The Cubs Lost in Agonizing Fashion to the Cardinals Yesterday and Other Bullets

cardinals win world seriesThe movie with The Little Girl yesterday was a fantastic experience. She sat pleasantly throughout, reacting appropriately to things that happened, chatting afterward about her favorite parts. The movie, itself – Disney’s ‘Frozen’ – was adequate. I didn’t hate it. That’s as far as I can go, given my predisposition to hating all of the new breed of Pixar-type Disney movies. I actually chuckled a couple times, in spite of myself (the snowman guy is the type of character that usually grates on me, but he was actually funny). The Wife really liked it, The Little Girl loved it, and I’m sure the average father would find it plenty enjoyable. Saying I didn’t hate it is actually high praise for that type of movie.

  • The vast majority of you reading this are Chicago Cubs fans. A small chunk of you are also Chicago Bears fans, but, for those of you who aren’t, I thought it worth contextualizing what happened to Chicago’s football team yesterday. Imagine that the Cubs and Cardinals head into the last series of the year atop the NL Central standings (but neither with a chance to claim a Wild Card spot). Having split the first two games of the series, it is all coming down to the final game of the year. It’s a back-and-forth affair, with the Cubs taking a one-run lead into the top of the 9th. The Cubs’ closer comes on – choose your avatar – and gives up a seeing-eye single, and then walks the next batter. He strikes out the next two, and the Cubs are on the precipice of the playoffs. That’s when Matt Holliday cracks a three-run homer to give the Cardinals a two-run lead. In the bottom of the 9th, the Cubs put a runner on base, but that’s it. Cubs lose. Cardinals head to the playoffs. That’s what happened to the Bears yesterday. Treat the Bears fans among you gently today.
  • Another day, and another prospecting pundit hints at the Cubs dominating upcoming top XX lists: Baseball America’s Ben Badler says that the Cubs, who have “one of the strongest systems in baseball,” will have five members of the top 50 when BA’s list comes out. Baseball America has already released its top ten list for the Cubs’ system, so we know that the five will be Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, C.J. Edwards, Albert Almora, and Jorge Soler, in that order. BA is obviously much higher on Edwards than Baseball Prospectus, though he’s going to be a top 100 type on every list.
  • Speaking of the system, John Sickels will soon be doing his top 20 list for the Cubs, and he’s putting out the call for folks to discuss their thoughts.
  • The Chicago Tribune looks at the top 13 “finest” from 2013, which includes just one Cubs mention: the successful negotiation of the Wrigley Field renovation deal with the City of Chicago. If you’ve followed that story at all throughout 2013, you know that the fact that it is the sole “finest” thing for the Cubs this year pretty much sums things up. With no deal yet announced between the Cubs and the rooftops that are threatening to sue to shut down the Cubs’ efforts to erect outfield signage, the renovation hasn’t actually started yet. There’s always next year …
  • Mark Simon looks at the defensive moves in the NL this offseason, and, as you already know, there’s not much to say about the Cubs. They’ve added Justin Ruggiano to the outfield mix. Full stop.
  • Dan Shaughnessy really wants our attention for writing things like this (and I hate myself for giving him that attention): “[Frank] Thomas had a Popeye body, but was never suspected of being a ’roids guy. Lucky him. This is where we go off the rails. Like Thomas, guys such as [Mike] Piazza and [Jeff] Bagwell have Hall of Fame numbers and never tested positive for PEDs. But they look dirty. Something doesn’t make sense. Thomas makes sense.” That’s it. That’s his entire reason for excluding Piazza and Bagwell from his ballot.
  • Can someone explain to me the insight – hell, the point – of this New York Times piece on the Cubs’ recent losing? The internal confusion exists even within single sentences: “Players who might have kept the Cubs reliably mediocre — Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza, Alfonso Soriano, Paul Maholm, David DeJesus — have been exchanged for the quicksilver of minor league prospects.” So … keeping the players would have been bad … but trading them for prospects is also worthy of derision?

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

79 responses to “The Cubs Lost in Agonizing Fashion to the Cardinals Yesterday and Other Bullets”

  1. Cub Fan Dan

    Just an FYI. The BA Cubs top 10 article link directs to a shark photo bomb article. Insert Samardzija joke.

  2. Isaac

    Ha, the comments on ‘Frozen’ are so spot on. “I actually didn’t hate it”…that made for a nice Monday morning chuckle.

  3. Edwin

    I think the only thing worse than the hall of fame voting is when voters start to pen articles about why they vote the way they do.

