The Cubs have started this season by playing mediocre baseball in April. When we’ve had decent pitching, our defense or offense has let us down. Other times we’ve hit the ball, but our pitching let us down. Sometimes it’s the starters and other times it’s the bullpen. When we get guys on base and in scoring position we are not driving them in. Our defense was terrible in spring training and it hasn’t been that good to start the season either. Our manager has also made a few mistakes as well. Combine all of this together and we get mediocre baseball!
First, let me start with something positive. Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney are hitting great at the top of the lineup. Both players have really impressed me. It’s encouraging when your younger players come to play everyday and put up numbers like they are. Castro is capable of hitting anywhere in the lineup in my opinion while DB has shown that he’s a capable number two hitter. As of this morning, Castro is hitting .357 and DB is hitting .320. They are also rank number two and three on the team in RBIs. Soriano leads the team with 15. That’s where the bad news starts to come in to play. Marlon Byrd has only 5 RBIs. Not what you want from your number three hitter. Even though he’s hitting .293, he’s not driving in runs when he has the opportunity. He’s hitting .185 with runners in scoring position and he’s unfortunately killed several rallies. I hate saying this because Byrd is one of the players I really like on this team. He plays the game the right way and never gives up. I think he’s better suited batting somewhere else in the lineup. I hope Quade realizes this soon. Anyway, these failed opportunities are also hurting Aramis Ramirez, our cleanup hitter. He has a good average, .329, but only 1 homer and 9 RBIs. With runners in scoring position he’s hitting .286 with 6 RBIs. Those are respectable numbers, but Byrd has limited his chances of driving in runs.
Next we have issues with our starting pitching. It doesn’t help when two of your starters go on the DL right after their first start of the season. There is also something that is bothering me that is probably not that big of deal. Our manager seems to trust our veteran starters, which is a good thing, but in my opinion, there’s been several times when he’s left the starter in too long. This happened on Dempster’s first start of the season against Pittsburgh (a loss), also against Houston on the 11th (a win….barely) and again against the Dodgers on the 23rd(a win). I think Quade needs to trust his bullpen more and not leave our starters in there too long. I may be way off on this, but it’s frustrating when your team is winning and you can tell the starter is about out of gas and Quade tries getting another inning out of him. It’s April for crying out loud! There’s no need to push the starters to the limit this early in the season.
I guess the bottom line for me is that we aren’t scoring enough runs and I believe changing our lineup would help tremendously and that we need to trust our bullpen more. We also need to play better defense. I know the homers for Ramirez will come. I also hope Pena starts hitting bombs into the bleachers in right field. That would help a lot too. Until then, we are just playing mediocre ball.