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Joe's Army Knife

As the weeks go by and the calendar turns to August ,I keep finding myself thinking: Sure these guys are good, like really good as far as the Cubs go, but I'm still not sure the roster is where it should be. Are you supposed to have five left fielders in one game?

Yes, they had five left fielders on Sunday night. And one was a pitcher.

I just can't figure out if this is a good thing or a bad thing. I guess it's a good thing in extra-inning games, because anyone can pretty much play anywhere.

Oh, and it's also good for the guys that make mitts. Because every guy has to have like three different baseball gloves.

And it's also good for the outfits that stitch players' names on the gloves. Are they different companies? Or does the glove company have a machine or whatever that stitches in the names? I just don't know.

The answer is not keeping me up at night, but I do find it interesting that there are so many glove-changing situations on this team.

But back to the first idea: Is it better to be the Swiss army knife of teams, or the large collection of tools team?

In real life, Swiss army knives are sort of worthless. You use the knife for stuff, but if you needed a screwdriver you would get a real screwdriver and not bother with the tiny screwdriver that is on the Swiss army knife.

Maybe in a pinch it's a good thing, of course, but that's the whole deal. In real life, a Swiss army knife is typically only useful in a pinch, not in everyday use.

Still, it's hard to rain on this winning parade, especially when Big Poppa Joe has all the gadgets working on his Cub army knife, like even the tweezers and the saw blade.

There is no doubt that Joe gets the most out of his guys. I'm a believer. But maybe he shouldn't have to write a book on baseball strategy every game.

Some might say you have to do all of this because you don't really have the set roster that you would like.

It's working and it's evolving, but all it takes is a tweak to Dexter Fowler's hammy and it could be back to chaos again. Or as much chaos as a team 22 games over .500 can muster, which I guess isn't that much - and nothing a good knife can't handle.

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Week In Review: The Cubs lost the first two games of the week to the White Sox, and things didn't look so good. But then they won two from the Sox and took two of three from the Mariners for a 4-3. Another seven games off the schedule and up 7 1/2 games over the Cardinals in the division. Not too shabby.

Week In Preview: The boys in blue stay home for three against a solid Marlins team that is currently sitting in the second wild card slot. There's a decent chance this is a Cubs playoff match-up here, so take some notes! After the Marlins leave town, the Cubs zip off to the West Coast for a 3-game set with the A's. The A's after the trading deadline should be nothing to worry about.

Musical Outfielders: And no we aren't talking about Matt Szczur playing the French horn. I've already covered having five different guys playing left in the game on Sunday. I think that's a pretty solid microcosm of the season. Yet, this is the kind of thing that only works in the regular season and not really so much in the playoffs. Kyle Schwarber is still battling the notion that he is horrible in the outfield after last year's bumbling of a couple balls in left against the Mets in the playoffs last year. Poor Kyle then got hurt and hasn't been able to make us feel any better about his defense. Let's just remember that the cuteness of having Travis Wood make plays out there in the regular season will quickly go away if he boots one in the post-season.

Former Annoying Cub of the Week: I'm going to break the cycle here and talk about Chris Coghlan. Sure, I'm not a fan at all, but I might as well get over it. He apparently has some sort of extra baseball "goodness" in him that does not show up in ways normal people can see. And while he is not a "former" Cub as he is still on the team, he is technically a "former annoying" Cub as I am going to call him no longer annoying. So he is former annoying in that sense. He must be like super hilarious in the clubhouse or really good at pep talks or something for him to keep coming back to this team, but I'm going to embrace him now. I simply have no choice, he will not go away. And he cannot be missed when he is always around.

Current Annoying Cub of the Week: I really wanted to pile on the Jason Heyward "C'mon already" train and lay into him a bit for being so so bad. But then he was an integral part of one of the most insanely awesome comebacks that I can remember on Sunday night. Will this be the Jason Heyward game? Will this be the game that gets him rolling at the plate? The answer to both questions is: I guess we'll see.

Mad(don) Scientist: Big Poppa Joe certainly swung and missed with the Brian Matusz start. He was horrible. The idea of giving the rotation an extra day off is great, but when you tax your bullpen anyway because the kid is getting shelled, well, maybe you should look at your first decision. But when you call on a starting pitcher with a lifetime batting average of .051 to pinch hit in the bottom of the 12th he gets a bunt down with two strikes to bring in the winning run from third, you come out looking like a genius.

Kubs Kalender: Fans attending the Cubs-A's game on Friday will receive an Italian heritage A's hat. Fans will be asked to prove their Italian heritage by declaring how many cousins they have named Tony. Any answer over three will get you the hat. Bada-bing!

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that Sunday's win seemed special.

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Marty Gangler is The Cub Factor. He welcomes your comments.

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