Former Cub Kevin Gregg is the American League saves leader (12).
After his crash-and-burn season in Chicago, Gregg’s converted 12/14 save opportunities…posted an ERA below 2.00 for most of the season…and has a solid 22:7 K:BB ratio.
Maybe all Kevin needed was the change of scenery…the obscurity of closing in Toronto, the withdrawal from a pressure-cooker like Chicago?
But despite his early success, it’s hard to imagine Gregg keeps pace given his past…the league-leader in blown saves in 2008 (9)…and seven more the following season on the North Side.
Never appeared the Cubs made a mistake by letting Gregg walk…his $4M contract far exceeded his production…and Angle Guzman was primed to setup Marmol anyway.
Funny how things work out, though…Guzman’s career is in jeopardy and Bob Howry is back in a Cubs uniform. Ouch & ouch!
It’s 20/20 vision looking back…but how better off would Chicago be had they kept Gregg one more year… just as the right-handed setup man they so desperately need? That, of course, we’ll never know!
If close counted, the Cubs are in business.
More than half (24) of the team’s 43 games have been decided by two or fewer runs…including Friday’s 2-1 setback at Texas. But in those contests, however, the Cubs are just 8-16.
Chicago’s magic number is four runs, which they hit on the head three times during the recent four-game winning streak.
Score four or more and Chicago is 18-6. Score less than four and they’re 1-18!…with the lone victory coming during the season’s opening series at Atlanta.
Forget about the Zambrano situation…forget about the bullpen…forget about almost everything else…the Cubs’ first need is scoring more runs…preferably, four or more!
Geovany Soto is flying under the radar….rebounding nicely from a horrific sophomore season.
His plate discipline has improved remarkably…leading all of baseball with 4.34 plate appearances per walk.
His 29 total walks are third-best in both leagues…and he’s drawn at least one walk in 28 of his last 30 games with a plate appearance, which is huge considering Soto managed just 50 free passes all of last season!
Not surprisingly, Soto’s OBP is way up, too (.449)…while fanning just 23 times in 98 at-bats.
Behind the plate Soto’s helped guide the starting staff to 27 quality starts…second-best in the N.L. behind St. Louis’ 32…thrown out 21% of runners attempting to steal…and all while committing zero errors!
But somehow, Soto’s rebound year has gone unnoticed…seemingly due to the downward spirals of Aramis, D-Lee and Carlos Zambrano.
Nonetheless, our catcher is finally back…and living up to the lofty expectations set from his Rookie of the Year season in 2008!
Before Aaron Miles and Milton Bradley, there was only one Cub I ever begged Jim Hendry to release: Bob Howry.
The right-hander was simply dismal with the Cubs in 2008. But the best record in the NL masked Howry’s inabilities as a set-up man.
Hendry stuck with him…Howry got hammered…and I fumed each time he took the hill.
It wasn’t a personal dislike of Howry–I’ve always respected his up-most professionalism–but rather, a distaste for what the pitcher had become–extremely hittable.
So when the D-backs released Howry earlier this week…it didn’t go without notice on my end.
In fact, I planned a post about it…
Don’t write off Derrek Lee just yet.
I made that mistake last year…calling for Micah Hoffpauir after Lee hit .189 through April.
To my surprise, the seasoned-vet turned things around…and in a big way…35HR, 111 RBI while batting .367 in September.
Unfortunately, he’s back to his old tricks…slumping in the three-hole and batting a paltry .229.
No question he’s killing the Cubs offensively…but as of late, Lee’s been coming around at the dish.
I’d hate to see the Cubs fire Lou, but it’s worth consideration.
Look no further than the visiting Rockies who fell 10-games below .500 last May before firing Clint Hurdle in favor of Jim Tracy.
The Rocks thrived under Tracy going 74-42…set a franchise-record for wins, 92, and captured the NL Wild Card. Tracy earned Manager of the Year honors, as well.
But could the same hold true for our Cubbies this season? Perhaps, if Lou’s likely replacement, Alan Trammell, garners the same response Tracy received from Colorado.
Congrats to Sweet Lou for becoming the 14th manger to reach the 1, 800 win milestone!
It’s a notably achievement…and a rather impressive resume for the Cubs’ skipper overall: one world championship (Cincinnati) and three Manager of the Year Awards (1995, 2001, 2008).
Lou’s collected 281 of those wins on the North Side…surpassing his win totals with Cincy (255), New York (224) and Tampa Bay (200). Obviously, however, the bulk of his victories came during his 10-year stay in Seattle (840).
||Tony La Russa
It’s over…there, I said it.
And as a matter of fact, I said it more specifically Friday…lose this home series against the Pirates and the Cubs’ goose is cooked for 2010.
Some don’t want to hear it…others won’t believe it…but it’s mid-May and the Cubs are seven-games below .500…and six back of St. Louis. Game. Over.
The problem with the Cubs is that they’re paper champions.
Since April 21 the offense is batting nearly .300…tops in all of baseball. They also lead the majors in hits with two strikes…and the outfield offense, specifically, leads the majors in OPS (on base percentage + slugging).
The starting staff’s 22 quality starts is third best in baseball…trailing only Tampa Bay and St. Louis…and the staff as a whole leads the majors in strikeouts.
Yet, the Cubs are six-games below .500 and have lost four straight to the god-awful Pirates.
Reality can be a tough cookie to swallow…the Cubs being the perfect example. They get the job done on paper, but fail miserable where it counts: on the scoreboard.
It’s hard to believe Tom Gorzelanny is 1-4 this season.
He’s posted a 2.83 ERA through six outings…four of which have been quality starts, including three straight, and opponents are batting just .235 against him.
Gorzo’s been a wasted asset…his record should easily be a reversed 4-1…but his mates give him virtually zero runs support!
If the lefty stays true to form Friday…the Cubs have a terrific opportunity to right the season this weekend against Pittsburgh.
You’ve got to think sweep against the Buccos…a series win at the very least…because there’s not been a better opportunity to close the gap with St. Louis than right now!
The Cardinals are slumping…they’ve lost three-straight…and seven of its last 10 games…and face a red-hot Reds team in Cincy this weekend.
If the Cubs can’t give Gorzelanny enough run support…and they can’t win a home series against the Peg Legs…we’ll know they can’t win this division, either.