CHICAGO -- The Cubs had to watch the Braves and Pirates secure postseason berths in back-to-back games, and Chicago manager Dale Sveum says he hopes the young players can learn from the experience.
"Any time you're losing, you're not going to enjoy it," Sveum said Tuesday. "I don't care who you are, it's not very fun. You hope you have people who get tired of [losing], and you appreciate winning and how things can turn around, like the Pirates and the Nationals. That's what you want to produce.
"Obviously, the Pirates have done a nice job in the last three, four, five years in the Draft, and some of the trades. It's not that far off [for the Cubs]. That's the message you try to send. It happens pretty much every year in every sport."
The Cubs now have lost 90-plus games for the third straight year, the first time they've done so since 1960-62.
"The only way you break [that trend] is winning," Sveum said. "The bottom line is getting off to a good start and believing you can win baseball games."
Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo have been the focus of attention for their struggles at the plate, but Sveum said their years aren't as bad as it may seem.
"The thing that gets blown out of proportion is that these are the two guys getting talked about all the time," Sveum said. "Are they having really bad, bad years? No. Rizzo has  doubles, he's got [77 RBIs], he's got home runs in the 20s, and Castro has been swinging the bat a lot better. These guys just have to keep playing and build on the adversity they've gone through this year."
The reason Castro and Rizzo are in the spotlight is primarily because both young players received long-term contracts, which Sveum acknowledged. Castro's drop -- he was batting .241, well off his two All-Star seasons -- is just a matter of maturity.
"It's easy to explain [a bad year] when you've been around the game long enough and see plenty of stars have a tough year," Sveum said. "It's just the nature of the beast."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.