Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Ryan Theriot

warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/managed/grota/drupal/modules/taxonomy/taxonomy.pages.inc on line 33.

Reader Blog: Weekly awards

Baseball can be a funny game. The Cubs were yet to have a winning week (2-4 in Week 1, 3-3 in Week 2), and, as of Thursday, were 1-3 this week after barely being competitive against a Mets team that had been struggling. The Cubs then headed to Milwaukee to take on a Brewers team that had absolutely obliterated the Pirates in their previous series. Three dominant games later, the Cubs have their first three-game winning streak of the season, their first winning week (4-3), and have scored more runs than their opponents for the first time.

Ryno of the Week: Randy Wells put together two strong starts, but this week's award has to go to a hitter--several Cubs put up video game numbers over the last seven days. First, I thought: "It's got to be Soto--he reached base 64 percent of the times he came to the plate!" But then I realized Marlon Byrd had 13 hits last week along with six runs scored and four RBI, despite the fact that he didn't even play yesterday.

But Ryan Theriot did him one better, literally. He had 14 hits, scored five runs and drove in six, capping his week with a 5-for-6 day that raised his average over 40 points.

Honorable mention: Alfonso Soriano

Goat of the Week
: When it comes to the Cubs, I think the thing I want to see most right now is Aramis Ramirez bust out of his slump. It's painful to watch. He was 2-for-25 this week with seven strikeouts. It's really weird to see him swing and miss at 85 mph fastballs over the middle, isn't it? Please break out of it, Aramis. I can't take it any more.

Dishonorable mentions: Jeff Baker, Xavier Nady

You too can blog on GROTA.  Contact us for details!
You can read more from Brandon at his blog ... Wait til this Year!

Game Recap: Cubs 7, Brewers 6 -- Unbelievable!

Recap
Nothing like some good home cookin' to get the offense going.

Today's game got good in the bottom of the eighth, when Ryan Theriot and MVP of the Day Kosuke Fukudome each drove home two runs on singles. Kosuke also drove a run in in the bottom of the seventh on a sacrifice fly to the opposite field with the bases loaded and one out.

Ryan Theriot certainly made a case for getting most of today's kudos, going 4-for-5, driving in two runs, stealing 2nd to get into scoring position in the bottom of the eighth and then coming home on the Fuk's single later in the inning. But Kosuke's sac fly and super single just felt more important to me. Call me crazy.

Other positive performers on offense included Geovany Soto, who absolutely blasted a solo shot on to Waveland Ave., and Tyler Colvin, who had two productive plate appearances, including a bunt and a walk.

Of course, you've gotta score runs to win ball games, but perhaps the most exciting half inning of the day took place in the top of the ninth. Carlos Marmol struck out the side -- and not just any side, but one consisting of Corey Hart, Ryan Braun, and Prince Fielder. Holy crap, awesome!

Had the Cubs lost the game, most fingers would likely have pointed at Randy Wells, who made the grave mistake of walking the pitcher in a close game. It cost him -- not only on the scoreboard, but perhaps more importantly, in pitch count as well.

Actually, that's not exactly true. Most people probably would have blamed Alfonso Soriano, who struck out once and allowed Rickie Weeks to get to third on what should have been a double. However, the Fonz did have a double, and scored once. So I don't see what all the fuss is about.

Neither Aramis Ramirez nor Marlon Byrd did much to help on offense. Both went 0-for-4. However, Byrd did make a sick throw to get Carlos Gomez out at third in the fifth, which was pretty super.

Jeff Gray also sucked in one inning of relief, allowing two runs on three hits in the eighth. His velocity seemed down from all the stuff I've read about him throwing fastballs in the mid to high nineties. We'll see how that goes I guess.

Anyways, let's savor the win for what it was -- a super clutch outing from Riot, Fooker, and Marmolito.

Cubs win! Go Cubs! Yeah!

Series Preview: Cubs at Reds

Goat Riders
The Cubs leave Atlanta and head to Cincinnasty with a 1-2 record. Things could be worse, and they most certainly could be better.

The team lost on Opening Day, in a game where Carlos Zambrano decided to stop pitching and start throwing fastball after fastball. Presumably, the idea was to generate a bunch of contact early in counts, and hope batted balls turned into outs instead of towering home runs to right field.

We all know how that went.

