Cubs Recap: Most Cubs fans wanted to rebuild. Well, this is what it looks like...

The Cubs lost their 5th straight to fall to 3-10 on the year.  Jeff Samardzija lacked the fine command he's shown all spring.  He walked 4 batters, gave up all 5 runs, and didn't make it out of the 4th inning as the Cubs lost their 5th straight 5-3.  There isn't much to be optimistic about right now, unless you're looking forward to the 2013 draft.

But that's really the point,  isn't it?  Looking forward.

Still, as a fan, even though I didn't expect the Cubs to win in 2012, it's frustrating.  If you're looking for a silver lining in this game, you could take solace in that the bullpen pitched 4.1 innings of one hit, one walk, scoreless baseball.  The cruel irony here is that the Cubs starter, Jeff Samardzija, didn't hold up his end of the bargain.  After great starting pitching from the top 3 and poor bullpen work, today the scenario was reversed.

Those are the things that make these kinds of seasons tough.  Your team hits well, gets solid defense, gets good starting pitching..or good bullpen performances...but seemingly never at the same time.

The Cubs are a team in transition right now and perhaps they're still looking for an identity.  Any illusion that Theo Epstein was going to wave a magic wand and instantly transform this team is gone.

The other side of this is that it's only been 13 games.  The season is just two weeks old.  It isn't time to panic.  The Cubs don't need to throw everything out the window and start over.

Everyone benefits if the Cubs stay the course.  The Cubs need to evaluate which of these players are going to stick in their current roles for the long haul and you cannot do this at this point in the season.  They need to protect their assets - and that includes both veteran players and prospects. You need to know which assets to keep and which can bring you long term value via trade.

Benching Marlon Byrd or Geo Soto after 2 weeks of substandard play would be a mistake.  How many extra wins will you get from Reed Johnson, or Joe Mather or Tony Campana, or Steve Clevenger?  Realistically, over the course of the season, the answer is none -- and you'll probably lose some.  Moreover, none of those players are projected to be starters, so why completely destroy the value of two players just to play future backups?  It's a plan that is unlikely to help either in the short term or the long term.

Yes, I'm as frustrated as all of you are, but we all know what we signed up for.  The majority of fans, at least on this site, were in favor of rebuilding.

Well, this is what it looks like...

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  • Come 2013 draft Stanford OF Austin Wilson will make alot of this losing less painful .

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    now that is really looking ahead ;) It would be a nice consolation prize to say the least, that and having lots of money for the international pool

  • I knew this season was going to be a struggle. I hope the cubs go all out and get the worst record in the league. Lets get the number one pick in the 2013 draft. Imagine wht mcloed and our scouting dept. Can do with a number one pick and all thepicks tht come with it. We need elite talent, no better way to do it then the draft. with every loss, our future gets better. Just look at the nats with strasburg and bryce harper.

  • In reply to Arod773:

    Great point. You never know what adding an impact player like that can do for your rebuilding plans.

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    Good points here John. I'm with you on this philosophy. I'm sure Soto will improve. Hopefully Byrd will too if he is not completely washed up all of a sudden. Still part of me wonders if Campana and/or Mather could possibly be more. I know this is unlikely, as Mather has had some chances, correct, but maybe the light is turning on for him? Hasn't Campana showed a little more pop this year down in Iowa? I know it's a small sample size and he's probably not likely continue it all year, so I see what you are saying in that he's most likely a future bench player, but part of me wonders though. It's especially easy to wonder when byrd has an ops of like .234 (this is bad for a batting avg. and unbelievably bad for an ops)

