Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Brewers

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Game & Series Recap: Cubs 8, Brewers 2 (3 games to 1)

Game Recap
The best thing about today's game was that there was no single best thing: the Cubs got a ton of guys on base, Ted Lilly posted a quality start, and the relievers Lou called upon late in the game were able to get outs.

Having said that, I think the "best best thing" would have to be the eight runs the Cubs were able to bring home today. Gigantic home runs from Lee and Fox, clutch two-out hitting throughout the game, productive outs with men on third base and less than two outs--it was all there.

With that, the Cubs take three of four from the scuttling Brewers. Milwaukee now faces the division-leading Cardinals and league-leading Dodgers in their next two series before the All-Star Break.

The Cubs did well to take advantage of an opportunity to gain ground in the division. They'll need to make the most of Aramis Ramirez' return as the Braves arrive in Chicago tomorrow.

Speaking of Ramirez' return, it'll be interesting to see how the Cubs handle the returns of three key players this week, with Aramis, Reed Johnson, and Angel Guzman all returning to the active roster. I'm sure everyone else around here has an opinion of their own on what the team should do, and believe it or not, so do I.

My three top choices to send to Iowa are Jeff Baker (easy), Kevin Hart (kinda easy), and Micah Hoffpauir (toughest decision).

Hart's got options, so we may as well use 'em. Baker's probably better than Ryan Freel, and definitely better than Aaron Miles, but beyond that I don't see where he fits on to this team.

That leaves Micah Hoffpauir. Maybe this isn't that controversial a stance, but look at Micah's offensive numbers on the year, and consider his offensive defense throughout his career. I prefer Sam Fuld's patience and speed to Micah's raw power--and consequent propensity for striking out.

Let's keep the hot Fuld up, and send the cold Hoff down. As soon as the trend(s) reverse(s), we can make another move. In the meantime, I hope Lou goes for versatility over power.

Current Record: 40-39
Position in the NL Central: 3th place, 2.5 games out
Best Possible Record: 123-39
Worst Possible Record: 40-122
Record needed to win 110: 70-13
On Pace For: 82-80

GameCast: July 5th vs. Brewers

GameCastMike Burns (1-1, 3.31 ERA) vs. Ted Lilly (7-6, 3.35 ERA)
Story-lines

After yesterday's drubbing, it sure doesn't feel as if the Cubs are poised to take 3 of 4 from their divisional rivals.  And yet, with Ted Lilly taking the mound that is exactly the position the Cubs are in.  Then again, as Lou continues to tinker with the team, the Cubs remain in their offensive druthers - having only scored 2 runs in each of their last 2 games.

I realize I'm probably crazy, but it shouldn't be so hard for Lou to figure out his team and put forth a plan of action.  He has players who can lead off, he has guys who have been swinging a hot bat, and he even has the ability to take his three-or-so regulars who are tanking right now and place them in the bottom of the batting order until they heat up.

But what do I know -- I am a simple blogger.

Who's Hot
Theriot, Bradley, Fontenot, Soto, and Fuld -- hmm.  Odd.  None of these players conflict in the positions they field.  There are five of them in total, too.  Maybe Lou can work them into the 1-5 slots of the top of the lineup?  Derrek Lee would make for a sixth.

Who's Not
Fox, Fukudome, Soriano -- Jake Fox was bound to hit a dry spell.  Fukky and Sori, on the other hand, are out of excuses.

Conclusions

Here's today's should-be-lineup based on the past week-or-so of play.  Ready?

1. Sam Fuld, LF -- bats left, swings a hot bat, etc.
2. Milton Bradley, RF -- switch hitter, been hitting well as of late.
3. Derrek Lee, 1B -- Low AVG, high OPS
4. Geo Soto, C -- been hitting -- and especially driving -- the ball well as of late.
5. Mike Fontenot, 2B -- bats left, .904 OPS in the past week
6. Ryan Theriot, SS -- Batting .286, but not taking many walks right now
7. Kosuke Fukudome, CF -- bats left, .723 OPS
8. Jake Fox, 3B -- Sluggish rather than slugging, still the best option until Ramirez returns

All I'm saying is that they couldn't possibly do worse than the real lineup Lou's trotting out there today.  For the record, that lineup is as follows:

Fukudome, Theriot, Lee, Bradley, Fox, Soriano, Soto, Fontenot, Lilly

But I'm crazy for thinking Lou's lost it?

