by Kent Sterling
According to a smart guy named Clay Davenport who runs computer simulations and analyzes statistical probabilities, the Chicago Cubs will be the only team in baseball to win less than 70 games in 2014.
Don’t worry, the bevy of amazing and highly touted prospects the Chicago media crows about daily are only two years from being ready for the big leagues. If only Cubs fans could induce their own comas until March, 2016.
The Cubs front office boobery loves to talk about the future – the distant future. What fans need to decide is whether that future will be bright because of Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler, C.J. Edwards, Albert Almora and the rest of the kiddie Cubs or if the chatter about the future like a set of keys shaken in front of a baby to distract them from their misery.
Davenport says that the Cubs as they are currently constructed are destined to finish the 2014 season with a 67-95 record. I invite you to visit claydavenport.com for all the tragic details (make sure and check out Darwin Barney’s EqA and VORP – it’s not important to know what those categories stand for or how Davenport calculates it, but trust me when I tell you his 2013 numbers were atrocious).
The next worst team is projected to be the rebuilding Houston Astros, who are actually expected to improve in GM Jeff Luhnow’s third season. He was hired eight weeks after Cubs president Theo Epstein, and somehow the Astros have built from the ground up, dumped salaries, and at the very least are projected to have made the strides needed to win 70 games.
Today, ESPN’s Keith Law, another statistics guy (how could a baseball expert not be), ranks the Astros minor league system as the best in baseball. The Cubs are ranked fourth despite the youngsters who were paraded around Chicago during the Cubs Convention as future conquering heroes before ever seeing a major league slider.
Fortunately, the Astros are gone from the National League, so they aren’t nearly the obvious comparative that they would be if they were still bottom feeders in the NL Central Division.
Milwaukee ranks last, so at least the Cubs have a good shot at passing the Brew Crew before the decade ends.
Davenport also projects the Cubs last in the majors offensively with only 598 runs scored, and second to last in the National League (behind Colorado) with 721 runs against. The last full season that the Cubs scored less than 600 runs and allowed 700+ was the scrappy 1956 club managed by Stan Hack.
Combine what appears to be woeful on-field product with an embarrassing year for the business office, and the Cubs appear to be run by the gang that can’t throw straight. The Wrigleyville Rooftop Owners should be nothing more than a petty annoyance for the Cubs, who idiotically signed away their rights to adjust the bleacher seating or erect signage for 20 years to that group in late 2003. The rooftop owners should be nothing more than a pebble in the shoe of the Cubs.
Instead, that pebble opened a wound that has become infected and now the franchise is stuck waiting for the rooftop owners to allow the Cubs to execute their brilliant business plan that will allow the Ricketts Family ownership to finally invest in some pitching, hitting, defense, and psychiatrists.
The Cubs – as usual – are being hoisted by their own petard. Owners change, management changes, the calendar changes, and the ways the Cubs find to ensure their own mediocrity change. What never changes is the result.
An ambitious group of entertainment pirates were granted legal status by the Cubs to prevent necessary improvements to Wrigley Field. This time it’s not Bartman, a black cat, or a Billy Goat. This time it was a moron at a conference table being outwitted by neighborhood rabble.
One of the first criteria for owning a baseball team is to have enough cash on hand to pay off some wing nuts who built bars on their rooftops. Do you think Mark Cuban would let the rooftop folks stand between him and winning – or additional net revenue?
So the Cubs are going to be the worst team in 2014. I could have told Davenport that without an algorithm or dial-up connection.