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Cold Running Cubs : Lou and The Offensive Woes

Dan BradleyContributor IJune 12, 2009

CHICAGO - MAY 27: Ryan Theriot # 2 of the Chicago Cubs takes a swing against the Pittsburgh Pirates on May 27, 2009 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Cubs defeated the Pirates 5-2. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Jake Fox batted .417 with two doubles and two RBI in his short callup (eight games) with the Cubs. He was almost perfect in pinch-hitting situations.

Piniella's response when this was pointed out to him: "Really?" 

(The Cubs lost their last two games 2-1.)

Ryan Theriot has six home runs, but his batting average is down fifty points from where it was at this time last year (when he remained the club's only .300 hitter till season's end).  No, Rick Telander, it's not steroids - anyone with the least bit of baseball acumen can see that The Riot is turning on the ball, rather than going with that unique inside-out swing that allowed him to shoot so many singles to right-center.

Apparently Piniella told him to do this.

(The Cubs played almost two full games of extra innings against bad teams on this road trip -- a .500 venture -- because they couldn't drive men in.)

But do we really want, say, 12 home runs on the year from our #2 hitting speedster, and the only guy who can still steal a base??

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Personally, I don't want to see yet another Cub get sucked into this spiral they've been in: we're not scoring, so we must hit a home run in every at bat; we're trying to hit a home run in every at bat, so we're not getting men on and over; we're not getting men on and over so we must try to hit a home run in every.... .

Soriano, Soto, Zambrano, Fontenot.. I even saw Bobby Scales swing for the fences the other day. 

And today: with men on first and third and nobody out, Ryan Theriot struck out on a high and inside pitch he had no chance at.  He was swinging for the fences. 

The Cubs stranded 31 runners at Minute Maid Park this series.  I lost count of how many warning track fly balls "would have been out at Wrigley," including one that saw Michael Bourne fall down and lie on his back, seemingly thinking "why is there a mountain in my outfield?"

So add swinging for the fences to the list of offensive problems for the Cubs, which also includes: garbage pitchers (Jamie Moyer, Doug Davies), any lefty with a changeup (Cole Hamels), anything breaking towards the outside corner, lack of a leadoff hitter, no speed or aggression on the bases, a tendency towards double plays and players who only contribute on one side of the ball.

The first listed problem used to bother me the most, but now it's the last. If Soriano doesn't hit a home run, then when he bobbles the ball in the outfield, he's simply a negative contributor.

Oh.. and they're still too right-handed, as Fontenot is at best a 300 AB guy and Bradley is better from the right side. This leaves only Fukudome.

The way people talk about DeRosa in this town, you'd think we'd let the Babe go in order to finance a musical.  But he did have the second best average with runners in scoring position last year (behind Reed Johnson, who Lou never plays).

And the Cubs can't do anything about all this.  Every slugger on the team has either a no-trade clause or millions of years and dollars promised to him.  The ownership limbo also prevents the Cubs from investing any more.  These guys will have to hit. (So lets not ruin The Riot!)

But with all these problems, you can see why - year after year - the Cubs seem to slide into those eight-game losing streaks (which they avoided last year. This year they've already had one in May. Their second is usually in July. Mark it down).

So the question is: what can these guys hit? 

Well..

They can swing away, hope to win enough games off the home run, decent defense and great starting pitching to get into the playoffs in a still semi-weak division. 

And then hope to get hot at the right time this time. 

Same old Cubs.

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