I’m nothing if not an eternal optimist. I always try to see the bright side of things, even if it doesn’t necessarily make a whole lot of sense. For whatever reason, I’d rather be disappointed in the end while enjoying the ride than set low expectations and be pleasantly surprised. After years of Cubs fandom, you’d think I would know better.
But here I am, sucked in once again, as I sit and look at the Chicago Cubs after April of 2010. The record is bleh. The bullpen has been an expletive. The offense has been inconsistent. Lou has slept a lot. But, I still believe. And I’ll just go ahead and give in to the optimism and make a bold prediction: this team, the 2010 Chicago Cubs, will make the playoffs. And here’s why.
1. The WHOLE offense has not been inconsistent
Theriot has been hitting. Marlon Byrd has been so far ahead of last year’s MB, he should be named MB2.0 because of his significant upgrade. Fontenot has hit again this year. Soriano has hit again this year. Soto has hit again this year. Fukudome has had a typical strong April, but there’s always hope he’ll carry through all year. Colvin has been strong. Basically, the entire offense has hit well this year so far…with the exception of the heart of the lineup (and of the team), DLee and Aramis Ramirez.
But these guys WILL hit. Lee has historically started slow, and Ramirez is just too good a hitter to continue his slump for too long. All of these scoring opportunities and men LOB they’re squandering so far will become RBIs. These close losses will become W’s. And the offense will provide up the momentum needed to get this team to the postseason.
But what about the bullpen? The offense not scoring runs hasn’t been the ONLY culprit so far! The bullpen has been bad. Baaaaaaaad. Well…
2. The bullpen WILL improve.
They can’t get much worse. And, as young and inexperienced as they are, they will learn from their mistakes. Zambrano is a stabilizing force for the bullpen (and who would have ever considered ‘Zambrano’ and ‘stable’ in the same sentence?), but he won’t be in the pen forever. My gut thinks the team hopes Gorz will pitch well enough to garner a decent, experienced right-handed reliever through a trade, allowing Z to slide back into the rotation. Until then, he offers experience in an area that there really is none.
For most of these guys, this was their first April pitching to big league hitters. They’ll take this experience, these lumps and knocks and failures, and improve as the season progresses. Their June through September will look much better than their April, and will keep them in enough games to play into October.
3. Lou WILL wake up.
I’ve covered this in a previous post, but I will briefly mention it here: Lou has to spark this team. Get thrown out of a game…bump an umpire…challenge Ozzie to a cage match…something. And I think he will. His response to the Fontenot bunting question seemed to show a little fire that he really hasn’t shown this season. Rest assured, Lou will snap, he’ll do something that’s vintage Lou, and the Cubs WILL respond. If this is to be Lou’s last year in Chicago, at least he’ll go out with a playoff appearance.
Once we get to the playoffs? Probably a first round sweep. Again. But everybody’s optimism has to have a limit SOMEWHERE…until then, I’m planning on enjoying the ride of optimistic expectations for this team. I invite you all to join me.