The Chicago National League Ball Club

An objective look at the love of my life--the Chicago Cubs.


Mariotti rips Dusty the Clown

I usually have no love for Jay Mariotti, but he's right on in this article.

Reason no. 43, 836 that Dusty is an idiot

This comes from

"I understand [booing], but not to that magnitude and that intensity and degree," Baker said. "It's something I heard didn't go on here much before. Why now?"

Surprisingly, Baker then brought Sammy Sosa's name into the discussion, adding a new wrinkle to an old story about their soured relationship. Baker acknowledged Thursday that Sosa had blamed him for the incessant booing at Wrigley in '04 when they spoke briefly on the phone after Sosa was traded to Baltimore on Feb. 2.

"That was one of the things that really upset Sammy when he was here," Baker said. "One of the things he was upset with me about was that I didn't stop them from booing him. I don't know how I was going to do that.

"You saw it with Corey (Patterson). You saw it with 'Hawk.' You saw it with me. It's just something that seems to be growing."

Cubs closer Ryan Dempster theorized Wednesday that the high expectations of Cubs fans since the team's close call in the 2003 postseason have changed the atmosphere at Wrigley.

Baker doesn't buy it.

"I've had high expectations in a lot of places," he said. "Like in L.A., San Francisco. … They can boo if they want to do it. They have the right and nobody can do anything about it because it's your opinion."

The booing continued Thursday, with Todd Hollandsworth and Michael Wuertz receiving the harshest during a lackluster 6-0 loss to Arizona.


Dusty is so freaking thin-skinned. Can you imagine Joe Torre complaining about boos? Or Terry Francona? Of course not, because they're actually PROFRESSIONAL MANAGERS.

You're playing baseball in a major market. This isnt Tampa Bay, this isn't Kansas City. The Cubs have one of the largest fan bases of pro sports teams, and people want to see you WIN.

If you cant handle boos, go to Kansas City. They'd be happy to have you.

At least Ryan Dempster gets it. At least he sees that the Cubs are no longer lovable for losing.

I think the boos are here to stay. This isnt the same atmosphere as it used to be. People used to come to see Sammy pop one, and a Cubs win would be the icing on the cake.

Now we want WINNING and we want it now.



Maybe that's a little harsh, but this guy is NOT the player we need in left field.

Left field is supposed to be one of your power positions. This year Todd Hollandsworth is hitting .260 with 5HR and 29RBI in 235AB's. And let's not even mention that .313 OBP.

We need a real left fielder. Hollandsworth is a decent bat off the bench and a nice spot starter.

Wild Weekend in the Lou!

The Cubs should have swept the Cards, but we'll take 2 of 3.

Neifi Perez, God love him, comes through with a GRAND SLAM in extra innings to beat the Cards after Ryan Dempster blew a save after converting 14 consecutive attempts.

Is it just me, or are you a LITTLE bit more uncomfortable with Dempster closing now than you were a week or two ago? He's still the best option we have, but after a blown save on Sunday, a near blown save on Saturday, I think his next save chance is HUGE. Hopefully, he'll respond well.

And how hot is Aramis Ramirez? Despite his awful first two months of the season (hitting .244 on May 29) he's bounced back to rank among the NL leaders in BA (6th-.316), HR (4th-27), and RBI (8th-73).

He's only 9 HR shy of his 2004 HR total. He's playing like the 3B we gave a ton of money to in the offseason.

Yesterday was a great win. They had the Cards down to their last strike in the 9th with no one on base and still blew the lead. That type of game can beat you down. But they came right back and attacked the Cards bullpen and took the series.

Now lets beat the hell out of the Giants.


If I had to pick the best team in baseball right now...

It pains me to say it, but it's the St. Louis Cardinals.

I don't see any other team, at least right now, that can beat you in so many ways. Solid starting pitching, a lethal offense, a very dependable bullpen, good defense, and a great manager. I don't see another team in baseball that is THAT good in all those areas.

If I had to put money down on the 2005 World Champion, I think it's the St. Louis Cardinals.


Kerry Wood is hurt

In other news...

Smoking causes health problems.

Two plus two is four.

The earth revolves around the sun.

It's time to trade Kerry Wood, my friends.


And I'm back.

Can someone tell me why Dusty doesnt play Ronny Cedeno? Or why he would sit Matt Murton after he goes 4-5 yesterday?

Granted, behind the big bats of DLee and Aramis, we won again tonight. We're beating the teams we should beat. Prior wasnt his sharpest, but he still got it done.

