Game Recap: Giants 4, Cubs 1 - Not Surprising
Welcome to your late Sunday night post extravaganza. In this article, I will not only:
- Recap the game and the final series before the break
- Discuss the younger players on the team
but I will also post the final photoshop of the first half, a biting and scathing commentary on the monterey excess of the Giants and how it's gotten them nowhere so far. Yep, it's gonna be a good'un.
So, not surprisingly, Tim Lincecum proved to be unbeatable today. It's hard to blame Clownsevelt for losing - when facing the opposing team's best pitcher, scoring 2 runs in a game just won't cut it.
Perhaps the best news of the loss is the continued resurgence of Jim Edmonds, who went 1 for 3 with another run driven in. He'd been slumping horribly since the start of July, but went 3 for 8 against the Giants with a homer, 2 doubles, and 5 RBI.
Additionally, Chad Gaudin might just become the de facto setup man so long as Marquis remains a Cub and Harden remains healthy. He pitched another 2 solid innings today, striking out 2 and giving up a single hit. He only needed 23 pitches - 17 for strikes.
Ironically, Carlos Marmol has become a de facto All Star as Kerry Wood will be missing the game due to a blister. By default, this gives the Cubs eight All Stars this season, a team record, even if 2 of the 8 will be watching from the proverbial gurney in the dugout.
Anyway, as far as this goes, I have nothing else to say about this specific game. It was a dud, but we all sort of expected it to be. Not even the great Clownsevelt can win them all at home, but he's shown that he'll win most.
This was a series of highs and lows. The Cubs exit with a solid lead in the central and a handful of aces on their squad, although their setup man has proven to be perhaps hopelessly flapped. I realize that we sometimes get a little bit of flack for not piling onto poor performances - if our readers had it their way, we would have already chucked Derrek Lee and Michael Wuertz into the flames, where they would've been greeted by Aramis Ramirez if one of our less-legendary ex writers had it his way. So, while Marmol has certainly proven that he can't be trusted, I think it'd be stupid-at-the-very-least to suggest he's pitching with a Rich Hill Brand Fork stuck in him.
All of this is a lesson, by the way. The Giants had a costly win now mentality for too long, and they're paying for it now. Consequently, they're also paying from out of their pockets for overpriced players, Zito in particular. Tell me something, Giants fans, is this the image you really wanted to see this year?
I think, all told, the final line really says everything that's important:
Current Record: 57-38 (tying them for the best record in all of baseball)
Position in the NL Central: 1st place, 4.5 games in front of St. Louis
On Pace For: 97-65
Record needed to win 120: 63-4
The Cub Youth Movement
But wait, there's even more content to be had!
A year ago, the Cubs were also making a playoff charge at this time. They were doing it primarily on the backs of a number of young players - many of whom we now take for granted. However, let's take a closer look at some of these young studs who have performed so well for the Cubs:
Theriot and Fontenot: Last year, I likened Theriot and Fontenot to Dwight Smith and Jerome Walton. In '89, Smith and Walton finished back-to-back in the Rookie of the Year vote, as their contributions definitely pushed the Cubs into the playoffs. Last year, although they eventually tapered off, Theriot and Fontenot were essential players to the success of the Cubs. Theriot batted .348 with an OBP of .437 last July, which he followed up by batting a more reasonable .276 with a .315 OBP in August, before he eventually fell off the face of the earth in September. All told, he finished with a .266 AVG and .326 OBP with 28 steals in 32 attempts in his first full season in the majors. Fontenot did similar work last year, batting .397 in 78 at bats in June with 15 RBI before losing favor with Lou later in the year after he stopped putting up super-human numbers. Still, Fontenot batted .278 with a .336 OBP in 234 at bats last year.
This season, Theriot and Fontenot are having more successful sophomore seasons. In about 90 fewer at bats, the 28-year-old Fontenot has 4 more homeruns than he had last season, he's already got 21 RBI, he's drawn 1 less walk, and he's already hit as many doubles. Theriot, meanwhile, is batting .320 with an OBP of .394 and 15 steals (although he's been caught 9 times) and, in a full 190 fewer at bats, he's already drawn 41 walks compared with last year's total of 49.
As the Cubs continue to succeed, these guys are big reasons why.
Geovany Soto: When Soto was promoted to the majors last year, he'd already set the PCL ablaze. However, that's a league very notorious for inflated power numbers, and yet the young Soto quickly won the confidence of Lou Piniella by batting .389 with 3 homers and 8 RBI in just 18 games. In fact, Soto was the primary starter in the NLDS, which has to be unheard of for a young catcher.
In other words, the Cubs have this season a rookie catcher who's starting the All Star Game and already has playoff experience - and a post season homer. Pretty weird. All that said, Soto appears to be the real deal, rather than a mirage of Rick Wilkins-like proportions. He's hit 16 homers in his first full season, and he is presently on pace for 42 doubles, 28 homers, 99 RBI, and 74 walks. One small bit of warning - Soto is also on pace to play in 155 games this year. If Lou doesn't rest him a little more often, then his numbers are going to suffer.
Ronny Cedeno: I'm still harboring hope that he'll be traded, because there's just something about the guy that rubs me the wrong way. However, at the age of 25, Cedeno does have one odd statistic that looks better than it means - in 130 at bats and in 35 hits, Cedeno has 20 RBI and, hell, he's even got an OBP of .340. It's been a while since it happened, but for a while there Ronny was getting more clutch hits than Prince has gotten hot trim. He's won some game for the Cubs, but as Rob would argue, he's about as baseball smart as the guy who reared him, Dusty Baker, and that's problematic.
Sean Marshall: More trade bait. Last year, Marshall started 19 games for the Cubs. He went 7-8, he had an ERA of 3.92, and he at times looked, erm, not unimpressive. This year, Marshall has again at times stepped in as a starter, although he now is pitching out of the pen, and he has an ERA of 3.81 in 28.1 innings of work.
Maybe Marshall will contribute, maybe he'll be traded, but he's proven to be a not bad player, kind of like Fontenot, Theriot, or Wuertz. Look at it this way, folks - no team can field nothing but All Stars.
Carlos Marmol: A huge contributor to last year's playoff run, Marmol was as much a guarnatee as prom night action until the past month. He's already thrown 52.1 innings of work. I'll say it again - Lou needs to manage him differently. Even as the Cubs drive forward, Marmol's story will become increasingly interesting. I hate to toss out that trite cliche, but, it'll be interesting to see what happens.