Go Figure

Baseball, like many parts of life, is absolutely unpredictable. Many who gamble on other sports rarely touch a baseball game. Even though the saying goes “On any given Sunday…” but an avid viewer of the NFL will be right 12-13 out of 16 games each weekend. Baseball is slightly different. On any afternoon or evening any team can win. The Royals could take down the Red Sox or the Devil Rays could beat the Yankees. The Pirates could beat the Mets and the Brewers could even beat the Cubs. Even by taking starting pitchers and lineups into the equation it remains difficult to predict the outcome. Carlos Zambrano could pitch like Jeff Pico or Les Walrond could pitch like Greg Maddux.

Back in June the Cubs were repeatedly unsuccessful in their attempts to trade Jacque Jones. Fans despised JJ and it was clear his tumultuous 18 months in Cubby pinstripes needed to end. He was starting twice a week at best and consistently proving his play mirrored that of a pile of smoking feces.

Meanwhile Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez were tearing up the league. Powerful walk off bombs from the third baseman helped his diamond-mate rip double after double after double. Lee and Ramirez fed off of one another providing a source of lost sleep for opposing pitchers. Alfonso Soriano was heating up and starting to show off the talent that netted him a $136 million contract. His hammy looked better and he was gliding and hopping all over the outfield. (What is it with star outfielders and “hopping?”)

Over the past three weeks the Cubs have been forced to look outside their Big 3, and in the case of Derrek Lee it has been 6 or 8 weeks. D. Lee is striking out at an alarming rate while his batting average plummets. Though A-Ram’s average has remained near his season long pace, his powers numbers are non-existent. Since his walk-off blast against the Brewers, A-Ram has hit 3 homeruns. Stop for a second and think about that. In the past two months (the walk-off occurred on June 29th) Ramirez has hit a paltry 3 homeruns. Soriano has been hurt for almost half of that time and D. Lee’s average is plummeting after batting .257 in July and .261 in August.

And now to the rescue Jacque Jones. JJ has been a different player ever since the middle of July. He has doubled his homerun output while taking his batting average from .227 in June to .270. He hit .288 in July and is hitting .351 in August with 3 homers and 18 RBI’s. Please note that JJ has hit more homers this month than A-Ram has hit in the last two months.

Daryle Ward goes the entire season without leaving the yard and then crushes a grand slam to win and a home run to tie the game the very next day. Mighty Mike has really started to simmer while consistency and Cliff Floyd have not gotten along well this year. Murton is sent down and then comes back up to crank three homers in a week. Unfortunately he quickly reverts back to his past form and could be sent down soon. Kendall could not hit for two or three weeks and has been raking of late. Basically any trend that was established in April or May have been erased in the past few months.

When I think about the inconsistent play and reversal of fortune for many players on the roster it reminds me of the Cubs record as well. A team branded as a huge disappointment and a waste of money is now in first place and regarded by many as the odds on favorite to win the NL Central. But again, odds are hard to predict in baseball so who really knows what will happen.

There are five weeks of baseball left in the season and if the first five months are any indication it is abundantly clear that I have no idea what will happen. October could bring Tuesday heart attacks during the playoffs or October could bring Tuesday night viewings of Charlie Weis’ press conference.

So as the stretch run kicks into high gear be prepared for someone to stand up and lead this team to the finish line. The only problem is that Eric Patterson may have as much of a chance to do this as Derrek Lee as does Felix Pie or Will Ohman, seriously, at this point, anything could happen….just ask Michael Barrett.

Feel free to contact me at brian@chicagocubsonline.com, and until next time….

Stay Classy Cubs Fans!!

Quote of the Day

"No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of it to anyone else." - Charles Dickens
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