Tagged: Carlos Marmol

Cubs Win First Game With Teamwork!

Cubs Win!  Cubs Win!  How?  A combined effort of solid pitching and timely hitting gave the Cubs their first victory of 2011.  Everyone contributed and provided the kind of teamwork that will carry this team to new heights.  As a diehard Cubs’ fan, I am very encouraged by this team’s tenacity to hang in there.  I am pleased by the effort that everyone gave.  Indeed, this will be a fun group to watch.  Mike Quade deserves a world of credit for the way this team has come together.  I think there is good reason to be optimistic this season.

Carlos Zambrano struggled early but managed to keep the game close.  Cramping in his hand forced him to leave the game, but Kerry Wood came in and took care of business.  Sean Marshall followed Wood and also shut down the Pirates.  Then in the bottom of the 8th, the Cubs came to life and battled for a 5 run inning.  The beauty of that inning was that everyone contributed with timely hitting. 
60602722.jpg Alfonso Soriano had a key hit and of course, Blake DeWitt delivered in the clutch.  Dewitt, who struggled in Spring Training, deserves a lot of credit.  His confidence needed a boost and he needed that hit as much as the team did.  It was a total team effort. 
60602747.jpg I like the way that this team sticks together and supports one another.  It is refreshing.  Carlos Marmol came on in the 9th and struck out the side for his first save of the young season.
60602748.jpg  In fact, the bullpen retired the last 9 Pirate batters of the game.  Now that’s a solid bullpen! 

Matt Garza is on the bump today.  He will be starting his first game in a Cub uniform.  If he can have a solid outing, then the Cubs should win again.  Garza seems like a really good teammate.  He’s a gamer, you can tell.  With the addition of Garza, Carlos Pena, and the return of Kerry Wood, I believe the club house chemistry is finally coming together.  Mike Quade has good reason to like his chances this year.  Teamwork is what champions are made of and the Cubs are showing signs of having the right chemistry. 

Good job to everyone!  Keep up the good work!  Go Cubs Go!!! 

Seriously, Are The Cubs Going To Be Any Good This Year?

With Spring Training right around the corner, it’s time to evaluate the offseason moves made by Jim Hendry, the Cubs General Manager.  Each and every year Cubs’ fans get excited around this time.  We are ever hopeful that the new season will bring that elusive championship, but in the end, we are disappointed yet again.  Could this year be different?  Could 2011 be the breakthrough year to remember?  Have the Cubs made the necessary moves to bring the right balance to a team that has struggled to reach its potential?  I am going to gaze into my crystal ball and peek into the future and try to determine what kind of team we have to look forward to.

The first glimpse that may be indicative of a promising year dates back to the last month and a half of last season.  After the sudden retirement of Lou Piniella, Mike Quade took over the helm and steered the Cubs in the right direction.  Under Quade, the Cubs finished strong.  The players responded to his style of managing and won nearly 2/3 of the remaining games.  Quade made a strong impression on Jim Hendry and Cubs’ Chairman, Tom Ricketts, and the interim tag was removed as he won the managerial job over fan favorites such as Ryne Sandberg and Joe Girardi.  There was much controversey over the process, but in the end, Mike Quade had earned the position.  In 2011, Mike Quade will face the challenge of managing over the long haul of the season.  If 2010 was evidence that he has what it takes to turn this team around, then indeed, the Cubs have much to look forward to.

As the Cubs searched the free agent market to fill some obvious holes, Jim Hendry finally found a left-handed first baseman in Carlos Pena.  Was it the right fit?  Some may argue, but seriously, Pena is a great defensive first baseman and has a powerful left-handed bat.  Exactly what the Cubs needed.  Is his .196 batting average and high strikeout ratio a concern?  It would be, but Pena is working with Rudy Jaramillo, the Cubs’ hitting coach, and is totally committed to improving his swing.  That willingness to learn is the key.  There are far too many veterans who think that they are so great that they have nothing more to learn, the very same players who start to stink and drag everyone around them down.  So it is refreshing to see a player who wants to get better.  Carlos Pena is going to work out just fine, you’ll see.

