Talkin’ Cubs Live – Cubs vs. Dodgers – 05/02/11

Game Twenty-Eight: Cubs (12-15) vs. Dodgers (14-15)
Game Time – 9:10pm CDT
Coverage – TV: Comcast SportsNet – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 189
Location – Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles

James Russell (1-3, 8.31/1.92) vs. Clayton Kershaw (2-3, 3.52/1.25)

The Cubs seven-game road trip continues tonight with the first of three in Chavez Ravine. Q’s squad completed a disappointing four-game split against the D’Backs and are 2-2 on their current trip … but beginning with tonight’s game the Cubs schedule becomes a lot more difficult.

Following the three game series in Los Angeles, the Cubs return to Wrigley for a ten-day, nine-game homestand that includes three-game series with the Reds, Cardinals and Giants. The Cubs then depart on May 18 on a three-city, seven-game road trip to Cincinnati, Miami and Boston. If the Cubs don’t step it up, they will be behind the eight ball by May 23.

The Cubs have a tall task ahead of them tonight. With the decision makers opting for another ‘Bullpen Day‘ and Don Mattingly sending Clayton Kershaw to the hill, the Cubs will have to play mistake free ball tonight in order to avoid losing game one at Dodger Stadium.

The Cubs have struggled with the Dodgers since the NLDS in 2008 and dropped two of three to L.A. at Wrigley 10 days ago. Mike Quade will send James Russell, Ryan Dempster and Carlos Zambrano to the hill and the offense will have to deal with Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley and Ted Lilly. Following Wednesday’s game, the Cubs will not see the Dodgers again during the 2011 campaign.

Mike Quade really needs for James Russell not to pitch to expectations tonight or it could be three bullpen days in a row for the Chicago Cubs. It all begins with James Russell

James Russell will make his fourth start of the season for some unknown reason. The Cubs say Russell is the best option to fill in for Andrew Cashner right now but with the lack of innings that Russell can provide coupled with Ryan Dempster’s horrible start to the season continuing to throw Russell out to start games is a terrible idea. It is one thing to throw a questionable starter but it is another to continue to put a situational lefty in a position to fail.

James Russell is a miserable 0-3 as a starting pitcher with an 11.17 ERA and a 2.38 WHIP … teams are hitting .404 against him in a starter’s role. And this is the best option the Cubs have right now?

Tonight will be James Russell’s first start against the Dodgers. Russell did not face Los Angeles during the series at Wrigley. In four career appearances (all in relief) against the Dodgers, Russell does not have a record and has allowed one run, earned, on two hits in 5 1/3 innings without a walk and four strikeouts (1.69 ERA and a 0.38 WHIP).

Andre Ethier (0-for-1), Tony Gwynn, Jr. (0-for-1), Matt Kemp (0-for-1), James Loney (0-for-2) and Aaron Miles (1-for-2) are the only active Dodgers that have faced James Russell.

Russell and the pen will have the task of ending Andre Ethier’s hitting streak, which the right fielder extended to 27 games Sunday afternoon.

The Cubs struggling offense will get their first look of the season at Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw is one of the best young southpaws in the majors but is coming off a loss to the Marlins.

Florida knocked Kershaw out of the game with one out in the sixth after scoring four runs on six hits. Kershaw walked two and struck out five. Kershaw has the ability to dominate lineups much better than the one Mike Quade runs out. So for the Cubs to post a win tonight they will have to take advantage of every opportunity Kershaw gives them.

For as good as Kershaw has been (41 strikeouts to 15 walks in 38 1/3 innings) he’s was inconsistent in the first month of the season.

Tonight will be Clayton Kershaw’s third career start against the Cubs … and to say he’s shut down the Cubs’ offense would be an understatement (1-1 in two starts with a 1.29 ERA and a 0.93 WHIP … 16 strikeouts, two walks, two earned runs and 11 hits in 14 innings).

