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|
|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
"Terms of the deal were not disclosed."
Theo inks five year extension
PC tonite at PNC
Not as a major factor, but could be a tie-breaker. But, yeah, on performance and experience, it's Coghlan.
Arrieta’s 2.85 ERA would be good enough to lead 26 other teams. He's 3rd on #Cubs behind Hendricks (1.99) and Lester (2.28)
Meanwhile on the SouthSide
For sure! Russell and Baez are the first infielders in a while to make me think of star defensive players in football or basketball--it's almost like they force turnovers, and they definitely play the field with a degree of athletic aggression I'd expect from a linebacker.
[Edit: Was meant to be a response to JB above.]
tebow hit a HR in the 1st pitch he sees in instructs..lulz.
I don't think his issue(s) will have anything to do with it. He hasn't hit since he's been back. Coghlan has the hot hand.
I'm not a denier but definitely a skeptic on Strop and Grimm, who struggle with fastball control. Strop doesn't go near the ninth inning, and note how Grimm couldn't close the deal even with a 5-run lead. So Felix Pena comes in and gets the 3-pitch game-ending strikeout like it was nothing.
And how about Almora missing that very catchable ball? That was unexpected after all the hype about his glove.
When Trea Turner misses balls like that--which he does--I draw conclusions from it. It seems to be the one chink in his armor. But I'll give Almora another chance.
Assuming Soler is good to go, I think it comes down to 3 of the following 4: Coghlan, TLS, Sczcur, Almora. Of the 4, TLS seems to be the hardest to justify, particularly given his behavioral issues.
I'm wondering if both Coghlan and LaStella make it. With Javy being able to play all the infield spots and Joe maybe wanting late-inning D when Soler plays (assuming he plays), hence either Szczur or Almora, I think LaStella might be the odd guy out.
Hendricks needs the win, anyway, plus a couple more.
My hunch is that Hendricks wins the Cy Young . . . for Lester. That is, without Hendricks tipping the scale toward the Cubs, Scherzer tops Lester.
Old Cub fans remember when Ken Hubbs died at 22 in the crash of a small plane he was piloting in a storm in Utah in 1964. But Hubbs was not an elite power pitcher like Score and Fernandez. Score lived a long time after the accident but it was (effectively) career-ending.
HAGSAG: Since I've only seen them throw in one game and in one "live" BP session, all I can do is provide initial first impressions.
Brailyn Marquez is listed at 6'4 but is probably more like 6'5 or 6'6. I would describe him as a younger version of Bryan Hudson, throwing a ton of ground balls but not getting a lot of swings & misses (yet). Because of his size he could eventually grow into more velocity, but right now he's mostly a pitch-to-contact guy. He generally throws strikes.
Phil, do Marquez and Ocampo look like prospects?
It helps when your defense has declared war against the H in WHIP.