The Cubs also re-acquired Kerry Wood.  I am very happy about this because Woody is, was, and always will be a Cub.  He is a club house leader and understands what it means to be a Cub.  He gave the Cubs a huge discount to come home.  He did an awesome job for the Yankees last season and he promises to do more of the same for the Cubs in 2011.  Hopefully he can remain healthy and prove to everyone that HE’S BACK!  I think that he will return with a vengeance.  I am excited to see him again!

Then, there was the controversial trade for Matt Garza.  The Cubs may have lost some top prospects, but they have gained one of the best pitchers in the game today.  He will be a welcomed addition to the Cubs’ pitching staff.  Coming to the National League where hitters aren’t very familiar with him will be to his advantage.  I look for him to have a great year.  Like Woody and Pena, I foresee him silencing the critics very quickly.  I predict that he will win 18 games or more this season.

The Cubs have also made some minor moves, such as re-acquiring Reed Johnson, Todd Wellmeyer, and getting some players in the Tom Gorzellany trade.  We’ll see how those work out as only time will tell.  On a positive note, the Cubs have signed Geovanny Soto, Sean Marshall, and I believe, Carlos Marmol thus avoiding arbitration.  So that is good news.

One important factor that will determine the Cubs destiny is whether or not they can stay healthy.  Last year was a disaster as far as injuries go.  A healthy team learns to play as a team and gel.  A different line-up everyday is disastrous to team chemistry and that was something we saw too much of last year.  The Cubs need to stay healthy, period!  It is good to hear that Tyler Colvin will be back this year.  Watching him being impaled by a broken bat scared us all.  It’s great that he will return, we’ll need him.

The Cubs seem pretty solid up and down the line-up, except for one thing.  We still do not have a protypical lead-off hitter.  I probably sound like a broken record, but this could make or break the Cubs’ offense.  Last season, there was no spark to ignite the offense and consequently no pressure on the opposition.  If the Cubs truly want to contend, this crucial piece must be found.  If no trades are made, then somebody will need to step up and learn how to get on base and rattle the defense.  I hope that Mike Quade doesn’t just pencil in just anybody.  He knows full well that the lead-off hitter sets the tone for what will follow.  Anyway, we’ll see what happens.  Perhaps Starlin Castro or Kosuke Fukudome will be willing to learn how to fill that role.  Who knows, after all, there is still some time before the season begins.

Overall, I think the Cubs will be much improved.  If the lead off role can be filled, I think the Cubs will be in business.  Once again, I am excited about the upcoming season, unfortunately, my crystal ball isn’t as clear as I’d like it to be, but that would take all of the fun out of watching the season unfold now wouldn’t it?

My All-Time Favorite Cubs!

I have been a diehard Cubs’ fan for over 32 years.  Here is a list of my all-time favorite Cubs.

In no particular order, I have broken my favorites down by position.  Former Cub Greats like Billy Williams, Ernie Banks, and Ron Santo are NOT listed since I never had the opportunity to see them play.  However, obviously, they are the best.

In the OUTFIELD, my favorites include ANDRE DAWSON.  Andre Dawson is a Hall of Famer and his numbers speak for themselves. 
thumbnailCASVJS4E.jpgSammy,
thumbnailCAGSWXSZ.jpgon the other hand, lost favor with me when I, along with the rest of the world, discovered that he used a corked bat while hitting 66 homeruns in 1998.  Sammy was exciting to watch, but with the steroid scandal, he became a major disappointment.  I was at Wrigley all summmer long in 1998 and was a witness to history, unfortunately it was all smoke and mirrors for the fans.   Another favorite has been Gary Matthews.  “Sarge” always took charge in the outfield and played hard-nosed baseball.  He was an all-out effort kind of player. My third favorite outfielder, in my time, is BOB DERNIER.
thumbnailCASG8UGU.jpg
thumbnailCAYVE10S.jpg  He was a speedster that not only stole bases, but had a gold glove as well.

