3 reasons why the Chicago Cubs are still in the running and 2 why they're not

Tampa Bay Rays v Chicago Cubs
Tampa Bay Rays v Chicago Cubs / Jamie Sabau/GettyImages
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Reason they're out of the race - Questionable management and poor performance on the margins

This might sound like two different reasons, but they sort of feed into one another. While the Cubs have a lot of great individual stories offensively, it's on the margins where they're failing. The depth they brought in for this year simply isn't going to cut it.

The one that sticks out like a sore thumb is obviously Eric Hosmer who, before he was released, was one of baseball's worst hitters with a 67 wRC+, but other struggling hitters like Nick Madrigal (62 wRC+) and backup catcher Tucker Barnhart (32 wRC+). One of the more disappointing signings for this year though has to be Trey Mancini who has continued his Astros decline with an 89 wRC+ while being worth -0.3 fWAR. Combined with the early struggles of Matt Mervis (62 wRC+), that has made first base a black hole for the second year in a row which is unacceptable for an offense-first position.

Where this problem gets exacerbated is with David Ross's lineups. All too often, he's been content with trotting out players like Hosmer over more intriguing depth pieces like Edwin Rios making for some baffling decisions. He's also had a tendency to place struggling players far too high in the order such as when we've seen Miles Mastrobuoni bat second or even leadoff. I understand he's constantly looking for some configuration that will bring the team success and play the matchup, but some of the decisions make little sense considering how much these marginal players have struggled.

If the Cubs do get to the trade deadline as buyers and not sellers, they'll need to vastly improve on the bench they currently have. The struggles aren't all on Ross, but it's becoming harder and harder to trust him when he makes so many confusing decisions on who to play and who not to.