Monday, June 29, 2009

Oops, I Did It Again

No, I didn't go to a Britney Spears concert. Worse: I listened to sports talk radio.

Specifically, the program was "Cubs Postgame" on WGN 720 AM on Sunday evening. The hosts (I never got their names--in the 15 minutes I listened, they never gave them, and I couldn't find them after a cursory Internet search) were lamenting the Cubs 6-0 loss to the White Sox and the fact that the arch-rival Cardinals had just acquired former Cub Mark DeRosa in a trade.

The general consensus was that the Cubs are worse this season because they let DeRosa leave via free agency. A caller into the show described what DeRosa brought to the Cubs, namely "chemistry and gel."

Cubs clubhouse, 2008 season

The Cubs are getting ready for a big 3-game series against the Milwaukee Brewers. Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez are standing in front of their lockers.

Lee: I'm nervous, A-Ram. We need these games. I'm not sure I'm ready.
Ramirez: I told you to stop calling me A-Ram. And what do you mean that you're not ready? You won a world series in 2003--how can you not be ready?
Lee: I dunno--something's...missing.
DeRosa (coming into the locker room holding two boiling flasks): Guys! Guys!! Look what I came up with in my chemistry lab!
Ramirez: Looks a little strange to me.
DeRosa: It's "Win Sauce!" Four parts hydrochloric acid, three parts ammonia, one part Jeter sweat. Drink up!
Lee: Seriously?
DeRosa: Yeah! You want to win, don't you?
Lee and Ramirez (in unison): Uh-huh...
DeRosa: Then here you go. (Hands each a flask)
Lee (drinks): Pungent!
Ramirez: This tastes like iguana piss.
Lee: How do you know what iguana piss tastes like?
Ramirez: I'm just sayin'.
DeRosa: You know what else it tastes like? A Championship.
Lee & Ramirez (in unison): Let's go win one for Chicago!
DeRosa: Guys, you need any hair gel? I let Kerry Wood use some and he said his hair never looked better.
Ramirez: Dude, I'm bald.
Lee: Look at my head--I don't think you've thought this all the way through.
DeRosa: Oh.
Flourish. Exeunt. Curtain.

I think the Cubs miss DeRosa's 2008 line of .285/.376/.481 and his ability to play multiple positions much more than his "chemistry and gel." DeRosa has been a little worse with the Indians this year (.270/.342/.457), but he'd be one of the Cubs leading hitters right now. And with Aramis Ramirez missing the last two months with a separated shoulder, DeRosa could have filled in at third base every day and at least kept some stability there.

But could DeRosa have used his "chemistry" to help Geovany Soto's avoid his sophomore slump (.223/.330/.373)? Could DeRosa "gel" Milton Bradley to improve on his .232/.349/.367 line? Or help Kosuke Fukudome avoid his .177/.278/.253 June? And don't forget Alfonso Soriano's .232/.296/.427 line from the leadoff spot--if DeRosa was still a Cub, would Soriano magically be hitting better?

Yes, the Cubs would be better overall with DeRosa, but just a little bit so. The biggest problem is that the Cubs have just not hit well. The injury to Ramirez didn't help, either. However, with the exception of Derrek Lee and maybe Ryan Theriot, almost all of the Cubs have been much worse offensively compared to 2008. The pitching has been fine for the most part (3.96 team ERA this season vs. 3.87 last year)--the problem is the lack of hitting.

The Cubs don't need "chemistry and gel;" they need another good bat or two in the lineup. And maybe a round of Win Sauce for everyone.

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