Tagged: Alfonso Soriano

Fans Want the Kids to Play, but Do Not Want a Rebuild. Time to Make Up Your Minds

Yesterday, after Aramis Ramirez declared that he would be filing for free agency, I wrote up a blog which voiced my opinion that the Chicago Cubs should now begin the rebuilding process. Some fans agreed with the thought process, while others completely disagreed. This is probably the most confusing situation for most Cubs fans to be in, as a majority of them are completely contradicting themselves when saying they do not want to sit through a rebuilding phase.

For starters, there is a portion of Cub fans who have strong feelings against the Cubs, a big market team, going through a rebuilding phase. They do not believe that a team in a major market should ever have to rebuild, and be able to spend the money needed in order to contend. This is very true to a point, that would be what is expected from a team in one of the three biggest markets in the country. The problem comes into play, is that several fans of the Cubs want the team to bench, trade or cut several of the current veterans on the team to play various kids.

You will not go a single day without hearing at least one fan begging Cubs management to trade Alfonso Soriano or to just outright cut him. They beg and plead for the Cubs to give more playing time to both Tony Campana and Tyler Colvin. This situation will not take place unless Soriano is off the team, or at very least regulated to bench duty.

Fans also want to see Bryan LaHair get more playing time, if they want to see Campana and Colvin more the only likely position for him to play would be at first base. You could put LaHair in one of the corner spots, and either Covin or Campana in center, but I feel that would be counter productive. No one wants to see Colvin playing center field again, last time he was out there was a disaster. You could put Campana in center, but if you want him to make the team next year, you have to think about who you would rather have playing center field, him or Brett Jackson. No offense to the scrappy Campana, but I would rather have Jackson roaming centerfield and let Campy learn to play the corner. That means Byrd would remain in center leaving LaHair the odd man out, unless he plays first base. With LaHair at first base, that would result in the benching of Carlos Pena. He can not play third base so he would also be out of a job.

Then we have the problem of third base. Several fans want Ramirez back, while others do not want to waste the money on him since he rarely shows up in April and only occasionally comes to play in May. This leads up to who replaces him? There are no good free agent third baseman out there this off season or next, so that would lead to another kid playing third.

You see the problem yet? To me, a vast majority of fans can not make up their minds as far as what they want. They want to see the Cubs play the kids, but they also do not want the Cubs to go into a full rebuild mode. So I propose a question to all the fans out their who take the time to read my blogs.

Do you want the Cubs to ditch the veterans and play the kids to see what they have, or do you want the Cubs to go out and buy players to help them contend? You can not really have things both ways. Sure, you can do a mix of kids and veterans, but you would then have to decide which kids you want to see. Fans will have to chose between the overflowing population of young outfielders and which kids they really want to see.

Which kids do you want to see playing, and which are you willing to write off? From all of the calls for playing time I have seen on my Facebook page (http://www.Facebook.com/worldseriesdreaming) fans want to see a team filled with kids, but they do not want a rebuilding phase.

Confused yet? So am I.

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With Ramirez Declaring for Free Agency, Let the Rebuilding Begin

Around 2:30 this afternoon, news broke that Aramis Ramirez’s agent, Paul Kinzer, informed the Chicago Cubs that his client will opt out of the final year of his deal, which also happens to be a team option, and file for free agency. However, Ramirez’s agent would not rule out the possibility that he would re-sign with the Cubs in the off season, but only if the team was not in full rebuild mode. In other words, unless the Cubs make a huge splash in free agency, likely by signing either Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder, his tenure with the Cubs is likely over, even though he has claimed in the past that he wanted to retire a Chicago Cub.

Since joining the Cubs midway through 2003, Ramirez has put on a show for the Wrigley Faithful and has cemented a place for himself in Cubs history. In his nearly eight years with the ball club he has become the second greatest third baseman in Cubs history, right behind the late great Ron Santo. He was also the first long term third baseman the Cubs have had since Santo was traded to the Chicago White Sox at the end of his career. With his apparent departure, you have to wonder when the Cubs will once again be able to fill the vacant hot corner. Last night, 30 years past before they found a solid fixture, hopefully this time the fans do not have to wait so long for a permanent replacement.

