Did I Just Hear the Cubs Window Shut?
I’m hearing all kinds of sounds lately. Windows slamming shut. Trucks backing up. People saying goodbye, some perhaps laced with invective. They are all emanating from the Cubs.
Is there anything to feel good about for next year? I’m finding little. And I’m thinking that it might just be better to blow it up and get young. Now I know teams that can handle big payrolls rarely do this type of thing. They usually just retool, overpay for middling free agents and trade away prospects to plug holes. Not exactly the winning formula. Here’s what I see when I look at the Cubs…
- Their best players will never be better than the best players on other contending teams. This is a big problem. Having a solid overall club is an asset. But ace pitchers, closers and big-time hitters win playoff series and trophies. Ramirez, Lee and Soriano are all aging. All prone to injury at some level. And Soriano has been on a sharp decline for three years. Who’s the man? Who will carry the Cubs?
- They don’t really have any good young players. I might make an exception for Randy Wells, Soto or Jake Fox, but even then those guys will all be 27 or 28 next year.
- Their bullpen is in shambles. They have no closer. Who knows what Marmol brings next year. I love Guzman, but can he eat up 80-90 innings? It’s a pen in disarray.
- The starting pitching is not as good as you think. Zambrano (if here), Dempster and Lilly are all solid but not spectacular. There is no ace. There is no guy who will intimidate and blow batters away. There is no pitcher that will come in and eat major innings. It’s a nice rotation. It’s just not likely to win chamionships. At least without a top-notch bullpen. (See #3)
- The Coaches and GM are off their games. I suppose this could change some, but Hendry had an awful year. Piniella and Rothschild didn’t do us any favors either. The Cubs still throw the ball around too much, still don’t run bases well and certainly don’t play great defense. Piniella also looked like he wanted to go home. If he comes back, what happens if the Cubs start 9-15? 20-30? The media will be all over him. Will he be able to handle it again?
- The farm system — from which all good things come — is subpar. There just aren’t that many top level prospects in the system. I suppose Colvin and Vitters show some potential. But overall it’s just not very good.
You could sign free agents, but there aren’t many good ones available. So it looks grim from where I’m sitting, alth0ugh it’s tinged with a healthy helping of 2009 disappointment. I’d be happy to be proven wrong by you. Or better yet the Cubs.