Carlos will have a chance to bring his ERA down from 54.00 on Saturday, in Game 2 of this upcoming series with the Reds. In fact, if he manages to allow one or fewer runs in 7.2 or more innings pitched, it'll come all the way down to below 9.00. For what that's worth.

But we're getting ahead of ourselves.

Game 1: Carlos Silva vs. Homer Bailey

I thought all along that Silva would be stashed in the 'pen as a long reliever, and that Gorzo and Marshall would take over starting duties until Mr. L-to-the-Illy came back. But here we are on the fourth game of the 2010 season, with Silva the Hutt slated to start.

Whether he wins or loses, Silva will probably give up several hits -- maybe six or seven in six innings pitched. He won't strike many batters out, and the difference between winning and losing may come down to how many walks he gives up. We want singles and ground ball outs, not walks and fly balls. A lot like Randy Wells, actually.

Also, Alfonso Soriano has three hits in as many at-bats against Homer Bailey. Just saying.

I bet the final score is 6-4. One team will win and the other will not win.

Game 2: Carlos Zambrano vs. Aaron Harang

So like I was saying, Big Z gets a chance to redeem himself on Saturday, as he faces Aaron Harang for the billionth time in his career.

I'll predict Carlos gives up four in six, Harang gives up three in seven, and that Jeff Samardzija puts this one out of reach for the Cubs, allowing two or three runs himself in an inning of relief.

Game 3: Tom Gorzelanny vs. Mike Leake

Again, I find myself saying, "As long as he doesn't walk a bunch of batters he'll be fine." No doi, AJ. But it's really true of Gorzo, also. He's not gonna rack up strikeouts, and he has OK stuff. His problems always seem to happen when he walks five or six batters in the midst of a five or six inning start.

I'm gonna guess he walks three, and gives up several runs -- but that it won't matter, because the Cubs are facing a rookie right-hander, a class of pitcher that always seems to confound them. They might not score more than two runs against Leake.

For pessimism's sake, I'll suppose the Reds win the first game, giving the Cubs a second consecutive series loss and a 2-4 record by the time they get home.

I'll be especially pissed if Theriot strikes out four more times or Grabow issues three more walks, but I'll probably be able to forget absolutely everything bad about this series if Tyler Colvin stays hot and does some cool stuff.

I love Tyler Colvin. There, I said it.

Buy Cubs baseball tickets for away games or Cubs home games at Wrigley Field from article sponsor Coast to Coast Tickets!

Reader Blog: Trade Ryan Theriot

Much has been made this offseason and during spring training about the future of Ryan Theriot and Starlin Castro. I believe the answer of what to do about these players is obvious.

Ryan Theriot has been a very valuable player. He is average to above average defensively at an important position according to all fielding metrics. He also hits fairyly well for a shortstop. Tack onto that his salary which is now 2.6 Million. According to fangraphs, Theriot has been worth over 10 Million in real dollars each of the last two years. Even with another solid year, he's probably looking at a raise into the 4-6 Million range for 2011. That makes him a decent bargain for any team.

If the Cubs did not have a potential stud shortstup prospect, I'd call Theriot one of the best values on the team. However, with Starlin Castro breathing down his neck, Theriot is going to need to be moved. I don't like moving him to second base because of the presence of another decent below market player with a nice glove named Mike Fontenot.

Fontenot is making 1 million in 2010 and will probably see a raise bringing his salary to just under what Theriot is making now in 2011. Fontenot is a better hitter than Theriot, in my opinion, and is also 6 months younger. I think it would be bad idea to replace Fontenot with a worse hitting, more expensive Theriot in 2011.

That leaves the Cubs with one choice. Trade Ryan Theriot. This is not something they should do during the 2010 season. This year, the Cubs do not have any room for developmental players like Castro. But the 2011 team will and Castro will be that much better. The Castro of 2011 and 2012 will be paid next to nothing and will probably put up numbers not too dissimilar to what Theriot provides now. On top of that, Theriot, now 30, will be entering his decline years.

The fairly cheap, but productive Theriot should net the Cubs a Grade B hitting prospect sitting at Double A or higher plus a decent middle reliever. The Cubs save 2+ million and move on to their next move. They can do this without weakening the team.

2010 Player Preview: Ryan Theriot

Theriot
My new big boss was in my cube today, asking me about some of the stuff I have up on the wall.  He's not a Cub fan by any means, but he is a sports fan and recognized most of the faces on the buttons I have up there.  One he didn't recognize, and I mentioned it was Bobby Dernier, our leadoff hitter in 1984-5.  I described him as the last decent leadoff hitter we have had, which goes a lot to explain why our team has not won a pennant in 65 years.

