You may find this hard to believe, but it's going to get better. I know, it doesn't feel that way -- your back is against the proverbial wall, the hometown fans are against you, and you feel like your last friend just spit in your eye. You are pressing, struggling, and probably regretting the big, multi-year contract you signed. After all -- you're only halfway through the first of three seasons in Chicago.
Here's the deal, though. At this point, I don't think you really understand Cub fans. First, contrary to the rumors you may have heard, we are no more racist than the fans of any other team out there. If you are getting booed and heckled, please know that it's for other reasons. Second, we are a hardened, cynical, screwed-up bunch. Sports psychologist all over the country would do well to set up shop in Wrigleyville, as they coax long-time Cub fans through self-deprecation, depression, alcoholism, and messy divorces. Losing for 101 years is not natural and because of it we are rarely normal. That's a long-winded way of saying that Jesus Christ could come back, play center field for the Cubs, and on his first bobbled ball in the outfield there would be somebody out there itching to dump beer all over his thorny crown.
But third, we can be the most loyal, supportive group of fans in the world, too. Just go back and watch some old tape on Andre Dawson -- they worshiped him. Same thing with Sammy Sosa -- he was the most selfish, greedy, asenine player of an entire era and people would have buried bodies for him.
You must be wondering, how do I get to that point? I realize, Mr. Bradley, that it feels like an impossible feat but it's actually pretty simple: start playing the way you know you can. All of that pressure, all of that frustration, that feeling of isolation, if you just start hitting it will all go away. (Kind of amazing, isn't it?)
Think about that for a second. You aren't hitting because you're stressed out by the booing. You're getting booed because you aren't hitting. Start hitting, the boos go away, and you will be loved.
I only mention this because it must feel like there's an impossible chasm between where you are now and where you need to be to feel comfortable in Chicago. And at the beginning of this so-called "open letter," I wrote "it's going to get better." I know this to be true for a simple reason: you didn't wake up one morning only to discover that your talent has left you. It's still there. You can hit the ball, and you will. I hope your success starts this year.
Goat Riders of the Apocalypse
Why doesn’t Milton Bradley just bat right-handed all the time?
No one really seemed to be asking this question (unless I missed it over the last few months) until Sully’s article on the Trib’s site today.
“Asked if he considered asking Bradley to hit right-handed against righties and ditch his switch-hitting, Piniella said that's not something the Cubs want Bradley to implement.” – Paul Sullivan, Chicago Tribune
So why not?
I hate to rain on whatever parade you might be having this morning after the 4-game sweep of the Natinals, but I’m glad someone finally asked this question.
I realize part of the reason Bradley was brought to Chicago was so that his switch bat would bring more balance to a right-handed heavy lineup, but look at these splits…
.333/.400/.476, 1 HR, 6 RBI
.201/362./327, 5 HR, 15 RBI
Woof. Granted Bradley has more dingers and ribbies from the left side of the plate, but those percentages from the right side are hawt. Sure we’d all like to see Daddy putting the ball into the bleachers with more regularity, but I think we’d all be just as happy if he got on base and hit the ball more consistently.
It seems like a right-handed hitting Bradley would fit beautifully into the No. 2 spot because of that batting average and OBP. The power just isn't consistent enough to justify him hitting left-handed anymore.
Anyone with switch-hitting experience care to comment on this? I’d love to hear what are the advantages and (more importantly) the disadvantages of switch hitting.
As for everyone else: What do you think of Bradley exclusively batting right-handed for the remainder of the season even against right-handed pitching? Pros? Cons?
Gotta give the man a gigantic load of credit for creativity with his backing up of the truck. He does take care to mention, however, that these kinds of things never happen in real life, at least in the Cubs world. If Kenny Williams were the GM of the Cubs, THEN maybe you got something. Then again, if that were the case, don't drive to the games - Kenny's kids might try to break in and steal your car radios.
