Carlos Zambrano

Now there's a surprise...

Zambrano to bullpen starting Friday. "Because of his stuff" Lou sez. Z is cool with move.

We'll see if the bullpen gets better, but it's certainly gonna be a lot more expensive. How many bad starts by Gorzelanny or Silva before this gets reversed?

Carlos Zambrano got the opportunity to redeem his baseball soul thanks to the grace of Touchdown Jesus and the Cubs bullpen works this time in a 4-3 win at Cincinnati.

The Good: Z pitches quite well going 7 innings and giving up 3 runs and a home run against 9 K's, including striking out the side in his last inning. The Cubs offense doesn't strand a runner. After Ryan Theriot breaks up the perfect game to lead off the 4th, he takes second on a wild pitch that bounced in front of catcher Ryan Hanigan. Hanigan throws it away and it bounces into center field and Theriot was going to try third base (and it looked like he would have probably been nailed to me), but ran into shortstop Orlando Cabrera. No interference obstruction was called though despite the protests of Lou and Theriot. That made the count 2-0 on Fukudome and he showed bunt on the next pitch but took it for a strike. Not sure if he was just trying to dupe Harang or was seriously considering a bunt, but he then takes the ensuing curveball deep to right for the first 2 Cubs runs. He almost hit a second one out in his next at-bat. Soriano hit a hanging slider out for run number 3 and Jeff Baker with the clutch pinch-hit home run off Arthur Rhodes. Marmol's slider was biting and the Reds were flailing away for the save.

The Bad: The Cubs didn't leave anyone on-base cause they just managed one walk and 5 hits, 3 of them home runs and Lee got picked off first base. If they did plus/minus ratings like in hockey, Soriano was probably a 0, because the first run by the Reds was thanks to a linedrive with 2 out that Soriano turned the wrong way and then lept and missed by an inch that should have ended the inning. #8 hitter Ryan Hanigan then singled him home despite first base being open and Harang on-deck. Grabow did get through the 8th, but gave up a single to lefty Joey Votto and a rocket to lefty Jay Bruce that Lee made an outstanding leaping stab to rob a hit. A bit worrisome we have another Mike Remliger situation brewing.

Next Up: Tom Gorzelanny makes his 2010 debut against 2009 draftee Mike Leake making his major league debut.

Jered Weaver threw five innings of one-hit shutout ball while striking out nine (no walks), and Cubs pitchers were battered to the tune of 16 hits (including one triple, two doubles, and three home runs), as the Los Angeles Angels pounded a Cubs split squad 11-0 in Cactus League action at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in sunny Mesa, Arizona, this afternoon.

Travis Buck homered to key a three-run 9th, as an Oakland A's split squad defeated the Chicago Cubs 5-2 in Cactus League action at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in sunny & breezy Mesa, Arizona, this afternoon.


 

Carlos Zambrano threw five innings of three-hit shutout ball and Ryan Theriot drove in three runs with a bases-clearing double, leading a Cubs "split squad" to a 4-0 whitewashing of the Kansas City Royals in front of 11,842 fans at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in sunny & warm Mesa, AZ this afternoon.


 

Today was an off day for most of the Cubs, but not for Carlos Zambrano and Jeff Samardzija, as Big “Z” and the Shark traveled a half-mile south down Center Street to Fitch Park to get in some additional work.


Pablo Sandoval cranked a grand slam HR into the visitor's (upper) bullpen beyond the RF fence to cap a five-run third, and Jonathan Sanchez threw three shutout innings, as the San Francisco Giants defeated the Chicago Cubs 5-1 in Cactus League action under partly cloudy skies at cool & breezy Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa this afternoon.


Brad Snyder crushed a game-winning two-run double off the CF Batter's Eye in the bottom of the 9th, scoring Bobby Scales from second base with the tying run and Sam Fuld from first with the winning run, as the Cubs edged the Arizona Diamondbacks 8-7 in Cactus League action in front of 11,775 fans under sunny skies (65 degrees) at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa this afternoon.


Who do you turn to?

BRUCE LEVINE

It's been really slow in the Cub universe of news. The baseball winter meetings were a horror show as far as this Cub fan could tell.

I'm incredibly news starved when you consider that I took running notes on BL's "Talking Baseball" show on ESPN-1000 radio. This week, his 2 hour baseball gab session with sidekick Jonathan Hood covered three main Cub topics: CF, 2B and the bullpen.

So here's an IV dose of baseball, Bruce Levine "Talking Baseball" style. What follows are my notes and occasional commentary from the Saturday post-Christmas program. After the jump...

This is basically a one-line blog entry, but I'm so over all this Bradley drama.

