At least two or three times this year, I have invited you folks to respond to a simple question: What is it that you want from Goatriders? I don't recall getting back anything. Perhaps it is too hard of a question to answer, or maybe you just didn't care.
It was obvious very early on, to my eyes, that we weren't watching a championship ballclub, as it was constructed. So I complained about it. Sure, I suppose none of my complaints did any good, nor will they ever. We can fantasize that a Jim Hendry or a Randy Bush might run across goatriders.org, pore over our words of wisdom, and contemplate our immense acumen, but I suppose if I were them, I wouldn't read the blogs either, because I wouldn't want to read somebody smarter than myself. I might start feeling inferior, as a result.
This is where I say I told you so. I'm not going to dance on the grave because, frankly, I feel just as shitty about 2009 as you do. It isn't a thrill of mine to lose, believe me. I just feel that we owe you the truth here, because not only are you Cubs fans, but you are the small percentage of the smartest Cubs fans out there, that you seek us out. You're friends here, and I always confide in my friends. I won't sit here and watch you get pissed on and tell you it's raining.
But, when all is said and done, all we can do is....gulp...Wait Until Next Year!
Christ, that was lame.
Choke on a syringe, Pujols! You too, Manny Bitch Tits! Go see who's scamming your wife now, Hole Camels.
Geovany Soto, where have you been? They must have confiscated his reefer at the airport or something, because the Cubs second-year catcher brought his hitting cleats to tonight's game. By that I mean he went 1 for 3 with a sacrifice fly and a solo homerun, which makes this game for Soto quite an achievement. (At this point we'll take anything.)
Soto's 2 runs, coupled with a 3-RBI day from Aramis Ramirez, gave the Cubs just enough offense to overtake a Reds team hell-bent on Rich Harden domination. The Cubs starter burned through 104 pitches in just 4 innings of work, walking 5 and striking out 6. His totally craptacular performance paved the way for Jeff Stevens to notch his first-ever big league victory, which he managed to do by pitching a single inning of 3-hit, 3-run baseball. In other words, much like how you don't want to tell your kids about how they were conceived before you and your spouse got married, Jeff Stevens will probably not want to describe in intricate detail to his kids the way Johnny Gomes teed off on him like it was the Homerun Derby in Jeff's first-ever big league win.
Still, it was enough for the Cubs, who otherwise saw a good outing from their bullpen. Aaron Heilman shocked the world by pitching 2 innings of perfect baseball (true, he didn't come in with runners on) and Carlos Marmol stepped in to earn his latest Mitch Williams-like Save ... he got 'er done on 28 pitches, 12 of which were balls, 1 hit, 1 walk, and 2 strikeouts. Guh.
Meanwhile, at this moment the Rockies are losing to the Padres in the 8th inning by a score of 1 to 0. IT'S GONNA ...
...be a blown lead for the Padres. Colorado 4, San Diego 1. Sweet Jesus, the Rockies are tough!
Are oblique muscles related to the abdomen? Can you run the risk of straining the obliques by being overweight?
Anyway, since I poked my head out here the other day and suggested that perhaps things might be looking up for the first time in months, we found out that Dempster broke his toe and Soto has strained his obliques. (Also, don't forget David Patton's pulled groin...heh heh...he said 'groin'). No sooner do we get healthy, than guys start dropping again. And the worst thing is...I'm sitting here convinced it's MY fault!
If you don't ever have anything good to say, then everyone thinks you're a kill joy and suggest you hang yourself. But every time in my whole entire life I have ever said something positive about the Cubs, it always comes back and bites me (and the rest of us) in the ass. Every single time.
So now you know. Honest to God, I want us to do well. I just don't write about it, because it seems like when I do, hell comes for breakfast.
As the self-appointed GROTA substance abuser (if any Riders would like to challenge me on this, then bring it on), I feel it’s my duty to step in here and say something about this whole Geo Soto issue.
