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.
It may shock you to read this, but I don't actually hate a whole lot of things in the world. I find hatred to to require too much energy and effort, and it does me no good to be angry and raging at somebody or something while powerless to change things. And no, you haven't stumbled across Deep Thoughts with Kurt; I'm mentioning it because some people probably think that I hated Jim Edmonds before - and shortly after - he was traded to the Cubs early this past season.
Edmonds, after all, is a part of The Enemy. He wore Cardinal Red for a number of years, putting up Almost Hall of Fame numbers while making game-changing catches in center field. He won a World Championship in that town, he grabbed some male genitals, and between wearing creepy looking belly shirts, I'm pretty sure that there were times when he had less-than-enthusiastic things to say about Cub fans. But I promise you, I didn't hate him.
Jim Edmonds ... uh ... trips into a teammate
Jim Edmonds, fresh from his latest belly wax
I mean no disrespect. There's nothing wrong with being... comfortable with one's body, and the bodies of others. Simply put, the reason I opposed the acquisition of Jimmy Edmonds was because I thought he was done. No, he was beyond done. He was donner than OJ after that Vegas fiasco, if "donner" is even a word (and I know it's not, I'm exercising verbal liberty here).
After all, Edmonds had 90 at bats to prove himself in San Diego, and all he managed was an average of .178 - a full 34 points below his listed weight - and a solitary homerun. But as I wrote a few days back, 90 at bats are often not enough to determine if a player has what it takes anymore - or ever at all - and in the case of Jim Edmonds, he still had some game left for the Cubs.
He was also proof that in baseball, loyalty belongs to That Guy What Signs My Paycheck. The moment he signed with Chicago, Edmonds was pooping Cubbie Blue.* He was criticizing the Cardinals. It appeared as though he might have fisticuffs with his former manager Tony LaRussa. And more importantly, he hit the ever-loving crap out of the ball.
(*Hmm. "Pooping Cubbie Blue," or PCB for short. I think I've just found the name of my next website)
He was still old, still with limited range, and still oddly creepy looking, but when he was able to shrug off the soreness and limitations of age, Jim Edmonds was a huge, huuuuyyuuuuge asset to the Cubs. In 85 games, he batted .256 with an OBP of .369 and an OPS of .937. He hit 17 doubles - 2 more than his full season's production in St. Louis in 2007, and in 115 fewer at bats - 19 homeruns (7 more than last year) and he drew 45 walks (4 more than last year).
In fact, because of Edmonds, the Cubs had the 3rd most production from center field of any team in baseball.
I never hated the guy. I hated the signing because I thought he was done. I was angry that he was in Chicago because I thought it was a waste of resources. I expressed considerable disbelief because, well, I simply didn't believe that he'd produce. But after more than half a season in Chicago pinstripes, I have my fair share of appreciation for the man some call Lassie.
I'm also extremely pleased that he won't be returning. Lightning rarely strikes twice, and as grateful as we should be for the 2008 Jim Edmonds, the guy is turning 39 next year, he's got nagging foot injuries, and he grabs mancrotch. It's time to let him go and look for solutions elsewhere, which appears to be exactly what the Cubs are doing.
Nothing like a win over the Cardinals to get people off the ledge. I mean, it’s getting ridiculous. For instance:
Sometime around 8 or 9 tonight, the Cubs can make the call on whether to print playoff tickets this year.
That's how important Carlos Zambrano's start is against the St. Louis Cardinals. Win or lose, that's how important his shoulder is to the Cubs' chances of doing any damage in October -- and possibly of even getting there.
That came out of the Sun-Times, for crying out loud. That’s actual press coverage of our team.
Adding to the circus atmosphere is the return of Jim Edmonds to St. Louis, this time in Cubbie Blue. St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Bernie Miklasz kicks it off with the Five-Minute Hate:
Bulletin: Edmonds is a Cub.
He plays for the enemy.
He plays for the team that so many of you claim to "hate."
It is a team that has Jim Edmonds' complete loyalty.
It's a team with fans who now bow down in salute of Edmonds when he trots out to center field.
You're gonna give a standing ovation to the latest darling of those fickle Cubs fans? Edmonds has given his heart to those front-runners, and you still want to hug him?
Please. It's like being dumped by a girlfriend and then begging her to come back so you can give her a kiss and relive the good old days.
