Sunday, June 14, 2009

A new goat for the Cubs

I was at my nephew's little league game all afternoon, and missed the Cubs' bottom-9th walk-off win, and Mark Buerhle's first career homer as the White Sox beat Milwaukee. I also missed Cubs hitting coach Gerald Perry getting fired (was told about that later this evening by brother-in-law Saul as we sliced into ribeyes fresh off the grill).

Perry's the latest goat--a scapegoat in this case--for the Cubs, who are packed with talented players, but just aren't winning enough, and especially aren't hitting enough. This all has a lot to do with individual hitters pressing at the plate for various reasons (last year's play-off failure, overall expectations), the line-up being made up of odd-fitting pieces (partly because of injury, poartly because of lame free agent signings), and almost nothing to do with Perry. Last year, the Cubs led the league in walks and runs scored, and Perry's philosophy seemed to be just right. This year everyone's over-swinging, the Cubs aren't walking as much and aren't scoring as much, but is it because Perry completely changed his approach?

Hopefully, this move will at least wake up a few hitters, or create better instant karma, as Lou Piniella might put it. The Cubs hired Von Joshua to replace Perry, which is notable on the eve of the eve of the Crosstown Classic (yes, I still call it that) because Joshua was the Sox hitting coach from 1998-2001. The Sox finished in 1st place in 2000, though their bats were famously silent in the postseason against the Seattle Mariners (then managed by Sweet Lou). The finished in second place in both 1998 and 1999, but with losing records both years. Joshua did oversee Albert Belle as he collected big numbers, so he may know something about managing emotionally-unstable and/or strange beings, which will help him with Milton Bradley and Alfonso Soriano.

Anyway, I'm not surprised about Perry getting fired, as poorly as the Cubs have been hitting, but I don't think he's the problem. By the way, for everything going wrong, the Cubs are only 2.5 games out of 1st place with a long way left to go.

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