Today's meager suggestion was inspired by Goatfriend Paul Sullivan who has his suggested second half batting order. Now, ladies and gentlemen, I understand how you all feel about Sam Fuld. I think he's a pleasant young man, a gentleman AND a scholar, and also the long lost kid brother of Doug Dascenzo. Teams don't win World Series playing Sam Fuld every day and batting him leadoff. In fact, with Reed Johnson around, I'm not sure we need Fuld. Or we don't need Johnson. Anyway, we don't need both.
I am going into the second half under the assumption that Jim Hendry's biggest move will be to bring in a reliever or two, with Johnson and/or Fuld and Fox and/or Hoffpauir as trade bait. So therefore my humble suggestion to kick-start the offense is to take the guy who is leading the team in OBP (amongst league qualifiers) and bat him first.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Cub Fans, with a .379 OBP, meet Don't Wake Daddy, your new leadoff man!
One other thing: Paul, with all respect, I thought the third spot was for your best hitter, not your most expensive. Alfonso Soriano has had the worst six weeks I have ever seen. He hits seventh until he proves to us that he remembers how to hit a home run again.
Enjoy the HGH fest today, kids. If all was fair and just in the world, they would be waiting at home plate tonight, for Pujols, with a syringe.
Let's face it Cub's fans this season has been a disappointment thus far. There is a good chance the Cubs may need more than Aramis to get out of this funk. After last season, I thought the Cubs needed to add some pieces to prove they truly deserved the title of World Series contender.
Their most tradable player was Mark DeRosa. There was a huge belief that he peaked and it was very unlikely that he would not match last year's output. I agreed with that belief. A player who never hit more than 13 home runs in the season and before the age of 30 didn't hit double digit home runs in his career was probably would not to have season that matched '08. In hindsight, the reason why they traded DeRosa made some sense. The Cubbies also dumped Jason Marquis (somehow one of the leaders in wins.) Chicago was trying to gain the pieces to trade for Peavy. Given Zambrano's emotional and recent physical issues, it was understood that Hendry felt the Cubs needed a true ace.
Another incredibly more important issue Hendry had to answer was the Cubs need for another bat. His belief that the Cubs lineup was too right handed bought in Aaron Miles and the infamous Milton Bradley. Here is where things go really interested. In addition to these acquisitions, the Cubs let go of Jim Edmonds, Daryle Ward, and Hank White. Jim Edmonds was crucial for the Cubs last season. He had two clutch home runs against his former team; the hated St. Louis Cardinals. He also brought a number of exciting catches with him. However, he was at the end of the road, and there was no way the Cubs were going to resign him. Daryle Ward had a number clutch hits, but Micah Hoffpauir and Jake Fox more than replaced him. Henry Blanco on the other hand was the only man in history who could pull of a feathered mullet and tattoos. He was Big Z’s countryman. He gave guidance to Carlos. Unfortunately, he would have asked more money than the Cubs were willing to give him.
Essentially, Milton Bradley or “board game was brought into replace DeRosa’s bat in the lineup. Ideally, Fontenot would have replaced Edmonds production. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. Fontenot instead of living up to the nickname of “Little Babe Ruth” has turned into “Mini Mickey Morandini” (or Mini Morandini for short). Kosuke Fukudome was expected to be much better than last year. So far, his fall has come sooner than last season. Based on last season, Milton Bradley was a great acquisition. He put up great numbers in Texas. He lead the AL in on base percentage and OPS. He even lead the majors in OPS+ which takes ballpark into consideration. One problem with Bradley was that he played more than 120 games in season only twice in nine seasons. Everyone knew about Milton being a head case. This season has only given further proof of his jackassery. In Zambrano’s own words, Milton is the living embodiment of a “screw.” Worst of all, this season he really stinks. To put things in perspective, Scott Podsednik was taken off the trash heap and he has a higher batting average, more RBIs, and only two less home runs. This is while playing fewer games than “Board Game”. I realize this is beating a dead horse, but if he played better we would probably forgive his idiocy.
