So much frustration out there about yesterday’s loss – and the previous four – which is understandable. Offseason optimism (however spurious) gets slapped pretty quickly when your team’s roster simply isn’t a competitive one. You hope for a lucky bounce here or there, some surprise upside, or anything else besides a 4-11 start. It’s OK to still hope for some of that stuff, too, but the early returns are obviously matching the fears, rather than the hopes. You hate to think that you’ve used up your positivity allotment in mid-April.
- Ricky Renteria yesterday expressed to the media that he thinks there are some “focus” issues with the team right now, but he wouldn’t go into detail beyond that (ESPN Chicago). Maybe I’ve just been numbed to it by the last few years, but I haven’t really noticed a lot of sloppy play this year, until yesterday. Obviously, if RR is mentioning it – and reportedly meeting with the team about it – he’s seeing things that we aren’t. Good on him for trying to rein things in with a smile, but, at some point, at least in terms of wins and losses, it’s a matter of roster composition, not focus or effort or fundamentals or whatever. At least RR’s positivity reserves are still intact.
- Jeff Samardzija pitched well yesterday, the offense did nothing, and Samardzija got the loss (totally meaningful stat). He’s still not grousing publicly about all the losing, which is good (CSN).
- Sahadev Sharma wrote a lengthy piece on the outfield’s offensive struggles (which expands on some things I pointed out in the Series Preview yesterday, but that was just a coincidence – two bright minds honing in on the same issues (or so you say, Sahadev!)), which is definitely worth a read. As we talk about expectations and outcomes, it’s worth remembering that, if you asked folks what they thought of the Cubs’ roster heading into the season, it was pretty easy to identify where the serious offensive issues could pop up: the outfield. Sure, we liked the versatility, the potential for the platoons to achieve league-average production on the cheap – but there was always serious downside with Junior Lake (especially in left), Ryan Sweeney hasn’t emerged as a sure-fire starter in his career, and Nate Schierholtz had a breakout year in 2013, but it was a relative breakout (i.e., still not quite the numbers you need to carry an outfield without another big bat). I believe, genuinely, that the Cubs have three or four of the best fourth outfielders in baseball – and I mean that as a compliment of those players – it’s just that they have to lean on them for consistent starts.
- Carrie Muskat speaks with Darnell McDonald on his new role in the Cubs’ front office.
- The Pirates’ offense may see an improvement, as they’ve acquired Ike Davis from the Mets for a fringe prospect and a PTBNL (though the latter is expected to be a good prospect (could be a 2013 draftee, who is not eligible to be traded until one year after he signs). Davis was a great looking young player before 2013, but he’s struggled recently.