Despite the frustrating losses, the Cubs are making (non-linear) progress

Despite the frustrating losses, the Cubs are making (non-linear) progress

Earlier today I talked about how the Cubs have been just good enough to compete -- but lose.

"On the bright side, we are seeing the Cubs now as a competitive team who are able to stay in ball games, which is better than we saw at most points last season.  It doesn't make the losses any less frustrating, however.  If anything, it makes them more so."

But it's the last sentence that I think deserved more examination,

"Perhaps this is what rebuilding teams go through before things start to turn around."

Coincidentally, one of my favorite baseball writers, Dave Cameron, did the legwork for us.  Cameron was actually inspired by a Gordon Wittenmeyer tweet,

Cubs: 36 more H, 30 more 2B, 6 more HR and slug% 39 points higher than opponents. And 3.65 ERA. But 5 fewer runs, 9 games under .500

If you aren't familiar with Cameron, he is an excellent baseball analyst and, when it comes to bloggers, one of the forerunners of the advanced metrics revolution in baseball.  He expanded on Wittenmeyer's idea and used one of our personal favorite stats here at Cubs Den: wOBA.

Specifically he used wOBA differential.  For those unfamiliar, wOBA stands for weighted on base average and it was actually created by current Cubs statistical  consultant Tom Tango.

What it does is in essence is add a little meat to the OBP statistic in that it gives more value to extra base hits.  When we talk about wOBA differential, we're comparing the difference between the Cubs team wOBA and the wOBA that it's pitching staff allows.  This differential correlates closely to run differential and thus to wins in general

The bottom line is that the Cubs rank 11th in all of baseball in wOBA, ahead of more successful teams like the Orioles, Giants, Diamondbacks, and Yankees.

So why aren't the Cubs winning?

Intuitively you'd think that it has to do with when the Cubs are putting up these numbers -- what some people may refer to as clutch hitting (or pitching).  And while advanced metrics proponents loathe the word "clutch", you'd be generally correct.  Cameron uses the word sequencing as far as how and when teams are putting up these surprisingly impressive numbers.  So, for the Cubs, it hasn't been that they haven't put up good numbers, it's that the poor sequencing of this production has affected their ability to win ballgames.

The difference is that the sabermetrically-inclined don't view the timing of such hits (or outs when the Cubs are pitching) as something that's the result of  being "clutch".  It has nothing to do with a team's intestinal fortitude.  Rather, in their eyes, such sequencing is largely random and that at some point, these things tend to even out.

If so, then we can expect the Cubs to improve.  We've talked about players with peripherals that portend better things to come.  Well, the Cubs as a team have peripherals which indicate there are better days ahead.  As it is right now, Cameron estimates that the Cubs peripherals are indicative of a team with around a 24-21 record.

So, perhaps the Cubs aren't quite as bad as we think they are and are closer to being competitive than their record otherwise indicates.  We've heard Theo's abstract line many times, "progress isn't linear".   What that really means is that we don't always see progress in terms of bottom line results.

That's difficult for many of us to accept because we naturally tend to measure everything in terms of results, but Cameron's analysis does at least give us some numbers to support the idea that maybe, just maybe, the Cubs are making progress.  Progress that is unfortunately getting masked by all the frustrating losses.

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  • Yes they do seem to be better in their losses if that makes any sense, but I cannot see one reason how next years team will be any better, maybe two years I can see. . . But next year? What impact player will join at any point?

  • In reply to Josh Sims:

    First and foremost is the point that they should start winning more games with exactly the team they have right now. That's what the peripheral numbers indicate.

    As for adding to that...

