Have you heard the latest rumblings….Glendon “Glooroo” Rusch may be back in the starting rotation. This possibility has surfaced due to the unfortunate lack of success of young Cub pitchers like Jerome Williams, Angel Guzman, and Rich Hill. With Kerry Wood already feeling soreness, and Mark Prior and Wade Miller still on the DL, the depth of the Cubs pitching staff is extremely suspect at the moment. Bright days may soon be on the horizon, when all of these injuries are finally healed up, but in the meantime the Cubs must stop their freefall, and I am not sure Glooroo is the answer. Bright Spots
Aramis Ramirez belted a couple of homeruns on Sunday, and while he has a long way to go to even be close to his usual numbers, this can hopefully be the start of a much-needed hot streak for A-Ram. Sean Marshall has still managed to look like a solid, and established, major league pitcher, and I shudder to imagine the Cubs rotation if he had also gone the way of Hill and Guzman. The return of Kerry Wood may not have lived up to the hype, but just to have him on the mound every 5 days (provided he isn’t sore….ahem) is a boost for this team. We have now seen one of the Twin Towel Throwers return, so I believe the return of the other Triple T (Prior) is not too far behind. Soon our rotation will consist of:
A healthy rotation will go a long way to solving half of the Cubs current problems, which is inconsistent starting pitching (the other problem is offense, and that is more daunting). Having Wade Miller will help provide insurance against injury to any of these 5 starters, so I feel that once Prior returns, we will not worry about pitching the rest of the year, as the bullpen and rotation will both be very solid.
Would the Mets be doing well with Pedro Martinez, Tom Glavine, and David Wright on the DL? How about if the Red Sox had Curt Schilling, Josh Beckett, and Manny Ramirez on the DL? My point is that there is no denying the impact of injuries to Wood, Prior, and Lee to this team. They are, arguably, three of the best players on the team. Imagine if Lee had never gotten injured….how would the offense have performed the past few weeks in comparison? There would have been less Neifi Perez, as Walker would be playing 2nd base and not 1st base, and less Neifi equals more Cub victories! Imagine if all those horrible starts by Guzman, Hill, Glooroo, and Williams had all featured Wood and Prior instead….think we would have won a few more games? So good times are on the horizon, but the newer concern is that the hole the Cubs have dug for themselves may be too deep to climb out of….
The Blame Game….
You can’t blame Hendry and Dusty for the injuries to Wood, Prior and Lee. You can, however, blame them for allowing those injuries to have potentially sunk an entire 162-game season in a matter of mere weeks. In my opinion, Dusty Baker does not know how to manage a team with injuries, and he does not inspire or motivate his players to overachieve when times are tough. I also believe that Jim Hendry has really dropped the ball in not giving the Cubs the weapons to start the season strong, and has instead stood by quietly during this period of total collapse, allowing the Cardinals to once again gain an early, and perhaps insurmountable, lead in the division. If Hendry did not resign Nomar because he felt burned by Nomar’s injury history, then why did he not better prepare for the possibility of injuries to Wood and Prior at the beginning of the season? Once Lee went down, Hendry should have acquired Soriano, even at a steep price of prospects, because that is what you do when unexpected disasters strike. The government doesn’t tell cities devastated by hurricanes that it is too early in the year to spend money on rebuilding….they just bite the bullet, send in help, start cleaning, and spend the funds needed to make things right. I realize the Cubs had a budget and a long-term plan leading into this year….but with young stud pitchers (like Prior, Wood, and Zambrano) in their primes, the window to win is now for the Chicago Cubs. So when Lee went down, you throw your ideal plans out the window, and you move to plan B, which can often be painful and expensive. What you don’t do is move to plan N….which is to do Nothing. Nothing doesn’t win championships.
So if anyone runs into Hendry, please tell him that he really should have known better. While you are at it, tell me how you view the rest of the year playing out at this point, and if you think the Cubs, when healthy, can still make the playoffs….I think they can, but it won’t be easy! Until next time, CCO readers, stay positive, but hold the powers that be accountable, and go Cubs go!
(Editor’s Note: Don’t forget to check out all of the roster moves and news from the weekend here at the CCO)