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Jay's Jumblings: Injuries, Standings, and the Deadline

By Jay Garneau

Things are finally looking like they're headed up for the Cubs. Soriano is getting hot, Ramirez's return has been a spark, and the pitching remains consistent. The big thing, though, is that the Cubs are still doing this without their full roster. They've been missing Ryan Dempster, Geovany Soto, and several other players have been in and out of the lineup.

The only regulars that haven't missed games due to injury are Theriot, Fukudome, and Soriano and Fontenot (although even Soriano was banged up, and both have gone through stretches where they might as well have been hurt). Every starting pitcher has missed a start except Randy Wells, who didn't start the season with the team. If the Cubs are able to get healthy, they'll be extremely dangerous.

As I write this, the Cubs are leading the Reds 2-1, with the Cardinals, Brewers, and Astros all trailing in their respective games. If these results hold up, the Cubs will have sole possession of first place. The Cubs haven't had any part of first since April 22, when they held an 8-4 record, and led the 9-5 Cardinals by percentage points.

To think that this team is just finally starting to play like they should have been all year and are already nearing the division lead, it's scary to think what they can do if they get hot. I could see them easily stringing together 20 wins in 25 games and putting up a 5+ game lead in the division, especially if everyone can stay healthy.

With the trade deadline approaching, I don't see them needing to make too many moves. The one real area of need is left-handed relief pitching, where there are options on the market. George Sherrill, the Orioles' closer, would probably be the toughest to acquire. Sherrill is 20 for 23 in save opportunities, holding a 2.52 ERA and 1.17 WHIP. Lefties hit a miniscule .140 against Sherrill, allowing opponents to be just 6-43 with a double off him on the year. Being the Orioles closer and costing under $3 million, he'll be tough to pry away.

Another option is Nationals' reliever Joe Beimel. Beimel has a 3.49 ERA and 1.37 WHIP, but most importantly, holds lefties to a .237 average and .284 OBP.

The other possibility is the Pirates' John Grabow. Grabow is the youngest of the three, but has also fared the worst against lefties. With a 3.65 ERA, he allows a .275 average to lefties.

Sherrill is clearly the most attractive option, but will also easily cost the most. The Cubs have already expressed interest, so it's just a matter of putting together the right package for any one of these guys. With Lilly also making a trip to the DL, the Cubs need a lefty desperately, especially if Sean Marshall has to join the rotation. With this small addition, the Cubs should be in the playoff hunt the rest of the year.

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