I’ve grown up a Cubs fan my entire life, although I’ve lived in Maryland the entire time. My grandparents lived in a small town in Indiana, not too far from Chicago. I first want to put out there, that I am a huge Jim Hendry fan, I think the Cubs owe a lot of their success in recent years to his good moves. I also think Lou Pinella is the perfect man for the job… to a degree.
I went out and bought a new HDTV, got surround sound, the MLB Extra Innings Package, and a DVR for the games I missed while working, so I could sit back and enjoy what I thought was going to be a great Cubs season. Unfortunately, it has been far from that. The only thing I got when I spent all that money was the ability to watch poor offense, and shady defense in crisp picture and great sound.
We can go back to the off season to start trying to figure out where it all went wrong for the Cubbies. Obviously the trade of Mark Derosa was a huge blow. Even more so after the trade yesterday that sent him to the Cardinals. I bet Hendry is kicking himself for that one. Derosa did more then put up good numbers last year. He was the glue that made the whole team stick together. You could stick him anywhere on the field, and he made great play after great play. I can’t think of a team in the entire league that wouldn’t benefit from having him on their roster. I understand, from the business perspective, of why they traded him, although I don’t think they got anything near worth his value in return.
Milton Bradley was the cubs “big move” this off season. A switch hitter for Lou, who’s obsessed over having a lefty/righty balanced line up. But looking at his stats, he’s really only had one good, consistent year in his entire big league career, which of course was his contract year. So the cubs, hoping for a repeat of a good year, dropped 10 million a year on him, and he hasn’t been worth 1 million of that thus far. And I’m not bashing Bradley, I think the desire to win in there, just not the results… which is much the case for the entire cubs line up.
Kosuke Fukudome stole our hearts in his first game in a Cubs uniform, and we’ve since asked for it back. He hasn’t been performed anywhere near expectations, and I don’t think it’s any secret that he’s not Lou’s best friend.
Alfonso Soriano can carry the team when he’s on a roll, but we haven’t seen him come anywhere near a roll at any point this year. He has no plate discipline, every time I see the opposing catcher set up on the outside of the plate while he’s at bat, I know whats coming next. Probably a slider, low and away, often in the dirt.. swing and a miss.
The cubs need to find their “Mark Derosa”. Somebody who can energize this team, and bring them back to where they should be. The person who best fits this job description is by far Reed Johnson. Reed might not hit 30 homers in a season, but he’s a true ball player. He gives it his all on every defensive play, making great diving and jumping catches. He runs out ground balls, and most importantly he looks like he’s enjoying every second of it. This teams biggest difference to me this year is the fact that they all take the field and look like they’re being forced to do it. You don’t see very many smiles, no one looks like they want to do it.
It’s going to take a lot to stop this team from imploding. First, they need to bench Fukudome and put Johnson in his place. I know he’s going to be quite the expensive bench warmer, but they got to pay him win or lose, and I personally would rather win. Next, they need to tell Soriano that he needs to get over his attachment in the leadoff spot. For now he’d better serve in the clean up spot, and when Aramis gets back and back to his run producing ways, it might be time to push Soriano to the number 5 spot. The first two slots in the line up would be better with Theriot and Johnson. They make contact, and their speed can put them in scoring position early. Lee should stay in the three hole. Bradley can go into the five or six hole, and if he ever gets hot, that can give us good scoring chances throughout the line up. Geo, another disappointment this season can hit 7th, and whoever Lou platoons at 2nd (preferably Fontenot) can bat 8th.
A lot of the ability to come out of this slump is on Lou as well. First, he may have to take a break on his obsession with the whole lefty/righty favor deal. It hasn’t worked this far, time to give something else a try. He also needs to get out their and argue with an umpire or two! I know that sounds pretty stupid, but the players (and the fans) need to see the fire we all know Lou has.
The pitching has been good enough to win, and we have all the means to win, it’s just not coming together. Obviously, it will get better when Ramirez and Johnson get off the DL, but until then the Cubs need to find a way to win consistently. And that means changing it up a bit.