If you thought the Cubs-Cardinals series was big this weekend, wait until later this month when the Cubs and their fans caravan up to Miller Park. There's a good chance the Cubs will face big lefty C.C. Sabathia during a four-game series. The Cubs and Brewers also go at it twice in September, including three in Milwaukee to end the season.
It seems to me the Cardinals have a whole lot more to worry about than do the Cubs. Two of these three NL Central teams figure to make the playoffs this year, and the addition of Sabathia gives the Brewers a leg up on St. Louis and should draw them closer to the Cubs, who still have the best team top to bottom in the division.
There's been a lot made of the Brewers having a better farm system than the Cubs, and that was the purported reason they could get a deal done with the Indians for Sabathia and the Cubs weren't. On one level, that's true. The Brewers have (or had) more position-layer prospects who are closer to the big leagues than do the Cubs. The Indians are under pressure to win again quickly, and they could not go for the Cubs' lower-level position players and do that.
The Brewers are taking a big chance here, too. They're losing four good young players, and they're sure to lose Sabathia to free agency this fall. If that happens, they will get a couple of draft picks. Anyway, the small-market Brewers deserve credit for doing what teams like the Yankees, Red Sox and Cubs have done at mid-season: add top-of-the-line players for a postseason push.
The Cubs have been looking to bolster their rotation, even before the Sabathia trade was done. The bet here is they'll make a big push for Oakland's Rich Harden (as I wrote in Sunday's paper), when and if A's GM Billy Beane decides his team is out of the race. Beane and Cubs GM Jim Hendry get along fine personally and professionally, so a deal is well within the realm of possibility.
Speaking of systems, the much-maligned Cubs farm system placed three homegrown players on the all-star team: Kerry Wood, Carlos Zambrano and Geovany Soto. Granted, Wood and Zambrano have been with the Cubs awhile, but Soto is of recent vintage. The Cubs also have a big-league roster pretty well-represented with such homegrown talent as Ryan Theriot, Michael Wuertz, Sean Marshall, Sean Gallagher and Carlos Marmol.
Finally, I had a "fun" Saturday with Jim Edmonds, a.k.a., Jimmy Ballgame. Jimmy Ballgame didn't like my question about being "confident" about scoring Saturday from third base. Edmonds was easily out at the plate on a flyball to medium deep right field. Jimmy Ballgame asked me "what kind" of question that was. I told him it was a "legitimate" question (and it was nicely phrased, adding to my shock over his boorish behavior). He then played one of the oldest and weakest cards in the deck: asking me if I had ever run the bases. Oh, I wanted to answer in so many ways, but I simply said, "Yeah."
One lesson Jimmy Ballgame will learn is that this is Chicago, and trying to intimidate media members doesn't work here. Mike Remlinger found that out. So did Phil Nevin. So did LaTroy Hawkins.
I wanted to challenge Edmonds to a 5K run, with proceeds going to charity ($100 from me to his favorite charity if he won, $1,000 from Jimmy Ballgame to my favorite charity if I won), but again, I thought better of it. I'm quite "confident" I can go the 5K, as I've done it many times. I'm not so sure about Jimmy Ballgame.
Welcome to Chicago, kid.