    1. Norm

      I disagree. Transparency is a good thing.

  4. Ron

    “Players who might have kept the Cubs reliably mediocre”

    This is the key part of the sentence. I think the NYT piece sums up the “anti-rebuild” crowd seen in the comments fairly well. (I only say anti-rebuild for a lack of a better word not as a derision or anything maybe anti-current plan).

    Some folks think that reliably mediocre is more palatable than sucking for a few years to build the seeming ever elusive young core. Before I get blasted, I get the argument that .500 ballclub makes more money via relevancy than a .400 ballclub. One more year….I hope.

    1. hansman

      Maybe it is just how much time I spend here, but that article was pointless and dumb.

      “The Cubs suck, they have really sucked under Epstein, had they kept certain other players they probably wouldn’t have sucked as much, the future is in the minors, and insert cliche line that anyone who has ever talked about how much the Cubs have sucked has used.”

      That is a one paragraph synopsis of the article. It’s like he had to turn in something to be published and only wanted to spend 5 minutes working on it.

    2. Chad

      I find it funny for those that say a .500 team makes more money than a .400 team. While that may be true for a season or two, if you look over a say 20 year span. If the cubs were to remain at .500 each year with the occasional good season they would likely make less money overall than if they have a bad 4 or year stretch and then are continually contending for the next 15 years (except a few down years of course). Yes a .500 team makes more money than a .400 team, but a team contending year in and year out makes WAY more money than either. The organization is much better off sending those marginal players away for prospects that will impact the future.

      1. Pat

        But sucking now doesn’t insure a ten to fifteen year run of continuous contention. It merely insures sucking now. And for the most part, a .500 Cubs team will draw more or less of a full house, so you probably do make more over that period by staying at .500.

        1. hookersorcake

          Eh, maybe don’t start sentences “But sucking.”
          Also sucking now is adding quality prospects. It is increasing our chances at a 10+ year run.
          I think we’d all like to see the Cubs win more games. But most of us can see the situation. Sign 2-3 31+ yr old guys to long term contracts. Max out the payroll and in 3 years your lucky to have league average guys sucking down 60 million in payroll and lesser prospects coming up? Then what? You’re back in 2010.
          At the very least we’ve all seen the Cubs fail in every way except this one. At least if they fail doing this way, it’ll be a whole new level of failure.
          I’m tired of the same old failure. =)

  5. Norm

    I love how Shaugnessey says the “sun-starved stat geeks” hate Morris because winning games is overrated.
    Then he says:
    “Same for Mussina and his 270 wins (he always pitched for good teams)”

    1. bbmoney

      It is fun to see writers try to justify their votes and just end up contradicting themselves and also waste time call people names. But it might be the most fun to see them judge people based on nothing but appearance while not judging others for their appearance in back to back paragraphs.

      Good times. Good times. Glad guys like that have a vote.

      1. hansman

        When writers were the ones who, typically, had the most information about all of the players in the league, it made sense for them to vote on the HoF.

        Although, given how dumb 75% of them turn out to be, I’m not so sure it was that great of an idea.

  6. Cubbie in NC

    The writer probably believes that the Cubs can build for the future without being as bad as they have been or are going to be.

    That the Cubs can rebuild without being horrid for 3 or 4 years.

    1. Spriggs

      I know what you mean, but your comment reminds me of the young man who said to Kurt Vonnegut, “I love all your books. I know what you were getting at! Just a little more common courtesy is what the world needs!”

      Vonnegut’s reply, “Where were you 50 years ago? You could have saved me a lot of time.”

  7. Kramden

    Yeah, Bears/Packers are pretty much the fall/winter equivalent of Cubs/Cardinals.

    As much as I didn’t feel that the Bears deserved to be in the playoffs and felt they’d be one & done….. I just didn’t want it to be to the Packers.

    Just a very Blah feeling about the whole thing.

    1. Matt

      I’ll take the Packers over the Lions. At least the Packers are a respectable franchise with a respectable coach. Lions made the right move firing their clown of a coach, and there’s really nothing to respect with that franchise as a whole. They get the occasional great player and then waste their career. See Barry Sanders and now Calvin Johnson.

  8. Rich H

    I am in a nice mood today so I will take it easy on the Bears fans today.

    My one big thing learned in 2013 is pretty simple. This FO will try and put together a team that on paper could be consistent but if results do not match projection they will move on to sell-off mode in a heartbeat.
    In 2013 the Cubs actually had the look of a .500 team coming in to April but our lack of a bullpen killed any chance of that happening. They literally had a total change over in the pen on the fly and it almost worked before the sell off.
    The long term health of the organization will not be sacrificed for one year but untill we can fill out the 25 man with homegrown guys like Ha, Scrzur and Watkins they will look under every rock that we can to get those pieces.

