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Friday, July 02, 2004

Cubs on the Rise

I haven't written anything recently about the Cubs. Initially it was because I was discouraged with how the team was performing and all the injuries and recently I've just been too busy. Anyway, heading into the July 4th weekend series against the White Sox (which I'll be enjoying with family in Iowa) the Cubs are holding their own, second place in the division 3 games behind the Cardinals.

The Cubs had a good stretch in June winning 9 of 10 against their stiffest competition of the season (Angels, A's, Astros) and going 15-12 for the month. Add to that the fact that both Mark Prior and Sammy Sosa returned from injuries and there is good reason to be optimistic. What is most pleasing for Cubs fans, however, is:

  • That Derrek Lee got hot (as Steve Stone kept saying he would) in June with an OPS of 1.117 and really hit the ball well until the end of last week. It now puzzles me even more as to why Lee is hitting 7th much of the time instead of 2nd. On the other end of the spectrum Michael Barrett had an OPS of just .544 in June after getting hot early. Dusty is flip-flopping them around apparently diving the batting order based on their biorythms or something.

  • That Corey Patterson appears to have regained his form from before his injury last season and now has his average up to .287. More importantly he has walked 25 times and so his OBP is .347, not grand but a far cry better than what he was doing early. In watching his at bats he is being much more patient and seeing more pitches. This was brought out in yesterday's WGN broadcast which showed how in June he saw 413 pitches in 112 plate appearances good for 3.69 p/pa while in April and May combined he saw 660 pitches in 204 plate appearance good for 3.24 p/pa. He's also hitting .294 against lefties and so bringing in a lefthander to face him does not often have the desired effect. Add to that the fact that he's not committed an error yet (although a few days ago he got a real gift from the official scorer when he clearly dropped a ball) and it's all upside for the Cubs right now.

  • Kerry Wood will make a start at Iowa next week and then they may be back to full strength. I'd still like to see the Cubs find a shortstop who can hit a little so they don't have to play Rey Ordonez. They could also move Grudz to short since Walker's bat is missed when he's out of the lineup.

    One of the interesting aspects of this season is that the Cubs will be finished playing the Cardinals before the end of July and the Astros by the end of August. That means that games against Milwaukee, Pittsburg, Cincinnati, Florida, and the Mets in August and September will tell the tale for the Cubs.

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