Game 56 Review

BLUE JAYS 4 CUBS 1
Recap | Box Score | Play-by-play | Game Chart
W: Gustavo Chacin (6-4) L: John Koronka(1-1) SV: Miguel Batista (10)
That certainly was an unfortunate loss. I didn't see the play where Gustavo Chacin reached on a sacrifice bunt but it sounded like a somewhat ill-advised decision to try and nail the lead runner. I did see the pitch to Reed Johnson that landed in the bleachers and there was nothing wrong with it. It appeared to be a low slider, well below the knees that Johnson just happened to turn around for a three run blast. With Jerome Williams having a few successful starts in Iowa, Kornonka's major league debut with the big league club may be a short one. The Cubs offense struggled mightily, wasting a few scoring opportunities early in the game, particularly annoying was Jerry Hairston grounding into a double play to end the second with Michael Barrett on third. The next respectable Cubs scoring opportunity didn't come again until the 9th and once again was thwarted by the double play. It began well enough, when Aramis Ramirez homered to leadoff the inning and then continued the rally by getting runners on 1st and 3rd with one out. Up comes Todd Walker pinch hitting for Jose Macias and representing the tying run. No, wait, back goes Todd Walker and up comes Jose Macias, 2 for 3 on the day. Dusty for no good reason pinch hit for Hairston with Corey Patterson the 8th and now was short a man on the bench. So he called back Walker, hoping Macias would do anything except hit into a double play.....grounder up the middle, easy 6-6-3 game ender. Tomorrow it's more night baseball at Wrigley, as Glendon Rusch tries to maintain his Cy Young pace and keep his ERA under 2.00 and the Cubs try to regain their winning ways.
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Comments

The home run pitch was definately a changeup. Koronka's (rarely thrown) slider has a much more sweeping horizontal movement to it.

Pitch 1 - changeup, outside for a ball
Pitch 2 - fastball, high for a ball, stolen base
Pitch 3 - changeup, good pitch, swing and miss
Pitch 4 - changeup, better pitch, swing and miss
Pitch 5 - fastball, outside for a ball
Pitch 6 - changeup, home run

It wasn't a bad pitch at all (Koronka threw a lot worse that went unpunished), it was pretty similar to the third pitch in the at-bat that Johnson swung through because he was looking fastball down in the count, but the problem was that Johnson was sitting on it this time, and it's not such a good change it can handle players sitting on it. And that's Koronka's problem. Because he only really throws fastball changeup, you get a lot of opportunities to sit on pitches.

The ball also wouldn't even have got out if it wasn't for the wind out I don't think.

Regarding Jerome Williams, clicky here. Hmm. I say we also send Dusty to the minor leagues until he loses some weight if he's going to go with Jose Macias as the potential tying run at the plate with the game on the line.

Good stuff from the bullpen tonight. Cubs just couldn't get the big hit. Oh well.

Koronka was not all that bad, though I can see where the Cub's brain trust will want to see what J. Williams can do against major league hitters. He ran his pitch count up quickly and was lucky to get out of a few jams, though he did not make many mistake pitches.

Wellemeyer was a welcome contrast in the 7th, as he got ahead of batters with pitches in the mid-90's. Joe-Bo also did well in the 8th but did not break 90 mph. Remlinger needed some work and did OK, but I just don't like seeing him taking the mound anytime - potential for too many mistake pitches.

Otherwise the Cubs seemed listless last night. They went out and did their job but did not seem to have the spark needed to sustain a rally. They looked like people who just get back from a long vacation and need a day to recover.

While Macias had a decent night, having him and Hairston in the lineup at the same time usually spells trouble. Hairston was the rally buster. This game highlighted the need for sending a pitcher down and bringing Grieve or Kelton back up to strengthen the bench.

I respectfully disagree. Further depleating the minor league system will hurt more than it will help in the long run, so leave Greive, Kelton, Williams, Cedeno, etc. where they're at and wait out Prior and Wood.

Koronka pitched decent. In fact that 3-run shot was off of a well-located pitch. And if the Cubs had brought their bats who knows what would have happened.

I think the bigger story was stranding runners on base (15) and hitting into DPs (3). I was also impressed by Chacin. That's one ugly dude, but he made some good pitches for a rookie. Glad we won't see him again.

ryno

I was at eh game last night and here are a couple things I noticed:

- Very late arriving and quiet crowd. There were many empty seats too.

- Team seemed very lathargic. Don't know if it was the 17 straight games or coming back from teh WEst Coast, but they seemed like they were not ready to play.

- Koronka did not look good, but he only gave up 4 runs in 6 IP. Not much more you can ask for from a rookie fill-in pitcher. He did make a horrible decision on the sacfrafice bunt though and it cost him a run.