Now, it is unfair to blame all of the Cubs problems on Milton and Hendry, but they have to take a huge chunk of the blame. The assumption was that the combo Bradley and Fontenot would make up 40 home runs and 136 RBIs. Fukudome was asked to bat 40 points higher than last season and produce more runs. Neither of these has happened. In my opinion only Fukudome’s hitting was the only thing that could be expected. One can say that the loss of Aramis was huge. Yes, his injury was huge loss, but it did not cause Soto bat around .220, it didn’t cause Fontenot to resemble former Cub Mickey Morandini. Soriano is a hacker that rarely thinks about pitches, so how would Aramis’ presence made any difference in his performance?
At the beginning of the season, I felt the Cubs would win 88 games and win the division. Hendry really didn’t improve the team. In fact, the team has taken a step back talent wise.
Sure, Edmonds was old and on a downslide, but it would have made more sense to find someone who could play in right field who could replace his power numbers. Everyone and their dog knew there was no way the Cubs could do anything but continue to play Fukudome. They had no choice but to platoon him with Reed Johnson.
Last season, there were a number of wins by the Cubs where they had problems against the starter but were able to light up the other teams relievers. That is what we saw against the Indians. This season starters have gone further against the Cubs. This team needed another bat, not a replacement for DeRosa. If Bradley was supposed to be a left-handed replacement for DeRosa, then he was a clearly more expensive one. If they wanted another leftie in the lineup, they could have started Fontenot and still moved DeRosa to right field. That would have been a cheaper alternative for the same result. You don’t have to overburden your lineup with lefties if they are mediocre or bad. The Phillies’ lineup is an anomaly. There is no point trying to emulate the Philadelphia lineup. The Cubs were a good team. Still, I wanted to see the Cubs sign either Ibanez or Abreu(I was leaning towards Abreu). If Hendry had more patience, he would have be able to snag either for a decent cost, but here we are overpaying for crap the next few years.
News flash - if you start a new job somewhere and before your first day all your new co-workers are claiming that you won't work out there, that you will be a problem, and that it will ultimately end badly, then you're in a lot of trouble. If, on your first week you accidentally break the espresso machine, nobody will be surprised. If you nearly come to blows with the mail guy because of a screw-up, everybody will have seen it coming.
In other words, maybe we've made Milton into this monster.
Blame Bradley for his past, and for his "the world is against me" attitude, and for reading his own press and anticipating the boos. But you are a dirty liar if you say you weren't anticipating them, either.
Still, the Cubs won. Jake Fox went 3 for 4 with a double and a homer. Geovany Soto went 2 for 4 on his quest to bat .420. The bullpen was a little shaky but Randy Wells got his second win a lot easier than it took to get his first.
But Bradley has shown us that he is not able to stand up to the pressure. Chicago is not, nor has it ever been a land of loving fans and their losers. The atmosphere there can be great when the Cubs are winning, but Cub fans would turn on their own mothers if she was on the team and batting .220. Nobody -- except maybe Lou -- is immune.
Milton's not immune, either. But I don't think he's the virus they are painting him out to be. He has my sympathy for now, my patient understanding, but let's be honest. If he keeps up with the floundering he will get nothing from me but scorn. Milton, it's time to put on your man pants. Grow the f!_!(k up, kid.
(Reminder: You need three outs to end an inning. Just wanted to make that clear before we got underway with the recap.)
The streak is over, unfortunately.
As it turns out, Randy Wells, the Cubs' FIFTH starter, is human after all.
The four runs the Cubs scored today would have won either of the last two games, with insurance to spare. And of course, there's probably a certain way you pitch to a team when you've got a bit of a cushion. But either way, it sucks that the Cubs couldn't get that shutdown pitching on the day they score four runs.
Oh, and also, Milton Bradley threw a caught ball into the stands even though there were less than three outs in the inning. (What?! You didn't hear?!)
Rob here, real quick: I could not be more disappointed than I am right now. I am not saying the season is over, or that we have lost the division. But I am saying that there does not appear to be any hope to turn this around, unless about six of the guys from the everyday lineup just do complete 180s and start playing as well as they've been playing badly. Plus, yes, Fukudome is in free-fall.
I am not enjoying the 2009 season whatsoever, and will not do so until we are leading the division. God bless ya if you feel otherwise, but then again, if you don't care that the Cubs are playing like a bunch of turds what fell out of a tall cow's ass, then maybe you're playing an Enabler role for them.
