Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Derrek Lee

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What do we know after two bad losses?

Well, the bullpen gave up 8 runs on Monday, and blew a lead tonight when Grabow gave up a two-run homer.  So your first reaction may be to skewer the lowest-paid group of guys on the team, the guys who are not good enough to be starting pitchers.

But then again, on Monday, the pen was called upon in the second inning, whereupon Marshall and Russell threw over 4 scoreless innings. And last night, while I am not excusing Grabow whatsoever, but Chipper Jones has done this a lot in his life. 

On Monday, we managed five hits against a man who had a .305 batting average against in 2009.  Last night, we managed two runs, and if it weren't for the blown call on Soriano's double play grounder, and some excellent fielding by Troy Scissorhands, we'd have no runs at all.

I am way more worried about the offense than I am with the bullpen.  Where are the at bats Colvin is supposed to be getting?  While the Braves' rookie outfielder is becoming the next Willie Mays wrapped up with Hank Aaron, ours sits while Soriano, Byrd, and Fukudome all combine to hit under .200 so far?

Derrek Lee and Ryan Theriot are still oh-for-2010.  And when is the Great Geo Soto going to hit the ball again?  Fuck, man, you're worthless.

And, while we're at it, Theriot?  Do you understand now why everyone wants to replace you at short?  When they discuss your range, they're talking about you standing out there like you're the range, as in an oven with burners on top.

No conclusions can be drawn after 2 lousy games, but shit, we look awful.

The Apocalypse may happen at the end of 2010

From Paul Sullivan of the Tribune via MLB Trade Rumors: if the Cubs blow it this year, there very well be a major restructuring of the Cubs this off-season.

What Sully has done is gathered some of the legal facts about Cub contracts, compared them to some of the statements that have been made, and thrown in some wishful thinking on his part, and come up with the following: if the Cubs suck this year, we will have a new manager, GM, third baseman, first baseman, no Ted Lilly, and tons of money to spend.

If you want to know what he thinks about it, go click on the links.  But do you know what I think?  First of all, I do not hope we suck this year.  I hope we win the World Series.  I do not think we will, not without a true Ace starter, a true leadoff man, and what has to be regarded as total uncertainty about the health of Alfonso Soriano.  I think we will suck this year.  But if you read this and come away with the notion that I WANT us to tank 2010 so we can rebuild, forget it.  That's stupid, just plain stupid, to wish for us to waste a whole year in the careers of Zambrano, Soto, Theriot, Marmol, etc.

But what if 2010 turns out to be another typical year of frustration at Clark and Addison, only with the majors' third largest payroll, and new owners burdened with stifling debt in an uncertain economy?  If we don't win the NL Central this year, here's what might happen:

- Jim Hendry - Sully thinks he won't be back in 2011.  I think he will.  I don't think the Ricketts want to look for another GM, and with the farm system looking better than it has for many years, Hendry isn't going to be held responsible for the failure.  Jim can just blame the 'go for it now' edict from Sam Zell as a twisted sort of justification for saddling us with our nastiest contracts - "it wasn't my idea, it was his".

- Lou Piniella - Lou will most certainly be back in 2011 if we play well this year, and will most certainly will NOT be back if we do not.  Fact is, even though this lineup is not built to win a pennant, it could and probably should finish on top of the Central, unless crippling injuries and/or clubhouse strife take place.  If it does, it will be another trying season for the manager, and I was surprised Lou lasted all of 2009.  He won't make it another year like that. 

Who takes his place?  Sadly, it won't be Ryne Sandberg.  I am cynical enough to believe that Hendry and Crane Kenney have been stringing Ryno along this whole time, in a perverse PR move to boost minor league attendance.  Somehow, I believe Joe Girardi has been the plan all along amongst the braintrust.  The fact that the Yankees won it all last year just made it all the more convenient to give Lou one more year.  Chances are, the Yanks will not repeat, Girardi will take the fall, and end up in our pinstripes in 2011.

- Ted Lilly - his contract is up this year.  Sully thinks he won't be re-signed if the Cubs tank.  Based on his past 4 years, he will be paid handsomely.  Yes, he is rehabbing at the moment, but unlike some other recent Cub hurlers, he will not look back at the winter of 2009-10.  It would be a mistake not to retain him.

