A Whimper--Dodgers A Metric Ton Cubs 1

Well there wasn't much bang for the Cubs in their final game of 2017. The drama was removed quickly as the Dodgers flipped the script from games 1-4. Jose Quintana walked Chris Taylor after yet another lengthy, grinding at bat from the Dodger leadoff hitter to start the game. Justin Turner struck out which provided one brief moment of hope, but Cody Bellinger ripped a double into right field to score Chris Taylor. The throw to the plate was late and it allowed Bellinger to reach third. Quintana got Yasiel Puig to pop out to Anthony Rizzo, and then got an easy groundball from Logan Forsythe ended the first inning.

Clayton Kershaw walked Kyle Schwarber with one out, but got three easy outs to end the bottom half of the inning. Enrique Hernandez jumped all over a first pitch fastball from Quintana to hit a solo shot to start the second inning. It felt like an insurmontable lead with the way the offense has been stumbling, but it was really just the beginning. Quintana retired the next three batters, and so it seemed like the Cubs lefty might keep his team in the game.

It wasn't meant to be as Quintana could not retire a batter to start the third inning. Chris Taylor hit a ground rule double to start the inning. Justin Turner served a solid single into right center to extend the Dodger lead to 3-0. Bellinger and Puig singled to load the bases and end Q's night. Hector Rondon struck out Forsythe, and again it seemed like there might be some slim hopes of extending the 2017 season. Enrique Hernandez hit a grand slam to effectively end the Cubs season in the third inning. Rondon ended the inning with the Cubs down a touchdown after three.

John Lackey's swan song with the Cubs was a fitting tribute to his 2017 campaign. Chris Taylor singled to start the inning yet again. Lackey struck out Justin Turner, which was not quite as good of a feeling as Quintana's K in the first inning. Bellinger singled to place runners on the corner, and he advanced into scoring position on a wild pitch. Puig hit into a fielder's choice with the drawn in infield. Taylor was thrown out at the plate, but a Forsythe double plated another two runs.

The Cubs got their first hit off Clayton Kershaw in the fourth inning. Fittingly it was a solo shot from Kris Bryant. There will be plenty of narratives to construct from that fact. The Cubs managed a few other base runners, but they could not score a run without the longball once this series. Enrique Hernandez completed his night with a two run home run off Mike Montgomery in the eighth inning. The Cubs are done in 2017. They lost to a better team, and it sucks that the Cubs couldn't show up in two of the three NLCS they made in a row.

WPA CHART

Source: FanGraphs

The Blame Game
It is going to start with Jose Quintana. He came to the Cubs with high expectations due to the price tag attached. He was mostly good, but he had a few clunkers. Tonight was a clunker and it came at the worst time. The Cubs needed not just a good start from Quintana but a great one. Instead he was really bad, but the Cubs continued to only manage to score via the home run. And it was yet another solo home run from Kris Bryant. The bullpen was torched following Wade Davis throwing a starter's worth of pitches in his last two postseason outings. Hector Rondon and John Lackey took a game that was unlikely to be won and removed any drama from the season finale. There is a lot of blame to go around, and we will have a lot of time to dissect it.

The Window within the Window
Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo looked mortal throughout the postseason, but there is no doubt that they will lead a talented lineup for several more seasons. The Cubs have a wealth of position player talent on the big league roster right now, and there are the pieces to be a good team that contends for a division crown right now. However, it is the end of an era as several key pieces of the 2016 and 2017 Cubs are set to depart. The Cubs may surprise and bring back Jake Arrieta and Wade Davis, but it is also very possible that Theo Epstein and company will be content to collect their draft picks if the prices become exorbitant. Either way the front office loaded up on talent for a couple year run, and that time has ended. The team will need to be retooled, and interesting discussions are to be had what this next window within the window looks like.

A Thank You
So I've gotten the honor to write the final recap of the season the 4 years I've been writing here. I may have missed a recap or two, but I believe this is the 226 one I've written here. I would like to thank all of you dedicated denizens. It has been a rough year in many ways. It was an exciting year, and it has been a privilege to share all of the ups and downs with all of you.

Random Reference
Not much else to say at this point, but this was my reaction to most of what I watched tonight.
robin-hood-men-in-tights

Comments

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  • I love listening to Zobrist give so much credit to the Dodgers. He is such a class act. It makes me sad to think that he is probably done being a big factor on Cubs teams in the future. He looked a bit older this season and looked really old during the playoffs. Hopefully he can at least be a productive member off the bench for at least another year as, again, he is one of my favorite players.