With the third base free agent class being very weak, Ramirez becomes the best player available at that position, and should draw a lot of attention from several teams who need someone at third. The bidding war for the aging veteran will likely surpass whatever amount the Cubs would be willing to spend to bring him back, unless he gives the team he says he wants to return to a “home town discount”. With this being the final long term deal of his career, I am not so sure that he will be willing to give a significant discount to the Cubs in order to finish his career with them.

Now that you have a pretty good idea that Ramirez’s Cubs career is over, in my own opinion, the time has come to do what is best for both the player and the team. Sit A-Ram down for the remainder of the season and play a young player over at the hot corner.

How does that benefit Ramirez? The answer to that is quite easy. He has an injured qaud, so in the interest of his health, he should be sat the remainder of the year. Let the injury heal so he can fully heal before any physical that he would need to take before signing a new contract. I doubt Ramirez would have much problem with that scenario as he gets paid whether he plays or not. Why risk making an injury worse if you are about to reach free agency? I believe he will be happy to sit out the remaining six games while the Cubs begin the rebuilding process.

The question then turns to which kid do you throw at third base for the remainder of the year? You could turn to the kid who is playing there today, DJ LeMahieu. Let him test his ability and skill while the Cubs get a good look to see if he can play every day at the major league level. Sure, this is September baseball and no teams have advanced scouts so you need to take anything these call ups do with a grain of salt, but you would get an idea of what he can do.

Another option would be to allow Starlin Castro to spread his wings and fly over at the hot corner. He may not be a bad option, especially since he does have a strong arm and good range. Add in to his ever growing power, he could grow into an excellent option over there. Then the problem would be who plays short stop, or who plays second base if Darwin Barney shifts over as well. Time will tell how the Cubs will handle the third base position going forward, but you can be sure things will be interesting.

There is some good news that comes with the departure of Ramirez, even for those fans who do wish he would return. The Cubs will be saving the $16 Million that he would have made next year, which can be spent elsewhere, perhaps on the pitching staff or a certain first baseman who shall be left unnamed. That is not the only good news however. From the sound of some of the reports, because Ramirez was the one who opted out of the 2012 deal and not the team, the Cubs may in fact be off the hook for the $2 Million buyout to the contract. So that is another $2 Million that the Cubs can use to rebuild a ball club that seemed to have fallen apart. Heck, they might even be more willing to ship off Alfonso Soriano knowing that they suddenly have this extra money that they can throw into a deal to help a team pay his contract. However, that “saved money” might actually be put towards the Carlos Zambrano going away package.

Ramirez declaring for free agency, six games before the season actually ends, should open the flood gates that should have been opened for the trade deadline back in July. That means letting Carlos Pena walk, trading Marlon Byrd and trying desperately to send Alfonso Soriano packing. Without Ramirez, there is little reason to sign Pujols, Fielder or even bringing Pena back.

Let the rebuilding process begin. The only question is will Cub fans be willing to sit through a few years of what could be sub .500 baseball while the kids grow and learn on the job?

The Trade Deadline for the Chicago Cubs Has Flat Lined

The trade deadline in Major League Baseball has come and gone, and the Chicago Cubs were not as active as many fans would have liked. The only trade the organization made, was to pass Kosuke Fukudome on to the Cleveland Indians while eating all but $775,000 of his remaining deal and receiving two below average prospects in return. The reasoning why there were no other moves is rather maddening. General Manager Jim Hendry fully believes that the Cubs are close to being able to contend next year, and wanted to hang on to the pieces he felt would be the key elements to guiding the Cubs to the Promise Land in 2012.

That is why, according to published reports, the Cubs do not want to trade Carlos Pena, Marlon Byrd or Aramis Ramirez. We also can not forget that Hendry does not want to trade Jeff Baker either. Apparently Hendry and company believe that those four players will be key elements in guiding this team back to the playoffs and making a World Series Run. Don’t ask me how Hendry feels this team can compete next year with pretty much the same pieces, when they are currently chasing the Houston Astros for the worst record in baseball. The only changes would be swapping out Tyler Colvin or Fukudome and maybe replacing Fielder or Pujols for Pena. Is that enough to compete next year? Perhaps, but there is a lot that needs to go right for the Cubs in order for them to compete with such little change in the roster.

