It's quite clear that pitching is the main issue for the Cubs thus far. After all, when your Opening Day starter's ERA is higher than the largest earthquake on record (9.58 ERA vs. 9.5 magnitude), you have a problem. But today, I want to take a look at a specific problem on the offensive side: power.
As John Arguello pointed out over at Cubs Den, Cub hitters aren't drawing enough walks and their OBP isn't getting it done. As Rudy Jaramillo's Rangers teams showed, some teams can get around this problem by hitting the ball over the fence consistently. But thus far in 2011, there's been a power outage on the North Side.
Here are all of the Cubs home runs this year:
Alfonso Soriano is nearly half of the way to his 2010 total of 24 home runs, and has half of the team's home runs this season. But other than that, the Cubs are exhibiting no pop whatsoever. Where the hell is Pena on that list? Ramirez is on pace for about six home runs this season. Byrd's not a huge power guy, but he's hit at least 10 each of the last four years. Soto hit 23 as a rookie and 17 last year--what's with his lack of jacks this year?
Overall, the Cubs rank 11th in the National League in home runs. It's revealing that Quade has started to toy with Castro--who may develop power over time but is a singles hitter for now--in the three hole. Castro very well may be the Cubs' best pure hitter, and in a few years he might be a phenomenal three hitter. But one would hope that with sluggers like Ramirez, Soto and Pena--this guy has hit more than 20 home runs in a season five times, right?--that Castro could be more of a table-setter than a base-clearer.
Some teams can get by with peskiness, base-running savvy and walks. Other teams make do with pure power. The Cubs are built more for the latter, but the big bats in their lineup have failed to make noise through the season's first month.