Tagged: Randy Wells

I know I’ve lost the bet

I’m resigned to the fact that I will not win the Cubs/Cardinals wager with my Father.  I’m already looking a the calendar to see when I can get over to Wrigley Field to be photographed in Cardinals attire.  After yesterday’s 8-3 beating of the Cubs, the Cardinals now own a 7-3 head to head advantage.  Since the teams only play 16 games head to head, if the Cardinals win one more game against the Cubs, I cannot win the bet.  The best I could do is a draw.  That’s if the Cubs would win the remaining five games.  Yeah, that’s not happening.  Have you seen the Cubs lately?

47994567.jpgMy sentiments exactly, Rich.
Phil Velasquez, Chicago Tribune/ July 10, 2009
The Cubs are a game under .500 and tied for fifth place.  The Houston Astros have now passed the Cubs!  To make matters worse, the revolving door of injuries keeps spinning.  This week, both Ryan Dempster and Geovany Soto have landed on the DL.  Dempster got there by breaking his big toe jumping out of the dugout to celebrate a win.  That totally epitomizes the Cubs.  Soto’s DL stint began because he strained an oblique during batting practice.  Both of these injuries do not sound serious, but they are the type that can linger.  My wife once broke her toe and she says that the one month absence they are projecting for Dempster is very optimistic at best.  And an oblique strain can be bad, because you use it every time you swing.
The way I see it, the Cubs definitely have to trade for another starter.  Just expect Dempster to be out a while.  Last night, my wife and I talked about two trades the Cubs could possibly make.  One is a garbage contract for garbage contract trade.  It involves the Cubs trading Alfonso Soriano to the Giants for Barry Zito.  Both have big contracts and both could probably use a change of scenery.  The Giants need a power bat.  The Cubs could use a starter.  
The other trade senario has the Cubs trading for Roy Halladay.  The Cubs should offer Toronto Carlos Zambrano, Randy Wells, and/or Josh Vitters.  Zambrano is younger than Halladay and recently signed a contract extension.  Wells is another pitcher who could move right into the starting rotation.  If these two trades would happen, it would leave the Cubs with a rotation of Halladay, Lilly, Zito, Harden, and Dempster/Marshall.
If nothing else, baseball is about wishful thinking.
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The Curse of Being a Fan

I’m sorry I haven’t posted in a few days, but I’ve just been totally consumed by the Lakers.  Since they clinched last Friday, I’ve been pretty much thinking and worrying day and night about how they’re going to win this title.  They have to win.  Well, they rewarded me tonight with their second best effort of the playoffs (the closeout of Denver was still more dominating).  Apparently, the Lakers are interested again, which is good for me because I can at least sleep good the next couple of nights.  I know it’s silly, but those of you that are obsessive about your teams will understand.  I think.  One not so humorous thing about tonight.  Well, it’s something I’m sure we’ll look back and laugh about.  Tonight is the eve of our fourth anniversary, the fruit anniversary.  My wife went out and got her hair done.  Our son was staying with my parents today, so I went to pick him up and take him home.  They live 40 miles from us, so I did not get home until the player introductions for the game.  My son was cute, because he knew Kobe right away (I’ve taught him well).  Well, when I came in and put my son down, I became consumed with the game and did not notice my wife’s hair or make a comment about it. (She looked beautiful, but then again she always does).  Finally, when the Lakers started to open it up in the second quarter, I noticed.  I apologized profusely.  My wife understood.  She blamed Kobe.  I am so sorry, honey.  I did bring home a dozen roses, however.  And I did plan a great outing on Saturday to celebrate.  It still doesn’t excuse it, though.  Why do we get so consumed by a game on TV played far away by people who don’t know us?  It’s the curse of being a fan.

