Dr. Dansby Swanson May Need to Check Team’s Heartbeat Again Because Cubs Are Flatlining

Even if it’s way too early to issue them a death certificate, the 2024 Cubs are showing little sign of life and need to be resuscitated soon. They’re ahead of only three teams in the National League and sit behind five others that are under the .500 mark as of this writing. Another blown save Monday night gave them 17 on the season, more than every team in baseball except for the other one in Chicago (21), adding to the sense that this group just can’t get out of its own way.

Justin Steele pitched beautifully, holding the Giants to a pair of solo homers before exiting a wee bit early in part because Seiya Suzuki pulled up short of the wall and whiffed on a fly ball for what should have been the second out. The Cubs also squandered a leadoff triple by Pete Crow-Armstrong in the 6th by striking out twice to end the inning, contributing to what eventually became 12 Ks and as many stranded runners.

None of this should be surprising to those who’ve seen it play out far too often already, but the team is maintaining a public belief that better fortunes are just around the corner.

“The starters have been awesome,” Swanson told reporters after another gutting loss. “We’ve had times to push leads out and haven’t been able to. But at the end of the day, I have a lot of belief in these guys in here.

“I really do believe that things will start to move in our favor because I know the heartbeat of this group and the resiliency of each and every guy in this clubhouse.”

Derek Jeter might beg to differ, at least according to a quote that’s gone viral in recent days.

“I always think any time you make a decision, you wanna have as much information as you possibly can right,” Jeter told the Drink Champs podcast (1:27:00 mark if you’re interested). “If you say no to that, then you’re not doing your job. But I also think you can’t measure everything. Mr. Torre, Joe Torre, used to always say, ‘You can’t measure a person’s heartbeat.'”

What’s really funny about this whole thing is that Jeter’s appearance on the pod came in November of 2022 and was brought to the broader consciousness by one of the ubiquitous aggregation accounts on X. Even though the episode has over half a million views on YouTube, one tiny soundbite from a nearly two-hour conversation was never going to make waves unless it was clipped and shared for quick consumption.

Thing is, Jeter’s not wrong if we set aside the obvious gaffe and understand what he’s trying to say. There are aspects of individual players or the game in general that can’t necessarily be quantified or explained, which may be part of the reason for the Cubs’ systemic failure. Under Theo Epstein, the organization failed to adequately develop pitchers because higher presumed floors were prioritized over high-ceiling guys with big stuff. While that has changed to a large degree, the current front office remains focused on finding value rather than taking risks with bigger potential payoffs.

It’s like the guys I hung out with one night in Atlantic City who had written a book on how to win at roulette. Literally. They had put together a process of betting that allowed them to leverage the odds in their favor for a small advantage over the house. But the thing is, you’d have to bet very large sums to come out on top in a meaningful way. And if you happen to make a mistake or run into a little bad luck, it’s going to take you that much longer to get back to even.

That’s what the Cubs feel like to me. They’ve got a roster that can win games if things are going their way across the board, but they’re not built to blow teams out and put together an extended run of success. Unless Jed Hoyer is willing to push his chips to the center of the table, and I highly doubt he will be at this rate, the process he’s used to build this organization simply isn’t going to work. A team with these resources shouldn’t be operating under the idea of trying to sneak into the postseason and then make some noise.

And unless that EKG starts making more noise here soon, it may be time to pull the plug and head in a different direction.

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