There was an interesting confluence of articles and sound bytes yesterday and today about the prognosis of the 2011 Chicago Cubs.

On the one hand, there were two compelling pieces trumpeting the end of the 2011 season for the Chicago Cubs. First, SI’s Tom Verducci noted that, because of the Cubs’ record at the end of May, and their place in the standings, their goose was cooked. They have somewhere between a 1 and 3 percent chance of making the playoffs. He summed things up grimly:

The Cubs are so bad that they have played a third of their schedule without ever winning three games in a row. They are 6 games under and 7 games out of the wild card. They have little speed, they don’t take walks, their pitching is atrocious and they are next-to-last in the league in defensive efficiency. This sums up their ineptitude: They have taken the fewest walks in the league while giving the most, resulting in a net deficit of 71 walks in 52 games.

Second in the end-of-days category, today, ESPN’s Jon Greenberg eviscerated the Cubs’ early-season performance before concluding that it’s time to start thinking about blowing things up:

Forget nostalgia or personality; it’s time to make tough choices and move on with the restructuring of this team. The 2008 season isn’t coming back.

The way things are going, I’m starting to think the Ricketts family will get the city and state to pay for a new ballpark before they have another winning season.

If Hendry can move some veterans and get something positive in return, he has to do it — if the Cubs don’t turn things around in the next month.

I won’t pretend that, as someone who writes about the Chicago Cubs, I do not have a vested interest in “selling” you on the idea that there’s always hope. A team that’s dead in the water before June even rolls around doesn’t exactly generate a whole lot of interest. At the same time, I have an obligation to you – and to my own sanity – to be realistic. A dead season isn’t the end of the Cubs – there are trades, offseason moves, prospects, the Draft, etc. So when the time comes to pronounce this season, I’ll be there. I’m not *quite* there yet, but I’m nearing it.

Oh. Remember how I mentioned an interesting confluence of articles and sound bytes?

Well, in the face of the Cubs’ miserable play, articles like the two above, and our collective realization that 2011 probably isn’t “the year,” Cubs owner Tom Ricketts was undeterred.

When asked earlier today what was wrong with his 23-30 team (now 23-31), on the verge of being swept by the “worst” team in the National League, Ricketts said simply: “Nothing. Just a lot of injuries. We’ll be fine.”

I may not yet be ready to call it a season, but I’m certainly not ready to say the Cubs will be “fine,” either. The injuries haven’t helped, but the problems – clearly – run much deeper than a handful of lost players.

  • Raymond Robert Koenig

    Ricketts is a moron.

    • John

      Also he has all ready destroyed Wrigley field with ad’s now what’s next a stupid jumbotron so Wrigley can be like all other parks in the league, at least when the Tribune company owned the Cubs they didn’t destroy the park like Ricketts has.

      • TWC

        Hey, John, welcome to a 14-month-old post!

        These days, when people bitch about Ricketts, they often include numerous mentions of “high ticket prices”, often using colorful metaphors. Don’t get me wrong, your limp bitching is admirable, but it would help it’s readability if your choice of complaints was more current. HTH.

  • al

    yikes he not only the owner …but hes blind too!!

  • Spencer

    Ricketts doesn’t know jack about baseball if he really thinks the only issue with this team is injuries.

  • Raymond Robert Koenig

    He takes a fine picture.

  • ME1963

    now I understand why Quade is the manager…

  • EricF

    I’ve really had enough of the Ricketts clan. I knew the minute I saw these uptight republicans, we were in trouble. I want a REALIST running the Cubs. Don’t force feed me BS. My biggest gripe is this middling crap. If you’re gonna be bad, BE BAD. Start playing the kids and let’s see what we have. Trying to be pretend that this team is a contender is what chaps my ass the most. UGH!

    • ron

      lets try to leave politics out of this or we will end up in a back and forth like Ace and some other dude a couple days ago.

  • ron

    People what is he supposed to say, every last player on my team sucks and it looks like two more years to rebuild. That is what he has to say. You can’t throw your own guys under the bus like the Mets owner did. Rickets was dealt a shit sandwich and is trying to tell you it is at least a hot dog.

    • Jeff

      The problem is that anyone with a brain can see that it’s still a sh#t sandwich, regardless of what he says. The point is that this is the same b.s. that we’ve been getting from everyone in the Cubs organization since Hendry came into power. They are either really stupid and don’t know anything about baseball, or they are scam artists trying to sell a terrible product at a premium price. I’ll never stop cursing Bud Selig and his boys for denying Mark Cuban the chance to buy the team. Cuban would have made it all about winning and Ricketts is obviously in this to make money first and fore most.