With so few changes, the Cubs can compete for a playoff spot. You heard me right, they can compete for a playoff spot, if everything goes right for them. That means that Aramis Ramirez needs to contribute earlier than June like he did this year. They will need Alfonso Soriano to contribute in more than just April, and Pena (assuming he is here) to also start producing earlier in the season instead of waiting until May. That is only the start of what needs to go right for the Cubs, and we haven’t even started in on the problems on the pitching staff.

For all those reasons, the Cubs should have been in full fledged fire sale mode waving the white flag up and down the streets, and yelling come and get it as if they were serving dinner. Everyone and anyone should have been on the table for any and all interested parties, except for maybe Starlin Castro. Perhaps everyone was on the table, and they were not getting any offers for any of the players they waned to move.

From various reports, we have heard that the Anaheim Angels really wanted Ramirez, but he does not want to leave the ball club. Another player who was requested in a trade was Kerry Wood, whom the Phillies made an enticing offer for, so much so that Hendry went to Wood to seek his approval. However, much like with the Ramirez trade talks, Wood chose to void the trade because he wanted to stay with the Cubs. There are two players who other teams wanted that decided they would rather bask in the glow of being a Cub than going to a contender.

Nothing against either player deciding to do so, as they are both well within their rights. Ramirez, as has been discussed, used his 5-10 rights to block any trade, and Wood used his no trade clause, which he was given after giving a very generous discount, to make his decision. Would have been nice to get some good young prospects, but the decisions have been made.

Then we have the two players who the Cubs were practically begging people to take away practically for free. The Cubs offered to pay a huge chunk of the contracts owed to both Soriano and Carlos Zambrano, and still got no takers. One such team to turn down the Cubs, was the New York Yankees who print money. If they do not want him for free, that should speak volumes.

If there were other offers made for some of the remaining players, who Hendry did not want to keep, the reports of the interest in them never surfaced. If you are hopeful to compete for a division crown, much less a World Series title, having a team filled with players no one wants is not a good way to start that success run.

Sure, the Cubs could make a few moves in the off season, but unless there are some other trades made in the August Waiver period, or in the off season, this team will not compete next year. The Cubs have some serious needs that must be addressed if they have any realistic dreams of competing next year. Just replacing Fukudome with Colvin and possibly even replacing Pena with either Pujols or Fielder will not be nearly enough.

Trade Candidate: Alfonso Soriano (Also known as wishful thinking)

With tomorrow being the official Non-Waiver Trade Deadline, today will be the last blog on those players who should be traded. I know that everyone not named Starlin Castro on the Chicago Cubs should be up for grabs to anyone and everyone who has even the slightest bit of interest, but I am limited things to the top five on my wish list. So far, only one of the five players have been traded, that being Kosuke Fukudome, but that is a start. Whether or not the other four can be moved before the deadline remains to be seen, though that would be highly doubtful and we would be lucky to see even one more get moved before hand. But, let’s move on anyway.

The final player that I will talk about, is likely the most hated player in Cub history. If he is not the most hated, he is easily in the top 10. Most of the hatred comes from the size of the contract that former Cubs President John McDonough signed him to, which made him vastly over paid. The rest comes from the thought that he is lazy and has lost his love of the game and is now just out there collecting a paycheck. People also love calling him out for his lack of hustle, and his lollygagging when running the bases. What they seem to forget is that his legs are shot. Anyone remember why his legs are shot? Because he was busting his ass from first to third back in 2007. But why bring up the past, fans believe what they want to believe.

Whether or not he has lost his love of the game, I can not say because who can really tell us what he is feeling or thinking? Regardless of why you dislike him, or perhaps you don’t, calls for him to be traded or even cut have been voiced for years.

