The Chicago Cubs have had a lead in five of their first six games. They are 1-5.

There was a whole lot of deja vu in this one. The Cubs got out to an early lead. Ryan Dempster started out shaky, but then turned it on. He was mostly excellent, save for a two-run homer in the seventh. (Most days, if your starting pitcher holds the other team to just two runs through 6.2 innings, you’re probably going to win. Unless “you” are the 2012 Cubs, that is.)

The offense was virtually non-existent, again, and a couple attempted rallies came up short. Marlon Byrd’s early season struggles continue. Massively. He’s got just one hit this year, and that one came on Opening Day.

It wasn’t all deja vu, though…

  • Stuart Williams

    Does management feel the pressure to do anything? I know most tickets are already sold and the TV contracts are automatically paid, but they do actually need fans to be physically there, right?

    • Brett

      They do, indeed. But there’s not a whole lot they could do right now, even if they were inclined to do something.

      • King Jeff

        Aside from shufflng the lineup a bit, I’m not sure that there is a whole lot to be done either. Jackson and Rizzo are no closer to the majors now than they were in spring training.

      • DocPWimsey

        Moreover, remember that this management understands probability as well as any group that you’l find not labelled “Stats and Probability Department.” One, six games does not mean anything. Two, the Cubs probably are performing a little *better* than one might have expected given the quality of the competition. (Yes, the Nats really are good this year!) Yes, a loss is a loss: but in only one game (#2) has the other team had more than 4 more total bases. In only one more game (also #2) has the team had more than more more total bases + walks.

        Now, a loss is a loss in the standings: but the Cubs are not getting absolutely shellacked, which is what I feared that we’d see. Again, it’s a small sample size in games: but this is not as ugly as, say, 1997, where the Cubs were not only losing, but never in the games.

        • Bric

          Doc, really? 6 games mean nothing? No, 6 games means 6 games. I respect your opinion most of the time but your use of stats lately is pretty crazy.

          I worked for a fortune 200 company for 10 years that’s the biggest name in entertainment that twisted numbers in incredible ways to make whatever point they wanted to make. Their interpretations were based on cleverly crafted questionaires, looped thinking, narrow casting, and crazy marketing. And they’re prices are higher than ever. And people still come here. And their interpretations and forecasts are very similar to yours in most respects.

          If you read this and would like specific examples such as how the price per value survey works please respond and I’ll be happy to demonstate how you can loop a meaningless number to prove your point. Otherwise, just take this criticism as an agreement to disagree.

          • Pat

            The point is, six games worth of stats have a margin of error of close to 100 percent, meaning they have zero predictive value when projecting how a player will do this year.

          • DocPWimsey

            It’s not stats, it’s probability. A team that is perfectly evenly matched against its opponents will be 0-6 (or 6-6) 1.5% of the time. That’s not too probable, but it’s also not that improbable. (Still, we already have no undefeated or victoryless teams!)

            And the myth that you can “prove anything you want” with statistics is just that. Probability is logic with fractions, nothing more or less. Now, what a Fortune 500 company calls “statistics” is probably the same as taking all the ABs in which a guy struck out, ignoring the rest, and then claiming that the guy doesn’t do anything but K. Or they are introducing a “scrappy” measure: i.e., some utterly subjective thing with no real distribution.

            But, please: never confuse it with what I do!

            • Kyle

              The most important things that six games means are:

              1) You can knock two games off preseason projections for the Cubs, because 3-3 was the most likely scenario for any reasonable win projection.

              2) The slim chance that we could come out ahead of our abilities based on luck got a tiny bit slimmer, because we already missed a chance for some of that good luck to manifest itself.

        • Spencer

          Never in games in ’97?

          Those finals look pretty similar to what we’ve seen so far this year.

  • ty

    Respect Byrd alot but that swing is only suited for softball–only using arms.

  • Cbp

    Ok time for a spark I say time to release Byrd or get rid of him and play Campana or Jackson. Starlin castro 1-8 in his last 3 games I think he needs to switch in the order. After watching todays game I learned Castro will not get anything good to hit because there are either 2 outs when he is up to bat or pitchers do not seem to fear are 4,5,6 batters. On the bright side Stewart is looking good. I wish this would be are order Castro, Campana, Jackson, Soriano, Stewart, Soto,LaHair, Barney, then SP

    • Ryan

      Well I just don’t see them bringing jackson up until June at the earliest

  • Cory

    I know were rebuilding so is there any way we can move soto? I love clevengers patience I know its early but id love to see him and Castillo splitting time up here and may the best man win. Like I said its very early to be passing judgement but geo looks slow out of shape and his arm is garbage the guy seems like he’s just going through the motions I know he hit a bomb last night but id rather see clevenger taking pitches and being patient then geos hacking can we start shopping him before he turns into byrd who’s lost all value? I just want to see guys on base look at soriano he’s even taking pitches buy into the philosophy geo!

