You know those days when, no matter how hard you try, you can't quite get all the pieces of your life to work together? Maybe it's a job, a relationship, your car, or your kids, but whenever you seem to get one problem squared away, another surfaces. Such is the life for the 2012 Chicago Cubs.
Even though the Cubs bullpen has been the unquestionable trouble maker thus far in the young season, to say it is the only problem they have is like saying the Titanic's only problem was that it hit an iceberg --ignoring all the subsequent problems of not having enough lifeboats, having no rescue ships nearby, etc. Rather, the bullpen has been the gateway to many of the Cubs problems, and a primary caretaker of their current 15-22 record.
The numbers pretty much tell the story. The Cubs hitting --while definitely not ideal-- has been below average, not awful. They find themselves around 20th in the league in most important offensive categories: AVG (21st), HR (24th), Runs (24th), Doubles (12th), Stolen Bases (10th), Again, these are not ideal numbers, but they aren't consistently dreadful either.
The Cubs offense hovering in mediocrity is about where many of us figured they would be. However, we also figured the starting pitching would be awful. To this point, it hasn't been. The starting pitchers are 12th in ERA, 17th in innings pitched, 8th in runs given up, 3rd in home runs given up, and 4th in opponents batting average. If you take out Chris Volstad's numbers (0-5, 6.92 ERA,), the above stats would be even more impressive.
While all branches of the team are responsible for losses now and again, the bullpen has been the main culprit. They are 26th in ERA (4.76), 6 for 14 on save chances, 21st in opponent average, and 26th in runs given up. When you look at a team like the Cubs, you see a team that, while not without talent, needs all their branches working together. Each individual area of the team is not strong enough to compensate for another one who isn't pulling its weight. While the offense has not been spectacular by any means, they have been doing enough that should be warranting the Cubs a better record than what they have.
I don't expect the Cubs to be in contention for the long haul because they need so many things to go right on a daily basis to win baseball games. That doesn't mean they can't, it just means I just don't think they will.
Brian is a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan, having lived in Illinois his entire life and having followed Major League Baseball throughout.