The offense came up dry for the most part in a 3-game series against the Pirates on the road. Thursday the Cubs lost 4-2 after the Cubs lineup again came up short to deliver clutch hits with the game on the line. The previous back-back games in Pittsburgh the club got defeated by one run each time. Yesterday the Cubs lost due to Edwin Jackson (1-7) only going 3 innings and the lineup leaving 8 runners on base. That isn't going to lead to good run scoring ratios.
Chicago is struggling in May to win on the road as they slip to 18-28 with new players such as Sweeney and Ransom not able to lift the offense on their own. Rizzo along with Castro must step up big for the Cubs to get out of their 4-game slump. With the Reds up next it doesn't look to get easy for the uncertain Chicago franchise. Only maintaining around 2.5- 3 runs a game won't get it done. What a lousy season this is shaping up to be for the Cubs. It's past time to make deals happen for the Wrigleyville faithful to have a reason to truly cheer.
Friday, May 24
Saturday, May 18
|AP/Photo- Charles Rex Arbogast|
The progress continues to be gradual for the underdeveloped Cubs. After taking a glance at the standings this team is not looking to change it's structure much at 17-24, creeping back to 9 games out of first place in the Central. Sure new pickups in outfielders Julio Borbon and Ryan Sweeney provide depth off the bench yet fails to solve the declining offensive run average (Only around 4 per game at home). With a good series away in Washington last week the Cubs took 2-of-3 games as they experienced good breaks to drive in runs. This followed another decent series against Colorado on a return trip back home.
The Cubs lost another close game Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field to the Mets, 3-2. Pitcher Matt Harvey just didn't leave the door open for many run scoring opportunties and had sharp command on the mound. On the flip side, Edwin Jackson wasn't able to hold the Mets' lineup in check long enough as he slumps to 1-6. He goes 6.2 innings to yield 3 earned runs off 7 hits and a walk. A single from David Dejesus almost scored a run in the 8th inning to force a tie game, but the runner from third got tagged out a couple feet near home plate. So far the Cubs have yet to utilize their speed still stranding plenty runners on base.
Far from potent the Cubs still attempt to find a reputable fill-in at third, using Cody Ransom to give Luis Valbuena games off here and there. Judging by the standstill management again in Chicago the club appears to be wait until July make any key market trades. What a waste to not bring up worthy prospect candidates who give at least develop and push along the rebuilding process more steadily. With the offense sure to continue the scuffle new additions (Borbon, Sweeney, and Ransom) have to deliver to aid in run support. If not the Cubs will have to send them on their way to another team or back to the minors. Next up for Chicago after the Mets for the upcoming road schedule are the Pirates and Reds. Let's at least expect for the starting pitchers to get enough offensive support for those series.
Thursday, May 9
|AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast|
Another series at Wrigley Field concludes with the Cubs having a chance to win 3 in a row. After being sweep by the Reds the homestand looked to be bleak. After dusting off the Rangers in a 9-2 make-up game then the Cardinals 2-1 in a tight contested pitching duel the club leaves the Friendly Confines with a 4-6 stretch (bad breaks, untimely hitting). For the final game before going back on the road the Cubs lost another 1-run nail-biter to St. Louis, 5-4 Wednesday. Anthony Rizzo went 3-for-4 collecting a double and a run scored. The main offense came in the form of a 2-run double from Nate Schierholtz and a RBI groundout by Dioneer Navarro. The other run came from a throwing error which allowed Luis Valbuena to score from third base. Carlos Villaneavu receives a no-decision in the game after lasting 6.2 innings to rank up 3 earned runs on 7 hits and 3 walks.
The season begins to show the Cubs' inexperience as a group with their lack of execution. Nothing is working fast enough for this tired franchise who embarks on another road trip this weekend in Washington D.C. Coach Dale Sveum is going with his set game plan, relying on a day-to-day lineup which can't manage to close out tight games with clutch hits. Beyond the youth there is nobody who is going to deliver as veteran (forget about Soriano) or full-time leader. Sveum must need plenty aspirins in the clubhouse because he's got headaches for the long season schedule. Distractions about home field renovations don't affect the overall performance level and have become a higher priority than trade value for players to move.
At a 13-21 record the Cubs aren't showing they have the zeal to flourish anywhere. Such remains to be seen. As for the Nationals series Friday a wipeout may occur if the offense comes up clueless and empty before returning home to face two winning teams in the Rockies and Mets. Chicago needs to avoid getting swept again and refrain from allowing too much bullpen usage over the next 3 days. Today at least the team gets a day off and can rest to look at video in the clubhouse to see mistakes on the field and work on hitting strategies. A rebuilding process is what Cubs' fans have to put up with and the expected slumps at times in 2013. Hopefully the Cubs can make a decent turnaround to finish May near third place in the Central.
