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emilio bonifacio cubsThe Cubs lost 4-3 last night in 16 innings (that’s your Enhanced Box Score, for those who weren’t up in the middle of the night), in one of the longest – in terms of time – games in Cubs history. It was the second straight extra-inning walk-off loss to start the year, and the second straight game in which the Cubs were comically inept with runners in scoring position. Is there a more frustrating way to lose games? That’s not a rhetorical question. I guess a game that the Cubs led 8-0 going into the 9th, and then lost because of 11 consecutive errors would probably do the trick. But that’s about it.

You stack these two games on top of a fan base already frustrated by a slow-paced rebuild and an inactive offseason, and I don’t think the start of this season could have gone much worse, absent an escaped hyena rampaging in the clubhouse and maiming half of the team.

But it is just the start of the season. One time, the Cubs lost the first game of the season in pretty brutal fashion. They were scoreless with the Brewers through eight innings before allowing three runs to Milwaukee in the top half of the 9th. The Cubs then rallied to score three of their own and tie the game up! … and then gave up a run in the 10th to lose. Exasperating. The next game (two days later because of the obligatory off-day), the Cubs were blown out 8-2, and looked pretty crappy if you were judging by the two losses. Heck, they were hitting just .125 with runners in scoring position!

That was the 2008 Cubs team. They went on to win 97 games, tops in the National League.

You’ll grow tired of hearing it long before I grow tired of saying it: baseball is a game best enjoyed as it’s being played, but best understood over long stretches. The predictive ability of two games’ worth of data is pretty much nil, and the Cubs’ profoundly bad performance with runners in scoring position so far is not the kind of thing that sustains over a long period of time. That’s little consolation for fans who’ve already thrown their remote through a window – and the Cubs can’t get these two losses back – but it’s truth. Well, the strong statistical likelihood, anyway.

Am I saying the 2014 Cubs team is going to win 97 games? Of course not. I’m simply pointing out that even very, very good teams can look like crap through two games. (And, of course, sometimes very, very bad teams can look like crap through two games, too.)

A few thoughts on the marathon game and the early returns:

  • Emilio Bonifacio is on fire – historic fire. It sounds like he’s the first player in history to have nine hits in the first two games of a season, and he’s currently batting .750/.769/.833. Yeah, just two games, but he could go 0 for his next 33(!) and he’d *still* be above the Mendoza Line (.200). It was already the case that he was going to be in the lineup regularly, but there’s no way he can come out any time soon. That likely means more starts in center and at second base. He might even spell Starlin Castro one of these games.
  • Speaking of Castro … ugh. That Castro didn’t get to have a Spring Training seems like it’s showing – Castro let a ball slip under his glove last night, allowing a run to score, and didn’t look particularly locked in at the plate. In the 11th, he was double-switched out of the game (which mostly had to do with the personnel available, but still). It’s going to take a little time for him to get going, I think. Unfortunately. This is not what he or the Cubs needed in the early going.
  • And speaking of the Cubs’ RISP woes, as I got into last night during the game, even if you believe the Cubs are truly a terrible team with runners in scoring position – as in, you believe they’re one of the worst in history, and should hit just .200 or so with RISP – the odds that they would have gone just 1 for 27 are microscopic. Once again: little consolation. But that doesn’t make it not a freak thing.
  • If you’re looking for something positive, it remains the pitching: a 1.48 ERA through 24.1 innings is pretty nice. But that’s enough positive; let’s get negative again: the 4.4 BB/9 is ugly, 1.75 K/BB is not impressive, and the 5.2 H/9 is not sustainable.
  • After Starlin Castro’s error and the mounting RISP troubles, and after it felt like a lock that the Cubs would lose another shutout, I tweeted this pointed, but joking, line:

  • More than two hours later, Jose Veras came on for the save. He blew it. And then this happened:

  • That’s an unedited, 20-second slice of what my mentions looked like after the Pirates tied the game in the 12th. My bad. There were about 200 more of those, but, thankfully, I think most were in good fun. The lesson: don’t make irresponsibly predictive jokes, lest you feel the wrath of the interwebz.
  • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

    I did it!! I made it into a BN post! Check that one off the bucket list

  • Dustin S

    It’s a bit scary to think about where this offense would be right now if KC hadn’t cut Bonifacio. That ended up being a gift.