    So far 2014 looks bleak but there is still 44 days until pitchers and catchers report. I think adding a starting OF corner bat and a starting pitcher would go a long way to helping this year but I do not think that Theo and the Gang will sacrifice long term health to get it.

    I know a lot of you are basing the success of the offseason on getting Tanaka but one big bat and a 200 inning starter would be just as good.

    1. itzscott

      >> This FO will try and put together a team that on paper could be consistent but if results do not match projection they will move on to sell-off mode in a heartbeat. <<

      How many more years do you think this FO can get away with bad "on paper" projections before fans start calling for their heads in mass?

      1. Rich H

        2014 is probably the first time that so far there is not much improvement over what we ended 2013 with so I do not understand your point.

        That being said our on paper projection right now with a couple players getting back to what we hope is normal should be about 70-73 wins. That is just from the fixes in the bullpen and the year to year growth of our young guys. Now if Baez or one of the other high minors guys make huge strides this offseason then that total goes up. But right now is not the team that will be in Arizona on Feb 13, 2014. That is almost a certainty. So lets wait till reporting day before we start handing out grades on what the team will be.

  9. miggy80

    The New York Times piece was written for Tanaka

    1. cubsnivy56

      I believe you may be right on. The New York media lending a helping hand. Consider the timing! How about some good A-Rod updates in the Chicago papers?

    2. Wrigleyville,nv

      Nice call, I’ll take conspiracies for 150 million Alex.

      1. Abe Froman

        Now it makes sense why it was the only article all year written in Japanese.

  10. Spriggs

    That cardinal photo is not what I wanted to see this Monday morning. Another punch to the gut. Getting really hard to stomach this packer/cardinal domination.

    1. Melrosepad

      I’ll agree about the Cardinal domination but have to disagree about football. Got into the Cubs growing up due to neighbors and school teachers and into the Packers from my grandparents who live in Wisconsin, so I’m one of the rare Cubs/Packers fans.

    2. WiscCubsFan

      I’m also a Cubs/Packers fan. While yesterday’s game surely stinks for Bears fans, I resent the Packers being compared to the Cardinals. That’s just gross! ;)

      1. Danny Ballgame

        Sorry Pack fans. You are the Cards of the NFL

        1. WiscCubsFan

          I demand evidence! The Cards bleed hauteur and smug affectation. We all prefer to loathe them. I’ve never gotten the sense that the Packers are viewed in this same way across a variety of fan bases.

      2. someday...2015?

        You know as a true die hard Cubs/Bears fan, I’ll admit that having been to both Busch stadium and Lambeau field, both have incredibly classy fans and incredible atmospheres.(especially Lambeau) Lambeau actually had a Wrigley feel to it. Busch was more of a comfortable, fun time. Nice comfortable seats(in the bleachers), nice people, comedic vendors, and so on…

        It’s definitely tough to stomach seeing your rival win a World Series or beat your team to get into the playoffs. No denying that…To me those moments just add fuel to the fire of what was already an amazing rivalry(s). Gotta love it!

        1. John (the other one)

          I’m also a cubs/packers fan. Its funny–I’ve never really hated the Bears like I do the Cardinals. Hell, I hate the Vikings more, probably because of how classy (and classic) the Bears organization is. Hell, I’d probably be rooting for them if they had beat the Packers. Which I would never say about St. Louis.

  11. BobbyK

    How many regular season baseball games add up to be equivalent to the importance of one football game?

    1. Isaac

      10

    2. ClevelandCubsFan

      If wins and losses are the only stay we count… appx. 10 MLB games = 1 NFL game. Clearly parity is greater in the MLB.

  12. jsorensen

    Does The New York Times now have a Contributor’s Network like Yahoo? Hopefully Bearak or how ever his name is spelled wasn’t paid in US currency for his “work”. Any even mildly astute reader knows where he is going when the “supposed genius” stuff pops up.