He wants you to know that he isn't a bad guy. He's just passionate. Hey, we love passionate -- just ask our man Carlos. But the difference is that Carlos is passionate about winning. Milton Bradley is passionate about being right. In Bradley's deepest fantasies, he probably doesn't see himself hefting above his head a World Series trophy. No, he sees himself reading a letter or watching a report stating that MLB has conceded the existence of a conspiracy to ruin his career.
Self-righteous doesn't win ballgames, folks. Then again, neither does Milton Bradley.
When the Cubs signed him this past off season I think there were high hopes that he would be the offensive force the team has lacked since Sammy Sosa broke his bat in 2004. Instead he's this year's edition of 2002 Moises Alou -- out of shape, injury prone, and under-productive.
There was a silver lining back then, though. Pee-Hands would come back in '03 and '04 and put up ridiculously good offensive numbers even while alienating baseball fans everywhere with his -- in my opinion -- amphetamine-driven tirades and bad attitude. Everybody remembers Kent Mercker for knocking egos with Steve Stone; not as many people recall that Moises Alou was another one of a number of assholes on the '04 team. Still, if Bradley ever puts up Alouesque numbers, we'll be happy. The only problem is that it's not happening this year.
At this point, Don't Wake Daddy is batting .209 with an OPS of .689. But from May 7th to May 31st he batted .297 in 64 (19 hits) at bats with 3 doubles, a triple, and 3 homers. Hey, great. If he could do that over the span of 500 at bats we'd be looking at about 150 hits, 23 doubles, 23 homers, and a lot of big RBI. The only problem is that he then tore a muscle in his calf. With Bradley -- especially this year -- there's always a new issue.
I don't know. Maybe he'll start hitting again once he's seen some regular at bats. Maybe he'll get that AVG up to .250 this year. Maybe he'll even manage 20 homeruns. But at this point there's nothing Bradley could do -- short of October glory -- to save himself from being labeled a bust. He's just got too many problems, from injury to attitude, to be labeled a key contributor to the '09 team.
Therefore my message to Milton is this: stop caring about being right. Stop playing hurt. Accept that you will eventually need to spend some time on the DL. Stop pressing! You're not in Chicago to glorify Milton Bradley, or to win the hearts of your detractors, or to prove that there's a world-wide baseball conspiracy against you. You're here to win baseball games. So focus on that for a while, okay?
Brian Moehler sucks. Before tonight's game, he'd allowed 10 earned runs in 6.2 innings pitched against the Cubs this season. He was no better tonight, giving up another five runs in just three innings.
His replacements fared no better, as the Cubs feasted on Astro pitching. Five Cubs ended the night with multiple hits, and a couple of young-and-struggling types in particular boosted their numbers with great hitting.
Mike Fontenot went 4-for-5 on the night, including a double and his sixth home run. And right on cue, Geovany "I love you, Rob!" Soto went 3-for-5. Unfortunately for Soto, however, while a three-hit night is great for the OBP, he'll need more than singles to return to his '08 form.
On the other side of the ball, Ted Lilly pitched a great game, and was an out away from a sub-3.00 ERA on the season. Furthermore, after being given a big lead, Aaron Heilman and Sean Marshall both threw strikes, giving up a combined zero walks.
There was really only one negative aspect to tonight's game.
That was having to watch Milton Bradley try to remember how to hit major league pitching throughout the game. Bradley ended up leaving ten men on base, going 0-for-6 with three strikeouts and at least one weakly hit pop-fly in foul territory that I remember.
Am I worried? No, not really. In fact, I'm HAPPY! The Cubs looked great tonight, and I hope it's a sign of better things to come.
Minute Maid Park has to be the weirdest in baseball. How many ground rule doubles do they have a year? Even Ted Lilly hit a triple! Ted Lilly! A triple! Afrghth!1! And yet, on a night when the Cubs offense was cracking, the Astros nearly got no-hit by Lilly... again.