- SOme bad defensive plays last night. On top of the Koronkas sac bunt misplay, ARAm booted a ball that they leater turned into a hit (should of been an error), Dubois looked sacred going back to the wall and misplayed the ball, and Hairston dropped a flyball.

I hope we can just chalk it up to jet lag and they can bounce back today. Rusch has been great, so we should have a real good shot.

Another option would be to recall Renyel Pinto, who started the season slowly at Iowa, but has pitched well since his demotion to AA West Tenn. It might be risky bringing him up 2 levels after he didn't succeed at AAA, but if the demotion has fixed some problem in his mechanics or approach, then it might make sense. Williams, Aardsma, and Pinto are the last starting pitchers from the 40 man to try in the rotation.

John Hill:
"I say we also send Dusty to the minor leagues until he loses some weight if he's going to go with Jose Macias as the potential tying run at the plate with the game on the line."

I have no problem letting a guy who is 2-3 on the day hit there, I don't care who it is.

A more valid complaint would be PHing Cpat for Hairston in the 8th. It seemed to burn a bench player for no reason. Unless hairston hurt himself. Or Dusty was sending a message to hairston to know he is only a bench player (becuase that is all he is), after his dropped flyball and DP earlier in the game.

But I still don't think I would of PH for Macias if CPat and Walker were availible in that exact situation. It would make sense to PH CPat first and Walker for the P, but Macias and Cpat's #'s are almost identical this year (avg and OBP). But Macias was 2-3 on the day and CPat was ice cold coming off the bench.

Ryno--
"I think the bigger story was stranding runners on base (15)"

The team left seven runners on base. The same number as the Blue Jays did.

Fifteen is derived from counting every out with runners on base, regardless of whether or not it's the third out. As a result, the same single baserunner can be counted up to three times (eg. lead-off hit followed by three outs).

Hairston's dropped catch was horrible. We were lucky that didn't cost us any runs.

Manny--
"I have no problem letting a guy who is 2-3 on the day hit there, I don't care who it is."

If Jose Macias is 2-for-3 on any given day, it means he's used up about a week's worth of hits in one go. All the more reason not to push your luck. Since last year's All-Star Game, Macias has had 3 hits in a game once. That doesn't mean he's due, it means he's rubbish.

Todd Walker is a better hitter than Jose Macias, and that's all there should be to it. I couldn't care one bit about whether Macias is 3-for-3 with 3 HR or going for the golden sombrero, it doesn't change the fact that he's Jose Macias and hitting is his problem.

In any given plate appearance, who's more likely to get a hit? Walker. Who's less likely to make an out? Walker. Who's less likely to hit into a game-ending double play? Walker. Who's more likely to hit what would be a game-tying home run? Walker. As you would say, Manny, it's a "no-brainer".

Manny--
"Macias and Cpat's #'s are almost identical this year (avg and OBP)"

Corey's slugging percentage, of course, is far higher. So their numbers aren't identical. If they're equally likely to get a hit or get on-base, you'd go with the one whose hit's more likely to plate runs.

The real problem here isn't pinch-hitting Corey for Hairston, it's our bench as a whole. When our starting lineup start, we've got a five-man bench with Blanco, Wilson and Macias on it. In other words, a two-man bench, Hollandsworth and Hairston. That's a joke. Ben Grieve (LF/RF) is the most inexcusable omission - he's hitting 280/386/533 on the year at Iowa, and he did fine with the Cubs earlier in the year (.471 OBP) in not very many plate appearances. Fontenot (2B/3B) is now pretty much done with Triple-A too (he hit 279/346/420 there last year, 282/385/504 so far this year). Those two should replace Wilson and Macias right this instant. And Hairston could almost certainly play a passable shortstop in an emergency.

Mannytrillo,
I was at the game too, but I disagree with letting Macias hit. Yes, Macias was 2-3, but that was from the right side. He had to switch to the left side in the 9th. Also, the likelihood of Macias hitting into a DP was too much, and Walker gave the Cubs the best chance to tie the game right there. Todd hit a pinch-hit HR the last time he pinch-hit in LA.

And, after watching Hairston just flat out drop the ball, Corey had to enter the game. So, that was a good decision if you ask me.

One other point. When Hairston dropped the ball, the Blue Jays guy easily made it into second. When the Blue Jays guy dropped the ball, Barrett only made it to first. He wasn't hustling at all. It didn't end up mattering, but it was disappointing...

Also, this is from the game recap:
"I heard a couple of yells going to second. I think we had him. I should have put a little more on it," Koronka said.

If that is true, then the decision to go to second is not all Koronka's fault. With his back to the play while fielding, he must rely on someone to tell him if he has a chance to get the guy out at second...

