To help preview the coming series against the Chicago Cubs, we sat down with Joe Aeillo from an outstanding Cubs blog, View From The Bleachers. Go check out their site, they do some really cool stuff over there. I also prepared a short preview for them which I will post here once it gets put up. Anyways, Joe and I talked about Riggleman, Strasburg, Zambrano, and getting the Cubs back to the World Series.
The Nats Blog: Can this team as it stands make it back to the post season and compete for that elusive World Series title?
View From The Bleachers: I think, like any team, we have issues that need to be addressed. However, I’m fairly confident that a few can be filled from within, while the others can be brought in via trade or waivers. The bullpen is the biggest issue right now and it’s been down right nasty. If you can keep the game close and knock the starter out…you’ve got a chance, and and very good one at that, to be Uncle Lou’s squad. Those issues will sort themselves out as the season wears on and right now I feel like this team can compete for a playoff spot. We’re not going to be the favorites, but we can get there.
The Nats Blog: What is with the decision to move Zambrano to the bullpen? Do you agree with it? What’s the logic behind it?
View From The Bleachers: I tend to take the feeling that Zambrano’s move to the pen is twofold in it’s purpose. First, it’s obviously to try to give Lou a little help bridging the gap from his starters to Carlos Marmol. Second, and I believe it’s the big one, is that I believe Lou is sending a message to Zambrano. He’s been the weak link in the rotation so far this year and has never really earned the money he was given in his big contract. This is something that could be good for Big Z. It’s not that I disagree with it, but I would have tried the 6 man rotation first.
The Nats Blog: Any words of wisdom for Nationals fans about our manager Jim Riggleman or about having a young pitching phenom in the mold of a Mark Prior?
View From The Bleachers: The only thing I can tell you without coming across jaded and bitter is to not pin your hopes on anyone’s body part. Bodies break and sometimes can’t be fixed. At one point we had a rotation that was downright nasty. Prior / Wood / Maddux / Zambrano / Clement. We never won the world series or even made it there. I’m excited to see Strasburg pitch, but I’m not anointing him as the chosen one. As for Riggs. I like him. I was bummed to see him run out of Chicago.
The Nats Blog: Carlos Silva has been a walking joke for the last several seasons, how has he been able to seemingly refind his game in Chicago?
View From The Bleachers: It’s funny you ask this question because we joked on our site the other day that no one has told him he’s not Batman. It’s as if he’s going out there thinking he’s someone else and pitching out of his mind. I don’t expect it to last a good deal of time, but I like his approach to pitching. He doesn’t walk guys, keeps the ball down with the sinker and works quickly. He’s not going to be as bad as he was in Seattle, but we’re not going to see him pitch like Batman for the rest of the season.
The Nats Blog: There have been concerns in the past about Marlon Byrd’s ability to get on base and to walk. While he is hitting very well now, his BB% is at an all-time low. As a Cubs fan how do you feel about his ability to maintain production?
View From The Bleachers: Don’t you know? Walks clog the bases, Dude. Oh wait, that was Dusty’s line. In all seriousness, the lack of walks worries me a little if he’s hitting in a spot that calls for him to get on base at all costs. Right now Lou has been hitting him higher in the order because of his hot bat. Once the lineup settles in, Bryd should find himself in the 5 or 6th spot, which should allow for those low walk rates to be more acceptable provided he continues to drive in runs. Besides, he can’t be worse than Milton Bradley.
The Nats Blog: Several years in, are you happy about the Soriano deal?
View From The Bleachers: I’ll give you $20 right now, straight cash homie, if you convince the Nationals to take him back. There is no question we overpaid. What burns us is how long we overpaid for. There really isn’t much we’re going to be able to do with him. I just pray his legs hold up enough for him to be a big bat in the lineup that no longer steals. Seriously, how about $30? $50?