The Cubs lineup isn’t that bad, streaming apps, Red Bill and the rest of the Cubs Bullets are coming

The Cubs lineup isn’t that bad, streaming apps, Red Bill and the rest of the Cubs Bullets are coming

The AFC Championship Game was terrifically exciting last night, but the NFC Championship Game proved to be a snooze due to an early injury to quarterback Brock Purdy and injuries to Jimmy Garoppolo and Trey Lance prior to that. Purdy’s replacement, Josh Johnson, soon suffered a concussion, and the 49ers were effectively without a quarterback for most of the game, and that was it.

It got me thinking that the quarterback position can’t really be compared to other positions in sports. What is the baseball equivalent of losing FOUR quarterbacks in one season, anyway? That’s obviously much, much more than losing four starting pitchers. I’d argue that’s closer to losing two+ FULL ROTATION worth of starting pitchers. The Cubs have enough depth this year that they could lose an entire rotation of starters and still start a five-man rotation of guys above replacement level, but no team could survive beyond that. And we haven’t even seen that yet (10+ season-ending type injuries to a single team’s starting pitcher in a single year? I feel like four or five is the most we’ve ever seen). But at quarterback, you’re so focused on one guy, so if he gets hurt, it’s like a huge part of your team is hurt.

At least the Cubs have put themselves in position to break out offensively, even if the baseline projection is more in the middle of the lineup. It’s a resume without any glaring weaknesses, though you might want to see a few more walks. But there are no elite strengths either.

Much of Chicago’s hope comes from individuals on the depth chart being able to push that middling projection up. It starts with Swanson maintaining what he did in his final season in Atlanta. Suzuki can be better and Hoerner can continue to grow.

But the big boy is Bellinger. There’s little reason to think a change of scenery will return him to MVP form. But if anything close to that would be the nail the Cubs need on which to hang their offensive breakout hopes.

  • The thing about the Cubs’ lineup this year is that, on paper, they project to be above-average offensive power at every position except catcher and center. And as ESPN noted, Bellinger has potential in the middle infield. But the reason the Cubs’ overall offense isn’t necessarily above average is that they’re mostly JUST above AVERAGE at those other seven spots, and the upside they do have isn’t necessarily massive upside (Seiya Suzuki is probably the closest). A few injuries here and there, and inevitable underperformance here and there, and you end up with a slightly below-average overall offense, even though on paper a lot of composite parts project a 105 wRC+.
  • In other words, I think ESPN actually nailed it because of the Cubs offense: it doesn’t look terrible, but if it’s going to be “good,” they basically HAVE to keep them in for a lot of pleasant surprises (and good health, well-functioning pitches, etc.).
  • All the more reminder that if the Cubs are going to be competitive (85+ wins), they need to play exceptional defense, and they’re also right about their ability to organize to maximize pitching results. It probably won’t be the offense that floats them.
  • Fun fact in case you forgot: The 2022 Cubs posted a wRC+ of 98, which ranked 20th in baseball, just below average. This year’s roster lost Willson Contreras, but gradually improved at 1B, 2B and CF. So on paper they are still in the same zone. Not a terrible group! It’s just not great.
  • While the Bally/Diamond process is headed for bankruptcy, the other RSNs will have to find their own way in the new environment. For the big boys, that means direct-to-consumer offerings (ie a stand-alone app to stream in-market games without power outages) and the Yankees’ YES Network could be coming very quickly:
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  • Keep in mind that the Cubs have said they’d like the Marquee to operate on its own sometime this year, but it wasn’t yet clear if Opening Day would be realistic. The challenge with these apps is that they allow fans to get the games they want without having to have a cable package… but that makes the cable channel less attractive to providers who otherwise pay the huge delivery fee to the network. So it’s a very delicate balance of offering the product at a reasonable monthly price for fans, but at a price that’s high enough that it doesn’t completely undercut/cheat your cable partners. NESN tried it last year for $30 a month, but that was for the Red Sox and Bruins AND got eight tickets to games at Fenway. Still, you’ll likely pay $20-$30 a month for these services.
  • I see many agree with Michael:
  • … But i am not. I’ve never been a fan of the red hat, not even as a replacement. I don’t know exactly what it is, but they just look stupid. All blue with a red C and a red button… so good. Of course, if you want to wear another hat that looks completely different, that’s great. I’m in. But if you simply modify the base case, then the red bill is not for me.
  • Cubs fans have only one answer to that question, and it would have been an ugly one:
  • He’s not wrong, as the Orioles could be very good on their own based on their system, but here’s why they should have added ANYTHING in free agency:

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