Lose three, win two. Lose six, win four. Lose eight, win six. You get the pattern. This crazy season continues with its highs and lows. In their last 11 games, the Cubs won three in a row, lost four in a row, and won four in a row. They were able to sweep the Astros in Houston. If you would have told me that Carlos Zambrano, Juan Mateo, and Ryan O’Malley would have beaten Roy Oswalt, Roger Clemens, and Andy Pettite, I would have told you that you were crazy, but that’s exactly what happened. They paid the Astros back for sweeping them in June and July. I just don’t know what to think anymore.
Monday-Cubs 3 Houston 0
Carlos Zambranon is wildly effective again. Phil Nevins hits two home runs, supplying all the runs. Morgan Ensberg really, really *****. Zambranowalked seven and hit one but held Houston batters hitless in seven at-bats with men in scoring position. Zambrano leads the National League in strikeouts (167) and walks (96), had only five strikeouts in the 121-pitch outing. It was the seventh 120-pitch start for Zambrano, who leads the majors in both total pitches and pitches per start. It leaves many a Cubs fan wondering why Baker continues to ride Zambrano in a meaningless season. Nevin hit a two run home run off of Oswalt and an RBI single off of Chad Qualls. Everytime Houston tried to score runs, Morgan Ensberg would let Zambrano slip off the hook.
Tuesday Cubs 8 Astros 6
One of the most poorly coached games I have ever seen led to Dusty Baker using his entire 25 man roster and saw Scott Eyre, one of the top set up men in the game, get injured. In the bottom of the fifth, with the Cubs leading 5-2 after a three-run homer by Jacque Jones, Mateo hit Roger Clemens in the left shoulder with a fastball. Roger Clemens had hit Jacque Jones with two out and one on in the first inning. Mateo was due up first in the sixth and Dusty Baker decided that he didn’t want Mateo to get hit by a Clemens fast ball, so he lifted him after only 78 pitches. At that point, Mateo had pitched five innings and only gave up two runs. Of course, Baker denies this;
"The kid gave us what we wanted — five [innings], then we go to the bullpen," Things were working out pretty good, as scripted, [and] as usual, something got off script. I’m not going to save Mateo and then send Theriot up there to get hit. Theriot’s not up there as a sacrificial lamb.”
So Dusty, after complaining so much about how is bullpen is overused and his starters need to go deeper, pulls his pitcher when his team is ahead 5-2 and the pitcher hasn’t even thrown 80 pitches? God, I can’t stand the bull **** that comes out of this guy’s mouth.
The umps also had no control of this series. How could they allow all these bean balls to happen. Clemens should have been warned after hitting Jones and both teams should have been warned after Mateo hit Clemens. But they sit on their fat ***** and do nothing. Of course, Ryan Theriot was sent to pitch hit for Mateo and was hit on the second inside pitch that Clemens threw at him. Then, of course, the umps issue warnings. Why was Clemens given a chance to retaliate? Because he is going into the hall of fame? Everyone knew what was going to happen. How would the umps have felt if Theriot would have gotten permanently injured?
After Mateo was out, the Astros jumped all over the next two ******, Will Ohman and Michael Wuertz, for four runs and the lead. These two looked just awful. Luckily, Matt Murton was able to hit a game tying home run in the ninth off of struggling closer Brad Lidge. Relievers David Aardsma, Scott Eyre, Bob Howry, Roberto Novoa, Angel Guzman, Ryan Dempster, and Rich Hill were able to keep the Astros from scoring and the Cubs won on a game winning hit by the hero of the night, Matt Murton.
Wednesday Cubs 1 Astros 0
Now that the Cubs had nobody to pitch, the organization called up Triple-A pitcher Ryan O’Malley to pitch in his first major league game ever. He went eight innings, giving up no runs and only five hits. Both teams were lethargic after their 18 inning marathon battle the night before, and it showed. The Cubs had one run, a Michael Barrett solo shot, on four hits. The Astros scored zero runs on five hits. O’Malley will continue to pitch in the big league to due to Scott Eyre’s pulled hamstring the night before. The Cubs manage to sweep the spiraling Astros.
