Chicago Cubs Trade Felix Pie and Ronny Cedeno…but Not for Jake Peavy

On Wednesday, the Chicago
Cubs traded shortstop Ronny Cedeno and newly-acquired pitcher Garrett
Olson to the Seattle Mariners for pitcher Aaron Heilman.  My question
is why?

There are reports that Heilman will compete for the Cubs’ fifth spot
in the starting rotation with the likes of Sean Marshall and the best
wide receiver in the city of Chicago, Jeff Samardzija. 

Others speculate that he will come out of the bullpen to pitch in a
long-reliever role, helping to set up the eighth and ninth-inning
combination of Kevin Gregg and Carlos Marmol.

Heilman prefers to start, but has only done so 25 times in his
career, and not since 2005.  He is already 30 years old, and his career
ERA is 4.24. Prior to last year’s abysmal 5.25 showing, he had three
straight seasons with a sub-3.70 ERA.  His career K/BB ratio is only
2.18, and he strikes out only 7.9 batters per 9 innings.

Looking at the stats, Heilman is a decent pitcher, and you
could do far worse for a long man or a fifth starter.  But he is
definitely NOT worth what the Cubs paid to get him.

In a deal that was eerily similar to the one involving former
can’t-miss prospect Corey Patterson a few years earlier, the Cubs dealt
center fielder Felix Pie to the Baltimore Orioles.  In return, they
received lefty Olson and Class-A right-hander Henry Williamson.  This
trade by itself is not horrible, as Pie just hasn’t proven he can hit
on the big league level.

When you combine the fact that the Cubs dealt Olson along with
Cedeno for Pie, the deal just becomes outright awful.  Cedeno, Pie, and
Olson were key chips in the potential trade for Padres starter Jake
Peavy.  While I’m not sure if a deal was ever close to occurring, it
seemed that most of the moves the Cubs had made this offseason were
gearing towards a deal. 

Negotiations stalled at the winter meetings because the Cubs didn’t
have the prospects that the Padres needed.  For this reason, the clubs
unsuccessfully tried to involve a third team in the trade to meet the
Padres’ requirements.  Once that failed, the Cubs traded Mark DeRosa
for three minor league pitchers and Pie for two more.  It seemed
everything was falling into place.  Then the Heilman deal.

So while trading Garrett Olson and Ronny Cedeno for Aaron Heilman is
a pretty balanced deal on its own, when you swap out Olson for Pie and
then factor in that the Cubs essentially gave up on Peavy by doing
this, it doesn’t seem worth it at all.

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Chicago Cubs 2009 Offseason: Has The Team Improved?

On Monday, the Cubs inked
Milton Bradley to a three-year deal in what is the latest of a flurry
of offseason moves by GM Jim Hendry.  With the addition of Bradley, the
Cubs’ lineup takes on a slightly different feel.  Below is a quick look.

Lineup A:

SS Ryan Theriot

LF Alfonso Soriano

1B Derrek Lee

3B Aramis Ramirez

RF Kosuke Fukudome

2B Mark DeRosa

C Geovany Soto

CF Felix Pie

P Carlos Zambrano

CL Kerry Wood

Bench: Daryle Ward, Reed Johnson, Mike Fontenot, Henry Blanco, Ronny Cedeno

Lineup B:

LF Alfonso Soriano

SS Ryan Theriot

1B Derrek Lee

3B Aramis Ramirez

RF Milton Bradley

C Geovany Soto

2B Mike Fontenot

CF Kosuke Fukudome

P Carlos Zambrano

CL Carlos Marmol

Bench: Daryle Ward (I’d prefer Micah Hoffpauir), Reed Johnson, Aaron Miles, Paul Bako, Joey Gathright

If you’re a Chicago Cubs fan, you know Lineup A is from Opening Day
2008.  After Monday’s signing of outfielder Milton Bradley, Lineup B is
my projection for Lou Piniella’s team for the 2009 season (against a
right-handed starter). 

Looking at these two lineups, after all their recent offseason
maneuvers, is the current version of the Cubs an improvement at all
from the team swept in the 2008 NLDS? 

OFFENSE

In the starting lineup, Felix Pie and Mark DeRosa have been replaced
by Milton Bradley and Mike Fontenot.  Bradley is clearly an upgrade to
Reed Johnson/Jim Edmonds/Felix Pie at the plate, and can switch-hit,
but defensively the drop is much more significant. 