    Being glass half-full, the RISP will improve you’d think. If they can get anywhere near scoring 1 run for every 2-3 RISP the picture would totally change. They have to get out of the gutter in LOB. That was the one of the big 2013 problems (last in MLB).

    • bonger0493

      Even the best teams don’t score once for every 2-3 risp. Except for the cardinals last year which I would hope is unsustainable

    • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

      The Cubs 2013 problem was NOT LOB.

      It was that they didn’t get enough guys on base. Look at last year’s leaderboard. A LOT of good teams are at the top of LOB.

  • ncsujuri

    Maybe I’m just a glass half full kind of guy but I’m more inclined to be encouraged that they are getting that many RISP in the first place and assuming that the hits in those situations will come. It’s not as if we are playing against the Astros, these Bucs are a legitimate play-off contender, and it took them 10 and 16 innings respectively to scrap out two one run games against us.

  • Satch

    Well, at least we have a good replacement for Marmol. Veras did an excellent imitation. Please tell me he has a one year contract.

    • Edwin

      He has a one year contract.

  • Satch

    Thank you…

  • newsguy23

    I am very grateful I live near Des Moines. I will gladly spend money watching players that have talent. I wont spend a dime at Wrigley to support crap. I agree w/ many that it is only 2 games.. But really this is nothing new for most of these so called players on this team. Realistically they have maybe 2 or 3 starters for a good team, maybe 1 or 2 pitchers on a good team and maybe 2 to 3 out of the bullpen. It is just real bad.

  • Canadian Cubs Fan

    Seeing as how he got pretty much zero plate appearances in ST, I’m wondering why Castro is hitting 3rd? I thought they might move him down for the first week or so, give him time to get back up to speed.

    If they had done that last night, moving him down to 7th and shuffling everyone else up a spot, Nate would have come up in all those RISP situations, and we might have put a few more runs on the board.

    Tough losses to a pretty good team. I’ll say that I think the Pirates are going to regress this year, and will be lucky to win 85 games with that roster. Very little protection around McCutcheon, IMO.

    • CubsFaninMS

      I agree. I think Pedro Alvarez is one of the leading candidates of the “The League Has Figured Him Out Award” for 2014.

  • newsguy23

    But is am really happy that every season is sacred- Thanks Cubs ownership for not knowing how to rebuild and to have talent at the same time. Pretty sure other teams pull this off but not tight ass Ricketts.

  • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

    These two games happen in July and no one would ever notice.

    Just more proof that the baseball Gods hate the Cubs. We will pull a 2013, have an abysmal April, followed by a half season of .500 ball and then sell off at the deadline.

    JUST TO FREEKIN TEASE US.

    • Edwin

      The Cubs rebuild will end up being a Sisyphean task.

      • pete

        Maybe just as apropos – cleaning the Augean stables.

    • newsguy23

      you know I really don’t give a crap about the finances or the constant excuses being made on their behalf. I want a winner or something that is not horse shit put on the field. All the genius and stories about the finances are really not my problem. I guess being a fan and wanting a respectful team on tech field it too much to ask. Yes I can read Roz, don really care what you think Hansman because you are always right and Brett you don’t need to throw up your previous story for I do not care. But by all means you all go spend hard earn money and fill Ricketts pockets w/ a load of crap.

      • ari gold

        Maybe you should become a Yankees fan.

      • Sandberg

        You need a lollipop.

      • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

        If you simply don’t care to read probably the most labor intensive article the owner of the blog that you’re commenting on has written, then why are you even here?

        • Edwin

          I’m waiting for the movie version.

          • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

            Will there be a cliff notes version?

            • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

              The video game is hitting shelves for this Christmas season.

            • http://bleachernation.com woody

              The Cliff notes version is; Sam Zell laughs all the was to the bank. He is overheard saying “schmuck cubs fans”.

      • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

        Thank you for acknowledging my infallability. The Pope aint got shit on me!

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        “Brett you don’t need to throw up your previous story for I do not care”

        So few people are honest with themselves and others about their choice to live in ignorance. Kudos to you for your emotional maturity.

