Only a week ago, the Cubs were taking three of four from the powerfull Brew Crew, and looked like a team that had their offense and pitching in synch with their best hitter about to return from injury. Since then, they have lost three in a row in such woeful fashion, that they seem less a first-place 89-90 game winner waiting to bust out, and a lot more like the 41-42 team their record says they are. It's hard to look at the last three games and see anyting greater than an 81-81 record at the end of the season.
Not only has the offense gone back to bad habits (even Derrek Lee, though he did manage a 3-run homer yesterday in an 8-3 loss against the Cards), but the injury bug bit again with the Cubbie Moment-style injuries (We prefer Cubbie Moment to Lou's Cubbie Occurrence) to Ryan Dempster and Geovany Soto, outting both out for a month.
Meanwhile, the Cubs sale still lingers incomplete, and you have to wonder how much that ties Jim Hendry's hands as the trading deadline approaches. Not that he would move anyone anyway. He basically has a bunch of under-achieving stars (Whatever happened to Rich Harden by the way? 5 IP, 4 ER, 4 BB yesterday) and a few too-highly-paid, untradeable free agent types.
The funny thing is that the Central Division is so winnable. No one is taking charge. The Brewers and the Cards have both had bad spells, and the Cubs clearly have the best pitching staff among the three (though I'll bet the Cards and Brewers will fight hard over top-tier trade bait such as Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee). If the Cubs could go on a run, winning 5 of 7 here, 3 of 5 there--nothing as demanding as a major winning streak--they could find themselves in 1st place. But, when they win a few this year, they immediately give them back. That's the story of the 2009 Cubs.