The Lakers success has taken some of my attention away from the Cubs.  Right now, this may not be a bad thing.  Where do I begin?  Let’s recap the rain shortened series against the Braves.
The still suspended Carlos Zambrano misses the team flight to Atlanta on Monday.  Way to go, Carlos.  Lou said he gave him a talking to.  Big Z was supposed to pitch today, but that game was rained out.  He’ll go tomorrow in Cincinnati instead.  I have a bad feeling about that.
Milton Bradley got hurt again.  Yawn.  However, the Cubs just call him day to day again and won’t put him on the DL.  They can’t say when he’ll play, though.  Are they serious?  You know, I would not care if they just cut him and ate the two years remaining on his contract.  There is a silver lining to his injury.  It means Reed Johnson will get to play more.  The Cubs are better with Reed Johnson then they are with Milton.
With the injury to Ramirez and the injury of the week to Bradley and others, the Cubs are becoming a team of Triple A players.  Andres Blanco, Bobby Scales, Jake Fox.  These guys aren’t young, either.  Scales is 31, Fox is 27, Blanco is 25.  Micah Hoffpauir is 29.  I admit, I liked the Bobby Scales story, but if the Cubs are going to depend on these three guys for a long stretch of time, they are not winning the division.  To remain in the minors until your 29 or 30 tells me there are some fatal flaws to your game, otherwise they’d be up sooner.  The other teams will figure the flaw out and exploit it.
Carlos Marmol and Kevin Gregg turned in a tag team effort to blow Tuesday night’s game.  Poor Randy Wells had a no hitter into the seventh inning and left leading 5-0.  Marmol gives up 3 runs in the eighth and Gregg gives up two in the ninth to force a sure win into extra innings.  In the twelfth, Heilman provided the cherry on top by giving up the winning run.
The next night, the Cubs blew a 2-0 lead and had the game go into extra innings.  Fortunately, they won this game to stay one game over .500.
Now the Cubs start a big series with the Reds, who are a game ahead of them.  Now would be a good time to start a winning streak.  OK, Big Z, your the ace.  Go and pitch like one.

Let’s Get Randy a Win Already!

Hey Cubs, could you please score a few runs Tuesday and get Randy Wells his first victory?  What else can Wells do?  In four starts this year, he is 0-2 with a 1.80 ERA.

Thankfully, May is now over.  During the month of May, the Cubs made it a habit of wasting good outings by their starters.  The offense was pretty much AWOL for the month.  The Cubs need to have a solid road trip to Atlanta, Cincinnati, and Houston.  I say this because their interleague schedule scares me.  This year the Cubs will be playing the AL Central.  Besides the White Sox (who can’t seem to lose right now), the Cubs will be playing Minnesota, Cleveland, and Detroit.  Minnesota and Detroit will be tough.  The Cubs should beat up Cleveland, but you never know.  The Cubs really need to go at least 7-2 in their upcoming road trip because I really don’t see them being more than .500 the rest of June.  Don’t forget, the Cubs have four against Milwaukee and four against St. Louis to open their July homestead.
It sounds like Aramis Ramirez will need surgery on his shoulder, but he says he will have the surgery at the end of the season.  He hopes to be back right before or right after the All-Star Game.  Let’s hope he doesn’t rush back until he absolutely can go.  I still think Derrek Lee came back to soon from his broken wrist in ’06, and he really hasn’t been the same since.
It seems that the biggest distraction to the Cubs so far in 2009 has been that sad sack Gatorade machine.  Well, they won’t have it to kick around anymore as the team is removing it from the dugout permanently.  Hey, you gotta do what you gotta do.

A Look at the Division

While the Cubs enjoy a day off, I decided to take a look at the state of the NL Central.

