Tagged: Jeff Samardzija

Roster Move

On Wednesday, Jeff Samardzija was sent down to Iowa and right handed reliever Chad Fox was called up to the majors.  From what I’ve read, the Cubs intend to start Samardzija for Iowa on Saturday.  Why did they bring him up to put him in the bullpen?  Piniella said today that they have a young bullpen and they could use a veteran reliever in the pen.  Fox is a 38 year old journeyman.  From all accounts, Fox pitched well during the spring.  So, why didn’t they just call up Fox instead of Samardzija in the first place?  Samardzija needs time in the minors.  He has one pitch, a fastball, and major leaguers clearly have have caught up with it.  On Tuesday, Aaron Rowand was in an 0 for twenty something slump and the cure for that turned out to be Jeff Samardzija.  He’s not fooling anyone right now.  I realize they have a huge stake in Samardzija, they did pay him some huge signing bonus with a ton of guaranteed money.  For now, the Cubs should stick to developing Samardzija as a starter.  I believe that is where he will have the most value to the team.

While watching tonight’s game at a local sports bar/eatery in our area, my wife and I couldn’t help notice how aggressive Ryan Theriot is becoming at the plate.  Does he now think he’s a home run hitter?  In the second inning he opened the at bat with two consecutive home run hacks.  Sure, I was happy to see the recent power surge out of Theriot, mainly because it helped the Cubs win some games.  Ryan, you’re my favorite player, but you’re not Aramis Ramirez all of a sudden!  Keep doing what you do best, working the count, drawing walks, timely base hits, etc.  Derrek Lee is the player I’d like to see more aggressive at the plate.
It was good to see the Cubs give Rich Harden some immediate run support.  The Cubs’ four run outburst in the first inning against the Astros was highlighted by a three run triple by Reed Johnson.  Harden, in turn, reciprocated by tossing what was probably his best outing of the year.  Cubs win 6-3.
Ted Lilly goes for win number four in game two against Houston.
I need to take this time to rant about my Lakers.  Tonight, the Lakers beat the Rockets 111-98 to tie the series at a game apiece.  They absolutely needed to lose that game one the other night.  The Lakers have not played a four quarter game in about a month.  Sure, they’ve been winning their games, but when you consistently build 15 to 20 point leads in the second half over opponents only to let them get back to within four or five late in the fourth, something is wrong.  They’re unfocused.  They’re not making free throws.  We’ve seen glimpses of the Incredible Shrinking Gasol.  They’re committing stupid fouls putting the opponent in the penalty with like 8 minutes left in a quarter.  Something has to give.  Getting embarrassed Monday at home was probably the best thing for the Lakers.  A crack over the head to wake them up.  They cannot take the Rockets lightly.  They’ll probably pull out this series, but honestly, right now Denver’s going to beat them in the next round.  The Lakers are at a crossroads.  One of two things can happen.  Either they will play like the champions they think they are or their erratic play will catch up to them.

A Throw Away Game

What was going on in Lou Piniella’s mind?

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AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

