High-Fives and Look-Alives?
Burnitz finally learns the secret handshake and divine secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood
A slap-dash defeat sometimes gets followed with a crushing win, and last night was no different. Against slapstick starter John Thomson, the Cubs racked up 8 runs in 5 innings on the strength of Michael Barrett (2-4, 2 RBI) and Burnitz' 4th inning 2-out grand-slam. The Braves then proceeded to change up their entire lineup, using a good chunk of their bullpen to close out the final innings of a 10-1 Cubs win.
Jerome "King Rib" did us proud, serving up almost a full rack -- 7 IP, 3 H, ER, 3 BB, 5 K // 2-4, 2B, R -- and not allowing a hit until Andruw Jones' solo HR in the 5th. Novoa and Dempster wrapped things up swiftly, and the Cubs showed that they can still play when it suits them, or when no-one's watching.
However, there are more important issues surrounding the team at the moment -- the dwindling Wild Card chase, Nomar Garciaparra, and COREY PATTERSON.
We'll get to a brief discussion of our rivals in a moment (I would check out desipio.com for some hilarious thoughts on other postseasons hopefuls not named the Chicago Cubs), but right now, Nomar is the flavour of the day.
According to Cubs.com, Nomar might be headed to the DL again shortly with a lingering back problem. First it was knees, then it was shredded genitals, and now it's back spasms. On August 12, Shitbird reliever Julian Tavarez pegged him in the back during a pinch-hit appearance, and it's kept him out of the lineup sporadically over the last 10 days. The Cubs have him listed as day-to-day, but his inability to pinch-hit means he's wasting space on our bench.
So what to do?
It all depends on yr perspective as to where the season goes from here.
We could send him to the DL and quietly bid adieu to the postseason, and maybe use the extra week before rosters expand to get Cedeno some much needed playing time in the majors. Dusty has gone on record several times regarding Cedeno, citing him as "the shortstop of the future" (sorry, Buck Rogers), but he has also said that it's tough to keep Neifi out of the lineup given how well he's playing. And given Neifi's career numbers, that might well be true.
You figure that Cedeno will get his chance when his chance comes around, although it's always baffled me about the Cubs -- our farm system is formidable, and yet we treat it like a Faberge egg: look, but don't touch. And if anyone else wants to touch it, heck, that egg goes right back in the loft in its display case for safe-keeping. We have a lot of guys who need to taste the majors, because when it comes time to really shuffle up our roster in the offseason and try and build that balance of experience and proven youth for another World Series push in 2006, we can't keep that minor league nucleus together. Someone has to be used as trade bait, and it's about time other teams saw our hand a little more. When the roster expands, sure, we'll pad the roster with a good mix of AAA and AA ballplayers, but will any of them see the field, or will they wait their turn and "pay their dues" behind the likes of Hollandsworth, Neifi, Williamson and Patterson?
That is one side of the coin, if you think that our chances are done.
If, on the other hand you feel we still have a shot, then you keep him around and do whatever you can to get him healthy. He has to justify his roster spot given his condition, and it perhaps depends on how much the front office sees Nomar in our future plans over the next couple of years. Keep him around and hope he recovers soon, but you definitely risk having a thin bench for a little while. The more people in front of Macias in the pecking order, the better, and Nomar's ailment moves Jose up a slot.
Neifi gets the regular start, and games like last night definitely help, because there's no need to make those substitutions or shuffles. Keep everyone in, and everyone stays healthy so the bench gets a night off. It definitely puzzled me to see the Braves use so much bullpen last night in supposed "damage control": just leave 1 guy out there for 3 innings or so instead of bringing everything bar the kitchen sink. Let's hope it bites them in the ass today against Prior.
But perhaps the thing that's pissing me off more than anything is Corey Patterson. This man has the entire Cubs organization figured as chumps, as if he's playing a giant Punk'd on all of them. What the fuck is he playing at?
Go back to the article I wrote about him a while back (I'll link to it here when I find it) and the fact that he has absolutely no right to be leading off or getting regular playing time.
And, since he's been called back from his minor-league time, a month that was supposed to "improve his game" and help him "find his swing", he's come back to the majors and ACTUALLY PERFORMED WORSE THAN HE WAS BEFORE HE WAS SHIPPED OFF TO IOWA. He's baseball poison at this point. His month in Iowa was defined by two fortnights of contrasting fortunes: the first 2 weeks saw him perform miserably, and a late 12-22 run boosted his average up to close to .300. Apparently the front office has a 2-week memory, and based on that "performance", they brought him back.
What has he done since coming back?
In 12 games (2 vs. CIN, 4 vs. STL, 3 vs. HOU, 3 vs. COL, 1 vs. ATL), 12 games he has started mind you, he has put up these pathetic numbers:
2B, 3B, HR, 4 RBI
2 BB, 9 K
OBP .240, SLG .333
That is just pathetic. I know we got reamed by another Cubs site (perhaps deservably so) for hammering on his offense, and that criticism on our part came right before his demotion. Well, maybe he needs another one. It's criminal that guys like Murton are simmering back in the minors, playing the interstate Yo-Yo game, and someone like Patterson, whose plate discipline makes me want to vomit on my grandmother, continues to see regular playing time in major-league baseball.
Get rid of him, now. Anyone in that dugout who is still hopeful, as I know a lot of them still are, must be thinking the same thing. His defense is the only thing keeping him around, and one of Dusty's hardest jobs as manager must be figuring out where to put Patterson in the batting order. I honestly wonder if he's ever thought of batting his pitchers in the 8 spot, because at least they're a more difficult out than Corey "Sir Whiffalot" Patterson.
His strikeout-to-walk ratio is about the same as it has been this year, his OBP is painfully low, almost as low as his actual BA (which is just plain mind-blowing - how is that possible? How can you get hits but not get on-base?)
At .229 on the year, there are more fun stats that illustrate how fucken terrible Patterson is.
MLB Leaders - Lowest BA with 80+ Ks on the season (min. 250 ABs)
1. M. Bellhorn, 2B BOS - .216
2. S. Sosa, OF BAL - .223
3. C. Patterson, OF CHC - .229
4. J. Spivey, 2B WSH - .232
5. C. Blake, OF CLE - .244
Bellhorn's in the Minors, Sosa's suffering post-steroids, Spivey's barely seeing the field, and Blake's got a Wild Card-leading team to hide his difficulties. However, it's also worth noting that all 4 of those players have significantly higher OBP and SLG stats than Corey, and that exacerbates his season-long failures.
Alright, I'm done with him for now. But I swear Corey, I'm about 10 days away from starting an anti-fan club.
Enjoy the game today. Prior on the mound, the Wrigley breeze. I like our chances.
ATL: RHP Jorge Sosa • 8-2, 2.63 ERA in 2005 • Has never faced CHC
CHC: RHP Mark Prior • 9-4, 3.66 ERA in 2005 • 0-1, 11.57 ERA vs. ATL in 2005
Sorry for all the negativity just then - I simply needed to purge.
Quick Look at the Wild Card
Philadelphia 10-2 San Francisco
Houston 0-2 San Diego
NY Mets 14-2 Arizona
Florida 2-11 Milwaukee
Cincinnati 6-2 Washington
Updated standings over in the right sidebar.