Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Series Preview: Cubs at Pittsburgh

Series Preview
First, stop reading this article and check out the Series Preview written by Brandon on the Readers Blog section.  Chances are, it's better than mine will be. 

Okay -- are you back?  Let's roll.

Overview:
These days, Cub fans love the Pittsburgh Pirates.  They're NL Central speak for "easy pickings."  And, for as badly hit-and-miss as the Cubs have been, it's nothing compared to the Pirates. 

Check it out -
Pittsburgh has won 10 games.  8 of those 10 games have come in streak clusters -- 2 to start off the season, 3 in a row from April 16-18, and 3 more from April 27-29.  As is to be expected, the Pirates have outscored their opponents 56-34 in games they've won.

Pittsburgh has lost 15 games.  All but 1 loss came in streak clusters -- with a 7 game losing skid from April 20th to April 26th, and 3 more losses since Friday.  And while they would be, obviously, expected to be outscored by their opponents in these losses, it's more like they've been blown out.  Pirate opponents have outscored them 141-30 in their losses.  That's nearly 10 runs given up per game by Pirates pitchers in losses.  Pittsburgh has already had games in which they surrendered 10 runs (April 8, April 25), 15 runs (April 11), 17 runs (April 26), and 20 runs (April 22). 

Ouch.  Seriously, ouch.

But as ridiculous as those lines are, the Pirates are presently closer to the Cubs in the standings than the Cubs are to the Cardinals. 

On this blog, it's probably not too popular to stand up and proclaim your belief that the Cubs not only might reach the post season this year, but they probably will.  Well, looking purely at the standings, the Pirates would have an easier time overtaking the Cubs than the Cubs would overtaking the Cardinals.  Figure that one out.

The Match-Ups
Tuesday, May 4th - Ryan Dempster (2-1, 2.78 ERA) vs. Paul Maholm (1-2, 4.83 ERA)

Dempster has so far been a pretty reliable starter, but it's extremely early.  Still, most years he has been considerably more effective at home than on the road (Sman would probably consider that to be a fatal defect). 

His opponent is lefty Paul Maholm, whose career ERA (4.35) is a lot better than his career record (39-46).  Then again, he's pitched for a team that's never won 70 games or more while he's been there, so a poor record is understandable.

Wednesday, May 5th - Ted Lilly (1-1, 4.91 ERA) vs. Charlie Morton (0-5, 12.57 ERA)
Lilly is bound to improve upon his ERA, but so is Morton. I mean, Charlie Morton really isn't that bad, is he?  Maybe he's just the victim of circumstance?  Looking at his game log this year, it's hard to miss the fact that his "best" game was his last one, in which he "only" gave up 6 runs -- 3 earned -- in 6 innings pitched.

Still, he's probably due for a good game.

Thursday, May 6th - Randy Wells (3-0, 3.45 ERA) vs. Who the Hell Knows

The Pirates haven't announced their final starter yet, but Brandon suspects that it will be Brian Burres, who pitched well against the Dodgers last week.

Randy Wells, who couldn't buy a win to start his 2009 season, is off to an unbeaten start in 2010.  If the Cubs manage to pull up the nose on their tailspin (and it looks like they will), it will be due to the solid pitching of guys like Randy.

Conclusions

Yep, Brandon definitely said it better.

Here's one thought for you -- yes, the Cubs bullpen sux, no denying that, and yes, they are either Big Hit or Huge Miss, but I think Rob is wrong to suggest that the '10 team as we see them cannot get the job done.  Here's why:

Do you really think that, in September, the starting third baseman of the Chicago Cubs will be batting .155?  And do you really think the starting first baseman will be batting .221?

Granted, this was the same argument I made last year when Milton Bradley and Geovany Soto were leading the Suck Ass Charge, but I think it's still a fair argument to make.  While it's true that Alfonso Soriano will probably not be a .325 hitter all year long, and while we know that Fukudome will certainly not be a .342'er, improved hitting from Lee and Ramirez will go a long way toward making the Cubs offense a little more regular.

In other words, if you happen to have that unfortunate opinion that the Cubs just might be a thread to compete this year after all ... well, I'm right there with you.  These guys aren't done just yet.

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Yes

Yes, I do. I believe our third baseman may still be under .200. History really don't mean squat, because the guy wearing the #16 isn't the same guy who wore it since 2003.

Tonight's offensive performance was simply disgraceful. Once again, no leadership, no ability to manufacture, just sit back and wait for the big one.

Short of a direct impact from

Short of a direct impact from the Steroid Era, players don't just drop off the face of the earth from one season to the next.

Ramirez isn't hitting well, but he put up some pretty good numbers last year after he returned from his crushing shoulder injury. How could that injury be responsible for his poor play THIS year when it didn't effect him LAST year?

He might be a .270-.280 guy with 20-25 homeruns, rather than the headier numbers that we'd seen in the past, but he won't be a .150-.200 guy either, unless they're hiding something.

That said, the best teams in baseball will look disgraceful about 50 times a year. The Cubs aren't the best team in baseball, so games like tonight shouldn't be a surprise. But before you declare them to have unsolvable problems, or unchangeable trends, consider the 13-14 Boston Red Sox for a moment. Anybody here doubt that they will be in the hunt for their division come September? Anybody really think that their problems are too great for them to overcome?

So what's the difference? And don't say leadership. We've seen what clubhouse cancers can do, but solid play trumps leadership all day long and we would have been puckering up to kiss Milton Bradley's racist ass if he'd batted .320 and hit 25 dingers last year.

Oh, didnt see this

Oh, didnt see this earlier...

First, didnt realize you had an obsession with me -- I'm flattered. Unfortunately though, youre wrong. Depmster has posted a 3.27 ERA and 1.27 WHIP on the road with a 3.32 ERA and 1.38 WHIP at home the last two seasons as a starter.

Second,
"Short of a direct impact from the Steroid Era, players don't just drop off the face of the earth from one season to the next."

You have that 100% backwards as well. Pre-steroid Era, they did it all the time in their age 32-35 seasons; many from natural causes although sometimes from injury.

In fact, think of some of our more recognizable stars... Santo out of game at 34, Sandberg basically done after broken wrist at 33, Banks from .292/.357/.570/.927 (144 OPS+) previous 7 seasons to .261/.307/.455/.762 (109 OPS+) next 7 at the age 31 mark. It used to happen all the time...

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