At THIRD BASE, the Cubs haven’t had anybody that has stood out until Aramis Ramirez came along. 
thumbnailCA6WKXR1.jpgAlthough he struggled with injuries last season, he has been a solid performer over the past few years with the Cubs.  Hopefully next season, he will return to form.

At SHORTSTOP, my favorite was Ivan DeJesus
thumbnailCAU6D3I4.jpgHe was the lead-off hitter back when I began watching the Cubs.  He played solid defense and stole bases.  He always gave 100%.

At SECOND BASE, there is only one RYNE SANDBERG. 
thumbnailCACA1ZSP.jpgA Hall of Famer, Ryno was simply the best.  He was the most clutch hitter that I’ve ever seen.

At FIRST BASE, while most fans would arguably pick Mark Grace and rightfully so, my pick is BILL BUCKNER.  Back in the day, Buckner was a hitting machine.  In my opinion, he was a better hitter than Gracie.  He was a pretty good defensive player as well.  It is unfortunate that fans only remember the ball that went through his legs at Boston.
thumbnailCAK2MV8C.jpg  The same could be said for Leon Durham in 1984.  Derek Lee deserves special recognition.  I almost picked him and probably should have.  He is probably the best first baseman the Cubs have had in my 32 years as a fan, I just was a big fan of Buckner, that’s all. 

At CATCHER, my favorite was JODY DAVIS.
thumbnailCAIL1KLX.jpg  He was awesome.
thumbnail.jpg  Back in 1984, the Cubs had a good team up and down the line-up.  It was probably my favorite team as a whole.

STARTING PITCHER is none other than Greg Maddux
thumbnailCAXBVF46.jpgHe is the king of the hill.

My favorite CLOSER was BRUCE SUTTER.  He had a split-fingered fast ball that was lights out.  Carlos Marmol recently broke his strikeout record for closers.

thumbnailCA01ENS8.jpgSome of my other favorites include, most notably, JOE GIRARDI, LEE SMITH, DENNIS ECKERSLY, Kenny Lofton, FERGUSON JENKINS, MARK GRACE, Sammy Sosa, Kerry Wood, RICK SUTCLIFFE, LEON DURHAM, KEITH MORELAND, Derek Lee, DAVE KINGMAN, SHAWON DUNSTON, Carlos Zambrano, Alfonso Soriano, and Carlos Marmol.   My FAVORITE CUBS’ TEAM was 1984. 
thumbnailCAFW14WS.jpgIt was a season to remember!
thumbnailCAWZTYEX.jpg

2010 Diehard Attaboy Awards!

The 2010 season is finally over.  Now it’s time to reflect on the players who deserve special recognition.  Introducing the 1st annual Diehard Cubs’ Fan Attaboy Awards.

While my choices may not reflect the opinion of all Cubs’ fans, here are my selections nonetheless.  Feel free to leave comments regarding your choices.  It’s a free country.

The Ernie Banks Award goes to the player who exemplifies the heart and soul of the team.  The player who demonstrated heart, determination, and who led by example.
!cid_6EE51BB917EE44FAAA637C9D313E92FC@PC270429458147.jpg  Numbers aside, it goes to the player who contributed to the team in tangible and intangible ways.

The Ernie Banks Award goes to… Marlon Byrd. 
thumbnailCAGLQ18E.jpg His hustle and determination made him an all-star in 2010.  Marlon batted .293, with 12 homeruns and 66 RBI’s.  Byrd had a .346 OBP and defensively shined in centerfield.  He brought a winning attitude to the club.  Attaboy, Marlon!

Rookie Of The Year Award goes to Starlin Castro AND Tyler Colvin.
thumbnailCAX4JZ3Z.jpg  While Castro would be thumbnailCARXR0C1.jpgmost fans’ choice for the award, Tyler Colvin has proven to be a valuable part of the team as well.  Starlin Castro batted .300, with 3 homeruns and 41 RBI’s.  Castro led the team with 10 stolen bases.  Meanwhile, prior to having his season end prematurely due to the broken bat incident, Tyler Colvin hit .254, with 20 homeruns and 56 RBI’s.  Both youngsters did a tremendous job in 2010.  While both players have room for improvement, Castro and Colvin had an excellent rookie season.  Attaboy, you guys!  Good job!

