Not so surprisingly the Cubs are already in first place in the NL Central, tied with the Pittsburgh Pirates, something which I'm sure will last all of the rest of this weekend. However, I'm fine with them kicking around the Cardinals for a little bit.
Taking 2 of 3 against a division foe on the road is always a great start. There were a lot of exciting things to note, but there were also some worrisome ones, so I present to you 3 Up, 3 Down.
- The starting rotation. Even though Ted Lilly got taken deep a few too many times Wednesday night, the rotation looks just as good as it was ending last season (Lilly is notorious for giving up home runs when he's shaky, so this was no surprise). Carlos Zambrano and Ryan Dempster only gave up a total of 3 earned runs. All three starters went no more than 6 innings, so Lou has been playing them conservatively to test the bullpen, but next time through the rotation let's see if these guys can really work.
- Kosuke Fukudome. Although it's a bit early to tell if this is going to be the Fukudome we remember from a year ago, going 4-for-5 last night against the Astros with 3 base hits and a solo HR is enough to make the slightest Fukudomaniac optimistic.
- Mike Fontenot. Anyone still emotionally torn by the absence of Mark DeRosa hasn't been watching Mike Fontenot's stats. The now officially "ex"-pocket rocket clocked a 3-run homer last night and went 5-for-13 in the series, earning Lou Piniella's trust and the third most at-bats on the team. If he can continue to contribute from where he is in the lineup, he will make quite a statement in his first full season as a starter.
- Milton Bradley's bat. The big acquisition is hitless as a Cub and the only player on the roster without one next to Joey Gathright and Aaron Miles. Instead, he leads the team with 4 bases on balls, which is nice, but he's not making $10 M a year to watch the baseball with a good eye. Hopefully a change of scenery will help.
- Geovany Soto's shoulder. You don't like to see your Rookie of the Year catcher out of the lineup with shoulder soreness. Koyie Hill has filled in adequately, but Soto's offensive prowess is missed at the lower half of that lineup.
- Kevin Gregg. I remain optimistic about the Cubs' new closer, but I'd like to see him keep runners off the base path -- he hasn't struck out any of the batters he's faced and given up three hits. Sure would be nice to see Kerry out on the mound. I know closers that wear those cool glasses are all the rage, but Kerry was timeless.