      • CubsFaninMS

        None of us like to see our favorite team lose, but your argument is essentially….

        “Yes, I know you just wrote a detailed article hypothesizing/explaining why the Cubs aren’t fielding a contending team in 2014. I don’t want to read it. The Cubs suck, I’m a Cubs fan, and I don’t want to acquire knowledge as to why they suck. I want to sit here and sulk.”

        Be our guest, dude.

      • lnfihDeL

        Just leave the site.

        IF you’re refusing to learn WHY we can’t spend money and rebuild at the same time, you’re ignorant and deserve nothing as a fan.

      • ssckelley

        Sounds like someone could use a hug.

  • jschwei17

    Pitching has been great (especially SP) but Castro needed to start the season in the 6 spot or so. Now if you drop him down it’s a negative and we get into his tiny head again. That’s my only complaint.

    • Edwin

      His head seems perfectly normal sized to me. And I don’t see how the hat size he wears would affect his baseball abilities.

  • Edwin

    For the season is long, and full of terrors.

    • Fishin Phil

      I picked a bad week to give up moonshine.

      • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

        We know you are sneaking some polyurethane on the side.

  • waittilthisyear

    i’m a sensible man an draw no conclusions from these first 2 games, but it is frustrating to score so few runs when your leadoff man is doing what EMILIOOOOOO has done so far

  • itzscott

    I’d love to do a rewind to find the person who saw a very young All-Star who consistently batted over .300 with 200 hits, looked at the stats, couldn’t help himself and decided he just needed to reinvent the wheel, got into that kid’s head that he was all wrong and needed to look for more walks, take more pitches and make the pitcher work, resulting in screwing up that kid royally…… and duct taping that asshole’s mouth while I bought him a one-way ticket to Siberia.

    • itzscott

      The really sad part is I think this asshole did the same thing to Rizzo….. who can’t hit anywhere but the right side of the diamond.

    • Norm

      So, be happy with “good” and don’t bother trying to maximize skills and reach ceiling.

      Got it.

      • itzscott

        >> So, be happy with “good” and don’t bother trying to maximize skills and reach ceiling. <<

        Yup, pretty much. If it ain't broke, don't try to fix it. Find something else that's really broke and try your "magic".

        Which Cub players has this approach been successful with? Who did they decide to tinker with successfully?

        Seems to me that the Cubs have a history of doing this to kids who finally make it to the majors only to decide to try to change things then and not while they're still in the minors.

        Five-Tool Corey Patterson, Five Tool Felix Pie to name a couple. Afraid to say that Castro may be their next victim.

        • Norm

          Oh, I didn’t know it was the Cubs fault that Patterson and Pie were busts and that either of them had any impact on what’s going to happen with Castro.

          • itzscott

            Well, as a stathead you’d have to agree that the numbers point in that direction, no?

            • DocPeterWimsey

              Not really. Patterson’s failure was pretty predictable now that people have examined the correlations between K:BB ratios in miLB and what they project for MLB. (It was still accepted as gospel that this improved as players “matured”: it is now know that this does not.)

              Castro’s current struggles are indistinguishable from stochastic variation, especially after you account for the fact that he was deliberately taking pitches last year. Moreover, the statheads had been warning that Castro’s high BABiP from his first two seasons was not sustainable: regression goes to expectation, after all.

              • Edwin

                Patterson’s BB% and K% weren’t that terrible in the minors. In 2000 for AA he had a K% of 22% and a BB% of 8.9%. In 2001 for AAA he had a BB% of 7.2% and a K% of 16%. For a CF who plays great defense and is projected to hit with power, that’s pretty good.

                His problem is that he gave up too much of both when he reached the majors, and he wasn’t able to maintain his power. Still, he did have a 4.9 and 3.5 WAR season.

                This “Patterson’s Failure was pretty predictable” stuff is very overplayed.

            • Norm

              No. The fact that they were busts does not mean it was the Cubs fault they were busts.
              And whatever happened with Patterson 10 years ago and Pie 6 years ago has absolutely nothing to do with Castro today.

              Ever think that just maybe, it’s possible, that Castro simply couldn’t maintain that high BABIP? And since he rarely walks, when his BABIP crashes so will everything else.

