Happy Cinco de Mayo to everyone….Fun might not be the best word to describe what the Cubs Faithful have had over the past few weeks….but we all must remember it is only May 5th and there is a lot of baseball still to be played. We have seen two different teams on the Northside of Chicago; the one with the sweep of the Cardinals and the terrific comeback wins….six after the 7th inning and the other with two horrific shutouts….all apart of the Mendozaesque offense that is very frustrating to watch.
Although they lost with Maddux on the hill on Wednesday night, the anemic offense still put up 10 hits….almost as many as the 2-game set against the Pirates (the Cubs totaled 12 in those 2 games), but they could not get that clutch hit that they needed to give Maddux number 6. My question is why can the same group of guys hit when Maddog is on the mound and not the other 4 starters? It is easy to look at the Cubs’ offense and say that they are missing Derrek Lee….and granted that is a big part and not only has Lee’s injury provided a huge hole at first base, it has also created a huge hole at second base. Walker is doing a fine job at the plate and in the field. Walker is hitting .342/.418/.481/2/13, but Neifi Perez (.167/.186/.214/0/3) and Jerry Hairston (.243/.282/.270/0/2) are not coming close at replacing Walker’s numbers at second base and Todd Walker is not Derrek Lee. But again, how can the same offense that is hovering around the Mendoza Line since Lee’s departure hit so well with Maddux on the mound? Could there be something else going on with the Cubs’ offense? Could it be a lack of consistency and trust?
Merriam-Webster defines the word consistency as ‘the condition of adhering together’ and the word trust ‘as assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something or one in which confidence is placed’.
Now as you are all rolling your eyes and ready to scroll down and tell me how crazy I am, here is what I am talking about with the Cubs.
Before Wednesday night’s game against the Diamondbacks the Cubs were ranked 12th in the National League in offense with a .252 batting average. They were 206 for 817 with 21 home runs and 111 runs scored. According to a report on Cubs.com on Tuesday, the Cubs are hitting .218 since the injury to Derrek Lee and after the 5 hit performance on Tuesday against the Pirates; I am putting that average right around .200….but not when Greg Maddux is on the mound.
In the 5 previous starts Greg Maddux had made this season the Cubs were hitting .286 (47 for 164) with 6 home runs and 26 runs scored. If you remove those numbers from the rest of the season, the Cubs were hitting .243 (159 for 653) with 15 home runs and 85 runs scored. Maddux made 3 starts before Derrek Lee’s injury and 2 starts after (before Wednesday). While it is known how much they are struggling without Lee, but in the 2 starts with Maddux on the mound the Cubs were hitting .324 (23 for 71) with 4 home runs and 13 runs scored….this is the same team that was shut out twice in three games. On Wednesday night the Cubs hit .303 (10 for 33) with Maddux on the mound.
So what is the difference? Why are the Cubs so much better when Maddux is on the mound? The answer is confidence and trust. They know Maddux will put them in line to win the ballgame and they know he will do everything he can to get the win. The entire team has forgotten their fundamentals, they are swinging at too many first pitches, they are popping up it seems every other at-bat. They are being too aggressive at the plate and they are pressing, this is all proof of guys trying to do much in an attempt to make up for the loss of Lee, but what they do not realize is the more the try to make up for the loss of Lee, the worse it is going to get.
Baseball is played with 9 guys on the field for a reason; it is the ultimate team sport….the Cubs need to relax and just play baseball. Once the Cubs learn to trust each other, everything else will take care of itself.