Taking those 3 games from the Cards is the best thing that has happened in this miserable season. Regardless of what happens today, we should stop to savor the sweet taste of worming our way through 3 precarious wins against our hated red rivals. Our best chance of a 4 game sweep has come, as ace Big Z takes the hill tonight.
Looking for positives on this team is like looking for the sexy parts of Starr Jones: if they do exist at all, they’re in the eye of the beholder. All the same, here are the few kernels of corn in what is otherwise a steaming turd of a season:
1. Big Z He’s been our ace, and now he’s getting W’s to go with his marvelous pitching. 11-3, 3.27. Note to Hendry. Do what you must do to sign him to a long-term contract.
2. Our defense of Wrigley Field when the Cards come to town: 6-0 on the season! Like many dismal Bears 5-11 seasons when all you can say is “at least they beat the Packers at Soldier Field,” these are battles to remember in a disastrous war. We’re also 9-3 on the year against them!
3. Sean Marshall and Carlos Marmol I expected little from these guys, but Sean’s shown some good games and is passable overall. His struggles now are an investment in the future. Marmol, too; he’s been better than expected. They’re both showing ugly K/BB ratios, but all in all they look to be servicable members of a successful rotation in the future.
4. The continuing hitting maturation of Michael Barrett His spaz attack at Pierzynski notwithstanding, Barrett’s been one of the best hitting catchers in the major leagues! I would be open to trading him; the total picture is lacking in my mind, and he’s about to get expensive. But I’ll enjoy having him on the team as long as he’s here.
5. Aramis saving his season Now sporting a .337 OBP and .528 SLG, Ramirez is an offensive force once again. I’ll say it again: TRADE HIM NOW while his value is highest. The things he doesn’t do: hustle, run, play defense (this year he’s been okay, but I think we’ve seen his best), lead, and so on, counterbalance the things he does do: make contact, hit longballs, and be 27 years old. His trade value is SUPER high; we could really rook somebody for monster prospects.
6. Murton getting on base This guy’s had his struggles this year, especially defensively, but if he can mature at the plate a little in the next year or so, this guy’s a keeper. He has a .350 OBP ‘cuz he can take a walk. Walker, Barrett, Lee, and occasionally Aramis (oh, and John Mabry) are the only guys on the team besides him who aren’t hellbent on eating up outs as quickly as they possibly can. If he can bump his SLG from .378 to .440 or so and elevates a few more ground balls and he’ll be a big contributor.
7. Cubs decide to be patient with Lee Shutting down Lee now mystified me. Not because it was the right thing to do, but that the Cubs decided to do it. Pushing your megabuck investment through a .400 season serves no purpose. If he rests the wrist now he comes back mashing next year. Kudos on a no-brainer that the no-brainers actually did right.
8. Prior’s last start So they lost. Prior was tough to hit. Maybe there’s hope. I’m not saying they should build a team around him or anything, but I’d all but given up on him until he no-hit the Mets for 100 pitches. Which, for him, means about 5 2/3 innings.
9. Howry and Eyre They’ve been good. On a contending team, they’d be extremely valuable. That part of Hendry’s plan, at least, has panned out. Trade them now; we’re not going anywhere until 2008 at the EARLIEST.
Anything I missed? Share your good memories of this season — trends, moments, games, quotes, whatever — and give us an oasis of fond reminiscence in our season-long desert of furious railing.