At 26-31 and 6.5 games out of first place in the NL Central, the Chicago Cubs are certainly still in the race for the playoffs—after all, it’s only June.

But this team does not have the feel of a playoff team, and I know I’m not alone in thinking that.

The Cubs rank No. 7 in the National League in team hitting and No. 9 in team pitching, respectively, but it seems like they should be in the bottom-third with the way they’ve played at times this season.

2010 has not been kind to the Chicago Cubs, and the 25 men on the roster will help explain why:


Geovany Soto, Catcher

He came out of the gate on fire, hitting .340 in April, but followed that up with a May to forget and a dismal .200 batting average. 

The .404 on-base percentage is nice, but Soto doesn’t look like the same person who started the All-Star Game for the National League just two seasons ago.


Derrek Lee, First Base

Lee was not supposed to be trailing Marlon Byrd and Tyler Colvin in home runs, but, sadly, he is.  The 34-year-old is showing his age only a year after posting a 35/111/.306 line. 

With a contract set to expire at season’s end, you have to wonder if D-Lee will remain a Chicago Cub past July 31.


Ryan Theriot, Second Base

No longer the team’s shortstop, Theriot is posting horribly mediocre numbers so far in 2010.  He has more stolen bases (11) than walks (10), which is pretty terrible for a player who was counted on to hit in the No. 1 or No. 2 spot. 

His embarrassing .318 slugging percentage is actually lower than Koyie Hill’s.  Ouch.


Starlin Castro, Shortstop

Save for a couple ugly games earlier in May, Castro has looked like he belongs in the bigs. 

His walk-to-strikeout ratio (8:13) is rather impressive for someone who can’t legally drink a beer in this country.  He has the same number of runs batted in (13) as Geovany Soto.  Depending on how you look at it, that’s good news for the future of Castro.


Aramis Ramirez, Third Base

His .168 batting average is dead last among all qualified major leaguers.  His .189 batting average on balls in play suggests he’s been unlucky, and that he’ll eventually find holes and gaps. 

But when? 

If he were hitting, this team would be five games over .500.


Alfonso Soriano, Left Field

No one is harder on Soriano than me, so I’ll bite my tongue a bit and say that Soriano has played very well in 2010.  He leads the team in home runs with nine, and his .362 on-base percentage is 35 points higher than his career average. 

He’ll have his eventual bone-head plays in the outfield that will make you say, “What?!?!?,” but we should be used to that.


Marlon Byrd, Center Field

If you told me three months ago that Byrd would be hitting .321 with seven home runs and 31 runs batted in, I’d probably consider the Cubs a wild-card candidate—if not more.  Alas, the misery of the 2010 Cubs. 

Byrd is hitting and playing defense, yet the Cubs remain in the mud, due to the awesome struggles of Lee and Ramirez.


Kosuke Fukudome, Right Field

Fukudome had his typical MVP-caliber April (five HR, 16 RBI, .344 BA), and is having his typical other five months.  With only one home run and seven runs batted in over his last 90-plus at-bats, Fukudome continues to boggle the mind as to why he earns $14 million a year.


Koyie Hill, Catcher

I like Koyie a lot, at least from a defensive point-of-view.  Never blessed with any type of offensive game, Hill at least earns his keep maintaining the pitching staff.


Jeff Baker, Infielder

A batting average just above the Mendoza Line (.213) won’t get much chance to improve, as Theriot and Mike Fontenot will take most of the at-bats away from Baker at second base.


Mike Fontenot, Infielder

No complaints here with Fontenot’s .310 batting average.  He has little value on a major league team, but there’s certainly nothing wrong with him for now.


Tyler Colvin, Outfield

The former first-round pick needs to get more at-bats, and he needs to get them as soon as possible.  His development is being retarded by Kosuke Fukudome and Alfonso Soriano, but his .605 slugging percentage leaves little doubt that he can hit major league pitching. 

In a perfect world, the Cubs would have never inked a contract with Fukudome, and Colvin would have a clear path to right field at the Friendly Confines.  Of course, in a perfect world, I’d be writing about a first-place baseball team.


