Saturday, April 1, 2023

As the Chicago Cubs move past the season’s quarter-mark, several big-picture questions remain: ‘Should people grow up’

As The Chicago Cubs Move Past The Season'S Quarter-Mark, Several Big-Picture Questions Remain: 'Should People Grow Up'

It took some time for third baseman Patrick Wisdom to record how accomplished the Chicago Cubs’ schedule was.

“Man, we’re already at a quarter of the way?”

This postgame question prompted his realization at Great American Ball Park Monday night: How would you assess the first quarter of the season and in terms of where this organization is trying to go?

“I think we’re headed in the right direction,” said Wisdom. “I love this team. I think we have a great clubhouse. It was a lot of fun playing with these guys and I look forward to many more wins and many more games.”

The intellect stopped for a few seconds.

“I mean, I’ve got a lot on that,” he continued. “It’s hard for me to say more because I’m still a new guy here, and I’m still trying to get my feet wet with the team as well.”

He’s not wrong, and that itself speaks to the magnitude of the Cubs’ short-term and big-picture situation.

Wisdom is just shy of the one-year anniversary of their 2021 call-up that finished fourth for National League Rookie of the Year and the franchise’s rookie home run record holder. But only one of the 15 players involved in Monday’s 7-4 win against the Cincinnati Reds has spent more league time on the Cubs than on Wisdom.

Expanding the scope of the Cubs’ roster, 10 players – including those on the injured list – have longer tenures than Wisdom, having first appeared for the organization as a pinch hitter in two games in September 2020 . One is an imminent free agent (Wilson Contreras), one will attack free agency after next season (Ian Happ), two have guaranteed contracts that expire after 2023 (Kyle Hendrix and Jason Hayward), two for the first Will reach arbitration in the off-season. Time (Nico Horner and Rowan Wik) and four are on the 60-day IL (David Botte, Alec Mills, Edbert Aljole and Brad Wieck).

In theory, the Cubs’ main offensive makers are to varying degrees a mainstay in Monday’s win over future teams. Wisdom scored in their fourth consecutive game, the first Cubs to achieve the feat since Anthony Rizzo in 2015. Happ’s tough career numbers in the city. He played college baseball, hitting an RBI double, a three-run homer, and almost another extra-base. robbed on the wall. Siya Suzuki doubled, scored two runs and walked twice.

However, the Cubs (17-24) still need clarity and answers on several roster spots. It is part of the rebuilding process, but not a deep condition. For the second year in a row, the Cubs are in a position to become the leading trade deadline seller. Count Happ, however, is among those who have no interest in entertaining any speculation about how different this roster might look after the trade deadline again.

“We’ve all seen it happen every year, something that starts too early and doesn’t make sense,” Happ said of the trade deadline speculation after Monday’s win.

Would he be shocked to see another Cubs sold, Hap replied: “That’s not a question I want to answer.”

Typically, the Cubs have been competitive in the first two months, with over a third of their games decided by a single run. But they are 4-10 in those positions; Only four teams have played matches with more than one run.

In assessing his team’s first-quarter performance, manager David Ross believes he has seen the Cubs get better every day. Noting that “fairly good progress has been made,” Ross specifically noted Happ, Horner’s performance at shortstop, and Wisdom’s implementation of off-season adjustments. He’s also pleased with the Cubs’ base-running improvement and more stability from rotation.

In a long season, Ross doesn’t want to be judged without examining the first 41 games within the entire season. Although it was a very different roster, Ross pointed to last year’s May 19-8 as an example of what happens when a team is written off too soon. The Cubs were trending toward buyers before an 11-game losing streak in late June to early 2021 showed buyers consolidating their seller positions on the trade deadline.

Ross is focusing on evaluating the process daily, explaining that “I don’t go there very often” with bigger picture timelines.

“I think it’s hard to talk the big picture without knowing what holes you need to fill in,” Ross said Monday. “You have to let people do their season and continue to evolve to be major league players? Do they fit into our roster, and then that’s where to fill those holes in a championship-caliber team.

“We are working in that direction every day and every day trying to get better. The only way to know is to keep working for those people and look at the end of the season and see where we are. .

Ross called it growth season for the Cubs. He mentioned how the roster consists of people at their first opportunity, a mix of veterans and old inexperienced players trying to carve out big league careers for themselves like Wisdom, Rafael Ortega and Frank Schwindell. None of this is reassuring Cubs fans, who expect more wins than losses after five postseason appearances in six years, on the heels of rebuilding believed to ensure continued success.

A promising farming system is just that: only possible until it produces results. The Cubs’ big league roster has the subject of a lack of cornerstone players – it’s part of the reason they face another painful summer.

“I don’t want to be repetitive, but I think it’s about trying to be better every day,” Ross said. “What is important to us is that we focus on the daily grind of the season and try to get better and evaluate things as they come.

“I don’t think anyone is punting – I don’t want to leave a team I have great confidence in, which is going to work hard every day and give me my best. As a manager That’s all I can ask for.”


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