Ubaldo Jimenez and Carlos Silva have both been good this season. Beyond that they have little in common on the hill. All you have to do is watch them pitch one inning each to see that.
My friend Chris R. of the Mayo Clinic emailed me the following question: What the &^(# is up with Carlos Silva? Is he good again or what?”
Sports Illustrated‘s Tim Marchman asks the near-unthinkable question: have Cubs fans simply given up on their ballclub? He rightfully says its a shame that Wrigley Field isn’t always packed to the rafters.
Pitchers get hurt, and
whichever starter is banished to relief will almost certainly end up back in
the rotation. More than that, the club is probably not going to enjoy continued
fabulous success from such dubious fellows as Soriano and Kosuke Fukudome. A playoff run
likely not being in the offing, the exact identity of the No. 5 starter should
be of little consequence in the standings, even if the choice is between
arguably the worst starter in the majors and one of two promising pitchers who
could well play a role on a championship Cubs team.
Where the choice does matter is
in the more abstract arena referenced above. With good reason, the Cubs have a
reputation as a rather muddleheaded organization, to which winning isn’t the
paramount concern. Give them a decade of solid service as one of the better
pitchers in baseball, and they’ll toss you in the bullpen for no crime more
tangible than having chalked one bad start in your first four. Give them two
fluke good months following years of unparalleled ineptitude for other teams
and you’ll be treated gently. It’s the Cubs Way, simultaneously ruthless and
sentimental, and in the end almost senseless. It’s the sort of thing that leads
to fans gently shrugging their shoulders and moving on to other sporting concerns.
Finally under new ownership
this year, the Cubs have a chance to show this way is changing. This is why
their choice matters: They’ve met an inflection point. However bad an idea it
may be to make too much of one baseball decision, the fact is the Cubs are
facing options so stark, their decision could speak volumes about the near
future of the team. They’ll either make the hard call and demote a winning
pitcher whose odds of continuing to win are smaller than the Cubs’ odds of
winning a pennant, or they’ll slight a younger, better pitcher for no sound
reason at all.
This is a team that’s already
sent its best and best-paid pitcher into relief. No one should have any
confidence that they’ll do the right thing. Nor is it clear that doing so would
secure them a solid place among Chicago’s top three sporting concerns; their
inscrutable decisions have done too much damage. Still, one can watch, and hope
that rationality will win out. Chicago has supported vastly less attractive
teams than this one. Given the least reason, fans will give Marmol, Castro,
Zambrano, Wells, Gorzelanny and the rest the audience they deserve.