    The pitching staff is an important starting point. The rotation can pretty much keep the wOBA against in tact and the Cubs can improve on it with a better bullpen -- which can be obtained relatively cheaply. The offense has also been productive and what you want to try and do then is just add a bat or two. You may lose a couple in DeJesus, Soriano, maybe Schierholtz. So they'll have to replace what's going out, but if they do, then just repeating their current performance alone should lead to wins as long as the Cubs get better sequencing, timely pitching, clutch hits...whatever you wan't to call it. But all of those things should come about organically without outside influence. Whatever you pick up next season will only add to that. So they should improve theoretically, by simply standing pat plus improve with new additions next year. The two factors together should lead to a bigger increase than linear progression would otherwise indicate.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I agree that the existing team "can" start winning more games hereon out but given your observations and others on this blog, I suspect the key lies more on the side of execution as opposed to the reversal of an abundance of bad luck.

    I think you absolutely nail the key issue as being the "clutch factor". IMO, this is substantially driven by playing w/in one's given skills and talent. Using your earlier discussion of Castro and Castillo as an illustrative example, both players have fallen prey to the desire to play outside themselves in the circumstances present w/ RISP. This can and will improve markedly, if and when, the two discipline themselves to operate w/in the situation at hand. Thoughts?

  • In reply to Good Captain:

    I think there's some of both involved. I'm an advanced metrics guy but I'm not as harsh on things like clutch or RBI. I think there is some component of skill involved when it comes to driving in runs. It's a combination of approach and opportunity, in my opinion. That said, it's not like Castro and Castillo are putting up good ABs in non-clutch situations either. I think their struggles with men on base lately reflect their struggles overall, especially with Castro. Castillo, on the other hand, reminds me of Marlon Byrd or Corey Patterson in run scoring situations right now.

    But overall, the part you can control with RBI situations is smaller than what many people think, in my opinion. So I do think much of it will just turn around naturally. Good case in point is Luis Valbuena, who was awful in "clutch" situations. This year, he's the guy I most want to see up there with men on base sometimes. And there's no visible change in his approach in those situations.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Good points. Thanks John!

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John, where the Cubs remind me of is the NFL team that goes 3-13 one season and gets blown out in 7 of the 13 losses, to an NFL that goes 5-11 and loses 8 of those games by a TD or less. As Bill Parcellls has said, you still are what you are.

  • How does your pythagorean wOBA change when you add in one Sveum?

    It's like adding Voom in the Cat in the Hat. Total Chaos. Who will clean it all up?

  • In reply to HackWilson09:

    This is an awesome comment. My thought after reading this was how much of the bad luck is due to having a poor manager. You articulated that thought much better than I could.

  • Are you bloddy kidding me. This article is nothing more than the following words:

    "The Cubs fucking suck and there is no hope for us"

  • In reply to ChibiDannimon:

    Nope, it's exactly the opposite of what you think it is. John's saying: The Cubs don't suck. There is hope. Read the article again, slowly. Or if your mom's home, ask her to read it and explain it to you.

  • In reply to ChibiDannimon:

    That's not what it says at all. And I think my word choice was much more elegant.

  • Repeat after me: Winning is everything. It's the only thing.

    And not two years from now. NOW!

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    I meant of course to say: Winning isn't everything. It's the only thing.

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    I believe the fella they named the Super Bowl trophy after is supposed to be noted for that remark. He never coached baseball.

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    I think if you judge progress by wins and losses, you're going to make mistakes. In fact, people underestimate teams with underlying progress all the time -- we're always amazed when teams make a sudden leap in wins, but there's often a logical, statistical explanation for it. That the Cubs are beginning to put up numbers that correlate with success is more important than simple win total. The Cubs are quietly being set up to win in a way that's meaningful and sustainable.

  • In reply to John Arguello:


  • In reply to Mikethoms:

    The missing piece of the puzzle!

  • Thanks for this article, John. I exited the original Cameron post a little hazy. Needed a little help with "wOBA" and "wOBA differential" specifically. And as Cameron points out, it has to be remembered that the Cubs are in a very difficult division. Pirates are 3rd in the Central, and have the same record as the East-leading Braves, and a better record than the 3 teams leading the West.

