The 100-year title drought mark has come and gone and the Chicago Cubs are still without a title.
What made matters worse is that the Cubs were swept in the first round of the playoffs despite having a better roster than that of the team that took them to the brink of a World Series berh before the Florida Marlins burst their bubble in 2003.
So after two consecutive playoff appearances and two swift exits, what's a Cubs fan to do?
Wait some more.
The good news is you'll only have to "wait till October" this team time because I doubt another 90-plus win season is going to satisfy most fans.
At the very least, the Cubs figure to have another 90-win season in them en route to another NL Central title but success is measured by wins in the postseason.
It's hard to pinpoint why the Cubs failed to move past the first round from a talent perspective.
They had an excellent pitching staff led by Carlos Zambrano and Ryan Dempster plus solid work by Ted Lilly in the middle of the rotation. In addition, Rich Harden made it through the rest of the season without an injury and mowed down National League hitters since he was added midseason via trade with the Oakland A's.
The bullpen was solid as well with Kerry Wood handling business without a severe injury for the first time since 2003. Carlos Marmol was one of the most electrifying relievers in the game.
Even the offense held up their end of the bargin and catcher Geovany Soto reeled in the Rookie of the Year Award.
So what went wrong in the playoffs?
The killer instinct was gone and as usual, the team let one bad inning snowball.
We all remember the entire infield booting baseballs all over the place and that set the tone for another choke.
But one of the things on paper the Cubs were missing was lefty power.
The brass thought they were shelling out top dollar for lefty power and gold glove caliber defense when it inked Kosuke Fukudome to a four year, $48 million deal.
But after a hot month of April, the rest of the league caught up to him and Fukudome regressed every month the rest of the season and the Cubs relied heavily on aging center fielder Jim Edmonds to provide something he wasn't capable of anymore.
But enough about last year's collapse.
This year most of the pieces return from a team that won 97 games and that is a good thing despite the postseason futility.
The rumors swirled about getting former Cy Young Award winner Jake Peavy from the San Diego Padres but the deal never came to be.
Although the deal clearly would help this team (as it would any team) there's no reason to think the Cubs can't build on their 2008 success.
Despite Wood and super sub Mark DeRosa leaving for Cleveland, two new pieces were added to help cushion the blow.
While Marmol will likely slide into the closers role, Kevin Gregg, aquired from the Marlins, should provide insurance.
DeRosa's departure will be offset by Aaron Miles, a switch hitting second baseman who hit .317 with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2008.
Perhaps the best news for the Cubs is that they'll finally get an upgrade over Fukudome or Reed Johnson in former Texas Rangers outfielder Milton Bradley.
Bradley has been a consistent performer from an offensive angle but his injury history and rap sheet with crazy outbursts is lengthy.
There's no way you can rely on Bradley to play more than 120 games but you can expect that when he does play he'll bring fire and passion to a team desperately needing some in my opinion.
It's difficult to say if these moves put the Cubs over the top in terms of talent because most people already felt they were the best team in the National League.
It can't possibly hurt to spend more money can it?
- Monday, February 23, 2009
- Posted by M.J. Hartwig at 2:48 PM