Monday, September 29, 2008


Update: So, the season is over. Swept by the Dodgers. Not much to say, other than this feels familar but suprisingly worse than years past. Hang in there...

Chat will stay up. An update is coming...

It's playoff time! It's been nine days since I've had a Cubs game to be invested in and I have to say I have enjoyed the time off mentally. I was able to enjoy two Bears games (well, I watched two, but I only enjoyed one), keep tabs on the NL wild card race and even listen to a few Sox games (I am a baseball fan after all), all while getting projects done around the house in anticipation of being completely paralyzed the entire month of October. As I sit here writing this, the Sox make up game vs. Detroit is being delayed due to rain. I don't enjoy the Sox position of having two must win games to have the honor playing Tampa Bay in the 1st round...reminds me of the Cubs uphill climb in '98 and we all know how far that went.

But enough of the Sox, this is after all,

On to the playoffs!

I am quite pleased the Brewers won the Wild Card enabling the Cubs to play the Dodgers in the first round instead of the Mets. I know not everybody agrees with me on this, but I think the Dodgers are much more vulnerable than the Mets. The other upside is a potential NLCS match up with the Brewers, which would be good for two reasons: 1. I suspect a good portion of any Miller Park crowd in that series would be Cubs fans. 2. The Brewers could actually beat the Phillies in a 5 game series if they can figure out a way to throw CC twice...which is key because the Phillies scare me. I don't think the Brewers are good enough to beat any other playoff team in a seven game series though, especially the Cubs. Who wouldn't want to play this guy in the NLCS?

Back to the NLDS vs. L.A. I really like our chances here. Here are the pitching match ups for the first three games:

Game 1: Lowe vs. Dempster
Game 2: Billingsley vs. Zambrano
Game 3: Harden vs. Kuroda

Yes, all three Dodgers started listed here are good and have impressive stats. BUT the Cubs have owned the NL West in general and the Dodgers in particular all season long (5-2 in '08 vs. L.A.)....and that was before we had Harden. And the Dodgers have lost one of their key bullpen pitchers for the series in Kuo. The Cubs offense lately seems to have had no problem with hitting very good pitchers which is why L.A.'s starters don't scare me too much. And of course, we have home field advantage.

The biggest advantage to the Cubs over the Dodgers, or anybody in the NL for that matter? The overwhelming feeling by everybody involved, players, management, press, fans, broadcasters, etc. that making the playoffs alone isn't good enough this year. The pervasive thinking is that making the playoffs this year was a foregone conclusion. That only winning the whole thing this year would suffice. That these Cubs and their fans have already been to the NLDS, NLCS...been there done that. We want it all now. Lord knows we've waited long enough that we've earned it. We have the best team in the NL and possibly the MLB so it's go time. Best of all, the players seem to think this as well since day one. Remember when Dempster had the balls to say it in Spring Training and he was laughed at? Well, it doesn't look so silly now.

Here are a few key points that will affect the series from the Cubs perspective:

  • Z is a wild card. He could have his no hit stuff or he could melt down in 2/3 of an inning....I only hope it's the good Z that we see. I know he's an emotional guy, but even Z in his most immature moment has to realize how important this is and that the playoffs and everything this season stands for is bigger than him or any blown call, walk, hit batsmen, etc. that may not go his way. I haven't questioned Lou on too many decisions he's made this year, but anointing Z as the 2nd starter for the NLDS is one of them. I think Harden and Lilly have both earned a higher spot in the rotation than Z. Now we risk throwing Z in a pivotal game 5 if it comes to that. Let's hope it doesn't.....of course, he could make Lou look like a genius if he goes out with no hit stuff again. But that's why he's a wild card.
  • We need DeRosa. He is my Cub MVP this year. He wasn't the best or most talented player, but he was the most important. Where would we be without his versatility, defense, leadership and career high stats in HR, RBI, SLG, OBP, OPS? He was sidelined last Sunday with a calf strain and hasn't played since. He's a veteran and a gamer, so you know he'll be in, but how effective will he be. The latest on DeRosa does sound promising, but we'll see for ourselves.
  • We need Soto. He too has been fighting a small, nagging injury the past two weeks that he suffered in the game that he hit the game tying 2-run HR. Supposedly he'll be 100%, which is good, because we need him 100%. He's the only player that anybody could argue has been as pivotal to the Cubs success this year as DeRosa.
  • Assuming he makes the roster over Pie, look for Hoffpauir to have some clutch hits in the playoffs. This kid has talent as evidence by his monster season in AAA this year, and so far doesn't appear to have cracked under the pressure in Wrigleyville. That one's just a hunch, but I said it first.
  • How well will the Cubs bullpen hold up? We know we can depend on Marmol, but who else? Wood doesn't exactly instill a feeling of invincibility when he takes the mound these days. I'm still confused how Howry made the roster since he can only throw one pitch: a fat ball down the middle of the plate. Samardzjia is unproven and only 27 innings into a big league career (although he wins an award for the best player web site on the team). Gaudin is still recovering from a drunken stooper when he fell into the side of a dumpster after partying after a Cubs victory. It's not exactly the dominating bullpen we had back in June. Although I do feel better with Marquis in there in case some long relief is needed (re: Zambrano melt down).
  • Cubs and Stubhub. Let's just hope there are real Cubs fans in the stands for the playoffs. It is very evident that the Cubs have decided to sell many tickets directly to Stub Hub for a bigger profit and not ever make them available the general public. This means only those who can afford $300 for a terrace reserved seat where you can't see the scoreboard will be at Wrigley. I wonder how loud and knowledgeable they'll be? (And yes, I'm bitter because I didn't get any tickets).
So, that's my take on the series as a whole from a Cubs perspective. I'll be watching game 1 with my Dad, Sister and a few other close friends. I will update this site after every game, so please come back to see updated posts and continue to count down the number of victories needed for the Cubs to win their third World Championship. Remember, all the Cubs need to do is go 11-8 and they will be World Champions!


Anonymous said...

It's game day and everbody I know is fired up! Forget being 'cautiously optimistic'....This is The Year!!!

Anonymous said...

No offense, but we're in a 0-2 hole against the Dodgers. Still think the Dodgers are vulnerable?

Anonymous said...

Cubs don't seem to want it nearly as bad as their fans do. I watched a good portion of both games, they were just giving the games away. Are they setting up for an underdog catch up or something? Otherwise, throwing away homefield advantage like they did makes no sense.

Shame. Big shame.

Anonymous said...

"we need derosa."

good idea...

Anonymous said...

At least the Brewers, White Sox and Angels will all go down in the first round with them. The Brewers, Cubs and Angels have the Top 3 best records going in. Too bad. Just shameful.

Anonymous said...

The way the playoffs are going again this year, makes this article seem all the more credible:

Anonymous said...

Hi! I will see you back in '09! Gotta keep hoping that we will do better. Have a great winter and see you next spring!

Cubz Fan

Anonymous said...

2009 Roster unless the following get traded.
Pitcher's Spot