For all conventional purposes, this year's Cubs team is the worst group of players that have ever been assembled on the north side of Chicago.
That may seem like a rash, bold or uneducated statement, but there is quite a bit of truth to it.
Granted, the Cubs have been struggling for the better part of three seasons now, and the teams of 2010 and 2009 could easily be considered to have been just as bad as this year's squad. Also, there have been some atrocious Cubs teams throughout the organization's history, so again, to state that this year's club is the absolute worst may seem like a bit of a stretch.
But it's true.
So true, that for weeks the Cubs have been willing to dump a plethora of players to rebuild for the future and haven't managed to move a single one.
The reason is quite simple.
Unlike terrible Cubs teams of the past, the 2011 version lacks a single player with significant value to a contender. While some Cubs players have managed to have fairly productive seasons, others have regressed to the point where a consideration of retirement might not be so far-fetched. The one common characteristic each member of the Chicago Cubs possess is that not a single one of them can cohesively produce at a high level and be a good clubhouse guy.
Sure, there are players on the Cubs roster who are having very respectable years—Aramis Ramirez is the first to come to mind. And of course, there are the players like Carlos Pena and Matt Garza who have tried to take on the role of being inspirational leaders of the team, but have not fared so well in the production department.
Either way, the Cubs don't possess a single player with mental abilities that match their physical abilities.
While Aramis Ramirez has enjoyed a phenomenal season after a disappointing 2010 campaign, he still is considered to be somewhat self-centered and lackadaisical. Granted, Ramirez may contribute a few homers and some RBI, but what team really wants a guy who could care less about the success of anything but himself?
The Cubs are riddled with players like Ramirez.
Carlos Zambrano, Alfonso Soriano, Geovany Soto, even Marlon Byrd have all displayed on numerous occasions that they just don't understand what it takes to contribute to a winning ball club. Whether they've chosen to single out a teammate during a rant of frustration or simply refused to make any personal adjustments for the sake of their team, the only true attribute a majority of Cubs' personnel share is selfishness.
Over the course of the 2011 season, former all-stars like Soriano, Zambrano, Byrd, Soto and others have been about as predictable as the Cubs likelihood of winning their division. Soriano is always going to swing at a two-strike pitch in the dirt, and has done so throughout his entire career.
Byrd and Soto are terrible situational hitters and swing at more first pitches than most any other players in baseball. And Zambrano—well—after nearly a decade of attempting to prove to the baseball world that he can "harness his emotions," the only thing he has proved is that he is simply incapable of change.
As the 2011 trading deadline nears, Cubs management and fans should pray that some unsuspecting franchise inquire about one or two of the Cubs players, and that general manager Jim Hendry digs deep into his bag of salesman tactics. It's going to take a lot to move the core of what makes this Cubs team as terrible as it is.
For the first time in decades, the Cubs have found themselves at Major League Baseball's virtual equivalent of a swap-meet with next-to-nothing to sell. Over the course of the Cubs' rich history there have been many bad teams. It's tough to say, though, whether they've ever had such a plethora of players they were more than willing to simply give away.
The mantra for Cubs fans has long been "hope springs eternal." For the next week or so, it might be a good idea to adopt the saying "there's a sucker born every minute."
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!