Most of us had already suspected that this was going to be a rough season for the Cubs. In fact, it was widely considered a rebuilding year with an eye on 2014 and beyond. So, considering that they haven't been in the playoff race for the last few months, what makes September any different than June, July or August for the Cubs?
While the future of the team relies heavily on an impressive farm system with four elite position player prospects on the way, it was thought that two key players had already arrived. First baseman Anthony Rizzo and shortstop Starlin Castro, both impressive young hitters in their early 20's, were signed to long-term contract extensions only a few years into their big league careers.
But the jury is still out on whether they are a duo that the team can build around after each player's production has declined in 2013. Their September performance could make a big impact on how the team approaches the offseason.
If they can bounce back and finish strong, then the need to find an impact bat in the offseason decreases. If not, the Cubs could look to spend big money on one of the top free-agent hitters that could replace Castro and Rizzo as the "face of the franchise."
I'm guessing that Cubs fans are half-hoping that they continue to struggle just so there is a sense of urgency to add another big bat this winter. For what it's worth, Castro is seven for his last 21 with three multi-hit games, and Rizzo is 11 for his last 37 with three homers.
Here are four more reasons to keep watching Cubs baseball in September.