Monday, July 19, 2010

Many people think the Cubs are still losing...even after winning

Here is the problem...

Many Cubs fans are so upset with the crappy play of the core of this team that they want the team to be blown up.

And then they take 3 out of 4 from the reigning NL Champs.

I have to admit...I'm having some problem with this myself.

 Stop're messing everything up!
(photo via the Chicago Tribune)

Is it possible the Cubs are doomed to mess up everything at this trading deadline?

Look, I don't see any way in hell they will ever be "buyers" this year, but if the team goes on a bit of a streak as the trade deadline occurs, I get the feeling that management is going to back off on the "blow the team up" movement that most people (including, I think, the Rickettses) want them to do.

So what do you do?

You can't half-ass your way to the playoffs this year.  And you harm the team's future by half-assing the dismantling of the the core of this team. 

So what do you do?  If Jim Hendry does nothing...he'll be criticized for either not improving the team to make a run or for not dumping some cumbersome salaries to help with rebuilding.  If he does sell, and the team is in the middle of a resurgence, he'll get criticized for not letting this group of players, that won 97 games two years ago, have another run at the playoffs.

The thing is, in the four games against the Phillies, the Cubs actually looked, well, pretty damn good.  If it wasn't for a bad inning by Carlos Marmol and a dropped ball by "Butterfingers" Soto, the Cubs would have swept.  Yes, the Phillies aren't the same team they had been the previous two years, but anytime you sweep a team in a four game series, whether that team is good or bad, that is a very good sign.

Ok, now to flip this around a bit.  With the Brewers, Cardinals and Reds all in the way right now, even with a good second half, it seems very unlikely that the Cubs could make a run.

In 2007, a year where the Cubs just eked out the division title, at this point of the season they were 49-44.  In 2003, where the Cubs had a great second half to win the division, they at a 47-46 record at this point.  Right now, the Cubs are 42-51.  Let's, for a moment, say that the Cubs need 85 total wins to win the division, they would have to go 43-26 for the final 2 1/2 months of the season.  Not an easy task.  If the Cardinals, (currently the division leader) get 85 wins this year, they only need a 34-36 record for the rest of the season.  If 90 wins is the point for the division title...the numbers are 48-21 for the Cubs and 39-31 for the Cardinals.

The likelihood is that 87 or 88 wins will be the winning total for the Central this year, but any way you look at it, the Cardinals and the Reds would both have to fall off over their first half performance to even give the Cubs a chance to win this year.  One of those teams (likely the Reds) may indeed fall, but I don't think both of them will. 

So the best thing right now is for the Cubs' management to realize that this season is a loss...continue to move forward on trading off some of the core components of this team before the trade deadline and publicly announce their intentions of rebuilding.  This will allow the fans to accept the fact they won't win this year, and make us more comfortable about cheering on this team for the rest of the season.