Well the first two months of 2006 are over and for many of us it couldn’t have happened sooner. As of June 1st the Cubs are 13.5 games behind division-leading St. Louis and 1.5 games ahead of last place Pittsburgh. But are the Cubs really as bad as their 20-32 record seems to indicate? Let’s look at some statistics.
Insofar as offense is concerned 2006 has been a very bad dream for Jim Hendry and his team. There are currently 30 teams in baseball; the Cubs rank dead last in slugging percentage, RBIs, total bases, OPS, doubles and homeruns. During the first two months our Cubbies were 29th in runs scored, OBP and hits. So basically the team has a horrible offense that cannot hit for power or average. Make whatever excuses you want, this Jim Hendry-engineered team cannot hit their collective way out of a paper bag.
The Cubs have fared better insofar as pitching is concerned. The team presently ranks 24th in ERA, 23rd in K/BB, 19th in WHIP and an astounding 2nd in both strikeouts per 9 innings and opponent’s batting average. In fact, the league is only hitting .243 against the Cubs despite all the blowouts!
So where do we go from here? Obviously the Cubs have to start hitting. Juan Pierre and Aramis Ramirez must simply start doing their jobs if the Cubs have any chance at the playoffs. Their offensive production can only be described as unacceptable. Other players such as Jacque Jones, Matt Murton, Ronny Cedeno and Michael Barrett all need to kick it up a notch, this team needs to get real hot real quick. We can use all of the help that players like Derrek Lee, Phil Nevin and Tony Womack can bring to us – even I believe in infrequent miracles. I watched the 1969 Cubs blow a 10 game lead after August 1st; who says we can’t go 72-38 the rest of the way and capture a weak division or a wildcard?
Most importantly, Dusty Baker needs to get his head out of his 4$$ and quit starting Neifi. Neifi is a career non-hitter and he is best used as a late inning defensive replacement; his average this year is hovering around the Mendoza line. So my message to Baker is very simple – STOP worrying about what your players think and START using your head. God gave it to you for a reason. And Hendry needs to really improve at his job – no more pitchers with wounded wings and he needs to get out of his comfort zone and quit satisficing. There are GMs around baseball who do far better.