Cubs recap: Maholm battered again, offense sleepy

Cubs recap: Maholm battered again, offense sleepy

The Cubs have gotten some pretty good results from the front end of their rotation.

It’s the back end that is killing them.

I was all for the Paul Maholm signing. I have always liked him, but he has really struggled in his two starts for the Cubs.

Maholm was roughed up again Sunday, giving up six runs on six hits in four innings for the second consecutive start. He now boasts a 13.50 ERA. He really seems to be struggling with his command and is leaving his breaking stuff up. He still could be struggling to find his groove after shoulder issues last season.

The bullpen still looks shaky. Lendy Castillo came in the fifth to serve up a 2 run bomb to star of the game Matt Carpenter. Carpenter went 4-for-4 with five RBIs. Rodrigo Lopez gave up 2 earned runs in his two innings.

Dale Sveum ran most of his bench out there today, giving some players like Alfonso Soriano a rest.

He even had a predominantly right handed hitting line-up that included Joe Mather, Reed Johnson and Jeff Baker, despite a right-hander on the mound, the Cardinals' Jake Westbrook.

 "Westbrook's numbers against right-handers are far worse than they are against left-handers," Sveum said. "So it's kind of one of those days to get these guys some at-bats."

Johnson was the only one to make any noise with two hits and an RBI. The Cubs scored all their runs meekly on a wild pitch in the fourth, an RBI groundout by Johnson in the fifth and a run-scoring infield hit by Starlin Castro in the eighth.

Defensively Blake DeWitt managed to look really bad without committing an error. DeWitt looked slow to get a single that led to a run and struggled to turn potential double plays that could have helped Maholm out.

This is going to be one of these long days that this club may have to endure until the front office can come up with some answers.

Some of the questions may include does Marlon Byrd and Geovany Soto keep getting the bulk of the playing time? The bullpen may need some new faces soon too, as Shawn Camp and Castillo haven’t looked good at all.

You may also wonder how long the Cubs give Maholm and Chris Volstad before they possibly give Randy Wells and Travis Wood another look?



Filed under: Cubs

Tags: Dale Sveum, Paul Maholm, Starlin Castro


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  • This season is to see who fits in the Cubs long term plans and
    who does not. Rizzo and Jackson should NOT be brought up
    until the time is right (i.e., service time) to help the team.
    I hope Boston can give us somebody good for Byrd.

  • didnt see the game but just from the box score Castillo had 4 Ks in the 2IP although giving up the HR, Was He really that bad or just make a mistake ? Guy barely has 100 IP . I would ride him out and keep him in the system , this year is a wash anyway. Camp needs gone though.

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    With Castillo, they just need to protect him and give him a chance in situations where he can succeed. He's a long way from A ball but has a lot of promise. If they had a strong pen, it would be easier to hide him. He's done a decent job so far for a guy who hasn't even pitched at advanced A.

    I agree with you on Camp. I didn't see the attraction when they picked him up--he was never THAT good when he was good, and he was pretty sorry last year. Plus he's old and has no upside to speak of. IMO, he'll be the first to go when they make a move to shore up the pen.

  • In reply to SVAZCUB:

    I agree that Camp's a good candidate to be removed from the 25-man roster. Manny Corpas, Scott Maine and Esmalin Cardidad have all been decent in Iowa. But I'd like to see Maine and Caridad sustain their success a little longer before getting called up. So I'd bring up Corpas to take Camp's place.

  • In reply to Taft:

    What about Parker? He pitched well at AAA last year and is off to a good start again this year.

  • Why oh why is Marlon Byrd playing every day?? I look at the pre-game line ups and hope that he sits. I would rather watch tony campana try and bunt his way on base on every at bat than watch Marlon " fancy shades" Byrd swing at the first pitch and ground out meekly to 2nd base. I also feel the same about Soto right now, though I'm tempted to give him more so the benefit of the doubt to come around sometime soon. However, I'm waiting for Sveum to follow up on his word to get Clevenger more starts than one a week. He raves about is game calling and his bat and yet still sits him. I'm well aware nothing is to be made of this season, but it seems like Quade and Hendry and still in charge.... Also, Shawn Camp...need I say more?

  • I have to admit I was really happy with the Maholm signing too, but he looks terrible. I wouldn't lump Volstad with him, however. He is still finding his way, and outside of lapses in concentration he has looked okay.

  • In reply to Hawks12:

    No I really didn't to lump anyone together. I like Volstsad and Maholm still. However, maybe Maholm needs to get things straightened out in Iowa. I'm not sure the answer will be T Wood or Wells at any point, but they are at least viable options.

  • That recap pretty much covers it. Since Volstad and Maholm have made such quick exits, and since our offense hasn't scored enough to make these last two games competitive, we've had plenty of garbage time with which to build depth in the bullpen.