  • As per a t-shirt I saw earlier... “There’s Always Last Year”.

    Difficult decisions need to be made and from somewhere, we need a genuine lead off hitter, another 2 starting pitchers and a lights out bullpen... but I can’t see Theo sitting on his backside and treading water.

    I think we may have seen the last of Happ and Schwarber simply because they are never going to be every day players in this team and they at least will bring back some value.

    Onwards to next year. Hopefully with a new batting coach or at least bring back Manny Ramirez to keep these players loose.

  • In reply to Hustlelikereed:

    I'm just happy Theo and Jed are running the team instead of you.

  • Why because I’m not happy to stand still...?

    Do you dispute we need to starters, a lead off guy and a lock down pen...?

    I thought this was a blog of opinions. Is there a need to come on here and be offensive towards someone because their view is different to yours...?

    Happ and Schwarber are good players but are not thus far every day players. Is that disputable...? And difficult decisions will need to be made this year to retool the rotation and bullpen and to find a higher OBP at the top of the order.

  • In reply to Hustlelikereed:

    You bring up valid points. I don't believe your post deserved a swipe like that.

    IMO, a lead off hitter is the most over-rated spot on a team. I don't believe any trade should be made to target a lead-off hitter. If the the opportunity presents itself and the player happens to fit a lead off type, then great. But I would not make that a priority.

    I wrote 2 days ago I do believe 2 of Happ, Schwarber, Baez, or Russell could go in a mega deal especially if the Cubs whiff on a couple of FA SP acquisitions.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    I believe the Cubs will keep the infield intact. The outfield needs some work. I do disagree on leadoff hitter type. The cubs do need a table setter at 1 or 2. It wasn’t fun watching Zo, schwarbs bat there. I was really hoping Addi was that type of hitter. We need a .300 hitter with a good eye in the 1 or 2 spot. And move KB down to 3. The big issue that puts cubs behind the 8 ball is Zo and Jhey. I am not sure how much value schwarbs and Happ have I’m bringing back anyone higher then a 3 starter???

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    How many times per game does a lead off hitter hit lead off?

    1 or maybe 2? So why target a lead off hitter? If you want to add a higher on base guy and sacrifice say the power of Schwarber of Happ, then OK I understand that argument. But all data points to lineup construction being rather meaningless. The way to score the most runs is to get your best hitters the most at bats.

    I would love to give Almora that role. And I know that would be met with derision by many in here. I think he has the baseball intellect and showed continuous improvement over the year to morph into that type of hitter. It would be a little risky I admit. Heyward is the one guy who really screws up the lineup. He has been a major disappointment.

    Should be an exciting hot stove league.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    I believe we need a guy who can be on base guy. It doesn’t matter if hit 1 or 2 but the last thing we need is a .240 guy with 20 hrs and 130 whiffs a year hitting in top 2 spots. You need a higher average/on base guy. This team has to be last in lead in stolen bases. We did nothing to try to manufacture runs when Hr aren’t flyyout of Park.
    By getting a type like that I don’t see it as sacrificing power of Kyle and Happ. Not sure Almora can be a .300 hitter and have a keen eye. But I do wish he would have played more.
    I do agree will be interesting winter for Theo and Jed

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Thank you. I’m not ever one for calling bullying, but the abuse on this blog sometimes can be bordering on that.

  • In reply to Hustlelikereed:

    We should all be able to voice opinions without getting blasted. Some are over the top, but still..... I don't think anything you wrote even came close to that snark. Keep posting!!!! ;-)

  • In reply to Hustlelikereed:

    I'm not sure the bullpen is a main concern. After all, this is basically the same bullpen as last year, which was a strength of the team.

    What we want to make sure not to do is to chase the guys who were good this year, because never is the phrase "past performance is not indicative of future results" more true than with relief pitchers. Look at the drop in Chapman's stats this year, and those of our own Hector Rondon's. Meanwhile, where did some of those LA pitchers come from? Or Brian Duensing?

    So, if we can get what looks like a good bp arm cheap, I say go for it. But I think there's just as much chance that we could do as well by keeping our guys, each of whom have pitched well in the past and may do so again next year.

  • In reply to Lildude:

    I'd have to agree that the bullpen is a concern. I like this interview from Theo talking about the bullpen's woes, and how he hopes to address it:

    http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2017/10/19/theo-epstein-takes-blame-for-cubs-pitchers-wildness-notably-in-bullpen/

    Epstein: "Our bullpen walked over 10 percent of the batters it faced this year, which was 30th in baseball. We were 26th the year before that. It’s been kind of across the board. Of our 10 relievers that have thrown the most innings this year (for us), eight of them have walked way more guys than they have traditionally and the other two are right at their averages. “It’s sort of systemic across the board. So we have to find a way to address that going forward, and we will."

