6/16 State of the Cubs
The good news is the Cubs aren’t 17 games back in the National League Central, just 7 1/2 games. However, they are running out of time.
“It’s not early anymore,” GM Jim Hendry said Wednesday. “It’s not disastrously late but it’s time to play better baseball. You can’t play baseball like we have the last two weeks and think you’re going to be a contender, not at all.”
What’s been difficult to understand is the inconsistent play.
“It’s a little puzzling,” Hendry said. “It’s hard to put your finger on it. We’ve had so many opportunities to add on runs, break games open, get a clutch hit here and win a game and we just haven’t played good baseball the last four, five games. Last night was a very poorly played game that was very difficult to swallow and a game we could’ve won. No excuses — we haven’t performed up to anybody’s expectations, starting with our own players, staff, front office. It’s not too late but we need to get it going.”
After 64 games in 2007, the Cubs were 5 1/2 games back in the Central. They rallied to win the division that year, which was Lou Piniella’s first in Chicago.
“Lou has a history of being able to rally the guys and get it going,” Hendry said. “I think all of us, including the players, need to look at themselves and say, ‘Hey, it’s time.’ We need to start playing with a little urgency here. You just can’t have the attitude that we’re going to get better, we’re all right, we’ll be all right tomorrow. You’ve got to win baseball games, you’ve got to grind it out — you’ve got to beat people. We haven’t done a good job of that consistently.”
Hendry said he’s convinced Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez will get back on track.
“They’ve hit all their lives,” he said. “They’re certainly not too old. They certainly take it very seriously. It’s hard to be a Major League All-Star hitter for as long as both of them have been and think it goes away.
“They’re human beings, too,” he said. “They’re trying hard. You can see it on Derrek’s face. He knows the responsibility he has to carry here and he knows what he has to do with Aramis on the [disabled list]. I’m sure that’s wearing on him, too.”
Hendry said he’s not ready to classify whether the Cubs are buyers or sellers. The trading deadline is July 31.
“If you start thinking you’re going to be sellers, then you’re hanging your head and think you don’t have a chance,” he said. “We’re not 17 back, we’re 7 1/2. I’d like to think these guys know the spot we’re in. They know the G.M. or the manager can’t pull them out of it. They need to pull themselves out of it. We’re there to be supportive. The players win games, not the GM, not Lou.”
— Carrie Muskat