MILWAUKEE – April is finally over for the Cubs.
Which makes it May 1st.
Especially if you’re Seiya Suzuki, Justin Steele or any number of other Cubs outfielders and pitchers who stumbled through the last two weeks of the month to finish April 8-13 after a promising 10-game start to the season.
Suzuki will likely be fine as he continues to adjust to a new league and a new country. Steele could be too, despite recent struggles – with Saturday’s troubles at Milwaukee aided and abetted by two teammate errors and a criticism from Brew Crew who went against the visitors, all in the first set.
It cost him enough shots he needed 74 to go three innings as the Cubs closed the month with their ninth loss in 11 games, this one 9-1 to the Brewers, securing a fourth straight series loss. .
They’ve been outscored 20-2 in their two games in Milwaukee, 25-3 in their last three games, and have scored exactly one point apiece in four of their last five.
That it’s too early to start making broad assessments and proclamations about the nature of this Cubs team this year, manager David Ross said he tends to take a step back from the daily grind to have an overview at the end of each month for trends. . He has at least a few to gnaw at right now.
“Starting a season with a short spring training is maybe a bit different,” he said. “We try to win every game, but you can assess where you are at and what type of month you had and try to improve and see trend lines in that month. That’s how I see it. »
With April on the books, we can help you with at least two clear assessments of this team:
Firstly, without a sudden surge in launch launch (possibly Wade Miley, Alec Mills?) and production (best pop when the best time pops up?), sales panels will come out earlier than usual for Willson Contreras and a handful of veteran shorts to term before the trade deadline.
And, two, we can stop trying to pretend that this season isn’t part of a second rebuild in less than 10 years.
The Cubs’ brass didn’t give the verbal finger to fans that Reds president Phil Castellini did in Cincinnati when he publicly criticized their roster purge by suggesting the poor, small-market, poor Reds could just move on to greener pastures if fans don’t like it. “Be careful what you ask for,” he said, before apologizing after the predictable backlash.
Instead, Cubs president Jed Hoyer tried to tell us the goal was to be competitive in the short term while keeping an eye on the competitive picture in the long term — only when they dumped nine guys in July of last year, including three huge All-Star core players, they weren’t getting into a rebuild.
It was just semantics from the start. Word salads. Twirl.
Choose your own semantics for the Avril des Lionceaux:
Disappointing? Sometimes promising? Crap?
Call it what you want.
Then consider the Cubs’ market peers in New York and Los Angeles — teams that haven’t used the pandemic losses of the past two years as excuses to strip their teams.
Both New York teams entered Saturday with the best records in the American and National Leagues, respectively.
The Dodgers had the second-best record in the NL, and Joe Maddon’s Angels — not as often associated with the biggest clubs in the market — made upgrades in the offseason and had the second-best rating in the AL.
There’s still a long way to go this season, and any of these teams could still cope.
But none of them took a 2020 playoff slate and gutted it either.
And the only thing more impossible to imagine the Dodgers or the Yankees, say, doing that in the first place would be if they claimed they still expected to compete for a playoff spot if they did.
These Cubs looked scrappy and fun with the whole Seiya Mania, the opening series win over the Brewers, the 6-4 start, the only mistake in the first 11 games and the overall brilliance of this bullpen at 10 and 11 players.
But flaws and the reality of depth issues – and Suzuki’s inevitable adjustment period – caught up with a team that expected to have Miley (elbow) in its rotation now instead of maybe June, and Alec Mills (rear, quad) as a long spare pin for the starter.
Even when starting 6-4, the rotation had a collective 4.84 ERA – to produce a 6.26 ERA the rest of the month.
Maybe they’ll come back in time so the results look a little better at some point.
But they were never a team with room to work this year as they kept “an eye on the future”.
Wherever you fall on the ladder of accepting a second rebuild in a decade for one of the most revenue-generating teams in the game, let’s at least call it what it is.
And then take whatever pleasure there might be in the next five months.
On the one hand, enjoy All-Star wide receiver Willson Contreras while he remains on this list, his blockbuster game on Saturday, and the touching moment he shared on the court Thursday in Atlanta with his brother William giving just a glimpse of what we will miss when he is gone.
And Suzuki certainly remains a storyline as he tries to get back on a rookie of the year trajectory and battle on a 7-for-40 streak that included 14 strikeouts, produced a .517 OPS and coincided with the team slippage 2-9. .
Maybe they have a flare in them the second half of May when they play the Diamondbacks, Reds and, uh, Pirates a bunch of times?
The development of multi-inning reliever Keegan Thompson, struggling Steele and a handful of other young pitchers is worth watching for that “eye on the future.”
And when the weather warms up and summer days at the ballpark roll around, it shouldn’t be hard to find a ticket.
Probably as cheap as a North Side baseball owner.
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