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Being a good team doesn't mean being good for every stretch of a 162 game season

Being a good team doesn't mean being good for every stretch of a 162 game season

Over the past few years, it seems some Cubs fans have gone from having no expectations to completely unrealistic expectations.  Just yesterday when I mentioned it was not the Cubs day on Twitter, there were a few responses saying that it's not been their day for the past few games or the past week.

Yeah, maybe.  But so what?

This is a 162 game season.  There will be ups and downs for every team -- even the best ones.  Even the 1908 Cubs lost 4 games in a row where they were outscored 34-10, including 22-2 in the middle games of that stretch.  The mighty 1927 Yankees had a stretch right about this time in their own season where they lost 5 of 8 games.  Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and the gang scored just 11 runs in those 5 losses (and 2 or less in four of them).

We live in an era of extreme polarization.  It seems that we often are able to see only one extreme or the other.  When the Cubs seemed nearly invincible, we reveled in their record and run differential.  When they've lost a few games, we start picking holes on their roster and contemplating trades for major players that they suddenly can't win without.  The team with the top ERA in baseball and the 3rd best FIP now needs another top of the rotation starter?  The 7th best bullpen now needs to risk a deal for Aroldis Chapman, a player who doesn't fit the makeup profile the Cubs value so highly?

And if it's not trades, it's premature promotions.  I think we're sometimes conditioned to conflate success with upward mobility.  When we do well in our work, we expect to move up.  When players do well in the minors, one of the first questions I get is, "When are these players going to get promoted?"

The minor leagues are there for the development of players.  In an ideal world, they do not get promoted simply because they are doing well.  They get promoted when the scouts, development staff, and front office determine they are ready to handle the next level on more than just the physical aspects of the game.

Players like Albert Almora and Willson Contreras can no doubt compete physically at the MLB level right now, but Almora still needs to work on an approach that can still get overly aggressive at times.  It will be exploited by quality MLB pitchers in a way that AAA pitchers cannot.  Contreras is probably ready offensively and from the physical aspects of his defensive position (blocking pitches, throwing out base stealers, etc.), but do you really want a rookie who is still relatively inexperienced at the position handling a veteran staff that is the most productive rotation in baseball right now?

This is not to say the Cubs don't have areas to improve.   They do and they will be addressed whether it is from within or outside the organization.  They will cross that bridge when they get there.  They will make moves when the opportunity presents itself, much as they have as they've built this team from laughing stock to legitimate World Series contender.

This is a season we should be enjoying.  The Cubs are among the best in baseball -- and by most measures, they are the best.  They are a team that excels in all areas of the game, but they are also a relatively young team that is still in the process of getting better, but as was noted earlier, even the best teams of all time have had stretches where they did not play well.  It's just baseball when you are competing at the highest level.  Every team has the talent to win against any other team on any given day.  The best teams will win these games more often but they will not win them all.

On May 10th, the Cubs were 25-6, which put them on a pace to win 130 games.  That is absolutely unsustainable.  Even today, they are 29-13 and on a pace to win 112 games.  That isn't going to happen either.  For those who are  already worried about the Cubs today, consider that their play from here to the last 3/4 of the season will not be as good as it has been in the first quarter.  They will not sustain the pace they have set to this point in the season.

The Cubs have 120 games left.  If they win at last year's pace from here on out,  a .599 win pct, to be exact (and a win pct that is 91 pts. lower than their current pace), they will win 101 games.  The 1984 World Series Tigers team that started 35-5 went a very solid, but not unearthly 69-53 (.566, the pace of a 92 win team) the rest of the way. If the Cubs finish at that pace, they will win 97 games.  Even if the Cubs finish at just a .556 pace from here on out (the win pct. of a 90 win team), they will win 96 games this year.  Even if they go just .500 the rest of the way -- something even the most pessimistic fan doesn't expect, they will still win 89 games.