    Alas, neither Castillo nor Lopez looks ready to pitch in a game that's competitive. The same can be said of Camp. So I guess we're just going to save Marmol, Wood, Russell and Dolis for the competitive contests. That's life as a rebuilding team.

    I'm still in disbelief that Jeff Baker was in the cleanup spot. Seems to me that scenario should be avoided at all costs -- if for no other reason than team morale. Let's put a bookmark here, and after the new front office has won a couple championships, maybe this will remind us how bleak it once was. Seriously, if it was September and Sveum put this lineup out there, I'd accuse him of tanking to improve our draft slot.

  • In reply to Taft:

    Jeff Baker in the cleanup spot is better than Marvell Wynne in the cleanup spot (back in the days of Zimmer)! But still painful--all the more so against RHP.

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    When we signed Maholm, I told myself, "well at least we might get a lefty in the starting 5." I kinda think he's just here until Travis Wood can get his act together. I am kinda anxious to rid ourself of Byrd and bring up Campana for the rest of this year. Then we bring up Jackson for next year with Campana moving to the 4th or 5th outfielder (Maher might be a bigger factor soon).

    Let's face it. This is just a 1 year Spring Training in progress. Still lots of work to be done.....

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    I hope Maholm gives us more. I didn't expect great things out of him but I thought he'd be a decent 5th guy who kept us in the game at least.

    Am getting the sense that Byrd's time is limited but not sure Jackson gets called up just yet if Byrd does get traded. Agree Campana might be the guy they call up and gets in the mix for now.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    On a personal note, I'd really like to see Campana back here. This is not to say that Bryd should be traded at any cost. This whole thing is gonna be a long and sometimes painfull process. An it's really difficult to tell us Cubs fans to be patient. But, I guess that's the prescription we're gonna get.......

  • Too bad all the SPs at Iowa aren't pitching well.

  • That starting lineup wasn't going to give them much of a chance to win in what I believe was a pretty big game--as big as one can be at this time of the season. It was the rubber game of the series against the World Champions, our chief rivals, at a time when they have a few guys down. I would MUCH rather rotate bench guys in one per day, than go with the "B-squad" lineup that we had today, especially with one of our weaker starting pitchers on the mound and in a key game. Not a good managerial move, IMO.

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    I wish we wouldn't have the wholesale lineup change. Maybe switch a few people around, but today was like a different team. I know you gotta get people at bats, but it's only the second week of the season. If they're tired already we are in for something worse than what anyone could have predicted.

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    At this point, I think Volstad has done more to deserve a longer look than Maholom.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Agreed. Volstad has a chance to be part of long range plan. Maholm more likely a stopgap guy.

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    BTW, Randy Well didn't exactly look all that impressive in his 2-1/3 innings of work today.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Randy Wells has been awful. Trade value has to be near zero right now.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Wells seems to be somewhat pouting down in AAA ball. He shoulda went down and worked harder. Make the Cubs brass embarrassed that they sent him down. A real disappointment going on with Randy Wells, imo....

  • I agree with you about Volstad and Maholom, Volstad does deserve a longer look. As for Maholom, that's a different story, unless he magically turns it around soon, he will not be in the starting rotation in the next couple of months.

  • In reply to Steve Flores:

    I guess the backend of the rotation says it all about our lack of SP depth at this point in the process. I have watched both of Muslims starts and he is not pitching well enough to justify a spot in the rotation.
    not sure if anyone will be ready to claim his pot this year or next, but with both Dumpsters contract coming to and end as well as the sunk cost of Fairbanks contract, there is close to $30M of Payroll that be free up for 2013.

    at this point, I am not fully confident that Theo is the man to be making the free agent decisions, based on his uneven record of signings while in Boston.

    in short, this is not going to be an easy journey.

    I predict the cubs will lose 95 games, and it will not be encouraging.

  • In reply to JK1969:

    sorry bout the spell check on my device......

    meant to say maholm, dempster and zambrano

  • Maybe it's just me, or I am seeing something totally different, but I actually like what I see out of Lendy Castillo. He is raw, but is exactly what this team is looking for. He is slow and deliberate, but has all the room in the world to LEARN how to get better. He had 4 strikeouts in 2 innings of work. Granted he had a walk that ended up hurting him...don't they always...but the home run given up he had Carpenter down 0-2 and he gave him a fastball in the zone to wack out of the it IS his fault for putting that pitch there, but doesn't a catcher or pitching coach help out and waste a pitch or nibble somewhere out of the zone? This is just a kid! We need more like him in my opinion! NO WAY do you give up on this kid yet. He was good in spring training, and will likely get better with experience! Remember, he went from pitching in front of 8000+ people to now going to pitch for the first time in front of full houses of 50,000+...give him so more time! I LIKE him!

