This photo is, of course, Willson Contreras standing at attention for the Star Spangled Banner before the game on Sunday. But it could just as easily be him standing and mourning for the hopes this Cubs team surely had of getting off to a strong start to a season. Through baseball history there are plenty of teams that stumbled out of the gate and went on to win championships. Even teams that didn’t have a lot of expectations, as these Cubs didn’t. But, when a team is going to be surprisingly good, it very often starts with a strong start.
A team that gets off to a good start can get some extra confidence and play a bit better than would otherwise be expected. Of course, sometimes a team that gets off to a poor start folds up shop early and never really tried to contend. That can certainly be the case with a veteran team, used to making post season runs and surrounded by recent turmoil.
Like the way Jon Lester left town, or the way so many recent top draft picks like Kyle Schwarber and Albert Almora, Jr. were cast aside for what appears to be largely comparable players. The core players being unable to sign contract extensions. The continual tightening of the payroll. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. There is plenty that one could fine to be frustrated with around this club house.
Of course, these two weekend games could end up just being a long forgotten stubbed toe on the way to a good season too. You can’t know. But we certainly can suspect. This team has for some reason been broken offensively for multiple years now. The things that were done with the roster seem unlikely to make improvements. The problems we are seeing early this year, they are exactly the problems we’ve been seeing.
And so, while I’m willing to dismiss the poor performances of Zach Davies and Trevor Williams this weekend, I’m not willing to just dismiss the dismal hitting performance from this weekend. When Tom Ricketts bought this team, I wanted more than anything for him to take a barrel of dynamite to the team and blow it all up and start over. While I’ll hate to see these guys go, it’s probably time again. Tear it down to the studs, get prospects back. Rebuild it. I hated the way the Marlins did things early in their franchise history. But they did repeatedly build a strong farm system and did put together teams that had a great deal of post season success.
I’d certainly rather longevity than setting things up for a single shot every half dozen years. I’m certainly not arguing that we adopt that kind of style. But I am saying that there is also some folly to just holding onto the same pieces year after year, watching them flail about and then just repeating time after time.
With that, we’ll turn our attention to Heroes and Goats. As you’ll recall, the Heroes and Goats are determined by WPA (Win Probability Added) and are not in any way subjective. Many days WPA will not tell the story of what happened, but often it can give at least a glimpse to who rose to the occasion in a high-leverage moment or who didn’t get the job done in that moment. With that, let’s get to the results.
Game 9, April 11: Pirates 7, Cubs 1 (4-5)
- Superhero: Willson Contreras (.064). 2-3, HBP
- Hero: Joc Pederson (.047). 1-4, K
- Sidekick: Rex Brothers (.035). 1⅔IP (6 batters faced), 0H, 1BB, 0R, 3K
- Billy Goat: Trevor Williams (-.356). 3⅓IP (23 batters faced), 10H, 2BB, 5R, HBP, 3K (L 1-1)
- Goat: Anthony Rizzo (-.100). 0-3, BB, K
- Kid: Jason Heyward (-.091). 0-4, K
WPA Play of the Game: Dustin Fowler batted with runners on first and second, the Cubs leading 1-0, in the second inning. He doubled in a run to tie the game and the flood gates were opening.
*Cubs Play of the Game: Javier Baez homered with one out in the second inning to give the Cubs a 1-0 lead. (.117)
Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?
This poll is closed
Javier Baez (1-4, HR)
None of the above
Up Next: The Cubs face the Brewers in Milwaukee Monday night, the first of a three-game series. Adbert Alzolay will make his second start of the year and look to improve on a disappointing first start of the year.