Cactus League play is more than half over. Through 18 games, the Chicago Cubs have a 7-11 record. That’s good enough for 13th in the standings. The only Cactus League opponents with a worse record are the Cincinnati Reds (5-12) and Los Angeles Angels (3-11).
These records may surprise folks who don’t pay much attention to spring training. What may surprise them more are the two teams who lead the standings: Kansas City Royals (14-2) and Cleveland Indians (12-6). In 16 games, the Royals have outscored their opponents 119-67. That’s an average score of 7.44 to 4.19 per game.
What should Cubs fans take from their team’s 7-11 record? Not much. They’ve endured injuries to key players such as Starlin Castro, Scott Baker and Matt Garza. Anthony Rizzo has spent much of this time with Team Italy at the World Baseball Classic. Brent Lillibridge and Ian Stewart are some other players who’ve missed time due to injuries.
Some of these players are nearing their returns. On Mar. 13, Castro played in his first game since Feb. 27. Stewart and Lillibridge could return before the start of next week. Garza and Baker could both make starts before Opening Day on Apr. 1. Despite that, they’ll start the season on the disabled list.
The Cubs’ poor record during Cactus League—or any team’s record during this time—isn’t a reflection of how they’ll perform in 2013. All of these teams are suiting up players who aren’t anywhere near a MLB roster. Some of them may never progress that far.
While the Cubs may endure some hardships in the second season of their rebuild, their 7-11 record is no indication of that. It’s more of an indication to the lack of depth in their farm system. There’s still plenty of work to do in that department.