With apologies to Kenny Lofton, my statement is pretty much fact.  Along with my evisceration of the pudgy Geo Soto last year, my constant droning about the lack of a leadoff hitter also put some of you off.  Too bad. 

Our current leadoff hitter and shortstop is Mr. Ryan Theriot, from LSU.  Anyone who tells me that he is a great leadoff hitter and shortstop instantly proves to me that they don't know dick about baseball.

Is he bad?  No, not at all.  After concerns about his durability in 2007 and 2008, I think he held up pretty well throughout the entire season last year.  He hits for a good average, has decent plate discipline, and most of the time has a plan when he walks up to the plate.  He is probably our best situational hitter, and honestly, of the people we have currently, he is the best one suited to hit leadoff.  His OBP is near the top on the team, save a monster year by DLee or a typical year by Fukudome.

And is he our best shortstop?  I would say so.  There really isn't much of a dropoff defensively between he and Andres Blanco, who is supposedly a glove guy.  I believe that The Riot is a bit underrated and Blanco a bit overrated when it comes to their defensive reputations.

If forced to make a prediction, I think he will hit around .280, get on base about .360, and make about 12 errors at short this year.  He will score over 90 runs.  He will be a steady clubhouse presence, and will extend his share of Cub rallies.  A decent year by any estimation.

Thus endeth my good words about The Riot.

Because really, calling him the best Cub shortstop or best Cub leadoff hitter is the supreme definition of damning with faint praise.  He is a miserable baserunner - I said he will score over 90 runs this year - with as many hits and walks as he gets, this number should be over 105.  He pisses away that many runs every year, thinking he is a speed merchant, when he is probably slower than his midget friend Font.  He gets caught stealing more than any Cub I have seen in perhaps my entire life.

I realize that few of our leadoff men could even manage to get on base often, and he at least can manage that.  But OBP is just the bare minimum requirements for a leadoff man.  A leadoff man gets on base, and causes havoc for the opposition.  They worry about stolen bases, hit-and-runs, bunts, and those thoughts just don't happen when The Riot is standing at first.  Usually the first baseman lets him take a lead, the shortstop and second baseman decide who gets to tag him. 

And in the field, he isn't miserable, he doesn't flub as many easy plays as, say, the Ramirez kid on the South Side.  But no matter who we play on a given day, Riot/Font, Riot/Baker, this is not a strong up-the-middle defense that is going to save runs that the offense deserves to have. In fact, we give up a few runs every year that the offense does NOT deserve to have.  His range is not great, his arm is average at best, and his shortstop instincts simply are not there.  The great ones can hold runners by executing fakes and by getting to the right spots on cutoff plays.  Shortstop is the position he has played in his professional career, but that is more due to the needs of the club, rather than his superior skills.

Ryan Theriot.  Won't cost you the pennant, but won't win you one, either.  The Kyle Orton of the Cubs.  The Prince of Meh.  Your leadoff hitter and shortstop. 

Get good deals on tickets to Cubs games through a nice Wrigley Field seating chart thanks to sponsor Coast to Coast Tickets!

The best idea for a Cubs trade that you will read over the course of this offseason.

I'm going to cut to the chase on this one because I think it's such a good idea.

Milton Bradley and Ryan Theriot, for Curtis Granderson and Dontrelle Willis.

Boom. Absorb that gem of amazingness for a second while I tell you about how awesome it is.

---

Before we try to decide which baseball numbers are most relevant, let's talk cash for a minute here.

As you well know, MB is owed $9mil in '10, and $12mil in '11 (guh).

Ryan Theriot is in his first year of arbitration eligibility, so it's hard to say what he'll be owed. Let's just call it $2mil every year til 2013 when he becomes a free agent.

As for the Tigers, Dontrelle Willis is owed $12mil next year (!), and Granderson is owed $5.5mil, $8.25mil, and $10mil over each of the next three seasons, with an option in 2013.

SUMMARY: Cubs would pay MB and RT about $27mil over the next three seasons, Tigers would pay CG and DW a combined $36mil.

---

Let's move beyond business, to baseball.

The Cubs are (still, even after trading away Mark DeRosa,) too right-handed. They've got a right-handed shortstop that plays league average defense there -- surely, a commodity, but not necessarily an automatic keeper, either.

