Okay, it’s reality-check time. Even if the Cardinals go one game under .500 for the rest of the way, they’ll finish 88-74. For the Cubs to reach 88 wins, they’ll have to go 28-17, a .622 winning percentage. Unlikely, since they’re playing .513 baseball this year and are in danger of getting swept by a terrible 51-70 San Diego Padres team. Moreover, given the fact that the Cardinals have a pretty easy schedule for the rest of the way, it’s safe to say that they won’t play sub-.500 ball for the stretch. So, let’s look at some other horrifying scenarios.
If the Cardinals merely continue at their .562 winning percentage, they’ll finish 91-71. The Cubs would have to go 31-14 (.689 winning percentage) just to catch them.
If the Cardinals continue their second-half .633 winning percentage, they’ll finish 93-69, and the Cubs will need to rattle off a 33-12 record (.733 winning percentage) in the final 45 games.
If the Cardinals continue on the pace they’ve set since acquiring Matt Holliday (.696 WP), they’ll finish 96-66. To catch them, the Cubs would have to go 36-9 (.800 winning percentage) and the earth would have to split down the middle and swallow Busch Stadium: The Sequel whole.
The Cubs’ Wild Card prospects are no better. They are currently 5 games back in the “race,” and they’re looking up at four teams. No matter what your stupid sign says, IT’S NOT GONNA HAPPEN.
So, Cubs, I ask you. How dumb are you? Too dumb to realize you’re out of it? I hope not.
You see, here is the problem with the Cubs. You just know that in the next month and a half, they are going to do things like point at the run made at the end of the 2007 season by the Colorado Rockies or the run made by the 2005 Astros to get into the playoffs. Jim Hendry and Lou Piniella may say things like, “Hey, we’re still in this thing.” They are wrong (see above). Furthermore, there are two glaring issues with that method of thinking:
- The reason anyone in Colorado showed up to games at the end of the 2007 season, and the reason anyone paid attention to baseball instead of football in Texas in 2005 is because the runs that those teams went on were TOTAL FREAKS OF NATURE.
- What happened to the 2007 Rockies and 2005 Astros in the playoffs? Sure, they made the World Series, but they were promptly depantsed by the Sox color of the year.
Yes, it would be great to even be IN the World Series, but the ultimate goal of the franchise should be to WIN the World Series. And that’s why what I’m about to propose will never happen. The front office has a “just make it into the playoffs and see what happens” mentality. So, we’re likely going to be doomed in the next month and a half to watch the team “compete” for a playoff spot instead of planning for 2010. But IF I RAN THE CUBS, here is what I’d like to see happen as they play out the stretch.
- LOSE LOU. Sorry, Lou. You’re a likable dude. You’re the most entertaining and best manager the Cubs have had since
Don ZimmerJim Essian. You gave this team the kick in the ass it needed in 2007, and you led them to back-to-back playoff appearances. I hope you step down at the end of the year instead of getting fired, because I like you, but now you’re just phoning it in. I get the impression that you steadfastly refuse to make smart baseball decisions (moving down Alfonso Soriano; shooting Kevin Gregg in the face) just because the media suggests it, and “you’re the manager.” When those decisions work out (batting Kosuke Fukudome and Milton Bradley 1-2 in the lineup), you inexplicably change back. You were flaky at best with your handling of Ryan Dempster’s transition to starter and the first several attempts to move Soriano down in the lineup. But the straw that broke the camel’s back for me is your decision to install Carlos Marmol as the closer in August of a “pennant race.” Marmol last threw a strike in June, and shouldn’t even be pitching for the big-league club right now. Meanwhile, Angel Guzman has been the Cubs’ best reliever all year. If you’re going to make a switch at closer this late in the season, it should be a switch to Guzman. Hell, even SeanBearPig deserves the role over Marmol. Dumb, Lou. Dumb.
- SHUT DOWN ZAMBRANO, RAMIREZ, AND LILLY. If you tried to rank the war crimes Dusty Baker committed against the Cubs in his time in Chicago, perhaps the most heinous was his insistence on making everyone else’s pennant races “fair” by riding his best players all the way to a 66-96 record. Instead of realizing the season is a lost cause and resting guys like Bob Howry and
StevieScott Eyre, Dusty rode his horses through the dog days of August and September and helped turn Howry from an effective reliever to Rick Aguilera. Don’t be stupid and do the same thing, Lou. On the slim (and getting increasingly slimmer) chance the Cubs do make the playoffs, they’re not going anywhere. Let Aramis get his shoulder surgery now. Let Lilly get his knee surgery now. Insert a bionic arm into Zambrano. If you intend to bring him back, give Rich Harden more rest. If possible, fix whatever the hell is wrong with Geovany Soto’s hand that causes it to fly off the bat every once in a while. I suspect White Castle grease. Whatever the hell these guys need to do to get healthy for the first day of Spring Training next year, DO IT NOW.
- SEE WHAT YOU HAVE FOR NEXT YEAR. Does Jeff Samardzija suck, or can he start? Can Jake Fox or Jeff Baker play second base on an every day basis? Can Andres Blanco hit enough to be the main utility infielder next year? Can Tom Gorzelanny stick in the rotation? Who is the best catcher in the minors, so Koyie Hill doesn’t have to play 80 consecutive games next year? Is Jeff Stevens any good? Is there a shortstop in the organization taller than Ryan Theriot? How high will Aaron Miles bounce if you drop him off the top floor of Willis Tower? Ideally, the answers to all of these questions will be discovered prior to the start of the 2010 season. A smart team would be using this garbage time to see what they have going forward. Realize you’re not in a goddamn pennant race, you idiots, and do the right thing. Plan ahead.
- CUT THE TWO AARONS…WITH A KNIFE. I like Aaron Heilman personally. I really do. I really wanted him to be successful as a Cub, but it’s not happening. Since he’s on a one-year deal and rosters are about to expand, it’s pointless to cut him. But if they re-sign him after this season, I will lose my shit. As for Aaron Miles, cut him. The contract he was given was so stupid, it glows in the dark. Statistically, he is FAR more useless than the following players: Neifi Perez, Jose Macias, Ronny Cedeno. Cut him. Cut him with a sword dipped in acid and lit on fire. Cut him with the Sword of Omens. Cut him with your razor-sharp wit. Whatever the hell you need to do, CUT HIS WORTHLESS ASS.
- LISTEN TO OFFERS ON ANYONE, JIM. I’m not going to be one of those dipshits who advocates trading valuable guys like Zambrano, especially not valuable guys with good contracts. But if there’s one thing that was exposed by the rash of injuries the Cubs suffered through this year, it was that the minor-leagues are as deep as a conversation with Johnny Macchione. As I mentioned before, it’s inexcusable that the Cubs’ best option when Soto was out was to have Hill start 150 games in a row. If moving a guy makes sense for the organization, do it. Don’t listen to the fans. They don’t pay your salary, and they’re stupid enough to think that you should have hung on to Mark DeRosa and let him walk for nothing instead of getting valuable arms in return for him.
- SELL THE GODDAMN TEAM ALREADY. You have to assume that part of the reason Hendry, whose best moves have been trade deadline deals, didn’t make any big moves this year was the team’s ownership being in flux. It may be a hopeless prayer, but get the damn sale done before December so they are not handcuffed during the whole offseason, too.
Don’t be stupid, Cubs. You’re out of it. And that’s okay. You’ve wasted this year by playing like a bunch of chodes, but, honestly, we’re amazed you’ve won the division two years in a row.
If you’d done it a third time, we’d be so busy scanning the horizon for the four horsemen that we wouldn’t really enjoy it, anyhow.