First I'd like to apologize for this being the first one of these this year...I've been busier this year (and lazier). First some thoughts:
Alfonso Soriano batting 6th: I'm not a fan. The biggest problem with the Cubs this year has been hitting with RISP. Well Soriano, who is STRUGGLING and is typically better with the bases clear, batting 6th isn't exactly gonna help that. He's something like 0-5 sofar in those situations. So what do you do with him? Well you can't bat him real low in the order, cause then he won't get pitches to hit. And you have to play him, cause if the Cubs are going to have an substantial success, they need Soriano to be a force in the lineup. So while hitting him 6th isn't gonna do us harm right now, it's not the answer.
The 5th starter: Losing Dempster makes me regret us bringing up Samardzija and Ascanio to be relievers. Hell in his 8 AAA starts Ascanio has a .8 ERA. None of the other AAA starters are real options. Hell, the best minor league options would be Coleman, Jackson or Cashner in AA, but none of those are happening. Jason Wadell is still on the DL, and Cotts just had Tommy John Surgery, so Marshall is are only lefty option out of the pen...so it likely isn't gonna be him. So we're pretty much left with Kevin Hart.
11-man pitching staff: I don't like it, especially with Hart in the rotation. We play a lot of close games, and having an extra arm seems more valuable than 3 2nd basemen and 3 1st basemen.
The Schedule: After this 4 game set with the Cards, we don't see them or the Brewers again til September 14th. Whether that's good or bad remains to be seen. But good news is...first 4 games back are against the Natinals
Speaking of the first games back: Lilly should start (shudder* bad memories from last year) if he doesn't pitch in the ASG and then Wells get the second game. Zambrano could use the extra rest as he's been the hardest worked Cub pitcher of the year. Although Lou has done a real good job with that this year: none of the Cubs starters is in the Top 30 of Pitcher Abuse Points. If Ted does pitch in the ASG though, I guess it will be Harden pitching.
The upcoming Cardinals series:
First the Cubs need to walk Pujols every chance they can. It's plain stupid to pitch to him.
Game 1: Rich Harden vs. Brad Thompson. It would be nice if Harden could not have a repeat of the July 4th Start and instead have a repeat of his previous start against the Cards this season: where he went 6 IP 2 ER 4 H 9 K. Ankiel is the only Card to have success off of him, as he has a HR in 3 Abs. Thompson has lost his last 3 starts and hasn't had a quality start since June 13th, and he hasn't faced the Cubs this year. Lee is 3-6 with 2 HRs against him.
Game 2: Ted Lilly vs. Chris Carpenter. Easily the pitcher's duel matchup of the series...as both starters have excelled this year. Pujols is the only Red Bird to hit Lilly well (9-31 2 HR). Lee hits .325 off Carp, and Soriano .387 with a couple HRs
Game 3: Randy Wells vs. Adam Wainwright. Adam's 3rd start against the Northsiders this year: and the Red Birds have won all 3. But his last start was against the Aramis-less Cubs, the 3rd baseman is hitting .400 off of him.
Game 4: Carlos Zambrano vs. Todd Wellemeyer. Wellemeyer is getting beat up by the Brewers tonight and lost his only start to the Cubs this year. Theriot and Soriano hit him well, but he does own Geo (1-11). Z should be good if he can stay away from Ryan Ludwick
(6-8 2 HR)