I'm not ready to call the race over in the NL Central just yet, but it's over a week into August and that means it might just be time to admit the 2009 Cubs are little more than average. Usually by now, what you see is what you get with a team, and the Cubs haven't put together an impressive string of games with exception of pounding on the NL's worst leading up to this road trip. Continue to play at all like they did during the four-game embarrassment this weekend at Coors Field and it won't matter if they win every home stand from now until October.
I was planning on an entire post about how pathetic this team was defensively in Colorado, especially on Sunday, but after leading the bases loaded three times last night, the bottom line has become that things haven't changed, only the excuses (injuries, Milton Bradley, etc.). There's no sense of urgency, no sense that the Cubs are trying to fix their problems and no sense that the excuse-making will ever stop.
Take the news on Cubs.com right now, for example. Milton Bradley hitting well in the No. 2 spot is the news. That's not the story of the weekend. Bradley is being paid $10 M this year to drive in runs, not sit at the top of the order and walk or occasionally hit his way on base. Now that he's there, the Cubs still have nobody driving in runs in the middle of the order. The problem solves nothing, it only hides the fact that he has underperformed and that the Cubs have had to find a way of making him work considering the years and cash they've committed to him.
The storylines of late July have proven flukes. Alfonso Soriano is back to his meager ways, with no home runs and 1 RBI in nine games. The health of Aramis Ramirez is now maybe more in doubt than it was when he was initially hurt and his production on the road trip faltered. And then there's the relief pitchers, who can't manage to hold the Rockies when the Cubs are already down eight runs. And Jeff Samardzija is going to start against Philadelphia Wednesday? Oh man.
As for the pitching rotation, I think they call it a rotation because once one guy looks ready to come off the DL, another guy goes on. Do the Cubs really think they can continue to start Tom Gorzelanny or Samardzija and make up the three-game deficit to the Cardinals? Even then, the only guy to avoid the injury carousel has been Randy Wells, who only got on once Carlos Zambrano made his first DL appearance.
This only proves Randy Wells is the Cubs' MVP this season. Him or Derrek Lee. In fact, trade away the entire team except for Randy Wells, Ted Lilly and Ryan Theriot (and maybe this year's version of Derrek Lee) and I don't think I'd bat an eyelash. You know your team's bad when you wouldn't hesitate to see over half your starters off the roster. That might seem absurd, but who else is worth their weight on this team?
Like I said, I haven't given up, but that doesn't mean I have to think the 2009 Chicago Cubs are good. Start winning meaningful games on the road and stop making fundamental throwing, base-running and fielding errors and excuses.