Koronka has eyes and a brain of his own, and he should have used them. He was looking at second for a good half-second before he threw there, and he should of realised he didn't have a shot there no matter how hard he threw the ball. He should have ignored the call and gone for the safe out at first.

I am chalking this game up to jet-lag and our uninspired bench construction. JH is right -- Macias and Wilson simply should not be on the team, let alone getting ABs. I posted a comment awhile ago that our bench would cost the team 4 or 5 wins (50 runs) during the season -- last night was one of them.

It's not that I disagree with Dusty attempting to exploit Chacin's L/R split on the day after a long flight -- that was the right call. But we need better tools than Macias and Hairston. I nominate Hairston for the "most disappointing Cub" so far -- I thought he had "super-sub"/poor-man Tony Phillips potetial that could be inserted at OF, 2B, 3B or even SS in a pinch and contribute...and he has shown us very little production. I wonder if he has the potential to be a sweetener in a mid-season trade.

Hmm. I say we also send Dusty to the minor leagues until he loses some weight if he's going to go with Jose Macias as the potential tying run at the plate with the game on the line.

Could you imagine the line-up in Des Moines. Calvin Murray, Angel Enchivarria, Trenidad Hubbard, Jose Macias.

I bet Dusty could even get Hendry to bulk up the lineup by adding all-stars Rickey Henderson and Oil Can Boyd to the roster.

Just think, TribCo could even market the stadium in Des Monies as a ballpark AND assisted living facility for "proven" 4A vetererans!

Now that's something I'd trust!

DC Tom--
"I posted a comment awhile ago that our bench would cost the team 4 or 5 wins (50 runs) during the season -- last night was one of them."

What? You know for a fact that Todd Walker would have hit a three-run homer to tie and that Derrek Lee would have won it hitting left-handed with his eyes closed in the eleventh inning?

The fault for the botched sac bunt play by the Cubs defense falls squarely on Michael Barrett's shoulders. On that play, the catcher is the "quarterback" and it is the catcher's responsibility to make the call ("First!" or "Second!") and the pitcher (or third-baseman or first-baseman) is supposed to throw to whichever base the catcher calls.

Koronka only should have been listening for Barrett's call. Everybody else in the infield and in the Cubs dugout needs to shut up. If there is any question about the pitcher being able to throw out the runner going into second or the shortstop being able to relay to first to still get the batter there (even if they miss getting the guy at second), then the catcher should holler "First!"

I MIGHT be inclined to cut the Cubs some slack this one time because maybe Barrett doesn't know Koronka well enough to be able to judge Koronka's throws to 2nd (except then he should err on the side of taking the sure out), and/or maybe Koronka did not recognize Barrett's voice because Koronka hasn't been with the team very long (although Koronka was in Spring Training with the Cubs).

But when in doubt, just get the "sure out" at 1st base. It's not worth it to take a gamble on getting the lead runner at 2nd or turning two unless you KNOW the speed of the baserunner and the batter (in this case, the opposing pitcher), which obviously the Cubs did not.

As for letting Jerry Hairston lead off in the 8th and saving Corey Patterson to pinch-hit in the 9th, I agree that Patterson should NOT have pinch-hit for Hairston in that spot (because Hairston would have been functioning as a "lead-off" hitter in that inning, and that's what he does best), but then I wouldn't have started Hairston in CF in the first place. I posted several times during Spring Training that Hairston can NOT play CF, because he takes "wide receiver-style" squared-off "up & out" routes in pursuit of fly balls and has trouble judging the ball coming off the bat, which does not seem to be as big a problem when he plays LF.

But even if Patterson had not pinch-hit for Hairston in the 8th and had been available to pinch-hit for the pitcher in the 9th (thereby allowing Todd Walker to hit for Macias), Macias still would have batted for himself in the 9th. Dusty Baker loves the guy.

Could someone get Dusty a Jeromy Burnitz baseball card and show in that he does in fact have another centerfielder on his team. There's a reason why you don't put a converted infielder at the most difficult outfield position, and its something we've seen way too many times now.

Last night's game to me was just another classic case of Dusty's decisions making it more difficult for the Cubs to win.

Bleeding Blue is absolutely correct. Jeromy Burnitz started more games in CF last year in spsacious Coors Field than he did in RF, and Burnitz played more games in CF last year than any other Rockies outfielder.

If Burnitz can play CF in Coors, he CETAINLY can play CF in Wrigley. The bottom line is, Burnitz CAN play CF, played CF on a regular basis as recently as last season, and certainly is a far better centerfielder than either Jerry Hairston or Jose Macias.

John Hill:
"Koronka has eyes and a brain of his own, and he should have used them."

