Renteria: 'There have been worse starts'

MILWAUKEE -- Someday the Chicago Cubs would love to ride the sort of wave the Milwaukee Brewers are on during this first month of the 2014 baseball season. Who ever thought that statement would be made regarding a team that finished nearly as low in the standings as the Cubs last season?

In getting out to an 18-6 start -- thanks in part to beating the Cubs in the first two games of their weekend series -- the Brewers are just another reminder of how far the Cubs are from being a winning team. And in already having lost yet another series this month, the 7-16 Cubs are left with just silver linings.

“To me, we had a lot more energy in the dugout,” manager Rick Renteria said after Saturday’s 5-3 defeat. “I know we didn’t do very much offensively early.”

So in losing 5-2 on Friday, the Cubs weren’t as energized as they were in the Game 2 loss. From the outside looking in, “big deal” might be the phrase that comes to mind. More important than energy levels are individual performances for the Cubs. That’s how they need to be measured this season as they fall further and further out of the race.

Pitcher Neil Ramirez made a nice major league debut Friday; catcher Welington Castillo continues to show improvement at the plate, connecting Saturday for his fourth home run of April.

“When a team does well, I think everyone is connecting and doing well,” Castillo said of the Brewers. “I think they have the momentum going. It’s a good team, good momentum going with them.”

And when the opposite goes on, it can get in the way of evaluation. Would Junior Lake, who’s struggling mightily, be better if the rest of the lineup was rolling? Would Starlin Castro's slumps of a year ago be shorter if there was more talent around him?

That’s the difficulty of a rebuilding situation. It has to start somewhere. And in terms of who’s on the field moving forward, this is really Year 1. Pushing out the old was part of the past two seasons, debuting the new is part of this season and next.

“You have to bear down,” Saturday’s losing pitcher Travis Wood said. “Lot of baseball left. It’s easy to turn anything around. We’re going to keep grinding, keep getting after it and play baseball.”

It’s easier for talented teams that have experience. The Cubs have some talent, but not the experience to go with it. And, frankly, they don’t have enough talent, either. But again, it has to start somewhere, so they'll take their lumps until they’re ready to deliver some to the opposition.

“We still have five months left in the baseball season,” Renteria said. “We want to keep pushing, keep playing.

“There have been worse starts in the game of baseball.”

It’s not the slogan the Cubs want, but it’s the one they own right now.