Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Whereupon Lou goes all in...the 2nd sign of the Apocalypse has shown itself

courtesy Pat Marvenko Smith
The first sign of the Apocalypse was Alfonso Soriano’s .750 Fielding Percentage.

The second sign of the Apocalypse follows from the Book of Revelations 6:3-4

{3} When the Lamb opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, "Come!" {4} Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make men slay each other. To him was given a large sword.

If the Cubs 2010 season was a poker game, Lou Piniella just went all in.

In retrospect, in nearly any equivalent situation, if you had five starters, and a sixth coming off of the DL, and a crucial need for arms in the bullpen, you would demote your worst starter to the pen. You’d send the guy to the pen who makes the shortest appearances in the games he starts. On the 2010 Cubs, that starter is Carlos Zambrano. Everyone else, even Silva the Hutt, has outpitched him this year. By a wide margin, and once again, when you discuss Los Dos Carlos, a wide margin is the only available margin.

It really shouldn’t make a difference that the man is, along with Soriano, the highest paid Cub. It shouldn’t matter that he is, now, the highest paid reliever in history. But all else is not equal. Not only is this move essentially unprecedented, and desperate, and dog-ass crazee, it also seems to drive down the trade value of Big Z. Yes, he has a no-trade clause, but the very teams that could afford to trade for him are the same teams he would gladly waive his clause for.

However, being demoted to the pen, and being used in a different manner, is no way to approach the concept of improving the team by using Z as trade bait.

So Sweet Lou is screwing over Zambrano AND his boss, Jim Hendry. As the guys on the MLB Network put it, Lou just drew back the curtain covering Hendry and basically saying, “Hey, boss, this is the crap you gave me. How are you gonna fix it?” I’m about to end two straight posts with pretentious quotes from authors much greater than I, but getting maudlin and philosophical is one of the two ways I tend to react to incredibly disappointing developments in my life. The other is to uncork the f-bomb battalion and start wildly smashing small, fragile possessions.

If this works, I’ll be the most shocked man alive. But if and when it blows up, it will be the last, and possibly the most memorable move of Lou’s long and colorful career. Lou is the Lamb, and Z is the red horse. Peace is about to be taken from the earth, and men will slay one another.

I don't agree with Soriano

I don't agree with Soriano being the first sign. I think we actually saw the White Rider last year. That is, Milton Bradley - a perfect example of Evil.

BigZ is definitely the Red Rider though, he has War written all over him.

I think the Black Rider, or "Famine" must be referring to Ramirez. I mean, what the heck happened to ARams bat? He looks beyond lost. But his lack of production will have the worst affect on our offenses season, we cant do jack without him.

And clearly, the entire bullpen qualifies as the forth and final rider. That is, Death; or Plague as it is sometimes referred. Either is about as fitting as you can get.

So the first Rider has come and gone for Hendry. While the second, third and forth are all wrecking havoc on the club. The Cubs Apocalypse is here!

Did I miss something?

We won last night right? I saw the score, pretty sure we did. I have been taking Lamaze classes with the wife and we learned how to take deep "cleansing" breaths to calm the nerves and release the stress. Maybe all Cub fans should be required to take Lamaze classes during spring training so we can make it through the labor pains of another Cubs season. let's all calm down a bit.

Hey, nut

I know you are not Jason because they just had a baby, and thus do not need to take Lamaze.

I am happy for you that you and your missus are making a new life together, and now is the time where you should feel some sort of life optimism.

On the other hand, the rest of us have to live in the real world. Whether you are talking about a lemon car, a sewing machine that continually tangles the threads, a habitual felon or the 2010 Chicago Cubs, bad is bad. Good things just don't perform this badly. And bad things don't just all of a sudden perform well without some sort of intervention.

A bad car can be traded in on a better one, a bad sewing machine can be thrown in the trash, a convicted felon can find God. But nothing is going to save the 2010 Cubs. Any players we have of value are untradeable because a) they make too much money or b) they are too valuable as prospects.