Game Recap: Brewers 11, Cubs 2, that one hurt

Recap
Just when it looked like the Cubs might be in a good position to get a step ahead, the offense comes crashing down, the pitching falters and fails, and my apocalyptic worst-case scenario (a 4th place again Cubs) comes true.

Meh.  They're still playing for a series win today.

Rich Harden, it would seem, does not have the testicle fortitude to pitch when his best stuff is not there.  Smarter pitchers find something that works even when their pitches aren't.  But not Harden -- he got lit up like a firecracker.

Then again, so did Patton and Samardzija, both of whom gave up extra -- but meaningless -- runs to the offensively angry Brewers. 

On the offensive end, nobody had a particularly good game (as evidenced by the meager 2 runs the team scored).  Milton Bradley hit a 2-run homerun on the day Yahoo sports posted an article questioning whether or not the Cubs were already tired of him and his antics.

Maybe they are, and maybe it's a relationship doomed to eventually fall apart, but I will repeat again the message of this month: Talent Wins Out.  Bradley's not done as a hitter yet -- even if 2009 is a lost season for him.

GameCast: July 4th vs. Brewers, for FREEDOM

GameCastBraden Looper (6-4, 4.90 ERA) vs. Rich Harden (5-4, 4.57 ERA)
Story-lines
On the day we celebrate our freedom -- and our right to accuse the other political party of doing anything within their power to stifle it -- the Cubs play a game with immense implications*.  If they win, then they come within mere percentage points of surpassing the Brewers for second place in the division.  If they lose, then they very well may find themselves behind the Reds and back in fourth place by the end of the day.  For Saturday baseball, it doesn't get much better.

(*which, admittedly, require the use of a calculator to fully understand)

Pitching for the Cubs today is Rich Harden, also known as Last Year's Rick Sutcliffe.  But like Sutcliffe in '84, Harden's '85 season hasn't panned out as well as we'd hope it would've.  Still, like Sutcliffe before him Harden is a ginger** with arm problems who can pitch like Cy Young when he's not feeling like Mark Prior. 

(**may not be true)

The Cubs, meanwhile, are trying this revolutionary new strategy of NOT BATTING THE WORST HITTER LEADOFF.  I'm sorry, Cub fans, but in the past month I've heard the following reasons for keeping Alfonso Soriano in the #1 position:

  • Because wouldn't it be worse for him to get his outs with runners on base?
  • Because who else would the Cubs bat leadoff if not Soriano?
  • But he's a headcase!  How's he going to improve if he's not comfortable!

I mean, really?  We're justifying batting a guy who is now hitting .226 leadoff -- in other words, giving him the most at bats of any Cub in any given game -- because the team has nobody better who can hit leadoff and besides, Sori will just make outs with runners on if he's dropped in the order?

Not that today's lineup looks spectacular by any means.  Fukudome is batting leadoff, and he's 8 for his last 32 - a .250 AVG - with a .314 OBP in that time frame.  Maybe Lou is setting Fukudome up to fail so he can say "well, I tried, but I gotta put Sori back in the leadoff spot."

On the bright side, unlike past lineups, Lou is not sticking two-or-more hitters back-to-back in the middle of the lineup.  Instead he's leaving them in the middle but with padding in between.  I mean, I have to ask, which lineup would YOU rather see?

CF Fukudome
SS Theriot
1B Lee
RF Bradley
3B Fox
LF Soriano
C Soto
2B Fontenot

Or
SS Theriot (.400 OBP in the past week)
RF Bradley (.407 OBP in the past week)
1B Lee
C Soto (.936 OPS, .545 slugging in the past week)
CF Fukudome (.222 in the past week, but .833 OPS)
3B Fox
2B Fontenot (.750 OPS in the past week)
LF Soriano

I could be wrong, but the second lineup appears stronger.

Who's Hot
Well, I sorta outlined that in the lineup formation.  Ryan Theriot -- on fire.  Geovany Soto -- not bad.  Even Milton's been playing too well to justify a benching.

Who's Not
The Fonz.  This season has been a total bust for him.

Conclusions
If the Cubs win this one, then they will have started to assume control of their own destiny.  But if they fail to do that, then at least we wouldn't be surprised.  (We're a fickle, cynical bunch)

Belated Game Recap: Cubs 2, Brewers 1

Recap
Or: One more win and it's a route

So.  After an offensive explosion on Thursday, it took the Cubs 10 innings to git'er'done on Friday.  Carlos Zambrano's 7 inning performance was not wasted, but he did not reap the spoils.  Then again, if any no-decision pitcher deserved credit for the win it's Carlos, who's 5th inning single tied up the game until a bases-loaded 10th inning walk gave it to the Cubs.

