What Does The 15-5 Drubbing in Boston Say About the 2011 Cubs?

By Tony Andracki

Fans waited 93 years for this matchup—the Chicago Cubs against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.

The two teams met in 2005 at Wrigley Field, but it’s been since the Babe Ruth days of the 1918 World Series since two of baseball’s most historic and loveable squads faced off in Beantown.

Maybe the Cubs wanted to wait a little longer? Maybe they just were caught up in the aura of Fenway Park or the epically historic series?

Maybe they just suck.

Chicago Cubs left fielder Alfonso Soriano talks with a scoreboard operator during the middle of the eighth inning against the Boston Red Sox during their MLB Interleague baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts May 20, 2011. REUTERS/Adam Hunger (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

Whatever way you look at it, the Cubs’ 15-5 loss at the hands of the Red Sox shows a lot about where this Chicago team is at competitively. We’ve broken it down into 10 things to take away from Friday’s disastrous loss:

1.    The Cubs are not going to make the playoffs this year.

Nope. Not gonna happen. There are just too many flaws in this team, all of which were disgustingly apparent Friday night. There’s no leadership on or off the field, no confidence, poor mental approaches. And then there’s the actual play on the diamond—horrible fielding, lack-a-daisical baserunning, nothing even close to resembling timely hitting and of course, pitching that would struggle to win games in Triple-A.

2.    Doug Davis is not the answer.

He had an OK first start in the rain-soaked Saturday night start against the defending champion San Francisco Giants, but start No. 2 was the Doug Davis that I know and refuse to love. He’s a very hittable, soft-tossing lefty without much in the way of control or location at this stage in his career. He’s battled a lot off the field and hats off to him for still trying to pitch in his mid-30s, but there was a reason why he was a free agent—nobody wanted him. His start against Boston was proof why.

3.    Randy Wells and Andrew Cashner need to get better fast.

The Cubs need their fourth and fifth starters back, so outings like Friday night are fewer and farther between. Casey Coleman looked great against the Florida Marlins on Thursday, but he has been otherwise unimpressive this season and doesn’t look to be the answer, either.

4.    There are three guys—and three guys only—that are even serviceable in the bullpen.

Carlos Marmol, Kerry Wood and Sean Marshall are three of the best at what they do in the Majors. But, if the starters and middle relieves continue to give up so many runs so early in games, these three don’t get a chance to truly shine. Mike Quade has to figure out something to get the ball to the hand of these three, even if it means stretching them out to pitch the final five innings of each ballgame. Whatever it takes.

5.    This is the worst fielding Cubs team in years, maybe even decades.

Two more unearned runs Friday brings the scary total to 21 in 43 games. So, basically, the Cubbies give up a free run every other game. Not gonna win you many games. Starlin Castro’s struggling (but somehow only committed his eighth and ninth errors of the season? It seems like much more than that…) and even the normally reliable Koyie Hill has four errors already in very limited playing time. Time to get back to the fundamentals?

6.    Mike Quade needs a wake-up call.

I’m still not convinced that he can’t be the answer at manager. In fact, I think with his excellent communication and people skills, he can be quite a skipper. But, something is clearly not working with the way he’s doing things. Batting Castro leadoff in one game (where his mindset is to get on base), then dropping him to the 3-hole (where his mindset is to drive in runners), then back to leadoff? That’s changing the mindset of the young hitter an awful lot. Bound to screw with anybody.

And what is up with playing Alfonso Soriano in the outfield when the DH is eligible?!? I mean, how can these Cubs coaches NOT see what we all see as fans—Soriano is one of the worst defensive players to ever play the game. I’d rather have Adam Dunn out in left, no lie. With the DH in play in the American League ballpark, that is the ONLY spot Sori should be put in, so then all he’d be responsible for is striking out at sliders low and away, instead of giving up runs on defense as well.

7.    Jeff Baker needs to be playing everyday.

Hey, finally a positive one! Baker had four more hits Friday and upped his average to .370. At this point, he’s the only middle-of-the-order-type hitter that is actually doing his job, so leave him out there. At least until he goes through a prolonged slump and reverts back to his career norm. Until then, ride the hot hand.

8.    Tyler Colvin and Tony Campana need to get a shot in the OF.

Alfonso Soriano is brutal all around. If he’s not hitting homers, he is completely useless as a ballplayer to this team. I enjoy watching Marlon Byrd play and the all-out effort and hustle he shows, but he just isn’t performing enough to be playing every day, either. Kosuke Fukudome is clearly not an option against left-handers and I would be beyond shocked if he returns to Chicago in ’12. So, why not give the future guys a shot, even if it is early?

Colvin should be recalled and playing everyday. Had he gotten as many at-bats as Soriano, I don’t think it would be a longshot for him to at least approach the 11 homers and 23 RBIs Sori has. All with a much, much, much better defensive prowess and a better all-around game.

Campana, on the other hand, is one of the fastest players in the game today. The kid can flat out fly. They are a team that relies too much on the home run (which is funny because they’re not hitting the long ball with any consistency) to score runs, it clearly isn’t working for them. So, why not switch to an old-school NL-style team? Get some small ball with some speed? Campana can steal a bag, hit-and-run and cover a lot of ground in the outfield. Why not give it a shot? What’s the point in continuing down this same, horrible path?

9.    The Cubs are proof that an inflated payroll does not equal wins.

Look at the Red Sox, who have turned into the New York Yankees by buying their players and wins. The Cubs tried that strategy with Fukudome, Soriano and others, and look where it’s gotten them. Zero playoff wins in that span. That’s because the Red Sox and the Yanks spend their money the right way, on players who won’t tank, who don’t have major flaws in their games. Like Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford, the two guys taking almost $300 million from the fans of Boston. Money can’t buy you happiness, so the Cubs should stop trying.

10.    It’s gonna be a long, long summer.

What else is there to say? Expect more games like this. The Cubs entered Boston with a great opportunity on their hands—to prove they belong in the playoff race. And how do they respond? By allowing 19 hits, 15 runs and making four errors while failing to provide anything even close to resembling timely hitting.

Yeah, this is gonna be a long, long summer.

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