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 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


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


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.

Recent comments

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  • Well said. On one hand, I thought the HBP was a bad baseball play -- down 4 runs, put a runner on for a red-hot Fowler. On the other hand, they needed to do something -- I hadn't thought about the warning/pitching inside point. Is Hurdle that smart? He does not strike me that way. By the way -- not clear which fan base you are referring to in your "first" 3rd point.

  • My unsolicited opinions on topics covered in this thread:
    1. I hate the fact that after 162 games, a team could be out after 1 game. However, I think the system is pretty close to perfect right now. 2 of 3 isn't feasible unless they shorten the regular season, and it ices the division winners for way too long. This creates excitement, and rewards the division winners.

  • Personally, I think the game could have had a very different look had the Pirates held onto the ball and tagged Fowler out on the steal in the first. Cole was clearly frazzled, but if they took that runner off the base, it could have relaxed him a lot.

  • Football games are played once a week. There are 16 games a year. I'm not even remotely following at all how you can compare the two leagues and playoff systems. It is physically impossible to play a home and away series. The idea of not having any road games in baseball playoffs is certainly a head scratcher.

    How is not having the first and last game at home a benefit for the division winners and team with the best record? How is it not an incentive to win the division when a WC team has to blow their top pitcher?

    Call me lost.

  • Two 97+ win teams in a do-or-die, great bullpens, overpowering starters, plenty of pop--hard to believe that game wouldn't be tense. A 4-0 lead is not a blowout, especially in that situation and with the Cubs' young bullpen. Not only would a defensive play here or there make a difference, but you get the win there also on the home plate umps strike zone (generous strike calls for Arrieta, including a couple Ks), and on Schwarber sitting on the right pitch at the right time.

  • Unbeleivable Dodgers:
    I just noticed the Dodger's payroll today. It is just absurd. $300,000,000+!!
    Here is where just some of their money is for 2015:

    Some "Highlights"
    Carl Crawford $20MM
    Brandon McCarthy $17MM
    Bronson Arroyo $3.5MM
    Darwin B $2.2MM
    Dan Haren $10MM
    Matt Kemp $18MM
    Brian Wilson $10MM
    Ryan Webb $2.2MM
    Dee Gordon $2.5MM

  • So I think tomorrow will be the most important test of how far we can go. We can win it all with two pitchers since Arietta has shown he can carry over his success to the post season. If Lester can be dominant also then I think we can go far no matter how Hendricks or Hammel do.


    And in terms of pitching just went through to see how we could maximize Lester and Arietta and came up with this (Lester would be going on 4 days rest three times and Arietta twice):

  • i still can't believe that crawford contract (7/142). all that loot and years for a LF'r who's entire hitting game revolves around his legs and line-drive power. those triples that raised his value are deceptive as hell to his true power, but it helped him get paid.

    there's also pause about a guy who's ob% is almost totally driven by hits rather than walks. BOS got lucky unloading that crap deal.

  • I think the Cubs take Berry and Soler off playoff roster and add Hammel & Ramirez. Believe Maddon will find Denorfia & Jackson defense too hard to lose.

  • O & B: I like the one-game Wild Card heart attack game, but I'd actually like to see a best two-out-of-three LDS played in the home parks of the two division winners with the best records, and then the LCS as a best two-out-of-three in the home park of the division winner left standing with the best record, and then let's get to the World Series already. 

  • I...don't know. If chanting would help the Cubs beat the Cardinals in the next series or ultimately the World Series I think I'd be ok with it lol. I'm not supportive of saying insulting things to opposing fans or throwing things but loud noise and chanting seems appropriate to me.

    I also grew up in France though and that kind of thing is par for the course at soccer and rugby matches and I love it. I find crowds too passive here.

  • Er, they won the first one. My bad. Carry on.

  • With last night's win in Pittsburgh, the Cubs have tied the Pirates with 98 wins, and are only 2-1/2 games behind the Cardinals. No reason why the Cubs can't finish the post-season with the best winning percentage in baseball (regular season & post-season combined). 

  • BOB: I doubt very much that Matt Szczur will be on the Cubs LDS roster.

    If he wasn't on the Wild Card roster (when the Cubs went with 15 position players), he won't be on the LDS roster (when the Cubs will go with 13 or 14 position players).

    As it is, at least one of the three RH hitting outfielders who were on the Cubs WC roster (Denorfia, Jackson, and Soler) could get bumped off the LDS roster (probably Soler).