Cubs, Brett Anderson start May on wrong foot with blowout loss to Phillies: 'A colossal failure'

Cubs, Brett Anderson start May on wrong foot with blowout loss to Phillies: 'A colossal failure'

Joe Maddon thought Brett Anderson spent the first month of the 2017 season a little uneasy about his position with the defending world champion Cubs.

Most of that, Maddon thought, was due to Anderson pressing in an effort to make sure he didn't let down his new team.

As the calendar rolled over to May Monday night (though it didn't feel like it with the temperature at a soggy 49 degrees at first pitch), Anderson is still in search of peace of mind.

The veteran left-hander survived for just four outs, getting lit up for seven runs on seven hits and a walk as the Philadelphia Phillies (12-12) cruised to a 10-2 victory over the Cubs (13-12).

The Cubs were already behind two hitters into the game as Cesar Hernandez singled and Aaron Altherr doubled him home. Anderson was one pitch away from getting out of the inning, but Phillies first baseman Tommy Joseph lifted a ball into the 14mph winds blowing straight out for a two-out, three-run homer.

"It was kinda a colossal failure from the get-go," Anderson said. "Make a decent pitch to the first batter, bloop single and it's all downhill from there. You see Jon [Lester] or Jake [Arrieta] or whoever at least give your team a chance to win without their A+ stuff. You try to do your part, but today was just a battle from the first pitch and obviously wasn't very successful."

Anderson also had to endure a rain delay that pushed opening pitch back an hour and 25 minutes.

"The delay wasn't so much a factor," Anderson said. "But the first inning when the pseudo-Forrest Gump torrential downpour and then it kinda clears off and the bottom of the first is weird. Ideally, we could've waited 10, 15 more minutes. I still have to go out there and get people out and I wasn't able to do that tonight.

The Cubs have now allowed 32 runs in the first inning this season, by far their worst total by frame:

Beyond the albatross weather, the Cubs didn't get into Chicago until almost 5 a.m. Monday morning after playing the primetime game in Boston Sunday night.

"Andy had a tough night," Maddon said. "There's no other way to slice it. We've been having to come from behind often over the last week to two weeks. It's not easy to continually do, especially when you're getting to bed at five in the morning. No excuses, 'cause Andy came in a night in advance. When you have a tough pitching night like that, it makes it difficult for the team."

On the season, Anderson has given up 15 earned runs on 28 hits and 12 walks in 21.2 innings, good for a 6.23 ERA and 1.85 WHIP. But 13 of those 15 runs have come in two bad starts (Monday and April 18 when he gave up six earned to the Milwaukee Brewers). In the other three outings, Anderson has worked around jams to surrender two earned runs in 16.2 innings despite 11 walks and 13 hits in that span.

"There are no positives to gain from this outing," Anderson said. "With the game starting late yesterday and then the team getting in late, you wanna go out there and give your team a chance to win. I have five starts [this season] now and I'm averaging [a little more than four innings] a start, which is embarrassing from my perspective. Hopefully going forward, I can pitch better and give us a chance."

Mike Montgomery did his part as the long man out of the bullpen, spinning 3.2 scoreless innings of relief. Justin Grimm followed and retired the first five batters he faced before giving up a pair of homers — and three runs total — as the Phillies poured it on.

"Our bullpen did a great job," Anderson said. "I have to pitch better. I haven't gotten in a groove for the most part. It's kinda been hit-or-miss. Hopefully going forward, you can pitch in five-to-six-day rotation, hit that stride and hopefully get some consistent weather, consistent circumstances and pitch better, do better going forward."

Javy Baez scored the only two runs for the Cubs — first on a solo homer on an 0-2 count in the fifth and then on Matt Szczur's sacrifice fly in the seventh — and also had two of the team's four hits.

Ben Zobrist and Willson Contreras collected the only two other Cubs hits — both singles.

As the game turned into a blowout, the Cubs got Kyle Schwarber some time behind the plate, letting the slugger catch the last two innings. It was his first action as a backstop in a regular-season game since September 2015.

