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Three series are in the books for the 2012 season. And the Cubs have one win in each of them. Consistency counts for something, I suppose, but this is not the kind of start that we wanted to see. The Cubs got off to a bad start on Opening Day, and in my view they haven't recovered since.
Rather than going series by series, I think there are a couple of general themes developing so far. In no particular order, they are as follows:
- Trading Sean Marshall hasn't paid off yet. When Travis Wood comes along and makes a contribution, I'll feel better about the move. But Kerry Wood hasn't proved that he's a setup man yet this year, not after the back-to-back failures against Washington.
- The 'pen will be an issue all year long. With Cashner and Samardzija are gone from the relief corps, and Marmol still struggling, the late innings will be tense whenever this team has a lead. And I used the apostrophe in "'pen" not because I like the way the way it looks, but because the only "bull" we've seen from the 'pen so far has been of the fertilizer variety.
- Marlon Byrd is at the end of the line for this team. He's struggling, no question about it. I love what he's done in the past, but Brett Jackson is surging on the farm. Byrd has no future with this team past 2012, and no other team's going to take a chance on him the way he's playing right now.That page needs to be turned, and soon.
- Alfonso Soriano seems to be back. His best days are behind him, for sure, but his defense has picked up a bit, and he's hitting well. Whether this is a bid to up his trade value, or embed himself in the team for the next few seasons, remains to be seen. But he is showing something good.
- Steve Clevenger is making his case to be the regular catcher. He has 50% more hits than Soto does (6 against 4), in one-third as many at-bats. Darwin Barney is currently outslugging Soto, too, so Geovany's not making a strong case to keep his job. Like many others, I thought Welington Castillo was the future behind the plate, but I'm pleased at what Clevenger has done thus far.
- Paul Maholm is the starting rotation's weak link. He's pitched twice--once at home and once on the road--and hasn't been terribly effective either time. It's too early to panic, but that's the kindest thing to be said about him so far.
The official announcement of the Bruce Springsteen show at Wrigley Field on September 7 has been the biggest news of the year so far. May he and his band not be the only ones playing anything meaningful on Clark Street come September.
You can tell me what's been going right with this team so far, or you can tell me which songs you want on the setlist at Wrigley. I'd love to hear the Promised Land, Thunder Road, Glory Days, Rosalita, and Land of Hope and Dreams, and whatever else the Boss decides to throw at us. I've seen Springsteen before, but haven't been to a concert at Wrigley yet. May that all change over the next few months.