You are wrong on this on and AZ Phil is right. It is 100% the catchers call. If Barrett yelled 2nd, like he said he did, Koronka should throw to 2nd.

IF (and I'm only saying IF) the Cubs decide to trade Corey Patterson for a corner outfielder this year or during the off-season (with Felix Pie deemed the centerfielder "of the future"), Jeromy Burnitz could be the "bridge" to Pie, playing CF everyday for the Cubs through '06 (if necessary). Playing Burnitz in CF would be no worse than Joe Pepitone or Jim Hickman playing CF toward the end of the Durocher years in 1970-72, and they were adequate AND gave the Cubs more offensive punch (not "Gold Glove" defense, but adequate--especially in Wrigley Field) than Don Young, Jim Qualls, and Joe Wallis.

It would NOT be necessary to get a "stop gap" centerfielder back in a deal for Corey Patterson. so getting a corner outfielder back in a deal for C-Pat would be OK... IF Jim Hendry decides to trade Corey.

There are any number of teams (Washington, Pittsburgh, Texas, Colorado, Tampa Bay, Milwaukee, Kansas City, Houston, Toronto, et al) who would probably have an interest in Corey Patterson just because of his speed/power combination, and the belief that his new team would be able to tap C-Pat's potential.

Yeah, I've got to agree that the bunt play is Barrett's responsibility.

Koronka's brain did what it should have on his second ever MLB start: it listened to his catcher.

Now, if he didn't make the play because his hesitation allowed the runner just enough time to make it safely, then that is Koronka's fault.

John Hill: "Ben Grieve (LF/RF) is the most inexcusable omission -- he's hitting 280/386/533 on the year at Iowa"

John, I agree. I saw Ben Grieve play a lot in Oakland when he first came up and was impressed. If you look back at those years, he actually had slightly better numbers than Tejada!

His numbers weren't as good with TB, but I'm still very surprised this guy is back in the minors. Cubbies should give him a shot!

John Hill:
"And Hairston could almost certainly play a passable shortstop in an emergency."

Hairston plays a horrible OF, an average 2B at best, so what makes you think he could play a "passable" SS? SS is the most important defensive postion on the field and Hairston shouldn't even be considered playing there unless he is the only IF left on the team and then I would rather have Maddux play there.

Not only was Macias 2 for 3, but his average was up to .275...with the bad start, that mean he hit .364 in May. You have the pitchers spot up next...I think you have to gamble and assume macias won't hit into a DP and then Walker is up with a chance at minimium to keep the game alive, or even win it.

In retrospect it didn't work, and maybe it wasn't the perfect move. But I also don't think it was a killer game ending move either.

It irks me to see some of us immediately point the finger at Baker after a loss like this, especially with how every move of his has paid off for virtually the previous 3 weeks. He makes bad boneheaded calls, no doubt.

I don't think this was one of them.

One worry of mine is the lack of days off for CPat, Burnitz and Lee. I know Cpat had the day off some yesterday, but these guys can't comtinue to play EVERYDAY. Like mentioned above Cpat could be replaced in CF by Burnitz and then Holly could play in RF, Holly can also releive Lee and Burnitz a day here and there too.

I just don't want to see what happened last year with all the injuries, we had to play our guys everyday and they wilted down the stretch. Bringing Grieve up and releasing Wilson could also help with releiveing the OF's.

The home run pitch was definately a changeup. Koronka's (rarely thrown) slider has a much more sweeping horizontal movement to it.

I saw one replay of it, so I'm sure it could have been a changeup, but I definitely noted the location and even if Johnson knew it was coming, it would be a hard pitch to hit out.

Todd Walker is a better hitter than Jose Macias, and that's all there should be to it. I couldn't care one bit about whether Macias is 3-for-3 with 3 HR or going for the golden sombrero, it doesn't change the fact that he's Jose Macias and hitting is his problem.

In any given plate appearance, who's more likely to get a hit? Walker. Who's less likely to make an out? Walker. Who's less likely to hit into a game-ending double play? Walker. Who's more likely to hit what would be a game-tying home run? Walker. As you would say, Manny, it's a "no-brainer".

No doubt Walker is the better hitter, but Dusty put himself into quite the dilemma by pinch hitting for Hairston in the 8th with Korey. After Macias, the pitcher spot was up. If he pinch hit with Walker there and he didn't hit a homer or ground into a double play, the only available option was Enrique Wilson. (well if it was me managaing, you'd also have Rusch and Zambrano available to pinch hit). So it was either put the game in the hands of Macias/Walker or Walker/Wilson. Sure Walker could have hit the game tying homer, but he could have also hit into a double play, struck out, or one of the dozen or so other possibilities. It wasn't choosing Walker over Macias, it was choosing Macias over Wilson and with Macias already 2 for 3 on the day, I actually see Dusty's logic on the move.

