Sunday, August 9, 2009

Dempster gets first win since July 2, Cubs hope for good news on Zambrano, Ramirez

Saturday: Cubs 6, Rockies 5

A strange win, but a big one.

Lou trotted out a brand new lineup, the Cubs made several defensive mistakes, and the Rockies had 11 hits, yet the Cubs got a big win to bring them back to 4-4 on the road trip.

I may have liked Saturday's lineup even more than Friday's. When I heard Fukudome was out of the leadoff spot, I was not happy. He has clearly made himself a nice home at the top of the order. However, the downside of batting Bradley second is that Theriot has to bat too far down in the order. Theriot can certainly hold his own in the leadoff spot, and if Fukudome can carry over his success to the five spot, then Lou can bide some time until Soto (hopefully) gets his swing going. Fukudome had a double and a home run, while Theriot had three singles, an RBI and a run scored.

And with a quality start from Ryan Dempster and three scoreless innings from the bullpen (including Marmol's best outing in a long time), the Cubs were able to remain one game behind the Cardinals. Bradley reached base two more times, Derrek Lee connected for his 23rd home run of the season, and even Aaron Miles connected for a triple and came around to score.

But still I ask: why oh why was Aaron Miles starting again? (Actually, I'll tell you: he was 6-for-16 against Marquis in his career.) If you ask me, he shouldn't even be on the roster, but for goodness' sake, at least stop trotting him out there as part of the starting lineup. There is absolutely no reason why Andres Blanco, who was batting 40 points higher than Miles and is 10 times the fielder (he may be the best fielder the Cubs have had all year), is in the minors while Miles is wasting space on the Cubs roster.

Speaking of who is and isn't on the roster, Carlos Zambrano was placed on the DL for the second time this season due to back spasms. Reliever Jeff Stevens was recalled to replace him. Because he hasn't pitched since Aug. 1, Zambrano will be eligible to return next Monday, Aug. 17. It sounds like Jeff Samardzija will start in his place on Wednesday against the Phillies. With John Grabow now in the bullpen, I would prefer Marshall to get the start, but on the bright side, Samardzija won't be coming on in relief over the next few days!

On top of Zambrano's injury, the injury bug bit the Cubs yet again, as Aramis Ramirez appeared to tweak his shoulder early in the game, and left in the 5th. Hopefully he'll be okay, but we'll at least see Jake Fox at the hot corner today, if not for a few days.

The Cubs have the third worst fielding percentage in the National League this year, and their glovework was perhaps the main reason Saturday's game was so close. In the 4th inning, the Cubs infield did their best impression of the Washington Generals.

First, Theriot was unable to grab a grounder up the middle that would have resulted in at least one out, if not two. On the very next play, Ramirez booted an easy double play grounder, and the stage was set for a big Rockies inning. One was inclined to feel bad for Ryan Dempster, but then he failed to cover first base on what could have been a double play later in the inning. Good ol' Aaron Miles then ran away from second base after Soto threw to second on a wild pitch, conceding the base as he looked to see if the runner at third was going to break for home (he didn't). That's FIVE extra outs the Cubs gave the Rockies in one inning.

All muscle, no hustle

Piniella needs to start benching or fining guys for a lack of effort. That may sound old school or overreactive, but the fact is, the Cubs may put out less effort than any team in baseball. The lineup is loaded with primadonnas who can't bring themselves to run hard when they put the ball in play. Soriano turned a double into a single on Friday, and Bradley came within a split-second of costing the Cubs a run when he decided to admire a ball he hit instead of running hard. He was tagged out at second for the third out just after Theriot crossed the plate with the go-ahead run. I don't care who you are or how much you make, RUN! This isn't football or soccer--you really don't have to run full speed all that often. Props to Bob Brenly for voicing a similar position during last night's broadcast.

Remember him?

Jason Dubois was traded
to the Mets Friday, and was assigned to the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons. He played 72 games for the Cubs between 2004 and 2005, batting .236 with eight home runs and 27 RBI.

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