June 1 is my bench mark for pretenders & contenders. What it’s not, however, is the end-all be-all for postseason predictions, but a fairly good indicator, nonetheless.
Teams leading the division at this juncture typically make the postseason. Yet, it’s still too early to eliminate clubs .500 or better and less than five-games back in its division.
The Rockies, for example, rebounded from 10-games below .500 at June 1 last year to win the Wild Card…and the ’07 Cubs climbed back from a nine-game deficit (6.5 back June 1)…albeit with different personnel and against lesser competition from within the Central.
Meanwhile, this year’s version of the Cubs are five-games sub-.500 and seven back in the Central…thus, pretenders by my calculations.
And it’s a harsh reality considering they can’t beat Pittsburgh (1-7), score runs with any consistency, or find a place for its $92M-arm, Carlos Zambrano.
It’s a puzzling question: will Chicago, with the league’s third-highest payroll, and enough talent to win the division, find a way to contend in the season’s second half?
I want to believe they will…but the first-third of the season says they won’t.