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Thursday, July 22, 2004

It's Far, Far From Over for the Cubbies 

Things haven't gone exactly as I'd hoped they would for the Cubs this year. They are now effectively out of the race for the division title, and they're two games behind the Giants and Padres in what promises to be an extra-wild Wild-Card race. In a lot of ways, this was predictable. In fact, it's damn near miraculous that a team ranking 24th in the major leagues in OBP has hung in there this well, considering they've also been missing their two best starting pitchers for most of the year.

We all know the bad news, so let's think a little bit about the good things we've learned about the Cubs this year:
  1. Carlos Zambrano is, unquestionably, the scariest and most impressive starting pitcher this side of Randy Johnson. Watching a Zambrano game is like watching a Jerry Bruckheimer movie. It's over the top, it's absurd, and it's even stupid--but it's undeniably dazzling.
  2. Aramis Ramirez really is an All Star caliber third baseman, and it really was stupid not to sign him to an extension before the season. He'll get $8-10 Mil a year if he keeps this up.
  3. Corey Patterson really deserves one more year to prove he might be a poor-man's Clemente. If you scoffed at that, you should check out their stats. Surprisingly similar at this young age. Corey strikes out a lot more, but he's got more power...
  4. Farnsworth really did just need to become a born again christian! He's been wonderful.
  5. We got lucky with Michael Barrett. Even if he regresses toward his career averages the rest of the season, he's a bargain at the position.

In fact, I think the team's biggest problem is that they are overly adequate at every position. Aside from Shortstop, they don't have a glaring weakness. This makes improving the team very difficult.

The overall problem is that the offense, as a whole, doesn't get on base quite enough (.326 as a team, compared to St. Louis's .341), but how are we supposed to change that? Is there anyone out there we can trade for who will make a significant difference?

The answer is no, not really. We could do a Moises (career .365) for Larry Walker (career .401*) deal, straight up. But that's stupid. Maybe we could convince Kenny Williams to send up Magglio a little early, for Moises and some prospects. That's the sort of thing Kenny Williams would do. But no, he won't. I don't think Boston will trade Nomar, and even if they did, he's a freer swinger than anybody the Cubs have now. All of a sudden, guys would be throwing 85-pitch complete games against us--and occasionally losing.

My point is that there are no good answers for the Cubs right now. If they could actually get Nomar, that'd be great. Otherwise, they're basically paralyzed by their pretty-goodness, and we just have to hope they start winning like they should.


Comments:
If Farnsworth is a born-again, does that mean no more picture-perfect form tackles when idiots charge him on the mound?
 
Aramis Ramirez was an error-prone out machine coming into the year.

Why would you sign that to an extension?
 
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