It is now week five of the MLB season and The Chicago Cubs are still garnering serious interest across the league. In addition to their recent success, a few developments have recently come out of The North Side.
The Chicago Cubs still lead the overall standings at 25-8 and a .781 winning percentage. The team is still the number one team on ESPN’s weekly power rankings.
At their current pace, the Cubs can win 126 games to go 126-36. According to newsday.com, that record would beat by the next best all-time record, set by the 1906 Chicago Cubs who went 116-36, by ten games.
Despite being the best team in the game, the Chicago Cubs have shown signs of weakness recently. On March 11th, the Cubs lost a doubleheader to the San Diego Padres, a team that most of the baseball world would consider inferior to the star studded Cubs.
The Cubs lost 7-4 in the first game and 1-0 in the second game. Usually the Cubs have no problem putting up runs, but only scored five on Wednesday.
This doubleheader comes on the heels of a four game sweep of the Washington Nationals, one of the best teams in the league. The Cubs actively avoided Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper, walking him repeatedly throughout the four game series, but managed to limit his effectiveness on the bases with solid defense.
The Cubs will play division rival Pittsburg on Friday. As of May 12th, the Cubs lead the Pirates, who are second in the NL Central, by seven games, the largest gap in the MLB.
Extension for Arrieta?
The contract for Cubs ace Jake Arrieta is set to expire after next year. He will be a free agent after the 2017 season if an agreement between Arrieta and the Cubs front office is met.
Arrieta’s 1.13 ERA is the best in the league and he has entered the discussion for best pitcher in the MLB. If he does manage to become a free agent somehow, it will be difficult to replace his production.
How much it will cost to keep Arrieta at Wrigley field is unknown, but according to several sources, he is not willing to take a discount to stay with the Cubs. For reference, Washington Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg recently received a 7-year, 175-million-dollar contract. Arrieta believes that he is worth more than Strasburg, but how much more?
No Extension For Theo, Yet
The architect behind the Chicago Cubs ascension, Theo Epstein is in the final year his contract. Epstein would be a great pickup for any team’s front office, but he is not expected to leave Chicago anytime soon.
According to CSN Chicago, Epstein believes his contract situation is a nonissue and Patrick Mooney that the players deserve to get paid first. Epstein specifically mentioned Arrieta as someone who should be a new deal before he does.
Cross Town Classic World Series?
The Cubs have the best record in the MLB, but closely behind them is their cross town rival The White Sox. The Sox are currently sitting atop the AL Central at 23-12, the 2nd best overall record in the MLB. The Sox are somewhat of a surprise are finishing 76-86 in 2015.
Just like the Cubs, the Sox have relied on the solid top three pitchers in their rotation. Chris Sale is the team’s ace. He and Jose Quintana have and ERA under 2.00. Signed in the offseason, Mat Latos has been a solid addition to the team posting a 3.40.
While both teams are very good, it is highly improbable that both will make the World Series next fall. If they do both make it, however, it would be the first time that the two teams have played against each other in the World Series since 1906, the year the Cubs posted their 116-36 record. The Sox won the series that year.
Going Forward From Here
The Cubs have only played 32 games. They still have another 130 to go. They must keep winning consistently to have a shot at the postseason. It is far too early to guarantee anyone a playoff spot.
The Cubs biggest free agent addition, Jason Heyward, has .216 average this season. Heyward has started out slow and has done so they past few years. Each time he has been able to get out of the slump. He hasn’t needed to produce superstar numbers yet, but it probably hurt the Cubs if he did.
The Cubs don’t need improvement in any one area on the diamond. They’re the best team in baseball right now and just need to keep winning. More importantly, they need to win come October when the playoffs start.