  • In reply to Andy Cupp:

    You are welcome. And that is a good point. The Cubs are in a good division and they have been playing good teams -- teams that will take advantage of Cubs mistakes.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Cubs are .500 outside there division. 2-4 Vs Pgh , 1-5 vs Cincy, 1-4 Vs Milw, 1-1 vs Stl thats 5-14 withing there division. Not hard to see who you have to improve against.

  • Thanks for the rain delay entertainment John. But really, aren't you just statistically verifying what we already knew? i.e., They're not as bad as their record (which is to say they have made progress this year), they suck with RISP, Our platoons will eventually even out, etc.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Pretty much. It's a follow up to how I opened up the pre-game article. Cameron put the numbers and analysis behind those thoughts, so I thought it would be a good way to build on what we were picking up on intuitively.

  • Hello All,

    I know there was an earlier discussion regarding Kris Bryant and his floor. Someone asked a similar question to Keith Law today about Bryant possibly being a current 55 hit/80 power.

    Law basically said that was absurd, and that would mean he could come to the majors today and hit .275-.280 with 35-40 HR's. In his words, "no bleeping way".

  • In reply to Ryno23:

    I think my view of floor/ceiling is similar to the way Law views it. That is, a floor is what a player is presently and thus what he could do if he came in to the league as is. For example, in the case of Bryant, I think it's really hard to come into the majors for any hitter and hit MLB pitching consistently. It's far superior to what you see in the college ranks in terms of command and the ability to change speeds. A hitter that can adjust quickly is rare. I'd have Bryant's hit tool in particular as below major league average in the present, like a 40 or 45 with the expectation he could raise that to around a 55 or 60 with experience.

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    I love these advanced stats and I don't understand the Hawk Harrelson's of the world who knock them. All they are doing is taking the deceptiveness out of basic, conventional stats.

    I think it's fairly obvious that there is no such thing as pure clutch hitting, other than the fact that some players may be less affected by extreme pressure than others. And perhaps some get an adrenaline rush that elevates their performance to some degree.

    The biggest thing I think the saberheads sometimes forget, however, is that all players should be better with men on base because they should get better pitches to hit and all the other natural factors that generally contribute to better performance by a hitter in these situations.

    I think players who are overanxious, such as Starlin Castro to cite one example, sacrifice the natural advantage they have over the pitcher in these situations.

  • In reply to Gregory Shriver:

    As an old guy who never got into advanced stats I tend to get lost in some of these discussions but I actually followed this one.
    I have to disagree about there being no such thing as pure clutch hitting and I believe the two example you cited are perfect examples of what pure clutch hitting is. The ballplayer who thrives under pressure and who gets a "rush" out of being under the microscope seems to be the guy who produces under clutch situations.
    I'm sure there is some stat wonk out there who has looked at the numbers that shows who those guys have been over the years. Maybe with that kind of info we can take the next step in player developement and have phsycological profiling as part of the scouting process. (said only a little tongue in cheek))

  • In reply to carolinacub:

    Definitely, If there was no such thing as clutch hitting, then how do you explain Reggie Jackson?

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    Reggie was more known for what he did in the spotlight than what he did over the course of a season. Thurman Munson was often the best hitter on some of those Yankee teams, but Reggie often rose to the occasion when the spotlight shone brightest.

  • In reply to Gregory Shriver:

    I think that the opposit is true. It is the hitters ability to relax and control their adrenaline that allows the guys ability to produce results.

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    I think this is right -- the team right now is better than their record. I also think things are going to get worse before they get better, since we're almost certainly going to dump guys like Villanueva, Feldman, DeJesus, and probably even Garza. A rotation of Shark, Wood, EJax, Rusin, Raley certainly won't be as bad as the Justin Germano nightmare that was last September, but it won't be that thing we like to call "good" either. Add to that an order that will probably get weaker and, well, we'll be closer to the Astros than the Cardinals come playoff time.