Ryan Theriot and Milton Bradley -- who is returning from another near-miss with the DL -- were the only two Cub regulars to miss out on the party.
Anyway, it takes more than one big game to turn a team's offensive woes around but two or three more would be nice. Nicer still would be an adjustment to the lineup, dropping the Fonz to cleanup or 5th, but I digress...
Dear Don't Wake Daddy,
I know you care, I know you try hard, and even after an oh-for-six, you made what appeared to be an outstanding catch in the ninth last night, although I do admit I did not notice whether you got a proper jump on the ball or not.
Although snapping a bat in two lengthwise is an immature act, as is giving your replacement bat to a fan in the front row, I must admit I would be even more pissed if you meekly dragged your ass back to the bench like some of your teammates have the past few weeks. Not that I am advocating temper tantrums as a productive pastime, but it does appear that you DO care that you totally suck.
I mean, really? Is this it?
My guess is that next to the definition of "pressing" in the Baseball Dictionary, your damn ugly mug is pictured alongside. God knows I understand anxiety. Trips to the DL for "mental issues" seem to be all the rage these days, if Joey Votto and Kahlil Greene can play that card, seems to me you can, too.
Your calf is sore, anyway. Take a couple of weeks off, do what you do, play air hockey or bench press an ox, whatever. Then take a few days in Iowa to get your timing back, then come back here and hit like a MAN, dammit!! Otherwise, you're just stabbing us in the ass, and all over an "available days" clause in your contract?
Milton, Get Right, or Get Away.
The Uncouth Sloth.
Ted Lilly (6-4, 3.28 ERA) vs. Brian Moehler (2-3, 6.37 ERA)
I don't know about you, but I'm ready for some baseball. I know the 2009 Chicago Cubs have been far from perfect, but the day just feels better when there is baseball to be watched on TV.
A few stories are making their way through the web. The easiest to pick out is the no-brainer pick of Stephen Strasburg as the No. 1 pick in tonight's first-year player draft. The draft starts at 6 p.m. EST, so I will update the post when the Cubs make their selection. There is no way to predict whom the Cubs might select, but unless 30 teams go crazy and let Strasburg fall, it probably won't get us too excited.
It looks like Rich Harden will make his return to the rotation on Saturday against the Twins. It will be amazing if this is the only DL stint for Rich all season. The currect odds say he makes at least one more trip sometime in late July.
According to reports, Aaron Miles will come off the DL on Wednesday. That means Andres Blanco or Bobby Scales will be sent down most likely, but we will get to that tomorrow.
As for tonight's game, the Cubs will turn to Ted Lilly once again. In you can believe it, Lilly is making his third start in Houston already this season. Too bad, Randy "I can't Win" Wells won't get a chance against the Astro lineup.
Ted has really won me over, and hopefully he will pick up a deserved victory as the Cubs try and avoid extra innings. Is it really possible to play four extra innings games in five games?
Also, tonight should bring the return of Milton Bradley to the lineup. I don't know about many of you, but I'm ready for crazy hot Milton Bradley.
Speaking of hot, it's time to look at some of the hot and not Cubs heading into tonight's game.
Angel Guzman - Guz picked up his first save of the year when he was thrust into duty on Sunday after every other realible pitcher was used. His ERA is down to 2.28 and is Lou's top bullpen choice right now.
Ryan Theriot - "The Riot" picked up three hits on Sunday, including his 6th HR of the season (It was also his first ever road HR). Theriot scored two runs and has the average over .290 once again.
Kosuke Fukudome - Remember when Fukedome was hitt over .310? Well, all of the sudden he's down to .290. He's current on a 3-for-19 slump. Hopefully this isn't a repeat of last year.
Carlos Marmol - While the bullpen pitched fairly well on Sunday, that wasn't the case for Marmol. He walked two guys before Lou had seen enough. We really need Marmol to get it together.
The Cubs are 3.5 heading into this week, which is where they've been for much of the last couple weeks. It would be nice for the Cubs to make a move on the top of the division in the next two weeks. The Cubs are due for a blowout, and Brian Moehler is the perfect pitcher to give up five or six runs in the first few innings.