A League of Her Own

Chicago Cubs Headlines for Thursday

Ryan Howard All Star Bash - Red Carpet
Ernie Banks bestowing blessings on all of Cubdom


As we look to the second half of the season, you might guess that our faithful beat writers have some lists ready for us. And you'd be right!
First up, Sully addresses Milton Bradley and five other negatives that need to be improved in the second half.  We all know the first half issues of Milty, so we'll skip to what Jim Hendry has to say about his belief in the mercurial/embattled/hot-tempered/insert adjective here outfielder:

"Milton has played pretty well the last couple of weeks, hitting .300 for the last 3-4 weeks, starting to show some progress left-handed and swinging the bat good right-handed," he said. "It's just one of those things. He had a couple of incidents where he got hurt. It kind of goes with the territory.

"But I know we're in a very forgiving town -- if you perform well and you win. So I see him being a little more relaxed. He seems to be playing with a little more happiness and some energy, and I find his teammates are fine with him. Lou is fine with him. If he plays like he can, the negatives will be eliminated."

Next up is clutch hitting. Everyone loves to talk about clutch:

The Cubs rank last in the league with a .218 average with runners in scoring position, with more strikeouts (165) than hits (156). Last year they were first in the league with runners in scoring position with most of the same players. Alfonso Soriano's average with RISP has dropped from .276 in '08 to .159; Mike Fontenot's from .323 to .182; and Bradley's from .278 at Texas to .205 in Chicago.

Then we move on to Marmol's walks (one per inning) and the wild and wacky corkscrew swing of Fukudome. Then we get to Rich Harden:

Opposing batters hit .183 against Rich Harden last year with 11 home runs in 526 at-bats. In the first half, they have hit .271 against Harden with 16 home runs in 288 at-bats.

And Sully rounds it out with a mention of the craptastic defense we've grown accustomed to seeing.

Bruce (I'm not Aaron's cousin) Miles has a list of six people that will be key in any second-half Cub resurgence. First to be mentioned is Jim Hendry, mostly as the guy who replaced Mark DeRosa with Milty and Fontenot to disastrous results. He does give Hendry some room for redemption by saying maybe he'll add a reliever and a hitter if he can find the money.

Next up is Soriano, we all know where this has been and is going. Third is Milty, see: Soriano, Alfonso.  Number four is Carlos Marmol, and while I already mentioned it, let's put it in italics here:

Marmol, who gave up 40 hits and walked 41 last year in 871/3 innings, already has walked 42 in 42 innings this year.

Fifth on the list is Demspter and his broken toe. Miles calls his 5-5, 4.09 first half lackluster. I'm not sure I'd go that far. But we'll see what Mr. Dempster has to say:

"We've got to keep idiots like myself from doing stupid stuff," he said of the broken toe. "I was all right. Too many big innings. Other than that, I gave us a chance to win a lot of ballgames, but it could have been better. That's the most unfortunate part about this? I really felt like I was starting to throw the ball well again."

Rounding up the list at number six is Sweet Lou:

"We have to swing the bats better in the second half than we did the first half," he said. "That's it. That's the theme. We swing the bats, we stay healthy, we have a good chance to win this division.

"We've been through a lot this summer. I'm curious myself, believe it or not.

"We just need to improve in certain areas, and if we do we'll be in the race. And if we don't it's going to be difficult."


Gordo only managed a list of three things that need to happen in the second half. But he did manage a Jack Nicholson quote, so he gets a few points for that:


Twelve years ago, Jack Nicholson summed up the first 86 games of this Cubs' season when his movie character walked into a waiting room full of psychiatric patients, looked around and said, ''What if this is as good as it gets?''


Gordo's list starts with getting/staying healthy, most notably Ryan Dempster.


The starting pitching is the only reason the Cubs aren't 10 or more games below .500. Regardless of any improvements in the problem areas, the rotation will be the backbone of any competitive run.

And that's going to take all the horses in that rotation. Rookie Randy Wells (rotation-best 2.72 ERA) already has become as reliable a fifth (fourth? third?) starter as there is in the league. But to ask another rookie to approximate his production while Dempster undergoes lengthy rehab probably is asking for breakdowns in the rotation.


Then numbers two and three are things we've seen in the other columns, one of Hendry's offseason moves working (preferably Milty) and the need for Soriano to hit better. In this case, Gordo wants the Fonz to outperform Jake Fox:


Fox's numbers since his recall from the minors: .313 with four homers and 15 RBI, all starting May 27 and in fill-in duty. Soriano's numbers since almost two weeks before Fox's arrival: .191 with two homers and eight RBI.

Moving him down in the order helped. Now he has to help himself, which he quietly predicted during a humbling homestand last week: ''Big second half, papi.''

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25 Comments

Carl Heartscubs Gierhan said:

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At some point I failed to mention Sully's newest mailbag, which highlights the trade suggestions he'd solicited earlier. It can be quite a fun read.

JulieDiCaro said:

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I'm having one of those mornings where so many things are going wrong I seriously just want to cry. Thank God there's baseball later on today.

gravedigger said:

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sorry if i contributed to ruining everything yesterday

JulieDiCaro said:

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oh silly--it has nothing to do with that. just life in general.

boo. :(

secdelahc said:

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If there's anything I've learned in the past couple weeks, it's that life can be a bitch when you least expect it. But I'm living off an old mantra: "You're never given more than you can handle."

Keep your spirits up and things will eventually get better.

Carl Heartscubs Gierhan said:

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I fully expect a three game sweep of the Nats, but are we ready to start burying this season if they don't win at least two of three?

flyball said:

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3 out of 4 would be good

:)

Carl Heartscubs Gierhan said:

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It would be helpful for me to know how many games are in the series, right?

flyball said:

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sorry, had to give you some grief

i'm in a snarky mood today

Carl Heartscubs Gierhan said:

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It's all good. I'm not above being mocked when I deserve it.

summerguy said:

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Did we ever compile a list of the worst gameday photos?? I know I did at least 5 teams.

tyger said:

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How's the new format going for you guys? Do I have to be good now?

flyball said:

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if someone said yes what would happen?

Carl Heartscubs Gierhan said:

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Still waiting on some of our features we were used to in the old digs. You don't have to behave, but you do have to say nice things about me.

Carl Heartscubs Gierhan said:

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I just discovered that I'm 4 months older than Aaron Heilman. Doesn't he look older than 30?

summerguy said:

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He looks at least 50

tyger said:

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You look so much younger than 30, Carl. Did you just turn 29?

Carl Heartscubs Gierhan said:

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You're spectacular.

tyger said:

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I miss you guys. Where you have been all my life for the past two months?

Carl Heartscubs Gierhan said:

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On the emotional rollercoaster of the Cubs' season so far.

Fargo said:

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After the playoff performance last year I set my expectations very low...the disappointment was unbearable. I'm not expecting anything the second half of this season so maybe I won't be disappointed. Maybe that's loser mentality, I don't know. It seems like anything that can happen to this team does-and not for the good.

gravedigger said:

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i just care if they win friday, bc im going. i expect them to totally fold in the second half, so who cares about this series.

FRESNO,CA BEAR FAN said:

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I love how Jason Marquis is one of the leading pitchers in the National League...

flyball said:

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really, tonights game is on Comcast? couldn't help a girl out with some WGN?

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