I talk to my mom on the phone every once in a while, but talking to my dad is a much rarer event. But we always talk on his birthday in February, and something he said to me in his birthday call this year stuck with me.
My dad’s a true Cardinals fan, and has been all his life. So deciding to become a Cubs fan at an early age was an act of rebellion on my part. But he passed his love for the game onto me, and to this day we may talk about very few things, but we’ll always be able to talk about baseball.
I told my dad, back in February, that it looked like the Cubs were ready to make their move. Joe Maddon was on board, and Miguel Montero, and perhaps even Jon Lester was in the fold by then. But I mentioned that the Cubs had signed Jason Motte, and my dad started to get angry. And the two words he said, over and over again, were “Not Motte!” I chuckled at his poetry attempt, but I wasn’t too concerned about the signing. The front office, as we hear time and again, knows what it’s doing.
But yesterday was the second time this month that my father has been proven correct. I wrote about the first time earlier in this space, making the case that if Motte couldn’t work on consecutive days–as was the case back on the Wednesday before the All-Star break against the Cardinals– he wasn’t what the Cubs needed to contend for a playoff spot.
And two weeks later Motte strikes again, by blowing a save to the Philadelphia Phillies (A/K/A the worst team in baseball, recordwise). Losing happens in baseball, but for a team that thinks they can hold off the Giants over the next ten weeks, losing to the Phillies at home simply cannot happen. And giving up a triple and a double to successive batters in the ninth inning is something that will bite you every time.
So I’m officially on the “Not Motte” bandwagon. The Cubs need a K-Rod or a Papelbon, who can come into the game with a one-run lead and get the final outs to preserve the win. It’s been a struggle for this front office, with Fujikawa and Veres being two rather large busts in the closer’s role. Kevin Gregg was serviceable, but he also wasn’t brought back for a second year in Chicago, either.
For all of the moves the Cubs have made this season, they need to address the closer situation to get to where they want to be, which is playing meaningful baseball into October. Let’s hope they can find one, and soon.