Gotta say I like the Jody Gerut trade. Jason Dubois was probably not in the Cubs future plans, so out the door he goes. I wonder if Gerut is a 1st step to a bigger trade? If he'll be spun in a deal to land a bigger name? Or maybe he'll find himself a home in Cubbie blue. Who knows...

This is an exciting time of year, especially for a team like the Cubs who have a very aggressive GM.

Personally, I still want to see a big bat added in LF, and another SOLID relief pitcher to set-up Dempster.


In Search of Bartman

An feature writer/die-hard Cubs fan seeks out Steve Bartman.

Game 6 is still so painful to think about. Yet I'm sure it gives Sox fans instant chub when they hear it brought up.

Anyway, this is a pretty cool article.

Quick Article on M-V-Lee


Written by Jayson Stark

NL MVP of the Half-Year
Derrek Lee, Cubs.

We'd feel better about this choice if the Cubs hadn't just careened to six games out in the wild-card race. But it's still hard to pick against a guy who's a threat to lead the league in not just the standard old triple-crown categories but also all these departments: runs, slugging, on-base percentage, hits, extra-base hits, total bases, average with runners in scoring position and average against left-handers and right-handers. Even though just about no one is ever on base in front of him, if Lee's second half matches his first half, he'd finish at .378, with 49 homers, 102 extra-base hits, 220 hits, 19 stolen bases and a .721 slugging percentage. So how many players have ever had a year like that? Exactly none. (And only if we lower the SB bar to 15 do we drag in one man -- George H. Bambino Ruth.) APOLOGIES TO: Albert Pujols, Andruw Jones, Chad Cordero, Morgan Ensberg, Bobby Abreu.


The sh*t hits the fan


Corey Patterson and Jason Dubois will be wearing Iowa Cubs jerseys the next time they step onto a baseball field.

Matt Murton and Adam Greenberg were called up from Double-A West Tennessee.

Yet, Dusty Baker remains as manager. What will it take for Dusty to get fired?

Here's a great article from Phil Rogers of The Chicago Tribune

Well, at least the Cubs have an official scapegoat now.

Identifying the root of their troubles was about all that will be accomplished by the Cubs sending Corey Patterson to Triple-A Iowa after getting swept Thursday in Atlanta.

It would be nice if this stark wake-up call could send a signal to Patterson, but that's asking too much. Patterson does not appear capable of adjusting his free-swinging approach, so the guy once likened to Rickey Henderson is doomed forever to remain on the Gary Pettis career path.

No, if the Cubs were going to accomplish something significant, they would have found somebody to take Patterson in a trade, saving themselves the tease. With the exception of the first half of 2003, before he blew out his knee, Patterson has been a major disappointment for two managers now.

Anyone paying attention grasped this long before Cubs manager Dusty Baker, who had Patterson in the right spot in the batting order for exactly one game back in June--when he hit him eighth at Yankee Stadium. Why Baker let Patterson persuade him to put him back in the leadoff spot--the move that triggered the losing streak that reached eight games with the sweep by the Braves--is a mystery.

But the truth is Baker has had just as bad a season as has Patterson. Ditto general manager Jim Hendry, who is spitting in the wind if he thinks neophyte outfielders Matt Murton and Adam Greenberg will be upgrades over Patterson and Jason Dubois. They have potential, but neither has played above Double A. They could get eaten alive.

Dubois was as well prepared for the majors as a hitter can be, proving himself through the minors and in winter ball. But even such a relatively seasoned 26-year-old couldn't handle being jerked around by a manager who would rather turn a veteran role player (Todd Hollandsworth) into a regular than develop a young hitter. Dubois would have survived with regular at-bats but wasn't getting them.

While Patterson's 6-for-46 slump was the centerpiece of the Cubs' latest swoon (7-17 since June 11), it's too easy to put their problems on him. The reality is that the biggest problem remains the bullpen. And Baker's handling of the team has been curious since spring training.

It's July 8, and the Cubs still don't know who their second-best relief pitcher is. That is an indictment of both the front office and the manager.

Was anyone surprised when the bullpen surrendered six runs in the eighth inning to lose the nightcap against the Braves? Ryan Dempster has been a blessing as the closer, but the setup crew has been in shambles all season. The worst injury of the year, worse than Nomar Garciaparra, Kerry Wood or Mike Prior, was Chad Fox's blown elbow in April.

That, of course, could have been prevented (or at the very least delayed) if Baker had not brought Fox into a 10-3 game and not left him in for 29 pitches on a night he didn't have it. The season-long bullpen situation might have been better if Baker had not called a late audible that moved Dempster into the season-opening rotation.