Cubs Career Numbers against Clayton Kershaw

  • Jeff Baker – 4-for-11 with a double, a home run and a walk
  • Marlon Byrd – 5-for-6
  • Starlin Castro – 0-for-6
  • Aramis Ramirez – 1-for-3 with a double
  • Alfonso Soriano – 1-for-5 with a home run and a walk
  • Geovany Soto – 1-for-5

Follow the CCO on Twitter: @TheCCO

Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball …

Quote of the Day

"Change is inevitable, but personal growth is a choice." - Bob Proctor
Share on Fancred
  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Tonight’s lineup:

    Castro – SS
    Barney – 2B
    Byrd – CF
    Ramirez – 3B
    Soto – C
    Soriano – LF
    Pena – 1B
    Johnson – RF
    Russell – P

  • Cheryl

    I would have switched Byrd with Soriano.

  • studio179

    Buckle up tonight.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    From Carrie Muskat: Cashner and Wells threw bullpen sessions Monday in LA and are making good progress

  • The Maven

    I’m sorry to carry over a conversation from yesterday, but I just wasn’t able to respond.

    I didn’t mean to suggest it was time for Barney to replace Castro or to swap positions, I was merely suggesting that it might be time for Castro to have a break. Right now, Barney would be the only other viable option at shortstop.

    • paulcatanese

      If you have seen my posts, I thought that would be a great move,even move him to 3b where he would be perfect.

  • Aaron

    Neil, by your comments above in the pre-game notes, it would seem you’re surprised by the Cubs’ crappy decision-making (aka “common sense”…of which they have NONE)

    Russell is a LOOGY. Floyd was at best a LF (and was better suited as a DH at that point in his career with his legs failing him). Murton was a LF. Fontenot was a 2B.

    Crappy roster decisions abound with this regime and until Hendry is replaced, not much will ever change.

    Jay Jackson would’ve been my choice. Even Samardzija should’ve gotten a shot, as I feel that’s his best role anyway.

    • Keith Moreland

      Jay Jackson started the season hurt, and needed a couple starts to get up to speed. I would rather not do that at the major-league level, might get him hurt. He is about ready though.

      The Cubs will also have to make a 40-move to add Jackson, but Schlitter looks extremely DFA-able, if that’s a term.

  • Ripsnorter1

    Pena going against a LHP. Bad news for us.

    • paulcatanese

      C’mon Rip,how could he do any worse.(shouldn’t say that,he could hit into a triple play). I see 4 for 4 and 2 HR.

      • studio179

        I see the normal next nothing in production. Unless you consider a bunt single by a guy they signed as a run producer as production.

    • John_CC

      Rip, did you see Gorzo’s line tonight? 8 innings, 3 hitter. Season ERA dropped below 3.0, WHIP at a tidy 0.9

      • Ripsnorter1

        No, I didn’t. Thanks for the update. I’m still stewing over throwing him away for nothing. We need him now.

  • Wickitkevin

    You know the old saying “You can’t win a pennent in April but you can lose one”? The Cubs are closer to the Pirates and Astros then Brewers, Cards, and Reds right now. It time to start a redo with a few keepers.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    According to multiple reports … Cubs expect Doug Davis to start Thursday at Class-A Daytona and then move up to Triple-A Iowa

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    From the Tribune: Cashner and Wells threw bullpens today. Hendry said hopefully back in 2-3 weeks.

    • paulcatanese

      Neil,that may be too little too late,except for their individual careers.

  • GaryLeeT

    Obviously, Russell has had his struggles, but when I looked at the numbers that Neil posted, they’re beyond shocking, and a disgrace to professional baseball. I just can’t believe Hendry still has a job, and in the end, I guess it’s really an indictment on Ricketts.

