We did this dance last year. And it turned out alright – the 2nd half I mean – we don’t all have to agree about the article.
Mike Quade’s tenure ended respectably. Huh? That can’t be right. Why isn’t the backspace key working? The Cubs finished last season on a relative tear. After limping to a horrible 37-55 record at the 2011 ASG, the Cubs finished 34-36. In fact, it was reminiscent of the 1982 season. There were many factors that made those two years analogous.
What was the Cubs’ first half record of 33-52 most like? Hint: you won’t like the answer. Dusty Baker’s 2006 squad. They hit the break with a 34-54 record that was not improved upon significantly, going 32-42 to finish with a putrid 66-96 record.
Why is 2012 different than 2006?
The roster was rounded out with the likes of Henry Blanco, Neifi Perez, John Mabry, and Phil Nevin. Sean Marshall started 24 games, Carlos Marmol started 13. In all, the Cubs had 14 different pitchers start at least 2 games, and Jae Kuk Ryu held the title of 15th starter – getting one start himself. Of the 46 players to register their name in a box score, 14 of them were under 25 years old. Matt Murton, Ronny Cedeno, Marmol, Geovany Soto, and Marshall were the only ones who became even slightly memorable. The team had many young players – unfortunately, not many who were any good.
Contrast that with 2012; a roster rounded out with Jeff Baker, Joe Mather, Steve Clevenger, Luis Valbuena – perhaps not as notable for their names, but significantly younger than the 2006 group and actually more productive. Only 7 different pitchers have started a game for the Cubs. But most importantly, the team isn’t headed for an off-season overhaul – at least not of the management variety.
By the 2006 ASG, the Cubs were sunk – much like they were this year. But Dusty Baker was counting his days while Dale Sveum is not. The Cubs NEEDED a big off-season splash after 2006; that roster was aging, they needed to get healthy and add a few pieces – not blow it all up. The current roster just lacks premium talent, of any age. It isn’t that we need one single big acquisition, we need talent – premium talent – at a host of positions. We don’t have a supremely talented outfielder. We have a massive void at 3B, inconsistency behind the plate, and a stopgap at 2B. In some ways, this team has produced a better record with less talent than the 2006 version was able to put forth.
What’s the one thing that could easily keep this team from putting up an improved record during the second half of the season? The same thing that ultimately was the downfall in 2006. Injuries. Whether it was Mark Prior, Kerry Wood, Derrek Lee or the many other Cubs that spent varying lengths of the season on the DL – the 2006 Cubs were victimized by injuries.
Five games in and we’re 4-1. That’s not going to continue. But we do have the chance to be significantly better. The lineup looks a little less like a joke with Rizzo in there. But the pitching staff might be depleted due to trades. Only in 1982 and 1944 did a Cubs team with a pre-break record south of .424 manage to have a post-break record of .500+; so that doesn’t bode well. But I have faith, I do think this team can play above .500 in the second half. It will be tough if Garza and Dempster are both traded, probably impossible, but with one or both of them – I think it can be done.