Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Cubs

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Game Recap: Cubs 11, Diamondbacks 3


Cubs win
Carlos Zambrano demands an explanation!


The Big Moose also came extremely close to hitting for the cycle - he was just a triple short, and had he gotten an at bat in the 7th inning you just know that he would've stretched his legs to get it. I suppose this is the type of game where you'll often hear "Zambrano didn't have his best stuff but he delivered a solid performance nonetheless." They'll be saying that because through 7 innings of work he only struck out 3. The thing is, I don't believe that really demonstrates how good or mediocre his "stuff" was, because when Carlos struggles - even when he can contain the damage - he gives up lots of walks and, last night he only walked 2.


The offense, on the other hand, was apparently looking to make up for lost time. Every Cub regular got a hit - including Milton Bradley, who in fact did make his return. 6 of the 9 starters also managed to drive in runs. But if you're wondering what was the biggest reason for this breakout, I have one suggested reason: patience at the plate. On top of their 15 team hits, the Cubs drew 6 walks - 3 from Fukudome - and they took advantage of big opportunities. Alfonso Soriano had a rare runners-on situation and he capitalized with a 3-run homer, his second in as many days. Speaking of "second in as many days," Fontenot hit another homerun too. Don't look now but his batting AVG is rising.


Three Finger Hill started in place of GeoINO Soto and delivered a 3 for 5 performance, raising his AVG to .370 on the year. I still think Soto should spend some time on the DL or something, and Hill appears capable of filling in for a while. Oh, and lastly, Angel Guzman pitched 2 innings of shutout relief lowering his season ERA to 4.35. Maybe I was a little abrupt about him needing to be cut and I for one am willing to let him pitch for a while longer to see if he can get steady and consistent.


The Cubs play for the series win tonight. So far their offense has been excessive-hit or complete-miss and they have not been able to consistently produce numbers night after night. Maybe it's high time for a change about that.


Quick Links
Series Preview: Cubs at Arizona
Game Recap: D-Backs 7, Cubs 2
GameCast:Cubs at Arizona April 28th

GameCast: April 28th - Cubs v. Arizona

GameCast
Carlos Zambrano (1-1, 4.85 ERA) vs. Yusmeiro Petit (0-1, 6.00 ERA)
Story-lines

On a team where the starting second baseman is the only back up third baseman...

...where a guy who never played anywhere but first base before he turned 28 is starting in right field....

...where the only lefty reliever on the team has failed to have a single no-hit, no-walk outing...

...they play to do more than just survive.  They play to WIN It's DeathCub 2009 - The Bloodening!

The good news about tonight: Milton Bradley is apparently ready to return to the lineup, or will be ready to do so soon.  Just one small request to Cub fans: when a guy has hurt legs/testicles, DON'T EFFIN' BOO HIM FOR NOT RUNNING OUT A HIT BALL.   Idiots!  YOU try running out a ground ball with a throbbing-not-in-the-fun-way groin!

Anyway, earlier I posted an article about the "crazy" roster moves I'd make to give the team better balance.  One such "crazy" move would be promoting a legitimate backup third baseman and shortstop to the team at the cost of a guy who is essentially the team's sixth outfielder and one of the team's seven relief pitchers, three of whom appear to totally suck ass.  But before you jump aboard the "crazy Kurt" train keep in mind that the team's only backup third baseman is their starting second baseman and he had something like two errors in one game yesterday.  That's not good.  Just sayin'.

Who's Hot
Alfonso Soriano - he hit homerun #6 yesterday.  Incidentally the Fonz was given up on by Lou Piniella after a 1 for 8 spell as the #3 hitter.  Thankfully Lou's not so quick to give up on other players who only go 1 for 8.

Who's Not
Mike Fontenot - despite his second homerun of the season last night Fontenot had 2 defensive errors at third.  He's got some makin' up to do.

Dave Patton - He's been getting hammered as of late after giving up 2 more runs - 1 earned - last night.  How much longer until Lou cuts the cord?

