On testy fans, some truly God-forsaken fans, enormous BABIP and why it is time to fire Lou
Looks like it got a little fiesty around here this weekend. That will happen when your favorite team looks hopeless. Let me try to sum up this mediocre weekend with the mediocre weather in this sometimes mediocre blog:
- First of all, my sympathies for the fans of the Pirates. I got the chance to speak with many of them last fall. Rum Bunter Tom holds us Cub fans up as the picture of loyalty because we pack our park every day, and his own (wonderful) park is mostly empty.
You're wrong, man. Most of the people in our park are either families from Iowa on their yearly pilgrimage to the yard, or twenty-somethings from the neighborhood visiting the world's biggest beer garden. There are some die-hard blue Kool-Aid sippers, and a few of us loyalists who are dying inside the past two seasons. But your fans WANT to believe, they get hooked year after year with the ARams and the Jason Bays and the Nate McLouths and now the Andrew McCutcheons. I literally feel terrible knowing that by this time next year, the stiff at first base (Jones) will be making huge bucks and McCutcheon will be playing center for the Red Sox or Rays. If any fans in the entire world deserve to be disloyal, it's your own. Don't be so hard on your fellow Pirate fans.
- Besides Castro, Marmol, Soto and Colvin, (who in my mind are totally untouchable), the only other Cubs that would have any trade value are Lilly, Wells, Theriot, and in the right situation, Zambrano. Z would be a trade deadline move, and it would require United Nations-level negotiations from all parties in terms of clauses, money, roles, and return. We really don't want that trade to happen. Not because we love Z so much anymore, but unless his teammates absolutely despise him, which they don't appear to, even this washed-out abortion of a team does not need that kind of distraction.
I think Lilly is the man most likely on the move. That wouldn't be my personal choice, because I think he hates losing, can't stomach it, and we need more of that around here. But Wells is a bit too young and resembles a young Greg Maddux a bit too much for Hendry to deal. Theriot doesn't really have anything specific that other teams really want. He can hit in the National League, and that's pretty much it.
- Even though I have no candidates in mind to replace him, my pick to be traded for even a bag of balls would be Derrek Lee. I fully expect his production to increase with the temperature, and to me that's the problem in a nutshell. It got prickly around here about Lee, and the thing I find so frustrating about him is the fact that he is held in esteem by his teammates as the leader, the barometer that everyone else tries to emulate.
And if THIS is the guy that is the pulse, then we need a pacemaker. A true stud hoss leader would not struggle in April and May every year. A real big man would not have spent the last five years taking walks in key clutch situations, leaving the heavy lifting up to Ramirez. And now, when it is obvious that there is something physically wrong with ARam, a real leader steps up in the time of need and performs. And if he is going to second-guess his manager, he doesn't do it meekly, mealy-mouthy. If he doesn't like his guy mixing the order up all the time, then gatdammit, say it like a man! Don't give us that "well, it's his team" crap.
- Look, what is most wrong about the 2010 Cubs right now is motivation. People are taking plays off, or whole innings off. What does Carlos Marmol's enormous BABIP tell you? What it says to ME is that, when he steps out on the mound, the rest of the team is not getting to any balls that are hit. Marmol is not giving up homers, so the balls that are hit are in play. Now, either the rest of the team are a) letting up or b) all tensed up by the situation.
Regardless, it is indicative of a totally unprofessional attitude that pervades this team. The thing Ryne Sandberg always stressed, and the reason why a man with average talents went as far as he did, was because he played every play the same way, all out. The mistakes he made were physical, and although he was as fiery as a Jello pudding pop, his example rubbed off on certain teammates, which made them somewhat better than they were physically required to be.
Now, I'm not bringing Ryno into the mix here because I want him to take over the Cubs. I'm not sure he is a long term solution to anyone's managerial situation, because being single-mindedly focused is just one attribute. The guy the Royals just canned was basically Ryne Sandberg without the Hall-of-Fame career. But the one thing I do have to admit, grudgingly, is that although I personally declared the season dead last week, and have no reason to believe that this .420 team is going to turn it around...
...the Chicago Cubs are still in the hunt.
It is obvious, though, that if we just leave things alone, as is, nothing is going to happen. It is totally plausible that Ricketts and Hendry have seen the wild moves Lou Piniella has tried have not worked. They may choose to do nothing, but I honestly believe they are not THAT lazy. Maybe so. Ken Rosenthal expresses what I have heard several times on the national level, that a change is needed, and it could be Ryno (which I say: ugh) or Trammel (Lou once won 116...Alan once LOST 119) or Bob Brenly, which actually kind of speaks to me.
Me, personally, I'd like to see us trade Lee for a bullpen arm, put Z back in the rotation, put Dempster in the pen (because his last four outings have been worse than Z's last four outings as a starter, and Z has simply sucked in the pen) and see if that doesn't freshen things up a bit. Who plays first? Who cares...give Colvin a mitt. Bring up Hoffpauir. Play Nady there. Bring back Chad Tracy. The Great Jason Dubois is still in the organization. Whomever, the Grand Master Plan HAS to include bringing in someone new at first base for 2011. Let's see what else we have in the pipeline, before we overpay this winter for somebody external.
Either way, fact is: the rest of the division seems to be cooperating, making us seem not quite as bad as we really are. Standing pat is a poor option. We need more leadership, and more accountability throughout. Ricketts family - make it happen!
We just need somebody to step up here...anybody. To paraphrase Dean Wormer, Quiet, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life.