WE can play "what ifs" forever (and probably will until next spring), second guessing all of Hendry's bad off season moves, but it is impossible to predict how many games the Cubs would have won with "so and so" in RF and "so and so" on the bench. Another simple but huge "what if" is how many games up they would be if Aramis just hadn't gone down (let alone all the other injuries). But that is my point; you just don't know that if DeRosa had stayed that he wouldn't have gotten beaned and broken his wrist or that Abreu wouldn't have torn his ACL...or any number of things. You can't just say that with certain player's they'd have won X number more games.
You CAN though fairly say that their bullpen has cost at least 8 wins (half of the 17 late leads that were lost by the pen). And that shoddy defense and poor fundamentals have cost a couple more...so it could be argued that without much except better defense this team could easily be 15+ games over right now. That isn't even considering the unprecedented slumps and unacceptable lack of hitting - timely or otherwise - for the first half of the season. But slumps and injuries are all part of the game and that is what makes me so mad about this team - they are underachievers.
They are NOT a winning team. Winners overcome injuries; they work out of slumps, pick up each other up and find ways to win, not ways to lose. This team does not have it. Sorry, I really am. Last year was it, that team had it, they were built to win, they had the parts, they had chemistry and even Lou's trademark "swagger". Then Hendry blew it up because he's so smart. He needed to improve a 97 win team.
I digress. Let's just go back to the 8-10 wins that they "should" have due to bullpen give-aways. Right, no bullpen is perfect, no one honestly expects it, but the question begs, why did they blow more than is acceptable? Why can't this team win the 1 and 2 run games? I think it is desire, focus, fundamentals and execution; most of these factors are easily attributed to poor coaching. Like a poster said in a different post, when one pitcher isn't throwing strikes it his problem, when most of the pitchers struggle with command and throwing strikes then it is the pitching coach's problem. Rothchild has done nothing to help Marmol with his command. He hasn't helped anyone that I can think of. When is that last time the Cubs developed a young pitcher? I can think of a couple good, young, live arms that he did not develop.
Wuertz: he had young, live arm with the Cubs, was up and down, and struggled with command. This year with Oakland he has 69K/15BB in 59 innings and 1.06WHIP.
Aardsma: former 1st round pick now with Seattle, 26-28 saves, BAA .169
And, just for kicks, what about Stevey Eyer just last year: In 19 appearances for the Cubs in '08 he was horrendous with BAA of .325 and an ERA over 7.00, then - ironically -in 19 appearances for Phillies down their championship stretch, his BAA dropped to .166, his WHIP was 0.77. Same season, same league facing mostly the same hitters in the same parks, how do you explain that? Sure, small samples, and Eyer was a veteran so I don't think Rothchild ruined him, but something right. And no one tried to fix it. They just gave up on him and let him rot.
I know I've been all over with this diatribe, but I think my point is clear: This team just does not have the winning mentality. They don't have the edge. I think a few players do, but something is lost in translation. The blame falls on both the players and the coaches. It is time for a major overhaul. Unfortunately, if this team backs into the playoffs with a wildcard spot because someone else collapses, it will be looked as another "successful" season that only needs minor tweeks and we'll have to wait another year for the changes that these Cubs need.