On paper, these guys are outstanding. Their catcher is a damned-near .300 hitter capable of hitting more than 20 bombs. They've got a first baseman capable of batting .290 and hitting 20 homers. Their lefty second baseman is scrappy with surprising power for his size. Their shortstop gets on base at a terrific clip and can steal 30. Their third baseman can put up MVP caliber numbers. So can their left fielder, who is easily capable of hitting 40 homeruns if he stays healthy. Their center fielder may be a better than .300 hitter, and their right fielder led the AL in OPS last year.
Except Soto is a shell, Lee and Fontenot have struggled, Theriot is hit and miss, Ramirez is on the DL, Soriano has suffered from a month long slump, Fukudome is the cream puff of the outfield (empty calories, leaves you unfulfilled), and Bradley is a first-year bust.
With the exception of Theriot and his surprising power numbers nobody is hitting the way we thought they could. Nobody (except Theriot). Much as the '08 team surprised us with a Fukudome-excepted offensive bounty, the '09 team are the pantie-wastes of the National League. Even yesterday's win was disappointing -- and it was a win. Against three pitchers who began the day with a combined ERA of 5.56 the Cubs managed to score 3 runs. How the hell does that happen every single game?
Jim Hendry responded to the team's offensive druthers by firing Gerald Perry. I would have preferred that he trade for another, better bat. But for a team that will often times hold onto a coach until the bitter end it's a sign of progress. It tells us that like us, like Murtaugh, they are not having any of this shit.
Three-or-so weeks ago I wrote an article in which I explained what it would take for me to raise the white flag on the season. I'll remind you: 10 games under .500, 10 games out of a playoff spot. The Cubs are neither of these things. But they are a .500 team with no life in their veins, thanking the lord for the one bit of luck he gave them: a weak NL Central. This division will probably go to the first team to win 90 and Chicago remains only 2.5 games out.
Still, I don't need to see them drop to 10 games under .500 -- or 10 games out of a playoff spot -- to know that this team has me feeling sick to my stomach. As a stupid, average fan I have no idea how to fix what's broken. I just know that it's not right.
Current Record: 30-30
Position in the NL Central: 4th place, 2.5 games out
Best Possible Record: 132-30
Worst Possible Record: 30-132
Record needed to win 110: 80-22
On Pace For: 81-81
Scott Baker (4-6, 5.59 ERA) vs. Ted Lilly (7-4, 3.00 ERA)
I feel like I'm watching Major League, and I'm ready for a Harry Doyle blow up:
This blog is brought to you by....Christ, I can't find it. The hell with it.
Anyway, the Cubs are sending staff ace Ted Lilly to the mound with a four-game losing streak on the line, and the season on the brink. We need a win, bad. I mean real bad.
Also, the Gerald Perry watch officially starts today. If Jim and Lou aren't going to do anything until Aramis Ramirez gets back, we might as well bring in a new hitting coach. Sometimes a team just needs a change, and it seems like Gerald is the most likely to go.
The Twins - They are kicking the crap out of us.
The Cubs and the Brewers - thanks goodness the Brewers have sucked just as bad during this long losing streak.
I'm not one who usually loses hope, but it would be nice to see a little sign of life from the offense. Trotting out Aaron Miles and company is just not cutting it. We might as well try something different. How about we let Carlos Zambrano start or something? I'm just kidding, but I hope you get the point.
Alright, we get it.
The Cubs starting pitchers are awesome, the relievers are OK--and the hitters just can't hit.
This is the 13th of the last 23 games where the Cubs have scored two or fewer runs.
Most of the Riders are busy this weekend (something about weddings and wives), so we're opening up this "recap" to you, the Goat Readers.
Question: How do we get this offense back on track?
Anthony Swarzak (1-2, 5.23 ERA) vs. Rich Harden (4-2, 4.74 ERA)
I'm keeping this one short and sweet today, since I'm writing this at midnight.
First off, Rich Harden comes back from his vacation. Oh wait, his first of many DL trips this season. Pitching hasn't been the Cubs problem this season, but maybe Rich coming back will turn things around.
Next, Milton Bradley did himself no favors yesterday after his wonderful play. I didn't see it, but it sounded bad on the radio.
Nobody really - Until the start winning nobody's going into the hot column.
The Cubs - They really suck right now, and are 3.5 games back after the Brewers win last night.
