Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo are tied with 14 home runs to lead the Cubs. That’s about the only positive number to come out of the Cubs these days. They lost six straight on the west coast. They won five straight to calm the waters. Now, at home, they’ve lost four straight and are below .500 once again.
Bryant said things are the lowest since he’s been a Cub, which is just two years. One at-bat signaled the problems facing this team.
Javy Baez was at the plate, late in the game vs. Colorado. A base hit would have driven in a run. The count went to 2-2. Baez was tightly wound at the plate, and one knew if he pitcher threw a slider down and out of his reach, Baez would like go fishing for it. That he did. Baez took an off-balance swing and completely missed the pitch for a strike out. Baez has swung and missed on that pitch over and over in the season. I know he is aware that pitchers have a book on him. And this pitch is in that book. Baez has to learn to lay off that pitch, it is a ball. Hitting takes discipline. The Cubs aren’t showing that at the plate. In recent losses they had 5 hits, and 3 hits. The game where they had three hits they had at least 8 walks and three hit batsmen. They had men in base. They didn’t do anything with it.
The Cubs are not playing fundamentally sound baseball. One gets the feeling that if they had a good game, they’d take the next one off. Something is missing with this team. The hunger is missing, and the spark. The hunger to go up with men on base and find a way to move them over. The spark or lack of it –shows up in the field—runners get caught in run-downs. I didn’t see that last year.
The Cubs are playing like they are hung-over from all the hoopla of winning the title. It’s echoing in their ears and they can’t get past it. Maybe they won’t go deep in the playoffs, but at least you can play ball as highly paid professionals, which these guys are.
The other day, the Cubs had 8 players on the field between the ages of 22 to 27. That is very young. Together, they accomplished a great task as a very young but talented team. This team is still learning. Now they have new challenges. They won it all last year. But can they play with the same fire that the team showed in the second half and in the playoffs?
I’d like to see them play with more pride and put out a better product on the field.