As everyone under the sun has noted, Bradley has rarely ever played
over 100 games in the field, and his health concerns are a large
liability.  Fontenot provides Piniella with a nice left-handed
alternative in the lineup, but the versatility lost in the field by
trading DeRosa is enormous. 

I know, I know, that’s where the bench comes in.  Aaron Miles
can play 2B, SS, 3B (kind of), and OF. Reed Johnson and Joey Gathright
can play multiple outfield positions, but Ward (or Hoffpauir) and Bako
are one-position guys.  Defensively, the bench is very similar to 2008,
but offensively it has dropped. 

Sure Aaron Miles hit .315 last year, but that’s the only time he has
hit above .300 in his career (not including his 4-for-12 season with
the White Sox in 2003).  Last season was Joey Gathright’s first above
100 games played, and he has also only hit above .300 once in his
career (2007). 

Paul Bako previously played for the Cubs, and he is no Hank White, I
can tell you that.  Bako’s career batting average is .231, with a
career high of .272 way back in 1998.

PITCHING

2008 Starting Rotation – Carlos Zambrano, Ted Lilly, Ryan Dempster, Rich Hill, Jason Marquis

2009 Starting Rotation – Carlos Zambrano, Ted Lilly, Ryan Dempster, Rich Harden, Jeff Samardzija / Sean Marshall

So before you think I’m all negative, the starting rotation has
clearly improved.  Last season’s midseason acquisition of Rich Harden
and this season’s preseason trade of Jason Marquis make the Cubs’
rotation one of, if not the most formidable in the National League.

An addition of Jake Peavy would only make the case for this being
one of the best starting rotations in history, so I don’t see much more
analysis needed here.

2008 Bullpen – Kevin Hart, Kerry Wood (CL), Carlos Marmol,
Bob Howry, Carmen Pignatiello, Michael Wuertz, Jon Lieber (Scott Eyre
and Angel Guzman on DL)

2009 Bullpen – Jeff Samardzija / Sean Marshall, Carlos Marmol (CL), Chad Gaudin, Neal Cotts, Kevin Hart, Kevin Gregg, Luis Vizcaino

The bullpen suffers an immediate hit as Carlos Marmol is moved from
set-up man to closer.  Marmol is an amazing pitcher, and his 114
strikeouts in just 87.1 IP last year is unheard of.  He was one of the
main reasons the Cubs got so many save opportunities last year. 

But can Marmol hold up under the pressure of the ninth inning?  Will
Cubs fans turn on him as they did during his bad slump during the 2008
season?

On top of that, who gets him the ball in the ninth inning with the
lead?  “Proven” veterans Chad Gaudin and Neal Cotts?  Young gun Kevin
Hart?  Newly acquired Kevin Gregg or Luis Vizcaino?  I’m glad we have a
potential lights-out closer in Marmol, but we can’t count on our
starters to go eight innings every game to give him a lead to work with.

OVERALL

Lineup – Advantage: Even

The 2009 Lineup is better in terms of balance and power, but defensively the 2008 lineup is superior.

Bench – Advantage: 2008

Paul Bako pretty much says it all. 

Starting Pitching – Advantage: 2009

Plus Rich Harden, minus Jason Marquis = Advantage 2009

Bullpen – Advantage: 2008

In both years we have an unproven closer, but in 2008 Wood had Marmol.

Overall– Advantage: TBD

Before you write this off as a cop-out answer let me make one
point.  There is virtually no way the Cubs can improve on the regular
season of 2008. Anything less than a division title (and the best
record in the NL) would be a huge disappointment.  There is literally
no way the Cubs can have a worse postseason than 2008.  None.  So only
October will truly be able to tell whether or not these moves have made
a difference.

Congrats Carlos

There are many things that could be discussed about yesterday’s game, but we here at CubBlog would instead like to simply congratulate Carlos Zambrano on a performance that every Cubs fan knew he had in him.  It seems he just needed 11 days of rest to get his arm where it needed to be.  To salute Big Z, we have compiled some of the best images from yesterday’s game.  Enjoy.

Z Kneeling

Immediate Reaction.jpg

Team Celebration

Team Celebration 2.jpg

Z Pumped Up

Z and Lou

Z and Sori.jpg


Z Salutes

Time to Panic?

