Cubs Sweep Houston in Two Games
The Chicago Cubs offense came to life in Houston scoring 14 times in the two games meaning if you take away Tuesday's minor league starting lineup loss to the Giants, the Cubs offense is averaging a little more than six runs per game in six wins.
As much as I criticized Lou Piniella's decision to give everyone a rest on Tuesday, I have to give him equal credit for setting up the batting order for maximum success.
After testing Alphonso Soriano out in the three hole for a couple of games, I think the experiments are finally over. I don't care if he's a true leadoff hitter or not, Soriano is clearly more comfortable batting first.
Ryan Theriot and Kosuke Fukudome batting second and third, respectively, couldn't be a better situation for each hitter. Both have the ability to spray the ball around the field, both have an OPS of .800+ and both keep getting hits when the team really needs them. That's what you want in those to batting spots.
Even though Derrek Lee is struggling, Aramis Ramirez has an OPS of over 1.000. Even though Milton Bradley is just now showing signs of getting comfortable at the plate with the Cubs, Mike Fontenot is showing us his hidden talent to drive the ball (he's second on the team in home runs and tied for first in RBIs).
All that leaves is the one true disappointment so far this season. Everyone goes through slumps like Bradley and Lee are currently suffering, but what truly surprises me is that Geovany Soto hasn't broken out of his. I highly doubt his Rookie of the Year award last season was a fluke, he just needs to let it come to him.
Despite Soto's struggles at the plate, the fact that the seven guys batting in front of him are really starting to put together tremendous seasons is very encouraging for the next few months. Saint Louis may have gotten off to a fast start, but the Cubs aren't going anywhere.
News, Notes and Rumors
-- I was in the middle of writing this article as breaking news hit my computer. I planned on talking about the trade rumors swirling about the Cubs trading OF Joey Gathright to Baltimore for veteran IF/OF Ryan Freel. Freel's versatility makes him a much better option on the Cubs team as Gathright was strictly an outfielder. Piniella had expressed desire for another utility infielder and Freel fills that hole, as well as the hole left by Gathright. The Cubs have a tremendous outfield platoon right now and Gathright never really fit in.
-- Derrek Lee's neck injury seems to be healing fine and the team has said that he should be available again full time this weekend.
-- There seems to be a common theme happening with some of the Cubs starting pitchers. There seems to be a trend of early struggles and then settling down to a very solid start. If you take away Jeff Samardzija's terrible outing on Tuesday, the last three starters have given up early runs before settling into another quality start.
-- Speaking of Samardzija, the Cubs sent him back to the Iowa squad when the Cubs brought up reliever Chad Fox. I can only hope the Cubs have finally decided to quit screwing around with this young talent and actually finalize his transition into a full-time starter.
Next up for the Cubs is a weekend series against the Milwaukee Brewers.
Friday night, rookie Randy Wells makes his debut this season against Dave Bush (1-0). Wells makes his first start in his young Cubs career and only had two appearances in a brief stint last year as a reliever.
Saturday, Ryan Dempster (2-1) duels against Yovani Gallardo (3-1) and Sunday's matchup faces Sean Marshall (0-2) against Jeff Suppan (2-2).
On Monday, the Cubs will have their first day off in twenty games.