Just as we had to be careful to keep our perspective when the Cubs were 25-6, we can't lose perspective when they go on a relatively cold streak.  It was inevitable.  The Cubs are still a very good team, perhaps even a great one -- but no team can be great all the time.  There will be stretches, like this one, where they will look very beatable, but there will also be more stretches later where they appear to be unbeatable again.  We can certainly get excited when they win 8-1 and disappointed when they lose 1-0, but we should also understand that neither result fully defines this Cubs team.  They are a mix of both those results and many others we will see throughout the season.  When all is said and done, this will be a very good team with a realistic chance to be the last team standing.  It's not often we can say that, so let's just enjoy the ride while keeping the perspective that this is a long season.

 

 

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  • It may not be a popular position, but the season is going to be defined by what happens in October. The Cubs will make the playoffs. If they get swept out for a fourth straight time in the playoffs, I don't care if they win 110 games, no one will be happy. If the Giants come to Wrigley over Labor Day and sweep the Cubs, and then the Cubs beat them in October, no one will remember the loses. Just ask the Cardinals and Mets how they feel they did vs. the Cubs last year.

  • In reply to Cubswin09:

    I think that's fair and will be the narrative. I strongly believe though in Theo's philosophy of building a team that has the ability to win the WS every year because baseball playoffs are essentially random and you can't build a World Series winner, not exactly. You can build the most talented team in the game though and the Cubs has brass has done just that. If they don't win a WS this year I will feel confident at another chance next year, even if I'll also be very disappointed. That said I still like this team's chances at winning a WS. I think Washington, SF and maybe NY have similar chances. It's why they play the game.

  • In reply to TC154:

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  • In reply to Cubswin09:

    This is true, but as we have said, the Cubs can only somewhat control how the team does during a long regular season in which large samples can be more controlled by internal process. A smaller sample is much more vulnerable to exterior factors such as luck. By any proper measurement, the Cubs season should not be defined by a stretch of 7 games, but reality does say otherwise. The Cubs need to at least reach the WS or the season will not be considered a success as defined by fan/media narrative.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    The math and therefore the expected and resulting regression towards the mean, and the mean being division champions is about 96-97 wins, or .566 winning % here on out after a glorious burst out of the gate at .800. There have only been nine previous teams with that kind of start. The problem is that since the WC era winning the league best record does not insure a WS entry, in fact since '95 when the WC began only 2 of the best regular season teams have won the WS. Since 2012 only once did the best record win (though both BOS and StL had 97 wins). There is a strange anomaly going on in MLB since the WC was introduced.

    Anyway actually struggle is good, especially how the team and players react to adversity and struggle. The league and their scouts are catching up on the Cubs offensive approaches so the club will have to adjust and then there is the natural but unspoken regression of the umpires who are slightly taking the side of the Cubs opponents, especially balls and strikes. It is human nature and the more I see it the more I like the idea of a more automated strike zone.

    Anyway it all comes down to what will be done in the playoffs. As for what you mentioned above regarding Almora and Contreras, both will be up when the day is long and the dog days are barking. But I am more interested in finding two more stud arms, one bullpen, one starter. Gosh I wonder if Archer continues to slide how TB might like to unload and reset, while Bosio turns more magic again on a reclammation project.

  • In reply to rnemanich:

    I'd take Archer in a hot minute I just have no idea why they would move him with that contract, especially in a down year. Not the first I heard it though, I've heard two national baseball guys mention it in the last few days. Still his peripherals are good with an xFIP of 3.46 less than .5 of a run over the same stat last year. To go along with all that he's still, in a tough year, strike out machine. The Rays would have to be pretty sold on Blake Snell as a future #1 starter to even contemplate it.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Amen to that John, well said. Maddon has still not had a losing month yet as our skipper and until that happens we should enjoy what they have done and figure out a way to get through the season until October.
    My # still stands at 108-54 which wins the division by more than 10 games and gives us time off waiting for the WC schlubs.

