In the past 5 seasons, with the Red Sox and White Sox finally winning championships after 90-some odd years, the Chicago Cubs seem to be the last of the original franchises who are still seeking a championship that’s eluded them seemingly forever. This season seems to be yet another year of ineptitude for the team.
Coming into 2009, the Cubs seemed to be everyone’s consensus pick to represent the National League in the World Series. A team that won 97 games last year, before having their season swept out from under them by the Dodgers, The Cubs were retooled and raring to go in 2009. But this season has fallen way short of the bull’s eye that the Cubs faithful had hoped for. A laundry list of questionable moves coming into this season, in addition to some key members seemingly hitting the downside of their careers have left the Cubs in a state where they’re on the brink of the dreaded, “just play out the season” mode.
Perhaps the most head scratching move of the Cubs’ offseason was one of the first moves they made, dealing away super utility man Mark DeRosa. DeRosa, who was arguably their MVP last season as he swatted 21 Home Runs and knocked in 87 RBI’s, was dealt for two minor league pitchers in a very bizarre move (possibly the most bizarre of the winter). Yet despite moving him, the Cubs felt they had found a key replacement for his hitting numbers, when they went out and signed the always on the brink of being ejected, and even more often injured Milton Bradley. Bradley, who came off a stellar year in Texas in ’08, was eyed to be the big cog in the middle of their lineup. But it’s almost as if the Cubs didn’t look at the back of Bradley’s baseball card, as Milton has ALWAYS struggled to stay healthy. Bringing him to a National League team ruined the chance to play him at DH and forced him to become an everyday right field, something Bradley hasn’t been able to do almost all of his career.
By signing Bradley, the Cubs turned down the opportunity to sign Bobby Abreu, who early into the off-season the Cubs seemed to be very high on. Abreu, who this season has been unreal with the Los Angeles Angels, is equipped to play right field everyday, is a better hitter than Bradley, and for the past 8 years has been one of baseball’s most remarkably consistent players. In addition to that, the price in which Abreu finally signed at was far less in dollars and length than the contract the Cubs gave to Bradley.
These suspect moves factored in with long injury to Aramis Ramirez and the slow demise of Derek Lee (although he’s been better as late), Alfonso Sorriano (.240, 19 HR) and Carlos Zambrano (128 innings logged this year, but on and off the DL all season), has led to one tough season for the Cubs and their faithful.
As of August 27th, with summer drawing nearer to fall, the Cubs are 9.0 back of the front running Cardinals and 7.5 back of the wild card. These sad but real stats have perhaps lead to Chicago Cubs fans hearing the mantra earlier than they expect this season that, “There’s always next year”.