After the first month of the season it was looking rather obvious that the Cubs were going to have a difficult time contending for a playoff spot in the National League. Then the injuries started to happen. Randy Wells and Andrew Cashner were already on the disabled list, and they were joined by Geovany Soto, Marlon Byrd, Jeff Baker, Alfonso Soriano, Reed Johnson, Matt Garza, and Carlos Zambrano at different points of the season. After all the injuries and disappointing play, the Cubs are 17 games below the .500 mark, signaling that any chance they have of making the playoffs have been eliminated.
Technically, the Cubs are not mathematically eliminated, yet. However, it would take a miracle for the Cubs to make the playoffs. As the Chicago Tribune notes through the Elias Sports Bureau, no team in the history of major league baseball has come back from more than 16 games under .500 to make the playoffs. Considering that the Cubs are 17 games below the .500 mark, they obviously, would be the first team in the history of baseball to accomplish such a feat.
There is no question that injuries have–to some degree–altered the Cubs potential for this season. Considering that each of the Cubs five starting pitchers in their rotation on Opening Day have missed at least one start, that would be tough for any team to overcome. But even when those starters have been healthy, they are not doing much to improve the Cubs chances of turning their season around. With the exception of Matt Garza who has a 3.77 ERA this season, every pitcher in the Cubs rotation this season has an ERA over 4. That clearly is not helping general manager Jim Hendry’s case when he says the Cubs still have run in them.
On the offensive side, it is not much better. Both Carlos Pena and Aramis Ramirez have begun to heat up, but unfortunately, the Cubs are already out of contention. Maybe if the two put up power numbers in the beginning month of the season, the Cubs would be in a different position than they are currently in. After having 10 home runs in the first month of the season, Alfonso Soriano only has 4 since then. Granted the Cubs left-fielder has spent some time on the disabled list this season.
The real disappointing numbers for the Cubs offense comes when you look at their stats as a team. As a team, the Cubs have the third highest batting average in the National League with an average of .261. On top of that, the Cubs have the eighth highest runs in the National League with 350 runs scored. The downside comes when you look at the Cubs on base percentage. The Cubs have a collective on base percentage of .315 this season, which is around the middle of the pack when it comes to other National League teams. The issue comes that the Cubs’ on base percentage should be higher than it actually is, seeing as they have the third highest batting average in the National League. Instead the Cubs’ on base percentage is more indicative of their batting average. Meaning most players are only getting on base if they hit the ball, not by taking walks. The same strategy that has blown up before in Hendry’s face.
Someone will have answer for this disappointing season. The injuries are bad, but the Cubs struggles go far beyond injuries. Mike Quade has looked overmatched this entire season, and that has cost the Cubs a handful of games. Jim Hendry was the creator of this mess, meaning he–if anybody–should be held accountable for the Cubs woes this season. But until it happens, I have a hard time believing that the Cubs general manager will be fired by chairman Tom Ricketts. Though, Ricketts should opt to fire Crane Kenney and hire a “baseball guy” as the Cubs’ president. That move would do wonders for the Cubs organization.