Cubs Talk Podcast: Ned Colletti interview


Cubs Talk Podcast: Ned Colletti interview

On the latest Cubs Talk Podcast, David Kaplan talks with former Cubs front office executive and Dodgers GM Ned Colletti on how to fix a major league roster, when to deal a player who is heading into free agency, and more

01:30 How he moved from MLB to being a scout in the NHL

04:30 How to fix a major league roster

06:40 On building the roster when other teams know your weaknesses

09:30 When to deal a player who is facing free agency

11:30 Balancing trying to win now vs. building a team for a sustained run

14:30 On how a GM can't depend only on signing a big free agent

18:00 On his time with the Cubs in the 1980s

19:45 On how a GM deals with Scott Boras

22:00 On how a GM deals with talk radio and the media

26:00 On how he almost got CC Sabathia on the Dodgers for 2008 playoff run

28:00 On how not trading for Ryan Dempster helped bring Kyle Hendricks to the Cubs

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

Cubs Talk Podcast


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Cubs aiming to finalize coaching staff this week

Cubs aiming to finalize coaching staff this week

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — If fans are feeling impatient waiting for the Cubs coaching staff to be finalized, the front office feels their anxiety.

Jed Hoyer said Tuesday afternoon at the MLB GM Meetings the Cubs hope to settle their coaching staff before the week is up, putting an end to what he joked has been a six-week human resources process.

Theo Epstein confirmed Monday Will Venable will be back as a base coach for the Cubs in 2020, though which base is not yet certain. Venable who interviewed for the managerial vacancy this fall, spent 2019 as the first-base coach for the Cubs, but also filled in at third base early in the season when incumbent Brian Butterfield dealt with vertigo. 

In addition to Joe Maddon, Mark Loretta (bench coach), Butterfield (third-base coach), Lester Strode (bullpen coach) and Chris Denorfia (quality assurance coach) are also out.

That leaves the coaching staff as follows:

Manager — David Ross
Bench coach — Andy Green
Pitching coach — Tommy Hottovy
Associate pitching coach, catching and strategy coach — Mike Borzello
Hitting coach — Anthony Iapoce
Assistant hitting coach — Terrmel Sledge
Bullpen coach — Chris Young
Base coach — Will Venable
Base coach — open
Quality assurance coach — open

It's actually been longer than six weeks since the Cubs informed Maddon they intended to move on from the World Series-winning manager, but it hasn't even been three weeks since the Cubs officially hired David Ross as the replacement. 

But the offseason is fully in gear now and the Cubs would like to turn their full attention to the roster.

"We'd love to get [the coaching staff] done by the end of the week," Hoyer said. "I don't know if that's realistic or not, but that'd be a great goal. We're starting to put together some meetings and stuff with those guys coming to Chicago, so it's not like we're not moving forward with stuff. But I do feel like it's time to have that locked down."

Ross has obviously had a say in the new additions to the staff, going through what Hoyer called a "crash course" in interviewing and hiring coaches. Ross doesn't have much experience working with Green — the most important of the new hires — but he has worked closely with Hottovy and Borzello in the past from his days as a player. He's also been around those guys and the other holdovers on the coaching staff while serving as a special assistant in the front office the last three seasons.

Still, Hoyer said the Cubs are cognizant of Ross' need to have somebody on the coaching staff he trusts. 

"You want guys to fill certain roles on your staff — coaching, strategy, etc." Hoyer said. "But there's also a camaraderie you want to create. There's a relationship with the manager that you want to give that manager. It's a really hard and lonely job at times. 

"Having someone on that staff that you trust that you've known from the past that you can vent to or grab a beer with or grab breakfast with and talk about it, I think that's really important."

Once the final two spots on the coaching staff are finalized, Ross can also turn his attention to pressing matters like immersing himself in the Cubs' behind-the-scenes processes with the research and development staff and the rest of the front office.

Ross has some knowledge of that from his front office work over the last three years, but he also was enjoying time in retirement with his family in addition to his duties as an MLB analyst/broadcaster for ESPN.

"The best way he can hit the ground running is just become really familiar with all of the stuff that we do in the office even beyond what he's already done," Hoyer said. "Using it as a great learning winter for spring training, it's really important from an organization standpoint and a message standpoint. I know he wants to hit the ground running and the best way to do that is to be in the office as much as possible to be able to map out spring training."