The Rundown: Post-Winter Meetings Blues, Schwarber Could Be Key to Cubs Broken Offense, Trevor Bauer Trolls Cubs Fans

I’m still in a funk about the Winter Meetings. Not just for the Cubs, but for baseball in general. This year’s four-day snoozefest in Vegas featured just six free agent signings, three trades, and the release of Troy Tulowitzki. That’s the equivalent of a dropped third strike with the batter giving up on the play as far as excitement is concerned.

Despondency is not a good look for me. It has been 10 weeks since Theo Epstein told us his team was broken and that he was going to fix it. I, along Cubs fans hither and yon, remain recumbent in spirit. And here’s the thing: Had Theo not uttered that one sentence, we would be of the collective mindset that a 95-win team that lost a 13-inning, one-run game to the Rockies to pull the plug on their postseason needs nothing but a turn of the ratchet here and a little touch-up paint there.

But maybe that’s on all of us. Is it possible we have interpreted Epstein incorrectly? Maybe he never stopped believing in the talent that exists on the roster as it sits.

  • “Our offense broke somewhere along the lines.”
  • “Of course we’re going to spend all our energy trying to fix it.”
  • “I’ve never been part of something like this offensively and I never want to be again. We have to be an offensive force. We should be with the talent on our roster [emphasis mine], but it’s probably time to stop evaluating this in terms of talent and start evaluating in terms of production. We need to do everything we can to produce offensively.”

My dad used to mutter this one saying, and I wish I could quote him exactly, but it was along the lines of “A homeowner doesn’t know the roof has a leak until the rain comes through,” or something similar. The point being, sometimes we have to step outside and jump on a ladder to get a better view of what’s going on. Maybe tearing the roof off this sucker is enormous overkill when you’re looking for just one more win, or more accurately, a key base hit or two.

“We had those three games – Saturday, Monday and Tuesday – where if we win one of those games, we’re still playing. In each of those games, we scored 1 run with a handful of hits.”

It sounds to me, if I look at it from the outside in, that the goal all along has been to repair just a few shingles.

Cubs News & Notes

Friday Stove

How about that blockbuster three-team deal between the Indians, Mariners and Rays yesterday? I believe Edward Encarnacion is still unsure of which team acquired him. Yandy Diaz could be a steal for the Rays.

Mark Teixeira stated that he wouldn’t be surprised if the Yankees made a significant splash before the end of the off season.

One author felt the need to rank the biggest moves of the Winter Meetings. Had to be one of the toughest assignments ever, I’m thinking.

The Brewers and Rangers completed a minor deal yesterday. Texas sent pitcher Alex Claudio to Milwaukee in exchange for future considerations. Rivalry on, dudes.

On Deck

ESPN takes a look at baseball’s five worst-hitting pitchers. A few years ago Jon Lester might have made this list, but he’s at least respectable at the plate these days.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJWtDfO-sU8

Extra Innings

I made it through this entire column without mentioning Bryce Harper or Manny Machado. Well, until now.

Friday Walk Up Song

Church of the Poison Mind by Culture Club. This 1983 hit comes in at number 11 on my list of Top 20 videos of all time. The thing is, I never liked anything by Boy George and his mates, but this song is beyond exceptional. The way George marries rhythm and blues with new wave sensibilities provides a real-life version of what the Commitments tried to accomplish using ’70’s cover songs. This is a truly sublime song with some outstanding harp. Backup singer Helen Terry packs some serious secular fire, tearing the house down.

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Michael Canter

Favorite Quote: "Look Ma! Top of the World!" Cubs fan since I was five years old (1969): lover of B&W movies, the Oxford Comma, classic rock, and of course, baseball; annual roto-champ; partial insomniac; I detest the liberal use of the word 'albeit' by baseball writers; Nice guy, though somewhat brooding. Comment me, please and thank you.

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10 Comments

  1. A family discussion verified the following: “You don’t know the roof has a leak until you’ve spent all morning mopping the floor.”

  2. I might be naive, but I do not think this team has an offense problem. Sure, we all watched them struggle down the stretch, but confidence and luck seems to run hand in hand. If every Cub player plays to 80% of what they are capable of, they will have plenty to win with.

    1. I’ve still got faith on Schwarber figuring it out, but tend to be more skeptical on Happ. Happ just takes too long to recognize the pitch and get the bat in the zone. It’s like the swing speed is good, but the trigger is slow. I think Happ has the want and work ethic though, so who knows. Conversely, Contreras has a ton of natural talent, but I wonder about his work ethic.

      The amount of strikeouts with runners on base last season was a major problem for the Cubs. You can’t sustain an offense like that, and it’s lack of any consistency will always lose series.

      1. I was impressed with how Happ improved after the horrible start. I think he is going to continue to get better. It was the strikeouts and the lack of two out hits that seem to doom the offense. Last year seemed to lack those clutch hits, even with Rizzo.

  3. Well, I’m of the opinion that the Cubs really didn’t, don’t have to spend a ton more $$ this off season. Still believing that the “main” youngsters have learned, experienced more big league professionalism and will practice on hitting that breaking ball ALOT,lol. Funky season for sure last year, some tough luck injuries, some acquisitions crapped out on us, hopefully that’ll turn itself around, if some of these kids thought they could truly “turn it on” anytime they wanted have come to the realization ya gotta play everyday!! Just believing there’s more than enough talent to get it done, got to get the mental toughness part kicked up a few notches maybe, figure out “ain’t nobody gonna give ya nothin’ in the show”, got to go get it. Thinking they will, hopefully they didn’t embarrass well !!!

  4. I’m starting to think that the Mets may be a team to keep an eye on in ’19. They just signed Ramos – a serious upgrade at Catcher for them, and already added Cano for the infield and Diaz for the bullpen. I think they still have some cash available, and will still sign someone like Pollack to play CF. They have been killed by injuries the last couple of seasons, so maybe they are due to reverse that trend, and still have Syndergaard, deGrom, and Wheeler.

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