Who says the NL Central is a weak division.  Right now, four of the six teams are over .500.  The top four teams are separated by 3 and a half games.  As of the end of play on May 18, here are the standings.
                Milwaukee 24-14   —
                Chicago    21-15   2
                St. Louis   21-17   3
                Cincinnati  20-17   3.5
                Houston    17-19   6
                Pittsburgh 17-21   7
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The Brewers have been red hot as of late.  In their last three series, the Brew Crew took 2 out of three from the Cubs, swept three from the Marlins, and swept three from the Cardinals.  Trevor Hoffman has been lights out, converting all nine save opportunities.  The offense has been clicking, led by the Villainous Braun and Prince Fielder.  The starting pitching has been better than expected.  Will it last?  Prince Fielder is the absolute worst defensive first baseman I’ve seen at the big league level.  Having watched a lot of bad Cubs baseball over the years, that’s saying something.  The strain he puts on the pitching staff over the course of the season by giving teams extra outs is great.  The Brewers should trade him the to AL for some starting pitching.  At least there he can be someone’s DH.  Milwaukee got some bad news today when they learned they had lost Rickie Weeks for the season with a wrist injury.  Weeks had nine homers, 24 RBI, and a .517 on base percentage.
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I really don’t know how the Cubs have the record they have considering how erratic their starting pitching has been, how dreadful the bullpen has been, and how many key injuries they’ve had.  Piniella’s team has found a way to persevere.  This does give me hope for this season. Bobby Scales and Randy Wells have been pleasant surprises thus far.  Will the Cubs be able to maintain their offense during Ramirez’s absence?  Has Derrek Lee finally turned the corner with Sunday’s big performance?  Can Marmol be lights out again?  Can the Cubs really rely on Kevin Gregg?  Will Fukudome have another second half swoon?  These are some of the questions the Cubs face.
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The Cardinals came out of the gate like gangbusters.  Their high powered offense, led by Albert Pujols and Ryan Ludwick, was clobbering everyone.  Albert Pujols is the best player in the game right now, but things are going to get tougher for him now that his protector in the lineup, Ludwick, has gone on the DL.  They were just swept by Milwaukee in a series where they produced little offense.  Their bullpen has looked shaky at times once again.  They don’t have a true closer.  Sorry, Dad, But I think the Cardinals are beginning their slide down the standings.  Don’t forget who they play next!
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Cincinnati was my sleeper team this year.  They have a boatload of really good young talent. Could this be the Tampa Bay Rays of 2009?  Cincinnati is finding out “In Dusty, we trusty”.
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Houston has a scary offense with no pitching.  If they try hard, they could end up .500.
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The Pirates started out strong.  It looked like their young pitchers, such as Duke, Snell, & Gorzelanny had turned the corner like Verlander & Bonderman had for the Tigers in 2006.  However, they’ve slid back down in the last couple of weeks.  They still could figure in as a spoiler for the contenders down the stretch.
Extra! Extra!
Meet Jose Ascanio, the Cubs new reliever extraordinaire.
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Here are the results of the first four batters Jose faced in Sunday’s 6-5 loss to the Astros.
Batter 1 – Hit by Pitch (Hey, watch it!)
Batter 2 – Hit by Pitch (Ouch! That had to hurt.)
Batter 3 – Single to right, RBI
Batter 4 – Oops! Wild pitch, run scores
Someone actually figured out something Larry Rothschild hasn’t been able to, how to make Kevin Gregg, Neil Cotts, & Aaron Heilman look good.  Watch it now, these guys have got some competition.
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Vintage Gregg

Randy Wells has had a pretty remarkable start to his career as a starter.  In two starts this year, he has pitched 11 shutout innings.  He actually has pitched 16 and a third shutout innings if you go back to his relief appearances last year.

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                                      Phil Velasquez, Chicago Tribune / May 16, 2009

Despite his success, he has no record this year.  In both of his starts, he left the game with the lead only to see the bullpen lose that lead.  Yesterday, the Cubs led 4-0 going to the top of the ninth.  One would figure Wells would get his first big league win.  One would figure that.  Enter Kevin Gregg.

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                               Phil Velasquez, Chicago Tribune / May 16, 2009

Let’s recap yesterday’s ninth inning.  For those of you not familiar with the work of Kevin Gregg, yesterday was “Vintage Gregg”.

