August 01, 2008
The Chicago Cubs didn't eliminate the Milwaukee Brewers from the playoff race this week in Milwaukee. No, actually, it looked more like they eliminated the Brewers from the next two playoff races, the way they pitched against the team that added CC Sabathia to ace Ben Sheets in their rotation, that had the best young hitting in the National League Central and that was the hottest team in the league since the All-Star break.
Seriously. Just look at how the next four months figure to play out. Windows of opportunity don't come along often or last long for small-market teams such as the Brewers, and what figured to be a one-season window already slid four days narrower with the Miller Park Massacre. Sheets and Sabathia are free agents at the end of the season, and the likelihood of either sticking around next year if they finish this season healthy is about as remote as Alfonso Soriano leading the league in walks.
Even if the Brewers manage to keep one, all that does is put them back where they started this year — and only if Prince Fielder doesn't ride the Scott Boras money train out of town as a free agent, too.
The Cubs? With newcomer Rich Harden pitching like an ace, Carlos Zambrano and Ryan Dempster pitching like Cy Young contenders and Ted Lilly quietly and intensely turning out what might be the most competitive season of his career, this week's sweep all but turned August into a bye for the Cubs.