Wow, the month of April has already passed us by. Where does the time go?
So, let's catch up on the latest news and notes on the Cubs.
The Cubs sit at 13-13 on the year, good for 2nd in the Central. Unfortunately, they are already 4.5 games behind the division leading Cardinals, who show no signs of letting up. The Cubs may want to set their sites on the Wildcard already, as they are only 2 games back of the leaders (the SF Giants) in that race.
The Cubs hitting has been pretty good. They are second in the league in batting average at .278 and 3rd in runs scored with 129 or nearly 5 runs per game.
Alfonso Soriano has been a pleasant surprise so far this year, hitting .325 with 6 HR's and 17 RBI's so far. In the 4 game series against the Diamondbacks that just concluded today, Soriano went off on Arizona's pitching with a .467 ave (7 for 15), 4 HR's and 10 RBI's.
Another plus has been the hot start of Kosuke Fukudome, who has 5 HR's so far this year, after hitting 10 and 11 in his first two years with the Cubs. The key for him is to avoid the second half swoons that have sabotaged his first two seasons.
On the other end of the spectrum, Aramis Ramirez has struggled to find his stroke this season, hitting only .155. Aramis Ramirez' struggles are discussed in Ray Flowers BABip analysis as well as my own article.
Derek Lee has also gotten off to a slow start, hitting only .221. However, if everyone else continues to hit and Ramirez and Lee warm up, this Cubs offense could click like in 2008.
After a disastrous start, mainly due to bullpen issues, the Cubs moved Carlos Zambrano to the bullpen and have gone 8-4 since, including 3-0 in games that Zambrano pitched. I know its still early, but the Cubs have to be happy with the move so far, even if Zambrano is not.
The truth is that, in the first 13 games the Cubs bullpen blew 4 saves. In the 13 games since the announcement, the Cubs have 0 blown saves.
The Cubs have started to heat up with the weather. Their hitting has been good and the Zambrano move has helped strengthen a shaky bullpen. It may be early, but this team is looking more and more like a playoff caliber team. Now, if only they were in another division.