Lance Berkman – Home run to right center field.
Carlos Lee – Home run to left field.
Miguel Tejada – Single to left.
    Pitching coach Larry Rothschild comes out to have a “chat”.
Hunter Pence – Single to center that was deflected off of Gregg.
Geoff Blum is hit by a pitch.

Five batters, four hits, one hit batter.  Cubs lead is cut to 4-2.  Bases loaded.  None out.  Gregg’s looking better each outing.

Gregg exits stage left.  Aaron Heilman to the rescue!

Ivan Rodriguez singles to left scoring Tejada and Pence to tie the game.  Two on and no out.  What a game!

Heilman gets Michaels and Matsui both the fly out to Fukudome.  What, is Aaron Heilman auditioning for the role of a relief pitcher?
Heilman walks Michael Bourn to load the bases.  Maybe not.

Heilman exits for Sean Marshall who gets Lance Berkman to ground out with the bases loaded.  The Cubs escape complete disaster.

In the ninth, Soriano bails out the Cubs with an RBI single scoring Bobby Scales with the game winning run.

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                              Phil Velasquez, Chicago Tribune / May 16, 2009

And there was much rejoicing!

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      Phil Velasquez, Chicago Tribune / May 16, 2009

I think that Alfonso Soriano needs to take Kevin Gregg out to dinner at Gibson’s just to thank him.  Hey, if Gregg wasn’t the worst closer in the National League, Soriano wouldn’t have all these chances to be the ninth inning hero.

The Cubs will have a decision to make when Carlos Zambrano comes off the DL and goes back into the rotation.  I think that they should consider keeping Randy Wells in the rotation as the fifth starter and move Sean Marshall to the bullpen.  Marshall’s had success out of the pen before.  He would give the Cubs another lefty arm out of the pen.  Marshall could also act as a long reliever on those days when Rich Harden can only pitch three innings or when Carlos Zambrano has to leave in the second inning because he decided to slide head first into first base or something.  Just something to think about.

The good news is the Cubs have won five in a row!  Today, Rich Harden will try to bring hom
e a series shortened sweep of the Astros.  I’m thinking that Alfonso Soriano may be secretly hoping that Kevin Gregg gets to pitch the ninth inning again.

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Strange Brew

Right after school yesterday, my friend Packer Pete and I headed straight up I-94 to Milwaukee to catch the Cubs vs. the Brewers.  This is certainly a blossoming rivalry now that both teams are among the better teams in baseball.  Since the Brewers moved to the NL in the 1990’s, these games were just another set of games on the schedule.  After the Cubs near World Series appearance in 2003, tickets to Wrigley Field became harder and harder to get.  So many Cub fans who could not get tickets to Wrigley, started buying up the tickets to Miller Park.  This started the rivalry.  The Brewers were not good at this time, but their fans began to resent the F.I.B.S. that started overrunning their stadium whenever the Cubs came to town.  What’s a F.I.B.?  Well, the “I” stands for Illinois.  The “F” and the “B” stand for two words I can’t print here because kids may be reading this.  Use your imagination.  Thus, the Cubs/Brewers rivalry was based more on Wisconsinites’s disdain for people from Illinois taking over their city and stadium than it was on baseball.  That has changed in the past three years.  The Cubs and Brewers are now rivals in the standings and these games have taken on a real spirited atmosphere.  I always saw the Cubs/Cardinals as a friendly rivalry.  The Cardinal fans knew their team was superior to the Cubs and the Cub fans were just happy to be out at the game and maybe see their Cubbies embarrass the Cardinals a bit.  After the game, everyone would go out together.  Yeah, I don’t see that happening with the Cubs and Brewers.  This rivalry is a lot more jaded.

