Today’s trade of Ivan Rodriguez to the Texas Rangers reminds me of a missed opportunity for the Cubs. After Rodriguez’s Marlins stunned the Cubs in the 2003 NLCS and went on to win the World Series, he became a free agent. At the time I thought it would be a good idea for the Cubs to bring in Rodriguez. I felt the Cubs could use a strong, smart catcher like Rodriguez to work with the trio of young pitchers the Cubs had, Wood, Prior, and Zambrano. Rodriguez is also a winner and would quickly become a team leader the Cubs also needed to put them over the top in 2004. Well, it never happened. The Cubs went cheap and signed Michael Barrett instead. We all know how Michael Barrett worked out. Let’s just say I think it was no coincidence that the Cubs took off in 2007 after Barrett was shipped out. All this led me to think about the Cubs of the past three years. Who is the team leader or leaders? I don’t think the Cubs have any. The Cubs have a good collection of talented players, but they don’t have any leaders. You know, the kind of player that will push others, get in others’ faces when need be, driven with a passion to win. The Yankees have Derek Jeter. The Red Sox have Jason Varitek. The Cardinals have Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina. The Cubs don’t have any such players. Derrek Lee is a great talent, but watch his body language after a strikeout or an 0-4 performance. Head down, walking slowly back to the dugout, dejected. Not inspiring. Aramis Ramirez, the Cubs most important offensive weapon, seems shy and doesn’t say much. Soriano and Bradley are all about themselves. Zambrano is a headcase, who admits his recent injury problems are due to his being out of shape. Great. Soto’s a mess. The Cubs should have signed Pudge this past offseason. He could have mentored Soto. Maybe then Soto wouldn’t have become the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. Ivan Rodriguez to the Rangers leads me to believe we might in fact see the Rangers in the postseason. Pudge now gets to work with the young pitchers over there as well as Mike Maddux, who is quickly becoming one of the elite pitching coaches if he isn’t already. The Cubs seem to lack a team leader. Maybe that’s one reason the Cubs have disappeared in the postseason and are quickly disappearing from this years pennant race.
Since the All-Star break, the Cubs are 9-2 and have moved into first place in the NL Central. They swept the Washington Generals…er…Nationals. A National disgrace, the Nationals have been. They’re 37 games under .500. The Cubs should have swept them. They swept the Reds, who really have the look of a team that has thrown in the towel. The Reds are falling faster than a skydiving elephant. My point is I can’t judge how good this team is playing right now. The Cubs lost two out of three from the Phillies. This current stretch of games between the Astros, Marlins, Rockies, and Phillies will go a long way in telling me how excited I should be right now.
I’m resigned to the fact that I will not win the Cubs/Cardinals wager with my Father. I’m already looking a the calendar to see when I can get over to Wrigley Field to be photographed in Cardinals attire. After yesterday’s 8-3 beating of the Cubs, the Cardinals now own a 7-3 head to head advantage. Since the teams only play 16 games head to head, if the Cardinals win one more game against the Cubs, I cannot win the bet. The best I could do is a draw. That’s if the Cubs would win the remaining five games. Yeah, that’s not happening. Have you seen the Cubs lately?
So the Cubs have fired hitting coach Gerald Perry. The same Gerald Perry who was given credit for guiding the Cubs offense to a .278 average in 2008 and a .271 average in 2007. The Cubs offense has been a complete disappointment this year, hitting only .246 as a team. Even the Washington Nationals are hitting .259! I believe that this is just a knee-jerk, desperate reaction to the disappointing season the Cubs are experiencing. If Perry had great success in 07 and 08, then what’s different in 09? The team is replacing Perry with Von Joshua, because they believe that since Joshua worked with the AAA players currently on the Cubs roster, then he can have better luck at getting guys like Bobby Scales (.241), Andres Blanco (.212), Micah Hoffpauir (.261), and Mike Fontenot (.236) to hit better. As if the young guys have been the only problem. What about Alfonso Soriano hitting only .229? Aaron Miles hitting .200? Milton Bradley hitting .227? These aren’t young guys that Joshua coached in the minors. Why put all the blame on Perry? At what point do you look at the players? Perry was heralded as a big reason behind the team’s division titles the past two years? What is the difference now? Let’s look at some of these players.
Mark J. Terrill, Associated Press / October 4, 2008
Rich Harden is headed to the 15-Day DL. That’s never been seen before. Actually, it took longer than I expected.
Associated Press / May 21, 2009
So Lou Piniella is playing around with the idea of moving
Soriano to second base to allow for Micah Hoffpauir to play left field.
The move is seen as an effort to generate more offense to what has become
an offensively offensive team. Don’t want to panic yet, Lou. I know
Soriano originally came up as a second baseman, but there is a reason that he
no longer plays that position. He was a complete butcher at second.
Will this move really help the Cubs’s offense? I don’t know, but
it’sbeginning to look like Lou may be running out of answers.
Last night, the Cubs dropped their fifth game in a row, losing
to the Padres and Jake Peavy 4-0. In those five losses, the Cubs have
scored a grand total of seven runs. Actually, they’ve scored just 2 runs in
their last four games. The sad thing is that the Cubs pitchers have
allowed an average of a little over 3 runs a game over their current losing
streak. The pitchers, including the bullpen, have started to do their
job. Now, the hitters have gone into the tank. The thing that scares
me is that a few of the hitters have never been out of the tank at any point
this season. Soto is hitting .206, Fontenot is hitting .193, Miles is
hitting .207, Bradley is hitting .182, Johnson is hitting .232. Derrek
Lee has started bring up his average, but he’s still only hitting .240.
With stats like these, they can’t expect to score many runs.
Ramirez being out is killing them right now.
Randy Wells has had a pretty remarkable start to his career as a starter. In two starts this year, he has pitched 11 shutout innings. He actually has pitched 16 and a third shutout innings if you go back to his relief appearances last year.
e a series shortened sweep of the Astros. I’m thinking that Alfonso Soriano may be secretly hoping that Kevin Gregg gets to pitch the ninth inning again.