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...
Let's see if I've got this straight. At this moment, the Cubs have on their 25 roster 12 pitchers and 13 fielders.
Of those 12 pitchers, 7 are relievers. Of those 7 relievers, 1 is a Rule V pick and 1 is a LHP.
Of those 13 fielders, there are 2 catchers, 2 1B (one of whom can theoretically play RF and LF), 2 2B (one who plays third, one who plays shortstop), 1 SS, 1 3B, 2 LF (one who plays CF), 2 CF (one who can play all other outfield positions) and 1 RF.
At the moment, the following players are hurt: Derrek Lee (stiff neck), Aramis Ramirez (sore leg), Milton Bradley (sore groin), Carlos Marmol (sore leg), Geovany Soto (sore shoulder in my opinion).
That means the Cubs effectively have 2 catchers (Soto, Three Finger), 1 first baseman (Hoffpauir), 1 second baseman (Miles), 1 shortstop (Theriot), 1 third baseman (Fontenot), 2 left fielders (Soriano, Gathright), 1 center fielder (Johnson), and 1 right fielder (Fukudome).
This. Is. Not. GOOD.
But worse than this current situation of gum and twine is the fact that even if everybody is healthy they're still dangerously thin due to Lou's insistance of keeping 7 relievers and a backup first baseman. We've seen already just how easy it is for the Cubs to come undone by a few troublesome injuries. Therefore I am going to propose the following simple moves that the Cubs can take to rectify their current situation.
Round One: Disabled List Roll Call
- Place the following players on the DL: Milton Bradley, Geovany Soto, Carlos Marmol. Let's be honest. Bradley's a waste right now. Geo Soto has something wrong. Maybe a trip to the DL will help him straighten out his problems. And Marmol might be ok and not needing a trip to the DL, but better safe than sorry with your best arm out of the pen.
- I'd replace my DL'd Cubs with the following 3 players:
IF Bobby Scales - One of my favorite players from Spring Training, Scales has started out hot in Iowa batting .328 in 67 at bats. He'd be the eventual equivilent replacement of Joey Gathright once Bradley came back.
IF/OF/C Jake Fox - Fox plays first, third, and left field (and has caught in the past). Fox has already hit 11 homeruns in Iowa and was doing well in Spring Training before he got cut.
LHP Jason Waddell - the Cubs aren't exactly brimming with lefty talent this year, but Neal Cotts needs help. (Actually he needs to be cut but it ain't gonna happen just yet). I think the Cubs should promote Waddell - who has an ERA of 3.12 in 9 relief appearances - and, should Waddell be capable of handling major league hitting, cut Cotts and replace him with another lefty down the line.
Round 2: Roster Moves
So long as my three Cubs remained on the DL, I'd probably hold off on making too many roster cuts. However, once Bradley, Soto, and Marmol were set to return, I would cut the following players:
- Cut Joey Gathright. Whatever he brings to the table can't possibly be better than that of any number of minor league outfielders in the Cubs system. Maybe Lou chose to keep him around on the assumption that Milton Bradley would eventually get hurt, but Gathright is not receiving the play time - nor putting up the numbers - to justify a roster spot on a major league club.
- Cut David Patton. Sorry, I know, we love his unlikely story and the fact that he says Yogi Berraesque things. But the Cubs bullpen is too weak to justify his continued prescence. In fact, I reallllly don't understand this need for 7 relief pitchers. Let's just cut Patton and go with 6.
- Cut Angel Guzman. See above. It's time for Jim Hendry to let go; Guzman's ability does not justify his place on the roster, especially if Samardzija has been promoted to pitch in relief for the Cubs.
This would basically ensure a better balance on the Cubs. They'd no longer have 7 relievers, but the 6 in place would theoretically be a lot better at their jobs -- and as I previously mentioned, once Waddell proves himself as a lefty in the majors I'd cut Cotts and find somebody else to replace him.
Anyway, here's what the lineup would look like once everybody is healthy:
SP - Zambrano, Lilly, Dempster, Harden, Marshall
Bullpen - LHP Cotts, Waddell, RHP - Samardzija, Heilman, Marmol, CL Gregg
C - Soto, Hill
IF - Lee, Fontenot, Theriot, Ramirez, Hoffpauir, Miles, Scales, Fox
OF - Soriano, Fukudome, Bradley, Johnson, Hoffpauir, Fox
The team would be better balanced, they'd have greater depth, and they'd be less inclined to go all topsy-turvy at the first sign of multiple freak injuries. But maybe it makes too much sense to ever happen? You decide.
