Good day, Cubs fans. Well, I seem to be suffering from an acute case of the post-Labor-Day blues. Despite the fact that the Cubs have, overall, played decidedly well under manager Mike Quade (whom I’m liking more and more with every postgame press conference), winning three of the four series they’ve completed thus far and, dare I say, in position to take yet another from the Houston Astros, I feel … edgy, dissatisfied, irritable, sad. (Wow, was that a ridiculously long sentence or what?) Nonetheless, I shall forge ahead with another “In the News” broadcast:
Schadenfreude, indeed. It’s been with some bitter, acrimonious delight that I’ve watched the downfall of the San Diego Padres as of late. Oh, I know; “downfall” is a bit strong with another three weeks of baseball to be played. But the young fathers have been the darlings of the NL all season, outperforming many, if not most, pundits predictions.
But then, from Aug. 26 until yesterday (Sunday) Sept. 5, they went on a staggering 10-game losing streak. The San Francisco Giants are now a mere game back in the standings. So I ask you, Cubs fans of a certain age as well as historical buffs: Are the 2010 Padres the modern day equivalent of the famous 1969 Cubs? Will the Padres crash and burn in the waning weeks of the regular season as that legendary North Side team did? (And in this day and age of carefully regulated playing time and pitch counts?!) Do you want them to fail (because of lingering bitterness over 1984, perhaps, hm?) or don’t you care either way?
I don’t possess the wherewithal at the moment to do an in-depth comparison of the two teams. ‘Twould seem an imposing task. But it’s a storyline worth following as September winds down, and we head toward another Cubs-less postseason.
Interestingly enough, much of the Padres’ success can be attributed to our own wonderful NL Central. The Padres are 16 games over .500 vs. the Central (23-7), while being two games below .500 vs. the East (16-18) and just one game above vs. their own division (29-28). They’re a perfect 4-0 against the Cubs so far. But there’s the rub: Our guys finish the season with a four-game series against the Padres. Could we knock them out of postseason? Or at least the NL West? Like I said, it’s an interesting storyline to keep an eye on.
The Castro question. Don’t look for rookie phenom Starlin Castro in tonight’s (Tuesday’s) game against the Astros. Mike Quade is letting young Starlin serve as an observer rather than a participant for at least a couple days. A certain contingent of Cubs fans are up in arms over this decision, mainly because of the public way the team seems to be punishing young Castro for some recent missteps on the field.
Although the hearts of these fans may be in the right place — hey, I miss seeing his name in the lineup, too — I don’t think a mountain should be made of this molehill. The position of shortstop on a major league team is a huge responsibility. It’s referred to as a “premium” position for a reason. And while Starlin can surely handle the workload physically, he may be struggling to keep up mentally. And I certainly don’t blame him for that. I have trouble remembering my keys in the morning.
So let him rest for a day or two, maybe get him back in there against the ‘Stros in the series finale — especially if the Cubs lose today — and let that be the end of it. I personally like seeing Darwin Barney out there. Again, we probably shouldn’t expect Barney to be a starting player anytime soon, but he appears to be a strong defensive backup that could bring some nice depth to the Cubs 25-man for several years to come.
Hi-ho Silva, away! No, it’s a home game! Tonight (Tuesday)! And the other Carlos will be back on the mound! His is another interesting “Silva lining” (ha, do you see what I did there? I’m so sorry) story to follow. He’s thrown 108 innings and his ERA sits under 4.0 (as does his FIP and xFIP). Can he finish the season strong, making the Milton Bradley trade perhaps one of the most remarkable deals in our respective lifetimes? (I guess that depends on the lifetime, eh?) I’m rooting for Carlos, for sure.
It’s good news/bad news for Ryne Sandberg. On the plus side, he was named Pacific Coast League Manager of the Year last week. You gotta believe he fired up his laptop and updated his resume after that announcement. On the downside, his Iowa Cubs dropped a heartbreaking “play-in” tiebreaker game yesterday (Monday), losing 7-6 to the Memphis Redbirds. That effectively ends the Iowa Cubs excellent 2010 season, which means two things: 1) Ryno can now presumably concentrate on winning the heart (um…?) and mind (yes!) of Jim Hendry for the Chicago Cubs managerial job, and 2) We may actually see some September call-ups in the next day or so.
Mark Prior Update No. 6,450. I feel like I’ve been doing Prior updates in every post but, in case you missed the news, here it is: Mark has been signed to a minor league deal with Oklahoma City RedHawks, a Texas Rangers farm team and has already made his “affiliated” debut. Check out the photo in that article — Prior’s “crafty vet” status is absolutely cemented by that beard.