  • John thanks. I've been very frustrated the last few days over fan reaction to a rough patch. I've done the same math as you regarding win percentages the rest of the way and that still doesn't always gain traction with these folks. You don't get suddenly bad and, in the case of a poster here earlier today, you don't get to cherry pick numbers to emphasize your doom and gloom scenario. If the Cubs get swept or lose 2 of 3 in this series people will be jumping off buildings, if they sweep they'll be high as kites. That's not how this works, not at all. I was expressing my frustration with one of my closest friends yesterday who is Red Sox fan but we both used to live in Chicago. he knows both fanbases and thinks Boston is worse. Judging from what I've seen I can't imagine how but I'll take his word for it. Sometimes I feel like nobody watches the game on an annual basis and knows that bad teams beat good teams, good teams can slump and great players have bad weeks and sometimes months. It's baseball, that's all.

  • In reply to TC154:

    Baseball is such a game of failure, I think all fans are pessimistic. I listened to Mike Krukow on the radio this morning, and the Bay Area radio guys spent the majority of the time handwringing over how bad Peavy is and the fact that the Giants lineup isn't hitting. Winning 10 of 11 was glossed over.

  • In reply to Cubswin09:

    I get that it's sports radio's job to do that but it makes me insane. When the Cubs started so hot all anyone on local sports talk could do was gush, granted we all did to a point I didn't here any temperance to the unbridled optimism. I posted on another site two weeks ago that the Cubs were not the '27 Yankees and a correction was coming. He asked me "how do you know that, they could be". I know that because I watch baseball. 9 teams in 100 years have won 105 games or more. 9 teams. The crazy part is the Cubs still could, they won't, but they could. Yesterday someone posted here that the Cubs would lose the division to the Cardinals, they could of course, but objectively that makes as much sense as the '27 Yankees talk based on the two teams stats, talent level and record so far. That said the Cardinals could sweep these next three games because the timing might be favorable. I think I'll go on vacation if they do and ignore baseball media. It's a long season in more ways than one.

  • In reply to TC154:

    I agree that's it's unlikely the Cubs will win 105+ games, because like you said, it's REALLY hard to do that. Again, only 9 teams have done it.
    But I disagree with your reasoning. We can't say the Cubs won't do it simply because only 9 teams have done it. Just because something has very rarely been done (or has never been done), doesn't mean it can't be done.
    You could have said the same thing in April of '98 about the Yankees, or in April of '01 about Seattle. You could have said 2 weeks ago that Max Scherzer would never K 20 in 1 game, and everyone would have said, "No kidding." But he did (and someday someone will get 21).
    Yes, it would have been foolish to predict either of those teams would break the record for wins, but they both did it. Some team will win 117 games.
    The fact of the matter is that the 2016 Cubs have a very real shot at 105+ wins. They're amazing at literally every aspect of the game. Granted, they're not a 130-win, 600+ run differential team like they showed through 30 games, but those wins are still in the bank. And the way the Cubs played, we can see that they're (statistically) head and shoulders above the other 29 teams in baseball.
    Gun to my head, I think the Cubs come in around 100 wins. But they absolutely could still win 105 or 110 or whatever.

  • In reply to TC154:

    Exactly. Very well put, TC.

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    In reply to TC154:

    As I said yesterday, we get those who insist every loss indicates "the sky is falling" and every win indicates "the sky's the limit!" It is such an unnecessary roller-coaster.

  • Not a big deal, but the Cubs are currently 29-13 and on pace for 112 games. The math teacher in me couldn't let it go.
    John, love your work and like you I wish someone would hide the panic button.

  • In reply to PtownTom:

    Actually 111.857142857

  • In reply to PtownTom:

    Thank you. And thanks for alerting me to the typo. Must have hit the 6 which is just above the 3 on the number pad on my laptop. Fixed now.

  • Thanks John for attempting to bring all those who panic at the first losing period back to reality.

