Cubs, Mets find different ways to be major disappointments

Updated: August 26, 2009

Al Bello/Getty Images

Milton Bradley drove home three runs Wednesday but still is hitting only .259.

The Cubs and Mets obviously have been disappointing this season, just in different ways. For the Mets, their disappointment has been a result of the injuries they've suffered. They have just been decimated all season. The Cubs have had some injuries, as well, but they've been healthy enough that they should have done better, shouldn't be trailing the Cardinals by nine games.

We haven't seen the Mets at full strength, but the Cubs, aside from missing Aramis Ramirez for a stretch, have been for the most part. It's unquestionably a disappointment that they have not performed better.

Their offense has struggled at times, and they have not had their big bats hitting at the same time this year. They brought in switch-hitter Milton Bradley to play right field and be a left-handed option in their lineup, but he's hitting roughly 100 points lower from the left side. And he has never settled in, as evidenced by his own comments Tuesday night. Alfonso Soriano also has been a huge disappointment this year, hitting only .240. So when you consider that Chicago has several All-Star caliber pieces on its roster who haven't approached their past successes, that's a major disappointment.

The Cubs' pitching actually has been pretty good. There have been some displays of young talent in the course of the season. Randy Wells has come up and pitched well for Chicago at times, and Kevin Hart did a nice job before the Cubs traded him. Still, it hasn't been quite enough to make up for their shortcomings.

They've had some issues at closer with Kevin Gregg and in the rotation with Carlos Zambrano, but that hasn't been a major factor in their overall lack of success. Sure, there was the Ramirez injury. When he came back, it was a bit of a spark, but the Cubs couldn't sustain it and continued along with their sluggish season.

The expectations were equally high for the Mets. They supposedly had solved their bullpen issues by bringing in Francisco Rodriguez and J.J. Putz. All the injuries derailed everything. And there were so many injuries -- one after another after another -- that people might look at it as a curse.

In some way, we probably have kind of expected things to go wrong with the Mets the past few years with all their problems at the end of the year in closing out the division. It's just different this year in that injuries were the culprit rather than disappointing on-field performances.

It's conceivable that there could be some offseason turnover in the leadership of both teams. The Mets organization maintains that Omar Minaya's job is safe, and I hope it is, but remember these are the same folks who said Willie Randolph was safe … until he wasn't. So you have to take anything that comes out of Flushing these days with a grain of salt. I do hope Minaya gets to show what the team he put together can do when the players are all healthy.

Cubs general manager Jim Hendry has to be feeling the heat, and manager Lou Piniella has said he understands it's been a disappointing season and the new ownership possibly could be considering a switch. We'll see. The Rockies had success with a managerial change recently, but I don't know that you'd get a similar result at Wrigley Field. These are two completely different clubs, and although it's been refreshing to see what Jim Tracy has done in Colorado, I don't know that it would translate to the Cubs, necessarily.

Past Baseball Tonight Clubhouses: Aug. 25 | Aug. 24 | Aug. 23 | Aug. 20 | Aug. 19

TOUCH 'EM ALL

Touch 'Em AllWho went deep? Keep track of all the home runs hit each day on "Baseball Tonight" and on the Baseball Tonight Clubhouse page.

For more, check out the Home Run Tracker page.

Home Run Tracker
NAME HR OPPSITUATION
Ryan Howard, PHI35DumatraitTop 10: 0-0, 1 Out. 2 on.
Prince Fielder, MIL34WellsBot 5: 0-0, 2 Outs. 1 on.
Chase Utley, PHI27MaholmTop 1: 0-1, 2 Outs. None on.
Andre Ethier, LAD27FoggTop 4: 3-2, 0 Outs. None on.
Andre Ethier, LAD26FoggTop 1: 3-1, 0 Outs. None on.
The complete list of Wednesday's homers

ON DECK: THURSDAY'S BEST MATCHUPS

Rangers at Yankees, 1:05 p.m. ET

A.J. Burnett has not pitched well lately, going 0-3 in his past five starts. He gave up nine runs in his most recent outing, which also set off rumors that there was a growing feud between him and catcher Jorge Posada over pitch selection. Burnett, though, is 2-0 this season against the Rangers.

White Sox at Red Sox 7:10 p.m. ET

Junichi Tazawa pitched six shutout innings against the Yankees his last time out. Of course, it presumably helped a bit that the Red Sox put up 14 runs. John Danks has fought his control all season; he's 10th in the AL in walks (57). He handed out six in his most recent start, matching his season high.

Dodgers at Rockies, 3:10 p.m. ET

The Dodgers finally slowed the Rockies down Wednesday, getting a win to push their lead over Colorado in the NL West back to three games. Vicente Padilla makes his first start with the Dodgers, and first since Aug. 5 when he was pitching for Texas against Oakland. Jorge De La Rosa has won his past three starts and is 10-1 since June 16, when he was roughed up for eight hits and seven runs in 2 1/3 innings against Tampa Bay.

For the rest of Thursday's schedule, click here.

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BBTN ON THE AIR: THURSDAY

TIME WHO'S ON?
10 p.m. ET
ESPN
Host: Steve Berthiaume
Analysts: Eric Young, Eduardo Perez, Buster Olney
12 a.m. ET
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Host: Steve Berthiaume
Analysts: Eric Young, Eduardo Perez, Buster Olney

BBTN MINUTE: PADILLA SET FOR BIG L.A. DEBUT

SIMON SAYS

Simon Says ESPN researcher Mark Simon digs deep, looking for the night's best baseball numbers.

Tonight, he takes a look at Ryan Howard, who bailed the Phillies out in the 10th inning after the bullpen blew the lead in the ninth. Howard clobbered a three-run shot in a 4-1, extra-innings win against Pittsburgh.

Most go-ahead HRs in 7th inning or later (2009)
Ryan Howard 5
Alex Rodriguez 5
Alfonso Soriano 4
Mark Reynolds 4

WEB GEMS

WEDNESDAY'S BEST AND WORST

BEST
Andre Ethier• The Dodgers needed a win to halt some of the Rockies' momentum. Andre Ethier made sure they got it, homering twice as part of his 3-for-4 day. Ethier drove home three runs in a 6-1 win that upped the Dodgers' lead in the NL West back to three games.
WORST
Jorge SosaJorge Sosa retired the first batter he faced after coming out of the bullpen against the Cubs. That was the last out he recorded. Sosa faced six more hitters, gave up four hits and issued two walks as the Cubs scored five times en route to a 9-4 win. Oh, and Sosa also uncorked a pair of wild pitches, too.

NUMBERS TO KNOW

Chris Carpenter Chris Carpenter continues to have an amazing year in 2009 after back-to-back injury-riddled seasons. The Cardinals right-hander has a league-leading 2.16 ERA and his 14 wins trails only CC Sabathia and teammate Adam Wainwright (both with 15).

He's 9-0 with a 1.92 ERA in his past 10 starts. One of the keys to his success has been his ability to get hitters to chase any type of pitch when it's thrown out of the strike zone, with the exception of his curveball, which he throws just 1.8 percent of the time:

Chris Carpenter
Chase pct. by pitch type
Carpenter MLB avg.
Fastballs 26.0 19.5
Curveballs 28.7 25.6
Sliders 41.0 31.2
All pitches 29.5 23.4

-- ESPN Stats & Information

FANTASY: PREVIEW OF THURSDAY'S GAMES

Fantasy AJ Mass examines the 12 games on Thursday's slate.

Mass ranks the pitchers scheduled to take the mound and supplies loads of other information that could help shape your roster for Thursday. Daily Notes