The year in Cubs quotes: 'We stinks'

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The year in Cubs quotes: 'We stinks'

Everyone showed up at spring training in great shape, brimming with confidence and enjoying the Arizona sunshine. The Cubs were banking on a carryover effect from their strong finish to the 2010 season. What could possibly go wrong?

Some seven months later, Jim Hendry spends his time on golf courses, while Mike Quade is ready to go fishing, waiting for the next general manager to decide his fate.

No one would admit that they saw a 71-91 season coming. Heres how they watched it all unfold.
We fully expect to be in contention in the National League Central. (I) dont have any doubt we can do that. Hendry on the first day of camp, Feb. 13.

I want to talk about the good team that we have. I want to focus on this year and be a better player, a better pitcher. Thats what everybodys looking forward to. Carlos Zambrano, Feb. 14.

You have to understand how supplements work. They dont make you Superman. Steroids make you Superman. Marlon Byrd responding to his relationship with BALCO founder Victor Conte, detailed again on HBOs Real Sports, Feb. 16.
Im cured. I got approval from the psychologist that I can be by myself. Zambrano, Feb. 22.

Even in Little League I never got involved with a teammate like that. Im not a troublemaker. Put it that way. Aramis Ramirez on his dugout altercation with Carlos Silva, after the first inning of the fourth spring-training game, March 2.

No storybook ending, but I dont believe in those things anyway. Quade after an Opening Day loss to the Pirates, April 1.

Were going to see what were made of. Randy Wells after the Cubs announce Wells and Andrew Cashner will be going on the disabled list, April 6.

Believe me, the last thing that I want to do this year is disrespect the manager. Zambrano after storming off the mound before Quade could get there to take the ball from him, April 13.
I cant win. Hendry, knowing the media would run wild with speculation after he hugged Albert Pujols, May 10.

That was embarrassing and that (expletive) got to stop. Quade, minutes after holding a closed-door meeting with his team following a loss in Cincinnati, May 16.

If we havent reached rock bottom with this, were pretty damn close. Quade after another loss to the Reds, May 17.

It was good to kind of blow some steam off and have some fun and watch that guy run around naked. Koyie Hill after a streaker ran onto the field during a win in Miami, May 18.

Im blessed. Byrd, thankful that the fastball that smashed into his face the night before at Fenway Park didnt leave any permanent damage, May 22.

Whatever heat comes, bring it on. Quade, June 3.

We played like a Triple-A team. This is embarrassing. Embarrassing for the team, for the owners, embarrassing for the fans. Embarrassing. Thats the word here for this team. We should know better than this. We should know that Ryan Theriot is not a a good fastball hitter. We stinks. Zambrano after Carlos Marmol blew the save in a 3-2 loss to the Cardinals, June 5.

(Bleep) the goat. Message on the back of T-shirts, June 14. (At least one player who regularly wore the shirt had no idea what the curse was all about, or how long it had been since the Cubs won the World Series.)

I have 100 percent confidence in Jim. Tom Ricketts, a little more than a month before the chairman fired Hendry, June 15.
Ive never bought into the (idea that) I should have a baseball guy to watch my baseball guy and his baseball guys. And then what do you get? A baseball guy to watch the baseball guy whos watching your baseball guy? Ricketts, defending team president Crane Kenney, June 15.

Sometimes the doctor is talking to you like when your wife is talking to you, youre like, Yeahyeahyeah but your mind is elsewhere. Zambrano, unable to explain the details of a back injury that landed him on the disabled list, July 1.

Hes better than me. Hall of Famer Ernie Banks after Starlin Castro was named to the All-Star team, July 3.

Were right where we need to be. Matt Garza after a comeback win in Washington left the Cubs 17 games under .500, July 7.

I was just mad because of my sore back I didnt get a tee time at Oakmont. Ryan Dempster, trying to brush off the shouting match he got into with Quade after the manager pulled him from the game, July 9.

When daddy tells you to do something, you do it. Hes the manager. You dont have to like it, but thats the decision. Hill, smoothing over the Dempster-Quade dugout argument in Pittsburgh, July 9.

Newsflash: Sometimes guys need a day here and there. Kerry Wood, insisting nothings wrong with him physically, July 24.

Im not a lunatic. Quade, believing his team can get back in the playoff race, even though they were 18 games under .500, July 26.

