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Some Blog I Wrote

stuff i think about and then type on a keyboard

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

The Rest of the Season?

The Chicago Cubs' offense has largely shut down the past five games after showing signs of life against the White Sox and the Brewers. As of today, they are below .500 for the first time since before the days of that happy-go-luck West Coast road trip. Both Mark Prior and Kerry Wood have returned to the starting rotation, but the bullpen has provided little relief and the batsmen score runs largely through the one-run longball.

It's no secret the Cubs suck at home. How a team can't be comfortable in their own ballpark is beyond me. The fans pack it for every single game. What else do they need? Is the team trying to help some perverted cause to relocate the entire club to the suburbs?

It's no secret Corey Patterson is the latest position player with a target on his back. Jerry Hairston Jr. has filled CoPat's spot for the last few starts, reaching base far more often than the designated permanent leadoff man. (Appropriately, a pinch-hitting CoPat was the Cubs' last out against the Braves last night.) If GM Jim Hendry is in the mood to sell, CoPat must be at the top of his list. For whatever reason, CoPat doesn't care enough to earn the leadoff spot. I think he just hates the local Cub fans who've given him a large share of "boo"s over the last two seasons. (I think the "boo"s are earned, but I'm not signing his checks.)

It's no secret that in spite of having a celebrated manager and pitching coach, the Cubs continue practice the lousy baserunning, rare opportunity scoring, and deep pitch counts of the pre-Hendry era. Jeromy Burnitz has committed two baserunning mistakes in the past few games, often forgetting how slow he is. The Cubs have dropped several double plays defensively while hitting into them offensively far too often. They've completely forgotten about sacrifice plays. For all their talent, Prior, Wood, and Carlos Zambrano can walk a lot of batters and put themselves behind in a large percentage of their counts, which doesn't bode well when one looks at the up-and-down bullpen. Greg Maddux doesn't walk as many, but his liberal use of the strike zone has put too many home plate umpires in the game.

(It's no secret Dusty Baker also has a target on his back.)

It's no secret the Houston Astros are close to passing the Cubs for second place in the division. Though they likely won't catch up the St. Louis Cardinals, they have a team that can contend for the Wild Card. The Astros are essentially repeating their performance from 2004 -- struggling until just before the All-Star Break, then playing above-.500 ball through October. The Wild Card is no guarantee for any time, but the Astros have as much a shot at it as anyone from the NL East.

It's no secret the season is not half over yet. Hendry could make a few miracle moves that strengthen the team. The bullpen could come together. The starters could pitching nothing but their best stuff through October. The batsmen could improve their hitting and baserunning. The defense could preserve more play opportunities. Nomar Garciaparra's addition to the lineup could prove very helpful.

It's no secret I said all the same stuff in the above paragraph this time last year. The tired Cub fans' mantra of "Wait 'Til Next Year" should be permanently changed to "Wait 'Til Last Year."

Posted by GiromiDe @ 10:30 AM
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