Xavier Nady, Outfield

Rather than focus on a bad bullpen this offseason, the Cubs decided to add a veteran bat to their bench in Xavier Nady. 

He’s hitting well enough at .259 (with decent power as well), but his role on this team only prevented the addition of a non-Bob Howry arm to the bullpen.  Defensively, you’re better off with Alfonso Soriano on the field.  No joke.


Ryan Dempster, Starting Pitcher

Dempster leads the staff in innings pitched (83) and strikeouts (79) while maintaining a solid 3.76 ERA. 

Trouble could be on the horizon, however, as Dempster currently sports an abnormal batting average on balls in play (.256) and a low line-drive rate (11.6 percent).  All things considered, he’s been a rock in the rotation for three years now.


Ted Lilly, Starting Pitcher

Lilly’s return from offseason shoulder and knee surgery hasn’t been met with many wins (one), but his 3.61 ERA more than gets the job done.  His strikeout totals are far below his career average, but that is to be expected of a 34-year-old coming off of surgery.

Another Cub who could be on the trading block by the end of July.


Randy Wells, Starting Pitcher

With 24 earned runs over his last 35 innings, Wells is struggling right now.  He posted a nice April with a 3.45 ERA, but the Cubs should be concerned with this 27-year-old, who pitched a career-high number of innings last season.


Carlos Zambrano, Starting Pitcher

He failed as a No. 1 starter earlier this year, then failed in a laughable move to the bullpen.  He’s back in the rotation, but won’t be the same starting pitcher he was two or three years ago—and might not be ever again.


Carlos Silva, Starting Pitcher

The pitching staff’s version of Marlon Byrd (in performance and stature), Silva has far exceeded expectations so far in 2010, and, if it wasn’t for Ubaldo Jimenez of the Colorado Rockies, could feasibly be starting for the National League in this summer’s All-Star game. 

He’s 8-0 with a 2.93 ERA so far with a staff-low 12 walks.  Again, the fact that the Cubs are five games under .500 speaks to how bad they’ve truly been.


Andrew Cashner, Relief Pitcher

Another former first-round pick of the Cubs, Cashner has looked good in a very small sample size.  His presence, along with outfielder Tyler Colvin, offers glimpses of hope that the Cubs’ farm system is improving.


Tom Gorzelanny, Relief Pitcher

Gorzelanny was the odd man out when Carlos Zambrano was moved back into the starting rotation, but it was certainly not his fault.  He had a 3.66 ERA and 9.2 K/9 ratio as a starter this year. 

He’ll be trade bait for the Cubs if they remain stuck in their current mediocre ways, which I suggest they will.


Bob Howry, Relief Pitcher

Back for more, Bob? 

With more walks than strikeouts, nothing will keep him on the 25-man roster once Esmailin Caridad is ready to return.  Howry’s best characteristic at the moment is not being John Grabow.


Carlos Marmol, Closer

Marmol has returned to form, posting menacing numbers for the Cubs in 2010.  A minuscule 1.37 ERA is actually overshadowed by his 51 strikeouts in just 26 innings.  He’s one of the game’s elite arms.


Sean Marshall, Relief Pitcher

Marshall has been the Cubs’ right-hand (or, left-hand) man in the bullpen so far.  Marshall has a very impressive ERA (1.91) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.89) and remains an under-appreciated, lanky left-hander.


James Russell, Relief Pitcher

You’ve probably never heard of him, but if his 2.70 ERA stays low, it might make you remember his name.


Jeff Stevens, Relief Pitcher

The role of right-handed setup man could be his if his numbers stay intact.  Like Russell, you probably don’t know much about him.  It’s OK; neither did I.


It’s only June, but these 25 men have less than four months now to get their act together.  I would love to predict a turn-around and playoff berth for the Cubs in 2010, but my mother taught me to never tell a lie.

With underwhelming starts from Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, and Carlos Zambrano, the Cubs were crippled before the month of June began.

When your three best players play as bad as Lee, Ramirez, and Zambrano have, you have just dug your own grave.

It’s not quite rest-in-peace time for the Cubs, but they’ll have to make a deal with the devil to climb back on top.

If they don’t rise above .500 by July, I think baseball (at least on the north side) will be dead for the summer in Chicago.




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