Let's take a moment to talk about what happened with the Cardinals, before moving back on to how bad Milwaukee sucks.
It's nice saving face and avoiding the sweep, especially when your team is starting to look more and more like the New York Mets.
Apparently, all a $2 trillion payroll gets you these days is an outfield of Bobby Scales, So Taguchi, and Micah Hoffpauir; a middle infield featuring Mike Fontenot and Andres Blanco; and a win for perennial All-Star Esmailin... Caridad? Whatever.
As we end the season series with the Cardinals, we have one last moment to talk about the Tale of Two Teams. Because really, on top of the storied history of this rivalry, things went really well for one team, and poorly for the other.
Call it a lesson in how to handle a bad economy in professional sports.
While Jim Hendry was giving himself (another?) heart attack this offseason. He signed Aaron Miles (after the Cardinals let him walk; RED FLAG!). He traded Mark DeRosa. He got Aaron Heilman. He signed Ryan Dempster, and of course, he signed Milton Bradley.
While on the one hand, that looks like a lot of moves, the Cardinals appear to have done more at this point in the season.
They added Matt Holliday. They grabbed John Smoltz. They acquired Mark DeRosa and Julio Lugo. In the end, the Cards did just as much to reshape their team this year as the Cubs did. They just did it at the right time.
What does this mean for next year, when the economy may or may not rebound? Does it make sense to trade Milton Bradley as quickly as possible? Should we pay Chone Figgins whatever it'll take to get him here? Do we sign Doug Davis before Spring Training begins?
Or should we start the season with what we have, and let things play out?
The Bradley thing may be a non-recoverable situation. But for a team that has been weighed down by enormous contracts for the past few years, maybe it makes sense to exercise a little restraint before we let Jim start writing a bunch more checks.
Just saying. And oh yeah, go Cubs!
Record: 76 - 72
Playoff Chances: real slim
Cranky Right Fielders Suspended: 1
Worst We Can Do: Have to wait one more year. But we're good at that, aren't we!
It's the battle of the Randy's today as Wolf takes on Wells in a 12-round fight. Err, 9-round? Oh, forgot it. Anyway, the Cubs come into tonight's matchup smoking hot. They've scored 19 runs in three games against a dynamic foe. Who am I kidding? Ok, the Cubs did what they had to do to beat the Pirates, now they must face the best team in baseball, not to mention the enemies of last year's .....well, you know.
Wells has been as solid as a call up could be. Too bad he hasn't won a game thanks to Kevin Gregg and some lackluster offense. Wells will have his hands full tonight with the Dodgers. Right now the Dodgers lead the league in BA, Runs, and OBP. Their only 2nd in OPS, and fourth in Slugging.
The Cubs are only 4-games out of first with everybody else off tonight. So, this is an excellent chance to gain a little ground.
Carlos Zambrano continues to dominate the news a day after his gentle disagreement. The more I look at the video, the more I believe the ump bumped into Big Z. The word just came down, and Z will get six games. My guess is it is reduced to five games and he won't miss a start. It will probably be reduced on appeal, and Z will miss one start at most. With an off say on Monday, the Cubs could just adjust the rotation without calling up anybody.
In other news, Ryan Freel was placed on the DL, and Bobby Scales was called back up. I hope he actually didn't make it Iowa, but if did at least he got some airline miles for his troubles.
Mike Fontenot - don't look now, but Fontenot is 6-for-15 in his last six games. He's not driving in runs, but he has to start somewhere.
Geovanny Soto - Geo is still not hitting for power, but he is drawing walks and getting on base. He's got five hits in his last five games. Now, if we can only get a few more HRs.
Ryan Theriot - After a little slump, Theriot started hitting again. He went 3-for-3 yesterday.
Jake Fox - Ok, I know it's early, but the man just hits. He's got a 3.00 OPS right now (I know it's just one AB).
Light hitting middle infielders - Aaron Miles and Ryan Freel now find themselves on the better side of the DL in many Cub fan hearts. The good thing was that neither of them were really hitting.
Derrek Lee - Lee had a 0-for-3 yesterday and is up to .246 on the year. We really need to see a few more 2-for-4 days with some 2B's and HR's.
The Cubs should destroy Randy Wolf, but stranger things have happened. Wells is long overdue for win, and I think he picks it up tonight.
Wow. Now that was an awesome game which will hopefully leave the boo-birds silent for a while. First of all, Chad Gaudin was up to his old tricks. He proved tough to hit, but for him so did the catcher's mitt. The former Cub allowed only 1 hit in 4.1 innings of work but he also walked 7. Amazingly enough he appeared as if he'd get away with his wild streak until the hitters erupted in the 5th.
We actually saw this often enough last year that it wasn't surprising. The 1-4 hitters in the Cubs lineup failed to drive in a single run and yet the team exploded for 11. But unlike those incidents from '08, the 1-4 hitters got the job done -- it's just that they spent the day setting the table rather than clearing it.
