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Cubs Limping Towards September

By: Mitch Heun

After a hot start following the All-Star break, things are once again looking grim for the North Siders. A quiet series against the Rockies coupled with a sweep by the Phillies have certainly driven the Cubs to their recent tailspin. The latest includes two disappointing loses to the N.L. West "cellar dweller" Padres. The Cardinals on the other hand continue to win in easy fashion. What was once an uncomfortable 3 game division lead for the Cardinals, has ballooned to 6. This may not be huge cause for concern, but the offense appears just as lost as it did early in the season. Along with this, the bullpen has been incredibly shaky as of late. 

To break down the next month and half, the Cubs are going to need a miracle and soon turn their attention to the wild card. Sadly, what you see right now from Soriano and Bradley, is going to remain the same the rest of the year. Bradley has definitely contributed more in the two-hole, but it doesn't appear he will find his power stroke. Soriano on the other hand, has completely lost his offensive spark. He may get an RBI single from time to time, but nothing more than that. Once again, they will have to rely on Derrek Lee's bat to carry them the rest of the way. 

On the plus side, as stated by Steve Stone, "Of the final 47 games the Cubs play (before this San Diego series), only 12 are against opponents with a record better than .500. The Cubs will simply need to take a page out of the '07 Rockies or '08 Dodgers playbook and become red hot down the stretch. The Cubs will have to leap frog four teams to achieve a wild card berth, but this may be the momentum and confidence they need. They could then fight their way into the playoffs and be considered a huge underdog against the likes of St. Louis, Philadelphia and L.A.. This would be a welcome change from the previous two seasons, as they were heavy favorites. 

To make this possible the Cubs are going to have to focus on one thing the rest of the season... starting clean. I enjoyed a comment by Bob Brenly last night, telling these players to forget about their individual stats the rest of the way. As important as they are to these players, face it Cubs, those numbers are looking dismal the rest of the way. They need to start the month of September with a clean slate and just look for ways to help the team win, not improve their numbers. It will be interesting the rest of the way to see how much heart this team really has. 

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