Sorry for the quick post, but I've got a paper to write for Grad School. Not to mention, I need to spend a few minutes with my wife at some point. I will have a longer look at things tomorrow. Until then, Go Cubs!
(Reminder: You need three outs to end an inning. Just wanted to make that clear before we got underway with the recap.)
The streak is over, unfortunately.
As it turns out, Randy Wells, the Cubs' FIFTH starter, is human after all.
The four runs the Cubs scored today would have won either of the last two games, with insurance to spare. And of course, there's probably a certain way you pitch to a team when you've got a bit of a cushion. But either way, it sucks that the Cubs couldn't get that shutdown pitching on the day they score four runs.
Oh, and also, Milton Bradley threw a caught ball into the stands even though there were less than three outs in the inning. (What?! You didn't hear?!)
Rob here, real quick: I could not be more disappointed than I am right now. I am not saying the season is over, or that we have lost the division. But I am saying that there does not appear to be any hope to turn this around, unless about six of the guys from the everyday lineup just do complete 180s and start playing as well as they've been playing badly. Plus, yes, Fukudome is in free-fall.
I am not enjoying the 2009 season whatsoever, and will not do so until we are leading the division. God bless ya if you feel otherwise, but then again, if you don't care that the Cubs are playing like a bunch of turds what fell out of a tall cow's ass, then maybe you're playing an Enabler role for them.
Kevin Slowey (8-2, 4.21 ERA) vs. Randy Wells (0-2, 1.86 ERA)
Randy Wells has been great, but he has nothing to show for it except his first ML hit. Hopefully the Cubs will get him his first win today.
The Cubs are coming off a 4-4 road trip, which could have easily been a 8-0, 7-1, 6-2, or 5-3. So, we're in games, but not putting teams away. The Cubs are facing the Twins in Wrigley for the first time in 8 years, which was the last time I've made the trip to Chicago (I know that's sad, but I've seen them on the road many times).
The Cubs need to get hot, their still in 4th place, but only 2.5 games back.
The Cub starters - I don't know if I've ever seen a finer stretch of starting. They are on fire right now.
Derrek Lee - Lee's HR yesterday sent the game into extras, but it wasn't enough. He's quietly coming around, which is something I guess.
The entire lineup - I really wanted quote Major League here, but I won't, since this is a site children might read.
Sweet Lou - I'm sorry, but at some point Lou has to do something to fire the guys up. It needs to find a way to get team to score runs, and what he's doing now isn't working.
The Cubs need to start winning. It could be worse, but it could be a lot better.
Dazzled by the success of the Blackhawks this season, the Cubs apparently think that low-scoring games are exactly what the fans have a craving for! Except when the Cubs tend to be on the wrong side of the decision it leaves us feeling frustrated and saying ridiculous things like "wowee! Tom Glavine and Pedro Martinez are available! Maybe the Cubs can go out and get 'em!"
There is no free agent who can fix what's broken with the Cubs. In fact there aren't many players available who are better than the Cubs theoretically can be. But we're in June. There's little time remaining for players to suddenly turn it around and put up the numbers they are capable of.
Instead I think we're just going to have to accept that, much as last year's Cubs all gave surprisingly reliable performances, this year's version is busy giving surprisingly shoddy ones. Maybe it's a coaching issue -- how many times have we seen poor approaches to the plate or unreasonable blunders in the field? Don't they have people who serve as instructors with the intention of avoiding those problems? Maybe it's a talent issue -- perhaps Fontenot isn't a starter, Bradley can't play the field, and Soriano is so single-dimensional that he borders on uselessness. Or maybe there's plenty of blame to go around.
The good news is that nobody has run away with the NL Central this year. These mediocre Cubs are only 2.5 games out. But several things won't continue. Sooner or later, the Brewers, Cardinals, or -- lord forbid -- Dusty Baker's Reds will go on a run. Sooner or later, the Cubs unbelievable starting rotation will stop pitching so insanely well. But before those things happen the Cubs still have time to right their offensive ship and to shore up their bullpen.
But will they?
Friday, June 12th - Randy Wells vs. Kevin Slowey
Randy Wells is going to start getting tear tattoos on his face. For each game the bullpen -- and offense, let's not be picky -- squanders a win opportunity, he will tattoo on another tear. Before long it will look like a waterfall. In the Alternate Universe's 2009 season, the Cubs would be leading this crappy division by about 10 games right now and Wells would be in competition for the Rookie of the Year Award. But here in reality I have to wonder what will happen first -- a win or a blow-out loss. He's due for both.