    But overall the philosophy is correct, we must not panic and just jettison guys immediately. One small note of encouragement, our overall pitching ops is actually not all that shabby so far, .738 for opponents ops. That's not too bad. Compare to 2008 when we had a pretty good staff, it was .711. It hasn't been reflected in many of our pitchers era's, but maybe some bad luck involved here. On the other hand, our overall team ops is horrid, .624 so it is no fluke that we are not scoring many runs. Most of us knew that the Cubs would struggle offensively and we have not been disappointed! Byrd, Soto, and Soriano have all been putrid so far! I know Soriano has gotten some praise for some improvement in situational hitting, but his ops is like .527. That's about .300 lower than I would like for a starting left fielder. Stewart too has been fairly shabby, sitting at .685. The only real bright spot so far who has exceeded expectations is LaHair at 1.133. Need to get him out there everyday, in my opinion, or as much as possible. Castro hasn't been too bad, but still not much walking, Barney decent, a little better slugging. But we really need Stewart, Soriano, and Soto to come around if we are going to be a decent offense. It would be nice if byrd could at least get up to .600 ops as well. (is that asking for too much?)
    sorry for this long comment, anyway I agree with your assessment.

  • In reply to Gary Kueper:

    No doubt Byrd has been awful -- and if possible, he's even worse with men on base. Came to bat in a key situation and struck out on 3 pitches, none of them strikes and two of them were well outside the strike zone.

    He's going up there intending to swing and I'm willing to bet that every pitcher in the NL knows it.

    On a side note, I did like Castro's glove today. Nothing spectacular but made some nice plays.

  • I was, and still am in favor of rebuilding. Lose 110 games, just position yourself to contend annually by 2014.

  • In reply to Eddie:

    2014 is a bit optimistic, 2015 , 2016 is more realistic. With a renovation to wrigley, new tv deal, a few losing seasons leading to high draft picks with mcloed runnin the show. I say the cubs will be a midwest superpower in 2016. Rizzo, baez, b jax, possibly giolito. Bright future

  • In reply to Arod773:

    I'm not sure it will take that long. At least, I hope not! ;) The Cubs have the luxury of being a big market team, so once they get closer, they can afford to sign a big FA or two to speed up the process -- as long as it fits with the overall plan. No 8 year deals and no signing older vets past their peak years unless it's a one year deal.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    One thing that could throw a wrench into plans to sign a few key free agents once we get closer to contending are the new TV deals other teams are signing. It will likely mean two things: teams will have more money to sign their better guys before reaching free agency, so fewer good players might be on the market, and teams will have more money available to sign free agents, which means more bidding wars for the few guys who do reach free agency.

    That might mean the Cubs should think hard toward signing Garza long term instead dealing him and counting on adding another top sp or two via FA in a few years.

    I also think that most teams will likely roll the potential unspent money that would have gone towards draft picks and put it towards resigning their own guys. With teams starting to put a premium on young, cheap players, it looks like we're starting to see a resurgence of what the Cleveland Indians did in the 90's - sign those guys to long term deals as soon as they show they can play in the majors. TB has done the same thing recently.

  • In reply to Just Win:

    That's a great point and that may well be one reason why the Cubs are considering re-signing Garza long term.

  • In reply to Eddie:

    I think it's possible to contend by then, certainly by the year after. Like you, I'm willing to be patient as long as they do this the right way.

  • Really hope Byrd gets hot, if not then looks like the whole don't trade an asset to early thing really backfired this time. Don't get me wrong I understand the plan and the scheme, and I know it's still early but Byrd just doesn't seem like he's going to get it going. Just seems like that hit to the head is doing some serious damage to his plate approach.

  • In reply to furiousjeff:

    I'm not sure the Cubs could have gotten much unless you go back to about midseason of last year.

    I've been told teams like him but they value him more as a stopgap guy and right now teams aren't ready to give up a whole lot until they're sure they're going to need a guy like that.

    If a team is contending and their CF goes down or slumps, then Byrd makes sense because at the very least he'll give you plus defense.

    Right now there's little to gain by playing Johnson or Campana, even if they turn out to be just average CF'ers, we're talking about a 2 win difference over the course of a season. In the grand scheme of things, that really doesn't matter much.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Agreed, there is little to gain by playing Johnson or Campana.