- Derrek Lee - his contract is also up this year.  Sully also thinks he will not be asked back, perhaps under any circumstances.  Lee is the leader of this team.  That works AGAINST him if we do not win this year.  What also works against him is the bumper crop of first base free agents available next off-season.  In my honest opinion, if you love Derrek Lee, enjoy him now, while you can.

- Aramis Ramirez - he has a player option for 2011.  Sully thinks that if we suck, ARam will not exercise his option to return.  I disagree entirely.  His option is for over $14MM next year.  No way he gets that anywhere else.  Plus, you never hear about his desire to play anywhere else.  You don't hear about any friendships with any other players in the league.  He is a Cub, folks.  We are not going to get his money to spend on someone else.

- Kosuke Fukudome - Sully doesn't mention him at all, but he has one more hefty year left after this year.  However, if we suck, it will most likely be due to his inability to repeat his Japanese success here.  Cubs fans have turned on him, as bad or worse than they ever turned on Milton Bradley.  I don't think he comes back for one more year of this, even for the last huge payday.  Ichiro comes back year after year, because although his team sucks, he himself performs at an all-star level.  There isn't any dishonor in his game.  The Fooker has not been as advertised.  I can see him retiring, turning his back on his last $12 million.  So maybe we save some money there.

- Carlos Zambrano - as big as his contract is, he is not untradeable.  If the Cubs are not leading the division or close to it by the deadline, the media pressure on him will be intense.  Last year, he made statements that he wouldn't deal with that kind of pressure from the Chicago media ever again.  He just might demand a trade, putting us in the unenviable position of weakness.  If I have judged the Ricketts correctly, I don't think they will appreciate Zambrano doing that to them any more than once.  They will accommodate him if this comes up again.

So, although the lava on my volcano pours down differently than on Sully's, the Apocalypse may come this winter.  The parts are all in place.

2010 Player Preview: Derrek Lee

Derrek Lee
A long time ago, Jim Hendry would pull off obvious one-sided trades to fill the Cubs needs. they were usually a thing of genious. Are we sure Jim wasn't invaded by a body snatcher one night? This was the man that brought us Aramis Ramirez and Derrek Lee for Bobby Hill, Hee Sop Choi and a set steak knives in the span of a few months.

That brings us to today's subject of player previews: Derrek Lee. Lee has been a success for the Cubs. He's had a huge years and played solid defense, even though that has slipped in the past few seasons. Many people were calling for Micah Hoffpauir last season, only to see Lee rebound to form and bet 35 HR's and quite all the critics about Lee being too old.

The only bad thing is that the Cubs wasted his two best years of 2005 and 2009 by not making the playoffs. In those two seasons, Lee hit 81 home runs in total. It's tragic that Lee has been unable to see the postseason in either of those two seasons.

What can we expect this year? My guess is that Lee will be provide an OPS of around .900, which would be a little more than his career average, but down from last year's .972. Of course, Lee is in a contract year, which could mean big things. Then again, he is about to turn 35 this year, so his best baseball should be behind him. The one thing I don't want the the Cubs to do is sign him to a long-term extension. I would be ok with one year, but beyond that the Cubs will likely kill any flexibility in the future.

Kurt

Ah, D-Lee.  He who evoked the phrase coinage of MVLee.  The defacto Clubhouse Leader.  The best first baseman we've seen in Chicago since the days when Ernie Banks would lumber around out there. 

This very well could be his swan song.

Milton Bradley was right about one thing -- Cub fans are fickle.  Just ask Lee: in 2005, we loved him and his ridiculous statistics with an indescribable passion.  Fast forward to 2008, and suddenly there were fans decrying Lee, fantasizing about trading him, calling him broke down and washed up because he grounded into more double plays than homeruns hit.  They wanted the Cubs to deal him to San Diego for Adrian Gonzalez (the equivalent thought would be for me to complain loudly about how my three-year-old Corolla has a break problem, only to take it into the dealership and try to trade it straight up for a '10 Mustang). 