              • itzscott

                So what you, Doc and Edwin are implying is that when Castro was an All-Star, hitting over .300 and getting 200 hits/yr everyone with a slide rule knew that he’d eventually suck this bad if he didn’t become more “selective” and wait for the walks, which obviously isn’t in his DNA and should have been traded at that point in time to some team that wasn’t slide rule savy?

                But it’s too late now because the cat’s out of the bag and his value is akin the Marmol’s at this time last year?

                • Norm

                  I don’t think anyone is saying they “knew” he would…just that there were obvious signs that he very well could.

                  If you look at the decade of the 2000-2009, there were:

                  - 5 players that had a BABIP of .345 or better
                  - 13 that had a BABIP of .330 or better

                  (minimum 3000 PA, or approx 5 seasons)

                  Castro *could* have maintained it and been one of the top 5 that could do so, but it wasn’t likely.

                • Edwin

                  I’m implying that duct taping someone’s mouth shut and trying to ship them to another country is a poorly thought out plan.

                  But as far as Castro goes, he was actually a below average hitter in 2012. He played good defense, so he was still a good player, but it’s not like Castro has ever been anything more than an average hitter able to play a tough defensive position. Everyone with a slide rule knew that if he could somehow walk a little bit more while hitting for more power without giving up too much of his K%, he’d be a much more valuable player.

                • itzscott

                  How about this one….

                  Why don’t you guys pick out some players whose correlations between K:BB ratios in miLB sucked but have done well since being promoted to the majors but you just know will eventually (but not yet) meet the same predictable fate as Castro?

                  We’ll keep an eye on them throughout the season to see if it plays out as their numbers predict they will.

                  • DocPeterWimsey

                    The data already exist for numerous players: why repeat the experiment? All of the guys with hellaciously high K rates in MLB had them in miLB, too. They just had enough power (and often, but not always, enough walks) to make up for it. And the guys who had high K rates in miLB 5 years ago are either K’ing a lot now or not playing anymore.

                    • itzscott

                      Names… I need names, please of current major leaguers who have been in the league a year or two and are doing well but whose K:BB ratios suggest that they’ll fall on their faces ala Castro sooner or later.

                    • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

                      You got 2 names below, Junior Lake and Starling Marte. The rest of these are crapshoots but guys with above average to high K rates who have kind of broken out recently, Josh Donaldson, Carlos Gomez, Ian Desmond, Jason Kipnis. Fact is, it’s really tough to predict these things

                  • Edwin

                    So, Junior Lake?

                    • DocPeterWimsey

                      …. almost certainly will whiff a lot in MLB.

                  • Norm

                    Starling Marte, off the top of my head.

                    • Norm

                      Well, guys who have been in league for only 1 or 2 years that are doing good is a pretty small number of players, but I’ll throw in these guys, current line over the 2012-2013 seasons:

                      Puig (319/391/534)
                      Wil Myers (293/354/478)
                      Avisail Garcia (289/319/405)

                      He’s a little older, but,
                      Chris Johnson (braves) (301/343/454)

                      Will all 5 of them, including Marte regress? Probably not. But I’d bet on all of them doing so.

                  • YourResidentJag

                    Puig is worrisome. Also, two guys for the Brewers, namely their SS–both could end up like Castro.

                    • itzscott

                      Okay Gents, Thank You Very Much!

                      Here are our players to keep an eye on for regression. A nice size sampling of 10 players who fit the criterion. If more than 50% of them begin to go down the tubes I’ll concede the point that Castro’s decline should have been predictable early on.

                      Starling Marte
                      Avisail Garcia
                      Chris Johnson
                      Puig
                      Junior Lake
                      Josh Donaldson
                      Carlos Gomez
                      Ian Desmond
                      Jason Kipnis
                      Jean Segura

                    • DocPeterWimsey

                      Are any of those guys getting by on excessive BABiP or other frequencies (e.g., HR:FB ratios, BAwRiSP) that regress toward expectation?

                • DocPeterWimsey

                  I wouldn’t go quite that far. What I said then (and still say now) is that Castro is going to be a guy who puts a lot of balls into play, but not walk enough to get on base enough to be a top-of-the-order hitter. Even when he had a 0.340+ BABiP, his OBP was still under 0.350. My *hope* was that he’d develop enough power to hit 15-20 HR a year, which would make a huge difference.