  • In reply to Lildude:

    I think you need to look at usage. The BP guys who go into serious regression are generally those who have had periods of overuse.

    Chapman was used heavily last year and Rondon the year before.

    Similarly, Edwards was fairly light out until his periods of heavy dependency this year.

    A lot of analysis is needed - and we know that Theo et al will do this, but we need to get BP walks down and strikes up.

    One of my concerns especially the last year has been how many times that across the board our pitchers have not been getting first pitch strikes, and are then always behind in the counts.

  • The Cubs had a tough season and they expended a lot of energy to get where they got this year. That said, they got a lot further than they were headed based on the how they were playing in May and June. Unfortunately, they used up a lot of energy getting out of the hold they dug themselves in the first half. It's tough to win every year and this team has won 311 games the last 3 years. Motivation comes in many ways. The way they went out this year stings and that sting would be an excellent motivator along with the chip that is now back on their shoulder as they come into this off-season and for next season. The Dodgers clearly were watching last year after game 6 and then this year after they had to watch the trophy and ring presentation in the 1st home series of the year. They came into this series focused, rested and with a solid game-plan. The Cubs need to take a couple of months off and then start using the way they feel tonight as motivation for 2018!

  • I too believe that both Happ and Schwarber are potential trade pieces due to the simple fact that neither can play reliable defense and though hitters are much harder to find than players who can defend, the trade chips will have to come from somewhere.

    Really uncomfortable to watch the team being dominated in 2 of the 3 League championship series.

    Add the fact that we cannot know what the future holds in terms of getting back to the postseason given the randomness and variability of baseball team performances, it just seems like this team underperformed at the worst time.

  • To the 2017 Cubs:

    I'd say I don't know if I love you or hate you, but that would be a lie. You weighed on my heart and tested my patience. You brought me joy and even a concussion during a Schwar-bomb. Our time together was often combative but oh so comforting and rewarding.

    You began with a bigger hangover than me, which is a feat in itself. You stumbled through the first half, but my faith never wavered. You fought and conquered in the second half, quieting many of the doubters. I was right there with you all the way. We rode this thing further than anyone thought we could go, and for that I thank you.

    We have much work to do to make next season the success we both want it to be. We have the talent, the money, the management, and perhaps most importantly the new-found hunger. I've had many doubts about my beloved Cubs over my forty years of fandom, but not now. I believe.

    I am very much looking forward to 2018. Is it spring yet?

    Go Cubs!

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Great perspective on a great year ending in disappointment. Getting to the Final Four, if you will, while an accomplishment, is deflating when you don’t win it all. Plenty of time for reassessing. WTNY!

  • Needs: two starting pitchers, a new bullpen crew, and a lead off hitter.

  • In reply to Hagsag:

    Need #1:
    Refill the gas tank.
    Go on vacation for a month and not do a damn thing.

  • In reply to hoffpauir6:

    Completely agree. They need to get away and clear the mind. They also won't have everyone telling them how great they are this off-season. They learned one thing this year. They were everyone's target and with that came a fight every day and practically every inning this season. It takes a toll. In the playoffs, it's a fight every pitch. To beat the Dodgers this year, they needed to win all of those battles...on an empty gas tank which is asking the impossible. While it was great beating the Nationals, they really needed to close that series out in 3 to give themselves a chance. I say a chance because the Dodgers looked the part this year and it was obvious that they were the better club.

  • In reply to Hagsag:

    I don't know that I give up on Monty, Strop, Edwards, Duensing, and Rondon just yet. They've had success before and, given the variability in bullpen pitchers stats from year to year, they just might do so again. And anyone we might get to replace them might be heading for a fall (ex - what if we had resigned Chapman?)

  • I think this is the first time in history where every run scored by a team was on a HR.

    This is a huge flaw of our offense and was the single biggest difference from '16 to '17. Never seemed to click stringing walks and hits together.

  • This 2017 team got its butts kicked a ton this year. Its a long season and a loss is a loss but I think that takes a toll mentally. The 2016 team knew it was great. I think this team questioned and then maybe accepted that it wasn't.

  • In reply to jefeggs2542:

    Refreshing perspective. I honestly think you're on to something.

