April 25th, 2007

Teams

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Milwaukee 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 1 0 3 10 1
Chicago 0 0 0 5 1 0 2 1 x   9 16 0
W -  T. Lilly (2-2)   L - E. Dessens (1-1)  S – None
Homeruns: R. Weeks (5) D. Lee (1)

Box Score


(AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

Ryan Theriot at Shortstop
Today was day one of the experiment and I’d say it worked out pretty well. I like the way Lou is willing to try whatever possibility might work in an effort to find a win. This season, the Cubs have used 16 different lineups as Uncle Lou tries to find the winning combination. Theriot had two hits at the top of the lineup today and scored both times. That’s not to say his game was perfect, because it wasn’t. He reached base on a fielder’s choice in the 3rd inning and proceeded to bonehead his way off the bases on an overthrow. He had no business even thinking about third-base, let alone actually attempting to make it there. Thankfully, that play didn’t hurt us or the rest of his game.

Am I excited about the move of Theriot to short? Eh, I have mixed feelings on it. For one, I don’t agree with Mark’s assessment that we should move Izturis. Cesar is one of the elite fielders in the game. He’s not a hitter and will never be a hitter, but he brings a glove every day and can be a great answer when you need a defensive switch in a tight game. If someone in the IF had to go, which I don’t think is the case, it should be Ronny Cedeno. Again though, I don’t an infielder should be the person that goes when we need a 5th starter. We’ve got a bunch of outfielders and not enough spots to put them. That’s the situation that needs fixing. If you’re going to commit to Felix Pie as your starter in CF, then you have basically a 3-headed monster in RF in Murton, Floyd and Jones. Who of those needs to go? You’ll hate me for saying it, but it’s Murton and I’ll tell you why.

1) Murton is the youngest and therefore has the most intrinsic value if you’re looking from a trade standpoint. Sure he’s a fan favorite, but the fact is, Floyd is 37 years old and has injury issues. Jones is owed an awful lot of money that the Cubs would need to eat to be able to deal him. That’s probably not going to happen with the team due to be sold at the end of the year. With that being the case, Murton is the logical answer for teams looking for an OF.

2) Murton hits right-handed. If there is anything this team needs right now in the lineup, it’s balance. If you take Pie out of the equation, since he wasn’t in the opening day plan, the Cubs are very right-handed from 1-8 in the order. Floyd and Jones are the main threats from the left side of the plate, assuming you don’t really consider Izturis or Ward to be “major threats”. A lineup primarily built with righties allows the pitchers to pretty much get in a groove and find his release point on that outside corner. When that happens, he gets in a groove and becomes very difficult to beat. Anytime you let a pitcher get comfortable on the mound, you run the risk of him mowing you down the whole game. By balancing the lineup with some lefties, it makes the pitcher adjust to a different arm release and that, in turn makes him have to compensate. It opens up the possibility for a mistake, which opens the possibility of knocking him around a little. I love Matt Murton just like the next man. I’ve always been high on him since I spoke with him at West Tenn and talked hitting with him, but the fact is, he’s the odd man out. Either deal him or demote him until we can figure this mess out.

Derrek Lee
I love the fact that everyone has their panties in a bunch because of Lee’s lack of power. The guy has an OBP of close to .500 and almost had a cycle today. Who cares if his first homerun didn’t come until today? Relax and enjoy the fact that he’s hitting the ball well and getting on base at a very nice clip. He’s on base almost half the time he comes to the plate. What more do you want? I don’t think Lee is going to be a 45 HR guy. I think that year was career year and he’ll settle into his 30-35 homeruns each year, which is fine. It’s not all about the homeruns. It’s about things like getting on base, slugging at a good rate, and driving in runs. If you can do that without the HR, then have at the number 3 spot in the order.

Ben Sheets goes down
This is going to piss off a lot of Brewers fans, but I could care less. Half of them drink too much anyway. Ben Sheets went down with a groin problem and I cheered when I heard the news. Was I happy that a player got injured? Of course not, but if God comes to me and says “Joe, someone is going to get hurt and i’ll give you a choice of what team to make it happen to.” Choice number one would be St. Louis. Choice number two right now would be the Brewers and the fact that it’s their ace makes it that much sweeter. Get well soon Big Ben. Hope you enjoyed your stay in the city of big shoulders.

Michael Keaton
Is there anyway he could possibly never sing anywhere near Wrigley again? This guy was brutal behind the mic and to make matters worse, he’s a Pirates fan (I didn’t realize there was such a thing). He forgot the words or didn’t know them to begin with. I really hope Len and Bob post video of his work on their site, because it was bad. At one point in his song, he said “Take me out to the ballgame. Take me out to the car.” The CAR?!?!?!? Good idea Michael, why don’t you go out to your car, and don’t bother to come back. I love your movies, but please stay in Hollywood and out of Wrigleyville. Leave that job to guys who can do it well, like Ditka. =)

Conclusion
The Cubs played exactly the way I expect them to play when they’re on their game. They’ll score a lot of runs and pitch fairly decent. Hopefully the funk is over and the real Cubs have stepped forward. We’ll see how this weekend with the Cards goes. If we can get through that with a series win, there is some very favorable matchups coming our way in late April and early May. A winning streak could be in the foreseeable future.

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Joe Aiello is the founder of View From the Bleachers and one of the lead writers as well as host of VFTB Radio. Growing up in Chicago, he fondly remembers attending games in the bleachers before that was the popular thing to do. Currently Joe resides in North Carolina with his wife and three kids. Connect with Joe via Twitter / Facebook / E-mail