Chicago Sun-Times
with sports reporters Chris De Luca and Gordon Wittenmyer

News flash: Cubs miss DeRosa

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ATLANTA - Is it too late to get Mark DeRosa back from Cleveland?

Not that the versatile and productive hitter would have made the Cubs' bullpen look any better in Tuesday night's late-inning meltdown and extra-inning loss in Atlanta.

But going forward, Tuesday's game provided a microcosm of the issues surrounding DeRosa's departure and the void left behind - not the least of which was right fielder Milton Bradley's latest injury.

For one, the Cubs demonstrated again Tuesday the fact that starting pitching wasn't a primary need coming off that 97-win season last year, which makes the jockeying for position to trade for San Diego's Jake Peavy a non-vital dream pursuit.

In fact, rookie Randy Wells - who was in the minors until May 8 -- retired the first 10 batters he faced, and faced the minimum over 6 2/3 innings - until Chipper Jones broke up his no-hit bid with a line single to left.

Wells handed a 5-1 lead to the bullpen only to watch it go up in smoke.

So what does any of it have to do with DeRosa?

When general manager Jim Hendry traded the super utility guy to Cleveland for pitching prospects to bolster the minor-league stock - presumably in anticipation of trade(s) to come - the one undisputed fact the trade left in its wake was the depth issue it created.

Since then? The Cubs have had their biggest problems at DeRosa's three primary positions - second base, third base and right field.

And as of Tuesday night's fourth inning, when Bradley hobbled off the field with a calf injury - only a month after returning from that nagging groin injury - it left almost $20 million of 2009 run production sidelined indefinitely in the forms of third baseman Aramis Ramirez and Bradley.

The Cubs acknowledge the timetable for Ramirez's return is uncertain - probably just after the All-Star break - and that nobody knows for sure how his injured shoulder will affect him once he returns. Ramirez told the Sun-Times over the weekend that he might have to have surgery to tighten the shoulder after the season.

``I don't know how you prepare [for the possibility of season-long problems],'' manager Lou Piniella said of Ramirez. ``According to our people - the doctor, the trainers - they basically say they don't think during the summer it's going to have a profound affect.''

But with no certainty for a third base position that has produced next to nothing offensively since Ramirez was injured, and a $30 million right fielder who already has confirmed the worst fears about his track record, and no DeRosa in sight, the dominoes already are teetering the wrong way.

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What can we do to right a huge offseason mistake, bring back MARK DEROSA and tell him your sorry for screwing up the Cubs. Do it now before it is too late!!!!

I have a gut feeling that a modestly intelligent seventh-grader, who was given unfettered access to an open checkbook by his employer, could piece together a baseball team that would make it to the playoffs on a semi-annual basis...and it was that very same approach that got Jim Hendry the players he needed to put the Cubs into the post-season in 2007 and 2008.

Ironically, it's that very same open-checkbook approach that the Cubs are paying for, right this very second...the money got tight this year, due to Hendry's drunken-sailor spending habits prior to the '08 season...and when this was coupled with the pending sale of the team, well, it was time to balance the books and stop the financial bleeding.

So now it's time to enumerate exactly FIVE incredibly bad moves, made by Jim Hendry, which are bound to become legendary in the lore of Cub Flubdom:

Massive Mistake No. 1: I said this when it happened, and it is now coming to fruition...Alfonso Soriano is an aging home-run hitter with bad wheels who can't play a lick of defense in the outfield. How Hendry could dump $136 million (over EIGHT years) into his geriatric lap is beyond my ability to comprehend. Yes, Soriano hits home runs. No, he can't hit for average anymore (last time I checked, he was at .245 and falling...but then, he was a lifetime .270 hitter when Hendry picked him up). And no, he can't field - not one iota. In fact, watching balls clank off Soriano's glove has become a spectator sport among left-field bleacherites in every Major League stadium to which the Cubs travel. For every game Soriano wins with a timely hit, he loses two more with his horrendous glove and his inability to get on base in the lead-off spot. Defense wins ballgames. And Soriano, if he isn't in a wheelchair by the time he reaches the end of his contract, has cost the Cubs way, way, way too much money. Can you say, "Barry Zito?"

Massive Mistake No. 2: Earth to Jim Hendry, earth to Jim Hendry...come in, Jim Hendry...the glaring holes in the Cubs infield have become laughably apparent since Mark DeRosa's departure...despite his slow start with the Cleveland Indians, DeRosa could hit .300 rolling out of bed in the morning, and his ability to play nearly every infield (and outfield) position is can't tell me the Cubs couldn't find a way to keep this man on the roster, somehow, someway...Hendry mortgaged the Cubs future to put together a winning team prior to the '08 season...and suddenly he's trying to pick up a few prospects for a guy who played an MVP role in the Cubs winning 97 games last year? Can you say, "Backpedal?"