Conclusions
Between the two of them, I'd probably bet on Carlos Zambrano to have a better game than Yusmeiro Petit.  But it's no sure thing -- the Moose has shown moments of brilliance amid instances of crappiness. 

But if ever there was a game I'd like to see the Cubs win, it's tonight's.

Quick Links
Series Preview: Cubs at Arizona
Game Recap: D-Backs 7, Cubs 2

Game Recap: Diamondbacks 7, Cubs 2


Backs 7, Cubs 2
(Please ignore my error regarding the number of errors made by Cubs fielders). 

Somebody said in the shoutbox yesterday that the Cubs offense has the swine flu. I think it's just more that they are very anemic right now and they happened to face an incredibly talented pitcher in Dan Haren.

Haren held the Cubs to only 3 hits - 2 of which were not contained by the ballpark (thank you Fonz and Font) wheras Ted Lilly was a victim of his own undoing. The Roos (note: that nickname probably won't stick) was mostly undone by an ugly 4th inning in which he clogged the bases in part due to two walks and surrendered back-to-back doubles to Haren* and Chris Young.

(*Do I even have to repeat the well-known rule of never letting the pitcher beat you at the plate**?)
(**Unless it's Carlos Zambrano, at which point it's expected)

Dave Patton continued to seal his demise with an ugly 2 run (1 earned) relief outing, but at least Jeff Samardzija came in and struck out 2 in his inning of relief.

This would normally be the part where I climb high atop my horse and remind everybody to relax, but I think I've pretty much beaten that high horse to death already. Instead I will just point out that the Cubs were squaring off against a very talented pitcher with a lineup that is limping-at-best. The team was without Lee, Ramirez, Bradley, and Soto remains GeoINO, or "In Name Only." Incidentally the ridiculous number of steals taken against Geo is additional evidence that he's not 100%, and Mike Fontenot's 2 errors at third base is additional proof that maybe the Cubs should actually consider fielding a real backup third baseman. Later today I'll write an "easy roster solutions" article that somebody should post on Lou's office door.

Anyway, today's game is another late starter but now that the Cubs are past the best pitcher I would expect a slightly improved response from the hitters.

Quick Links
Series Preview: Cubs at Arizona
GameCast: April 27th - Cubs vs. Diamondbacks

GameCast: April 27th - Cubs in Arizona

Cubs at D-Backs
Ted Lilly (2-1, 2.41 ERA) vs. Rich Haren (1-3, 1.38 ERA)
Story-lines
After 17 games the Cubs are merely 1 win over .500.  That's not exactly what we thought would happen.

Probably the most interesting thing - besides wondering whether or not the Cubs will actually win - is the continued lineup juggling.  In case you're not up to speed, here's the latest ...

Derrek Lee missed yesterday's game due to neck spasms.
Aramis Ramirez missed yesterday's game because of a nagging leg injury.
Alfonso Soriano didn't miss any time despite taking one to the noggin.
Milton Bradley remains "a long ways away" from returning from a groin made sore in an Other Than the Fun Way. 
Carlos Marmol probably won't be ready just yet to return to action out of the bullpen.
Neal Cotts pitches as though he has a bladder control problem.

That's five players on the 25 man roster who may be playing at less-than-100%, assuming they play at all.  Did we mention that, for some reason, the Cubs aren't putting any of their walking wounded on the DL?  Can't wait to see how that story plays out.

Who's Hot
Alfonso Soriano - Sori looks like he may finish the month of April with a better-than.300 AVG.  That would be a first for him in his career as a Cub.
Ryan Theriot - Theriot is back to batting in the #2-spot, where he spent some time last year.  I can't exactly figure out how, but Yahoo Sports has him scoring 3 runs in yesterday's game despite having reached base only once, via a hit.  (A closer inspection reminds me that he reached twice more, once by error and the other by fielder's choice)
Kosuke Fukudome - The birthday boy didn't hit his 4th homerun last year until June 5th.  So far this year he's on pace to hit 38.  Remember back in Spring when everybody was all "ooooh he sucks, it's painful to watch him swing a bat," well, like, how do you feel about that NOW?  Awww snap!
Micah Hoffpauir - All mocking aside, Hoffpauir is doing exactly what you'd hope to see from the team's top bench player/pinch hitter.  He's putting up monster numbers in limited at bats while reminding us defensively why he's better off saved for those key situations. 

