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Team Analysis after 20 Percent of the Season Has Passed

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The season is now 20 percent done. Finished. Gone. At 17-16, we are one game above .500 and percentage points behind Oakland, yet tied for the Division lead.

STARTING PITCHING
The only reason we are in it. The frustration of having to pitch perfect will affect them, but for now, I wouldn't trade our rotation (counting Saunders) with any team in baseball.

BULLPEN
Not as advertised. Speier was nails, but now he is out with what appears to be a tummyache. Shields has delivered more than one Wheelhouse Buffet Special, but has also had his lights-out moments. Other than his date with Piazza, Frankie has been the man. Carrasco and Oliver have been about as pleasant as two kicks to the crotch; Bootcheck and Moseley are so far nice surprises.

OFFENSE
We went into the season knowing it could be this bad other than Vlad. Now it is. Kotchman is not making adjustments, Kendrick is hurt and nobody hits anything but singles. Hillenbrand is a disaster on par with Hurricane Katrina, Matthews' defense has been a saving grace in between his hot spurts (not streaks, spurts). For my money, this is as good as Figgins gets but you know we will stick with him batting .120 until September. Our bats are weak and appearing to get weaker.

DEFENSE
Not as bad as last season.

WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
They are going to meander around .500 for the next few weeks. The pitching will be fabulous, the bullpen will not be the best in baseball but it will not be the worst, either. They are two bats and a black hole away from certainty - the two bats are Howie Kendrick and Juan Rivera and the black hole is Hillenbrand.

There is hope out there - especially as the A.L. West is a joke of a division. But patience is required. And Katrina Hillenbrand must be jettisoned.