May 27th, 2007
| W - C. Billingsley (3-0) L - A. Guzman (0-1) S – None
Homeruns: A. Ethier (4)
I get a kick out of all the people that suddenly jumped off the bandwagon after he had a couple tough starts in a row. Cub fans are way too fickle, and I can only attribute that to the long drought for a championship. The fact is, every pitcher makes a bad start or two once in a while. There are reasons why guys have losses, even the great ones. If I could impart one piece of advice, it would be to get on the bandwagon again now, and stay on for the rest of the year. Don’t be afraid. Rich Hill is a good one and will continue to get better.
Today, he showcased a new pickoff move after going through a lot of issues keeping runners in check. He spilt time between a small slide step and a delay in his leg kick that at one point fooled Furcal and enabled Hill to pick him off. That delay seems to be boardering on a balk, but I’ll take it if they’ll give it to us. If you haven’t seen it, he brings the leg up and holds it for a split second while looking the runner at 1st down. That pause seems to mess with the runner enough to get him to tip his hand on whether or not he plans to run, which is exactly what Furcal tipped in the 1st. I think it will be an effective move if the umps continue to give it to him because it’s deceptive, especially from a lefty.
Hill was very effective with his pitches today, getting a good number of one pitch outs up and down the lineup. Twice he did it to Furcal, whose whole job is to see a good number of pitches as the leadoff man. When he was finally pulled for a pinch hitter, it wasn’t because he didn’t have anything left in the tank, but rather that the Cubs had a shot at scoring and needed to take a chance. You could argue that had Lou been patient and kept Hill in the game, the Cubs would have scored in the 8th and Hill probably could have went the distance. Excellent observation courtesy of those special hindsight glasses. They always seem to make our vision so clear. If only managers could wear them during the game. I like Lou’s decision to go for the run with the pinch hitter in that situation. It was a run that could have won the ballgame, the way it was going. If it was a different day, it wouldn’t have been the move to make, but every game is so different and needs to be managed accordingly. Hill finished the game with a pitch count of 66, which is fine with me. That should mean he’ll be extra strong next time out.
I don’t know what the Cubs can do with Scott Eyre, but the fact of it is, he’s really struggling this year. His confidence is probably extremely low right now and at 35 years old, a demotion to AAA is not the answer. Guys that age don’t go down with the mindset of getting right and working themselves back up mentally. Guys that age begin to think even more pessimistically and consider themselves on the way out. Eyre is making $4 million this season and has a player option for another $4 million next year. In other words, it’s Scott’s choice if he wants to come back next year and make another $4 million. Basically, it means the Cubs are on the hook for $8 million and I can’t see them eating that to release this guy. Their best bet at this point would be to place him on waivers, which that may have already done, and see if anyone bites. Through the course of the year, a lot of guys get placed on the waiver wire and either get pulled back or clear and we never hear about it. If the Cubs put Eyre on waivers, it simply means anyone can have him and immediately takes over his services and his contract. If he clears waivers, the Cubs can demote him to the minor leagues, assuming he accepts the assignment.
I can’t tell you what is wrong with him. All I know is that for the last few years, he’s been a pretty good reliever, so maybe he’ll figure it out.
Walks = Bad
You can’t expect to win games, especially late in the game when you walk guys and give the opponent a chance to put guys on base without the benefit of a hit. Guzman and Marmol, two guys being considered for the closer spot, did just that. A loss in the late innings is tough, but the Cubs need to keep plugging away. This division is very winnable and we have the best team in it.
STARS OF THE GAME – All based on WPA