It’s time to recap April, locate those kernels of hope, drink the blue kool-aid and look forward to May! Woooooooo! May!
After a rough start, the Cardinals promenaded their way back to the top of the division, with the rest of the teams mired in the mud within a few games of the .500 Reds. The Cubs? Right about where most people expected them to be. I was hoping for better, but there are plenty of reasons why a 12-14 record in April is exciting…
- The Starting Pitching has not been good. Not good at all.
What was hoped to be a strength struggled through the monsoons of April, the injuries to Cash and Wells, and the disappearance of Dempster. The Cubs rank dead last in the NL in quality starts (it’s not even close), team ERA, and walks issued. Garza and Big Z have 7 of the 8 quality starts. The Cubs still managed to win 12 games.
- The Bullpen was a little bit Dr. Jeckyll and a little bit Mr. Hyde.
Marmol, Marshall and Wood have been very, very good. Samardzija has been shockingly useful. It’s almost as if he realized this is the last year the Cubs are going to be paying him. The rest have been up and down and up and down. Although, with even a little bit of starting pitching, the Cubs won’t depend on them nearly as much. Despite the ups and downs, and the fan-favorite All-Bullpen Days, the Cubs still won 12 games.
- The Offense has mainly consisted of Castro, Barney and Soriano.
Zambrano is tied for THIRD on the team in homeruns with 1. Soriano has almost as many homeruns as the REST OF THE TEAM COMBINED (10 of 21 total). Barney has more RBI than Ramirez (14 – 11). Pena is SOMEHOW hitting worse than last year. Unsurprisingly, the Cubs are 12th in the NL in runs scored. The Cubs still won 12 games.
- The Cubs do not lead the league in Antidefense, but they’re close.
Not every Cub feat of antidefense shows up in the errors column. Thankfully. There have been enough botched run-downs, missed bunt assignments, dropped fly-balls (it’s not just a south-side disease), Dunston like throws to first base, throws to the wrong base, and pigeon attacks in the outfield – to lose a few close ones. The Cubs still won 12 games.
- Quade is learning on the job.
Early in the year, I admonished Cub fans to trust in the Quade. I’ll stick to that. He IS getting better. The Quade is sticking with a struggling and/or tiring starter less often (trying to squeeze that ONE more inning out of a pitcher is almost always a big bucket of Fail when facing major league hitters). Heck, he even got thrown out of a game for the first time. And then promptly admitted being wrong for arguing (after seeing the replay). Despite some puzzling batting orders (always overplayed in the media), and lack of Tweeting from the clubhouse… the Cubs still won 12 games.
The Cubs have hit just well enough to hand off some leads to the three headed monster in the back of the bullpen. And that is enough to go 12-14. Despite a lot of room for improvement.
So I’m proudly drinking the Blue Kool-Aid out of a glass that looks half full. 3.5 games back after significantly under-performing for the month? Sign me up.
Now, bring on May. Cardinals and Reds at Wrigley? First road-trip to Fenway?
This is the Month!
I’ve got a bad case of the Aprils. April Anxiety. So I needed some help.
P.J.: What’s wrong with you?
Brendan: I don’t know. I am not right.
P.J.: Dude, you are sick, okay? Just go see a doctor.
Brendan: No. No doctors.
P.J.: No doctors? What are you, like a wounded bank robber?
Brendan: My health insurance got canceled. I have no choice. I’ve got to go to Dr. Brando now.
Bobby: Who’s Dr. Brando?
P.J.: He’s the doctor that lives inside his head.
Brendan: Went to Harvard medical school.
Bobby: Inside your head?
Brendan: Whatever dude, it’s Harvard.
P.J.: Anyway, it’s Brando’s self-diagnosing, usually using the internet. And the last time he did it, it did not go very well.
Dr Brando’s prescription for April Anxiety was easy. More homers. Who am I to argue with a Harvard trained physician?
Back to back homers for the first time this year? (So-ri-ahhh-no! and Soto!) Check.
A Second helping of Soriano? Check and Check.
Quality start by Zambrano? 6 innings, 2 runs. Check.
Domination from the three-headed monster of Wood/Marshall/Marmol? 3 innings, 3 hits, 4 K, 0 runs. Check, Check and Check.
Soriano is locked in. And anyone who has watched the Cubs knows, that when the Fonz is locked in – you just get out of the way. It doesn’t last the whole year of course :)P But it can certainly be fun to watch. Soriano now owns the record for the most homers ever hit by a Cub during a month of April (and the team has been around awhile… as other fans like to point out).
Wins can settle a team down. Good Zambrano was joking about settling down after giving up a ‘cheap homerun’ to Justin Upton. (It sailed 455 feet into the second deck – and I was afraid they would have to alert the FAA)
Let’s get another one today. May is just around the corner, and I’m excited.
Remember Cubs, the prescription is more homers. Trust Dr. Brando.
Oh, and Jordana Spiro? Call me.
Offense! Clutch Extra Base hits!
Soriano was replaced as part of a ninth inning TRIPLE switch… but not before going 2 for 3, with 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R and 1 BB.
Soto goes 2 for 3, with 2 2B, 1 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB.
Aramis goes 2 for 4 with 1 2B, 1 R.
Pena gets yet another RBI sacrifice fly.
Marmol found the happy medium between domination and disaster with 1 BB, 1 K, and a successful save. Word on the radio broadcast was that Quade had both Marmol and Wood scheduled for a rest day, and both approached him to say they were ready to go. Quade used them both, and they atoned for yesterday’s wackiness. It also allowed Quade to use three pitchers in the 7th.
Cashner’s first start tomorrow… and a chance to go above .500 for the FIRST time in the Ricketts era. They were at or below .500 for EVERY SINGLE game last year, a memory I would like to purge as quickly as possible.
I hope I remembered to take Soriano off the bench in fantasy baseball… when he gets hot, he puts up insane numbers.