The Chicago Cubs, even with their recent struggles, remain the best team in baseball and more or less on pace to challenge the record for the most regular season wins in baseball. Their odds of making the playoffs are about as high as the math allows, and their odds of winning the division are nearly equally as high. The Cubs are in fantastic shape.
They also have lost Kyle Schwarber, Jorge Soler, Dexter Fowler, and Tommy La Stella to the disabled list, and both Anthony Rizzo and Miguel Montero are banged up. And that is just the current status of the roster. Injuries have not been kind to the Cubs in 2016.
The list of teams in all of baseball who could take that kind of a hit to their lineup and still play well is very short. For that matter, the number of teams in baseball history who could lose a bat as potent as Schwarber for the season and still win at a near historic pace approaches zero. The degree of the Cubs’ success is as remarkable as the number of injuries they’ve dealt with on the way to that success.
How have they done it? In addition to crediting the front office for building a highly flexible roster and Joe Maddon for managing that roster effectively and the players for just being awesome, give some credit to the Iowa Cubs. Not only has this organization assembled a seemingly bottomless list of talent in Des Moines (something we have talked about a great deal), but the coaches and trainers in Iowa have done a very good job making sure that when Chicago needs help, the Iowan who comes up is ready to go. This has been the trend the past couple of seasons (particularly with the young hitters), but the steady rotation of players on and off the disabled list certainly highlights it in 2016.
Great organizations need great farm systems to help them weather great amounts of bad luck and injuries; the Cubs have a great farm system. As a result, the Cubs are doing quite well despite dealing with a lot of injuries.
- Jake Buchanan: 6 IP, 1 R, 3 H, 4 BB, 7 K.
- Joel Peralta: 1 IP, 1 K
- Mark Zagunis: 1 for 3, 2B, BB
- Dan Vogelbach: 1 for 4, 2B
- Jeimer Candelario: 2 for 4, 2B
- David Freitas: 2 for 2, 2B, BB
- Munenori Kawasaki: 1 for 3, 2B
Double A: Tennessee Smokies
The Smokies were off for the All Star break.
High A: Myrtle Beach Pelicans
The Pelicans were off for the All Star break.
Low A: South Bend Cubs
The Cubs were off for the All Star break.
- Pedro Silverio: 5 IP, 1 R, 3 H, 4 BB, 2 K
- Alex Santana: 2 IP, 1 H, 3 BB, 1 K
- Robert Garcia: 1 for 3, 2 BB, 2 SB
- Andruw Monasterio: 2 for 5, 3B
- Matt Rose: 1 for 5, 2B
- Jose Paniagua: 2 for 5
- Wladimir Galindo: 2 for 4
- Tyler Payne: 3 for 4
- Jose Albertos: 4 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 7 K. He turns eighteen in November.
- Jack Leathersich: 1 IP, 2 K. Could appear in the Cubs bullpen later this summer.
- Eugenio Palma: 2 IP and a line of zeroes.
- Jhonny Bethencourt: 0 for 3, BB, SB
- Kevin Zamudio: 1 for 4, 2B
- Michael Cruz: 1 for 3, 2B
- Rafael Mejia: 2 for 4, 2B
- Now that we are past the All Star break for three of the four full season leagues, do not be surprised to see some roster churn in the lower levels of the system. Eventually the Cubs will start signing their bonanza of college pitchers, for example, and a lot of them will probably head to Eugene (particularly into the bullpen). That means we can expect to see some of the current Emeralds bullpen move up a level, and so the dominoes fall. The impact on the position player side may be a bit more muted, but there are quite a few good candidates there as well. We may not see anything right away, but the shuffles should begin soon.
- You probably know this already, but the Iowa pipeline isn’t exhausted yet. Zagunis and Andreoli in the outfield, Vogelbach at first, Candelario at third, and Kawasaki up the middle are all available to come up if called on. Hopefully the Cubs’ injury luck turns and they won’t need them, but Iowa will have them ready just in case.