  • In reply to jefeggs2542:

    This is why the last team to repeat was early 2000’s???? It is so hard to do. As well as we played last Oct this Oct was opposite.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    I don't think its necessarily that hard to repeat, its just that the playoffs are essentially a roulette wheel with 8 slots (after the play-in game), each having an equal chance of having the ball land on it. Look at how many times the WC has advanced to (or even won) the World Series.

    So what it comes down to is simple math - at the start of the playoffs there was an 87.5% chance that the Cubs would not win, and those are pretty tough odds to overcome.

  • In reply to jefeggs2542:

    My take is that last year they were too young to realize that its not supposed to be that easy. This year, they were experienced enough to realize just how hard it can be. Maybe next year they'll be mature enough to realize that they are good enough to do it again.

  • Another topic to get people going is: assessing the Q trade after year 1. I know it is still early but the reason we traded half the farm was to be able to match a Clayton and keep us in a game in late Oct not June or July. It will b interesting to see how this plays out.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    I've been a fan of Q since he emerged with the White Sox. The kid is solid and consistent. He was mostly that with us this year but he had never been moved before as an MLB player and that affects everyone differently. I'm not worried about Q at all. My big concern is Lester who I don't think is a 1 anymore.

  • In reply to TC154:

    Yeah - I think Lester is on the verge of becoming the Lefty version of what Lackey was last year. A crafty veteran guy who can eat some serious innings, keep his team in most games, and occasionally "wow" you for a game or two. He's maybe a #2 guy now, possibly a quality #3. His leadership and experience may be more important than his playing ability over the next season or two.

    Assuming that Arietta is not back next season, the management is going to have to make some decisions about the rotation. Their most consistent pitcher is probably Hendricks, but he's not the classic 'Ace' guy. Quintana is solid. Lester is going to be solid enough,.. but a rotation built completely out of guys who are not 'shutdown' pitchers may not be something to aspire to.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Without Quintana they don't make the playoffs this season

  • In reply to WaitUntilNextYear:

    Not sure that is 100% accurate. But we got Q to do more then just make playoffs. Reason price was high was he was supposed give us a chance vs Kershaw twice.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Well, Q did give them a chance in his first game against LA, and pretty much carried the Cubs on his back in his start vs Wash

  • Pitching and defense wins championships. We put out a weak defensive outfield almost every game trying to get more offensive output. Nobody hit in this playoff and work the pitch count. We never put pressure on their pitching staff. I love Kyle S bat but watching him play in the field it is obvious he is a D.H. We need to move him for a starter, Happ is the new Ben Zobrust. Put A.A. in center and let him play. The bullpen has some good arms but tends to be up and down from year to year. Just look at the Dodgers pen this year B Morrow was in the minors at the start of the year K.Mahida was a 4/5 starter Tony C and Tony W were not considered great setup men unlike Justin Watson things just didn't work out this year. We have the best front office in baseball let them do their job this winter and sit back and enjoy the ride next year. We have a team that will compete for a title every year that has not been the norm around here

  • In reply to Troop85:

    I agree that AA needs to play every day in CF. Do not agree with trading Schwarber. He had one bad play in the playoffs which they still won that game. Ryan Braun is not a gold glover in left field either but he is still a player teams covet because of his offensive game. If Schwarber comes back next year and hits a lot better (which I think is probable), we can accept that fact that he is not a gold glove left fielder. Most of the time he is adequate to make the routine play.

  • In reply to Troop85:

    Perfect example of how random bullpen effectiveness is.

  • 1. Rizzo and Javy and Almora are the only players who met my expectations, with AA exceeding them.

    1. Bryant, despite his precious WAR, was a big disappointment this year. I expect more, much more, from him. Hopefully, we get it next year.

    2. We need way more production out of LF and RF. Schwarber and JHey killed us. I like Happ's promise, but Theo has to decide of Schwarber or Happ is our LF. Can't have both. Or how bout Schwarber and Happ as centerpieces for Stanton? OK, pipe dream. But seems to me Theo is gonna have to eat at least half of JHey's remaining contract.

    3. Russell? Failed to take a step forward. We don't know how much his personal problems contributed to his regression. But gotta think he'll be given a clean slate for 2018.

    4. Contreras struggled mightily in first half, led the charge at the start of 2nd, but the injury derailed things. He's a future superstar, so we're set there.

    5. There was not a single bright spot in our rotation. No one wowed. Q sparked the 2nd half run, had a number of great outings, but nonetheless raises serious questions as to whether Jimenez was a huge overpay. Overall, its meh.

    6. Bullpen. They actually shined for large chunks of the season. But, well, you know.

    It's gonna be an interesting offseason. Glad we got the best minds in baseball to figure out where we go from here.

