Cubs Slump Continues

I was in beatiful Fresno, CA this weekend for a baptism and was forced to follow the Cubs through cell phone updates. First, hanging out in 96 degree weather is not fun, I don't care how damn dry the heat is. And driving up to Fresno has all the charm of driving through the nine circles of hell. I can't tell you how many wonderful smells we discovered along the way.

What also sucks is checking updates on the game to see the Cubs go up 3-1 heading into the bottom of the ninth with the Brewers getting shellacked and thinking all will be well with the world, only to check an hour later and have my heart drop when I saw the 4-3 Reds win. I quickly checked the play-by-play info and when I saw "Two runs score on a double to shorstop Ronny Cedeno", I knew this wasn't your garden variety 9th inning blown save. This was one to chalk up with the many legendary Cubs meltdown games.

Sigh. That sure makes for a miserable off day.

I thought it was time to start looking just how alarming this September swoon is compared to some past World Series winners. Is losing seven of eight something that happens to the best of them or are the Cubs approaching epic failure status?

Team September 1st Record
End of Season Record
Longest Losing Streak
2007 Red Sox 80-55 96-66 4
2006 Cardinals 71-61 83-78 8
2005 White Sox 80-51 99-63 7
2004 Red Sox 77-53 98-64 5

 

There have been some mentions of the 2005 White Sox and 2006 Cardinals "collapses" in September and how it might relate to the Cubs.  The White Sox did have a tough August going 12-17 and losing seven straight at one point, but went 17-12 in Sept/Oct. Now, they did enter the month with a 7 game lead that got down to 1.5 games while they were losing 10 of 15, but finished out the month strong to win the division by six.

The 2006 Cardinals entered September with a five game lead on the heels of a 13-15 August. That lead was still 7 games on September 20th, when they started a seven game losing streak and eventually losing eight of nine that lowered their lead to a half game over the Astros before finally securing the division by taking two of three from the Brewers.

None of that gives me much comfort...at all. Winning some more games though will and I do think the Cubs can turn this little slump around at any moment. The Cubs are still on pace to win 97 games and my only major concern with the team is  the health of Zambrano and to a lesser degree Rich Harden. Neither of those is anything the Cubs, Lou Piniella  or any Cubs fan can do anything about though. If they are hurt or ineffective due to being hurt, there's no September pick-up that's going to save the day. That's neither comforting nor alarming, it just is what it is. And yes, this zen-like approach is what is needed to get me through the rest of the season.

 


 

- Lou is going with Ryan Dempster, Ted Lilly and Rich Harden over the next three games and then Jason Marquis, Carlos Zambrano and Ryan Dempster over the weekend in Houston. If Z is still hurting, it'll be Sean Marshall on Saturday instead. The rotation the rest of the way if that sticks:

September 9th @ Cardinals- Ryan Dempster
September 10th @ Cardinals- Ted Lilly
September 11th @ Cardinals- Rich Harden
September 12th @ Astros- Jason Marquis
September 13th @ Astros- Carlos Zambrano
September 14th @ Astros- Ryan Dempster
September 15th - Off Day
September 16th vs. Brewers - Ted Lilly
September 17th vs. Brewers - Rich Harden
September 18th vs. Brewers- Jason Marquis
September 19th vs. Cardinals - Carlos Zambrano
September 20th vs. Cardinals - Ryan Dempster
September 21th vs. Cardinals -Ted Lilly
September 22nd @ Mets - Rich Harden
September 23rd @ Mets - Jason Marquis
September 24th @ Mets - Carlos Zambrano
September 25th @ Mets - Ryan Dempster
September 26th @ Brewers - Ted Lilly
September 27th @ Brewers - Rich Harden
September 28th @ Brewers - Jason Marquis

I liked it better when it was Harden, Lilly and Z set to face the Brewers next week.

-  Jon "Re"Lieber has been sent home for the rest of the season and the newspapers are speculating that his career might be over.

- Mark DeRosa has accomplished one of his goals this season. No more bus trips to Tuscon. He made a deal with Lou at the beginning of the year that if he hit 20 HR's and 80 RBI's, he wouldn't have to make the long bus trip from Mesa to Tuscon for Cactus League games.

