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The Bottom Of The Barrel...

... has officially been scraped.

A 6-0 loss to the Diamondbacks is what goes into the books.

And this game has all the earmarks of several others this week.

What is going on with this team? It appears that there is no offense. But the Cubs had eight hits and four walks. It's almost impossible not to score when you have that many baserunners.

When your leadoff man has three hits and a stolen base, that alone ought to be enough to generate some scoring... that is, except when he gets himself picked off second base after stealing it.

What is going on here? Baserunners are falling asleep out there. Are they catching Corey Patterson disease? Look what Corey did last night:

The other big defensive play was by Brad Wilkerson in the fifth. Markakis sliced a long fly to left field. Wilkerson ran back to the warning track, caught the ball and crashed into the scoreboard hard enough to knock a panel out of its slot. He stayed down on the track briefly.

Corey Patterson, who had walked, wandered between first and second base, unsure whether Wilkerson had held onto the ball. Patterson didn't made it back to first base and was tagged out by second baseman Mark DeRosa.

I'm not sure if the weirdest thing about that is the baserunning play, or the fact that Patterson had reached base via a walk.

There's not much more to say about last night's game, except it provided more proof that Rich Hill is simply not a major league pitcher. One of the criticisms of Jim Hendry that I believe is valid, is the fact that as a former farm director, he tends to overvalue his prospects and hang on to them for longer than he should, because he wants to attempt to get the maximum value out of them, hoping against hope that they'll become successful major leaguers -- thus justifying his confidence in them.

This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but if during spring training, teams were panting after Hill -- Hendry ought to have dealt him. Now, having put up yet another start which wasn't much different from the starts he put up in the major leagues in 2005, his trade value has plummeted. Further, the Cubs have little choice but to give him another start Tuesday in San Francisco.

Five runs in the last six games. That's pathetic. The Cubs are fifth, five games out of first place, and some would have you believe that it is "impossible" to come back from such a deficit to make the playoffs. That is, of course, false.

Plenty of teams go through slumps like this. The Cardinals, for example, picked by most to win the NL Central, have lost four in a row and not looked very good doing it. The Padres, the Cubs' next opponent, had a miserable 8-15 start, but have now won five straight (ACK! Maybe now isn't the best time to have to play them four straight times).

In 1968, to cite another example, the Cubs were shut out four consecutive games (from June 16-20) and overall didn't score for 48 consecutive innings. They lost 11 of 12 overall in mid-to-late June, and by July 5 were ten games under .500 at 35-45. But from that point on they went 49-33 and wound up with an 84-78 record.

The 2006 team doesn't have two Hall-of-Fame hitters and another one who should be in the HoF, but it's a better team than it's shown to be in the last five days. You'd think, by all the sky-is-falling talk, that the Cubs' record was similar to the '68 team's, 10 games under or something like that. No -- the Cubs are actually still OVER .500 at 14-13. Does anyone here really think the Reds are going to continue to play .690 baseball? On May 15, 1975, the Cubs were 20-10, 3.5 games in first place. That team finished 75-87, tied for last in the NL East.

All of this is to say that there is a lot of baseball left to be played. Last year's Astros were 15-30 on May 24, fourteen games out of first place, and they looked like the worst team in baseball -- much worse than the Cubs do now. From that point on they went 74-43, and won the wild card and the NL pennant.

I know you will all keep the faith.

This club does need help, and I'd like to see Jim Hendry try to make a really BIG move, rather than try to patch things by acquiring a Jeff Conine or Kevin Millar. There are hints today that something is brewing. Word is that the Cubs haven't even asked the Diamondbacks about Tony Clark. They ought to.