Will the Cubs Crash the Cardinals Celebration?

Eric Ball@@BigLeagueEballFeatured ColumnistJuly 28, 2009

CHICAGO - JULY 8:  Aaron Heilman #47 of the Chicago Cubs pitches against the Atlanta Braves during the game on July 8, 2009 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Don’t look now but a familiar logo is staring down at the National League Central. The up and down Cubbies find themselves in first place, with August just around the corner.
The team has battled injuries all season, to key players like Aramis Ramierz, Geovanny Soto, Ryan Dempster, Ted Lilly and Aaron Miles. But somehow the Cubs have scrapped together a 52-45 record, which is good enough for first in the ultra competitive NL Central.
Last night’s game was a perfect example of their season.
Alfonso Soriano was booed by the Wrigley faithful for not running out a ground ball in the 11th inning of a game as tight as Kim Kardashian’s pants, a 1-1 affair. Two innings later he was getting a standing ovation as he circled the bases on a walk-off grand slam against the Houston Astros.
This team has refused to quit and it looks like dropping Soriano out of the leadoff spot has been beneficial. His average has jumped almost 20 points since the all-star break (.234 to .253).
The pitching is getting better as well. Rich Harden is finally beginning to find his velocity and has only allowed two runs in three starts since the All-Star break.
Zambrano continues to be his wild and crazy self. Remember when he was talking retirement at the start of the year? Yeah right. Once again he looks like the formidable ace that the Cubs have come to expect.
And rookie Kevin Hart has been lights-out since being turned into a starter by Lou Pinella. He has picked up two wins in three starts and is sporting a minuscule ERA of 2.08.
This is very bad news for a St. Louis Cardinals team that has mortgaged the next two to three years on Matt Holliday, Mark DeRosa and Julio Lugo. It looks as if they are finished making moves.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch writer Derrick Goold believes that they have already made “the big splash.” They gave up four of their top six prospects for the above-mentioned trio and look to be in “now or never mode” in an attempt to make Albert Pujols happy.
Holliday got his get out of jail free card when he was able to ditch the woeful A’s to the Cards. But he was a shell of his Coors Field days and it certainly makes you wonder if that ballpark had an effect on his numbers over the years.
The Boston Red Sox basically gave up on Lugo. They had no need for him on their 25-man roster. Now he is STARTING everyday for St. Louis? Sounds kinda desperate to me.
And DeRosa was put on the DL in his second game with the team!
But is this team all that great? They took a shellacking from the Phillies this past weekend. There is no question that the Phillies will have to be dealt with in October if you want to make a World Series run. Can the Cards do it?
My response…ahhh NO!
When Kyle Lohse (4-6) is your number three starter you have issues. When Todd Wellemeyer (5.79ERA) is in your rotation you have major problems. This management felt the pitching did not need to be upgraded and I think it will bite them in the rear in September.
Goold thinks the Cardinals might even consider a four-man rotation the rest of the year. This doesn’t usually end well.
Unless the Cardinals upgrade their pitching in the next few days (screw it give the Jays your entire AAA team for Halladay) this division is going to be won by the Cubs. They are getting healthier and are gaining confidence by the day.
If the Cardinals don’t make the play-offs, these big moves will turn out to be an utter disaster that could haunt them for the next couple of years. And even if they do survive the Cubs, they don’t stand a chance against the cream of the National League aka the Phillies and Dodgers.
Can you picture Pujols in pinstripes in 2011?


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