First off, thanks for sticking with me through our technological blip there. It got complicated and emails were lost but we finally got through it and it won’t happen again.
And I guess I have to take the blame for the Cubs blip here. We went off the air after the Cubs had turned around the White Sox series, and while the Cubs were able to also turnaround the Brewers series as well, they’ve spit it against two playoff teams and the worst team in the National League. And all that angst and angina-kicking from before the All-Star break has returned, even though the Cubs sit tenuously atop the division.
And it still feels like Daffy Duck trying to plug various leaks. Something gets fixed, and something else gets broken.
What bothers me most about the Cubs right now, and really has all season, is they make just enough plays–or rather don’t make just enough plays–to keep themselves from really going streaking. Just this Giants series, it’s Happ letting a ball run through him or Baez not being quite able to make a play or Jay not quite getting to a flare or Happ again. And they all lead to runs, and they lead to runs that the Cubs’ offense can’t quite make up.
And the other main problem, both offensively and defensively, is that the leaks in the middle of the field are just too big for what the Cubs have to plug it up right now. A bullpen blip I can deal with. Those happen, and all of these guys have a track record (and Edwards’s positive outing on Tuesday night was encouraging). The offense being wonky… it sucks to watch but with the age of everyone I get it.
But in the middle… hoo boy. Baez is hitting, though sometimes it doesn’t feel like it given how ugly some of his ABs can be. But Zobrist can’t really manage anything more than a single and is swinging at more pitches out of the zone than he probably ever has before. His wrist problems are obvious. Ian Happ has been found out by the league and hasn’t countered yet. You can throw slow breaking ball and change-ups at his ankles all day and he’s going to whiff. Russell is hurt, and he wasn’t really hitting all that well until very recently until he hit the DL. And both Zobrist and Happ can’t catch the ball.
So how do you fill this out? Defensively, you but Baez and Russell in the middle and be done with it. But Joe isn’t going to bench Zobrist. He’s not going to get enough starts in right at the expense of Heyward’s defense… and actually Heyward has been the better offensive player anyway this year. Can you really deal with Happ’s defense in center? Is it worth what his bat is now? You’re getting to a point where Happ’s development has gotten enough ABs if you decide he’s a bench player for the last month. But should he replace Schwarber in left sometimes? You can’t platoon Schwarber with Zobrist because Zobrist’s wrist problems are worse from the right side. And actually Schwarber since his recall has been hitting.
It feels like it’s getting to be too much, doesn’t it? Throw in that since Bryant’s finger problems he hasn’t hit for much power at all. His line drive rate is 9% in August. That’s… not good.
This team is still going to win the division. I just don’t think the other teams are good enough to overhaul them unless the Cubs have more injuries other than Slick Willie C. But it feels like they’re running out of fingers to get into the dike.