Week in Review
Competition-wise, this was a week of where every game went as one might have predicted. Looking over the pitching matchups, every time the matchup favored San Fran or St. Louis, the Cubs lost (three times), every time the starter was stronger for the Northsiders, we raised the White Flag (four times). Lincecum, Cain and Lohse got the best of our offense, but Zambrano made a high quality return to the rotation with six shutout innings, Lilly beat Zito, Sean Marshall continued to look under-rated and Dempster bounced back from his Southside anomaly.
The fan with glass half empty will say we should have done more against a paltry Giants offense and that the Cubs really blew it not being able to nail down the sweep with Wood’s Saturday collapse. The fan with glass half full sees a solid week capped off by an important central division series win on the road at Busch. This fan would be pleased with a 4–3 week considering Aramis Ramirez missed three games flying home for the birth of his child, not to mention playing without Reed Johnson and Big Z for the early part of the week.
In my opinion, Sunday’s game was big — it was the rubber game of the week and the Cubs had just tossed away a victory the night before. Winning teams can bounce back from these heartbreakers and the Cubs were able to do just that once again. It didn’t hurt that before the game, MLB made an announcement…
Yes, the Cubs will be sending a club record seven players to the mid-summer classic, and counting Lou they’ll have eight; they might even charter their own jet. Many years there are players who make the All-Star team that fans vote-in strictly on popularity, and while there’s no doubt the Cubs benefit from their expansive mass of a fan-base, it would hard to argue against any of these selections:
Starters: Soto©, Fukudome (RF), Soriano (LF)
Reserves: Ramirez (3B)
Pitchers: Wood, Dempster, Zambrano
In fact, a case could be made that the Northsiders could have nine All-Stars if you consider Derrek Lee and Carlos Marmol. Lee is the best defensive first baseman in both leagues and his offense numbers aren’t shabby at all. He simply plays a position stocked with players more deserving (Pujols, Berkman, etc). Marmol didn’t make the squad because of his highly publicized week-off recently where he started walking and hitting batters and then giving up 3 run bombs in back-to-back games. It’s a shame, really, because no pitcher in either league remains as unhittable when they’re on. The league still only has 23 hits off Marmol in 50 innings, he leads the NL in holds with 22 and the league is batting.140 against him with right-handers batting just .082…
Looking over the NL roster, for the first time in awhile, I like the senior circuit to win. My prediction, the NL breaks the AL dominance and comes home with a victory for once…Yes, Sunday was a good day for the Cubs, that was until MLB made another announcement…
The left-handed Zambrano
Some of you might know about Pat Venditte, the ambidextrous pitcher drafted by the Yankees this year. You may also have heard that our very own Big Z can throw 84 mph as a lefty. The Cubs had an opportunity to actually acquire what would be the closest thing to having another Zambrano, a left-handed Zambrano, when C.C. Sabathia was put on the market last week by the cellar-dwelling Indians. Alas, the Milwaukee Brewers have put together a better package than the Phillies, Dodgers, Cardinals and our very own Cubbies.
Here are my thoughts. First of all, I’m disappointed. I don’t think any other pitcher will have the half-season impact that Sabathia will have. Hendry should have done more, and C.C. should be in Cubbie blue. Simple as that.
As it is now, the Brewers, not the Cardinals, are the Cubs biggest worry. With a one-two punch of Sheets and Sabathia, and a young offense finding its stride again, the Beermakers have proven they are serious about getting back to the playoffs for the first time since 1982.
I tip my cap to GM Doug Melvin, he delivered for his team.
On the other hand, the trade deadline has not yet passed. Suddenly, the Cubs are being linked to A’s starter Rich Harden. For those of you who don’t watch much AL ball, this guy is a gamer. He’s holding the junior circuit to a .206 avg and has all kinds of nasty. If Hendry can get this done, I’ll forgive him for Sabathia (after all, Sabathia is only a 3 month rental for the Brewers before he heads to free agency after the season), but he’ll be dealing with Billy Beane.
Billy Beane will know the Cub farm system inside and out, so there’s no doubt we’ll have to give up a load to get Harden, but as I’ve said before. Do it Hendry — because this is the year. …and because there’s a city north of Chicago that now thinks it’s their year.