    But, as I said earlier, I really do think the best is yet to come here. And we'll be the happier when we get the title for having lived through the building process.

  • the front office is very big on guys with plus makeup. in my opinion that is the main reason why darwin barney is still on the cubs. i think its a big part of why they locked up rizzo so early. i think it will be a huge reason why they wont end up trading almora. i dont think that plus makeup guys automatically become clutch, but i think its the closest thing that there is to determining it.

  • In reply to jshmoran:

    Mental makeup is huge with this team. No doubt. Whether that correlates with the ability to hit in scoring situations is difficult, if not impossible, to prove. It's possible but it will have to be left up to individual opinion.

  • In reply to jshmoran:

    guys with solid mental makeup handle adversity better. Its where I think the difference in perception between Castro and Rizzo lies. Castro is percieved as indifferent. Rizzo isnt.

  • So the gyst of all of this is the Cubs have been unlucky and are "overdue" for a winning streak. Problem I have with this is the same players tend to fail in high leverage situations and it doesn't account for decisions by the manager. I'm of the opinion that if Joe Maddon were coaching this Cubs team we'd be .500 or better.

  • In reply to Paulson:

    It depends on how you look at it. The manager can only put players in a position to succeed and put him in situations where he's had success in the past. He cannot be blamed every time they don't come through. Early in the year, for example, the Cubs had 5 blown saves -- by 5 different RPs. At some point that's not the managers fault when it doesn't matter who he puts in there.

    And if you're talking about hitters in clutch situations. Statistics simply don't support your statement. It's natural for us to want to find someone to blame but that just isn't always the case. There isn't always a specific primal cause or person we can point our finger at. Many times it's just random luck, sometimes good, sometimes bad.

  • I read Cameron's piece and I love the perspective. From a subjective perspective, it certainly feels like the Cubs have made progress. Honestly, I don't think this bad luck is such a bad thing. The team was not meant to contend in 2013 and these early losses could mean the difference between a protected top 10 pick and not. If the rumors regarding Ellsbury or some other big name free agent have legs, it's crucial that that first round draft pick be protected.

  • In reply to Eddie:

    Agreed. In some ways, it'd be worth it if the bad luck cost the Cubs some wins when it comes to draft time, both in terms of who they can pick and having that pick protected. Of course, I don't actively root for the team to lose, but what's done is done -- they've clearly lost some games they should have won and if the consolation is a better draft pick, I'm okay with that. The important thing to me is that they've made real progress. In some ways, it's probably worse if the Cubs would have lucked their way into 80 wins without the talent to back it up. I'd rather they bad lucked their way into 72 wins with a team that shows the peripherals to be a lot better. The wins wouldn't carry over into next season and you set yourself up better to acquire more talent.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Couldn't have said it better myself.

  • In reply to Eddie:

    Exactly! In the big picture, this is a very good scenario. It's much better to be a better team with bad luck and understand when the right time is to make the bigger moves. This especially help as it relates to young players reaching some of their upside as they approach their prime years. A much worse scenario would be for the Cubs to have most of their core on the wrong side of 30 and to be receiving a little good luck with their peripherals, thus deceiving people into thinking their window is bigger than what it is. This is what happened to the Cubs a few years back and currently to teams like Philadelphia. It tends to dig teams into a big hole. The Cubs ARE getting better and in the big picture, even though frustrating in the present, it is perhaps better that their record doesn't reflect it, especially when it comes to that protected pick.

  • Castro getting thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double in a 3 run game....thats why the Cubs aren't winning. They play stupid. Bad defense, bad situational hitting, bad use of the bullpen.

