As expected with such a young team, the Chicago Cubs 2015 campaign has been like a roller coaster ride with lots of ups and down.
The Cubs, whose roster’s average age is 28.7 years old, enter the third month of the season with a 26-22 record. Chicago currently sits in second place in the National League’s Central Division, but they have dropped four of their last six games and are just 5-7 since winning six in a row in the middle of the month. They finished the first month of the season with a 12-8 record.
Chicago’s biggest problems this season have been their defense and relief pitching, though they have struggled at the plate recently. In the past six games, the Cubs have tallied just 13 runs and have struck out 57 times, including 39 times in the past three contests. When the Cubs struck out 15 times against the Kansas City Royals on April 29, it marked the fourth time the team has done so this year.
Chicago currently leads the majors in strikeouts with 476. The Cubs rank No. 24 in the league in hitting (.239) and No. 22 in runs (195).
A big reason for Chicago’s offensive problems is that they have six regular position players who are 25-years-old or younger. And the Cubs can only currently count on rookie Kris Bryant and 25-year-old Anthony Rizzo for consistent production, according to ESPN.
Bryant is hitting.281 and has hit seven home runs, while Rizzo is batting a team-high.316 to go along with a team-high nine home runs. Rookie Jorge Soler is hitting.270, but has struck out 67 times, and Starling Castro, who is hitting.265 on the season, was just 25-for-113 (.221) at the plate in May.
While the Cubs have struggled offensively at times this season, particularly their outfield — which includes Chris Coghlan, Soler, and Dexter Fowler — manager Joe Maddon believes the team will eventually hit.
“Offensively, I really believe it’s just a matter of time. What I’m talking about is pitch recognition, understanding what the pitcher’s trying to do to not expand the strike zone, to make it come over the plate a little more. We do accept our walks to a certain extent, but as we gain more experience, when you see our guys not chasing the ball down in a way, out of the zone, heads up, we’re really gonna get hot.”
Maddon may be right, his team will start to hit. It is a matter of how long general manager Theo Epstein will give the team to work out their funk before he makes a move. Chicago has made trades the past two years well ahead of the July 31 trade deadline.
The Chicago Sun Times reported that the Cubs have expressed an interest in acquiring utility man Ben Zobrist from the Oakland Athletics. Zobrist, who played for Maddon in Tampa Bay, has the ability to play all three outfield spots as well as shortstop and second base.
Zobrist is a two-time All-Star who would provide a jolt to an anemic Cubs’ bench.Though HGNG’s Thomas Carannate believes that if the Cubs do acquire Zobrist, he would take over left field where Coghlan resides.
Zobrist has missed about a month of the season after undergoing knee surgery. The 36-year old is currently hitting.246 with one home run in 20 games. Zobrist is a career.264 hitter and doesn’t strike out a lot.
According to reports, Oakland (20-33) has not given any indication they are ready to sell off any of their assets yet. Also, ESPN Insider Jim Bowden said that other teams will be interested in Zobrist’s service if he is made available. Bowden listed the Los Angeles Angels, San Francisco Giants, New York Mets, Washington Nationals, and Detroit Tigers as the other teams interested in the veteran.
[Photo by Jason O. Watson]