Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Hey…these guys are finally playing like we expected them to

Derrek Lee is getting on base.
Aramis Ramirez is hitting home runs.
And Carlos Silva sucks.

That's more like it! This is what I expected after the Cubs left Mesa this spring.

After having the worst 3 months of his career, Aramis Ramirez is having, perhaps, his best stretch of his career…and in the matter of 4 weeks he has raised his average from .165 to .226. His OPS has gone from a historically horrendous .513 to a Fukudomesque .734. It’s hard to say if there is enough time for Ramirez to get his numbers all the way back to his career averages, but it is possible he could get close if he continues to hit well for the rest of the season.

Derrek Lee hasn’t improved nearly as much as Ramirez, but Lee is making the best contact with the ball now than he has any time since April. In fact, he is hitting the ball with some serious authority since the All-Star break. His batting average had been hanging around the .230 mark for quite a while, and in the last week he has improved it to .247. He, like Ramirez, might have a hard time making it back to his career averages, but the rise has been impressive.

And then there is Carlos Silva. It is very possible he is becoming who we though he was…a bad pitcher. It has only been two bad starts…but they have been two really really bad starts. I said after the Bradley trade that I didn’t expect Silva to make the team, and, in fact, I thought the Cubs would flat out release him. Regardless of what happens for the rest of the season, Silva will stick around (unless he goes on the DL) just based on his success during the first 3 months of the year. What happens after that? Who knows.

As you look at the rest of the team, though, is anyone really playing significantly better or worse than we expected? I honestly can’t think of anyone that has. Maybe Sean Marshall. Soto possibly. But that really is it. You could argue that Byrd is playing better than expected. Defensively he definitely has. Offensively, while he does have a much better average than we thought he would, he has hit about as many homers as we thought he might. Same with his RBI totals. His OPS is only slightly above what he did in Texas.

So we have an offense that is doing well now…as opposed to the struggling bats we’ve had most of the year. The reason? D-Lee and A-Ram….It’s as simple as that.