Thursday, May 2
|AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast|
Well, the series back at Wrigley Field was short of amazing. The Cubs sure made a good outcome close for Game 4 against the Padres. Travis Wood pitched excellent until the 8th, where he must got maxed out on the pitch count to give up 3 earned runs with 4 totals hits for the game. Scott Hairston smacked a 2-run shot in the 7th, placing the Cubs on the scoreboard with a small cushion for support. That obviously dimished quick. A 11-17 record now can't be how the season moves along for this understaffed club. Sure the talent is missing too yet what's going to work half the time: starting pitching or random offense? The Cubs' prime opportunity to progress slips away by their unability to sweep San Diego. If management can't smell a trade by now then they've got their nostrils around too much revenue or mindsets' on goat head reminders which ruins their time for good decisions.
With performance evaluations not being handed out just yet and the team's progression sliding by at a snail's pace the odds appear to still be stacked high against the franchise. Sure the quality innings are being ranked up by starters: Samardzija, Wood, and Villaneuva with a good combined team ERA at .371. Then on the flip side, the lineup's overall batting average through just over a month is a meager .237. Nothing really so far is appealing about the Cubs (except Anthony Rizzo's 8 homeruns). There must be a resolution in Wrigley Field beyond the high cost renovations (with a potential move) planned for later in the off-season if not next year. Dave Suevm will try to switch the outfield around and strategize with the bullpen and manage defensive replacements, but everyone knows the offense is just not there.
Following up on the trade possibilities from a week ago, anyone who can hit for a top average or power is a plus. Another good firearm to add in the bullpen is fine too. Otherwise the Cubs might as well not get rid of rising prospects such as Jorge Soler and Javier Baez to fill a mere position which becomes unproductive again. The Cubs might as well get their money's worth for Soriano until he's willing to depart Chicago. Up next on the schedule is the Reds as they come to town then a make-up game follows with the Rangers before the Cubs end their homestand in a short series with the Cardinals. The only matchup worth watching is the last series of course. Depending on the starters the matchup shapes up to be another classic confrontation.
Saturday, April 27
|Mike Ehrmann/ Getty Images|
Again, the game came down to the long ball plus the team which scored first to take the lead. The Cubs brush past the Marlins Friday night thanks to their only offense, Anthony Rizzo, who creamed two homeruns. He accounted for all the team's 4 runs. Although the lineup produced 10 total hits the first baseman proved to be the hero, tallying his 7th and 8th homerun. Such a performance is good for the morale in the clubhouse. Also, the starting pitching finally got a win in the decision too. Scott Feldman (1-3) went 6.2 IP to yield 2 ER, 7 H, and 2 BB while striking out 2 batters. The combined bullpen: Camp, Russell, and Gregg pitched good too, giving up just 2 hits. That is a far change from the previous week in Cincinnati and Milwaukee.
From reports in baseball news there are rumors going around about Alfonso Soriano being traded among other players. This isn't a suprise at all. The Cubs need to replace basically the entire outfield unless Schierholtz maintains his worth and can be used as a fill-in and hitter off the bench. Before July is the time to shop around by Cubs management. Soriano, Stewart, Marmol, and a couple extra young relievers can go! Too much money has already got wasted relying on unproductive (often injured) long-term contract players. Add a power stick in left or right field, a legitmate proven catcher and everything will be set to be fall in order for the offense to develop. If a trade is immiment in Wrigleyville soon it should be interesting to see what the Cubs do to freshen up the atmosphere for baseball.
The way the bullpen has proven to be ineffective several times already the Cubs are fortunate their record isn't the worst in baseball. Well, at least not yet anyway. Every outing Carlos Marmol gets in relief makes fans want to cringe. He's not the prime choice to be the closer any longer. Shawn Camp's appeal is lowering as well. Just allowing enough hits to let close games slip away. As the Cubs played back-to-back extra inning games in Cincinnatti it was evident the Cubs' starting lineup can't be relied upon to pad a lead nor deliver clutch hits.
It's no surprise the club is once again dealing with a struggle to produce big results. This is with the exception of the starting pitching which holds the 4th lowest ERA allowed coming into the final week to complete the first month for the season. That's not what irks Cubs' fans. The unbelievable amount of runners LOB and failure to score with the game in jeopardy plus the appearance of Carlos Marmol mainly causes the reaction. While Chicago sits at last place in the Central the rest of the NL just bides their time and cashes on the Cubs' lack of execution and confidence.
