Gamecast (July 23, 2010) Cardinals @ Cubs
I try not to harbor the irrational, emotional hatred of teams like the Cardinals that is so common among Cub fans all over the web. The Cardinals are just another team. Their fans are annoying as heck, but still, I respect and even like certain members of their team. I actually covet Adam Wainwright (who we will not be facing this weekend) and see him a future Cub after the 2012 season. I do think this is a series that the Cubs could win. In order to do that, they need to win today.
Today's Matchup: Jeff Suppan (61IP, 6.05ERA, 5.25 xFIP) vs Randy Wells (4.33ERA, 3.72 xFIP)
Holy crap. You know this team the Cubs and their fans are so scared of? They are extremely top heavy. They have 3 really good starters and then dreck at the back end of the rotation. They got damn lucky with Jaime Garcia (who the Cubs also won't be facing this year) because other wise, they'd be Wainwright/Carpenter and pray for a Tornado. Jeff Suppan is terrible. He's extremely hittable and he shouldn't be in the majors anymore. The Cubs have so much more depth at starting pitcher than the Cardinals, it isn't even funny.
As for Wells, he's been very very good this year. How good? He's 11th in the NL in xFIP. The pitchers in front of him encompass a who's who of #1 starters in the NL (and Hiroki Kuroda, who knew?). He has a better xFIP than Chris Carpenter. Also Ryan Dempster, Cole Hamels, Jaime Garcia, Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsly and so on. He's a well above average pitcher who has had an awesome sophomore season. We should appreciate him more than most of us do.
Who's Hot: I see no reason why Geovanny Soto should be sat in this weekend's series. There are no day games after night games and he got most of Wednesday's game's off along with an off day on Thursday. Soto has a .408 wOBA at the moment. He doesn't qualify for the percentage leader boards but there are only 5 players who do qualify that have a higher wOBA than Soto. Five. Here they are:
That's it. Soto should be hitting cleanup or third on the Cubs. He is not just one of our better hitters, he has been our best hitter this year. By a lot. The Cubs should be looking for a spot in the lineup when he's not catching. He should be playing first base or thid base, whichever. He is all the way back and in a just world, he'd be a very serious MVP candidate.
Who's Not: Ryan Theriot has stopped walking and while he never really had much power, he is taking singles hitting to a new and amazing level. Theriot now only adds value to the Cubs if he's hitting .320. I'm totally serious, Theriot at .300 is rather mediocre. So far, in July, he's hitting .268. I'd rather have Darwin Barney. If I were the Cubs, I'd be strictly platooning Fontenot and Baker. It's a perfect platoon and I'm shocked that the Cubs haven't employed it this year.
Conclusion: There are no "must win" games this year but I want this series. I want the Cubs to crush the Cardinals this weekend. I know they aren't going to sneak back into the race but I don't care. I root for the Cubs to win and I think they can beat the bejesus out of Jeff Suppan. I also don't believe a sweep will preclude the trade of Ted Lilly, who is the #1 trade chip the Cubs have. So let's get it done boys!