Cubs

Silva, Ramirez fight in Cubs dugout

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Silva, Ramirez fight in Cubs dugout

Wednesday, March 2, 2011Posted: 4:25 PM Updated: 8:13 PM

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

PHOENIX - Carlos Silva hopped into a yellow golf cart and rode away toward the parking lot, leaving others to explain what happened.

Silva and Aramis Ramirez had to be separated on Wednesday during a dugout dispute at the end of the first inning at Maryvale Baseball Park. On a sunny, 69-degree afternoon, another Cubs pitcher had a meltdown in a 12-5 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers.

Silva is a proud, emotional man fighting for a spot in the rotation. He gave up six runs - three earned - during a wild sequence and walked off the mound complaining about his defense. He had allowed two two-run homers, but was also undermined by three errors.

Ramirez is one of the coolest, most detached guys in the Cubs clubhouse. He dropped one ball in shallow left field. Though Silva didn't criticize Ramirez directly, the third baseman said something right back.

Ramirez - who's been a Cub since 2003, longer than almost anyone else on the team - called it a "misunderstanding" and said he talked it out with Silva, that it's all good.

"I never had that problem in my life," Ramirez said. "Even in Little League I never got involved with a teammate like that. (But) it's in the past and we move on."

Silva has said that he thinks he deserves one of the two open spots in the rotation, but he was still in a fragile position. Silva, who was acquired from Seattle when the Cubs unloaded Milton Bradley, pitched like an All-Star during the first half of last season.

But Silva, who will turn 32 in April, underwent a cardiac procedure and dealt with elbow issues that limited him to only 5.1 innings during the final two months.

"You take the good with the bad," catcher Koyie Hill said. "It's a high-pressure job. Guys are going out there for a job. That's their livelihood. They want to be good. They put a lot of pressure on themselves. So stuff like that can happen. I don't think it's going to be a problem."

Silva was pulled after one inning, though manager Mike Quade said the right-hander had reached his pitch count, close to 40. He walked to a side field with a Cubs strength coach to finish his conditioning. As a group of reporters staked out the clubhouse, he refused to comment on the incident.

"We don't have to fight," outfielder Alfonso Soriano said. "We have a lot of pressure in Chicago with the fans, with the media. We don't need that."

The Cubs were embarrassed by a similar incident last season, when Carlos Zambrano confronted Derrek Lee over a defensive breakdown. Zambrano was suspended and forced to attend anger-management counseling, though Quade and Ramirez tried to distance themselves from that comparison.

Does Silva have to apologize to the team, like Zambrano did last year?

"You got to ask him that," Ramirez said. "I don't know what he's got on his mind. I can speak only about myself. I can't answer for Silva."

Silva is owed 11.5 million in the last year of his contract, which contains a 2 million buyout for 2012.

Quade said that Silva will not face any disciplinary action from him, though that doesn't mean the issue is completely resolved. General manager Jim Hendry did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Quade doesn't want to pin this all on Silva, because the Cubs have already committed 14 errors this spring.

"You got two pissed-off people," Quade said. "It was a brutal first inning, plenty of blame to go around and people get frustrated. Maybe that's what we freaking need."

WATCH: Quade's reaction to the incident

Ramirez does not seem like the type to hold a grudge. He also kind of smiled and said, "I'm not a troublemaker."

By the end, as the crowd of 3,548 was thinning out, the public-address announcer told everyone over the speakers, "Carlos Silva takes the loss."

PatrickMooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. FollowPatrick on Twitter @CSNMooneyfor up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

Remember that guy? Former Cubs shortstop Ricky Gutiérrez

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AP

Remember that guy? Former Cubs shortstop Ricky Gutiérrez

Ricky Gutiérrez played in the Majors from 1993-2004. He played shortstop for the Cubs from 2000-01 and later signed with them again in June 2004. 

However, Gutiérrez never got back to the Majors with the Cubs, who sent him to the Red Sox the following month. His final Major League game was with the Red Sox on Oct. 3, 2004, the final game of the 2004 regular season; he didn’t play in the 2004 postseason. Gutiérrez was subsequently signed and released by a few other teams, including the White Sox in 2005.

