When do you admit something is broken? Four years after talking about a need for improved situational hitting, the Chicago Cubs still can’t execute.
First, a quick shoutout to Bleacher Nation for pointing out these quotes I’m about to rant about. Because after sitting in the seats Sunday and being treated to another game where – no, it’s not the loss that bothers me – it’s the fact that, yet again, the offense was completely predicated on the home run.
After seeing their 2015 season end at the hands of the New York Mets, the Cubs went out and added two key veterans in Ben Zobrist and Jason Heyward, hoping to help stabilize an offense that led all of Major League Baseball with 1,518 strikeouts.
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"“We have to get better situationally,” general manager Jed Hoyer told NBC Sports Chicago. “Some of that is probably things that we can work on in spring training and during the season. And some of it is probably just experience.”"
Well, experience hasn’t done much. The Cubs still swing and miss at a well-above league average rate – and they rely on the home run more than all but a handful of clubs. And as we’ve seen over the last three months or so, it’s made them a very mediocre team.
Chicago’s postseason odds now sit at just above 66 percent – a far cry from where they were even a month ago. They’ve somehow remained relevant to this point simply by overperforming at home. But now that the Washington Nationals put an end to that – at least for the time being – I’m stuck sitting here, wondering what’s to be done.
Clearly, the same issues that plagued the team in 2015, 2017 and 2018 are still prevalent. Sure, the team dominated from start-to-finish in 2016 and won a World Series. I understand that and apprreciate the significance of that. But the fact remains that this offense is feast or famine – and that’s no way to build a winner.
We’ve seen this group get hot at the right time in the past. It even happened during that 2016 postseason – multiple times. But at this point, that’s all we’re doing – hoping. Because until there are some major changes made to this roster, you’re not going to see anything differrent.
"“I think our offense has a chance to be really explosive and dangerous for a long time,” Hoyer said in early 2016. “The St. Louis (2015 NLDS) series really showed all the best attributes of our offense – getting on base and hitting homers. But plenty of other times we realize – especially when it’s cold in our ballpark or the wind’s blowing in – you’ve got to be able to scratch out runs here and there. That hasn’t been our strength. And we need to get better at that.”"
I love the movie Moneyball (the book is also outstanding and I’d recommend it to anyone). But hearing Hoyer and Epstein continually spout the same talking points we’ve been hearing for years now brought one of my favorite quotes from the film to mind.
"“You guys just sit around talking the same old “good body” nonsense like we’re selling jeans. Like we’re looking for Fabio. We’ve got to think differently. We are the last dog at the bowl. You see what happens to the runt of the litter? He dies.”"
So here it is, Cubs. Adapt or die. Make the call.