  13. Fastball

    I am quite surprised that Mel Tucket hasn’t been whacked this morning. He lost some key players but there was no improvement by the defense even after they supposedly focused on fundamentals on a weekly basis. Wonder which fundamentals he was trying to teach. He could have started with learning how to stay in your containment, not over pursue every damned running play, not to try tackling with your eyes closed, pay attention to which direction the ball is going on running plays, don’t fall for every head fake please, Tackling 101, 102 would have been nice. Most importantly this a class on just what a Monster of the Midway IS. This is the worst defense in the history of the Bears. Mel Tucker needs to be held accountable for the results of his defensive unit. There are a lot of guys who need to be cut loose. My first cuts today so there is no concern by anyone about Trestman and Emery’s ability to construct a defense. Conte and Wright… These two safeties have to be THE WORST in all of professional football at any level. I pray we can sign some really good linebackers because the 2 rookies didn’t learn a damned thing playing for Tucker. Hell I would consider moving both of them to the safety positions. The run just as fast a 40 as Conte and Wright. I like big punishing safeties anyway. Move McLellan to outside Linebacker and it’s time to shit can the cover 2. If you don’t have the personnel to run that defense you get the results we have seen all season. Then say goodbye to Cutler and figure out a way to sign AJ McCarron and make him our next real Franchise QB. McCown can handle things just fine til he is ready. If we can’t get him then trade for Cousins. The Deadskins are in such disarray we could get him for a later round draft pick or Conte and Wright and the Waterboy.

    1. frank

      What may end up happening is that they keep Tucker and let him change the defensive scheme. The cover 2 as the Bears play it has never been Tucker’s preference, but the defense was very good the previous year, so they kept it. That said, if you look at his coaching history, he hasn’t always had the best players, but the argument can be made that the players he did have didn’t really improve under his coaching either.

  14. Beer Baron

    I actually agree with the comments of Dan Shaughnessy. While Bagwell and Piazza never tested positive, technically neither did Bonds, McGwire or Clemmens either. You can argue whether or not to penalize for using PEDs, but if you are inclined to penalize you are going to have to make some assumptions because the only one who is proven guilty is Palmeiro (and of course he only used it that one time *wink wink*). I consider that an unfortunate side-effect of Donald Fehr’s long time resistance to testing – some innocent players will get dragged down with the guilty. Personally I assume Bagwell and Piazza were users (and probably Biggio too) and never considered Bagwell to be an all-time great player so have no problem keeping him out.

    1. bbmoney

      http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=547&position=1B

      Bagwell was pretty damn good. I assume you’re a PED user as well and have as much evidence of that as anyone has ever produced against Bagwell, Biggio or Piazza. Eye tests are dumb and unreliable.

      As far as the others go, while most weren’t actually ever suspended, at least there has been tangible evidence produced (Mitchell Report, leaks of positive tests before MLB penalties were fully in place, testimony from trials, etc.). McGwire has also since admitted use.

      1. Beer Baron

        ” I have conjecture and hearsay. Those are kinds of evidence” – Lionel Hutz

        You’re right – eye tests are unreliable, but that does not necessarily mean they are incorrect. Unfortunately for the issue at hand (who did or did not use PEDs in the 90s) that is the only evidence available because more reliable tests were not allowed. If the author wants to not vote for anyone who used PEDs, he has no choice but to make judgment calls (which is actually the whole purpose of having people vote on this and not computers).

        And yes Bagwell was pretty damn good – but not an all time great. I think baseball reference has a pretty accurate list of comps and its about half hall of famers and half not: http://www.baseball-reference.com/friv/scomp_bat.cgi?I=bagweje01:Jeff%20Bagwell&st=career&compage=&age=

        1. John (the other one)

          Except that Bagwell was better than all of those guys not named Pujols. Just because he ain’t Lou Gehrig doesn’t mean he’s not a top 5 first baseman all time.

          1. Drew7

            “Just because he ain’t Lou Gehrig doesn’t mean he’s not a top 5 first baseman all time.”

            You know, I think I agree with you. While I’ve always believed he is definitely a HOF’er, I didn’t realize just how well he compared to other 1B historically until I looked it up.

        2. bbmoney

          Well he is 63rd all time in career WAR according to BR. Ahead of for instance guys like Pete Rose (interesting fact, got on base more times per game than Rose and stole more bases than Rose), Derek Jeter, Ron Santo, Barry Larkin, Tony Gwynn, etc. Is he a top 30 player of all time, no, but you must be a really small hall kind of a guy if you really don’t think his numbers cut it. http://www.baseball-reference.com/leaders/WAR_career.shtml

          I’m all about using judgement as long as there is logic behind it. Saying I think someone used steroids so I’m will not going to vote for them isn’t really logical. If writers are just casting a broad net over all ‘steroid’ era players or can’t differentiate between legitimate facts and reports out there and one or two guys just writing that they think someone used because something doesn’t feel right…they shouldn’t be voting. I know this isn’t the legal system, but assumed guilty without evidence is kind of pet peeve of mine.

