blown one game each. If they would have shut the door, the Cubs would be 5-2 instead of 3-4.

    • Matt Garza has not been impressive.

    • Jeff Samardzija continues to show that he cannot find the zone.

    • The Cubbies continue a theme that has plagued them for several years. They leave way to many men on base. Guys are stranded in scoring position with less than two outs left and right.

    • Reed Johnson is hitting .000, Koyie Hill provides little offensively and Blake DeWitt does not do much with the stick. This means that the Cubs lack a pinch hitter that is a threat to take the ball out of the ballpark.

    • Carlos Pena has come up with some hits, but he cannot seem to come through in key situations.

    • Tyler Colvin is off to rough a start at the plate.

    • This second list is coming together a lot faster than the first one did.

    • The Cubs lost two out of three to the PIRATES.

    • Randy Wells and Andrew Cashner are BOTH on the DL! How often do you see two starting pitchers on one club injured in the first week of the season?

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

    Friday, April 8, 2011

    Minor League Opening Day Recaps

    The Cubs made some roster moves today, officially placing Andrew Cashner and Randy Wells on the disabled list. Casey Coleman will be added to the roster before he starts on Sunday. Jeff Stevens has been recalled from Triple-A and will pitch out of the bullpen.

    Last night was minor league opening day throughout the organization. The Cubs had some successful openers throughout the organization. All teams in the organization are wearing the number ten patches.

    The Iowa Cubs beat Round Rock 12-9 last night. Today, the made a roster move called Polin Trinidad up from Double-A to take Stevens' spot on the roster. Louis Montenez and Ty Wright each had three hits and three RBIs in the win. Wright and Bryan LaHair both homered in the win. Bill Dancy was managed his first game in Iowa after being named the Southern League Manager of the Year at the Double-A level last season.

    The Chattanooga Lookouts were the victims of the Tennessee Smokies opening day hit parade. Tennessee won the game 12-4. Matt Spencer and Josh Vitters each had three hits, while Spencer and Rebel Ridling both homered. Chris Rusin pitched five inning and picked up the victory.

    In Class-A Advanced action, the Daytona Cubs stared their season with a 3-2 win over Brevard County. Michael Burgess homered in the fifth to put the D-Cubs on the scoreboard. Matt Cerda delivered the big blow, a two run double in the seventh to put Daytona on top.

    The Peoria Chiefs were the only Cub affiliate to drop its opener. They fell 7-3 at home against Cedar Rapids in a game that was suspended yesterday in the seventh and finished up today. Greg Rohan went 2-for-4 with two doubles. The Cubs first round draft pick last June, Hayden Simpson, made his organizational debut on the mound. He struck out seven in 3.2 innings, allowing only a solo homer. Jeffry Antigua struggled in relief and was hammered with the loss.

    Wednesday, April 6, 2011

    Cashner & Wells Go Down: Rotation Options Now

    The Cubs surprised everyone today by announcing that they have lost two of their starting pitchers after just one time through the rotation. Randy Wells and Andrew Cashner have both been placed on the 15-day DL.

    Cashner has a strained right rotator cuff. He left Tuesday's game with the injury, so that was not as much of a shock as Randy's injury. Wells has a strained right forearm.

    Losing two starting pitchers this early in the season is a huge hit to a 3-3
    Cubs team that fell to the D'backs today. This is about the time that the Cubs regret letting Carlos Silva and Braden Looper go instead of offering one of them a bullpen spot. In spring training, the Cubs had four solid options for the back end of the rotation. All four are now out of the picture- one retired, one released and two injured.

    After tomorrow's off day, Carlos Zambrano and Matt Garza will work the first two games in Milwaukee. Then Wells' spot will come up in the rotation. Casey Coleman is expected to be called up from Triple-A Iowa to make the start. Coleman did a great job last year in a starting role and had a fairly good spring. While Coleman is a no-brainer at this point, Cashner's rotation replacement remains a question mark.

    Todd Wellemyer, who received a few starts in spring training, is still trying to recover from hip injury. He will start the year at Fitch Park until he is ready to pitch in game situations. Of the rest of the Iowa Cubs projected rotation (Austin Bibens-Dirkx, Roberto Coello, Thomas Diamond, J.R. Mathes and Coleman), Thomas Diamond makes the most sense to come up to the big leagues. He didn't fair too well last year, bouncing back and forth between the pen and starting five. However, Diamond still has the most experience among the four.

    The best option could be in the Cubs bullpen. Lefty James Russell was a starter in the minor leagues and could easily move back into that role. Jeff Samardzija is expected to remain in relief for now, while Marcos Mateo is also out of the question.

    Most likely, Mike Quade will decide to skip the fifth spot for a while. Ryan Dempster can pitch on regular rest on Monday thanks to the off day Thursday. The Cubs have another day off next Thursday. Q could avoid using more than four starters until either Cashner or Wells returns, depending on how long they are out.

    Two roster additions will be made before Friday's game, one of which will be Casey Coleman.

