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Second Half Outlook

By: Mitch Heun

The Cubs finished their final home stand of the first half on a losing note to the division leading St. Louis Cardinals. A series split though, generated some more confidence into a very mediocre first half. The inconsistency proved itself in their .500 record, which could also be looked at as a surprise to some fans for the way they played. Will they take two promising series against the Cardinals and Brewers as a spring board? Or will they continue to falter offensively? 

No one in the Cubs lineup is happier to see the first half come to and end than Alfonso Soriano, as his average has hit an astonishingly low .233. The jeers from the crowd did not go unnoticed as he went 0-4 in Sunday's night game against St. Louis. The Cubs will need Soriano's bat to come alive in the second half if they expect to make a run at another division title. Two other bats that need to start producing  are those of Geovany Soto and Milton Bradley. Both their struggles have been very apparent, but Bradley finished with a fairly strong home stand, while Soto gets extended rest during his injury. 

While much of the Cubs early season woes have come from the offensive side of the ball, the inconsistency in pitching staff leaders Carlos Zambrano and Ted Lilly remains an issue. If these two can right the ship, a staff that has already been recognized as one of the best in the NL could potentially carry this team. Pardon the old pun, but truly good pitching always beats good hitting. 

If these team leaders can return back to their 2008 form, the Cubs will certainly be right in the hunt again. The world series champion Philadelphia Phillies were 4 games over .500 with the same number of wins as the Cubs (43) at this time last year. To be where they are right now, just 3.5 games out of the central, is not reason for concern at all. The Cardinals and Brewers are certainly not making an effort to run away with this thing, so buckle up for what should be an exciting second half.

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