So, what did we learn from yesterday?  We learned that no 10-run drubbings translate into consistently scoring runs.  We learned at long last that even Lou can no longer justify batting Alfonso Soriano leadoff.  We also learned that the Cubs bullpen is capable of holding a team down in a low-scoring affair.

The results -- the Cubs are tied in the loss column for first place in the Central. 

Not to mention what's planned for today's game, which I will outline in a post following this one probably by a matter of minutes.

GameCast: July 3rd vs. Brewers

GameCastJeff Suppan (5-6, 4.86 ERA) vs. Carlos Zambrano (4-3, 3.69 ERA)
Story-lines

Yesterday's game was pretty effin' cool.  In a game of offensive bounty (a particularly rare occurrence with the Cubs this year) Derrek Lee reminded us of why we once loved him, back before he got his wrist broken by a guy who might weigh 140 pounds soaking wet and before Lee had the bad luck of grounding into a ton of double plays*.  The decisive victory was nice.  But today's story, at least in my opinion, is Carlos Zambrano.

(*Now, if Rob had made either claim, we'd have people commenting about how Raffy Furcal actually weighs 187 pounds, and how 27 double plays is surely a lot but it would be difficult to assign a physical weight to a statistic.  Then again, in case you hadn't noticed, people are douchebags)

In the past week-or-so, we've had articles written by other douchebags about how Carlos should be waived, or released, or traded.  Why?  Because he's apparently to blame for his meager 4 wins in 13 starts or something, I'm not really sure.

Looking a little closer, we see that Carlos presently has a 3.69 ERA - his best since 2006.  He's striking out 7.16 batters per 9 innings - his best since '07 and damn near a full strikeout better than last year's.  His K/BB is the best it's been since 2005.  None of which is to say that he's pitching like an "ace."

Maybe it's because of his attitude.  Carlos, as you may know, is batshit insane.  When he's not pitching well, he curses loudly at the ball in Spanish.  When he's tossing a no-hitter, he curses loudly at the ball in Spanish.  When he hits homeruns, he curses loudly in Spanish as he rounds the bases.  When he strikes out... well, you get it.  The point is, he's immature.  He doesn't have the Maddux-like poise that we are seeking (ignoring the Maddux rampage in the dugout when he was in his second tenure with the Cubs, anyway).  He throws things.  He ejects umpires.  In the words of some douchebag Cub bloggers, he's a punk. 

I submit that he is none of those things.  Is he immature?  By what standards would we assess that?  Think about yourself and the most frustrating moment you experienced in, say, the past two years.  Did you throw things?  Did you curse loudly at yourself or at others?  Did you pull a Wayne Brady and have to choke a bitch?  Are you immature?  The difference is that you didn't have your meltdown on a national stage, but whether you are 20, or 40, or 80, chances are you've had at least one freak out in the past year that you're ashamed of.  It's called being human and caring about whatever situation you find yourself in -- even if you're wrong for the tantrum you've tempered.

Anyway, let's agree that Carlos will not win 20.  Not this year, probably never, but so long as he remains capable -- if not likely -- of holding opponents to 3 runs or less in a playoff start, then he's my favorite Game One starter.  Of all the other pitchers on the Cubs roster, I trust none more than him.  So, yeah, maybe releasing Zambrano, or trading him, or waiving him... maybe those are all really, really stupid ideas.

Who's Hot
Derrek Lee -- As somebody said in the ShoutBox, Lee had a good week last night.  He smacked 2 homers, drove in 7 RBI, and is probably the most legitimate All Star caliber player the Cubs have this year. 

Geovany Soto -- Admit it.  When I speculated about a month ago that Soto was on the cusp of having a decent season, you were doubtful.  When I suggested that he could finish the year with a .260+ batting average and 15 or more homeruns, you wanted to challenge me to a fistfight due to my blatant, reality-disregarding optimism.   

Well, based on his recent performance, Geovany is now on pace to hit 19 homeruns.  He batted .278 in May, but with only 1 homer, 10 RBI, and a .731 OPS.  In June he batted .257 but with 6 homeruns, 12 RBI, and a .916 OPS.  There's no doubt that he won't finish the season as impressively as he did in 2008, but at this point he appears likely to not be a sophomore bust.  And if he can keep hitting like he did in June but with perhaps a bit of a better AVG, then the Cubs offense just might be good to go in July and beyond.

