Got an opinion on the Cubs' inconsistent offense? Well, Javy Baez doesn't really want to hear it.
In fact, he doesn't want to hear any talk about the supposed offensive struggles of this Cubs team and the possibility that it might not make it all the way to the end of this postseason and hoist a second World Series trophy in three years. That goes for Milwaukee Brewers, Colorado Rockies, Los Angeles Dodgers, columnists, radio hosts, peanut vendors and the guy sitting in Section 508. Heck, it probably goes for fifth-graders in Downers Grove, too.
"You know, we've got to stop worrying about other teams," Baez said, asked about the Cubs' offensive inconsistencies ahead of Tuesday night's win-or-go-home NL wild card game. "We've got to go out there and have fun. We've got to go out there and compete. If we do that, there's no team that can beat us, and they know that. So that's why they run their mouth a lot, because they know we're the best. Even when we're struggling, we are the head of everybody."
These Cubs might not be playing like the same group that barnstormed through the regular season and finished the postseason with a championship two falls ago. But they sure do sound like that confident bunch.
That confidence has been a Baez trademark throughout his breakout season, so it's no surprise that it's coming out again now, with everything on the line.
As to which critics — which mouth-runners — Baez was specifically referring to is anyone's guess. He clumped everyone who's talking about this team right now into the same group.
Maybe that group includes Brewers first baseman Jesus Aguilar? "They know they've got a problem tomorrow," is what he said the day before the Brewers bested the Cubs in Game 163 and grabbed the NL Central crown. Maybe that group includes Yasiel Puig? The Dodgers outfielder guaranteed his team would win the World Series, no matter which opponents it sees along the way, after it won the NL West title Monday.
Baez was not specific.
"It doesn't matter. Like, everybody," he said when asked to clarify who was running their mouths. "Everybody. Fans. Who cares? I don't pay attention to it, but it's around us and if we pay attention, we get in their trap."
The Cubs have not thrived at the plate during the last month, owners of a .235/.300/.363 slash line since the beginning of September. Tuesday night's opponent, the Rockies, slashed .269/.340/.482 in the same time span — though they have the famous benefit of playing their home games at homer-happy Coors Field, or as Joe Maddon dubbed it Tuesday, "on the moon."
Still, even just the last few days at the Friendly Confines have been an accurate snapshot of how inconsistent and unpredictable this Cubs lineup has been. They scored eight runs in Friday's win over the St. Louis Cardinals, then scored just one in Saturday's loss, then 10 in Sunday's win before a three-hit, one-run output Monday against the Brewers.
To Baez's point, however, the Cubs finished the regular season with the highest batting average in the NL and the second-highest on-base percentage. So this offense did plenty right during 2018.
But as for which Cubs will show up Tuesday with the season on the line, who knows? The only certainty seems to be that Baez is tired of hearing about it.