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Here's what Peter Gammons had to say about the Cubs season so far:


Bad, bad times for some

By Peter Gammons
Special to ESPN.com


May 15

The regular season isn't even at the quarter pole yet, but you can be sure there will be plenty of turnarounds for teams similar to what the Yankees have experienced over the last nine days (or what the Giants accomplished after this point last year). On the other hand, there are holes dug that makes one wonder when and if they can be filled in.

The Cubs are only five games off the National League wild-card lead but are seemingly mired in some haunted house. "I'm asking my friends to pray for me," says Cubs general manager Jim Hendry, "because I must have done something terribly wrong. I can't believe all that's happened to us. We just have to battle through it, stay close and get our pitching together."

Mark Prior and Kerry Wood both opened the season on the sidelines, and while Prior is rounding into form, Wood is on the disabled list with a bizarre bruise of the rotator cuff, something few doctors have ever seen. Nomar Garciaparra was the best player on the planet in spring training, went down with a torn groin muscle on April 20 and may not play again this season. Todd Walker got hurt as well, injuring his knee on April 10.

Joe Borowski was throwing well late in spring training but broke his right hand after getting hit by a line drive and hasn't pitched since. They wanted Ryan Dempster to open the season as their closer but forced him to become a starter again because of the injuries to Wood and Prior. And, finally, when Dempster went back to being the closer following the implosion of LaTroy Hawkins, he also got hit by a line drive.

All this, and Carlos Zambrano flew from Washington to Chicago on Sunday to have an MRI on his right elbow. "The trainers don't think it's serious," says Hendry. "But considering the way this season has gone ..."

After letting Moises Alou walk and being paralyzed while waiting to see whether they could move Sammy Sosa, the Cubs had to count on Garciaparra being a major part of their offense with Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez. Without Borowski, they had to have the Prior-Wood-Zambrano-Greg Maddux foursome hold the staff together.

So while Hendry was leaving spring training trying to figure out what to add by using his deep farm system, now he's holding his shield to the blame being fired at manager Dusty Baker. With two frontline starters and an All-Star shortstop out and a bullpen in ruins, they're probably lucky to be four games under .500.

"They really miss the power at the corner outfield positions," says a rival GM. "But that's easy to say when pitching is their strength and it's offline (the Cubs starters' ERA after Sunday was 4.35, ninth-best in the NL)."

"But no matter how many injuries we've had, we're still a disappointment," says Hendry.


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