The Cubs, Like the League, Currently Sitting at .500

This morning, walking to work, I was reading the MLB headlines – my regular morning routine. Nothing makes a 40 minute walk to work fly by like reading about who came through in the clutch last night and who fell flat on their face.

I read the Cubs recap for last night’s game. I was able to follow the game on-line but I always read the recaps, regardless. Demp was great until he wasn’t. That pretty much sums it up. After six innings he had only given up only one run and was cruising along. Of course, the trick is to catch him or any pitcher before they are no longer producing in a game. It’s always a gamble and something I’m sure Quade and his pitching coach are still fine tuning only 10 games into the young season. I was happy to see Dempster land his first W of the season and to hear that at his best he struck out five consecutive Astros batters.

It was good to read about Castro’s unbelievable day in the leadoff spot. Are we a little spoiled with Castro, or what? The baseball bat is to Starlin Castro what the ping pong paddle was to Forrest Gump.

No matter what you throw in front of Castro, if he decides to swing at it he is going to make contact. Last night in the lead off spot by the fourth inning, Castro had three hits, scored three runs and stole the Cubs elusive first stolen base of the 2011 season. Second base is no longer the Hope Diamond. We finally secured our first SB of the year and I’m hardly surprised Castro is the guy that accomplished it.

Marmol finished strong with three strike outs in his four-out save. It bothers me the club didn’t go to Marmol earlier as their closer. Remember that horrible experiment with Kevin Gregg?? Ugh. Marmol is dominating in the role again this season and I am becoming more and more comfortable with him that he will finish a game successfully as well as make it entertaining to watch (if not nearly heart attack inducingly entertaining).

The win put the Cubs back at the .500 mark at 5-5. We are 2 games back in the Central in second place tied with Pittsburgh and Milwaukee. We have that in common with those two teams…but my gut told me we had something in common with the league as well.

As soon as I saw the 5-5 record, something told me that’s about exactly what the league is doing right now. .500.  And as it turns out, as of this morning, it is. Adding up the wins in the win column across the league and you end up with 145 wins. Add up the losses in the loss column across the league and guess how many you get? 145.

145-145. That’s the league’s overall record as of right now. Many teams are hovering between 4-6 and 6-3 and for every 9-1, 8-2 or 7-2 team, there are those that are sitting at 3-7 as well. The Rangers have the best winning percentage at .900 followed by the Indians at .800 and Rockies/Phillies tied at .778. Otherwise, teams are either already considering making their basement stay a permanent fixture for the season or scraping to crawl their own way back to .500 while the rest is comfortably sitting at .500 looking to get better.

The Cubs, I feel are sitting in an uncomfortable .500 position. We are down two starters. We’ve been unable to secure enough run support to swing a couple of those losses to the win column and the Reds seem to be progressing every day. It’s surprising to look around and see that you’re tied with Pittsburgh ten games into the season. However I believe that they are in an uncomfortable position, not because of the negatives, but because of the potential positives around the corner. It’s uncomfortable to know that you’re this close to improving, this close to playing better yet knowing that you’re not quite there yet.

It’s frustrating to know that you have the talent and the capability and the signs are all there that you’re about to hit that level of performance that puts you over the top…you can taste it/see it, but you haven’t quite reached it yet. I believe Quade likes what he has seen lately in Barney, Castro, Colvin, Marmol and even Soriano. I believe he believed coming out of camp that he had the right mix of guys to surprise some people this year. I also believe that after Cash and Wells went down, he felt Coleman could step in and make a difference.

I believe that at .500 after 10 games, we could clearly be a game or two better possibly rooming with the Reds at the top of the division as opposed to the mid-level standings exception we currently reside in. However, looking at the league as a whole and seeing that overall the entire league is no better than .500 with only a handful of stand outs (mostly in the American League) it makes feel even better about the Cubs chances this year.

Sure, it would be fun to blow away the league and run away with it. However, sometimes, some seasons, all you have to do is stay competitive and consistently contend with those around you to make sure you are still in it come time to make that September push for the playoffs. I like that the Cubs are at least hanging in with the rest of the league and with three teams tied for second place, clearly they are hanging in their with the rest of the division.

