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Cubs Mon Jul 18 2011

Cubs Midseason Grades

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for cubs.gifAs the second half begins in earnest, let's take stock of the Cubs. At 38-58, they're 20 games under .500 and fifth in the NL Central, 13 games behind first-place Milwaukee. The only major-league team with a worse record is the Houston Astros.

To be fair, the Cubs have been plagued by injuries since the season began. However, that is no excuse by any means because other teams have survived injuries as well. Case in point, the Cardinals lost Adam Wainwright in spring training, but they've taken care of business anyway, which has them neck-and-neck with the Brewers and the surprising Pirates.

This is where the sympathy for the Cubs stops and the criticism begins.

We'll start with their offense or lack thereof. Here is where it becomes interesting. As a team they are batting .261 which is third in the league. On the flip side, with runners in scoring position their team average is .244, good for 11th. Collectively they can hit, however it is coming up with a key hit with runners on that has killed this team. It probably doesn't help that they've grounded into 77 double plays, second-most in the NL.

I don't care how good a team is offensively; if you can't come through in clutch situations you aren't going to contend let alone win and that is why the Cubs have the second-worst record in baseball. Their have been a few bright spots with Starlin Castro and more recently Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Pena, but baseball isn't about the individual. For this the offense earns a D+.

Now on to the pitching. The Cubs are dead last in starting pitching. Not just in the NL but MLB as a whole. Their ERA is a bloated 5.29. If there is one reason alone for this terrible season it is has been the starting pitching. The starting pitching has been inconsistent from day one and it probably didn't help their chances when two of their starters succumbed to injury in the first week and a half of the season, but like I said injuries are no excuse.

The only saving grace is their bullpen; they feature a 3.57 ERA. The back of the bullpen sets up nicely with Sean Marshall, Kerry Wood and Carlos Marmol. The only problem is getting to those three in the late innings has proven difficult. This earns the pitching staff a C-minus and that is being quite generous.

It wouldn't be a bad Cubs team without a horrible defense to match. They have committed 82 errors, 10 more than any other NL team. When runs are hard to come by and the starting pitching has little margin for error, bad defense is going to sink you every single time. Bad fundamentals are a recipe for disaster and the 2011 Cubs have proved this. The defense earns a grade of F.

Last but certainly not least is the manager. In his first full season, Mike Quade has had his share of ups and downs, mostly downs, but he can only do so much with the team he is dealt. He certainly can't go out there and make the pitches or execute a sac bunt; that is up to the players. However, he is the one making the moves, so whatever happens or doesn't happen is on him in some regards. It is one thing to go 24-13 down the stretch last year, when the team was out of contention, but now when there is pressure on it becomes a totally different situation.

Quade's perplexing moves and cute nicknames for his players have made me question whether or not he's the right guy for this job. So let's give the manager a D-minus.

This team's performance this season has made me glad that Ryne Sandberg isn't in charge of this mess. There is no sugar coating it; the Cubs are bad and have almost no chance of making the playoffs. The team overall has earned an F and if they continue the way they have expect to see changes in the coming weeks and months from the front office down to field level.

 
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