In celebration of the Cubs losing their first three game series of the season, I thought it might be appropriate to indulge in a bit of all-caps panicking. To wit:
- AGGGGHHHHHHH!!!!! CUBS CAN'T SCORE!!!!! PUT MICAH IN AT CATCHER!!!!!!!
- AND SECOND BASE!!!!!!!!!!!
- TRADE MILTON BRADLEY FOR THREE WEDGES OF BRIE AND A LIGHT BRIGHT!!!!!!!!
THERE. er, there. That felt pretty good, right? Right.
So yeah, the Cubs offense has been slightly worse than stagnant (repugnant?) these last couple of games, managing a mere one run and two walks in two games. Granted, they faced two pretty good pitchers, but c'mon! And to top it all off, their would-be-star right fielder is out for the foreseeable future and nobody seems to think he should go onto the DL.
Who's up for a bit more Hoffpauir gymnastics in the outfield? Rock.
And so now the Cubs will roll into the deep south (too deep for my taste, anyway) and attempt to stop the greatest show on sod. The Cardinals offense has been hot as a firecracker lately, with the always Ted Williams-esque Albert Pujols doing his thing and the curiously unstoppable Chris Duncan and Ryan Ludwick (and the most curious of the curious, Yadier Molina. I mean, what the hell?) mashing the ball. I'm fairly certain that the Cards won't end the season with three hitters OPS'ing over a thousand but, for now, it's a pain in the ass.Alright, enough fear and pain. The slump ends here! The Cubs will rally! Geo will get a hit! Fontenot is a star! CUUUUUBBBBBSSSSSS!!!!!!!
April 24th Ryan Dempster vs. Adam Wainwright
Dare I say that Dempster is proving the naysayers right? Dare I say it? DARE I? Nah, I don't really dare. I mean, it's only been a few starts and, hey, at least he has a lower ERA that Big Z. His stuff still looks good (not that there was ever an issue with that), but his control has been quite spotty (always an issue). We've got four more years of Ryan, so here's hoping it's just a rough start. For the record, I think it is.
Hey look, another pitcher with good stuff and spotty control. Adam Wainwright, if anyone can, should solve the Cubs walking woes. Wainwright was solid but unspectacular in his last start against the Cubs, but that was the hot-hitting Cubs. Who knows what your mid-to-late April Cubs can do.
April 25th Sean Marshall vs. Mitchell Boggs
Hey look, I totally got a prediction spot on! I predicted that Marshall would be a bit rusty in his last start and not be all that impressive. The result: 5 innings, three runs, and some wildness. I'm frickin' Kreskin. Marshall, yet again, has been off for awhile, but not for almost a month, so look for him to be a bit more in control. He's a solid pitcher and I'm looking for a solid outing. Thus speaks Jason.
Mitchell Boggs, Wade Boggs' father's brother's nephew's cousin's former roommate*, was less than spectacular last year, posting a ERA north of 7. He's only thrown two innings this year, so he's unlikely to have too much in the tank. In the past, this kind of pitcher would give the Cubs fits, but this is a more patient team and should have more success. You know, in theory. Ah, who am I kidding. Kids like this still terrify me.
That and spiders.
(* may not be true)
April 26th Rich Harden vs. Todd Wellemeyer
Hey look, someone who I can say nothing but positive things about! Harden is a freak of nature, striking out an amazing 26 men in only 15 innings. And the stats don't even list how man women he might have struck out! He's on pace for...calculating...8430 strikeouts in 145 innings. That's very impressive. I think that might even be a record.
Todd Wellemeyer, on the other hand, has been less impressive. I think it's because he realized he's Todd Wellemeyer. His control's been good but the hits, oh the hits!, they've been a-fallin'. 29 hits in only 17 innings! Hey Todd, Bob Howry called and he wants his WHIP back.
And so the Cubs are facing yet another season-breaking series. The Cubs are still only one game out in the loss column, so they're still not technically out of the race yet, but they're on the edge of the edge. This is not a must win, I suppose, but it would be nice to have. Or that's total crap and it's April. I get a bit confused sometimes.
