But that's not to say the Cubs have underperformed. They haven't. This goes right to why it's so hard to go from worst to first in one season. Stick with your guys, and they aren't likely to be suddenly good. But put together a bunch of new ones, and you have no identity, no clubhouse culture. Piniella had to sift through an awful lot, figure out who can do what.

I've been saying this to anybody who will listen for 8 months. When people would ask about this year in Spring, I would say, "Wait and see. That's a lot of change for one off-season. It's going to take time for the team to gel."

It's even worse than Couch says, because the Cubs have had no consistent leadership since Sosa left. Zambrano and Barrett (when he was with the team) are too crazy, Lee, Ramirez and Maddux (when he was with the team) are too much the quiet types, Wood and Prior are broken-and never-around types. That was the most important thing about the Soriano pick-up (note how their biggest stumble since early June came when he went down). He gave the team a defining character (which is also why it was important to put him in the lead-off spot and in left field when he faltered in the 5-slot and in center field). When he comes back, this team is not going to look back, even if he's not 100%.

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This page contains a single entry by Papa-Lu published on August 24, 2007 5:51 PM.

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