Change. Change. Change. A lot of change, a lot of changes to win. Zambrano, refusing to explain the changes he said he wants to see around this team, July 27.
Nobody has come forward to me from the team and said: We want to trade you. Jim hasnt talked to me about it. Whats the other guy? Kenney? Or the Ricketts nobody has talked to me about (this). Its only in the media. Its speculation that this team wants Ramirez. Ramirez during one of his many State of Ramirez updates, July 28.

(Its not like) if you didnt get something done by 3 p.m. today, this is a disaster. I dont put too much stock into that. The guys we kept for the most part are guys that still have a chance to be involved next year. Hendry, hours after the trade deadline, and nine days after Ricketts told him hed be fired, July 31.

Its going to be one of three things: Either Ronnie batting, Ronnie fielding or Ronnie with his hairpiece on fire. WGN Radios Pat Hughes before the unveiling of Ron Santos statue, Aug. 10.

His lockers empty. I dont know where hes at. He walked out on 24 guys that are battling their ass off for him. I dont know where hes gone, what hes doing. I heard he might retire. Quade on Zambrano after his meltdown in Atlanta, Aug. 12.
We will respect his wishes and honor them and move forward. Hendry on Zambrano, Aug. 12.

Hes a big man, but I think mentally hes weak. Alfonso Soriano on Zambrano, Aug. 13.
You cant fight change. Its big business. Were here to win games and the last couple years we didnt win enough of them. Hendry, at the news conference announcing his firing, Aug. 19.

The sabermetric stuff is important. But its just a piece and were not running the baseball organization by a computer model. Ricketts, Aug. 19.

You cant release 25 guys. Somebody had to pay the price. Ramirez, Aug. 19.

You want somebody else? Marmol, laughing off speculation that there could be a new closer next season, Sept. 5.
This organization has an extreme desire to actually bring a championship here. As far as it may look at times, I see it coming. Carlos Pena, eternal optimist, Sept. 7.

Im not going to wax nostalgic. I plan to be back. And I plan to do a good job next year. Quade, stubborn optimist, before the seasons final home game, Sept. 21.

You can bring here whoever you think the best manager in the big leagues is I dont think its going to be any different. The bottom line is as players we didnt get it done. Ramirez, Sept. 27.

Patrick Mooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. Follow Patrick on Twitter @CSNMooney for up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

As Cubs search for answers, Scott Boras doesn’t believe Jake Arrieta is feeling the pressure of free agency

As Cubs search for answers, Scott Boras doesn’t believe Jake Arrieta is feeling the pressure of free agency

LOS ANGELES – It’s harder to find perspective when the lights are flashing all around Dodger Stadium and the techno music is thumping and Adrian Gonzalez just launched a two-run homer 429 feet to straightaway center. 

But that’s why Jake Arrieta pays Scott Boras. The super-agent sat in a front-row seat behind home plate on Friday night, watching his client go through another up-and-down start for a Cubs team that needs Arrieta to pitch more like an ace.

It’s easy to lose sight of this during a 4-0 loss where the Dodgers looked more like the team on a mission after getting eliminated from last year’s National League Championship Series.

But Arrieta is someone who has already experienced the low points that made him think about quitting baseball as he shuttled back and forth between the Orioles and Triple-A – and the intoxicating high from ending the 108-year drought and creating so much joy for generations of Cubs fans.

So Boras isn’t buying the idea that Arrieta might be feeling the weight of his upcoming free agency.

“Coming from Baltimore to here and establishing himself in the big leagues was the major arc of his career,” Boras said, “the most difficult moment of illustrating that he is an everyday major-leaguer. The fact that he has the skills, and what he has up here (in his head), the dynamic of winning two World Series games and things like that, I’d say he’s (been) measured. When you win World Series games, that’s the most important thing.

“If you want me to measure pressure, I’d say that’s World Series cojones.”

To get back into October, the Cubs will need more consistency from Arrieta (5-4, 4.92 ERA), who’s still fine-tuning his delivery and not always getting that extra burst of velocity that made him a Cy Young Award winner and unhittable one night at Dodger Stadium.

Two aging Dodgers crushed Arrieta fastballs. Chase Utley – who began the game hitting .204 – drove one over the center-field wall in the third inning. Gonzalez had gone 131 plate appearances this season before notching his first home run with two outs in the sixth inning.

“I understand how difficult this game is,” Arrieta said. “It’s a work in progress. I’m still not exactly where I would like to be. But it’s close. It really is.”