  • In reply to TTP:

    1) Agree. Bryant is so talented I would like to see more as well.

    2) I would keep both Schwarber and Happ. Happ can play all over the field. I am not giving up on Schwarber after on bad season. He still hit 30 homers.

    5) Agree, which is why I think signing a stud free agent starter in the offseason should be a priority.

    6) BP needs to improve. You can see the value of having a dominant 7th, 8th, and 9th inning relievers. LA had that in their back pocket this year.

  • In reply to MoneyBall:

    1) Bryant's bat disappointed this year. He was not the run producer we thought he'd be. But at the same time there are some positives. He did lower his k% to a point I didn't think would be possible ever, let alone a 1 year turn around. And his defense looked really good. I used to consider it not a problem, this year it seemed a strong plus.
    2) Schwarber's first half was abysmal, but even though the power busted out in a big way in the second half, he still had a lot of trouble making contact. I was surprised by this, since it wasn't really an issue for him in the minors. He controls the zone so well and has such a good swing, he shouldn't be striking out as much as he did. I wonder if this year he had more rust to shake off than we were expecting because of the insane WS performance. I thought his D has steadily improved. I think he gets lambasted because of his body type. His routes and jumps aren't bad, and seems to be just a slightly below avg runner. He just really lacks experience. I know he blew that ball in a heavy wind, with the ball slicing away from him, but this is an experience play. It will come. I thought by the end of 2017 he looked decent. Awkward as hell at the start of the year, but steady improvement. I assume Jay is gone and Happ or Heyward will get about 40-50 starts in CF (when Almora rests).
    4) I agree, Contreras is a superstar waiting to happen.

  • In reply to TTP:

    Would you not say that Contreras met your expectations this year? Even with the injury, he took a big step forward and seemed to be written up in the national media as the 2nd best catcher in the NL.

  • That game started badly,... continued badly,... and ended with a whimper. Dodgers just plain flat out outplayed the Cubs. The better and more hungry team won.

    It was a solid season, with some excellent play by these young kids. While I know there will have to be some moves in the offseason - I really hope they keep most of this core together for a few more years and let them grow together.

    It will be interesting seeing how Theo and his guys reconstruct the rotation. We have to assume that at least one of Arietta and Lackey won't be back, possibly both. Adding Quintana helps going into next season and beyond, but he's a bit too inconsistent to be an 'Ace'. Hendricks was very consistent the second half, but missed some playing time. Lester had some good days, and some very bad days. We kind of got spoiled by the SP consistency last season though.

    The BP was actually pretty good most of the season - but there are a lot of pieces that probably won't be back. Montgomery is likely added to the rotation, Rondon and Grimm are probably out of the picture, and some of the Kids down in Iowa are probably going to vie for BP spots.

    It was a good season - and having won the WS last year takes some of the sting out of losing to LA here this week - but lets see this all play out again this time next year!

    In the meantime - I have a feeling I won't be watching nearly as much of the WS this year,....

  • How many days until pitchers and catchers report?

  • In reply to Cubswin09:

    As many days as it takes for all of us at Cubs Den to write the articles it requires to properly prepare you for it.

  • In reply to Cubswin09:

    It hasn't been officially announced yet, but it is likely 115 days.

  • Disappointing end to the season, but still a fun season overall.

    Will always remember the gutsiness of Wade Davis in those two multi-inning save situations. That showed the heart of a true competitor.

    Congrats to the Dodgers, who were the far superior team this year. Let's just hope that they are not becoming a juggernaut in the NL for years to come.
    With their young core, I could easily see that happening. Still can't figure out how they keep drafting players like Bellinger and Seager when they consistently draft near the bottom every year (for the past few years).

    I have a lot of issues with the current Cub team, but will let it simmer for a few days until we get into the off-season and start up the Hot Stove league.
    We definitely have a lot of things to clean-up!

  • fb_avatar

    On to reloading season!

  • Not the ending we wanted but one thing in life that is always true is: things change.....

    Hoping against hope but internally admitting, these kids were beat and by that I mean.....wore out. That’s not an excuse but anyone from the outside looking in could see the spark and drive from last year was missing. I was actually glad none of the position players made the ASG and the mini-break served them very well in their second half play, but you could see the freshness and hunger in the young Dodgers on display this week.

    The Cubs are GOOD. .....and will continue to be GOOD. I have no reservations over that. They are one of the 4 or 5 teams in all of MLB with a great young core that will remain in positions to thrive. Some changes will happen, they always do but to doubt them you would also have to doubt the Indians. Do you think Cleveland has a bad team now?

