Today's Cubs game wasn't just another loss. It was an aboslute slaughterhouse. The Angels didn't really deserve to win the game (with the exception of Jered Weaver's 11 striekout performance), the Cubs just beat themselves up. Ted Lilly, coming off of a game where he had a no-hitter going into the 9th, surrenderred 4 runs in the first inning, and another 3 in the 6th. The last run that he surrenderred was because Weaver hit a ground ball back to Lilly, and Lilly tried to get the lead runner at second. With all the time in the world, Lilly made the mistake of turning in the wrong direction, and threw off balance. The ball sailed over Starlin Castro's head, and Brandon Wood walked to 3rd. The Cubs woes continued in the 9th when the Angels tried their hardest not to run up the score, and still managed to tally 3 more runs to their 9 run lead. One of those runs was when Robb Quinlan hit a ground ball to Castro, and Starlin threw the ball in the wrong direction. By the time Derrek Lee picked up the ball in Anaheim's bullpen, Wood had scored from first by walking. The game wouldn't have been so ugly if the offense hadn't gotten going. None of the Cubs even made it past first base.
The Cubs knew that they'd need to work on some of these problems going into the game. They lead the league in unearned runs, and have had at least 2 errors 5 times in the last 9 games. The Cubs run production (with the exception of Derrek Lee's 2 homer game yesterday) has been coming from the most unlikely sources as of late. Koyie Hill and Chad Tracy shouldn't be driving a team's offense.
Lou Piniella has taken a bunch of criticism from journalists, analysts, announcers, and fans alike on multiple occasions this year, and deservedly so. His bad decision making has led to much of this. His failiure to play the hot hitters has caused several problems. Starlin Castro's promotion ot the big leagues was very premature. He hasn't seemed to do anything about the poor fielding fundamentals. And worst of all, he no longer cares. He doesn't interact with players. He fails to motivate them. He uses his press conferences to bark at how the media is making this hard for him. He shows no sense of urgency when making mound visits and pitching changes. Bench coach Alan Trammell seems to be making most of the in game managerial decisions. He shows no understanding of his pitcher's roles. He hasn't shaved in months. All of these problems have caused his players to give up on him.
Today was the beginning of the end for Sweet Lou and this Cubs team. Piniella will most likely retire after the year. Trammell will probably take over as manager so Ryne Sandberg can become banch coach. Most people believe Sandberg will be manager next year, but he has no coaching experience in the major leagues. Also, he has been ejected numerous times in his 3 years in the Cubs farm system. He is still a work in progress.
The Cubs have been active in this year's free agent market as sellers. There have been many rumors about Derrek Lee and Xavier Nady being shipped out. Both of whom are free agents after the year. The Cubs have reportedly contacted the Red Sox in the past hour about dumping Kosuke Fukudome and the 26 million left on his contract on their doorsteps. Ted Lilly and Chad Tracy are the other two free agents this offseason. Aramis Ramirez has a 14.6 million dollar player option that everyone expects to agree to since no other team would give him that kind of money, especially after the numbers (or lack thereof) he is putting up this year.
Here's how I see the trading season and offseason going:
Lee-is not traded, Cubs choose not to resign him due to the plethora of players with experience at first in free agency. Expect Cubs to go after Adam Dunn, Adrian Gonzalez, and Jorge Cantu.
Nady-is traded before the deadline to fill in for an injured player on a playoff contender.
Lilly-He tests the free agent market. The Cubs forget about him, and pursue Cliff Lee and Vicente Padilla.
Tracy-He signs another one year deal because the Cubs need him.
Ramirez-He excercises his option, even though he is not wanted back.