It appears as though Colorado has earned themselves a backdoor sweep of the Cubs, with today's game being postponed due to apocalyptic dirges. Maybe it's a blessing in disguise.
What we know is this: The Cubs are closer to the basement than they are to the attic. The team is a tepid 10-13, having surrendered 26 more runs than they've scored, putting them 2 games out of first place behind the spectacularly mundane Cardinals.
...wait, 2 games? That's it?
But when you're a team that can't score, whose backbone talent can't field, 2 games might as well be 20. Here's an interesting stat I didn't know before I started this article...
The Cubs are 2nd overall in the league with a .280 AVG, but are 20th overall with only 95 runs scored. But average counts for naught, statophiles will tell you. Then take a look at the OBP - .333, 7th overall. That's still a disparaging difference between runs and, well, the things a team has to do to produce them (ie, walk and hit).
Statophiles will also tell you that it won't hold - either the Cubs will gradually meander down the angled slope, or the hits will start falling and the runs will score. In the meantime, the team is batting a mere .247 with runners on base, and an even more wretched .229 with runners in scoring position. (Hey - on the bright side, the team is batting an awesome .309 when nobody's on... that means that, if the Cubs start hitting situationally, then they will be an offensive force of epic story. Amiright?)
At the same time, co-blogger Rob Letterly has pointed out that the team's ERA is currently 4.92, which is pretty atrocious unless you're playing Home Run Derby rather than baseball. To some degree, though, that number should drop. 31 of the team's 112 earned runs this year come on the backs of pitching phenoms* James Russell, Casey Coleman and Marcos Mateo. Subtract their innings and earned runs, and the team is looking at 168.1 innings pitched and 81 earned runs - that's a team ERA of 4.33.
(*in case it's not clear, the term "phenoms" is being used somewhat facetiously here)
Admittedly, 4.33 still isn't great, but consider that there's more than half a run difference between the team's current ERA and their otherwise ERA, and that .59 rides squarely on the shoulders of three mediocre arms, none of whom will be pitching on the team in a week or two. It's probably safe to presume that the gentlemen who'll be replacing them - Cashner and Wells - will do a bit better. Oh, and if Ryan Dempster rediscovers his talent, that might help too.
What we can conclude, then:
I remind myself of the announcer from Little Big League, who'd say things like "Ceranno's batting .290 in night games on the west coast..." If you take the Cubs team as they stand now, turn them sideways, make some suppositions and a few big assumptions, and you may come to the conclusion that they aren't half bad.
If they start getting hits with runners on.
If their three worst pitchers are replaced by three decent pitchers, and one of their other pitchers rediscovers his sack.
If. If if if.
Enough with the "ifs." It's time for some "dos." Otherwise, they're done.