Black Cat.jpgI keep reading about and hearing about how much this season resembles 1969.  Well I wasn’t alive then, and I don’t particularly want to think about any similarities between the two seasons.  But some say that the comparison does raise the question, is it time to be worried?  If you’re reading this and you’re a Cubs fan, then you already know the answer.  If you’re not a Cub fan, let me inform you that we, as a fan base, are always worried.  It could be April 2nd or September 27th and we would be equally as worried about our chances to go all the way. It’s something that never leaves a true Cubs fan.  Yes, the current slide where we have lost 7 of 8 (including 2 of 3 to our final cupcake opponent of the season) is somewhat troubling, but Milwaukee keeps losing and we still have a 4-game cushion for the best record in the entire NL and the second most wins in the entire MLB. 

And yes, the remaining schedule is a killer.  13 out of 19 games on the road and all against teams above .500 who still have something to play for.  6 each versus St. Louis and Milwaukee.  That may be frightening to some, but the way I see it is that the Cubs have their destiny in their hands.  Scoreboard watching will basically not come into play, which means the Cubs can decide their own fate.  Actually, I take it back, that is pretty frightening.

On top of all this, two of the Cubs top starting pitchers are having arm troubles.  And, no, I didn’t say top two because I think Ryan Dempster has been the ace of the staff all year long and should start game 1 of a potential NLDS at Wrigley.  I, like all other fans, will be worried about them, but I see no way that Big Z misses any starts in a potential October, or late September if the race tightens.  Harden is another story, and I say that as long as we have this cushion of 3+ games we give him as much time as he needs to rest up. 

So where does all of that leave us?  An 86-57 record, 4 game lead in the NL Central and 7 game lead on a playoff spot, with less than 3 weeks left in the regular season.  Not knowing anything else I’m pretty sure any Cubs fan would take that in a heartbeat. 

A Look Back

The Cubs enter into a series against Philadelphia tonight in their first battle against a potential playoff team in 3 weeks (4 if you don’t count St. Louis).  The Cubs take a major league best 83-50 record into tonight’s game, having won 5 in a row, 13 of their last 14 on the road, and unbelievably 9 straight series dating back the 4 game sweep of the Brewers in Miller Park.  Here at CubBlog, we feel it is our duty to remind all you Cub fans of how we got to this unfamiliar place by looking back at some of the games that you may or may not remember, but were crucial in getting the Cubs to where they are today.

In Chronological Order:

1.  April 5th vs. Houston
After dropping 2 of 3 to Milwaukee to start the year and the first game of the series to Houston the day before, the Cubs were in danger of dropping to 1-4 on the year as they trailed the Astros 5-3 going into the bottom of the 7th inning with Astros ace Roy Oswalt still on the hill.  The Cubs scratched out a run on a walk, infield single and 2 ground outs before Derrek Lee tied it with a single and the legend of Kosuke Fukudome grew even larger when he hit a tie breaking 2-run double to give the Cubs the lead and chase Oswalt from the game.  The Cubs needed all the insurance they could get, holding on to win 9-7.  The Cubs went on to win 4 straight after that, including our number 2 game below.

2.  April 7th / 9th @ Pittsburgh:
The Cubs were lucky to have a day off between these games, as they played enough innings in these two to last them a 3rd game.  After going 2-8 in extra inning games in 2007, the Cubs took game 1 in 12 innings and game 2 in 15, blowing a 1-run lead in the 9th and a 2-run lead in the 14th before Felix Pie (a name we won’t hear much more this year) knocked a 2-run single with the bases loaded in the 15th.  In a theme we will see more of this year, Sean Marshall did whatever the team needed, making an appearance out of the bullpen and picking up his first career save in the 2nd game.

3.  May 11th vs. Arizona
It was a cold, dreary, rainy Mother’s Day in Chicago, and the Cubs were going for a sweep of the Diamondbacks.  Although they had completed a 2-game sweep of the Mets in April, many touted this series as the Cubs first real test against a contending team.  After beating Dan Haren in game 1 and coming from behind against the DBacks’ pen in game 2, Carlos Zambrano was slated to face off against Randy Johnson in game 3, but the weather forced both managers to take precautions, and those of us in the stands were left to see Sean Gallagher face Edgar Gonzalez. What ensued was the Cubs’ second straight come from behind victory, with Reed Johnson hitting his first HR as Cub to tie the game in the 7th and Daryle Ward coming through in the 8th with a huge 2-run double with the bases loaded off the bench.   Marmol and Wood each pitched a perfect inning and the Cubs swept the NL-best (at the time) DBacks. 

