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Remember when the Cubs had all these great young position players who were really good? And these kids were leading the team to a great bounce-back season after a handful of years of losing on purpose? Well, you shouldn't believe what you kind of think. Because the Cubs are having a solid year and it has close to nothing to do with these great young position players.
The Cubs are 12th (out of 15) in the NL in runs scored, yet have the fifth-best record in the league. It's all been the pitching, which is fourth in the league (still 15 teams) in ERA. And there are a ton of other fancy stats to tell you in every conceivable way that the Cubs have pitched their way out of the mess they were in a few years ago.
And it's not like they developed any of these arms in the minors - they traded for them or just bought them outright on the open market. Savvy moves in most cases (sorry, Lester) thus far, but all the patting on the back that Theo and company are doing (to themselves) about building from within is still a bunch of crap. It hasn't really led to any more wins than if they would have just bought and traded for position players - and you are saying that you couldn't have pieced together a lineup out of nothing that could be 12th in the league in hitting?
The narrative is still a bit off about what is really going on. Sure, down the line this may not matter. One World Series win and no one will ever care about any of this kind of stuff. Everyone will be too drunk to speak and have too much Champagne in their eyes to see what happened in the past.
But the Big Three on the North Side are not Bryant, Russell and Rizzo. They're Hammel, Arrieta and Hendricks.
Week in Review: The Cubs' pitching staff gave up five runs in six games to go 5-1 for the week. The Marlins and Mets are worse at hitting a baseball than the Cubs. And that is not easy to do these days - I mean be worse than 12th in the league. (Still 15 teams in the NL.)
The Week in Preview: The Cubs stay home for four against the Cardinals and three against the White Sox. It seems like the Cardinals are due for a hiccup sometime - like losing to a team worse than they are. Which is all the teams, but they did just lose two games to the White Sox. So I guess anything can happen.
Left Field Report: Chris Coghlan was the left fielder for five of the six games this week, with Matt Szczur getting the lone other start. And then Szczur was sent down the minors. The interesting thing was that Szczur had two hits in the game he started, and Coghlan had three for the week. Chris ends the week with a Coghlanesque .254 batting average, yet still holding on to the job of primary left-field starter. How much more Chris Coghlan does Chris Coghlan have to be before he is former Cub Chris Coghlan? Aren't the Cubs trying now?
In former Cubs left fielder news, Moises Alou last played left field for the Cubs in 2004. He has teamed up with old pal Mark Prior in the Padres organization, which probably tells you why the Padres are a mess these days. Why would you do that to yourselves, Padres? Anyway, Moises is missed.
Mad(don) Scientist: Big Poppa Joe brought in a magic act to cure the Cubs' hitting and losing woes. I guess it worked. I am in continued fascination with Joe Maddon. His act is not getting old at all, but will it? I keep asking myself this same question. And then I think, just enjoy this guy instead of wondering things like that. Stop taking the fun out of things; do you always have to be that guy? And then my answer is, pretty much yes. You are too old to change.
Wishing Upon A Starlin: Our favorite Castro (sorry, Fidel) had a day off this week and Addison Russell played short. If Russell wasn't batting .229 himself you would raise an eyebrow at this seemingly random game of the season. But I think we are going to have to live with Starlin for a bit longer.
Kubs Kalender: On Friday, July 10, the Cubs will host a concert after the game against the White Sox. It's Fitz and the Tantrums. Because nothing says Crosstown Classic like Fitz and the Tantrums. Would have been cool to have some kind of Chicago band tie-in. But these guys never really get it.
Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Shares of Bitterness should trade higher this weekend. The Sox are not in a good place.
Over/Under: The number of runs scored by both Chicago teams this weekend: +/- 6.5.
Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that good pitching is the best.
* Touch 'em all: The Cub Factor archives.
* Know thy enemy: The White Sox Reports.
Marty Gangler is our man on the Cub. He welcomes your comments.