View From The Bleachers

Talking Cubs Baseball Since 2003



July 2009



I Know We're Winning…But

Written by , Posted in General

Big ups to Sori for the walk off grand slam after another moron moment in the 11th where he didn’t even run on a ground out to third. It feels good to see this team hitting a hot streak at just the right time, but I came away from the game with a few questions / thoughts.

Lineup Shuffling – Kosuke got the night off tonight against the lefty, with ReJo in there to spell him. The offense suffered as a result. 0-for -12 combined. Johnson and Theriot simply couldn’t do anything at the top to set the table for the middle of the order, especially Lee who had a great day at the plate. In my opinion, Johnson isn’t really the guy I want at the top of the order. He looked confused at the plate tonight. I’d rather see Theriot lead off against lefties with someone like Milton Bradley hitting 2nd. In fact, I really wouldn’t mind a move for Bradley to the middle of the order against the righties as well. He seems to love to draw the walks and since he seems to have an allergy to driving in runs, why not hit him 2nd? Between Fukudome and Bradley, a pitcher has the potential to throw 15 pitches and have a pair of baserunners on for Lee / Ramirez / Soriano at the 3-4-5 spots. It’s worth a try. What’s the worst that can happen?

Along the same lines of lineup shuffling, would it have made more sense to hit Carlos in the 8th spot with Koyie Hill behind the plate? Hill isn’t really in there because of the offense. Wouldn’t that be the time to pull a LaRussa and go with the pitcher hitting 8th? Purists hate it, but I can see the value in it for someone like LaRussa with a guy like Pujols in that lineup. Then again, with Lee hitting the ball the way he has, why not try to get as many on base ahead of him as possible?

What’s Foxy gotta do? – Hill is an iron man behind the plate. We’ve seen that since Geo has gone down with the injury, but what I can’t seem to figure out is why Lou refuses to get Foxy in the lineup when he can. Is it really necessary to have him catch every game? Why not give Hill a night off every now and then if you trust Fox behind the plate, which obviously Lou does to a point or he wouldn’t have put him back there for a couple of innings tonight or awhile back? Fox can hit. I think we’ve all seen that so far at this level, so now it becomes Lou’s responsibility to get him at bats when possible.

Questioning Lou – I don’t question Lou’s decision to suicide squeeze with Fontenot in the 9th, despite it’s failure, but what I do question is the decision to leave Zambrano in the game to hit in the 7th inning with runners on 1st and 2nd and two outs. It was clear that Z wasn’t going to come back out to pitch the 8th. While Zambrano can handle the bat, when he’s up at the plate he’s thinking one thing and one thing only….HACK. That’s not the approach I want in that situation. I’d have rather seen Lou pinch hit in that spot in an effort to push that run in and get Z a chance at a win.

  • MJ

    I won’t call Soriano a moron. I think that ball might have kicked off his cleats ever so slightly. Should he have run? Yes. But if felt if go off his cleats, then I can see whay hed stood there.

    I’d argue to put Bradley in the leadoff spot. He’s almost at a .400 OBP. That’s redunkulous.

    I like the way Lou’s using Fox right now. You can’t play him as a position player, being the only “real” backup at Catcher. What if he gets hurt? Hendry really screwed the pooch at C and 2B depth this year.

    I didn’t think leaving Zambrano in for the 7th was a bad idea. He’s a good hitter. The squeeze play made no sense to me. Bases loaded and no outs? One deep drive gets Bradley in, and that game is over in nine. Use the squeeeze with a guy on third, two outs, in the bottom of the ninth. Lou makes me scratch my head.

    • If I remember right, Matt, there was only 1 out when Lou squeezed. Bradley being called out at the plate made it two outs and then Fontenot made the last out.

  • MJ

    You are correct.

    Still didn’t like the call. A deep fly would have got the job done.

  • rob

    I did like the call on the squeeze. It seemed the most likely way of scoring at the time. And it would have been. Fontenot had a great pitch to bunt and whiffed. But he is a guy who strikes out a lot and hits ground balls that could have ended the inning.

    Allowing Zambrano to hit was odd. But sometimes Lou does that with Zambrano. It doesnt make a lot of sense to me. But he is an OK hitter.

    Joe, I felt that Fox demonstrated clearly why they don’t let him catch. he was dropping fastballs. It is unbelievable to me that this team does not have a catcher in their entire system that can come and be a back up. Are they using backstops or pitch return nets at the minor league levels?

    Finally, I thought that the Stevens guys looked really good.

  • Billy H

    I don’t like the call fo the squeeze at all. Not after the pitcher walked three straight and you have only one out. Odds were better for drawing the walk then a successful bunt and play at the plate.

