You may have noticed the paucity of content around these parts. I imagine that may explain the lack of hits on our trusty blog, as well as a steady exodus of followers as Facebook and Twitter start getting rid of bots (or maybe people are just tired of us, hehe), but the school year is winding down and free time will ramp up soon, if only temporarily. After all, I’m writing this while procrastinating from grading and lesson planning for the remainder of the year. You just don’t appreciate how much work a teacher actually has to do until you’re the one doing it!
Anyway, I’m sure fans of the Chicago Cubs have been antsy about their favorite team lately, although I can assure folks that it’s probably going to turn out okay. As of this writing, the National League Central is done with game action for the weekend, and the Cubs will return to Wrigley Field for a two-game set against the Cleveland Indians after enjoying a well-deserved off day. I suppose we would have liked a four-game sweep of the Cincinnati Reds, but three out of four ain’t bad, and while many of the losses have been coin flips of the most frustrating sort, I think over the long haul, the Cubs will win those more often than not.
It hasn’t always been as fun as we would like even if the Cubs were one of the top teams on paper. You still have to play the games, and the Cubs have been frustratingly inconsistent despite doing many of the things we know they can do; sometimes that’s just a function of baseball being baseball, where the sequence of events just results in stupidity that prevents the Cubs from actually winning games that they should. But you can’t begrudge the front office, coaches, and players for taking it one day at a time and knowing how good they actually are. It was very nice that they showed their talent against a team they were expected to dominate, which, aside from a very stupid opening game of the doubleheader on Saturday, they did.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) May 20, 2018
That was a welcome sight, considering how off Yu Darvish looked in the first inning (he eventually got his quality start and win after all that). And it was a lesson to us that even if dumb stuff happens in the first inning, a baseball game is still nine innings long and that gives the Cubs plenty of time to put up their runs. Ben Zobrist and Anthony Rizzo also got into the act, and it was nice to see Jason Heyward back in the lineup even if he didn’t exactly light the place on fire on offense. We also got to see Javy doing his magic act:
Yer a wizard, Javy. pic.twitter.com/GuJxoBeEDC
— MLB (@MLB) May 20, 2018
Between the offense lifting off, the defense performing magic, and guys like Darvish and Jose Quintana (and even Tyler Chatwood) starting to look like the rotation we dreamed about all winter, it’s starting to look good for the Cubs again. You start trusting that the front office did know what they were doing even if the performances have been spotty. You trust that the players and the coaching staff are on the same page and working towards the ultimate goal, even after bouts of poor play:
Maddon on Baez: "Isn't it great when people are accountable, what happens. That's the only way you heal and get better. He fessed up. He knew he screwed up. He admitted to it. he goes out there and shows you why he's one of the best players in the league."
— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) May 20, 2018
As we consider that the taxi squad is actually full of more than just warm bodies, and that impact pitching is bubbling to the surface (hello Adbert Alzolay), consider that the Cubs have some options coming up in the June Draft:
So that’s five picks in the top three rounds, and four in the first day of the draft. This is a very important draft and amateur signing year for the Cubs, who just got out of the international signing penalty box (now with a hard spending cap) and will stay under the luxury tax threshold to maintain their draft allotment before they blow the bank for free agents like Bryce Harperor Manny Machado next winter. There is a possibility that trades could be made to grab the competitive balance picks (the only ones that can be traded) or for additional international pool space, so keep an eye out for that too, even if less likely. If there’s one thing we know about this Cubs front office, though, it’s that they keep their options open and usually execute a plan to perfection, and snagging talent is definitely part of their playbook.
While it is true that most of the “sure thing” talents might be gone by the time the Cubs select their first player, the flexibility with their spending pool and four picks on the first night should help build up a recently depleted farm system:
“There’s going to be opportunity there,” said Jason McLeod, the senior vice president who oversees scouting and player development. “Maybe it won’t be the position players because we can’t control what everyone else is doing. But I think we’re going to be able to take some upside guys and try to replace some of the impact talent that we traded away the last couple of years.”
The nice thing is that there is just a month of school left, and the Draft is at night so I can get to it right after school dismisses. The trade deadline is in the midst of summer when I don’t have to think too much about this grading I have to get back to. And hopefully by the time school does let out, the Cubs will be on top of the standings again. Putting things in perspective, though, being just 1.5 games back while tied in the loss column after all that inconsistency bodes very well for the Cubs, and feasting on the Reds this weekend could be good for their confidence and momentum going forward. Here’s to more winning.