You would think by now that fans and “experts” would not believe the hype of major free-agent signings after both of the Los Angeles teams have gone off-season crazy and it has not transpired into anything. Yes, I know that both the Los Angeles Angels and Los Angeles Dodgers are very good teams now but it did not happen right away.
It took time.
So, it will take time for this YOUNG (emphasis on “young”) team to gel together and become winners.
The funny part about their off-season is that the only big moves they made were acquiring pitcher Jon Lester and agreeing to terms with the best manager in baseball (in my opinion) in Joe Maddon.
So many people made it seem like they had some huge roster overhaul between 14′ and 15′ but that wasn’t the case at all.
Especially with the offense.
They have two prospects that were late call-ups last season in Jorge Soler and Arismendy Alcantara that are getting their first shot at a full season in the big leagues.
They have two other guys in Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro that have been around for a few years but they don’t know how to win. Yet.
Maddon can change that. Ask the Tampa Bay Rays.
Two of their free-agent offensive pickups — Dexter Fowler and Miguel Montero — could be big for them down the stretch. You can not duplicate experience.
The point I am making is they have the nucleus. Well, we knew that already but let’s not put too much pressure on these kids to perform. Their offensively lineup is filled with young guys. Think about it, Rizzo (25), Alcantara (23), Castro (25), Mike Olt (26), and Jorge Soler (23) are all everyday players expected to carry this offense but none of those guys are over 26 years of age.
Imagine the pressure that will be placed on top prospect Kris Bryant when he eventually gets called up.
Now, the offense was not pretty for the Cubs against the St. Louis Cardinals to start the season. They were shut out on Opening night against Adam Wainwright. Yes, Wainwright is an ace so we’ll let them slide.
Game two was postponed due to the weather so let’s skip to game three. Lance Lynn was on the mound for the Cardinals, and Lynn did the same thing Wainwright did on the previous Sunday…for six innings.
The 7th inning was not pretty at all for the Cubs, but it got the job done. Rizzo was hit by a pitch, a throwing error on a pickoff attempt moved Rizzo over the second base and Castro drove him in with a RBI single. Castro advanced to second on the throw to try and get Rizzo out at home. Castro was moved to third on a SAC bunt by Chris Coghlan and Montero drove Castro home with a SAC fly.
Those were their only two runs of that game. Luckily it was enough as pitcher Jake Arrieta shut the Cards down offensively.
The good news was they were 1-1 on the season. The bad news was that they had only 7 hits on the season and had only scored 2 runs so far.
If you need to score runs, just head to Colorado. That’s exactly where they had to head next.
Well it did not help in game one of the series, when a SAC fly from Matt Szczur was their only run of the game in a 5-1 loss to the Colorado Rockies.
Game two was their coming out party indeed. Nine runs. They got three hits and two RBI’s from Castro, two hits and two RBI’s apiece from Fowler and Soler. It looked like they were finally doing what they were capable of.
The next day, Fowler torched his former team with a two-run homer in the ninth inning off of closer LaTroy Hawkins to give the team a 6-5 win.
They now sit at 3-2 after a couple of series’ but I don’t know if I can honestly say that they broke out of their offensive funk because, well let’s face it, everyone scores in Colorado.
The real test was the series after, as they had to travel to Cincinnati to take on the 4-2 Cincinnati Reds.
Scheduled to pitch for the Reds — Mike Leake, Anthony DeSclafani and journeyman and former Cub, Jason Marquis.
These guys are not exactly hall of famers but the Cubs are stuck between “they could not score because they had to face the best two pitchers in the Cardinals rotation” and “they only hit because they were at Coors Field”.
We’re talking about a team that has just as many SAC flies (4) as home runs.
We’re also talking about a young team that has never had expectations before.
Also consider that their best players for the future — Bryant, Javier Baez, and Addison Russell — are still in the minors right now so they may not even be getting started yet.
Their star player, Rizzo, hasn’t hit a home run yet, but you know they come in bunches.
Their youngest player, Alcantara, did not have a hit yet this season until last night. He made it count though, driving in the winning run in the bottom of the tenth inning to give his team a 7-6 win over the Reds.
Five games into the season means that they are still trying to figure things out. When it’s all said and done, they will have a top-10 offense. They’re too talented to not be one.
– Khristian Peel
Also follow me on Twitter @KhristianPeel