Flash back a year from now. We were the most feared team in the league with the bats and had one of the better rotations in the league, if not the best. Our rotation is still very good. The only significant lineup change we made was having Mark DeRosa in a few positions and Jim Edmonds in center. Doesn't seem like those two would completely change the way this team is playing.
We've gotten younger by bringing up future talent in Hoffpauir and Fontenot, and possibly Blanco. We have a back up catcher who isn't as wise as Henry Blanco, but certainly plays adequately and "scrappy" which seems to be a detail that fans love. And there's Aaron Miles...we don't have to talk about him. At this point last year, Derek Lee was still not hitting many home runs (albeit a few more than this year, but his DP numbers are significantly down from last year), Fukudome was doing worse than Bradley is now, and I'm sure at some point Soriano had a bad stretch like he is now.We did have A-Ram knocking the cover off the ball.
The two biggest differences that this years team is facing from last year are walk totals and Ryan Theriot. Last year there were poitns whhere we stood a chance at breaking both franchize and MLB records for walks. We aren't drawing as many walks and thus less runners are scoring. Most of this can be blamed on not being patient at the plate. Lou has mentioned several times about pitch selection. We have a nasty habit of making mediocre/horrible pitchers look great. We're over agressive at the plate to make up for bad averages. Recipe for doom. Bob Brenly made a great note about this in yesterday's game, saying that it looked like tthe Twins were trying to make contact while the Cubs were trying to hit every ball out of the park. We're a team that can hit home runs but shouldn't rely on it, especially with the varying conditions on a day to day basis at Wrigley.
The other thing I think that is affecting the Cubs is the table setters, specifically Ryan Theriot and Mike Fontenot. Both were very good at simply getting on base last year, especially Theriot with his opposite field hitting. Fontenot was a great option off the bench and was reliable for hitting and surprising pop last year. Seems like both are gone. Theriot's average is down almost 30 points because he is pulling the ball more. We really don't need Theriot trying to hit home runs. We have plenty of home run hitters. We need people on base. Theriot was so good in the 2 or 8 spot last year. IIRC he lead the league last year in multi hit games. I'm not sure how to look that up. With Fontenot, I think he's trying too hard to be Aramis Ramirez. He isn't a 30 home run type of guy. He's out of position which may be affecting how comfortable he is. The fact of the matter though is that he needs to worry more about getting hits, not home runs. Let Soriano, Bradley, Soto, and heck even Derek Lee when he's able to, hit the dingers. Fontenot's job is to hit one out when he gets a good pitch but to take what he can and hit the ball to the gaps.
I'm not saying that fixing these two things is going to turn the Cubs into the best hitting team in the leauge. But it can't hurt.