    I said it before and I will say it again. This season is all about winning the division. That is the goal. Avoid the wild card game. Then if we can do that then hopefully the big three of Arrieta, Lester and Lackey will be healthy and rested and we will take our chances with the Mets, Nationals and Giants of the world.

    My prediction is that the Cubs, Nats and Giants wind the division and the Mets and Bucs play the wild card game.

  • In reply to cubbybear7753:

    Agreed. Winning the division is the big goal right now. Can't get ahead of themselves. Your predictions are realistic, very likely the outcome. Mets and Nats might be the closest race. And you never know when a team like the Dodgers can suddenly catch fire

  • In reply to cubbybear7753:

    Spot on on the goal. That's it. The fast start created an early advantage, which is what you want.

    With you on the predictions. I had the same exact picks preseason but like John said the Dodgers could make it interesting.

  • In reply to cubbybear7753:

    In which case the Cubs draw the "lowly" 90+ win wild card winner (read: hot pitching staff/team at that moment) . . . *faints*

  • In reply to rickmonday:

    It's a long way till October. Pitchers get hot and cold all the time. Theo and Jed have always said. The playoffs are a crap shoot!

  • That's what's so good about baseball. If the Cubs beat the Cardinals 7-1 tonight none of us will care about the previous 2 series. Lose an NFL game and you have to wait a whole week.

  • In reply to TD40:

    This is true as well!

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    Another great "keep it in perspective" article. Thanks for that, John.

    I remember growing up one of the things the broadcasters frequently said was, "You're never as good as when you are on a winning streak and never as bad as when you are on a losing streak."

    I think they meant that 2 ways (at least).
    1. The obvious. When winning games odds are that lots of things are being done well. Conversely, when losing games odds are some things aren't working well.

    2. The Subtle. When the team wins games the most "negative" thing most people will say is "I hate to nit-pick but..." But when we are losing EVERYTHING becomes amplified. Suddenly an essentially "fluke" event becomes indicative of all the problems that could possibly arise. Every line out rocket with the bases loaded "proves" the team can't drive in runs.

    I try to keep an even keel as best I can (and it is hard sometimes). I do continue to pay attention to Run Differential. I continue to watch pitches thrown and K:BB ratio because I believe these numbers are a better indicator of how things are going than whether we won/lost the game yesterday (or the day before that, or the day before that...).

    At some level the difference in outcomes baseed on "luck" in an individual game can be greater than the difference in skill. A ball hit a couple of degrees right or left can turn into a hit as opposed to an out. Loading the bases every inning, to me, means that eventually the likelihood of at least a run scoring is pretty good. However, the "luck" tends to even out--sometimes we have good luck, sometimes we have bad luck. The skill stays constant.

    I believe the Cubs have one of the most skilled, if not the most skilled, teams in the NL, maybe in all of baseball. Lou Piniella always said, "Try to win by a large margin and lose by a small margin." Those combinations usually yield some pretty good teams.

    Finally there is the old saying, "The best team in baseball will usually lose about 60 games; The worst team in baseball will usually win about 60 games. It's what happens in the other 100 games that matter." In short even the good teams will lose games. These will sometimes come in losing streaks/bad stretches. Just ride it as best we can.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Thanks. It's important to remember that this is the MLB, this isn't high school or college where some teams have huge advantages in terms of talent, coaching, resources etc. where they can play poorly in some games and still win most of the time. Things even out to a great deal at the professional level. Those advantages are still there, but they are less pronounced and less margin for error. If you don't play well, as we have seen, even the Braves can win a series. And no matter how good you are, you are going to have stretches where you don't play well. It's just baseball.

  • A manager once said every team is going to win 1/3 of the game
    no matter what, they are going to lose 1/3 of their games no
    matter what, but what you do with the last 1/3 of your games
    determine what your made of

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    That is probably about right.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    The manager was Tommy Lasorda he said every team will lose 54 and win 54 games. The other 54 is what makes a season. I like to use that quote during down stretches. A game like last night felt like one of the 54 you are going to lose.

