Yes it’s true, Neifi Perez, all purpose utility infielder and object of Dusty Baker’s lusty desires, is no longer a Cub!!!! Check out the montage I put together in the Musical Slideshow section or click on the link below.
Sure the Cardinals won their first game at Wrigley this year, and they took the series two games to one, but nothing can ruin my day!!!!
Why, you ask? Because, Neifi is going to the Detroit Tigers, which can only mean one thing; Dusty Baker will not be offered a contract next year.
You see, members of the kingdom, that Dusty truly believed that Neifi was the greatest player ever. Cubs fans have spent the last two years baffeled as Dusty constantly started him over better players and when he was in the lineup, he was batting second. Let me repeat that, he was batting second. When Neifi Perez is the second batter in your order, you are not going to win too many games.
Baseball America’s Jim Callis wrote;
"Perez, 33, will make more of an impact with his glove than his bat. He’s very limited offensively, hitting for a decent average but offering little power, speed or on-base ability."
Everyone but Dusty realized this.
My best friend Jim Hendry was finally able to get rid of one of the worst mistakes he made as GM of the Cubs. In 2006, Hendry (with a little help from Dusty), decided that he should offer Neifi Perez a 2 year, five million dollar contract. Nobody at that time was even going to offer him half of that, so I have no idea why Hendry gave him such a huge contract. (Dusty) Neifi was traded to the Tigers for a young catcher Chris Robinson, who played his college ball at the University of Illinois. He is reported as being one of the best defensive catchers in the Tigers’ system, and in his junior year at U of I, Robinson hit .353 while throwing out 43 percent of base runners attempting to steal in 50 games.
Dusty, of course, was sad, saying;
He’s happy to be going to a first-place team, but sad to leave the Cubs and Chicago.
"Neifi came to play. I know he was maligned some, but he came to play every day. He stayed ready, he worked hard. Neifi’s an asset to any team. We hate to lose him."
What Dusty didn’t understand is that you can’t bat this guy second in your batting order. Baker never understood that, and fans took out their anger at Neifi. The Tigers traded for him becasuse of an injury to their second baseman, Placido Polanco, who hurt his shoulder and should be out six to eight weeks. But Jim Leyland is a smart manager. He will bat Neifi eighth or ninth in the lineup.
Disease, famine, war, pestilence, and Neifi Perez being traded. All signs of the End of Days for Dusty Baker.
All right, enough gloating, let’s look at the series this weekend.
Friday-Cardinals 11 Cubs 3
Tony LaRussa was probably sick of hearing about his teams’ inability to win in Chicago as St Louis ended a seven game losing streak at Wrigley Friday. With the jets from the Air and Water show rumbling over Wrigley, the Cardinals put an old fashioned whooping on the Cubs. The Cubs gave up six home runs and committed three errors in one inning. The Cubs gave up home runs to the following players;
- Chris Duncan (12, 1st inning off Marmol, 0 on, 1 out)
- Preston Wilson (10, 6th inning off Novoa, 0 on, 0 out)
- Gary Bennett (1, 6th inning off Novoa, 0 on, 1 out)
- Albert Pujols (36, 7th inning off Aardsma, 1 on, 0 out)
- Scott Rolen (18, 7th inning off Aardsma, 0 on, 0 out)
- Ronnie Belliard (9, 7th inning off Aardsma, 1 on, 1 out)
Carlos Marmol, the starter, only lasted left after three innings with a sore right biceps and he went on the disabled list. He also committed two errors. The Cubs managed to stay close, with the Cubs pulling within 4-3 on Aramis Ramirez’s two-run shot off Jason Marquis in the fourth, but the Cardinals crushed relievers Roberto Novoa and David Aardsma in the sixth and seventh to put it away.
Dusty wisely observed, "The balls were right down the heart of the plate. You could put ’em on a tee almost."
