Tagged: Mike Fontenot

A knee-jerk reaction

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?
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The Tour

Yesterday, my wife and I went on a tour of Wrigley Field.  It was a fun thing to do for our anniversary.  I feel very lucky that my wife loves sports so much; she felt that going on a tour of a baseball stadium was a great way to celebrate our anniversary.

I highly recommend going on one of these tours.  I thought I knew a lot about Wrigley Field, but on the tour I still learned some new things.  For example, did you know that home plate and the pitchers mound are not lined up with centerfield and the scoreboard?  I’ve been to Wrigley so many times and, honestly, I never noticed.
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Here’s a picture from the press box.  You can clearly see that home plate does not line up with centerfield.  This was done when they shifted the stadium to add more seats.  What does it mean?  I don’t know, but maybe the Cubs haven’t won for so long because their stadium is misaligned.  Let’s stop blaming the goat.  Maybe after five or six Old Styles, it starts to straighten out!
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The baskets were put in during the 1970 season to prevent Bleacher Bums from falling on the field since then liked to walk along the wall to go from right field and left field.  As you can imagine, many of them had more than a few beverages.
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Here I am in the visitor’s clubhouse.  I had no idea how small the visitor’s clubhouse is, and they expanded it for the 1990 All-Star Game.  This is the same clubhouse all visiting teams to Wrigley Field have used since the park opened in 1914.  It’s amazing to think of all the players who sat in this room, such as Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Stan Musial, Willie Mays, Roberto Clemente, etc.
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Here I am in the Cub’s clubhouse.  While it is nicer than the visitor’s clubhouse, it still is small.  The clubhouse was all set up for the Cubs return Friday for inter league action agaisnt the Twins.
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Here’s Fukudome’s locker.
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Where it all begins.
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Tina in the Clubhouse.
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I got a different perspective from the Cubs dugout.  Dusty Baker was right.  The Cubs dugout is sunk down very low so that it is hard to see all the action on the field.
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Tina enjoying the view from the dugout.
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Lou Piniella’s perspective.
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Some more dugout pictures.
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The Cubs couple.
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I’m smashing what’s left of the Gatorade machine.
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I’ve seen enough of Heilman.  Let’s get Guzman up.
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The rain stopped momentarily for us to go on the field for a picture.
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Curtain calls.
We got to see as much as we did because the Cubs are in Cincinnati.  Yesterday, the Cubs lost a game they probably should have lost.  Dempster had a rough first inning, spotting the Reds a 3-0 lead.  However, that was all the Reds would get through nine innings.  The Cubs would chip away and eventually tie the game in the eighth inning.  However, the Reds eventually won in the eleventh.  Boy, Fontenot had a really rough inning.  I still can’t say it enough, the loss of Ramirez is killing the Cubs.  Fontenot is not a natural third baseman and more and more he is being exposed out there at third.
So, Zambrano is done after his contract is up in 2012?  After Big Z got his 100th win this week, he was asked if he had a shot at 300 like Randy Johnson.  He said no, saying that he did not feel like playing after his curren
t contract is up.  We’ll see. With Carlos, you never know.

Happy Memorial Day

To all the troops, past and present, who have fought for the freedoms we enjoy, thank you.  

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The Cubs are really not worth talking about right now.  I really can’t say anything about them that I haven’t said before.  The loss of Aramis Ramirez is exposing their weak bench.  Geovany Soto looks more and more like another Jerome Walton or Rick Wilkins if you want a catcher comparison.  Signing Milton Bradley was dumb.  Getting rid of Mark DeRosa because they figured Mike Fontenot could play every day was even more dumb.  You know, there’s a reason why a player stays in the minor leagues until their late twenties or early thirties.  There has to be some flaw in their game.  Over the weekend I think I saw one of Bobby Scale’s flaws.  He has no arm.  Scales played third base on Saturday and looked like he had to put everything he had and more to get the ball to first base.  Mike Fontenot and Micah Hoffpauir are both twenty-nine.  Why did they stay in the minors as long as they did?  Can the Cubs depend on Hoffpauir to be an everyday player?  He’s playing more, and his average has been plummeting.  
Derrek Lee was scratched before Sunday’s 7-2 loss to the Padres due to illness.  Watching this garbage at home is making me sick, I can only imagine what it does to you to see it up close.
Weather wise, this was one of the best Memorial Day weekends I can remember.  If Memorial Day is the kickoff to summer, then we may be in store for a great summer.  It was great to break the grill out over the weekend and enjoy the beautiful weather!  
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Maybe my 22 month old son Joshua could teach the Cubs a thing or two about hitting.
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Yeah, this didn’t happen.  I hate the Red Wings.
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Two Stinkin’ Runs?