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    In reply to Sean Holland:

    I always heard it as 60 wins/losses but that is quibbling over 10% and your information is likely right.

  • I am not speaking of my own perspective per se, but allow me to easily put my finger on why some fans seemingly get anxious when the Cubs start losing...........The Cubs have not won the World Series in 107 years, the longest championship drought of ANY MAJOR North American professional SPORTS TEAM. Adding to that, the team just south of them, whose fans despise the Cubs and their fans, did win a World Series recently (relatively). I'm not saying it's right at all, but I do believe this has a lot to do with it.

  • I don't think there is anything wrong with desiring excellence. Or discussing the lulls, and disappointments of certain players who are under performing. I don't think that means people are unrealistic. (Although of course a few fringe fans always will be on both ends of the optimism/pessimism spectrum).

    The problem is that this team DOES have the tools to be a 120 game winner. A lot of you thinking adding 3 great pieces and only winning 89-92 games was "realistic" despite the rest of us saying "WTH?" Statistics matter unless of course they don't (as witnessed the entire run last year from Fangraphs predictions).

    I love sabermetrics and stats. They are really fun. Worshiping them is just as bad telling us we are TOO optimistic, especially when they didn't predict the overall run thus far, the improvements of Zobrist, Hammel and Dex or the projections from the beginning of the year. (Yes, I know it's not over but that means the rest of you are EXPECTING a less than .500 season from here on ut to prove your 87-92 win total).

    It seems Lester has an annual meltdown of some sort so, glad that's out of the way. Rizzo's drought is a bit disconcerting but look at Giancarlo Stanton. It could be a lot worse.

    Kyle Hendricks is NOT getting enough love IMO. I'd rather take Hendricks on any day than Lackey (and maybe even Lester.)

    But those of us not content with the 10-11 Bulls rather than the 95-96 version aren't necessarily offbase when it seems like the team still hasn't quite come into it's own. That doesn't mean we aren't enjoying it. But frankly, it is the spectre of the '84 '03, and '08 Cubs hanging in the back of our collective memory (and '69 even just as a history lesson) that makes no lead quite satisfying.

  • In reply to PolitiJim:

    Excellence is desirable, but a 120+ win team is completely unrealistic. Teams more talented than the Cubs playing at a time with less parity have fallen way short of that mark. This is not about sabermetrics, this is about basic mathematics. It is about basic statistical projection that existed well before the advent of it's application in what we refer to as sabermetrics. This is also about understanding the realities of baseball, where every team, even the bad ones are talented enough to beat the best teams in baseball under the right circumstances. Even the worst teams will win 40 games without the benefit of luck and even the best teams will lose that many. To win 120+ games it not only takes once in a lifetime talent, it takes an unfathomable amount of good luck and little to no bad luck --- something that we know the Cubs haven't had already (injury to Schwarber, for example).

    Of course you always shoot for excellence but it is important to understand the realities before you.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    LOL. So you think a 111+ run differential IS realistic at May 23rd?

    It seems you have a bookkeeper gene that only wants to acknowledge success probabilities in the rearview mirror.

    You seem to miss my larger point. 97 wins last year was "unrealistic" but it happened. And in large part to factors NOT accountable from previous performance (although a wise ass might try to say they saw the potential of Arrieta at the end of 2014).

    Not sure I can ever agree that it is being "unrealistic" for a 110 to 120 game win knowing that Rizzo and Heyward are still "do," KB still hasn't hit his stride, Arrieta is ALREADY dominant before reaching his (self acknowledged lacking) mid-season form and Soler/Baez/Russell all seeming to continue to improve from expectations of last year.

    Yes, it is improbable. But when your team and players continually outperform your previous projections - perhaps those of you ridiculing the more optimistic of us might want to rethink your benchmarks.

