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loss flagLest I be accused of being something less than a #Committed fan, allow me to say up front that the headline is mostly a joke.

Today, Buster Olney offered something that was about as interesting as a 140-character compilation can be:

It’s long been held that the AL East is the toughest division in baseball. And, well, as you can see there, they have certainly been the best division overall once again this year. Throw in the fact that the worst team in the AL East (the Blue Jays) is just a game under .500 and just 5.5 out in the Wild Card race, and, yeah, you’ll get no fight from me in calling the AL East the toughest division (as much as I’m loathe to do so).

But take a look at number two. If you thought maybe the fantastic records of the Cardinals, Reds, and Pirates was somehow a fluke or was driven by the other two teams in the division, think again. (It should noted that the Cubs’ own good run differential (at least relative to their record) is helping out the NL Central, too.)

In short: it’s just a good-ass division this year, and the Cardinals, Reds, and Pirates are good-ass teams.

In that respect, maybe the headline up there isn’t as much of a joke as I’d like to admit. It was going to be very, very difficult to win in the Central this year with whatever toothpicks and duct tape roster the Cubs could have put together if they were “going for it.” Since The Plan called for a long, thoughtful rebuild anyway, it looks like 2013 was going to be a good year to be bad no matter what. Better than most, anyway.

Here’s hoping that the NL Central story softens slightly next year, or, if it doesn’t, that the strength is predicated largely on a Cubs team on pace for 156 wins.

  • cerambam

    here, here!

  • SenorGato

    I <3 AL East baseball. Tampa needs to get their hands on a decent park, but that's the only hard thing about watching an AL East division game. I feel like guys who come out of that division and move onto another team have a different vibe to them – a little tougher or something…focused(?)…something.

    Anyway, I would love to feel the NL Central does that to players one day.

    • Timothy Scarbrough

      The Rays aren’t moving out of the Trop anytime soon.

    • Cyranojoe

      That’s the vibe I got from Rizzo when he first joined the team last year. There’s a calm, cool, collected vibe, a sense like The Natural or what you see in the classic Yankees. And I’m no fan of the Yankees.

  • Timothy Scarbrough

    156 wins? Please, 162 or bust.

    • Andy

      174 wins. They get credited with an extra win for fielding the entire all star team.

  • Matty Ice

    The Pirates, Cards and Reds are not going anywhere. All the more reason to think that it will be at least 2016 or later until the Cubs are playoff contenders.

    • Timothy Scarbrough

      After last year no one thought the Nationals were going to go anywhere, but we are over halfway through and they are struggling to keep above .500.

      • Matty Ice

        So we only have to hope that all 3 teams have the equivalent of Strasburg, Harper, Zimmerman, Laroche, Werth, Espinosa as well as other role players on the DL for most or parts of the season, and then we got a shot.

        • Timothy Scarbrough

          No, what I’m saying is that in baseball strange stuff happens. This years best teams aren’t necessarily next years.

    • TonyP

      I agree with 2016 at the very earliest. :-( :-( :-( :-( :-( :-(

    • Cyranojoe

      2016 is when we can hope to dominate. Next year, we could surprise and steal a spot in the playoffs; 2015, I’m hoping we’re solidly in the running for a shot at the division, but probably the first wild card.

  • cubs2003

    I’ll admit to being one of those people who thought the Cubs had a (very) outside chance of competing if every single thing worked right. Yeah-I was wrong. I wonder if anyone more knowledgable than myself cares to comment on what this division looks like over the next few years. You know, in terms of player control, farm systems, players having fluke seasons this year, etc. I guess I could just be less lazy and look it up myself.

    • Cyranojoe

      Really? I thought we had a chance, and nothing’s changed my mind on that. To make a run, we had to have Sori start hot, Castro not slump, Jackson be solid, etc. Those were all plausible possibilities, they just didn’t work out this year.

      • cubs2003

        I agree. I was just saying it didn’t work out that way. Everything had to work out and it didn’t.

        • Cyranojoe

          Absolutely, very true.

      • cubs2003

        I’m also starting to wonder if relief pitching is becoming a market inefficiency. Flame away, but it’s starting to look to me like a lot of teams just assume they can bring guys out of the system that can’t start in MLB and have them become effective relievers. I’ll have to look at more data before I’ll even stand by this comment. Just a thought.

        • cubs2003

          Just to be clear, I’m not saying spend $15M per on a closer or anything. I’m just saying maybe teams are cheaping out too much on the bullpen. It has to kill the morale of players to lose so many games late.

  • Timmy

    The Cubs will not contend in Theo’s tenure here. By 2017 we’ll have chocked an average record of 70/92 or something, and he’ll be fired. There may be great talent in the farm system but his ineffectiveness at actually presiding over a functional big league club while tending to the crop will lead to an extremely inauspicious and embarrassing ending.

