Lou is finally taking a hard stand.
The skipper was quick to point out the in the post game press conference that his team is playing poorly, period.
Despite the Cubs sub .500 record this season, we haven’t heard Lou get this critical publicly about his players all year.
I think the tough love is long overdue, but at least Lou is saying something other than “what can I do?”
Obviously, Chicago needs a fire lit under their rear ends, and it’s Lou’s responsibility to light the torch.
Many moons ago I made a prediction.
I said Milton Bradley would keep the Cubs from winning a World Championship this season.
Through the first three months Bradley has held up his end of the deal.
His lack of hitting has gone hand-in-hand with his lack of professionalism. His blame-game is in full swing, and worse, he’s quickly dividing the Cubs’ clubhouse.
When teammates rip one another publicly, it’s a sure fire sign the team’s chemistry is off the mark (yes, I believe in clubhouse chemistry).
Thank Bradley for igniting the recent press barbs, and thank his teammates for leaking them out from behind the sacred walls of the clubhouse!
Friday should be all about the W.
What it’s not about is Bradley’s fit throwing, Soto’s pot smoking or the Cubs’ lack of clutch hitting.
For one game the Cubs managed enough runs to break a four-game losing streak, return to the .500 marker, and defeat its cross-town rivals.
And that’s the best news in the last week.
With all the negative energy surrounding the Cubs, a simple 5-4 win is a huge relief. For the time being, the extra curricular activities don’t matter.
Not exactly the Big Blue Train, but close enough.
Andres Blanco’s sac bunt in the ninth was huge.
If Blanco fails to move Reed Johnson from first to second, who knows if the Cubs win the game?
No idea why Matt Thornton chose to throw Soriano a fastball over a breaking ball low and away—a pitch that seems to get Sori every time.
Zambrano found the perfect balance between energy and control. If Z can duplicate his emotions from this outing he’ll be an 18-game winner.
Changing the lineup is long overdue.
It’s the third week of June and the Cubs are sitting sub .500 (30-31) with a .244 team batting average.
At this point, Lou has all the leverage to make whatever moves he wants–veteran pride aside.
Whether it’s dropping Soriano in the order, flip-flopping cleanup hitters or simply sitting players, you have to do better than 10 runs scored in the last six games.
Ouch! Soto leaves with a sore shoulder, major bummer. Cubs say he’ll sit for a game or two. If it’s longer I’d place him on the DL. Don’t risk bringing Soto back before he’s ready, the guy is too valuable.
This means Koyie Hill’s feet are put to the fire. Remember, the Cubs let veteran Paul Bako walk in favor of Hill, which, wasn’t a mistake. Hill is young, talented and motivated…I’ll take that over old-goat Bako any day.
No doubt Hill can hold his own behind the plate and the Cubs know he’s an average hitter at best, but that’s all you need in a back-up player. Besides, it’s a nice opportunity for Hill to get his feet wet early in the season – even if it’s at the expense of Soto.
I’m wondering if Lou was just posturing this winter about moving Soriano down in the lineup.
Was the skipper’s intention all along to play a simple little mind game with Sori, merely planting a small reminder in Alfonso’s brain that they’re other options for the Cubs at leadoff?
Six weeks of Spring Training and we can count on one hand how many games Sori didn’t bat out of the No.1 hole. And if Lou truly wanted to test Soriano elsewhere in the order wouldn’t we have seen more of that in Arizona?
- Friday September 26th – Miller Park
- Game (159): Brew Crew 5 – Cubs 1
The skinny: So, Lou has set the post season rotation as follows: Dempster, Zambrano, Harden & Lilly.
No question Ryan is the No.1 with the opener at Wrigley.
The right-hander is (14-3) at home with a 2.86 ERA including 114 punchouts vs. just 52 walks.
Furthermore, Dempster has allowed just six home runs in 129.0 innings pitched at the Friendly Confines, that’s hugely important in October when home runs are magnified.
And, should the series need a fifth game, Dempster will again pitch at home.
My personal change to the rotation would be dropping Z’ to the four spot, moving Harden to the No. 2 and making Lilly the No. 3.
Might sound nuts, but I would rather see a reliable Harden go instead of Zambrano possibly going coo-coo for CoCo Puffs in front of the home crowd.
