It is tough to be a Chicago Cub these days. Your team has just gone through the worst three-season span in franchise history, and this season it owns the second-worst record in baseball.
When people go through rough times, others offer unsolicited advice on what is wrong and what is missing. The same happens when you are a struggling team.
Last weekend the Cubs went into Milwaukee to face the Brewers and former Cub Matt Garza. Garza spoke about speaking to Cubs ace Jeff Samardzija. Samardzija is winless so far this season even with a sparkling 1.53 ERA.
Samardzija and the Cubs were unable to come up with an agreement on a long-term deal, instead agreeing to a one-year, $5.345 million deal that avoided arbitration. He could be used as a trade chip this season.
Garza said “I told Samardzija, ‘It doesn’t matter, dude. You play in Chicago,’” Garza told reporters. “‘I was there, and I lost 30 wins in three seasons. It’s not your fault. You pitch your way out of there. Keep your eyes focused, your eyes straight ahead and just pitch. There’s nothing else you can do.”
Now comes word from another former Cub, David DeJesus, now with the Tampa Bay Rays. He feels that the Cubs lack veteran leadership. Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo are leaders, but they are still young and trying to figure things out for themselves. They have to grow up quickly.
“Guys who were leaders on the team, like (Alfonso) Soriano and myself, if you take that away, then the (Anthony) Rizzo and (Starlin) Castro group have to grow up quickly,” he said. “Sometimes they can handle that, sometimes they can’t.”
“I had Mike Sweeney in Kansas City. He taught me and many others how to deal with management and the media…and help clear the pressure and clubhouse. That stuff is learned along the way. Rizzo and Castro have to deal with this at 24, where I was the guy at 28 or 29. There is a big difference.”
One thing I know for sure, when one is down, having all these people tell you what you should do or what is missing can get overwhelming. These Cubs should just keep working hard, put on ear plugs and ignore the noise around them.
There is help on the way, but it might get worse before it gets better. In the meantime, those who got out should just worry about their own teams.