Jessica and I agreed: this one was on Lou. And it's not just because of one decision made in the 9th inning, either, but let's start there.
If Aramis Ramirez is not going to be put on the DL, as they decided late this afternoon, then he has to be at the plate with two out in the ninth inning and the winning run on second base. Lou's quote from that link:
"He'll be ready way, way before that [May 10, the earliest he'd be eligible to return from the DL]," Piniella said. "We need his bat. We've had trouble scoring runs, as everybody knows."
Ya think? Maybe, just maybe the Cubs might have been able to use his bat in the last of the 9th? If Ramirez is unavailable to pinch-hit, then two things have to happen: he has to be on the DL, and Mike Fontenot has to stay in the game. Fontenot isn't off to a very good start, but putting Reed Johnson in as a pinch-hitter then forced Lou to put Koyie Hill, who hadn't played third base since the United States had only 48 states, at third base in the 10th inning. (That didn't really matter, since Aaron Heilman, who had thrown about 6,000 pitches warming up, as BCB reader Hammer pointed out to me when I ran into him leaving the park, finally got in the game in the 10th and had nothing left for actual game action.)
The Cubs' 8-2, 10-inning loss to the Marlins (a game Mike described as "one of the worst I've ever seen here") is on Lou for those reasons and the fact that, as we have discussed over and over and over on this site, he and Jim Hendry overreacted to the 2008 NLDS loss. Can we put this to rest forever? The Cubs didn't lose the NLDS because they didn't have enough lefthanded hitting. We can (and have) debate the reasons, but that wasn't it. Unfortunately, Lou and Jim thought that was it, and went out and got several more lefthanded and switch-hitters. The Cubs now have, on the 25-man roster, five lefthanded hitters and three switch-hitters (four if you count Carlos Zambrano).
And paradoxically, that has left Lou with less bench flexibility than he had last year. Lou said during his very short postgame remarks, "Maybe I'll start playing my bench." Isn't that what he's been doing for the last two weeks while just about everyone in the starting lineup has been hurt?
Speaking of which, Derrek Lee needs to go on the DL. It's clear to all of you watching on TV, and even 300-plus feet away in the bleachers to me, that he can't turn on the ball; his foul balls are all going off to the right side and even when he did hit a ball reasonably hard, it went to right-center field. He's not helping the team; he's clearly hurting; let him rest for 15 days and get treatment for the neck and back problems. It's valiant of him to want to stay in the lineup, but it's just not working.
This is all too bad, because it ruined a fine outing by Sean Marshall, who threw seven excellent innings, and Milton Bradley and Fontenot hit back-to-back homers, and even though Marshall also allowed a solo homer to Jorge Cantu, this recap should be about a 2-1 Cubs win... except that Carlos Marmol continued his lack of strike-throwing tonight, issuing two walks, one of which resulted in a run when Marmol made a wild throw on an attempted sacrifice.
Enough. By the time the Marlins were piling up runs in the 10th inning, many of those remaining in the bleachers were standing at the back fence, straining their eyes (one guy had brought binoculars, saying, "I thought I'd be watching the Cubs with these, instead I'm watching the Bulls!") to see the plasma screen in the third-floor club in the building on the northwest corner of Waveland and Kenmore, which was showing the Bulls' thrilling triple-overtime game six win over the Celtics. We were turning around, too, though it seemed every time I looked, the game was in another timeout. Many of you outside of Chicago couldn't see the Cubs because they were on WCIU tonight -- consider yourselves lucky.
And with that, goodnight. Had to get this recap out of my system tonight; sleep will come and, we hope, tomorrow will bring better baseball.