Now I consider myself a law-abiding citizen of the U.S. just as much as anyone else, but seeing how I was in Amsterdam about two weeks ago, I had to have myself an isolated incident or two. This wasn’t my first rodeo though, but it was one of my more impressive binges.
In comparison to alcohol, my experience in the Netherlands was nothing. Sure I was in an altered state of mind that made me feel like a slice of butter melting on top of stack of flapjacks, but it didn’t hit me like the booze. Granted my experience with alcohol is much more excessive, but the physical toll of drinking on a regular basis has been disastrous to my health. When I came to college five years ago, I was able to run 8-10 miles on a daily basis with no problem. Now I’m lucky if I can make it from my bedroom to the kitchen without setting up base camp in the living room first. What’s even sadder is that I still workout everyday! The alcohol is just too much. It’s one step forward and two steps back.
Anyway, so those of you who think Geo’s lackluster performance this season is somehow related to weed, I’d say that’s a bit of stretch. If anything, it’s probably more related to alcohol, because if you think these guys don’t live it up in the offseason (and the regular season for that matter) then you’re just being an idiot.
There is one thing we can take away from all of this that is a troubling sign though. Rob, correct me if I’m wrong, but I think this was the point you’re trying to hit on here (or at least similar to what you were getting at).
Soto had to know as some point he was going to be tested. Geo and his agent aren’t morons. I’m sure the WBC didn’t hide the fact that they would be drug testing the players. So what does this mean? It means that Soto, knowing fully well that he would most likely be drug tested, still choose to use an illegal substance. Clearly he DID NOT CARE.
So what’s disturbing about all of this is not the act itself, but the reason behind the act. It was a selfish move on his Soto’s part and showed a lack commitment to law and his overall well-being as a professional athlete. It showed disrespect for the game, the rules, and his team. It showed that he is generally apathetic.
On some bigger scale, this might be some kind of a representation of the way the Cubs have played this season. Soriano called the team out earlier in the season for not playing with the same intensity and desire that they had in 2007 and 2008, so maybe this is a team wide attitude. Cubs fans (this site especially) gave the 2009 Cubs lots of praise before the season even started. The division looked like it would be a cakewalk without any serious competition. Who was going to stop them? Well, 69 games later the team is one game below .500 with three teams in the division ahead of them.
I’m not saying it’s our fault for pumping up this team more than they deserved. On paper, they still look solid and I refuse to believe they will play this bad in the second half.
I just look at Soto’s recent issue and see a selfish move by a young player who clearly made a poor decision without worrying about the aftermath. No big deal. I just hope this wasn’t an attitude created in the Cubs locker room, because that would be a much bigger problem in my opinion.
Please feel free to line up, queue up, in back of me right now:
Seems Geo Soto had good reason for his "case of the munchies" this off-season!
You may all commence kissing my big fat butt!!! One at a time, please.
The wonderful thing about blogging -- all your words are as immortal as your domain registration and hosting contract. That means that in the years GROTA has been around, we've said plenty of really stupid things that time proved us to be totally wrong about.
For example - I was wrong about Mark DeRosa.
When the Cubs let DeRosa go for some young pitching that very well prove me right in the end about the DeRo deal, I said it was no big thang. After all, the Cubs had a tremendous hitter in Mike Fontenot who could bat lefty and would probably put up numbers equal-to or better-than the '09 DeRosa.
I said DeRo would revert. He'd had a career year in 2008 and, at his age, career years don't get duplicated.
I said that Fontenot was a better defensive second baseman. (Actually, this one still might be true, he hasn't gotten to play there a whole lot.) And with the addition of the versatile backup Aaron Miles, DeRosa's ability to play multiple positions would not be missed.
Hell, it's June 22nd. We're well on our way through the 2009 season. And the evidence to the contrary about my bold opinions is staggering.
