Tonight the Cubs showed us all why it’s going to be difficult (if not impossible) to lock up another playoff berth. This is a road series that had to result in a sweep – instead the struggling Cubs were bested once again by a young upstart Padres team.

With just 42 games remaining the Chicagoans are in a dash for the finish line – this team appears to have cement shoes despite a remaining schedule that’s mostly at home against sub .500 teams. So why am I pessimistic? Aside from being 6 games down in the Central and nearly as many games back in the wildcard I’m more concerned about the team’s many question marks. These will likely be character faults with the 2010 team as many of the people that are underperforming will be back next year. So let’s dichotomize this Cubs team and where it’s going.

Geovanny Soto has been a disappointment at catcher; voted Rookie of the Year last year I’d put him in the running for Chump of the Year in 2009. Injuries notwithstanding this guy looks like a 2008 version of Jerome Walton to me – let’s give him one year to turn it around and then cut our losses.

Derrek Lee has really surprised me in a positive respect; where would this 2009 team have been without his timely bat? At second Fontenot let us down but Jeff Baker has done a commendable job filling in; this duo will likely compete for at bats in 2010. Ryan Theriot and Blanco will likely be back at short next year; everybody always seems down on The Riot but he’s one of the team’s few consistent performers.

Ramirez will be a question mark due to his left shoulder, he is the first to admit that his swing may result in further injury. Hopefully Josh Vitter can ramp up in terms of his development, we might just need it. Soriano is a total disappointment in left – the biggest waste of money the Cubs have ever had. Can we jettison this guy and try something else? I doubt it, he’s going to either ramp up his play and change his approach at the plate or get used to boos and pinch-hitting. I doubt he’s capable of either, we’re dealing with a guy that has a very limited intellectual approach to the game.

Fukudome and Reed Johnson are both questionable as well. Both can play a decent center field but why are we spending all that money when Fuld gets the same job done for less than a million? Another belly flop for Jim Hendry, more contracts that must be eaten. In right Milton Bradley can play either good ball or bad ball, it depends on the night.

The pitching staff will be inconsistent for the foreseeable future – Zambrano isn’t getting his job done and the rest of the starting staff (excluding Lilly) is questionable on a game to game basis. The bullpen is weak – why did we sign Gregg anyway? That guy sucks as bad as LaTroy Hawkins did, I will be very disappointed if he wears Cubbie Blue next year.

So the net-net is that I will continue to watch this Cubs team despite the fact that I have given up realistic expectations for this year. Will Hendry make some moves in the offseason? One can only hope.

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