                  But as for trading him, even then I woudl have said “no.” Offensive production is so low from SS that having Castro bat #7 or #8 would still mean that he’d provide value over other SS.

                  And I don’t see any cats being let out of any bags, either. If the Cubs were willing to trade him, several teams would want him. I just see no reason to trade him, and no reason to think that he’ll just be Castro with xBABiP rather than what he had in 2010 & 2011.

                  • itzscott

                    >> Are any of those guys getting by on excessive BABiP or other frequencies (e.g., HR:FB ratios, BAwRiSP) that regress toward expectation? <<

                    You tell me. If you want to whittle the list down, we can whittle it down.

                    • DocPeterWimsey

                      You are the one that thinks that regression predicts that these guys will get worse. I don’t see any of those guys as obvious cases of that.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          Patterson never had pitch recognition, and it came back to bite him in MLB. His failure had nothing to do with the Cubs messing with him: it had to do with the fact that he lacked a true tool while people raved about tools that actually aren’t tools at all.

          As for Pie, it’s a little odder as to why he never worked out. However, the Cubs tinkering with him almost certainly isn’t it: after all, there is zero reason why a player cannot just go back to what he was doing. It could simply be that his skill set was inadequate for MLB pitching: after all, there are error bars on what AA & AAA stats project in MLB.

          • jp3

            Doc I disagree that Patterson never developed pitch recognition… He recognized every ball that was going to go in the dirt and swung every time. He knew what he was looking at

            • DocPeterWimsey

              Touché! (Although you might be describing Shawon Dunston!)

              • jp3

                I don’t know, I’m pretty sure it was Patterson that swung at every breaking ball that bounced in front of plate but I could be mistaken.

                • DocPeterWimsey

                  Dunston swung at pickoffs…..

                  (And your mother wore army boots. And my dog could eat your dog. If I had a dog. It would be a dire wolf. raarrrr!!!!!)

    • Edwin

      I don’t know, with the price of airlines and duct tape skyrocketing these days, and since I’m pretty sure most airports frown on taking on passengers who are bound and gagged, I can’t see that plan coming to fruition.

    • ssckelley

      This is great, the previous coaching staff has been fired and we are still blaming them.

      DAMN YOU SVEUM!!! DAMN YOU DEER!!!!

  • RoscoeVillageFan

    No time to sulk! Day game at 11:35 today! Let’s get a win! I’m not sure what other people think but after making thru 13 inn I felt like there is WAAAAAAYYY too much talk and pausing for “replay”. Even in a “slow game” like baseball this was really getting on my nerves especially when it was happening in the middle of an at-bat.

  • sringh5

    MMMM, Castro yeah, 4 games of Spring training a complete off season of getting ready for the normal season. He has played in the bigs before right? Well, 8 lob 0-8 and a missed ground ball was hit hard but the ball seems to find Castro when it matters most and again an error cost him the game. Was the same situation last year game 2 or 3 when the Nationals were in town a throwing error cost the Cubs the game like last night. I have been a huge supporter of Castro but I would not be heart broken if the Cubs traded him and even Rizzo for that matter. I don’t want the ball hit to Castro in the playoffs when it counts or have Rizzo up to tie a ball game with the bases loaded in the playoffs. Just sayin.

  • ssckelley

    The part that is really frustrating to me is the Cubs lack of offense has ruined 2 very good pitching performances. Through 25.1 innings the Cubs have only given up 5 runs and have 2 losses to show for it.

    • Norm

      Stop looking at the positives. That’s not the Cub fan way.

    • Blackhawks1963

      Pissing away two good starting pitching performances is what bad teams do. It’s why our unfortunate destinies is to again be a 95 loss type of team in 2014.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Last night was not a particularly well-pitched game by the Cubs: they issued 9 walks and 3 HBP. EJax chipped in 4 of those walks and 1 HBP, and both of the runs that he allowed were direct results of walks. (Walks and HBP were critical to the Pirates 3rd run, too; even I was asleep by the time the last one scored, so I assume it was two walks and two HBP…..)