Saturday- Cubs 5 Cardinals 4
When you need a stopper, you call the big man. Big Z was gunning for his 14th win, but because Bob Howry blew the lead, he is still stuck at 13. After watching Greg Maddux get another win with the Dodgers, his eleveth victory and 329th of his career, there is no doubt in my mind that Zambrano would be a 20 game winner on almost any other team. Zambrano looked shaky in the first few innings, giving up one run in the first and second inning. After that, he was untouchable. Aramis Ramirez scored the first run of the game on a wild pitch by Jeff Suppan. Cedeno tied the game with a single to bring in Jacque Jones. The Cubs took the lead in the bottom of the fourth when a Matt Murton double brought home Neifi Perez. The Cubs held on to that lead until Bob Howry came in to relieve Zambrano in the eighth and immediately gave up a home run to Chris Duncan. The Cubs rallied back in the bottom half of the eighth when Phil Nevin hit a bloop single to bring in pinch runner Ryan Theriot. With the Cubs up by one in the ninth when Dusty called in his trusty closer Ryan Dempster, who walked the first batter he faced, pinch hitter Jim Edmonds, and then gave up a double to Ronnie Belliard. After catcher Yair Molina sacraficed Belliard to third, Dempster proceeded to walk the next two batters, loading the bases for the top of the Cardinals order. Dempster was given the hook and got an earload from the Wrigley fans. Will Ohman was called in and struck out Juan Encarnacion for the second out of the inning. Then, with the bases loaded and the most feared hitter in baseball, Albert Pujols at the plate, Dusty called in Michael Wuertz. In what will be remembered as one of the most amazing catches in Cub History, Juan Pierre made an unbelievable catch at the wall to keep the game tied. The Cubs were able to win it in the bottom of the tenth with a Phil Nevin single.
Sunday- Cardinals 5 Cubs 3
The Cards were able to win the rubber match of the series. The Cubs played sloppy and lethargic, and lost to the visiting red birds. Rookie Juan Mateo started off the game with a 39 pitch first inning, giving up a solo shot to Chris Duncan and a three run homer to Juan Encarnacion. Mateo managed to regain his poise and continue pitching the game, going seven innings without giving up another run. The defense again looked sloppy, with Izturis not looking like he has recovered from surgery and Cedeno not looking comfortable at second. The Cubs scored two in the sixth on RBI’s by Murton and Jones. Aramis Ramirez hit a meaningless home run in the bottom of the ninth.
Carlos Zambrano, who was managing to keep his temper under control, snapped on Saturday after striking out with runners at first and second and one out. As he was walking back to the dug out , he looked like he was going to break his bat over his knee, but then it looked like he was able to keep his cool. All of a sudden, he tried to break it over his knee, couldn’t then started smashing his bat against the rail of the dugout. I was definately disappointed to see Zambrano pull this **** again. Someone is going to really get angry if he hurts himself doing this garbage.
Heat on Baker
With all his "horses" on the DL and Derek Lee also on the DL, the Cubs have played some good ball in the second half. The Cubs are 19-16 since the All-Star break. If they had played at that pace in May and June, when Derrek Lee was out with his broken wrist, they’d be in the thick of the wild-card race. Instead they are on the sidelines and the players are even starting to ask question. Derek Lee was one of them, saying
""The way we’re playing now, it makes you ask the question, ‘Why didn’t we do this the whole season?’ With our division wide open, if we’d have played like this the couple of months we were out, we’d be right there. That’s the main thing I ask myself."
Cubs fans have been asking the same thing. Dusty responded that;
You can’t just play like that when you want to play like that. Things go in cycles. Some teams have been good in the first half, and some are better in the second half."
"You can’t just turn it on and off when you get ready. "When we were all waiting for Derrek, that may have had something to do with it. … When you’re waiting on your big gun sometimes, psychologically, everybody could’ve been waiting on Derrek.
"This is baseball. It’s a sport. It’s not a light switch where you can just turn it off and on whenever you’re ready."
Even color commentator Bob Brenly added that the Cubs have to learn to play the game "the right way" and be more "unselfish." Maybe he was pointing out the lack of fundamentals and his unselfish comment could be aimed at the whole team, especially Ryan Dempster and Aramis Ramirez. Dempster has been angry that he has been pulled out of games when he can’t pitch a strike to save his live. Ramirez was gone when the Cubs needed a big bat to help after Lee’s injury, but starting hitting and hustling when talk of his contract heated up.
Question of the Week
Speaking of Ramirez, 52% of you want the Cubs to rework his contract to keep him in Chicago. Sixteen percent of you want him out, and the remaining thirty percent want him to test the market. Unfortunately, with Ramirez’s numbers spiking up, the Cubs would probably have to pay a high price to keep him. The fact that he is a selfish, lazy player has me agreeing with the sixteen percent who want him out of Chicago. Check out the new question of the week.