Friday, June 19, 2009

Baseball In The Daytime: June 19 2009

As Banky described yesterday, we're attempting to split up our BitD duties round here--wherein he takes the days that start with a T, I take the days that don't. For a slacker such as myself, this is keen, because while Wednesdays are typically pretty fat with day games Monday and Friday are thin or nonexistent.

The exception, of course, is the National League franchise in Chicago, Illinois, which insists on playing under the sunshine on Fridays when they're home. I think this is great, and they even made a movie about it (also great). But it puts me in the position of having to make sassy wisecracks about one team over and over and over again, all summer long. How many times can I spin a yarn about Sam Sianis, or Leon Durham, or Steve Bartman? How many times can I reference outfield ivy, red tank tops and cold Old Style beer? A lot, that's how many. This is a dirty job, and it takes a real pro to make it happen.

Find a seat and order a dog, and after the jump we'll discuss the Cubs' hitting woes...

Cleveland Indians @ Chicago Cubs, 12:20 Mountain Coming into the season there were two division "locks": the Cubs and the Angels. Both teams had superior payroll resources to their regional brethren and deep rosters capable of weathering a season's worth of injuries. Plus, the AL West and NL Central are shitty.

Fast forward to June 19, and those two locks are wavering. Los Anaheim was annihilated by various wounds to starting pitchers and outfielders, while the Rangers got off to a nice start. The Angels are rounding into shape, however, and could overtake Texas any day now. As for Chicago? The issues are deeper. No one aspect of the team is airtight, although I guess the rotation does have the lowest ERA in the NL. That rotation relies on guys like (today's starter) Rich Harden, though, who's one mistimed delivery away from the DL.

The real issue is in the lineup, where Lou Piniella's crew just can't hit. This offense was overrated from the start, what with Alfonso Soriano's weaknesses becoming uglier every day (a sterling .293 OBP in '09), $12 million going to Kosuke Fukudome (hitless since June 9), and the middle infield providing nothing. The biggest issues are the glaring awfulness of Geovany Soto (although he did knock the game-tying jack over the wall yesterday, causing Ron Santo to ejaculate), the rapid decline of Derrek Lee and the lingering injury to Aramis Ramirez.

Arm-Ram is the straw that stirs the drink at Wrigley, the only true offensive force in the lineup. Chicago has to get him back, and they have to get him some help. Waiting for Lee or Soto to turn it around is not good enough for an impatient national fan base, and hoping that Soriano starts turning in decent ABs is a lost cause. They have to trade for a stick, and the problem with that is that the farm system is barren. The one advantage the Cubs have in this lousy economy is that they're rich--no one is taking on salary this summer, and the simple ability to pick up the contract of a pricey slugger (hello Matt Holliday) may be enough to get the job done.

That, of course, would require the sale of the Cubs to the Ricketts family to be finalized, and here we get into the goofiness of baseball. The fate of the Cubs' lineup, and indeed their entire season, comes down to lawyers getting paperwork done. Hopefully Sweet Lou doesn't blow a gasket before then. Give a raspberry to Indians' starter Cliff Lee, and Play Ball!