Cubs’ Rebuild: Is the Team Still On Track?


The last couple days have been particularly tough for Cubs fans…

This goes without saying that it’s not easy to be a Cubs fan to begin with – what with all the curses and goats and Bartman and galactic alignment/moon phases shitting all over the team.

Other than all the superstitious bullshit which holds absolutely no clout with semi-knowledgeable baseball fans, it’s hard to ignore the rather obvious signs of pain coming from the Cubs. Most notably within the last few days is the 3R HR that Carlos Marmol surrendered to the Mets for a 4 run 9th, thus losing the game in glorious fashion.

Apr 8, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein meets with the press prior to a game between the Chicago Cubs and the Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

It was an unbelievably “Cubs” way to lose a game and drew out the worst in Cubs fans nationwide.

Twitter had exploded with hate messages towards Marmol, the Cubs brass, and just frustration in general was at a boiling point. Some people were more guilty of some nasty messages than others, but it was an absolute gong-show none the less, which left me questioning the rationality of the fan base.

Don’t get me wrong, Cubs fan. I love you all and not just because you keep me employed, but you’re all slightly insane.

Let’s check our emotions quickly before we begin to question the front office and their methods, as there are a couple of items that need to be addressed head on.

The Carlos Marmol situation: Marmol being called in for the 9th inning of work against the Mets was indeed the right choice.With Kevin Gregg unavailable, Shawn Camp may have been the only other closer option at that point and considering Marmol’s hot-pan flashes of effectiveness, he was indeed the man for the job. Yes, Marmol got smacked around, but only because the location on his fastball was off and the Mets weren’t biting at the slider. That’s baseball.

Ultimately, Marmol’s time with the Cubs is coming to an end and the brass know this. If he had even the slightest, most minute trade value what so ever, he would be shipped off asap. Releasing him offers no constructive value what so ever so sadly, he’s stuck as a Cub until the right buyer comes along, who will likely acquire him on the cheap.

Lack of offense: This has been a pseudo problem for the Cubs this year as they’re slugging extremely well, but fail to put runners on the bags consistently. This is one of those problems that has many solutions, such as refined coaching methods that allow players to take a more patient approach at the plate, which in turn could generate more walks. Players like David DeJesus are a model example of this, but he’s out with a shoulder injury for some time, which is a bummer.

The problem could also be based around the Cubs surrendering too many runs, which then rules out offensive prowess. The magic number of runs in baseball is 5, as you’ll win more games than you’ll lose if your team can post at least 5 runs. Theoretically, the Cubs are surrendering 4.22 runs per game which is enough to put you well in to the loss column even if you’re producing power from the plate. I don’t claim this to be the reason behind a 28-39 record, but it’s worth taking note of.

The Front Office: is fine and everyone needs to get over themselves. They’re doing everything in their power correctly so far and I doubt that anyone can outperform Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and Jason McCleod. I understand where the doubt is coming from, especially after last year’s focus being on acquiring solid pitching to patch (emphasis on the word patch) up what was a massive gap area from last year. They relied largely on those who were recovering from injury like Scott Feldman and Scott Baker for example. Baker has yet to throw a pitch for the team, Kyuji Fujikawa will require TJ surgery and is out until at least mid 2014.

It’s rational doubt, but the price that these players were acquired for largely out trumps the potential downfall of the player itself. Feldman has been very good so far in 2013 and to take a chance on him alone was worth signing 3 potentially broken players. It’s the “buy low/flourish to potential” method that Epstein and Hoyer love so much and it’s relatively effective too.

Much of the work that the front office is doing is in the minor leagues as well, and after this season’s massively successful rule 4 draft, I’m certain that the Cubs have the most qualified men at the helm. The Cubs are considered to have a top 5 tier system and this will translate to sustainable winning trends, unlike a free agent purchase method which can lead to immediate, but short success.

The rebuild is very much still on tract. One and a half years of work under the new front office has reaped momentous amounts of success. Some say they have no patience left, but Rome was not built in one day, and the Cubs were in absolute ruins before the new front office stepped in.

The Cubs aren’t losing on purpose either. They have issues to resolve and if fixing the problems means losing in the process, you’ll be thankful they did come 2015.