I realize that there are still approximately 60 days left in the season. And, baseball really is a strange sport where anything can and does happen.
However, I am wondering how a series of negative indicators regarding the Cub's poor play and trends can be overcome, and allow them to reach the playoffs for the third straight year.
1. The team is last in the league with RISP, now with a .230 BA. And, 14th out of 16th in OPS. As we saw this weekend in Colorado, and Al so rightly points out - this is a pathetic - and certainly not Championship caliber - trend. Frankly making the Playoffs with this stat would be a miracle.
2. Jim Hendry's 2008-2009, off season. No matter how we slice it, Mike Fontenot, Jeff Baker, Andres Blanco, Aaron Miles combined, will not give us Mark DeRosa. As we have seen, the team also does not have an equal sub for A-Ram. This was a very short-sighted, and stupid decision.
3. Our record against the "Good Teams": the likely teams vying for the Playoffs are the Cardinals, Rox, Giants, Dodgers, Phillies, Marlins. We have finished series with only the Marlins and Rockies so far. Can we say the Cubs have not "dominated"? Again, if the team were by some miracle able to make the playoffs, how would they fare against the aforementioned? The Cubs cannot say they are as good as these teams - save the Marlins, perhaps.
4. Winning on the road? The teams play, again, against the teams mentioned above so far, is below .500. The team still has almost half road games left in 2009. A downward trend.
5. The bullpen, Aaron Heilman. Again, why Jim Hendry was so driven to sign this pitcher is beyond me, and thousands of Cub fans. When the time comes that Season Ticket Holders have a chance to veto trades and players - this would have been one at the top of my list! A 4.74 ERA and a WHIP of nearly 1.90. This is BRUTAL for a set-up pitcher.
6. Injuries - Due to the fact that Hendry chose to delete, probably the best utility player in baseball from a 97-win team, knowing that in years past the team could not sustain a major injury loss - it becomes very hard to replace MLB real talent with AAA or AAAA players. Such is the case with this team. Jimbo rolled the dice on trading DeRosa - for this year he is losing so far...
It is not a pretty picture right now. Yes - the Cubs are only ____ games out of first - but overcoming the above six points in this 2009 season would truly shock me. I just don't see it - the win streak was nice - in fact all of July - but as Al mentions - they have regressed.
Let's hope they can pull it together somehow. If not - its "Wait 'til next year!" once more.