By Doug Halberstadt
I have a small request for everyone who is reading this column. Go to your kitchen drawer, and pull out a fork. Now, let’s all simultaneously stick them into the Chicago Cubs. Their 2009 season is done.
Even though they still have around 40 games left on the schedule, and the final one isn’t until the first week in October, I think it’s safe to say they won’t make the playoffs this year.
At press time, they are a full eight games behind their biggest rival, and National League Central Division leaders, the St. Louis Cardinals. They are seven games out of the wild card spot. Don’t try to fool yourself by thinking they can make up that amount of ground between now and October. They can’t, and they won’t.
Here’s why. It’s called lack of run production. They can’t win games without any offensive output. The cooler weather this summer must have played havoc with the collective internal clocks of their offense. Based on the last two seasons, the offense hasn’t gone into hibernation until the first round of the playoffs. This year, they are at least a month or so ahead of schedule. Simply put, the Cubs aren’t scoring enough runs to deserve to win games.
You can put the blame directly on the shoulders of the usual suspects. Alfonso Soriano, Milton Bradley, Aramis Ramirez and Derrek Lee all seem to have gone into a slump at precisely the same time. Last year’s National League Rookie of the Year, Geovany Soto, is experiencing what might be referred to as the biggest sophomore slump in the history of sophomore slumps. His numbers this season are only a fraction of what they were a year ago at this time. If these guys aren’t producing, the Cubs aren’t capable of winning.
Even if by some miracle they all snap out of this funk they are in, I think it’s definitely too late for this year. The Cubs have dug a hole so deep, I don’t see them climbing out of it.
The only hope the Cubs would have is if the Cardinals were to have a 1969 Cubs-like meltdown. They are too fundamentally sound, and manager Tony La Russa is too good of a manager to let that happen on his watch. The Cardinals will win the Central Division this season.
Allow me to be the first to say, “Wait until next year!” Now, let’s all go wash our forks and put them back in the drawer.
Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.
from the Aug. 26-Sept. 1, 2009 issue