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Hello everyone, 2ON2OUT is back from vacation, and don’t think I was slacking. No, I was busy taking in a game at historic Grayson Stadium. This week to get back in the swing of things and to mirror my feelings about the Cubs current 3–8 stretch, we’ll play Minus/Plus short and quick, straight to the players.

Minus (-) Plus (+)

Minus (-) to: The bullpen. Throw some strikes. Piniella’s facial reactions when you guys walk in a run says it all. You’re screwing up good starts. Wuertz? You only have one plus pitch. Use it; a steady diet of sliders is fine for one inning. Hart? You disappoint me; stay in AAA. Wood? Most of us around here don’t want to hear one more word about your 20 strikeout game or how many times you’ve been on the DL. In order for that to happen you have to pitch us some new memories. You could do that in the closers role, so lets close a few, cool?

Minus (-) to: Jason Marquis. Jason, I really don’t like watching you pitch. Offenses are hitting .321 against you. That sucks. In fact, it’s fifth worst in the NL. The Seans are going to take your spot and I hope it’s soon. Big Lefty Sean Marshall is being stretched out and they are skipping your turn in the rotation against Arizona this weekend. It’s the beginning of the end buddy. Ah, did you notice they called up hard-throwing rookie Sean Gallagher? Hendry says, “Gallagher is going to be a starter later, so we have some depth there.” Not later, sooner.

Minus (-) to: Piniella. Lou, listen: you’re my favorite manager in all aspects of the game. Why doesn’t this translate to your dealings with Soriano? I know you want him to be comfortable and I realize what he did in August and September last year, but he’s limping around the outfield and he still swings at sliders 4 feet out of the zone. Bat him fifth or sixth and be done with it.

Plus (+) to: Piniella. Thank you for not letting Rich Hill work out his release point/psychological problems at the major league level. Hill has been the biggest disappointment of the year, and I agree, he’ll get it worked out in AAA (where issues like these should be worked out) and bounce back for a good 2008 yet. Thank you for having little to no patience for piss poor pitching out of the bullpen. I love that you make all of our pitchers throw strikes or find a way to ship them to Iowa or skip them in the rotation. It’s not your fault Marquis has a three year contact. By the way, good management telling Hendry to send our top scout to look at Scott Eyre “a little more closely” in AA while he rehabs. Did you tell Hendry to say what he said in the papers today about making sure he’s “really good” before he comes back. Smart move. Did you tell your scout that if he’s still throwing 88 MPH meatballs to lefty that he can stay down in Tennessee? You did? Thanks Lou. You’re my fave.

Plus (+) to: Marmol. Low pressure situations, high pressure situations, it doesn’t matter. He performs. Should he close now? I’m starting to think so. I don’t care if Wood can’t pitch more than an inning, that’s why we have 12 (maybe soon to be 13) pitchers on the staff. Give the ball to the kid in the ninth, he’s amazing.

Plus (+) to: Soto. This kid is making me look good. Best catcher in a long time, both offensively (.448 OBP, 24 RBI in 29 G) and defensively (thrown out 40 percent of baserunners).

Now, lets get back on track and take the next two from the Red legs. The fact is, they are at the bottom of the division and you have to win those games. We host the best team in the NL this weekend, so time to end the slump.