Tuesday, 4 July:
The season is now more than half over, and the Cubs are one game under .500 for at least the 10th time.
They are the epitome of mediocrity, and that is not going to change any time soon. Kyle Schwarber’s return won’t help much even if he hits like he should. They just aren’t a very good team as Cubsquest has pointed out numerous times.
They aren’t going to ‘get hot’ and steamroll anyone. You have to make basic plays for this; 54 errors and allowing a universe leading 69 stolen bases will derail any offensive additions, not that they don’t need that as well.
They have been joined for a tie for next to last in the majors with Oakland at .238, with the woeful Padre offense in another dimension.
The Cub catching corps is not playoff worthy. The organization loves Willson Contreras but he loses as many games as he wins. He is partly responsible for the team’s ERA increase, and his 11 errors and 3 passed balls have been deadly.
Cubsquest is nowhere near as impressed with him as the Cub management. He has a big hole in his swing as well, and is yet another right handed contact challenged liability. He may develop into a proper starter at some point but he just isn’t one right now.
The team is trying to pry Alex Avila from Detroit, and if they want to have a prayer at some sort of late season run they need to redouble their efforts. However, Jed Hoyer showed his hand earlier today.
He told a sportswriter that the team’s lackluster play will determine the moves they make. That’s only smart; no sense selling the ranch for a bunch of underachievers. The success of Ian Happ points out their biggest flaw, which is relying on right handed power.
It ain’t working.
The reality is this: If the team doesn’t improve play, and soon, they will consider this a lost season and just make a few tweaks. They will acquire a catcher no matter how much they claim Contreras is the future, and perhaps another arm or two.
The minors have been tapped. There’s Jeimer Candelario but he looks a full year away from the majors, and his defense is just so-so. Victor Caratini is intriguing, but he isn’t a finished product behind the plate and he isn’t going to bump Anthony Rizzo anytime soon.
He is excellent trade bait, though. It might cost them Caratini to get Avila.
The arms? Don’t ask. Their only prayer is the 2017 draft; they loaded up on high floor/low ceiling college pitchers who can make a quick trip to the majors. They have no real power arms, either.
The entirely average Felix Pena is one of their harder throwers. Not good.
Recapping the Cub/Rays game is useless. It’s just a carbon copy of at least 30 of their 42 losses; sloppy, amateur play, with a gang of strikeouts (11) followed by a ton of men left on base (10).
The Rays played a fairly solid game for a relatively talentless bunch. That’s all you have to do to beat Chicago, throw strikes, keep the ball down and catch it when it comes your way.
The Cubs will not have a historic collapse. They won’t go from penthouse to outhouse. But an 82-80 team is about the best you can expect given the present conditions, and that just won’t ‘get ‘er done’ as they say.
The team is finding out the price of standing pat. Baseball rewards movement, and the Cubs just didn’t make any. They should have seen the Addison Russell downfall; he couldn’t hit a curve last year either.
Hindsight is 20/20, true.
But the Cubs are reaping the rewards, or lack of them, they deserve. The rest of the season will show just how high, or low they think of their real chances…
John Lackey takes on Blake Snell, at 0-5 he will still probably have the game of his career. 1:20 start, CSN, 670 The Score