"So I told him, 'We've got to have a bet or something because I'm tired
of covering for D-Lee (Derrek) and Aramis (Ramirez) and (Alfonso)
Soriano. I think the people of Tucson would very much like to see them
play."

Comments

A few concerns for me beyond the current hitting/fielding/pitching slump:

- RF is a big question mark. Has Lou completely written off Fukudome (and why not? The guy's a disaster at the plate.)? If Hoffpauer tears it up over the next 2 weeks, is he the starting RF in the playoffs? Really? If not, what does Lou do in RF? Dero in RF, Fonty at 2B? It's a mess.

- Edmonds seems to have hit something of a wall. 7 for his last 43, I believe. Could just be a normal 10-game dip, but, still a concern given his age. Hopefully, the trip to St. Louis will wake him up.

So, the two primary lefty bats have basically been dead for a while. RF and CF are currently not contributing to the offense -- not a good September situation for a playoff team.

Plus -- the bullpen. Gaudin's back, Samardjiza's showing a few (normal rookie) chinks in the armor, Cotts is really the only lefty, Howry and Wuertz are who they are, etc.

Other than that, all is well.

Those of us old enough have seen this movie before ---give or take a few days....the 2008 September slump is 1969 deja vu all over again.

In '69 the 84-52 1st place Cubs, coming off a five game winning streak, went on an 8 game losing streak between 9-3 and 9-11, won a game, and then lost 3 more in a row. They wound up finishing 8-18, 92-70.

2008, the 85-50 1st place Cubs, coming off a seven game winning streak, went on a 6 game losing streak between 8-30 and 9-5, won a game, and then lost 1 game--- and counting.

BUT, and it's a BIG BUT

We're lucky this year. The Milwaukee Brewers are No '69 Mets and there is always the wildcard.

and for the third time this year, I post it here, and Gordon Wittenmeyer writes it there the next day...

September slump eerily similar, but situation isn't for these Cubs

September 9, 2008

BY GORDON WITTENMYER

http://www.suntimes.com/sports/baseball/cubs/11521...

Right... because you are the first and only Cub fan to make any connection between this year and 1969. And Gordon Wittenmeyer thinks that some random commenter on a blog is so smart that he must copy the crap you write.

What the hell are you talking about?

Ok you two are starting to sound like the Mike and Manny show

I am not exactly the only one that points out the absurdities in navigator's posts.

On the Cedeno play, this is what I think happened.

Originally called an error. The assumption would have been that it was a 3-2 game with 2 outs and a man on 2nd and 3rd (you can't assume a double play, or even a FC). Next guy gets a hit, so with two outs the Reds win 4-3 and all the runs are earned (error by Edmonds had no effect and Cedeno's error doesn't come into the play). Since the runs are all earned, anyway, there's no point in giving Cedeno an error and taking the hit away from whoever that was, so award him a double. Cedeno is happy, no error. The batter is happy, hit. Wood doesn't care, he's stuck with 3 earned runs regardless.

Sort of the Obama method of official scoring. Integrity be damned, just tell the people what they want to hear.

In reality, it probably should have been a infield single with the runners advancing on an error by Cedeno. Had Theriot been in, the ball still goes into center and either it's tied or 3-2 with the bases loaded. Next guy gets a hit and it's tied or game over (probably tied, since the Reds third base coach had been taught his lesson on runninng on Soriano earlier), but odds are on one of those two bases loaded hits they probably get two RBI's.

Should Cedeno have turned the DP? Probably. Would anyone else on the Cubs roster had a chance to turn it? No.

I've never understood why you can't assume a double play.

Example: Routine grounder to 2B, clean flip to SS the SS throws it in the dirt to first, where the 1B can't make the scoop. No error, because "you can't assume a double play". But, the guy clearly botched a routine play. It should be an error.

Also, when an OF misjudges a fly ball and it goes over his head-- that's not an error? Whyt the hell not?

Just off-day musings...

"Sort of the Obama method of official scoring. Integrity be damned, just tell the people what they want to hear."

Nice. I'll officially ignore the rest of your comment now, since I know it's written by an idiot.