A huge series against our biggest division rival and all we can muster is two stinkin’ runs?  No one to my knowledge as figured out a way to win a baseball game without scoring a run, so it really doesn’t matter how good your pitching is.  The Cubs wasted three very strong outings by Ted Lilly, Ryan Dempster, and Sean Marshall.  If you give up only eight runs over three games, you should expect to at least win one of them.  A maddening thing I’ve noticed about the Cubs over the past five years or so is that they are prone to long streaks when absolutely no one is hitting.  Sometimes one or two guys are slumping, but a couple of other guys will step up and pick up the slack.  With the Cubs, the whole team slumps together.  I did notice a few other things about the Cubs while watching this painful three game sweep at the hands of the Cardinals.

1.  Mike Fontenot is not an everyday player.  One thing about Chicago fans is that they tend to elevate a moderately OK player to Hall of Fame status is they have a good weekend.  I’m not saying that anyone has ever suggested that Mike Fontenot is a Hall of Famer, that would be silly.  However, last year when he’s get a pinch hit home run or would have an occasional 3-4 game, a lot of people would rave about him and say he should play more.  Mike Fontenot is hitting below .200 right now.  While he is not that bad, I am saying that I would not expect Fontenot to hit anything over .250 if he plays every day.  Sure, he’ll end up with 15 or so homers because he does have some pop in his bat, but that pop should be reserved for the bench.  He’s an above average utility/bench player.  He’s not an everyday player.  I know he has to play third because Ramirez is out.  Getting rid of both DeRosa and Ronny Cedeno looks real bad about now.
2.  The Cubs still struggle against teams that have all right handed starters.  The Dodgers had an all right handed staff and that doomed the Cubs in last seasons postseason.  This year, the Cardinals have an entire right handed starting staff, and the Cubs are now 3-6 against them this year.  The Cubs thought they addressed the problem of lack of left handed power by signing Milton Bradley and having Fontenot play every day.  Yeah, that’s really not working out as they planned right now.  Milton Bradley is hitting .184 with 4 homers and 9 RBIs.  Raul Ibanez is hitting .349 with 15 homers and 40 RBIs.  Bobby Abreu is hitting .300 with a .400 on base percentage.  Not to beat a dead horse, but the Cubs could have had either of these two instead of Bradley.  Makes me sad.
3.  I’m now down 3-6 in my wager with my father.  I’m getting a little worried.  The Cardinals have to win only three more games against the Cubs for my father to have won the wager.  I’m getting used to wearing red by wearing my Blackhawks t-shirt.

Did the Cubs make the April grade?

April has come to an end.  Twenty-one games are in the books.  Being a teacher, I’m used to grading my students’ performance.  I’m going to take this opportunity to grade the Cubs players’ April performance.

