The Cubs’ championship drought reached 101 years Tuesday night when the Rockies’ victory over the Brewers eliminated them from the National League wild card chase.
But the end came with far less fanfare than that which greeted the 100-year mark last October at Dodger Stadium, when the Dodgers swept the Cubs in the National League Division Series.
Conventional wisdom said the pressure was off the Cubs in 2009 because mentions of the streak would not be as prevalent as 2008.
“Last year, from Day One, that was the question,” first baseman Derrek Lee said when camp opened in February. “There are definitely fewer questions so far. That 100-year thing made for a good story, so maybe it will be a little quieter year. I hope it helps. Last year we had a great regular season. We just flopped at the wrong time. But maybe it will take a little pressure off, not having to answer the 100-year question. Who [...]
Tyler Colvin’s parents will be staying up late this weekend.
The young outfielder is expected to get a lot of playing time in the Cubs’ final 11 games, beginning with a four-game series in San Francisco that starts Thursday. Colvin’s family lives in South Carolina, so the time difference might be a little bit of a problem.
Colvin, called up after Double-A Tennessee finished the Southern League championship, made his Major League debut Monday against Milwaukee. His folks also may be shopping for a new computer.
“They were excited,” Colvin said of his parents. “They got to watch [Monday's game] on the computer. They stayed with it the whole game. They were a little disappointed [Tuesday] — the computer shut down in the ninth [...]
Kevin Gregg will spend the final two weeks of the regular season marketing himself as a potential closer. His chances of keeping that job with the Cubs are slim.
Gregg is one of four free agents on the Cubs. He lost the closer’s job on Aug. 18, but he hasn’t been banished to the last spot in the bullpen. Last Tuesday against the Milwaukee Brewers, Lou Piniella called on Gregg to face Corey Hart, Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder. On Friday against St. Louis, Gregg came in with one on and two outs in the eighth of a tie game to face Albert Pujols. That’s not an easy task.
“I think he’s the greatest hitter in the game, hands down,” Gregg said of the Cardinals’ slugger. “Coming in with a guy on, having to face him late in the game, tight situation — you’ve got to make your pitches, you’ve got to do your thing. He’s good. That’s the bottom [...]
Cubs manager Lou Piniella’s preseason expectations for his defense weren’t lofty. Still, the Cubs have not met those expectations.
“Leaving Spring Training, I didn’t expect to lead the league in fielding, believe me,” Piniella said. “But I expected us to be at least in the middle, possibly a notch above there. But we’ve been in the bottom tier for a good portion of the year, and that makes it rough on the pitching.”
Going into Thursday’s series finale against the Brewers, the Cubs are in the bottom three in the National League in both errors and fielding percentage. The team hasn’t fared much better according to an advanced statistic called Ultimate Zone Rating, which indicates that the Cubs are about 14 runs below average on defense this season. That mark is 12th in the NL. [...]
Lou Piniella has not talked about next season with the Cubs’ front office. Once he does, the discussion will center on one issue. “We’ve got to figure out a way to get back up close to the number of runs we scored last year,” Piniella said.
Heading into Monday’s series opener against the Brewers, the Cubs are on pace to score about 140 fewer runs in 2009 than they did in 2008. Piniella believes the culprit is the fifth spot in the lineup.
“That’s a spot that needs to be solved this winter more than anything else,” he said. “It’s been a big problem for [...]
Alfonso Soriano will have arthroscopic surgery Tuesday on his ailing left knee and miss the rest of the season.
The Cubs’ left fielder has fought through pain and inflammation in the joint for much of the season and last played Sept. 3. He will finish the year with a .241 batting average, 20 home runs and 55 RBIs.
Team orthopedist Dr. Stephen Gryzlo will perform the surgery to clean out the knee, and Soriano will then have three weeks to rehab with the Cubs’ training staff before he goes home to the Dominican Republic for the [...]
The left-hander, who does not have the go-ahead to steal bases, held Houston to four hits over eight innings, and Carlos Marmol picked up his fifth straight save as the Cubs beat the Astros, 2-0, Wednesday to win the series. Derrek Lee belted a two-run homer, his 27th, in the fourth inning for all the offense Lilly (10-8) needed. Chicago began the day six games behind Colorado in the National League Wild Card race and won for the 10th time in the last 26 games.
“We’re fully aware of what we need to do,” Lilly said. “We have to win the game we’re playing. You’ve heard it a thousand times — we don’t have any influence on who wins the game we’re not playing in. We go out there and put all our concentration and physical and mental energy into the game that we have to deal with, and we’re putting ourselves in the best chance to win.” [...]