So where was this team the whole first half?
Three home runs (Geovany Soto, Alfonso Soriano, Derrek Lee). Two doubles -- both to nearly the identical spot on the field -- by Aramis Ramirez, driving in four runs.
And, until Bob Howry put the Phillies almost back in the game and forced Lou to send Larry Rothschild to the mound to call for Andrew Cashner for the final out, solid pitching.
All of it resulted in a 12-6 Cubs win over the Phillies, and a possible dilemma for Jim Hendry. The Cubs are nine games out of first place, having picked up half a game on the idle Reds. What if Lee gets hot for a couple of weeks? He's more tradeable then, but what if that also leads the team on a run that gets them, say, within four or five games of the lead?
Do they deal parts away? Paul Sullivan wrote this tantalizing bit:
Ted Lilly met with general manager Jim Hendry to discuss his future before Thursday night's game with the Phillies.
Lilly is on the block and is considered the Cub with the most trade value. Lilly has said he would like to stay in Chicago and has a limited no-trade clause. Hendry would like to keep Lilly, but he doesn't know if the Cubs can meet his free agent demands in November so he has to consider getting something in return.
Hendry said he doesn't discuss trade possibilities, while Lilly declined comment.
"I don't know if I have the right to discuss that," he said. "Write whatever you want."
As noted, Hendry doesn't negotiate in the media, which likely gets him the respect of his trade partners. What we know about Ted Lilly is that he will make his scheduled start this afternoon. Beyond that, it's likely day-to-day until July 31, or maybe beyond, because almost all the Cubs' tradeable parts will clear waivers.
Ryan Dempster threw 6.2 fine innings -- his only real mistake was a fastball to Ryan Howard that Howard yanked onto Sheffield for a 2-0 lead. And the first thought after that -- it happened after two were out and no one on base -- was, "Uh-oh, here we go again." But Dempster settled down and the Cubs came from behind, a rare thing this season; they hit with men on base (while still leaving seven), took advantage of two Jamie Moyer HBP's, and scored seemingly at will. Incidentally, in Moyer's long career, that's the first time he's ever hit two batters in an inning (the first, both scoring on A-Ram's first double).
And Lou even pulled Dempster at the right time when he was clearly out of gas and a rally was going; Sean Marshall stopped it.
Starlin Castro singled, doubled and tripled and scored a run on what was credited as a stolen base on an attempted suicide squeeze; the pitch bounced in the dirt. It could have been ruled a wild pitch, but Castro got a SB likely because he was already running before the pitch. It was the Cubs' first straight steal of home since Brian McRae did it on April 13, 1996 at San Francisco. (Didn't help. The Cubs lost the game 3-2 in 10 innings.)
None of the three Cubs homers needed help from the wind, which was blowing out briskly to right field when the game started, but calmed down later. Soriano's third-inning blast off Moyer was caught on the fly by BCB's own Ballhawk Ken; that was the 511th HR allowed by Moyer, who extends his career record with every dinger he allows. For perspective, that is the number of homers former New York Giant great Mel Ott hit; if Moyer had hit that many as a hitter, he'd be tied with Ott for 23rd place on the all-time list today.
Fun but irrelevant note: this was the first win this year in four games televised on WCIU. There will be four more such games, the next one Monday vs. the Astros.
Wins like that have been hard to come by this year, and may not mean much in the end. Nevertheless, they are still fun to watch. Keep 'em coming. The pregame thread for this afternoon's game will post at 11:30 am CDT.