Game 16: Stay the Course
BOX SCORE – The choice is up to you right now. You can either jump ship in April or stay the course and understand that this team is not that bad. If you decide to jump ship, good riddance. We don’t need you. If you’re staying the course, let me give you the top 5 reasons why this team is good enough to overcome this injury to Derrek Lee.
- We have 3 pitchers coming back – Now before you rant and rave about the fact that we can’t put all of our eggs in the Mark Prior and Kerry Wood basket, let me remind you that there are THREE pitchers on the DL. Even if one of them hits the shelf again, which would probably be Wood, that would leave two pitchers for less than a full year of work. Getting those guys back would help immensely.
- Ramirez hasn’t hit yet – We have been playing reasonably good baseball so far this season and it has been without the aid of Ramirez bat. He has hit under .200 so far. When his bat comes alive, that makes up for some offense we’re currently missing. When you look at the season to this point, we have gotten production from 1 of 2 of our sluggers, Derrek Lee. Once Ramirez gets hot, we’ll again get production from 1 of 2 of our sluggers. That would put us right where we have been to this point.
- The Lineup still isn’t that bad – When you look at the lineup as a whole, it really is much improved from last season. With Hairston in the lineup at 2b on days that Walker plays first, the lineup is a much more patient and speedy. Pierre came into the game one steal behind Ryan Freel the Reds pest of a leadoff man for the NL stolen base lead. Hairston can draw a walk out of the 2nd spot. Walker can drive in runs and hit with a little power. Ramirez is an all star. Murton is a great hitter that is only going to get better. Cedeno is hitting great so far this season, just like he did all off-season. Barrett is one of the top hitting catchers in the majors and that only leaves Jacque Jones, who very well could come around to the form he was in when he played for the Twins. The lineup is much improved and people need to understand that. It’s just a matter of learning to play scrappy smallball while Lee is out.
- The Bullpen is solid – The Cubs came into the game today with an ERA of 3.12, which is 3rd in the majors. If the starters can simply give us 6 or 7 innings, the pen can carry the load when needed.
- The Injury is NOT season ending – Keep in mind that when mid July hits, Derrek Lee comes back to the lineup. With the wild card in place in baseball now, no team unless they are the Royals are ever out of the race in July. If the Cubs can stay afloat by playing slightly above .500 ball, they will get a huge player back in mid-July and be poised for a run at the wild card or maybe even the division.
The choice is yours. My advice? Stay the course and understand that it won’t be as bad as people think.