Most Dominant Pitcher Award goes to… Carlos Marmol.

Carlos Marmol has been one of the most dominant closers in the game today. 
thumbnailCA0U7BJV.jpg Marmol has become one of the most feared pitchers for batters to face.  He has a NASTY slider that when Carlos is on top of his game, is unhittable.  He has been lights out this year.  Marmol surpassed Bruce Sutter’s single-season record for strikeouts by a closer with 138 K’s.  Carlos finished the year with a 2.55 ERA and 38 SAVES.  Attaboy, Carlos!  Excellent work!

Comeback Player Award goes to… Carlos Zambrano.

thumbnailCAHAZ47R.jpgBig Z was on the verge of being finished in Chicago following his infamous tirade in the dugout after Derek Lee failed to dive after a ball driven down the first base line.  His outburst landed him on the Restricted List where Carlos was forced to undergo Anger Management classes.  Upon his return to the starting rotation, Big Z was resurrected and given new life.  Zambrano made the best of his second chance as he calmly returned and was better than ever.  Big Z made a statement to silence the critics, not with his mouth, but with masterful pitching performances.  Since the all-star break, Big Z proved that he is one of the best in the business as he went 8-0, with a 1.41 ERA in his last 11 starts.  Zambrano finished the season 11-6, with a 3.33 ERA.  Big Z is back, better than ever!  Attaboy, Carlos!  Keep up the good work, and don’t forget to stay calm! 

The Mr. Consistency Award goes to… Sean Marshall.  Sean is a true team player.  He would rather be in the starting rotation but the team needed his services in the bullpen where Sean has quietly turned into one heck of a reliever.
thumbnailCAOO32DN.jpg  He has been the premiere set up man.  Marshall finished the season with a 7-5 record and a 2.65 ERA in 80 appearances.  Sean has proven to be one of the best left-handed relievers in the game.  Attaboy, Sean!  Nice job!

Special Award goes to… Mike Quade.  Since Lou Piniella retired, Mike Quade assumed managerial duties to finish out the season.  No one had Mike Quade on Jim Hendry’s ShortList but, Quade didn’t waste any time opening people’s eyes. 
thumbnailCACT6MC2.jpg He quickly turned the Cubs around.  Under Mike, the team finished 24-13.  Quade deserves a ton of credit for the turnaround.  No one expected that he would emerge as one of the front runners to win the 2011 managerial position, but here he is.  The players have endorsed him and have played their hearts out to finish the season strong.  The Cubs looked like playoff contenders the last month and a half, a huge accomplishment since there wasn’t anything to play for at that point.  In any event, the strong finish will undoubtedly carry over into next season.  I tip my hat to Mike Quade for making the end of the season enjoyable to watch.  Attaboy, Mike!  Good luck on the interview process!  You have proven your ability to manage and manage well!

The Diehard Award goes to… THE ENTIRE CUBS’ TEAM for not giving up when all was lost, for having the heart to play hard and finish strong. 
thumbnailCA3BRO06.jpg I salute you, Cubs!  This team has given me a new ray of hope as next season draws near.  I can’t wait till next year!  It should prove to be a different story, one with a happier ending!  ATTABOY, CUBS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! See you next Spring!  Get some rest, work hard in the offseason and come back healthy and ready to play!  We shall embark on a journey together, a quest for a World Series Championship!  BELIEVE!!!  What the mind can conceive and believe, the Cubs can achieve!  Believe it!

 

Carlos Marmol, Strikeout Artist, Saves the  Day!

Carlos Marmol, the closer for the Chicago Cubs has been untouchable.  Averaging 15.99 strikeouts per 9 innings pitched is out of this world.  He has 138 strikeouts in 77 2/3 innings.  That would set a new MLB record held by Eric Gagne (14.98  k’s per 9 innings in 2003).