Or even less believable, they wanted to unload Lee and his big contract because they believed that Micah Hoffpauir -- a then 28-year-old journeyman minor league first baseman who needed 3 solid tries to figure out Triple A pitching -- would somehow be better than Lee. 

But these Cub fans did not taunt Lee with racist remarks, they simply booed the holy hell out of him every time he grounded into a double play. 

Anyway, Lee proved in 2009 what we knew all along.  Double plays are flukish and not symptoms of an ongoing offensive malady.  As Yarbage mentioned, he put on a clinic in 2009.  Now in the final year of his contract, we can probably expect to see similar production in 2010 from the guy who, in 7 fewer seasons, has already hit more homeruns than Mark Grace, the "greatest Cubs first baseman" of my lifetime.

It seems unlikely that Lee will be back for more in 2011, but if this truly is his swan song, here's to hoping that it's a glorious one. 

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2009 Recap: Derrek Lee

Derrek Lee
Or: The One Where We Gloat a Little

Cub fans are so fickle.  Derrek Lee spent the majority of the '08 season -- and the '07 one, for that matter -- delivering quality defensive plays coupled with the occasional offensive burst, resulting in statistics that probably placed him at just above the middle of the pack.  And yet Cub fans wanted to ice him.  Especially after the '08 campaign, in which he grounded into a ridiculous number of double plays -- as if that was some kind of empirical data that proved he was on a rapid statistical decline.

What was true about '07 and '08 D.Lee was that he shouldn't have been batting third in the lineup.  His numbers were more those of a #5 or even a #6 hitter -- 20-odd homeruns, 30-odd doubles, good AVG, good OBP, the Pre-'09 Lee was born to protect. 

Worse, we wanted to be rid of him in favor of a guy who was the picture of a journeyman minor leaguer, Micah Hoffpauir.  The Hoff came along and had a ridiculous '08 season -- at the age of 28, and in his third attempt at Triple A -- and, thanks to one game in which he hit 2 homeruns, his numbers in 73 at bats in '08 weren't bad at the major league level either.  Factor in Lee's 8-figure contract and his 27 double plays, and that was all she wrote from the fans' perspective.

Thank God Cub fans do not run the organization.  Now, the ironic thing was that, in calling for his dismissal, some fans actually were suggesting that the Cubs could deal him to San Diego (Lee would probably enjoy playing there, despite having once engaged in fisticuffs with a pitcher from that team) for their younger, less expensive, more talented first baseman.  It's sort of like how Boston beat writers used to lambaste Ted Williams before suggesting he be dealt to New York for Joe DiMaggio and Yogi Berra. 

But while Hoffpauir shockingly* struggled in '09, Derrek Lee had the second best season of his career.  Lee delivered 35 homeruns - the second most for him ever - 111 RBI - a career best on a team with a struggling offense - 36 doubles, and he batted .306 - third best for him - with a second-best .972 OPS. 

(*may be dripping with sarcasm)

In other words, wow.  It's too bad Lee wasted such a great season on such a mediocre Cubs team, but at least he was surrounded by better players than in '05 when he should have won the MVP award. 

Does that mean, then, that fans will be calling for his trade this winter?  So far not yet.  Yet this is probably the time to make that trade if it's at all possible.  Lee has only one year left on his current contract, he will not match his totals from '09, and odds are he will also not be brought back due to his age.  If -- big if -- the Cubs can capitalize on his current value, perhaps they should consider swinging a deal.

Still, despite his success this past season Lee probably doesn't have a ton of trade value, and he continues to hold the ace-up-his-sleeve of the no-trade clause.  Therefore, it's safe to say that my wife's most-beloved Cub will be back for one more year.  Odds are, he will not hit 30 homeruns, or drive in 100 runs.  But if he can provide reliable defense and consistently put the ball into play, then he'll be worth his contract -- and he'll also be a hell of an improvement on the no-names who followed Mark Grace and proceeded Lee back in 2004.

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Are you down with Derrek Lee? Yeah, you know me!

