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Cubbies Finally on A Roll And Zambrano Back to the Rotation

Rockies Cubs BaseballLast night, Carlos Silva got another quality start, pitching six innings and allowing two runs to drop his ERA to 3.35 and improve to 5-0 on the season.

On a night when we learned that Carlos Zambrano will be returning to the starting rotation shortly, a different Carlos was able to steal the show by pitching six scoreless innings before allowing a two-run home run without recording an out in the seventh and being taken out.

After going 2-9 in an 11 game stretch, the Cubs have been able to pull off three strait wins after taking the finale against the division rival Pittsburgh Pirates and sweeping a two game series against the Colorado Rockies. Read the rest of this entry »

Position Breakdown: Infield

D065275027.jpgThe Cubs’ infield has been one of the stronger areas for the Chicago Cubs over the past few years.

Their corner-infielders have become stars in Chicago, and they have had lovable middle-infielders as well.

Here is a look at the expected starting line-up for the infield:

C: Geovany Soto
1B: Derek Lee
2B: Mike Fontenot
SS: Ryan Theriot
3B: Aramis Ramirez Read the rest of this entry »

Cubs Take First Game in Series With Brewers

Brewers Cubs BaseballThe Cubs were able to get out of their offensive woes against Seth McClung and the Brewers, as they took down the NL Central division leaders 9-5.

Derek Lee lead the Cubs with a career-high seven RBI’s on two home runs, going 2-4 on the day.

Ryan Dempster had a decent start, allowing just three earned runs in six and 2/3 innings, tying a season high with nine strikeouts. Read the rest of this entry »

Bob Warja’s Thoughts From a Wacky Cubs Week

1Cubs catcher Geovany Soto tested positive for marijuana at the WBC

Let me start by saying that in my world, this is not that big a deal. Yes, the drug is illegal, but to me, it is relatively harmless, especially when compared with harder drugs.

Still, I found Geo’s explanation that this was “an isolated incident” to be borderline ridiculous. Read the rest of this entry »

Cubs Put Together All The Pieces Against The Astros

Cubs Astros BaseballIt was a big night for the Cubs’ Mike Fontenot, who was celebrating his 29th birthday in style.

Fontenot went 4-5 with two runs, one RBI and a home run.  Not a bad night for the birthday boy.

But Fontenot’s night was just a footnote on a night when the Cubs were finally able to break out of the funk that they have been in all season and pull out a 7-1 win over the down-trodden Astros.

The Cubs were finally able to capitalize on a strong pitching performance, giving Ted Lilly plenty of room to sit back and pitch without pressure, and he responded well to the run support.

Lilly allowed just three hits, two walks and no runs over six and 2/3 innings.  Lilly’s strong performance was yet another quality start for one of the most consistent pitchers in the Cubs starting lineup. Read the rest of this entry »

Inconsistency Could Lead to a Dissapointing Season

17The Chicago Cubs came into this season with the expectation of at least contending for a World Series title.

However, they have struggled mightily this season and they have been unable to live up to the high expectations that accompanied a seemingly unstoppable pitching rotation and batting order.

As of late, the Cubs have been even worse, as they have gone 3-5 in the month of May.  What the problem has been for the Cubs is an inability to be consistently strong.

When they have great offensive days, they have been accompanied with great pitching days, and bad offensive days have been accompied with dismal pitching.

In the Cubs three wins this month, they have scored 7, 10 and 11 runs in each game, but in their five losses, they scored 0, 1, 3, 2 and 2 runs.  Compare that to the 2, 3 and 3 runs allowed in the three wins and the 3, 7, 4, 8 and 7 runs in the losses.

The Cubs need to be able to put together more wins, and that starts with both sides of the ball being held responsible when both sides are dismal in the same game.

One of the main reasons for the Cubs woes so far this season is the awful offensive production by players who were looked at as people who needed to contribute for the Cubs to be strong.

Mark Bradley, who was brought in to give the Cubs a strong left handed bat, isn’t averaging a hit for every 10 at bats, and has hit just one home run in a Cubs uniform.

Derek Lee is hitting just .200 with only one home run so far this season, he also has just 10 RBI’s and hasn’t stolen a base this season.

Last year’s National League Rookie of the Year, Geovany Soto, is batting just .111 and hasn’t hit a home run.  This adds to the fact that he has missed five full games this season and has accounted for just five runs (2 RBI’s, 3 runs).