To the Cubs credit though Thursday they grabbed a win over the low-ranked Marlins for Game 1 in a 4-3 final. This series seemed to be a toss-up with two last place teams squaring off. Chicago has now won at least two games. Nate Schierholtz cranked a homerun in Game 1 as did Luis Valbuena to cap the victory. What is an absolute blunder so far is how starter, Jeff Samardzija (1-4) can't even buy a win now. Complete lack of run support for poor Jeff. Hopefully, with any success in 2013 he will have a big turnaround in the second half. Either Chicago finds a way to drag themselves into third place or they continue discourage fans with a sluggish start.
Saturday, April 20
|Photo by Mike McGinnis- Getty Images|
Through just over 2 weeks the Cubs continue to show why they're still rebuilding at a 5-10 record. Friday night to start up another road trip the subpar exhibition was no different. With Jeff Samardzija going for his 4th start a turnaround looked to be in order. That wasn't the case as he pitched 7 innings to give up 4 earned runs on 6 hits and a walk. The two homeruns yielded hurt his chances of getting a win so he drops to 1-3 on the season. There has to be a balance at a point where the Cubs can hang on long enough with effective starting pitching or decisive offense. Last night the club hit 3 homeruns (DeJesus 2, Vilbuena 2, and Rizzo 5). Still the efforts weren't enough to seal a victory.
For the past week Chicago has lost 4 games by only a run. They split the series back at home against the Rangers after a postponed rainout before leaving for Milwaukee. The offense is showing life again, but what a lousy waste of leads thrown away by the bullpen. With Shawn Camp, Fukijawa (15-DL), or Marmol it's hard to tell what's going to be problematic with the game on the line. Already the pen has came out shaky with no good reliablity. Carlos Villanueva so far has the best ERA at 1.29. The team needs to be moves made to get rid of some relievers and bench players in order for some darn good results.
The only main offensive attack guy now is Nate Schierholtz who is maintaining a surprise .988 OPS and a .326 batting average. To not build on this is a mistake. With limited run production the road schedule will only get more tough for the Cubs. At best to utilize speed on the bases with several hit-and-runs can be the answer for a short while. Since there is such little power in the lineup Chicago must play at smart, not have 10 or more LOB per game by being persistent with runners in scoring position when they manage such. Coming up on the schedule as the Cubs try to avoid major letdowns and mediocrity are the Reds and the Marlins on the road. The bats have to produce or else it's time to ship players away after they hit the showers.
Friday, April 12
|Photo- John Biever SI|
Small ball with efficient starting pitching leads to okay homestand except for the loss yesterday, 7-6 seems unfathomable. The Cubs held a 5-0 lead into the 5th inning against the Giants only to allow such a extra cushion to slip away after that. Early on Anthony Rizzo smashes his 3rd homerun off Ryan Vogelsong to put Chicago ahead. Starlin Castro scored a run in the second inning as he went 2-for-5. Everything appeared to turning around for the offense as 17 total runs have accounted for during the homestand. Although the Cubs were outhit 12-9 Thursday the lineup is overall taking shape. Nick Schierholtz is the team leader in batting average at .370 so far, managed 3 hits in the loss.
Scott Feldman (0-2) went just 4.1 innings allowing 6 runs on 7 hits and 3 walks. A few errors though were made in the game on routine plays which also impacted the final score. With better days ahead most favoring the Cubs want to see a permanent starting roation as some point. The Matt Garza (injury) situation is still unclear on whether or not he's going to be traded. Management is in dire consequences later this season if they don't find suitable replacements in the outfield for at least two spots. Without a potent lift there nothing will change much with the expected team record. Now the Cubs are 3-6 and have won only 1-of-3 at Wrigley Field.
The previous games this week showed the Cubs getting past the Brewers 6-3 in Game 2 after the disappointing 7-4 outcome on April 8. Then the game was postponed Wednesday due to rain. For who the Cubs' have right now on field and those on the injured list the performance is okay. Another strong or reliable bat off the bench sure could help. At least to switch around at third base or the outfield. Other than such soluble options Chicago must trod along and find ways for improved production in the coming weeks.
Today Carlos Villaneauva (0-0) takes the mound against the Giants' Matt Cain (0-1). This shapes up to be a tough game for Chicago. Don't expect the Cubs to score much today as the Giants' hurler probably will have good command and maintain a quality pitch count. It may take an near equal pitching display on the Cubs' end to come close.