          1. Drew7

            There are 18 First-Basemen currently in the HOF, and Bagwell is currently 5th all-time in WAR amongst those who are Hall-eligible.

            And I’m not even sure that gives him justice, since WAR is a cumulative stat, and Bagwell’s career was over at age-36.

            Dude was a beast.

  15. Fastball

    If Tanaka signs with with Yankees or Dodgers I wonder what Theo and Jed get to do the with the $20MM posting fee and the $140MM there are going to pony up. If I’m Theo I get that money spent before Ricketts get past the 2nd page of the Business Journal this morning. With the $20MM he can get some really nice Flippable Assets for this season. With the $20MM a year he had set aside he can get at least 2 pretty good impact players. The first rule of budget management is you never ever give money back. Always have your capex money and recurring expenses nailed down then ask for some more. At the most opportune time you give something back or make a deal that saves a bunch. Theo has this part down pat. He better use these $$ Tomlet slip through his tight ass before his old man figures out where the monies all gone.

  16. cavemencubbie

    The less than mediocrity (read intellectual level)) of the NYT has reached their sports page.

  17. Fastball

    I don’t think Sammy was ever caught on a piss test either. There is far more advanced drug testing than a piss test. Take a hair folicle and it will tell them everything someone has done pretty far back. Until then nobody caught them doing anything. I have lost interest in that whole subject. Mark them as the PEDS era put them in the HOF anyway. They saved baseball with all their HR’s. They brought the fans back to the game. Baseball wanted it to be that way. Don’t let anybody think differently. MLB had no desire to stop any of it until there was a change in public opinion on the subject. Then the commissioner and the owners had to put forth a half assed stance on it. IMO they still don’t care. They added fines and suspensions and feel like they have done their part. Until PEDS use gets you banned from the sport for life they condone the use as long as the player accepts the risk of getting caught. If you can afford to take the hit $$ wise then these guys will continue to do them. Owners continue to pay these guys big $$ even when they come back from suspension. Because of that I don’t care about the subject of who did or who didn’t anymore.

  18. CubFan Paul

    “A small chunk of you are also Chicago Bears fans..”

    A VERY small chunk of us are Chicago Bear fans…

  19. ssckelley

    The reason why no one has ever questioned Thomas on PED use is because he has always been big. Thomas did not just show up one spring looking like a beast and start cranking out home runs, he was big from his high school to college days and had the power to go with it.

    1. Fishin Phil

      He was a tight end at Auburn (pretty dang good one) – so yes, he was always big. Contrast to someone like Sosa who came up looking wiry and left looking like The Hulk.

  20. North Side Irish

    According to Kiley McDaniel, sounds like the Yankees are taking the Cubs approach to the July 2 period next season…only bigger. Planning to spend around $25M including penalties. Seems strange considering the Cubs splurged this season because they supposedly weren’t impressed with next year’s crop.

    http://sbb.scout.com/2/1361172.html

  21. Jason P

    That NYT article was strange… that’s all I got. He just dives into a broad topic, offers a brief critique, and then… end it. I don’t really understand the point he’s trying to get at.

    In that specific sentence you quoted, I think the writer was trying to say: the Cubs plan is to get worse – this is proof of how they’ve tried to get worse. I don’t think he was lobbying that those players should have been kept.

  22. North Side Irish

    Ben Badler ‏@BenBadler 2m
    CJ Edwards. Still surprised they were able to get him. RT @Demarrer2790 Do the Cubs have any potential TOR arms in their system?

    Just more proof that Badler is high on Edwards…

    1. North Side Irish

      Ben Badler ‏@BenBadler 5m
      I don’t see it. Not as high on him as others are. RT @TdotsFinest11 is Aaron Sanchez a front line starter/ potential Ace to you?

      And for comparison’s sake…

      1. North Side Irish

        Ben Badler ‏@BenBadler 32s
        @MindofStan As in Aaron Sanchez? Yes, I’ll take Edwards over him.

        Obviously just one analyst’s opinion, but it’s a nice comparison with a rumored headliner in a Samardzija deal.

        1. X The Cubs Fan

          (:

  23. TommyK

    To make the analogy complete, at some point a Cubs fielder would have to allow an inside the park home run because he thought the ball was foul.

  24. cavemencubbie

    Not a great football fan, thereby not a great Bear fan. That said, I believe the Bears had a decent season with a bad defense and injuries. They wouldn’t have gone far in the playoffs even if they had won yesterday.

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