The Chicago Cubs have won 4 in a row, but I suppose we should take that win a grain of salt because the last three were against the Padres. However, at 20-14, the Cubs are winning with a very unexpected mix of players contributing.
Last year's rookie of the year, Geovany Soto has been hitting below .200, but finally hit his first home run of the year, and looks to be getting back on track. He's going to provide a big boost for the team's offense.
Derrek Lee is OLD. I mean, he's only 33, but it is becoming more and more obvious that his age is getting the better of him. While still great defensively, D. Lee may need to abdicate the first baseman's crown to Micah Hoffpaiur. Hoffpaiur has been raking in his first legitamite chance at playing in the Bigs. He maybe be better for the team overall than the former Sacramento native, Lee.
I literally have no idea what positions people in the infield are playing these days. I'm pretty sure that since Aramis Ramirez dislocated his shoulder it goes like this: Mike Fontenot at 3B, Ryan Theriot at SS, and Aaron Miles at 2B. That also picked up Ryan Freel for good measure which I think will help them immensely. Ryan Theriot has had a recently been hitting jacks like Sammy Sosa in 1998, and while I don't expect that to continue, his average and on base percentage are both solid for top of the lineup production.
The outfield is great with Soriano, Fukudome, and Milton Bradley (helped by Reed Johnson.) Fukudome's average will probably drop a bit, while Bradley's will go up and those will balance out. Soriano could be an MVP candidate.
The scariest thing is their pitching. Zambrano is hurt, but coming back soon. Dempster has been underachieving (though he won today.) Harden has been very reliable (he beat Jake Peavy this week.) Ted Lilly may even be the best pitcher on the staff thus far. While the starts have been decent (yet worse than expected) the Cubs' main flaw is their bullpen. I have ZERO faith in Kevin Gregg, and Carlos Marmol is following right behind him. Their middle relief is lacking as no one seems to want to step up. The will need to pick someone up, or have someone to improve their performance in the bullpen to be a true contender.
20-14 is not bad at all. I think the most encouraging thing is that with all the injuries, many of the young players have been stepping up and taking major roles within the offense. I'm reserving more judgement until later in the season. I've learned to temper my excitement and gloom until later in the season. So far it's been a fun one and I'm looking forward to seeing how it progresses.