Examining the Cubs' offense after 10 games

733226.png

Examining the Cubs' offense after 10 games

The Cubs are 10 games into 2012 already and though they boast a 3-7 record, there are some positive signs. Unfortunately, not many of those are on offense.

We've already taken a look at the success of the starting rotation so far and there's not much point in looking at the numbers of relievers, since it's such a small sample size. But the offense has been a point of discussion over the first part of the season and hasn't seen the same success so far.

Below are statistics for the Cubs offense after 10 games. In parentheses are MLB ranks.

--40 runs (18)
--5 HR (27)
--.236 AVG (22)
--.301 OBP (22)
--.342 SLG (25)
--.643 OPS (24)
--8 SB (6)
--83 K (28)

As you can see, this team does not have much power and strikes out far too often. The .236 average is abysmal and is greatly affected by five players hitting below .200.

Jeff Baker, Geovany Soto, Blake DeWitt, Joe Mather and Marlon Byrd are a combined 10-for-93, good for a .108 batting average. Of course, Mather and DeWitt have just 10 at-bats each and Baker has 13, so it is far too early to get on their case about anything. Byrd's struggles are well-documented, but Soto's have not been discussed much.

The Cubs catcher is just 4-for-29 at the plate, but does have a double, triple and homer. He has hit a couple of balls hard, just right at people.

Steve Clevenger has been a pleasant surprise, going 6-for-10 to start the year after beating out Welington Castillo for the backup catcher spot. Clevenger is also 2-0 in starts this season, while Soto is just 1-7.

Starlin Castro is one of the few bright spots on the offense, hitting .359 with three doubles and a league-leading six steals in six tries. He has been awfully aggressive on the basepaths so far and may very well steal 30-40 bags this year.

Newcomer David DeJesus boasts a stellar 6:7 walk-to-strikeout ratio and leads the team with eight runs. He has a .300.432.367 line and has been great at the top of the order.

Sluggers Bryan LaHair and Alfonso Soriano are also off to hot starts. LaHair has a 1.119 OPS and is the only Cub with more than one homer. Soriano doesn't have an extra-base hit yet, but his .313 AVG and .343 OBP are welcome signs, as is his 7 RBI out of the cleanup spot.

This Cubs team won't out-slug anybody and will rely on timely hitting to pick up victories. If they can average 4.0 runs per game the rest of the way, that will be a win.

Though, I'm sure new manager Dale Sveum and front office executives Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer would also like to see hitters increase their plate discipline and cut down on their strikeouts as the season wears on.

Kyle Schwarber goes ‘Star Trek,’ launching home run out of Wrigley Field and onto Sheffield Avenue

Kyle Schwarber goes ‘Star Trek,’ launching home run out of Wrigley Field and onto Sheffield Avenue

Where the Cubs needed a Javier Baez basket shot to beat Johnny Cueto last October – the swing that might have changed the entire direction of their World Series run – Kyle Schwarber left no doubt with this one.

Schwarber launched Cueto’s 91-mph fastball out of Wrigley Field and onto Sheffield Avenue on Tuesday night, setting the tone in the first inning of a 4-1 win over the San Francisco Giants with a mammoth home run that Statcast measured at 470 feet.

“Whoa, it got small fast,” manager Joe Maddon said. “It’s almost like when you used to watch ‘Star Trek’ when it came on and the Enterprise would just fly by the screen and get really small. It kind of had that Enterprise-esque look to it. It was there – and then it was gone.”
 
Cueto, the funky right-hander with the dreadlocks, rocker steps and quick pitches, is now dealing with blisters on his middle and index fingers, which may partially explain his 4.64 ERA and San Francisco’s 20-27 record.  

Jason Heyward and Anthony Rizzo jumped Cueto first pitches in the second and fourth innings, with balls landing in the right-field basket and right-field bleachers as the Cubs (23-21) played perhaps their most complete game this season.

Schwarber’s batting average will read .186 on the big video board the next time he steps into the box at Wrigley Field. But Ben Zobrist’s production as a leadoff hitter could make Schwarber more comfortable and settled in the No. 2 spot. And teams still have to account for Schwarber’s thunderous left-handed power (seven homers) and overall patience (25 walks and 4.22 pitches per plate appearance).

“It’s a continuous process,” Schwarber said. “I’m still going to work every day and trying to figure this thing out. I’m going to go up there every day and be confident.”

Dylan Covey injured as White Sox fall to Diamondbacks

5-23_dylan_covey_usat.jpg
USA TODAY

Dylan Covey injured as White Sox fall to Diamondbacks

PHOENIX — Dylan Covey exited Tuesday’s loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks with left oblique soreness.

The short-handed White Sox won’t know until Wednesday at the earliest how long they might be without their Rule 5 starting pitcher. Covey sustained the injury in the third inning of a 5-4 loss to Arizona in front of 17,865 at Chase Field. The Diamondbacks homered twice off the right-hander, scoring four times in 2 1/3 innings. The bullpen pitched well enough to allow the White Sox to rally back but they fell just short despite the 100th home run of Jose Abreu’s career and loading the bases in the eighth inning.

Though both James Shields and Carlos Rodon are on the mend, the White Sox are already down two starting pitchers. Rodon is further along having thrown off a mound four times, including 60 pitches in a simulated game on Monday. But the White Sox don’t have a lot of depth in the farm system as they’re not willing to forgo development to fill a need in Chicago.

Covey exited the game after he recorded the first out of the third inning. He induced a ground ball and signaled the bench, which brought out manager Rick Renteria and trainer Herm Schneider. Covey, who allowed two more home runs on Tuesday, didn’t attempt to throw any warmup pitches before he exited.

[VIVID SEATS: Get your White Sox tickets here]

The right-hander brought an 0-3 mark and a 7.64 ERA into the contest. Paul Goldschmidt tripled in a run off Covey with one out in the first inning ahead of a two-run home run by Jake Lamb. Chris Herrmann also blasted a solo homer to left to start the second inning. Covey, who had made only six starts above Single-A before the White Sox selected him in the Rule 5 draft last December, has allowed 13 home runs in 37 2/3 innings this season.

The White Sox bullpen picked up the slack as Chris Beck, Gregory Infante, David Holmberg and Tommy Kahnle combined to allow one run over the final 5 2/3 innings.

That allowed the White Sox to work their way back into the contest. Melky Cabrera homered in the second inning to make it a two-run game. After Arizona scored in the bottom of the second, Todd Frazier’s two-run homer made it a 4-3 game in the third inning.

Abreu blasted a solo shot off Jorge De La Rosa in the eighth to get the White Sox within a run. They loaded the bases with one out but J.J. Hoover struck out Omar Narvaez and Yolmer Sanchez to maintain the one-run lead for Arizona.