  • In reply to Ike03:

    Castro was hustling out of the box and it took good defense, a good bounce, and a good throw for the OF'er to get him. I have no problem with it. It happens sometimes. I wonder if you'd complain if Castro pulled up and took the single and the next guy hit into a double play (or if Castro got stranded at 3rd when he could have had an extra base). I'm sure you'd be upset then too, saying that he should have run that into a double, that he wasn't hustling, etc.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Of course I woudn't complain about that. Castro was out by a mile, it wasn't even close. If he didn't make a good play and just made an average play he'd still be out. I don't know why Castro is a sacred cow to some that can' be criticized for all of the stupid stuff he does on the field. Its his 4th year in the league and he continues to make a ton of errors, have no concept of the strike zone, and get thrown out on the bases.

  • In reply to Ike03:

    so does rizzo but no one says anything, Rizzo has been making mistakes on the bases all season long but fans/media act like it did not happen.

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    In reply to seankl:

    Was just about to say this. He's also been just as cold at the plate as Castro, but again. Nobody cares.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    I've been saying this since last year, rizzo forgot how many outs there was not once but twice last year. But media and fans said nothing and still rizzo cannot be traded but castro could. This is not to get on rizzo because I like rizzo as a player but I see the difference in how the media and fans treat castro and rizzo. Today on david kaplan's show they went to the old playbook of talking trading castro and looking at his numbers two months into the season and judging him on them.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    frankly, Ive been a critic of Rizzos pitch selection, particulary his bad habit of swinging at really bad pitches with 2 strikes. Right now, I view Rizzo as a solid big leaguer, but he has a LONG way to go before hes all-star caliber. Hes obviously talented and has solid character, but he has lots of areas he needs to improve on.

  • In reply to Ike03:

    I think he's lightning rod propped up by the media. Starlin Castro has inherited the legacy of guys like Alfonso Soriano and Aramis Ramirez It started with Bobby V and Brenly, who hyper focused on him and every mistake he made. Brenly did the same with Ramirez and Soriano -- then backtracked on Soriano when it became obvious he was wrong and lost support for that line of thinking. It can certainly seem like a lot of mistakes when one player's mistakes are consistently pointed out while others get a free pass. If the critcism was even-handed that's one thing. But it isn't. It's not even close.

    It doesn't make sense to place the brunt of the blame of the team's failures on Castro -- it even happened last year when he was their best position player as rated by WAR -- he was still criticized for everything that went wrong.

    THere's nothing wrong with criticizing Castro. I've done it myself, including earlier today. What I see is that the criticism is disproportionate and often unfair.

    And I'm pretty sure if he didn't take second that there would be complaints he didn't hustle, if not you then by many of Castro's critics. He's become the guy to take frustrations out on -- and we're talking a 23 year old kid who has been the best player on a bad team.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Well said john, I wish could play for the cubs now even though I can't field or hit in pro ball. I could hide behind castro's mistakes, they wouldn't notice me.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    At this point John there's no point defending Castro anymore.....Because unless he hits .330/30/120 with a .380 OBP and no errors in 162 games he will never get a fair shake with a lot of people.
    At first it was the media to blame, but now the fans have bought into it and made it unreasonable no matter what Castro does and even smart media guys like Mooney have noticed that it's getting unfair. Even we at Cubs den do it. This article went from "the team" to "lets nitpick everything Castro does wrong"

    It has become the "cool" thing to bash on or want to trade Starlin Castro. In most fans eyes it's MVP or trade 'em. People don't even look at the stats anymore(which tell you Castro has been a top 5-10 SS the last 3 years).

  • Good article, John. But let me just add....

    "So why aren't the Cubs winning?"

    In my honest opinion, I'd say that at this point, it starts with the manager. I know everyone is going to slam me for this, but my patience is wearing out with Sveum and I truly believe he is NOT the right guy to lead this team. Is he just a filler like Trammel was in Detroit and is it too soon to cut him loose? High likely. I've seen some mind numbing moves from Sveum an it just continues to get worse.

