by Kent Sterling
For those of us waiting for the Cubs to get to a World Series – my Mom was four the last time in happened – it’s going to be awhile.
Paul Sullivan wrote a short piece for today’s Chicago Tribune that says, “(Cubs GM) Jim Hendry doesn’t believe he has many holes to fill, based on the 24-13 stretch that sealed manager Mike Quade’s hiring.” If true, that’s a big good night everyone for 2011.
The Cubs, as Sullivan points out, hit .232 with a National League low 16 home runs from September 1 through the end of the season. What he doesn’t write, and what no one has conceded was that during that magical 37 game run, only ten games were played against teams still in a playoff race, and the Cubs went 5-5 during that period.
They also don’t talk about how fatigued the Cubs were at the end of the Lou Piniella reign. Bubbles the Chimp could have managed the Cubs to a successful finish after the heavy-handed Piniella’s departure. Quade didn’t do anything wrong, but there is a difference in being the new guy during a stretch of games that don’t matter. Whether he can prepare the Cubs to play over the course of a 162-game season will be seen beginning five months from this week.
To base the potential success of a team based on the performance of a team during a stretch of 37-game meaningless games is exactly the kind of wrong-headed boobery Cubs fans have come to expect from Hendry.
How in the hell can a baseball team with one player (Marlon Byrd; Ted Lilly was the Cubs rep in the game in 2009, but is no longer with the team) who has made an all-star team over the past two seasons sit fat and happy with a roster deserving only tweaks?
The Cubs do not have a first baseman. They don’t have a second baseman. Their third baseman is on the downside of a solid career, and he can’t stay healthy. Tyler Colvin is solid in right, but still relatively unproven and has a very limited command of the strike zone. Marlon Byrd in center is good enough to help any team win. Alfonso Soriano is a free swinging kook, and the worst defensive left fielder at Wrigley Field since Hank Sauer (Sauer will dispute that). Castro will be an asset for a generation is he builds on what he showed last year. Geovany Soto will either be the outstanding backstop he was in 2008 and 2010 or the pathetic stooge he was in 2009.
The starting pitching is okay with Carlos Zambrano pitching well, but what if he’s batshit again? Then, the Cubs have Ryan Dempster, Carlos Silva, Randy Wells, Tom Gorzelanny, and Casey Coleman. The bullpen minus Carlos Marmol and Sean Marshall is either unproven (Andrew Cashner) or pitiful (the rest).
Is there another general manager in baseball who would look at this roster and say the Cubs are only a few tweaks away from potentially winning a World Series? It’s an outrage for the Ricketts Family to continue to ask fans to pay top dollar (the top average ticket price in baseball) for tickets to watch this group play baseball.
Fans should vote with their pocketbooks, and refuse to renew their season tickets until the moron responsible for investing $146-million in a 2010 opening day roster that featured zero potential hall of famers. By the way, that’s not easy. Barring a trade, Ramirez, Zambrano, Kosuke Fukudome, and Soriano will cost the Cubs more money than ten entire major league rosters. Great work.
The good news is that Fukudome’s contract will be a bad memory after this season, as will Ramirez’s (unless Hendry gets dizzy trying to position his head where he is able to see his feet and exercises the $16-million team option for 2012). There is a $2-million buyout for Ramirez after next season, which I would pay myself if I had $1,997,232 more in my savings account.
The Cubs are in a death spiral that has lasted for 102 years, but is threatening to deepen even beyond the abyss fans endured from 1980-1982.
It’s outrageous that the Ricketts felt so good about themselves as stewards of the Cubs that they allowed NBC to feature them on last night’s “Undercover Boss”. How about succeeding before begging people to look at you. Is that too much to ask. Having enough money to do something as cool as buying the Cubs is great, but it doesn’t mean they had to do it or that it’s a good idea.
If you want to own a team, hire someone who knows what the hell he’s doing to run it. The next meaningful opening day for the Chicago Cubs is 17 months away.