Jake Fox -- Between him and Randy Wells, Jake Fox has been one reason Cub fans can look forward to not just how 2009 might turn out, but toward 2010 and beyond.  Probably Fox is not as good as he's looked in Iowa and Chicago, but ever since Lou started playing him he has responded with hitting the ball.  For the moment, Fox is on pace to have 284 at bats, 24 doubles, 14 homers, and 57 RBI while batting .317.  Sooner or later he will probably return to earth, or he'll lose opportunities to play -- unless the Cubs can figure out a way to wedge him in there.

Ryan Theriot -- Theriot is batting .348 in the past week with 7 singles and 1 homerun accounting for all his hits. 

Who's Not
Bradley, Fukudome, Soriano -- Combined, they've spent the past week going 14 for 63, a .222 AVG, with 1 homer and 4 RBI between them.  The only way these players should be batting consecutively in the lineup is if they're 6 through 8th.  Just saying.

Conclusions
With Jeff Suppan taking the ball for the Brewers and Carlos Zambrano on the mound for the Cubs, in a home game with a handful of hot hitters, the Cubs should absolutely flat-out dominate this game.  Of course, by now we know that "should" rarely translates into "did."  Still, I have to like the Cubs chances.  They've already beaten the best pitcher the Brewers were throwing at them this series while their own rotation should get stronger throughout the weekend. 

So I'll just put it like this, then...

Is anybody besides me excited for this afternoon's game?

Game Recap: Cubs 9, Brewers 5, Derrek Lee Triumphant


Recap
So. We will probably debate certain aspects of baseball philosophy forever. For example, while drowning in a sea of pessemism as of late, I have recently thrown out a lifeline by way of poining out how the Cubs are in an excellent position to give Brewer and Cardinal fans anxiety disorders. That is something Rob will disagree with staunchly even though doing so ignores that, were the Cubs in first place right now and had they just suffered a 9 to 5 loss to the fourth place Brewers, he'd be crapping his pants just as badly.

But while certain things are and always will be debated, I'm pretty sure that by this point we can all come together and agree that Derrek Lee was not in fact washed up after the 2008 season. The declining power? Probably an indication of nursing injuries more than anything else. The double plays? Just bad luck, fluke, and coincidence wrapped up in a nice bow. The Hoffsplooge love? Perhaps a little premature.

Last night for the second time this season Derrek had a two homerun game. The difference from the first, though, was that he did it with lots of runners on base. Derrek started things off in the first with a three-run homer -- amazing the things that can happen if your leadoff hitter manages to actually get on base -- and he was followed up two batters later by Jake Fox's 3rd. Then, after the Brewers came within 2 runs of the lead, Geovany Soto smoked his 8th homerun of the year* Derrek stepped up again -- this time with the bases loaded -- and hit a Grand Slam. It would be the last time the Cubs would score, but it would also be the last time they needed to -- even though the Brewers nicked back runs in the 6th through 8th innings, it was never close.

(*"Smoked his 8th homerun of the year?" Heh. Puns.)

Lee is now on pace to hit 33 homeruns, to drive in 112 RBI, and to have the second-highest OPS of his career with the Cubs. After only playing 65 games, he is 4 homeruns shy of last year's total. At GROTA we believe in flexibility in both women and baseball, and so while many of us argued that Lee was best-suited to bat 6th a few months ago I'm sure we'd all agree now that he should remain the #3 hitter for as long as his hot bat justifies it.

As for Ryan Dempster, the bad-luck Cubs starter, he pitched into the 7th, striking out 9, raising his ERA to 4.09, but collecting his 5th win of the season. It wasn't perhaps the ideal start but we'll take it.

The Cubs are now 2.5 games out of first. If they are able to win this series, they will be no more than 1.5 games behind the Brewers when Milwaukee leaves town. If the Cubs sweep, they might not find themselves settled in at first place (the Cardinals and Reds would still have a say in that) but they would be, at least temporarily, ahead of the Brewers in the standings.

Just food for thought.

GameCast: July 2nd vs. Brewers

GameCastSeth McClung (3-1, 3.56 ERA) vs. Ryan Dempster (4-5, 4.09 ERA)
Story-Lines
I think that Kyle summed it up rather nicely when he wrote: "THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT SERIES OF OUR ENTIRE LIVES."

The Cubs are a team who have been under-performing so often this year that it's hard to justify the inclusion of "under" in that description nowadays.  They have ungodly talented hitters who just aren't hitting.  They've got relief pitchers with ice water in their veins who are about as reliable as a tool bought at a Dollar Store.  They've got a manager with winning in his blood who can't seem to do anything right. 

