Friday, May 11, 2007

Cubs add Ramirez to shore up offense

With both J.J. Putz and Joe Nathan pitching very effectively in the season, reliever Jonathan Papelbon had only pitched 5.2 innings during the Cubs' first 34 games.

Thus, Papelbon was sent to the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for infielder Aramis Ramirez. Ramirez is expected to take over full time at third base with infielder Hank Blalock expecting to split time with the struggling Chris Shelton at first base. Shelton is hitting just .210 on the year with 2 homeruns in 119 at-bats.

In a corresponding roster move, the team optioned infielder Justin Leone and outfielder Luis Montanez to Iowa (AAA) and recalled pitcher Eddy Rodriguez and infielder Martin Prado.

Ramirez joins the team having hit .257 with 5 homers and 22 RBI's with Arizona.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Scott's fifth hit is walk-off

Already 4-for-4 on the day, Luke Scott stepped up in the bottom of the ninth inning with two runs already in and the go-ahead run on second base. Scott ripped a 1-0 pitch in the right-center field gap to win the game and collect his fifth hit of the day.

The Cubs move to 18-14 with the win.

Mark Buehrle turned in another quality start for the Cubs, going 6.1 innings and allowing just six hits and two earned runs before giving way to the bullpen. However, Pittsburgh's Joe Mays was able to match Buehrle pitch-by-pitch, throwing seven quality innings of his own.

With the score tied 3-3 in the top of the ninth inning, Kevin Youkilis thought he had put the Pirates up for good with a two-run homerun off of Cubs' reliever Matt Thornton, but Chicago was able to rally back in the bottom of the inning and give Thornton the win (1-0).

Dmitri Young led off the home half of the ninth by reaching base on an error and Chris Barnwell had doubled to put the tying runs in scoring position. Chris Burke later tied the game with a double of his own before scoring on Scott's hit.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

After 15 days, Burke returns

Chris Burke has returned from the disabled list after missing fifteen days due to a finger injury. The Cubs were 5-8 during that stretch.

Burke was filling in for the injured Carl Crawford who has been out since April 10 with a fractured eye socket. He is expected to miss at least another five weeks.

During Burke's absence, William Veneable and Delwyn Young were getting the majority of the playing time in left field with Luke Scott as the full-time center fielder. Now, Scott will shift back to left field and allow Burke to play center field, however manager Piniella is looking to give Scott a few days off coming up.

To make room for Burke on the roster, infielder Pablo Ozuna was optioned back to Iowa (AAA).

The Cubs are currently 17-13 and lead the Houston Astros by 1 game in the NL Central.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Cubs end streaky April with share of first

The Chicago Cubs had an excellent opportunity to begin the season on a truly excellent note, after starting the month of April with a 13-5 record. However, losing 6 of the last 8 games of the season, the team is forced to settle for a 15-11 month and a share of first place.

NL Central Standings:
Chicago Cubs: 15-11
St. Louis Cardinals: 15-11
Milwaukee Brewers: 13-13, -2.0
Houston Astros: 12-13, -2.5
Pittsburgh Pirates: 12-14, -3.0
Cincinnati Reds: 11-14, -3.5

Team leaders so far:

Wins: Johan Santana, 4
ERA: Johan Santana, 1.50
Saves: Joe Nathan, 10
Strikeouts: Johan Santana, 37
WHIP: Johan Santana, 0.95

Average: Luke Scott, .315
Homeruns: Luke Scott, 5
Runs Scored: Luke Scott, 20
RBI: Chase Utley, 19
Stolen Bases: Chase Utley, 5

Most commonly used lineup:
LF Carl Crawford
CF Luke Scott
2B Chase Utley
RF Brad Hawpe
1B Chris Shelton
3B Hank Blalock
C Gerald Laird
SS Chris Barnwell

Other notable statistics:
C Gerald Laird: .299 avg, 3 HR, 8 RBI, .316 OBP, .481 slug
1B Chris Shelton: .237 avg, 2 HR, 18 RBI, .280 OBP, .392 slug
OF Brad Hawpe: .284 avg, 2 HR, 15 RBI, .390 OBP, .455 slug

SP Mark Buehrle: 3-0, 3.86 ERA, 1.09 WHIP
RP J. J. Putz: 2-2, 5 holds, 2.20 ERA, 0.92 WHIP

Friday, April 27, 2007

Rodriguez down, Ozuna up

In an effort to help a struggling offensive, the Cubs have recalled infielder Pablo Ozuna from Iowa (AAA). In the corresponding roster move, reliever Eddy Rodriguez was sent back to Iowa (AAA).

The move was not necessarily a reflection on Rodriguez's performance, as he has posted a 4.05 ERA in 6.2 innings of work so far this season. However, with the team carrying originally carrying thirteen pitchers, Rodriguez ended up being the odd man out when a roster move had to be made.

The Cubs are 14-9 so far this season.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Nathan first to ten saves

Joe Nathan became the first closer in the league to convert ten saves in Saturday's 7-4 win over the Cardinals. Nathan has a 1.86 ERA and a 0.93 WHIP to go along with his ten saves. Atlanta's Huston Street is second in the league with seven saves.

The Cubs improved to 13-5 and have an early two-game lead in the division.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Burke to DL

The injuries keep piling on for the Cubs.

Just ten days after Carl Crawford was placed on the disabled list, utility-man Chris Burke joins Crawford with a finger blister. In a corresponding roster move, the Cubs have purchased the contract of outfielder Luis Montanez from Iowa (AAA), promoted outfielder Jason Dubois from Tennessee (AA) to Iowa (AAA), and promoted outfielder John-Ford Griffin from Daytona (A) to Tennesee (AA). The 40-man roster now sits at 38.

Burke had been filling in for Crawford in the outfield. Now, Luke Scott will have to shift back over to center field to let Delwyn Young and William Veneable to split time in left field.

The Cubs are 12-5 in the season so far. Johan Santana leads all pitchers with a 3-1 record and a 1.42 ERA while Joe Nathan is already nine-for-nine in saves. Offensively, catcher Gerald Laird has led the charge with a .339 average (19-for-56), Scott has four homeruns, and Chase Utley leads the team with 14 RBI.