The Cubs are five games into the 2011 season, so naturally we know everything we need to know about this team. But for anyone who thinks the sample size isn’t quite large enough to draw conclusions, I just want to correct a few lies the opening weekend may have told us. For the record, I wrote this before today’s game, so some of these trends have already been corrected slightly by reality.
1. Starlin Castro will not post a .563 wOBA. The kid is good, but not 1941 Ted Williams good. I’m as guilty as anyone of expecting too much from Castro, and I should shut up about him right now. He’s got a lot of talent: a sweet swing, great range, a rocket arm, and deceptively unaverage speed. But until last month, he wasn’t allowed to drink alcohol in the United States. Having a great opening weekend is great for his own confidence, I guess, but it’s also the kind of thing that sets the hype machine into overdrive. High expectations are great for manufacturing hope and optimism until they aren’t met. Suddenly the same sunshine, rainbows, and unicorn crowd turns into a soulless mob of zombies. Please don’t eat Starlin when he comes back to earth. (Which apparently hasn’t happened yet.)
2. The stands won’t stay empty at Wrigley. Monday’s reported attendance was the lowest since 2002. It was also a big fat misuse of the word attendance. There was about a 5:1 tickets sold to butts in seats ratio. But don’t expect that trend to continue, at least not to that extreme. People will come to Wrigley when school lets out and the weather warms up (and the competition rises to a level above the Pirates and Diamondbacks). It won’t be wall-to-wall sellouts. Maybe no true sellouts. But you can expect the sea of empty green seats to dwindle into sparse puddles no later than mid-May.
3. Marlon Byrd won’t hit .146 all year. This isn’t just about a five-game sample. Since the end of the 2010 All Star break, Byrd has posted a slash line of .255/.311/.348. But that’s still a pretty small sample. Going back to the beginning of the 2008 season, his numbers are a bit more respectable: .289/.347/.452, good for a .349 wOBA. Not exactly stellar, but nowhere near as miserable as he has looked of late. I expect him to return closer to his career numbers. (He did have a .315 BAbip over the last half season, though, so it’s not like it’s just luck.) (And now he’s back to being the Wyrd.)
4. Matt Garza and James Russell will not each post a negative FIP. I just have this feeling that won’t happen. At least one of them will fail to shatter the all-time best FIP for a season. Let’s keep it real. (See what I mean? James Russell is no longer on pace to strike out every batter he faces.)
5. The Cubs will not be a .500 team. I started writing this before the game today, so I have no idea if the small sample will skew positively or negatively, but the Cubs just don’t look like a team that will be able to score enough runs to win half the time. You don’t need me to tell you that. Except for @wpbc, who specifically asked me to say it. Or, more specifically, that it won’t be an enjoyable experience. There will be parts that I think you’ll enjoy. But overall, as the man in black once said, Get used to disappointment. (Just not today.)
6. BONUS: The new Obstructed View line of shirts, hats, and assorted crap will not last. Supplies are limited. If you don’t buy your new Cubby Bear facepalm shirt now, you might never get one. And if you never get one, you’ll never be the cool ironic hipster doofus Cubs fan you were meant to be. And if you never become the cool ironic hipster doofus Cubs fan you were meant to be, somwhere, some puppy is going to get kicked. So, you know, check it out and stuff.