  • In reply to Twenty Two:

    No problem if you want to develop Catillo. However, they may have to send him down at some point to let him do just that. Maybe the Cubs work something out with Philly. Otherwise, he develops up here? I'm not really down on anyone just yet, just stating the results so far. This pen is going to be shaky, and Jed is looking for a reason.

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    I don't think the problem is Castillo, it's the rest of the pen. If the pen was solid, it wouldn't be too hard to carry Castillo, and he could learn from the examples of the other guys.

    As it is now, the pen is a mess. We have an erratic closer whose best days are behind him, an old, fragile set-up guy who isn't going to make the 70 appearances you want out of your set up guy, a guy in Dolis who hasn't pitched AAA ball yet and who is overhyped because of the lack of talent on the team, a guy in Camp who is likely finished. Then you have Castillo, who needs to be protected. There's Lopez, a serviceable long/swing guy, and Russell, who's pretty good and could well turn out to be the most valuable piece we have in the pen in '12.

    There's very little stability there, in either the middle innings or the late innings. We need more guys who can be counted to be successful in their particular role. If we had a legit set-up guy who could pitch 2-3 days in a row if necessary, and Wood was part of the middle relief mix, keeping Castillo would not be hard. As it is now, it's just kind of a tangle of guys who can't be counted on--not a good environment for a kid up from A ball.

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    Absolutely he develops up here... Isn't that why they took a flyer on a class A ballplayer in the rule 5 in the first place? Someone that was a position player turned pitcher? To me, you never get a polished player in the rule 5 to begin with... it appears that they knew what they were doing... Now hide him while giving him the right opportunities to potentially succeed... And teach!

  • In reply to Twenty Two:

    The only thing that concerns me with Lendy Castillo is that his velocity dropped late in the spring and early in the season. I missed the game today but I did see that he was back around 93 mph after throwing 89-91 in his last few outings. He shows decent command for a pitcher with his experience and he has great poise.

    If he can maintain velocity and perhaps even get back into that 94-95 range, then I think he's worth keeping.

  • Volstad and Maholm are a real downer. Allow me to rant for a minute here....

    Wood and Marmol Crap the bed and everyone loses their bowels. "Why are they still on the team?" "These are relics from the Hendry regime, they're plaguing the team and ruining the water and stunting our children's growth....." and all this crap. Meanwhile Volstad and Maholm have been.....let's toss out some words.......Doug Davis-ish? ....Ortiz-esque?.......shitty? and nobody dares say boo about Epstoyer. Remember, Epstoyer both came out and said " first thing we need to do is improve our pitching depth. Pitching depth. We must improve the pitching depth....." And while it's way too early to cast a yay or nay on Volstad or Maholm.....doesn't this "we're competitive when our top 3 pitch and effing toast when the bottom two pitch" absolutely scream of last year? Remember how the Cubs were over .500 when Demp, Z and Garza pitched but screwed when Davis, Russel, Ortiz and Coleman pitched. It reeks of last year. I know I know it's still early. But it was the GM and the President who said their first priority was to add pitching depth. Well.......? I mean, shouldn't their first priority show some immediate dividends? Or at least some hints at dividends.....?

    Ah.....rant over.

    looking forward to the Marlins series. If for not other reason than I don't have to listen to the Marlins broadcast any more.

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    Blake DeWitt managed to look really bad without committing an error.

    Blake Dewitt is not an infielder. I saw that the first time he attempted to dive for that groundball. An infielder is always low to the ground, that was his first mistake. @nd mistake he dove like a rainbow, ineffective. He doesn't have the wiring down now at this level, he not going to get it.
    He singlehandedly put Maholm in a hole that 2nd inning by missing a ball he couldn't had and by double clutching on the DP ball. This is not acceptable with the concept they;re trying to put out there. Even Soriano has heard the message.
    If we have good hitters and adequate fielding that we picked up, it time to bring them up cause DeWitt can't handle the field.

  • Well they can't make quality starters out of thin air. Marshall is a very good reliever but he alone isn't going to net you a top three pitcher unless it's a very young high upside prospect or something and that's not going to help you anytime soon. Getting Volstad for Zambrano was about as good as you were going to do there. Who else is going to get you anything besides back end of the rotation types? What free agents do you want? Did you really want them to sign people like Kuroda or Jackson? They would win you a few more games possibly but to what end? And that's if they would even consider signing for a team that won't compete for a year or two.

    TR, Theo and Jed have said all along that they need to build a strong organization from the ground up and that's what they are doing. They inherited a team that has few impact players in the minors and not a ton of talent on the Major league roster. It's not going to be overnight. The Cubs fans supported an ownership that really didn't deserve it in the past so why would you stop now when you have a new owner that's out front and accountable and a front office with proven success? These are the guys you should be behind. It's going to suck for awhile but it won't be long until we at least get to see some young talent play in Jackson, Castillo and Rizzo among others. You can't possibly expect an new front office to come in and change and entire organization from the ground up in one off season.

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