And now they've got a chance to hurdle their way above the first place Brewers in one fell swoop. 

Well, sadly my friends this is not the movies.  Willie Mays Hays isn't here to make some kind of impressive (and entirely unrealistic) base-stealing play.  Rick "Wild Thing" Vaughn is neither here to notch an impressive victory nor to sleep with all the hookers of Division Street.  The Cubs could leapfrog the Brewers but it would take some kind of minor -- nay, major -- miracle for it to actually happen.

Still, let's just think about it for a second.  The Cubs, sweeping the Brewers, smacking around the Braves, and then demolishing the Cardinals.  That feeling in your gut that you had just now?  That's optimism, my friends.  Cherish it while you can.

Who's Hot
Jake Fox - 9 for his last 27, batting .333 with 2 homeruns

Geovany Soto - 7 for his last 23, batting .304 with a double, triple, and homer

Sam Fuld - 2 for 4 this season.  Actually I just wanted to mention him as a way to congratulate him on getting his first-ever major league hits, and for making another outstanding defensive play recently.  Fuld may come from the Doug Dascenzo School of Athleticism, but I'd say he's earned a stay in the Majors based on his head-breaking hard play.

Dave Patton - As mentioned perhaps by Nick V (sorry I can't remember for sure, it may also have been AJ) since April 29th, Patton's line is as follows: 13.2 IP, 13 hits, 7 BB, 4 ER, 2.63 ERA.  I'm not sold on Patton, but used sparingly and if he can pitch this effectively then I'll take back most of the mean things I've said about his mother.  (But she's still a hater of cheese)

Kevin Gregg - His May line: 11.2 IP, 7 saves, 3.86 ERA.  His June line: 13 IP, 5 saves (2 blown), 2.77 ERA. 

Who's Not
In the name of optimism, we'll skip this one. 

Conclusions
I made this point earlier in the day and I will make it again now.

Stop being a Cubs fan for a second.  Pretend you support the Brewers or Cardinals, and you always have.

It's July 2nd.  The team favored to win your division has been struggling along all season long.  And here's your team, a mere 4 -- or 8 -- games over .500, only 3.5 -- or 2.5 -- games ahead of the dangerous, sluggish Cubs.

Tell me you're not worried.  Tell me that you have written the Cubs off.  Tell me either of those things and I will call you a liar and an idiot.

We are so caught up in our Cubbie Mentality that we've forgotten a few things ... all the crap that's ever happened means nothing this year.  If the Cubs and Brewers were in opposite places in the standings, we'd be crapping our collective drawers right now.  So rather than taking this pervasive, unending perspective that these are the Cubs -- so of course they'll falter and eventually fade -- maybe we should consider that maybe, just maybe, talent will win out.

That's not being an optimist, or a Pollyellon, by any means.  It is simply recognizing that -- say it with me now -- the Cubs are not cursed.  Get over this ridiculous sense of hopelessness and have some frickin' balls for once, Cub fans!

Series Preview: Cubs vs. Brewers

Series Preview
Match-Ups
Overview

Let’s see, how do I put this modestly? Hmmm. Ah screw it.

THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT SERIES OF OUR ENTIRE LIVES.

Well, not really. But I it’s kind of important or something. Think of it this way: If the Cubs sweep this 4-game series with the Brewers, then they could be in first place. However if they are swept, then they could be in last. Thanks mediocre NL Central.

Anyway, the Brewers come in 5-5 over their last 10 games with their most recent game being a 1-0 loss to the Mets at home. Milwaukee was 5-4 at Wrigley last season and this will be their first trip to the Cathedral in ‘09.

As for the Cubs, they’re coming off a hellish road trip (3-7) that has had players and fans alike tearing each other apart. Let me just say thank God for the Pirates. Taking two of three from Shatsburgh was probably more important for the confidence of this team than we realize. The Cubs should be carrying some of that momentum into the series (the important word here is “should”).

The Matchups
Thursday, July 2nd - Seth McClung vs. Ryan Dempster
McClung (Milwaukee’s more ginger and right-handed version of Sean Marshall) made his first start of the season against the Giants at home and was knocked around quite a bit. Being used mostly as a relief pitcher this season, I’d guess it will take a him a few more starts to stretch out the arm. So I’d expect him to be out by the fifth inning. Getting to McClung early and working high pitch counts should be the offense’s goal.