Gathright, CF
Miles, SS
Fukudome, RF
Lee, 1B
Hoffpauir, LF
Fontenot, 3B
Scales, 2B
Hill, C
Marshall, P
This was the Cubs starting lineup today.  What?  And, by the way, they were facing Tim Lincecum, perhaps the best pitcher in the National League.  I guess one could figure Lou wanted a lot of lefties in the lineup against Lincecum.  If that were the case, why not play Milton Bradley?  He was supposed to solve the Cubs need for a left handed power bat.  This would have been the perfect situation to take advantage of him.  Bradley certainly didn’t need a day off.  He’s been out all year.  Lou probably figured he needed to give some starters some time off.  Sure, players need a day off here and there, but half the starters at the same time?  Against the reigning NL Cy Young winner?  Lou had to figure he wasn’t going to win this game with this lineup.  Maybe that was the idea.  It almost seems like Lou knew his team couldn’t beat Lincecum (Lincecum was 2-0 against the Cubs last year), so he sent the bench out there to create an excuse.  Oh, we lost because we had the bench out there.  Maybe Lou didn’t want to embarrass Soriano, Bradley, Ramirez, & Soto out there against Lincecum.  I don’t know.  It was certainly a curious lineup.  Soto was starting to look like he was coming out of his slump.  Why sit him now?  As a fan, I feel the Cubs just gave a game away.  The Cubs did just that, losing 6-2 to the Giants.  Their four game winning streak is now over.
What’s going on with Aramis Ramirez?  He’s not on the DL, but he’s not playing, either.
Congratulations to Bobby Scales on getting his first major league hit!
Jeff Samardzija does not belong in the major leagues right now.  Other teams have him figured out.  He can throw 100 miles and hour, or whatever, but so can Kyle Farnsworth.  Samardzija reminds me of Farnsworth.  It’s really funny how people have just latched on to this guy.  You already see people with Samardzija T-shirts and jerseys.  I don’t get it.  What would possess someone to wear something like that.  He hasn’t done anything yet, except get pummelled out there.  I haven’t seen anyone wearing a Neal Cotts T-shirt or jersey.  Why Samardzija and not Cotts?  They both get about the same results out there?  My wife and I think we’ve figured it out.  It’s solely because Samardzija went to Notre Dame.  It’s the Notre Dame bias that exists out here in Chicagoland.  People around here lose their minds over that Indiana university.  If Samardzija went to almost any other college no one would pay attention to him.  The fact that he played football for Notre Dame makes him an icon in some peoples eyes.  
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                                  AP Photo/Joe Raymond

I just see a pitcher who looks lost out there.  Some of it is not his fault.  The Cubs have been messing with him pretty good.  First he’s going to be a starter, then he was put in the pen, then he’s sent to Iowa to work on being a starter, and now he’s back in the majors and thrown back into a sub par bullpen.  His head is probably spinning.
Next up is Houston for two, then on to Milwaukee.
Photo Credits:

Did the Cubs make the April grade?

April has come to an end.  Twenty-one games are in the books.  Being a teacher, I’m used to grading my students’ performance.  I’m going to take this opportunity to grade the Cubs players’ April performance.

Outfielders
Alfonso Soriano, B
        He’s personally won at least two games this year.  His batting average has started to
        dip.  I’s now .284.
Reed Johnson, C+
        Outfield play has saved Cubs on a number of occasions.  Great attitude and seems to
        be a great team guy.  He is hitting only .216, though.
Kosuke Fukudome, A
        Solid start to season with his .338 average.  He leads team with 15 RBI.  We’ve seen
        this before, however.  Can he extent the hot hitting after the All-Star Break?
Milton Bradley, F
        Should be an incomplete, as he hasn’t played much.  His attitude and distractions
        earn him an F.
Joey Gathright, INCOMPLETE
        One hit in nine at bats.  The jury is still out.
Micah Hoffpauir, B-
        .303, two homers, nine RBIs.  Sloppy defense at times.
Infielders
Derrek Lee, C-
         Good defense.  Some timely hits, but still hitting only .189.  Time to move down in the 
         order.
Aramis Ramirez, B+
         When he’s in there, he’s the Cubs most dangerous hitter.  .358 with 14 RBIs.  Has
         battled injury issues thus far.  The Cubs CANNOT afford to lose him for any extended
         length of time.
Ryan Theriot, B+
         Hitting .317.  Plays hard and is dependable.  Base running gaffes are a weakness.
Mike Fontenot, B-
         Hitting only .232, but has four homers and ten RBIs.  A good team guy.  His defense is
         better this year.
Aaron Miles, C+
         Cubs are getting what they should have expected from this light hitting infielder.
Catchers
Geovany Soto, F
         This saddens me.  Slow start, hitting .109 with only five hits on the season.  Is he
         still hurt?  Can’t throw out any base stealers.  A Cubs Rookie of the Year off to a slow              
         start the following year.  Anyone remember Jerome Walton?
Koyie Hill, B
         A solid backup.
Starters
Carlos Zambrano, C+
         Can be inconsistent.  Still will let his emotions take over at times.  4.64 ERA.
         36 hits allowed in 33 innings along with 13 walks.
Ryan Dempster, C
         29 hits allowed in 30 innings along with 14 walks.  5.40 ERA.
Ted Lilly, C+
         2-2 with a 3.80 ERA.
Rich Harden, B
         If you take out the awful game I saw him pitch against Colorado, he’s probably been the 
         best of this bunch so far.  2-1, 3.86 ERA.
Sean Marshall, B-
         3.32 ERA is best among the starters.  He keeps the Cubs in the game.
Bullpen
Aaron Heilman, C+
         I was actually ready to give him an A- before todays game because of his 0.82 ERA.
         I’m so mad after tonight, I’ve downgraded him.
Angel Guzman, C-
         His 3.97 ERA now actually looks good in this bullpen.  Sad.
Kevin Gregg, F
         11 hits in 9.2 innings pitched and a 5.59 ERA is not going to get it done as a closer.
Davis Patton, F
         Threw a home run derby pitch to Pujols with the bases loaded.  Has a 9.35 ERA.
Carlos Marmol, C+
          Mr. Reliable started out strong.  Even he has struggled of late, even before his injury.
          6.00 ERA.
Neal Cotts, F
         Only because there isn’t a grade lower than F.
Jeff Samardzija, F
        You see Jeff Samardzija, I see Kyle Farnsworth.  6.75 ERA.
The Overall Grade = C
The Cubs finish April at 10-11.  They are a very average team right now with a lousy bullpen.  
They’ve scored 97 runs and given up 104.  They are 4-5 at home and 6-6 on the road.  The Cubs face a challenge right now.  They trail St. Louis by five games right now.  St. Louis has three more games against the woeful Washington Nationals this weekend.  The Cubs have three more games against the first place Marlins.  The Cubs don’t want to start digging themselves too deep of a hole.  There’s an old baseball adage that says while you can’t win a pennant in April, you can lose a pennant in April.  Thank God it’s May.
         