Who's Not
Reed Johnson - On a day when the anemic Cubs offense couldn't be contained, Reed Johnson responded by having a big ol' 0-fer.  I'm wondering if he'll play tonight or if, should Lee return to the lineup, Reed will return to the bench for Hoff to move to RF and Fukudome to CF.  (Man, the Cubs juggling act is kind of insane)
Geovany Soto - Here's a crazy thought.  You know how he missed some time because of a sore shoulder?  What if his shoulder is still sore and it's affecting his swing?  Just thinking aloud.
Neal Cotts - Cotts appears hell-bent on putting together the worst streak in baseball.  He seems to want to give up 1 hit, 1 walk, or 1 run (or more) in every single outing.  So far this year he has yet to have a perfect inning, or even a perfect outing.  The "closest" he's come is April 10th against the Brewers when he pitched 0.0 innings and surrendered 0 hits, 0 runs, and 0 walks.  Of course, he did hit the one guy he faced...
Dave Patton - Has the Patton experiment ended yet?  Perhaps soon?

Conclusions
Arizona kind of sucks, so we've got that going for us.  Ted Lilly has been the steadiest starter on the team, which is funny if you think about it since he got his ass kicked in the first game he pitched against the Astros. 

Maybe the one thing we should really be looking for is consistency.  The Cubs have completely lacked in that so far - aside from consistently having some very nagging injuries.

And I'd like to add one other thing ... if the Cubs lose tonight, it reallllly doesn't mean much.  So please don't panic, unless of course Soriano, Fukudome, and Ramirez have a three-way outfield collision that sends them all to the DL.  Then - and only then - the Cubs are screwed.

Quick Links
Series Preview: Cubs at Arizona

Series Preview: Chicago Cubs at Arizona Diamondbacks

Cubs at Backs
Matchups - Cubs @ Backs
Overview
By now you probably have a pretty good grasp on my opinion about the 2009 season and the people who are already thinking about abandoning it.  So rather than go over a tired topic - albeit one that's always good for discussion - I'll do something that we probably need a little more of here at GROTA: recent Cubs news.

The Theriot experiment is apparently over with at least for now.  The Sun-Times reports that Lou will be batting the Fonz leadoff again for the foreseeable future - perhaps the pitch Alfonso took to the head recently has caused him to forget how to bat anywhere but cleanup.  But speaking of injuries, the Sun-Times also reports that neither Aramis nor Marmol are hurt seriously, which is good since they are apparently intent on not placing anybody on the DL for the forseeable future. 

Nothing quite like entering a series with a struggling, short-handed squad.

Your favorite and mine Carrie Muskat has an article about the struggles of Geovany Soto.  It's a little early to worry about Soto becoming a Servais (Servias? too lazy to look it up), but a sophomore slump is not shocking. 

And lastly Goat Friend Paul Sullivan notes that Carlos Zambrano took some infield practice "just in case," but he's about as likely to be used in that situation as you or I am.  Oh, and the Herald reports that ex-Cub legend Tuffy Rhodes - for whom it cannot be confirmed that he ever dated Punky Brewster - has hit his 450th career homerun in Japan.  Hey, good for him.  I read somewhere that when Doc Gooden gained word of Tuffy's feat, he attempted to inject cocaine into his eyeball.  Anyway, on with the show:

Monday, April 27th - Ted Lilly vs. Dan Haren
Theodore Roosevelt Lilly - aka Hannibal - is off to a much better start this year than he was last year.  Probably the most impressive thing is that in 18.2 innings, he's surrendered only 14 hits and 2 walks.  You know, it's pretty impressive to see what Lilly's done since coming to Chicago.  I think most of us were happy with his signing (although how many of us idiots hungered for Zito?) but nobody could have expected 15 and then 17 wins in his first two seasons. 

