COMMENTARY | In their brief two-game series with the Los Angeles Angels (26-34) the Chicago Cubs (24-33) saw a little bit of everything: Reminders of their recent past but also of their hopeful future.
The Cubs and Angels are two very different teams here in 2013. While the Angels' record doesn't show it, they are a team that is constructed to win. And to win soon. Where the Cubs are performing just about where they were expected to, the Angels are underachieving. And let me tell you, us Cubs fans know all about underachievement. But with names like Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo in the daily lineup, you almost have to believe that underachievement is going to go by the wayside here pretty soon.
The first game on June 4 was a tough one for the Cubs. Just when the Cubs thought they were rid of Albert Pujols forever, he hits a go-ahead, two-run home run in the seventh inning that would end up being the game-winner. Pujols shifts leagues and he still manages to get his licks in on the Cubs.
His career numbers against the Cubs are stellar: .302 AVG, 54 HRs, 138 RBIs, and .404 OBP in 175 games. Forget that he is only batting .244 this season. Whether or not it is because of lousy Cubs' pitching is arguable, but he hits the Cubs well regardless of what he's doing otherwise. The only difference now is that he doesn't play the Cubs 12-15 times a season. As a Cubs fan, thank God.
While Pujols is an undeniable reminder to the Cubs of their mediocrity -- a long-time member of the rival St. Louis Cardinals, winning two World Series -- the Cubs were able to get a glimpse of their hopefully-bright future as well.
In the second game of the series, the Cubs were able to win on a dramatic three-run double from Anthony Rizzo in the tenth inning. For as much heartache and frustration that Pujols has brought to the Chicago Cubs over the years, the plan is that Rizzo brings twice that in hope and success. Only time will tell, of course.
The Cubs continue to get production from their third basemen as well -- Cody Ransom in particular. Ransom doubled and homered in the Cubs' 8-6 win. Ransom (.279 AVG, 5 HRs, 9 RBIs) and Luis Valbuena (.248 AVG, 6 HRs, 17 RBIs) have both been surprises for the Cubs at third base, which is fortunate because the Cubs were headed towards a train wreck at the position otherwise -- Ian Stewart or Josh Vitters would have been the choices. I wouldn't consider either Ransom or Valbuena to be long-term solutions at the position, but as stopgaps while the organization tries to find its footing, they work fine.
Though to be fair, everyone on the roster not named Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro, or Jeff Samardzija is presumably a stopgap these days.
Brian is a lifelong Chicago Cubs follower. Living in Illinois his entire life has given him a chance to closely follow and report Chicago sports as a freelance writer through Yahoo! Contributor and Yahoo! Sports. He is also a senior in college majoring in English and Creative Writing.
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