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

Any answers for Lou?

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The Cubs started the second half of their season almost exactly as they ended their underachieving first half - scoring one run in another meager-hitting loss despite good enough pitching that the team ERA went down again.

``We've got to hit. Fifteenth in the league in runs scored isn't going to get it done - period,'' Piniella said during a pregame rant today against the lack of first-half hitting.

So what's left to do with the big-bucks lineup?


Forget a trade that adds payroll - or any trade for that matter, considering all the immovable contracts.

Ramirez is back, so that's not an excuse anymore. Soriano's not batting leadoff, so that's not either. And almost every combination of lineup shuffle has been tried by Piniella this year.

Do you sit and wait?

Do you assume the break-out days are only a matter of time for hitters with track records? ``I think so,'' said Ryan Theriot, one of the few productive hitters the first half. ``I hope so. I don't think you've seen our best, for sure. ... I hope we do.''

When asked about taking more risks, Piniella asked for suggestions. When hitting-and-running and stealing bases were suggested, he pointed out that they have hit and run, and that they've been forced into being very selective in trying to steal bases because they don't have many players who are any good at it.

Meanwhile, they take a 16-inning stretch into Friday's series opener against the Cardinals in which they've scored only one run and amazingly had only three guys even reach scoring position.

``We can mask this any way we want to mask it,'' Piniella said, ``but we've got to start scoring more runs more consistently to win baseball games. We hit the ball and we continue to pitch, we're going to be just fine. If we don't, it's going to be a struggle.''

So what's the answer? By the end of today's game, Lou didn't have any more answers.

You?

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11 Comments

Hitters are not fighting thru their at bats.

They are not working the counts and scrapping for each hit.

Bring in a bigtime pro poker player to talk to them about patience and working hard to win.

These guys have tremendous patience and work ethic as the tournaments you see on TV are usually 3 to 5 day tournies and these players sometimes player for 12-14 hours at a time.

I've played a lot of ball.

I've played a lot of poker.

Sometimes we need to see things from a different angle ... Lou, teach them some poker skills !


I think Lou and the batting coach said it all. They can't hit for the players. Advice is cheap, but performance takes professionalism, commitment,and placing the team's goals ahead of your own.The players are certainly pressing all too often and are definitely swinging from the heels rather than intelligently going with the pitch and taking advantage of what's given by the pitcher.The players are pro's and should start acting and performing that way.

During yesterday's 4-1 loss to the Braves, Lou Piniella proved once again that he is absolutely clueless when it comes to maximizing his team's chances of winning, during critical, late-game situations.

Down 2-1 in the bottom of the eighth, the Cubs got a lead-off single. Lou immediately gave up a valuable out by having the next batter bunt the lead-off man to second base.

This is the third game this season (that I've personally seen on TV, I'm sure there have been many more), where Lou blew the game by giving up an out via an ill-advised bunt...

Gordon, you're a sportswriter...can you please let Lou Piniella know that statistics PROVE that bunting, especially in crucial, late-game situations, when you only have a few outs left, is the absolute KISS OF DEATH from a statistical standpoint?

Here's the statistical proof -

http://baseballanalysts.com/archives/2006/07/empirical_analy_1.php

You'd think Lou would know this stuff, but he doesn't. So somebody needs to tell him. Especially since his job is to give his team the best chance of winning, every time out.

Lou's feeble grasp of mathematics and statistics is glaringly evident, now that his team can't hit.

And the more Lou pushes the blame off onto his players, the more his own managerial ineptitude becomes evident.

This is from a quote Lou gave yesterday after the 4-1 loss:

``We can mask this any way we want to mask it,'' Piniella said, ``but we've got to start scoring more runs more consistently to win baseball games. We hit the ball and we continue to pitch, we're going to be just fine. If we don't, it's going to be a struggle.''

Hey Lou...when your team can't hit (which happens, in the world of baseball, from time to time), the manager has to take personal responsibility and grab the reins, and push the right buttons, and maximize his teams's chances of winning.

And as the numbers point out, at the baseball statistics link I posted above, bunting is NOT an option, okay Lou?...except under very specific conditions. If the batter is a terrible hitter; if a pitcher is at the plate - okay, MAYBE.

But otherwise, you shouldn't bunt. Not ever.

If Lou Piniellla HADN'T called on his players to bunt this year, in critical, late-game situations, when the score was tied or the Cubs were trailing by a run late in the game, they would likely have three or four more wins.

And that would be good enough to put the Cubs in first place.

Get it, Lou?

Improve YOUR OWN GAME Lou, and then you can blame the players for not hitting...but until you do that, you are merely a clueless whiner who is shirking his own responsibilities...you need to know what YOU are doing, Lou, before you can lambaste your players for not doing their jobs...

And right now, Lou, you do not know what you are doing. Every time you tell one of your hitters to BUNT, you are proving this fact.

I rest my case your honor.

I am Bob Smith. And I have spoken.