  • In reply to lokeey:

    Thanks. I'm not a guy who puts that much emphasis on the manager's impact on the game, so I can't agree with you there. Manager's are like offensive linemen in football in that we only tend to notice them when they make a "mistake". And I put that in quotes because I can't even call them all mistakes. You put guys in where they have the best chance to succeed in historically or statistically -- that's all you can do. The manager can't be accountable for every time his players fail to execute.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Great Offensive lines win in football. Whitey Herzog stunk as a manager in Texas before achieving success with KC and StL. Svuem might be more suited to coaching than managing, but even Jim Leyland would struggle with the current Cubs offense and bullpen. Bosio is a genius with turning Feldman and Wood into solid big league starters, but is a disaster with Marmol and Camp? its the players who determine success, a manager might be a difference maker 5-10 games per year. Even Vince Lombardi didnt win a title with the Washington Redskins.

  • In reply to lokeey:

    i am right there with you . Sveum at times has made moves and lineups that i am pretty sure are LSD induced

  • To answer your question about castro john, yes they would rip him. People praise players like harper for playing hard but castro also does not get credit for his hustle.

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    In reply to seankl:

    And Harper was called out by his own teammate for bad positioning. That whole thing just faded away like a fart in the wind.....

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    In reply to bocabobby:

    You think that was bad. Trout was pissed at the Angels for putting him in LF(which hurts his monetary value) and Bourjos in CF when everybody knows the latter is the better CF and upon Bourjos' injury and Trout back in CF he finally starts hitting and playing well. He put himself before the team. Something Castro has never done.

    Nobody cares.

  • Im not on twitter john but I saw the other guys response and I have to tell you I think people in chicago enjoy watching him struggle.

  • In reply to seankl:

    I think people like to pinpoint a source of frustration and Castro has been that source for many. In my mind it's unfair to him. The guy basically admitted he can't win either way, he'd have gotten criticized no matter what he did.

  • That McCutcheon guy is pretty good.....

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I wish we could trade Bobby Hill for him.

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    I really enjoy your work John. And I love to read the comments by folks immediately after they read or just gander at the words on the page. We seem to have many frustrated folks that just can't see the forest through the trees.

    This team is playing better. Are they ready to make the playoffs now? No, but most of us didn't expect that. Now if you couple the idea of "clutch" hitting with the total ineptness of the current bullpen, what kind of a team do we have.

    There is a reason why we see teams go from last to first in one season. And it's not by adding just one player in FA. Your stats bring to light why we should have a better record than we do.

    I really attribute this to a young rebuilding type of team. The Cubs just don't know how to win some of the games. Teams like the Giants do. Experience is a key thing that some leave out.

    Look at the Royals. They basically added James Shields to that team. They have a bunch of young guys that have been learning how to play. Did the addition of a pitcher suddenly put this team over the top? Or did a bunch of young guys that have played together "learned" something about how to win?

    You stats give certain fans hope......

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    Takeaway from this game: Rizzo is better than Castro because Rizzo didn't get thrown out at second base.

  • sigh.... only 1 BB all game again.....

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    .....from Welington Castillo, who apparently is good for about one BB per month

    He can't survive in the majors with a 2-38 BB/K ratio....

  • In reply to Zonk:

    That ratio makes him the poster child.... but he's not the only one. Good example though.

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    Valuable info John. I think the lineup has a little something to do with our hitting failures and would love more data on lineup analysis. If I was managing this team I would have tried some different combos by now.

  • In reply to Dale Miller:

    Thanks, Dale. Well, I have to say that in my opinion there's not much a manager can do with these sort of things. When taken over large sample sizes, very few managers affect more than a few games either way. Usually, the team's record is right around what their statistics say they should be.

    When it comes to lineups, I've seen studies that even putting together a lineup with maximum efficiency results in something like an extra 11 runs -- a season. So we're talking on average that it means an extra win or two over the course of a year. What will help more is to get better players in that lineup. Or to have the current players start performing better.