      • hardtop

        it was actually the other owners, led by jerry reinsdorf (surpise surprise), that blocked the Cuban bid. I dont know why Selig wouldnt want to see the Cubs win or if its just that Cuban is such a unorthodox owner and Selig is too old to deal with it in his old age. Yeah, Im not a big fan of “throw money at a team until they win” but Cuban probably wouldnt do that long term. Ill tell you what he would have done though, he would have cleaned house from day one. huge payroll and below 500? any business man can tell you something is fundementally wrong with that picture, and heads would roll. Im not really a big fan of Cuban, but last time i checked his team was playing for the championship, and he does have “cub” in his name. Oh well we’ll never know what might have been.

    • Ace

      No, but he could say something resembling a real answer: “We’ve had some injury issues, and some guys have struggled with consistency. Too many walks. Defense hasn’t been great. Not getting hits when we need them.”

      Show me you understand SOMETHING about baseball, and not just about trying to sell seats.

  • awesome

    No comment.

    • awesome

      yeah, and of course he knows the press is stupid. yeah, Ricky is a great guy, so is Quade and Hendry. 3 really great guys.

  • http://None Blinda

    Ricketts is a great guy i met him the other day at the ballpark. he is just saying things to the press to make them believe that there is still hope but he knows changes will have to come to get the team back in contention.

    • Windy City Misfit

      I have also heard the Rickets quote was kind of a “shut up” type answer. A few “sport reporters” were standing around before the game and Rickets just walked up to them and started talking about miscellaneous stuff. Being a nice guy. It wasn’t a press conference. After a few minutes one of them made a comment along the lines of “What’s wrong with your team?” Rickets gave his answer and walked away. If someone, cubs fan or not, asked me that question today… I’m sure my answer would be close the same. Maybe a few choice words too. I can only imagine the frustration everybody in the organization is feeling right now, fans included.
      P.S. Fudge SI & ESPN.. and reporters that don’t have common sence.

  • KB

    Verducci said: “This sums up the Cubs’ ineptitude: They have taken the fewest walks in the league while giving the most, resulting in a net deficit of 71 walks in 52 games.”

    This is a Hendry trait. I recall this exact situation in a recent year (’05 or ’06?). These kinds of things simply don’t happen by coincidence…he looks for a certain type of player, and he puts them in a Cub uniform.
    Think about that…a freaking decade after “Moneyball,” and he STILL hasn’t grasped the idea that walks are a huge part of winning and losing. (!)

  • Sam

    The other day I realized that the Cubs trade for Garza and the Brewers trade for Greinke was essentially the same. I know that the Royals wanted Starlin, but does anybody really think that the Cubs couldn’t have worked something out for Greinke. I think we gave up more to get Garza than the Brewers gave up to get Greinke… Yet another reason why I hate Jim Hendry…

    • Ace

      I’m not certain I wouldn’t have rather had Garza. Cheaper (both in salary and cost to acquire), under control for one more year, and not prone to anxiety issues.

      • Hogie

        He’s also had a more consistent career and is under team control for longer. There are a myriad of reasons to knock Hendry, I just don’t feel that this trade was one of them. The Brewers overpaid for Grienke in my opinion.

  • Sam

    Don’t get me wrong I love Matt Garza… I just think we didn’t have to give up as much for him. Hendry really didn’t try for Greinke, and then he jumped the gun for Garza. I think for the price we paid we could have at least gotten more from the Rays.

  • EQ

    The Garza trade was a move of desperation.. Hendry did virtually nothing all off-season and made a panic move. Garza’s a good pitcher, but we did overpay for him. Since Hendry whiffed on attaining Adrian Gonzales and let every other player on the market sign or get traded elsewhere, he had to do something.. We should have made the A-Gon trade.. I believe it was Colvin that Hendry didn’t want to give up to make the trade happen??

  • Sam

    I agree. What bothers me is that Hendry dropped the ball on getting Brian Roberts, then it was Jake Peavy (Im glad we didn’t get him), and then A Gon. I have a feeling that if Hendry is still the GM in the offseason, he will f*ck it all up. He will do what he has always done, he will wait untill it is too late to get Pujols or Fielder and then he will get some mediocre veteran, at best, just to say the offseason wasn’t a waste.