    The nitpicking will unfortunately escalate. We need this, we need that, we didn’t do this, etc.

    Last year the Cubs made it a point of driving up opposing pitchers pitch counts into the 80 range by the 4th inning and then blowing up their bullpens. Teams countered that by strengthening bullpens, it seems to be the new trend. You didn’t see much of that approach from the Cubs this year. Fowler excelled in that role but also languished this year in St Louis, they didn’t use him the same way. Jason Hammel didn’t exactly light it up for KC this year either. Sometimes players just do better in designated roles.....things change.

    I want to thank ALL the writers here who once again did wonderful work throughout what is now known as a difficult year. None of us would have thought losing the crown both on the field.......and here was coming this soon.

    The snow will be blowing across LSD soon enough but the tulips will pop back up through the last gray chunks of ice and the robins will once again hop on top of new grass.......Opening Day will come again.

  • In reply to Wickdipper:

    Agreed - thank you to all the writers who have kept us entertained through a season that has been difficult at times for various reasons.

    And Wickdipper thank you for the last paragraph. I love the harsh Chicago winters, but I also love the first peeking through of the spring flowers because it’s then time to fly down to Mesa and get back to baseball.

  • I think one of the big differences (well - OK two factors, one difference) between last year's team and this year's team was the guys setting the table.

    With Dexter gone to FA (you go, we go!,... gone) and with the other prime OBP machine Zobrist another year older, looking more fragile, and injured a sizable chunk of the season - there was just not the same kind of table-setting this year as last.

    The revolving door on Leadoff hitters (and the largely failed 1st two months of Schwarber batting ~0.170) just didn't set the stage or tone the same way. The guy with the best OBP among the position players was Bryant,... followed by Rizzo. And neither of them is really a standard table-setter.

    Who do the Cubs get to play the "Dexter" role next year? They don't really have a guy on the roster now that fits that bill. Almora and Jay possibly, especially as Almora continues to develop as a hitter? Or do they do a grander experiment and put Bryant in as a leadoff guy?

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    I agree 100%. I can't explain it, but when Dexter was playing well there was a synergistic affect on the entire team. The team improved greater than just Dexter's offensive contributions. That whole "when you go, we go" comment from Maddon exactly sums it up. I do think finding a leadoff guy who can have a similar affect would be a great thing for this team. Maybe they already have that guy in Almora. Maybe whatever ailed Zo this year is gone next year (I'm hoping it's not Father Time), and he can be that guy.

  • Thank you to the Cubs organization. These last 3 years have been fabulous. Has any other MLB club done better in these last 3 years? I trust the FO to do what needs to be done. We are set up to be playing in the post season for several years to come.

  • I'm not a proponent of moving Schwarber or Happ like some posters are. They are both young, cost controlled players with a ton of talent and big power. Happ can play all over the field. Schwarber had a down year but still hit 30 homers. Players like that don't grow on trees. Plus you need to have depth. Zobrist is getting older. I agree that Jason Heyward is a disappointment at the plate. I would focus on pitching.

    1) IMO we need another ace starting pitcher (particularly if we lose Arrieta to free agency).
    2) We need to improve the bullpen.

    The team needs to get back to grinding out at bats and making it tough on the opposing pitcher. We need to take walks. This year we struggled against elite pitching in the playoffs (just like in 2015 against the Mets). That is going to happen sometimes. But elite pitching from year to year is fickle. Just look at the Mets. There is not guarantee that the Dodgers will be a good next year. As a Cub fan, I can't get too discourages with 3 straight LCS appearances and a world series win last year with the core of the team young players in place on cost controlled contracts.

  • Cub batters during the NLCS had 53 strikeouts and 5 walks.

    Dodgers batters during the series had 41 strikeouts and 28 walks.

    Cubs .OBP was the lowest in Post-season since 1905!

  • In reply to DetroitCubFan:

    That about sums up all you need to know about the Cubs postseason.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Yep,... hard to score runs consistently when you don't get people on the base-paths consistently. LA did it. The Cubs did not. End of story.

    The guys all need to take about a month to decompress,... stay away from a baseball field,... hang out on a beach or travel to somewhere where they don't play baseball and drink coffee or wine at some cafe,... have a few beers, sleep in, and come back in the Winter and start getting focused again.