I can see the, "last chance" mentality that would have put Walker in that situation but the odds of Macias hitting into a double play there are relatively low, compared to the other possible outcomes. Plus if you do put Walker in there and he doesn't hit a homer (the most likely scenario, other then him NOT hitting a triple or catcher's interference or other oddball basbeball scenario), then the game would have been in the hands of Wilson...YUCK!!!

No, the true fault is undoubtedly pinch hitting for Hairston to leadoff the eighth and not having Korey available to pinch hit with Walker in the 9th. If he let Hairston hit in the 8th, he would have had Korey pinch hit for Macias (less likely to end the game on a double play and even if he K's, Walker still gets a shot) and the Cubs would have had two respectable opportunities to extend the game.

Adam-
True, and if Walker was used for Macias and didn't hit a HR, who was gong to hit in the P spot? Enrique Wilson most likely. I would rather have a 2-3 Macias and then Walker next over Walker and then Enrique Wilson next.

Also with Walker not running all so well still, Baker probally figured he would never be able to beat out a DP ball and Macias had a better chance.

But it didn't work, so Dusty gets the blame. That is part of being manager, especially in this town. But I don't think it was a bad move just a bad result.

Rob G.-
You and I agree then, my thoughts exactly (post #6 and #26)....

So you're telling me Koronka has absolutely no right to overrule Barrett when he looks up and sees a baserunner that's going to be safe?

Screen grab from MLB TV of the situation as Koronka milli-seconds after he threw the ball

Personally, I look up and I see that and I say screw Barrett, it's not his ERA.

If in doubt, take the safe out.

But, whatever, it all happened very fast, there's not time to think through everything rationally and hindsight is 20/20, I appreciate all that.

Rob--
"So it was either put the game in the hands of Macias/Walker or Walker/Wilson."

Of course. And I still take the second option myself. The guarantee of seeing Walker bat for me is more than the difference between Macias and Wilson. Let's be honest, the pair both suck.

RE #23 and 26:

Adam and Manny, you're forgetting that Dusty managed himself into a corner by pinch hitting Corey in the 8th.

So either it was a dumb move because he didn't use walker as a pinch hitter in the 9th or it was a dumb move because he mis-managed the bench earlier in the game.

Either way, it was idiotic managing that made it more difficult for the Cubs to pull out a win. And that's why fingers get pointed at the untrustable Dusty.

Manny--
"Hairston plays a horrible OF, an average 2B at best, so what makes you think he could play a "passable" SS? SS is the most important defensive postion on the field and Hairston shouldn't even be considered playing there unless he is the only IF left on the team."

His defence at second is generally better than what he displayed there earlier in the season for us, I think. He plays a lousy centre field, yes, but I don't see what that really has to do with shortstop. I'm only talking about in an emergency, if Neifi injures himself and needs to be taken out of the game, then put Hairston in at shortstop, and by passable I mean only in the sense that he wouldn't be an embarrassment.

Re #14, John Hill said,

"What? You know for a fact that Todd Walker would have hit a three-run homer to tie and that Derrek Lee would have won it hitting left-handed with his eyes closed in the eleventh inning?"

Funny...that's exactly what I saw in my magic mirror yesterday evening!

I was writing euphemistically when I said our bench would cost us 4-5 wins and that last night was one of those. Certainly hard to pin any loss on any one particular factor, but you gotta recognize that Hairston and Macias's "contributions" in the lineup were the biggest problems we had offensively.

Over the rest of the season, our bench is going to cost us at least four wins. Courtesy of Baseball Prospectus, 1/3 into the season, here are the VORPS and PAs (which I use as proxy for playing time) for our five bench players:

Hollandsworth -3.1 VORP in 129 PAs
Macias -1.3 VORP in 56 PAs
Wilson -0.6 VORP in only 12 PAs (!)
Hairston +3.9 VORP in 177 PAs (rated as a 2B -- as an OF, where he's played 1/4 of his starts, his VORP would be lower)
Blanco -3.7 VORP in 52 PAs

I would knock Hairston's positive VORP down one run or so on the assumption that he is at best a replacement-level OF and plays 1/4 of his time there (both optimistic assumptions). That takes the "contribution" of these five players to -5.8 VORP.

Let's compare that to players we COULD be playing. Let's assume we replace Blanco with a replacement-level (AAAA) catcher with VORP of zero, keep Hairston, and dump Holly, Macias and Wilson for Ben Grieve, Ronny Cedeno and Mike Fontenot. Those three have contributed the following to the Cubs this year in limited playing time.

