Creeping Inexorably Toward A Worthwhile Sub-Heading.
Monday, April 19, 2004
Game Notes 12: My Kingdom For A Blowout
I swear, one day I'll write a cohesive piece again; taking a single idea, laying out a comprehensive argument, then wrapping it up and tying a bow on top. Those days will come again, but for now, just figuring out how to turn my computer on is a major step, so fragmented thoughts held loosely together by the literary adhesive known as the "bullet point" are likely to be the staple around here for a while.
While I'm thinking of it, the numbers in the "Game Notes" titles refer to the number of the game, not the number of Game Notes I've written. I know it could be clearer, but anything else I think of is clunky, and boy do I hate clunky. Anyway, now that my conscience is relieved for the day...
The Cubs are currently fifth in the NL in total runs scored, and fourth in runs per game. This can be attributed almost entirely to the ridiculous home run binge that's occurred during the current homestand. In the last six games, our boys in blue have launched 15 long balls, and 22 doubles to boot. Their slugging percentage in Wrigley so far is .642, with their team hitting line resembling those of an individual superstar at .321/.385/.642. Of course, Cub opponents haven't fared much worse, posting a .304/.396/.530 line, and actually outscoring the Cubs 45-43.
We've had an excellent anecdotal demonstration over the last three days of what we can expect offensively from this club. When conditions and pitching matchups are favorable for extra base hits, this team will score plenty of runs. However, if all the stars haven't aligned - there's rough weather, a pitcher with a great sinker, or just a good pitcher in general - this offense will sputter. This team doesn't get on base enough to have consistent, sustained rallies, so if they can't leave the yard, they won't cross the plate.
One moment, Corey Patterson is the stupidest player on the planet, the next he does something positive that I never expected. Case(s) in point: 4th inning, men on second and third with one out, Patterson has a chance to drive in a run with a fly ball, but instead of waiting for a pitch he can drive, he swings at the first thing he sees and pops out to second. In the 5th, he has a man at second with two outs, and he swings at the first pitch yet again, this time grounding out to third. This sort of thing drives me nuts, which means I'm going to be certifiable by the end of the season.
Those were horrible at bats, and when Corey came up in the 10th, he had seen 10 pitches in five plate appearances, swinging at 7 of them. That's downright Randall Simonesque. But then came the tenth inning when, facing Danny Graves, he looks at three straight pitches, working the count to 2-1, then on the fourth pitch, ropes a double to the opposite field! Those are the sort of at bats Corey needs to have every time up, and if he can figure out how to do that, he'll light this league up like the product testing lab of a neon sign factory.
This is a comment left over from the last few games, but I'm throwing it in here while I think of it. I'd been poo-pooing concerns over the defensive prowess, or lack thereof, of Michael Barrett, mostly because I hadn't seen much of him and didn't have any reliable information to go on. Now that I've seen him, though, I've got my concerns.
My biggest worry is what I'll refer to as Lazy Trunk Syndrome. When a pitch moves outside the area a catcher expects it to be in, a good defender will move his entire body to make sure his trunk is in position to block the ball should he miss it with his glove. Barrett, more often than not, doesn't do this. He tries to catch a great majority of these balls with his mitt alone, leaving his trunk stuck behind the plate where it doesn't do him any good.
This appears to be a consistent issue for him, and at 28 years old, it may be too late to correct the problem. Making things worse is the wild nature of many members of the pitching staff, both starters and relievers. Wood, Clement, Zambrano, and Farnsworth are probably the most difficult pitchers to handle, and it's an open question whether Barrett is up to the task. If his bat stays hot, this if forgivable, but if not, we'll all be reminiscing wistful about Damian Miller.
A lot of ink has been spilled on the woes of Joe Borowski, but I'll still throw my two cents in. I don't know what the cause is, but there's something missing from his pitches. I'm not talking about velocity, although that's certainly vanished, but rather there's a crispness that's disappeared. In the past, all his pitches had what I can only refer to as snap. That's gone now, and more than the lack of giddyap, this absent sharpness is the root of the problem.
Well, my baby girl comes home today, so I'll likely be entering my period of sporadic blogging in earnest. I'll do my best to put interesting stuff together as often as possible, but again, I ask your indulgence while I figure out how this all goes together. Thanks for your understanding, and as a sendoff, I'll throw up the most ridiculously adorable picture I've got, and promise that it'll be the last time I impose such things upon you. Enjoy!