Dan Haren, meanwhile, is quietly one of the better #2 pitchers in baseball.  He pitches behind Brandon Webb on the 'backs and doesn't get much attention (at least from me) but since he became a regular starter in 2005, Haren has consistently pitched between 216 and 223 innings while winning 14 to 16 games and posting ERAs as low as 3.07 and no higher than 4.12.  Oh, and did I  mention his fantastic K/BB ratio?  Regardless, he's only faced the Cubs once in the regular season since 2006 and that year he somehow managed to allow only 2 runs in 7 innings and he still ate the loss.  I'm sure the Cubs are hoping for a better showing tonight.

Tuesday, April 28th - Carlos Zambrano vs. Yusmeiro Petit
The good news about Carlos: through 26 innings of work, he's allowed only 11 walks while striking out 27.  The bad news: he's tossed more than his share of fatties and has already surrendered 28 hits and 4 homeruns.  The better news: he's a flippin' animal! 

Yusmeiro Petit, meanwhile, a fellow countryman of Carlos, has a ridiculous name.  Just sayin'.  At this point he's pitched through 151.2 innings in his career, with an ERA of 5.46, a 7-11 record, and he also lacks the rage of his Venezuelan brother Carlos Zambrano.  Also he's prone to surrender homeruns, and he'll be facing a Cubs team that is theoretically inclined to hit a lot of them.

Wednesday, April 29th - Ryan Dempster vs. Doug Davis
Ryan Clownsevelt Dempster's nickname doesn't make as much sense if he's not pitching in front of (or behind) Theodore Roosevelt Lilly.  Anyway, through 4 starts this year he's pitched a lot like I thought he'd pitch last year - erratically with the consequence of surrendering too many runs.  But chin up, Cub fans!  While Dempster has yet to really dominate a team, he has very reliably pitched 6 innings each start never allowing more than 4 runs or less than 2.  In his last outing he surrendered 3 earned while walking only 1.  Let's root for some improved consistency!

Doug Davis kind of blows.  He's not a bad 4th or 5th starter, but I wouldn't count on him to win regularly.  That said he's already 1-3 this year, but with a good ERA.  I'm still a little bitter over the fact that he beat the Cubs in the 2007 NLDS, and I'm hoping the Cubs hitters share that resentment.

Conclusions
In our urgent panic, we haven't really taken into consideration that the Cubs' latest woes have mostly occurred on the road.  Sometimes winning in a strange ballpark is tough to pull off.  But if ever the Cubs were going to thrash a team outside of Wrigley Field, it should be Arizona.  They're not exactly "good." 

Besides, 3 games of high energy offense would be just what we need to settle down a bit.  So I figure why not?  Go get 'em, Cubs!

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Series Recap: Cubs 10, Cardinals 3, dooooooom

Cubs win?
Memo from a Cardinals fan:
I know it's only 17 games into the 2009 season, but I'm nervous.  My team was doing really good there for a few games, but did you see the way the Cubs hammered them today?  It's like it wasn't even a competition!  I mean, where was the Cards offense?  What will we do it St. Louis can't stop the bleeding?  10 runs to 3?  Horrible!  I'm quite convinced this season is going to be a total bust...

Back in reality.  Sounds ridiculous, doesn't it?  But if the script had been flipped and the Cubs took the first 2 game of this series only to get smacked around by the Cardinals today, then that is exactly what dopey Cub fans would be saying right now. 

Nevertheless, the Cubs whomped the Cardinals.  It felt good.  Every starter - but Geo Soto, shocker and Reed Johnson - got a hit.  In fact, the 1-4 guys went 8 for 16 with 7 of the team's 8 RBI (2 runs came unearned).

Offensive winners particularly include Micah Hoffpauir - 2 for 3, with 1 homerun (clearly he needs to have Derrek Lee's job) - and Kosuke Fukudome, who hit his 4th homerun of the year.  Remember folks, he only hit 10 all of last season.

