It's been a while, but then I'm the kind of person who has to be inspired to write. Doing the daily deal like John and Adam do isn't who I am. It would interfere to much with my other passion, fishing, but a recent private conversation on Facebook with another contributor to this site has inspired me. It also gave me the title for this article, because "It's not time to jump off the ledge" is exactly what I told him.
Now I'm not going to whoa you with the latest greatest statistical analysis. I love that stuff, but this is more about plain old common sense. Any stats I throw out are basic ones just to make my point. Besides, y'all know the numbers as well as I do. You read them here daily, and I don't explain them as well as others do.
Yes, the Cubs are 12-24, but if the 2015 draft were held tomorrow, they'd have the second overall pick. One has to look at the bright side after all. Top prospect Javier Baez is struggling mightily in AAA, and while Kris Bryant is hardly struggling in AA, his K rate is alarmingly high. However, it's not all bad. There are some good things going on with this Cubs team.
Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro are rebounding nicely from their horrible 2013 seasons, and it looks like Rizzo actually can his left-handed pitching as based on his splits. Furthermore, they're doing it in statistically significant sample sizes. In other words, they're not flukes.
Cubs starting pitching has been good. Their combined ERA, 3.66, is 12th out of a possible 30, and they're 13th out of 30 in WHIP. They've also issued the 4th fewest walks of any rotation this season. They have the 6th lowest SLGA out of 30, and the 9th lowest OPSA out of 30. They're solid 1 through 4. In fact, take Carlos Villanueva's starts out, and the Cubs 1 - 4 stacks up against anyone. Recently called up 5th starter Jake Arrieta shows promise of being more than a 5th starter. He could join Travis Wood, who is proving that 2013 wasn't a mirage, as part of a core to be joined eventually by Kyle Hendricks, CJ Edwards and Pierce Johnson, and there is more further down the line.
This year's buy low/sell high candidate, Jason Hammels, has done nothing but help his trade value. I only wish they'd put an option year in that contract to give him some time value. He's even pitched well enough with good enough stuff to merit extension talk. Although at his age, 32, it would have to be a short-term deal.
Jeff Samardzija, whom most of us would like to see extended, hasn't done a thing to hurt his trade value. I think his trade is inevitable, and I don't think it's a money or years issue. He is proving he is worth the money, and they won't mind paying it to someone they think is worth it. I think he's tired of losing, and I think he wants a NTC, which this FO is never going to give him. The bottom line is that he is at the height of his trade value, and if they can't extend him, they have to move him, but I bet they get some really good pieces back for him.
Then there is the guy whom most of us wouldn't mind seeing traded, Edwin Jackson. He's actually having a decent enough year that some teams might kick the tires on him in July. We can only hope.
The bullpen, overall, hasn't been terrible. Their combined ERA, 3.91, is currently 20th out of a possible 30. They're also 20 out of 30 in WHIP. They're 12th out of 30 in SLGA and 15 out of 30 in OPSA. The really good news here is that some of the most reliable performers in that bullpen, Rondon, Grimm and Ramirez, are also some of the youngest, and for those that aren't performing, replacements aren't far away.
The rest of this team is what it is, but it's like last year, only some of the pieces are younger. We knew that coming in. So we shouldn't be surprised. I can hear Dennis Green screaming into a microphone, "THE CUBS ARE WHO WE THOUGHT THEY WERE," and so they are.
I will say this about Baez. I won't be shocked if he is dealt before he ever has a chance to truly establish himself with the Cubs. This FO didn't draft him, and he's not their kind of player philosophically. The hope was always that he could learn to be, or that they could meet somewhere in the middle. I think we're going to find out this year if that hope comes true or not. If not, he'll have lost some value, but my guess is that there will be a few teams out there who will take the chance that they could get the best out of him. Let us hope it doesn't come to that.
As for the rest, I go back to the Dennis Green rant. THE CUBS ARE WHAT WE THOUGHT THEY WERE. This roster wasn't intended to win. It's got to many players on it in major roles who would be in minor roles on a winning team. People need to remember that and step away from the ledge. Thanks for reading my contribution, and I look forward to your responses.
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