Gutiérrez holds the distinction of being the first Cubs player to hit a regular season grand slam against the White Sox (July 12, 2001). In his two seasons with the Cubs, he tied for the Major League lead in sacrifice bunts both years (16 in 2000, 17 in 2001) which was odd since he had a grand total of 18 sacrifice bunts in his 847 career games NOT in a Cubs uniform. He also had uncharacteristic power with the Cubs:  21 home runs for Chicago in 272 games, 17 home runs with everyone else (847 games).

What Cubs fans probably remember most is what Gutiérrez did against them. On May 6, 1998 he had the lone hit (many dispute it should have been ruled an error) for the Astros off Kerry Wood in Wood’s 20-strikeout masterpiece at Wrigley Field (Gutiérrez was responsible for two of the strikeouts). 

Later that season, on June 26, the number 20 and Gutiérrez were again connected when he had a 20-pitch battle against Bartolo Colón, which ended in a strikeout. It remained the last plate appearance in the Majors of at least 20 pitches until Brandon Belt flew out on the 21st pitch of an at-bat against the Angels' Jaime Barria on April 22, 2018.

Gutiérrez’s nephew, James Jones, played 14 seasons in the NBA for the Pacers, Suns, Trail Blazers, Heat and Cavaliers.

2019 encore for Jesse Chavez?

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USA TODAY

2019 encore for Jesse Chavez?

On July 15, Brandon Morrow recorded his 22nd save of the season with a scoreless inning in San Diego. It wound up being the last time he pitched in a game for the Cubs in 2018. 

Four days later, during the All-Star break, the Cubs made a move to bolster their bullpen, acquiring Jesse Chavez from the Rangers in exchange for minor league hurler Tyler Thomas. It wasn’t even the biggest trade they’d make with the Rangers that month – a little over a week later they dealt for Cole Hamels. 

Despite pitching nearly half the innings, Chavez was almost as valuable as Hamels.

2018 with Cubs IP fWAR
Jesse Chavez 39.0 1.1
Cole Hamels 76.1 1.5

Chavez made his Cubs debut on July 21; from July 21 through the end of the season, 187 pitchers tossed at least 30 innings. 185 of them had a higher ERA than Chavez, while 184 of them allowed more baserunners per 9 innings.

Best ERA, July 21-end of season

(minimum 30 innings) IP ERA
Blake Treinen 32.1 0.56
Jesse Chavez 39.0 1.15
Blake Snell 61.2 1.17
Trevor Bauer 35.0 1.29
Trevor Williams 71.2 1.38
Robert Stock 36.0 1.50

Fewest baserunners per 9 innings, July 32-end of season

(minimum 30 innings) IP BR/9 IP
Blake Treinen 32.1 5.85
Blake Snell 61.2 7.15
Jesse Chavez 39.0 7.15
Jacob deGrom 93.2 7.49
Scott Oberg 30.2 7.63
Josh Hader 33.1 7.83

But how did Chavez transform into one of Joe Maddon’s best bullpen arms down the stretch?  According to Chavez, his own transformation started on Mother’s Day.

Chavez entered a game in Houston with a 5.48 ERA in a dozen appearances, but pitched three innings with no hits, no walks and four strikeouts. From that point through the end of the season, he posted a 1.70 ERA and 0.892 WHIP. 

Chavez points to a change in arm slot which resulted in better consistency and a slight jump in velocity. A glance at his release point charts show that consistency, and he added roughly one mile an hour to his fastball.

"It's kept me more consistent in the zone," Chavez said. "Things have been sharper, velocity has been a lot sharper. I was huffing and puffing trying to get a 92 (mph fastball) out there and it wasn't coming.

"Next thing you know, I dropped it and it's right there, and I'm like, 'something's wrong here.' But I just took it and ran with it."

Jesse Chavez 2018 four-seam fastball velocity

  Average Max
Prior to May 13 92.6 mph 94.6 mph
May 13 on 93.6 mph 95.7 mph

Can Chavez be valuable in 2019?  The 35-year old reliever posted the best ERA (2.55), WHIP (1.059) and walk rate (4.5% - nearly two percent better than his previous best) in 2018, and he continued to get better as the season went on. 

He’s a former starter who can pitch multiple innings if needed, and that’s a valuable thing - especially for a manager like Joe Maddon, who uses his pitchers in a variety of ways. It’s unlikely he’ll have a second consecutive career year.

But he’ll likely be well worth the price tag; he only made $1 million in 2018, and even with a slight raise he should be very affordable. There’s definitely room in Maddon’s bullpen for a pitcher like Chavez.