The past month has not exactly been smooth sailing for the Chicago Cubs. The problem could be a lack of a motivational presence within the clubhouse.
The Chicago Cubs are falling way short in several categories that, on paper, they should be excelling in. One has to wonder if these woes can be traced back to the clubhouse.
During the 2016 season, it has become abundantly clear that veteran catcher David Ross was the team’s source of clubhouse leadership. He was far from being one of the best players on the team, but as an experienced leader who had already won a World Series with the Boston Red Sox, he knew how to get his team to play up to their potential consistently.
It’s hard to believe we are only three years removed from that team. Slumps happen to every team. If there’s anything we’ve learned from this group over the course of their competitive window, it’s that they are streaky. They have good stretches and bad stretches. But recently we are seeing something more concerning–sloppiness.
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Struggles at the plate are bound to happen, and mishaps in the field are going to occur from time to time. These Chicago Cubs in recent weeks, though, have committed multiple errors and have made numerous mental mistakes on the base-paths.
Even during slumps, those are things that are entirely in their control. And the reality is this squad is far too good to be making those kinds of mistakes regularly.
So who is the team’s new Ross now? Anthony Rizzo would be the first to come to many people’s minds, but that doesn’t seem like him. He appears to have a good relationship with all his teammates, but he hardly strikes anyone as the vocal type.
There’s a case to be made that Ben Zobrist was that guy. It may be a coincidence, but things have looked different since he went on the restricted list. These Chicago Cubs look lackadaisical and complacent at times. It’s harder to fall into that trap when there’s someone on the team who always holds everyone accountable.
This is the kind of prolonged slump that should be cause for concern. The hits will eventually come again, but errors and mental mistakes can just be chalked up to laziness. The Cubs need someone to be an enforcer and make sure those things stop happening so often.
For now, they’re lucky the rest of the division is playing sloppy ball too. But they should get it figured out now in case St. Louis or Milwaukee catch fire. There’s a real opportunity for those teams to pull away if the Cubs don’t pick up their own play.