Note from Kurt
I'm always the one to tag on to the end of somebody else's hard work and take credit. It's just the way I roll; you can thank me for the invention of the BK Triple Stacker.
As noted in the GROTA ShoutBox - for which somebody has already learned how to turn into a website marketing ploy (tisk, tisk, don't make me burn you) - Lou Piniella woke up lucid today and produced a new lineup.
Ryan Theriot - who has been hitting everything in sight - leads off.
Kosuke Fukudome - who has been hitting that ball like a pimp who's owed money - bats second.
Alfonso Soriano - plays leadoff, acts cleanup - bats third.
Aramis Ramirez - Clutchy McClutcherson - bats cleanup.
Derrek Lee - still DP FREE! - bats 5th.
You know what? It... it actually makes sense! It is proof again that Dusty Baker doesn't manage the Cubs. And while I'm unwilling to realign my support of Piniella based on one lineup, I'm shocked, pleased, and awed.
Lou Piniella. Well played.
Series Recap: Cubs 2, Cardinals 1
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April 23rd, 2009
To: Lou Piniella
From: the Cub Fan Nation (in gen.) and The Goat Riders of the Apocalypse (in part.)
Mr. Piniella, it has come to our attention at this, the 11th hour of April the 23rd in the Year of Our Lord 2009 that you are failing in your duties to guide the Chicago Cubs toward the World Series. The litany of crimes follows.
- You insist on batting a man capable of hitting 30-40 homeruns leadoff. This same individual, while displaying prodigious amounts of speed, is not known for his plate discipline.
- You have placed yourself in an indefensible position with Neal Cotts in the bullpen. By now he presents no surprises, yet you chose to turn your only other Major League-capable lefty into a starter despite having at least one other qualified option to pitch in the rotation (Aaron Heilman). Since the start of the season Cotts has displayed no ability to pitch well in any given situation. But rather than force him to work his way through the situations he causes, you elect to immediately pull him and turn to some other schmuck (usually Carlos Marmol) to save the day.
- In order to compensate for the Cotts abortion, you have chosen to release a relief pitcher with a 0.00 ERA and a sub-1 WHIP in order to replace him with another reliever who got beaten like a pinata by major league hitters in Spring Training.
- You insist on using Derrek Lee as your 3-hitter despite the fact that even when productive his numbers are better suited for somebody batting 5th or 6th.
Understand, Mr. Piniella, that none of us wish to contest your superiority to the team's former manager Dusty Baker. You're like cake to his turpentine. But while you have given the Cubs what they needed back in 2007 - structure, discipline, a fairly-constructed starting lineup - you have failed to take the next step: manage the team in a strategic way which improves their chances of winning.
We understand that there are reasons - dare we call them excuses? - for your decisions. They're just really, really bad ones. And while I would never claim to know how to manage a baseball team better than you, the issues I presently am voicing are written from common sense.
Therefore, Mr. Piniella, the Goat Riders of the Apocalypse can no longer endorse you as the manager of the Chicago Cubs. We will question your every move, scrutinize your every mistake, and shout loudly to the heavens your every idiotic blunder.
But I most say, sir, that it is not yet too late. We do not hate you, nor do we wish to see you fired. We believe that - like Saddam in the South Park movie - you can change. We may still choose to support you at a later date. Or we may take the next step and demand that you be let out to pasture before your senior moments cost the Cubs a pennant.
The Goat Riders of the Apocalypse
Regardless of how much some of us here love lil' Fonty, Uncle Lou isn't sold on the idea of his being the backup third baseman. (Maybe because he's the starting second baseman). Lou isn't sold on Aaron Miles over there either.
In Lou's words, hell, I don't blame him.
So Lou wants a guy who presumably can "backup 1B and 3B". Translated, this means a power hitting someone who can play third, because since time immemorial, third basemen are expected to hit for power. Incidentally, this has never seemed truly fair to me. Sure, power hitting first basemen are great if you have them (See: Santo, Ron, and Ramirez, Aramis), and sucks when the other guys have them. (See Schmidt, Mike, and Roid, A.). But in my mind, the position is as hard to play as shortstop, or damn close, and we never seemed to mind when our shortstops don't break the double digits for homers, career. In the Steroid Era, certainly, even our shortstops hit homers, everyone hits homers, pitchers hit homers, bullpen catchers hit homers, beer vendors hit homers, even Frank Pellico came down from the organ loft and hit a dinger in 2004, I believe.