    I think we'll see things balance out when the Cubs start winning and suddenly the moves and lineups start "working". Then we might say Sveum has improved as a manager, but in all likelihood it will mean that the talent got better and the timing of hitters/pitchers production regressed to a more normal sequence.

  • I hear the pitchers as a group have more RBI's than soriano. If thats the case then they need to shake the lineup some.

  • In my opinion, losing so many close games says a lot about the manager. Unfortunately I haven't been very impressed with Sveum, mainly with how he uses his bullpen.

  • Batting average with runners in scoring position:

    W. Castillo .207
    A. Rizzo .160
    A. Soriano .195
    D. Barney .154
    R. Sweeney .143
    D. Navarro .111
    S. Hairston .000

    How bad is it? Currently the team's top three most successful hitters with RISP are all pitchers. And the fourth best is our leadoff hitter, David DeJesus.

  • In reply to Taft:

    Wow. So how does a manager rearrange this mess to get better results?

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    My point exactly. As a manager, you can only do so much. Which is to say there's nothing you can do when your guys aren't taking advantage of RBI opportunities. Baseball doesn't really lend it to Knute Rockne-like speeches. The guys in the middle of the order -- especially Hairston, Rizzo and Soriano -- are pressing, and eventually they'll relax enough to knock in some baserunners. I see a news article about Sveum juggling the lineup, but that's clearly a desperate move that only makes the players even more conscious of their failures. Stay the course and when the players swing back to their career norms, the manager will look like a genius. It's too long a season to try to win the news cycle every day.

  • In reply to Taft:

    I beleive I commented somewhere else how Travis Wood and Scott Feldman were better clutch hitters than anyone in our lineup? Its not only batting average, its the strikeouts and the failure to put the ball into play even. Swinging at terrible pitches. Thats a mindset problem, because everyone on the team does it.

  • How to fix this mess?.......tell the people who created this mess that maybe they are going in the wrong direction or have the wrong people giving them some bad advice.

  • Dale could always point the finger to the batting coach and fire him for the lack of hitting.

    oh wait.....we went down that road before.

  • Good teams win close games.

  • John, you did a good job of pinpointing the fact that the Cub RH hitters are a big part of the problem.

    I for one don't really believe in "luck." Maybe when you're rolling the dice and playing stratomatic or something like that, but not in real life.

    The Cubs' organization needs to take responsibility for the state of the bullpen. I would think that a team looking to scrap things together on the cheap would make their bullpen a priority, because putting together a great, deep bullpen is a lot cheaper than putting together a great rotation or starting lineup. Bringing in a bunch of good FA set up guys might be a way to make the team way more competitive without really spending a ton on big money/long term FA deals.

    There really hasn't been much rhyme or reason to the way they've handled the bullpen since the new regime took over. They've released a bunch of guys who were decent or had promise (guys like Maine, Beliveau and now Bowden), while parading through a seemingly endless group of Alex Hinshaws and Kameron Loes (we can now add Sanchez to that list).

    I understand the usefulness of watching the waiver wire, but I think they would benefit from being a little more selective, and giving a longer look to the guys who have the most upside. IMHO, they gave up too early on guys like Asencio, Socolovich, Maine and Bowden, and have been too quick to add guys like Putnam, Gonzalez, Hinshaw, et al. Sometimes, it seems like they're just making moves to make moves with some of the guys they add.

    And keeping Camp over Bowden is just plain indefensible, regardless of Camp's health status. He's 37, has been atrocious for basically the last calendar year, and looked finished in 2011, too. He has no future.

  • I just can't buy into the random sequencing argument. On paper it's true, but in real life and with the human element, you have players changing their approach at the plate w/RISP. Once that happens, all bets are off and you'd no longer expect BA w/RISP to align with BA as time goes to infinity. Plus it's a vicious cycle because once a team knows it has a hard time scoring runs, players often become overeager w/RISP and end up expanding their zone. So the solution? Score more runs so players are less inclined to change their approach so we'll score more runs! *smacks head*

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