Rich Harden picked up his second win of the year, struck out 9 in 6 innings, dropped his ERA to 3.86, and sweated his balls off when the Cubs bullpen came in and gave up 4 hits and 2 walks in the final 3 innings of the game. 

Series Recap
This could be known as the Three Game April Series in which some very vocal Cub fans lost their confidence in the team.  I will not contest how ugly it was, because it sure was horrible.  I won't argue that some very bad things happened - from freak injuries to ugly losses to feelings of immense frustration - because those were all bad and they happened in a matter of one weekend.

But I will say this: if your team quit on the game as quickly as you quit on your team, you would hate them with a passion.  Just a reminder.

Tomorrow the Cubs head into Arizona, and we will be announcing some fun projects at GROTA.

Current Record: 9-8
Position in the NL Central: 4th place, 3 games out of first
Best Possible Record: 154-8
Worst Possible Record: 9-153
Record needed to win 110: 101-44
On Pace For: 86-76

Quick Links
Series Preview: Cubs at St. Louis
Game Recap: Cardinals 4, Cubs 3, rising tide of panic
Game Recap: Cardinals 8, Cubs 2, our season is clearly over
GameCast: Cubs at Cardinals April 26th

GameCast: April 26th - Cubs at St. Louis, our fragile shells are cracked edition

Cubs at Cards
Rich Harden (1-1, 4.20 ERA) vs. Todd Wellemeyer (1-1, 5.29 ERA)
Story-Lines
The sky is falling!  The Cubs have lost 4 straight!  Run, run for your lives!  Abandon this team before it's too late! 

Erm, sorry about that.  I need to chill.  Anyway, I wonder what it would be like to live in Lou Piniella's brain on a day like this.  The team he's managing - expected to be the best offensive team in baseball - is struggling, is sluggish, and is losing a lot.  Like Murtaugh, he's probably feeling way too old for this shiz.  I'm waiting for Lou to crack.

Who's Hot
Theriot, Fukudome, and even Fontenot all managed 2 hits yesterday.  Regrettably the Cubs left 9 on the bases and have struggled to get the hits when they count.

Who's Not
The heart of the lineup and the bullpen.  It was a testament to the '08 Cubs that they were able to win so many games when the top of the lineup struggled.  Believe it or not, they are still that deep.  They're just having trouble getting the engines revved up. 

As for the bullpen, I think that the release of Luis Vizcaino has complicated matters.  Maybe he was an attitude problem; probably he was pissed to not be used often enough.  But his departure plus the promotion of Samardzija minus the reliability of Marmol plus the flailings of Patton and Cotts equals a volatile situation.  I get the feeling that once the Cubs pull the plug on the Patton experiment - due any day now - the last few spots of the pen will become a revolving door until somebody mans up and takes the job with authority ... or until Hendry makes a few trades.

Conclusions
I would expect the Cubs to play hard today.  They don't want to get swept by the Cardinals, they don't want to fall a game under .500, and they certainly don't want to cause Lou to stroke out in the dugout.  (Hmm "Stroke Out in the Dugout" could totally be a song.) 

Which isn't to say that they will win today, or escape their current troubles by having one magical performance, but if you don't think the Cubs are a better team than how they've been playing then I have nothing for you.

One last note
I'm posting this a little early today because I have the always-exciting marriage course to go to in order to gain the church's permission to have a Catholic wedding.  I sure am happy I get to do that rather than watch baseball.  (Hint: that was sarcasm)

Quick Links
Series Preview: Cubs at St. Louis
Game Recap: Cardinals 4, Cubs 3, rising tide of panic
Game Recap: Cardinals 8, Cubs 2, our season is clearly over

Game Recap: Cardinals 8, Cubs 2, our season is clearly over

Cubs lose ... again
In case you missed it, this wouldn't be happening if Mark DeRosa was here.

Or if Jim Hendry knew how to build a team.

Or if Lee, Bradley, and Fontenot didn't suck so much.

Apparently if Mark DeRosa was on the Cubs and if Hendry had gotten real players instead of schmucks like Milton Bradley, then they would never lose 4 games in a row, they would never have team-wide offensive droughts, and in fact they would never give us cause for concern as they blasted their way toward a World Series Championship.

