Friday, July 08, 2005

It's the Offense, Stupid

That's it. End of discussion. The Cubs are done. Finished. Turn them over 'cause they're done on this side. Sell the bedspread and the Playboy collection, Ma, because they ain't coming back. They're Finnish like Helsinki.
The Cubs lost a doubleheader today to the Braves and looked pathetic doing it. They got three-hit and shut out by a rookie in the first game and gave up a 4-3 (wait, they scored 4 runs?) lead in the 8th as the bullpen collapsed like a card table. Again. That's eight straight losses, and they're done for this season. What the screaming hell is Jim Hendry thinking?
Everyone raves about the phenomenal arms the Cubs have, and I'll go along with that: It's an exciting young rotation, and it's the reason they won the NL Central back in 2003. (It's also the reason they lost the Pennant, but I'll get to the why of that.)But I think that since Wrigley Field is such a great hitter's park, the Cubs don't quite need all the pitching they have. I guess it's true that you can never have enough good pitching, nut runs will be scored in Wrigley no matter what pitching styaff you roll out there. Greg Maddux gives up lots of homers, he just walks about 2 guys a year so it hurts less. (See also Jenkins, Ferguson.)
Although it wasn't the case in '03, the Cubs usually have to outscore the rest of the league to win, as they did in 1984 and 1989. They were up there in the Wild Card season of 1998 as well, when I personally saw them score 40,ooo runs, courtesy of Sammy Sosa, Mark Grace, Orlando Merced, Gary Gaetti, Henry Rodriguez, and Matt Mieske.
Ah, yes, the offense: What was it?
If it wasn't for the great season Derrek Lee has had thus far, the Cubs would have no offense whatsoever. I know, I know, Jeromy Burnitz is pretty cool and Neifi Perez has played OK for a replacement who was supposed to resemble a tomato can, and...ah...
No. They suck. And they will continue to suck this year, and probably next year, and into the future, but look at the arms, man! Because losing 1-0 isn't really a loss! Except it totally is, God Damn It!
Many folks have criticized Manager Dusty Baker for manhandling the talent, and one could point to Iowa-bound Corey Patterson as Exhibit A. A player with genuine tools and no tool belt on which to hang them, Corey swings at the first pitch more than anyone in the NL, never walks, hits for decent power, and strikes out like I drink Diet Pepsi. (All the time.) So, let's lead him off. Brilliant. It didn't work last year, didn't work earlier this year, and it led to his ultimate demise in the Majors this year. (He'll be back, for obvious rea$on$.) Yanking him in and out of the order, filling the leadoff role with Nefi Perez, whose on-base percentage is only slightly better than Patterson's, and then giving it back to Corey because he really, really wanted it, is enough for Cubs fans to scream bloody murder. (Hey Dusty, I really, really want a Tony Aweard. What can you do for me?)
The Cubs just don't hit well. I'd love to sugarcoat it, but they do the little things so badly it's impossible to dismiss the malaise. If Dusty wants to bring the run totals up, he should fine EVERY PLAYER who swings at the first pitch 50 dollars for the REST of the YEAR, then YELL at them in UPPER CASE LETTERS. I bet the run total would go up at least a run per game. Just a few damn walks; take a pitcher deep in the count, deep into the ballgame. Wear a guy out. Take somer damn pitches. That's a start.
Next, stop trying to be Sammy Sosa, y'all. I know, it's the ballpark, everywhere you go you see the ghosts of Ernie Banks, Hack Wilson, Andre Dawson, Ryne Sandberg, and Joe "Tarzan" Wallis, cackling, cajoling, saying "You can do it. Swing, man, swiiing!!!!!" So everyone thinks they can produce like Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick. It's a sickness. Offensium Machomannum, if you will. But Neifi won't hit 40 home runs. You don't want him swinging like he does. Todd Walker isn't even the power hitter Todd Hundley was. Take a few walks, my man.
Ah, screw it. I'm tired. I'm going to bed. They know what they have to do. And if they do, if this offense can right itself and win the Cubs a title this year, I'll kiss your ass in Bloomingdale's window.


At 7:49 AM, Blogger Stuart Shea said...

couldn't have said it better myself, my man. I think the Cubs destroyed Corey by 1)promoting him before he was ready and 2)making him do something he was incapable of doing.
Watch them do the same thing to Felix Pie.
These new guys, however, could be quite good.


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