Dodgers show Cubs, David Ross how far away 'next great Cubs team' is

Dodgers show Cubs, David Ross how far away ‘next great Cubs team’ is

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Dodgers show how far away ‘next great Cubs team’ is originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

During Saturday’s broadcast of the Cubs’ sloppy loss to Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers, the team’s accentuate-the-positive (ignore-the-obvious) network took a nostalgic look back at last year’s victory over Kershaw.

Talk about bittersweet.

In just the second or two it took to show Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo highlights, the Pollyannaish attempt at sweet memories proved bitter reminders of why this Cubs team didn’t come close to beating the Dodgers during their three-game series over the weekend.

Also why they haven’t won a series since the first one of the season. And why they sent Frank Schwindel to the minors Sunday. Why they’ve scored 22 runs in 12 games since scoring 21 that one day against the Pirates last month.

Why their attendance is down, their payroll down more, their starting pitching down for the count.

This is a bad team.

(Somebody get Obvious Shirts on the phone).

It’s at least the rebuild team president Jed “Don’t Know The Definition of A Rebuild” Hoyer couldn’t bring himself to acknowledge when he purged the roster last July of every player of value not nailed down by additional years of club control. But it’s even worse than many of us thought — in both upper management optics and on-field performance.

It’s the unconscionable second tank in a decade (third if you count Frank the Tank).

And there’s nothing to suggest it’s going to get better anytime soon, unless by “soon” you mean two weeks from now when they play a four-gamer against the only team in the league with a worse record, the Reds.

Then, again, the Reds finally just won a series over the weekend, against the Pirates — who beat the Cubs three out of four the last time they faced.

Wade Miley to the rescue? The veteran starter looked good in his four-inning rehab start for Iowa on Thursday, and he threw a between-starts bullpen Sunday in anticipation of a next assignment Tuesday or Wednesday.

Even if that comes in San Diego with the Cubs, the already beleaguered Cubs rotation lost two more starters Sunday, first when $71-million free agent Marcus Stroman went on the undefined injured list (read: COVID-19 list) and then when Justin Steele left Sunday’s start after four innings because of a sore thumb — leaving a one-run game that turned into a 7-1 loss.

Either or both might be short-term issues.

But, with or without them, the only drama left in this season his how many get traded before the deadline this time around and how quickly — and maybe whether this team can avoid 100 losses for the fourth time in franchise history.

As for that “next great Cubs team” Hoyer likes to talk about and that chairman Tom Ricketts pledges Crane Kenney’s mysterious wheelbarrow of money to fund, this two-day, three-game beat-down by the Dodgers showed just how far the recently proud Cubs have to go to get there.

“We’ve played a couple teams lately that feel like we’re chasing that kind of championship-caliber baseball,” said Cubs manager David Ross, a two-time World Series-winning catcher who was a player and critical voice in the clubhouse the last time the Cubs were better than their big-market brethren from Los Angeles — in 2016, when they eliminated them on the way to the championship.

“We’ll get there,” Ross said. “There’s a lot of positives in where we’re going, but when you play teams like this, you see how fundamentally sound you have to be, how good you have to be on the bases, how good you’ve got to pitch and continue to have good at-bats. Those are all things these guys are working really hard to improve on. And we’re going to try to get there as fast as we possibly can.”

Left unsaid is that there aren’t enough answers in that clubhouse to make a difference anytime soon — in large part by design. And that it might take some Double-A pitchers, Triple-A outfielders and A-ball shortstops to develop before the Cubs know what that “next great Cubs team” might look like.

For now, the playoff-caliber Dodgers, Braves, Rays, White Sox and Brewers have clobbered the Cubs (12-5), with more promises of a long season on the horizon from the likes of the Padres, Yankees, Mets, Cardinals, Giants and Red Sox — along with 22 rematches with the aforementioned.

“Losing sucks, I’ll tell you that,” Willson Contreras, one of the last championship-core Cubs left, said after Saturday’s pair of doubleheader losses.

“Man, it’s really tough,” he said. “It’s really tough to even watch, to be honest.”

And it’s only May. Imagine what it’ll look like in August after Contreras, David Robertson and Miley or Drew Smyly are traded.

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