Tuesday, June 14, 2005

coming back to earth

with the winning streak and their impressive road trip now a fading memory, it would seem the cubs of april are starting to reassert themselves in typical fashion.

it's the style of the moment to talk about the cubs with optimism -- dropping their 15-5 run almost got to be a bit tedious in the hype of the boston series. but a look at the ensuing homestand is reason to think that this team (as we said during the run) isn't quite as good as all that.

after last night's loss, the cubs are 3-4 on the homestand, starting sergio mitre against josh beckett tonight and maddux against a.j. burnett tomorrow. the offense is averaging 4.3 runs in those seven thanks only to a 14-run outburst. the cubs managed 2 or fewer runs in four of their last seven games -- during their prior 9-1 stretch, they managed so few only twice. perhaps just as disturbing, however, has been the pitching. the cubs are allowing 4.6 runs a game in june despite a few exceptional individual performances, a pace much more reminiscient of april than may (and of losing than winning).

in the end, one has to look at the cubs performance thusfar and view the future with some expectation of mediocrity. they were 12-11 in april, 14-13 in may, and 7-5 so far in a month that remains very difficult sledding. i'll be happy if the cubs come into the break at .500, frankly -- thanks to their little winning run, i doubt that the 8 to 10 under i had previously been eyeballing is something that they can fall to in the next 26 (8 under would mean 7-19 between here and there).

and that would be a success for this team, i think. i haven't looked very analytically at the schedule after the break, but it isn't as bad as what we're seeing. it's even possible that, if some weaknesses (the outfield, the bullpen, leadoff) are shored up by hendry, that the cubs could get some momentum going in late july and put on a run at something more -- and make me eat crow for proclaiming the season over!

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