  • Losing sucks but it provides an opportunity for an honest assessment which was tough last year because they won the whole thing. Out of the ashes, the phoenix rises. There is too much pride in this organization to 1) Not learn from failure 2) Use the feeling they have right now to properly form a chip on their shoulder for next year. 3) Recognize, prepare for and expect excellence. As an organization, you need to keep pounding. Keep moving forward and take the opportunities to learn from failures like the playoffs. To not learn is a failure in its own. It's actually an easier assessment this year because it didn't come down to the last pitch or one play. This year, it was clear that the Dodgers were much better and with that, real analysis replaces would of, should of. So for Tom, Theo, Jed and Jason, take a breather, clear the mind and then keep pounding.

  • Off topic, but ...

    Ever wondered who is the guy wearing the pink hat and green jacket behind home plate? I am not sure how to embed a link in this comment, but try googling "Guy in the pink hat".

    Maybe Stephanie will be looking for another interview candidate ...

  • In reply to DropThePuck:

    I’m glad someone else noticed Pink Cap guy. He was the model of consistency.

  • Pat had another faux pas yesterday. As Q was leaving, he said something about we still are in this game, it isn't like we're down 5 or so runs. Then Rondon gave up the grand slam.

    I know he is paid to talk, but sometimes one shouldn't.

  • Let’s remember that the Cubs have around $50 Million coming off the books this off season. That is a ton of money to throw at Darvish/Arrieta/Lynn/Cobb etc and possibly re-sign Davis or another closer/bullpen guy.

    Lots of flexibility with money and players and a FO that wants to do something to get back to winning.

    Lester/Hendricks/Q/Cobb and a combo of Tseng/Monty etc at #5 is not a bad rotation at all.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    I think the money is much more than that --

    Davis ($10MM), Arrieta ($15.6MM), Lackey ($16MM), Uehara ($6MM), Rondon ($5.8MM), Jay ($8MM), Montero ($14MM), Anderson ($3.5MM), Grimm ($1.8MM) all equal $80.7MM from the 2017 payroll and the added Quintana at $8.3MM, Martin at $4.8MM, and Wilson for $2.7MM for 2018 so there is roughly $65MM available just to equal the payroll of 2017 without adding for an increase. I cannot see Martin retained for $4.8MM, so one could conceivably add another available $5MM to 2018.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Figure some of the 'kids' getting raises will eat into a bit of that ~$65 MM,... but yeah - that's no small change.

    Even figuring that Bryant goes up from his ~$1 MM, and you have to figure they offer Hendricks a significant bump up from his ~$750 K and some of the other kids get raises,... got to figure that there will be ~$50 MM to play with.

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    Dusty just got "Bakered".

  • In reply to Ray:

    Sad, but not unexpected.

  • In reply to Ray:

    Didn't get an extension, so it was win or else.
    Or else happened, so it was pretty easy to see this coming.

  • It seems like there are enough thoughts in my brain to write a novel, but I want to keep it high level and positive. My only negative commentary, if these guys are all so warn out and tired from this grind of a season, then I better not see anyone reporting early to spring training next year, and the Cubs better have pitchers and catchers report as late as possible per MLB rules. Now on to the positive, the Cubs and dodgers are the only 2 teams in MLB to make the playoffs the last 3 years, and obviously 3 straight nlcs on top of that. It hurts that they were pretty much dominated in 2 of those nlcs, but the expectation level of everyone including the fans is so high, that it really shows you how transformative this era of Cubs baseball is. This group exceeded expectations in 2015 and met or exceeded expectations last year too, so Theo had no reason to upset the apple cart and retool this group of hitters that is fairly 1 dimensional with a lot of players with similar skill sets. He gave them the benefit of the doubt. This is the first year that the hitters didn't meet expectations across the board, so I think Theo will diversify the hitting portfolio this offseason. He has likely already known for 12+ months what he wants to do if he needs to retool the mix of offensive players, but this year they were exposed enough to where he knows he will need to execute that plan. Cubs have 9 young hitters for 8 spots. Can't imagine a scenario where all 9 are back. It isn't abundantly clear which person(s) should be traded as most of them are still establishing themselves as major leaguers, but im suspect theo is going to pick a lane and make a change. We have all off season to discuss / analyze those options

  • In reply to kb60187:

    And to add on to the meme of being tired and worn down.

    The Dodgers, the last two years have gone to the NLCS and the WS (just like the Cubs have). Now will everyone who says the Cubs were tired and exhausted be saying the same thing about the Dodgers this time next year?

  • In reply to DetroitCubFan:

    Check the roster for both teams ending the ’15 season until now......most of the Dodgers weren’t even on that team and there is no disputing the Cubs have played more games than any other team the last 3 years.