    • Ryan

      well after last years perfomance the cubs would be selling low on Soto. Why not see if he can improve his value this atleast until June

      • Cory

        I could live with that but I just don’t see it happening I just want to see what we have in clevenger and not just every 5th day

        • DocPWimsey

          Clevenger posted a .308/.369/.421 in the minors. So, we really cannot expect him to post an OPS comparable to Soto’s. At any rate, I don’t know how you can want anybody more patient that Soto: he’s one of the most disciplined hitters in the Cubs system, routinely walking around 10% of the time.

  • cubfanincardinalland

    Look up Soto’s OPS against right handed pitching last year and so far this year. And tell me how he brings anything to the table. And he is only going to get worse at this stage of his career. Time to get on with the future. The past has been a failure.

    • DocPWimsey

      In 2010 & 2011, Soto’s rate of doubles, HR, walks and K’s were indistinguishable from single rates for both years. That is, given the same player, we would expect back-to-back years as different as we saw between 10% and 30% of the time, depending on the stat in question.

      The difference between 2010 Soto and 2011 Soto was primarily in how frequently he hit singles. In other words, it is the dreaded BABiP issue. As we saw in the 7th inning of todays game, a lot of singles are poorly hit seeing eye balls, and there is no particular rhyme or reason to how frequently they drop for a given batter. (Things like speed make a difference *between* batters: but 2010 Soto was 2011 Soto for speed.) When a player goes from getting them 23% of the times he makes contact in 2010 to 18% of the times he makes contact the next, then you get a corresponding drop in OPS of 0.10 from that alone. (You might argue that he’s not hitting the ball as well, but that hypothesis is contradicted by unchanged rate of extra-base hits, which are a much truer reflection of solid contact.)

      Here is the good thing: rates of doubles, walks, HR & K’s are much less variable from one year to the next: and, over the course of 162 games, those are what contribute most to run-differential, too.

  • alsongs

    Another less than enthusiastic Soto endorser here. It just seems like he’s trying to hit a three run homer with one guy on every time he comes to bat. He was far more effective as a hitter when he went with the pitch and hit some nice line drives to right. I can’t believe Jarramillo is saying “hey Geo, I want you to swing so hard you almost fall over.”

  • Ryan

    Im just going to try and be relaxed with this season in regards to most of the players that the Cubs have prospects in Iowa ready to replace them. I have faith in Theo and Jed that they are going to make a bunch of moves as we get to June and July to free up the spots for the kids to play after they have gained the extra year of team control

  • cubsin

    From the BOS-BCS website:

    “Someone had asked what was wrong with the voting process for the Ryno Fan Favorite Award? Actually, there wasn’t anything wrong with the voting process itself. However, the poll site we used allowed comments, and there were some pretty nasty comments going back and forth. So we may just eliminate the comments next time, we’ll see.”

    • MichiganGoat

      Link please

    • Brett

      Well that’s good to hear – I was afraid Tim was displeased with the vote, itself.

  • Spencer

    I’m really tired of these half assed comeback attempts. Too stressful. Just get blown out.

  • Dustin S

    Sveum has been using the stay the course line so far, which I can’t argue with only a week in. But I’m interested to see how he responds in a week or 2 when the “do something!” screams reach a fever pitch..

    The problem is that there aren’t many easy moves to be made. But the most likely in the near-term due to the service time thing with Rizzo and Jackson is Campana. That’s tough since to open a spot means either releasing or sending down 1 of Mather/Johnson…or dumping Byrd for almost nothing since his trade value is ~zero right now. This team needs speed badly though and Campana could make an impact. I’d be up for trying a top 3 lineup of #1 Campana, #2 DeJesus/Mather platoon, and #3 Castro (or Castro #2 for that matter).

    Maybe I’ll have more thoughts after seeing them at the game tomorrow. Leaving early in the morning for the Wrigley roadtrip. Greinke/Garza should be a good one, can’t wait.

