in the last day, two important bits of information about the cubs' divisional rivals came out that merit mention.
first, chris carpenter is going to have bone spurs in his elbow operated upon, putting him out for the next three months -- and very likely killing whatever small hope the saint louis cardinals might have retained in spite of falling eight back of the division-leading brewers and three back of the second-place cubs with an 11-17 start.
second, roger clemens today announced to a yankee stadium crowd that he will be pitching for new york this summer -- and, more pertinently for this page, not for the houston astros (13-16). houston has gone 6.5 back of milwaukee coming into today, and -- though offense has been a bigger problem for them early this year than pitching, as can be seen in examining team win expectancies -- not retaining clemens is a mortal blow. the astro offense will probably end better than 13th in runs scored; but it is very hard to expect to continue to get a 3.32 era out of matt albers, a 3.00 out of jason jennings, and a 4.09 out of wandy rodriguez. clemens would have made houston dangerous, but he won't.
little of this can perhaps be said to matter -- the problem for the cubs going forward is a 20-10 milwaukee club that refuses to cool off and is maintaining an intimidating five-game lead in spite of northside success. but these developments can't help but better the cubs' chances by reducing the distant odds of any resurgence from these two clubs, who have been the class of the division for several years running.