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  #1  
Old May 7th 2009, 7:12 pm
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TheBenjamin TheBenjamin is offline
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State of the Cubs: Lots of thoughts in here

So much to talk about, more then enough time to write about everything on my mind. The only question, is do you have enough time to read everything I am about to post. Donít worry, if you donít read the entire post I will fully understand. In fact, I will do you a favor so you can easily find and read about what you want to read. That way, you can skip over the thoughts that you couldnít really care less about. But here, you will read about all the thoughts that have been building up inside of me over the past few days. These thoughts include: The State of the Chicago Cubs after four games against the San Francisco Giants and Houston Astros, the Lou-P lineup Cubs Manager Lou Piniella threw out there on Tuesday, the injury of Derrek Lee, the demotion of Jeff Samardzija, the recalling of Chad Fox, and the Milton Bradley suspension case. All this and probably not much more as I do believe that this is enough information to keep you busy for a while. Here is the part where I am helping you find what you want, the order I will be sharing my thoughts on these subjects, is the order that I listed them out. So without further delay, lets get started shall we?

As I have done at the end of every series, I will give you the state of affairs as far as I am concerned with your Cubs. I did not do one following the Giants series, because I felt things would be easier to cover the series with the Giants and Astros at the same time because they are both two game series. In the Giants series the offense continued to be on display in the first game of the series, and the bullpen looked pretty good if you ask me. Were they perfect? I guess that all depends on your definition of perfect. The bullpen pitched two innings allowing one hit and one walk, which if you ask me (and I assume you are if you are reading this) they did a good job and were pretty damn close to being perfect. The second game made you scratch your head though, especially with the lineup that Piniella threw out there, but I will get to that in a minute or two. The bullpen took a major hit in the second game of the series against the Giants, but that is only because Samardzija pitched unbelievably bad, which in turn made Sean Marshallís outing look even worse. While we didnít score a lot of runs in this series (only six) the offense is still showing signs of having some life, and the bullpen is starting to come together.

The Astros series started off great, as the offense exploded for an early lead and the Cubs never looked back. The big star of game one was Reed Johnson who drove in three first inning runs with a bases loaded triple. He also scored two runs himself when he crossed home plate after a wild pitch. This time around, he helped the Cubs win with his bat instead of his glove. The bullpen in the first game held their own and looked good again, granted only Carlos Marmol and Kevin Gregg pitched in the game, but they were both question marks before hand, and might be still. The second game, well thatís still going on as I write this, so perhaps things would be best if I did not include this game in my thoughts. Though after two innings, Cubs are down 2-1 after Ted Lilly gave up a two run bomb in the first inning. Kosuke Fukudome got his first hit of the month of May, and Ryan Theriot got picked off third base. Despite his recent power strike, he still cant run the bases that well. But not everyone can be a perfect ball player. I wont rag on him for that right now. Speaking of Theriot, he just got a base hit to lead off the third. Perhaps I will add to this as the game goes on while I am writing this blog. Still the top of the third, bases loaded no outs, but Hoffpauir popped one up in foul ground at third. Bradley is now up to bat, lets see if he can snap out of this slump in a big way. Basehit by Bradley, not exactly the big hit I was hoping for, but I will take what I can get.

Alright, lets talk about the lineup that Piniella threw out there on Tuesday against Giants Ace Tim Lincicum. Since Tuesday night I have heard numerous fans complain about the lineup, and have read many comments that have been posted saying that Piniella screwed the Cubs and their fans by not starting the best players for that game. The argument was that they were facing a great pitcher, and needed their best hitters in the lineup. I can completely understand that train of thought, but at the same time, I can fully understand what Piniella was doing. Lets take a look at who he sat, and I will give you my thoughts on why they were sat down. First and foremost Alfonso Soriano and Theriot, did you realize that neither of them have gotten a day off before that game? They played in every single game the Cubs played without a break, outside of the days the Cubs were off. If they were not sat down then, they would not have been given a day off for at least five more days, because you donít want to sit players against your division rivals. The next five games were against the Astros and Milwaukee Brewers. I have no problem with them getting that game off. How about Aramis Ramirez, he just sat out for about a week and a half with an injury, he should have been fully rested right? Yeah, rested for sure, but he was just coming off an injury, so why push him too hard. Maybe he could have played, but why not rest him after his first game back just to play things safe, especially with leg and back injuries. The reason Geovany Soto was taken out of the lineup should be obvious, day game after a night game, catchers will very rarely catch both those games. Bradley though, I can not give one good reason why he wasnít playing. Fukudome could have stayed in center, Micah Hoffpauir could have played at first giving Lee the day off with Joey Gathright playing in left. But hey, I cant justify everyone who sat out with good reasons.
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Old May 7th 2009, 7:12 pm
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For the second time in a week, Lee had his neck spasms flare up on him, and he sat out both games against the Astros. This is a tough case to read, as there are different stories coming out about this injury. Piniella has stated that Lee might have to go on the disabled list, but today during the second game of the Astros series Lee commented on how he should be ready to go on Friday when the Cubs travel to play the Brewers. Hopefully Lee is able to play, because he is finally starting to heat up at the plate, and we could use his bat in the lineup. Nothing against Hoffpauir, but if push comes to shove, I would rather have Lee out there. With his bat heating up, and his gold glove caliber defense at first base, he is a threat to win a game for you. Hoffpauir may give you the bat that you would be missing, but his defense is far below what Lee can provide.



After his blow up on the mound in the second game of the Giants series, Samardzija has been sent back down to the minor leagues, rejoining the Iowa Cubs. I honestly think that this move is the best thing for him, as he is a starting pitcher and not a relief pitcher. With him starting, he has the time to work on and develop all of his pitches, as a reliever he can not do that with only one inning of work every other day. No, his future with the Cubs is as a starter and that is where he should stay. Keep him in Iowa the rest of the year, let him work as a starting pitcher. That is where he will be the most help for the Cubs in the future. Bringing him up and throwing him in the bullpen will do nothing but retard his development.



