First Star – Neal Walker (.449 WPA)
Second Star – Xavier Nady (.237 WPA)
Third Star – Octavio Dotel (161 WPA)
The title of the post is not in response to Lou leaving Lilly in late in the game to allow the home run to Neal Walker. That’s always a move that can be criticized in hindsight, but not at the time. Instead, I ask the question because of the fact that Lou does not look like the man that took this job a few years ago. He’s a broken and defeated guy right now. After games, all you hear from him is “I don’t know”. He doesn’t know why we’re not hitting. He doesn’t know why our bullpen sucks. He doesn’t know what to do to get Tyler Colvin more AB’s. He doesn’t know how to fix Lee and Ramirez, and he doesn’t know why we’re not winning. At this point, it’s as if he’s positive that what he’s doing should work, and gets confused and frustrated that it doesn’t. It’s like watching a child do the same things over and over and expect different results. It’s not at all because Lou is a bad guy or a bad manager. He’s one of the best in the game. Right now, he’s not Lou. That’s the issue. He’s broken and it’s time to resign and let someone else try to salvage this season. The Cubs aren’t going to fire the man they not only brought in to fix things, but re-signed to an extension through this year. It’s a respect thing and I don’t believe Hendry will do it. That puts the ball squarely in Lou’s court to bow out quietly. Cite health issues if you have to. The question now becomes…will Lou resign before it’s too late?
- The game started out very promising, with the Cubs seeing 20+ pitches in the 1st inning against Jeff Karstens, who is nothing more than a spot starter. Even though we weren’t able to grab a run or two that inning, I felt good about our chances going forward because of the fact that a tough 1st inning could lend itself to getting to the bullpen early. I’ve said it before. Guys in the pen are there for a reason. They’re not good enough to be starters for whatever reason. Getting to them early means you generally face the worst of the bunch because the better guys typically pitch late in the game. Unfortunately, Karstens settled down and went six innings.
- Starlin Castro played some very nice defense in the game. In the 1st, on a ball hit by Lastings Milledge, he ranged to his right and got to a ball going foul out in LF to make a great grab over the fence. It wasn’t so much the fact that he caught it over the fence as how far he had to range to get to the ball to even have a chance in the first place. Even the announcers on the Pirate broadcast commented on how impressive the range was for the kid. Later in the 4th, on a line drive that Castro caught near the ground, he alertly threw on to 1st to assure that he got the out. If you didn’t see the play, Castro came up and looked at the ump as if to show him that he caught it. When he got no response, or at least not one in the timely manner he was looking for, he threw on to 1st and made sure. That’s a heads up play for a kid his age, considering we’ve seen guys like Hanley Ramirez lose mental focus lately. Finally, in a later at bat by Milledge, a rocket grounder came up on him late. He stayed with it and made a great grab and throw to get the out. We’re going to see great things from Starlin Castro. He’s going to be an all star in this league. We’re also going to see some terrible fielding at times as well. It’s going to watch the kid develop and see how dramatically the great outweighs the bad.
- Odd play in the 2nd that kept Pittsburgh from getting on the board early. Lastings Milledge hit a ball that allowed him to try for 3rd with two outs. Jeff Karstens, who was on base at the time, came around to “score” just as Milledge was throw out by a Castro relay throw from the outfield. The home plate umpire waved off the run because of the fact that Karstens slowed and didn’t touch home before the tag was applied at 3rd for the final out. What made it an odd play was the fact that all Karstens saw was the fact that he was in easy and to come in standing up. Nowhere was he warned to hustle to the plate for fear that he may not beat the throw to third.