Even as Arrieta worked through command/mechanical issues last season, he still wound up winning 18 games and limiting opponents to a .583 OPS that ranked second in the majors. It took until the middle of last August before he gave up his 10th home run, or where he’s already at through 10 starts this season. 

[MORE CUBS: The ‘friendly rivalry’ between Theo Epstein and Andrew Friedman with Cubs, Dodgers becoming NL superpowers]

“The one that Utley hit out was on the corner – that’s a good piece of hitting,” Arrieta said. “The one to Gonzalez was too much plate in a 3-1 count. It was elevated. Willson (Contreras) called a changeup. I shook to the fastball. I expected to locate a little bit better than I did. But I feel like if I continue on this progression, I think I’ll be OK.

“I don’t intend to continue to give up as much hard contact, especially balls over the fence. It’s been a little bit of tough luck, but they just flat out beat us.”

There’s some truth to that – Arrieta continued to pile up the strikeouts (nine) and limit the walks (one) – while Dodger lefty Alex Wood extended his scoreless streak to 25.1 innings before handing the game over to a dominant bullpen. But whether it’s an underperforming offense, a defense not playing at the same historic level or those velocity questions, Arrieta doesn’t appear to have the same margin for error anymore.

All those elements could come roaring back, but the Cubs are now a 25-22 team that could be looking to replace 60 percent of the rotation by Opening Day 2018.

“You don’t really think about (it),” Boras said. “When the Cubs come to town, I look at the standings: OK, where are they at? They’re trying to win again. This club’s a good club and you think about what moves they’re going to make to make it better.

“Jake’s total focus has always been about putting himself in a position that few players get to be in – and that is being on a club where you can win more.”

Whatever happens over the next several months, this will be the reservoir of confidence Arrieta draws from, and ultimately his legacy as a Cub.

“When the postseason hits, it’s Jake’s greatest measurement,” Boras said. “I don’t know, I heard winning a World Series in Chicago was difficult.”

Cubs: Is Joe Maddon turning Kyle Schwarber into a platoon player?

Cubs: Is Joe Maddon turning Kyle Schwarber into a platoon player?

LOS ANGELES – Joe Maddon doesn’t want to put the platoon label on a young hitter who became a World Series legend before his 24th birthday. But the Cubs manager also isn’t planning to start Kyle Schwarber against left-handers anytime soon. 

“If people want to say that, I can’t avoid it,” Maddon said Friday at Dodger Stadium, where Schwarber sat against lefty Alex Wood, who took a 20.1-inning scoreless streak into this National League Championship Series rematch. “I’m going to do that until I feel good about him, because I don’t want to lay too many at-bats on him in a negative situation.

“If he’s not swinging the bat well against righties, it’s a bad assumption that I’m going to think he’s going to swing it well against lefties. Then I’m just putting him in a deeper hole by throwing him out there, just based on really bad logic.

“I’m just trying to pick his spots right now to get him going. Once he goes, he can play against anybody.”

[MORE CUBS: The 'friendly rivalry' between Theo Epstein and Andrew Friedman]

Schwarber – who’s hitting .181 with a .656 OPS and 55 strikeouts in less than 200 plate appearances this season – will start Saturday against Dodger right-hander Brandon McCarthy. But even with Clayton Kershaw looming on Sunday, Maddon didn’t want to give Schwarber the entire weekend off, the way Jason Heyward mentally reset last August at Coors Field.

“I don’t think it’s there yet,” Maddon said. “I’ve had good conversations with him. I think it’s a different set of circumstances.”

For the Cubs, this doesn’t really change their overall evaluation of Schwarber as a core player and potentially one of the most dangerous left-handed sluggers in the game. But Maddon has been backing away from the idea of Schwarber as a leadoff hitter, trying to reboot the player who had been such an intimidating postseason presence.

“My concern when the guy is struggling a little bit is you don’t want him to get him too many at-bats,” Maddon said. “It’s really hard to get yourself out of that mental, physical and numerical hole. By not getting him as many at-bats, it will be easy to get back to a number he’s more comfortable with.

“I don’t care about that – I really don’t. I’m looking at his past, process, what he’s doing for the team in regards to on-base, everything else. But for the guy himself, he looks up at the scoreboard and he sees numbers everywhere and they evaluate themselves based on numbers.

“I don’t want him to do that. I just want him to get back into the process of having good at-bats.”