So it was with this backdrop that we headed up to Miller.  I was sporting my Cubbie gear and Pete was sporting his Brewer gear.  
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He also brought the infamous goat dressed up in a Brewer uniform.  He said he brought it to “curse” the Cubs.  I’ve never heard that before.
DSC04541.jpgSee what Cub fans have to put up with?  
Going into this game, I expected the Cubs to lose.  They were starting Randy Wells, a pitcher they called up from Iowa to replace Zambrano.  Wells made his first start in the majors last night.  He actually pitched well.  He went five scoreless innings.  Sure, he got into a few scrapes, but he managed to induce a double play or something in order to get out of it.  Heck, he pitched better than some of our regular starters have this year.   When Piniella took him out after five and put Guzman in to pitch in the sixth with the Cubs leading 2-0, I told Pete that the Brewers have an excellent chance of winning this game.  Guzman gave up a solo homer to JJ Hardy.  Heilman came in to pitch the eighth.  Perhaps I had a premonition of pending poopiness about to occur in the game, but I decided to go to the restroom and then get something to drink. Yeah, I didn’t actually see the four pitch walk and the two run bomb hit by Ryan Braun.  I could just hear the explosion of the Brewer fans and the ensuing fireworks that rocked Miller Park.  I didn’t need to see this.  I’ve been seeing it all year.  Stupid bullpen.  The scoreboard after the game told the tale.

DSC04567.jpgI do have “Hells Bells” by AC/DC stuck in my head as the Brewers continue the Trevor Hoffman tradition of blasting this entire song when he comes into the game.  

The Brewer fans can gloat.  For one day, at least.
DSC04564.jpgThe goat had nothing to do with it.
Boy, things just keep getting worse for the Cubs.  In the third inning, Aramis Ramirez dove along the third base line after a ball hit by Ryan Braun and apparently injured himself.  From where we were sitting on the first base upper deck side, we couldn’t tell what exactly happened to Ramirez.  Did he get hit in the face with the ball?  Did he land awkwardly on his wrist?  We only saw Theriot sprint up to him and the trainer and Piniella sprint out of the dugout.  Ramirez stayed down for a long time.  They finally got him up and walked him straight into the clubhouse.  Not good.  I’ve always said that Ramirez is the one guy the Cubs could not afford to lose for any lengthy amount of time.  After they got him in the clubhouse, I called my wife to ask her what she saw on T.V.  She said it looked like a shoulder injury.  Sure enough, the news from the Cubs is that Aramis Ramirez separated his left shoulder and will get an MRI today.  He was placed on the DL and will be out 4-6 weeks, at minimum.  Ramirez suffered a similar injury back in 2000 with the Pirates.  He missed six weeks.
I did hear that the Cubs have traded Joey Gathright to the Orioles for Ryan Freel.  Freel will be a much needed utility player for the Cubs.
I enjoy Miller Park.  Here are some more pictures from yesterday’s game.
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The hot dog eventually won.
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It’s times like these that test the mettle of a team.  We’re going to find out a lot about the 2009 Cubs in the next six weeks or so.

Four in a Row!

On Friday, I’ll be making the trek over the Cheddar Curtain with my cheesehead friend Packer Pete to see the Cubbies demolish the Brew Crew.  Packer Pete said he’s bringing the Brewers goat, but that won’t have any adverse affect on the Cubs.  The Cubs are cursed because of a goat they wouldn’t let in to Wrigley, not some stupid stuffed animal wearing a Brewers jersey.  I’m confident of a Cubs sweep this weekend, even if they will be pitching a rookie on Friday night.  The Cubs will make Swiss cheese out of the Brewers.

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There’s something not right about wearing this on your head. 

The Cubs are likely to pitch Randy Wells from Triple A Iowa on Friday because they’ve placed Carlos Zambrano on the 15 Day DL.  Big Z strained a hamstring yesterday.  Until Friday, the Cubs have called up third baseman Bobby Scales from Iowa.  Scales, who has been in the minors for 11 years will finally get a chance to play in the big leagues.
How about Ryan Theriot?  Another home run!  Theriot has hit 3 home runs in the last four games.  He now has tied Lee and Fukudome for the team lead in RBIs with 15.  Way to go, Ryan!  By the way, the Cubs have now won four in a row after the 4-2 win over the Giants!
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Charles Rex Arbogast/AP
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