Thanks to Mike Moody earlier today who filled in while I got some much needed errands done. It's going to be a busy week for me, so much appreciated.
We'll start the day with some news and notes and we'll go from there...
Bounce Back Candidates
When you have as many players with disappointing seasons as the Cubs have, you do lead the league in one thing: Bounce-back candidates. Dan Szymborski of ESPN lists his top 6 candidates to rebound this season (insider only)-- and 3 of them are Cubs.
It shouldn't be hard for you to guess who they are since we've talked about them here. The players are Edwin Jackson, Starlin Castro, and Anthony Rizzo.
In case you are unfamiliar with Szymborski, he is also the man behind the ZiPS projections that we often use here. He has some pretty good news for Cubs fans.
He sees Jackson as putting up an 11-11 season with a 3.99 ERA which would put him comfortably in the middle of the Cubs rotation. Starlin Castro, meanwhile puts up a respectable .280/.319/.413 with 13 HRs (3 WAR) season. First baseman Anthony Rizzo projects to have a solid .255/.336/.464 season with 27 HRs (2.9 WAR).
If he's correct those performances should add a few extra wins for the Cubs next year.
Speaking of bounce-back, the Cubs introduced their first mascot of the modern era, Clark the Cub, and he was bounced around like a pinata on Twitter. If you ask me, I think it's much ado over nothing. The mascot is for the kids and if anyone has been to Kane County, you'll know he's going to be a huge hit. The kids greet "Ozzie", the Cougars mascot, the same way teenage girls used to greet The Beatles.
As for an adult, it doesn't interfere with my ability to watch the game so it makes no difference to me. It doesn't affect the product on the field and it's not some wag the dog type move to distract fans from the fact the Cubs haven't made any major moves this year.
I suppose for some it personified the lack of activity on the field and became a convenient punching bag for those frustrations, but I'm not reading that much into it.
It's just a mascot to entertain younger fans.
More opinions on Passan's article
Myles from Obstructed View tries to find middle ground between frustration with the present and hope for the future. I agree with some of what he's saying, but for the most part, the argument is basically this: "We're paying good money...so entertain us!"
Maybe so. But it's not the job of the front office to entertain people. It's their job to build the best team and organization possible for the long term, but nobody every promised this would be a 2 or 3 year fix. It takes time and when it's completed, the entertainment will follow.
As for ownership, they hired that front office and they came here with the assumption that they'd be allowed to do their job. I don't think Epstein comes here if part of his job description was that he would have to compromise his rebuilding plan for the sake of entertainment in the form of a few more wins.
Ricketts' has repeatedly said that when the front office needs the money, it will be there. I don't have any reason to doubt him on that, especially since he has already backed it up, most notably putting in the highest bids for Anibal Sanchez and Jorge Soler, two players the front office really coveted. There is no evidence that the payroll will stay where it is during the rebuilding period.
There's also this line: "They don't watch it to see "rebuilding" unless they are masochistic or under the teams' employ."
Well, I don't know who "they" are, but I can tell you with a great deal of certainty that I am neither of those things. I like watching baseball because I love the game -- at all levels. I enjoy following the process of building a team the right way. I also want the Cubs to win, but I don't want them to do it with shortcuts and patchwork signings. Been there, done that. What I want is for them to build in such a way that can be sustained for the long term and if it takes an extra year, so be it. It's not about a World Series or bust attitude, or as Myles puts it, " Other bloggers will tell you that the primary goal of the Cubs is to win a World Series; any perceived move that carries you further from that goal is a poor one."
No, it's about putting together a sound, repeatable process that leads to success over the long term. You don't take needless detours for entertainment purposes. Stay focused on the long term goal.
When that happens, the Cubs will have a chance to win every season, perhaps even a World Series. But even if they don't, it will certainly be entertaining to watch them try year after year for a change.
Odds and Ends
- Scott Baker has many offers but right now is looking for a guaranteed MLB deal. Hard to blame him. He can get a non-guaranteed, minor league deal at any point this offseason. He may as well wait.
- Former Cub Thomas Neal has signed with the Cincinnati Reds.
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