Make Sam The No. 5

  • Sunday July 27th – Wrigley Field
  • Game (105): Cubs 9 – Marlins 5
  • Record (61-44) – 1st place NL Central
  • 20-Games in 20-Days – (4-6)

The skinny: You have to figure Lou is going to find some more at-bats for Mike Fontenot in Milwaukee.

Since June 19th the little guy has gone (24-for-69) at the dish (.347avg.) including at least one extra base hit in his last 13 games.

Overall this season, Fontenot is batting (.284 avg.) with 8 HRs and 28 RBIs in 52 games off the bench and 34 starts.

Put those numbers next to Fukudome’s – (.277avg.), 7 HRs and 36 RBIs – and there’s a case to move DeRosa to right field and start Fontenot at second base.

And, given the lack of offense recently, I could part with Fukudome’s superior defensive skills in the outfield, at least temporarily.

Plus, with Edmonds’ ailing knee, Fukudome could make a few starts in centerfield as well.

Granted the Cubs have only scored one or fewer runs in three of Marquis’ last four starts, but he’s still (0-4) in his last four outings.

And while Marquis has put together a decent season, his overall record is just (6-6) with a 4.69 ERA.

So, when Woody return from the DL (Tuesday), I’d give some thoughts to replacing Marquis in the rotation with Jeff Samardzija.

Besides, Jeff has climbed through the minors as a starting pitcher anyway, going (4-1) with a 3.13 ERA in six starts at triple-A Iowa.

So, it’s not as if this would be a major adjustment for the Cubs’ newest member.

Meanwhile, I’d like to see Jim Hendry deal Marquis for some bullpen help with Samardzija becoming the No. 5 guy in the rotation.

But, a move of this sort won’t come easy.

First of all, Marquis is still under contract for one more season in Chicago, including being due the hefty sum of $9.87 million dollars owed to him in 2009.

Secondly, like a used car, we’re not talking about a high-performance pitcher here.

Still, Marquis’ right-arm can be of value to a few clubs in the post season chase, perhaps even Colorado – just 6 GB in the West.

For one thing, Marquis has been incredibly durable in his eight-year career making at least 32 starts with more than 190 innings pitched and 12 wins in the last four seasons alone.

Not to mention, every club he’s played for has made the post season and the guy can swing it too (Silver Slugger Award winner in 2005).

Yet, the key to such a deal is acquiring a quality bullpen arm, and that won’t come easy.

However, whether Marquis can be traded or not, I still stand firm that Hendry must improve the bullpen, and soon.

Contrary to the Cubs’ (48-4) record when leading after the seventh inning, just look back at the last week where three of these four losses occurred.

The Cubs have entered its seventh inning at-bat with a one-run lead in three of its last four games.

Furthermore, since the All Star break the club has begun the seventh inning either leading by one-run or trailing by one-run in five of its nine ballgames.

And chances are this trend will continue facing the likes of Sabathia and Sheets in Milwaukee.

Now, let’s go a step further. Chicago finishes the season playing 16 of 22 games on the road in what can be assumed to be a tight division race against Milwaukee and St. Louis.

And to this point, Chicago is (4-10-3) in its road series this season.

Mainly, the Cubs’ road woes lie with the team’s struggled to consistently score runs away from Wrigley, thus, we can expect many of these September contests to be close games.

So, the bullpen appears to be the key to winning the division crown.

Strengthening the pen is a MUST!

W – Gaudin (6-4) – Samardzija (1)

L – Hendrickson (7-6)

  • Notes: Chicago has been tied or has lead the NL Central race for the past 11 weeks.
  • In 18 home series the Cubs are (13-3-2).
  • And, in its last 10 series the club is (8-1-1).
  • Today’s win also even the club’s record in July to (11-11).
  • Tomorrow’s starting pitcher in Milwaukee, Ted Lilly, has won his last four road starts.
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