Mike Fontenot is not cutting it as a starter. Actually, the amount of doubles and homers he's on pace to hit are fine and dandy. The problem is his .230 AVG. Strike that, the problem is his .121 AVG against lefties. At the very least, Fontenot needs somebody to spell him against south-paws. Even Aaron Miles would be acceptable -- BAM! is batting .259 against lefty pitching, which is better than the next-to-nothing that Lil' Mike is delivering.
Then again, DeRosa is a near-.280 hitter so far this year, on pace to hit 31 homers, drive in 118 RBI, and post an OPS of .819. And he is killing lefties.
On a team starving for offense there is no denying that the Cubs would've been better off with DeRosa on the roster. So, big-time screw-up for Hendry, and admission of being wrong from me. But before you get on my case too much about it, be honest about how fast you gave up on Derrek Lee -- many were sticking forks in him back in October 2008.
Now, lately one of our writers has taken a significant amount of flack -- even from some of our other writers -- for being harsh on the players on this team. He said Lee was toast about a month ago, he's called Soto fat and lacking ambition, he's declared to be embarrassed for ever having advocated Fukudome, and so-on. Well, Rob, I'm callin' you out.
At one point this season, Lee was batting .194 with 3 homeruns and 15 RBI. (That was on May 13th, by the way). In just over a month since then, Lee has been batting .374 with 8 homeruns and 20 RBI. The point being that, in baseball, nobody's done until after they've taken their last at bat.
As for Soto, this has been a strong point of disagreement between Rob and the rest of us. He thinks Geo grew fat on his laurels. I don't know for sure that he gained weight over the winter, but I do know that he started the year with a sore shoulder and a screwed-up swing. At his low point, April 30th, Soto was batting .109 with 0 homers and only 2 RBI. Since then, he's hitting .264 but more importantly with 5 homers and 17 RBI. Geo's not out of the woods but he is definitely, undeniably hitting the ball better.
Fukudome, on the other hand ... eh, it's hard to say. After starting the year with a .338 AVG in April, Kosuke batted .277 in May with only 1 homer and 5 RBI and is batting .180 in June, even after Saturday's 4-hit assault. I'm prepared to give this one to Rob, but not until we see where Fukudome is by mid July.
Oh -- and Milton Bradley. I don't recall that Rob has given Bradley too much flack for his crappy 2009 season, but I just wanted to note to everybody that Don't Wake was batting .097 on April 29th. Since then, he batted .268 with 3 homers and 12 RBI in May and is batting .286 but with only 2 extra base hits in all of June. Still -- he's improving.
The point is that nobody really knows. We can guess, we can trust our gut, we can follow projections and detailed statistics, but until the games are played we're just rolling dice and making bold declarations that we hope nobody will bother to remember.
What I will say is that the difference between a good team and a bad one appears to occur in inches. The Cubs team we've followed through the start of June was indescribably awful. They failed to get big hits, they couldn't win close games, they surrendered late leads, and on a whole they were just painful to watch.
Probably they are still that team, at least a little. But with the Questionable Quartet coming around, we suddenly have a team getting huge hits late in games, often coming from behind to win on their last at bat, with a bullpen that still appears to be shaking off the cobwebs but has been able to hold down small leads. It's the same team, the same personnel, and suddenly they don't look like they're going to lose 90 -- instead they appear as if they just might win that many games.
All I can say then, to Rob and many others, is that this to me is proof that nothing can be assumed or taken for granted. We live in a Cubbie Bubble where we see the worst and assume it doesn't happen to any other team -- or maybe we assume it means more because these are the Cubs, for gawd's sake. But I wrote a while back about the Superlative Season in which if we aren't rewarded with a perfect year of baseball we think the team has no chance at all of winning imperfectly.
On the contrary, I still think the Cubs are playoff bound. I still think it will happen in spite of the managing. I still think this team is immensely talented. And I absolutely believe that in October, this team -- already so beset by adversity -- will be prepared to shrug off at least some of the pressure they will feel to win it all. At this point their talent will almost certainly be bigger than their wins total, and in October talent wins out.
Of that I am certainly not wrong.
