Today's double-barreled day off for the Chicago and Iowa Cubs seems like a good time to assess how the two teams' fortunes intertwine as their respective seasons round third.
Like their parents the Iowa Cubs enjoy a five game bulge over their nearest divisional pursuers [the Cardinal proteges in Memphis]. Since the PCL regular season ends on Labor Day [Monday, September 1], the I-Cubs are only a couple dozen games away from a likely playoff spot. That likelihood makes the annual speculation about September call-ups a little less idle than in most years.
Here's a quick summary of guys who figure to get some consideration as extras in the claustrophobic dugout at Wrigley:
1. Micah Hoffpauir - What's there to say? The guy's hitting .350+ with 73 RBI's in 49 games! A question of when, not if.
2. Jason Dubois - 20 HR's in 179 AB's figure to get him a few shots when a late-inning PH with power from the right side is called for.
3. Koyie Hill - Got hot along with the weather to get the BA north of .280; also gunning down about a third of enemy base-stealers. A third catcher who switch-hits is a given.
4. Casey McGehee - Has steadily, quietly amassed 76 RBI's while primarily manning 3B; might spell Aramis a time or two if the Chicubs clinch with any room to spare.
5. Felix Pie - Still listed on the active roster but hasn't played in August since he retwisted his testicle or whatever.
6. Andres Torres - Can there be such a thing as a poor man's Angel Pagan? Torres is a switch-hitting OF @ .303 BA, .397 OBP & 17/20 SB's. Remember him in case Felix can't get his balls unknotted.
7. Michael Wuertz - His season has only Wuertzened since the demotion. Despite one gaudy outing of 3 perfect innings that included 7 K's, he's racked up a 6.30 ERA in 10 Iowa innings so far.
8. Mitch Atkins - Not likely, but just so you'll know, this guy is 5-0 with a 3.90 ERA since coming up from Tennessee. His last start read as follows: 6 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 11 K's.
At some point there will be decisions to make about how many battle fronts the organization wants to fight on simultaneously. Troops may have to be pulled from the PCL playoffs to enable a September surge in the NL Central or simply to give the frontliners some R&R before the REAL playoffs begin in October.