They need a center fielder, and they could use a lefty. Oh yeah, there's also the whole get-rid-of-Milton deal.

Granderson bats lefty and plays center. And even though he's traditionally led off, his .453 slugging percentage would put him behind only Lee and A-Ram of the Cubs' everyday players in the category -- as in, perhaps could be that middle-of-the-order lefty RBI guy.

The Tigers' starting shortstop, according to their depth chart, is some guy with a last name starting with D that I have never heard of. As in, they could use an unterrible shortstop. And given the state of the Detroit economy, they'd thank God if Hendry called and offered to take D-Train off their hands.

Would taking on Dontrelle be a complete waste of money? Maybe. But aside from the amount owed him in 2010 being exactly equivalent to MB's 2011 requirement, the NL is an easier place to pitch than the AL.

---

The Cubs get rid of Milton. They lose Theriot, who is a player with positive value, but they have Andres Blanco's glove on the roster, and Starlin Castro on the fast track. They'd also get a quality left-handed bat to man center field for them.

The Tigers get a good shortstop, a guy that's proven he can mash at the DH spot, and the chance to erase the $12 million owed to Dontrelle from their books.

One potential challenge: convincing Dombrowski, who's wanting to get Granderson's contract off the books, to take on Milton's 2011 commitment (the 2010 pill should be easier to swallow given the savings the deal generates on D-Train's deal).

To that end, I'd be willing to spend a few million 2011 dollars on getting Milt's contract within a workable range to make the deal happen. That's how much value I think the trade adds to the Cubs.

Beyond that reason, tell me why this isn't a great idea.

A late season post about middle infielders

What?  We have no tags for Jeff Baker&Andres Blanco?  We need to rectify that, because they are here for the long haul.


A very popular topic of conversation amongst Cub bloggers is the Mark DeRosa trade.  Over the months of this abortion of a season, two camps have sprung up - the "Mark DeRosa is not God" camp espoused by Desipio Andy, and, um, everyone else who tends to track the entire spiralsuck of 2009 on the New Years Eve trade.  Naturally, I tend to think the truth falls somewhere in the middle.


Mark DeRosa can be counted on to hit close to 20 homers, drive in close to 70 runs, hit around .260 and get on base 34% of the time.  He is not a great fielder, but not a liability, either.  His two main talents in life are that he is friendly, and that he leaves his ego in check well enough to allow himself to go play a corner outfield spot, third base, second base or first base.


The latter talent is vitally important to Lou Piniella, who if he had his way would expect every member of his 25-main to be able to play more than one position.  Except Z, he would pull his lazy fat core muscles playing in the field.  Lou loves DeRosa.  Which begs the question: where is all the Lou love for Jeff Baker?  Baker is essentially DeRosa, only younger, covers a tad more ground, hits for a better average (albeit less power), and can and will play all the positions Mark does?  Of course, I don't recall seeing Baker in a cute YouTube skit, or in the paper much commenting on the cartoon-watching proclivities of a Bobby Scales, or something cutesy like that.


My take on Mark DeRosa, on this 25th day of September, 2009?  I do not blame the entire fall of the 2009 Cubs on the loss of Mark.  I do think losing him took away one of Lou Piniella's safety blankets, and it would have been better having him around than giving 400 at bats to Mike Fontenot.  If you believe that DeRosa was traded, so that his salary could be leveraged to pay Milton Bradley, then you have every right in the world to be pissed off.  On the other hand, he was traded at the peak of his value (for once in Hendry's tenure), and although a popular meme in the papers these days is for Hendry to right the wrongs of 2009 by re-signing DeRosa this winter, it seems pointless to have a roster with DeRosa AND Baker AND Andres Blanco AND Ryan Theriot AND Mike Fontenot AND Aaron Miles.


Unless, of course, you do the following:

  • install Andres Blanco as the starting shortstop
  • sign DeRosa, and let him and Baker rotate between second base, spelling Ramirez at third, spelling Alfonso Soriano in left, and spelling whomever in right.
  • this leaves very little room for Fontenot.  Get rid of him.
  • But!  But!  What about The Riot?  He's our shortstop!  He's our starter!  He hits .300.  If you don't like his fielding at short, can't he play second?  Won't he be mad if we got rid of Fontenot?

Yeah, probably.  In my humble opinion, I am through with Ryan Theriot at shortstop.  I like his .300 batting average, but I don't like his baserunning and I don't like his lack of playmaking ability.  I forgot what a real shortstop looked like until Blanco came up from the minors.  Compared to him, The Riot looks really bad.  So could Theriot play second?  Sure. 