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  • Maddon would have started three lefties against the Dodgers, Montgomery, Zastryzny and Lester, except that he doesn't have the juice to do that. No manager does. Maddon has a boss, Epstein (and probably Hoyer, too), who gave him a starting rotation of five guys including Hammel. Maddon was asked yesterday about the starting group for next year and basically said, Not my call, that's why I drive away in my RV in the summer and occasionally check in, etc.

    VirginiaPhil 3 hours 47 min ago view
  • video of Maddon.

    http://www.espn.com/espn/now?nowId=21-0561343809737202839-4

    always nice that he actually tries to honestly answer questions. Does mention that he wanted to give Zastr? a chance in a meaningful spot rather than a mop-up role.

    Rob G. 18 hours 58 min ago view
  • from Muskat:

    #Cubs Maddon: "I'm not going to make up an excuse for why I did what I did. It has nothing to do with lack of confidence" ... "It was the right thing to do today based on what I saw, what their lineup looked like and Rob Z.'s availability." #Cubs

    Rob G. 19 hours 4 min ago view
  • http://www.espn.com/espn/now?nowId=21-0561339391889382475-4

    Hammel not particularly understanding of getting pulled out...as he should. Be curious what Maddon had to say. All I can think of is is keeping arms fresh and maybe wanting to see if Zastr? is worth considering for the playoffs and how he'd do against the Dodgers.

    Rob G. 19 hours 9 min ago view
  • great defense

    Heyward, Russell, Baez, Bryant, Ross in particular...although Bryant's a bit hard to judge with all the positions.

    Fowler and Rizzo in the top half of the NL for their positions as well (per fangraphs)...Zobrist right at the halfway cutoff for 2b in the NL.

    I'm sure some luck is involved too, but the Cubs and Maddon knew what they were doing.

    Rob G. 19 hours 20 min ago view
  • If all the starters have FIP > ERA, is that luck or good defense?

    Craig A. 19 hours 32 min ago view
  • #Cubs plummet to 19-5 in August.

    Fun with FIP

    • J. Hammel   3.07 ERA/4.27 FIP (3.68 FIP last year)
    • J. Arrieta     2.62 ERA/3.05 FIP (2.35 FIP last year)
    • J. Lester     2.81 ERA/3.67 FIP (2.92 FIP last year)
    • K. Hendricks  2.19 ERA/3.37 FIP (3.36 FIP last year)
    • J. Lackey     3.41 ERA/3.72 FIP (3.57 FIP last year with Cards)
    Rob G. 19 hours 57 min ago view
  • zastyryzryzryzny put in 3.2ip 1h 0bb 3k

    he's great when his control is "on"...problem is it's rarely "on" consistently. he could vault up the cubs prospect list if he ever gets better with that aspect of his game.

    crunch 20 hours 37 min ago view
  • JD's take was just trying to get in a lefty to better deal with mostly lefty Dodgers lineup.

    My second thought was what you came up with. My first thought was he was trying to light a fire under Hammel.

    Jackstraw 21 hours 49 min ago view
  • Maybe he was trying to spare him another brutal road start? NY, Colorado...

    billybucks 22 hours 6 min ago view
  • joe got a pitcher up for hammel at nearly the 1st sign of trouble in the 3rd...pulled after 2.1

    not injured and though it wasn't his day so far he wasn't looking like a pure disaster.

    really short leash on him. zastryznzryzryny in.

    crunch 22 hours 10 min ago view
  • Russell and Soler can attest that Urias has a pretty good curve/slider - two big strikeouts looking to get out of that jam in the first.

    Eric S 22 hours 55 min ago view
  • Classic Scully - great stuff.

    Thank God we'll still have Hawk next season. (cricket cricket cricket)

    Eric S 1 day 3 hours ago view
  • Here's Scully's call on Bryant's 10th-inning homer:

    "And it's a long fly ball, a mean fly ball, and a gone fly ball."

    VirginiaPhil 1 day 5 hours ago view
  • When the Cubs were the old, hundred-year Cubs, one bad hop did not undo their opponents.

    VirginiaPhil 1 day 5 hours ago view
  • If only he was clutcher. More clutcher.

    Jackstraw 1 day 6 hours ago view