Ben Grieve 0.7 VORP in 17 PAs
Ronny Cedeno 1.2 VORP in 16 PAs
Mike Fontenot 0.3 VORP in 5 PAs

Let's use those rates and give this reconstituted "bench" the same playing time for the last 2/3 of the season as the current bench got for the first 1/3 of the season. In other words, take YTD PAs for each replaced player, give them to my suggested replacement, multiply by the new players season-to-date VORP/PA rate, and multiply by two (for last 2/3 of the season):

Grieve (Holly's PAs) 11.3 VORP in 258 PAs
Cedeno (Macias's PAs) 8.4 VORP in 112 PAs
Fontenot (Wilson's PAs) 1.4 VORP in 24 PAs
Hairston 5.8 VORP in 354 PAs (assuming zero VORP as an OF and 1/4 of his playing time at OF)
The Unknown Catcher 0.0 VORP in 104 PAs

That bench would contribute 26.9 runs to the Cubs for the final two-thirds of the season. The current bench would cost the Cubs 11.6 runs (-11.6 VORP).

The difference is 38.5 runs -- nearly four wins. And that's with essentially two replacement-level talents (Fontenot and Catcher-To-Be-Named). Field a back-up catcher like Chris Widger, Paul Bako or Matt Treanor and we could do even better than that. I'm not a Charles Johnson fan, but even he has a positive VORP at catcher. (I realize it is high-ish for Grieve, as it would be a VORP/PA rate at about the 70th percentile of PECOTA, but I also think Fontenot is better than the replacement level I am essentially giving him.)

Blue:
"Adam and Manny, you're forgetting that Dusty managed himself into a corner by pinch hitting Corey in the 8th."

I am not forgetting that. I mentioned it in post #6: "A more valid complaint would be PHing Cpat for Hairston in the 8th.".

Like Adam said, amazing the Cubs go 18-9 in last 27 and they lose one game and the Dusty blame game begins again. Man, I wish I was a manager in this town.

Sorry Manny, I'm not a believer that a hot streak absolves anyone of future sins.

Perhaps Dusty didn't get as much grief over the past 2 weeks because he didn't make as many boneheaded moves as usual. And seems to me, earlier this season there were questions raised about Dusty's managing even during wins, to which Dusty-supporters complained because we were pointing out his flaws as a manager even when he pulled out a victory.

I just don't want to see what happened last year with all the injuries, we had to play our guys everyday and they wilted down the stretch.

Is that how you saw it? What I saw was the team chemistry change for the worse when the Cubs got back all their starters back healthy.

They're facing the same problem this year. What do the Cubs do with Garciapparra if he comes back? Starting SS again? And then what do you do with Neifi...have him bump Walker, Hairston, Macias and Wilson off second?

Managing the late season returns of ten million dollar players is real trouble.

Blue-
I think the pointing out of "bad moves" is very arbitrary. The "moves" are rarely moves that are "no braniers" as I like to say. So when you have a move that is a 50-50 move and it goes wrong, he gets "blamed" for it even though it was a flip of the coin. And moves that are looked at from unbiased eys as 5-05- are many times looked at from Dusty detractors as 90-10, almost a no brainer bad move". And when his moves go right, none of his detractors say anything about them.

Hey, I can care less, he is going no where, thankfully, and hearing the crying from Dusty detractors is good debate fodder to add to the season.

And please remember, this goes for everyone including myself, just because you don't agree (or do agree) with a move does not mean it was a wrong move (or right move), it just means you wouldn't (or would) of done it AND you might not be aware of internal happenings that went into that decison (injury, etc.).

Cubswinthepennant-
"What I saw was the team chemistry change for the worse when the Cubs got back all their starters back healthy."

From August 28-Sept 24, the Cubs were 24-11. Then the last 9 days they were 2-7.

So how does going 24-11 show the team chemistry change for the worse??? I think some of the key players got tired from the long stretch of games they had to play and lack of days off. And also the 2 blown saves demoralized the team (Sept 25th and 29th).

Makes you wonder:

ST. LOUIS -- Free agency last winter was an emotional new experience for Matt Clement. About 20 teams inquired, and nine -- including the White Sox -- were so interested they made firm offers.

Every free agent wishes for this scenario. But Clement -- never one to be greedy -- was wishing for something more.

''The whole free agency was so weird for me because you don't hear from the Cubs, the team you want to go to,'' Clement said Monday. ''I wanted to go back, and they knew that.''

Well, you're the first person I've read who's feels that the 2004 Cubs had GOOD team chemistry. But to turn your argument on you, How does going 24-11 in that stretch prove that some key players got tired?

Manny and his blinding faith. I don't care what kind of manager you are, you would still get roasted by fans with 2 runners on base and sending Jose Macias to the plate instead of Todd Walker.