    Disagree with anyone who thinks Soto, Byrd, or Soriano are going to 'improve'. Soto and Soriano are pretty much what they have been the past two years. Neither has surprised me one tiny bit.

    Byrd's miserableness has been a bit of a surprise. I was just hoping for his usual hollow .280. To me, he is utterly untradeable now; and for the rest of the year. Mark my words; we will get exactly NO top or 2nd tier prospects for him.

    Bring up our 2nd tier prospects; throw them into the pool. See if any of them are worth keeping.

  • In reply to Rob Letterly:

    Maybe improve isn't the right word, but I think teams want to make sure these guys haven't completely lost it before considering dealing for them. I'd be happy to see them regress to their very mediocre mean.

  • Hey john, any word on how the 2013 draft is looking, any prospects to watch out for?

  • In reply to Arod773:

    I haven't looked that far ahead yet ;) Last year somebody asked me about some players and I gave a few, but things change so much in a year...injuries, off years, etc.

    I'll probably think about/research it more in a few months.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Karsten Whitson RHP Florida top arm right now and OF Austin Wilson Staford top bat . Wilson hit a laser HR at Wrigley off Whitson in 2010 HS all star game . Wilson is ELITE Talent 6 ' 5' 245 with power speed , arm and plus defense .

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    Cubs really liked Whitson out of high school, wonder if anything's changed.

  • Has it only been two weeks?? Boy, it seems like this season's at least a month old, but looking at the calendar, I guess you're right.

    I'm a little surprised that folks are so patient with Marlon Byrd. I realize that it's still early in the season, but my argument is that his horrific start -- combined with his declining career numbers -- has destroyed his value on the market. Even if / when he pulls out of this slump, best-case scenario with him is that he gives you several home runs, a .275 average and decent CF defense in exchange for his salary, roster spot and hundreds of ABs. Doesn't everyone have a competent defensive CF on the bench or in AAA who can do all those things, if not more?

    Heck, I think Reed Johnson might have more trade value than Byrd, and so maybe that's the asset we should be showcasing to other teams.

  • In reply to Taft:

    Not as good as a healthy Byrd. Even last year on an off year he was over a 2 WAR player. Campana and Johnson are half of that, for example. Not many teams have someone like that waiting on their bench. Whatever he's hitting overall at the trade deadline won't matter much as long as he's seeing and hitting the ball well at the time of a trade.

    There just isn't much to gain by benching Byrd and playing their bench. Those guys are bench guys for a reason.

  • What do I have to look forward to
    Signing Soler or another international prospect
    June draft
    July trading deadline
    Winter meetings
    2013 June draft

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    That and the call-ups of Rizzo and Jackson.

  • No doubt this type of season is why ownership never had the stomach to do the right thing. Rebuilding stinks, but Trib ownership was worse. I'll take this awful team and a plan, versus better talent and no plan (the Jim Hendry era). We all knew they were going to be horrid and they are merely living up to expectations. I agree with the others that we can look forward to a great draft choice.

  • In reply to ccia:

    Amen ccia! This is apparently the price we pay as Cubs fans for years of denial by the previous regime that we were a piece or 2 away from contending. Its tough to watch, tough to root for, but ultimately at least we are finally taking our medicine. Better late than never....

  • In reply to Ryno2Grace:

    Exactly. That did set us back the Cubs could have about 1 1/2 year head start at the least. The window was closed but the Cubs were definitely in denial

  • In reply to ccia:

    Agreed! At least it seems like there is a specific plan in place.

  • Remember how quickly Jacque Jones lost it? Possible same with Byrd? Don't understand clamoring for Johnson to start. What is it about 5 walks and 66 strikeouts am I missing?

  • In reply to kansasblackhawk:

    It's quite possible that he's lost it the way Jones did. I do still think the Cubs owe it to themselves to find out. Should at least try and last through May before they give up on him.