Ten games in and the Cubs are .500. I believe Quade has them headed in the right direction though and that we’re on the upside of what the record shows, capable of winning more series and pulling away from that .500. We’re .500 now, sure, but no need to panic.

Essentially, so is the rest of the league. Go Cubs Go!

Update: After writing this, I realized something and I’m including an update instead of editing it in an effort to stay honest with you and also to point out some humor in it all. As soon as I tweeted about this new post with the headline as the tweet, I realized – wait a second. Of course the league is .500. The league is ALWAYS .500 because when one game is played, one team wins and the other team loses. ALWAYS. Except for the called All-Star game every few decades or so, every game has a winner and a loser. Thus, a .500 record across the league. The only thing that would not have made sense was if the overall league record was anything BUT .500. Ok, fine. So, maybe it wasn’t the epiphany I thought it was…but, still. The Cubs are playing .500 ball. Exactly at the level that the league can’t be worse than. The trick is to find the right mix to hang with teams like the Rangers, Orioles, Phillies and Rockies and not pull the league down like the Red Sox, Astros and Rays. Quade still has to be frustrated that he is this close to having this team perform well on a regular basis. A week ago when we were only mere games away from the first play ball of the season, it was just flashes. Then it became signs. Now, it’s clearly potential. Injuries have already affected the 2011 Cubs season but that’s going to happen to everyone. Quade needs to find a way to get this team playing better than average ball. The league average will always be .500. Right now we are average and we are two games out. Let’s start playing above average ball and see where we sit another 10 games from now. And as I told @croquet037: Next time coffee…THEN challenge the zero-sum rule! : )

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise

  1. Carlos Silva with the best start a Cubs pitcher has had since the beginning of time.
  2. The Braves are one of the hottest teams in baseball.
  3. The Mets are 22-9 at home.
  4. Galarraga came one out away from a perfect game and still recorded what would’ve been 28 outs in a perfect world.
  5. It would’ve been the third perfect game thrown this season.
  6. The Baltimore Orioles were the first team to fire their manager this season.
  7. Carlos Silva is 8-0!
  8. Zambrano starts a record of consecutive Cubs Opening Days, moved to pen, then back to rotation all BEFORE June.
  9. Schilling has hardly said anything controversial this season.
  10. Griffey Jr. retires during the season instead of waiting until the off-season.
  11. Jimenez of the Rockies leads the majors in wins (11) and ERA (0.93)
  12. Robinson Cano is hitting .363
  13. The Rays own the best winning percentage in the majors at .649
  14. The Reds holding strong in the NL Central at 33-25, .5 games behind the Cards and 6.5 games up on the third place Cubs.
  15. The PIRATES are 12-6 in one-run games.  The PIRATES.
  16. Dontrelle Willis is a D’back.  How is he not the Tigers’ own long time dominator he was supposed to be?
  17. I actually watched about 10 minutes worth of the MLB draft.  I guess that’s something.
  18. Ted Lilly is 1-5.  Leading the club at 8-0?  Flipping CARLOS SILVA!!!
  19. The Blackhawks are in the Stanley Cup finals.  WHAT?!?
  20. Seriously.  That Carlos.  Unreal.
This season has been full of surprises. Some more unfortunate than others. Most unfortunate: Griffey. Next: Lilly. Least unfortunate: Silva leading the club in wins and being the man. Someone tell the Reds that’ll be enough out of them please. I mean, really. Go Cubs Go! Let’s start surprising some folks and move our way on up the NL Central standings!

I Have To Pie

So, this headline would be more amusing if Pie had been traded to Toronto.  Sadly, he was not. However, Pie will now be locking down left field for the Baltimore Orioles.  A great defensive outfielder, along with Jones and Markakis, the O’s will have a strong outfield to grab all of those line drives that batters will be hitting off their horrible pitching.

