With the LA Angels heading to Chicago to face the Cubs, we collaborated with Jacob Misener, Site Expert over at Cubbies Crib to talk about the team’s offseason, their slow start, and who Halo fans should be scared of this series.
1.) How was this offseason for Cubs fans? The LA Angels, along with a lot of NL teams, notably the Brewers and Cardinals within the same division, made improvements, but the Cubs seemed to be on the outside looking in. Was this frustrating as fans, or were you content with running it back with the same squad?
Cubs fans, almost unanimously, consider this offseason to be a complete and utter failure. When you’re in the middle of a competitive window and your biggest offseason pick-up is Daniel Descalso? That’s not OK. This team has glaring needs in the bullpen and could’ve used another backstop behind Willson Contreras (a need that has resurfaced this week with the injury to Victor Caratini).
More than a few folks feel like $20 million is a bit steep when it comes to Cole Hamels – and that money may have been better utilized elsewhere. But, time will tell. Like you said, pretty much the entire division got better and we’re betting heavily on what we have.
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2.) Speaking of Epstein, what are Cubs fans general opinion of him? Years ago he was touted as one of the best general managers in baseball, but those claims seem to have quiet down since.
Since 2016, Cubs fans are mostly “what have you done for me lately?” Which, if you’re Theo Epstein, isn’t a good thing given his two most recent free agent signings (Brandon Morrow, Yu Darvish and Tyler Chatwood) have been either injured or totally ineffective.
Really, aside from Jon Lester and Ben Zobrist, his free agent acquisitions have been pretty rough – at least his marquee ones, that is. Still, we’re talking about an organization that has been bad for decades at a time in the past and over the last four years, Chicago leads all of Major League Baseball in regular season wins, so it’s still hard to be too hard on the front office.
3.) Obviously 4-8 doesn’t accurately represent the mass amounts of talent the Cubs have on their roster. What has hampered the team thus far? Do you expect the team to turn it around and get back into the divisional race?
Absolutely. There’s a lot of baseball left. I’m not saying the Cubs don’t have holes on the roster, because they absolutely do. But the talent will win out and this will be one of those races that goes down to the wire.
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4.) Who will the Angels be facing on the mound this weekend, and how do you expect the starters to perform against an injured Halo’s lineup?
The Halos will see Cole Hamels, Kyle Hendricks and Tyler Chatwood this weekend. Hamels has one of the team’s better starts this season and is making his 2019 Wrigley Field debut. Hendricks is yet to pitch like the guy we’ve come to know and love – and hasn’t been effective in preventing the big inning or the long ball this year.
As for Chatwood, he looked really strong this spring and has shown improvement over his downright awful 2018 campaign, but who knows how he’ll look in his spot start filling in for the injured Jon Lester. Hendricks and Hamels are both capable of dominating opposing lineups, but neither have really settled in quite yet.
5.) Who is one player Angels fans might be sleeping on that could be pivotal for the Cubs in the series this weekend?
Jason Heyward. I know, I know. Angels fans surely know of him but he’s been a pivotal part of the team’s offense this year. He’s been pretty much average to below average offensively since coming to Chicago, but he’s driving the ball with authority. Last season, he didn’t hit his fourth homer till the middle of June – a mark he eclipsed earlier this week. Small sample size? Yes. Is that stopping me from putting my eggs in this basket? Absolutely not.