By Doug Halberstadt
I fully realize we are not even to the middle of May yet. That means it is probably way too early to start panicking. Technically, I’m probably not panicking; I’m just observant and concerned is all. In case you haven’t seen the Major League Baseball standings recently, please allow me to point out that both teams from Chicago are firmly planted in the bottom of their respective divisions. Therein lies the cause for my concern.
First of all, on the North Side, the Cubs are already nine full games behind the division-leading St. Louis Cardinals. The Cards are 20-11. Somewhat ironically, the Cubs have the exact opposite win-loss record, 11-20 (at press time). The Cubs have dropped four straight and six of their last 10.
Meanwhile, the Sox aren’t faring much better. They are six full games in back of the division-leading Kansas City Royals. The Sox are 12-17, and have incurred back-to-back losses and have split their last 10 games 5-5.
Both teams have dug themselves a bit of a whole early into the season. I’m afraid that if this trend continues, neither team will finish above .500 this year, let alone have any hopes of playing in the postseason. Things have to drastically change, and relatively soon, or the season could effectively over before the calendar turns to June.
Part of the problem for the Sox is run production. They are one of only two teams in the majors that have yet to score 100 runs. The Sox have 97 and Miami is the only team with fewer (94).
Head Coach Robin Ventura needs to find away to infuse some instant offense into his club.
His designated hitter, Adam Dunn, is batting a paltry .143 and only has 12 runs batted in. The usually reliable Paul Konerko is struggling so far this season as well. He leads the team with 15 runs batted in and his hitting below .250. I’d recommend Ventura light a fire under these guys before it’s too late.
The Cubs, on the other hand, have scored 109 runs, but have surrendered 129. They have a team earned-run average of 3.84. That’s chiefly the fault of their relieve staff. Out of the seven pitchers listed on their roster as relief pitchers, all of them have ERAs above 4.25. The highest of them belongs to Kyuji Fujikawa. He’s pitched in 4.1 innings and given up 6 earned runs for a 12.46 ERA. The other reliever with a double-digit ERA is Kameron Loe. His is 10.80. Even their supposed bullpen ace, Carlos Marmol, has a lofty 6.17 ERA.
It’s pretty plain to see why both of these clubs are in the cellar so soon. They are both suffering from deficiencies in key aspects of the game. Unless those needs get addressed soon, Chicago baseball fans could be in store for a very long and disheartening season.
Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.