Thursday, April 29, 2010

Series number 8: The immigrant haters....(just kidding!)

Ok...that title is a bad joke...sorry. 

I heard that people might be protesting around Wrigley Field today because of the new immigration law passed in Arizona that has so many people up in arms.  I don't think protesting a ball club that has nothing to do with the Arizona government and even has some Latino players on it is an appropriate action, and it is one of several reasons that I'm staying away from Wrigley today.

Anyway, yes, the Diamondbacks are in town and the Cubs are still looking for their first non-Brewers series win of the year.  This being a 4 game series, even splitting it would be a victory considering the way the Cubs are playing lately.

 D-Back Manager A.J. Hinch.  And yes, he is that young.

The D-Backs come to Wrigley with a 10-11 record.  Hitting isn't really a problem for this team...but their pitching is.

Their second baseman, Kelly Johnson, leads the National League right now in home runs.  This probably won't last...with 8 homers already, he has already equaled the number he hit last year.  Center fielder, Chris Young is second in the National League in RBI and third baseman Mark Reynolds is tied for 3rd.  Justin Upton, who is not too far from superstardom, has struggled a bit at the beginning of the season but is a really good all-around player.

Other players of note, shortstop Steven Drew, who, like his brother, never has lived up to the hype, and first baseman, Adam LaRoche, who is playing well and at his career averages right now.

 The Uptons are good at baseball.

This pitching staff isn't very good, though.

Look, this team is depending a lot on two Cubs cast-offs...Bobby Howry and Aaron Heilman....but that's in the bullpen...let's start off with the starting pitchers...

The biggest problem for the D-Backs right now is that their ace, Brandon Webb is on the DL.  He has been battling shoulder problems since the very beginning of the 2009 season.  He had surgery, but I get the feeling the D-Backs may be in a Mark Prior type of situation with him.  The latest reports indicate that something still isn't right with him.  Should it be surprising he broke down like this?  No...not really...before 2009 he had 4 straight years where he pitched over 225 innings.  In this day and age, that is quite a lot.

 He's broken.

Enough about him...who do the D-Back have instead?

Well Danny Haren is the the ace in Webb's absense.  Haren, like Webb, has been a workhorse throughout his career.  He is 3-1 this season, but with an ERA of 4.50.

The only other really well known starter that they have is Kris Benson...but he's more known for his wife than for his pitching.  Benson has been hurt for much of the last 3 seasons.  He's hoping for a solid comeback this year.  He hasn't pitched poorly to this point, but I don't think he's convinced anyone that he is any good yet either.

 Being hurt a lot the last few years, Kris has spent a lot more time with this wife.

Edwin Jackson, who you might have heard of from the Tigers and Rays over the last few years, is probably the guy they were hoping would be their number 2 starter.  So far this year, he has struggled a bit.  His last start against the Rockies, he gave up 10 runs in 2 1/3 innings.  Ouch!

Ian Kennedy, who did some pitching for the Yankees a few years ago, and Rodrigo Lopez, former Phillie, round off the rotation.

The bullpen contains the previously mentioned Heilman and Howry.  Chad Qualls is their closer.  He saved 29 games for Arizona last year.  He has blown two saves to this point this season.  Qualls was an effective setup man for the Astros for a number of years.

Overall, this bullpen is bad...right now they don't have a single pitcher with an ERA under 4.00 and most of them are well over 5.00.

The starters haven't been very good to this point either...but I'm fairly sure the Cubs offense could do some damage once they get into that pen.

The real task for the Cubs will be the starting pitching keeping the D-Backs hitters under control.