Just five Sundays remain in the 2011 season for the Cubs, and that's a good thing -- the Cubs are now 4-15 on Sunday after losing 6-2 to St. Louis on Sunday night in front of an ESPN audience that was probably wondering what this game was doing on national television.
Memo to whoever the new Cubs general manager is: Rodrigo Lopez is not a major league pitcher. Memo to whoever the new Cubs manager is: don't let pitchers with an ERA over 11 against a certain team in a particular year start games against that team. Lopez gave up four home runs to the Cardinals -- including the third one he's allowed this year to Albert Pujols -- and his ERA against them actually went down. In 5.1 innings he gave up five earned runs, "lowering" his ERA against St. Louis from 11.81 to 10.13.
In fact, Randy Bush, here's something you could do in your brief tenure as Cubs GM: could you please just release Lopez? His turn could have been skipped altogether in this series, with last Thursday's off day, and there are enough off days the rest of the season that the team's fifth starter won't have to make more than one or two more starts. Someone else -- anyone else -- could make those starts.
The home run by Pujols was his 26th at Wrigley Field. That makes him the leader among active visiting players; he had been tied with Adam Dunn. The all-time leader is Willie Mays, with 54. Pujols, who is 31, has played 85 games at Wrigley; Mays, in his 22-year-career, played 179 games there. Pujols has a shot at that mark -- presuming he stays with the Cardinals or doesn't otherwise move out of the NL Central.
The other news made last night was by Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts, who appeared on ESPN's telecast and made this statement:
#Cubs boss Ricketts says he'd have a hard time imagining Zambrano pitching for team again.
That sent the Twitterverse aflutter, claiming Ricketts had destroyed any trade value Big Z had; you really don't want to see some of the other tweets.
Look. (As a former Cubs manager might have said.) Zambrano already had very little trade value -- the Cubs apparently tried to deal him, offering to eat much of the remaining contract, before the July 31 non-waiver deadline, and found no one interested, not even the Yankees, who were looking for starting pitching help.
The best-case scenario, as Zambrano's grievance regarding being placed on the disqualified list has not yet been scheduled for a hearing, is that the Cubs, Z and his agent, and the MLBPA negotiate a settlement -- call it a buyout if you want -- of the remaining time on his contract for an amount somewhere between zero and the total he is owed, and he'd be declared a free agent.
After ending an interview, Bush cracked it was time for him to go hug Albert Pujols.
That's about all we've got after a game in which the last 11 Cubs went down meekly. They'll try it again against the wild-card-leading Braves, starting tonight.