But their hitting isn’t the only problem for the Cubs this season, their pitching has been just as bad, if not worse, than the hitting.

More Cubs have an ERA over 6.00 than one under 3.00 (four to two).

And, the Cubs vaunted starting pitching, which was supposed to be one of the best starting fives in the MLB hasn’t lived up to the hype.

Every starter has an ERA over 3.00 and the Cubs top two pitchers are pitching the worst in the lineup.

Despite a quality start last night, Carlos Zambrano’s ERA is 4.64 and Ryan Dempster’s is 5.40.  This is the opposite of what you want from what was supposed to be one of the best starting lineups in all of baseball.

The two “quality pitchers” in the Cubs bullpen, who were in the heated closing competition all spring, are both having dismal seasons.

Carlos Mamol’s ERA is 6.75, and Kevin Gregg’s is 6.23.  Who knew that Neal Cotts would be having a better season than both of these two.

The only pitcher with over 10 innings pitched and an ERA under three is Aaron Heilman, who has a 0.82 ERA in 11 innings of work.  He also has as many wins as Zambrano, Rich Harden and Ted Lilly, and more wins than Ryan Dempster.

The Cubs need to finally get their stuff together, and they need to start playing up to their full potential.  The Cubs are a team that needs a lot of production out their power spots in the lineup, and they just haven’t gotten that this year.

Without the pitching to make up for it, the Cubs may be in line for a mediocre season without much winning.

Then again, there are 142 games left for the Cubs, and anything can happen.

-Joe Willett

Come to Think of It…Cubs Hope Soto’s Injury Isn’t Serious

13Chicago Cubs catcher Geovany Soto was the NL rooke of the year last season. But his value to the Cubs goes even beyond awards. He is a catcher, and that position is so critical to a team that any injury, even minor, takes on greater significance.

So when Soto removed himself from Tuesday’s night’s game against the Astros due to what has been termed as “shoulder soreness,” the red flags and alarms shot up like fireworks on the Fourth of July.

To recap, Soto felt discomfort in his right shoulder while attempting to throw out Astros second baseman Kaz Matsui, who was trying to steal second base. After that, Cubs backup catcher Koyie Hill came on to replace him, temporarily befuddling Cubs announcers Len Kasper and Bob Brenly.

For his part, Soto said all the right things, using nebulous terms like “fatigue” instead of saying that it felt like someone was carving their initials into his shoulder.

“I kind of over-exposed my shoulder a little bit,” Soto said. “There was a little discomfort in my shoulder. I felt some weakness in it, and I felt I didn’t have a shot if somebody else [tried to steal].”

Look, “over-exposed” and “weakness” sound like terms used when agents, GMs, and other people advise players on how not to create panic. It’s a lot like when pitchers say they have “tightness in their forearm,” which really means their elbow hurts like hell.

I’m not trying to be an alarmist, perhaps this isn’t such a big deal. But one thing that Soto mentioned made me give pause: he said he needs to keep up on his “exercises”.

“I just have to stay on top of my exercises, and I’ll be all right in a couple days. As long as I stay in good shape and do my exercises, it won’t happen again all year.”

Was he talking about normal exercises they teach catchers to do to prevent injury?

Or, was he given exercises as a result of some previous injury?

After all, Soto did say he experienced the same problem during spring training. A casualty of the WBC perhaps?

Koyie Hill did a nice job replacing Soto and will start tonight in Houston. But let’s face it, we need Geo if we’re going to win the division again this year. He’s a force offensively and behind the plate. He’s no Johnny Bench or Pudge, but pitchers like throwing to him and he blocks balls in the dirt well.

Well, one thing is for certain—we sure can’t afford to have anything happen to Hill tonight.

Consider this: When asked who the emergency third catcher is, Lou Piniella said: “Me.”

I don’t believe that the 65-year old manager would have a lot of mobility, come to think of it.

-Bob Warja

Come to Think of it…Cubs Take Two in One Day from the Braves

The Cubs won both ends of a twi-night doubleheader from the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday, a DH necessitated by Tuesday’s rain-out.

Despite not pitching deep into the games, both Jason Marquis (5.1 IP) and Rich Harden (five IP) pitched effectively and got the win.

The game one hitting stars were Jim Edmonds and Geo Soto, while Fosuke Fukudome and Aramis Ramirez were the best in game two.

Which brings me to a question: didn’t Lou cause a stir the other day when he suggested that Kosuke would be hitting the pine more often due to his anemic hitting? So what does Sweet Lou do?