Or: Derrek Lee: the best Cubs first basemen of our lifetimes

Think for a minute about what the Cubs first base situation was like before Derrek Lee came along.  They'd spent the previous season, the '03 season, turning to spare parts and future busts before eventually making a trade for a bad-pitch slugging sausage hitter.  In 2003, the Cubs had gotten 365 at bats from the well-liked but past-his-expiration date Eric Karros (.286 AVG, .340 OBP, 16 doubles, 12 homers, .786 OPS), along with 202 at bats from the hole-in-his-swing-the-size-of-Ohio prospect Hee Seop Choi (.218 AVG, .350 OBP, 17 doubles, 8 homers, .771 OPS), and then, at last, 110 at bats from The Big Sausage Randall Simon (.282 AVG, .318 OBP, 3 doubles, 6 homers, .804 OPS).  That basically equates to 36 doubles, 26 homers, and 3 roster spots.

The previous two seasons had the Cubs relying on Ass-Eatin' Fred McGriff, Matt Stairs, and Ron Coomer.  I'm pretty sure that nobody here will contest that Lee was better than those jobbers.  But this is where the premise of this article gets tricky.

Ending in the 2000 season, and starting way back in 1988, the Cubs had a single first baseman -- a guy who'd spend more time playing at first base than any other Cub in a century, Mark Grace.

Grace was a guy who'd lead the team in the clubhouse, and who spent the entire decade of the 90's outhitting -- and out-doubling -- every other active player in baseball.  He'd be consistent, reliable, and he'd leave the Cubs with a career .308 AVG.  The only problem was that he wasn't really insanely productive, which is sort of a must-have for a first baseman.  He'd never, ever drive in 100 runs in a season -- although any stat geek could tell you to blame the guys batting in front of him (primarily Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg and later Sammy Sosa in his prime, but I digress).  As you may recall, not too long ago I was told that the apparent best way to measure the success of a hitter is through the wRC stat, and while Grace had 90 or more 10 times in his career with the Cubs (out of 13 opportunities) he only exceeded 100-or-more 5 times (1993, 108.8, 1995 109.7, 1997 108.5, 1998 112.9, 1999 111.1). 

Derrek Lee, meanwhile, is soon-to-be in his 7th season of having 100-or-more wRCs, with his best years coming in 2005 (151.8 ), 2007 (113.4), and soon-to-be this year.  Lee also surely would have been able to add 2006 to his totals, but he missed a lot of time.

But looking at the more traditional numbers, Lee has a career .919 OPS as a Cub while Grace never once reached that number, not even in his best season.  Lee is also a slugging first baseman who, in six seasons with the Cubs has already hit more homeruns than Grace did in his career there. 

And this is all ignoring that one of Lee's six seasons was spent primarily on the DL.  (F**k you very much, Raffy Furcal.)  It's true, though, that next year is likely to be Lee's last with the Cubs.  It will be his 7th season in Chicago, he'll turn 35 before the year is over, and it seems probable that the Cubs will look to go younger at first base.  But still, it's either a testament to Lee's ability as a player or perhaps the Cubs' inability to field a competent first baseman that Derrek might be the best to wear a Cubs uniform since Ernie Banks made the switch back in the 60's. 

And no matter how you look at it, Derrek Lee kicks serious ass, especially this year. 

Game Recap: Cubs 4, Pirates 2 -- Derrek Lee strikes again ... and again

Game Recap
Jeezus!  Derrek Lee is apparently serious about having an incredible 2009 season, even while the Cubs hopes continue to fade into dust.  For the second time in two days, Derrek hit 2 homers in a game -- again being responsible for the bulk of the team's offense, and elevating his season totals to 31 homeruns, 96 RBI, and a .298 AVG.  On top of that, Lee has only hit into 9 double plays so far this year.

That means that, with more than 20 games still remaining, Derrek has now come within 1 homerun and 2 RBI of his second-best production not only as a Cub, but in his major league career.  But he's still a long way off from the MVLee year of 2005.

