This has certainly been a roller coaster of a ride for the Chicago Cubs through the All-Star break. At times the team looked inept at the plate, in the field, and out of the bullpen. Yet, for over a two-week stretch, the Cubs were the hottest team in baseball. The new fine manager, Lou Piniella, has seemed both past his prime, and a shrewd motivator. Don’t lie to yourselves either, as many of the Cubs Faithful wanted to say good riddance to Big Z, immediately following his dugout fisticuffs. Still wish Barrett was still here, and Big Z was gone? You know better…. A Second Chance….
Mike Fontenot finds himself in a similar position that Ronny Cedeno and Ryan Theriot enjoyed at various points the past couple of years: beloved by the Faithful, and proclaimed a productive starter….all after a mere month’s body of work. I like the guy, too, and I hope he sticks around for good, but excuse me for being slightly pessimistic, as I have seen Jim Hendry play the I-hope-I-catch-lightning-in-a-bottle-with-an-unexpected-and-cheap-roster-addition before. Just think of Todd Hollandsworth, Mark Bellhorn, Joe Borowski, Mark Grudzielanek, and Jason DuBois as examples of the Cubs rolling the dice, out of desperation, or necessity, and being rewarded, and then foolishly projecting short-term success into long-term gain.
Maybe Mark DeRosa did find his groove, finally, after he passed the age of 30, or maybe last year was a fluke….time will tell. Doesn’t anyone worry that the growth of one of these three guys: DeRosa, Ryan Theriot, or Fontenot, will be stunted due to a lack of consistent playing time? Especially if Izturis continues to get at-bats, too?
Hey….you can throw the ball, from the outfield, to the catcher, on less than 31 bounces. Someone should tell Jacque Jones! When you consider Soriano was a 2B until last year, and that we messed with him in CF to start this year, and that he is learning to play half his games in a new ballpark, you really begin to appreciate what a good job he is doing as a LF. I love that we have a guy with a strong enough arm to effectively turn the momentum of a game around with one throw to the plate. A potential scoring run for the opposition suddenly gets gunned down by Soriano, and our team is fired up, our pitcher is fired up, and the other team suffers a let-down. The same LF then can either get a hit and steal a base the very next inning, or maybe he will just leadoff with a homer. Soriano is a superstar….he may not play like one for 8 years, but let’s enjoy having him, Derrek Lee, and Aramis Ramirez in the same lineup….a Big Three doesn’t come around like that very often. If Felix Pie, Theriot, and Fontenot (along with perhaps Eric Patterson next year) can continue to mature and produce, then this Cubs offense has a solid 3-year window of being very productive. If we resign Zambrano, along with Lilly, Marshall, and Hill, we have a pitching core that can match that same window. Get used to it, Cubs fans….this team may be contenders for a while!
I want a championship. All the CCO Readers want a championship. But, really….I will take a nice bout of consistency. No more heartburn, and no more heartache….at least for the rest of July. Is that too much to ask? We lose a couple of 6-4 games here and there, due to a couple of mistake pitches. I can live with that. We win some 7-3 games. No shutouts by our starters, but no meltdowns either. No double-digit offensive explosions, but consistently scoring about 5-6 runs a game, and fewer runners left on base. What do you say, Lou….can you make that happen for me? If not, just please let my favorite team have more wins than losses. Until next time, CCO Readers, let’s hope for a Derrek Lee homerun binge, a healthy summer, and let’s go Cubs!