Massive Mistake No. 3: Kerry Wood is struggling with his ERA in Cleveland...but he's 8 for 10 in save opportunities (which was roughly what he was with the Cubs during the early part of the '08 campaign), and he still has a ratio of over 10 strikeouts per nine innings pitched...Kevin Gregg has some talent, yes, and his stats are very similar to Kerry Wood's this year so far - but none of that has anything to do with why letting Kerry Wood go was probably the worst move since Lou Brock for Ernie Broglio...Kerry Wood was universally revered by rank-and-file Cubs fans everywhere, and Wood's overwhelming loyalty to the Cubs organization was something that those very same fans appreciated in ways that baseball executives can't fathom...letting Kerry Wood go sent a message to every player on the team, and to the fans as well - "Loyalty means nothing...everybody is expendable..." This single, solitary, seventh-grader move by Hendry was the most blatantly putrid of them all. There was absolutely no reason to let Kerry go. The payroll could have been trimmed in other areas to make room for him. Instead of rewarding Wood for his long-time loyalty, instead of keeping him in the fold, where the fans wanted him to be, and where he wanted to be, Hendry cut him loose. Can you say, "Public relations disaster?"

Massive Mistake No. 4: Milton Bradley has guts, and he speaks his mind...and I admire those two qualities whenever I see them...but Milton Bradley is a walking M*A*S*H unit, and his outspoken behavior and belligerence is more suitable to WWF than Major League Baseball...Bradley may indeed start hitting and paying future dividends for the Cubs (remember last year when nearly everyone in Chicago was saying Kosuke Fukudome should get out of town?), but the risk far outweighs the rewards when it comes to Milton Bradley, and everybody on the planet knew this (except Jim Hendry) when the Cubs picked him up...combine that with his flat-out inability to play the outfield (which, combined with Alfornso "Oops" Soriano in left field, gives the Cubs two gaping holes in their outfield defense), and you've got the perfect recipe for being outscored on a regular basis...chemistry is what it's all about on any winning team, and Bradley is pure hydrochloric acid. Can you say, "Unfathomable?"

Massive Mistake No. 5: Joe Girardi or Lou Piniella? Hmm. The Cubs could have had either manager three years ago...and after the 1989 season, sure, PIniella would have been the obvious choice...but these days, the only thing more evident than Lou's Alzheimer-like post-game stutttering sessions and his protruding paunch, is his inability to fathom that you can't force your starting pitchers to continue to pitch in mid-game, crucial situations, when that pitcher is obviously imploding...Lou single-handedly blew Game 1 in the playoff series last year against the Dodgers, when he left Ryan Dempster in the game in the middle innings, and in a five-game or seven-game winner-take-all format, you have to think outside the box...welcome to the box, Lou, and get used to it, because the next one you'll see will be made of pine...passing on Joe Girardi, a Chicago-area native who was dying to manage the Cubs, and who is infinitely more intelligent in a baseball sense than Lou Piniella ever was (or could ever be), was a serious error in judgment. And we are now seeing this on the field, every time Lou leaves his starting pitcher in a game, jussssst a little too long, in the fifth or sixth innings ("Gotta get six innings out of my starters!"), as they tenously cling to a slim lead, while little children with the IQ's of pinworms can see that they are imploding. Can you say, "Go back to being a scout, Jim?"

Ah well. Wait till next year...

I think trading Mark Derosa was a big mistake last year he is a very good hitter and can play both in the infield and outfield.
The Cubs should have traded Mike Fontenot and the end of last year.
Kerry Wood should have stayed the closer he can dominate lineups and has great stuff.
Kevin Gregg has a low 90's fastball and can become very hittable.
Carlos Marmol should rather be the closer.
The Cubs are struggling this year the offense hasn't hit well with runners in scoring position the and bullpen has been inconsistent.
I hope the Cubs can turn it around this year.
Maybe one day Joe Giradi will manage the cubs in 2012.
Go Cubs!

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This page contains a single entry by Gordon Wittenmyer published on June 2, 2009 11:56 PM.

Piniella a no-show -- just like the Cubs' offense against the Dodgers was the previous entry in this blog.

McLouth: One that got away? is the next entry in this blog.

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