You should probably brace yourself for an unhappy stretch of baseball. After the Cubs host the Rockies, they head out to Arizona to take on the Diamondbacks, and then they get the Dodgers-Reds-Cardinals-Giants-Reds-Marlins-Red Sox. That, my friends, is a brutal stretch. In particular, the two Reds series and the Cards series will be put up or shut up time for the Cubs.

  • No, Kerry Wood is not injured or traded or retired. After not pitching for *over a week*, Woody finally got in a game yesterday and threw a scoreless frame. On his return, Wood stated the obvious: “It was nice to get back out there. I wasn’t as sharp as I wanted, but that’s to be expected (because of the layoff).” Let’s hope there isn’t another layoff of quite the same proportions in the future.
  • Ramon Ortiz threw seven innings this weekend in a AAA game. Is he a star? No. But is he clearly stretched out such that, had the Cubs planned for it, he could have started on Tuesday rather than James Russell? Yes.
  • Kosuke being Kosuke: it’s April and, as you would expect, Kosuke Fukudome is destroying the baseball. Through his interpreter, Fukudome said this weekend that he has no idea why he does so well early and so poorly late. He asked that if anyone knows, to tell him. Kosuke, I have a thought: in April and May, you stay down in your swing and on the ball. By July and August, the helicopter returns, and you’re pulling off the ball like you’re Ichiro (and you’re not Ichiro). You’re welcome.
  • miggy80

    geesh I’m coming to town 5/13-5/14 I hope that this rotation mess is cleaned up by then. I at least hope that the weather will be good. glup

  • Sam

    Im starting to think that the cubs should try to make a trade for a solid left hamded pitcher. I know its early in the season, but if the cubs pitching continues on their current track i dont think they will be able to win without a RELIABLE pitcher. Right now our pitching is just random. Big Z pitched a gem against the padres, and then he got raped bythe dodgers, and all our starting pitchers are playing the same way. We need to become more consistent pitching. And I think having a pitcher who will have consistent quality starts. Also i think its possible that a solid pitcher could possibly inspire better play from Z Garza and Dempster.

    • jh

      I can’t help but agree with you. I can just imagine what the scouts say about an upcoming series against the Cubs: “Well Dempster is a righty who has to locate well and won’t overpower (ever)”; “Well Zambrano is a righty who has to locate well and won’t overpower (anymore)”; “Well Garza is a righty who has to locate well and won’t overpower (most days)”. Must not be that difficult to plan against three middle of the rotation quality arms that live and die over the middle of the plate.

      • Ace

        Interesting. I’ve never been of the mind that a rotation has to have a lefty just to have one (see, e.g., James Russell), but it probably can’t hurt to give the opposition a little something different to game plan.

      • jh

        Yea I am the same. It is very similar to a lineup being too right handed. If you can hit you can hit, and the same for pitching. I just feel like a Lilly or even a Gorzellany would do this rotation some good. Moreso the point I wanted to make was that we have three guys in a row (Wells is really no different either but left him out for obvious reasons) that are really trying to do the exact same thing against hitters. I have never been a major league scout or in a coaching staff but I can’t imagine that doesn’t make it even marginally easier.

  • JR

    I’m concerned that Riggins, or the lack of the continuity we had with Rothschild, is part of the problem. But so long as we can stay at or around .500 without two of our starters, I’m relatively happy.

    Quade seems more and more like a man without a plan. Did I dream this or did he say he let Dempster hit in the 5th Saturday because the starters “need” to go 6 innings? I hope this was part of a bad dream because, if not, he violated his own (absurd) rule the next day by pulling Zambrano in the bottom of the 5th for Reed Johnson despite the fact that (1) Zambrano (unlike Dempster) can actually hit; (2) Zambrano was pitching fine at that point and only had 85 pitches; (3) right handed batters, by that time, were mostly getting mowed down with effective low outside pitches; and (4) he was starting on a path of burning through the bullpen with four innings of work in a game that was likely out of reach. Why not keep Z in another inning and then have one guy pitch the following 2 innings?

    Quade also seems to have given up on Colvin. The guy has mostly gotten at-bats against lefty pitching. Given the pitching matchup yesterday, why not start him for Byrd (moving Fukudome to center) or Soriano? Colvin’s one pitch out yesterday doesn’t bother me. My guess is that he was looking for a certain pitch, saw it and tried to get a good swing on it though he failed. Whenever he has played regularly, he has produced and I’d like to see him get into more games.

    Poor Jeff Russell. He IS good for something: middle relief. And he did a good job of it before being a spot starter. Please let him get back to it before blowing through all his confidence. A reliable 6th or 7th inning guy is not nothing.

    Ramirez’ apathy toward everything other than hitting continues to amaze. There were a couple balls hit at third to which he didn’t even react. Both were scorchers and he likely wouldn’t have made the play but I mean–he didn’t even flinch. I almost cheered when he let Castro take a ball that he could have cut off short since I didn’t have to worry about his double pump, lazy throw sinking to Pena’s ankles. Hopefully, the humiliation of day dreaming at second base will spark him to at least pretend to be alert for a couple days. Though–and I have to hand it to him–he is a great hitter. He swung at a few low outside balls to strike out in the first and then made the adjustment by his next at bat.

    I would love to see Prince Fielder be the center of this lineup rather than someone like Ramirez. Great eye, great power and he plays the game hard.

    Final thought: I like Soto hitting in the 8 spot. He hasn’t always gotten a lot of hits but he has good, long at bats and takes his walks.

    • pfk

      As it relates to Colvin’s pinch hitting….all the great pinch hitters have said that you should go up there first pitch swinging. Pitchers will usually groove the first pitch to a pinch hitter thinking they are cold and to get ahead of them. Manny Mota, Lenny Harris, Smokey Burgess are the greatest and they all said they went up looking to crush the first pitch.

      • Ace

        The Cubs need a player named Smokey now. That would do it.

        It’s a league game, Smokey.

    • Ace

      Great, great point about the Zambrano yank. I’m not sure I’d call Russell a reliable anything, though. He can get lefties out sometimes – that’s really all he’s yet proven in his big league career.

      I, too, am starting to wonder if maybe some of Soto’s impressive discipline last year came from the fact that he was hitting in front of the pitcher’s spot – a spot that opposing pitchers are all to happy to reach by pitching around Soto.

      Appreciate the thoughtful comment.