These are the things a couple of our readers have informed us about this weekend.
For the record, last year's World Championship team began the year with an 8-8 record and were only 15-13 after the first month of baseball.  They spent a long period of the month of May struggling to win more games than they lost.  From June 14th until June 29th, they went 3-11, including 6 straight losses.  They had 4 game losing streaks in July and August, and they started play after the All Star Break with a win, and then immediately lost 5 of their next 6. 

My point is that some Cub fans appear to suffer from the ability to look ahead, or put current goings-ons in context.  I keep pointing this stuff out, but maybe they don't believe me?  But let's try it again.

Derrek Lee is batting .293 since April 13th.  I know, DB is one of the peeps who doesn't trust DLee or expect him to perform, but it really is not surprising that he started slow.  Point of fact, way back at the beginning of the year I outlined 4 examples of past Cubs who began the year struggling and turned things up a notch later on.

Point of fact - as of this date, does anybody really believe that the numbers mean anything?  As of today, Kevin Youkilis is batting .444.  Does that mean the frozen noggin of Ted Williams should start sweating?  Carlos Pena is on pace to hit 72 homeruns.  Should Barry Bonds be concerned?  Does anybody really think it's likely that Aramis Ramirez or Kosuke Fukudome will finish the year batting at - or better than - their current averages (.358 and .345)?

If the answer is "no," then how in the hell can you see a full 50% of our team's lineup struggle and expect them to play that badly all year long?  Right now, Derrek Lee, Mike Fontenot, Geovany Soto, and Milton Bradley are a combined 31 for 175 - and 25 of those hits come from Lee and Font.  That's a .177 AVG from half the starting lineup.  No kidding that they'd be struggling right now!  I'm shocked to see them struggle to win games with half their lineup sucking ass!  I would've thought that the Cubs were so solidly built that they could overcome a slump that's effecting half the fricking team!  Damn yous Jim Hendry for not building a better roster!  Damn yous!

Anyway, the problem is that everybody wants the Superlative Season.  The only problem is that back here in reality it does not happen.  Even the best teams struggle.  It's a fact of life. 

So, yes, the Cubs are struggling right now.  The offense grinding and groaning and not in the fun way.  The pitching staff is looking worse by the day, what with injuries to the team's best setup guy, and the release of a pitcher with a 0.00 ERA (and an attitude), and the flailings of the fringe players who cracked the squad out of Spring Training.  Yes.  Things are ugly.

But what is worse to me is the continued Woe is Cub attitude that so many people are prone to display at the first sign of the team's struggles.  It's just ridiculous.  I mean, yes, this is all very frustrating from the fan's standpoint and we should be frustrated.  But anybody who starts talking about "the moves not made" or how "the players brought in are failures" after 16 freaking games is putting the cart way, waaay before the horses.

Frustration is fine.  Surrender is French.  Don't be a Surrender Monkey!

Quick Links

Series Preview: Cubs at St. Louis
Game Recap: Cardinals 4, Cubs 3, rising tide of panic
GameCast: Cubs at Cardinals April 25th 

GameCast: April 25th Cubs vs. Cardinals

GameCast
Story-lines
The Cubs offense slumbers their way along.  Maybe today's the day they light a fire.  But probably not.  The Cardinals, meanwhile, are off to the start that we'd dreamed the Cubs would have. 

Lou Piniella continues his experiment with yesterday's lineup.  There's only one discouraging problem - the cleanup and protection hitters are batting .206 and .208 respectively.

Who's Hot
Not really anybody.  Reed Johnson, I guess, who went 2 for 4 yesterday.  The Fonz's sole hit yesterday was a double.  And, hey, Fontenot drove in a run!  Woo-hoo!

Who's Not
See above.

Conclusions

The Cubs are facing a young pitcher who hasn't had a whole lot of experience.  I'm wondering if/when Lou will try to light a fire under his team.  You can bet that if the offense remains lackluster, if big opportunities are squandered, if the Cardinals thrash the Cubs today, then ... dare I say it?  It's gonna hai.

