Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Rating the Hate 3: Tokyo Drift

I've hated the position players and I've hated the pitchers, but there is still a whole lot more hate to be dished out. This season has been so incredibly frustrating that the hate is not restricted solely to the players on the field. So let's Rate the Hate for the off-field contributors to the debacle that is the 2009 Cubs. Let's start with the coaches.

Von Joshua - 2.0 - The fact that Von Joshua is the second hitting coach that couldn't get this team to hit leads me to believe that much of the blame for the anemic offense has to lie with the players themselves. Nevertheless, I still hate seeing these guys all swinging for the fences when they are down by a run or two after the seventh inning.

Either nobody is telling these guys that they can't hit 2 and 3-run homers with nobody on base, or the players aren't listening. Either scenario is a problem.

In his favor, Joshua has overseen Milton Bradley becoming an actual useful hitter from the left side again despite the distraction of his having to listen to Klan meetings in the bleachers behind him. He also seems to be a magic elixir for Jeff Baker who was hitting worse than Aaron Miles with Colorado, but is now approaching a .900 OPS in his time with the Cubs.

Larry Rothschild - 6.0 - This is a bit high for this season, but it is also reflective of the years of hate I have built up for this guy. He has survived three separate managers, three playoff failures, an end-of-season choke job, and this year's pile of mediocrity. I think if you checked his family tree, you would find that he is descended from a bizarre mating of Rasputin and a cockroach.

This is the eighth season of Larry sitting in the dugout with an uncomfortable look on his face like he's having the worst case of constipation in the history of the world, followed by a slow trudge out to the mound where he says something like "throw a damn strike," leaves and watches the next pitch get deposited into the bleachers.

You see pitching coaches like Dave Duncan and Don Cooper actually fixing pitchers and getting something out of guys like Joel Piniero and Jose Contreras. God help the world when the pitcher is actually already pretty good. Then you get Carpenter and Wainwright doing their Schilling/Johnson impression just in time for the playoffs or an entire rotation turning a bullpen into nothing but a cheering section in the World Series because they aren't needed at all.

Those are guys that should stick around through managerial changes, not Larry the Wonder Mope, who can't figure out how to get one of the best relievers on the planet to throw a damn strike.

Lou Piniella - 3.5 - I will state again for the record that I still like Lou Piniella, but his insistence on using Aaron Miles in any situation other than as a human shield in a terrorist attack is maddening. People think that Lou isn't as interested or "fired up" about winning as he used to be, but I think that is crap.

He might not throw bases around anymore, but you can see in his eyes that he is seething when the Cubs keep leaving men at third with less than two outs and walking every batter in sight.

My problems with Lou (besides not tying Miles up in a clubhouse locker) include him planting the idea in Ryan Theriot's head that he can hit for power, teasing us with Fukudome excelling in the lead-off role and then suddenly going back to the now power-happy Theriot, and batting Aramis Ramirez fifth for most of the time before he tore his shoulder out of its socket.

I am not upset with Lou for awarding the closer role to Kevin Gregg, sticking with Soriano, Bradley, and Soto as long as he did, or being reluctant to throw Jake Fox onto the field at third base as soon as Ramirez went down. Those are decisions that were perfectly understandable and reasonable given the information at hand when the decision was made.

Lou is still the best manager the Cubs have had in my lifetime and he deserves a chance to erase this year's stinkfest with a season we can all cherish in 2010.

Coming next, hating the administration.


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