    Those other teams are built to win, AND they have good farm systems. How in the world are we going to catch up when we’re letting our current young stars toil without lineup support? They’ll never mature or progress.

    • Steve124

      How do you think the pirates are in the position they are??? They drafted and waited for those to develop. The way to do this is find replacements with value who can be traded to make an elite farm system. Our previous GM traded away anything meaningful in our system for old useless players. We have to catch up and Theo is doing it the only way possible

    • cubs2003

      Patience is a virtue. The time when you could cobble together a team of free agents and have them do well is over. I know it sucks to lose, but it was inevitable. I just want to see the arrow pointing in the right direction.

    • wvcubsfan

      Not sure if serious

      • TWC

        At one point in time, he may have been. Now he’s just a tedious, tiresome clown who makes sure to repeat himself over and over and over again just in case we missed it any of the 50 times he bitched about the FO yesterday. And fear not, as he’ll be sure to do the same tomorrow just in case we forgot about today’s blather.

        • Timmy

          TWC = “tries while crying”

          • Timmy

            with a bad hat

            • hansman1982

              I think his hat is quite nice.

        • Matty Ice

          Pot meet Kettle

        • Cyranojoe

          Amen, TWC. I believe I said it before — at least Die hard can be funny sometimes. This guy’s convinced of his reasoning, and refuses to share (any logical/rational underpinnings) with us.

          • DarthHater

            Also, Die hard is always concise.

    • DocShock

      And a majority of those 3 teams either came from their minors or were the result of trades (some as minor leaguers/some as major leaguers). Very few of their regulars were FA buys. And even then they were not considered huge splashes. So to me it looks like we are building the exact same way as the three teams leading our division.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Salesguy

      Friends shouldn’t let friends type drunk :)

    • Dynastyin2017

      “Those other teams are built to win, AND they have good farm systems. How in the world are we going to catch up when we’re letting our current young stars toil without lineup support? They’ll never mature or progress.”

      How are we going to catch up?
      Luck. Baseball Luck.
      We need a higher percentage of core pieces and prospects to succeed. I don’t wish injuries on people, but honestly, we need our guys to be healthier than the other team’s guys.

      • Timmy

        luck is about all we have as a shot at this point. let me guess, TWC will cry that wishing for luck is trolling too

        • Dynastyin2019

          I am not saying luck is ALL we have. I’m just saying it is necessary. If the FO drafts well, it increases the odds. If our organization has a high quality player development plan, it increases the odds.If the FA market has players that fit our needs, it increases the odds. But we still need luck. Some luck you make, some you have no control over.

    • DarthHater

      “The Cubs will not contend in Theo’s tenure here. By 2017 we’ll have chocked an average record of 70/92 or something, and he’ll be fired. There may be great talent in the farm system but his ineffectiveness at actually presiding over a functional big league club while tending to the crop will lead to an extremely inauspicious and embarrassing ending.”

      Another astonishing prophecy from Nostradumass.

      • Geo

        No way, your dead wrong he’s stocking up the minors so full of prop notch prospects that 2-3 superstars are bound to hit. Remember that nostradumbass.

        • Geo

          Meant to say top notch

          • TWC

            Not sure that helps your case.

        • Scotti

          Before you call someone a dumbass perhaps you should scroll up to see who the guy is quoting (and then call HIM a dumbass)…

  • Timmy

    Yeah but they have no choice but to wait because they’re such a small market team.

    The question isn’t waiting, it’s the owners pocketing our ticket money instead of putting it on the field, when the money is there for immediate team improvement AND future investment. I don’t appreciate they sabotaging our public trust for their personal fun.

    • wvcubsfan

      really, please share all of your insider information

      • Timmy
        • wvcubsfan

          This was cussed, discussed, hashed, and rehashed over and over during the off season. Please try to keep up.

          That also has nothing to do with the ticket prices not going to the “field” as you put it.

          You’ve used another persons thoughts that are based on information gained from a third party who chose to remain anonymous as the basis for your argument. It sounds like you have no original thoughts so I’ll just quit responding to you.

          • Timmy

            dude you don’t want to win, i get it. but i do and it’s obvious that we’re not winning not out of bad luck but design. and it sucks. so eat it if you’re hungry but i’ll wait for fresh food.

            • DocShock

              How is paying down debt (if they are) pocketing ticket money? And if they are putting it towards the debt wouldn’t that be a good thing? It will then give them more money in the future to pay large FA contracts because they no longer have the debt burden. You make it sound like they are like the Marlins owners or the old Expos owners. Even if they are using it to pay debt they are not getting rich off of it, otherwise everybody in debt would be rich.

              • Timmy

                i think they’re paying off their failed bison stand with $20 hot dogs in wisconsin.

