Forget curses. Forget bad luck. Forget pressure. The problem with the Cubs this postseason was a handful of overpaid players that simply did not rise to occasion. It's time to single them out and question their worth on this team.
1. Ryan Dempster
I am very happy for the regular season that Dempster turned in. This guy wasn't even supposed to be starting during the regular season, but he rightfully won the job. But what the hell happened to him? As a former closer, this guy should be able to handle pressure. He totally choked, and he should have to compete for his job again. We're talking about a man who was 14-3 at home this season and turns in a dismal performance at home; a man who averages 3.3 walks per 9 innings allows 7 walks in less than 5 innings; and a man who gave up 14 home runs in 33 starts giving up a grand slam after he put all those runners on base. Pathetic.
2. Kosuke Fukodome
Fortunately, Lou Pinella removed Fukodome for Game 3. But not after he hacked (I doubt his swing could be considered a "hack") time after time, accomplishing absolutely nothing. I think he knew he could always fall back on the "Japanese players can't survive a 162-game season" excuse, and he just decided to get his at-bats over as quickly as possible. What happened to the patience at the plate? Was this guy really worth the money we pay him? Or the hype? Trade his ass.
3. Alfonso Soriano
Like Fukodome, Soriano made no bones about hiding the fact that he basically wasn't trying. I mean, you could see it. You could see it since mid-September. He wasn't hustling, and he wasn't focused at the plate. His near-assist in the first inning of Game 3 was for show; believe me, this guy didn't care one bit about winning. Again, we're looking at a Cubs player who is far too overpaid.
4. Aramis Ramirez
Are you kidding me? A 2-for-23 performance over the last two years? With exactly 0 RBI's and 7 K's. How many times could Derrek Lee get in scoring position only to have Ramirez do nothing? Lee had 3 doubles in 11 AB's for Pete's sake! And an OBP near .600 for the series. Somebody needs to tell this guy (and Soriano for that matter) to reign in his swing just a touch. I can't believe the Cubs are paying almost $30 million per year for Soriano and Ramirez to turn in a combined .098 over the past two postseasons.
What a joke. I have made this promise before, but I am never going to patronize Cubs baseball again. There is no sense in supporting a team that pays guys $15 million a year to drop routine groundballs and strike out every at bat in the playoffs.