All Macias does is swing at the first pitch and hit ground balls. That is the last thing you want to see with runners on base.

It is bad managing and I dont care who you are. Just painful to watch Baker trust his scrubs over people who should be and are PAID to do that job. Todd Walker isnt paid to sit on his ass in those situations and Jose Macias certainly isnt paid to drive in runs on any day of the week. A real manager would have his best bat up in that situation. Dusty Baker isnt a real manager because he goes with his worst player because his "gut" tells him so. But the sad thing is Baker's gut is only correct about .300's of the time. That would be great if he was a hitter, but for a manager that is pathetic.

"Either way, it was idiotic managing that made it more difficult for the Cubs to pull out a win. And that's why fingers get pointed at the untrustable Dusty."

I just don't see that one bit in this situation...your team is down 4-0, hadn't had a chance to score since blowing 2 opportunities in the first 2 innings, your damned if you do, and damned if you don't.

So many different combinations of things would have needed to happen to make it work out, and any combination of Patterson/Macias/Walker/Wilson that goes out in the 9th, chances are still very low that you win or even tie...the planets need to align for that to happen. Was it the best possible scenario, probably not. Was it "idiotic"...In my opinion, nowhere close.

Again, Macias was 2 for 3, hitting about .330 or so since May, either way, unless Walker hit a home run, you still are going to need 2 probably 3 more hits to tie the game...it's a no win situation, pure and simple.

We lost the game because Koronka had a tough time in the arly going, we lost because we blew run scoring chances in the first and 2nd. Our defense was pretty terrible. We lost because we were down 4-0 heading into the 9th. We didn't lose becasue Macias was batting down 4-1 in the 9th.

I blame Dusty for a lot of losses in April and early May. I don't blame Dusty at all for this one, it was a bad situation, where a dozen combinations of moves could have been done in the 8th and 9th...11 of them would have produced the same result Dusty stayed with Koronka and got 4 more innings out of him than I thought we would, he got 3 scoreless innings out the bullpen. I just think in the course of the game there will always be some questionable moves, but in this one, as in most, they all balance out and the chance of the manager effecting the result is minimal at best.

I cringe when I agree with Manny about Baker, because there are many many times that I don't this year, and I think a lot of the criticism is valid. But in this case, I've read all the strong arguments from people much more well read in baseball than I....but in this case, I don't buy any of the arguments.

Macias is 2-3 and hitting .300+ over the last month. What happens when he gets a single to make it 4-2 and Walker hits into a DP? What happens when Walker bats for Macias, and Walker strikes out and Wilson ends the game. What happens if Hary bats in the 8th, and then Corey bats in the 9th representing the winning run with 2 outs and Strikes out? We were down 4-1 with 1 out in the in the 9th. The odds are VERY low that we comeback, it just so happens that it ended with one swing instead of two.

I tend to think we spend too much time over analyizing minute moves, instead of missing the bigger picture. The players didn't get the job done, and we lost 4-1. We still have one 12 of the last 16, and have another game today.

If those moves make Dusty an "idiot"...then I just simply don't get it.

"It is bad managing and I dont care who you are. Just painful to watch Baker trust his scrubs over people who should be and are PAID to do that job. Todd Walker isnt paid to sit on his ass in those situations and Jose Macias certainly isnt paid to drive in runs on any day of the week. A real manager would have his best bat up in that situation. Dusty Baker isnt a real manager because he goes with his worst player because his "gut" tells him so. But the sad thing is Baker's gut is only correct about .300's of the time. That would be great if he was a hitter, but for a manager that is pathetic."

I really get angry reading stuff like this, I don't know why...maybe because it is so arrogant and self righteous, while also being devoid of any logic.

I don't know exact numbers, but I would venture to guess there is no more than a 20% chance Macias hits into a DP there, and no better than a 10% chance that Walker hits a game tying home run (Probably more like 5%).

Is it really just a "gut feeling" that had Baker use a guy with a relatively hot bat to keep the game going in the 9th? Is it really a "gut feeling" to let Walker try to win or keep the game alive if Macias doesn't end it.

I read comments like yours, and I'm really wondering if I'm watching a different sport than you. The Cubs were down 4-1 with 2 on in the 9th. They were not on the verge of winning the game. There was no major home run threat sitting on the bench that you could count on to tie the game with one swing of the bat that's an obvious choice. You arte choosing in the 8th and 9th between Patterson, Walker, Macias, Hairston, and Wilson.

You throw any combination of those 5 up to the palte down 3 runs in the 9th, and 95% of the time the team loses.

Yet one combination is genious, and another "pathetic" or "idiotic"

Manny's support for Baker goes far beyond mine...but just like politics, when I hear an irrational argument to one side, it makes it much easier to understand where the other side is coming from.