Unfortunately, because of his massive contract, the likelihood of his being traded or cut is nonexistent. Not counting what he is owed for the rest of this season, Soriano has a grand total of $54 Million remaining on his deal through 2014. If the Cubs want to trade him, expect them to pick up the tab and eat at least $40 Million, if not the whole package. Granted doing so would clear a roster space which would allow them to insert yet another young kid to see what they are able to do for the ball club. What would not happen, which seems to be a misconception among the general fan base, is freeing up money. Trading him and eating a good percentage of that deal, or cutting him, takes money off the top of the payroll. That is money already spent, which can not be spent on another player. Some fans seem to think that by cutting him, the Cubs would have been able to take the money they would have been paying Soriano to sign a pitcher or another position player to help the team in the future. Unfortunately baseball contracts do not work that way, this is not football where contracts are not guaranteed. I wish they were, but that will never be the case.

Knowing that about the contract, I still say do whatever you need to do in order to trade (not cut) Soriano. Cutting him would be completely counter productive to helping the team, because he is still a valuable asset to the team and is still productive, even if his production has rapidly fallen off since 2008. Whether or not you are willing to admit to the truth, Soriano is still the best option the Cubs have in left field. Yes he is better than Tony Campana and Reed Johnson whether you want to believe me or not, there can be no argument. Unlike the previous two, he still has the power to knock out 20+ home runs. With the other two, you might get 10 combined, and that is with getting no power out of Campana who I don’t think has even gotten a ball out of the infield yet, and most of his hits don’t even get past the pitcher.

What replacing him with one of those two does do though, is give you better defense, at least with Johnson who has both the range and arm to play a decent defense. But with his back issues, you never know how long you can depend on him to play on consecutive days. Campana, on the other hand, might have good range and can get to most fly balls, but his arm might very well be the worst in the majors, and you can not have a weak arm roaming the outfield.

If the Cubs are able to trade him, and get are able to even save five cents on the dollar, then they need to do so immediately. If they are able to, then by all means play the scrappy Campana and see what he can actually do when given full playing time at the major leagues. Personally, until he is able to bulk up enough to get the ball into the outfield on occasion, I do not think he will ever be more than a fifth outfielder who is used primarily as a pinch runner.

But bottom line, do what needs to be done in order to trade Soriano. Not so much to save money, because you will not save more than a fistful of dollars, but to clear the roster spot.

Trade Candidate: Kosuke Fukudome

One of the more talked about players on the Chicago Cubs around the trade deadline is Kosuke Fukudome. He may not be the best player on the ball club but, according to published reports, he may be the most coveted by other teams. Whether or not the reports are more agent and Cubs induced remains to be seen, there are four teams that have been linked to a possible trade with Fukudome. Of that group of teams rumored to have interest, only the Cleveland Indians have been named as a possible suitor.

While I can only speculate on who the other teams may or may not be, the Indians may actually be the perfect fit for him, as they are suffering through injuries to two of their outfielders, with Shin Soo Choo and Grady Sizemore both hitting the disabled list. One would think that he would fit like a glove on that team, who desperately needs a live body to fill out the void. He provides little spark in the offensive side of the ball, outside or his ability to work the count and compile a very respectable on base percentage, but his defense is still well above average. With the range he is able to provide, the Indians would love to get their hands on him.

There is no question that Fukudome should be traded, as he has no place on the Cubs next year or in the future. With that being the case, why should the Cubs keep him for the stretch run in a lost season? I can not answer that, can you? At least with Carlos Pena, there is a good chance that the Cubs would want to bring him back, as they have no obvious in house replacement at first base. However, with Fukudome’s departure, there are any number of players who fans would love to see taking the field everyday in his place.

The Cubs may have to eat some of his remaining contract, which is about $4 million, in order to move him, but why not? Even if the Cubs have to eat everything that he is owed, there is no downside to making the move. They would have been spending the money regardless, and with the trade they will get a prospect back in the deal. The quality of that prospect will likely depend on how much money the Cubs take on of the deal, as I believe that the more money they pay on his contract the better the prospect will be. On top of that, the Cubs can begin to develop his replacement as early as today, depending on when he is traded. The players who the Cubs can slide in to replace him should satisfy the masses no matter who they chose.

