Don't agree that anything could happen if this club make the playoffs. Cubs have traditionally played to the level of their competition but that doesn't appear to be the case the last month or so. The Cubs just aren't putting it together and have seemed to be outclassed at times against teams with winning records. Agree with threads premise that it's fortunate that Cubs are in NL Central.
I don't see the front office selling at the break but they also may not be buyers. They'll assess the starter market and kick the tires on some retreads. Nothing too surprising.
But anything absolutely could happen if this team makes the playoffs, because this is a loaded roster that is likely to be playing better than they are now (and are more talented than many recent WS winners), and the playoffs are absolutely a crapshoot.
Every team that gets in the playoffs has about an 8 to 20% chance. The Cardinals won with an 83-win team. The Giants won with an 88-win team and one good starting pitcher. There is no real formula and anything happens in a short series. The Cubs were a play or two away from losing to a much worse Giants team last postseason. The Indians may have been the worst team in the American League side last year. The Red Sox and Blue Jays were arguably the best teams the last two years and got their asses kicked. Six Wild Card teams have won the World Series since 1997, and 12 have made the World Series. The 2007 Rockies were far and away the least talented team in the field and were 39-43 at one point, before they went on to the World Series (their ace was Jeff Francis!).
All you do is get in and take your chances, and hope that your team is playing good ball at the time (like the 2007 Rockies). Your chances are higher if you have the better roster, of course. If you play it 100 times the best team is gonna win probably 10-12 more times than the worst of the eight teams would. But it's not nearly as big of an advantage as people like to think. If you get in, you really do have nearly as good of a shot as anyone else. The Cubs would be underdogs to the Dodgers or Nats right now but we're still talking a 40%+ shot in either series.
And all of this is why the Cubs should absolutely be looking to be buyers at the deadline unless they were to fall 5+ games back.
They have several decent prospects that they have decisions to make on 40-man roster spots or those players simply don't have a place in Chicago. The elite prospects are limited and will only go in a trade for the Chris Archers of the world, but there are plenty of solid prospects that organizations would love to have, especially when talking rentals.
And Jeimer Candelario is very good trade bait (and trade bait is all he is). He's a top-130 prospect with the ability to get playing time on a rebuilding team now. Unless the Cubs want to use him to sweeten a deal for a cost-controlled starter, he makes tons of sense in a trade for a rental. You could use him as part of a deal to get someone like Marco Estrada (who would immediately become a good playoff starting option and was great in the playoffs the last two years). You could use Candelario or even lesser prospects probably to get someone like Cameron Maybin (who would offer one of the more reliable bats in this lineup right now and can play all outfield spots).
And the team needs to find a controllable starter at some point, so they will absolutely be on the lookout for it now. They won't get desperate just to win for this year, but if there's an arm they would like to acquire for the future that also helps your chances now, it makes even more sense to make the move now than in the winter if the price isn't going to be significantly more.
Whatever the case, they will look to improve their team, and they should do so. Because, they're a loaded roster, in an extremely winnable division, and once you get in, you do have a very real shot. As Theo Epstein says more than anyone, every chance to win is sacred.
Also, how the team is performing against good or bad teams doesn't matter at all. We've learned this by now. The 103-win Cubs got swept at home in a doubleheader last year by the Padres. The Cubs went 7-0 against the Mets two years ago and got swept in the NLCS. The Cubs hit the hell out of Clayton Kershaw this year, but would you want to face him? Hell no. Regular season head-to-head results do not at all matter, and this is a team with playoff experience that has shown the ability to step up when they need to with their backs against the wall. I hate narrativey stuff like that usually, but I do think there is something to that as the Giants have shown while overachieving in the postseason in recent years. Going through what the Cubs did in 2015 likely helped them for what they did in 2016.
Right now the Cubs look incredibly mediocre, and they have one starting pitcher you feel very good about. The lineup has been awful. All of this stuff. It hasn't been good, and who knows when it gets better. When you watch this team on a daily basis, it's hard to imagine how things could greatly improve and especially how on earth they could contend for a championship.
But it should get better to at least some degree, and odds are quite a bit better. It's why FanGraphs projects them to have the second-best record in baseball the rest of the way. Over 162 games, roster talent usually shows. Teams like the Cubs and Indians will usually start playing much better and teams like the Brewers and Twins will start to fade. This isn't always the case, of course. The 2016 Astros greatly disappointed. The 2015 Nationals greatly disappointed.
We'll see what's the case with this team, but all that matters is winning the division and getting into the basically random ass tournament. Ideally when they're playing much better baseball and with an upgraded roster thanks to the deadline.
Clapp, the voice of reason.
Weren't we a bit mediocre the first few months of 2015 as well? Just going from memory, so I could be wrong, but I seem to recall we were much better down the stretch.
Looked it up. We were 28-25 on June 5th, so only 3 games over .500.
We ended the season at 97-65.