    If this team were in a position to contend, then maybe you don't have that kind of patience, but there's nothing really to lose by playing him. And not much to gain by playing any of the reserve guys.

    I think when they do decide to make the change, it has to be to Jackson and they have to commit to it.

  • Stay true to the plan!

  • In reply to kansasblackhawk:


  • Whitsons FB sits around 93 , plus slider and average Change , spotty command at times. Wilson has the physical tools in the same category as Harper, no brainer right now He is the top pick unless He regresses or another prospect jumps up. From what I have gathered .I am a Harry Dorish disciple afterall.

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    Thanks for the info Bryan!

  • Your welcome. 2012 dont be suprised if the Cubs miss on the top 2-3 arms on thier board if they take Almora the OF. He is exactly the type player Theo loves , Most appearances for Team USA in history and rises to competition . Really nice player .

  • In reply to Bryan Craven:

    I like Almora as well. Wrote about him in my draft piece. Toolsy guy with some good baseball skills.

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    One thing I think: if this is going to be a year of writing it off to rebuilding, then get Travis Wood up here ASAP to get more major league experience.

    BJax and Rizzo can come up in a month or so, I have no problem with holding their time down a bit and getting them more AAA ab's, which neither has a ton of compared to how things used to be done. Another month in the minors isn't going to hurt, and we could use the time to let LaHair play here and see if he can establish some trade value before he sits on the bench for Rizzo.

  • In reply to Just Win:

    Wood looked decent for 5 innings but it looked like he ran out of gas tonight.

    Agreed with waiting on those two big prospects, but it's getting harder and harder to keep them down, but as kansasblackhawk said, "stay the course!"

  • This year is going to be painful, but I think we can look at this season as a "evaluation" year. The Cubs need to see who fits and who doesn't , it's obvious Byrd, Soriano and Soto don't fit and I expect them all to be gone before next year, if not this season. I believe realistically the Cubs can start competing for the division by 2014 if they play their cards right and then really start going for all of it by 2015.

  • In reply to Steve Flores:

    I'll buy this timetable. And I think that's a good way to put it. This is something of an evaluation year. Rebuilding starts in earnest by mid-season.

  • Rizzo homered twice tonight. Wish we can start seeing baez get some games in.

  • In reply to Arod773:

    Saw them both. They were bombs.

    Baez is too good for Ext. ST, and probably too good for Boise. Would like to see him in Peoria.

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    Going to the game tomorrow. I hope its a W and not another loss. Also hoping it doesn't rain haha. May be hoping for too much though

  • In reply to Bill Newton:

    I'll be going Tuesday. Going to be a cold one tomorrow!

  • Great, now we outside of Chicago probably get to hear the immortal ahole Brennaman's ripping on the Cubs as often as the rest of us breathe in and out...I truly dislike those clowns!!!

  • In reply to Luigi Ziccarelli:

    His obsession with the Cubs is weird. Does it have anything to do with Thom?

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    It has to...Look the cubs had every right to let Brennaman leave, they wanted a full time announcer, not a guy who would miss the weekends to do college and the NFL..Now it's more common but in 1995, I don't think it was...All these 2 asshats do all the time is criticize the Cubs organization and being 3-10 is gonna be like throwing 10 gallons of lighter fluid on that fire..The way that Marty bad mouths the Cubs is totally unprofessional for a so called "Hall Of Fame" announcer and i'm sur ewe'll be reminded of how they fleeced Marshall from us, book it John!!

  • We're a team in transition. People on the way out, people on the way in. Right now there just trying to make sense of what we have--I think a lot of 2012 is going to be just sorting through the pieces and seeing what pieces are worth building around and what is deadwood. I believe that a lot more actual building will take place after this season. More money will be off the books and we will know whether Samardzija is a starting pitcher, whether Volstad and Stewart and those types of guys are a long term part of the Cubs or just place holders. A bunch of young hitters and relief pitchers will have had at least a few months to state their cases for permanent jobs, etc. It will be a lot clearer where the real holes in the organization lie.

