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While watching the Cubs today, you got a great view of just how bad the Cubs supposed “stars” are, while also seeing how the less impressive players have stepped up to try to fix the situation.

The Cubs entered the day with four straight wins and were hoping to sweep a second straight two-game series, after taking the first game last night in convincing fashion.

This game was much closer, and was included multi-hit games by both historically-underwhelming Mike Fontenot, and rookie Starlin Castro.

In the ninth inning, the Cubs were down just one run and going up against former crosstown rival Jose Contreras, and they started off the inning with a bang.

Alfonso Soriano took somewhere near 500 pitches and broke two bats before getting hit by a pitch.  With some good timing, Soriano was able to make it to third thanks to a hit-and-run—the hit coming via blooper to center from Fontenot.

So the Cubs have had back-to-back solid at-bats, Contreras has already thrown more pitches than he was expecting to throw, and he has yet to record an out with the tying run on third and the go-ahead run on first.

After Starlin Castro strikes out, Aramis Ramirez comes up, only needing to put the ball in the outfield for the at-bat to be considered a success, and he strikes out while swinging at a ball that he couldn’t have connected with if he were standing on home plate.

Ramirez is just two nights removed from a game winning home run in the 11th against the Colorado Rockies, an event that had some Chicagoans proclaiming that his slump was over and he was ready to start performing again.

Little did those Chicagoans know that he would go 0-8 over the next three games, striking out three times and drawing one walk.

Ramirez has the second-worst batting average among hitters with at least 120 plate appearances, something that no player, just two seasons removed from an All Star game appearance, should have.

Having one player who is having a season this bad is something that a team can overcome, but when you throw in the fact that Derek Lee, star first baseman, is 28th on that list with a batting average of .226, then it is just too much.

The combo of Lee and Ramirez, usually the meat of the Cubs lineup, have 61 hits this season with 70 strikeouts.

Meanwhile, six Chicago Cubs have batting averages over .300.  They have also struggled to knock in runs. Lee and Ramirez are fourth and fifth on the Cubs in RBI, a statistic where they generally fight it out for first place.

They wouldn’t even be that high if it weren’t for their position in the lineup for most of the season.

Lee and Ramirez have always been players with great power who only needed consistent production before them.  This season, they are getting just that with Kosuke Fukudome and Ryan Theriot batting 1-2 and each having batting averages of .310.

Theriot has even done a good job of becoming a decent base-running threat, stealing seven bases thus far, putting him at a tie for 22nd in the majors.

With the starting rotation, bullpen, and everybody around them getting their act together, Lee and Ramirez are the only two keeping the Cubs from taking charge of the mediocre NL Central.

At only five games out of the lead, a break out by these two players would catapult the Cubs into the drivers seat for a playoff spot.

I’m Joe W.

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