Series Preview: Angels vs. Cubs
The incredibly exciting interleague baseball season continues today, as the California Angels of Los Anaheimgeles head to Wrigley to take on the Cubs. The Angels are 5 games over .500; the Cubs are 6 games under. The Angels are a team built on years of superior general managerialship, the Cubs aren't.
But what they do have in common is this: the Angels have scored 12 fewer runs than they've allowed, while the Cubs have scored 13 fewer runs than theyv'e allowed. This doesn't make Chicago good, it just means that Anahengelesim (Calosiforniangeleheim?) probably shouldn't be a winning team right now.
Still, the Cubs are 6-8 since the start of June, and this is the part where I really, really man up.
Every year, with every slow start -- and lord knows we see a lot of them, even in the playoff seasons -- I say the same thing: have patience, let's see where they are in two months, don't panic.
Well, folks, it's been two months. The Cubs are 6 games under .500, Derrek Lee left his talent back in 2009*, Aramis Ramirez has left us yearning for the Vance Law years, and through only some fault of his own Carlos Zambrano is a 2-5 pitcher. In other words, two months after a slow start with problematic players and troubled fundamentals, the curtain has been pulled back and the Cubs are now revealed to be ... a really, really shitty ballteam. We're talking 78 wins at best.
(*.228 AVG, D-Lee? Really?)
The worst part about it, though, is that some guys have been insanely good. And there's nothing more disgusting than having unexpected players put up amazing, career years, only for them to be wasted. Marlon Byrd is batting .328 with 9 homers and a .902 OPS. Even Lil' Mike Fontenot is batting .293 right now. Carlos Silva is 8-1 with a .289 ERA. Carlos Marmol could turn his back to the plate and fire his pitches from between his legs like an NFL center, and he'd still be striking out an assload of players.
So why, then, why must these great performances be wasted on a team that won't win 80 games? As much as it hurts me to say this, the clear choice here is that some, if not many of these talents need to be dealt this and next month. It's time to start looking ahead toward the Next Great Purge. So, Cub fans, say farewell to Ted Lilly, Derrek Lee, Mike Fontenot, Kosuke Fukudome, the rest while you still can. Some of these guys will make it to October, but most will be watching the leaves turn colors in a new city.
But I digress. Onward with the preview!
Friday, June 18 - Carlos Silva (8-1, 2.89 ERA) vs. Scott Kazmir (6-5, 5.27 ERA)
Carlos Silva is on pace to win more games in 2010 than he won from 2007-2009 combined. Can you imagine what these Cubs would be like if he wasn't pitching for them? Holy hell! At the moment, he looks like he's going to toss around 190 innings, walking 34 -- 34!! that's Maddux territory! -- and striking out 130. Keep in mind that he has never, ever struck out more than 89 in a season.
Not to mention he's from the same hometown as me -- Bolivar. Granted, mine was a Bolivar located in the US. Still, he and I clearly have a lot in common -- from our wide girths to our obsession with impeccable control, not to mention our shared inability to strike out major league hitters ... yep, Carlos reminds me of me.
Scott Kazmir is a former Ray with recurring arm problems and ungodly talent. Sounds like he should've been a Cub. Kaz has only ever thrown 200 innings once in his career, and he has struggled in '10 with pretty much everything -- control, movement, his addiction to viagara, you name it. Although the Cubs tend to melt like a 12-year-old girl at a Jonas Bros. concert whenever they face a new lefty, they should have a shot.
Saturday, June 19th - Ted Lilly (2-5, 2.90 ERA) vs. Jered Weaver (6-3, 3.29 ERA)
Have you seen a picture of Jered Weaver? No? Check it out -- the guy's a douchebag. I don't know if it's his mullet, or the hint of a soulpatch that he wears on his chin, or that "who farted, y'all" expression on his face, but Weaver puts the "douche" in "douchebag." And yet ... he's 27 years old, has a career 3.67 ERA, won 16 games last year, and is on pace to strike out more than 200 players this season. The concensus, then, is this: the Cubs need more douchebags like Jered Weaver on their team.
His opponent is the Iceman, Ted Lilly, known also as "the best free agent singing the Cubs have ever had." When Lilly's not at Celebrity Impersonation Conventions in his Ghost Busters costume, he stays busy by kicking some serious baseball ass. Yes, I write this despite the fact that he's 2-5 and will be lucky to pitch 5 more games in a Cubs uniform. But fresh off his failed no-hit bid, if any unlucky Cub can defeat the steaming pile of douchocity that is Jered Weaver, it's Theodore Roosevelt Lilly.
Sunday, June 20th - Carlos Zambrano (2-5, 5.66 ERA) vs. Joe Saunders, 5-7, 4.70 ERA
I wonder if there's an unwritten rule somewhere about how the most talented Cub pitchers must fly too close to the sun at some point in their career. Zambrano is just the last example of that -- after Kerry Wood 20K'd his arm into oblivion, and Mark Prior made the National League his bitch for a season (right up until his arm said, "oh no no, it is you who are the bitch!"), should we have been surprised by the Big Moose's catastrophic downturn following his no-hitter?
I love the guy. You know it, I know it, even he knows it. But at this point, I'm on the cusp of hitting a terminal level on the Frustration Saturation Scale. Unless Carlos shocks us all and has the best three months of his career -- or even three above average months -- I think I'll be a little too sad and frustrated to want to see him in a Cubs uniform anymore. It'll just remind me of yet another disappointment.
But, hey -- if Carlos is going to pummel anybody, it's Joe Saunders. He's the Jan Brady of the Angels staff, a guy of midling talent who can't get it together. Dude's got 37 walks and 38 strikeouts, for Chrissakes!
At this point, I think I would rather get caught in a riot at the G20 than watch a Cubs game in person this year. They are painful. But if ever they were going to beat a team with a winning record at home, it would be this team, the Angels. Los Canaheiliforniam have a puff-pastry record, they're tapping two of their worst starters, and the Cubs -- *snicker * -- are more than due.
So, c'mon, win already!