Ben Schwartz On The Cubs

Giants 3, Cubs 2

From Ben Schwartz :

The Cubs have been on an upswing lately, but they still manage to lose games they should be winning easily.

Couldn’t help thinking last night as Greg Maddux (above, left) clocked his 3,000th strikeout (and less than 1,000 walks) before the Cubs folded to the Giants in the 11th, that the Tribco Mascots are giving Maddux a Nolan Ryan season of milestones while losing crucial games. They’re at a point in the season where wins count now more than they will in September. But 10 hits and two runs says a lot, esp. when you’re playing a team that won with 13 hits and three runs. Even the much anticipated return of Latroy Walkins to Wrigley was bitter sweet. After every save he blew for us, it was nice to see him throw one our way. He handed a lead off, first pitch homer to Michael Barrett and walked more Cubs before ending the inning with the game tied. The Cubs never took the lead after that and SF did, proving they don’t need Latroy to lose games.

And after all the complaining I did last winter about the Tribco’s cheap off-season tactics and lame clubhouse feuding, I’d like to apologize to TribCo, since judging by the firing/retirement of their top editor out here, it’s apparently a company-wide policy. Hm, inflated circulation, dropping stocks, budget cuts for their most conservative papers — apparently you just can’t sell a Republican newspaper anymore.

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Ben writes :

Saturday’s loss is Dusty and Hendry’s incomprehensible off-season maneuvering come home to roost: a) don’t spend money, b) trade away bats like Alou and Sosa (who needs’m with Nomar around?) because they have attitude problems, and c) don’t sign a closer. Personally, I don’t believe Joe Borowski is an actual ballplayer, but that his spot on the roster is a mob no-show job. That the Chubs are playing .500 ball shows how far they could go had some needed and obvious changes been made. I still think they can still produce a respectable winning season as is, but Peter Gammons prediction that the Cubs are the likely NL wild card feels like a distant longshot. Btw, I don’t blame LaTroy one bit. Dusty put him in a position that everyone already knew he couldn’t handle. Imo, he should be a Cub set-up man or an American Leaguer.

As for the new Cubs announcers, it’s hard to forgive anyone using the phrase “boo-birds” in the beloved ‘GN booth.

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From the Chicago Tribune’s Dave Van Dyck :

GM Jim Hendry had no comment Saturday because, legally, the Sosa trade is not completed. But it is clear the Cubs somehow have to make up the 74 homers and 186 RBIs they are losing from Sosa and the departed Moises Alou, their third and fourth hitters much of last season.

Replies Ben Schwartz,

No comment, because vacuums don’t make much noise. Now that everyone’s cheering Sammy on his way out the door, I was hoping to hear a little bit about the Cubs making up for those two bats. I hoped that Hendry had this in mind all along, which is why he was holding Sammy’s deal back until the Beltran decision. So, unless they plan on getting Barry Bonds sometime soon or will be holding down the opposition to 1 run games and shut outs all year– I’m wondering if this was all Hendry’s master plan or just the Tribune closing the wallet because of their stock dropping.

The Chicago Sun-Times’ Jay Mariotti is equally dismissive of the Cubs’ off-season moves.

Alas, as of today, your right fielder is Todd Hollandsworth. And your left fielder, to replace the bigger numbers of Moises Alou, is either newcomer Jerry Hairston Jr. or unproven farmhand Jason Dubois. And you likely can forget about Magglio Ordonez, who reportedly has been offered a five-year deal worth between $55 and $60 million by the free-spending Detroit Tigers — way too much for the Tribsters. If Ordonez has a healthy, productive season, he’ll make the White Sox AND Cubs look foolish. The one remaining slugger is well-traveled Jeromy Burnitz, who managed 37 homers, 110 RBIs and a .559 slugging percentage in the Coors Field pinball machine last season. If the numbers look great, be certain they won’t carry over to Wrigley. The man will be 36 in April, Sosa’s age. He said something last year about not wanting to play east of Denver. He tends to whiff like a madman and kill rallies. And the sense is that last season was a thin-air aberration after a terrible year with the Mets in 2002 and a brutal stretch run with the Dodgers in 2003. If Burnitz is such a terrific find, why hasn’t anyone else signed him yet? Hendry should book a flight to California, where Ordonez will be available for workouts next week. Once and for all, he will demonstrate whether his surgically repaired left knee is ready for spring training.

But, hey, Burnitz is cheaper. Never mind the extra 1,900 bleacher seats at another $30 bucks or so a pop, multiplied by 81dates every year. Never mind those expensive seats behind home plate. The Cubs have to recoup their Sosa bucks or Andy MacPhail won’t get his holiday bonus.

4 thoughts on “Ben Schwartz On The Cubs

  1. But it is clear the Cubs somehow have to make up the 74 homers and 186 RBIs they are losing from Sosa and the departed Moises Alou…

    this is obviously why hendry chose to lock up NOMAAAAHHH!

  2. Did losing the 80+ HRs from Javy Lopez and Gary Sheffield in 2003 hurt the Braves in 2004? Cubbies fans have a better handle than I, but it would seem to me that the Cubs could use some top of the order OBA players.

  3. Jeeziz, once again I am in agreement with Jay Mariotti. It’s like finding your girlfriend used to date Rip Taylor.

    That said, Chuck has a point. It sucks we don’t have the runs with Alou and Sosa, but it’s also true we had them last year and blew it. It’s clear now that trading Sosa was about saving money, not using it better. The Trib management came down on the side of a no-headache clubhouse with this season’s moves, but just cause you have some egos in there doesn’t mean you don’t put up with it to win. I wasn’t kidding last year when I said Alou and the others better take a look at the Harry Caray statue out front of Wrigley when they went off on Steve Stone. The Trib Co. is a media company first, not a team owner, and Hendry/MacPhail have chased off all the loudmouths on the team who have what corporations like the Trib refer to as “attitude problems.” Hope Mayor Daley kicks MacPhail’s ass again this year.

  4. I don’t have a silver lining for the Cubs except to add that the Astros have had an even worse off-season ; losing Jeff Kent to LA, Beltran to NY, Lance Berkman to flag football, etc.

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