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Let's Talk About...

... Lenny Harris, shall we?

I'm sure Lenny Harris is a very nice fellow. I'm sure he's a good teammate; that he's nice to his family and that he treats his pets well, if he has any.

And once upon a time, he was a decent major league baseball player. Not a great one, but good enough to play regularly for a couple of years and to hang around long enough to set the major league record for most pinch-hits in a career, though even that record is somewhat tainted because though he has a large number of pinch-hits, his lifetime pinch-hit batting average is pretty poor.

And he can't play any more, Dusty Baker. You listening? And if you, Dusty, think that a team in pennant contention should ever put a man like this in the leadoff spot in the lineup (and playing 3B to boot, where he's pretty much a statue), you are truly delusional.

Lenny lived up to his current reputation by going 0-for-4 and striking out twice (and looking really bad doing it) in the Cubs' frustrating 4-3 loss to the Phillies, the fourth one-run loss in a row (with the win on Sunday in between).

I can't really totally blame Lenny for this loss, but Steve Stone pointed out during the FSN telecast that the Cubs are playing .750 baseball when they score five runs or more. In fact, five runs would have won three of the four one-run losses in the last week and then we wouldn't be discussing this at all. But putting someone like Lenny Harris in the leadoff spot is not going to help you score runs. Why would you, as a major league manager, think that leading off someone with a .243 on-base percentage is going to help you? In what way did Lenny Harris ever resemble a leadoff hitter? Looking at his career as a whole, you can see two seasons -- 1990 and 1991, when he played more or less full-time for the Dodgers, where he might have been suited to the leadoff spot; he had OBA's of .348 and .349 and stole a handful of bases.

But that was twelve years ago; Lenny's 38 now and slow, and so is his bat. Virtually anyone in yesterday's starting lineup -- yes, even Damian Miller, whose OBA is 70 points higher than Lenny's -- would have been a better choice. For heaven's sake, why not lead off Hee Seop Choi, who at least will draw a walk from time to time, and who actually runs pretty well, and not just "runs well for a big man", but runs well, period.

There was some good that came out of this game -- Shawn Estes pitched well and made one mistake, and lots of pitchers get lit up by Jim Thome; unfortunately, Thome's homer was hit at the absolute worst time. Estes also homered, the third of his career, and this is the first time since 1970 (Fergie Jenkins, Milt Pappas, Joe Decker, Roberto Rodriguez) that four different Cub pitchers have homered in a single season. The record for such things is five, though I don't hold out much hope for Matt Clement or any of the relief corps homering this year.

What really pissed me off more yesterday was a short trip I took to the post office. This post office is in a strip mall and has a large parking lot, unusual for the city. It also has some mailboxes where you can just drive up and drop letters in the slot, which is all I needed to do. Easy, unless some moron has decided that it's OK to park his car and sit in it, right in front of the boxes, despite the large NO PARKING signs right there. One polite honk didn't get him to move, so I had to sit on the horn, and then he gave me the dirty look, like I had done something wrong. No, buddy, YOU are parked in a no-parking zone, this isn't your personal parking lot.

OK, now back to our regularly scheduled Cub report.

Once again, Mark Prior tries to stem the damage tonight. Luckily, the Cardinals lost again, so despite this skid, the Cubs remain only a game out, and a chance to beat St. Louis head to head this weekend.