Plus, should Z’ bring his A-game on the road, that’ll go a long way in quieting the home crowd.
Still like Lilly going in front of Zambrano too.
The crafty lefty has been hot lately; he’s (7-3) since the All Star break, (3-1) in four September starts and (3-0) in his last three outings.
Plus, Lilly’s road ERA of 3.89 is far better that his home mark of 4.50.
All that being said, the Cubs’ rotation is strong no matter who pitches in what turn, it’s the bullpen that’s the real concern.
Turns out I was right about Howry; Lou is including him on the post season roster.
Of course, I haven’t said many positive things about Howry, and I wouldn’t have him pitching in my post season pen, but it’s worth noting that Howry’s lone positive is his professionalism.
No matter the situation, the righty won’t get flustered or lose his composure on the mound.
That alone makes Howry a valuable addition, but it’s a stretch nonetheless.
Although, given another bad outing by Gaudin tonight and Howry appears to be the hotter hand, sadly enough.
You know things aren’t going well for Gaudin when he allows a go-ahead home run to the (.236 avg.) batting Rickie Weeks.
On the other hand, Edmonds’ long ball this evening is a positive, the Cubs desperately need his left-handed bat in the lineup next week.
And, it seems the veteran is warming up for post season play, he’s notched three dingers in his last eight games.
The next two games seem of little importance to Chicago, but I’d still prefer the Cubs face New York than either Philly or L.A.
And for that to be the case, the Cubs need the next two games.
Tampa Bay Rays winners of the AL East, who knew!!!
W – McClung (6-6)
L – Marshall (3-5)
- Notes: Cubs have won 10 of 15.
- They’re (8-6) overall vs. Milwaukee this season, (4-1) at Miller Park.
- With Edmonds’ blasts the Cubs now have six players with 20+ HR: Soriano, Aramis, Lee, Soto, DeRosa and Jimmy.
- Wednesday September 24th – Shea Stadium
- Game (157): Cubs 9 – Mets 6
The skinny: After Zambrano tossed his no-hitter I had the feeling his monumental achievement would help mellow the guy out on the mound.
Sometimes I sense the right-hander doesn’t feel appreciated by his peers around baseball, that Z’ is bothered by the fact he’s not always mentioned in the same breath as Santana, Webb, Sabathia or Chamberlain.
Sure, Zambrano has the numbers: (96-61) career record, 1,170+ K’s, and (51) road victories since 2002, second only to Johan Santana’s (52).
But, his irrational behavior when an inning goes astray makes him look more like a fool than a staff ace.
Perhaps, I thought, the ‘no-no’ against Houston would change all that, relieve Carlos of his self inflicted pressure to become a ‘recognized’ ace throughout the baseball world.
Essentially, the no-hitter would put Zambrano on the map, permanently.
Well, that’s turned out to be more wishful thinking than true.
And, Carlos has only himself to blame.
Plus, Z’s own refusal to address his ridiculous behavior on the mound seriously puts his future career in jeopardy, as well.
Eventually, the electric bullets in Z’s right arm will dwindle and he’ll stand at the cross road of becoming either extinct or becoming a true pitcher, a hurler who outthinks hitters rather than overpowering them.
That takes mental toughness, not fit throwing antics.
All the great ones make a turn towards learning how to pitch: Maddox, Glavine, Smoltz, Mussina, Pedro..ext.
This is Carlos’ seventh season in the bigs; learning how to handle adversity should be a thing of the past.
The fault lies completely with Carlos, and especially considering his willingness to ignore the advice of his own great manager to mature as a pitcher.
[ Lou ]:
- “I wish he would just quit fighting himself out there and just relax and pitch and have fun,”
- “He gets angry when he doesn’t do what he expects to do. It detracts from his ability.
- I’ve tried to tell him that so many times.
- He understands when I tell him, and I think he forgets when he pitches.”
It’s not that Z’ forgets, people, it’s that he simple doesn’t care.
And, that’s too bad given his tremendous ability to throw a baseball.
And more, is it crazy-talk to suggest Lou could sport an NLDS rotation with Z’ as the No. 4 starter?
Dempster in game 1, Harden game 2 and Lilly game 3?
Bob Howry escaping a leadoff triple in the ninth is a sports miracle…seriously, did that really happen?