I would, again, like to take this time to focus on the man-love that many of you were feeling for Micah Hoffpauir at this time last year.  The Hoff, you wanted to note, was a classic masher.  He'd had an amazing season in Iowa, he'd had a good 70-or-so at bats in the majors, and many of you were ready to crown him the heir to Derrek, who was a washed up hack, a double-play hit-into-er*, whose power had evaporated and defense was overrated.  Derrek was done for, Hoff was the wave of the future, and you took plenty of opportunities to express that opinion.

(*may not actually be a word)

It was almost as if many of you had never before seen a mediocre player have an explosive year before, or something.  It was a fool-me-twice scenario, and many people played the fool.  Even then, I -- that's right, me, baby! -- suggested you exercise caution.  I pointed out that there was a long history of first basemen having huge minor league years in their late 20's, and none of them turned into MVPs -- and few ever managed to turn into MLR's (Major League Regulars).  I noted that if Hoff was such a hot commodity, some crazy GM would have been blowing up Hendry's phone all winter long to pry him away.  I pointed out that Derrek's double play madness was a tremendous fluke and he'd be unlikely to fall off the offensive cliff in 2009.  And still people wanted Hoffpauir. 

Well, my friends, I am hardly a baseball genius.  I may not be a statisticals expert, or a master of baseball strategy, but I do think I generally have a helpful heaping of common sense, and it just made absolutely no sense on any world that Hoffpauir would be a better player than Lee.  Looks like I may have known what I was talking about ... this time, at least.  I also thought that Alfonso Soriano would bat north of .250 and Milton Bradley would be just the slugger the Cubs were looking for.  Turns out I'm a moron after all.

Speaking of being wrong about stuff, I'd also been annoyed back before '07 when from the confines of his hospital bed Jim Hendry signed Ted Lilly to a big deal.  I'd thought Barry Zito was the way to go.  Laws, I was wrong.  Lilly has gone on to be perhaps the best free agent pitcher signing the Cubs have ever made, and he demonstrated some of that ass-kickedness** today by tossing 6 innings while striking out 7 and allowing only 2 hits, 3 walks, and 2 runs to score.  And amazingly enough, the bullpen would follow suit and shut down the Pirates.

(**also not a word, but probably should be)

So, there we have it.  An easy win for the Cubs.  As mentioned earlier, I think Rob is in Pittsburgh.  Hopefully he'll find the time to contribute about the game, assuming he saw it.  Either way, Derrek Lee is a golden gawd.

Gamecast: September 2nd vs. Astros

GameCastFelipe Paulino (2-6, 6.96 ERA) vs. Ted Lilly (9-8, 3.35 ERA)

Story Lines

Today we continue with our look at the Cubs in 2010. This list is not the end all, be all, but it is a quick look to take our minds off the 2009 version.


Starting Pitcher - First base (Derrek Lee)


Contract 2009: 13.25 Million


Contract 2010: 13 Million


Stats 2009: .294/.373/.545 with 26 HR, 30 2B and 88 RBI.


Lee is easily turning in his best season since 2005 for the Cubs. Too bad that it is also another where the Cubs are probably not going to make the postseason. So, maybe we need to D-Lee to struggle to get there? Well, anyway....Lee has played better than anybody could imagine, including all those Micah Hoffpauir lovers out there. I've been using this one site for contracts, and it says that Lee is actually getting a pay decrease next year. I'm not sure if that is correct, but at least he will probably not get a huge raise. Still, he is going make another 13 million next year, and it will leave the Cubs with little contract flexibility.

He's also entering the final year of his deal, so maybe he is due for one last monster season. Then, he can lead the Cubs to....well you get the picture. I don't see any problems bringing Lee back next year, because the Cubs really don't have another option. Jake Fox? eh..Micah Hoffpauir?...Aaron Miles....Ok, I'm joking about Miles, but still the Cubs could do far worse at 1B as long as his neck holds up next year.


Running Totals
2010 Payroll:
57.8 Million


2010 Average: 11.5 Million (Five Players)

Who's Hot

Koyie Hill - Hill has five RBI during his last five games to go along with his .438 average (7-for-16). Geo get used to the bench the rest of the year.

Mike Fontenot - Wow, another member of the underachieving club is moving up with four hits in his last 11 at bats.
 
