Where Did the Competitive Losses Go? And Other Cubs Bullets

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Where Did the Competitive Losses Go? And Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

There’s only so much you can say broadly about a bad team that has lost nine in a row, has the 5th worst record in baseball, and could potentially get even worse as the season goes on. I do have some general thoughts, but the reality is that mostly, anything worth discussing – or remotely enjoyable to discuss – these days is player-specific. It can make thinking through the Bullets challenging, because usually I want to be talking more about the games. And the things in those games that mattered for the outcome of the games. And how the things in the games and the outcome of the games impact the rest of the season. So on and so on. But almost none of that feels like it matters at all right now.

  • The one general thought for today: For a long time, the nature of Cubs losses had a particular flavor: the Cubs kept it reasonably close and competitive, but just weren’t quite good enough to win the games consistently. But lately? So many of these losses have been jokes. Just total jokes. Of the nine losses in this streak, I could say that three, maybe four of them were “competitive.” Most have just been the kind where your brain shuts off halfway through.
  • Much of that is what happens when you are a not-good team that suffers a lot of injuries, so that’s certainly a factor. But even if the Cubs were perfectly healthy, I think we can say with some confidence that they would still be losing more than they’d be winning. Moreover, injuries are always part of the equation. If you need absolutely perfect health across the board to stay competitive, well, then yours was a roster that was not constructed well enough to actually stay competitive.
  • Oh, also? It’s very noteworthy that there are still four teams out there with a worse record than the Cubs (A’s, Royals, Nationals, Reds). There are another four teams (Tigers, Pirates, Orioles, Rockies) within a few games of the Cubs, too. People assume the Cubs could just tank for the worst record if they wanted, but there are so many baaaaad teams in baseball this year, and several of them are only going to get worse, too. Thank God for the lottery amirite.
  • Like Michael said last night, seeing a position player like Frank Schwindel pitch once is kinda silly and fun, especially if it’s the kind of night where you might otherwise just be angry. But seeing it happen three times in such a short span? Twice in the last four games? That is … not silly or fun. It’s embarrassing. I feel bad for Frank, but bless him for eating the innings.
  • Nice to see P.J. Higgins get a start at third base last night, because that is important versatility he can offer as a third catcher (or even a back-up catcher if the bat keeps working). Higgins was a converted catcher long ago, so he’s pretty capable at the corner infield spots if you need it. Through 51 big league PAs this year, Higgins is hitting .295/.380/.523/151 wRC+. Small sample caveats apply, but you do like to see that he is taking walks and he isn’t striking out. That said, he could stand to be making harder contact (per the metrics, anyway) if he were actually going to support a .333 BABIP and/or a .227 ISO. In other words, if the contact quality doesn’t improve, I’d expect some natural regression in those numbers and, thus, the slash line.
  • Still, if Higgins emerges this year as even a league average bat who can catch and play the corner infield spots, that’s a guy the Cubs have to keep on the 40-man roster this offseason, in my view.
  • Christopher Morel has been in a mini-slump over the past week, but you’re really picking nits if you have to drill down to the week level to even find a slump for a guy (.200/.250/.400, 78 wRC+, 33.3% K). And even if you do pick that nit, he wound up notching two hits last night, including a nooooo doubter:
  • Include last night’s game, and suddenly the week-long slump becomes an above-average stretch (106 wRC+). See? Picking nits.
  • smh can’t believe this wasn’t actually +14.0 runs for the Padres:
  • Not even 60 wins:
  • META: I know better than to say “we’re in the clear” of the many intertwined site issues from the last few days, but I do think we are at least in a more stable place than we have been. Not so fun fact? One of the triggers of the issues was a Disqus-related bug that was brutal to try to sort out. Consider that more confirmation that, when we overhaul the site, we’re going to be turning to a different commenting system. If Disqus were a commenter here, it would’ve been banned by now. There are pros and cons to every commenting system, but the cons have become too much.

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.