I’m not going to say I remember every decision the Chicago Cubs have made in the last 25 years. I’m not even going to say I remember most of them.
But I don’t have to remember most of them to know that the decision to start left-handed reliever James Russell for the *FOURTH* time tonight is the single most unexplainable, inexcusable, mind-bogglingly terrible decision the organization has made in the last 25 years. And I think I’m being generous by limiting it to 25 years.
- A taste of Russell’s numbers: in his three starts, he’s gone just 9.2 innings, he’s allowed 23(!) baserunners, and has an 11.17(!!) ERA. Right-handed batters this year, have a .409/.469/.773 line against him. That’s right – ALL right-handers this year against James Russell have made Albert Pujols look like a crappy softball player. This is the pitcher the Cubs have elected to start *FOUR* times.
- Casey Coleman, the other fill-in starter (who’s actually, you know, a starter), hasn’t fared much better: in his 18.1 innings, he’s allowed 36(!) baserunners, and has a 7.36 ERA.
- Given that we didn’t hear a word about the re-evaluations of Randy Wells and Andrew Cashner last week, I can only suspect that they aren’t exactly coming back in a week or two. If that’s true, it’s worth monitoring the progress of Doug Davis (who threw five innings in a rookie ball game this weekend) and Todd Wellemeyer, who is finally over the hip ailment that’s kept him in extended Spring Training. For both, it’s a matter of building arm strength so that they can go more than a few innings (insert joke about James Russell’s average start length).
- I think each of us has a few lasting images when we think of 9/11. Most images are tragic; almost too troubling to allow ourselves to remember. But, for me – and probably many of you – the image that has stuck best is something that didn’t happen on September 11, 2001. It happened 16 days later, nine days after Major League Baseball resumed play, and in the first game at Wrigley Field since the attacks: Sammy Sosa sprinted out to the bleachers in right field to open the game, as he did every game, this time carrying in his right hand an American flag. For good measure, he carried a flag around the bases with him when he homered later in the game. As you know by now, Osama bin Laden is dead. I would have preferred that we captured him, dumped him in a dingy cell, where he could live out the rest of his days, miserable and marginalized. But he is dead, and I can say with confidence that the world is a better place for it.