With Samardzija being sent down, a familiar face returned. Long time veteran Fox was recalled, and was place in the bullpen. You might remember him from his time with the Cubs in 2005 where he was attempting a comeback, when his elbow gave out on him during an inning of work. Or, you might remember him from 2007 when he was attempting another comeback. This time his shoulder was giving him problems. Maybe the third time is the charm for Fox, as he is making a third attempt at a comeback. His numbers have looked great in triple A, so lets hope that they carry over now that he is in the majors again. We could sure use his arm at the tail end of the bullpen.



On Wednesday, Bradley had his appeal of his two game suspension heard. Personally I think that he is an idiot for taking this to a hearing when there was plenty of time for him to serve this without hurting the ball club. There was a good week to two weeks where he was just being used as a pinch hitter. He could have served the suspension during that time, and the Cubs would have been fine without him. However, with him taking the ordeal all the way to the hearing, he will miss at least one game, if not two against the Brewers. Face facts, he will not get the suspension dropped completely. The best case scenario is for the suspension to be reduced by a game. Missing one game is better then two, but why not just serve the damn thing earlier when you are not facing a division rival? Don’t get me wrong, I agree that the suspension is complete bull****, but don’t think that he should have fought the ruling the way he did. Just my two cents.



That about sums up this edition of my Cubs thoughts for the day and night. However, I would not be doing the game a favor if I did not even mention what happened to Manny Ramirez. For those who do not know (and if you don’t I must ask where you have been all day) Man-Ram failed a test for PED (performance enhancing drugs) and will be suspended for 50 games. This does mean that he will miss the series with the Cubs at the end of the month. So if you bought tickets for the end of May series hoping to see him, you are out of luck. Ramirez joins Alex Rodriguez, Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds and many others in being labeled a steroid using baseball cheater. Honestly, while I am glad to see that they are cleaning up the game, I would be lying if I did not admit that I am a little bit sad. As I mentioned in my post about A-Rod when he tested positive, the game loses a lot of luster for me with these big names failing the tests. How much of what we see is real and genuine. Sometimes, I honestly wish that the steroid era was never uncovered and no one was the wiser.



Alright, that about covers everything I had in mind to cover with a bonus thought. Hopefully you made your way til the end, though if you didn’t, I cant say that I blame you. This is a lot of information to read, but I do hope what you did read you enjoyed. As always, feel free to comment, argue a point or share your thoughts. I always enjoy reading the comments you make on my blogs, however few there are. Until next time, lets root on the Cubs together.
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Old May 7th 2009, 8:44 pm
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Good stuff.
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Old May 7th 2009, 8:54 pm
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Nice post.

As far as Man Ram goes,it really blew my mind today when I heard the news- simply because his numbers rarely ever change. He has been one of the steadiest/ best hitters in my lifetime. Some of these steroid or performance enhancing users see a big rise in their numbers- not Manny- he has always been around the same. I hate to say it but IMO I think the number of players that actually tried something is huge. IMO they had to do it in order to keep their jobs- Im not talking about superstars- but the average players. If they didnt use then somebody behind them did and would eventually take their job.
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Old May 7th 2009, 9:56 pm
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Manny's PED was hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin), which, if you guys haven't heard of it before, is a female fertility drug, along with artificial testosterone. He got dinged for a female fertility drug! Well, according to ESPN, hCG helps athletes coming off a steroid cycle restart natural testosterone production. Still, he's using the same thing the "Octomom" used!
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Old May 8th 2009, 12:33 am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VanMan View Post
Manny's PED was hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin), which, if you guys haven't heard of it before, is a female fertility drug, along with artificial testosterone. He got dinged for a female fertility drug! Well, according to ESPN, hCG helps athletes coming off a steroid cycle restart natural testosterone production. Still, he's using the same thing the "Octomom" used!
LOL...it is also the hormone that pregnancy tests will detect if they come up with a positive result...a hormone naturally found in pregnant women! Man, the media could have soooo much fun with this! LOL Maybe in that commercial that they show during some of the games where they have the stone statue falling apart showing the effects of steroids on the human body...and the last line is "and not to mention OTHER things it can do to a guy's body...."...they need to replace the statue with one of Manny!
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Old May 8th 2009, 12:58 am
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That is a great post, Ben!

One thing I did notice throughout both of the last couple of series is the Cubs have left way too many men on base. It goes kind of unnoticed quietly because they won those games, but there still seems to be a lack of the clutch hitting. These last few games could have been a blowout, but they left way too many of those guys on base. Luckily, they had good pitching to keep it on the positive side, but luck may run out in just one bad pitching outing (such as Heilman's meltdown in the first game of the last homestand).
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Old May 8th 2009, 3:51 am
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yeah, you can look at it as them leaving alot of men on base, or you can view things as they are getting alot of men on base. They have been scoring big lately because they are getting alot of men on base now.
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Old May 8th 2009, 9:52 am
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You left out Lou dumping on the fans again , of course after he was in Houston. He is back to the same old rap about how the fans put too much pressure on the players . Like he putting AAA players against a Cy Young pitcher isn't putting pressure on them. He is really sounding more and more like Dusty . He is the manager and his job is to field a winning team and not worry what the fans do in thier seats , because those asses in the seats pays his bills.
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Old May 8th 2009, 1:31 pm
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The cubs are hitting alot worse w/RISP this year, but they are not much worse than the cubs overall offensive numbers.

I'm not worried about it, these are one of those stats that are completely random and fluctuate wildly in different periods throughout the season.
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