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The Cubs Need Alfonso Soriano: Cubs vs. Dodgers Preview, Sunday 8/23, 3:10 CT

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I figured that headline would get your attention. Much as we are all down on Alfonso Soriano right now -- and Lou says Sam Fuld may get more playing time in left field -- there is no doubt that when Soriano hits, the Cubs win. Look at these numbers (which were posted in the dead-tree edition of the Tribune today as a sidebar to yesterday's game story, but aren't online):

April 6-May 16. Soriano hits .276 with 11 HR and 24 RBI. Cubs go 21-14.
May 17-July 15. Soriano hits .201 with 3 HR and 9 RBI. Cubs go 22-29.
July 16-Aug. 4. Soriano hits .333 with 5 HR and 15 RBI. Cubs go 14-5.
Aug. 5-Aug. 22. Soriano hits .167 with 0 HR and 4 RBI. Cubs go 4-12.

To sum it all up, during the two "good Soriano" periods, he hit .294 with 16 HR and 39 RBI in 54 games, and the Cubs went 35-19.

During the two "bad Soriano" periods, he hit .194 with 3 HR and 13 RBI in 67 games, and the Cubs went 26-41.

He drives us crazy. His contract is already an albatross. But there is no doubt in my mind that if he can be "good Soriano" during the Cubs' last 41 games, they can play at the .648 percentage they already have earlier this year when he was hitting. That'd mean 27 wins, 88 total, and a real shot at the playoff spot that seems really distant right now.

One more note for today about Lou's quote yesterday that he "plans" to return as manager in 2010. Yesterday, he clarified his comments, and:

Piniella said he still has the desire to manage.

"If the losses didn't hurt, then I know it will be time to leave," he said. "If we lost a ballgame like we did [Friday] night and it wasn't painful, then I don't belong in this business. I care. I want to see this thing go. But again, I am only an employee."

Oh, Lou. "Only an employee"? You really, really shouldn't have used that word. Bad connotations.

Today's Starting Pitchers
Ryan Dempster
Ryan Dempster
Cubs
vs. Chad Billingsley
Chad Billingsley
Dodgers
6-7 W-L 12-6
4.28 ERA 3.70
117 SO 144
53 BB 66
18 HR 10
vs. LA -- vs. Cubs

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2009 - Ryan Dempster 6-7 22 22 0 0 0 0 136.2 138 74 65 18 53 117 4.28 1.40


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2009 - Chad Billingsley 12-6 25 25 0 0 0 0 155.2 128 69 64 10 66 144 3.70 1.25

The Cubs have already defeated Chad Billingsley once this year -- on May 29 at Wrigley Field. Billingsley gave the Cubs only two runs, but Ted Lilly held the Dodgers to only one. Kosuke Fukudome, Derrek Lee and Koyie Hill have all homered off Billingsley in previous games. With Geovany Soto in a horrible slump, starting Hill today might be a good idea.

Ryan Dempster had one of his best games of the year on May 30 at Wrigley Field vs. the Dodgers, throwing seven shutout innings as the Cubs won 7-0. Let's hope for a repeat of that today. Andre Ethier is Dempster's particular nemesis (6-for-14, a HR).

The Cubs are back on nationwide coverage via WGN today. On EI you should get the Dodgercast with Vin Scully. For other games today see the MLB.com Mediacenter.

MLB.com Gameday

Baseball-reference.com game preview

SB Nation game preview

Please visit our SB Nation Dodgers site True Blue LA.

Overflow comment threads will post today at 4:15 pm, 5:15 pm and 6 pm CDT.

Discuss amongst yourselves.