There are way too many storylines to go through this time of year. Between the promotion and successes of various Cubs prospects in the minor leagues, the impending trades of certain Cubs assets such as Matt Garza, the international free agent signing period and the still-unsigned Cubs draft picks including Kris Bryant (we’ll know by 4 PM Central on Friday), we have a hefty slate on our plate before the All-Star Game next week. All this on top of the Wrigley Field renovation/restoration that should hopefully be decided within the week. At least the Cubs have gotten to take advantage of some of the early approvals of their plan as the first Friday 3:05 PM date was able to draw a few extra fans to the park.
Most casual fans of the Cubs are of course much more interested in how the big league team is doing. Although every other aspect of the club as listed above is important as well, ultimately fans want to know that the big league team will eventually be able to win something significant. This will lead to debates of manager philosophy and whether the front office or ownership want to win.
As many fans know, in 2012, the first full season of the Theo Epstein era, the Cubs finished 61-101 and grabbed the second pick in the 2013 draft as their reward for being so crappy. The idea was to strip the team to its bare bones, restock the farm system with assets that would fuel a pipeline of talent towards the big leagues, and look to a long term plan that would result in perennial contention and not just shots in the dark. If the Cubs can make incremental improvements at the big league level while making huge strides in the minors and player development/scouting, then that could be viewed as a success. Ultimately, again, success is measured in terms of wins at the big league level. How is 2013 so far? Let’s present a few points without comment…
So far, the 2013 Cubs have played 86 games. They are now 38-48, ten games under .500 for the season. The 2012 Cubs after 86 games were 34-52, 18 games under .500 in their first game out of the All-Star Break.
The 2013 Cubs have a run differential of -10 through July 7, suggesting they should have a Pythagorean expected record around 42-44. Last year, the 2012 Cubs had a run differential of -69 through the end of July, and that’s after they somehow managed to go 15-10 in July before the great sell-off.
The 2013 Cubs currently have the 7th worst record in MLB. Last season at the conclusion of game 86, the Cubs were tied with the Colorado Rockies for third-worst in MLB, just barely ahead of the San Diego Padres.
What will happen in the remaining 76 games? What will happen after the July 31 trade deadline? It’s very hard to say. But just take a look at last season versus this one and judge for yourself.