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    In reply to PolitiJim:

    I disagree with some of what you said. I agree that Hendricks isn't getting the credit he deserves.

    As for Rizzo's draught what makes his last 30 PAs (.040/.167/.040, 6K, 3BB) more valid, other than temporal proximity, than his previous 33 PAs (.321/.424/.500/.924 2K, 4BB).

    As for sabremetrics and stats being "fun" I don't look at them in that way. I look at them as a way to quantify things. It helps me keep the ups and downs in perspective. I believe they illustrate something true; I don't believe they are a parlor trick or just an odd fact that doesn't really mean anything.

    Obviously, I prefer winning over losing. But what I try to do is to look at the stats and what sabremetrics says to better inform whether we were just "fortunate" or if we are truly "good." And most, if not all, the indicators are that this team is good, VERY good.

    I find that most people, not necessarily you, who are overwrought by this current rough stretch are often overreacting to results. We lost yesterday by almost any measure, but it was a close fought game in which our #5 and bullpen went head-to-head with one of the best pitchers in baseball and nearly pulled it out. This doesn't change the fact that we lost, but it does keep things in perspective. I would be far more concerned if we were losing by 6-9 runs on a regular basis, racking up 12+K and 1-2BB on a regular basis (3-4x/week) game, throwing 30-50 more pitches than we were "seeing."

    But even when this team is "dominated" they are losing by 2-4. We were being no-hit going into the 7th the other day in MIL, and down to our last out being shut out, and we scored 2x. We have 2 losses by more than 3 runs, and only lost by 3 1x. The rest of our losses have been 1-2 runs.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    That's interesting on Rizzo thanks. The only player I was seriously worried about was Travis who has settled my concerns this week.

    Your optimism on the rest of the metrics - even during a "slump" portends my thesis that those who only predicted an 85-92 win season and who are now becoming completely unhinged at the IDEA of expecting a 110-120 win season, may be less "realistic" than the rest of us.

    Does anyone REALLY believe this team will only play at a .600 or lower level the rest of the season?

  • In reply to PolitiJim:

    Yes. I think they will play somewhere between .550 and .600 for the remainder of the season. That will be good enough for tops in the NL.

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    In reply to PolitiJim:

    I'm not sure what you mean in your 2nd paragraph. I have been saying 95-105 wins, probably settling in at about 100, for this club from the beginning. I am fine with that--unlike some I would consider something less than a WS title to be a successful season. So I am not one who predicted 85-92 wins; I am also not unhinged at the idea of a 110-120 win season. I think that is unrealistic so I'm not getting my hopes up at this point.

    Do I believe they will play .600 or lower? Yes, I think that is reasonable. There are 120 games. .600 would be 72 wins. That would mean a total of 101 wins (72+29). Sounds remarkably close to what I am predicting. So, yes, I believe that a .600 is realistic. I doubt they do much better.

  • In reply to PolitiJim:

    I like Kyle Hendricks but he's a 5th starter because he can really only go twice through the order before he gets in trouble.That's five solid innings on most nights and you've got to love him for it, probably the best 5th starter in the league. He has so little margin for error though that it's unlikely he will ever be more than a BOR starter. To say you'd take him over Lackey, I assume you mean head to head right now not anything to do with age or deals, is perplexing to say the least. Lackey still has some semblance of stuff and knows how to pitch. He doesn't have to be pulled most nights before the 3rd time through the order and if you were starting a playoff game you'd go Lackey 10 times out of 10. I'm not even going there with you on Lester who is an ace playing second fiddle to a better ace.

    Listen I get people getting frustrated, we all get frustrated, but what stats tell you is everything regresses to the mean. It allows to temper expectations and also to know when lofty expectations are justified. Not sure i saw anyone predicting 87 wins but I was in the 94-96 range and I've upped my totals to about 97-102 based on the great start. Rizzo is going to get better because there will be regression to the mean and Zobrist is not going to remain this hot for the same reason. That said sometimes stats fail as they did for two years with the Royals. That's why we all love this game, or at least I do, it's part math problem, part endurance race, part athletic skills test, part mind game and part chess match. Every part matters and sometimes people forget some of the parts when they get too high or too low.

