Saturday, July 3, 2010

First Half Review of the Cubs

For a team that hasn’t won a championship in 101 years, one would think a better motto would be chosen than “A Way of Life.” The saying is taunting to Cubs fans who long for better days.

Fittingly enough, that is the official motto for the 2010 Chicago Cubs, a team that enters Saturday 12 games under .500 and 11.5 game behind Cincinnati for the division lead. Also, a team that just lost 12-0 to the Reds, and only gather two hits, marking their second two hit game, and third 12 run defeat.

As Saturday brings the halfway point in the season, everything has gone terribly wrong for the team once deemed as the “Loveable Losers.” But something is different about this year’s addition. The Cubs have lost the loveable part this year, and they are just losers.

What is it about this year’s team? They’re boring to watch, don’t hustle, don’t seem to care, and are predictable like the grass is green.

The Cubs that used to be the “superstars” have become washed up primadonnas. Coming off a career year, Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee is hitting .229 with just ten home runs.

Meanwhile, power hitting cleanup hitter Aramis Ramirez, who was supposed to be the missing piece from last year’s team, is hitting just .177. Even Randy Wells is hitting better than that. But did Ramirez seek the help from first year hitting instructor Rudy Jaramillo? Nope, Ramirez claims he’s his own hitting coach. Yeah Aramis, how’s that working out for you?

The Cubs biggest problem is their $90 million ace, who has bounced from the rotation to the bullpen back to the rotation, and now into anger management. Carlos Zambrano continues to be the team’s biggest problem, and now he’s paying the price, as he sits on the restrictive list. He is expected to return after the All-Star break, but he will be back in the bullpen, fortunately far away from Derrek Lee, who he tried to attack during a game last week.

Zambrano is another overpaid Cub who has given the team little to no contribution in 2010. This season, he represents everything that is wrong with the team.

The management and manager have been left without an answer thus far. Lou Piniella is a legend, and will be a hall of famer, but in 2010, he’s been left without an answer, and eventually, it will cost him his job. General Manager Jim Hendry has little to no job security; he’s the reason the Cubs have this team on the field.

The team is stocked up on aging veterans who are either passed their prime, or are just plain bad. There have been a few emerging youngsters, as Starlin Castro and Andrew Cashner were brought up to the big leagues, but that move was made out of desperation more than anything.

Meanwhile, the Cubs new ownership has been as lost as everyone else. The Ricketts family thought they were buying into a potential World Series caliber team, but must have forgotten they’re the Cubs. Now, they’ve become focused on putting gigantic eye sores all over the ballpark (see Toyota sign, giant noodle, etc.), not including the biggest eye sore, the actual team.

So as this 2010 Cubs season continues to spiral out of control, the only solution is simple, send those responsible packing!

The Cubs have veterans near the end of their contract, so they will be the first to go. Ted Lilly will be definite trade bait, as he’s been a consistent pitcher during this season. Lilly is in the last year of his contract, so he will most likely be dealt.

Derrek Lee still has some value, despite his terrible season. If he agrees to a trade, he may not be a Cub for too long.

With young, rookie outfielders like Tyler Colvin waiting, veterans like Kosuke Fukudome and Xavier Nady may be dealt as well. Fukudome has come nothing close to his potential when he was signed by the Cubs prior to the ’08 season. His Cub career seemingly peaked on his first game, as he went 3-3 with a game-tying home run. After that, it’s been a lot of frustration.

Meanwhile, Nady was brought in to be a key utility piece in the outfield, and was supposed to provide depth, but the club has faced so many issues, and Nady hasn’t performed well, so that move appears to be a bust.

Other potential pieces of trade bait are middle infielders like Ryan Theriot, Mike Fontenot, and Jeff Baker, who would make a great addition to a contender, which they were expected to do with the Cubs.

The bottom line is, this season has spiraled too far. Another 12-0 embarrassment is unacceptable, even for the Cubs.

Beautiful Wrigley Field is seeing a decrease in attendance, as the Cubs have dipped under the 38,000 mark many times this season. Tickets haven’t been hard to come by, and frankly, nobody wants to see the Cubs play.

Part of it can be credited to Blackhawks hangover, as the city of Chicago relearned what it was like to win a championship, and have a fun team to root for. The Blackhawks featured a team of fun, exciting players to watch and cheer for. The Cubs cannot boast the same regards.

But that’s just a small thing. Cub fans have high expectations each season, and when things go terribly like they have in 2010, the fans hold their team accountable.

Soon enough, the management will be held accountable, and things will quickly change. Hendry will be fired, Piniella will be fired, and veterans will be dealt. A new day in Cubs baseball will come, with new faces all around, but for now, we wait and watch the pathetic brand of baseball that’s a way of life for Cubs fans.

1 comment:

  1. Extremely well-written and, sadly, very true. I can only hope that this rebuilding process is begun and finished as quickly as possible, as it's an awful feeling to watch game after game slip away (no, that isn't fair; "slip away" is only appropriate if the game was within grasp in the first place) and knowing that nothing is going to get better any time soon. For every exciting player such as Castro, Colvin, or Marmol, there have been players like Ramirez, Zambrano, and Lee that only serve as reminders that the Cubs' glory days are long behind them and that it will be quite a long time before they are seen again.