        • ssckelley

          Never mind the fact that EJax pitched out of most of his jams and never got the opportunity to pitch out of the one in the 6th.

          Dammit the stats says he gave up some hits, walks, and he hit a couple of batters so the pitching performance was not good.

  • Webb

    Don’t worry guys! The Cubs will go 10/11 with RISP and win 11-3 today to finish the series with a .315 RISP average, a +6 run differential and .333 winning percentage! This trend will continue for 159 more games thereafter. Hurray positive regression!!!

  • J-Nasty

    You had to bring up a blown save, then Veras blew the save. Now Bonifacio will most likely go 0 for his next 33.

  • Jon

    To be honest, I’m not even impressed with Vera’s stuff. Rondon had better stuff so does Grimm

    • willis

      So does Strop. Veras has experience closing so he was tossed the gig. A few more of those and I hope he’s taken out of that role. Too many decent arms to waste leads.

    • http://bleachernation.com woody

      To be fair it was obvious that Veres couldn’t get a grip on his breaking ball. But the one he threw McCutchen was great. His fastball location wasn’t all that bad. You just can’t pitch to a lineup like the Pirates with only one pitch working. Another outing or two like that and I will be ready to close the book on him too. But I think he comes back from that.

  • Blackhawks1963

    Observations…

    Not sure all the weeping and gnashing of teeth. These first two games exhibit what is largely going to be the 162 game reality of this club. We are going to mightily struggle to score runs and painful truth is we just don’t have a real 25 man roster…not yet at least.

    People really need to temper the Bonafacio love. This is a sub .300 OBP guy who has bounced around from team to team to team. He’s a utility ballplayer with a lot of flows who is on a two game hot streak in terms of getting on base. Which is nice, but lets not get carried away or act all surprised and disappointed when his likely “reality” kicks fully into gear.

    Starlin Castro is a mess. I don’t like him. I haven’t liked him for two years. And everybody’s convenient excuse making that Dale Sveum was the root of his faults is nonsense. This guy needs to grow a pair and step up.

    Teams that are destined to lose 95 games or so actually lose 95 games or so when they piss away strong back-to-back starting pitching performances. Not a good precursor folks.

    • ssckelley

      Aw hell, so we are going to see 1 out of 27 RISP all season long???????

      Will you please post a deep thoughts comment later today?

  • JCubs79

    Honestly, an escaped hyena going on a rampage wouldn’t be a bad thing. Maybe it will speed up the renovation.

  • sringh5

    AAA Cubs are supposed to open today depending on weather in case anyone was wondering! :-)

  • Rebuilding

    Keep losing games like this and our Pythagorean record is really going to give us hope come June

  • Kycubs

    I don’t get the people giving up on Rizzo two games into the season. We need base runners and he’s getting on. Only Bonifacio and Valbuena have better OBP. Plus it’s two games. Sample size and all that junk.

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    My big fear is that this team is so bad that the stench will contaminate the prospects when they arrive.

    • http://www.draftday.com udbrky

      The prospects DGAF. They are all about family and winning. I’m pretty sure that this is the day in the life of the Cubs prospects:

      wake up
      eat a gigantic breakfast
      workout
      eat a gigantic lunch (extra for C.J. Edwards
      teleport to their respective fields
      prepare for game
      play game
      teleport to their shared hotel room
      eat dinner
      have a cuddle puddle and draw pictures of the group with World Series rings and write “Cubs World Series Champions” all over their notebooks
      Fall asleep together

      This is based off the prospects panel at the convention.

    • Wahl71

      If the kids can play they can play, every good team was bad once, not trying to change sports but the colts were 2-14 without Andrew luck and with him they were a playoff team with him, obviously it’s a different situation but good players make bad teams better, everything else is just nonsense

  • Andy

    If the Cubs were to hit .250 (1-in-4) with RISP for the foreseeable future, it would take them 103 at bats to get the team RISP back to .200.

    Not good.

  • mportsch

    It always sucks to go 0-2, but this might actually be the most encouraging 0-2 start possible. Let me explain.

    First of all, this is a road series against what is expected to be a good team. Results should be framed in that context.

