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More Of The Same
by Derek Smart
It was another rotten night for the Cubs, in what's seemed like an endless evening of horror. Still, for those of you willing to see silver linings, I think the solid ninth inning rally, and the fact that, for the most part, the severe beating the Cubs took last night wasn't self-inflicted are reasons to delay the cliff-jumping for another day.
Not that I'm entertaining post-season dreams at this point - decent play, a sense of respectability, and something to build on for next year are what I'm really after from here on out.
Was it just me, or did the Dunn, Kearns, and Griffey home runs (and, by the way, doesn't Dunn, Kearns, and Griffey sound like a really bad country/western group?) seem like they went farther than the solidity of contact implied?
I'm not saying they didn't earn their dingers - it's not like the Cubs even got anything in the air against Brandon Claussen - but rather that they didn't seem among the hardest hit balls of the night.
If anything, I'd say that Javier Valentin hit two consecutive pitches much harder than either of his trio of cohorts did. His were just line drives, one of them being foul. When platitudes like, "It's a funny game," get uttered, it's over stuff like this.
The broadcast team was dropping heavy hints about Corey Patterson rejoining the team soon - nearly always a sign that something is imminent, and confirmed as a near certainty by this article - and with the recent foibles in the outfield, Patterson's defensive contribution alone might make the move worth it.
But there's reason to think he's due to return based on his recent offensive work as well. Over the last ten games Patterson has posted a .459/.512/.676 line, capping it off with last night's 3 for 3 performance that included two home runs.
During that span he's reached base at least once in every game, and in the only contest he failed to get a hit in, managed to walk twice. Where he was batting .185 before this stretch, he's now sporting a .297/.366/.505 line for his month in Iowa.
For those of you concerned about his whifftastic ways, I'll note that his K-rate over those ten games puts him on pace for 108 strikeouts over 500 at bats, which is consistent with the rate for the entire month, which would see him saWING and sit 104 times in 500 ABs.
I'm not saying he's all the way back, or that he's even made changes that bode well for his Major League career - not only have I not seen him work, but I would hope that a man of his talent destined for even a modicum of success in the Bigs would be able to post his line for the month in AAA - but what's going on right now for Corey certainly looks like progress.
Of course, I've been burned before on this score, so I'll wait to make any final judgments on any changes he's made until he's got a full season with his new tools under his belt. However, with what's happening with the Cubs right now, and the appearance of forward movement in Corey's game, I think it's reasonable to expect him to join the club sooner rather than later.
I'll admit, although I've only bothered to watch the one inning, I kinda like Kerry Wood out of the pen. I don't want it that way all the time, but for the short term, seeing someone like him come out to the mound throwing high-nineties heat with movement - I'd say a la Kyle Farnsworth, but his fastball never moved like Woody's - is awfully fun.
Ultimately, I still think Wood's place is in the rotation if he can retool his mechanics to keep himself healthy, but at least we know that if worst comes to worst he can be effective in limited duty out of the bullpen. His durability in that respect is still to be tested, but it's nice to know that he's passed the first test - getting guys out.
Mark Prior's on the hill today, and I'd like to think that's a good thing, but his recent outings have been questionable at best. My pessimism is compounded by Aaron Harang taking the bump for the Reds, who last time he faced them made the Cubs look like...well...like how they've looked for at least a week. Cross your fingers, folks. Every little bit helps.