    Sunday, April 3, 2011

    The Good & The Bad from Games 1 & 2

    We're through two games and it is already time to break down the good and the bad from the Cubs season so far. The Cubs split the first two with Pittsburgh going into today's rubber match, which will see Matt Garza make his Cubs debut and Starlin Castro hit lead-off for the second time in his career. The Good:

    • The back end of the bullpen (Marshall, Wood and Marmol) looked very sharp in yesterday's victory.

    • Carlos Zambrano's first start was good enough to keep the Cubs in the game.

    • Big Z's injury was nothing serious, only a cramp in his hand.

    • Carlos Pena is already looking like a team leader.

    • Geovany Soto came through several times yesterday.

    • Blake DeWitt's performance of the bench to come through in a key pinch hit spot.

    • Mike Quade's energy

    • The Cubs ability to bounce back yesterday showing the resilliancy Q is looking for.

    • The bullpen has yet to allow a run.

    The Bad:

    • Ryan Dempser's opening day shelling.

    • The three walks that have come around to score runs already in the set.

    • Jeff Samardzija struggles in his inning on Friday, although he escaped without allowing a run.

    • The Opening Day loss to the lowly Pirates.

    • The Cubs inability to cash in with men in scoring position all day yesterday until the 8th inning.

    • They came close to dropping the first two game to the Pirates!

    Today is the first must win of the season!

    Saturday, April 2, 2011

    News & Notes After Game 1

    The Cubs fell in the opener yesterday against the Pirates by a score of 6-3. They look to bounce back at noon today. Carlos Zambrano will pitch against left hander Paul Maholm. Since the Cubs are facing a southpaw, there are several changes in Mike Quade's lineup. Here is what the starting nine will look like: 1. Jeff Baker, 2B 2. Starlin Castro, SS 3. Marlon Byrd, CF 4. Aramis Ramirez, 3B 5. Geovany Soto, C 6. Carlos Pena, 1B 7. Alfonso Soriano, LF 8. Tyler Colvin, RF 9. Carlos Zambrano, P Other news and notes-

    • The Pirates took batting practice today, but the Cubs elected not to.

    • Yesterday was Pittsburgh's fifth straight Opening Day win.

    • Dempster, who took the loss yesterday, is 0-4 with a 7.23 ERA in his last four starts against the Bucos.

    • Today's game will be the first of the year broadcast on CSN Chicago. Cubs Pregame Live starts at 11:00, with David Kaplan taking over hosting duties this season.

    • When Pat Hughes takes his fifth inning break on radio, Judd Sirott will join the broadcast but he will do color and Keith Moreland will do play-by-play.

    • Ron Santo's daugther said yesterday that Ron knew about the plan for the statue before he passed away and was very excited about it.

    • Cubs minor league outfielder Kyler Burke is being converted into a pitcher.

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

    Friday, April 1, 2011

    Game Preview: Opening Day 2011

    Today another season of Chicago Cubs baseball gets underway as the Cubs battle the Pirates at Wrigley Field! The Cubs will do battle with fellow NL Central bottom dwellers from 2010, the Pittsburgh Pirates.

    The Pirates finished 2010 in last place with a record of 57-105. The fifth place Cubs weren't much better at 75-87. Both clubs are under new manager this season. Mike Quade takes over the full time gig after serving as the interim skipper for the final two months of 2010.

    Clint Hurdle, a former Rockies manager, was named the Pittsburgh skipper this winter. Neither club has high expectations for the year, but the Pirates have a chance to finally end their streak of last place finishes. They have a chance to finish ahead of the Houston Astros for fifth place.

    The Cubs are predicted to finish fourth in the division, also a notch up from their finish a year ago. However, the division is very winnable. The Cubs could surprise some people by making some noise this season. Their strong finish under Mike Quade provides some hope for a surprising playoff run.

    Ryan Dempster will make his first Opening Day start as a Cub. For more on the Cubs right hander, check out my post from earlier in the week.

    RHP Kevin Coreia was suprisingly named Clint Hurdle's starter for the season's first game. He will make his Pittsburgh debut today after going 10-10 with a 5.40 ERA for the Padres last season.

    One key to 2011 for the Cubs will be beating the Astros and Pirates. A year ago, they went just 5-10 against the lowly Bucs.

    Here is the starting nine that will take the field at Wrigley today:
    1. Kosuke, RF
    2. Starlin Castro, SS
    3. Marlon Byrd, RF
    4. Aramis Ramirez, 3B
    5. Carlos Pena, 1B
    6. Geovany Soto, C
    7. Alfonso Soriano, LF
    8. Darwin Barney, 2B
    9. Ryan Dempster, P

    Ron Santo will be in the thoughts of all Cubs fans today. It is going to be strange to start the first regular season without Ronnie up in the broadcast booth. Ron Santo Jr. will sing the 7th Inning Stretch.

    The game will be on WGN-TV and WGN Radio at 1:20. TV coverage begins with "Next Year is Here", hosted by Dan Roan, at 12:30. Judd Sirott's pregame show starts at
    12:45 on 720 AM.

    The Cubs will be in for a bit of a shock when they take the field in the cold after spending the spring training in sunny Arizona. The high is 46 degrees and there is an 80% chance of rain in Chicago. The Cubs will do everything they can to try to get this one in.

    As Ron Santo would say, "This is the year!"