Just because we win one game against Oliver Perez does not make this a good team.

"let's all calm down a

"let's all calm down a bit"

Interesting, as I'm not sure what I said above that indicated I was anything other then calm.

This is Hendry's apocalypse; Evil, War, Famine and Death have clearly come for him, not us. Unless I am Hendry, I have no need to be overly concerned knowing that better days are on the horizon. In fact, I am quite the opposite - I am gitty as a schoolgirl waiting for the opportunity to wave goodbye to ol' Elmer Fudd.

Z's trade value is besides the point

Because the Cubs have no desire to trade him. Nor should they. Since 2003, working exclusively as a starting pitcher, Zambrano has never finished the season with an ERA higher than 3.95. He's not an "ace", but Z is still a great pitcher. There are a million reasons to hate this decision, but his trade value shouldn't be one of them. Carlos is a Cub and will stay a Cub. And I for one am happy about that.

Let's not get too crazy here

Let's not get too crazy here ...

If you really subscribe to the theory that the best performers should be the ones on the field, then you CAN'T object to this --- PROVIDED it's a short-term tactic.

If you look just at performance, then Zambrano HAS to be the one that goes to the bullpen. If ever there was a talented guy who just could not pay attention, it's Z. When I look at him, I see a guy who just slings the ball up to the plate --- no sense of situational strategy. He lost the last game because he walked a bad-hit pitcher with two outs and gave them a golden opportunity to make something out of nothing. Could you see Lilly doing that? If Lilly walked a pitcher, he'd probably strangle him to keep him from getting to first. And how many times has Z dug his own hole by failing at execution? Three fielding errors in four starts??? Isn't a minor bump (fielding error, disagreement with an Umpire, etc.) --- followed by a complete meltdown --- pretty much SOP for Z?

I see this as a wake-up call being sent to the entire team: Not even the "Ace" of the staff is immune to responsibility for his actions (or failures). All of you guys who have been after Soriano's throat want to give Z a pass for his thoughtless play --- how's that working out for you? And you did notice that the team actually got some hits last night, didn't you?

If Z cools his heels for a couple of rotations, then you may be able to bring him back as a more focused pitcher. By then, one of the others may have crashed, so the decision will be easy. But even if that doesn't happpen, what would be so bad with a six-man rotation, assuming that all of them were performing well? If all of the starters are well-rested, then you increase the odds of them pitching further into the game --- and you need less from your bullpen. Yes, you still need your 8th and 9th inning guys --- but this bullpen has been putting games out of reach in the 6th and 7th innings.

So ... we still need to find that 8th inning guy (to be what Guzman was last year), and maybe that's Caridad, if he comes back with his head on straight. Slide Soriano UP to cleanup while he's hot; send Ramirez to the bench until he's healed (mentally AND physically --- he's swinging at pitches he NEVER would have touched in years past); let Tracy or Baker play third for a while; you got to shake things up bit.

And that's exactly what Lou just did ...

Lets think about this. Lets

Lets think about this. Lets skip to Monday the 26th.

Insane-Carlos has probably come out of the pen once or twice between Fri and Sun, and now Fat-Carlos is on the mound facing the Nats. Lets say the BAbip catches up to him and he craps his pants. Do you start second guessing this move so soon? Yeah, you do, but probably don't act on it yet.

So we go another week to May 1st. Now we have probably seen Insane-Carlos about two more times in short stints, and Fat-Carlos is about to take the mound again in front of the faithful. What if he again craps his pants? Now all of a sudden the fans will be beyond livid and what can we do? Insane-Carlos will now need to be stretched out, so it will be nearly another week before Zambrano will be able to make a start.

