Worrying, But Also Not Worrying, About the Standings and Other Cubs Bullets

Back to the routine after a very nice trip to Chicago with my son. Unfortunately, the routine includes not “eating like total crap because this is a boy’s trip and I can do whatever I want.”

  • Despite their dreadful May, the Cubs are still only 5.0 games out in the NL Central and 4.0 games out in the Wild Card race. Is it too early to even be noting that stuff, as far as David Ross is concerned? Yes and no, I guess? Via Marquee: “No, it’s never too early for anything in my opinion, I think we have to play out the season and continue to get better,” Ross said. “Obviously I follow the division and thankfully we’re still not playing our best baseball and things aren’t out of reach, but you can only say that for so long, right? But I’m always really super hyper focused on us and what we’re not doing right, where other teams are taking advantage of us. You can’t start worrying about the other team stuff until your stuff is dialed in in every little area and we’re definitely not there.”
  • I think the answer rightly is yes and no. The Cubs do just have to focus on themselves right now and try to put together a little hot streak. If they can do that for long enough, it’s probable that the rest takes care of itself. MOST of the season is still remaining, after all, and the schedule for the Cubs gets a whole lot lighter in the second half.
  • HOWEVER, because we know the front office will start spinning up the gears of a selling season if the Cubs aren’t close enough to a playoff spot by late June, there absolutely is not a lot of time to get/stay close in the standings. Distance from a playoff spot is one thing, but you also have to reduce the number of teams between you and that playoff spot. If the decision on buying or selling had to be made today, I’m pretty sure the Cubs would be selling, even if they were “only” 5.0/4.0 games out. So, yeah, lots more winning is needed. And fast.
  • I understand that the samples were tiny and that his minor league numbers may have suggested something else, but it was still hard to see the Cubs load the lineup with lefties against Taj Bradley yesterday knowing how well righties have hit him this year. Then you had the three righties in the lineup accounting for the only three hits on the day, and the lefties all getting dominated (and we had just seen the same kind of situation play out with Hunter Greene). My thing with those decisions has always been: I’m OK with you going against the book … as long as you’re right. When you decide to do something unconventional or counter-intuitive, you’re not going to get a whole lot of grace from folks when it doesn’t work – and indeed, goes precisely the bad way the book would’ve told you it would go.
  • The match-up doesn’t get any easier for the Cubs today, with lefty ace Shane McClanahan going for the Rays. He’s hard on everyone, but he’s got slightly reverse splits for his career (and for this season). So you would think it would be a day to load up on lefties, but would Ross do that again today? Or was he doing it yesterday, in part, in anticipation of NOT doing it today? I hate to be so nitpicky – these kinds of marginal decisions are so much smaller in import when compared to the actual level of talent on the roster – but when the team has such an abysmal record in one-run games as the Cubs do, these marginal decisions matter all the more.
  • An incredible moment as Chicago White Sox pitcher Liam Hendriks returns to the big league mound just two months into the season, after having battled cancer this offseason:
  • Fireballing relief prospect Ben Joyce has arrived in the big leagues. Despite mediocre results at Double-A, the Angels want the triple-digits on the big league team now:
  • It’s very TBD what the implications will be long-term, but it’s noteworthy that Jerry Reinsdorf, owner of the White Sox and Bulls, has taken control of Stadium. That would give him and his teams a different angle (and/or leverage) when it comes time to renegotiate with NBC Sports Chicago on team broadcast rights. I doubt the timing is a coincidence, and if the White Sox and Bulls got together on a new streaming product of their own, by way of Stadium, that’d be a competing offering to whatever direct-to-consumer product the Cubs eventually launch with Marquee. Moreover, if that happened, it would make it very difficult for NBC Sports Chicago to continue as a linear cable channel (with only the Blackhawks rights remaining), so who knows what would happen then with the Blackhawks. Heck, at that point it might be worth the Cubs trying to make a bid for the Blackhawks rights on Marquee. But obviously I’m getting way ahead of myself.
  • written by

    Brett Taylor is the Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and on LinkedIn here. Brett is also the founder of Bleacher Nation, which opened up shop in 2008 as an independent blog about the Chicago Cubs. Later growing to incorporate coverage of other Chicago sports, Bleacher Nation is now one of the largest regional sports blogs on the web.

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