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.
Mike Fontenot hit .305 last year in 243 at bats. He hit .278 in 2007 in 234 at bats. In each of those years he mostly played shortstop and second base. This year he’s hitting .236 in 182 at bats. By the all star game he will be close to the at bat totals he had for each of the last two seasons. Plus he’s played exclusively at third base this year because of Ramirez’s injury. So, the numbers prove that Fontenot is better as a part time player playing one of the middle infield positions. The Cubs have a utility player playing every day out of position. His fielding percentage is .951 this year, the lowest of his career. That could affect a player’s batting average.
Alfonso Soriano, a .279 career hitter, is hitting .229 this year. There is talk that he has an injured knee that might be hampering his play. His defense hasn’t been great this year. His .953 is the lowest as an outfielder. Is the injury to blame? It’s obvious what’s wrong with Soriano. He cannot lay off the ball that is two feet outside and in the dirt. A 59 foot pitch in the dirt gets him every time. I’m sure Gerald Perry has told Soriano to be more selective and not swing at garbage. If he doesn’t listen, whose fault is that? Will he magically start listening to Von Joshua?
I don’t know what to say about Milton Bradley. Bradley has said, “I give 250 percent every day. If you can’t see that, then something’s wrong.” I guess something’s wrong. Bradley’s been in and out of the lineup all year because of his myriad injuries. Could that have some bearing on his average? The guy gets hurt jogging to first after a walk. Bradley’s nickname should be Buyer Beware.
Most of the minor leaguers the Cubs have brought up do not look like major leaguers. Bobby Scales was a great story, but the fact is that he is 31 and there has to be a reason he did not make the majors sooner. The other teams are not dumb. They get advance scouting reports on these guys. They know their weaknesses.
The loss of Ramirez is also a big part of the offensive woes.
All of this leads to my final point. At what point does the finger point at Lou Piniella? Piniella actually told reporters over the weekend when asked about the teams offensive woes that he had no answers and did not know what to do. He said he juggled the lineup, but that didn’t work so he didn’t know what to do. Does that inspire confidence in a team when the manager basically comes out and says he doesn’t know what to do? I get angry because this town blasted Dusty Baker for saying the exact same things. Dusty used to get made fun of on talk radio for saying things like, “I don’t know, dude” when asked about the teams woes in 2006. How is Piniella’s response any different? Why is Piniella getting a free pass? Piniella seems to be going through the motions. Why wasn’t Bradley benched the day after his blunder filled day Friday especially after he got defensive and said he gives 250 percent? More and more it seems that Piniella is losing control of the team. Is the answer firing Gerald Perry. Piniella said he didn’t know what to do, so the firing of Perry does seem like a knee-jerk reaction of a desperate team.
The Von Joshua era begins tonight as the Cubs and White Sox battle in the first edition of the 2009 Cross Town Classic. I predict Soriano hits a home run and the move will be immediately heralded as genius. But how will it turn out by October?