Series Preview: Houston Astros Vs. Chicago Cubs
God, I love it when the Brewers leave town. There is something about that team, whether it's Ryan Braun's general douchiness or my fear that Prince Fielder is gonna eat all my veggies, that just annoys me. One thing I love more than the Brewers leaving with their tails between their legs is a 1-8 team coming to town to hopefully pad the win totals, and hey, look! Here come the Houston Astros!
Make no mistake, the Astros are a bad team. There is no reason the Cubs shouldn't win this series, which means they will probably get swept. At which point Cubs fans will be screaming to bring up Sam Fuld to be brought up to play all 9 positions, because at least he has heart, damnit!
Before I get to the matchups, a quick note to my fellow followers of the Cubs: At what point does constantly booing Alfonso Soriano become self-defeating? I understand being unhappy with his play, who wouldn't be? But if Soriano can ever turn it around, is the constant booing going to help bring that about? Newsflash: If he cannot turn it around, the best the Cubs can do would be to eat the contract and release him. Nobody will trade for him with that contract. It will not happen. Just drop that idea right now. So, maybe instead of booing a guy who clearly needs some sort of confidence boost, just politely clap, and save the booing for Jim Hendry, the man most responsible for his contract. Just sayin'.
Game 1: Carlos Silva vs. Felipe Paulino
Carlos the Hutt makes his Wrigley debut after a best case scenario 1st start against the Reds. Few experts or fans would have predicted that, and with Silva coming up against a farily toothless Astros lineup, the chances for a 2nd quality start to begin the year look good.
Felipe Paulino makes his 2nd start of the year after getting roughed up by the Phillies to the tune of 4 walks, 4 hits and 4 runs over 5 innings. Please repeat that performance. Last year Paulino was 3-11 with a 6.27 ERA, and has that really awful chin patch of facial hair. What's the point of that? Just grow a damn beard or go home.
Game 2: Tom Gorzelanny vs. Roy Oswalt
Gorzo, like Silva, comes into his 1st home start of the year after a great opening start at the Reds without a win (Yet Jeff Gray has a win, which should tell you all you need to know about the value of wins as a useful statistic). Gorzo went 6 1/3 and gave up 1 run on 4 hits and struck out 7(!), and a repeat of that performance would be welcome, because the Cubs have the good fortune to be going up against the only good player on the Astros for game 2, Roy Oswalt.
Oswalt is probably feeling thankful for this start. His 1st two saw him up against some bums named Tim Lincecum and Roy Halladay, who have something like 53 Cy Youngs between them. Gorzelanny isn't quite on their level, despite what his lovely family may tell you. Oswalt is 0-2 with a 3.75 ERA to begin the year.
Game 3: Ryan Dempster vs. Wandy Rodriguez
Dempster comes off a bit of an off say despite getting his 1st win of the year. Class Clown gave up 5 runs on 7 hits and 4 walks over 6 1/3. His control was a bit off, which Dempster struggles with at times, but as he does, he kept fighting and giving the Cubs a chance to win. If he has his control, he should take care of teh Astros lineup without too many issues.
Wandy Rodriquez has struggled out of the gate, which you would expect from a player on a 1-8 squad. In his last start he got roughed up by Albert Pujols, giving up an RBI single and 3 run HR off the Clean and Virtuous slugger of the Cardinals, who is not bad at this baseball game. Wandy is a lefty, so hopefully the Cubs can put their many right handed bats to good use. (By the way, I love saying "Wandy". Try it, it's fun!)
Overall, I see the Cubs taking 2 of 3 without issue, and a sweep is within possibility (It's hard to sweep a team, no matter how awful they are). Anything less would be a good indication that this Cubs team just won't be serious contenders as currently constructed. Expect 2 wins, hope for 3, and go Cubs.