In the latest installment of Ask Paul, we answer your questions on whether Ryno should replace Lou, if Soriano and Zambrano can be dealt, where to bat D- Lee and Ramirez and just how tough is it to be a Cubs fan:
Isn't all of this monkeying around supposed to be resolved at Spring Training, or am I dreaming and actually the Cubs are still in Spring training? Bill Burlein, Lisle, Ill.
Angel Guzman was lost for the season in early March, they should've made an adjustment right then instead of trusting Esmailin Caridad for the set-up role and then having to force-fit Carlos Zambrano into a role he still hasn't figured out yet. If you mean Ryan Theriot playing second, yes, he should have had some games there, but it hasn't really affected him much, defensively.
Paul, since it is obvious that Ryne Sandberg will be Cubs manager someday, why not shake the club up and make that move now? Lou is a great guy but it seems that he is lost as to what to try, and while it seems unfair to blame him when his best hitters don't hit, maybe such a move will light a fire under the team. Also, I get Lou's position on bunting but one or two more runs during this period might have improved their record. Bill Stephenson, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
It's not really as obvious as everyone seems to believe, this Ryne Sandberg succeeding Lou Piniella theory. No one knows what Jim Hendry's thinking on this is, but I do know it would be quite a shock if Hendry was to let Piniella go during the season, as Ken Rosenthal suggests today on Foxports.com. Hendry is not the kind of GM who has an itchy trigger finger on the manager's job, and recall he let Dusty Baker manage to the end of his contract in 2006. This team certainly isn't as bad as the '06 Cubs, at least not yet.
Paul, do people realize that the Cubs have lost one of their great weapons? The ability to bring in Carlos Marmol in the seventh, eighth and ninth and possibly sixth to stop a rally? They can't get the game to him as it stands but they seem to lose the game in the seventh and eighth innings. A closer is more like a starter: You start the inning with no one on and no one out. Paul Mattes, Fish Creek Wis.
I'm pretty sure everyone realizes the value of having someone like Marmol in the seventh and eighth, especially now that they don't have a guy like him in that spot. That doesn't mean he's irreplaceable. Someone should be able to step up and set up for Marmol. If Zambrano can't do it, give someone else a shot.
Lou has no real options or alternatives to Lee and Ramirez: They either start hitting or we're stuck with a giant hole in the most vital part of the lineup. I don't think you shake up the lineup when other players are hitting very well in their current slots. I certainly don't think you move Soriano up and mess with the groove he's in. I just don't see a way out of this and it has me pessimistic. Do you have any bright ideas? There just seems to be no reason why this team with this talent shouldn't lead the league in runs. Paul, Logan Square, Chicago
I think you leave Lee in the No. 3 hole where he's thrived most of his Cubs career, mostly because he came out of it at this time last year and seems to be coming out of it, slowly but surely. I'd personally move Soriano up to No. 5 and Ramirez down to No. 6, at least until he comes out of his slump for an extended period. Piniella told the media yesterday "Don't let names fool you. Production wins." Yet "name" players struggle in high-production spots in the lineup while others who are hitting well bat seventh or eighth.
Paul, the Cubs have four or five players that are hitting over .300 but they scatter them throughout the lineup. Why not bat them together? This would require moving Lee and Ramirez to the six and seven, but positioned as they are right now, they're rally killers. Do you think Piniella would ever consider something this radical? Jim Klus, Durand, Il.
No, not lower than sixth, and obviously that's a stretch, too.
Hi, Paul, since Big Z loves to show up his teammates on the field when they make an error while he is pitching, why don't they all do the same to him every time he gives up a HR? They should just all raise their arms in disbelief and ask what the heck he is doing! Jeff B, Hoffman Estates, Ill.
Or perhaps they should just swing their jerseys in the air, Petey Pablo-style, as Dancin' Z allegedly does at the Y Bar.
Hey, Paul, despite Soriano's recent hot streak, I expect that contract to hurt the Cubs more each year he gets older. If he keeps producing in the first half, do you think there would be a market for him by the deadline? Are there just too many years and dollars left on his deal? Brad Hem, Houston
Too many years and too many dollars, and too many defensive lapses for a National League team to want him, and too few AL teams that can pick up such a hefty contract. And, oh, he also has a no-trade. That's quite a few large obstacles, and there are probably a few more I could think of if I had more time.
Paul, what do you honestly think the chances are that someone will take Big Z off our hands? David Windbiel, Lake Lure, NC
Big Zero to one percent. Again, big contract, big dollars, few teams that can afford him and that ubiquitous no-trade clause that gives him the hammer.
I've been trying to think how long it's been since we had as hopeless a season as the one we will be enduring this year. It's been a while...nice to be spoiled with meaningful September games. I'm afraid we've seen all the meaningful games this year. I'm not even sure there's a question in there, it's just tough being a Cub fan sometimes. Bill B, Portland Ore.
It actually hasn't been that long-- just four years ago, in 2006, they finished with the worst record in the National League. Being a Cub fans is not so tough. Try being a Maple Leafs fan, or a Clippers fan, or a Lions fan. Everything's relative.
I'm not really intending to call you out or anything, but I just thought I ought to let you know in case you didn't just misspeak that you were paraphrasing William Tecumseh Sherman, not LBJ. Sherman said, "I will not accept if nominated and will not serve if elected." What LBJ said was, "I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your president." Sherman's is the statement to which yours bears the greatest resemblance. Nick Moorhead, Bloomington, Ind.
Thanks, Nick, but both Sherman and LBJ basically said they would not be drafted into doing something they didn't want to do, so the answer remains the same no matter who I was accidentally paraphrasing.
Paul, I don't understand why the Cubs brought up Starlin Castro. Theriot and Fontenot were both hitting above .300. The problem with the offense is Lee and Ramirez. Benching Fontenot for a kid who doesn't know how to play defense at a major league level doesn't make sense, unless they are going to trade Fontenot, and want to see if Castro is really ready for the big leagues. Why do you think they called up Castro? Art, Evanston, Ill.
They said it was for his defense, though Castro had a terrible start with five errors in four games. But he seems to have settled down and I don't think it's fair to say he can't play defense. They brought him up to try and be a better team, though they are 3-6 since the call-up.
Paul, if the Cubs beat writers played drinking games, taking a shot each time
Lou precedes an answer by using the word "look," would anyone ever be sober? Brian Johnson, Cleveland
Answer: Fortunately, the Cubs' beat writers don't play drinking games, and no one really minds when Lou say "look" to precede a thought. It's only when he says "Sir," to precede a thought that our ears perk up. Thanks for all the relevant questions, which the possible exception of this last one.
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