Beat the Mets, Beat the Mets, Beat the Mets, Beat the Mets, Step Right Up and Sweep the Mets

Yeah, I just used the Mets theme song in a headline for the second time this week. What of it? And as much as I dislike being repetitive, I just couldn’t help myself. The Cubs just completed a four-game sweep. Of a first-place team. From New York. Each of these things would be cause for celebration in a vacuum, but their confluence has brought me abundant joy and provided an impetus for much snark.

You want to know how you know when things are going right? Well, how about a game in which a catcher who was once on your roster blasts two home runs to help his team jump out to a 5-1 lead and then has a passed ball that allows the game-winning run to score? Yeah, that sounds like a pretty good indicator.

Good teams get the breaks and this Cubs team gets to break out the brooms to sweep the Mets out of town. After looking pretty bad against the Brewers and Cardinals, the Cubs we’ve seen back at home this week have looked pretty not bad. The rotation was more than solid through the first three games, the bullpen pitched well under a reduced burden, and the hitting was timely.

Today’s game, though, poses an interesting quandary. The Cubs won but Travis Wood pitched no better than he has over the last few starts, which is to say he’s probably not deserving of a spot in the rotation moving forward. Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta, and Jason Hammel have been great as a trio, but the latter two spots have been lacking. I don’t believe this team can consider itself a serious contender with both Wood and Kyle Hendricks anchoring the back end.

Making matters worse for Wood after a 4 1/3 inning stinker in which he allowed 5 runs (all earned) on 7 hits (3 HR) is the fact that Tsuyoshi Wada appears ready to return to Chicago. The Japanese lefty went 7 innings for the I-Cubs this afternoon, throwing 88 pitches and allowing just 1 run on 4 hits to lower his ERA to 2.86 in 6 starts. As more time passes, it appears more likely that Wood’s 2013 performance was an aberration and I would expect to see a change happening very soon.

I was really hoping it wouldn’t come to this, that Travis Wood would be able to return to his old form and be a big part of this turn-around. One of the dangers of pulling for such a bad team for a few years is that you have a tendency to get too attached to the handful of players who are actually performing above replacement level. That’s exactly what happened with Wood a couple years ago, and the hope that he could recapture it may be the only thing keeping him in town. But if the Cubs are truly going to take a step forward, it can only happen through decisions that are made with the mind and not the heart.

And that’s why Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are so good at what they do. They’re executives who, well, execute. Travis Wood strikes me as a pretty good dude and I wish him all the best in his future endeavors, I just hope they take place in another uniform. But enough about that, let’s look at the good stuff.

The Cubs absolutely ground down one of the best staffs in the game and won in different way each time. They were able to take advantage of different situations and exploited their opponents’ flaws perfectly. Now they need to continue to carry this momentum into the upcoming series with the Pirates, the team that figures to be their primary hurdle when it comes to making the postseason (I’m counting the Cards as a foregone conclusion). For now though, I’m going to revel in the present. Okay, the very recent past too.

The Cubs beat the Mets.

The Cubs beat the Mets.

The Cubs beat the Mets.

The Cubs beat the Mets.

Somewhere, Ron Santo is clicking his heels.


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