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Updated: June 11, 2010, 9:19 AM ET

At least there's still hope for one Chicago team

By Eduardo Perez
ESPN
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The Chicago Cubs and White Sox head into this weekend's Windy City showdown at Wrigley Field with less-than-impressive season performances. The White Sox (26-33) find themselves nine games behind Minnesota in the AL Central; the Cubs (27-33) sit 7½ back of the Cardinals in the NL Central. Though both teams are mired in mediocrity, I really had higher expectations for the White Sox.

[+] EnlargeCarlos Zambrano
Jeff Hanisch/US PresswireThe Cubs still haven't gotten all they had hoped for from Carlos Zambrano.

A team with the caliber of starting pitching they have should be winning more games. Jake Peavy, who was acquired in a trade with the Padres last July, really hasn't given the White Sox the consistency they were looking to add to their rotation. He and Mark Buehrle both have losing records and are carrying ERAs around 5.00. That has really shocked a lot of people.

Offensively, center fielder Alex Rios (.309, 12 homers, 29 RBIs) has been a nice surprise, and Paul Konerko has found his power with 17 homers already. But the White Sox are still struggling to find any sort of punch from the rest of their lineup. After a strong rookie campaign, Gordon Beckham was the kid that the White Sox offense was supposed to revolve around. Well, it has -- but not in a good way.

The young second baseman is batting .204 with 12 RBIs. I had the White Sox winning the division at the start of the year, but they've really struggled so far.

The Cubs, on the other hand, haven't surprised me a bit. Like seasons past, their potential just never materializes. Alfonso Soriano hasn't developed into the player they thought he was going to be when they handed him eight years and $136 million before the 2007 season. He was a multi-tool player who could wreak havoc on the base paths, and now he's batting .280 with four stolen bases.

Carlos Zambrano falls into a similar category -- the Cubs thought they were getting a different player than the guy they're seeing on the mound this year. This season, he was taken out of the starting rotation for the first time since 2003. But what stands out most to me is his lack of confidence. Once an intimidating figure, Zambrano really has lost his edge.

Which team can solve their problems faster?

White Sox general manager Ken Williams made it clear this week that changes will be made, and a few moves would bode well for the club. Still, I'm not a big fan of front offices telling the media about potential shakeups. Every player on that team knows the team is underperforming and knows when they underperform that trades are a strong possibility. But threatening words don't spark a club, actions do. If you want to go out and sign a player such as Jermaine Dye, don't talk about it -- just do it.

Ultimately, the Cubs won't gain much ground on the Reds and Cardinals, but the White Sox still have what it takes to make a run in their division. Their team is built to win, and if a team like that can finally catch fire, watch out.

Eduardo Perez is an analyst for "Baseball Tonight."

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Friday's Best Matchups

Phillies at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. ET

The Phillies take their sluggish offense to Boston, where John Lackey will be waiting. Lackey is 2-0 over his past three starts. The outing before that? He lost to the Phillies. Jamie Moyer goes for Philadelphia. The lefty ended a three-loss run -- a stretch in which his offense scored a combined one run for him -- with a win last time out against San Diego.


Braves at Twins, 8:10 p.m. ET

Tim Hudson and Francisco Liriano open this series. Hudson has not lost since April 21, going 5-0 in nine starts. In that run he has allowed more than five hits just twice. Liriano struck out 10 batters in his most recent start, his second double-digit strikeout total of the year.


Angels at Dodgers, 10:10 p.m. ET

The Dodgers have been tough at home, posting a 23-10 record at Chavez Ravine. Oddly enough, their starter, Chad Billingsley, has had problems inside Dodger Stadium, where he is 2-2 with a 4.66 ERA. On the road, Billingsley is 4-1 with a 2.78 ERA.

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