  • In reply to PolitiJim:

    I remember the Cubs were picked to win 89 games last year too and we saw what happened :)

  • I think what the cubs are going through is more of a poor sequencing stretch vs playing poorly. Maybe that does not make sense, but even as the cubs have won 4 of 11 their run differential has been positive. They are still consistently pitching pretty well overall. In the giants series, pitchers do get hits somewhere at a 10-20% rate generally when that occurs with runners on base it is just a matter of "sequencing".

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    I very much agree with you about the sequencing. As I understand it fangraphs stat "baseruns" tries to strip out sequencing as best they can (I may be misinterpreting this stat so please correct me if I am wrong). When THAT is figured in the Cubs W-L "should" be 31-11.
    A .741 W%. For perspective, #2 on the list is Boston with a .662 W%.

    As I said before, things like this are what I like to look at to see how well we are playing, not just the "linescore" at the end of the game.

  • Nicely put - as usual - John.

    Managed to not see any of the games this weekend - but had to figure that there was a solid chance that the Cubs could come out of SF with a losing series,..... especially after splitting the first 2 and coming up against Bumgarner to close out the series.

    The offense has just gone a bit cold for the moment. Lester had a bad outing,... Hendricks was surprisingly good despite the loss,... nothing big to worry about yet.

    Let's see them pick it back up for StL tonight. I assume that Heyward isn't going to be back in the lineup for another day or two - bummer because I would have liked to see how he did back in StL.

  • While climbing out on the ledge after every loss is over-reacting, I don't think it's unreasonable to have questions about how "good" a team really is when performance nosedives. In the two weeks since sweeping the Nationals, the Cubs have gone 5-7, losing 3 of the 4 series they played for a winning percentage of .417. Two of those series losses were to powerhouses Milwaukee and San Diego. We can do all sorts of math that includes statistics from the team's hot start to show how "good" they are, but for the past two weeks, they haven't been "good."

    Does that mean the Cubs are doomed? Of course not. But it's difficult not to notice that Jorge is still hitting less than .200, Javy's average is sinking faster than the Titanic and Addison seems to be regressing as well. When players like Rizzo or Bryant slump, and they will, somebody has to pick up the slack. Heyward may or may not be finding his stroke, and Federowicz is, well, Federowicz.

    While it isn't reasonable to expect the Cubs to maintain a .750 winning percentage, it just might be reasonable to wonder what's wrong with a team with this much talent winning at a .417 clip. I have faith in Joe and in the FO, but I've been around long enough to know that "good" is often "not good enough."

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    See, I expected a 5-7 game losing streak as a correction at some point and so far we've gotten this problematic stretch instead. I'll take it although of course I'm not happy about it. I'm not sure this fan base and the weight of expectations could take a losing streak like that on an emotional level anyway.

    As far as some of the players I'm probably one of Soler's biggest critics and I don't think I'm as worried as some of his biggest fans. If he had been playing every day all season I think he would found his stroke by now. I don't think he's the player some think he is but I don't think he's the guy you see right now either. He actually has looked pretty good for a week at the plate, the results just haven't followed yet. He's very young, as is Addison Russell who when he's on looks like a superstar in the making and when he's not looks like a boy. That will level out. I can't wait to see what this kid looks like in two years and I'll take the good the bad while he gets there. I know you know the game and have seen all of this before. Every bit of it is part of the game including, slumps, deceiving stats, slow development and regression to the mean. When guys are bad you can tell, I don't see any bad here.

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    In reply to TC154:

    I agree with you there will be a correction I just don't see it happening in one single skid. Even this stretch has been broken by occasional wins.

  • Great read, John.

