Add Anthony Swarzek to the list of pitchers to handcuff the Chicago Cubs offense this year. Swarkzek threw seven shutout innings to beat the Cubs, 2-0. Impressive? Not exactly. Following his second major-league win, the Twins sent Swarzek back to AAA Richmond.
Maybe it was his 85 MPH fastball on the heart of plate that didn't impress the Twins, and it shouldn't impress you, Cubs fans.
The Cubs offense is absolutely pitiful right now. Bad at bat after bad at bat. With the exception of Derrek Lee, the Cubs can't buy a clutch hit.
Third-year manager Lou Piniella doesn't have any answers, so let me provide a few. For one, this offense is way too over anxious.
Other than Lee, Cubs hitters have abandoned the opposite field. The key to finding your stroke is taking the ball the opposite way. Once you master the opposite field, pitchers will come back inside, and you can start turning on the ball.
The Cubs' biggest struggles have come with guys in scoring position with less than two outs. Memo to Cubs hitters: the pitcher's the one in trouble. If you fall behind in the count, shorten up and take the ball the other way. These big swings by guys like Soto, Soriano, and Fukudome are just ridiculous. The opposite field is the best way to get yourself out of a slump.
I know it is easier said than done, but the Cubs are not losing to type A pitchers. The Cubs are 8-16 in their last 24 games against medicore pitching. Chicago has scored six runs in their last 36 innings. They're averaging 2.8 runs per game in their last 24 games.
There's plenty of other things the Cubs can do to brake these slumps. For one, it wouldn't hurt for guys like Theriot and Fukudome to show bunt every once in a while, forcing the third basemen to play in on the grass.
Finally, Lou claims he's done a lot of shuffling of the lineup. Last I checked, he hasn't moved Soriano out of the leadoff spot.
Most of you know I have been a huge advocate of keeping Soriano in the leadoff spot. That said, it's one thing to keep him at the top of the order when he's hitting .280 with an OBP of .350, but it's another to keep him there when he's hitting .230 with an OBP of .300.
I don't care if you move Fukudome, Johnson, Theriot, or even Bradley to the leadoff spot—all four are better options than Soriano right now.
It would also behoove the Cubs to run a little more. Contrary to popular belief, the Cubs do have speed. Soriano, Theriot, Fontenot, Fukudome, and Johnson all have above-average speed. It would be nice if we saw little more of it.
Cub fans, don't believe the garbage that's coming out of the skippers' mouth. There are plenty of things they can do to brake this slump. This team just sits back and waits for the home run. Let's hope things change sooner rather than later.