Your 2014 Chicago Cubs: The Best Rotation, The Worst Offense, and What That Means Organizationally Speaking

Your 2014 Chicago Cubs: The Best Rotation, The Worst Offense, and What That Means Organizationally Speaking
Nate Schierholtz is part of the reason the Cubs have MLB's worst offense.

Heyyyyy, everybody, it's Friday! Gotta get down on Friday, amirite?

The Cubs offense now ranks 30th out of 30 teams in MLB, with a wRC+ of 78 (1oo is average).

Let me say that again: the Cubs have the worst offense in MLB.

What, what, what?! How can this be? Anthony Rizzo is having a pretty alright year! Luis Valbuena is also having a pretty alright year! Starlin Castro, Junior Lake, and we'll even throw in a Welington Castillo, are each having a pretty alright year! What is the problem?!

The problem is that, outside of those five, the Cubs have been indescribably bad. I literally cannot express to you with words from the English language how bad the offense has been.

We'll start with Emilio Bonifacio, who still has some decent-looking full-season numbers thanks to a super-super-super-hot start. But since April 10, Boni is hitting .218/.269/.301. Yuck.

Now let's look at the rest of the team combined, which includes the following players: Justin Ruggiano, Mike Olt, Ryan Kalish, Nate Schierholtz, Ryan Sweeney, Darwin Barney, John Baker, and Chris Coghlan.

These players have a combined batting average of .194. They have 13 home runs in 703 plate appearances, with almost all of those attributable to one Mike Olt. They have just 17 doubles, and 4 triples (3 of those are Kalish). And for all that lack of power, they have struck out 173 times (24.6%). They have 6 caught stealings against 6 steals.

Batting average doesn't get as much love anymore, but seriously. Half this team is hitting a combined .194. I don't mean to sound like Tim McGinnis or nothing but, rebuild or not, this offense is atrocious, inept, and unacceptable. Kalish and Olt have some upside left in those bats maybe, but I'd still like to see both in AAA until they can hit pitching at that level consistently.

The rest: thank you for your service, and good day. Give me Chris Valaika instead of Barney, Logan Watkins instead of  Nate Schierholtz, and I-don't-know-what for the others. So bad. So very bad.

The Cubs starting rotation is now number one in all of baseball, as measured by fWAR

So that's cool! How are they doing it, pray tell?

For one, they're all limiting the walks. Jake Arrieta and Edwin Jackson are each walking about 9% of the batters they face, but they're also getting enough strikeouts to keep those free passes in check. Each Cubs starter is striking out more than 20 percent of the batters he's faced.

They're also bringing the heat! Jake, Edwin, Jeff and Jason are each averaging more than 92 mph on their four-seam fastballs. Of course Travis Wood is throwing more slowly but that's how he rolls.

Jason Hammel is probably due for some negative regression, as his BABIP allowed is pretty dang low right now (.221). But then Edwin and Jake are suffering unusually high BABIPs allowed (both in the .350 range), so if Hammel gets worse, hopefully E&J get better at the same time.

And hey, the bullpen's been great too! They rank 5th in MLB in fWAR over the past 30 days. Only one guy has a negative WAR over the past month. Can you guess who that is?

OK, and then earlier you said something about this being relevant for the organization?

Indeed I did. I think a lot of the major league beat writers are saying the Cubs will need to get some frontline starting pitching back when they deal Jeff Samardzija. And I guess that's what the rumors and the front office have been hinting at all along too.

But for me, pitching is not the problem in Chicago. I wouldn't say they have a surplus of young arms, but shit -- if they don't trade Shark, they get all these guys back next year too! Except for Hammel, who could easily be replaced with one Kyle Hendricks (or Aaron Nola if they draft him...mmm yum yum yum).

The infield's not the problem either. Rizzo, Castro, and Valbuena are already doing it at the major league level, and Alcantara, Baez, and Bryant are knocking loudly at the door.

Meanwhile, Jorge Soler is hurt. Albert Almora is scuffling. Matt Szczur has turned into the 5th OF we thought he might be. Josh Vitters and Brett I even need to finish this sentence. To quote Butters Stotch, "Do you know what I am saying?" AND: the best available free agent outfielders by my count are Melky Cabrera, Seth Smith, and Colby Rasmus. Do you see an impact player in that set? Melky, maybe, but he'll be expensive. A buncha you twerps seem to really like Rasmus but he has a career OBP of .314!

The Cubs tweeps I run with have been saying a lot lately, "Trust the front office!" And I would say in general that I do. So they know what they need. But if they move Shark and Hammel for young interesting bats, I will applaud these decisions. I want high-OBP guys in AA or AAA; I know the single is dying, but I want guys that can just hit hit hit, that post high avgs and babips at all pro levels.

But we'll see what they do I guess!


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  • The problem seems to be that except for Lake, the Cubs don't have an outfield, or outfielders at the plate.

  • In reply to jack:

    I agree! That's essentially what I tried to spell out in the post.

  • So what I hear you saying is that it is time to call up the prospects.

  • In reply to cubbie steve:

    Except for the whole service time thing. If we call them up too early, they become expensive sooner than we might want.

  • In reply to AJ Walsh:

    Which reminds me that when I lived in a minor league city, they noted that Cal Ripken Jr. was there, for about 6 weeks, and while everyone thought they knew who the big bopper first baseman was with the Columbus Clippers (Steve Balboni), Don Mattingly came up pretty quickly and stayed with the Yankees.

    I guess the bean counters have taken over again.

  • When can we stop looking forward to next years draft pick? We have not even made this years draft pick. The whole service time thing, could concivable take care of itself in 6 years when we have another young stud MLB ready. Or you try to lock up young players like Castro and Rizzo. Then trade away the short term asset to perpetually rebuild or pay someone you think is worth keeping (insert Samardjza here). I see no reason to keep crap in the majors and potential players in the minors due to service time. Except to frustrate fans ans get higher draft picks. I see the whole 40 man roster as a barrier to giving guys a chance at the MLB level also, so don't get me started.

  • In reply to disappointed:

    delaying service time also helps stock up on talent in our case.. once these guys come up.. we wont be having top 5/10 picks.. and with how baseball works now.. that is the only real way to get young talent.. especially when they expect to have international free agency combine with the draft. so its better to be patient and gather as much talent as possible..Boras isnt gonna be giving the Cubs any Evan Longoria deals if he has a say in it.. and he does with Bryant and Almora

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