The 2012 version of the Chicago Cubs is a terrible team in transition. How they transition is anyone's guess but in the meantime they are fighting a losing fight with the Houston Astros for the worst team in the NL.
Their record is 9 - 16, they can't even turn an eight-inning scoreless game from Ryan Dempster into a victory. Their closer walked three straight batters and gave the game away today. Their catcher sucks, the 3rd baseman sucks, their LF sucks, their RF sucks, their center fielder sucked so bad he was sent to Fenway. They not only suck, they are expensive. Excuse the vulgar slang but the Cub outfield hits like the Dodger infield.
I'm not going to waste much time here.
April Stud Muffin Bryan LaHair is the story in Chicago. The 29 year old LaHair had a total of 219 major league appearances headed into 2012 and 150 of those came way back in 2008 for the Mariners. Much like the Dodgers giving a 30-year old career minor league catcher the starting gig, the Cubs did the same with 29-year old LaHair. His AAA numbers were incredible with 99 minor league home runs over the past three years. His OPS was on the move each year from .880 - .940 - 1.070. Still it was PCL AAA.
Hell, he was just kidding around in AAA. Would you believe a major league triple stat line of:
.381 / .459 / 1.253
and that does not even include the bomb he hit today. Of course his BABIP is otherworldly but who cares? The man is raking. He might beat the Dodgers all by himself. I'll give the Cubs some huge kudos here. Very very very very few General Managers would have given Bryan LaHair a chance for regular at bats. At 29 it normally does not matter what you have done in AAA, you have already been pigeonholed. His performance in April is as stunning as Albert Pujols's.
Starlin Castro is the only other Cub who hits likes he's a major league baseball player. Castro is probably the second best hitting SS in the NL; at age twenty-two he has plenty of time to catch up to Tulo. His triple stat line of .340 / .356 / .447 might show a chink in his armor. Three walks in hundred plate appearances gives one pause.
How sad is that. The Cubs have two of the best hitters in baseball and they still rank as the worst offensive teams in the NL.
2nd baseman Darwin Barney can hit
3rd baseman Ian Stewart hasn't hit a lick since 2010.
Catcher Geovany Soto is on a jet stream to oblivion.
Left fielder Alfonso Soriano makes Vernon Wells look like Matt Kemp.
RF David DeJesus was touched by Billy Beane and has never been the same.
Over in CF they have Tony Campana who is smacking .351 since Marlon Byrd was sent to Fenway. Don't be fooled, he can't hit. He can run, and he will run, but he can't hit.
All these guys were good once. They may be good again. But right now they are all DeWitts.
Once the hitters start normalizing upward, LaHair and Castro should be descending so the end result is still going to be an offense struggling to score. As much as I love stories like LaHair the cold truth is that he probably has a 3 for 30 stretch coming up. At some point Anthony Rizzo and Josh Vitters will get playing time, so maybe the Cubs will be a tad more interesting the next time we meet up.
On Friday we will face Paul Maholm who has made four starts and has gotten better with each start. Saturday will be Matt Garza, who is as solid as they come. Sunday is Chris Volstad.
The bullpen got one-time phenom Kerry Wood back but they still go to Carlos Marmol for the close. They traded excellent setup man Sean Marshall for two AAAA starters. Starting on Monday, the Dodgers faced the toughest bullpen in the NL based on xFIP. This weekend they will face the worst.
Matt Garza could shut us out and still not feel comfortable he's going to win because
A. His bullpen blows
B. His offense blows
Still it is baseball so anything can happen this weekend, but I for one will not be turning off my TV even if we are down 4 - 0 in the 9th.