I don’t know about you, but I’m really tired of hearing that we shouldn’t make too much of the Cubs‘ slow start. That it’s early in the season, there’s a lot of baseball left to play, so on and so forth.
Those excuses would hold a lot more weight if this weren’t the fourth straight year we’ve been spoon-fed them by a Chicago manager. First, it was Joe Maddon and his easy-going ways, never worrying about anything. Now, it’s sure feeling like more of the same from second-year skipper David Ross.
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"“We’ve seen some flashes of the offense that we think is in there,” Ross told the media this weekend. “And then we’ve had some days where you still feel like they’re searching for it a little bit. But there’s a lot of positives that are going throughout the game. We got to stay on the attack. I don’t want to be cliché all year, but it’s a long season and process of a lot of at-bats.”"
Well, ‘some flashes’ isn’t going to cut it. Chicago dropped two of three to the cellar-dwelling Pirates over the weekend and were outscored by a laughable 7-to-18 margin. The Cubs enter action Monday batting just .167 as a team – which ranks dead-last among the 30 big league teams.
And that’s not just cherry-picking numbers. No matter what offensive measure you prefer to look at, it’s nothing but bad news: OPS (29), OBP (30), SLG (28). The team’s leading qualified hitter through the season’s first eight games? Kris Bryant, who carries a .233/.361/.567 line – good for a .928 OPS.
Cubs showing the same deficiencies, which should surprise no one
Again, the issue at hand here is this is the same erratic offense we’ve seen for years now. And yet the organization keeps spoon-feeding fans the same tired excuses. I don’t care that we’re not even 10 percent into the season. Because I’m here to tell you, we’re going to be talking about the wildly inconsistencies of this offense for months to come.
"“As a group, we’re not having the right approach,” All-Star catcher Willson Contreras said following Sunday’s loss to Pittsburgh. “We have to take care of that.”"
The Cubs’ initial approach has netted them the third-highest strikeout rate in the league and worst in the NL (28.5 percent), an MLB-low -12.9 oWAR and 66 wRC+. Once again, it’s a lineup that’s feast or famine and needless to say, there hasn’t been any feasting early on this year.
As much as I understand Ross not wanting to be the guy to hit the panic button, especially nine games in, the same old excuses aren’t going to cut it anymore. The sad truth is this: until the front office re-thinks how to build a lineup, we’re going to be watching a team that is fully capable of swinging its way into a mid-season fire sale.