Personally, I would call up Brett Jackson and let him start his major league career in a pressure free environment. By all accounts, he is the future center fielder for the Cubs, and should be breaking camp with the big club as early as next year. If Fukudome is traded, move Marlon Byrd over to Right Field and let your young prospect continue his progress at the big league level.

That is what I would do, but perhaps the Cubs will disagree. They may chose to play the veteran fan favorite Reed Johnson on a daily basis, or at least until his back gives out as we have come to expect. This would fly in the face of everything the organization has ever said though about playing for the future. Johnson may be in the team’s plans for next year, but as a fourth or fifth outfielder. There is very little chance he would be the every day right fielder, so I doubt this is the move that they decide to go with long term for the remainder of this year.

Then we have fan favorite Tyler Colvin who has struggled more often than not in his time at the big league level. True, he hit 20 home runs last year when getting close to regular playing time, but his batting average was well below average and his defense is subject. He will not dazzle you with his range or his arm. Perhaps those qualities that he lacks will improve if he is given the chance to play more. That is a reasonable outlook on the kid, and what the Cubs may decide to do if the feel that Jackson still needs a little bit of seasoning before getting the call up. I would not be completely against this move, as we would get to see if he can improve when he is given regular playing time but, seeing his batting average dip below .100, doesn’t really give me much optimism for his ability to succeed in the future.

The final choice to fill the void if Fukudome is traded, is none other than the scrappy Tony Campana, who already has a portion of the fan base clamoring to see more of him. Whether they think he will be a future star in the majors, or they just want to see less of the “over paid bums” who currently reside in the outfield I do not know. But I for one hope they do not turn the reigns over to Campana. Other than his speed, I have yet to see him give us anything that I would see as talent. Granted, this is all in limited time, but he has yet to even give a sparkle of excitement. We have seen that his fielding is not that great, and his arm strength is lacking. He makes former Cub Juan Pierre look like he has a cannon; okay maybe not, but Campana has a very weak arm and I shutter every time I see him playing the field. As a pinch runner, there is no one I would rather see, but as a fielder he would likely be last on the list; yes, even behind the man who fans call a butcher in Alfonso Soriano.

As you can see, the Cubs have four in house options to replace the very tradable, and apparently sought after, Fukudome. In fact, two of them are currently on the roster, but the two I would rather see getting the playing time are down in the minors.

Fukudome should be traded, and why they are making the Indians wait another day is beyond me. The Cubs must know that they likely will not get that great of a prospect back, no matter how much money they eat of his remaining deal. The only holdup would have to be a hopeful “bidding war” between the interested teams, seeing who would be willing to eat the most money and who could deliver the best prospect. But again, with all the intelligence and news sources out there, the only visible team that has let their interest known, are the Indians. The longer they wait, the better the chances are that Fukudome stays and, the longer we have to wait for the rebuilding to finally begin!

The Chicago Cubs Have Finally Won Three in a Row! Now What?

After nearly two months I am back with yet another blog. What can I say, I have been a complete lazy bum as of late, and I have not given the attention to my blog for the Chicago Cubs that I should be. I will not make excuses for my lack of blogs, but come on, watching this complete suckfest game after game, would you want to spend even more time on them? Okay, so that was an excuse, and that will be the last one that I give, at least for myself. No more looking back, the time has come to look forward. Not only for myself, but for the Cubs organization as a whole. If you are ready, we can once again continue our path into the World Series Dreaming view of the Cubs.

If you can remember back far enough, about a month and a half ago, I wrote a blog about waiting until the year after next. In that blog I wrote how I felt was the best case scenario for the Cubs chances to be a competitive team again, and when fans can start to see a shimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. In case you do not want to look back or remember that far back, allow me to summarize for you. In my mindset, whether I am right or wrong, I see very little chance of the Cubs being competitive again until the year 2013 when all of these current long termed contracts, save for Alfonso Soriano, will be completely off the books and our beloved Cubs can start anew, hopefully not signing mega-length contracts again like we did for our vilified aging left fielder.

