THE CASE FOR LARRY ROTHSCHILD

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By George Ofman

There is a hue and cry around Clark and Addison these days and it has nothing to do with wanting more rum at Captain Morgan’s. Many displeased Cubs fans want Lou Piniella to take a hike. They also want to sleep with the enemy. They desperately want to embrace the men who have had far more success several hundred miles south than those who have commanded their franchise for low these many eons.

They want Tony Larussa and his band of not so merry men. Yes, they want him even after the Cardinals were stunningly swept out of the playoffs by the Dodgers just the way their Cubs were the year before. Larussa may wind up staying put.  His pitching coach may have other ideas. Dave Duncan has been inexorably tied to Larussa like the far right is to Rush Limbaugh.

He’s been Larussa’s pitching coach since 1983 when they guided the White Sox to the playoffs. That’s 27 years though the count could end. Duncan is clearly miffed the Cardinals traded his son Chris to the Red Sox. Let’s assume Larussa stays and Duncan doesn’t. Should the Cubs go after him? He is considered one of the best in the business. The other question you must ask is; should the Cubs dump Larry Rothschild? I’ll ask this question; why would you want to fire Rothschild?cubs0814

Yes, he’s been a whipping boy of sorts particularly when he had his ailing pitchers whip a towel to get their act together. The infamous “towel drill” drew derision from skeptical fans and media alike. But take a closer look at Rothschild’s track record and you might determine he’s pretty good at what he does.

The Cubs pitching staff finished 5th in ERA in the majors for the second straight season. The fact they won 14 fewer games than last season is clearly based on their lack of hitting. They also had 93 quality starts, 2nd in the National League. Matter of fact, since Rothchild became the Cubs pitching coach in 2002, his staff has finished in the top 5 in ERA 5 times in 8 years! Duncan’s Cardinals have finished in the top 5 three times during that same span.

This doesn’t mean Rothschild is a better pitching coach. It doesn’t mean he’s worse, either. You could fault him for the antics displayed by Carlos Zambrano. Maybe Duncan could do a better job. Maybe a shrink could but you’d have to pay him overtime.
The last I looked, Ted Lilly and Ryan Dempster’s numbers have improved dramatically. Lilly is 18 games over with an ERA of 3.7 since joining the Cubs. Prior to that he was one game over with an ERA of 4.6
Dempster went from Cubs closer to starter and over the past 2 seasons is 28 and 15 with an ERA of 3.3. During his years as a starter with and Marlins and Reds, Dempster went 50 and 55 with a rather hefty ERA of 5.01. Does Larry Rothschild get credit for this?
Does Rothchild deserve blame after Mark  (made of glass) Prior physically and mentally disintegrated?

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Does Rothschild deserve blame because Kerry Wood embraced the disabled list the way an alcoholic craved his next drink?
Maybe we should give Rothschild credit for resurrecting Wood into a pretty good closer in 2008. Maybe, just maybe, Rothschild is one of the Cubs most valuable assets. Pitching staffs don’t finish in the top in ERA 5 of 8 years through slight of arm.
Maybe, just maybe, The Cubs need a better bullpen and a manager who uses it wisely.

Maybe just maybe, the Cubs are better off leaving Rothschild right where he is. They have far greater issues to deal with.

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Comments

  1. paulmbanks says

    as you pointed out, a lot of people wanted to ride him out of town in 04 with the injuries to wood and prior..but now that he helped turned things around, where’s the credit? cogent pts. very good debut George

  2. Calls for Rothschild to be booted are ridiculous. While fans are correct to be upset that the Cubs haven’t performed to expected levels, firing Rothschild would no doubt make matters worse, not better. Cubs pitching is probably the best part of the team. If fans are looking to place blame on lackluster performance, they should look to outfielders who can field and hitters who don’t hit. Also, while coaches can, and should, be held accountable for poor performance by the players, Rothschild isn’t one of them.

  3. Firing Rothschild would be excatly the wrong thing to do. Given the numbers the pitchers have produced this year, who would do better than Rothschild? Bad defense in the outfield and poor hitting have plagued the Cubs. Put the blame where it belongs.

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