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.500 Isn’t Good Enough

By Tim Ryan

On Sunday, the Cubs managed to claw their way to a win and escape a series sweep at the hands of the Twins--thanks to another solid outing by this season’s apparent ace, Ted Lilly, and some aggressive base running by the resurgent Derrek Lee. Though the win, which puts the team back to .500, temporarily cures some ills, Cubs nation is left dumbfounded at the baffling results after 60 games. The forecast for a team that was destined to coast to a third consecutive division title has remained cloudy.

Though many things are uncertain around Clark and Addison, one thing has become abundantly clear: The trade that sent Mark DeRosa to the Indians for three minor league pitchers (where exactly are they?) was a monumental mistake. Though the details of why DeRo was moved haven’t been fully disclosed, his .277 average, 11 home runs and 44 RBI’s have been duly noted along with his proficiency in the field. Former Cub Kerry Wood said it best when he told the Chicago Tribune, “If Mike Fontenot and Aaron Miles are both hitting .320 with 12 or 14 homers, (the trade) it’s a non issue.” DeRo, you’re gone but not forgotten.

But our woes don’t stop with DeRo. An anemic offense, injuries, mismanagement and an erratic bullpen have left the team in fourth place in a sub-par division. Even more baffling? There appears to be no sense of team or unity with this club as they scuffle to score runs, rarely take responsibility for themselves, and cease to pick each other up when their counterparts aren’t getting the job done. The addition of Milton Bradley was supposed to balance the lineup and enhance run production from both sides of the plate but even when he’s healthy there’s no stability to be found.

Sure, we know that Milton has a good eye. But this is the NL and we don’t need a DH. We need a leader who can play every day, not another prima-donna who thinks everyone is out to get him. I expected him to thrive at Wrigley and exceed his .277 career average but right now I’ll settle for .250 and fewer days off.

Besides Bradley there are only eight or so additional issues which need to be addressed in the coming months. What is Alfonso Soriano’s role on this team? Is Kosuke Fukudome set to endure another second half swoon? Is Mike Fontenot really an everyday player? Why is Aaron Miles on this team? Was Geovany Soto a one year wonder? Can this bullpen be trusted? Is Lou Piniella the right fit for this club? Or should Jim Hendry blow this whole thing up and start from scratch? Stay tuned…

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