Chicago Cubs: We were fooling ourselves when hopeful about this team

(Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
(Photo by David Banks/Getty Images) /

In the excitement of the Chicago Cubs being in first place a little over a week or so ago it is easy to forget what was being said about them at the beginning of the year.

The Cubs entered the season with numerous question marks regarding their prospects. They had traded away their best pitcher, Yu Darvish, and replaced him with another, Zach Davies, who had had really one above-average year to his credit. They picked up a starter discarded by another team, Jake Arrieta, who had once been part of the recent glory days for the team but now appeared to be at the end of his career.

Meanwhile, the Cubs’ potential bullpen was largely untried even at the closer position where Craig Kimbrel had produced only one really consistent campaign for the Cubs and that came during the COVID-19 shortened 2020 season.

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As far as position players were concerned the Cubs allowed Kyle Schwarber to leave, which in retrospect may have been a mistake, and then signed a similar player in Joc Pederson. The team, faced with a bumper crop of potential free agents, left Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez and Kris Bryant to wonder what was going on. Not a move calculated to engender confidence.

Now at the halfway point of the season, our hitters, other than the rookie, Patrick Wisdom, and early on, Bryant, are striking out at record rates, and they seem unable to maintain any consistency at the plate let alone pick up a man in scoring position. The bullpen, once the marvel of the league is showing signs they may be human after all, and the starters are often gone after five innings or less.

Only Kyle Hendricks among those starters has finally demonstrated his more usual self but even he is giving up homers at an alarming rate.

As we move deeper into July, the Cincinnati Reds are celebrating the Fourth by leapfrogging the Cubs to move into second place, which would certainly be a surprise situation not on the radar a few weeks ago.

Next. . dark

I watched a lot of Cubs games in my 70+ years. I’m used to seeing ups, downs, and general mediocrity. Maybe we have reached the point where it’s looking like these Cubs for 2021 are just an average team after all.