Marmol has already surpassed Bruce Sutter for the most strikeouts by a Cub closer for a season and continues to close the door on other teams.  He has been lights out.  Sure, he struggles with his command at times, but as they say, Marmol is effectively wild.  Carlos has become one of the most feared pitchers in baseball.
thumbnailCA0U7BJV.jpg  His slider is nasty!  If Marmol could add one more pitch to his repertoire, I think a split-fingered fast ball would elevate him to the Hall of Fame someday.  A fastball that suddenly breaks down and disappears would complement what he currently brings to the table.
thumbnailCA3WBDUH.jpg  After posting my blog about Marmol surpassing Bruce Sutter I began thinking, how much better Marmol could be if he could develop such a pitch.  Perhaps, Greg Maddux could teach it to him.  Carlos Marmol has done a great job and I am not suggesting that he needs work but if he could add a third pitch, it would really keep batters off balance.  Something to consider in the offseason.

Carlos Marmol has done a wonderful job this year!  Keep turning out the lights, Carlos!

 

Cubs Rain On Padres’ Parade: Payback For 1984!

Every time the Cubs play in San Diego, the Padres’ pay tribute to the 1984 team that pulled the rug out from beneath the Cubs.  Last night, the Padres paraded the throwback uniforms reminiscent of 1984 in hopes of keeping their playoff hopes alive.
thumbnailCA03FOAF.jpg  That was their first mistake!

They say, what goes around, comes around.  This time it was the Cubs turn to crush the other teams’ postseason dreams.  With the win last night, the Cubs took 3 of 4 games from San Diego and virtually stripped the Padres from contention.  Although San Diego could pull off a miracle and sweep the Giants to force a one game playoff, it is doubtful.  The Padres have a better chance at the wildcard race in which they find themselves 2 games back of the Braves.  Atlanta will play Philadelphia but the Phillies will most likely rest their starters so they are ready for the playoffs, so it is unlikely that the Braves will have the same fight on their hand that they normally would.

thumbnailCANQBIR8.jpgBottom Line:  The San Diego Padres will be fighting for their lives in San Francisco, and even then, it may be too late.

The Cubbies outpitched an outstanding San Diego staff, handing Heath Bell his first blown save in 38 straight save opportunities.  The Cubs’ pitching staff has been remarkable down the stretch.  The combination of Cashner, Marshall, and Marmol has worked like a charm.  Tom Gorzellany pitched six shutout innings and deserves credit for keeping the Cubs in the ballgame.  It was another team effort and a job well done all the way around.

The younger players may not care too much about what happened in 1984 but that horrible image of the ball bouncing through Leon Durham’s legs in Game 5 of the NLCS still burns in my brain.  Last night’s game was sweet, sweet revenge.  I have been saying that it’s payback time for 1984 and indeed, the Padres have been paid in full!  Now, San Diego can feel my pain of the past 26 years.  Maybe next time, San Diego will reconsider throwing 1984 in the Cubs’ face. 

 

Cubs, Soriano, Sink San Diego!

It’s payback time!  In 1984, the Cubs were swept in San Diego after winning the first two games of the NL Championship Series.  Now, the Cubs are exacting sweet revenge as the Padres fall 2 games behind the Giants and with the Braves winning, sink a game and a half behind in the wildcard race.

thumbnailCASX08R9.jpgRyan Dempster struck out 9 and won his 15th game of the year as Alfonso Soriano belted a homerun to break up a tied 2-2 game.
thumbnailCAQH7FY0.jpg  Fonzie added some insurance by hitting his second homerun of the game to make it 5-2. 
thumbnailCAOOZ7K3.jpg Carlos Marmol closed the door for his 36th save.  The Cubs are now 21-11 under Mike Quade who continues to make a strong case for the managerial role next season.

The San Francisco Giants have reduced the magic number to 4 as San Diego keeps slipping, courtesy of the Chicago Cubs.  Consider it payback for 1984!

thumbnailCAEQKDV7.jpgSan Diego finishes the season in San Francisco but it may be too late because the Cubs aren’t done with the Padres just yet.  The Cubs have two more games with San Diego and the revenge owed to the Padres will not be complete until the Cubs have eliminated them completely from the playoffs.  A sweep of San Diego would be oh, so sweet!  Go Cubs Go!