There are a lot of reasons the Cubs are struggling on offense. First of all the hitting coach has to be fired. Like the guy before him, he hasn't solved the problem. Keep hiring hitting coaches till one is found that can help the players learn how to get hit good enough to get on base and score runs once in awhile. Secondly, players like Soriano, Fukudome and Bradley are not getting paid enough. Give them raises and they'll have some incentive to perform better at the plate. And finally, cut back on the pressure on these guys. No booing, no criticisms. They can't handle the fact that the fans expect them to play well and maybe win the first Cubs Championship since the Crusades.

Garry, love the sarcasm and you're right. This team is about as psychologically & emotionally sturdy as paper mache' or wet toilet paper. They are front runners (is that actually possible this year?) but more so they have no concept of "clutch." For that, you can blame the GM for putting all these guys together. This team is a combination of the 2004 Cubs and the 2007 Bears, much expected of them (neither of those teams could "...play as bad as that without ultimately breaking out..." either, right?!?...)
Listen up Cubs fans, I'm tired of the "...as bad as they have been playing they're only 'X' games out..." excuse. Hendry needs to make a "White Flag" trade and get rid of the driftwood on this team. And I can guarantee you if Hendry can't do much to increase the payroll he sure can do a lot to lower payroll (at least to make ownership happy). He is paying too much $ to guys who don't deserve it. The high $ players are not tops at their respective positions (Soriano, LF; Fukodome/Bradley, RF's; Soto, C; Zambrano, P; etc...) with those examples being obvious, even though these are the teams' "stars." He has thrown bad $ at mediocre-bad players with NOTHING to show for it. Detonate the club and start over, because this group will NEVER win it all!

Gary, PLEASE tell me you're being toungue-in-cheek with your post. Keep hiring Hitting Coaches? Don't boo/criticise the players? Give Soriano, Fukudome and Bradley RAISES?

I say keep Ramirez, Lee and Theriot (and possibly Soto if he can lay off the medical marijuana during his rehab) and blow the rest of the team up!

LA Cub fan got it right Brett, yes I'm being tongue in cheek and/or sarcastic. You have to keep a sense of humor being a Cubs fan since 1960. Get rid of the expensive deadwood and start over! We can wait a few more years!

Paul Manter wrote: I think Lou and the batting coach said it all. They can't hit for the players. ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? If this was Dusty Baker they would be flooding the airwaves calling for his job. This guy gets the benefit of the doubt for some reason. He has not done a thing with the Cubs but lost Cub fans like Paul keep dealing with him with kid gloves. This is why I hate the Cubs they have to have the most uninformed and lost fans in MLB. Lou is an over-rated manager who gets toooooo much credit for his genius. Everytime he talks it sounds like he's been drinking.

I’ve been a big Cubs fan since 1967 and, obviously, am starved for a winner. But Jim Hendry’s obsession over the last three years to win it all THIS YEAR is not working. By adding Soriano in 2007, Fukodome in 2008 and Bradley in 2009, not only has he created more pressure to win by raising expectation levels (and payroll), but he has effectively squeezed out young and talented players like Jake Fox, Micah Hoffpauir and Sam Fuld who have outperformed their overpaid and underachieving teammates.

Now, to be fair, Jim Hendry made two of the greatest trades in Cubs history in 2003 when, before the season, he sent Todd Hundley to the Dodgers for Eric Karros and Mark Grudzielanek and, in July, he sent Bobby Hill to the Pirates for Kenny Lofton and Aramis Ramirez. It all clicked and, if not for that horrible 8th inning in Game 6, the Cubs would have played in, and certainly could have won, the World Series.

The Cubs’ success is now measured by whether they get into and win a world series, a dubious distinction they share only with the Yankees. It’s got to be hard to win a championship with such expectations each year. But, now that the 100-year thing is behind them, they should be patient and develop a winning team from within.

Jim Hendry can still turn this misguided ship around by being an aggressive seller this month. And he can start with Milton Bradley. Bradley has already proven that he and the Cubs were a mismatch from the start. The money has already been spent. Hendry should pick up 75% of his salary and let him DH again on an American League team. He had such a stellar year last season in Texas, perhaps he could go back and help them win their division. To compete with teams like the Cardinals and the Brewers, the Cubs need to play their most promising players, not their highest paid.

The first game of a series, pits a number one pitcher aganist another. Hits are sparse and wins are hard to come by. Why not be aggressive with small ball against top tier pitchers, by sqeezing out runs any way we can. It gets tiresome watching Cub batters swing for the fences against these top tier pitchers, where a single run is very often the difference between a win and a loss.

Wasted at bats (strike outs, pop-ups, double plays, (see Soriano, Bradley and even Lee), at the begining of the season, where a simple grounder to the right side or a fly ball, could score a run Look at Zanbrano's win loss record, where his good pitching is often wasted.

Good luck Lou and the Cubs, we can do it this year.


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This page contains a single entry by Gordon Wittenmyer published on July 8, 2009 10:05 PM.

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