And here's where it gets complicated.  Who starts then?  Theriot or Baker?  And then, if you re-sign DeRosa, things really get jammed up at second.  Therefore, it makes no sense to me to bring back Marky Mark unless you get rid of Theriot, because then you have three starter-caliber guys wanting to play one position, and occassionally spell guys in a couple other positions.


Besides, if you got rid of Theriot, then who backs up Blanco at short?  We'd be forced to keep Aaron Miles.  Ew.  I just threw up a tad.


So, in my world, I start Blanco at short, with Theriot at second primarily, and against lefties, Theriot plays short, and Baker plays second, spelling Theriot once a week.  Baker also plays third for Ramirez once a week, plays left for Soriano once a week, plays right once a week, and second 2-3 times a week.  Theriot gets about 550 PA, Baker about 500.  Soriano and Ramirez get more rest in 2010.  The defense improves dramatically.  If you sign DeRosa, it would have to be based on the terms I just outlined for Baker.  Then you trade Baker, while HIS value his high.


Aaron Miles is allowed to start selling insurance, and Mike Fontenot can go back to Baton Rouge to run a combination batting cage/bar/laundromat.

If Fukudome is underrated, then what is Ryan Theriot?

Apparently the guys who frequent Desipio -- and Desipio spin-off Hire Jim Essian -- are not particularly fond of being mentioned in other places.  A couple of days ago I did just that in this article, where I highlighted the debate on the value of Kosuke Fukudome which had been started on the Desipio forums.  

A loyal Goat Reader who wishes to remain anonymous EMailed me the following discussion:

Bort  "Pretty awesome of Kurt to take his bitchfest to GROTA."
Dr. Kenneth Noisewater  "Kurt is such a douche."
Dr. Kenneth Noisewater  "He seriously cried wee wee wee all the way home to his queercastke* of wrong at GROTA."

(*I think he meant "queercastle")

ChuckDickens  "F**king Kurt posts a rebuttal at GROTA?"
ChuckDickens  "Is that a canard to get me to read his site or something?"
SKO  "and then he name drops you and Pre like anyone there would know who the f**k that was"
T to E to C  "he posted the rebuttal at GROTA because he figured no one would read it if it was over there"

I'm not sure if T to E to C meant to say that GROTA has no readers, or I was expecting nobody from Desipio to notice.   Either way I posted the "rebuttal" because it's an interesting debate topic about the Cubs** in which a pack of idiots -- that would apparently include you, T to E to C -- took a ridiculous stance apparently for the simple reason that I took the opposite one.  The response to my post, ironically a major bitch fest by several individuals, is pretty damned funny.

(**GROTA, being predominately a content-hungry website that covers the Cubs seems like the ideal place to debate the merits of a player like Fukudome, incidentally)

RV  "Kurt just wanted to make sure there was absolutely zero doubt that he's an insufferable pudleak."
SKO  "i used to feel sorry for Kurt. i thought he was an awkward but well meaning guy that everyone mercilessly attacked."
SKO  "i see now that he's just a completely oblivious twit"
Mr. Tank  "There's nothing more interesting for the readers of you blog than a recap of an internet discussion you've had somewhere else"
T to E to C  "I used to read GROTA regularly like three years ago. Now I wonder what the hell was wrong with me back then."

Thanks for all the love, guys.  Again, stay classy with the sniveling hatefest directed toward me.  All I did was highlight a ridiculous stance ChuckD had on the value of Kosuke Fukudome on this, a Cubs blog.  All you did was rattle off insults highlighting what tremendous folks you are.  And while I'm sure that some Goat Readers have never heard of any of you, the Cubs blogging community isn't so big.  Surely some people here know "who the f**k that was" and have their own bad experiences with your crowd. 

Anyway, I bring the topic up again for two reasons -- first because it obviously annoyed the holy hell out of them, and second because the fallacy of their Fuku-love is hypocritically contrasted by their lukewarm feelings toward Ryan Theriot, the topic of this article.

Theriot, you may have heard, is an average-at-best shortstop with no base running skills and a terrible defensive ability.  

