The First Half

11:32 AM | Comments (0) | by The Hundley

Our lack of timeliness here at The Saloon is getting to be our badge of honor. Today we reflect on the first half of the season before the All-Star Break. You cynics out there are undoubtedly asking, “What’s to talk about? We’re in first place!” I would wholeheartedly agree with you, but things ain’t always as they seem. I wish I could tell you that we’ve all fought the good fight, and the sisters have let Chaim Witz be. I wish I could tell you that, but baseball blogging is no fairytale world.

OFFENSE

The Shock: To the fans who love the grinders, the underdog, the scrappers, the under appreciated (not to mention the namesake of this site), the shock was certainly the departure of Thunder Matt. Yes, yes, yes. The writing was on the wall, Murton couldn’t play center and we have over $20 invested in our outfield corner positions. But there was hope. And that hope was taken from us faster than a steak in front of CC Sabathia.

The Awe: Geovany Soto. Great Cub catchers aren’t exactly abundant, check the history past Jody Davis: Berryhill, Girardi, Wilkens, Servais, Santiago, Hundley, Miller, Barrett. There is nary a catcher listed there that has matched Soto’s production behind and at the plate. And he’s only 27 to boot. Luckily he's not really an Italian, otherwise the Yankees would've swept him up.

The WTF?: With their (arguably) best offensive player on the shelf for nearly half of the season, the Cubs still managed to lead the NL in runs, OBP, and batting average.

PITCHING

The Shock: As good as Kerry Wood has been at handling the closing duties, Ryan Dempster has been even better in his born-again role as a starter. Look at his career starting numbers before: 50 wins, 55 losses, with an ERA of 5.01. Dempster has not missed a start and leads the Cubs in inning pitched.

The Awe: Carlos Marmol has awed us with his bi-polar nature as Mr. Funk has already brilliantly pointed out. One day he looks like the next Francisco Rodriguez and the next day he looks like a reincarnated version of Mel Rojas. For those of you who don't remember Mel Rojas, just know that he was an absolute queef.

The WTF?: Rich Hill. Be honest. Did anyone see this coming? Hill went from being a guy who seemed destined to be a solid number three starter, a strikeout machine, and an innings eater for an already solid rotation. In the blink of an eye, he becomes the pitcher’s version of Rick Ankiel. Hopefully it's not too late, and we can see the good Rich again in the future.

THE TEAM

The Shock: The Cubs truly made Wrigley The Friendly Confines, going 37-12, including running off a streak of 14 straight. Even in a year when home wins are up, being 25 over .550 is quite an accomplishment.

The Awe: We lead the MLB in run differential, scoring 507 while allowing 401. Someone pinch me.

The WTF?: Seriously – in first place with the best record in baseball? Fuggehtaboudit.

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