    Hard to understand how anyone could be negative at this point.

    We have a 29-13 record without Schwarber, a .200 average from JHey, .200 from Soler and solid numbers, but uneven performances at the plate by Bryant and Russell as they continue to adjust.

    Things are going to be just fine.

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    I've tried to help people keep perspective in some of the stuff I wrote recently. But as always John you seem to be the best at capturing exactly what is needed to calm people. Fans got spoiled by the Cubs amazing start. There is a reason the media and everyone was raving about it. It is not normal, it was beyond anything seen for 100 years. A start like that would never last. Yet as with any team a slump will cause people to look for flaws. Those minor issues people just laugh off during a hot streak become life and death issues. My favorite so far Tim Federowitz became a heated topic of discussion on Saturday. Then he struck out in a key pinch hitting spot and suddenly the Cubs were blowing the season bizarrely clinging to a 3rd string catcher. But this will all go away during another hot streak. Maybe I'm naive but I'm not worried at all either. At least not yet.

  • A few weeks ago we were on pace to win 130 games. My cousin, another huge Cub fan, asked me what I thought and I said, "Total sustainable" and we had a good laugh over it. I find it funny that the Cubs lose a couple of tough games and all of a sudden folks are getting that old feeling of dread again.

    I've got news folks we will lose a few more games - At least 20 more if we win our "projected 130" for the year. At some point we may even lose (gasp) 3 or 4 in a row. Arietta may lose a game (maybe - it's bound to happen some day).

    Teams are gunning for the the Cubs because they are at the top so we will see their best every time (ok... Maybe not the Reds, sorry Mr. Breneman). We will have (and already have had) our share of injuries. Also, remember lots of these players are 2nd year guys. There WILL be growing pains. The league adjusts but I'm confident so will the Cubs. It's a long season. Enjoy the ride. (This coming from someone who had Cubs related stress headaches when the Dodgers swept us out of the playoffs).

  • So, am I happy that Joe is playing Soler and Baez tonight, giving them at-bats to further their development? Or, am I unhappy that he's not starting LaStella and Szczur against Wainwright? Decisions, decisions...

  • When our number 5 starter keeps us to within a run of the other teams number 1, it is not a bad day.

    I'm sure it is kept somewhere-- what is the teams record for a game that any starter starts? Obviously when you combine all starts for the league, it will be .500. But what is the net differential of yesterday's starting pitchers.

  • Lol.....one more point....

    Who were the geniuses who decided to make the schedule go Milwaukee, then let's go to SF and do a quick turnaround to St Lou?

    Blehhhhh........

  • John,
    I don't think you're wrong about extremes by any means, but I think that in addressing this issue, an error has been made:
    There are a lot of Cubs fans who have been in an abusive, codependent relationship for many, many years. Our spouse has finally been faithful long enough that we believe change can happen, but then we start noticing texts to women or some long work nights and we get scared. And it doesn't help that our friends have been saying for months that it wouldn't last and we'd start to see him texting women and working long nights again.

    I'm not one who is afraid. I'm glad the team has had some adversity so far. It's good to a team. Am I confident in our pitching staff? Outside of Arrieta? Not really. The Bullpen? Most guys not named Warren.

    I actually saw this team struggling nearly a month ago. All of a sudden, guys stopped working good counts and started swinging at the first or second pitch and stopped having good ABs. What I don't know if that was just getting away from patience or the league adjusting to their patience and starting to attack. And honestly, there was some very bad umpiring sprinkled in as well.

    I've started to keep track of each AB in games. That's what was concerning me. I was always impressed that the team was scoring in bunches despite not really hitting all that well easy on.

    At the end of the day, the fanbase of this team has been victimized for more than 100 years. It is going to take varying levels of sustained success for different people. I'm confident in this team being completely different than the teams of my past, but some people are still going to be guarded and hyper critical. Cut them a little break. They've been burned time and time again. It's only natural for them to run when they see a flame...

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