    Secondly, it’s not like the Cubs are getting blown out in these games. Each game was decided by one run, in extra innings no less, so there’s some bad luck at play to go 0-2.

    Further, the Cubs’ underlying stats say that they’ve completely outplayed the Pirates in this series. To quantify this, we can look at Baseball Prospectus’ adjusted standings page. They have the Cubs’ second-order winning percentage at 0.713, and the third-order winning percentage at 0.696.

    Basically, if the Cubs keep hitting and pitching the way they have through two games, they are going to have a really nice season as the luck-influenced factors even out.

    All that said, it’s silly to make any conclusions from a two-game sample. In so much as we take anything away from the first two games, I take a slight positive.

  • Wahl71

    The worst possible way to start a season? Come on everyone, it’s what we all expected, and anyone who wants the cubs to spend big right to try to win can go be a white sox fan because that’s what they are doing. Throwing money at a leaking ship and hoping it floats. If you can’t stomach a few years of awfulness for a decade of success then you are no cubs fan at all. You have no right to buy a Baez, Almora, or Bryant jersey 5 years from now because you gave up on tmrw for the sake of today. Love the site Brett but some of these people frustrate me!

  • TommyK

    The problem with the “small sample size” excuse is this is the 5th year of this nightmare. Are we statistically required to forget everything we’ve seen about this team because a new season started? One look at the roster should tell you this team is going to struggle mightily to score runs. You can blame it on luck if that makes you feel better, but this is a lousy lineup filled with hitters that decent pitchers can get out when they need to. Whether or not Ricketts is cheap, this is a team that is not worth our time or money. I don’t care wlhy they’ve failed to put a major league caliber team on the field. The fact is they failed.

    • Edwin

      As long as they’re still worth blogging and commenting about, Brett will be able to feed his family.

    • Edwin

      Why is caring about why a team is failing such a bad thing?

      • YourResidentJag

        Except that Tommy does care.

  • Required

    This is a site for Cub fans. It’s a place to vent frustrations openly to people who understand what it’s like to be a Cub fan. Most of these great people are frustrated and tired. The main reason I can see is the first two games has been like games 163 and 164 from last year. We were promised improvements with BA with RISP and so far not so good. I’m glad we have a place like this to post our thoughts. If you don’t like negative comments on here after two frustrating losses, go to fantasy land with Clark the Cub.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I appreciate the implicit compliments in your comment, but I do have an issue:

      “We were promised improvements with BA with RISP and so far not so good.”

      We were?

      I think as far as anyone can go is: the Cubs’ BA with RISP last year was not statistically likely to sustain through this season, regardless of personnel. And it’s not. The odds that the Cubs hit .218 with RISP this year are very, very low. I can promise you that.

      • Required

        That was one of the areas we were promised improvements on or at least try. So much of this season has been centered around Castro and Rizzo having bounce back seasons. I have to believe if they regress again, this time they are gone instead of the manager.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          Nobody *promised* improvement. What the statheads (and those who appreciate the statheads) said was that good old fashioned regression meant that it was improbable that the Cubs would bat closer to the overall BA with RiSP than they did last year.

          However, “probably” is not “promised.” (And, again, given that the Cubs #3-#9 hitters are batting 0.111, the hitting with RiSP is not as improbable as it looks.)

          • Required

            Not a stat head myself. However, RISP was an area they were going to address. That much I do know. I didn’t think it would get worse.

            • DocPeterWimsey

              You misunderstood. The FO knows that xBAwRiSP = xBA. It’s not a real trait, and performance in one week or month or year does not predict performance in the next week, month or year.

              Again, after the first 2 slots, the team is hitting 0.111. That part of the lineup is (I think) 0-22 wRiSP. We expect them to have 2 hits so far. You expect a troupe of 0.111 hitters to go 0-22 one time in 13. Indeed, the 1 for 5 performance from the #1 & #2 hitters is actually a little less probable!

              So, the simpler explanation is that it’s just a hitting thing in general. Always stick with simple until complicated is demanded (to paraphrase Occam!).

    • Wahl71

      If you were the cubs gm what would you do differently?

    • Edwin

      We’ve been promised a team that will be one of the best teams in the league for a sustained period of time. Apparently the best way to achieve this is to first start losing for a sustained period of time.

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