Chicago Cubs: Next Move, Please...

Will HowardCorrespondent IJuly 1, 2009

CHICAGO - JUNE 17: Manager Lou Pinella #41 of the Chicago Cubs talks with reporters before an interleague game against the Chicago White Sox on June 17, 2009 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Entering today the Chicago Cubs have a record of 36-38.

It's below the likes of Texas (41-35) who lack their big bat in Josh Hamilton, have an injured closer in Frank Francisco, and an underachieving prospect in Chris Davis; Seattle (39-37), who have fewer championship pieces put together than a two-year-old working on a 1,000-piece puzzle; and the Twins (40-39), yes, even the Cubs have a worse record than the Twins.

Coming out of an offseason that saw the Cubs risk the $10 million-per-year investment in Milton Bradley, you knew the Cubs wouldn't be as good as last season. But still, two games under .500 this close to the All-Star break?

A big reason the Cubs have faltered is injury. Carlos Zambrano, Am-Ram, Aaron Miles, Chad Fox, Angel Guzman, and Reed Johnson among others have all missed playing time due to the injury bug.

Another major reason is the lack of productivity from players who should be producing. Bradley and Geovanny Soto, (let's hope the Cubs have a clip service so you guys read this in black and white) .242—5-17-24-0 and .231—7-24-18-1 are stat lines that just won't do, if the Cubs are going to compete this year.

For those of you who need just a few more reasons, let's throw in Lou Piniella's lack of fire. He's not the same Lou he was in Cincinnati, or even Tampa Bay. He's mellowed out a lot, and for guys like Bradley who need a fire lit under them, this serves the Cubs' faithful in a bad way.

Lacking the intensity that made him the Lou Piniella he was could force the Cubs into a difficult place come September.

An even bigger reason that the Cubs are fourth in the NL Central is that teams are getting better, or didn't get much worse. CC Sabathia leaving Milwaukee Brewers without a legitimate ace hasn't hurt them as much as anyone thought, and the St. Louis Cardinals are back to their form in 2009.

Throw in Cincinnati finally hitting their stride and Pittsburgh playing better thanks to Nyger Morgan and Andrew McCutcheon's outstanding work; this division gets cloudy quick.

So where does this put the Cubs?

Bring in Matt Holliday. Simply put, bring him in to spark the offense. They've already shown an interest in trading with the Athletics and moving a few guys to add Holliday if even for a half-season would greatly benefit the Cubs.

Force Milton Bradley to work for his keep, or even better, just bench him until he shows he wants to win.

Another option is Colorado's Clint Barmes. Fontenot is not, nor will he ever be, the option at second base. Asdrubal Cabrera from Cleveland is probably a reach, but right now, when you need anything, a reach is worth exploring.

When Am-Ram comes back the Cubs will get better. They will even make the playoffs. However, without making an acquisition to solve the Fontenot or Bradley problems, they will probably be swept in the opening series.