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

For the Glove of God

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Sam Fuld made another diving catch Monday night in the outfield (great play even if it turns out he trapped it) to end the fifth inning in a one-run game - raising again the question of whether this guy should get more playing time as the Cubs look toward next year.

And what about Andres Blanco - Mr. Spectacular almost every time he gets a start in the middle infield?

If the Cubs proved anything in their 2-0 win over Milwaukee Monday night - other than they still can't hit - it's how important fielding is to a team that expects to win.

In addition to Fuld's play, third baseman Aramis Ramirez made a huge play to end the eighth with two men on - grabbing Felipe Lopez's liner toward left, before dropping it and then picking it up to make the inning-ending throw. And with an infield shift on Prince Fielder with nobody out and a runner at first in the seventh, the Cubs pulled off a 6-5-3 double play

``You don't see that too often,'' Piniella said afterward.

``Three really nice plays. We needed them.''

All season, in fact.

Considering one of the most underrated reasons for the Cubs' disappointing season - the fact they're the third-worst fielding team in the league - it might be worth looking at 2010 with an eye toward the glove work.

It's no coincidence that the only teams that field the ball worse than the Cubs in the National League are last-place teams (Arizona and Washington).

Sure, a half-run more per game by the listing lineup might have made the difference in a playoff berth this season.

But imagine how many more games the Cubs' stellar pitching staff might have won had they cut down on the 50 unearned runs they allowed. Unearned runs were the difference in two of the team's four losses this month alone.

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It seems strange that for all these years, including this one and thenear future probably, thatthe managementhas not figured out that building a team around the concept that thw wind will blow out at Wrigley is foolish and counter-productive. Hitting comes and goes anyway and warning track flyballs may be breifly exciting but not useful. Pitching can have its up and downs, though it helps to have pitchers who have the potential to have ups. Defense is more of a constant. Unless they are hitting up to their touted potential, players such a Soriano and Bradley are real net losers for th eCubs, not producing that many more runs than they let in compare dto a really good fielder such as Sam Fuld. Wouldn't it be nice if the Cubs would build next year around their pitching staff and the few dependable hitters and then go for defense for th erest. Fukudome, for all his struggles, would still fit in nicely in place Bradley (or Soriano).

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This page contains a single entry by Gordon Wittenmyer published on September 14, 2009 10:12 PM.

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