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Posts Tagged ‘Jon Lieber’

Chicago Cubs Season Turning Into A Circus

Posted by sportsmaven on July 27, 2008

The Chicago Cubs magical first half of the 2008 season has quickly turned into a circus-like  atmosphere for destiny’s team in the month of July.  The Cubs began the season with few distractions, allowing the team to concentrate on playing very solid baseball, leading to the best record in baseball for much of the first half of the season.

(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

As of late, a rash of off-field events have provided plenty of distraction for a team already bearing the weight of lofty explanations.  Those events include:

On the field, the Cubs have been less than stellar, posting a 9-11 record since July 1st.  The off-field issues may have played some role in that record, but on-field, the Cubs have been a different team as of late.  Some of the on-field issues include:

  • OF Kosuke Fukudome hitting .185 in July
  • IF/OF Mark DeRosa hitting .188 in July
  • IF Aramis Ramirez hitting .176 in July including an 0-28 stretch between July 12-22.
  • P Bobby Howry sports a 6.97 ERA in July, giving up earned runs in 3 of his last 5 appearances.
  • Scheduling: From June 10th, the Cubs played for 26 consecutive days, including a rained-out affair at the Hall of Fame on June 16th, their only “day off” in that span.  On June 29th, the Cubs played the ESPN Sunday Night Game of the week and then had to board a plane to fly to San Francisco to play a game the next night.
  • Since June 10th, the Cubs record is 20-21.  Coming out of the All-Star break, the Cubs play 20 game in 20 days.
  • NL loses to the AL in the All Star game for the 11th straight year, thus securing home field advantage for the AL team, not a good sign for NL contenders such as the Cubs who are substantially under .500 on the road (22-30).

The Cubs are certainly not playing with the same energy that they displayed in amassing the best record in baseball in the days leading to the All-Star break, looking game weary while grinding out a schedule with spans of 26 games in a row and now, 20 in a row.

The Cubs seem as thought they’ve forgotten that playing baseball is fun.  The hitters look less patient at the plate, swinging at pitches they took for balls earlier in the season.  The once-vaunted bullpen, considered a strength of the team, is in disarray, with the injury to Kerry Wood forcing nearly every other pitcher in the pen to new roles.  Jim Hendry is unsure whether to make any moves when considering that considering that when healthy, there could be more players than positions.  I don’t know if this is a one week slide or if it’s a longer term issue.  I don’t know the cure to what ails the Cubs.  I do know that as of today, the Cubs are tied with the Brewers for first in the NL Central and both teams appear to be moving in opposite directions.

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Top 5 Moves To Improve The Chicago Cubs

Posted by sportsmaven on May 2, 2008

After yesterday’s tough to swallow loss to the Milwaukee Brewers, the Chicago Cubs sit 1/2 game behind the St. Louis Cardinals after setting a team record for wins in April (17 wins).   The Cubs offense has been way ahead of their pitching with the exception of Carlos Zambrano, Jon Lieber, Ryan Dempster, and Carlos Zambrano and Ryan Theriot in the leadoff spot and both performed very well in that role.  The Cubs surged to the top of the league in virtually all offensive categories in Soriano’s absence.  Both Johnson and Theriot bring a fiery presence to the top of the order.  The Cubs would be unbelievably formidable in the middle of their order with Soriano batting in the 5th or 6th spot. The Cubs should make this move immediately.

2.  Send LHP Rich Hill to Iowa, move RHP Jon Lieber into the rotation – Rich Hill has been a disaster this season, with tonight’s start the latest gaffe.  Hill’s inability to consistently find the strike zone with any pitch has taxed the Cubs bullpen.  Tonight’s 2/3 of an inning, 27 pitch outing where he walked 4 of the first 6 batters he faced has literally handcuffed Manager Lou Piniella for tonight’s game and possibly for the rest of a very key series against the Cardinals.  Hill needs to work out whatever issues he has in AAA and come back ready to pitch every time out.

3.  Send Of Felix Pie to Iowa and install Reed Johnson as the starting CF – Felix Pie is struggling big time against major league pitching.  He looks clueless at the plate and is hitting just above .200.  Pie needs playing time and not in Chicago.  Reed Johnson was one of the best spring training pickups of the season for the Cubs and provides exactly what the Cubs need – a gritty, hard nosed, all out effort performance every game he plays.

4.  Move Carlos Marmol to the closer role, Kerry Wood to long relief or setup – need I say more after yesterday’s game?  Wood has almost as many blown saves (3) as saves converted (4).  I love Kerry Wood, he is a competitor, a gamer, never complains, takes the ball in any situation.  He’s a man, but not a closer when you have Carlos Marmol and his repetoire of nasty stuff on your roster.  Marmol has been virtually unhittable this season.  He has come into games this season in pressure packed situations and has been completely dominant.  Give this guy the 9th inning and we have at least 3 more wins this season (and 3 less losses).

5.  Continue hydrating Carlos Zambrano – or continue limiting/restricting his caffeine intake.  Whatever the Cubs are doing to keep Carlos Zambrano healthy, focused and dedicated, continue to do it.  Zambrano has been fantastic this season, a true top of the rotation starter since Opening Day.  He’s 4-1 with a 2.11 ERA this season, by far, his best start to a season.  He would have been 5-1 but for yesterday’s 9th inning implosion.  Zambrano needs to have a big year for the Cubs to dominate.  He is well on his way going into May.

This Cubs started the 2008 season virtually the way they wanted to start, with a 17-10 record in April.  Their early season success (and at times, dominant play) have raised expectations even further for the remainder of the season.  With these suggested moves, the Cubs can position themselves to continue their hot start into the meat of their season.

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