Aramis Ramirez finally comes back today, after missing the last 49 games... and the Cubs are 40-39, miraculously just 2.5 games out of 1st place. After Ramirez got hurt on May 8th, Jake Fox repeatedly pleaded with Iowa Cubs manager Bobby Dickerson to play third base, but was repeatedly turned down for some inexplainable reason.
Meanwhile, the Cubs were using a combination of Mike Fontenot, Bobby Scales, and Ryan Freel to fill in at 3rd. After an initial spark, winning 5 in a row, they dropped 8 in a row (getting swept in St. Louis), and had a span where they scored 5 runs in 6 days. They were losing games 3-0, 2-1, 3-1, etc, and couldn't generate enough offense to take advantage of stellar pitching. That horrible offensive trend continued throughout May (and June).
On May 27th, Hendry finally called up Jake Fox, who was absolutely ripping the cover off the ball in Iowa. However, Fox was relegated to the bench and only got PH opportunites. Alan Trammell started working with him to play 3rd base, three miserable weeks after Aramis Ramirez went down. And, in a 8-2 loss to the Dodgers on May 31st, Fox subbed-in at 3rd in the 5th inning.
Dumfoundingly, Fox somehow never got another chance to play 3rd, and on June 10th, he was sent back down, despite hitting .417. The Cubs dropped the next 4 games in a row to Houston (2-1, and 2-1 in 13 innings) and Minnesota (7-4 and 2-0). Fox, meanwhile, went to Iowa and instead of playing 3rd base to get more reps, he played 1B and RF in four games... yet, another head scratcher from management.
The Cubs re-called Fox on June 17th, and two days later, Lou announced that he would be starting at 3rd vs lefties, because they needed his bat in the line-up. Since then, he's started 15 of the last 17 games (almost all at 3rd base). In that span, he's driven in 13 runs with 4 HRs, giving him a total of 15 RBIs on the year... all while playing very adequate in the field. Just to put Fox's production in perspective to our season so far: Fox has 15 RBIs in 71 ABs (1 RBI every 4.73 ABs), and Milton Bradley has 19 RBIs in 196 ABs (1 RBI every 10.32 ABs). Our team leader, Derek Lee, has 51 RBIs in 260 ABs (1 RBI every 5.10 ABs).
Since Ramirez went down on May 8th, the Cubs have lost 10 one-run games, and have been shutout 7 times. With our horrible team stats with RISP, and Jake Fox driving in runs at an awesome pace... it's no stretch of the imagination to think the Cubs could be 44-35 right now, in 1st place, if Fox had been playing 3rd base since May 27th.