Let’s see … The Red Sox ended their championship drought in ‘04; the crosstown White Sox finally won it all last October, ending an even longer run of futility … Wasn’t it obvious where this was headed?
What went wrong: These are the Cubs we’re talking about. What didn’t go wrong? Center fielder Juan Pierre started slowly and didn’t get above .250 for keeps until the last few days of June. First baseman Derrek Lee missed more than two months with a broken wrist and by the time he returned, the season was essentially a lost cause. The Cubs used 14 different starting pitchers, in part to cover for the injuries to Mark Prior and Kerry Wood, who combined for just 13 starts. And let us not forget the bullpen, which thanks to the poor work from the rotation (82 times, a Cubs starter has failed to get into the sixth inning) has been “overworked, big-time,'’ according to manager Dusty Baker.
What needs to be done: It seems certain that Wood will move on, as the Cubs can’t even think about exercising his $13.5 million option. That’s probably best for both sides. Meanwhile, the Cubs must hope and pray that Prior finally stays healthy and that Ramirez elects to stay. The NL Central isn’t very strong, but coming off a 100-loss season, the Cubs are a long, long way from being a factor in the division again.
I’m about ready to give up on them. They get twenty more chances.