The Memorial Day Report(A Few Days Late)
I was going to do this on Memorial Day, but I have class (Media Law Yawn...) and I now getting to it.
The first milestone in the year is Memorial Day. Now you cannot win the race by Memorial Day, but you can lose it. So, where does that leave the Cubs? Let's look at the numbers first.
At this point last year the Cubs were 20-31. That is a great improvement. The Cubs stand at 29-23. Thanks to Jeff Fassero
the Cubs are up 2 games on the Cards and Astros.
If you told me the Cubs were in first with Sosa missing three weeks, I would take it. That still does not change the fact that nobody in the Central has played good baseball.
The Cubs have some holes that must be taken care of by the next big landmark of the All-Star Break.
1. Sosa must be heathly and hitting. The Cubs just do not have enough batting to make it without his power.
2. Clement has to find some of last year's form. He has been really bad over the last month and is not showing signs of breaking out. It looked like Estes was the weak link early, but now it is Estes. The Bottom part of the rotation now has 10 wins. Last year Lieber, Prior and Bere combined for 13 wins. Zambrano had 4 wins, so lets call it 17 wins.
3. Something has to give at 3B. I know I have been writing a lot about the hot corner(or cold corner in the Cubs case), but Lenny "I should never Start" Harris and Mark "insert your favorite nickname" Bellhorn have hit nothing in sight. I will scream from the mountain top until someone stops Lenny Harris from starting. I would not let him start for my coed slow pitch softball team. That is a little harsh, but you get the picture.
4. Can Corey keep up. Patterson has been the biggest help this season. He has been an RBI machine and is starting to live up to some of that promise. Even if he tails off a little, he could still have a monster year. He leads the Cubs in five offensive stats, runs, HR, RBI, SB and average.
5. Can Mark Grudzielanek keep it up. Nobody saw this coming. I was glad to see Todd Hundley gone, but Mark has been more than the Cubs could ever dream of. He is career .283 hitter, but his OBP this year is at .357 which is well above his career averages.
6. The catching core has to continue to produce. Miller and Bako have 28 RBI's this season. Last year the Cubs got 53 total. Thier main job is to handle the staff, but a little hitting never hurt.
7. Will the pitch count come back and hurt the starters. I have seen the both sides of the argument and right now I believe no. If they the staff is handled well and they are feeling good it should not matter. Now that does not mean that Dusty has not made some mistakes. There are a few times this season where he left starters out there a little too long and it cost the Cubs.
8. Will the Cubs make a big move to stay in first? I would have to say yes. There is no way the Cubs can let this start go to waste. With all the minor league prospects something has to give. Now if it is Mike Lowell or someone else I do not know, but the Cubs will not have the same rosters by the end of the season.
We will leave it at 8 things right now. I have to study for my final and I need to hit the sack, but a big series this weekend. Estes, Zambrano and Wood take to the mound. The Cubs could really use two of three. Oswalt comes off the DL Saturday, so it should be interesting.