For example -- we learned last week that Fukudome's season, as determined by wRC, puts him in elite company (ignoring the 70-or-so players who have better wRC than him this season).  Theriot at this moment has a very similar wRC to Fukudome -- 65.3 to Kosuke's 67.7.  Since we've already established that some people mistakenly feel that Fooky's wRC is something special, then I'm sure these same jabrones have a similar appreciation for the year Theriot is having.  Except, they might argue, Theriot's defensive value detracts from his contributions compared with the stellar-gloved Fukudome.

But Fangraphs tells us something interesting -- according to the UZR stat, Theriot is a Top 10 defensive shortstop in all of baseball with an UZR/150 of 3.2.  For comparisson's sake, Fukudome is 11th amongst all center fielders, with an UZR/150 of -5.2***.  In the NL alone, Theriot is 5th best defensively, while Kosuke is 7th best.  

(***-5.2?!?  So much for being near Gold-Glove caliber)

Mix that in with Fangraphs' estimated value of Theriot compared with Fukudome -- $11.4 to $13.4, (with a WAR of 2.5 to 3.0).  In other words, while Fukudome has been slightly more valuable to the Cubs than Theriot (until you consider that Kosuke is making perhaps 24 times as much money, if not more), where's the Cajun Love from the Desipio crowd?

After my Fukudome article, AJ posted one regarding his opinion that the Cubs' CF is the MVP of the team.  I won't contest that, first because part of Fukudome's value is the fact that he's not easily replaced, and second because on this under-performing team it makes perfect sense that such an average player would be one of the best in the lineup.  But if we're going to make our judgment on the Cubs players based purely on an analytical, statistical outlook, then Theriot should not be overlooked.  Like a lot of people out there I would support his move to second base, but he's apparently been a pretty decent shortstop this year despite what biased public sentiment might be.  

As for the Desipio guys, I like many of them and respect their opinions.  It's a little unfortunate that some of them have to be so hostile toward people they dislike -- and they certainly present themselves in an extremely unpleasant manner the majority of the time -- but hey, they're the funniest guys on the internet.  Just ask them.

Anyway, I've never said GROTA is the best Cubs blog on the net -- I can easily think of a bunch that are funnier, and more analytical, and more compelling.  And if you'd like to see for yourself some of the personal blogs of the guys who think I am an "insufferable pudleak" living in my "queercastke of wrong at GROTA" then feel free to follow these links:

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater -- Wrigleyville23, named apparently after his love of the Chicago neighborhood with the highest quantity of puke per square mile and his love of Ryne Sandberg.  DKN only contributes sparringly to this blog.
Slaky - Slak's Index, a blog that is apparently about Slaky's music tastes, because that's what the internet needed -- another music blog by some guy nobody cares about
Eli - Eli Gieryna, the internet's least-prolific blogger, which sort of resembles a bot-created phish site
SKO - Start Kyle Orton ... considering that SKO hasn't apparently invested any money in his blog, it's probably not too late to create a Jay Cutler worship site for which he can migrate his compelling rhetoric, kind of like how HJE used to be FLP.
ChuckDickens - Pseubermetrics, which I have absolutely nothing bad to say about.  It's a clever and well-done site.

***UPDATE***
Bort/Jon, who apparently whined a lot because I didn't include a link to his blogs, runs Hitler Getting Punched, contributes on Thunder Matt's Saloon, and also The Slog.  Since I like the first two and know nothing of the latter I won't bother to come up with any pointless insults.  Sorry for hurting your feelings by leaving you out, Jon. ***END UPDATE***

I'm sure you that you'll enjoy some of those, although I also have a feeling that the guys who own them would rather lose a testicle than take on GROTA readers, who they surely feel are inferior to themselves. 

Game and Series Recap: Cubs 10, Phillies 5 (1-2)-- Should we get off the ledge?

GameRecap
I guess all it takes to wake up the Cubs' bats (other than two days of suck) is an ancient lefty soft-tosser. Something about the line-up being predominantly right-handed, need a lefty power bat, can't get it? Whatever.

Anyways, the Cubs won today! Woo hoo!

Lots of Cubs had multiple hits today (Theriot, A-Ram, Bradley, and Soriano). Also, Ryan Theriot stole three bases. I guess that means he'll get picked off twice tomorrow.

Despite the offensive onslaught, only two of our 13 hits went for extra bases (both doubles), and only one of our runs scored with two outs. So, still no soul-crushing big hits, still no clutch performances, but 11 singles and 9 walks should get you somewhere.

Z was actually really hittable today, giving up 10 hits in his start, along with three walks. But it was good enough for today, thanks to all the Cubs that got themselves safely to first over and over.

