For the first time in three years, there will be no postseason baseball in Chicago this year. (I have no laments, though, over the way postseason baseball was played here the last two seasons.) Jim Hendry will likely be hitting the ground running (from what I hear, he has already been using up thousands of cellphone minutes trying to work on various things) to improve the team for 2010; this is likely to be the most interesting offseason in many years -- not just for the Cubs, but around the major leagues, due primarily to the economic downturn. Free agents who think they're going to cash in bigtime this winter may be in for a rude surprise.
While nothing has been stated about this -- and likely, nothing will be for another year -- it seems as if the organization is gently leaning in the direction of Ryne Sandberg to be Lou's successor after next year. I'm all in favor of this; Sandberg always played the game the right way, was a quiet player-leader, and has not only paid his dues by managing in the lower minors, but has also learned a managerial style that appears to be far more fiery than his reputation as a player. Tyler Colvin has nothing but praise for Sandberg, who managed him this year in Double-A:
"He taught me some good things about the game -- not just how to be successful in the minor leagues, but some stuff that's going to help me up here," Colvin said. "He's a great players' manager. He stuck up for you."
Bruce Miles quotes Sandberg as willing to be patient:
"I've talked to Jim (GM Hendry), and we're waiting until this season is over with," Sandberg said. "I think that everyone in the organization kind of finds out, at the lower levels, somewhere between November and December they figure all that out, and I have no idea yet. But things have headed in the right direction and I'm pleased the way that everything is going so I'm anxious to see where that is and where the Cubs want me to be."
My guess is this: unless Alan Trammell is hired for one of the currently vacant managerial chairs (a possibility, but not a probability), which would open up the bench-coach slot, Sandberg will likely be promoted to manage at Triple-A. That, of course, raises the question of what the organization would then do with Bobby Dickerson, a highly respected organization guy who was in his first season as manager at Iowa this year. That, as Sandberg said, is a question that will be answered at the Cubs' organizational meetings next month.
Meanwhile, there is one more game to be played by this year's Cubs, and a major league record will be established today at Wrigley Field, presuming the Diamondbacks' Mark Reynolds strikes out at least once. (Otherwise, it will have been established yesterday.)
Reynolds broke his own season strikeout record (204, set last year) several days ago and goes into today's game with 220 strikeouts. Two more -- to make the record 222 -- would seem about right. Still, Reynolds has been a productive player, with 44 HR, 102 RBI and 76 walks, producing an OPS of .894, which is All-Star level.
|Today's Starting Pitchers|
|2009 - Ryan Dempster||11-8||30||30||1||1||0||0||195.0||190||89||76||21||64||162||3.51||1.30|
|2009 - Doug Davis||8-14||33||33||0||0||0||0||195.1||197||99||91||24||101||141||4.19||1.53|
Doug Davis has a reputation as a Cub-killer; in reality, that's a recent development, because his lifetime mark is 8-6, 3.27 in 15 starts against the Cubs, good but not dominating. He threw seven shutout innings vs. the Cubs in a 10-0 Diamondbacks win in Phoenix on April 29. But there is one thing about Davis' record this year that should help the Cubs defeat him today: he is leading the major leagues in walks. In fact, he is the only pitcher in either league to have 100 or more walks this year, and he has walked 14 in his last three starts covering 17.1 innings. Be patient, Cubs, and you will score runs today.
Ryan Dempster last faced the Diamondbacks on May 10, 2008 at Wrigley Field, throwing six innings and allowing two runs. Dempster's shutout of the Pirates in his last start lowered his post-September 1 ERA to 1.39; he's been outstanding in the second half and if he can throw at least five innings, he'll throw 200+ innings for the second straight year and maybe get his season ERA down in the 3.40 range, which wouldn't be too far off his 2.96 from a year ago.
Today's game is on cable: CSN Chicago and FSN Arizona. For other games today see the MLB.com Mediacenter.
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