  • cap’n obvious

    I think I might have mentioned this before but it bears repeating…Zambrano, while mildly successful as a hitter, is not a professional hitter, and can not be counted on to drive in runs in clutch, late inning situations. Early in the game, if an opposing pitcher makes a mistake, he can hit the ball a long way, just like the biggest guy on your slow pitch team. An even decent big league pitcher, when focused, can carve up Z like so much Thanksgiving turkey. The long and short, I totally agree with Joe, you go with a professional hitter in that situation, not a pitcher who swings like Paul Bunyan.

  • rob

    To me it says something about Fontenot’s skill if the odds are better for him to draw a walk than make contact and get a bunt down. The walk is not really in your control. The bunt is. A guy like Fontenot must be able to bunt. He is a medicore utility infielder. You have to know how to bunt. It was a great pitch to bunt. He just blew it. I hear the Pirates are talking with the Cubs. I have Freddy Sanchez name is coming up.

  • Doug

    I’ll add my displeasure to the squeeze play as well.
    BL and 1 out, I’m thinking game over, not extras.
    Course I would have cheered it if it worked, but still thought it overly risky.

  • Jacki R.

    Jake Fox was on one of the sports radio shows last week and they asked him that exact question, “why don’t you think Lou is letting you catch more?”

    His answer (albeit probably very pc answer) was Hill is doing an excellent job handling the pitching staff and they don’t want to mess with that right now.

  • Mastrick

    I did like the squeeze and I would have let Z hit as well. We have to be less conservative sometimes – we can’t do it with the running game because we get thrown out too much. So we have to do it with run and hits, hit and runs and squeezes. This makes the defense suspicious and can lead to a drawn-in defense and seeing-eye singles.

    Z is as good if not better than most pinch-hitters, Fox excluded. Going with Baker instead of a backup catcher has effectively removed Fox from adding value to the team, this was an egregious blunder by Hendry and Piniella. When Jake does get to bat he’s rusty so the results are predictable. Trade Baker for a minor leaguer and bring up a AAA catcher to catch every fifth day. Then use Fox to do what he does best – hit. He doesn’t add value sitting on the bench.

  • MJ

    There isn’t a AAA catcher that worthy to bring up.

    And who’s going to trade for Baker?

    And rating Z as good if not better than most pinch hitters? Oy vey.

  • rob

    There might not be a AAA catcher worthy of bringing up but I dont understand how you cannot bring a back up catcher up. Even if they are terrible hitters they should be brought up just to have a serviceable defensive catcher.

  • Mastrick

    C Chris Robinson is hitting .321 with one error in 70 games for Iowa. And we don’t have anybody to call up?

  • sherm

    I think we all just saw how Zambrano stacks up as a pinch hitter.

    Anyone else wonder why Lou didn’t pinch hit for Dempster with the bags full in the fourth? We all knew he wasn’t going long into the game. He’d already given up four…and, although Lou couldn’t know it at the time…gave up more in the fifth. Why not pinch hit for him and try to blow the game wide open right then and there?

    Of course, not letting the other guys score 11 helps, too.

  • Doc Raker

    I totally agree with capn on Z pinch hitting. He is a smart hitter with an eye for the strike zone, he swings hard in case the ball hits his bat. Not a pinch hitter.

    MJ- You can’t squeeze with 2 outs. The defense simply plays the hitter for the out at first to end the inning. I have no problem with the squeeze, in fact I think the defense needs to worry about it. When a pitcher worries about it he is more likey to make a mistake. A big league hitter should be able to put the bat on the ball in that situation, even if he justs fouls it off. Fontenot failed, so no one likes the call. But Lou needs to call the squeeze at times to keep the defense from getting comfortable and because it will work most of the time.

    Silly Sherm- Lou didn’t pinch hit for Demp in the 4th because we just played a 14 inning game the day prior, taxing our bullpen, the top 1% of wage earners and your employers paid health benefits.

  • cubbiedude

    I like letting Z bat. He’s already in the game, he can hit (better than most pitchers), and it saves the “professional” pinch hitter for a later appearance.

    I liked the squeeze call. Great call in that situation. Just because Mr. Fontenot didn’t execute the bunt doesn’t make it a bad call. Obviously, with one out, a DP ends the inning, a squeeze wins the game. That particular at bat diminished Mr. Fontenot’s stock in my eyes, making him much more expendable.

    I, too, would like to see Jake Fox play more. Sam Fuld, too.

  • sherm

    Raker — it was ONE inning. There was no way Dempster was going more than five the way he was pitching. If he’d been dealing, that’s another story.

  • I assume Lou wanted to see if Demp could right the ship, see if he would work the rust off and settle in, plus we just played a 14 inning game. It seems reasonable to me.