  • Otani would be the perfect fit.He would be an affordable young ace.I know every team in mlb will be trying to sign him.I hope the cubs somehow can get him.

  • In reply to bolla:

    I really am starting to get the feeling that since it isn't about the money for him that signing Darvish gets you Ohtani. If so I go after both hard. That rotation, assuming the bullpen is better, probably makes you the WS favorite. Of course there are probably 3 or 4 other clubs thinking the same thing...

  • In reply to TC154:

    I have thought the very same thing. Having Darvish and Ohtani would fill out the rotation nicely.

  • In reply to TC154:

    Yea exactly.Darvish is otanis idol I read he worships the guy & darvish has some nasty stuff.Definitely would try it

    alex cobb probably a more realistic option if they can't get otani & darvish.

  • In reply to bolla:

    Agree, dream scenario is Otani, Davis back and either Darvish or trade for a solid SP

  • Well, it could be worse. I mean, Cleveland was the overwhelming pick to win the WS at the start of the postseason and then promptly went on to blow a 2 games to nothing lead to the wildcard team, extending their drought to 70 years. Washington last that game 5 by 1 run again, and continue to have no pennants in the franchises 48 year existence. Houston might be on the verge of blowing a 2 games to nothing lead against the Yankees, which would extend their championship drought to 56 years. And then there's the Pirates, Brewers, Rangers, Rockies, Blue Jays, Orioles, A's, Padres, Reds, Twins - did I forget anybody? - who each have championship droughts of 25 years or more.

    So, instead of mourning the series loss to the Dodgers, shouldn't we be taking pity on the fan bases of these less fortunate teams?

  • In reply to Lildude:

    No pity for other teams. No team took pity on the Cubs for 108 years. Our FO just has to be concerned about getting the Cubs ready for next year. Let the other teams worry about themselves.

  • Many comments here say the Dodgers were by far the superior team. I don't believe there's a huge talent gap. Instead I think it has more to do with the mental gap - the Cubs simply did not exercise situational hitting very well (poor discipline, seemingly behind on every count). I've been concerned about this for 2+ years and hope the experience of having been through the grind of several seasons + playoffs would make the young players more into grinders. Mallee, or whoever the new batting coach is, should really emphasize this next spring.

  • In reply to Laker802:

    Agreed!

    there was way too much "Swing-and-miss" in the Cubs hitting approach this Post-season. By contrast, the Dodgers were super patient, but when they swung, they swung and hit almost everything in site.

    Two different approaches, two different results.

  • In reply to DetroitCubFan:

    The Cubs and Dodgers finished 1-2 in all of baseball in BB% during regular season (Dodgers led by just 0.6%) and finished with identical 22.3% K rates.
    Dodgers: .249/.334/.437, 221 HR, wOBA .330, wRC+ 104
    Cubs: .255/.338/.437, 223 HR, wOBA .331, wRC+ 101

    Their approaches are the same. The two teams could not be more similar. They finished almost identical in EVERY major category. The Dodgers were simply locked in come playoff time and the Cubs weren't.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    The Cubs offense was in a slump. They didn't forget how to hit.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    The Cubs bullpen during the regular season was last in the league in giving up walks. I suspect the Dodgers were one of the best. Except for the last game, the Cubs starting staff was good. But when it got to the bullpens the game was over. The Dodgers would patiently waiting, grind out ABs, and push up pitch counts. That approach wouldn't work for the Cubs.

    It's funny, I was listening to the Giants announcers talk about the Cubs and "forgetting how to hit." They said the Tigers and Rangers and Royals all said the same thing. And they were like, "No, you didn't forget how to hit, it's just that you can't hit Timmy and Cain and Bum and the Big Four.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Dodgers hitters that will be under 30 next year: Grandal (29), Barnes (28), Puig (27), Taylor (27), Pederson (26), Hernandez (26), Toles (26), Seager (24), Bellinger (22), Verdugo (22) - Turner will turn 33, Forsythe 31. Utley, AGon, Ethier, Granderson, Gutierrez are all late 30s.

    Cubs hitters that will be under 30 next year: La Stella (29), Rizzo (28), Heyward (28), Bryant (26), Contreras (26), Baez (25), Schwarber (25), Russell (24), Almora (24), Caratini (24), Happ (23) - So everyone except Zobrist (37)

    The two teams are remarkably similar. Dodgers have more speed on the basepaths while the Cubs are better defensively.

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    My thought while the game was going on.....
    "Don't our pitchers ever pitch inside"?
    Dodger hitters all looked way too comfortable at the plate.

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