Northside For Life

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Are They For Real? (Part 2)

Every guy has known a girl (sometimes more than one) that has lead him on, batting the eyelashes, shaking the booty, being all flirty, but stopping him cold if he tries anything. Essentially a tease. Every guy has had a girl tease him only to leave him disappointed and in need of a cold shower. That girl is this years Cubs team. They'll get hot, go on a winning streak, get your hopes up, and then turn around and lose 8 in a row and have you wanting to pour a pint of beer all over yourself. Or maybe that's just me. Now they seem to be back on the upswing, winning 8 or their last 9 games (last night's loss notwithstanding) and swinging some hot bats. Granted they've beaten a struggling Marlins team, and the typically lackluster Pirates and Reds during that stretch but still, a win's a win. If the Cubs want to make any kind of run towards the playoffs they have to take advantage of their relatively easy second half schedule and rack up the wins against losing teams.

The question remains however, is the team a true contender or is it just another hot streak for a maddeningly inconsistent team. The offense has improved of late, going from 13th in the NL in runs scored before the Florida series to 5th place. The Cubs also lead the NL in homeruns, and this without Sosa or Alou in the lineup. I think there are three reasons for the offensive resurgence:
  • Patterson's demotion to AAA and Dusty finally coming to his senses and putting a reasonable fascimile of a leadoff hitter (Hairston) at the top of the lineup and following him with the hot-hitting Todd Walker. These guys have had great success setting the table for D-Lee and the resurgent A-Ram.
  • The Cubs have become more patient at the plate and are reaping the rewards. I'm not sure if its a domino effect or what, but a couple of players in the lineup worked the count to get pitches they liked and now it seems everyone is doing it.
  • The Cubs have faced mostly shitty pitching. You know it's true.

Of course we already saw this in the beginning of June when the team snapped off a 7 game winning streak, including an amazing 6-1 west coast road trip. Then the hitting stopped and so did the winning. I beleive this team is primed to make a run, but some improvements need to be made, namely another outfielder and some bullpen help. Looking out on the trading landscape, there isn't much to choose from. There are rumors that Juan Pierre and Adam Dunn are available, but the price might be pretty high. Those are the two best options in terms of outfielders. Scott Williamson should be starting his minor league rehab assignment soon and hopefully he'll bolster a bullpen that's medicore at best. Other than that the Cubs could take a shot at Eddie Guardado or Danys Baez, but who knows what those teams will ask in return.

It'll be interesting to see if Hendry can pull another blockbuster mid-season deal. If not, I seriously doubt this team will clinch the wild card.

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