    • studio179

      True. Hendry and Quade boasted in the offseason they are going to contend. If they came out and said we are playing the kids and did not make the moves they made (Pena, ec), then you can give a little slack on such a move as the ‘bull pen’ game. Not that anyone would be any happier, but they would have a built in excuse. But since management felt going into the season that they could contend to win, there should be no slack towards ownership on down. May is going to be harder than April with the schedule and April was not fun. But make no mistake, I want the Ricketts family to succeed. They are the owners and here to stay.

    • Ripsnorter1

      Neil was probably too ashamed to post the rest of Russell’s numbers as a starter. Neil posted the .404 BAA, but the slugging against Russell is .872. Keep in mind that Lance Berkman is leading MLB in slugging with a .795 number.

      In short, Russell is turning ordinary MLB players into Super, Superstars.

      Look for LA to rock him tonight.

  • GaryLeeT

    Thought I would check in on our old pal D. Lee, and it’s not pretty. I Looked at yesterday’s box, and with a season average of .228, he suffered a golden sombrero. The Orioles have stubbornly batted him 3rd all year long. It must be written into his contract.

    • Keith Moreland

      I always liked D-Lee, he was a class act while he was here. He looks cooked as you say, I would be surprised if he was done, but it’s looking like he is winding down.

    • studio179

      I noticed his stats and bad day at the plate as well. He does start slow, but he is past that baseball age where skills decline.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Soto with a nice two-out double, Byrd scored …

  • John_CC

    How many different rosters does this make? I think he’s trying to break Lou’s record from 2007.

    • studio179

      Agreed.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Russell with his first big league hit

    • studio179

      A big league win…maybe.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Here comes the hit parade against Russell

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Bad call by Quade … why do you pitch to DeJesus?

  • studio179

    Two runs in two innings by Russell is a victory of sorts.

    • GaryLeeT

      It did lower his ERA as a starter.

  • Baron_S

    with that shot of Russell, keep in mind how deep the right-center field wall is at Dodger Stadium — that was SMOKED!

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Excellent catch by Marlon

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    James Russell has retired seven in a row …

  • Aaron

    man, righties hit Russell VERY hard

    • Aaron

      the reason I mention that is you’ll likely hear from Quade and possibly even Hendry after today’s game, that he pitched very well.

      The problem is, the Dodgers (prior to the 5th inning) had a low BABIP. They’ve hit it hard, but right at someone. Now, his true “talent” shows, and the Cubs have completely lost the ballgame.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Nice play by Russell on the squeeze

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    This should be Russell’s last start … Cubs still keep finding ways to lose.

    • John_CC

      Ya think so, Neil?

      • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

        Yes. They are saying Doug Davis will be ready by the Giants series, which is the next time they will need a fifth starter.

        • John_CC

          I was being completely sarcastic, sorry. Some thought that the last one *should* have been the last, or even the one before that…

          • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

            With that said, I will believe it when I see.

        • GaryLeeT

          Doug Davis eh? I am sure that will go well.

    • GaryLeeT

      His last start? Why? He’s performed the same for every start he’s made, and management keeps on starting him. They’ve deemed his performances as good enough, so that’s why they keep doing them over, and over, and over………

    • Aaron

      oh….but it won’t. We thought that LOOOOOOOOOOOOONG ago, and he’s made, what….4 starts now? Hendry already confirmed Wells and Cashner are 2-3 weeks away. Davis still has to make a start at A-ball, then another at AAA before they’ll consider him ready.

      Ramon Ortiz has made 4 starts with a 4.15 ERA, 21 2/3 IP, 26 hits, 4 hr allowed, 5 walks, 21 K’s, and a 1.43 WHIP

      Meanwhile, Jay Jackson has now made 3 starts with a 3.94 ERA, 16 IP, 11 hits, 5 walks, 8 K’s, and a 1.00 WHIP

      Jackson happens to be the only AAA starter with a respectable ERA. The others outside of Ortiz and Jackson have ERA’s well over 5.

      But, hey….I guess Jackson wasn’t “ready”, and Russell was a far better option, right?!?

