The Cubs are streaking.
After loosing 8 straight games, and driving many fans to the ledge, the Cubs have won 9 of their last ten games and are right back in the thick of things and stringing us fans along with just enough good baseball to keep hoping (we are suckers for hope.) Now we shouldn't get too cocky after beating Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, but a win is a win. 9 out of 10 wins can change your attitude just as much as 8 losses in a row. Really it just brings us back to where we started: mediocrity. But the cubs have too much talent and too many resources to be medicore. Hopefully we can build from here.
As the Cubs continue to prove themselves to be serious wild card contenders, Jim Hendry is in a better position to make a pickup, that will make the team better now, not just in the future.
The 3 holes in the team are lead off hitter/center field, left field, and set up guy.
With the deadline less than two weeks away, lots of names are being tossed around that are fun to get excited about. Names like Juan Pierre, Adam Dunn, Aubrey Huff make us salivate, and I wouldn't be too suprised if Hendry gets us one of those guys, but I don't expect it. I do expect something significant, weather it's Austin Kearns, or MacDougal, or someone who hasn't even been mentioned in rumors yet, Hendry will make a move and the Cubs will be a better team on August 1st.
Things are starting to click for the offense, mostly because the top of the order isn't a disgrace to humanity. Nobody knows why it took Dusty 1/2 of a season to put Hairston and Walker in the 1-2 spots, and favored the morbid combination of Neifi Perez and Corey Patterson, but finally he did it (with a little not-so-subtle help from Hendry). The lineup is functional, the roles are clear and you can see a difference.
With Derrek Lee, the best hitter in the world batting third, and Aramis Ramirez one of the best hitters in the NL in the 4th/5th spot, the Cubs really shouldn't be having so much trouble scoring runs. Taking a walk every once in a while should also help.DL Watch
Former Red Sox stars Nomar Garciaparra and Scott Williamson (the secret weapon) could join the roster sooner than expected. Williamson could be ready as soon as 2 weeks from now. They could potentially solve a lot of issues, giving the offense the boost it needs and the bullpen the depth it needs, but this is very uncertain, and still not soon enough.The Competiton
Assuming the Braves (who now have Chipper Jones, and over half of their rotation back from the DL) will win the NL East for the 245th year in a row, the cubs have 3 main teams to worry about, The Astros, and the Marlins and the Phillies.
I don't think the Mets or Nationals are good enough to stay in the race much longer. The Cubs certainly are capable of winning the wild card, but they have to step it up a notch.
They have to stay healthy and Dusty Baker can't be a hindrance.
It's going to come down to who can stay healthy, and who makes the best moves at the trading deadline.
Will the Cubs make the wild card?
It's not likely, but it's only slightly unlikely.