Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Gregg gets stung, then demoted

Monday: Padres 4, Cubs 1

That one hurts. The Cubs are now six games behind the Cardinals and failed to take advantage of an opportunity to gain a 1/2 game in the Wild Card race with a horrific loss to the third worst team in the National League.

Until the 9th inning, the story was the return of both Ted Lilly and Aramis Ramirez.

We hadn't seen Lilly in nearly a month, when he allowed 10 runs in Philadelphia on July 20. Before that, he had three consecutive strong starts. He pitched well last night, giving the Cubs six scoreless innings despite being on an 85-90 pitch count. With only 70 pitches thrown, I'm not sure why Piniella took him down for a pinch-hitter given how well he was pitching. I know the bullpen was at full strength after the rainout on Sunday, but I'd rather see Lilly go one more inning than see three innings from our bullpen.

And while Aramis singled in a pinch-hit appearance on Saturday, he hadn't started since August 8 at Colorado when he left with shoulder soreness. Last night, he had two of the Cubs' seven hits
and drove in their only run.

And that run looked like it would hold up, but Kevin Gregg allowed a walk, a double, an intentional walk and a three -run homer, blowing his sixth save of the season. Ouch. And it sounds like Gregg is now out as the Cubs' closer. I don't think that's necessarily a terrible move given Gregg's recent struggles, but I don't think we should trot Marmol out there every game.

The Padres, by the way, are the only non-NL Central team the Cubs face three times this season. The Cubs swept them at home and got swept at Petco earlier in the season; let's hope a third sweep is not in the works.

While Gregg is the main culprit, you also have to look at an offense that once again looked completely disinterested in scoring any runs on the road. The Cubs had a grand total of two extra base hits, and gave Lilly and the 'pen just one measly run to work with.

Heading into the game, the 6-7-8-9 hitters in the Cubs lineup (Fontenot, Soto, Miles, Lilly) were batting .227, .225, .185 and .073, respectively. Shockingly, they combined to go 0-for-13, and they also left 10 men on base. Aaron Miles is 1-for-20 since coming off the DL. I would be happy if the Cubs traded him for a bag of peanuts. I don't even care if they're unsalted peanuts. Expired, even.

When Carlos Zambrano returns next Tuesday, the Cubs will essentially be back at full strength. Let's hope it's not too late.

Strasburg signs at the last minute

The Nationals came within minutes of failing to sign their top draft pick for the second straight year.

Because Stephen Strasburg is represented by super (evil) agent Scott Boras, baseball's top draft pick nearly remained unsigned at the signing deadline. He scoffed at $12.5 million, asking for multiple times that. But ultimately, he signed for about $15 million. That breaks the record for a draft pick's contract, formerly held by Mark Prior. It would have been a damned shame if a player who has not yet played a single major league game walked away from an eight-figure contract despite the fact that it would have been nearly impossible to improve upon the college numbers he put up last year at San Diego State.

Rookie of the Year Watch

J.A. Happ won his ninth game for the Phillies Sunday night, matching Randy Wells' win total. Tommy Hanson beat the Diamondbacks last night, moving his record to 8-2.


  1. How's Kerry Wood doing in Cleveland??

    I think it's time to change my ringtone from "Go Cubs Go" to something ..ah ...more believeable.

  2. He's not doing too hot, either. 15 saves with 5 blown, compared to 23 and 6 for Gregg. Gregg's ERA is also better. Wood's also making $10 mil a year.

    Wood wouldn't have solved our problems, but obviously we should have gone after someone other than Gregg.