Kevin Slowy is the polar opposite of Wells. His numbers aren't great -- a 4.21 ERA -- but he's on pace to win 20 for the Twins. I guess it's fair to say that he's due for a loss as much as Randy is due for a win.
Saturday, June 13th - Rich Harden vs. Anthony Swarzak
Harden is ready to make his triumphant return! ESPN reports that he's available for 85 pitches -- or 5 innings -- which ever comes first. A healthy Harden only strengthens an impressive rotation -- and a mediocre bullpen. Considering that he wasn't DL'd for arm problems, we can only imagine that he will be effective, nay, nasty out there on the mound.
Swarzak. "Swarzak." Say it out loud. I'm sure that somewhere, in some language, "Swar" means "testicles" and that is just funny. If the Cubs struggle to score in the first game of this series -- and you know they will -- then their best chance of an offensive explosion is against the 'Zak, who isn't exactly setting records as he blazes toward overtaking Zack Greinke as the best pitcher in the AL.
Sunday, June 14th - Ted Lilly vs. Scott Baker
At the rate he's going, Ted Lilly will be the Game One starter of the NLDS -- assuming the Cubs get that far. Lilly has been the most reliable pitcher on the staff and remains on pace to win about 20 games this year. It's amazing to think about but Lilly is the first left-handed starter to have multiple years of success for the Cubs since Rick Monday was pitching for Leo's teams in the 60's.
Scott Baker, meanwhile, is about as bad as the 'Zak, except he's been worse for longer.
This is a series that a good team would sweep. Not that the Twins are a bad team, but they're throwing to mediocre pitchers at the Cubs and a third pitcher who's been more lucky than good. In other words, if the Cubs can surprisingly deliver a win for Randy Wells then they should have a good chance of winning their next two games.
Or they could combine to score 7 runs in the series and escape with one victory. Because that's the way it's been this year. Which you know.
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So ever since the three games of agony lost to the Dodgers I been thinking about what the Cubs could do to improve upon this already spectacular season (I use spectacular lightly after those three games) My brains been a turnin' and from what I understand the Cubs need a big, let me rephraise that, BIG left handed bat, preferably in the form of a right fielder in order to move Fukudome to center. Well, why not Adam Dunn? STOP!!! Dont crucify me just yet. I know the man playes Defense like a Brazilian Street Ho but i think it would work. Not Dunn in right field but at 1B. STOP AGAIN!!! We already have a first baseman in the form of good ol' DP-Lee. And From what the Grape Vine has told me (we're pretty good friends, me and the grape vine) he's being shopped this year.
Now I know we've looked at a lot of west coast teams like the Angels and Giants but we haven't looked at one team that I find desperate for a first baseman: The Yankees. Now i hate the Yankees as much as the next bitter old Cubs Fan but I think it could work. But what could we get from the Yankees? Answer: nothing. But we could get something from the Twins. The Twins are reportadly shopping Delmon Young, who I believe is a pretty could athlete and fielder and could easily handle the trechorous Wrigley right field.
If this were to take place (and remember, this rumor only exists in my own twisted mind) i would see a three way trade. The core of this would be DP-Lee to the Yankees, Robinson Cano to the Twins, Delmon Young to the Cubs. Now obviously there would have to be more involved. Maybe a Pie to the Yankees, a low level prospect to the Twins and $300 and a warm bucket of spit to the Cubs. That leaves 1B open and the Cubs could make a move for Dunn (or in my twisted mind, Tex). Just the thought of Dunn playing 81 games in the Frendly Confines makes me a little light headed.
I really believe this could work for all teams. The Cubs need an adiquet fielding RF and a big lefty bat (Dunn or Tex. *drool drool drool*) the Yankees need a 1B and all the cash possible to throw at CC and other starting pitchers and the Twins have a logjam in the OF and need some serious infield help. Obviously there would need to be more pieces to the puzzle but i think it would work.
R SS The Riot
L CF Fukudome
R 3B Ramirez
L 1B Dunn
R LF Soriano
R RF Young
R C Soto
R 2B DeRosa
Note: Fukudome still draws walks like a beast, why not put him in the 2 hole in front of all that power.