The Cubs have so far split their series with the Giants in SF, dropping a game by the Bay tonight, 2-1. The 9th left two Cubs on base and pinch hitter Ryan Theriot striking out in one of those moments in this Historic Season where I expected a Cub to pull it out in the bottom of the 9th. Let me repeat that, I expected to win. Can’t get more once in a lifetime than that.
Most of the news out of the Cubs locker room tonight is not about the Giants, but the near and slightly less near future. Paul Sullivan details the Cubs’ interest in a July pitching pick-up, and the impressive depth of our rotation’s medocrity, here. Sullivan doesn’t name any of the new pitchers we could get, like AJ Burnett or CC Sabathia, but Zambrano is looking forward to some help. The more immediate news is that by Friday in St. Louis, Reed Johnson, Aramis Ramirez (whose on three days leave for “family matters”), and Zambrano will be in the line-up. Piniella is going slide-rule to slide with the Calculator himself, as revealed in these comments to Bruce Miles of The Daily Herald:
Rotation roulette: Lou Piniella said all systems are go for Carlos Zambrano to start Friday’s series opener in St. Louis.
“He threw today, and he threw very well,” Piniella said.
The manager then added that he’d follow Zambrano with lefties Sean Marshall and Ted Lilly, in either order, to face the Cardinals. That would push righty Jason Marquis into next week against the Reds.
“You look a the Cardinals, and they’re 11 games over (. 500) against right-handers and 1 game over against lefties,” Piniella said. “That leaves me to believe we have a better chance with left-handers. It remains to be seen. But just looking at the numbers, and we go by numbers here, plus we go on how a guy’s throwing. Really, Marshall threw the ball really well against the White Sox the other day.”
Yes, Sox fans, he said that, and he goes by the numbers … Rich Hill is now Project: Hopeless in Arizona, where he apparently throws at cacti and roadrunners when not beaning hitters. The Cubs are openly discussing shutting him down so he can “get his head together.” The problem is considered mental, as Piniella told The Daily Herald‘s Bruce Miles: “They’ve actually discussed that; it might be just best to shut him down totally,” Piniella said. “I don’t know if that’s going to happen, but it’s been discussed, yes. It’s a shame, it really is. This came out of nowhere this spring and fed on itself. The amazing thing is about it is I never even realized he had a problem. I just saw him last year, and he pitched so well. Last spring, he never walked a hitter.” The Trib‘s Paul Sullivan, who I assume covered the same press briefing, has a slightly reworded and more cryptic comment from Piniella thrown in: “I just saw him last year, and he pitched so well. Heck, last spring (in 2007) he didn’t walk a hitter. So I never knew that there was a problem from the past. I didn’t know it until it surfaced in the spring.” So, uh, what problem from the past? Did he get off brain steroids or something? And how come the Cubs NEVER KNEW ABOUT IT?