No defense for Cubs' lack of execution

Alfonso Soriano and the Cubs have been giving games away with unearned runs. AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps

CINCINNATI -- The 5-12 Chicago Cubs are starting to accomplish some things on defense the organization hasn't seen in quite some time. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it's been 10 years since the Cubs gave up more than 14 unearned runs – as they have this season – in their first 17 games of the season.

The last time they made more than 17 errors in their first 17 games was in 2000. Finally, 1995 was the last time the Cubs committed more than 17 errors and gave up more than 14 unearned runs in the first 17 games. Those aren't numbers any manager wants to see.

It's not a reach by any means to conclude the six errors the Cubs made over the weekend in Milwaukee cost them all three games.

On Friday, the first play of the game – an easy grounder to Anthony Rizzo at first base – was muffed, and the next four batters hit for the cycle putting the Cubs in a 4-0 hole. Losing by a run, 5-4, only highlights the magnitude of that error.

Saturday's miscues led manager Dale Sveum to say the Cubs were making "rookie ball" mistakes. A dropped fly ball by Alfonso Soriano in the fifth followed later in that inning by a bobbled ground ball by Starlin Castro allowed two unearned runs to score as did Edwin Jackson's throw into center field on a double play attempt in the sixth. The final there was 5-1 with four scoring thanks to those errors.

Finally, on Sunday pitcher Scott Feldman couldn't snag a ball hit back to him with two outs in the fifth allowing Ryan Braun to come to bat. He promptly hit a hanging breaking pitch for a 3-run home run.

The biggest culprits in the field so far have been Castro (4 errors) and Feldman (3). But at least Castro has done it over all 17 games. Feldman has appeared in just three. The last Cubs shortstop with more than four errors in team's first 17 games of a season was Castro last season. He had 7 through his first 17 games. The last pitchers with more than errors were Carlos Zambrano and Felix Doubront who each had 3 in 2010.

So the Cubs gave up eight unearned runs out of 14 scored by the Brewers. That's basically handing the entire series to the opponent. And remember it was before this past weekend -- last Tuesday in fact -- team president Theo Epstein said "we're not talented enough to play this sloppy." Obviously, his team wasn't listening.