Talked about the importance of Theriot getting on base yesterday…Ryan singles in the 10th, steals second and scores the go-ahead run after a nice piece of hitting on D. Lee’s part.
Again, no player is more clutch in this Cubs’ lineup than Aramis.
Not at all pleased with Cedeno’s play tonight…tardy to cover first on a bunt and then slides into first base trying to beat out an infield hit.
If I were a manager I’d fine players who slide into first…run through the bag, it’s faster than sliding!
I’ll admit to empathizing with Mets fans tonight, well, just a little anyway.
First, the Mets blow an early 5-1 lead, then fail to score the game-winning run after a leadoff triple in the ninth against the dreadful Bob Howry.
Cubs fans have already forgotten about this game, whereas this loss might cost the Mets its chance at winning the NL East or the Wild Card.
It’s a bad feeling, one Chicago fans are far too familiar with.
W – Howry (7-5) – Wood (34)
L – Ayala (2-10)
- Notes: Zambrano is (7-5) in 14 starts away from Wrigley this year; no decision tonight.
- Chicago‘s (38-19) record is the best in baseball during the past two calendar months.
- The team is (10-6) in extras this season.
- Lou becomes just the 14th skipper all-time to earn 1,700 big league wins.
- Piniella is also just the second manager in history to achieve 90+ wins with four different clubs: Yankees, Reds, Mariners & Cubs.
- Dick Williams was the first to turn the trick: Red Sox, A’s, Expos & Padres.
- Saturday September 20th – Wrigley Field
- Game (153): Cubs 5 – Cards 4
- Record (93-60) – Chicago Clinches NL Central!
The skinny: For the first time in 100 years the Cubs have managed to reach the post season in consecutive seasons.
What a celebration after the game…players showering each other with champagne, the victory lap around the outfield, the block party on Clark and Addison!
And, as DeRosa said afterwards, “it never gets old.”
Yes, it’s a beautiful thing, indeed!
I talked about it Friday, Ted Lilly has been a big game pitcher for the Cubs all season, and he was again this afternoon too.
The lefty gets over-looked on a staff with Z, Harden and Dempster.
Zambrano always stirs our emotions, both good and bad, Harden’s stuff is electric and Dempster’s return to the rotation has been nothing short of spectacular.
Then, there’s Lilly, the definition of a crafty left-hander, nothing out worldly, nothing flashy, but the guy wins big games.
Lilly was spot-on after the game too, saying this is what the team had in mind since spring training: win the division in front of the home crowd at Wrigley.
St. Louis‘ two errors cost them the game, Ramirez’s stab on Pujols’ liner in the fourth helped seal the division crown.
And, give credit to Lee’s tag on the backend of that play as well.
Lou is right to point out that this Cubs team shouldn’t burden the load of the Cubs’ championship drought.
Sorry Lou, but there’s no getting around it, you certainly can’t live in the past, and you can’t change it either.
And, until this organization goes all the way, the last 100 years will stick to the Cubs like a summer shadow.
However, I believe this Cubs team is up to the challenge of ending the championship curse.
Yes, Chicago winning the World Series can happen, it’s is not impossible, despite what some Cubs fans might think.
Boston dealt with similar issues, similar pressures to win, yet has come out with two rings in the last four years.
No reason the Cubs can’t do the same.
And, if the Cubs mimic its formula for success from this afternoon: strong starting pitching, timely hitting and solid defense; there’s no doubt the club plays the last series in October.
During the post game interviews several Cubs mentioned the presence of Jim Edmonds in the clubhouse this season.
Like him or not, the guy is a true leader.
Edmonds gathered the team in the clubhouse after the game to remind them to keep their collective eyes on the prize.
When you’ve been to the summit and played to the level Edmonds has for the past two decades, your voice is heard.
And, Jim’s left-handed bat will play a huge part in the Cubs’ post season lineup as well.
Soriano, Theriot, Lee, Ramirez, Soto and DeRosa: all right-handed hitters.
Time to celebrate!!! See you tomorrow!
W – Lilly (16-9) – Wood (32)
L – Pineiro (6-7)
- Notes: For the first time since 1989 (93-69) the Cubs have won 93 games.
- Lilly’s 16th win is a career-high.
- The lefty is also (3-0) vs. St. Louis this season.
- Great quote from LaRussa after the game: “They played the best all year, so they’re the winners.”