Chicago Cubs Midterm Report Card Grade: Meh, M-E-H Meh

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It’s still 11 days to the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, but the actual numerical midpoint arrived yesterday, when Cookie Monster led the Chicago Cubs a thrilling coming from behind victory over the Atlanta Braves. The high scoring victory gave the Cubs a series (2-2) and home stand (5-5) split, perfectly befitting how the first half of the season has transpired.

The Chicago Cubs are 81 games in, 44 up, 37 down, 29-16 at home, 15-21 on the road and one game over arch-rival Milwaukee for first place in the National League Central. At this point, the Cubs are right where you thought they would be once all the MLB off-season transactions were completed: on pace to win about 86-89 games.

Ultimately, the projectionists have been right thus far. They are having the kind of season that was expected by most of the bookies. The Stan James promo code 2019 allows you to wager with confidence, just like you would if you were betting on the MLB futures; or any kind of sports betting. In looking at the odds on the Cubs in the division, they are exactly where they should be given the (lack of) transactions they made this past offseason. Have they done enough to win the NL Central this season?

Well, it all depends on how pedestrian and just above mediocrity the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals are. And how far below the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds will remain.

Let’s take a look at who aced, who failed and who maintained a C average.

Not Surviving the Weed Out Courses

Get Daniel Descalso and his sub .200 BA and sub .600 OPS off this team now. And the Addison Russell second chance/hopes of showcasing him to a potential buyer isn’t going over too well.

Russell has never shown any true remorse for his actions publicly, or even made a specific acknowledgement of what he actually did, so he really doesn’t reserve much leeway or benefit of the doubt. In other words, we know he’s a bad person, so why are we waiting for him to be a good baseball player again?

Looks doubtful he ever will, as his numbers are painfully mediocre. Also, it’s safe to say the flier taken on CarGo never really left the ground. As for starting pitcher Yu Darvish, well, he’s right there among the worst signings in Cub history. Not Milton Bradley level atrocity, but bad.

Unfortunately, given all the money invested, you’re just going to have to ride this one out, like a Sergio Mitre start in 2004. Or Jeff Passan if you were a Milwaukee Brewers fan then; Jaime Navarro if you were a White Sox fan in the late 90s.

Brad Bach doesn’t look like a MLB pitcher and Jose Quintana needs a reboot, or short stint in the bullpen or something to get his groove back. As for the bullpen, well that’s been certainly discussed and assessed well enough by just about everybody. Hopefully, Craig Kimbrell can be the answer.

High Marks

Javier Báez and catcher Willson Contreras were named to the National League All-Star team last night. Contreras, the kind of colorful character that baseball truly needs right now, is the first Cub to start the All-Star game at the same position in consecutive seasons since human science experiment Sammy Sosa did so four years in a row from 1999-2002.

Báez, as exciting as any player in the game right now, joins Bobby Grich and Granny Hamner as the lone players to start an All-Star Game at both shortstop and second base. Bryzzo has been Bryzzo, producing at the stellar level that we had all hoped and expected.

Jason Heyward has been a real pleasant surprise at the plate, while David Bote continues to surpass expectations. Turning to the pitching staff, Cole Hamels was a surprisingly superlative acquisition. Kyle Hendricks and Jon Lester have been doing Kyle Hendricks and Jon Lester type things.

Tyler Chatwood has succeeded in a new role, but any time he’s returned to his previous role, well, bad things happened. It’s hoped that Pedro Strop and Mike Montgomery can contribute a lot better than than they have so far.

Pretty much everyone else on the Chicago Cubs, with an exception here or there, have performed at a level fitting in somewhere within that really meaty part of the bell curve.

Which is why we waited until the very end here to finally mention Albert Almora, perhaps the individual player who best personifies this trend. A lot of Cubs fans want him out, and that’s understandable, given how he’s certainly not living up to the hype that surrounds a player drafted that high.

He’s had so many chances now that at this point, he kind of is what he is- serviceable, presentable, non-exciting. Or what the first half of the 2019 Chicago Cubs season was.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, the author of “No,  I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” regularly appears on WGN CLTV and co-hosts the “Let’s Get Weird, Sports” podcast on SB Nation

You can follow Banks, a former writer for NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com on Twitter here and his cat on Instagram at this link.

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