Cubs won 12 of 15 games? I guess that was in spite of Dusty, while this loss was because he is "pathetic" and an "idiot"

Again, Macias was 2 for 3, hitting about .330 or so since May, either way, unless Walker hit a home run, you still are going to need 2 probably 3 more hits to tie the game...it's a no win situation, pure and simple.

Well and good, but, as people have mentioned, the only reason we were in this predicament in the first place was using K-Pax earlier, and, as people have mentioned, Macias may be hitting .667 in this game and .330 since May, but he's also hitting 257/301/rags since 2000. By that logic, you might as well pinch So Taguchi or whoever for Pujols if Pujols comes up and is 0-for-4 with 4 Ks. As John Hill said earlier, if Macias is 3/3 with 3 home runs, his bat is still stone cold on the fourth time up.

For my part, all I have ever asked of Dusty Baker is to choose the path that has the highest expected value. I don't care what "every other manager in MLB would do," as some here love to defend. I don't care if the Cubs win the game. I do care when they needlessly don't give themselves the best chance of winning, and that means giving as few PAs as possible to people with lifetime OBPs of .300. Apparently, this relatively simple task is too hard for him to follow the majority of the time.

Rarely will the Cubs, or anybody else, win games like last night's. The point is that, to the extent each bottom-of-the-ninth is a random draw from an infinite number of endings to the game, doing things like the Macias/Walker decision will easily help you lose 99% rather than 98.5%, or whatever the appropriate percentage is.

That the odds against a comeback are so high is precisely why you don't do the opposing team any favors. Todd's rarely going to hit a home run, and Macias won't GIDP as often as he simply makes an out, but Walker's going to continue the inning more often than Macias, giving the next guy a chance to continue the inning (even if unnecessary moves earlier mean the next guy is Enrique Wilson.)

Cubspennant-
"How does going 24-11 in that stretch prove that some key players got tired?"

I am referring to teh last 9 games. Their bats went ice cold.

MikeC:
"But the sad thing is Baker's gut is only correct about .300's of the time."

But somehow Bakers managerial winning percentage is .541 (2nd highest active, only behind Cox).

But I know they win because of the talent he has to play with or win inspite of him, but lose because of him...blah blah blah.

Macias at the Bat

The sneer has fled from Macias' lip, the teeth are clenched in hate.
He pounds, with cruel violence, his bat upon the plate.

And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
and now the air is shattered by the force of Jose's blow.

Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright.
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light.

But there is no joy in Cubville, the redhots are blue today,

Macias, MIGHTY MACIAS,
Hit into a double play.

Ron Galt,
I can see your argument, that it wasn't the best possible scenario for the Cubs. I still don't think it was the worst, but so be it. My point is more towards those who call Dusty's moves in the game "idiotic" or "pathetic". I think in the grand scheme of things those were minor 51%-49% type moves. Baker did not cost the team the game, so it seems kinda incredible to me that half of the posts in this thread (Before I stepped in) were all about how horrible Baker screwed up. To me that's just ignoring the fact that the team played a shitty game.

I don't think our odds improve much with CPAT available in the 9th too as his bat has been as cold as anyone elses, especially in clutch situations....but I don't think giving us a 1.5% chance of winning, versus a 1% chance is even worth any even remote fuss, let alone the hatred spewed at Baker. I really think you take all of Baker's moves yesterday, including the handling of the pitching staff, and the good was equivelant to the bad...Baker did not cost us the game in any way shape or form yesterday. Being down 4-0 in the 8th did.

"Baker did not cost the team the game, so it seems kinda incredible to me that half of the posts in this thread (Before I stepped in) were all about how horrible Baker screwed up."

Adam, I agree completely, though I also agree that sending up Macias is the wrong move. But as you point out, everyone knows that Baker will let Macias hit; he's always done it and he'll continue to do so.

Obviously the real blame lies with Macias himself. As shown by Macias' double, if he takes a few pitches, fouls some balls off, etc., he has a better chance of not making a Macias-esque out. However, it seems that in every key situation in which he hits, he swings at the first pitch and puts it into play. Perhaps he is desperate to contribute; perhaps he truly believes that by swinging at the first pitch he can. Regardless, his utter lack of plate discipline/patience and his utter lack of usefulness in general is utterly frustrating.

Venting to the Choir,

CutHim

"How does going 24-11 in that stretch prove that some key players got tired?"

I am referring to teh last 9 games. Their bats went ice cold.

Okay, that one went completely over your head.

How about the possibility that the Cubs didn't get tired, they simply were playing at an unsustainable winning percentage? The Cubs are a .545 team. They were playing at .686 during that streak --- far over THEIR heads.

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