Too many to count, too many to overcome.
The horrendous Houston Astros broke out the brooms on Wednesday, sweeping the Cubs right out of their own ballpark. With the Cubs now 23-31, it's looking more and more likely that they'll be trying to clean house in the coming months.
Heading into the series, you figured a sweep by the Cubs was very possible, and would help provide some momentum with Soto back and with Garza set to return soon. Two of three was a necessity. Losing all three seemed out of the question. After all, the Astros can't score--they'd put up 7+ runs in a game just once since May 4 ... so of course they scored 22 runs in three games against the Cubs. The Cubs have been fishing for a decent replacement starter all year, and it's fair to say they're 0-for-4 on that front (Russell, Coleman, Davis and Lopez). But fortunately, the Astros had a 20-year-old making his first career start on Tuesday ... and of course he schooled the Cubs. The Astros are second-to-last in the NL in ERA ... so of course the Cubs scored four runs combined in the final two games of the series.
It's bad, folks. The series loss to the Pirates dropped the Cubs behind the sad sack Buccos in the Central standings, but the subsequent series loss to the Astros leaves the Cubs with the third-worst record in all of baseball. This does not appear to be a ship in need of a couple patches, perhaps a minor leak in need of repair; no, it appears that this ship has already struck the iceberg. It doesn't need a touch-up here and there, it needs to be rebuilt.
Speaking of rebuilding: for better or worse, many Cubs' prospects are already getting the chance to test their major league chops given all the injuries the team has endured. The Cubs could legitimately field the following nine guys all at once:
P Russell: 25
C Soto: 28
1B Colvin: 25
2B Barney: 25
SS Castro: 21
3B LeMahieu: 22
LF Montanez: 29
CF Campana: 25
RF Snyder: 29
Average age: 25.4
So the Cubs will inevitably have a pretty good sense of some of their prospects' talents once the season is over, and of course they have many more still in the minors: guys like Josh Vitters, Brett Jackson, Chris Carpenter, Robert Whitenack and others.
So we begin to think about stuff like potential trades, evaluating young talent, wondering whether Jim Hendry will be at the helm this offseason, etc. It may be just a touch too early to call this year over for sure, but it sure looks like it's time to start thinking about ... you guessed it: next year.
If the Cubs want to prevent such a shift in focus, they'd better come on strong on this upcoming 10-game trip during which they'll travel to St. Louis, Cincinnati and Philadelphia.