Four Men Out

>> Sunday

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.


Patrick 7:23 PM  

I talked to Vinnie about this last night. The Cubs shouldn't do anything in the off-season, except maybe get a high OBP guy to lead off and drop Soriano to #5 whether he likes it or not.

The Cubs won 97 games this season. They are a very very good team. You can't hold a 3 game series against a Dodger team that went 18-5 in September against the Cubs.

Vinnie 9:45 PM  

If you're being tongue-in-cheek, I'm a dope and can't pick up on it, and this is an unnecessary comment. In case it isn't, I'll quote Joe Sheehan (of Baseball Prospectus and not the guy I went to high school with):

Whatever frustration the Cubs, their management, or their fan base may feel at this moment, what they cannot and should not do is lose sight of the fact that the 2008 Cubs were a very good baseball team. Their was no missing link, no fatal flaw, nothing in the construction that portended a short stay in the postseason. They caught a bad matchup and had a three-game losing streak at the wrong time, and the rules of the game don't allow for that. This was the Cubs' fifth three-game losing streak of the season; these things happen even to 97-win teams. That they lost three in row, to a quality team, is just baseball. That they did so from October 1 through October 4 unfortunately means that they don't get to play on October 5. None of that, however, makes the 2008 Cubs less than what they were: the best team in the NL for six months. It just means they won't win a championship.

Post-season baseball is cool and cruel, but it doesn't mean everything, not in a sport that needs six months to figure out who the best teams are, and even then doesn't always get it right. The Cubs don't need to tear anything down, and the biggest challenge over the next eight weeks will be to not let the sense of disappointment drive the decisions they make. If they let three losses drown out 97 wins, well, that's how you end up without the opportunity to ever make that mistake again.

(By the way... Sorry I didn't get to call you back tonight. Tomorrow night cool?)

Anonymous,  12:42 AM  

Wasn't Fukodome supposed to be that high OBP leadoff guy? Something tells me the 50 mil you threw at him kind of cancels out pursuing the exact same thing for more money(unless Art Moreno is your owner like with Matthews and Hunter).
The greater concern is that for the most part the toothpaste is out of the tube. The core of your team is Soriano, Ramirez, Lee, Fukodome and Zambrano. Far too much money has been committed to them for cubs management to bail this early(and in the case of Fukodome and Soriano they're sitting on essentially untradable contracts).
One or two results in this series aside the overall facts don't look good. Soriano, Lee and Ramirez are consistently mediocre at playoff baseball(althougth this time Lee did do well), Zambrano is a hothead with a tendency to get too worked up in big games(again, not the case this time), Fukodome appears to be figured out and could very well be bought out of his contract and be back in Japan this time next year.
Regardless of what players you put around the big 5 the team won't succeed without those 5 performing. The cubs may win a title one day but it won't be with those 5 jokers.

Paul 9:00 PM  

Not meant to be tongue in cheek... although my comments are more founded in my disdain for the ridiculous salaries that people get paid to essentially fail at their job... which is truly a sinecure if I ever saw one... And I contribute to those salaries by actually paying in some way or another to watch them fail. Pro sports are a waste of my time, and I hereby renounce them.

Anonymous,  1:04 AM  

just when you thought YCS couldn't get more bitter....

Matt 2:26 AM  

Careful Paul, on this line of thought you'll soon be bitching about all the "spoiled millionaires" in sports like Mike does. You're getting old, man.

Vinnie 9:33 AM  

You say "fail;" I say Lowe, Billingsley, and Kuroda succeeded.

And as a libertarian, you should be all for these guys reaping the benefits of demand for their product.

Anonymous--I'll be laughing my ass off in a year or two when one of these "mediocre" postseason performers busts out 3 HRs in a series or something because those things are bound to happen for good players given enough opportunities. You and everyone else wanting to run Soriano out of town are gonna look really silly if/when that transpires.

Anonymous,  12:24 PM  

Those are Soriano's numbers in the postseason. It's hardly a small sample size, that's 9 postseason series, 44 games, 174 AB's. He's consistently worse in the postseason than he is in the regular season. So my question to you Vinnie, how many more postseasons does he need to suck before we can agree he's a mental midget who lets the pressure get to him and disrupt his undeniable talent?

Vinnie 8:41 PM  

I stand corrected... sort of.

I hadn't looked at Soriano's numbers before making my comment, and yes, I'd agree the falloff is way beyond random luck. But to say he's a mental midget is, I think, too simplistic of an explanation.

Every hitter, over time, should have worse numbers in the postseason than in the regular season because of the increased quality of pitching and overall lower temperature. Having said that, I assume (don't feel like doing research righ now) that the historical reg/post disparity for the league doesn't touch Soriano's.

Haing said all that, Soriano is notoriously streaky and (WARNING: totally anecdotal and perception-based) tends to feast on mediocre pitchers. I think the former might better explain the decline than mental midgetude while the latter helps the chance of my theoretical three-homer series and subsequent about-face of public perception about his postseason performance. And I still don't think poor postseason play is a good reason to run a good regular-season player out of town.

Fuck it. You win. I was wrong. Excuse me while I take my ball and go home. Jerk.

Zuch 4:47 PM  

One thing that potentially hurts Soriano in the postseason (and players of his ilk) is their lack of plate discipline. In the regular season, pitchers are more inclined to throw good pitches to hit early in the count in order to keep their pitches down and go deep into the games. In the playoffs, with shorter rotations and at least one long guy available in the bullpen (usually the 5th starter like Marquis or Clayton Richard for the Sox), pitchers will be more judicious and not intentionally throw nearly as many hittable strikes as they would in the regular season. In turn, Soriano chases bad balls to hit early in the count and his production greatly decreases

This being said, I think the Cubs should not overreact with Soriano (or even Fukudome, who I still hold out some hope for because of his plate discipline) and make moves for the sake or changing things because of a bad three game series. I understand the need to move Soriano out of the leadoff spot, and I actually think Kosuke may be a good fit there (let him worry about getting on base and not having to be a major run producer). The Cubs line-up is still stacked, especially in the National League where you normally have 2-3 easy out spots in the line-up. The rotation is above average, and the Cubs will always be one of the top candidates to make a major deadline deal. As a Sox fan, I'd gladly trade the current track my team is on (which has admittedly improved significantly in the last 12 months) for the track the Cubs organization is on should they remain calm and not panic because of a bad three games in the postseason.

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