      LOL…..LMAO. This team is a joke….an absolute joke from top to bottom

  • John_CC

    Moreland just said to Pat, “We need Kershaw to get wild now”. HA! The best chance is if he gets so wild that these guys won’t even swing!

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    SO-RI-A-NO (Clap, Clap, Clap, Clap, Clap)

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Soriano now leads the big leagues in homers

    • GaryLeeT

      I hear you, but a bunch of solo homers for a losing cause, ring kind of hollow.

  • John_CC

    Glad Soriano just keeps hitting solo bombs out of the 6 hole. 11! Most in the ML!! He is locked in and playing good baseball.

  • Baron_S

    Forget the pitching!
    anyone wonder why no one but Soriano has more than 2 HR on the entire roster after 26 games? Our 2nd highest HR hitter projects to under 15 HR on the season

    anyone wonder why no one but Castro has more than 1 Stolen Base?

    I

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      I have my thoughts but will stay quiet for now.

      • Baron_S

        Fair enough!!

        Can you prognosticate on Hendry’s likelihood of getting the axe in the next few weeks?

        • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

          In the next few weeks? I don’t see that happening.

  • Aaron

    With the loss tonight, the Cubs will be 12-16. They still have 2 more games against the Dodgers, who seem to always have their number. Then, later this week, they play 3 against the Reds. Next week they play 3 against the first place Cardinals, then 3 against the Giants, and their tough rotation, then the following week, they play 2 against the Reds, 2 against the hot Marlins team, and 3 against the suddenly hot Red Sox team, before they round out the month with 3 against the Mets, 3 against the Pirates, and begin a series against the Astros the last 2 days of the month.

    Realistically, I could see the Cubs losing all of those series, winning about 1 game per series (save for the 2 game series). But let’s just give them a chance to win the Pirates (yeah, right, they own the Cubs….but for argument’s sake, let’s just say they can win against them) and the Mets series. The Cubs would be about 10-17 the rest of this month, and that’s saying they win 2 series and win at least 1 game in the other 3 game series. That’s going to put the Cubs at 22-33 on the year, which would likely be good enough for last place.

    So, the question becomes…..when is enough really enough, before they consider the obvious, which is blowing it up and starting over again?

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Aaron, I know you want this blown up … you’ve been saying so for years. But it is impossible to do so. There are too many no trade clauses and high-priced, under-performing vets for that to happen. For instance, why would any team want Aramis Ramirez at this point? Especially when his option kicks in if traded. Would any team actually want Ryan Dempster right now? Carlos Pena? Especially with the way Pena’s contract is structured.

      Marlon Byrd is likely the only player that has value right now … and I’m hearing that teams are calling.

      • Aaron

        I don’t think it’s all that impossible, actually. It just takes creativity. Look what the Mets did, releasing Perez and Castillo, eating something like $16-17 million in the process.

        I didn’t realize ARAM’s option kicks in with a trade, so that complicates matters, and somewhat alters my thinking….but not entirely.

        I believe Dempster can opt out of his deal, and believe it or not, I think he might be the only guy on the Cubs that would pull a Gil Meche move, and walk away entirely from baseball to spend time with his family. He just doesn’t have “it” anymore, and it’s painful to watch. At a certain point, pride kicks in for most guys, and they would rather retire and walk away from money than embarrass themselves any longer. I’m not saying it’d be a certainty, all I’m saying is if there were a player on the Cubs that’d do it….he’d be that type of guy.

        But here’s the facts…after this year, here’s what remains:
        ARAM-$2 million buyout
        Dempster-1 yr $14 million
        Zambrano-1 yr $19 million
        Soriano-3 yrs, $19 million/yr
        Marmol-2 yrs, $7 million and $9.8 million
        Marshall-1 yr, $3.1 million
        Byrd-1 yr, $6.5 million

        Yes, it’d be a shocker if they found anyone to take on the contracts of ARAM, Dempster, and Zambrano, but if ARAM can start showing power as he did late last year, and Dempster and Z start turning it on the next few months, there’s some teams that might think if the Cubs pick up some of the tab, that they’d take that risk.

