Derrek Lee of the Pittsburgh Pirates is congratulated by teammate Neil Walker after he hit a two run home run in the 8th inning against the Chicago Cubs during a game at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
No, that is not a headline from 2005. Or 2008, or 2009. You're not having a flashback.
Derrek Lee, in his first game with the Pirates, did indeed hit two home runs, one each off former Cubs teammates Carlos Zambrano and Kerry Wood, but the Cubs hung on for a 5-3 win, their second straight on this road trip after losing the first five. They hadn't had much luck recently against the Pirates, either -- 8-16 since the start of 2010 -- so the win is also welcome for that reason.
Big Z looked good Monday night -- the fourth inning D-Lee home run was the first hit he allowed, and the other six hits were all singles. Last season, Zambrano was outstanding after he returned in August. If he can do the same thing this August and September, perhaps that would set him up for having a good year in 2012.
Carlos Marmol also did fine Monday night, recording his 20th save of 2011 on a 1-2-3 inning, with some defensive help from Carlos Pena.
Tyler Colvin spent Monday night on the bench again, for the third time in the six games since his recall (I'll spot Mike Quade the first one, in Milwaukee, since Colvin arrived only shortly before game time). Colvin did make a pinch-hitting appearance in the ninth inning, seeing just one pitch, and popping out in foul territory.
And this brings me to another criticism of Mike Quade. Check out this quote from Quade on why Colvin isn't starting:
"It's a tentative situation for me just because I have two guys (Johnson and Jeff Baker) that do so well against left-handers, and I'm looking for at-bats for 'Bake' and Reed," Quade said. "But there's a lot of baseball left. He'll get his at-bats. We'd love to see him excel against right-handers and put him in the best situations I can against right-handed pitching, and pick our spots against left-handers."
No, Mike, no. Your team is more than 20 games under .500. You are going nowhere this year. The remaining 53 games are good for one thing -- to see what you've got for 2012. Tyler Colvin might be part of this team's future. But we're not going to find that out if you're "looking for at-bats" for two bench players whose abilities are already known! I like Baker and Johnson, but we already know they can hit lefthanders, and indeed, they should play against some of them.
But if we're going to find out if Colvin can be an everyday player next year, he has to play every single day, or at least the overwhelming majority of the time -- not three games out of six since recalling him specifically after trading another outfielder to make room for him!
There's another quote from Quade I found this morning that bothers me, a little. I can't tell whether he's trying to be funny, or whether he's serious:
Quade, when asked about Carlos Pena's comment that the Cubs need a "cultural change" in the clubhouse: "The culture? Does that mean adding an Australian, or does that mean getting a Chinese player? I don't know."
It appears to be an attempt at humor. If so -- lame. If he was serious... well, then there's a serious problem. Pena is right. The Cubs do need to change a clubhouse culture that coddles veterans and doesn't play young players who need to get playing time. Sweeping changes are needed -- and the sooner the better.