Another day, another post on the sophmore slump that Geo is experiencing. Kurt just posted several interesting concepts on why Geo is not the player that he was last year. If Geo is in fact injured, then lets blow this season up and shelve him get him healthy, have Aramas get his shoulder repaired, move Harden to the closer role, and teach Fox to play a position (any position, maybe right field). As for the Board Game (Milton Bradley) piss or get off the pot. If he needs surgery then get it, if he's healthy then get on the field. Micah Hoffpauir is proving that he is a capable player at this level, though I don't think he's a long term answer. I think if we can consider trading Big Z, then we have to seriously consider what we can get for D-Lee. The stud of the past doesn't look like he will ever return. Be it his wrist injury or age or whatever, he isn't the long-term answer at 1st base either. We had a window two years ago and it apears to be closing. I'm a long suffering cubs fan as much as the rest of you, but I believe in building for long term success. We have several pieces to the puzzle and more in the pipeline, but some of our aging heros may need to be aging in someone elses uniform. Take a lesson from the Boston Red Socks. They are much less attached to their heros, Damon, Manny, and soon to be Big Poppy (if they stay true to form). What all the answers are I don't know, but it seems this season is dragging on and we are just hanging around. I don't see us going anywhere at this rate, so why don't we just make plans for the future and not hold out "silly" hope for every season.? then again, maybe what we should do is shoot for the wild card, catch fire in September, and then win a completely unexpected world series. Go Cubs Go.
Lately, Rob has been alienating readers with his as-I-see-them take on Geovany Soto's performance in 2009. Rob has suggested that Geo has slacked off, gotten fatter, and rested on his laurels rather than step up and continue to improve his game. But I'm not sure I agree.
This isn't meant to be an excuse-fest in Soto's name, but I would like to respectfully suggest a couple of ideas. First -- Soto's power production has indeed been down, but since his crappy April start he's actually been hitting the ball.
On May 1st, Geo was batting .109 on the season and looking awkward. But for the next month he'd be a consistent singles hitter. He batted .278 in May and had an OBP of .376. My theory at the time was that Geo's sore shoulder -- which had almost landed him on the DL at the start of the season -- was robbing him of his power and like the smart, young hitter he is he adjusted his game. But I'm probably wrong about that.
A few days ago on his blog, Bob Brenley noted that Geovany has been holding his bat awkwardly. When he's swung to make contact his left hand has often been rolling off the bat -- or detached from the shaft all together. In other words, it might not be a shoulder deal, it may be a mechanical issue.
Regardless, it doesn't look like Soto is a .290/20/90 hitter this season. If he finishes the year even batting .270ish with 12 or more homeruns it will be an accomplishment. But while the regression is both disappointing and predictable (he's a Cubs catcher, after all) it isn't necessarily because of a lack of effort.
And anyway, if Geo can bat around .280 with around a .380 OBP for the rest of the year, not only will I be happy but he'll finish with a .261 AVG and an OBP of .363. Inject some power into those totals and it's a good year for almost any catcher -- and it's an indication that 2010 might be a better year for Geo.
Yep, Carlos Marmol pitched like he was distracted, and Kevin Gregg fed Jeff Francoeur a succulent piece of meat, and I think enough time has passed - after 2 months, I am calling Milton Bradley an unqualified fraud!
But perhaps if Geo Soto coulda dropped his big fat ass down and blocked strike three, maybe there wouldn't be a guy on first when Francoeur launched his rocket, and perhaps we get out of there with a win.
I am so gatdamn sick of his act this year! Hendry and Piniella have hurt this team by not effectively addressing Soto's shortcomings, and in effect, the rest of the underperforming bums on this squad (Fontenot, Soriano, Zambrano to name a few) feel no pressure to improve.
I'm not calling the time of death yet - there is still time to win this division if Hendry makes some moves, and if Piniella gets off his ass and provides some leadership. But simply stated, this particular team, as comprised, will be lucky to finish third. Unless drastic measures are made, what you see is what you will get, all year.