Today’s off-day gives us a moment to step back, and look at where things stand for the Chicago Cubs. It’s been a REALLY nice few weeks, during which the Cubs haven’t lost a single series. Indeed, they just took two of three from the very good Atlanta Braves, and took two of three from the very good Los Angeles Dodgers. But, despite all the fortune, the team is still just 13-18, tied for last in the NL Central (and tied for the second worst record in the NL – seriously, those first two weeks of the season were BAD). The Cubs are 7 games behind the Central-leading Cardinals, and 5 games behind the second Wild Card-leading Mets (if you’re thinking that far ahead). In order to have a fighting chance for a playoff spot, the Cubs will need to win at least 87 games, which would mean they’d need to go about 74-57 over the next 131 games. That’s a .565 winning percentage, which is high, but not completely unreachable. The Cubs have faced the toughest schedule so far this year (tied with the other team in Chicago, at a .528 strength of schedule).
- Dale Sveum on Kerry Wood’s glove throw the other night: “Do I care? Of course I care. I don’t condone it or wish it to happen all the time. But we all know in this game that there are frustrations that happen, and sometimes we regret things we do, that’s for sure. We’re not perfect human beings. But I missed the whole thing, so I didn’t see any of that.” In other words, no, he doesn’t really care. It isn’t a big deal.
- Alfonso Soriano is dealing with a sore knee (or sore knees – he’s getting old), which is why he got the extra day off yesterday. Dale Sveum has been happy with Soriano’s defense in left, but not so much with the lack of power.
- Phil Rogers suggests that the Cubs could consider trading Ryan Dempster to the Red Sox for Kevin Youkilis. Setting aside the fact that Rogers’ insistence that the Cubs could use Youkilis (where, exactly?), and setting aside Youkilis’s poor start to the year and injury issues, in no universe would the Cubs trade Ryan Dempster for a 33-year-old infielder who’s under contract for one more year (on a steep $13 million 2013 option, at that). If the Cubs even consider trading Dempster this year, it will be for prospects or young players. Nothing else would make even the slightest hint of sense. I award you no points, Phil Rogers.
- Dale Sveum wasn’t too perturbed by Pat Listach’s risky send of Starlin Castro yesterday (Castro was going for an inside-the-park homer, but was throw out by 15 feet, despite the relay throw being 10 feet up the line – he was very, very out). “It’s one of those things, it still took a good relay throw,” Sveum said. “With two outs there, you’re hoping for a bad skip or bad relay throw. Sometimes as the third base coach, you like pushing the envelope especially in a game when you feel it’ll be a tough time scoring runs, and sure enough it was a game like that.” We differ on the meaning of “good relay throw,” but whateves.
- Dale Sveum discusses managing his bullpen, which has been difficult in light of Kerry Wood’s and Carlos Marmol’s struggles.
- The Cubs’ defense has been a shifting machine, and it’s been working fantastically.
- Dan McNeil offers an interesting and fair take on why Tom Ricketts is to “blame” for Kerry Wood being back on the Cubs this year, though I’d probably disagree with the ultimate conclusion (i.e., that’s it’s hugely bad that Wood is back), only because it’s really hard for us to know the impact Wood has had on the other pitchers on the roster.
- Ground-breaking on the Cubs’ new Spring Training park and facilities in Mesa, Arizona is set for July 11. You can expect fanfare and festivities to celebrate the ground-breaking, which comes a day after the All-Star Game. The park is expected to be completed in December of next year, which would allow the Cubs to Spring there starting in 2014. Mark your calendars now, because we’re going to have a meet-up in Mesa that Spring.
- I was on the Midway Baseball Today podcast yesterday, and you can catch it here.
- You still have a little over a day to enter tomorrow’s fantasy baseball contest, in which you can win a share of a $300 prize pool, can try to beat your friends and neighbors, and can support BN in the process. The full details are here. You can sign up here.