This week Rich Harden told the Cubs that he doesn’t want to pitch any more this year. I don’t believe any reason was given, meaning it’s not an injury issue. I guess he just doesn’t want to waste the energy for a team not going to the playoffs and go out there and earn the money the team is paying him. When Harden made his request, the Cubs just said, “O.K.” While Milton Bradley made some idiotic comments recently, he was right when he said that there are reasons why this team hasn’t won in so long. What a joke. Being a teacher I can only imagine what would happen if I went into my principal’s office in May and said “I don’t want to teach for the rest of the month, the school years just about over anyway. Oh, and by the way, keep my job for me in September.” I’m sure someone else would be in my classroom come September. I wonder if Rich Harden is giving back his salary for the last two starts or so that he will miss. Somehow I doubt it. If the Cubs wanted to grant his request, fine, but they should have also told him where the door was, take Milton with you, and don’t let the door hit you on the way out. If he’s back next year, it will be 102 years and counting for the Cubs.
I do not want to see the 2009 Cubs succeed. To do so would be to go against every baseball sensibility I have. It would be to go against any sense of justice and fairness in this world. To see the 2009 Cubs succeed would be a slap in the face of the baseball gods (sorry, Dusty Baker). To see the 2009 Cubs succeed would validate stupidity. When a G.M. takes a 97 win team and needlessly overhauls them in the offseason with head-scratching, nonsensical moves, it should not be able to win. I want to see the Cubs win a World Series, but my God, not this team. Cub fans deserve better than this ill-conceived team Jim Hendry has put together and Lou Piniella has watched over. I’ve heard people say the Cubs will actually make the playoffs because they play most of their remaining games against sub .500 teams such as the San Diego Padres and Washington Nationals. Sure. I’m so glad that we have the MLB Extra Innings package on DirecTV so I can actually watch real baseball this September.
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.
It’s only August 11th, but the Cubs are well on their way to being C.U.B.S. (Completely Useless by September). Sure, the guys that tow the corporate line on TV will say the Cubs are only three games behind St. Louis and they have the best NL record since the All-Star break (well they did before this weekend; they may not have that distinction anymore), but anyone watching the games can’t be fooled. I feel a need to debunk five common myths about the Cubs right now.
My family and I had a blast on our week long road trip out East. While in Philadelphia we saw the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, we ate Philly cheesesteaks (Geno’s is the best! And definitely have the cheez whiz!), and we did the cheesy touristy stuff like have our picture taken at the Rocky statue.
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.