I think its pretty safe to say this wont be the year for the Chicago Cubs. The loss of All-Star first-baseman Derrek Lee for the next couple of months almost guarantees it.
After breaking two bones in his wrist, Lee is not expected to return to the lineup for six weeks, until some time around the All-Star break. This makes me think Cubs fans will, once again, have to wait until next year.
Lee was the best player the Cubs had. He is the defending National League batting champion. He was the teams leader both on and off the field. This leaves the team with a massive hole to fill. Frankly, I dont see anyone on the Cubs current roster capable of tying Lees shoes, let alone trying to fill them.
I predict when July rolls around, the Cubs will already be so far out of the first place that even with the return of Lee, it wont be enough. If Albert Pujols and the St. Louis Cardinals continue on their current pace, theyll have the division sewn up by then. The best the Cubs could hope for would be a wild-card spot. Does anyone really think that without the offensive power supplied by Lee, the Cubs will be able to stay close to the Reds, Mets, Astros, Braves, Giants, Rockies or Dodgers? I hate to say it, but I seriously doubt it.
Not only do the Cubs have problems with Lee being out of the lineup, they also have what may be the most suspect starting pitching staff in the majors.
Greg Maddux is off to a great start starting 5-0 for the first time in his career, but does anyone really believe he can continue at such a torrid pace?
We never know which Carlos Zambrano will show up to pitch.
Kerry Wood, Mark Prior and Wade Miller are all on the disabled list.
This seems like a perfect recipe for disaster.
Ive been a Cubs fan since Ron Santo, Don Kessinger, Glen Beckert and Ernie Banks were anchoring the infield. It pains me to admit it, but this may be the earliest ever in a season when Ive had to come to grips with the reality that Ill have to wait at least another year for a chance to go to Wrigley Field for a World Series game.
I sincerely hope Im wrong on this one!
From the May 5-9, 2006, issue