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Sunday evening was the ideal atmosphere at Wrigley. Great weather, packed house, and the chance for Chicago to win a big series.
Through six innings it was an ideal game too. Game tied 4-4, the Cubs hanging around against CC Sabathia…victory still within reach.
Then the Cubs’ biggest weakness showed up…a middle relief corps no where near the talent level of the Yankees…or the rest of the league for that matter.
CC Sabathia (8-4), 3.28 ERA makes his second career start at Wrigley Field Sunday night.
He’s (1-2), 5.76 ERA in four starts against the Cubs. Overall, however, he’s (17-7), 3.57 ERA in 38 career interleague starts, including (8-1), 2.78 ERA over his last 12. Dominate.
Sabathia marks the fourth former Cy Young Award to face the Cubs in the last 10 days…Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay and Zack Greinke.
*Cubs with success against CC:
Alfonso Soriano: 12-for-36, 5HR
Reed Johnson: 9-for-30
Aramis Ramirez: 7-for-16
*Cubs have issued a MLB-worst 280 walks this season. The Yankees had a season-best 10 free passes on Saturday–six from Ryan Dempster.
New York leads baseball with 103 home runs…but they’ve failed to homer in three consecutive games, its longest drought this season.
*Starlin Castro is 4-for-8 in this series hitting .415 with eight doubles in his last 10 games.
June 1 is a moment of truth during the baseball season.
Generally speaking, if a club isn’t competing after two months they won’t be competing after four more, either. And this has been a baseball truth for a long, long time.
By June 1 last year all the division leaders in the AL eventually made the playoffs, including Boston, which held the Wild Card lead at the time.
The NL saw only a slight variation from the June 1 standings. Two of the three division leaders made the playoffs–the exception being the Dodgers who later acquired Manny Ramirez and blew past Arizona. And, St. Louis lost its five game Wild Card lead to the Brewers after CC Sabathia arrived in Milwaukee.
So, what does this mean for the fourth place Cubs, who are four games back in the Central and three games behind the Wild Card leading Cardinals?
CC and Sheets leave Milwaukee and most fans thinks the Brewers can’t contend in the Central without them.
Thing is, the Brewers were contenders long before CC arrived… and don’t forget that Sheets’ long history of ailments didn’t exactly make him a hinge-pin in the Brewers’ success.
No question the two hurlers will be missed. And, let’s be honest here…they’re very few, if any, pitchers who can duplicate Sabathia’s second half from ’08.
But the Brew Crew won’t roll over and play dead, nor should they.
What’s left of the starting staff is decent. Hoffman eventually shores up the closer’s role.
Middle relief is an issue, but the youthful lineup is so talented they’ll easily score enough runs to cover the shortcomings in the pen.
Also, remember Milwaukee was willing to splurge financially in order to keep Sabathia.
Now, that money is still in the bank. And who knows, if they’re in the race come July maybe Milwaukee goes for another home run type trade!
Still, it’s interesting that in season’s pasts we’ve discussed the Brewers targeting 2009 as their year to break out. Not that I don’t give major props to the front office for going for it last season.
Yet, I keep hearing Brew Crew fans say they won’t contend this season.
No doubt CC going every three days ruined the coming-out party a bit early, but the Brewers still have a shot at nabbing a second serving of post-season cake from the break room.
And even without Sabathia and Sheets, the Brewers can have their cake and eat it too.
It’s no coincidence MLB’s top tier free-agents are heading towards the East coast.
Not only do East coast teams typically have more money to spend on F.A.’s but, they have to spend in order to compete within the East Divisions.
If the Yankees don’t sign CC, A.J. and Teixeira, they’re probably finishing behind Boston, Tampa Bay and Toronto in the division.
Meanwhile, even if the Dodgers let Manny walk and stand pat with its currant roster heading into spring training, chances are they’re still competing for the division crown against its Western rivals.
And, because West coast clubs don’t have to reel in the cream of the free-agent crop to compete, they won’t spend any unnecessary money to do so.
Sure, it’s possible we’ll see another Furcal-type signing out West but, most of the big fish will swim East.
East Coast Signings:
West Coast Signings:
One team I’m keeping my eye on this winter is San Fran.
I like the Giants’ chances to land not only Manny but also CC Sabathia and Joe Crede.
Manny would be the perfect short-term replacement for Bonds, Sabathia is a west coast native that could continue to dominate the NL and Crede could reunite with his close friend and former White Sox teammate Aaron Rowand.
In the meantime, the Giants just inked left-hander Jeremy Affeldt to a 2-year deal.
Affeldt’s number aren’t great (26-28, 7-years) but, not bad for a guy stuck in a trifecta of ineptitude: Kansas City, Colorado & Cincinnati.
In fact, I would have loved to see the Cubs add Affelft to the bullpen: hard throwing lefty with ability for long-relief, set-up or spot-starter.
Speaking of lefties, word on the street is the Big Unit would consider a move to the North Side.
Bad idea, Johnson is 45-years-old with a bad back and a shell of who he was as a pitcher just three years ago (17-11) with the Yanks.
Too much money and too much risk for the Cubs, a team not desperate enough for Randy’s swan song.