Nick Cafrado over at the Boston Globe is reporting that if Carlos Zambrano is moved, there are only three teams he'd be willing to go...Los Angeles Dodgers, Boston Red Sox and Chicago White Sox. I would say, I don't know how the Angles wouldn't get on that list. If he's willing to to an AL team or Los Angeles, you couldn't find a classier organization than the Angels, so if the Cubs really pursue that course, I'm sure they'll get a few attentive general managers on the phone.

As for Bradley, pardon my over-used metaphor, but it's a disaster of Hindenburg proportions both by the player and management. Good luck trying to move that $21M off the books Jim, unlike Zambrano, I don't think they'll be a lot of attentive gm's on the phone for that call. The only other parallel I can think of is Jose Guillen getting suspended by the Angels near the end of 2004. The Angels did move him to the Nationals in the offseason for Maicer Izturis and Juan Rivera, but Guillen (according to BR.com salaries) only had $3.5M and a $4M 2006 option left on his deal. They also had Jim Bowden as their GM, who made a habit of taking on talented basket cases at a discount.

As expected, Carlos Zambrano was handed a six game suspension for his antics yesterday. Unlike Milton Bradley, pride isn't an issue for Z as he said he won't bother appealing the suspension and will begin serving it immediately. He'll miss the Dodgers series and the first two games in Atlanta next week. Conveniently the Cubs have an off-day Monday, so some minor rotation juggling and Z should be starting next Thursday in Atlanta.

For the second night in a row, the Cubs failed to support a deserving starting pitcher with any offense and they lost another low-scoring game to the Cardinals.

With Aramis Ramirez back in the starting lineup, the Cubs won their fourth in a row, defeating the Giants, 4-2, on Monday night at Wrigley. The Cubs will have a chance to finish a 5-1 homestand when the teams meet Tuesday afternoon.

Why the Cubs won: Ryan Dempster, coming off his first loss and poorest start of the young season last week in Phoenix, earned his second victory with his best start of 2009. Dempster kept the Giants off the board until the sixth inning and allowed just 5 hits and 2 walks over seven.

I'm holding my breath (and have turned a nice shade of Cub Blue at this point). Big Z tweaked his left hamstring in the 5th inning after successfully bunting for a hit. It was a key to the Cubs 6-4 win over the Marlins as DLee whacked a grand slam homerun  to break a 2-2 deadlock. The Cubs have been hit hard with pulled stuff...hamstrings, calves, groins all of which are in this grey zone of injury where they've not disabled listed anyone so far. The roster is running on empty to the point that they've had to use Koyie Hill as the backup-backup third baseman, Zambrano as the first pinch hitter off the bench and now Rich Harden gets told to put on his spikes to pinch run for Z.

We'll find out today the results of Zambrano's MRI but from the usual sources covering the Cubs, manager Lou Piniella was quoted as saying the injury was in the belly of the hamstring. This means muscle belly rather than the tendon which is where muscles attach to bone. Proximally hamstring muscles attach to the pelvis (ischium). If the MRI picks up on enough  muscle injury expect the first DL stint of the season but a grade I injury can be better in 2-4 weeks. If the MRI doesn't pick up much injury he may just miss a start.

 Carrie Muskat/mlb.com quotes:

"I tried to initially [take Zambrano out], but he told me that it
was more of a cramp than anything else," Piniella said. "After a pitch,
he realized it was more than that. I tried to get him out initially,
and he talked me out of it.

Zambrano then slowly walked back to the dugout. The problem is in the "belly" of the (left) hamstring, Piniella said.

Toni Ginnetti/Sun-Times quotes:

At first he tried to convince trainer Mark O'Neal and Piniella it was
only a cramp. After one pitch to the next batter, Alfonso Soriano, ''he
realized it was more,'' Piniella said. ''We did the right thing by
getting him out.''

Zambrano's next scheduled start is Friday in Milwaukee.

''I'd say it's in jeopardy,'' Piniella said. ''And if I had to
guess, I'd say no. We'll see. I'd guess we'd have to do something to
bring up a starter, but let him get his [MRI].''

 

Sorry to be so brief—there's an all-block garage sale happening on our street today and I think I just overheard my 13-year-old agreeing to sell our second car. 

Saturday: Anibal Sanchez (1-2, 4.13) v. Ted Lilly (2-2, 3.80). Sanchez is making his first career start at Wrigley Field. Lilly was telling Carrie Muskat about his plans to revive the Cubs attack by generating his own offense, by "going deep" and "maybe swipe a couple bags." Sounds like someone is experiencing delusions of grandeur. TLFC—this is your fault!

Sunday: RIcky Nolasco (1-2, 6.92) v. Carlos Zambrano (2-1, 4.64). Juan Pierre Ricky Nolasco, who has seemed primed to be the Florida ace, won the Marlins' season opener and has gone winless in the four starts since. As for Zambrano, nice of the Cubs to give their ace pinch-hitter an opportunity to try his hand at pitching. Who knows—maybe the guy will have a future on the mound. 

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