When even the Fox-TV color commentator notices that things aren't working, maybe Cubs management ought to sit up and take notice.
Eric Karros was a standup guy when he played for the Cubs, and he still is a standup guy, and doesn't mince words. During today's telecast he did so in a nice enough way that you don't even realize how bad he was ripping Lou and Jim during today's 8-2 Cubs loss to the Cardinals that, in a twist on the old phrase, "wasn't as close as the score indicated". It was the Cubs' fourth loss in a row, the longest losing streak of the year
Now, in fairness -- the Cubs are now missing three key performers. Milton Bradley is out till who-knows-when, and Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Marmol suffered minor injuries Friday night and are out for only a few days, so the Cubs are not playing at full strength. But that is also the problem. Jim Hendry did not assemble a team that has suitable backups so that the Cubs could weather losing a starting player or two. Last year's team could -- Alfonso Soriano missed a third of the season in 2008, and the Cubs were a competitive 28-26 in the games he didn't start. This year, they don't seem to be able to win any games when two of their big bats are on the bench, and there is zero flexibility on the bench -- had anything happened to Mike Fontenot, Aaron Miles or Ryan Theriot today, we would have seen Soriano at second base, because he's the only other player on the team with experience at 2B.
Unless you want to see Micah Hoffpauir, Koyie Hill or Reed Johnson play second base, that is. Oh, and Hill hasn't played at all -- not a single at-bat -- in 12 days, despite playing well during spring training and in his six games played while Geovany Soto is out.
Maybe that's Lou's way of saying to Jim Hendry, "Get me some help!" He's done this sort of thing before, making a public protest without saying anything specific. I'll repost Lou's quote made after last night's game:
"We've got no bench," Piniella said. "We've got an extra catcher [in Koyie Hill] and [Micah] Hoffpauir and [Joey] Gathright. We're going to have to get somebody in here."
And speaking of Gathright, he's basically on the team to be a pinch-runner. So being picked off this afternoon negates any value he has -- that gives him one stolen base and one caught stealing, essentially a worthless addition to the roster. Can we please just release him and sign Jim Edmonds? At least Edmonds can hit, or he could last year, and he could hardly be worse than Gathright, who can't hit at all.
There's no sense ripping apart today's game, except to mention that even Karros questioned the move of Soriano down in the lineup, saying his approach would be different in the three spot, and I agree. I think I need go no further than these Soriano splits:
2007 Hitting Leadoff: .308/.345/.579 2007 Hitting Elsewhere: .162/.225/270 2008 Hitting Leadoff: .287/.350/.544 2008 Hitting Elsewhere: 0-for-10 2009 Hitting Leadoff: .317/.406/.633 2009 Hitting Elsewhere: 1-for-8
Look. The guy's your leadoff hitter. He's done well in that role -- especially this year, with the .406 OBA so far. Why screw with it? Mess with some other part of the order -- let Geovany Soto hit cleanup, drop Derrek Lee to 7th, hit the pitcher 8th -- but put Soriano back in the leadoff spot.
In any case, Jim and Lou have to sit down soon -- after tomorrow's game wouldn't be too soon -- and make some roster moves. Bringing Jim Edmonds along when they leave St. Louis would be a good first step. I'll leave this post with one positive from today's game -- Sean Marshall threw a nice six innings. I realize he was scheduled to lead off the 7th, but I think I'd have stuck with him for one more inning. Karros didn't have very nice things to say about David Patton, saying that Patton didn't approach the AB of Colby Rasmus and Albert Pujols with proper pitch selection and he was absolutely correct. That doesn't mean Patton shouldn't have been in the game or that he can't contribute to this team, only that they have to throw the right pitches to the right hitters, especially when the wrong one turned a 3-1 game into a 7-1 game.
Finally, for you ledge-jumpers: the Cubs are 8-8. It's way too early to panic. It is NOT too early for them to make some changes. Get 'em done, Jim.