Sunday, July 3, 2011

The ridiculous idea that the Cubs can make the playoffs this year.

The Cubs cannot make the playoffs...plain and simple.

Those of you who follow me on LOHO and on Twitter have probably seen me post similar arguments to those I will make here today.

The Cubs are currently 34-50 on the season.

They currently have 4 teams ahead of them in the division standings.

They currently have 11 teams ahead of them in the wild card standings.

In the very best case scenario for the Cubs, the Cubs could win the division with a minimum of 85 wins. I don't see anyway possible fewer than 85 wins will land any team the division title in the NL Central.

Ok, so let's just say the Cubs turn things around and actually do win 85 games this season. That would then require them to go 51-27 for the remaining 78 games this year. That is a winning percentage of .653. The Cubs would have to maintain a .653 winning percentage for the last 3 months of the season.

In the first half of the season, there were only two teams with winning percentages over .600...the Yankees and the Phillies. Neither of them was even close to .653. A team with a .653 winning percentage would be on pace, for an entire season, to win 106 games.

So, in order for the Cubs to even have a chance to win the division, they would need to play better baseball for 3 months than any team in all of baseball has been able to play in the first 3 months of this season.

Now, lets look at the likelihood that the four teams currently ahead of the Cubs will end up winning only 84 games in order to give the Cubs the division.

The Reds are currently in 4th place. They can't do better than go 42-36. That's possible.

The Pirates are currently in 3rd place. The can't do better than go 42-37. That also is very possible.

The Cardinals and Brewers are currently tied for first. Both of those team can't do better than go 39-39.

So basically we need to hope that not a single team in the division (except the Astros) plays better than .538 ball the rest of the season in order for the Cubs to have a shot. That's possible. No team in the Central did that for the first half of the season...but the fact the both the Brewers and Cardinals need to play at a pace of a single game over .500 to achieve 85 wins, it again makes it extremely unlikely that the Cubs will be able to catch all four of these teams.

So we have established that is it extremely unlikely that all other 4 teams in the division will all falter enough for the Cubs to be have a shot to win the division at a nearly impossible to achieve 85 wins.

What about the wild card?

In the wild card era, (not counting the strike shortened 1995 season) the lowest win total by a wild card team is 88 wins, which was achieved on two occasions by the 1996 Orioles and the 2006 Dodgers.

The Cubs would need a 54-24 record or a .692 winning percentage for the rest of the season. That would be 112 win pace for an entire season.

That would mean that the other 11 teams ahead of them would have to have no better than the following records for the Cubs to finish ahead of them with 88 wins:

Dodgers: 50-27
Marlins: 50-28
Padres: 49-28
Mets: 46-32
Rockies: 46-32
Nationals: 45-32
Reds: 45-32
Pirates: 45-33
D-Backs: 42-35
Cardinals/Brewers: 42-35
Braves: 38-39

Not a single one of these teams can have records better than what I've shown above in order for the Cubs to have a shot at winning the wild card with the worst record that any wild card team has ever managed to have.

Is this all impossible? No it's not. It is just extremely improbable.

Two teams in recent memory have defeated drastic odds to come back and make the playoffs (both as wild cards). Probably the best example was the 2005 Houston Astros and the other team was 2003 Marlins. These two teams had something in common. The Astros were, at one point, 15 games under .500 during their run to the pennant. The Astros, though, turned things around by the end of May and were at .500 by July 9th. The Marlins decided they needed a change in management. They dug up Jack McKeon's body and propped it on the bench in mid-May and then they started their great run. The command thread was that both of theses teams turned things around by the beginning of June...not after the All-Star Break.

The Cubs are sitting at the beginning of July and have yet to make a run at anything including a 3 game winning streak. They also seem to be unwilling to make a move of any sort to shake up the current doldrums that they are in.

It's over.

The Cubs are one of only three teams that really have no realistic or semi-realistic chance of making the playoffs. That, in theory, means they have potentially 27 teams that could be buyers from some of their players. The Cubs should take advantage of that. They should not wait until late July when probably the Dodgers, Orioles, A's, and Marlins could all be moved over to the list of sellers as well. The should start to sell now.

There is nothing to discuss. There is no need for organizational meetings. This team is not making the playoffs. This season is lost. No amount of spin from the GM or the owner can replace the fact that this team is not good. They might be better than their current record, but that doesn't matter anymore. Rebuild, rebuild, rebuild.

But are there any players on the Cubs that other teams might want? Well, that's a question for another day.