  • hardtop

    I hope Ricketts is just saying that. Of course, if he is, he just makes himself sound like and idiot. The only two injuries we have had long term have been cashner and wells. Now, dont get me wrong, the pitching of coleman and russell had been atrocious, but wells would not even be a starter on most teams in the league, and cashner had one start under his belt (i personally thought he was terrible in relief appearances last year). So if those two guys can turn your team around, well, tommy, that’s just not possible… dont disrespect Cubs fans and all baseball fans who have the first clue about the game, by blathering such nonsense. Wells/Cashner might bring you pitchng numbers up from second to last to somewhere in the bottom 6, but thats about it, certainly not going to take you from the second worst record in the NL to contending for the division, or even the wild card. It really sucks that he said that, because that means he is either monumentally stupid, or has no interest in doing what it takes to get a winner on the field. stop worrying about making the park nicer ricketts, we filled it for years when it smelled like sewage. stop making stupid excuses and figure out a way to make the team better starting next year. wrigley actually attracts people to the games who wouldnt otherwise come so if you want to sell more tickets, fix the team (and wells is not the band-aid jackass) fire hendry and put someone competent in charge of trading for and scouting.

  • jim

    The Rays Top 10 prospects

    #3 – Chris Archer (projected starter in 2012)
    #7 – Hak Ju-Lee (ss phenom on the rise)
    #10 – Brandon Guyer ( off to a good start hitting)
    Rays LF – Sam Fuld

    Garza – pitches 1 time per week

    Was it really worth it !!!!!!!!!!!!
    In Hendry we trust……if this was an ameri-trade deal he’d be fired
    Enough said…..

  • EQ

    I’m a bit more optimistic on Wells than others.. he was good as a rookie, ok last year, but looked good in spring training and his 1st start. To me he’s at least a solid 4 or 5.. I mean, right now, Coleman, Davis, Lopez, Stephens, have been automatic losses as opposed to a 50/50 chance that Wells gives you.. shoot, that alone would give us 2-3 more wins.

    • Ace

      Wells, by advanced statistics, was one of the top 25 starters in the NL in 2009 and 2010.

      • TWC

        All while the Cubs were about the 25th worst team over that stretch.

  • Robbo

    Funny how Cubs injuries are always the reason when the Cubs are losing. True, this team has had its share of DL stints, but other teams seem to do just fine when missing keys pieces. The Cards lost Adam Wainright for the whole season along with Holiday on the DL and Freese on the DL. Brews had Greinke and Marcum miss a month and both those teams are doing just fine. Injuries certainly have contributed to Cubs struggles, but there are injuries every year and if you can’t battle thru then go ahead and add lack of acquiring any positional depth to the laundry list of reasons the Cubs struggle.

  • EQ

    That’s probably because those teams hit for power, know how to take a walk, actually get some hits with runners in scoring position, and don’t make 3 errors a game.

    I’m not saying they’re losing because of the DL, just saying they’d have 2-3 more wins had Wells not gotten hurt.. those 2-3 more wins would still put them under .500.

    • hardtop

      it occured to me that the walks statistic may be a little skewed considering the cubs led the league in batting average until recently (yesterday maybe?). i’d have to see the strike out statistc to figure out if the walk deficit really matters much. obvioulsy the number of walks they give up is huge, considering they have the second worst pitching in the game, but maybe they dont take a lot of walks becasue they hit the ball? the batting average would support that. unfortunately they just dont hit the ball with runners in scoring position.

  • Raymond Robert Koenig

    And they don’t hit a lot of extra base hits. It takes a lot of singles to score runs if you don’t take many walks.

  • Hogie

    Archer- ERA around 6, teams are hitting 326 against.
    McNutt- ERA around 2.3 and teams are hitting 258 against.
    Lots of factors there, I know, but so far it looks like we gave up the right peg.

    Fuld just isn’t good and wouldn’t have started on almost any other team.

    Guyer would have been nice to have now, but we have a surplus of good young outfielders that are on the way.

    Lee is a special talent, would have really liked to have kept him, but again, deal from depth.

    Dispite popular belief, quality starting pitching for the next three years was a huge need. Hendry did overpay, but not by as much as some would lead you to believe.

    P.S.-Rosscup, the other piece we got in the deal, is in A+, but has been doing great. In three seasons he has a 2.71 ERA, has only given up one homer, and has maintained a k/w ratio of better than 3. He is a little old for the level he’s at though.

  • EQ

    one good thing about taking walks is that you’re making the pitcher work harder and adding to his pitch count.. maybe knocking out a starting pitcher in the 5th or 6th instead of letting him cruise through 8. Also, if you take a walk or two, the singles can result in a run or two.

  • pfk

    It was a good trade and I definitely would have taken Garza over Greinke. Quality proven starting pitching is really hard to come by – as our trying to find a 4th or 5th starter shows.