The Cubs are 5-12 and in last place in the NL Central, already six games out of first place. They're one game behind the lowly Houston Astros.
This isn't the "next year" Cubs fans have been waiting for. There's no getting around that fact.
But while the big-league club is hurting for talent, there are young players on the horizon, stirring up excitement for the future. Each Tuesday, we will take a look at how the Cubs' minor-league players are faring to date.
Anthony Rizzo is the hot story here, with 7 homers, 19 RBI and a .380.429.718 slash line in 18 games. He has two more homers than the entire major-league Cubs team.
Welington Castillo (.971 OPS), Adrian Cardenas (.958) and Luis Valbeuna (.910) are also performing admirably at the plate.
Dave Sappelt, who came over in the Sean Marshall deal, is struggling so far with a .239.282.388 line, as is Josh Vitters (.606 OPS, only two extra-base hits).
Top prospect Brett Jackson is striking out way too much (21 in 75 at-bats), but leads the team with 9 walks and also has 10 extra-base hits and is 3-for-3 in stolen base attempts.
25-year-old left-hander Chris Rusin may not strike a lot of guys out (only 9 in 21.1 innings), but he boasts a good 3.38 ERA and sparkling 1.13 WHIP in his four starts. Left-handed reliever Jeff Beliveau (3.72 ERA) and right-handed starter Casey Coleman (3.80 ERA, 1.27 WHIP) have also started the season on the right foot.
Travis Wood, the main piece in the Marshall trade, is getting by on a middling 5.19 ERA, but has only made three starts so far and got the ball to kick off Tuesday's game.
Right-handed reliever Manny Corpas challenged for a job in the big-league bullpen in spring training but has given up 16 hits and 11 runs (10 earned) in just 10.1 innings.
Trey McNutt, widely considered as the top pitching prospect in the organization, has been on fire to start the season, boasting a 0.77 ERA and 1.29 WHIP in his three starts. He does have 7 walks in 11.2 innings, however, and that is something Theo Epstein and Co. would love to see him correct.
Reliever Alberto Cabrera (1.74 ERA, 0.87 WHIP) is also off to a hot start while Casey Weathers, the second part to the Ian Stewart-Tyler Colvin trade, has struggled badly. Weathers has a 5.40 ERA and 2.40 WHIP in his first 5 innings and has surrendered a whopping 7 free passes.
Dae-Eun Rhee has a 4.76 ERA in three starts.
The Smokies are struggling on offense so far, but young infielders Logan Watkins (.779 OPS, 4 SB), Rebel Ridling (.777) and Elliot Soto (.735) have been the bright spots in the first few games.
Top prospect Junior Lake has started the season on the DL, but will probably join the Smokies when he returns.
Matt Szczur is hitting just .206 with a .537 OPS, but has 8 stolen bases already. He is extremely athletic and should start getting things going with the bat soon.
Second baseman Ronald Torreyes is only hitting .240, but has a .345 OBP and a .380 SLG. He's only 19, but excited Theo and Jed Hoyer enough that they acquired him as part of the Marshall deal from the Reds.
Zach Cates, acquired in the Rizzo-Andrew Cashner deal, has given up a whopping 20 hits and 14 earned runs in 8.1 innings. 2010 top draft pick Hayden Simpson is also struggling with a 7.11 ERA and 1.82 WHIP in three starts.
Tony Zych, a 2011 draft pick, has walked just one and allowed only three runs in nine innings.
Outfield prospect Reggie Golden has many excited about his potential, but he's gotten off to a slow start with a .192 average, though it is in just 26 at-bats.
Marco Hernandez, ranked as the Cubs' 13th best prospect by MinorLeagueBall.com, is just 7-for-60 to start the year.
Ben Wells, a promising young right-handed pitcher, has a 6.28 ERA in three starts.
Other top prospects INF Javier Baez, RHP Dillon Maples, 1B Dan Vogelbach, INF Jeimer Candelario, INF Gioskar Amaya and OF Shawon Dunston, Jr. have yet to start play in 2012.