Outfielders
Alfonso Soriano, B
        He’s personally won at least two games this year.  His batting average has started to
        dip.  I’s now .284.
Reed Johnson, C+
        Outfield play has saved Cubs on a number of occasions.  Great attitude and seems to
        be a great team guy.  He is hitting only .216, though.
Kosuke Fukudome, A
        Solid start to season with his .338 average.  He leads team with 15 RBI.  We’ve seen
        this before, however.  Can he extent the hot hitting after the All-Star Break?
Milton Bradley, F
        Should be an incomplete, as he hasn’t played much.  His attitude and distractions
        earn him an F.
Joey Gathright, INCOMPLETE
        One hit in nine at bats.  The jury is still out.
Micah Hoffpauir, B-
        .303, two homers, nine RBIs.  Sloppy defense at times.
Infielders
Derrek Lee, C-
         Good defense.  Some timely hits, but still hitting only .189.  Time to move down in the 
         order.
Aramis Ramirez, B+
         When he’s in there, he’s the Cubs most dangerous hitter.  .358 with 14 RBIs.  Has
         battled injury issues thus far.  The Cubs CANNOT afford to lose him for any extended
         length of time.
Ryan Theriot, B+
         Hitting .317.  Plays hard and is dependable.  Base running gaffes are a weakness.
Mike Fontenot, B-
         Hitting only .232, but has four homers and ten RBIs.  A good team guy.  His defense is
         better this year.
Aaron Miles, C+
         Cubs are getting what they should have expected from this light hitting infielder.
Catchers
Geovany Soto, F
         This saddens me.  Slow start, hitting .109 with only five hits on the season.  Is he
         still hurt?  Can’t throw out any base stealers.  A Cubs Rookie of the Year off to a slow              
         start the following year.  Anyone remember Jerome Walton?
Koyie Hill, B
         A solid backup.
Starters
Carlos Zambrano, C+
         Can be inconsistent.  Still will let his emotions take over at times.  4.64 ERA.
         36 hits allowed in 33 innings along with 13 walks.
Ryan Dempster, C
         29 hits allowed in 30 innings along with 14 walks.  5.40 ERA.
Ted Lilly, C+
         2-2 with a 3.80 ERA.
Rich Harden, B
         If you take out the awful game I saw him pitch against Colorado, he’s probably been the 
         best of this bunch so far.  2-1, 3.86 ERA.
Sean Marshall, B-
         3.32 ERA is best among the starters.  He keeps the Cubs in the game.
Bullpen
Aaron Heilman, C+
         I was actually ready to give him an A- before todays game because of his 0.82 ERA.
         I’m so mad after tonight, I’ve downgraded him.
Angel Guzman, C-
         His 3.97 ERA now actually looks good in this bullpen.  Sad.
Kevin Gregg, F
         11 hits in 9.2 innings pitched and a 5.59 ERA is not going to get it done as a closer.
Davis Patton, F
         Threw a home run derby pitch to Pujols with the bases loaded.  Has a 9.35 ERA.
Carlos Marmol, C+
          Mr. Reliable started out strong.  Even he has struggled of late, even before his injury.
          6.00 ERA.
Neal Cotts, F
         Only because there isn’t a grade lower than F.
Jeff Samardzija, F
        You see Jeff Samardzija, I see Kyle Farnsworth.  6.75 ERA.
The Overall Grade = C
The Cubs finish April at 10-11.  They are a very average team right now with a lousy bullpen.  
They’ve scored 97 runs and given up 104.  They are 4-5 at home and 6-6 on the road.  The Cubs face a challenge right now.  They trail St. Louis by five games right now.  St. Louis has three more games against the woeful Washington Nationals this weekend.  The Cubs have three more games against the first place Marlins.  The Cubs don’t want to start digging themselves too deep of a hole.  There’s an old baseball adage that says while you can’t win a pennant in April, you can lose a pennant in April.  Thank God it’s May.
         

What is it they say about April Showers?

Where to begin?  The Cubs’ weaknesses came to the forefront tonight in an extra inning loss to the Marlins.  Weak, inconsistent offense and a bullpen that may be the worst in the National League right now allow the Marlins to win 8-2 in 10 innings tonight at Wrigley.  The Cubs led this game 2-0 until the seventh thanks to back to back homers by Milton Bradley and Mike Fontenot in the fifth.  The Marlins, as they’ve done all year, chipped away with a run in the seventh and a run in the eighth to tie the score.  Carlos Marmol looked terrible again in allowing the tying run in the eighth.  It remained 2-2 until the top of the tenth when Aaron Heilman came in to pitch.  Heilman came into the game with a 0.82 ERA.  He had been the bright spot in the Cubs bullpen.  No one else in the Cubs bullpen had an ERA under 4.35, so Heilman was definitely a bright spot.  Well, maybe he wanted to fit in with the rest of his bullpen mates and bring that ERA up.  Six runs later, five of them earned, Heilman left with an ERA of 4.91 and a 8-2 Cubs loss.  The Cubs do not have a bullpen right now.  Every game it seems like someone different implodes.  Yesterday, it was Marmol.  Today, it was Heilman.  Who will it be tomorrow?  Larry Rothschild has his work cut out for him.