Who's Not

Ryan Theriot - It's the end of the year, so Theriot is wearing down a little. He's only got six hits in the last six games, which is good for a .207 average.

Conclusions

Labor Day is almost here, so do yourself a favor and have a good time over the next few days. These games are actually winnable, so the Cubs might be fun to watch.

Game Recap: Cubs 9, Marlins 8 -- WTF?

Well, that was fun.

A lot happened in last night's game. Working backwards: Soriano saw time at 2nd and 3rd in the 10th inning; Derrek Lee hit his 21st home run in the top of the 10th inning, after Kevin Gregg blew a three-run lead despite getting two outs and two strikes on the third hitter; of Carlos Marmol's first 17 pitches in the 8th inning, three were for strikes (he would get two strikeouts from that point); and Jeff Samardzija gave up three notable runs in 1.2 innings pitched in relief of an injured Carlos Zambrano.

Oh yeah, and the Cubs won.

This was a pretty wild game, a game that puts the Cubs in a bit of a bind today. With almost everyone in the 'pen having gotten some serious work, it seems like we can almost guarantee appearances from Jeff Stevens and Sean Marshall in today's game.

Speaking of guarantees, I can also almost guarantee that Jeff Samardzija will be sent to Triple A Iowa as soon as the Cubs add newly-acquired SP Tom Gorzelanny to the active roster. Furthermore, I hope he stays there for the rest of the season and figures out how the hell he's supposed to pitch. It's clear that this kid is not ready for the bigs, and in that case, why is he here?

Other storylines we'll need to keep an eye on going forward: what's up with Big Z's back? Zambrano left last night's game after three innings with back tightness. He claimed it wasn't serious at the time, but who knows what effect this will have on an already thin rotation?

Another injured Cub in last night's game was Aramis Ramirez. Rammy got dizzy after being hit in the "meaty part" of the forearm with a pitch. The dizziness thing sounds more like exhaustion or dehydration than anything serious, so we'll see if he plays in today's game.

Ideally, Ryan Dempster pitches seven innings today, Stevens and Marshall close it out, and the offense scores a bunch of runs. For some reason, I have a feeling it'll be a little more exciting than that.

Go Cubs!

Gamecast: July 7th vs. Braves

GameCastJavier Vasquez (5-7, 3.05 ERA) vs. Carlos Zambrano (5-5, 4.09 ERA)

Story Lines

Tonight we were supposed to have a rematch of June 22nd, a night that the Cubs would like to forget. Vasquez blanked the Cubs for 6 2/3 innings, despite giving up nine hits and two walks. That was until Ryan Dempster went and broke his toe.  Those were there old Cubs. The new Cubs are much more dangerous (Ok, I know this is a reach, but they have won 6 of 8 ).

The Cubs pulled within two games of the Cardinals last night, and have a chance to gain ground or at least catch the Brewers with a victory over the Braves. The Cubs did not have a lot of scoring chances late last night, so it would be nice to see the offense pick up a little more tonight and put the game away early. The Cubs have played four less games than the Cardinals, which makes up for the 2 games in the standings.

Big Z will go on short rest now that Dempster was moved to the DL. It looks like Kevin Hart will start the series final tomorrow afternoon now. Now sure how long Dempster will be out, but hopefully he will only miss the one start and the Cubs can reshuffle the rotation after the All-Star Break.

Who's Hot

Derrek Lee - Lee isn't quite the 2005 version, but he has been better than everybody else. He cranked his 16th HR last night in the first inning. Hopefully, Lee can keep it with Aramis Ramirez coming back.

Kosuke Fukudome - It sure looks like the move to the top of the lineup has helped Kosuke for the time being. He picked up two more hits last night, 1 run and 1 RBI.

Who's Not

Aramis Ramirez - What have you done for me lately? He misses two months and goes 0-for-4. Can we please trade him right now? Seriously, he's washed up. It would've been great to see him get a hit, but I'm sure he will be back hitting soon.

Conclusions

Watching the Cubs this season hasn't been easy, but they have been able to hang around. Now is the time for the Cubs to make a move to the top of the division.

Disappointing Year

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.

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