“It would be nice to win this right now,” Ron Santo said in the bottom of the 9th inning with Jeff Baker at the plate, two men on and two outs. Baker popped out and Cubs reliever Sean Marshall gave up the winning run in the 10th inning. The baseball gods weren’t in a very nice mood, at least as far as Cubs fans were concerned.
The Cubs can’t get offense out of Alfonso Soriano (hitting .214 through nine games this year, not to mention the .241 average that he boasted in 2009). Defense is out of the question (two embarrassing outfield gaffs on Wednesday alone, causing Lou to yank him late in the game; he led all leftfielders in the Majors in errors in 2009).
Will Chicago eat his $18 million a year contract and release him before it expires after the 2014 season? GM Jim Hendry, speaking to MLB Network Radio this morning, says “no.” Due to the size of the contract, a trade is out of the question….and who would want Soriano anyway?
Cubs fans thought all of the same things about Milton Bradley last year. But, lo and behold, the Seattle Mariners came calling…and so far, that trade looks to have worked out for both sides (Milton’s production is up in Seattle, although his attitude is unchanged; Carlos Silva has been outpitching Carlos Zambrano on the Northside).
If no one comes a-calling for Soriano, though, the Cubs should drop him from the 25-man roster…but not release him from his contract. I know there are clauses in MLB contracts which would prevent them from doing this, but I’m sure the Cubs could find some way around them for the amount of money involved.
Jim Hendry should keep him around and make him work off that $18 million a year as a batboy. Sure, he Soriano wouldn’t hustle to fetch the bats, which would slow games down and make umpire Joe West angry. I could also see fans booing Soriano for every bat that he drops on his way back to the dugout… Actually, that might not work out after all. Whatever happens, don’t expect the Cubs to be content with letting their one-time franchise player drive his Bentley off into the sunset with over $60 million left on his contract.
Some Cubs fans think that some of the guest conductors for the 7th Inning Stretch – most recently actress Denise Richards – are ruining a sacred Cubs tradition and that it is about time that real Chicagoans take back the 7th inning stretch before it is too late.
William Kelly, of “Sportsaholic,” on Comcast Sportsnet has officially thrown his hat into the ring to sing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” and is taking singing lessons to show his true commitment. He will be recruiting other Chicagoans to step up and show these guest conductor “outsiders” how it is done.
“Sportsaholic” will be tracking Kelly’s unruly 7th Inning Stretch campaign and his Chicago sports fan recruitment successes and failures at www.sportsaholictv.com. Interested Chicago Cubs fans interested in showing what it takes to sing the 7th inning stretch and making Harry Caray proud can email Kelly at email@example.com.
ESPN needs to begin airing this one on ESPN Classic ASAP–this is Cubs baseball. The Cubs’ 11th loss in their past 15 games is an early contender for “game of the year” for a team that’s slipping from first (in ’08) to worst (in ’09) in the NL Central.
Soriano homers…and then goes cold for his remaining five at-bats?
Marmol enters in a key spot and walks two?
A no-hitter through seven turns into a loss?
Kevin Gregg turns in his best LaTroy Hawkins impression?
Pitching to the reigning NL Batting Champion with first base open?
In a post-game interview, Wells said, “It stinks not getting the win. But stuff happens. That’s baseball.” No, Wells, that’s not baseball–that’s Cubs’ baseball.
Lee just hit a home run against the Oakland Athletics. It’s been a while since we’ve seen a homer (or any offense, for that matter) from the Cubs’ everyday first-baseman. The last time that Lee connected for a long ball was almost six months ago, on September 22nd against the Mets.
Not to be outdone, the Man Who Would Be Cubs’ First-Baseman, Micah Hoffpauir, hit his second double of the day following Lee’s homer. Hoffpauir is hitting .273 with four home runs this spring.
Since returning from a wrist injury in 2007, Lee has hit fewer than 22 home runs in each of the past two years–just half of the total of his career high 2005 season, when he hit 46 home runs.
Kosuke Fukudome, who’s batting just .235 in the World Baseball Classic, sat out last night’s win over Korea. He may have to get used to being on the bench if his offensive numbers don’t improve once he eventually joins the Cubs in Mesa.
Last April, Fukudome was the Cubs’ offensive MVP. He brought a new style of playing to the team: patience. He led the majors with most pitches seen per at-bat. He looked the best $48 million that Jim Hendry had spent. As the year dragged on, however, his performance sagged, to the point Piniella effectively benched him for the last few months of the season.
Commentators pointed fingers at the “long US baseball season” for Fukudome’s slide. That explanation always struck me as condescending, like American baseball is uniquely difficult and grueling compared to the “baseball lite” that is played in Asia. Whatever the reason for the downward spiral, Fukudome ended the season with a dreadful 1-for-10 performance in the Divisional Series.
“He probably learned a lot last year,” Piniella has said. Let’s hope he’s right. Unfortunately for Piniella and Cubs fans, Fukudome is a question that may not get answered until the season starts.