        The following veterans have no contract next year, and thus should be DFA candidates:
        Fukudome-$14.5 million
        Pena-$5 million ($10 million, but $5 million was already paid from what I understand on last year’s budget)
        Grabow-$4.8 million
        Baker-$1.175 million
        Johnson-$900k
        Hill-$850k

        So, like I said, it’s really not as far-fetched as you might think. I totally understand the probability is absolutely ZERO at this point with Hendry at the helm, because he’s quite obviously fighting for his job, but if the Ricketts will just grow a pair already, and have some common sense, then it very well could happen.

        You’re correct, in that Byrd has the most value of any veteran the Cubs have at this point, but if Fukudome has a strong May, he might join him on the block, who knows?

        Fact is, if Wells and Cashner weren’t injured, we might not even be having this conversation, even with how dreadful the offense has been, because the division was VERY much up for grabs in April. But with the Cardinals now at 3 games above .500, and the Cubs 4 games below .500, it is starting to get too late, and we’re only a full month into the season. I said the same thing last year, when I was trying to explain to everyone that while the standings showed the Cubs might be 4 games behind in the standings, they’d really need a 8 game turnaround…and then, obviously, it kept getting worse from there.

        I know I’ve mentioned these names ad nauseam, but I’ll list them again. I feel the following guys must be given a shot this year, or risk being lost in a numbers game very soon:
        Ridling-25 yrs old
        Flaherty-25 yrs old
        Clevenger-25 yrs old
        M. Smith-26 yrs old

        If the Cubs DFA Pena, they should go with Ridling. If they DFA/trade Baker or DeWitt, they should go with Flaherty. If they DFA Hill, they should go with Clevenger, and finally, if they find a taker for ARAM, they should go with Smith. It’s really that simple.

        And obviously, you could have a remade roster that looks something like this:
        Garza
        Wells
        Cashner
        Jay Jackson
        McNutt

        Marmol, Marshall, Wood, Samardzija, Mateo, Carpenter, Russell/Maine

        C-Soto, Clevenger
        1B-Ridling
        2B-Barney, Moore (he’s older, but deserves a shot and keeps seat warm for LeMahieu)
        SS-Castro
        3B-Smith, Flaherty
        LF-Soriano
        CF-Jackson, Campana
        RF-Colvin, Spencer

        • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

          This is trivial but Soriano is $18 million per year. Pena is owed $3 million for this season and $5 million in January. They paid him $2 million that was on last year’s books when he signed in December.

          I understand where you are coming from but it is not going to happen … sorry and you pointed out why. Plus, some of the minor leaguers you mentioned are not ready. They might be some day just not right now. Brett Jackson and Jay Jackson yes, but that’s all. I would rather see those guys develop and used properly by the next regime.

  • Baron_S

    Carlos Pena’s sluggin percentage is actually almost lower than his batting average — which is an impressive feat.

  • studio179

    Well…another loss.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Cubs lost to Dodgers 5-2 Monday night. Soriano hit HR #11; Russell’s line: 5R, 4ER, 6H, 0BB, 3K in 4.2 IP. Offense 1-for-4 w/ RISP, 6 LOB

  • Baron_S

    Remember the Lance Berkman no-one wanted —

    He has 9HR and 27 RBI and a .406 batting average into May

    Berkman – Pena — Hmmmm

  • Cheryl

    You keep hoping for better. The only two Cubs that seem to be tradeable are Btrd and Soriano (Soriano only if the Cubs pick up a major portion of his contract and he goes to an American League team). Is there any possibility that any of the vets that are under-performing will just be release? Ramirez sure fits that category. It would probably hellp straighten some of this mess out.