Have some pride.
After all, this is the new Edmonds, who says things like, "I don't have to feel like a Cub — I am a Cub," when he speaks to Chicago reporters.
And, "I'm a Cub now, and I'm happy."
And, "Whenever you guys get done tying me to the Cardinals, it'll be fine, so I can start getting a little bit of Cubs history in my background."
Wow. So much hatred of the Cubs, you’d almost think that you were reading a Jay Mariotti column!
Somebody must’ve fed LaRussa some of those quotes, because he chimed in:
"I think we ought to follow his lead," La Russa said, tersely. "His quote was roughly, within a couple of words, 'I've had enough of people asking me about my Cardinal days. I'm a Cub now.'
"So I would treat him like he never played here. I would wait until the end of his career and I would remember he was a Cardinal. I would ignore the fact that he was ever here because that's what he wants. I would honor his request. Forget the Cardinal days until his career is over."
Edmonds was not thrilled:
Asked if he would talk to La Russa before the game because he was so upset, Edmonds said: “He said the same kind of [stuff] when I played here. That doesn’t bother me. He got bad information, and he reacted to it. I mean, we all do … he’s in control. It’s his show, and that’s the way it should be. He’s the manager. He doesn’t want anyone upstaging his team. I’m not trying to do that. I’m here to play, and that’s it.”
La Russa told the media he would shake Edmonds hand if he sees him. When told of that, Edmonds replied: “He’s a [sissy] if he doesn’t.”
By the way, as an aside to any beatwriters or other media personalities that read GROTA: If any of you are willing to share exactly what “[sissy]” was, that would be keen. Send us an e-mail; we promise not to reveal your identity.
I’ll be honest – as much as I hate the melodrama surrounding the Cubs-White Sox series, Cubs-Cardinals is fun. Especially this year, when the Cubs matter and the Cardinals matter; each game counts for double, which provides some real substance to the sturm-und-drang.
Lou says that Fukudome may be wearing down a little. Meanwhile, video doesn’t seem to show any signs of Marmol tipping his pitches. Rothschild also claims that Marmol does not have a dead arm, and should “get back on a run.”
Meanwhile, AZ Phil of The Cub Reporter was sensationally impressed by Rich Hill’s simulated game today. I’d like to see him do it facing live hitting before I got my hopes up, though.
The Brewers haven’t won the C.C. Sabathia sweeps yet; the Dodgers are joining the hunt. There’s a catch, however:
However, the Dodgers' bid for Sabathia is complicated by their pursuit of Pirates shortstop Jack Wilson as a replacement for the injured Rafael Furcal, sources say.
To get Wilson, the Dodgers would need to trade the Pirates some of the same players that the Indians want for Sabathia, leaving Los Angeles with a choice of one deal or the other.
While the Dodgers might not offer a prospect better than Brewers Class AA left fielder Matt LaPorta, their proposal for Sabathia would include three players, sources say.
Class AA right-hander James McDonald, Class AAA shortstop Chin-Lung Hu and third baseman Andy LaRoche are among the Dodgers' prospects likely drawing consideration form the Indians.
Yeah, I know I have a hard time choosing between Sabathia and Jack Wilson.
For their part, Brewers beatwriter Tom Haudricourt thinks the current offer is “top prospect Matt LaPorta, minor-league third baseman Taylor Green and probably another prospect, perhaps outfielder Lorenzo Cain.” Brewers blogger Jeff Sackmann isn’t exactly impressed by Haudricourt’s credibility in the past, though.
If the Cubs are going to trade for Bedard, they might have to pay freight for the bus his teammates are throwing him under:
Whenever Erik Bedard starts a game these days, Mariners relievers know there is about a 99-plus-percent chance that some of them will see some action.
Sure enough, the left-hander departed after five innings and 99 pitches on Friday afternoon. Right-handers Sean Green and Brandon Morrow combined for four scoreless innings, finishing the job as the Mariners handed the Tigers a 4-1 loss in front of 30,564 at Safeco Field.
"[Bedard's] pitch count was up near 100, so I was already getting ready," Green said. "I also knew they had a lot of right-handers in the lineup today, so I was prepared."
Bedard, who has now thrown fewer than 100 pitches in each of his past six starts, and has reached triple digits six times in 15 outings this season.