            • frank

              I know I should leave well enough alone here, but it is interesting that someone replies to your statement by questioning your source, and you respond by saying he doesn’t want to win. The two things are totally unrelated. Maybe you can tell us how your source is actually reliable despite the fact that it is 3rd party information based on a source that’s not, for whatever reason, willing to back up his own claims by putting his name to them. That, for example, would lend credibility to your argument, and then maybe people would take it more seriously.

    • Carew

      I feel like you are going to be the type to bash the FO and owners when the cubs are losing, and then turn around and praise them and say that you knew that they were going to succeed when the cubs do win.

  • North Side Irish

    Bernie Pleskoff ‏@BerniePleskoff 4m
    #Dbacks recall Tony Campana from Triple-A Reno and place Willie Bloomquist on disabled list.

    • wvcubsfan

      Can’t imagine what the heat index in Arizona will be when all that belly fire reaches the airport.

      • hansman1982

        All I can imagine is that at tonight’s game, he will get a Megamind style entrance and introduction to smatterings of applause.

        [img]http://th03.deviantart.net/fs70/200H/f/2011/164/a/6/megamind_poster_by_xxspiritkeeperxx-d3is519.png[/img]

    • cubs2003

      I’ll always root for Tony. He’s one of those players that doesn’t look good on paper, but is so fun to watch. Well, when he can get on base anyway.

  • RoughRiider

    Scrappy will be playing against us in 3 weeks.

    • Cyranojoe

      YES.

  • cubchymyst

    I feel like the Cubs should return to how it used to be and switch W/L flag colors. The white flag reminds me of surrendering.

  • college_of_coaches

    Thought I’d post this, though it is unrelated. The Twins honored Mariano Rivera with a chair made out of bats that he had broken. Kinda cool!

    https://twitter.com/Twins/status/352214910844932097/photo/1

    • Dynastyin2017

      very cool

  • Noah

    Well, I’d say this… to expect the NL Central to not have 3 good teams (aside from the Cubs when they turn good) over the next 2-3 years probably isn’t a good expectation to have. The Pirates should continue to improve for a couple of years as their farm system continues to produce players, and the Cardinals are well set for continued success. The one team you could really see a fall off from is the Reds, who just have very little impact talent in their minor league system, but their MLB team is young enough that I’d expect that to happen in 2015 at the earliest.

    The Brewers, on the other hand, could be entering another dark era.

    • cubs2003

      That’s basically what I was thinking. 88 wins is not going to get anyone the NL Central title any time soon.

  • Timmy

    One thing I don’t understand is this movie to support ownership and general management over players and managers. It’s a big change from even 10 years ago. Everyone is expendable now except for the people who are profiting off of the team. So no one roots for anyone anymore. Who’s the Mark Grace or Ryne Sandberg or Andre Dawson of the past 10 years? The only thing people want is for ownership to make extra profits.

    • cubs2003

      They’re rebuilding. I don’t think Cub fans have really seen this before, so I get the frustration. The front office deemed it necessary and I trust their judgment due to past success. Like I said before, building a team out of free agents doesn’t really work now. One could argue it never really did. That was the only other option.

    • mjhurdle

      When players go back to staying with a team for 10+ years, you will see more support for the players.
      but as it is now, how is it a bad thing to support the FO that has a track record of building up a franchise instead of support the players that have a track record of bolting to the highest bidder the first chance they get?
      You are looking at players through rose colored glasses. i have favorite players, but i am also honest enough to understand that the players probably (always some exceptions) aren’t playing for the love of the Cubs, or in some cases even winning; but more to put up the stats needed to grab that next great contract.

      • TWC

        “You are looking at players through rose colored glasses.”

        Exactly. See Sandberg, Ryne (1994-1995).

    • wvcubsfan

      Which movie was that? Rookie of the Year?

      Nothing really has changed over the past 10 years, only the names of the personal scapegoats for different individuals.

      Tribune is now Ricketts

      Hendry is now Theo / Jed

      Dusty / Lou / Quade is now Dale

      Macis turned to Theriot turned to Campana turned to Barney turned to Sappelt which turned to Borboun

      etc, etc, etc

      rinse wash repeat

      • Timmy

        you’re right that’s a typo….”move” not “movie”

        my last comment is enjoy the players and the sport. if it seems like something stinks with an administrator who’s not a “baseball guy”, it’s because something stinks. and ricketts stinks with his threats against the city, the mayor, his profiteering, and indefinite deferment of even trying to try. but worse is fans who wish they were the guy bullying the city.

        cheating, vulture capitalism, fans with no loyalty to players. baseball has been a bummer gents, and good luck.

        • wvcubsfan

          You can’t honestly think that Ricketts is cheap if you know anything at all about the way the Tribune ran the Cubs.

          Either that or you aren’t old enough to remember how the Tribune ran the Cubs.