In current news, the Cubs have finally put together a winning streak. We have been teased with such a thing several times this year with winning two in a row, but never have we been able to celebrate such an accomplishment. Sure, we have swept series, two in fact, of the one game and two game caliber, but never have we been able to put together the elusive winning streak. No longer can we saw that, as yesterday some fans celebrated like the Cubs had just won the World Series! To be honest, I smiled a bit as well, and who can blame any of the Cub fans for feeling at least a little overjoyed with finally accomplishing the seemingly impossible feat.

But in an honest moment, I must confess that I felt a little disappointed when all was said and done as well. While I love my Cubs, and I enjoy each and every single win that we are able to rack up, all that win did for us yesterday was to keep us from acquiring the number one pick in next years Amateur Draft. Do not misunderstand what I am saying, I am not hoping for losses. But in a lost year, and who can call this season anything but that, the Cubs need to look towards the future and to start the rebuilding process which will be able to being in the year 2013. That includes building the farm system, which is built primarily on the draft. At the moment, yesterday’s win moved the Cubs into the third spot in the draft. Still a good pick, assuming there is enough amazing talent to last, but usually in every draft there is only one sure fire stud that you can say without a doubt will be a future star. With the Cubs currently holding the third pick, unless the Houston Astros and Baltimore Oriels suffer major brain cramps, they will have very little chance of drafting that player.

Add that into the report from Bruce Miles, who was on the weekly “Hit and Run” show yesterday morning on 670 The Score, which said that Cub fans should not expect any major moves before the deadline, and yesterday was a gloomy day despite the win which brought such happiness to Cubs Nation. In my opinion, not trading as many of these players is a massive mistake. Move as many of these older veterans as you can, and save as much money as possible. I fully understand that some players will be more difficult to move based on the size of their contracts, Soriano for example, but even if the Cubs must eat $40 Million of his remaining $60 Million owed between now and the end of 2014 (roughly $6 Million left for this year and $18 Million each of the next three years) you are still saving $20 Million which can be used on players to fill out the roster.

While every fan has their own personal favorites, only one player should even be considered untouchable, and that is Starlin Castro; although some fans have made a solid argument why even he should be considered a trade candidate if the right deal came about.

That being said, there are at least five players whom the Cubs should move if the opportunity should arise, and clear some salary off of the books. This shouldn’t be too hard for you to figure out which five, but I will let you know anyway.

The Cubs should look into moving all three starting outfielders, yes that includes fan favorite Marlon Byrd, and both corner infielders. I know that in the past Aramis Ramirez has stated that he will not accept a trade because he loves the city of Chicago and the fans of the Cubs, but recently his agent has come out and acknowledged that he may in fact consider a trade in August once his family leaves for the Dominican Republic for the children to return to school.

Fans may object to trading the players who are producing when they should be looking into getting rid of those players who are not. What they need to realize that teams chasing a pennant will want those very players who are producing and not a player who is not putting up the desired numbers.

There are several other players whom I know Cub fans would not mind seeing traded, but those are the top five in my opinion whom should be moved for one reason or another. I will get into why I feel each one of those five should be traded over the next five days. Yep that is a promise that you will get a fresh blog every day this week as I try to get back in the habit of updating my blog on a regular basis.

For now, there are only six days left until the non-waiver trade deadline. Stay tuned, there may be a trade made by our Cubs at any moment, or we may just see out beloved boys in blue stand pat and hold out hope that the team catches fire!

Pathetic Baseball Against a Pathetic Club

In what may have been the most pathetic display of baseball I have ever seen, and trust me there has been a lot over the years following the Chicago Cubs, the game they played Tuesday night against the Houston Astros may just take the cake. Nothing but lazy and sloppy defense came out of this game, and buried the Cubs in a 5-0 hole before the second inning was over. There is not one single player who is at fault, as a matter of fact there are several who helped doom the Cubs before you most people could find their seats.

Firstly, I never want to see James Russell ever pitch in a game for the Cubs again, much less start a game for them. Being placed on a 50 pitch count, the youngster making his first career start could not even get out of the second inning before reaching his limit, and allowed five runs to cross the plate. To think, we yell at Carlos Zambrano for being at 80 pitches in the fifth inning, that is nothing compared to the crapfest that Russell delivered to us. Perhaps he should be sent back down to the minors so that he can work on not only learning how to manage his pitch counts and work on not throwing more than 25 pitches per inning, but also working on throwing balls that are not hit as though they are on a batting tee.