Game recap: Cardinals 4, Cubs 3, rising tide of panic

Cardinals 4, Cubs 3
¡SHOCKING NEWSFLASH!
When your team is built without key components like backup third basemen, you will eventually find yourself in a tight spot!

Lou Piniella is learning this lesson the hard way, though.  He decided to build his team around having an extra outfielder (Carjump Gathright) and an extra pitcher due to a lack of minor league options (Angel Guzman) at the expense of having a backup third baseman (???? ????) and a lefty reliever (???? ?????-?????)

Consequently, the Cubs find themselves caught between a rock and a hammer thanks in part to a whole wack of small-but-flaw-exposing injuries.  Milton Bradley's got a sore groin.  Aramis Ramirez left the game due to a sore leg.  Carlos Marmol hurt "the side of his left knee," whatever that means.  So now Lou has a decision to make - with Aramis sore and aching, the team finally needs to cave in and grab themselves another backup infielder.  So who goes on the DL?

I don't know, is this a trick question?  Without a doubt, without hesitation, our first visitor to the list is Milton Bradley, and here are the reasons why:

  1. Dude's so hurt he can't run right now.  Maybe Aramis is too, so this is a push.
  2. Bradley has one hit on the season.  He's cold as a bucket of iced-up spit.  Aramis Ramirez was hitting the ball exceptionally well.
  3. THE CUBS HAVE A TON OF BACKUP OUTFIELDERS!

Anyway, Bradley is DL bound.  The Cubs will find some crafty infielder to promote to spell Fontenot, Theriot, and Miles.  Being realistic for a moment, the Cubs probably would benefit from having two more back up middle infielders, but this is apparently the first 25-man roster Lou Piniella has ever constructed so let's take it in baby steps. 

Back to the game for a minute.  All told, the Cubs had their chances.  They collected 8 hits from 7 starters (Reed Johnson got 2 of the 8 hits, Ryan Theriot went 0 for 5 in his first game as a leadoff hitter meaning that Piniella is probably bound to abandon the experiment).  But they again only walked twice in the game.  It's a Patient Team and a Disciplined Team that becomes an Offensive Force Team. 

On the pitching front, Clownsevelt had his best start of the year - 6 innings pitched, 7 hits, 3 earned, only 1 walk and 6 strikeouts.  The Cubs may have even been poised to win it were it not for Marmol's inconsistency and strange injury.

I won't be trying to calm the panickers who are freaked out over the 8-8 record of the team, except to say that some of these problems stem from roster and lineup construction.

When you have a 25 man roster, and 12 of those spots are filled by pitchers (and can somebody please tell me what in the hell is wrong with the old fashioned 11 man pitching staff?)

And if you are going to go with 13 hitters, then how does that break down?

2 catchers is a given.
1 first baseman, with some other guy on the roster who can play first.
2 second basemen.
2 shortstops, with one shortstop who can also play third.
1 third baseman.
2 left fielders, with one who can play right field as well.
2 center fielders.
1 right fielder.

If you build a team like that you're pretty well set.  But this is what Lou gave us:

2 catchers.
2 first basemen, with one who can supposedly play RF.
2 second baseman, with one wo can play shortstop and the other who can play third.
1 shortstop.
1 third baseman.
2 left fielders, with one who can play RF.
2 center fielders, with one who can play left.
1 right fielder.

How could this work?  I mean, doesn't this roster have way too many vulnerabilities?  For instance, if your 1 RFer gets hurt, and your third baseman gets hurt, then your one backup infielder has to start at second base, your starting second baseman has to move to third, you have nobody who can play in the infield in case of an emergency, and your bench is decimated.  So why not just cut a pitcher, DL the outfielder, and promote two guys who can play several positions including the left-hand side of the infield?

Just wondering.

Quick Links
First Series Recap: Cubs 2, Cardinals 1
Series Preview: Cubs at Cardinals
GameCast: Cubs vs. Cardinals   

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