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
He'll be fine. He's not some wimpy young pup.
In all seriousness the Cubs have the fewest amount of games played in the NL which means they're gonna be facing quite the grind later on including 24 games in a row at the end of June and beginning of July so I hope he does get a few days off.
Meh. He only got one hit today. Maybe give him a rest?
Good thing the Cubs have five left-handed batters in the lineup. Velasquez is just tearing thru the righties [edit - doesn't seem to faze Bryant!]
ben zobrist gets to ride up front tonight cause he's a good guy at sports.
cubs with a 5 run lead and a lackey shutout through 3ip \m/
HAGSAG: I have not seen Joe Nathan out on the field, but he is supposedly at the UAPC.
ERIC S: Best outing I've ever seen from Manny Rondon, and I've seen most of his outings since the Cubs got him from the Angels.
M. Rondon is competing with six others (Dylan Cease, Bryan Hudson, Jose Paulino, Pedro Silverio, Jesus Castillo, and Erling Moreno) for a starting slot at Eugene, and (as you can probably tell from the EXST box scores) the competition has gotten fierce over the last couple of weeks, With the exception of Moreno, the Eugene SP candidates have upped their game lately, and M. Rondon's outing yesterday was especially impressive/dominating.
E-MAN: Pierce Johnsion was mixing a 92-94 MPH fastball with a plus-change-up AND curve, and he threw strike-after-strike-after-strike with all three of his pitches. I believe that was the best command and pitch-efficiency I've ever seen from Johnson, who often pitches from behind in the count and issues too many walks.
Of course now he has to avoid a recurrence of the lat strain (whch he has had previously in his career) as well as all of the other miscellaneous physical problems he's had over the last three years (hamstring, quad, back, etc).
PHIL: Any movement on P. Johnsons pitches? What was his "out" pitch? I know he was working on a 4th pitch, so wondering what he is looking like these days. Thanks.
AZ Phil, has Nathan showed up in Mesa yet? Thanks.
Eickhoff looks like a good young pitcher. Lets steal him!
Manny Rondon faced 13 batters ... and got 10 to K. Not a bad day's work.
With several other Cubs hitters bailing out on curves today I think overall it wasn't being seen well. It for sure looked silly but a good breaking pitch coming at you and then breaking down isn't the easiest thing to see and has made many hitters look silly. Also Soler should have more walks this year but for quite a few called strikes that were actual balls and even the called strike he bailed on was borderline.
it's not like we're talking about a guy who's never had issues with pitch selection and seeing the ball over here. we're talking about a guy who has some rather legendary swing-and-misses at breaking stuff who's been exploited low. going forward it's worth paying attention to seeing if he can be exploited inside, too. he seriously bailed out of the box on a called strike. sure it was a good curve, but he obviously didn't see that well at all.