          • Scotti

            Agreed. While I don’t prefer losing to win you can’t accuse the Ricketts of doing it to save money–the LOSE money this way. Each of those empty seats is cash money down the drain. Each TV and radio not tuned in to Cubs baseball is cash money down the drain. The $50M saved on the team payroll pales in comparison to the cash they lose from losing. The only possible reason the family is doing this is because Theo has convinced them that it is the best way to acquire talent.

    • hansman1982

      “Who’s the Mark Grace or Ryne Sandberg or Andre Dawson of the past 10 years?”

      Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, Ryan Dempster, Sammy Sosa, Carlos Zambrano, Alfonso Soriano, Ryan Theriot.

      Sadly, a good chunk of the fanbase couldn’t wait for these guys to leave town.

      • Internet Random

        I will always less than three D. Lee.

        • TWC

          Rhymes make me happy.

          My only Cubs tee is a DLee shirsey.

          • Internet Random

            You are a man of taste.

            • Hansman1982

              I had a Zambrano tee.

              I’ve learned and my jersey has none of thee.

              • Cubbie Blues

                I once had a tee with the name Theriot.
                I have since replaced it with one that is a bit more apropos.

                • TWC

                  You should get a new one bearing the name of the Cubs’ 41st round draftee.

                  • DarthHater

                    I once had a tee with the name Conroy.
                    I have since replaced it with one made of corduroy.

                    Sucks, I know.

              • Internet Random

                I saw a guy at Wrigley once with a Pierre jersey with the “rre” stricken through… After Pierre moved on but we had Felix Pie.

                • DarthHater

                  I like that

                  • Internet Random

                    I was impressed.

                • college_of_coaches

                  Actually, my brother-in-law lived in the Dominican Republic and once told me that the name Pie is an abbreviated form of Pierre. The name is Haitian in origin, not unusual in the DR.

                  • Internet Random

                    “Pie” means “foot” in Spanish. For what that’s worth.

      • wvcubsfan

        You might add “and management” to that last sentence as well.

        Other than that I agree wholeheartedly

      • X the Cubs Fan

        You forgot Derosa but I love that list

      • Beardface

        I have an authentic Rizzo Jersey. I really hope he doesn’t go anywhere because he is the type of player fans can love for 10+ years.

        • X the Cubs Fan

          like Castro. I still have a “The Riot” tee shirt.

    • Cyranojoe

      To hansman’s excellent list, I would add Tony Campana and DeRosa. Castro & Rizzo are probably popular, as they should be, especially among the kids. Hoffpauir. Reed Johnson, for some (like me). HUGE Ted Lilly fan club out there. For a brief while, Kosuke had a hell of a lot of fans in the U.S., not to mention his following in Japan.

      DUDE. Greg Maddux was here 2004-2006. Would you include Mark Prior? KERRY WOOD. I’d imagine Shark is pretty popular, and we all know he’s getting rather good.

      http://chicago.cubs.mlb.com/chc/history/players.jsp

  • Timmy

    Someone argues that we need better players and that we can afford them, which many do here, and then there’s always someone else who comes forward and scolds a baseball fan for undermining ownership. It’s messed up and so different than Cubs fans I knew growing up. Y’all are making me crazy. The priorities are totally messed up, the ownership is totally messed up, and it’s so obvious that the team is in huge trouble. It’s all off my chest now, you get your wish blogosphere, I’m outy.

    • TWC

      “It’s all off my chest now, you get your wish blogosphere, I’m outy.”

      You’re lying.

      • hansman1982

        You’re Tom.

      • Internet Random

        Yeah, I’ll believe that when, well, never. At most he’ll be back with a new name.

    • wvcubsfan

      outy / innie really doesn’t matter it’s all too much information

      • hansman1982

        Only because you are an outy…

        • wvcubsfan

          You weren’t supposed to tell

    • mjhurdle

      you could probably label me a “Theo supporter”, but i honestly have no problem with differing views.
      However, i do have a problem when those beliefs are backed with any real logic or rationality (see Campana, Tony).
      It only compounds the dislike when the same people that hold these views ignore every point made against them, while at the same time crying about how the ownership supporters are unwilling to see any other side.
      In your post, you state your opinion, complain about people not accepting your opinion, then refuse to accept that maybe other opinions have a little validity. Don’t you see the problem there?

    • Cyranojoe

      Name the free agents the Cubs could have picked up over the past two years who would have turned this into a World Series-winning team. No trades — you claim we can develop prospects and build a WS-contender, so do it without trades in 2012 & 2013. Heck, I’ll spot you a blockbuster trade with the Red Sox, since Theo/Jed have such great ties there.

      End result?

      Los Angeles Dodgers, and several more years of crippling debt that makes Soriano+Zambrano+Marmol look like a walk in the park. Faboo!

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