As I think back to previous seasons that started out badly, I always seemed to lose faith quickly. However, in said seasons, those clubs were much more similar to the current KC Royals. This club is different. Top to bottom, the lineup is strong, and IF and WHEN certain players return, the team could be referred to as stacked. This year’s question in the not players themselves, instead it surrounds their overall performance. I, unlike many others, am not as quick to blame Dusty or the Cubs’ brass. As I stood in the back of a large banquet room at the Cubs convention on a cold Saturday morning in January, I believed what Hendry was saying. More importantly, he believed what he was saying. They strengthened the bullpen, landed a top flight lead-off hitter and were confident the rookies would take the next step. No one can plan for injuries, especially to perennial All-Stars and MVP candidates. Many sportswriters keep raising the question about where certain teams would be without their stars. For instance, where would the Cardinals be without Pujols and Carpenter? Well, that does not really matter, because that is not the case.
It is time to stop playing the “what if” game and concentrate on other things. I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, saying that the Cubs Faithful should give up on this season, but it is time to start talking about other things. We have all spent the past month pointing fingers, offering trade and personnel suggestions and blasting good old Hendry and Baker. Well I submit to you a new idea; letÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s talk about what is good, what we can look forward to in the future, whether it is tomorrow or next season.
Is anyone unhappy with RC (Cedeno)? I mean, seriously, who is not pleased? This kid has stepped up, silenced his critics, and is putting together a rookie of the year type of season (all information I have checked indicates Cedeno IS a rookie this year). Though his arm is a bit wild, he has started to reign that in a little, and is still ripping the ball. In the ninth inning Sunday, he went with the pitch, found the opening in the right side and drove in an insurance run. That is huge for a kid who was feared to hit below .200 this year. While that is still a possibility, it does not seem probable at this point.
Sean Marshall has probably been the biggest surprise of the year. Though he did struggle again last night, the Cubs have a winning record in games he starts. For a player who never pitched above AA to come in and have this impact is huge. He has the perfect frame to be a dominant pitcher and with the continued tutelage of Greg Maddux, he will only get better.
Though JJ (Jones) may still not be completely worth his $15 million salary, he has had a great month of May. His game-winning homerun on Sunday was huge and it was his second of the year. He is batting above .280, and at this point it is clear that he is better than Burnitz. Outside of an erratic arm, his defense has been very impressive. Furthermore, he plays with a great deal of emotion and this team is in desperate need of that.
Howry and Eyre have been rock solid and Dempster has picked up where he left off. Less the blown safe against the Padres, he has done exactly what has been asked of him. Novoa has shown glimpses and Williamson has stepped up big as well.
The biggest problem in all of this is that I have not mentioned A-Ram, Prior or Wood (D-Lee does not count because of his injury). If these four all started the year and played to form, things would be much different. Walker has remained steady, but needs to return to hitting second.
I saved my favorite for last, Michael “Rocky” Barrett. He may have been wrong and he will get in trouble, but that “you know who” got what had been coming to him for years. By emphatically slapping home plate Mr. Pierzyinski showed up Barrett big time and deserved the right jab he received. As so many said Monday morning, Barrett did what so many have wanted to for years. He is playing at an All-Star level and is a clubhouse leader. This kid is growing up and turning into a top tier catcher in the majors.
18-26 is an ugly record; it is a long way from where we all thought they would be after an opening weekend sweep and a 4-1 record. However, that is baseball, that is what happens, but the beauty is that is could change. Maybe it won’t and as Cubs fans, it is hard to believe that it will, but until the end of the season, or mathematical elimination, there is still hope. So with that being said, focus on the positive, even though someone may have drank half of your beer, the glass is still half full. Cubs Faithful, it is simple, keep the faith.
Thanks for reading, if you would like to contact me, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and until next time….
Stay Classy Cub Fans!