The Cubs/Cardinals Wager Is Set

My father and I have finally agreed to a wager!  It was a long, drawn out summit meeting today, but we have finally agreed to the terms of our Cubs vs. Cardinals wager.  I wagered my father that the Cubs would have a better head to head record against the Cardinals this year.  The Cubs and Cardinals play each other 16 times, so 9 wins by either team will win the bet for one of us.  If each team wins 8 games, then it is a wash.  So far, the Cubs lead 2-1 with the next round of three games coming this weekend.  The terms of the wager are as follows.  If the Cubs win 9 or more games, then I win and my father will wear a Chicago Cubs replica road jersey in front of Wrigley Field and pose for a photograph to appear on this blog.  If the Cardinals win 9 or more games, then I will wear a Cardinals T-shirt or jersey and hat in front of Wrigley Field and pose for a photograph to appear on this blog.  There was much negotiating in coming up with these terms.  Originally, I wanted to have my father wear a Cubs floppy hat.  He completely refused.  We finally settled on the Cubs road jersey, because there is no Cubs logo on it.  It only says “Chicago” across the chest.  I accepted this.  My father also requested he wear a Cardinals t-shirt under the jersey, so the jersey would never have to touch his skin.  I agreed to this as well.  This concession on my part reminded me of a bet I made with my Packer fan friend at the school we teach at.  I bet him once the Bears would finish ahead of the Packers and when they did, he had to wear a Brian Urlacher jersey all day at school.  Under the jersey, he wore a Packers turtleneck so he wouldn’t get any Bears cooties from the jersey.  The funny thing about this was he didn’t realize it was yearbook pictures the day he wore the jersey.  He had to have his yearbook picture taken wearing a Brian Urlacher jersey.  So, the wager with my father is on!  Go Cubbies!

The only place the Cubbies went tonight was the loss column as Johnny Cueto and the Reds shut them out 3-0.  Ted Lilly did not pitch too bad, but he made two costly errors.  Milton Bradley made his long awaited return to the lineup and contributed an 0-4 night.  I can’t single him out.  Derrek Lee, Soriano, Fukudome, and Ramirez were the only Cubs to get any hits.  None in the clutch, either, as the Cubs went 0-4 with runners in scoring position while leaving 7 men on base.  I say tip your cap to Cueto and let’s go get Harang tomorrow in the rubber game.
Just in time for the weekend series with the Cardinals, the Cubs are going to call up pitcher Jeff Samardzija from Triple A Iowa on Thursday.  From what I read on Cubs.com, the plan is to use Samardzija in the bullpen to “bridge the gap” to Marmol and Gregg.  Luis Vizcaino will reportedly be the odd man out.  I think it should be Neal Cotts, but because he’s the only lefty in the pen right now he stays.