Impressively Theriot, Fukudome, and Hoffpauir drew 2 walks a piece - accounting for 6 of the day's 10 walks - and consequently they also made up for 5 of the Cubs 11 runs. Dusty Baker is shocked that the patient, disciplined route worked but Cub fans have always known better.
The first big inning came in the previously mentioned 5th, when Gaudin managed to walk the bases loaded. He was then relieved by Luis Perdomo who continued the party by walking Geovany Soto (scoring a run) and then through surrendering back-to-back doubles to Reed Johnson and Bobby Scales! (The act of coming in to relieve a difficult situation only to fail to get a single out while being beaten like Tina during one of Ike's coke benders is what we like to call "crapping one's pants on the mound.") Turdomo was then relieved by Duaner Sanchez who surrendered an RBI single to the pitcher, walked Soriano, and finally escaped the inning by inducing a ground out from Theriot.
But wait! There was a second big inning! The Padres trotted Sanshiz out there for a second inning of "effective relief," and he proceeded to surrender a hit to Fukudome before he got the first two outs of the inning, at which point Reed Johnson singled and Bobby Scales! doubled home both base runners. Then Aaron Miles doubled home Scales! and Ryan Dempster completed the Trifecta Double scoring Miles.
In other words, Sanchez pitched 1.2 innings, surrendered 6 hits, gave up 4 runs, and walked 1 batter. So much for "relief."
Incidentally Mr. Bobby Scales! went 2 for 4, giving him hits in his first 6 games at the Major League level. As I keep saying Scales really wants to stay in the majors for a while.
Dempster has been a hard-luck ace this year evoking serious doubts from the faithful about his fat contract. He's still got a ways to go before we feel better about things but today he pitched 7 innings, allowed only 3 hits, 2 walks, struck out 5 and lowered his ERA to 4.65. Not to mention he went all Zambrano on the Padres as previously mentioned. His stellar 2 for 4 day raises his batting average to an impressive .105 on the season -- Milton Bradley territory.
Dempster was relieved by Jose Ascanio, marking his 2009 debut. The Ass-Can threw 2 innings of relief, struck out 3, and surrendered an irrelevant homerun. But hey -- no walks. We'll take it!
I'll never forget what the Padres did to the Cubs back in '06 when they brutally crushed the team and effectively ended the season. They evoked this photoshop from me at the time:
It brings warm feelings to my blackened heart to see the Cubs deliver a similar blow to the Padres just over 3 years later. This series wasn't even remotely close for San Diego and the Cubs at this moment sit half a game out of first place in the Central.
And still I'm sure that there will be plenty of ledge-jumping moments to come, but that warm feeling you have right now is the right one to have. For all their nagging injuries, and bizarrely bad performances, and heart breaking losses these Cubs are the real deal. Lower the white flag of defeat, raise the white flag of blue victory and bring on Houston!
Current Record: 20-14
Position in the NL Central: Tied for 2nd place, 0.5 games out of 1st
Best Possible Record: 148-14
Worst Possible Record: 20-142
Record needed to win 110: 90-38
On Pace For: 95-67
Series Preview: Padres vs. Cubs
Game Recap: Cubs 6, Padres 2
Game Recap: Cubs 6, Padres 4 Theriot Unquieted
GameCast: May 14th - Padres vs. Cubs Sweep Edition
Bobby Scales! wants you to know that since he's finally made it to the majors he plans on staying for a while. While he's there he might as well get used to winning, too.
Was anybody sweating the 2 run lead San Diego held until the 5th? The Cubs sure had some chances in the early innings but were unable to capitalize on walks, doubles, wild-pitch advancements, and mascot mischief until Alfonso Soriano finally said ENOUGH! and cranked a run-scoring double.
After that it was a verifiable hit parade as the Cubs scored 1 or more runs every inning until they shut it down after the top of the 9th. The Fonz and Fuku were responsible for 6 of the Cubs 11 hits, and both managed double doubles - giving both 9 on the year. (A Soriano-Fukudome double team? But how can that possibly work? They're practically from different worlds! One is dark skinned and from the Dominican, the other is Asian and from the Far East! What is this, Rush Hour 4?)
Also among the big hitters was Milton Bradley - who hit a 2-run homer in the 6th - and the previously mentioned Bobby Scales! who has now played in 5 games and collected at least 1 hit each time.
By the way, on the flip side Derrek Lee and Mike Fontenot both went 0 for 3 and Lee struck out every at bat. Clearly he's done for, rather than merely rusty.
Rich Harden lowered his ERA thanks to 6 innings of 4 hit, 1 walk ball. The only damage he allowed was done in the 1st inning, a two-run shot by Adrian Gonzalez. Harden responded to his early troubles by popping a ligament out of his arm. (No, wait, he actually buckled down and owned San Diego the rest of the way out.)
The bullpen delievered 3 solid innings. Heilman, Marmol, and Gregg gave Cub fans what we needed - shutout baseball with only a few pants-crapping moments - like when Carlos Marmol issued one of his trademark walks.
The Cubs are now 1.5 games out of first place, by the way. I hope St. Louis has enjoyed their lead.