If Dempster had opened the season as the closer, which was the plan entering spring training, LaTroy Hawkins might have found his comfort zone back in setup relief. Instead Hawkins infected the staff with bad karma until Hendry peddled him to San Francisco--the best move he has made since the Sosa trade.

Meanwhile, the thin lineup around him exposed Patterson for being little more than a supporting player.

For all the talk about how he needs to use his speed, the one thing that kills Patterson is his vision. He swings at far too many pitches, including pitchers' pitches that are just outside the strike zone, and struggles to make hard contact. He never has learned to trust his bat speed, letting the pitches get closer before he commits.

Murton and Greenberg are both promising hitters, but the best outfielder in the Cubs' farm system is Felix Pie, a 20-year-old center fielder who was playing between Murton and Greenberg at Double-A West Tenn. The Cubs don't want to rush him, but he's a better bet to be the Cubs' center fielder in 2007 than is Patterson.

Will Baker still be the manager in '07?

Barring a dramatic turnaround, that's the question that will occupy the last months of this season. A center fielder can be assigned only so much blame.

I hope it doesn't take until 2007 to get rid of Dusty.

And lastly, don't be surprised if Jerry Hairston is dealt by the end of the month. Recent quotes indicate that he and Dusty Baker are not friends.

At least we have some interesting stuff happening as we're losing!


Interesting comments from Hairston


Jerry Hairston, who ranks third among NL leadoff men with a .394 on-base percentage, was out of the starting lineup despite going 4-for-7 with two walks in his previous two games leading off. Hairston came in to play second base when Derrek Lee went down with left shoulder irritation, forcing Todd Walker to move to first.

Hairston occasionally has missed signs, a sore point with the Cubs coaching staff. He conceded the season has been a "disappointing" experience for him.

"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little disappointed, because I want to play," Hairston said. "… I really thought I would fit here. But it hasn't worked out, I guess."

Overhearing the interview at an adjoining locker, Aramis Ramirez offered his third base job to Hairston. Hairston laughed, although he did say he was willing to play left field if Baker was interested.

Baker is not interested, saying it was the most difficult outfield position to learn. Hairston said he played it last year in Baltimore and had no problem.

"Just because something is tough doesn't mean you run away from it," he said.



I can't watch anymore. A baseball team with this much talent playing this poorly this far into the season is absolutely inexcusable.

We had the same problem last year even with Alou and Sosa. This offense is anemic right now. And I'm wondering if there's an off-the-field reason that Jerry Hairston isn't getting into the lineup more often. He succeeds in the leadoff role, yet Dusty refuses to find a spot for him.

During this losing streak, I tell myself that the silver lining is that we may be getting closer to the end of the Dusty Baker era. I don't know if it's true, as his contract doesn't run out until 2006 and he makes $4 mil a year.

I'm still holding out hope that we can do what Houston did last year (and is doing again!) or what the Fish did in 2003. And that is make an improbable run. But what did those teams both do when they were failing? That's right! They fired their manager.

Let's start there.


Where the hell is the offense?



I'm almost to the point of losing hope. The more I witness Dusty Baker's managerial decisions, the more I'm convinced he's costing us games.

These are the days I try to tell myself "it's only baseball." The way the past 4 months of my life have been, you'd think that would be easy. But still I get stressed out when I think about how much this team is underachieving.

Here's a nugget from Dusty the Clown in talking about his laughable 1-2 hitters.


"We've got to change something," Baker said. "In the case of Neifi, he's hitting the ball harder than probably anybody on the field. You can't guide it. Corey's struggling. Yeah, we've got to change something."

Neifi is hitting the ball harder than anyone? What the hell is he talking about?

And how about this stat....

Since Corey Patterson volunteered to bat leadoff on June 22, he has gone 5-for-38 with 18 strikeouts. And Dusty the Clown continues to bat him in the leadoff spot.

This team is LOADED with talent yet they continue to hover around .500. Is it ALL Dusty's fault? No, but I'm completely convinced he's the number one reason this team continues to underachieve.




I can't tell you how frustrated Dusty Baker makes me.

Day in and day out, the Cubs have less chance of winning because of the lineups he puts on the field.



Jerry Hairston should be getting a chance to start in LF, and leading off. Why this hasnt happened yet is beyond me.

Until we make any trades, this should be our lineup.

Hairston LF
Walker 2B
Lee 1B
Burnitz RF
Ramirez 3B
Barrett C
Patterson CF
Perez/Cedeno SS

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