4.  May 30th vs. Colorado
The Comeback.  If you’re a Cubs fan you should already be replaying this game in your head, it’s that unforgettable.  With the wind blowing out and Ted “Gopher Ball” Lilly on the mound, the Rockies built an 8-0 lead after 4 innings and had a 9-1 advantage going into the bottom of 6th.  That’s when Cubs fans around the country (and maybe even world) started to believe.  Fukudome drove one the opposite way for a 2-run bomb, new Cub (or should I say former Cardinal) Jim Edmonds drove a solo blast to center, Henry Blanco hit his first homer since 2006 to make it 9-6, Edmonds drove a 2-run double to center and then scored on Mark DeRosa’s HR to give the Cubs a 10-9 lead that they held onto.  What added to the incredibility of this game was that Theriot and Ramirez both had the day off, and Lee and Soto were each removed in the top of the 6th.  Since it was a Friday day game, I didn’t get a chance to watch it live (Pat and Ron did a superb job), but this was one of a few games that I stayed up to watch the replay on Comcast at 1 AM.

5.  June 20th vs. White Sox
The Cubs arrived home after a 6-game road trip that took a detour through Cooperstown, having been handed their first 3-game losing streak of the season courtesy of a sweep by the Rays.  Following up the Thursday night game with the traditional Friday day game at Wrigley, the Cubs faced off against their crosstown rivals with both teams in first place, adding hype to a series that really didn’t need any more.  The Cubs scored first in this one, with Derrek Lee taking another 2 on, no-out situation and turning it into a 1-0 lead with a double play.  “Gopher Ball”  Lilly then struck again, allowing an absolute bomb to Jermaine Dye in the second and a 2-run shot to A.J. Pierzwhatshisface in the 3rd to give the Sox a 3-1 lead.  It remained that way through 6, with John Danks limiting the Cubs to just 5 hits on only 85 pitches when Ozzie Guillen removed him for a pinch hitter in the top of the 7th.  Although pinch-hitter Juan Uribe singled, the Sox failed to score, and Octavio Dotel came in to pitch the bottom of the inning.  Something like 3 pitches later, the game was tied at 3 as Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez went back-to-back, winning some lucky WGN Radio listener $7,000 in the back-to-back jacks game.  After an an uneventful 8th and top of the 9th, Aramis Ramirez came up again in the bottom and took Scott Linebrink’s 2nd pitch into the center field shrubbery for a walk-off homer, which sparked the eventual sweep of the South siders.

6.  July 12th vs. San Francisco
This was the shining debut of Rich Harden and the unraveling of Carlos Marmol.  Who knew a blister on Kerry Wood’s finger would end up meaning so much to this season?  Harden struck out 10 in 5.1 scoreless innings in his debut, but the Cubs pen blew a 7-0 lead, including 5 runs allowed in the 9th by Carlos Marmol during his really really really bad stretch.  That guy Sean Marshall came up huge again, pitching 2 perfect innings of relief and then hitting a leadoff single in the 11th which led to the game-winning run.  A loss here would have been awful for the Cubs’, especially Marmol’s confidence going into the break, but this year’s team just managed to pull another one out. 

7.  July 23rd @ Arizona
The game that started the Cubs on their current hot streak on the road is not coincidentally the same game that saw Alfonso Soriano return to the top of the lineup after missing nearly 6 weeks with a broken finger.  Fonzie went just 1-5 with an RBI, but the Cubs offense exploded for 10 runs, including an 8th-inning grand slam from Reed Johnson which proved to be valuable insurance as the Cubs went on to win 10-6.  Ted Lilly helped his own cause with a game-tying RBI single in the 5th, and pitched 6 strong innings in a quality start, a trend which he would continue through the rest of July and August.  The Cubs 6-run outburst in the 8th inning also added to 2 more common themes, the Cubs scoring lots of runs in the late innings (7th and 8th in particular) and leading the league in innings which they post 5 or more runs on the board (currently at 25, 2nd place at 17).

8.  July 27th vs. Florida
This Sunday afternoon game saw the Cubs coming off 2 straight 3-2 losses at home in which they had blown leads and wasted good outings from starters.  Naturally, that meant Jason Marquis was on the bump and promptly served up a 5-0 lead to the Marlins.  At this point, the Cubs were tied with the Brewers in the division, and were traveling to Milwaukee for a big 4-game series the next day.  Alfonso Soriano would have none of it, scoring the Cubs first run in the 3rd and tying the game at 5 with a 3-run opposite field homer in the 4th.  After Marquis gave up the lead again on a Dan Uggla bomb that still hasn’t landed, Derrek Lee tied it with a homer and
Mike Fontenot hit a bases clearing double to give the Cubs a 9-6 win.  Going into the series at Milwaukee up by a game rather than down made a huge difference, especially in the very next game on our list.

