Cubs Up, Cubs Down
This might well become a more regular feature over the coming weeks, where we look at the fortunes of various Cubbies based on their performance. There is always a lot to say about the Cubs, and it isn't difficult to see who is playing well and who is not living up to scratch.
// Neifi Perez - SS Supreme
This utility/platooner/journeyman/everyman has been continuing to erase the proof that Nomar is a Cub with surprising offense and solid defense in the middle infield. It's nice to know that when a player gets hurt, someone can jump in and perform well, and given the recent run of injuries to, oh let's see, several guys who were to be essential to success this year, his good fortune at the plate is even more welcomed.
His stats were excellent, as noticed on the right, and he is the unanimous LB Player of the Week.
// Mark Prior - pitching like it's 2003 (aka his Best Year so far)
Prior looks good, and when Prior looks good, the likes of hitless Hairston Jr or RBI single Ramirez look even better. Dominant in the starts we've seen thus far, and has a lot of upside regarding his health - this is even more crucial given Wood's latest battles with bursitis after yesterday's Pirates game.
7 IP, 0 ER last week vs. the Reds (7-1 win), 13 scoreless innings thus far: Prior is displaying the kind of form that'll get Bea Arthur wet between the wrinkles.
// Jeromy Burnitz - Right Man for Right Field
Burnitz is looking like he's getting comfortable within the offense and within the Cubs Organization, and soon I feel Sosa might be a distant memory. A good week with the bat - doubled his season RBI totals, added a pair of important HRs into the mix, and just showing that he's not allergic to getting on base (OBP .348, SLG .682).
There's life in this old dog yet, and with his potentially potent offense, the Cubs can still contend for the playoffs.
\\ Dusty Baker - managing to screw things up
Unexplained bullpen switches, his incomprehensible fondness for Jose "Making Money doing Nothing" Macias, and general inadequacies put him at the top of (rather the foot of) the list for tailspinning Cubs.
The best examples concern pitching changes, and the recent blowups by Hawkins, Leicester and Remlinger are more the by-product of "wrong player, wrong place" than any technical flaws in their pitching.
Regardless, Dusty's already led us to 4 losses by 1 run, and if these stupid substitutions continue, that number might well skyrocket.
\\ LaTroy Hawkins - closing the door on his bullpen chances
If at first you don't succeed, try someone else. LaTroy Hawkins, everyone's favourite heart-attack inducer, has been struggling a little of late, and the kind heart of Dusty (a "faith-based" manager) has decided to look elsewhere in his bullpen for a closer.
This past week has not been entirely kind - 18.00 ERA, 1 IP, 2 ER in 2 games - and so it has come to the fragile Chad Fox to take the closer's seat for the next day or two.
LT needs to find his confidence, and find it fast. He has some of the necessary ingredients for a closer, but performances like this will not be tolerated.
For the season: 0-1. 5.14 ERA, 3 SV, 2 BSV
\\ Todd Hollandsworth - Holland's worthless
For a somewhat reliable player filling Moises Alou's sizeable cleats, 5 RBI this season is not considered Moises-esque. This past week saw him collect 3 hits in 14 at-bats, and yet still inexplicably find time as a pinch-hitter (used in lieu of a 2-3 Jason Dubois one day, if I remember correctly). Pinch-hitters are supposed to replace batters who are not batting well, not be the bad egg that follows in the "clutch". He should clutch his bat a little tighter and perhaps work on that swing a little more. I still harbor hope in his turnaround, but at 9-9, guys like Hollandsworth need to be that missing link from previous seasons' powerful lineups.
Last week: 3-14 (.214), 2B, 0 RBI, 0 R
Season: 12-50 (.240), HR, 5 RBI, 3 R