Northside For Life

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

White Flag Time?

The Cubs begin the week in 4th place with a 16-20 record. Not too terribly bad but not too great considering the talent on this team. Yeah there's been injuries, but the team has played well enough to win more than 16 games. There are a variety of reasons for it of course, the injuries, the bullpen, the inconsistency of the starters, the inconsistent bats. But you look around some of the other Cub blogs, listen to the callers on sports radio, and already the doom and gloom is setting in. "Oh the Cubs are done." "Wait 'till next year, again." "The season is over."

I think Bluto Blutarsky of Animal House fame said it best: "It ain't over until we say it is!"

After all, it's only freakin' May!

16-20 on May 16th. 7.5 games out of first, 5.5 out of the Wild Card lead. It's a bit of a hole, but there is still time to make up ground. Last year the Astros were further out (something like 8 games) of the Wild Card later in the season (I want to say July) before they turned it around. And we all remember that, since the turning point was the Cubs-Astros series at Wrigley where Barrett had his little vendetta with Roy (Lee Harvey) Oswalt. The Astros won that series and the tide turned. But I digress.

I'm not too worried about the Cubs chances. Yet. But I am starting to get concerned. Peter Gammons placed the Cubs first on his list of early season disapointments (found here: http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/gammons/story?id=2061052). Yet its early enough still to where I can hold out hope for a turnaround.

Here's how it can be done:


  • The four big starters that are currently active (Prior, Z, Mad Dog, and Rusch) have to hold down the fort. This team is not going to score a ton of runs, so the pitching has to be on point. Right now they're averaging about 5 runs a game. That's good enough to win consistently with good pitching. Just ask the White Sox. They haven't exactly lit the league on fire with their bats but their starters have kept them in games. That's what the Cubs starters need to do. Right now the staff ERA is 4.35, 9th in the NL. Given the talent in this group it should be a lot better.
  • The bullpen needs to improve. Easier said than done considering this group. Borowski is on his way back which should help. So should Williamson once he gets off the DL. Jim Hendry needs to make a move here and get some help for this bullpen. Of course its way too early to make a deal, as teams don't typically start looking seriously into trades until late-June into July. But if Hendry wants to make a move for a reliever, he needs to make sure he's getting some quality. Lest we forget the Alfonseca deal. We got Alfoncseca and Clement in exchange for some prospects that included Dontrelle Willis. Seemed like a good trade at the time. Clement was a solid starter in the couple of years he was here and is now kicking ass in Boston (we should have kept him) and Alfonseca turned out to be the worst relief pitcher in Chicago Cubs history. Oh and Dontrelle? He's only been lighting the NL on fire this year, as well as having solid seasons the past two years in the majors. Yeah I know the Cubs need to win now, but you can't toss some great prospects to some other team where they'll flourish while the guy we pick up bombs.
  • Try and get another bat. It wouldn't hurt. Maybe a true leadoff hitter if possible.

Like I said, the Cubbies have dug themselves in a hole here in the early going, but it's nothing a good 8 or 9 game winning streak can't change. The team just needs to get rolling...soon. Otherwise we'll be waiting 'till next year yet again.

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