Posted by: Mike Rodbard
May 16, 2009
Well, Cubs fans, your trusted scribe comes to you today from the nation's capital, thanks to the day job with blues man Lonnie Brooks.
And like most road trips, I do what the players tend to do (albeit in a less than swanky hotel suite): I'm watching a movie, A League of Their Own. Seems appropriate since I won't be anywhere near the Friendly Confines this weekend.
Funny, but I'm feeling a little weird these days. It's mid-May, and the Cubs are 10-3 for the month, so far, with a big, big series against the division rivals Houston Astros. For what seems to be the first time since, oh I don't know, October of 2003, it seems like maybe, in Chicago anyways, there's no crying in baseball.
I have to say that it is a bit shocking that old uncle Lou Piniella's (Cubs manager) squad is overcoming their adversities with such force and vigor these days. Even though 3rd baseman Aramis Ramirez is on the shelf nursing, um, something (yet again), and ace pitcher Carlos Zambrano is nursing his problem, and Derek Lee his, and...
A lot is going our way, despite the glaring flaws. Let's start with the new North side terror, Bobby Scales. He's been taking advantage of his time as Ramirez' replacement at the hot corner. After years and years of minor league duty, and now, a mere six games in the Show, he's on fire. His batting average is above .400, he's got 6 RBI in 18 at bats (the most important stat, my friends), along with 8 hits, four of which were for extra bases. Finally, his .833 slugging pct. is tops on the team.
Aramis who? Ok, ok, he still is one of the team studs, and we'll welcome him back warmly and all, but Scales seems to be the real deal (at least until the pitchers around the league are up on his scouting report.)
Then there's our Japanese brother from another mother, one Kosuke Fukudome. After a rough start in the cold of April, Kosuke has a more than respectable .340 batting average (third on the team behind Scales and Ramirez.) He's been handling the 3-hole in the lineup as a pro should be handling it (are you listening, Alfonso "I can't bat anywhere but lead off despite being paid $136 million per year" Soriano?)
Guess the first-year jitters are far behind Kosuke.
Lastly, the pitching.
After all, it's always about pitching. Even though Carlos Zambrano is on the DL still (but not for long, so they say) the Chicago Sun-Times reports that the starting rotation "ranks second in the majors with 20 quality starts, and has the majors' third-best record (16-8) and eighth-best ERA (4.13). These are the season stats. Since Big Z's injury at the beginning of the month, the starters have a record of 7-2 with a 3.59 ERA.
They can hit too. Ryan Dempster, as you should know, went 2-4 against San Diego with 2 RBI. Those RBI came with 2 outs, as well, so that scores bonus points in my book. Carlos Zambrano (boy his name can't not be mentioned, huh?) is used as a pinch hitter regularly. Just wait till he comes back!
So, we're rolling, right now, it seems. The guys on the DL are gonna come back, and the guys we've got in their stead will be there just in case. So there is no crying in baseball. Not today, and not on the Northside.
Unless of course you're Milton "already suspended" Bradley. At least it was reduced to a mere single game.
Read more of Mike Rodbard's thoughts and opinions about life and music and Chicago stuff on So it Goes...