By Kevin Powell
I’ve tried and tried to nitpick and find something wrong with the 2016 Cubs. Can’t do it. Other than the devastating Schwarber injury, try and find a truly rough moment or a weakness on this team. At this point, all we’ve really talked about is how good they’ve been, or how manager Joe Maddon will play with the depth of this roster.
Sure, Jorge Soler has been bad at the plate (.174/.263/.267), and has struggled defensively. But his learning curves were expected, and Maddon easily rotates Kris Bryant, Matt Szczur and Soler in left. And we can point to Jason Heyward’s soft start. But that’s a trend that has followed him his entire career:
He’ll be fine. Just don’t expect major offensive power from him after a quick glance at his new massive contract (8 yrs/$184M). He’s not the kind of player that’s going to hit 30 and 100. He smacked 27 homer’s in 2012, but his next highest total is 18 in 2010. Heyward is a guy that will get on a base, run them well, and score a lot of runs hitting in the two spot in this lethal lineup. He also plays a great right field.
When you look at this roster it’s tough to find any holes. There’s a mix of on-base speedsters with Dexter Fowler and Heyward. Then opposing pitchers have to battle through the powerful bats of Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo. Then there’s the do-it-all Ben Zobrist. Oh, and how about that Addison Russell? He has the potential to someday be the best player on the entire roster. He’s come through in the clutch, and plays well defensively. There’s a veteran presence in David Ross.
The starting rotation is a mix of dominant, smart pitching. Arrieta, Lester, Lackey, Hammel and Hendricks have gone a combined 22-6 with a 2.24 ERA. The bullpen is 13th in all of baseball with a 3.66 ERA. But, relief pitchers can be found at the trade deadline. And they did just do this:
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) May 17, 2016
It’s one of those low-risk, high-reward type signings.
Like a master chef, Theo, Jed and Co. has crafted a five-star dish. And when the deadline arrives in a couple months they’ll have their chance to put their finishing touches on the roster.
I’m not trying to gush over this team. It’s just that the 2016 Cubs are fun, a joy to watch, and really, they’re just a perfect blend.