Soory, as Kurt's future in-laws might say, that was a digression.
Fact is, Lou wants another guy that can hit like Hoffpauir off the bench, yet can fill in at third about once a week. Too bad Hoffpauir himself can't do it. But he CAN'T do it. The other day, I wondered if Corey Koskie could do it. It seems to me like he would be ideal, if he were completely healthy. However, we must assume that perhaps Koskie is not all the way back, because Lou is publicly beseeching his boss for outside help in this regard. Presumably he's looking to trade for a Bill Hall-type figure - not that Milwaukee would send us Bill Hall, even if he were the last backup third baseman on Earth, but someone like that. Hey, is Russell Branyan still alive?
Anyway, our recent history indicates that if Lou wants something, Jim Hendry will get it, so be looking for that real soon. Personally, I back Lou up in this particular endavor. What's Eric Hinske doing with himself lately?
My point of business today is - how does this fit? I'm sure Lou wants to carry 12 pitchers - he has carried at least that many throughout his entire tenure here. I'm sure Lou wants a backup catcher for Soto. (minor laugh intended). The numbers start to dwindle. That's 13 position players, then 11 non-catchers, then 4 non-catching-non-starters. Miles is one. The Hall-esque figure discussed above is another. The third would be the CF-platoon-player-du-jour, either Johnson or Fukudome, depending on what arm the starting pitcher brushes his teeth with.
How about that fourth guy? When I was discussing Koskie the other day, I was wondering who should be worried about him, whether it was Joey Gathright, or the aforementioned Hoffpauir? It sounds like they shouldn't worry about Koskies, but they should worry about this new mystery meat Lou wants to bring in. And out of the two? If I'm the quick guy who can jump over cars, steal bases and chase down gappers, I'm not as worried. Lou loves guys like me, because I can play all the outfield positions, I can pinch run, and if I ever get caught in a rundown, I can just jump over fools.
The Old Skipper in the Sky knows I loves me some Micah, as only a big solid free-swinging lefty can love another. But the more I hear from Band Camp, the more it appears that he isn't going north with us. If we had the DH, or a 26th man, he's in, but Lou has convinced himself that the problems we've had all boil down to Not Enough Rest for the Regulars, and thus he needs versatile, multi-positionals on his bench. Since Hoffpauir's three best positions are DH, 1B and Post-Game Spread, he seems to be odd man out.
It doesn't make much sense for another team to accept him in a trade for this Theoretical Healthy Corey Koskie-esque figure, so I figure it will take a portion of our pitching depth (Heilman/Gaudin) to pry this asset loose.
UPDATE - Robothal seems to think that Micah can rest easy, that the Battle of the Bench has been fought and won, that every last word I wrote here is a big fat lie. Well, while I would be happy for my guy, it might not be the best thing for the team if Hendry stands pat with what we have.
To conclude, it also sounds like our best LOOGY in camp is...Kevin Gregg? Well, that's not gonna happen. Lou doesn't appear satisfied with Cotts or Stanton thus far (once again, who can blame him?) so perhaps our beloved Hoff is the price we will end up paying for a man who pitches to single solitary left-handed batters for a living, a man named after phlegmy spittle. Mom, look at the LOOGY I left on the sidewalk!!
This is the third year that we've done Player Previews, but it's the first time that they won't all be accompanied by my silly (and sometimes bizarre) photoshops. We'll be kicking off the full run starting next Monday and running through the first few days of the season. For today, I hope you'll enjoy your teaser of ...
This article is brought to you by Bench Aaron Miles, covering Cubs positional battles all year long!
I remember exactly what I was up to when Lou Piniella signed his contract to manage the Cubs back before the '07 season. I was pretty well appalled by the guy. He'd been one of three or four guys the Cubs were looking at. The rest were younger and - I assumed wrongly - more open to managing baseball in the new school way rather than using traditional (and very wrong) models.
In other words, I thought he was going to turn into another Dusty Baker, batting his center fielder leadoff no matter what, always starting the veteran over the young guy, burning up the arms of his pitchers, killing the team's chances of winning.
Man, I was wrong.
