Ryno of the Week: After starting the season 0-for-7, it looked like perhaps Reed Johnson wouldn't be much of a contributor off the Cubs' bench. But Johnson won a game for the Cubs with a walk-off home run on Wednesday, and proceeded to go 6-for-10 this week. He had an RBI in three of the five games he played, only three of which were starts.
Cubs Week 3 awards: Consistently inconsistent
It's not that the Cubs are inconsistent due to their insistence on losing as many games as they win (another perfect 3-3 this week). Actually, that makes them pretty consistent. But it's the ways they're winning and losing that makes it hard to figure them out.
Neither Zambrano nor Garza allowed a run on Monday or Wednesday, but the Cubs had to eke out one-run victories in those games due to a stagnant offense. Four total runs between the two teams, Cubs go 1-1. Then against LA, the Dodgers put up 20 runs in the first two games, but the Cubs offense posted a win on Saturday with a five-run explosion in the eighth inning. Thirty-two runs in two games, Cubs go 1-1. On the heels of his dominant start, Zambrano got rocked on Sunday. The Cubs are less predictable than an M. Night Shyamalan movie.
All the inconsistency is making it hard to get a handle on the 2011 Cubs. Is this a good team that just hasn't put it all together? A bad team that's lucky to have had a soft early schedule? Can the Cubs continue to compete in an NL Central that has been a model of mediocrity thus far, or is it just a mirage?
I'm inclined to think the answer is the one we don't want to hear, but I don't know for sure. It would be difficult to have learned less about this team through the first three weeks of the season. Eventually something will give: pitchers like Dempster and Garza will finally settle in, or guys who've started hot such as Castro and Barney will slump, and the losses will come.
Here's one thing that will remain consistent: facing teams from the NL West. After three straight series against NL West foes, the Cubs have three more coming up. All told, they'll play 19 straight games against that division.
Honorable mention: I will not be buying stock in Kosuke Fukudome until I see him succeed past about May 15, but he continued his torrid start with a 10-for-19 week that also included three walks and two runs.
Goat of the Week: How brutal has it been to watch Carlos Pena hit? Good Lord. He was 2-for-17 this week with six strikeouts. And now it's time to play, Which Statistic is More Pathetic?
1) Pena has 20 strikeouts in 68 plate appearances.
2) Pena has just one extra-base hit all year, a double.
3) Pena has three fewer RBI than Tyler Colvin, even though Colvin has just six hits on the season.
If you answered "all of them," you're right! You win this 2011 Carlos Pena baseball card! Better sell it fast!
Pena has been pathetically, miserably horrible so far, though I'll be honest: just a few well-timed long balls would go a long way toward putting him back in my good graces.
Dishonorable mention: I thought I was going to like Marcos Mateo--he seems to have decent stuff. But after a disastrous outing last Sunday, he didn't do a whole lot better this week: nine hits and three earned runs in four innings pitched. A double play ball with the bases loaded saved him from further damage in the ninth inning yesterday, after he had walked two men. He also issued a four pitch walk to the only batter he faced back on Wednesday.