  • TWC

    Well. That makes me feel better. And criminy indeed, I do agree. Things were weird there. ‘Course, it was a weird time here, too.

  • Smitty

    Two things are clear to me from reading all of these posts.
    1. Some people actually expected our offense to produce this year. This is absurd! Sure, I expected Soto and Byrd to produce at their normal career paths, but they haven’t. At no point did I think our team would reach 4 runs a game consistenly. If you cannot score 4 runs or more, then you are not going to win very many games, period!

    2. Our pitching staff has been great so far, so we should be 5-1 instead of 1-5. We have only been “in” these games because our Starting pitching has been good. We are not a good team. Our offense sucks! These have been tough loses, but they haven’t changed the midset of the front office, nor should it change ours.

    Say it with me, “we are better off with Rizzo and Jackson in Iowa until their Arb clocks are done!” “we are not winning anything this year, so why ruin the next few by bringing up our future? ” “We should watch every game this year with the hope of winning, but not being shocked if we lose.”

    Trust me if we do these things we are going to have a good year…losses be darned!

    • art

      we are better off with Rizzo and Jackson HERE. Dale the manager said Jackson is ready. trust Dale, i think he knows more then you. just saying.

  • cubfanincardinalland

    The whole service time and arbitration clock starting is way overblown. If they produce like the kind of players you expect them to be, you are going to sign them to contracts before they ever become arb. eligible. That is what they will do with Castro either this year or next year.
    Jackson especially should be playing cf right now. He showed in the spring he is ready. Probably would be the 3rd best hitter in the lineup today. Play your best guys for crying out loud.

    • Kyle

      I’m really not convinced Jackson is ready. He’s still striking out a ton in the minors and he only got a small taste of AAA last year. He probably wouldn’t be awful at the MLB level, but if you are talking about what’s absolutely best for his long-term development, I think an extended AAA stint is the right thing to do.

      • art

        Dale said he’s ready.

        • Kyle

          Dale’s job is to pump up his players in the media and to their face. Or more exactly, it’s his job to say whatever he thinks will get the most out of them, regardless of whether it’s true or not.

  • CBP

    I would like to see tomorrow Soriano keep up his defense intensity. Soriano defense so far has been 600% better

  • Bret Epic

    If we’re not going to be making moves, we need to put Mather in the game and see what we can get from Clevenger as well. Play the players who are doing well, or at least still have the potential to do well. It’s a no brainer. We’re rebuilding anyways, so we don’t expect to win. At least give us a shot to do so. Is this really that illogical?

  • http://It'searly Mike F

    The key is building a competitive team that can establish a culture of winning, while you build a world class organization, strengthen the fundamentals and build the minors.

    In this regard, Theo has done an excellent job in investing in the organization and working on the minors. I think his approach this offseason to try to add young players is a step in the right direction. I think he did though make a couple of major mistakes. This is a very bad everyday line-up. In fact they are wasting quality starting pitching. And that is a huge earmark of a rotten team, one that loses 100 games in a season. The day will come, especially as the season wears on where you do see the 4-5 BB and you do see pitchers giving up long balls, not having great stuff, and frankly a couple won’t be here. And the guys that come back in trades will be minor league talent or promise who take their lumps now. But no way to cut it, Theo didn’t do well in terms of strengthening the everyday line-up, there’s really only one guy who offers any long term hope or promise in that line-up and that’s Castro. Barney is a Utility player masquerading as a starter.

    The back end of the Bullpen is really bad and that’s very unlikely to get a lot better as the season wears on.

    I think Ricketts and Theo both miscalculated and while I don’t really disagree that you ultimately have to build through the minors, this isn’t Peoria or Pittsburgh. It’s a major market and one which hasn’t been to a world series in 100 plus years. Blowing hot air up our skirts isn’t going to solve the issue at hand. They want public financing of a major WF update, one I think deserved and long overdue. But going forward, a 100 game loss season, and lack of progress on the Big Diamond, might make all of this even worse.

    I think Sveum is really going to be a good one. And I agree with Brett, not much can be done in the near of the next 45 days, but Theo is going to have to step up and make clear at some point soon this isn’t their plan, that they will right this thing, and that they will do everything possible to better themselves. And I think realistically that has to mean a hell of lot better offseason for the Major League Club than they had this offseason.