Cubs & White Sox First Half Recap
By Benjy Lipsman in News on Jul 12, 2007 12:00AM
On this -- officially the slowest sports day of the year -- we will take the opportunity to look back at the first half (or so) of the season for the Cubs and Sox. Fans of both teams entered the season with high expectations. Has either team lived up to those expectations?
After spending a ton of money on free agents during the off season, the Cubs sit in second place in the NL Central at 44-43, 4 1/2 games behind the Milwaukee Brewers and 4 games out of the Wild Card hunt. Having played much better over the past month, the Cubs believe they can climb back into the thick of the hunt in the second half. Can the Tribune Co. win themself a World Series before unloading the team?
Alfonso Soriano made the All Star team in his first year with the Cubs. In addition to batting .309 and stealing 13 bases, he's hit 15 homers in spite of going homer less for April. The Cubs took five of six from the Sox in the two cross town series.
Michael Barrett's and Carlos Zambrano's fight in the Cubs' dugout and clubhouse. Barrett soon played himself out of town, as the Cubs shipped him to the Padres for a backup catcher and a minor leaguer.
The Cubs seem to be trying to shake the "lovable" moniker. In addition to the Zambrano/Barrett fisticuffs, manager Lou Piniella kicked an ump and Derrek Lee went at it with Padres pitcher Chris Young -- each earning suspensions from MLB.
Last year's team fell apart during the stretch run and failed to make the playoffs following their 2005 World Series title. The White Sox's only major move during the off season was the trade of 17-game winner Freddy Garcia to the Phillies for prospects. Could the Sox regain their swagger and condend again? Apparently not, as they currently sit at 39-47 -- above only the KC Royals in the AL Central. Sox fans expect Kenny Williams to begin unloading players any day now...
Mark Buehrle's no-hitter on April 18. The Sox finally coming to an agreement on an extension for Buehrle, which should keep him in a sox uniform for the next four years. He'll be a key part of any upcoming rebuilding phase. Filling in as the fifth starter after the trades of Garcia and Brandon McCarthy, John Denks has pitched better than expected -- and better than either of the two traded starters.
Where to begin? Their anemic offense is dead last in MLB with a .241 team batting average and 29th in runs scored out of 30 teams -- last year's lineup was third in all of baseball in runs scores. An injury bug has sent every outfielder to DL or the bench for extended periods of time -- Darin Erstad and Scott Podsednik both returned to the lineup for exactly one game before going back on the DL.
The White Sox bullpen has been absolutely horrific all season long -- they're currently sporting a 5.88 staff ERA. At one point, GM Kenny Williams send half the 'pen down to AAA Charlotte. Only problem was that they guys he called up in their stead weren't any better.