After going on a $300 million spree during the Winter, the Chicago Cubs were expected to be a top the National League Central. Instead, they are in third place at 23-31 and losers of seven out of their last ten games.
Clearly, manager Lou Piniella had seen enough and was ready to blow a gasket when he threw a temper tantrum during Saturday's game against the Braves. His fit was directed at third base umpire Mark Wegner who was the unfortunate victim of Piniella's disrespectful tirade. Once again, sweet Lou embarrassed himself on a national stage and earned himself an indefinite suspension from MLB.
If you thought that his fight with the umpire was the worst incident that could happen to a woeful Cubs' team, then you didn't see the exchange of punches between starting pitching Carlos Zambrano and batterymate Michael Barrett.
After another poor pitching performance Chicago's ace took out his frustrations on his teammate in the dugout and the locker room. He instigated a scuffle that landed Barrett with a busted lip and both players with an undisclosed fine. Instead of working out their differences like men, both guys acted like children and set a deplorable example for any youngster watching at home.
Unfortunately, constant fighting between players and management will not translate to a winning product on the field. The front office spent over $300 million on players like Soriano, De Rosa, Lily and Marquis, but have ended up with a team that is reminiscent to the one that finished an NL worst 66-96 last season.
Even though both Chicago teams are under performing, the north siders have no excuse because they play in a weak division. At least the White Sox are forced to compete with teams like the Twins, Tiger and Indians on a night to night basis. Can someone tell me what the excuse is for the Cubs?
Despite Zambrano's inflated 5.62 E.R.A., the other four starters all have earned runs averages of under 3.52. Marshall, Marquis and Hill all have theirs at 2.93 or lower. One of the main problems has been the poor start by the bullpen and the inconsistent production by the offense. To make matters worse, the team is 2-12 in one-run games.
If things don't begin to turn around in a hurry, sweet Lou might be singing the blues right out of the windy city.