The Cubs are winning and I don't know why.
I mean, I know why they’re winning games, such as the sweep in Fenway Park this week: terrific pitching and enough hitting, and sometimes great pitching and unbelievable hitting.
One day Jake Arrieta nearly throws a no-hitter. A couple days later, the Cubs pound the Red Sox 16-9.
But I don’t know why the Cubs think winning is a good idea. Certain players producing big is a good idea. But not winning. There’s a difference, and it’s important for a team still tearing things down.
Suddenly, the Cubs are 37-46, a .446 winning percentage, which is bad, but not horrible enough. The Red Sox are 38-47, a .447 winning percentage, which is horrible for the defending world champions.
The Cubs need to return to horrible. Their horrible. Horrible is good.
Oh, the Cubs are still in last place in the NL Central, 12½ games behind the Brewers. But suddenly, the Cubs own only the fifth-worst record in the National League and the eighth-worst in baseball. They are in danger of dropping out of the top 10 in next year’s draft.
See? That kind of winning is all kinds of bad. Read my lips: Winning is not part of the plan. Going almost .500 since the start of May is not the plan. Losing is the plan. Piling up high draft picks is the plan.
I know the players don’t care about draft picks. The players probably hate the plan because most of them know they’re just placeholders.
But, frustratingly, there were placeholders Justin Ruggiano and Nate Schierholtz doing damage to the Red Sox anyway Wednesday.
Look, Ruggiano can’t hit homers anymore. He just can’t. And what’s with the five RBIs? Cut it out already. Ruggiano is 32, he’s not part of the future, and I’m not sure any kind of power display will land the Cubs a good prospect in trade. Meanwhile, stop helping the Cubs win.
Schierholtz, same deal. Stop it. Just stop. He’s also on the wrong side of 30, he’s a fourth outfielder at best, and his .585 OPS tells you he should keep the ball in the park, and usually it’s being thrown around the infield after strike three.
And Darwin Barney, what are you doing going 4-for-5? Let’s get that .255 OPS back down where your .214 batting average is, OK?
What the Cubs need right now are more games in the Central Division, where everybody else is over. 500 and the Cubs play at a helpful .385 percentage.
What the Cubs also need are trades for Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel. Quickly. Two starters with ERAs under 3.00 is bad for being in position to draft the next Kris Bryant.
Clearly, the Cubs need help here. They don’t get it. Because I’m a pleaser, not a teaser, here’s my list of Cubs who are allowed to produce like major league players:
--Jake Arrieta. Can he do this for more than one month.
--Anthony Rizzo. Ranks among the top 25 in slugging percentage and the top 15 in OPS in the majors. Yes. Exactly.
--Starlin Castro. He’s looks like the kid we first saw, and he’ll make a fine No. 6 hitter when the Cubs are supposed to be good.
--Welington Castillo. Stay healthy, don’t stink, get the OPS over .700.
--Junior Lake. He’s 24 and seemingly trade bait, what with that utter lack of plate discipline.
--Mike Olt. He’s 25, and even though I don’t see his homer-or-strikeout thing changing, he can at least try before he joins Lake in a deal.
--Travis Wood. No, he shouldn’t be challenging Edwin Jackson’s 4.99 ERA.
--The bullpen. Well, most of it. Hector Rondon, Brian Schlitter, Justin Grimm, Pedro Strop and Neil Ramirez are all under 30 and show signs they didn’t catch whatever it was that Jose Veras was spreading. Half of them will fail, biut we have to find out which half.
--And of course Samardzija and Hammel, so the Cubs not only can get max trade value but also fill their starts with unreliable arms.
Everybody else, forget it. Everybody else needs to get with the program and contribute to valuable losses the way they did when the season started.