It's been two years and coincidentally or not, the Cubs are the repeat NL Central Champions. It's their first divisional title repeat in about 100 years. And it may never have happened without him. Even with Piniella, the '07 Cubs were 22-31 on June 2nd, 9 games under .500. They were playing terribly. Their ace pitcher and starting catcher had just had a fistfight in the dugout. They were "dead to the neck up," quickly squandering the talent that Jim Hendry had assembled, and that's when Lou went crazy! It was the 73rd ejection of his career and it was also the catalyst for an improbable playoff run, not that I recognized that immediately.
From June 3rd and on, the Cubs were 63-46, the best in baseball. Last year, the Cubs were 97-64 - the best in the National League. In other words, since June 3rd, 2007, there has been no team harder to beat in the NL than the Cubs. Except for when the playoffs roll around.
October is a harsh month, and Lou has seen his share of playoff failures. As a skipper, he's managed teams into October 7 times - including the 116 win 2001 Mariners - but he's only won a single World Series. Which, to be fair, is 1 more than what the Cubs have won in Piniella's lifetime.
Regardless, the last couple of years have been losers for Lou in terms of his ultimate goals. He's not in Chicago to make money, although he is well paid. He's not there to pad his managerial record, he's already got more than 1,700 career wins. He's there to win the World Series. The Cubs are 0-6 in playoff games managed by Lou. Should they reach the playoffs in 2009 - and all signs point to it happening - will they be swept away again? I don't think they will be, but it's a big question. However what we shouldn't question at this point is Lou's ability to manage and his passion about winning. We shouldn't be concerned about who he'll start wherever - he makes decisions based on ability, not age or contract. I was wrong to doubt him. He's the best manager the Cubs have had in my lifetime, and I look forward to watching him work again in 2009.
This article is brought to you by Bench Aaron Miles, covering Cubs positional battles all year long!
No press conferences where all the Cubs are gathered around one of their star players to express support for his steroid-driven misgivings.
No crippling holdouts, nobody holding the Cubs hostage so that management doesn't make needed moves in order to save a spot for the Scott-Boras representative.
No debalitating injury news, no worries about whether or not the Cubs have to pay for the long-postponed surgery of its star pitcher, no worries about whether or not the team can roll out a representative cast of warm bodies to fill out the rotation.
No tell-all books were written about the Cubs this off-season; no hard feelings having to be soothed about the nasty nicknames the players called each other.
None of the standard and sundry player misconducts - no DUIs, no spousal battery, no gun charges. And as for management - no Latin American bonus skimming, no steroid coverups in the Dominican summer camps. Hell, we even know who the new owner is going to be, and there's no controversy as to whether or not Wrigley field is getting a facelift, a Jumbotron, a parking garage, or a mausoleum where broken-down relievers are boiled down into a thin, sickly soup to be fed to Cook County inmates.
The most pulse-elevating issue so far this year is whether Alfonso Soriano gets to be hacktastic in the first or second inning of most games. It is assumed by one and all that, in place of all the drama that is lacking in Cubs camp, there is actual WORK going on; drills, fundamentals, instruction, strengthing, conditioning, and the building of camaradrie.
To conclude today's thought, it's just me, here to remind everyone that things are, in a Jake Peavy-less world, as good as they can be. Can't wait to hear the reports from the training games; can't wait to see if the Shark can earn a spot in the rotation, if Fukudome arrives from the WBC with a purpose and an idea at the plate, and if Theriot and Fontenot can combine to hit more taters than Zambrano this year.
On Saturday's I turn off my brain.
It's really the one day of the week where I (and I'm sure most of you) can just kick back and enter a Zen-like state of complete boredom and minimal brain activity. Plus some of us have to recover from all that "studying" we did on Friday night.
Hence, I decided to take a gander around the media horn for some Cubs stories to stimulate and entertain you instead of trying to come up with my own unique content.
Over at the Trib, Paul Sullivan enlightens us about the massive turnover of players on the Cubs roster since 2007. According to Sullivan, massive turnover is usually a sign of a struggling franchise, but the Cubs have won two division titles and 182 games over the last two season. The only players who were on the 2007 Opening Day roster that are still on the Cubs as of now are Soriano, Lee, Ramirez, Dempster, Zambrano, Lilly and Theriot.
While I personally believe constantly changing your roster (especially one that works) can be a bit of gamble to team chemistry and creating consistency, I can't argue against its success so far. During the Dusty era, he collected a set of "his guys" (think Neifi Perez) that eventually contributed to his downfall. While Lou has earned the trust of many fans, I have to take all this turnover with a grain of salt. Messing with success is like playing with fire...or chainsaws...or chainsaws set on fire.