The Danger in Dusty
Dusty right now is thinking about Dusty right now. There is no question he will not be asked back to coach next season. Now he needs to make himself look good. This is a major problem. Dusty is going to do whatever makes him look better no matter what the cost to the Cubs and their future. Why does he continue to overwork Zambrano even though the season is over. What if the Cubs manage to field a good team next year and Zambrano’s arm is dead? He should be on a strict 90-95 pitch count for the rest of the season. He should not be allowed to throw 120 + innings everytime he goes out there. And pulling Mateo out of the game after only five innings? That decision cost the Cubs one of the best set up men. Why was Derek Lee allowed to play when his wrist was not fully recovered? He has a huge contract and the Cubs risked permanently injured one of the best players in the game for nothing. All so Dusty could convince people he could still manage. Which leads me to my next point.
Phil Rogers is Smoking Crack
Ok Phil, either you are smoking crack, or you have no idea what the average Cub fan is going through. Phil Rogers has written a couple of articles lately that have really aggrevated me, so I thought I would answer a couple of questions that Phil Rogers asked.
The first article was called "Give up on Prior? Give me a break?
In the article, Phil writes
"Are you kidding me? There are many things in life that are worth waiting a long time for, and a 25-year-old pitcher with a pedigree and a mid-90s fastball—high-90s if he ever gets himself right—is definitely one of those things. It’s insanity to talk about getting rid of Prior now, especially when his trade value is at an all-time low."
I agree with Phil that there is no point in getting rid of Prior now that his trade value is nothing. But he needs to understand that Cubs fans are frustrated. We spent 10 years waiting for Kerry Wood to show the same potential that Prior showed. Unfortunately, it never happened. We waited and waited and paid Wood big money, and very little return. True, Prior is younger and better mechanically, but he cannot stay healthy. You need pitchers that are going to take the ball every fifth day, give you 200 innings a season. Prior has looked awful. I have no problem keeping Prior, as long as he is not looked at as a one or two starter. If the Cubs think that a healthy Prior will show up at camp and go 200 innings, all I’m saying is that they better have two more quality veterans to back him up in case he falls back on the DL and we have a repeat of the last three seasons. Maybe Prior will have a hall of fame career, but he could just as easily be the next Kerry Wood.
The second article Phil wrote was titled "Cubs surge a re-sign of the Times?"
This article was exactly what I warned you about after the all star break. The Cubs, with no pressure and no spotlight, would win a bunch of meaningless games and people would want Dusty back. Phil writes’
"It’s enough to make you wonder—and I’ve wondered before—whether getting rid of the well-credentialed Baker would be a step in the right direction. A new manager for 2007 won’t fix the organization’s greatest institutional failing, which is a lack of stability."
He also writes;
"Baker pushes as if in a playoff race, and the team responds. This may be his ticket back."
First of all Phil, Baker may be well credentialed, but he also had a steroid lab pumping up his players in San Fran.
Secondly, the organization’s greatest institutional failing is not lack of stability, it is the inability to judge talent and spend money on the best players. The Cubs always let good players go, they sign guys who are on the tail end of their career.
Finally, why didn’t Baker "push as if he was in a pennant race" back in May, when the team needed motivation, fire, and for him to win a game purely on his managing skills? He and the team were no where to be found. I knew this was going to happen. No pressure, no expectations, the Cubs would do fine. The difference between the good teams and bad teams is that the good teams can respond and pull together during the difficult times, not play well when there is nothing left to play for.
Phil apparently thinks that there is no one else better qualified to coach the Cubs? Why do you say that Phil? How many people thought that Ozzie Guillen, nothing more than a third base coach for the Marlins, would lead the South Siders to a World Series Championship? Nobody. I find it hard to believe that there is not one coach somewhere in baseball who would be a better fit in Chicago and do a better job than Dusty.
All I see now is failure.