Some of those parts did move, and we’ll look briefly at that group before moving on to the group that nearly wrestled a playoff spot away from the Fates.
Lest we forget, the Cubs’ Opening Day lineup looked like this:
- Nico Hoerner (2B)
- Dansby Swanson (SS)
- Ian Happ (LF)
- Cody Bellinger (CF)
- Trey Mancini (DH)
- Yan Gomes (C)
- Eric Hosmer (1B)
- Patrick Wisdom (3B)
- Miles Mastrobuoni (RF)
Starter: Marcus Stroman
No wonder few thought they had playoff aspirations. I’ve taken the liberty of appending the links to their player profiles, for easier reference. Trey Mancini and Eric Hosmer were seen as placeholders, and indeed that is borne out by their performance on the field. Mancini turned in a -1.4 bWAR season and Hosmer a -0.5 bWAR season. Hosmer would seem to have been retired by the league, but you never know.
The Cubs tried all year long to shoehorn Miles Mastrobuoni into the lineup, with varying results. A positive bWAR, but only kind of, at 0.4. .241/.308/.301 for a slash. I’d take him as the 24th or 25th man on the squad but that’s about it. I still don’t see the attraction, but that’s just a bit ahead of Miguel Amaya (0.3).
The Cubs had incipient superstars Luis Torrens and Edwin Rios on the bench, hoping that their power would show up repeatedly. Instead they were bench lightning and neither would reappear on the North side after their dismissals. Torrens went to the Orioles for cash, and was eventually DFA’d. Rios slashed .263/.364/.454 for Iowa.
There was a lot of experimentation early. Mastrobuoni and Nick Madrigal moved around the diamond, Patrick Wisdom was hitting bombs, Tucker Barnhart was eventually DFA’d, and Miguel Amaya took his at-bats and did well with them. Nelson Velázquez was there for a bit, until he was dealt to Kansas City in what we might call the “Soler move.” Matt Mervis failed to mash in the majors. Christopher Morel came up and hit bombs. Mike Tauchman came up and did well enough that Bellinger at first became an option. Seiya Suzuki came back from injury.
That was when the offense started firing on at least seven cylinders. But there was still an arms race, and the Cubs were losing it. We’ll look at the first part of the season from the pitching point of view in the next installment.
How’d we do?
Well... not bad. Correctly predicted the Velázquez trade. Hosmer and Mancini were gone from the git-go, and it was obvious to everyone except the Cubs. Hosmer, in particular, was worse than expected. Barnhart wasn’t a complete surprise. Nobody knew about Bellinger, but there were signs. Hoerner, Swanson, Happ, were as advertised.
I completely failed to do a Miguel Amaya profile. Thought I had done one. I’ll have one in an upcoming series on guys from the system.