To make things worse, our substitute pitcher on the night failed to cover first base on consecutive bunts to lead off the bottom of the first. I do not care who the base runner is, that is unacceptable, and should not be tolerated. If he is to stay with the major league roster, he better make sure to take bunting drills every day until he is able to get to first in time to field a throw.

The rest of the pitching was just as bad, however Jeff Samardzija was not great, but not bad at all coming out of the bullpen. He gave up two runs over three innings of work, and I will take that effort every time out of him. As much grief as I, and all Cub fans, give him, he deserves credit for a decent outing. Jeff Stevens and Marcus Mateao put up scoreless innings to help the Cubs as much as they could, but that is where all good things ended for the Cubs pitching staff. John Grabow came into the game and decided to take whatever doubt there was in the minds of the Astro fans that this game was still in jeopardy; as he usually does when he comes into a ball game.

Russell’s less than pathetic pitching was not helped by any of his outfielders, all three of them decided to take the night off from defense. We are used to seeing Alfonso Soriano drop the occasional fly ball or bobble a ball when he goes to make a play, so that is nothing new. However, not to be out done, both Marlin Byrd and Tyler Colvin got in on the act by misplaying the same ball that was bouncing to the wall. Colvin also allowed a ball to drop right in front of him later in the inning, when he could have likely made a sliding or a diving catch. If that were Soriano, he would have been barbequed for that lack of hustle, but hey fans love Colvin and Byrd so those two plays likely will not get a mention elsewhere. Add in Reed Johnson dropping the ball that was scorched to deep center and you have every single outfielder coming up short on fly balls. Johnson though, did have a very impressive effort on a fly ball to the following hitter, reminiscent to the remarkable catch he made against the Cincinnati Reds a few years back, which he just missed catching.

The outfield defense, or lack thereof, was not the end of the ugly defensive play in the first two innings. Everyone’s favorite new player, Darwin Barney, also had a brain cramp which allowed another runner to cross the plate. After Soriano bobbled the ball, he threw a strike to second base which helped get Bill Hall in a rundown between first and second. Granted, the base runner was out of the baseline (which the umpire completely missed) but the tag should have been applied before the runner from third was allowed to cross the plate. Or, if you are smart, you ignore the runner between first and second and throw to third or home to keep the other guy from scoring. I know he is young, but that is something that you should learn early on. Let’s not forget the two blunders in the eighth inning by Blake Dewitt. After Johnson dropped a deep fly ball, he threw a strike to Dewitt, who likewise dropped the ball. He also committed an error on a ball hit right to him. Another ugly defensive error to add to the mix.

The hitting has not been horrible, they did get a few good hits to land. The problem comes into play when you take into account that they had very little, if any, timely hitting. Even in the sixth inning when there were men on second and third with only one out, the Cubs could not even score a run as Hall caught a blooper hit off the bat of Soriano into “no mans land” which would have scored a run. Granted, Colvin actually got a hit, which was actually turned into a home run, but for the most part the hitting was perfectly pathetic. Another example would be Reed Johnson leading off the eighth inning with a double, only to be stranded with the next three men making outs. They showed some signs of life in the ninth getting the first two men on base, second and third with no outs, but could only muster a single run, not that I really expected them to actually score the 10 runs needed to tie the game.

To steal a line from one of my favorite baseball movies, “Bull Durham”, “this is a simple game. You throw the ball, you hit the ball, you catch the ball.” Sadly, the Cubs went 0-3 with this obvious concept of baseball. The pitching, the hitting and the defense all completely dropped the ball early on in today’s game, leaving the Cubs sitting behind the figurative eight ball.

With the Cubs having one more game against these Astros tomorrow, all we can do is hope and pray that Zambrano is on his game and can give this team some serious innings while twirling a gem. If we lose tomorrow, we are going to have a very ugly road trip as we head to Denver to face the Colorado Rockies for a series starting Friday. Even if we win tomorrow, we face the likelihood of ending a road trip with a record of 3-6 or 4-5. Not a good way to come home if you have any hopes of contending in your division.