We will have watched 2 miserable starts from Silva and wasted 3 weeks of Zambrano to fill something like 2-4 short relief appearances. We will have created a PR nightmare for all of maybe 3-4 innings of Zambrano out of the pen - 3-4 innings that we are not sure he will even pitch well in since, you know, the first couple innings are the ones he has been wild and hittable this year.

And even if Silva goes a couple starts without falling apart, it will take Zambrano time to get stretched out to start again. So no matter what there will be like a week where we wont have Silva or Zambrano available when the two inevitably switch spots with an otherwise tired pen because they have had to work the games Silva imploded in.

No matter how I look at it, I just don't understand it. If this is merely a wake-up call to Zambrano like you claim, it stands to hurt the club much, much, much more then him. He will come out of this fine. In fact, if you listen to his statement he has already apparently been told that he is being put there merely to fix the pens incompetence, like he is the stud taking one for the team to cover up the disaster in the late innings. And along those lines, he is correct - our pen needs major help. But should we then risk our rotation just to hope Zambrano can pitch well in short stints? Silva will implode, we all know that. Wouldn't his implosion be less damaging in a situation where he can be yanked quickly instead of it forcing the pitiful Pen to work 5 or more innings when it takes place while tying Zambrano up for 3 weeks?

The only way I can make sense of this is if the team has absolutely no intention of putting Z back in the rotation, baring injury to a starter. But have we really decided that our still to make 54-million supposed "ace" is nothing more then a short reliever based off his last 3 starts where he averaged 6 innings and less then 3 runs surrendered? That hardly makes sense, and I can not imagine that is the case. So then, what the hell is Lou doing? Well, outside throwing Hendry under the bus for giving him such a pitiful pen to being with.


Sorry Sman, I was not telling you to calm down but everyone in general. I have been reading this site for the past 2-3 years and it seems like people want to throw in the towel earlier each year. I agree with Rob that this is not a good team. I never said they were. I was just trying to enjoy a win since it looks like they are going to be hard to come by this year. My personal opinion has always been to wait till the All Star break before you doom and gloom everything. That's why I like this site. You can give your personal opinions and not get beat up too much about it, except for Kurt, he'll rip ya. Just kidding Kurt. You're all good people here. I also agree with HotRuta that this could be a message to Big Z and the team that performance matters no matter how much you get paid or how long you have been with the team. Lou has done that before, hasn't he? Being a Cubs fan for so long(30 years) I know what I signed up for. Mostly losing records with a season of brilliance sprinkled in here and there. Something shifted in last few years though. I think it happened in 2003. Getting so close to the WS that year changed the dynamics. We expect greatness every year now. That's not going to happen. Don't get me wrong, I still have expectations. I want a WS title just as bad as the rest of you, I want a competitive team on the field that has a winning attitude. A look at the team as my parents looked at me. I failed alot growing up by had my high points as well. Never once did they pick me apart or boo me when I failed. They just kept picking me up and encouraging me. And I turned out okay. That's why booing drives me crazy(unless you're Milton Bradley but that's another story). I will say this. Sometimes I read the posts and get the wrong vibes from it because there is no way to "hear" the tone of the comments. You know? You could be the most calm and gentle person but your written words come off as negative, hateful, vile or whatever... So, I am sorry if I misunderstand anyone and thanks for letting me post my thoughts. I always look forward to reading GROTA. (it could be me, my mind is not all the way there since I found out we are having twins, that will knock you for a loop.)

I understand completely, and

I understand completely, and probably should have never questioned it anyway - I will admit my replying stems from an earlier conversation with another, plus it gave me a reason to give Hendry a little flack, lol. But no need to apologize. Also though, do understand you kind of picked a bad day to try and enjoy a win on the internet Smiling

Oh, and grats on the Twins!

Now now, the only person who

Now now, the only person who gets ripped openly on this blog is me, by people who get sick and tired of me thinking I'm always right*, and that's the way it should be.

(*I know I'm not always -- or even often -- right)

Chicago Tribune's Chicago's Best Blogs award