I admire and respect the history of the Orioles, loved Ripken and Murray as a baseball fan growing up and still have the goal of making it to Camden to catch a game asap.  I will be keeping tabs on Pie throughout the season in a new section called ‘Still Have to Pie’ for two reasons.  1) I’m a big fan and still see amazing potential.  I’ll be curious to see how his career comes about in Baltimore. 2) There aren’t enough bloggers in this community to cover it all.  Seriously, I clicked on the team tag on the MLBlog home page and while some bloggers with sites dedicated to other teams have posted articles about the O’s and are listed there, there are very few Orioles sites.  I’m not sure why that is.  I counted about eight of them and only a few of those had anything added to the pages since last Spring or Summer.  There’s one that I liked a lot that was something about ‘the tough life of an orioles fan’ or something like that (I’ll get the title asap and link to it here for you to check out…it’s really a great read).

Ok, I just got distracted by watching Fallon on Leno.  Looking forward to checking out his new late night talk show. Anyway…my point is, Pie is gone, I look forward to seeing how he does in Baltimore and will keep a section of Prose and Ivy dedicated to checking in on his career there and there should be more Orioles blogs in the MLBlogs community. Simple observation and opinion.  If anyone knows of one I may have missed, let me know here and I’ll check them out.

Note to self: stop blogging at midnight and if the best headline you can come up with is ‘I Have to Pie’, just go to bed.

Go Cubs Go!
 
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‘O’ Here We Go Again

When it comes to Felix Pie’s potential and what he can on the major league level, fans are split with how much he could ever do for the ballclub.  What if I told you Pie could be the guy that gives the Cubs an end of the 2009 season stat line that looks like this?

 pie close up swinging bat.png
10 11 ERA 2.85 IP 173.2 146 HR 17 BB 59 SO 166

Would you be happy?  I mean sure the 17 HR’s would still be less than preferred, but 173.2 innings pitched?  Come on, for anyone never mind a center fielder, that’s impressive!  Of course that’s ridiculous and it wouldn’t be Pie giving us those stats.  How can  Pie deliver these stats for the Cubs this year?  As a key part of a three-team trade between the Padres, O’s and Cubs which in the end, lands the Cubs starting pitcher: Jake Peavy.
Familiar trade rumor partners surfaced today with the Orioles mentioned as the potential third team involved, necessary to complete a trade of Jake Peavy from the San Diego Padres.  Sweet Lou mentioned recently that fans shouldn’t expect any more deals to go down for starting pitching as we’re good to go there compared to other areas of the team.  Zambrano, Harden, Lilly, Dempster and Marquis/Marshall have everyone feeling rather comfortable, including Piniella.  This of course was before our old trade rumor partners of Winter Meetings ’07, the Orioles came calling with Garrett Olson up for grabs and all they want in return…Felix Pie.
Wow.  Now, I have been a huge fan of Pie since he came up and I truly STILL believe he has a huge upside.  However, the platoon of outfielders we have right now can more than handle center field for ’09 and if Pie can get us Jake Peavy?  A guy who averages 12 wins a year, loves pitching in the national league and in 2007, put up a 19 spot in the win column and averages over 180 strike outs per season?  That just may be more than I could possibly ever expect from him in the long run, especially considering pitching wins nowadays.  
We send Pie to Baltimore.  Baltimore send Olson to us.  We send Olson to San Diego.  San Diego sends us Peavy.  It’s no DeRosa for Roberts.  It’s better.  We keep DeRosa (last year’s Cub MVP if you ask me, co-MVP anyway with Dempster) and get a rotation of Zambrano, Peavy, Lilly, Dempster, Harden.  Sign another strong left handed hitter and throw him in the middle of the lineup and dare I say, I’d be even more excited about this team’s chances than I was last year’s.  And I thought last year was THE year.  I know Cubs fans say that all the time and I’m guilty of hoping that certain previous seasons were…2008 however, I truly thought was.  Give me this rotation in 2009 and I have no words prepared as of now to describe my excitement.
It’s all still rumors of course, nothing official.  Given the fact that Piniella said we’re done with Peavy talks, I’m skeptical to say the least.  And given my new approach to being a fan (no expectations) I’m not getting my hopes up.  Worst case, we keep a player I think has a lot to offer in the near future.  Best case, we get Jake Peavy.  Enough said.  Can’t wait to see how this thing plays itself out!  Go Cubs Go!
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