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To Panic Or Not to Panic

By Chris Birge

Last week, but for a busy schedule, readers would have seen a blog about the reasons why it was not time to panic. The Cubs were only two games out of the wild card, the team had an easy road trip upcoming, plus they still had many chances at the Cardinals. It may not have been time to panic, but that is exactly what the team did. It seems as though this team has the ability to play well on days when major changes are made, but it cannot play well on an average day. Inconsistency is one of the greatest problems a baseball team can possibly have!
What Castro did was amazing, there’s no question about that. No matter how much of an all-time great Castro may become, however, it is unreasonable to expect him to carry an entire team at this point. There is an aura around the cubs right now as if everyone has fallen asleep and is waiting for the kid to rescue them. It almost seems like they have stopped thinking at times. Take, for example, the play at the plate involving Marlon Byrd. Now, to give the player the benefit of the doubt, he may have just been following the instructions of the coaches. However, if this was the case, then the coaches were still pressing and panicking.
It would seem fairly clear that on paper the Cubs are a better team than the Reds, Pirates, Brewers or Astros. Unfortunately, this talent has not come through at the most critical parts of a game. There is no better way of describing what the bullpen did Saturday night than to cause an “implosion.” It is difficult not to consider how different things might have been if the Cubs had been asking the same bullpen members to pitch with a lead after an inning in which the Marlon Byrd had not occurred. No fan can watch a team lose five out of six to the Pirates and Reds and legitimately feel good about that team’s playoff chances. Even at an early stage, the Cubs have to feel like this is costly.
The only truly good news to come out of this mess is that it seems almost mandatory that a losing streak like this have some effect on the team. Hopefully, the Cubs can continue the trend of change being a good thing for them. They have to stabilize at some point. Hopefully, that stabilization will come at a point when they can still be buyers at the trade deadline. The Cubs were built to win this year and do not have a lot to sell to other teams, outside perhaps of Mike Fontenot. There have been some rumors (i.e. Troy Renck of the Denver Post on ESPN First Take last week) that Carlos Zambrano would be on the trading block. This scenario seems unlikely. There would not seem to be adequate value to be obtained in return for him, as he has already stated it is likely that he will retire at the end of his current contract.


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