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Series Preview: The Chicago North Siders @ The DFW Boonies

Time to play "Where's WooWoo?"
Time to play "Where's WooWoo?"

Hoo boy! It's Interleague time again, America. That means the Senior Circuit will be swiping its talons at the Junior rivals of Octobers past. What can you expect when your American League team faces off against baseball's older, yet shittier, National League brand of baseball? Hilarious National League DHs! Emasculated AL pitchers batting! Fans treated to players mentioned only in hushed whispers but never with the hope that they might see them in person! These forbidden foreign entities, such as Tyler Colvin, Brian Barden, and the legendary John Axford!

And don't forget, somehow, someway, the Rangers will get swept in San Francisco by the Giants even though those two teams aren't scheduled to play each other. Trust me. I'm pretty sure it's the privilege the Rangers got from MLB for ending their complaint about being stuck in the AL West instead of AL Central. What's that? You say they traded in that chip for the Silver Boot? Nah. The Rangers wouldn't be that stupid.

Interleague Baseball: We've got an Itch for the Double Switch!

Friday, May 21 7:05: LHP Ted Lilly vs. RHP Colby Lewis

Saturday, May 22 6:10 (On FOX): RHP Randy Wells vs. LHP Derek Holland

Sunday, May 23 1:10: RHP Carlos Silva vs. LHP C.J. Wilson

The Rangers welcome the Chicago Cubs to Arlington for a three game set. I hope you've booked your hotel, found your enthusiast strip clubs and staked out your spot at the tailgate party, because in addition to Marlon Byrd making his way back to Arlington, word has it, a lot of Cub fans are coming with him.

You should also be prepared to read/listen to a lot of talk about the return of Rudy Jaramillo and Alfonso Soriano from local press--and if you combine Cub bullpen mates James Russell & Jeff Stevens, you can pretend it's former Ranger Jeff Russell--because in addition to Ron Washington getting an excuse to bunt because his pitcher has to bat, interleague play is also about nonstop coverage of players coming back to play against the league they abandoned.

The Chicago Cubs are better than you might think if all you know about them this year is that they aren't winning a lot of games, Marlon Byrd made that crazy no-look catch, and Bill Murray is pretty keen on them. (Hint: That's pretty much all I knew about the Cubs of this year.) However, even though they come into the series four games under .500, they've been playing better than their record indicates.

The Cubs pitching staff leads the majors in K/9 at just over 8 strikeouts per game while their 2.55 K/BB is best in the National League. Their FIP is an above average, respectable, 3.90. So, what's the problem? Well, they've been fairly unlucky. They have the fourth highest BABIP in the NL at .311 and fourth lowest LOB% at 68.3 %. That means when the cheap hits are falling, it's probably happening with guys on base which is driving up their runs allowed.

A problem for the Cubs offensively this year has been Aramis Ramirez falling off the map. Right now, you'd probably find Ramirez's ability to hit hanging out with Ozzie Smith in the Springfield Mystery Spot. Ramirez has a lingering thumb injury that is partly to blame for his struggles but he's essentially gone from one of the better hitters in the NL the last few years to one of the worst regulars in baseball practically overnight. To give an example of just how bad he has been so far, Gary Matthews Jr., and his .225 wOBA, is just below Ramirez's .229. Yuck.

You know what is not yuck? Elvis Andrus. Elvis Andrus is yum. And if Elvis Andrus is a new Roberto Alomar, maybe Starlin Castro can be a new Elvis Andrus. Plucked from Double AA at 20 years of age, Starlin Castro has an eerily similar skill set to Elvis in addition to having a similar path to the majors. Plus, Starling Castro is just about the only name that is possibly as interesting as Elvis Andrus. In fact, while the debate on Elvis' superstar candidacy rages on, his newly minted NL contemporary Starlin might already have a leg up considering 'Star' is right there in his name. Even though I'm pretty sure Andrus is Spanish for "Colossal Luminary." It will be interesting to see these two play so early in their careers as they very well could be manning shortstop opposite each other at All Star games for the next 15 years eventually.

Overall, for the Cubs, at least so far, it seems they've been playing a little better than their record shows. Probably not much more so than a couple of games, but interestingly enough, they're fairing really well in RAR stats. I'd bet if they continue playing at a similar pace, their record will start to reflect that. Hopefully L's don't become W's until after the Cubs are out of Arlington.


Chicago Cubs (19-23, 3rd place NL Central)

Rangers' 2010 Record vs. Chicago Cubs: INTERLEAGUE

Chicago's Recent Results: 1-1 Series tie against the Philadelphia Phillies

SBN Cub's Blog: Bleed Cubbie Blue

     Match-up: (as of 5/20)

























Overall RAR




Defense Runs Saved

















Questions to Ponder:

  • Does Aramis Ramirez get his BABIP above .200?
  • Which happens first: Carlos Silva eats a Luther burger or Carlos Silva loses a baseball game?
  • Over/Under: Do the Rangers collect 5 outs on the basepaths for the series?
  • Tom Gorzelanny: Type of cheese or type of person?
  • Who has the best series OBP: Starlin Castro or Elvis Andrus?