Cubs sweep the series against the Padres: W-W-W
Cubs Series Record: 6-4-2 (20-14 overall)
Instead of my usual notes, today we are going to go optimist, pessimist and write out a list of good news, bad news items for the Cubbies so far. And I don’t really care if you see the cup half-full or half-empty, because who fills a cup up halfway anyway?
The Good News: The Cubs swept a team while all three phases of their game(hitting, starting pitching, relief pitching) were on fire. Rich Harden, Ted Lilly and Ryan Dempster each had a quality start and no reliever allowed more than one run to score while the offense put up more than six runs in each game.
The Bad News: They beat the Padres. The sad, hapless, no-good do-nothing, 13-22 Padres. They have two starters (Adrian Gonzalez, Scott Hairston) hitting over .250. They are so inept they make the Washington Nationals look like the ’97 Bulls. They make milk curdle when it’s in their locker room. They suck harder than a black hole. In other words, wins against the Padres should come with their very own asterisk.
The Good News: The sweep put the Cubs six games above .500 and one-half game behind first place in the N.L. Central.
The Bad News: The sweep put the Cubs into a tie for third or fourth, depending on what kind of glass you are looking at. With the Brewers at 21-14, Cardinals at 21-14 and Reds at 20-14, there is a massive clusterfuck (sorry mom) of talent in the N.L. Central right now, and it;s only going to get harder. The Cardinals will get Chris Carpenter and Ryan Ludwick back from injury soon, The Brewers are benefiting mightily from the return of Trevor Hoffman, and the Reds are nothing to shake a stick at either, though I’m not sure why any of us has a stick or why we are shaking it.
The Good News: Struggling Cubs like Geovany Soto and Milton Bradley showed signs of life and helped bring stability back to the offense. (More information in hero/goat section)
The Bad News: It’s too soon to tell if the tide is turning or either of them lucked into a good game. Couple this with the fact that Aramis Ramirez (my pre-season Cub MVP) is still out 4-5 weeks, Derrek Lee and Mike Fontenot are still playing like they belong in the Atlantic League and Bobby Scales can’t continue to hit .444, the offense still could be in serious trouble.
Now, that being said, let’s move on to the stats.
Through intense research and analysis (guess-work) I have decided that if the Cubs are to make the playoffs the bullpen must pitch at a B average for the entire season. So, in order to determine if there is any accuracy in this statement I am chronicling the work of the Cubs’ pen.
Tuesday: A. That’s what I’m talking about. Aaron Heilman, Carlos Marmol and Kevin Gregg pitched an inning of scoreless relief each to preserve Rich Harden’s solid outing.
Wednesday: B+. Angel Guzman, “El Pobrecito”, got himself and Ted Lilly out of a tricky jam without giving up a run. Marmol did let a man cross home plate however, but he also earned himself an unintentional save when the game was called in the 8th due to rain.
Thursday: B+. Newcomer Jose Ascanio pitched amicably (is that applicable?) in two innings of relief of Dempster, surrendering one run on a Drew Macias dinger. Jose took Chad Fox‘s spot in the pen, but it remains to be seen if he will keep it. Randy Wells is assured either a spot in the rotation or bullpen when Carlos Zambrano returns, creating a scenario where one arm will inevitably be odd-arm out.
Bullpen season GPA: 2.69(B-) GPA through 34 games. This was one of the best series for the extra arms that sit down the left field line, but tinkering by Lou Piniella will continue. Also, as I said, it’s the Padres so its not like the bullpen is shutting down world beaters here.
Hero/Goat season leaders:
When it comes to team MVP, people usually stick with the numbers. But at the end of the season, I want to know which player had a direct impact on the outcome of the game the most. To name my Cub season MVP (and LVP), I am keeping track of the game’s heroes and goats in order to determine a winner. Usually it is one game, one hero/goat, but that is by no means a written-in-stone rule.
Tuesday’s Hero: Milton Bradley, Alfonso Soriano. Soriano went 3-5 with 2 2Bs and a 2-out RBI, and Milton Bradley hit a mammoth 2-run, 439 ft. dinger to center, one that amazed even Carlos Zambrano.
Wednesday’s Hero: Geovany Soto. so The Meth Bear started hitting, could Soto soon follow suit? That was a rhetorical question. Soto went 2-3 with 3 RBI and hit his first home run of the season. He so needed that, but there are no guarantees it’s going to continue.
Thursday’s Hero: Bobby Scales. 2-4 2 2Bs and 4 RBIs to go along with that voluptuous .444 batting average. Apparently it only takes around 3,000 minor league at-bats to get a hang of this baseball thing. Paging Felix Pie, Felix Pie to the white courtesy phone.
Hero Squad: Number is games chosen as hero/goat.
2 – Fukudome, Johnson, Lilly, Ramirez, Theriot, Zambrano
1 – Bradley, Fontenot, Gregg, Guzman, Harden, Lee, Marmol, Scales, Soto
3 – Patton
2 – Bradley, Cotts
1 – Fontenot, Fox, Gregg, Harden, Heilman, Hoffpauir, Samardzija