He starts Foo Man Choo in both games of the DH. Normally, even players going well get one of the games off. But no, not this time.

And it’s a good thing this happened, for Kosuke got two hits and drove in two runs in the second game.

Like Max Madsen, Lou may be mad and bad, but he’s not crazy…

With the wins, the Cubs moved ever closer to the Holy Grail of .500 on the road, improving to 28-30.

They go for the series sweep on Thursday, my birthday, with veteran lefties, Ted Lilly and Tom Glavine scheduled to start.

A win on my b-day is the only present I need, come to think of it.

-Bob Warja

Seventh Heaven

The Cubs are very well represented at the MLB All-Star Game this year, sending seven players to the game that could decide whether or not they will have home field advantage in the World Series.

They send three players who will start, three pitchers, and one reserve.

So what is the scouting report on each player that is reppen Cubbie blue?

Gevoany Soto

Soto has been a great addition for the Cubs and has helped get the taste of Michael Barrett out of our mouthes.

He is batting .291 with 14 home runs and 51 RBI’s, outstanding numbers for any player, especially a catcher who spends the game destroying their knees.

It’s not his first All-Star game, he has been to two minor league All-Star games.

Kosuke Fukudome

Fukudome has been a big addition from the Cubs in his first season from Japan. He has helped the Cubs be a more patient team, and his stats aren’t half bad either.

He has a .285 batting average with seven home runs, 35 RBI’s, eight stolen bases, and a .391 OBP.

He’s not only an offensive player, he is a great defensive player as well, shown by his many diving catches this season as well as winning a Gold Glove in Japan.

Alfonso Soriano

Soriano may have spent a lot of time on the DL, but he has been good when he has played.

Despite being a streaky player who has missed time, he still has 15 home runs, 40 RBI’s, and seven stolen bases with a .283 batting average.

Soriano has also been voted in for his defense, which has been stellar throughout his career.

Ryan Dempster

Dempster has been a big surprise for the Cubs ever since moving back from the closer spot.

This season, he has a 3.24 ERA, a 9-3 record, and 91 strikeouts, and emerged as a solid number two on the Cubs.

Carlos Zambrano

Zambrano has been stellar like always for the Cubs, which has earned him yet another All-Star selection.

Zambrano has been pitching especially well this season, however, currently at 9-3 with a 2.96 ERA and 73 strike outs.

Kerry Wood

Wood has been another big surprise for the Cubs. He was expected to be a good middle relief pitcher at best, but he has stepped into the closer role perfectly.

He has 22 saves so far this season, second in the NL, as well as a 2.91 ERA, which means he is only going to give up a run once every 3 games.

Aramis Ramirez

Ramirez has been just as good as always, bringing power to the middle of the lineup. He has also been a good defensive player despite his lack of quickness.

He has 15 home runs on the season, which puts him on pace for yet another season with over 30 homers. He is also batting .280 with 57 RBI’s.

So there you have it, the Cubs All-Stars.

Hope you all enjoyed your 4th of July’s, and enjoy todays game against the Cards.

Big Z Gives Nickname a Whole New Meaning

Carlos Zambrano allowed zero runs in his first start back after a stint on the 15-day DL today against the rival St. Louis Cardinals.

What’s even better is that the Cubs were able to pull off the win 2-1, which is different than the way they outscored teams earlier this season.

Zambrano allowed zero runs, four hits, two walks, and five strikeouts in six innings of work.

The only run for the Cardinals came on a two-out eighth inning home run by Albert Pujols, his 18th on the year.

The Cubs scored on a first inning home run by Kosuke Fukudome and a fourth inning home run by Geovany Soto.

Wood came in for the save in the ninth, his 22nd on the year, allowing just one runner to reach first base.

Soto was the Cubs Player of the Night, going three for three with a home run and an RBI.

The Hard Luck Player of the Night was Branden Looper of the Cardinals. Despite pitching seven innings and allowing just two runs, he still received the loss and struck out on both plate appearances.

The Cubs seem to be back on track with the return of Aramis Ramirez, Reed Johnson, and Carlos Zambrano.

Their lead in the NL Central opened up to 3.5 games, and they still have the second best record in baseball.

It seems like the slump is over, and I hope I am right. Tomorrow’s game is going to be pivotal, because winning the series against the Cards is going to be very important.

Hope everybody enjoyed their 4th of July, not to much drinking.

For me, it’s 1:30 in the morning and I am tired, good night.