Dempster seems to pitch better at Wrigley this season than on the road, so he’s got that going for him. Hopefully the comforts of home will help Demp get a handle on his control because this dude needs to stop walking people. Unfortunately the Brewers are 2nd in the NL in walks. Fear the walk people.

Friday, July 3rd - Jeff Suppan vs. Carlos Zambrano
Guess what Phil Rogers? Carlos Zambrano is still on the Chicago Cubs. Yet amazingly you still have a job. It’s a crazy world we live in.

So what if Big Z is a little loco. At least someone on this team is showing some passion. I don’t expect things to change Friday and I’m thinking Scarlos has one of his better outings of the season.

As for Suppan, what can I say? The guy is the definition of “meh”-ish. The elements are ripe for a beat down.

Saturday, July 4th - Braden Looper vs. Rich Harden

Another Cardinals reject and another saucy matchup for the Cubs. Although Looper held the Cubs to only one run in five innings earlier this season, I like it when this lineup faces familiar foes.

Welcome back Rich Harden. Sure your gem was against the Pirates – whom my 72-year-old grandmother could probably throw a scoreless inning against based on the way they played this past series – but I tip my hat to you sir. Maybe this is the start of a dominating run for Rich…or maybe he’ll go to Wrigley and stink it up like he has all season (2-3 with a 6.31 ERA at home).

Sunday, July 5th – Mike Burns vs. Ted Lilly
Me likey Ted Lilly at Wrigley. Especially his 1.85 ERA while pitching at the Friendly Confines this season. I can’t remember the last time I saw a pitcher on the Cubs roster who was so consistently dominant at Wrigley and so consistently subpar on the road. Then again, I also drink a lot.

I really don’t know much about Mike Burns and I’m just trying to make it through this paragraph without referencing a “Simpsons” joke. What I can tell you is that this will be his first start on the road. Pretty tough considering it is at Wrigley during a primetime broadcast. I wish him nothing but back luck

Conclusion
If this series were being played in Milwaukee, I would be deeply worried. But it’s not, so tough nards for the Brewers. Not facing Yovani Gallardo means the Cubs have the starting pitching advantage across the board, which tells me it is imperative for the offense to score early. The Brewers’ bullpen has been surprisingly solid this season (especially Trevor Hoffman), so don’t expect many come-from-behind wins if the Cubs are trailing late.

I’m not going to predict a sweep either way, but the Cubs should win 3 of 4 if the starting pitching continues to give quality starts.

Go Cubs.

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NL Central Rankings of Ultimate Power (May 25)

Although I almost dug my heart out with an old wooden spoon yesterday in the wake of loss #7, I'm partially relieved that the rest of the division had a somewhat "meh"-ish week as well. In the last 10 games, no team in the NLC has a record better than 6-4 (Brew, Cards, Bucs). Yay for synchronized mediocrity.

Tribune power rankings: Brewers, Cards, Cubs, Pirates, Reds, Astros

1. St. Louis Morans (26-18) Previous ranking: 4

The Cards can thank the Cubs for giving them the confidence they needed to start playing like the best friggin pitching staff in Tony La Russa's time as their manager. Your welcome St. Louis. (PS - As I write this, Carpenter is pitching a no-no against the Brewers. I hate everything.)

2. Milwaukee Makers Of Why I Hate Myself On Sunday Mornings (26-18) Previous ranking: 1

Being swept by the Twins has cooled them off a bit and brought them back to the pack, but they are still scary at the plate and have a solid team OBP (.345). Did I mention that they currently have no hits against the Cardinals and Yovani Gallardo is also pitching a no hitter? Double jinx bitches.

3. Cincinnati Ready For The DL (23-20) Previous ranking: 3

And down goes Edison Volquez. The unraveling begins. On a side note, Homer Bailey will be taking Volquez's spot in the rotation. Is there a worse name for a pitcher than Homer?

4. Chicago Cubs (21-21) Previous ranking: 2

The one constant during this slump has been the lineup, which aside from the occasional sub has remained relatively the same. This may sound crazy, but perhaps it's time to move D-Lee back to the No. 3 spot. That formula has worked for the last two years. Just saying.

5. Somalia Pirates...too soon? (20-24) Previous ranking: 5

If the Pirates go into Wrigley and win two of three (or get the sweep) then I will officially start to worry. But come on. Their pitching staff ranks last in the NL in strikeouts, so the Cubs should at least be able to put the ball in play and stretch out those legs.

6. Houston Colt .45's (18-24) Previous ranking: 6

This is a much better team name, right? Why do we let stupid people run baseball teams?

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