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  #1  
Old May 11th 2009, 7:06 pm
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TheBenjamin TheBenjamin is offline
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A-Ram aftershock over, Lets look forward

Three days ago when Chicago Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez injured his shoulder, Cub fans everywhere started to panic; which they did for good reason. With his injury, Ramirez will miss up to eight weeks and the Cubs do not have a viable replacement for him. While the loss of Ramirez is a devastating blow, the Cubs are not as bad off as they appear to be. Look at everything the Cubs have had to endure so far this season, and look at where they are in the standings. I think that you might come to realize that our boys in blue are doing fine, despite the looks of everything.

Take a look back at the 31 games the Cubs have played, how many games have we had Derrek Lee, Milton Bradley, and Ramirez? While I do not have an exact number, I am sure that you can count all the games on one hand. Also take into account that Geovany Soto has gotten off to a severally slow start and is battling with a sore shoulder, and Carlos Marmol has been inconsistent with an injured knee. The Cubs also lost their best pitcher in Carlos Zambrano, who already missed the first of at least three starts. The Cubs have suffered through a tremendous amount of injuries early on, and the Cubs are still only one win off the pace they set last year. They may not be getting a lot of pretty wins, but they are getting wins none the less. After all, isnít that what counts? Just win games, and get to the playoffs. No one will remember how you got their once you do get there.

The road to getting there might be harder then we all imagined, but we are still doing a good job. While we are not running away with the division like so many people thought, we are not being left for dead either. Currently the Cubs are in third place, only two and a half games behind the St. Louis Cardinals who are starting to come back down to earth. While you never want to be trailing in the division, especially to the hated St. Louis Cardinals, we are still a good three game stretch away from being in first place. Even with the injuries, we are hanging tough and not giving up. Sure there are road blocks along the way, but every team has them.

One major roadblock the Cubs are facing is having what may very well be the worst bullpen in the majors. Aaron Heilman has completely fallen off the face of the planet and is pitching like he did during his time in New York with the Mets. In fact, you could easily say that he is pitching worse. Neal Cotts is still struggling badly, and has yet to put together any consistency that would give Cub fans any hope that he can rebound. David Patton is, well, who he is; just an A ball player with very limited experience. While he can put forth a good two inning outing one game, he can also go out and get lit up like a Christmas tree. Marmol has been struggling in recent games as well, but appears to be coming out of his funk. While he is still walking too many people, he is getting out of the ugly jams that he seems to put himself into. Kevin Gregg still is one of the most hated men in the bullpen, likely because he replaced Kerry Wood on the roster. However, he is getting the job done. He may look bad doing things, but he is doing the job. A surprise in the bullpen is Angel Guzman, who appears to finally be figuring things out. He has had some very quality outings as of late, and may very well be the seventh inning guy Cubs Manager Lou Piniella has been looking for. Add into the fact that the Cubs added Jose AsCanio to the roster to replace the walking arm injury Chad Fox. He has been one of the best pitchers in the Cubs farm system this year, and the hope is that he will continue his dominance at the pro-level.

However, you also need to look at one of the bright sides going on for the Cubs. Bradley seems to be coming out of his season opening slump, and is starting to look very good. While he only has a .179 batting average, he is getting on base at a .321 clip. I donít care what you say about him, a batting average that low, with an on base that high is very impressive. That is not what I am talking about though in terms of him looking good. Over the course of the five game road trip, Bradley has six hits in 20 at bats, for a .300 average. He is also going to work the count more often then not, and rarely swings at a bad pitch. You may not like him, but you are going to have to support him, because with Ramirez out, with Lee coming off an injury, Bradley will have to be one of the guys to help carry the team. Alfonso Soriano, who seems to be getting on one of his hot streaks lately as well is another man who is going to be leaned on hard to help carry a team. When Soriano gets hot, he can single handedly carry a team for at least a week, as can Bradley. Soto is another man who needs to stop up his game while Ramirez is out. While the loss of Ramirez is the most costly loss the Cubs could endure, the Cubs have enough fire power to at least keep their head above water and keep the race close.

The road for the Cubs will be a bumpy one, but one that I honestly they will be able to survive. They may not look good getting the wins, but they will come.
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Old May 11th 2009, 10:33 pm
cubs161 cubs161 is offline
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I said last off season that Heilman will barely help at all, and i dont remember who said it (not that it matters at all) but someone said something about me being wrong about him and he had good seasons before the 2008 season, but look hes not doing good at all i still say trade him (or atleast dont use him as much thinking hes going to be our savior) im not posting this to vast in me being right about what i said in the off season thats out of character for me, but i cant help but notice people were living with blinders on expecting something great from a guy who has completely lost it
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Old May 12th 2009, 2:45 am
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Another great post Ben. You really do your homework and put alot of thought into your threads, and we all appreciate it.

The Cubs were very fortunate a year ago in the fact that they stayed mostly healthy throughout the season. 2009 is a different story though. The next few weeks will be a period of adjustment for the team. I am confident that they have enough talent to weather the storm of injuries that have plagued them in the early going. If there is a silver lining in all of this, it's the fact that it has hit them now instead of later in the season. Hopefully by the All-Star break, they will be back at full strength for the playoff push.
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Old May 12th 2009, 4:50 am
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thanks Taz, I really believe that this team has enough to overcome the loss of Ram. It wont be easy, but everyone has to step up. If everyone plays the way they have for their careers (and for Soto/Theriot/Fontenot close to last year) we can keep pace with the rest of the division while our guys get healthy
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Old May 12th 2009, 7:53 am
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Originally Posted by cubs161 View Post
I said last off season that Heilman will barely help at all, and i dont remember who said it (not that it matters at all) but someone said something about me being wrong about him and he had good seasons before the 2008 season, but look hes not doing good at all i still say trade him (or atleast dont use him as much thinking hes going to be our savior) im not posting this to vast in me being right about what i said in the off season thats out of character for me, but i cant help but notice people were living with blinders on expecting something great from a guy who has completely lost it
Well, you're still wrong

7 of Heilman's 9 ER allowed have come in two appearances in one inning of total work.

That's usually how it works with relief pitchers and why you can't trust their ERA, they can be easily altered by a bad outing (known in statistics as outliers).
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Old May 12th 2009, 3:38 pm
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I still trust Heilman, though it may not have sounded like it. He is an on again off again pitcher. He can still be counted on, unlike Neal Cotts
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Old May 13th 2009, 8:45 am
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Bradley is a perfect number three hitter , he has a great eye at the plate , he takes walks , can hit for average and , can hit for power.
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