Hypo's "Top 5"
The five things the Cubs need to do to get to the playoffs...
1) Win more 1-run games than they lose.
Last year the cubs were 19-30 in games decided by one run. If they had been 25-24 in these games, however, they would have finished 3 games ahead of the Astros instead of 3 games behind them. Note to those who have taken a serum to forget last year's wild card race: the Astros are the team that won the NL wild card.
Current watch: At 0-1, it looks like the Cubs may mimic their performance in these games from last year, but it is still very early.
2) Keep the lead in the close games!
LaTroy Hawkins alone blew 9 save opportunities last year. I know that it is going to happen once in a while, but again, even if he had blown a much more reasonable 3 possible saves, the Cubs would once again have finished 3 games up from the Astros, not down.
Current watch: Again, I know it is very early in the season -- when "blown saves are as common as rain on the PGA tour" -- but LT may be chasing the wrong stat from last year (he's already blown 1 save in as many tries). Saves, buddy, chase the saves number...
3) (Forget the health of our pitchers! Let's skip right to...) Starters need to pitch deeper into the game than the 6th inning.
On a team whose closer is already slightly suspect, it doesn't help to have a weak bullpen. Losing RH middle reliever Kyle Farnsworth is going to hurt the Cubs this year more than they think (if he can't strike you out, he'll just straight up tackle you!), unless the starting pitchers can make it into the 7th inning without their arms spontaneously decomposing. It would be nice if they could accomplish this without throwing 250 pitches per start, so we'll see if Dusty works on getting some of these strike-out pitchers a little more efficient with their pitch counts early in a game.
Current watch: Zambrano - 4.2 IP, Maddux - 5.0 IP, Dempster (who cares) - 3.2 IP, Wood - 5.2 IP -- Forget the 7th inning, let's make it to the 6th for dolomite's sake!
4) Score runners from 2nd and 3rd base with less than 2 outs!
I don't feel like looking up any more stats, but the cubs are notorious for having runners stand on 2nd or 3rd base and watch one, two, three outs before strutting back to the bench thinking "I did my part" so they can strike out the next two at-bats! Let's see some fucking runs besides the ones you guys score in your bi-weekly blowout!
5) Keep me from ever writing a post this long again. Come on, if they do that, then they're doing something right!!!