and with all of the bullpen issues and talk of "who is the Cubs closer?" talk, I was thinking back to the start of Spring Training....
Blanco was extended and Barrett, going into a contract year, told the media he spent the offseason working with Jody Davis on his defense and promised to be better defensively. Maybe I am completely missing it due to the overall doom-and-gloom cloud that tends to hover over the team every other day, but I haven't seen any sort of significant improvements. Not to mention, his bat is sleeping on the bat racks when he is at the plate.
We knew Lee was healthy and ready to go. Man, do we need this guy. He had been on a roll from the beginning (just like in '06)...and then the injury benches him for a week. Ward has had some good digs at first...but also really struggled at times as well during the Sox season.
Again, as in '06, we have the problem of no dedicated 2Bman. They go and give DeRosa a big ole multi-million dollar contract, only to find this kid, Theriot, come out of the gates on fire. This kid is a sparkplug. He showed it during the second half of last year, but I guess not enough to win himself into the heart of Jim Hendry. Now, we are back to the problem of last year where "Who's on second...today".
Izturis and Cedeno were our projected SS players. Cedeno was sent down, after pretty much being our starting SS for the last couple of years (well, okay, he platooned with Neifi when Nomar went down in '05...but, well, Cedeno or Nefi? Take your pick). Izturis, remember, we got him for the GREAT GREG MADDUX, is a gold glove winner, but up until recently, almost a guaranteed out, and just hoping that no one was on first, or he was a guaranteed double play candidate. We have the same question here as we do at 2B... who's at short today?
The only position on the field, besides Lee before the injury, that was known at the beginning of the year. Ram has had some really AWESOME plays at third base this year...and his bat comes and goes, but it wll get hot, I just hope it won't be too late.
Now, it gets really ugly. Right field. We really thought that after all the trade rumors went away, Jones was going to be our everyday right fielder. Now, we wonder is it going to be Jones? Murton? Floyd? DeRosa? Theriot?
THE Big switch. We went into the offseason knowing we were going to need a center fielder.... they go and sign Superman Soriano...and 8 weeks later, we still don't have a dedicated centerfielder.
We thought 8 weeks ago, Murton was going to be our left fielder. SURPRISE... Soriano doesn't cut it in center, so move him back to a position he is comfortable in (sometimes, too comfortable as he doesn't feel a need to keep running with the ball and gives up on it
) I will give him credit for some awesome assists so far, but with the money he is gettng paid, we had BETTER see stuff like that.
Z-our ACE???? We were so excited to know that Z was going to be getting this big extension and he was going to lead our staff. Now, well, if you need an analysis of where Z stands now, please read the other threads on the board because there are so many issues and possible issues with Big Z, I don't have the space in this post to list them all... two words sum it up: HUGE DISAPPOINTMENT
Lilly--WOW! I was proved wrong on this one. I was concerned with a flyball pitcher coming to Wrigley and an AL pitcher coming over to the NL. This guy has been stunning so far.
Marquis--I was even more wrong about this one. When they signed Jason, I was wondering what in the world Jim Hendry was on. I had seen Marquis get KILLED by the Cubs...BY THE 2005 AND 2006 CUBS! A guy that pitched so badly last year, he was kept off the team's World Series roster! Now, 8 weeks later, I look forward to watching him start, as I used to with Big Z.
Hill--Pretty much my same thoughts on him as I had 8 weeks ago. He has struggled as of late, but he is still pitching better than he did last year.
Miller-Big disappointment, but hoping that after his DL start he will come back with better numbers and outings... I guess in fairness to him, I will have to wait to give a true comparison after we have seen him a couple of times back in the big leagues.
Guzman-MUCH better than last year, however, he needs to go out in the back parking lot and take his "hasn't-won-a-game-in-the-big-leagues-yet" frustrations out on the bullpen, because there have been at least two games this kid should have gotten the W for, and they blew it. Now they are playing the Glendon Rusch game with him...start this week, and we'll put you back in the pen next week, until we find out that the new 5th starter can't cut it, then you will go back into the rotation.
NOW...the BIGGEST disappointment of all. The Bullpen
We thought this was one of our biggest strengths going into the season. We had a couple of the best set up guys in the biz. We had a closer...not a good one (if we think back to Spring Training, Demp was a scary thought)...but we had a closer. We had an excellent slider specialist in Wuertz... oh, and we had Ohman.
8 weeks in? The bullpen is a mess. We don't have anyone truly reliable to come out there and throw strikes. We now don't have a dedicated closer. We have a bunch of guys out there that every time Lou raises his hand to the bullpen, the entire Cub Nation takes a collective deep breath and holds it until we watch the game implode on them...and then there is a collective "#@$%$#."
The lineup? Where are the bats? Where is this "killer lineup" we have been waiting for? We don't even really have the "dedicated" leadoff man that we thought we had at the beginning of the season. Theriot and Pagan have been pleasant surprises, but the big bats have been somewhat of a disappointment. Soriano? In line for 35 RBI's for the season. We keep hearing the words "the Cubs don't play well on a consistent basis". Could it be that we don't have a "consistent lineup" and a "consistent defensive alignment?"
So, where does that leave us 8 weeks into the season where the Management told us that the Cubs weren't holding back, they were going to go out there and win it all? It kinda seems like it just picked up from the last game on October 1, 2006. The Cubs aren't out of the race yet, but they HAVE to pick it up and fight to get there. They have to find a way to get and stay above .500, as well. I'm guessing the Wild Card will NOT come out of the NL Central this year, so the division has to be taken, but they have to start taking advantage of the other teams helping out, when the Brewers and Houston lose, they have to find ways to win those games to move up.
Okay, that's off my chest now. I have been stewing over this the last couple of days, and I just finally had a chance to actually post it.