    This is not to say that we're not in the business of adding pieces right now, but the FO is not about to replace someone like Ian Stewart or Volstad right now, despite the fact that those guys aren't considered "winning" ballplayers. It's true that the smartest thing to do when starting over is to stockpile depth and see what sticks, because depth is cheap and plentiful, yet many teams neglect that and lose a bunch of extra games because of it. It's an "interesting" process (in a detatched, non-fan sort of way), but it's not without its pain for the fans.

  • In reply to SVAZCUB:

    Exactly, Svaz. Very well put.

  • I keep getting reminded of something Lou Pinella said. This was during the first year and a half of Lou's tenure as Cubs manager when he actually tried and cared. He said he liked to divide the season into ten 16 game seasons. And ideally the next 16 game season would be better than the next. Well we haven't even completed one 16 game season yet. Let alone another one to see if there's been any improvement.

    i know I've harped on this before, but to make these big overarching decisions based on such a small sample size of games is futile at best and stupid and sad at worst.

    Take yesterday's starter. he's shown flashes of brilliance in each one of his starts. Even yesterday. But each start has gotten worse. but how he bounces back from a bad outing, or a string of bad outings, or how well he holds up through "the dog days" there are so many factors that go into making a decision on what Shark is and 85% of them haven't even been checked off because we're still in April....

    Today's starter, Chris Volstad, is another. so far he's been god awful. But you can't cast a decision on him yet. "Reclamation project" means taking the time, innings, starts to get things right, iron out the kinks ( Ahh the Kinks. what a great band....I digress.) This start today shouldn't be judged in "Is he good or not good" or is he a 4 or a 5 or a relief pitcher. it really should be judged in "Can he keep the ball down today." and "how effective was his cutter?"

    You want to give up on hitters after 33 AB's? I guess you're welcome to do so. Other than adding a bullpen arm there isn't a single move I'd make. As scary and as bad as this show has been, I still need to see more of it.

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    In reply to felzz:

    good points here felzz

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    Yes, this is what a rebuilding team looks like, and what is going on now is what should've been done after 2009.

  • John and I don't disagree often, however I have a hard time believing Byrd can generate much interest. I hope he is right and Byrd turns it around. Just from a fan perspective it's hard to watch, and would be easier to watch this rebuild with younger bodies flying around.

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    Byrd is horrible to watch right now, and he may well be done, but I think the Cubs owe it to themselves to find out for sure. Not much to gain by playing Mather, Reed, or Campy anyway.

    Could waive Byrd and he'll get picked up and start hitting...I'd consider that a lost opportunity if that happens. Or if a contending team loses an OF'er. If he starts hitting with the Cubs, they'll be able to get something - but I think they have to be realistic and deal him as if he's a stopgap CF'er and long term 4th OF'er rather than as a true starter.

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:


  • Yep, stay the course, stay the course.

    Nice to see the responses in this thread. No reactionary short-term views, everyone seems committed to the rebuilding. I thought I'd be annoyed by the comments, but instead I'm encouraged by them.

  • In reply to Carne Harris:

    Agreed...great readers here who understand the big picture!

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    that's just because I hadn't logged in yet.

    I'm committed to rebuilding, so let's rebuild! With new parts, not the old ones that all the other teams in the league gave up on.

  • In reply to Rob Letterly:

    But what exactly do you gain by bringing up prospects now? A more tolerable team to watch maybe but probably not any better, speed up their arb/free agency clocks. Jackson hasn't played a whole year at AAA, neither has Rizzo for that matter. Castillo hasn't had a healthy full season.

    What do a couple of months more in Iowa mean in the bigger picture?

  • A Byrd in the hand is worth two in the bush. Hold the asset; the ancient wisdom prevails.

  • To rebuild you must first have the tools. I haven't seen anyone currently on the roster - not even Castro - who looks anywhere ready for prime time.

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