07/12/2004 4:57 PM ET
Alou's faith in Cubs is strong
All-Star says club has not played its best baseball yet
By Jim Molony / MLB.com
HOUSTON -- Moises Alou would have thought you were crazy had you told him back in Spring Training the Chicago Cubs would enter the All-Star break seven games out of first place behind the St. Louis Cardinals.
|Moises Alou says with a team as talented as the Cubs, there is plenty of time to make a move. (Brian Kersey/AP)
But even though the Cardinals own the league's best record and are tied with the New York Yankees for the largest margin at the break, Alou still believes the Cubs are the team to beat in the National League Central.
"In my mind we are," the Cubs left fielder said Monday. "I mean, the Cardinals are a very good team and they're really hot right now, but I don't think we've played our best baseball yet. When we do that, we're going to be fine."
Cubs right fielder Sammy Sosa agreed with Alou that the Cubs are the team to beat.
"No question," Sosa said. "We know what we can do. We know we can get going in the second half, and when we do it's really going to be something."
Alou, one of three Cubs All-Stars along with Sosa and pitcher Carlos Zambrano, said there is plenty of time to make a move and points to recent examples to back up his argument.
"Look at the (Anaheim) Angels two years ago, or the (Florida) Marlins last year," Alou said. "San Francisco this year, everybody was writing them off when they had a bad April, but now they're just a half-game out (in the National League West). It happens all the time. It's not going to be easy, but I think we have a good enough team to do it if we play well in the second half."
The Cubs, 47-40, trail the Giants by one game in the Wild Card standings.
"That's the other thing," Alou said. "With the Wild Card you still have that to go for if you don't win the division. But I still think we can win (the division). We got Kerry Wood back and that's gonna be a big help, and I think we're going to swing the bats better than we have been lately."
Zambrano said Sunday night's win over the Cardinals with Wood contributing a strong outing in his first start since coming off the disabled list was a great way to go into the break.
"That was a good win for us," Zambrano said. "St. Louis has been hot and we needed to get a win. We know we should be better (than seven games out)."
The Cardinals have one of the better offenses in baseball, an outstanding bullpen and a rotation that has been very effective. The Cards have remained relatively healthy, or at least moreso than the Cubs.
"We had a lot of guys hurt," Zambrano said. "Now we're getting everybody back. We should be better in the second half."
Jim Molony is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.