With each Cub loss the angry mob grows. People need a person to point the finger as to why the Cubs lost. It seems like each and every year some Cub fans need a player to hate. It may not be unique to Cub fans. There will always be blame to throw around.
Last year we saw fans throw up their arms in disgust when Jon Lester got off to a slow start. When a guy signs a huge contract it is expected that he should lead the team. Lester just didn’t get off to a fast start. In the second half of the season, the guy we expected showed up and his production justified the huge contract. The mob needed a new whipping boy.
Next it was Starlin Castro. If you remember correctly, Castro got off to an extremely hot start. He seemed to be highlighted on television in the whole month of April. The media had said this was the Castro that the Cubs had been waiting to see mature. He was loved by all and especially after his bounce back 2014 season.
This of course quickly changed and we saw Castro lose his starting SS position. He was riding the bench and the angry mob just wanted him run out of town. Then things changed again after Castro started to play well at 2B. Fans started to talk about Castro possibly being our 2B of the future. Torches and pitchforks were dropped.
This year the mob shifted it’s anger to Jorge Soler. Let’s forget about the job the kid did in the 2o15 playoffs. Nope, this mob needs to be fed instantly and if you are not leading the team in some category you will get your turn to be the focus of anger. Soler gets hurt and hits the disable list. The mob moves on.
Currently the angry mob has it’s sight set on two areas. The first being the Cubs bullpen. There is no doubt that the Cubs are looking for some help. And we can also be pretty sure the club will get us that help. But any deal that is made takes time. There will be due diligence done on several players. Then negotiations will take place. Finally a deal will be struck.
Fans just don’t have the luxury of being a fly on the wall inside Jed Hoyer’s office. The Cubs have traditionally kept their cards close to the vest. The have done a fantastic job of keeping the leaks to a minimum. It helps prevent your competition from suddenly swooping in and grabbing a guy you have targeted.
We really should realize that there are talks going on in the background. The Cubs have a list of guys they have targeted for a possible trade. With that said, you also need to take a peek under each and every rock. Can you get production from someone currently in your system? Anyone on the waiver wire that might be the answer? Any guys out there that have some nice secondary #’s but may be getting mixed results?
We saw this type of approach produce both Cahill and Richards. Both were key additions and played a big roll in the bullpen down the stretch. That’s the nature of relievers. They may have a rough stretch for a few months and then suddenly out of nowhere, things seem to click. Let’s also remember, there is a very good reason pitchers end up in the bullpen. For various reasons, these guys were just unable to get the job done as a starter but can be effective for an inning or two out of the bullpen.
The second area the anger mob is currently focused is the bat of Jason Heyward. It’s pretty obvious that Heyward has struggled at the plate. This seemed to be acceptable back in April when he was making a highlight film with his glove out in RF. Now that the team is just not scoring a lot of runs and are in a slump, the mob turns it’s torches to Jason.
Some of the points being made made not be justified.
- He signed a $184M contract so we should have a guy that can hit! Really? I thought this argument was put to rest before the contract was even signed. Heyward is the very first “sabermetric” type of signing. Everyone that was in the hunt to sign him was doing so for his gold glove defense in RF, his base running and his OBP. These were all area he has excelled in the past.
- Heyward always comes up when runners are in scoring position and he strikes out! This is pretty short sighted. Joe Maddon is the guy the puts out the lineup card. He has said over and over that Heyward is going to hit in that #2 spot because of what Jason has done over his career. The guy is known as a high OBP type and the thinking is that he should be on base for the big guys to drive home. It’s really just unfortunate that Jason’s traditionally slow start has extended through the month of June. But does this mean it will extend for the rest of the year? We don’t win a World Series in June.
I still want to give guys the benefit of the doubt. Why? Well, as of June 30, the Cubs still have the best record in all of baseball. I don’t know about you, but I never expected the Cubs to win 162 games. In fact, I expected them have flaws. Guess what? Every team has flaws, every year!
The bottom line is this. The Cubs were built to score a lot of runs and they are just not doing it right now. It’s putting a lot of pressure on the pitchers to hold down the fort. They have just played 14 games in a row and have 10 more to go before they get a day off. They look tired and we have seen some real sloppy play. Injuries have been a part of the drama.
The hitters have not been as patient as they were in the beginning of the season. The Cubs were known to make opposing pitchers work and were many times pulled by the 5th inning because of high pitch counts. This is because the Cubs bench players are being asked to fill in and produce like everyone did before the injuries. Guys like Szczur, Almora, and Coghlan are not exactly doing the job with taking a whole lot of pitches and producing a high OBP.
Here’s the good news. We have Theo steering the ship. I fully expect a deal to be made to add one or maybe two arms for the bullpen. I’m more than sure that Epstein and Maddon talk each and every day and the topic of Heyward’s struggles at the plate have come up. Jason has got the job done in the past and I fully expect him to produce by the time the playoffs start. If not, I don’t think we will continue to see him in the two hole of the lineup.
We are in good shape and there are about 29 other teams that would love to have the problems we have. So I don’t think I’ll join the mob just yet and choice to enjoy the ride. It’s been the best ride of my life and probably the best ride others have ever had for about 108 years.