As it stands, the Cubs are now four, yes, four, games back of the second Wild Card spot in the NL after having a two-game lead just a week ago. My how the mighty have fallen. The Cubs have been a thorough disappointment this year, there is no other way to put it. With hopes of returning to the Postseason and trying to fight for another World Series, the Cubs are sitting here, September 23, 2019, virtually eliminated from the Postseason.
As I write this I want to preface it with me saying that, of course, mathematically, the Cubs still have a chance to turn things around. However, as all of us Cub fans know far too well, the season is in fact done. The way in which it ended could not have been any more disheartening for the team, the fans, and for the organization.
With where this franchise is currently at, it is mandatory they set certain goals and expectations for themselves each year. One realistic expectation is to make the postseason. A spot in the Postseason is never easy, of course, but it is something that is now imperative of the Chicago Cubs at this current climate. Another goal for this team should be to eclipse the 90-win mark, something they have done the past four seasons. This year, 90-wins seems like a far cry after a 6th straight loss.
Let’s look at the Cubs misfortune this year, and where they need to improve going forward. I said it last offseason, and I’ll remind you all again. After the way last year ended spiraling out of control, losing game 163 and the Wild Card AT HOME, the Cubs most glaring issue gaping was their lack of a true leadoff hitter. One reason why the Cubs won in 2016 was in large part due to Dexter Fowler and his ability to set the table for the rest of the lineup. In the offseason, they failed to sign one in free agency and/or develop one on their current roster.
After the season I said DJ LeMahieu would have been a perfect fit for the Cubs in free agency. With a question mark at second base, he is a natural second-baseman, with prior leadoff experience, a versatile defender that can play third, and first base, and did I mention he hit .301, .348, and .310 from 2015-2017?
So, what did ever happen to DJ LeMahieu? He signed a 2-year/$24 million deal with the New York Yankees and is one of the major reasons why they currently have 102 wins and counting. As a leadoff hitter for the large part of the season, he is hitting .329, with 26 HR, and 99 RBI. He would have been a perfect fit for the Cubs and he fits the mold for the type of versatile defender that Joe Maddon loves.
Moving forward, the Cubs know where their biggest problem is, and it’s with Joe Maddon. He did end the 108-year drought, but the Cubs are in a much different place than they were in 2016 when Maddon’s creativity was favorable for a younger team. At this point in their careers, they are established players. Moving guys up and down the lineup every single day has a HUGE impact on the way they play. With a true leadoff hitter, the lineup becomes more firmly cemented. For a guy like Javy Baez to go from batting 2nd one day, to 7th the next day is frustrating for a player because it completely changes their approach day in and day out. Moving up and down never allows you to get comfortable in one spot.
The Maddon era has run its course in Chicago. He did everything they needed from him and it is time to get a Manager that better fits the structure of this team. The blame is not all on Maddon, the decisions of the organization throughout the year really had a negative impact on the Cubs’ future. I hope Theo’s ingenuity can find a way to help bring the Cubs back to the forefront of the division, at the same time bolstering the farm system to sustain long-term success of the franchise. We all know he can build a team from the ground up, but it’s a whole different challenge trying to maintain that type of consistency on a year-to-year basis.
For the time being Cubs fans, keep your head up. Just remember, the worst days are behind us. The lovable losers are a thing of the past. Now, we regroup and we prepare for next year.