After putting together their first winning streak of the season against the hapless Astros, it was back to reality for the Cubs as they took on a solid Brewers team in Milwaukee. They went from one sweep to another as the offense managed just four runs in the three games, three of which were driven in by Aramis "Trade Deadline Buzzkill" Ramirez.
But we're used to the losing by now. Besides, the two teams I don't mind seeing the Cubs lose to at this point are the Brewers and the Pirates--if one of those teams can keep the Cardinals out of the playoffs, then at least all will not be lost. (Though admittedly, I don't actually believe the Pirates have a chance.)
What I do want to talk about today is who the Cubs leadoff man is going to be the rest of this year and beyond. Campana led off yesterday and started the game by doing precisely what you'd want your leadoff man to do: he beat out an infield single, went to second on an errant pickoff throw, stole third and scored on a sac fly. It was quite beautiful, actually. Only problem is that pesky little stat known as OBP, which is just .299 for the pesky sub-six-footer. I'm not sure anyone really believes that Campana can be a major league starter, so who else ya got?
Castro has some speed and can obviously hit for average, but at this point in his career, he's far from an on-base guy (put it this way: his average is 80 points higher than Pena's, yet his OBP is seven points lower). And as he develops, the Cubs expect him to show a little pop and perhaps even hit third in the lineup.
Reed Johnson has a career .341 OBP but may not be around next year. Darwin Barney has drawn just 11 walks this year. ... And we're pretty much out of options for this year (the Cubs' best OBPs after Fukudome and Johnson are Byrd, Pena and Ramirez).
To make a long story short, the Cubs will need to find a leadoff man either in their minor league system or outside the organization as they move into 2012 and beyond. (Cubs Den looked at some of the minor league prospects recently.) Otherwise, it will either be Castro or Barney at the top of the order next year, neither of whom truly fit the bill. Though I do have one last thought: Carlos Zambrano has the third-highest OBP on the team this year, and he does have one career stolen base. Eh? Eh?