First: hey dorks, quit messing with Rob. Keep it up and I will punch you in the mouth.
Second: =(. Bye Kerry. You were/are a leader, a stand-up dude, and one of those rare athletes with obviously special talent. Doug Glanville today described your curveball as a snowflake that hits a tornado halfway to home plate, and he was dead on.
Fourth: =). This Cub team is much more fun to watch than the 2011, and especially the 2010, version of the team. Here is why I think so.
- Defense. This team has upgraded its gloves at several spots relative to the past few years.
Let's start in left field, where the player hasn't changed but the results have. Alfonso Soriano is yet to commit an error this season (KNOCK. ON. WOOD!!!!), and UZR (which I actually don't trust all that much) loves him — in fact, they think he's saved six runs above an average defender ALREADY this year. Incredible. (That said I still want LaHair in left and Rizzo called up once the Super 2 stuff goes away.)
At third, you might be frustrated with the lack of results from Ian Stewart's hitting (which I think are being fueled primarily by bad luck on well-hit balls). But boy do I love that glove. He makes great plays, great throws, has a good brain on his head — he may not be hitting like an everyday guy right now, but if he can get to league average — .250/.320/.400 — the rest of the way, I would feel very good about his being on the hot corner.
Overall, Soriano, Stewart, Darwin Barney and Starlin Castro are all carrying positive UZRs at this point. David DeJesus has passed the eye test in my mind, although UZR doesn't like him. And let's not talk about Tony Campana. For a super quick kid that guy sucks at defense.
- Jeff Samardzija. And more generally, the starting rotation. Matt Garza is a really good #2 SP — which is closer to an ace than most teams have. Demp is old, but having a great year (one inning in St. Louis notwithstanding). Paul Maholm has settled in, and despite Volstad's struggles I'm excited to see what Travis Wood, Chris Rusin or Casey Coleman can do, and expect CV to bounce back.
And then there's Shark. Mid-to-high 90s heat; changeup/splitter for strikeouts; nice tail on the two-seamer/cutter thing; a workable slider. All of a sudden, the kid who couldn't throw strikes has an incredibly diverse repertoire of pitches, and can throw any of them at any time. Somebody should have been taping his education over these past five years and sold that shit to kids everywhere because the results have been awesome. Should Demp like to come back, him plus Garz plus Shark plus a free agent (Hamels? Greinke? Colby Lewis?) plus whoever (Wood? Rusin? Maholm? Some other guy?) seems... serviceable.
I guess that's only two things. But (young) pitching (with upside) and defense are so awesome. Now we just need to figure out who belongs in the bullpen, and find a couple guys that can hit 40 home runs a year (Rizzo and someone).
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