We’re all still holding on to the Hawks amazing Stanley Cup run. You can’t walk down the street a day in the city without seeing someone in a Blackhawks Stanley Cup Championship tshirt or hat. The Chicago sports wire is littered with stories about Derrick Rose and his ongoing recovery, the Bears new-look offense and the future of Jay Cutler. And all the while, two professional baseball teams who call Chicago home are midway through their seasons. And it is really hard to care. Both teams sitting under .500 at or near the bottom of their respective divisions. Neither team appears to be gearing up for a second-half playoff run, so, what has caught our attention on the North and South sides so far this season? Let’s take a look.
Chicago Cubs – 42-51
The Good: The Cubs have been very clear that they are not playing for this season, or even next (or next, or next…). Their plans are long term, and most of the players theoretically included in that plan are not even on the major league squad yet. So the good for the Cubs has nothing to do with the players on the team, but rather what the front office is doing. They have unloaded Carlos Marmol (which might be the move of the year), and Matt Garza and Alfonso Soriano have both played well enough to lift their trade stock as high as the Cubs could have hoped. They drafted Kris Bryant with the 2nd overall pick, and have signed a long term deal with Anthony Rizzo. They have a young starting pitcher and possible future ace in Travis Wood, who was selected to the All-Star team after an impressive first half, even though it isn’t shown in his record due to the Cubs’ wretched bullpen and lack of run support. And Starlin Castro, who started the season playing well below expectation, has been playing extremely well over the last month, batting over .300.
The Bad: Everything else. The Cubs’ bullpen has been atrocious. They lead the NL in “Blown Saves” with 19, and their offense has the 3rd worst On-Base Percentage. And in spite of Castro’s recent surge, the overall offensive production from he and Rizzo have been extremely disappointing. They often struggle to score runs, and outside of Rizzo, Castro and Soriano, have yet to find consistent starters at any other position.
The Outlook: Don’t expect the results to be much different in the second half of the season. It will be worth noting the continued progress of Rizzo, Castro and Wood – as well as what the Cubs do leading up to the trade deadline. And although I doubt they bring guys like Solar or Baez up this season, they would be worth watching should the Cubs give them a shot in the majors toward the end of the season. Otherwise, do your best to keep your eyes on the front office, and off the field.
Chicago White Sox – 37-55
The Good: Chris Sale and Josh Phlegey have given you something to cheer about. And Adam Dunn appears to have found his power again. But none of those things have added up to wins. The good seems to end there on the south side. See: The Bad.
The Bad: Jake Peavy getting injured was a huge hit not only to the team this season, but to their chances of getting good trade value for him. The White Sox are at the bottom of the league in “Runs Scored” and second to last in OBP. The have also committed the third most errors in the American League, and are second worst in “Wins”. And what may be worst of all, they have made no attempt to improve the roster to make a second-half run.
The Outlook: Unlike the Cubs, the Sox don’t appear to have a long-term plan. Instead of gutting the team and building from the bottom, the appear to want to stand pat, adding little pieces here and there over the last few seasons in hopes that improvement will just come. But they have a roster full of players too good to bench, but not valuable enough to trade for quality prospects. Their manager decided not to sign and extension, and has seemed uninterested in managing this team (and who could blame him?) They don’t appear to be developing their future in the minors and don’t appear to be looking to trade for players to help them improve in the short term. The White Sox have mostly stayed in contention in recent years, but, it is coming up on almost 10 years since their World Series and it might be time to take a page out of the Cubs’ book for once and start thinking about their future.