Daily Herald columnist Barry Rozner can't let go of this whole Mark DeRosa thing.
I love when journalists try to recycle a story and present it as being timely. Sure, there's not a lot going on in Cubdom right now, but can we leave this DeRosa thing alone. He's gone. There is nothing we can do about. Some people are unhappy, some people aren't. Everyone has a way of dealing with it. Maybe Cubs fans can't let go of DeRosa, but you have to let go of this story otherwise people will keep talking about it. Do you see the monster you're creating Rozner?!?!?!
On a side note, I want to make mention of Rozner's claim that Aramis Ramirez is "fragile". When he wrote that it might have been a mistake to "give $75 million to someone (Ramirez) so fragile", I felt like someone was trying to get away with a claim without checking their facts. Since 2004 (his first full season with the Cubs), Ramirez has played 145, 123, 157, 132 and 149 games. As someone in the comment section mentions, that's a 141 games-per-season average, which adds up to Ramirez missing about 13 percent of every season since he's been with the Cubs. Go back even farther and you'll see that Ramirez hasn't played less than 123 games in a season since 2000 when he only played 73. Fragile? I think not.
Back to the Tribune where Phil Rogers is reporting that the Astros might be moving to sign Adam Dunn.
I'm not really sure why Rogers describes this potential move as a "sneak attack", but I personally think people are sleeping on the Astros with or without Dunn. There's been some talk around here about the Reds, Cards and Brewers as being the biggest competition to the Cubs in the division, but I'm actually worried about the Astros for some reason. They have a solid group of big hitters (Berkman, Lee, Tejada, Pence) and perhaps the best starter in the NLC with Oswalt. I'm not saying the Astros can pose a serious threat to the Cubs yet, but I wouldn't be surprised if they were the ones right behind the Cubs for most of the season.
I'm sure there's more Cubs-related stories out there, but these where just a few that I happened to stumble across this morning.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go clean up all those "soda" bottles in my living room.
There is a blog in Bleeding Cubbies Blue talking about Lou's future. According to them via WSCR via an un-named Cub's blog with a source, Lou has talked to Hendry about retiring at the end of the season. The reasons given were he wanted to get away from the club house politics and the pressure from the media. I have a question about his future with the Cub's. If he is looking to leave at the end of 2009 for the reasons given would he consider going to AAA for the last year of his contract (he is signed thru 2010).
I bring this up because we all complain about the Cub's farm system and the fact that they don't develop position players. In Lou's time here he has developed at least Theroit and Fontenot into good/decent players. If I remember correctly they were not considered top propects. I would also give Lou partial credit for Soto's development based on the number of failures we have had in the past with propects at the major league level.
For Lou it could mean semi-retirement. At 3A ball he would face less pressure from the media and fans, fewer ego's, and a shorter season. Travel may-be an issue, but I am sure something could be worked out. He could focus more on developing players and less on winning now. Could he have done something with Pie if could of let him play everyday doing what Lou wanted. He could get Hendry to cut or trade the deadwood and bring up 2A players to develop. An added extra could be that he could identify players the Cub's should target in trades.
Just offering a different approach to solving an age old problem with the Cub's farm system.
Image from the Daily Illini
The news out of Chicago tonight is actually surprising to some degree. Jim Hendry has picked up Lou Piniella's contract options, extending everybody's favorite Cubs skipper through the 2010 season.
This is predominantly surprising because Lou has given hints that he may retire if the Cubs win the Series this year.
Now, I personally think that Lou has turned out to be a tremendous surprise in the dugout. I expected him to be all kinds of wrong for the organization, but the Cubs have played exceptionally well for Piniella in his first 2 years at the helm. I'm tentatively supportive of this extension, although at 65 years of age, Lou runs the risk of losing his effectiveness in the dugout if he sticks around for too long. I'm sure some of our older Goat Readers (and perhaps even our Goat Riders) remember what it was like in Chicago in the early 1970's when Leo the Lip began to let things slip through the cracks.
Anyway, it's great that Piniella has been rewarded for his success. However, if he truly is going to retire upon winning a championship here, let's hope it happens soon - not because I want to see him go, mind you, but because I really, really want to see them win.