9.  July 28th vs. Milwaukee
A game in July that felt like a game in September.  The first of 4 at Miller Park with just 1 game separating the two teams.  The new ace of the Milwaukee staff was on the hill, but the Cubs struck early thanks to Alfonso Soriano, who doubled and scored in the first and homered in the 3rd.  “Gopher Ball” Lilly pitched great for 5 innings, but baseball games last 9, and he fell apart in the 6th, allowing 3 runs (including back to back jacks) to surrender the lead.  Then this Cubs team showed why this year feels different then all the years past.  Instead of rolling over, the Cubs fought to load the bases with one out in the top of the next frame.  Derrek (league leader in double plays) Lee stepped to the plate and hit a tailor made ball.  Reed Johnson hustled into second, slid into Rickie Weeks, who promptly threw the ball past Prince Fielder and two runs scored to give the Cubs the 4-3 lead.  Although Bobby Howry would surrender the lead, the Cubs scored 2 in the top of the 9th against the Brewers “closer” Solomon Torres and took game 1 of what would turn into a crucial 4-game sweep.

10.  August 8th vs. St. Louis
The Edmonds game.  How else can you title a game where a guy hits 2 homers against his former team and throws the bat at the visitor’s dugout after the first one?  After giving the Cubs a 1-0 lead with a homer in the first, Jim Edmonds stepped to the plate with the Cubs trailing 2-1 in the 8th and promptly cracked his 2nd of the game, adding to the Cardinals league-leading blown save total.  What might be overlooked in this game was the Cubs’ pen, who allowed only 1 hit in 3.2 IP, allowing for the game winning single by Hank White (aka Henry Blanco) in the bottom of the 11th. 

11. August 27th vs. Pittsburgh
Yes it was only 2 days ago, but it is the perfect example of how this club is a 25-man team.  The Cubs’ 5th and most inconsistent starter, Jason Marquis, was on the hill, and held the same Pirates that lit up Carlos Zambrano a night earlier to just 5 hits in 7 innings.  Meanwhile, a combined 0-for-6 from Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez meant runs would have to come from elsewhere.  Tied at 0 in the 7th, Reed Johnson (aka Mr. Hustle) led off with a perfect bunt single.  DeRosa kept the hot hand going by doubling him to 3rd, where Reed then hustled home on a grounder by Ronny Cedeno.  Next up was Henry Blanco, playing in place of Soto who had 7 RBI the night before.  I can’t say it was a perfectly executed squeeze, but the popped up bunt got the job done to score DeRosa and give the Cubs that insurance run they needed to get a rare win when scoring less than 4 runs.

mlb_g_cubs_sw_412.jpgAs I complete this article, the Cubs have just pulled off another come from behind late innings dramatic 5-run inning everyone contributes victory, beating the Phillies 6-4 thanks to an 8th inning grand slam by Aramis Ramirez.  It’s hard to believe that all the games I just wrote about involved wins by THE CUBS, but that’s what makes this year’s team so special.  Let’s hope it continues into September, where the Cubs play 25 of their remaining 28 games at teams currently above .500.  Should be exciting.

Dueling Aces

On Monday, CC Sabathia put on another show in Milwaukee, going the distance while giving up just 2 earned runs to improve to 8-0 in 9 starts since being acquired by the Brewers in early July.  Not to be outdone, however, Rich Harden helped the Cubs win on Tuesday by going 7 shutout innings, giving up just 2 singles and walking none en route to his 3rd win as a Cub.

Which pitcher has had a bigger impact?  Can it even be quantified?  Let’s find out.
(And, no, the “bigger” was not a reference to CC’s size)

capt.a32e5ad9877c4ca39cdd806f0a07bf35.astros_brewers_baseball_widh101.jpgOverall with Milwaukee, Sabathia has thrown 73 innings in 9 starts, averaging just over 8 IP per game.  He has had only one start in which he did not finish 7 innings, which not surprisingly was his only no-decision for the Brewers (although I can’t seem to remember who that was against…)  In that department he trumps Harden, who has been removed after 5 IP a number of times as the Cubs try to protect his arm.  We all know how that worked out in his first start with the Cubs (See Here).  Harden has gone 42 IP in his 7 starts, an average of 6 per game. The impact on the bullpen is tremendous, as anytime Milwaukee can keep theirs from coming into the game it definitely improves their chances of winning.  6 IP will qualify as a quality start, so the Cubs can’t complain if they get it every time out from Harden.  And something tells me he will be able to find some extra in the tank come the stretch run and hopefully October. 