---

As far as the series goes, I for one think these three games were pretty indicative of what we can expect from the team here on out.

Some days they'll slap a bunch of singles off a crap starter having a bad day, and some days all those pokes will roll right to infielders and will mostly turn into outs. Against top line starting pitching (guys like Rodrigo Lopez and Joe Blanton), the Cubs will have trouble scoring runs. And the whole time, the pitching will be more or less good enough to give the team a chance to win.

We will continue to hold out hope for this offense. It'd be great if Soto could heal up by, say, tomorrow. The Baker/Fontenot platoon at second base looks pretty alright. If Bradley can get better, and Soriano can stay hot... well, then, who knows what might happen.

Getting Dempster back soon will make the pitching that much better. I hope the Cubs quit jerking Samardzija around and just stash him in Iowa for the rest of the season when Demp does come back (we need him to start, not handle mop-up).

Beyond those things, what else can you really do?

Current Record: 48-45
Position in the NL Central: 2nd place, 1.5 games out
Best Possible Record: 117-45
Worst Possible Record: 48-114
Record needed to win 110: 52-5
On Pace For: 83-79

Guess who's back..back again

NO, NO, NO, no, no!!  You're all doing it all wrong!!!

So, how are you all enjoying your Memorial Day weekend so far?  (For Canucks such as Kurt, the fourth weekend in May here in America is set aside for...)  Ok, Kurt is actually here somewhere in the lower 48, and of course he grew up in New York, and that's probably the last attempt at humor from me for the rest of this post, because this shit just ain't working.  I came out here after the first 20 games, I think we were 11-9, and I pointed out that Geo Soto was fat and sassy, that Milton Bradley completely had his head stuck up his ass, and that Derrek Lee's best days are absolutely behind him, and you all flamed me up one side and down the other, leaving me with a nice charred crust with very little pink in the middle, because by gawd, it's only TWENTY games, give guys a chance, for cripes sake!!

Now, it's forty games in, we're 21-19, which means we've played .500 ball since that last post.  I did what you said, I gave them a chance to work things out, and what's happened since? 

  • Geo Soto still ain't hit dick
  • Milton Bradley is still pressing
  • Derrek Lee is not only still struggling, but he's now doing it in the cleanup spot
  • and, now, we've exposed Mike Fontenot for what HE is, useful as a backup, but not capable of hitting on an everyday basis
  • and, as an added bonus, Ryan Theriot has gotten away from what HE does best (go to right field) and he's swinging for the fences, with the predictable result of a plummeting batting average, on-base percentage, and overall usefulness
  • and, of course, Aramis Ramirez' shoulder is still fusing itself back into one piece
  • and, we now have not one, but two useless utility men burning at-bats and butchering plays in the field.  Sometimes, the Orioles aren't stupid, and I know pretty much the Cardinals aren't.

    But what worries me the most is looking at Lou Piniella night after night.  There is a noticeable cognitive difference in him from 2007 to today.  His job is stressful - particularly when he has come so close twice, and have it all slip away so suddenly and completely.  This job turns people.  When Dusty Baker hit town, he was all California Cool.  By his last year, he spoke and acted like someone was spiking him in the groin.  When Don Baylor hit town, he was all New Age Enthusiasm.  By his last year, he spoke and acted like someone was spiking him in the groin.  When Jim Riggleman hit town, he acted like the slimy horndog he was.  By his last year, he spoke and acted like someone was spiking him in the groin, which was probably somewhat based in reality, considering his typical nighttime activities.  (When he and Mark Grace left town, it left a lot of dental hygenists and flight attendants in their mid-30s unfulfilled)

    Now, Lou don't talk like he's in pain, but I have talked to people trained in diagnosing dementia, and they notice how he can't seem to put a coherent sentence together when he is asked a question.  He is probably the most confused man in Chicago presently, and not only does that explain why Neal Cotts still has a job, it doesn't bode well for the immediate future of the Cubs.  I have backed this man since day one, but I can no longer. 

    Hendry ain't gonna fire him, no way.  But I don't believe Lou has an answer for 2009, and in the meantime, we are wasting some decent-to-good starting pitching.   Man, I still think getting Jake Peavy would send a message, but Adrian Gonzalez would look a HELL of a lot better in pinstripes.  Too bad he ain't available...

Chicago Tribune's Chicago's Best Blogs award