It ain't over till Lou Pinella sings.
I know I said we are still in the Wild Card chase. It is mathematically still possible, but let's face it this team sucks. Now, if the Cubs are going to fix things they have to understand why. I know you are just like me and that you are tired of sounding like MC Pee Pants/Sir Loin/ Little Brittle from Aqua Teen Hunger Force when you try to explain to Sox/Cards fans why the Cubs have a chance to win the World Series year in and year out.
First let accept one thing: This team is mediocre. Even when healthy, this team is mediocre. Even with Soto performing at an adequate level and Aramis healthy the entire season, the Cubs would not have gone to the World Series. Does Lou Pinella deserve some of the blame? Sure, he does to certain extent, but here are some reasons why it was a mess he couldn't dig his way out.
Injuries: We had a ton of them. Some of them were self inflicted by laziness and stupdity, Zambrano and Dempster. Some of them were freakish, Aramis Ramirez's dislocated shoulder and Soto's injury to his belly-fat. Some of them were common place, Ted Lilly. Some of them should have caused players to miss more time, Lee and Soriano. Soriano especially should have missed some more time. It was clear by the number of balls that landed just in front of him that there was something very wrong. Too say that injuries didn't play a key part in the Cubs demise was foolish. However, there is more to this story.
This team was a chimera of failure. If it wasn't for Derrek Lee's Renaissance, we should be in an even deeper hole. Going into the season the majority of us didn't think D-Lee was going to be on pace to 30 HR and 100 RBIs. Many of us would like to believe this team wasn't designed to fail, but the evidence does point otherwise. We all like to point to the loss of Mark DeRosa, but we also lost the power production of Jim Edmonds. While he swatted at everything in above the numbers, but he did nail a number of key home runs. His fielding was not like it used to be, but it was a enough to mask Soriano's adventures in the outfield. I am not going into the mistake that was known as Milton Bradley. Not point in screaming that Liberace was gay. If you looked at the lineup at the beginning of the season, the Cubs had four run producers. Two were very good. One was extremely streaky. One of the other run producers was a catcher who came in a fatty ding dong. Another saw declining production, D-Lee.The other A-Ram a legit run producer. Given the situation the Cubs needed someone who had a history of being able to drive in runs. Forget the fact that we needed a lefty who could do that. The mantra this offseason was snag a lefty was some power.Last season there were 33 left handed hitters who hit at least 20 home runs. The Cubs let go of one. Of the top ten lefty home run hitters, only Adam Dunn was available and wasn't outed as a juicer. (Also, only Chase Utley was the only lefty with a good batting average.) Another is 37 years old and is having a career year for the Phillies. Obviously, Raul Ibanez has found better living through chemistry, legally or illegally. Another oldie, Bobby Abreu, a player I wanted, was available. While he provides meh power, he has shown he can drive in runs. Still, Abreu and Ibanez were well past the wrong side of the 30. Hence, the reason why the Cubs signed "Board Game." Once again let's not go there. For the lineup to be more left-handed, Mike "mini-Morandini" Fontenot started at second. Based on how he hit the previous two seasons, no one expected him to be this bad. Hell, I thought he was good for batting around .275 and driving in 75 runs. Boy was a I wrong. I guess there is a reason why he wasn't a starter.
We underestimated the team from the south: The Cubs were supposed to run away with this division!!!! No other team had a chance against the mighty baby bears from the north. Well, one thing was completely wrong with that notion. The Cardinals biggest problem last season was blown saves. They were among the league leaders. If they did away with that weakness, they would be division contenders. Low and behold Ryan Franklin has a career year. The starting pitching needed to be better. A miracle happened Chris Carpenter came back from the dead. Joel Piniero returned to Seattle form. Despite losing Troy Glaus, the Cards found a replacement in former Cubs messiah Mark DeRosa. The coup de grace was when the Cards literally bet the farm on the trade for Matt Holliday. Now, they appear to be the best team in the NL.
Now going into next season, we have to realize that having power lefties is not the end all be all. A right handed hitter that is good at hitting right hand pitching should be fine. Soriano isn't done yet, he needs to rest his knee. The Cubs and their fans need to remember our biggest rival is the Cards, not the Sox. We are like the Red Sox and they are like the Yankees. The Cards are in our division they have the second most World Series titles in the Majors. They are biggest threat going forward. We need power. They have a left fielder who is a free agent with a money grubbing agent. I say the Cubs should go in the bidding for Holliday. Even if the Cubs don't get him, hopefully, the Cubs could make it so the Cards have to pay an arm and a leg for him if the Yanks or Red Sox don't snag him. The Cards need him to show to Pujols that the Cards are trying to create a winner. Unfortunately, things may be problematic for the Cubs. The Cards have only $50 mill on the books to grab free agents while the Cubs have about $120 mill on the books. Hopefully, ownership is as interested as the rest of Cubdom in being the best in the Central. If not, then the Cards may dominate the beginning of the next decade like they did this current one.