Friday, June 20, 2008

Are The Cubs in Trouble?

First off, I just want to say that I'm not worried about the Chicago Cubs being swept the by the Tampa Bay Rays. Really, I'm not. The Rays have shown so far this season that they are for real and that teams had better take them seriously. This is the first time all season that the Cubs have lost 3 games in a row and while I would have liked them to take the series from the Rays or at least win today's game since they were up 3-1 in the 7th, its nor a huge deal. Yet.

What does scare me is the lack of depth the Cubs have, everywhere, right now. In spring training the Cubs biggest problem was what they were going to do with all this starting pitching they had. In the spring, you had Carlos Zambrano, Ted Lily, Jason Marquis, Rich Hill, Ryan Dempster, Sean Marshall and Jon Lieber competing for 5 spots. Marshall started the season in the bullpen and is now in Iowa, building his arm strength up. Lieber also started in the bullpen, had one terrible spot start and was shipped back to the bullpen. Hill had a case of the yips and was sent to Iowa to work them out, and hasn't yet. And now, Zambrano was removed early from his start on Wednesday with 'shoulder discomfort'. He had an MRI on Thursday and in now going to have another test on Friday to help try and determine what else is wrong. It's already been said that Marshall will probably be called up for Zambrano's start on Tuesday. So now, after having 7 starters, the Cubs are down to 3. Rookie Sean Gallagher has pitched well since being called up to take Hill's spot in the rotation, but with the worry about Zambrano, I think it's imperative the Cubs make a move for another starter and quick. And getting a second tier starter isn't the answer. The Cubs need another Ace right now, someone who can lead this team if Zambrano is going to miss any significant amount of time, otherwise, you have Ted Lily as your number one. Not something that instills confidence in me.

But I wish that was the only spot of the roster that worries me. The outfield is another glaring hole right now. The Cubs starting OF on Thursday night was Micah Hoffupair in LF (a 1B who started to pick up the OF this season), Kosuke Fukudome (their starting RF) in CF and Mark DeRosa (their everyday 2B) in RF. Both Reed Johnson and Jim Edmonds, who have been sharing CF duties since Felix Pie was sent back to Iowa, are nursing day-to-day injuries and hopefully will be back soon. And with Alfonso Soriano still sidelined till at least the mid part of July, can the Cubs really afford to be sending out that exact trio out there again? Matt Murton will play LF versus lefties I would imagine normally, but he has shown almost zero power this season and has zero speed. So what are we throwing him out there for? Just to have a redhead in the lineup? I think it might be time for GM Jim Hendry to make a call to Kenny Lofton's people and see if he's willing to come down on his $4 million dollar demands to play for a playoff contender and help play an important role as a part time CF and bench player. Especially if Edmonds day-to-day foot injury turns out to be worse.

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