Thursday, April 24, 2008

Cubs improve to 15-6, but with no help from Lou

I guess if your team is as good as the Cubs have been playing, you really don't need to pay attention to the in-game moves you make as a manager. At least, that must've been what Lou Piniella was thinking.

All of you know that I've had very little issues with the way Piniella has managed the ballclub, but his decisions in Wednesday's extra inning win over the Rockies brought me back to the days of Dusty Baker managing the Cubs. No, actually, even Dusty wasn't this bad...

Down by a run in the ninth inning, Derrek Lee stroked his fourth hit of the game: a one-out single into right field. But, the most shocking thing was when Pie popped out of the dugout and ran for Lee. Granted, Lee left several of the recent blowouts early because he was battling a sore neck, but taking the best player out of the game in a one-run game in the ninth is absolutely absurd, unless he physically was unable to continue playing. That wasn't the case; there was no mention of a Lee injury after the game.

Never mind the fact that Lee runs well (which he does). Never mind the fact that there was a strong possibility that the game would go into extra innings (which it did). Never mind the fact that there was a strong possibility that Lee's spot in the lineup would come up again (which it did). We needed to keep Derrek's glove on the field. Mark DeRosa played first base for the final two innings of the ballgame and played it well, but some of the incredible plays that Lee has already made earlier in the season were plays that swung games. We shouldn't have taken that risk.

Then, in the tenth inning, after Theriot singled home what would be the go-ahead run, Jason Marquis was summoned to pinch run for Daryle Ward at second base. Now, you might ask "What was wrong with that?", but the issue was that Ward was allowed to run for himself at first base after he was intentionally walked. I had theorized that perhaps Marquis, who was the next day's starter, was already back at the team hotel. That's standard practice for many teams, especially with a day game following a night game. But, that wasn't the case. Simply, Piniella waited to make a move that he was going to make anyway.

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