Every ballgame has a rhythm.
And this drives me nuts, when managers do this, and Dusty Baker seems to be doing it more and more and more and going by the so-called book -- and I wish someone would burn that book, incidentally -- and today was a, well, textbook example of why you shouldn't go "by the book".
It's 1-0. Mike Wuertz is cruising -- he's thrown 19 pitches, 12 strikes, has retired all four batters he's faced. The rhythm of the game almost seems to be going the Cubs' way.
Why does a lefthander have to face Larry Walker? Especially when:
- said lefthander, Mike Remlinger, is well-known to be tougher on righties than on lefties, and...
- said hitter, Walker, has hit .444 lifetime (8-for-18, 2 2B, 1 HR, 4 BB) against said lefthander.
The result, of course, was utterly predictable: Walker homered. Then, of course, Dusty has to pull Remlinger because the next two hitters are righthanded -- even though Remlinger is tougher on righthanded hitters (lefties have hit .257 vs. Remlinger in his career, righties .224, and it's been even more pronounced in 2005: LH .300, RH .083).
The result is again predictable: Chad Fox comes in and gives up a double to Albert Pujols and a homer to Scott Rolen, and before you even have time to get disgusted with Baker's moves, a potentially winnable 1-0 game is turned into a 4-0 game.
And that, my friends, is the story of today's 4-0 loss to the Cardinals, which brings the Cubs back to .500, coming home for six games with teams they really ought to beat.
In an earlier thread here at BCB, some of you made suggestions on who might make a better manager than Dusty, and I consolidate all of them here for easier reading:
Steve Stone, Bob Brenly, Dick Pole, Larry Rothschild, Al Yellon, any current Cubs player, Molechaser's dog, Greg Maddux, and Eric Karros.
And that's just within the last hour or so.
As most of you know, I have been a big Baker fan since he was hired here. But isn't there anyone in the dugout or the executive suite who can tell him that Mike Remlinger isn't a LOOGY? What, do they think we don't notice these sorts of things? Isn't there anyone who can tell him that if you are going to have three rookies on the ballclub, that the place to have them isn't rotting on the bench, but actually playing in the game (Hello? Jason Dubois? Are you still alive?)?
That said, firing Baker now isn't the answer. And despite those suggestions, and others I have seen, including Grady Little (now working as one of those "special assistants" in the front office), there really isn't anyone out there who could do a better job, given the personnel who are currently on the roster.
That's the problem, really, that Baker has somehow dictated that people like Jose Macias are good bench players, and that when the club actually HAS a good bench player in Todd Hollandsworth, Holly's value is negated by playing him every day. This not only weakens the starting lineup, because Holly's not an everyday player, but weakens the bench because Jason Dubois isn't a bench player.
Jim Hendry has to sit down with the manager and coaching staff and dictate some changes. There are some that can be made right away, and I'd recommend at least these two right now:
- Bench Hollandsworth for Dubois
- Send Fontenot back to Iowa and call up Ben Grieve
All of this turmoil puts a damper on the fact that Ryan Dempster threw well yet again, allowing one run in six innings -- in fact, when it appeared that the game would end 1-0, I was ready to post that he would be our "designated loser" all year, as this would have been his second 1-0 loss this month. Instead, he lowers his ERA by more than a run -- from 5.74 to 4.57 -- and all he gets for it is his W-L record falling to 1-3.
The Cubs did manage seven hits today -- among them, two by the hotter-than-the-sun Derrek Lee, and two from Neifi!, who is going to have to play shortstop regularly at least till the All-Star break... because it'll be that long before Nomar comes back, or any legitimate major league SS becomes available for a reasonable price. I still like the thought of inquiring about Craig Counsell, though.
The Cubs did, despite everything, have a winning road trip at 4-3. That counts for something. Six home games coming up against beatable teams, will tell us a lot. Going anything less than 4-2 against the Pirates and Reds, would be wholly unacceptable.
Oh, and the weather's going to suck here all weekend. As if there weren't enough problems.