Thursday, July 28

Don't look now...

... but the Cubs are climbing the Wild Card ladder.

Last night the Cubs beat the Giants 4-3 with another Burnitz walk-off RBI in the bottom of the ninth -- his 2nd game-winning swing in 3 games. The game also notched Dempster's 3rd win in 4 games after he kept the Cubbies tied by icing the Giants in the top of the ninth.

So let's check it out. Since the all-star break the Cubs have gone 9-5, and have won all of their series (including what I consider to be a HUGE series against the Cards) except for a 4-game split against the Reds. Had they won one extra game of that series they would be right on the 5-2 pace I tried to set them on over the break. And good things are happening because of it. After Houston completed their sweep of the Phillies yesterday, the Cubs attained the third spot on the wild card list, only 2 games behind Houston and 3 behind Washington. We play Houston in at least two more series this year, so I'm not worried about them, and if the NL East continues to beat up on itself the way it has been, I am not worried about the Nationals (or Braves (or Phillies (or Mets (or Marlins)))) either.

As long as the Cubs keep winning and stay on or at least close to a 5-2 seven game pace.

You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not all that crazy I tell you. Nomar is about to come back (2 RBI's last night at Double-C level or wherever they have him playing now) which will give the team a boost. Who knows, maybe we can teach Neifi Perez to play left field? I'd LOVE to keep him in the line-up, especially when Hollandsworth continues to be inconsistent, and it's too early to start Murton or Greenberg every day (also considering that Greenberg has a target drawn on his batting helmet that no one told him about). So all this bodes well for the Cubs in my opinion.

The one thing that worries me? Pitching. When I suggested "Lingering Bursitis" for the name of this blog, I never thought it would actually be THAT pertinent of a name. I wish it hadn't been. I wish it had remained a good-fun poke at Kerry Wood's early season woes. But this the end of July and it's time to get serious! We don't have time for jokes anymore!!! Seriously, not having Kerry Wood healthy hurts the Cubs, and while I could rant about how much it pisses me off that he is such a pink triangle this year, I won't. If Wood does indeed move to the bullpen when he gets back, I'd like to see them put Rusch back in the rotation. He did great this year as a starter, and I don't have anything against Rich Hill, but we'll make more of a decision on him after his next start. The same goes for Jerome Williams today in my book.

At any rate, I suppose the best thing is to keep taking it one game at a time, starting today against Arizona. Williams (3-3) for the Cubs vs. Halsey (6-7) for the D-backs.

Oh, and I have a special liking for sarcasm, so let's hope that I have the power all sports-commentators possess -- the power of jinxing a team or player simply by pointing things out or talking about them.

("and such-and-such hasn't thrown an interception in 4000 pass attemts! Amazing!" directly preceeding the play where such-and-such throws one directly to Deion Sanders just so we can all painfully watch "Primetime" do something exceedingly annoying and offensive)


At 11:25 AM, Blogger JT said...

Good stuff Hypo, good stuff indeed. I think that is a reasonable pace, and it may not always work out like that, but we need some combination of the following:

1. At least 4 wins a week (on a 7-game week)
2. The NL East to continue to beat each other up
3. The West to continue to beat each other up as they have.

They might sound obvious, but like you said, it's time to get serious. Parity in the other divisions will continue to help us, because the Division winner (at this rate) might be a 75 or 80 game winner, and that helps us out BIG TIME.

Nomar coming back with definitely be a boost, but it's no celebration either. If we're banking on his swift and productive return, we should try and pull some kind of trade that clears out some bench room for him - clear up that LF platoon, trade off one of them packaged with a prospect or two in exchange for a bona-fide everyday starter at LF, a guy who will perform night in, night out. Hollandsworth/Gerut/Murton -- that's too many guys for one spot. Holls hasn't played CF in a while, Murton is a flat LF until he's in the league longer, and Gerut's a reasonable cover across the OF in general. But with Nomar coming back, we'll have an everyday SS again, Neifi can play 3B, SS, 2B, Hairston can play 2B, CF, SS, and *cough* Macias can do 1B, 3B and apparently CF too.

Our lineup would be something like this with Nomar (this is NOT a batting order):

Barrett, c
Lee, 1b
Walker, 2b
Nomar, ss
Aramis, 3b
Murton/Hollandsworth/Gerut, lf
Hairston Jr.(?)/Gerut, cf
Burnitz, rf

If we packaged a prospect or two along with one of our platoon OFs/IFs, the journeyman types that we have, we could come up with a solid LF like Dunn, Huff, Kearns, who knows?

But man, we are going to have an amazing team eventually with all our prospects coming through, when Felix Pie rolls into town and guys like Van Buren enter los bullpen.

At 11:31 AM, Blogger JT said...

A quick recap of the NL standings:

NL East
Atlanta 57-44
Washington 55-46
NY Mets 52-49
Florida 50-48
Philadelphia 52-50

NL West
San Diego 51-50
Arizona 49-54
LA Dodgers 46-55
San Francisco 43-57
Colorado 36-64

Wild Card
Houston -1
NY Mets -3
Cubs -3
Philadelphia -3.5
Florida -3.5
Milwaukee -5.5

Like I said back in May, this might well be one of those years like the NFC last season, where yr making the Wild Card with an 8-8 or 9-7 record (NFL, translates to an 83 or 84 game winner in MLB).

If that's the case, the Cubs have as good a shot as any, although we have to watch our NL rivals in the trading deadline.... Soriano to the Mets, if it could actually happen, might be a deciding factor in the long run.

At 11:40 AM, Blogger gone said...

I have a feeling that the Nationals will be hard to catch. But its just that...a feeling.

At 11:55 AM, Blogger Hyposquasher said...

they may indeed be hard to catch, but the way i see it, we control our destiny at this point, despite being 3 games out of the wild card lead. with our games against houston, the phillies, and atlanta (and maybe even the mets, i forget) we have the potential to control what happens for ourselves. so basically as long as the cubs win more than the nationals, i see it as ours for the taking.

as you said.... just a feeling, and it does require quite a bit of winning!

At 1:28 PM, Blogger JT said...

CBT -- I definitely share yr sentiments about the Nationals. They're a good ballclub, which is funny because not a heck of a lot has changed to the physical roster since Montreal (or at least I don't think it has... maybe I'll look into that).

However, I feel their rotation is not strong enough. Besides Livan "Emotional" Hernandez and Loaiza, there's not much there. Their bullpen is nasty, granted, but I think the East in general will continue to split series after series with one another, leading the Cubs to slowly keep pace with the likes of any other Wild Card contenders.


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