In those 42 innings with the Cubs, Harden has allowed just 40 baserunners (26 hits and 14 BB), equating to a WHIP of 0.95.  Amazingly, 5 of those walks came in the win against Atlanta, and 3 were back-to-back-to-back in the 2nd inning.  Sabathia has been nearly as good in that department, allowing just 75 baserunners in 73 IP (1.03 WHIP).     In terms of ERA, both have been outstanding, with Harden’s at 1.50 and Sabathia at 1.60.  If you discount Harden’s outing against Houston where he allowed 5 runs (4 earned) on 8 hits, his other 6 outings consist of 3 where he allowed 1 ER and 3 where he allowed 0, which equates to just 3 runs in 37.2 IP!  As much as I like Sean Gallagher, no way he puts up those numbers.  While Sabathia’s individual game lines aren’t always as pretty, he has thrown 5 CGs (including 3 in a row).

capt.6dc2b9809098493985c61eb2c1b63371.reds_cubs_baseball_cxc101.jpgThe one area in which Sabathia clearly trumps Harden is at the plate.  CC loves to hit, plain and simple, and he has shown that by going 6-for-28 (.214) with 1 HR and 4 RBI since joining the Crew.  Harden still looks like he is getting adjusted to batting, but did get his first career RBI on Tuesday (a big one at the time).  The impact of having a pitcher in the 9th (or 8th) spot in your order who can hit is huge.  I wish I knew how many more times Soriano batted with runners on when Zambrano was at the plate vs. the other pitchers, but I do know it definitely helps the guy batting in front of the pitcher if you can’t assume he will be the 3rd out.  

Overall, both players have had tremendous impacts on the staff and will be outstanding in the postseason (should the Cubs make it there).  To me, it appears the acquisitions in essence cancelled each other out, as both teams improved substantially.     

Playing Well Away from Home

It seems
like whenever I write about something that is going wrong with the Cubs, they
manage to turn it around (see Edmonds, Jim).  If this continues
to occur, expect a long, detailed article about the Cubs and their inability to get to and
win the World Series. 

 

To get to
the point, about a month ago (25 games), I wrote about the Cubs inability to
hit on the road.  After that post was
written, the Cubs lost their next road game in Arizona, and then proceeded to win 8 in a
row and 10 out of the next 11, including sweeps at Milwaukee and Atlanta.  Only a tough loss to Florida with a banged up
lineup and Sean Marshall spot starting on 3 days rest prevented the Cubs from
winning 11 in a row.  Not that I’m
complaining.  Below are some notable
improvements for the Cubs on the road since my last post on the subject.  Note: “Before” stats through 50 road games, “After” stats through 62 road games.  MLB ranks in parentheses.

 

Before: 210 Runs (T-17th)

After:   298 Runs (T-8th)

 

Before:  201 RBI (18th)

After:    287
RBI (8th)

 

Before: .254 BA (13th)

After:   .263 BA (T-6th)

 

Before: .325 OBP (14th)

After:    .338
OBP (3rd)

 

Before: .715 OPS (16th)

After:   .750 OPS (8th)

 

While the
Cubs have improved on the road, it’s not as if their home stats have tailed
off.  The Cubs still lead the majors in
Runs, RBI, BA, OBP and OPS, and are 2nd in HR and SLG at home. 

 

What’s
important to remember in all this is that the Cubs have a unique advantage on
the road that they seem to finally have taken advantage of.  Of the 12 road games since the previous
article, the Cubs have played 10 in three very
friendly road locations.   Milwaukee is better known as Wrigley North,
and Atlanta and Florida may have seen
more Cubs fans than home fans for the 6 games the Cubs had there.  Jeff Francouer described what it feels like
to have visiting fans be heard so loud in your own park: “It’s just
disappointing, when all these Cubs fans come to town and to get swept kind of
feels helpless.” 

 

It’s great
to see the Cubs improve on the road, and I truly hope they can keep this up
down the stretch.  Starting September 5th
at Cincinnati, the Cubs play 16 of their final 22 games on the road, comprised
of a 9-game division trip through Cinci, St. Louis and Houston and the final 7
of the regular season in New York and Milwaukee.  Unless any of those teams are eliminated from
the playoffs by the time the Cubs come into town, I wouldn’t expect a friendly
atmosphere in any of those parks.